Angelique sat on the rocking horse, her doll clutched close to her chest.
The child didn't move, staring off into space, sitting perfectly still.
"Whatsa matter, Annie?" asked Raphael, watching her from nearby.
"My mommy's scared."
Raphael nodded gravely, and toddled off in search of Gabriel.
Tempest came up and tried to give her an electronic game to play, but
Angelique shook her head. "We help, Annie. Okay?"
"Help my mommy?" she asked solemnly.
The other blonde girl nodded.
"What do we do? We's little." Angelique shuddered as fear shot
through her, fear that was not her own. She began to whimper, and then
"What is it, honey?" asked Nancy, coming quickly to see to
the child. "What's wrong?"
"Mommy!" Angelique cried. "My mommy's scared. We got to
help her!" She held out her arms, and Nancy picked her up and held
her close as she rose and strode off in search of Helen.
Every one of the other children, including little Jacob, followed the
pair out of the playroom to the nursery office, standing in the doorway
while Nancy and Helen conferred.
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod sat in the center of the playroom, the children gathered around
him in an irregular circle, all staring up at him intently. Seated around
them in chairs were other parents, watching the process as the Pretender
guided the children through their problem. He had listened to their frightened
explanations, and knew that Faith was in danger, but didn't know where
"Where is your mommy, Angelique?" he asked the little blonde.
"I don' know," she whimpered back.
Jarod looked around at the troubled little faces. Tempest was frowning,
obviously concentrating. "She's all mirrors, Unca Jawid."
"All mirrors?" He didn't understand the reference. Faith's
project name had been Looking Glass. Might the children have picked up
on that as imagery? Had she been captured and returned to the Centre?
"Not the bad place," Tempest assured him after his inquiry.
"Another bad place. Fay's everywhere." She looked up at Jarod
as if willing him to understand, and slumped when he didn't.
"Who's with her?" he prompted gently. "Are there any smells
or sounds? Is it far away?"
"Far away," confirmed Uriel. "Far, far. And raining. Der's
a bad man, too."
"Do you know which way?"
As one, the children all pointed northeast, in the direction of the Centre.
His heart sinking, he struggled for some way to get the information he
needed out of them gently, without upsetting them further.
"That's good. That's a start."
Sumi rose from her chair and sat down behind Gideon, wrapping her arms
around him as he trembled. "It's okay, baby," she assured him
with a whisper in his ear. Then she turned toward her husband. "Go
get North. Let's see if we can help him locate Faith, with the kids as
a divining rod."
Sebastian rose and went to the office to use the phone. Minutes later,
North stepped out of the elevator, dressed in sweats from a workout he'd
been busy with in the gym.
Sumi explained what she wanted to do, and urged him to join the group
on the floor. The big man sat in the center of the circle, and Sumi scooted
close enough to reach out and hold his hand.
"Everybody hold hands," she advised, holding Gideon close in
her lap, "and think about where Faith is. Try to see the room, or
maybe the building. Close your eyes, and try to see it."
The little ones obeyed.
North took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "Northeast,"
he said quietly, his deep voice growling softly in the silence. He smiled.
"This is cool. The kids are like
I can feel their energy, like
an electrical current flowing through them into me. Wow."
Michaela let go of the other children's' hands and placed them into her
lap, her big dark eyes filled with fear and guilt.
Jarod held out his arms to her, but she shook her head and scooted back
a little. He laid his hand on her knee, unwilling to let her suffer alone.
It seemed to comfort her a little, and she wriggled hesitantly back into
"It's an old place, disused and musty," North murmured. "Lots
of equipment rusting, like a
like a carnival or something. Warehouses
Mirrors. I can see her, surrounded by mirrors."
Jarod glanced at Tempest, who nodded and smiled, but did not open her
Ethan rose from his seat behind Uriel and went to the kids' computer
station, logged onto the internet and got ready to search, fingers poised
above the keys. "Can you see a sign? Anything with words will help."
North shook his head, moving in slow motion, focusing on his task. "It's
a house of mirrors. Old, disused."
"Pull back a little," Sebastian suggested. "What does
the building look like?"
"Derelict," North answered after a few moments. "The grounds,
too. Nobody's been there for years, till now."
"Who else is there?" Sebastian leaned forward in his chair.
"Can you see anyone else?"
"A man in the next building. Dark hair. He's talking to her through
"Great work, everyone. You're doing fine," the Australian man
"Can you hear what he's saying?" Jarod asked.
Sebastian answered for the man he'd worked with for so many years. "Remote
viewing is all visual, mate. Nothing else. Let's just sit back and let
North tell us what he sees."
It seemed like hours passed as Jarod listened, but he knew it couldn't
have been more than a few minutes. When the session was over, they had
an area to begin searching and enough details to find the place, but no
specific target. Extrasensory perception wasn't an exact science, and
no amount of pushing could force more information out of North than he
gave. Jarod thanked the man, noting how drained North was after the session,
and took a few minutes to offer reassurance to the children that they
would all work together to find Angelique's mother.
Ethan logged off the children's computer and accompanied Jarod back to
his room, where the two men continued the internet search for properties
meeting the description North had given them. Hours later, they had narrowed
it down to only a handful of places. The next session they conducted with
North was minus the children, and after viewing specific coordinates,
he confirmed the location where Faith was being held.
It didn't take Jarod long to put a few things together, but when he arrived
at the elevator, Ethan was there waiting for him.
"What are you doing here?" Jarod asked him.
"Going with you, big brother. In case you need someone to give you
Jarod smiled. "One step ahead of you, little brother," he returned
warmly. "Namir's going in case I need muscle, and Trevor to help
find Faith. You stay here with your son. And thanks for the help. We make
a good team."
Ethan offered an easy smile and waved him off as the elevator doors closed
Jarod drove to the airport and strapped into the cockpit of the Prometheus
jet beside Trevor. Kentucky was hours away by plane, and they'd still
have to find the carnival grounds and drive out to it once they arrived
in Frankfort. The Pretender was glad of the company, and kept his cell
phone handy in case anyone from Sanctuary had any other news to offer
along the way.
Lyle had put Valentine on Faith's trail some time ago. If he was the
one who had caught her, then Jarod wasn't certain they'd be able to get
there in time to save her.
In fact, it could already be too late.
* * * * * * * * *
Starlight Carnival Supplies
Outskirts of Frankfort, KY
Faith lifted her head, trying to get her eyes to focus. She recognized
the haze of drugs in her brain, more than simply the chloroform, and wondered
what she had been given. Glancing around, she saw that she was surrounded
by mirrors, some flat and others distorted, that changed her reflection
into unpleasant shapes. Her first instinct was to get out, as quickly
But with all the reflections, it was impossible to find the exit. She
moved close to the nearest silvery panel and touched it with her fingers,
using them to guide her as she walked along the wall.
"Well, you're awake," called a deep, velvety voice from an
overhead speaker somewhere. "How are you feeling?"
"What do you want?" she demanded, hurrying along the wall,
looking for an opening, anything that might be a way out.
"I want to play," he answered smoothly.
She hesitated, remembering her talent, and cast about with her net to
try to locate his emotional pattern, but she couldn't. Whatever drug she
had been given must be interfering with her ability. She tried to shake
off the effects of the drug on her body, but will alone couldn't do the
"You know, finding me won't do you any good," said the disembodied
voice. "You won't find anything useful in my emotional grab bag.
I have no regrets, no sympathy, no fear. Nothing you can hold onto or
use against me. But I must say, I'm quite impressed with your skills."
Faith went back to looking for the exit, found a narrow passageway, also
lined with mirrors, and followed it into another mirrored room. The reflections
there disoriented her even further, adding to the alarming sense of being
utterly lost, with nothing but her own twisted image for company.
"I can still see you, Looking Glass," the voice told her. "There's
no way out, except through me. One of the mirrors is a door that can only
be opened from the outside. You tell me what I want to know, and maybe
I'll let you out."
"Who are you?"
The voice chuckled softly. It was a pleasant, sensual sound, but it gave
her the creeps.
"That's not important at the moment. But at least I've got you talking
Faith kept walking, running her right hand along the mirrored wall until
she had come full circle, back to the room with the chair where she had
roused. A sense of defeat settled on her, and she knew intuitively that
her captor had told the truth. The only way out was through him.
She sat down on the chair to give her body a rest. Maybe if she kept
him talking, she'd earn enough time for the drugs to wear off, and give
her a better chance of escape. If she could manipulate the man's emotions,
she could get away. But under the influence of the medication, she was
"What do you want?"
"Like I said, I want to play. And I want to know all about you."
She shook her head. "You don't really want to know about me,"
she said aloud, seeking again, looking for that glimmer of interest that
statement would elicit.
There! Not far away, she felt him, and clung to the man's curiosity
like a life preserver.
"Is that you, digging around inside me, little Faith?" he asked
pleasantly. "It tingles. I think I like it."
The connection slipped, and was gone. Faith took a deep breath and closed
her eyes, concentrating, trying to locate him again. It was like trying
to hold onto a handful of Jell-o, and the effort tired her out.
"I know what you are," he assured her. "I know what you
can do. The way you disposed of Raines was truly spectacular, and that
finder Lyle put on your trail, what was his name?"
Faith stared at her shoes in shame, remembering. "I never knew his
"Then let me solve that mystery for you. His name was Mr. White.
But he wasn't the first person you killed. Why don't you tell me about
"You're from the Centre," she guessed. "And you're afraid
of me. That's why you're so far away."
"Not really. Cautious, yes. But not afraid. I could never be afraid
of a woman."
Faith glanced at her image in the panel straight ahead. It made her face
look pear-shaped, her shoulders and hips widely exaggerated, and her waist
impossibly narrow. She looked like a caricature, a cartoon creature. Or
She lowered her gaze back to the floor, and hugged herself against the
chill in the room.
"What's the matter, Faith? Don't like what you see?" the voice
She kept silent, knowing that her captor was seeking buttons to push,
to arouse her to anger or fear. If she was going to survive, she would
have to resist. But under the influence of the drug he had given her,
it wouldn't be easy. She wanted to respond, wanted to talk with him.
He laughed again, darkly, softly, and the sound made goosebumps rise
on her skin.
"Like I said, I know what you are," he assured her. "You're
a monster, Faith. Admit it."
Suddenly, the image of a DSA recording flashed onto one of the mirrors
beside her, and was immediately reflected on all the others. She froze
while it played, remembering with vivid clarity when the event had taken
She must have been 12 or 13 years old at the time. Raines had been in
charge then, and she knew from previous experience not to attempt to use
her talent on anyone in a supervisory capacity. She wasn't yet skilled
enough to control it, and had been severely punished whenever she tried
But neither could she shut out the memory as the recording played on.
Mesmerized, she watched in horrified fascination, unable to take her eyes
away from the scene. Raines had been an exacting taskmaster, forcing her
to reach inside the man they had brought in as her test subject.
"He likes little girls," Raines growled softly. "Can
you feel what he wants to do to you?"
Her insides had twisted up. She didn't understand what it was that
the man wanted, but she knew it was ugly. She knew it would hurt, and
he would take pleasure in her pain. And she knew there was a knife in
the room. She had seen it placed there before the experiment began. That
frightened her, because she was afraid the man meant to use it on her.
The stranger smiled, something unpleasant gleaming in his eyes.
"The only way to stop him," Raines crooned, "is to
make him afraid. Really afraid."
"I can't make him afraid of me," Faith told him, trembling.
"I can't make someone feel what isn't there."
Raines stood behind a partition with a window that separated him from
the man and the child in the simulation room. "I know he's afraid
of me. Can you find that fear and enhance it?"
Faith watched the stranger, felt his growing desire to touch her.
If she didn't stop him, he'd lose whatever resistance kept him in that
chair, and she wouldn't be able to control him at all, not when her own
emotions got out of control.
She closed her eyes and went hunting, delving into that dark, twisted
soul until she found what she needed. The amplification was slow at first,
then picked up speed. The man began to breathe heavily as his fear increased,
backing away from her and toward the table with the knife. She concentrated,
trying to control the process as she had been taught.
The flashover came unexpectedly as the mirror inside her flared, and
the man cried out in sudden, abject terror. Faith struggled to regain
control, but it was too late. He grabbed for the knife, taking refuge
in a corner of the room where he plunged the gleaming blade into his own
body over and over, mouth open and screaming as he killed himself.
Raines darted out from behind the partition and knelt over the man
as he flailed and quickly grew still. And then he turned toward the child
she had been, his watery blue eyes glowing with pride. He smiled.
"Very good, Faith," he purred. "He's dead, just as
"You started young," the man behind the speakers told her.
"One of the few who can kill with a thought. That's a pretty spectacular
talent, if you ask me. You enjoy the power, making people do what you
want. Don't you, Faith?"
Tears filled her eyes and spilled over. "What do you want from me?"
she cried for the third time, covering her face with her hands.
"Just the game, darlin'," the voice replied with relish. "It's
all about the game."
* * * * * * * * *
"Wait!" cried Morgan, running toward the salon doors in pursuit
of the enigmatic woman who looked so much like her mother. She heard a
phone ringing as she dashed after the woman, scanning the room quickly
for that familiar face, but finding it nowhere it sight. The room was
full of people, most of them women having their hair done, and Morgan
was forced to run to a few chairs and check out the faces of those patrons
she couldn't see from the doorway.
A hallway led into other rooms, and the huntress looked in each one,
ignoring the startled screams as she slammed the doors and went on to
the next one. Out the back door she ran, glancing around the parking lot
for the doppelganger, spotting the woman just as she closed the door on
a gray sedan. Morgan reached the car just as the woman hung up the phone.
She beat her palms on the window glass and demanded the woman get out
and speak to her.
Fear glimmered in the woman's eyes, and Morgan knew instantly that this
was not Catherine Parker.
She stepped back and tried to catch her breath. "I'm sorry. I didn't
mean to scare you, but you look just like
"Catherine Parker," the woman finished for her. "I know.
I was helping the FBI catch a friend of yours. I'm sorry."
The woman shrugged and took off the gray-streaked wig that covered her
own hair, laying it in the car seat beside her. "I don't know her
name. A woman who was wanted in connection of the death of a man named
"Oh, my God." Morgan backed away, realization dawning on her.
She had been bait in a trap to catch her sister. And knowing the Centre
as she did, she was sure that they'd have kept this woman on the run unless
the mission was accomplished.
"You got a phone call just now," Morgan observed breathlessly,
her heart squeezing up inside her chest. "Was that the all-clear?"
The woman pulled off the latex mask and laid it on the wig, breathing
a sigh of relief to have it off her skin. "If you mean did they catch
her, then yes. I'm sorry, but it's for the best. She's a dangerous woman,
from what they told me."
Trying desperately to maintain her composure, Morgan straightened up
and glared down into the car window. "This FBI agent. What did he
look like? Was he tall, dark and handsome?"
"Yes. An attractive young black man," the woman confirmed.
"He said his name was William Raines, but his friends call him Willie."
"Willie!" Morgan repeated, stunned. She'd need time to sort
all this out. But for the moment, she needed to find a way to help Faith
if she could. And she needed to address this grievous wrong with whomever
had given Willie his orders.
She leaned down close to the window and wished for a cigarette, just
so she could blow smoke in this woman's face. "Let me tell you something,
sister. The man who paid you to do this was the criminal, not the woman
he was chasing. You may just have had a hand in the death of an innocent
woman. If I were you, I'd be more careful with gigs like this in the future.
Check those badge numbers next time. Confirm that ID. You just might save
a life." She straightened up, pleased to see the shock and horror
on the woman's face. "And if you don't want this guy coming after
you so he can clean up the evidence he left behind, I'd take whatever
money he gave you and get the hell outta Dodge, while you still can."
She banged on the roof of the car angrily, scowled at the woman a moment
longer, and then stomped off to her car.
Of course her mother was dead, she chided herself. She'd have
known long ago if Catherine Parker were still alive. Someone at the Centre
had used the depth of her love for her mother to track down Faith. Lyle
was the best suspect, so she whipped out her phone and called him.
There was no answer on his cell phone, and she didn't want to talk to
his voice mail. Her next call was to Jarod.
"Do you know where Faith is?" she asked him without preamble,
sliding into the cabin of her rented car and sliding the key into the
ignition. "She's in danger."
"She's missing," he reported. "We're looking for her.
How did you know?"
Morgan explained about the impostor, and the woman's specific mention
of Faith. "My first guess was this sounds like something Lyle would
cook up. Him or Valentine."
He sighed into the phone. "I'll find her, Morgan. Are you in Frankfort?"
"Yeah. They must have picked her up here."
"I'll be there shortly. Right now, I'm assuming you've played the
part they wanted you to play. Go back to your hotel and sit tight. I'll
call you as soon as we know something."
"Thanks. Anything you want me to do? Is there any way I can help?"
"I've got soldiers enough to get her out," he assured her quietly.
"If we get there in time. We're just coming in for a landing now.
I'll call you back soon."
He disconnected the call without waiting for more dialogue from her,
or the wish for good luck she had been about to give him. But she wished
it anyway, started the car and pulled out into traffic, heading back for
her hotel to wait.
* * * * * * * * *
Starlight Carnival Supplies
Outskirts of Frankfort, KY
Faith refused to give up, though she could feel her inner resolve starting
to crack beneath the haze of medication, and that persistent, seductive
voice. She was certain she had been through the maze at least three times,
trying to mark the route with a hair plucked out of her head and broken
in pieces, then stuck to the shiny silver surfaces with saliva. There
truly was no way out, and she was starting to panic.
She flinched as another DSA appeared, this one a compilation of various
scenes. She saw herself being forcibly injected with drug after drug,
and remembered with violent ferocity how the more potent ones burned as
they traveled through her system. She saw the image of her childhood self
screaming, clutching at her head as the chemicals burned through her neural
pathways, enhancing her natural gift a thousand fold. Faith had begged
for it to stop, begged Raines for mercy, and found none.
The woman tried to turn away from those terrible images, closing her
eyes and walking in circles on the concrete floor, hands over her ears
to try to shut out her own screams. The faceless man only turned up the
volume louder. When the recording ended, there was a moment of blessed
silence, and she took a deep breath, holding herself to try to get a grip
on her own wildly spinning emotions.
"You don't like being ordered around, do you, Looking Glass?"
the voice purred.
She refused to answer.
Another projection started on the mirrored wall, one from her slightly
more recent past. Mustering up what courage she had, she turned to face
the recording, watching as one of Raines' nameless sweepers beat her when
she refused a task, knocking her to the floor and kicking her viscously.
She remembered how it felt, how frightened and angry she had been. And
she remembered what she had done to the sweeper.
Buried deeply in the man's mind was the memory of a painful injury
he'd received in training. She grasped that pain and blew it up until
he sank to his knees, gasping for breath, unable to move. Unsteadily,
she got to her feet, standing over him with ice in her eyes and whispering,
"Never hurt me again."
"Very good, Faith," Raines announced from across the room.
"You see how very simple revenge can be? All you need is the right
focus, and you can do anything." He smiled at her then. "Except
to me, of course. You've always understood that."
Faith had understood, all right. She resented Raines, but knew what would
happen if she ever went after him in anger.
"But even Raines wasn't beyond your retribution," the voice
reminded her. "Was he? I saw what you did to him. Oh, and by the
way, the old ghoul's dead. Thought you'd like to know."
There was no relief in that announcement. "It doesn't matter,"
she shot back. "For me, he died a long time ago."
"When you turned him into a cauliflower?" The man chuckled.
"Apparently, what you did to him wasn't enough. Raines must have
ticked off quite a few people in his day. Somebody spiked his punch
though it didn't show up on the autopsy."
Faith kept walking aimlessly, not caring where she was going anymore.
He was beating her down, and she knew it. If this kept up, he would win,
and she would be helpless. But she refused to weep. Not now. And not where
her captor could see her.
* * * * * * * * *
Capital City Airport
The car was late. Jarod checked his watch, fidgeting and considering
renting a car himself, if that would get them on the road faster. He glanced
at Trevor, pacing on the tarmac a short distance away, head down in thought,
waiting on some flash of inspiration to tell them exactly where to go.
Jarod had worked for a carnival supply house before, when he had set
up the Yellow Brick Road simulation for Miss Parker, Sydney and Broots.
That would be their first stop, since the company had gone out of business
the summer of the previous year when the owner retired. He wasn't sure
if that was the right place, and both Trevor and North were uncertain
as well. The others were still searching, but they had a lot of ground
to cover, and not much time.
The Pretender willed himself down from the sense of urgency digging at
him, and closed his eyes, concentrating on the task at hand. An image
of Faith's face bubbled up in his memory, her eyes concerned as she "convinced"
him to leave the Centre while he was under the influence of Aurora. She
had always been there for him, even at the hour of his death, when he
struggled to survive after that plane crash in the mountains.
She loves you, Jarod.
Sydney and Morgan had both told him that, and he had brushed the idea
off at the time. But his own desperate need to find her suggested that,
somewhere in the depths of his soul, he also had feelings that bore examination.
Why else would he be so frantic? She was an old friend at the mercy of
the Centre, but there was something more to this than simple friendship.
That was worth exploring. He had never seen any indication that Faith
was attracted to him in any way other than as a childhood friend, a playmate
and brother -- but perhaps he hadn't been looking. And when others took
the time to comment on her feelings for him, he began to wonder if there
might not be something that he wasn't seeing, something right under his
He had never sim'd Faith, not wanting to explore the gift that set her
apart from the rest of humanity. He was only just now beginning to find
his own way through the emotional minefield that other, ordinary people
navigated so easily. He hadn't wanted to try to understand the burden
she carried; at least, not yet.
Maybe that was why he couldn't see it
because he was always looking
away from her. Which meant that it was time to look at her for a change,
to see who she was at last.
All he needed was the chance to start over. And for that, Faith would
need to be alive when he found her. He lifted his face to the rainy sky
and stepped out from under the hangar, letting the cool drops pelt his
face and refresh him.
He said a little prayer for her, and sprinted toward the car as it pulled
into the hangar bay, calling the others to join him, so they could be
on their way.