Unfinished Business,
The Third Twin

 

home / season six / episode eighteen / act I

   

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

"Miss Parker?"

The woman looked up sharply as Broots entered her office, closing the door after himself.

"What is it?"

"That call you asked me to trace, from Sam's cell phone…"

"Could you get a name?"

"No," he admitted. "The phone company's records were faulty, or maybe tampered with, and I couldn't get a name."

"Keep trying," she demanded. "Anything else?"

"Another intercept, kind of." Broots put the file down in front of her. "It's a message Sam sent. I had a tracker put on his home computer yesterday and he sent this during the night."

"Where to?"

"The same source as he got the threat from, as far as I could tell. His program has the same type of security wall on it that theirs did, so I couldn't get specifics."

"So that threat seems to have paid off," the woman mused thoughtfully. Without opening the folder, she waved a hand at the chair and then eyed the technician. "How sensitive was the information he was sending?"

Broots looked uncomfortable. "It's… um… about as sensitive as it gets. It's the passwords we use to access the mainframe and also the security system. Considering we only activated the system yesterday with the new program, Sam must have accessed it just after it was put in."

Miss Parker arched an eyebrow. "Anything else?"

"A program that will decrypt the passwords," he admitted. "With that, whoever he's sending it to will be able to get access to just about everything."

"Change the program," she snapped.

"I already have," he responded quickly. "But wherever Sam's getting it from, he'll probably be able to get the new one, too."

She nodded in agreement, glancing through the pages in the folder. After a minute of silence, she looked up again. "What's Sam doing now?"

"I changed his shift so that he's working in the lobby for this morning. This afternoon, he's got a gym session scheduled."

"That makes two of you," the woman commented, trying not to laugh at the technician's expression. "Come on, Broots, I thought you had more confidence now."

"I do, sort of," he admitted. "But I don't seem to do as well in practice as when I'm under pressure."

Her eyes twinkled as she watched him. "I could put you under pressure."

"Uh, no, thanks, it's okay." Broots got to his feet, pushing the chair back as he did so. "What do you want me to do about that?"

When he nodded at the folder, the humor faded out of Miss Parker's eyes. She shut the folder and folded her hands on top of it. "Find out everything you can. Break through their security if you have to. I want to know who this is going to. I know Sam's safe if he's on duty in the foyer, so we've got a few hours. Once we know, we'll see what Sam himself can tell us."

The technician turned towards the door, but Miss Parker called him back.

"Just a minute, Broots. I've got something else for you to do."

Returning to his seat, the man looked at her expectantly. "What is it, Miss Parker?"

She glanced at the door to make sure it was shut before pulling the piece of paper Ethan had given her out of her pocket. Scribbling the number on a piece of paper, she passed it over the desk to him.

"I want you to check the records of that phone," she directed. "Or if you can't manage it, get a person you trust to do it."

"Sure," he agreed, taking the number. "Whose is it?"

"Just bring me the information as soon as possible," she added, ignoring the question. "And I also want you to check the records of all the computers that delegates from Die Fakultät have used when they were here. If they send any files with attachments, I want to know what they sent. Put your best person on it."

"Right away, Miss Parker," Broots agreed, unfazed by her non-acknowledgement of his earlier question. "Is that all?"

"For now," she agreed, watching him leave the office. When he was gone, she picked up the next report that lay in her tray to be checked over before it was signed and passed on to the Chairman. And this was one for which he had been waiting eagerly.

Almost a week after the eight children and their assorted caregivers and guards had disappeared, a plane had been found in Tallahassee, Florida. It contained more of the used Aurora patches as well as a number of seats just the right size for children. The cleaners had brought back hair from various seats which could be tested to prove the use of the plane in the abduction of the children, and Morgan had spent several stressful hours waiting for the results to see if it was a viable lead she could present to strengthen her position with the Triumvirate hierarchy or just another dead end intended to distract her. They had been happening more and more often since Lyle had gained his Tower position, and although she suspected Lyle and his pet sweeper, there was no proof.

She had been immensely relieved when the results had been positive, showing that all eight of the children, their caregivers and even Keely and Jarod had been on that plane. The report had been filed with the other documents that she was intending to give the Chairman later that morning. But first she wanted to reread the details they had discovered about the flight.

The plane had been hired by a non-existent company, supposedly located in the same town where the plane had been found and the person who had signed the forms to allow the plane to be accessed had never worked at the airport in Wilmington. Morgan hadn't been surprised by this, however she was intrigued by the flight plan she had found, which had stated that the flight had been an international one, bound for Berlin. As the plane had been located on American soil, with no further suggestion of any other travel, this suggested that the plan had been falsified. Altogether, the report was relatively unhelpful, but at least it proved to the Triumvirate that she was continuing her search for the children, using every possible route to try and find them. And that, more than anything else, was what would keep herself, and those closest to her, safe.

* * * * * * * * *

3 Kennedy Avenue
Blue Cove, Delaware

Jordan stared down in disbelief at the sleeping boy at his feet, eyeing the familiar brown hair and facial features.

"Another one," he breathed, bending down to get a closer look.

There could be no doubt, in Jordan's mind at least. Cox also had a clone; one that the Centre apparently didn't know existed. That certainly would explain the nightmares he had had, assuming that the same connection existed between himself and this boy as it did between himself and the man he called 'father.'

Even as this occurred to Jordan, however, the figure lying on the blanket moved, opening his eyes to see the dim light above. Instantly, the boy cringed into the corner, whimpering softly. Jordan swung the beam into the far corner of the room, reminded of the day when the woman his father loved had come into his room at the Centre.

"What… what do you want?" stammered the boy, his eyes squeezed tightly shut and his face turned away from the newcomer.

"I just want to talk," stated Jordan quietly, sitting down on the floor beside the child.

I just came to talk.

The memory of Miss Parker's words came forcibly back to Jordan as he watched the boy eye him suspiciously, flinching away as Jordan instinctively reached out. Returning his hand to his lap, Jordan straightened up. He could feel anger rising in him at the thought of what they had done and fought against his urge to strike out at someone, anyone within reach. Looking down into the small, tearstained face, however, Jordan suddenly realized that he couldn't take out his rage on the boy who was huddled beside him, keeping a visible distance between himself and the intruder. Recalling his own feelings during his brief time in the Centre, Jordan silently and fervently hoped he was doing the right thing as he began to speak.

"You don't have to be afraid of me," he stated softly. "All I want to do is help you."

"W… what do you want me to do?"

Jordan smiled, trying to make his voice as reassuring as possible. "First, I want you to tell me your name."

The boy looked up at the intruder with fearful eyes, his voice trembling. "He calls me Echo."

"Is that all?"

"Sometimes," Echo offered, his eyes lighting up, "if I've been really good, he'll call me Jacob."

* * * * * * * * *

Emmett, Idaho

"As soon as you know they're ready in Horseshoe Bend, get back here as fast as possible. I don't want to be left here on my own to deal with whatever friend Jarod sends to get his sister back."

Valentine grinned, leaning against the balustrade of the balcony on which they were standing so that their voices wouldn't be heard by the woman inside. "Don't worry about it, Boss. We've still got an hour for me to get there and back, and if the office in Horseshoe Bend lets him go, that's their problem, not ours. We'll still have a lovely little prize to hand over to your dad when we get back."

Lyle snorted. "Yeah, I've heard things like that before. Our fault or not, if it doesn't go according to plan, it'll be our necks. Make tracks there and back. Double the speed limit if you have to. I don't care. I just don't want to be facing the cavalry without backup."

The sweeper chuckled as he shrugged into his jacket. "You know, Lyle," he suggested with a wink as he prepared to leave the balcony, "anyone'd think you were scared."

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod tried not to grin with triumph as he watched the car drive away, Valentine looking warily to either side as he drove along the long track that led to the cabin.

"Got everything?" the younger man murmured in his ear.

Sliding a hand into his pocket, Jarod checked that the bottle and cloth pad were there before nodding once. He sent a sideways glance at Yuri. "Can you manage him?"

The other man flexed a bicep, which bulged under the skin-tight black top he was wearing. "You doubt me, Jarod?"

"Constantly."

This honest statement elicited a chuckle from the other man as he slipped around the bushes that had hidden them and began noiselessly climbing the wall. Jarod was forced to admire the effortless grace with which the other Pretender moved as he got into position at the foot of the fire escape, which was out of sight for anyone on the balcony itself.

Within moments, and just as Yuri was in position, as they had both predicted, Lyle returned to the balcony from which he had watched Valentine drive away. He cast a wary look around before lowering the gun that he had been holding in a ready position.

Before he could move again, an arm was flung around Lyle's chest, pinning both arms to his sides. He fought against the hold, but this merely resulted in his unseen attacker tightening his grip until Lyle was unable to maintain his hold on the gun in his hand. Gasping for breath, he let the weapon fall to the ground, the pain that immediately followed this suggesting that he had dropped it on his own foot, and Lyle cursed as he began again to struggle against his assailant. Even as he turned his head, however, Lyle was distracted by movement in front of him and turned to find Jarod standing there, grinning broadly.

"You know, much as I hate to admit this, you were right," the Pretender greeted him. "Here I am, on your doorstep, just like you said. It's such a shame you don't have all those sweepers around, like you intended, isn't it, but then I guess it was pretty inconsiderate of Yuri to be spotted, just at that moment." He chuckled as the man fought even more violently but was unable to break free of the arms around him. "Now, now, Lyle, no need to be like that."

"Let me go," the other man gasped, unable to force out a louder sound due to the strength of his still-unseen attacker.

"Keep going like that and you'll tire yourself out," Jarod commented as he withdrew the bottle and cloth pad from his pocket. "Still, there's nothing wrong with lying down for a nap when you get weary, and I'm sure I could help you with that."

Lyle eyed the bottle, able to guess at its contents as Jarod soaked the pad with the pungent liquid. He exhaled as deeply as he could and then hurriedly breathed in, holding his breath as Jarod pressed the cold material against his mouth and nose.

Jarod shook his head, clucking almost maternally with his tongue. "Ah, ah, ah, naughty boy. Really, Lyle, here I am trying to help and you don't want me to." He grinned, releasing the pad for Yuri to grasp, and producing a feather from his pocket. Despite his concern for his sister, Jarod had enjoyed planning for this scenario, happy with the end result, knowing that there would be no more feeding of Kodiak Brown's sick fantasies, only his, Jarod's, own admittedly childish and playful urges. Slowly he brushed the feather once along the Centre operative's jawbone as his brown eyes twinkled. "I've often wondered, Lyle. Are you ticklish?"

The man's eyes widened as Jarod gently applied the feather to the skin under Lyle's chin and began to gently brush it back and forth. Lyle struggled once more against the arms that were still wrapped around him as, despite himself, the urge to laugh started to choke him. Finally, unable to bear it, Lyle took a death breath, inhaled the chloroform with which the material was soaked and almost instantly passed out.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Broots could feel the material of his sweats clinging clammily to him as he tried to remember the self-defense moves Miss Parker had taught him in earlier sessions. Finally he succeeded in disarming her, making the unloaded handgun with which she had threatened him fall to the mat. Breathing heavily, he took a step away and looked up to see the admiration in her eyes.

"Good work," she stated evenly, having regained her balance, and replaced the weapon in the holster that was loosely done up around her waist. She glanced to the side to see that Sam, who had been pumping weights in the nearby room set aside for that purpose, was now in the doorway, having watching the whole exercise. "What do you think, Sam?"

"He's doing really well," the sweeper affirmed as he approached the mats.

Miss Parker raised an eyebrow. "You want to take him on?"

Broots sent the woman a look of panic. Sure, he'd told her that he was better under pressure, but this was way too much. The look she shot at him was enough to tell him that she wouldn't accept any excuses and, with an exaggerated sigh of defeat, Broots took up his position.

Seconds later he found himself flat on his back on the mat, much as he had in his first session and on several subsequent occasions. He stared blankly up at the sweeper who stood above him for a moment, regaining his breath, before accepting the hand his opponent offered to get back on his feet. Miss Parker eyed the two men for a moment before smiling grimly.

"Well, now I know who to call on when I need a decent opponent."

Sam turned with a small smile. "Was that an offer to take me on?"

The woman eyed him in silence for a moment before nodding slightly. "I'll take you on, Sam, but I prefer a verbal sparring partner." Her eyes hardened. "I'll see you up in my office in ten minutes, in uniform."

The sweeper's face fell visibly at the order, but he put his shoulders back, nodded slightly and turned on his heel. Miss Parker watched him leave before turning to Broots.

"You know what to do."

He nodded and they both left the room together.

* * * * * * * * *

3 Kennedy Avenue
Blue Cove, Delaware

The boy sniffed, wiping his eyes on the rough fabric of his sleeve, before looking up at Jordan with an expression of curiosity in his eyes, only partly hidden by the fear that still lingered there.

"What's your name?"

The young man smiled. "I'm Jordan." He leaned in slightly, visually picking out the bruises that marred the boy's skin, only partly visible under the layers of dirt that made the white skin look almost black in patches. "It's okay, Jacob. I promise, I won't hurt you."

That name, and, more importantly, his tone brought tears back to Jacob's eyes, and suddenly he threw himself at Jordan, burying his face in the older boy's shoulder and sobbing violently. Hesitating for a second, Jordan then reached up and gently began to stroke the boy's filthy, matted hair.

"It's okay, Jacob, honest," he whispered urgently, suddenly aware of the time that all this was taking. "Come on, calm down. Stop crying, please."

When the boy's immediate reaction was to choke down his sobs, Jordan was reminded of his own days of instant obedience and the expression in his eyes softened. Jacob eventually sat passively in Jordan's lap and looked up at him, rubbing the dirty material of his sleeve across his nose.

"W… what now?"

"Now, we get you out of here." Jordan picked up the blanket and wrapped it around Jacob's thin shoulders. "We have to leave before Cox comes back."

"No!" The boy's reaction was violent as he cringed away, sliding off Jordan's lap and backing into the corner. "No, I can't!"

Understanding, Jordan got to his feet and, placing the torch on the table so that it illuminated the room, began to look around, as he spoke softly.

"You know, Jacob, there's so much that you've never seen. The world outside - it's so big, so exciting. There's so much for you to learn about." His eyes fell on two bowls in the corner, one containing water and the other scraps that wouldn't be sufficient to feed a hungry dog. Jordan glared blackly at the bowl, still keeping his tones light. "It's so beautiful out in the world, and there's people who care about you and won't hurt you." Jordan turned to smile at the young boy, who was watching him warily, his expression one of doubt. "And you know the best part?"

The boy hesitantly shook his head, and Jordan, who had just seen a file on a shelf, went over to pick it up as he answered.

"You'll never have to work like you do here, ever again. You can do what other kids do."

What do other kids do?

Miss Parker's words came back to him again, but this boy was too scared to speak, so Jordan answered the unspoken question quickly. "You can play every day. You and I can play games together all day long."

Tearing the pages from the folder, he shoved them into his jacket pocket and returned the thin booklet to the shelf, turning back to the boy.

"Come on, Jacob."

Jacob swallowed hard, his voice shaking. "I… I don't have to… to work?"

Jordan walked over to kneel down in front of Jacob, shaking his head with a smile. "I promise, you'll never have to do those biological or genetic projects that he asked you to, ever again."

Eyes wide, Jacob stared up at him. "H… how did you know?"

"I just did," Jordan urged softly. "And I also know that we really have to leave. Please, Jacob. I don't want to leave you here."

"I… if I come, will you stay with me?"

Jordan smilingly stretched out a hand to the little boy whose grime-streaked face gleamed white in the dimly lit room. "I promise, Jacob. I'll stay with you."

Throwing himself at the older boy, Jacob curled his arms around Jordan's neck, nestling close to the young man. Jordan wrapped both arms around the small body, giving the child the first real sign of affection that Jacob had experienced in his entire six years of life. After a moment, Jordan pulled away a little and looked down.

"Shall we go?"

"Uh huh." Nodding, the boy snuggled against Jordan. With the flashlight in one hand and the other wrapped around the boy's back, the young man silently ascended the stairs, stopping at the top to relock the basement door and replace both the key and torch. Hurrying through the house, he slipped out through the front door, remembering to reactivate the security system, before letting them out through the gate and walking down the fortunately deserted street towards his car.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Passing the door of the changing room, Miss Parker halted as she heard a voice coming from inside it. Turning, she found Broots at her elbow.

"Who…?"

"Sam was the only person in there when I left," he told her in a whisper.

Nodding, she waved him away as the voices became more audible.

"She knows, I'm convinced of it."

There was the sound of footsteps pacing the room. "No," Sam continued in aggravated tones. "I don't know how, either, but she does."

After a moment, he spoke again. "Are you sure I should tell her? Yes, I know you think it's okay, but I don't!"

There was a deep sigh. "Are you sure, Al? Do you know what'd happen if you were wrong?"

Miss Parker could hear footsteps approaching the door and turned on her heel, walking away down the hall towards her office before he could catch her listening.

* * * * * * * * *

Emmett, Idaho

Yuri lowered the unconscious figure of Lyle to the floor and dragged him through the doors into the house. Looking over, he saw Jarod removing the rope from around his sister, and it was a struggle for Yuri not to laugh as he saw the expression of astonishment on Emily's face as she stared at him.

"Paul Jennings, what are you doing here?"

"Well, I… I had to come and save you, didn't I?" The words came out all in a rush and, having forgotten to mention to Emily's brother the name by which she knew him, Yuri suddenly had to hope that Jarod wasn't going to give him away. Before anybody could speak, however, the cell phone lying on the table rang.

Jarod eyed the other two. "What do you think? Should I…?"

"Might as well." Yuri pulled the car key out of his pocket, slipping his other arm around Emily's waist as she gratefully leaned against him. "We'll be out of here in a flash."

Nodding, Jarod walked over to pick up the cell phone and activated it.

"Mr. Parker!" he exclaimed after a moment. "Why, what a pleasant surprise!"

"Jarod!" the man on the other end growled. "What are you doing? Where's Lyle?"

"At my feet," the Pretender responded with a grin as he turned to look at the still-unconscious man. "It's kind of a long story. But you might want to give Valentine a call and get him to come around, before Lyle does anyway."

Grinning, he disconnected the call and dropped the phone on Lyle's chest, turning to the other two.

"Let's get out of here."

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Knowing that Broots was listening to the discussion and would send in help if she required it, Miss Parker sat behind her desk, hands folded on the flat surface, watching the clock. Exactly ten minutes after she and Broots had left the gym, there was a soft knock on her door.

"Come in, Sam."

The sweeper's head was slightly bowed and he was examining the floor as he walked into the room. He straightened to attention in front of her desk, and, after a moment, also met her eye.

"Please, Miss Parker," he began immediately. "Let me explain before you judge me."

She raised an eyebrow. "It's a bit late for that, Sam. I don't know why I shouldn't just hand you over to the Chairman right now."

The man exhaled slowly, nodding slightly. "If you do that, Die Fakultät's work will be done."

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously as she watched him. "You know that place?"

Sam nodded again. "You could say that."

"Stop beating around the bush," she ordered. "What's your connection to the Berlin station?"

* * * * * * * * *

Somewhere in Delaware

Jordan glanced into the back seat of the car as he stopped at a traffic light to see that Jacob, exhausted by the emotions of that morning and also the questions he hadn't stopped firing at the older boy since getting into the car, had finally fallen asleep, curled up in the corner of the car seat, still wrapped in the blanket Jordan had brought with them from Cox's. Pulling over to the side of the road and keeping a close eye on the cars that passed them, Jordan took out the cell phone Jarod had given him for Christmas and brought up his progenitor's number.

On to Act II

 
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