Protective Custody


home / season six / episode twentythree / act III


Trader Vic's Campground and Emporium
Rural Blue Cove
11pm EST
Tuesday 14th May 2002

Elizabeth lay beside Trevor on his bed, her arms around him, gently stroking his face, watching him sleep. As she had promised, she blocked out the events in his dreams, but it hurt to see the pain on his face as he struggled to escape from them and know that she could do nothing to help him.

"It's all right, my love," she murmured in his ear. "I'm here. You're safe. It's just a dream."

A tear escaped from his eye and began the slow trek down his face, which lay against her chest. His body was curled up beside hers, his arms wrapped loosely around her back, but as the reality of the dream strengthened, his grasp tightened, making it suddenly difficult for her to breathe, and she gasped.

She had two options -- wake him, or let him continue to sleep. There was a third, but she couldn't conceive of breaking her promise to him, no matter how hard this was for both of them. That, to her, constituted betrayal, and she had her own ideas about the power of promises. Just as she was about to rouse him, however, a thought occurred to her and she summoned her strength, her entire focus on the man beside her, forcing him into deeper sleep, beyond the phase in which the dreams tormented him.

His face slowly went slack, his arms relaxing from their tight hold, and she heaved a sigh of relief, thankfully taking in a lungful of air.

"That's better, darling," she told him, touching his face lovingly, her eyes filling as she brushed away the trace of the tear. "Oh, Trevor," she whispered longingly. "Why won't you let me help you? Let me carry that burden with you, sweetheart. You don't have to cope on your own anymore."

Moonlight shone in through the small window of the trailer and onto the bed, making the new ring on her left hand glisten in the silver light. Elizabeth made the decision that, in the morning, once she saw what mood he was in, she would confront him about sharing the bad parts of their lives as well as the good ones. But for now she could do nothing, other than gently stroke the side of his head with smooth, regular motions, as she stared mournfully at the ceiling.

* * * * * * * * *

Jackson's Barn
Carney's Point, New Jersey
Midnight EST
Tuesday 14th May 2002


The Pretender turned sharply, the light of the moon streaming in through the window at his back, instantly recognizing the figure approaching him out of the shadows of the barn door, having already guessed from the details of the email who he would be going to meet.

"Mason!" he hissed angrily from between clenched teeth. "What do you want?"

"Did you bring the photo?" the younger Pretender demanded.

After a second of hesitation, Jarod slid it out of his pocket, letting it drop to the floor at his feet and backing several paces away, not removing his eyes from the other man's hands. Mason took a step forward and, keeping both hands in the light, picked up the photo, turning on the flashlight he held and shining it on the face of his daughter.

"She's pretty," he remarked, noncommittally.

"She's beautiful," Jarod corrected immediately, forgetting his initial impression, when the children had first been brought to Sanctuary, that perhaps it was not always desirable for the parents to be given care of their children, and feeling only anger at the careless way in which this man spoke of his offspring.

Mason seemed to feel this, his dark eyes lifting up off the image and casting an appraising look at the tall man opposite.

"She looks like her mother," he stated evenly. "And her mother -- the woman I loved -- is dead. Did you know that?"

"No," Jarod was forced to admit. "No, I didn't."

"I don't want the kid," the man spat, suddenly tossing the photo back. Jarod awkwardly managed to catch it between the tips of two fingers. "I don't want to see that face every day and be forced to remember what happened to her mother. I don't want to be burdened by a child when I'm trying just to stay alive, to stay ahead of them."

"Is that why you contacted me?" Jarod demanded furiously. "To throw your daughter on my pity? To hope I'd take care of her, because you won't?"

"Exactly," the bearded man replied coolly. "You care for people, Prodigy," he stated. "I don't give a damn. If they can help me, good. If they can't, I don't want anything to do with them. And if they don't get out of my way fast enough, I get them out of it."

"You're the perfect Centre subject," Jarod sneered. "I don't know why you're running. Why don't you go back where you belong?"

"Because I know how fast fashions change there," the younger man responded emotionlessly. "I don't want to become a reject one day, when they decide they don't need me anymore. I want to choose how to live my life, not let them do it for me."

Jarod couldn't help appreciating that viewpoint. It had been a major incentive for his own escape from the Centre, years earlier. But his mind kept presenting images of the little girl who had just been so callously abandoned by her father, which was something he found a lot more difficult to accept.

A sudden noise made both men start and look towards the back of the barn, through the window behind Jarod. Two figures could be seen stealthily approaching the building and Mason turned back to the older man.

"Hide!" he hissed urgently. "You won't get anywhere if you run. They'd catch you in no time. They want me, not you. If they find me, they'll stop looking."

Without bothering to argue, Jarod hurriedly scrambled up a nearby ladder, hurling himself into the hayrack when he reached it. Lying on his stomach, he parted several strands so that he could look down on the ensuing scene. Something shining on the floor caught his eye and he saw the younger Pretender walk over to pick it up, realizing that it was Dominique's photo. Jarod saw the man slip the photo into his pocket, turning suddenly as the largest man Jarod had ever seen burst into the barn. It was the work of only a second for the behemoth to subdue Mason, holding him so the man was unable to fight. Then another figure strolled in, the familiarity of which made Jarod catch his breath.

Mr. Lee entered the building, apparently listening to the sounds that the giant's victim made as he continued to struggle, before he gave a satisfied smile.

"Well done, my Cat," he purred, and the large, dark-skinned man nodded, his eyes gleaming, as Lee turned his attention to the Pretender.

"Do you know," he began meditatively, "that they want you dead? The entire board of the Asian station wanted you hunted down by the best assassins they have. But I persuaded them that you would be of more value alive than dead."

Mason had stopped struggling and now faced the other man in silence, sneering. "I never thought loyalties meant so much to you," he snarled.

"Oh, on the contrary," Mr. Lee assured him smoothly. "Family is all-important to me." He stepped closer, until he must have been able to feel Mason's labored breathing on his face. "Despite what it looks like now, I appreciate what you did for my daughter."

Jarod's mind was spinning, struggling to understand the connection that was being discussed on the ground below. His eyes studied the face of the blind man, recognizing some of the features, and then he knew.

"You gave Sun-Chai some of the happiest moments of her life."

"If the Centre hadn't interfered, those would have continued," Mason promised. "And yet you still work for them, even though they killed her."

"I'm a wise man, Mr. Mason," Lee stated calmly. "And sometimes it is better to be wise that to let moral scruples get in the way. My daughter was not wise," he continued thoughtfully. "If she had been, she would have realized that her activities were putting her in danger. But there is nothing I can do to help her now." His blind eyes swung around to the captive. "However, I can help you."

Putting a hand into his pocket, he extracted a capped syringe, removing the top. Jarod instantly recognized the amber contents, shining in the moonlight, and his breath caught in his throat, his hands tightening around the edge of the hayrack.

Mason began to struggle at the sight of the needle, but the giant, the man Lee had called "Cat," gave him what looked like a gentle tap the back of the head. The Pretender's head lolled forward at once, obviously stunned, and the Cat used the moment to pull up the sleeve of the black top Mason wore, pressing his thumb against the man's left arm until a blood vessel rose. Taking the syringe, he inserted it into the man's vein. Mason's head shot up at the pain, but he was unable to pull away, his face wearing the same expression of sheer terror Jarod imagined had been on his own face, the day when he had first been given Aurora.

Jarod was unable to help counting silently, knowing when the first effects would begin. He could see that Mason was fighting against the contents of the syringe, his fear magnified by the lack of knowledge of what had been given to him. The younger Pretender's dark eyes were fixed on the place in his arm where the needle had entered, his entire body rigid, but as the seconds passed, it was possible to see his muscles slowly begin to relax. The terror in his eyes faded, replaced by a warmth that was almost painful to look at, his lips easing together from their terrified partly open position into a faint smile, which gradually broadened, until his face glowed with pleasure. His left arm, which had been held out stiffly in front of him, now sank down until it hung loosely at his side and the fingers of his other hand, which had been clenched into a fist, also hung limp. He relaxed back against the hands that continued to hold him firmly, eyelids drooping, appearing to be about to fall asleep.

"Now, you see, Mason," Lee suggested in a smooth voice, "what a nice man I am. Isn't this better than being dead?"

"It's lovely," the Pretender agreed in a dreamy voice, and Jarod shuddered, hating most of all the knowledge that he had sounded the same, aware of how Mason was feeling. He would seem to be drifting, his problems falling away, leaving nothing but happiness and a total lack of care. The memory of that sensation made Jarod suddenly nauseous.

"I can give you more," the Asian man proposed. "If you come with me, I can make sure you feel this good for the rest of your life. Wouldn't you like that?"

Mason nodded numbly, willingly, and Jarod watched the Cat release his hold, stepping back. The man rubbed a hand over the point on his arm where the needle had gone in, obviously waiting for his orders. Lee seemed to be somehow aware of this and nodded, spinning on his heel and going to the door. Mason followed readily, with the Cat last. The large man turned, giving the inside of the barn one final searching look, before leaving.

Jarod remained frozen in the hayrack, his eyes traveling to the window, out of which he could just see from his position, watching the three people walking across the moonlight-bathed farmyard to a bank of shadows. A moment later, the sound of a powerful motor reached his ears, a dull hum that receded into the background, replaced, eventually, by the normal sounds of the night.

Finally, the Pretender carefully descended the ladder, prepared at any moment for the large man to reappear in the doorway. It would, after all, make things go better for Mason if he and Lee were able to hand Jarod back to the Centre. However the silence continued, and Jarod slowly relaxed. Suddenly a thought struck him, and he knew Mason wouldn't say anything, unless he was directly asked. After all, the man had made the effort of getting in touch with him, giving his daughter into Jarod's care, rather than simply disappearing without a trace. He had also hidden Jarod when he could have handed him over to Mr. Lee. Such acts could only mean that, despite him saying he didn't care about her, he must have still harbored some paternal feelings for the child, wanting the older Pretender to be able to care for his daughter, although in a different way from Sun-Chai.

It was then, Jarod realized, that for the first time he hadn't felt the urge he usually found so hard to control when in the same room as Aurora. Picking up the discarded syringe, he lifted it to the light, eyeing the traces of the golden liquid, which still clung to the plastic casing. His hands didn't shake, no perspiration beaded his face and the longing that normally made his heart ache was absent. Jarod's head went up and he nodded in satisfaction. The addiction wasn't beaten, he was aware, and in difficult times it would resurface, but this was a very important step.

It also meant that the research he had been putting off for months could now begin. He had been trying to convince himself that the reason he hadn't started it yet was because he had no time, but he knew deep down that it was because he was too afraid to be in the same room as the drug in case, as he had once before, he was unable to fight against his cravings, particularly with his current additional tension, the forthcoming conflict and his anxiety about Jacob. But now he could take what little spare time he had to work on a better stabilizer, one which would make the lives of those who were still trying to recover from their own addictions easier, many of whom, the man knew, still longed for the drug in the same way he had during the early days.

His eyes lifted from the syringe, fixing on the world outside, the light of which was fading as the moon sank slowly towards the horizon. Sliding the needle into his pocket, he left the barn, waiting in the doorway for a second, before breaking out of the shelter of the building, slipping across the ground like a shadow, and melting into the darkened area of trees where his car was parked.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware
2pm EST
Wednesday 15th May 2002

When Sydney came back from lunch, the order was on his desk and he didn't bother to sit down, immediately returning to the elevator and riding it up to the Tower. He couldn't help wondering if he was going to be sent back to Texas as he knocked on the Chairman's door.

"Come in."

Entering the office, he made his way to the chair in front of the desk and sat down, his expression expectant. "You wanted to see me, sir?"

"Yes, Sydney." Mr. Parker picked up a folder from his desk and handed it over. "I've got a project that I want you to consider taking on. I know," he continued before Sydney could protest, "you've got a lot going on. That's why I'm giving you so much advanced notice. It's probably going to be about nine months, if everything goes according to plan, before this project will be ready for your active participation. Still, you can begin preparing for it now."

The psychiatrist's mind was whirling, but he managed to make sense of the timeframe with which he had just be supplied. "Mr. Chairman, are you saying that the child hasn't even been born yet?"

Parker chuckled. "Exactly, Sydney." He leaned back in his chair, turning it slightly so that he could look out of the window behind him. "We need to look to the future," he began impressively. "It's important that we start to think long-term and work on a broader time-span. We did so in the past, but since the Seraphim were born, that practice has been halted. Now it will be started again."

Sydney listened to the speech with half an ear, opening the folder and running an eye over all the details with which he had been supplied. He saw that the prospective mothers had been tested and a group of five had been selected as surrogates, noting that they had no close family. Finally, he looked at the source of the future child's parents. Only one space was filled in, but the code-name of the project filled him with horror and he looked up so sharply that the Chairman noticed and broke off his spiel.

"What is it, Sydney?"

The psychiatrist took a second to gather his thoughts. "Mr. Parker, what makes you believe that the clone of this individual will be any more successful as a Pretender than the original individual was?"

The Chairman arched an eyebrow. "How do you know who it is?" he demanded.

"When Jarod worked with him, I read through his file," the man responded carefully. "And the codename was in his folder then."

Mr. Parker seemed to accept this, because he nodded and turned his attention to the question he had been asked. "The reason we believe he will succeed," the Chairman replied, "is because I've always felt that the reason he was a failure was due to Raines' influence. I saw your success with Jarod and I'm sure you can do it again."

Sydney looked skeptical. "Mr. Parker, I'm 68 years old. I'm not sure I'll be able to work for as long as this project would require it. Certainly not the 30 years or more that I spent with Jarod."

"I'm aware of that," Parker snapped impatiently, as if uncomfortable at the reference to age, as he cast a glance at the black sleeve of his suit coat, flicking off a gray hair with what Sydney believed was almost a shudder of disgust. "I'm planning, over the next two years, to bring in a number of new psychiatrists and other project overseers. You'll be among the team to train them, particularly in the education of future Pretenders." He gave a condescending smile. "You're one of our best teachers, Sydney, and we want the chance to pass your methods on to a whole new generation."

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas
4pm CST
Wednesday 15th May 2002

The face that flashed into her mind was familiar, but she couldn't put a name to it. Checking her watch, the psychic walked over to the bed in which her daughter lay. Tempest was already awake from her afternoon nap and her face broke into a smile as Rebecca bent over the bed, climbing up into a standing position and reaching out for her mother.

"Mama," she crowed delightedly, hugging Rebecca around the neck, as she was picked up and carried over to the bed.

"How's my baby?" the woman murmured automatically, her mind still exercised by the vision, as she curled up against the pile of pillows and placed a teddy-bear into her daughter's arms.

Suddenly the little girl's blue eyes were firmly fixed on her mother's face. "It's Daddy," she stated firmly, and Rebecca jumped, gathering the child in her arms again.

"What did you say, baby?"

"Daddy," Tempest remarked again, reaching out to tap the side of her mother's head.

"You mean Alastair?" Rebecca asked hopefully, but the girl firmly shook her head.

"Daddy," she told her mother once more, firmly, before crawling back over to the teddy-bear.

Standing, the woman picked up Tempest and placed her down among a pile of toys in the corner before going over to the computer that stood on a desk in another corner. Sitting down, Rebecca started up a program and waited for the call to be answered.

When it finally was, she forced a smile at the man, almost unrecognizable with his blond wig and matching beard.

"Hi, Jarod."

He grinned in return, but she could immediately see the concern in his gray eyes. "Hey, Rebecca. Is everything okay?"

"Fine," she assured him. "Your son found several tubes of red paint this morning and managed to decorate three of the other children and two walls before anybody noticed."

"He's a budding artist," the child's father chuckled. "I hope it wasn't oil-based."

"Oh, don't worry, it washed off. Michaela's still slightly tinted, but apart from that, they're fine."

"Glad to hear it." His expression became one of curiosity. "So what's up?"

She sighed. "Do you have a photo of your brother?"

"He's right outside," Jarod assured her. "I'll go get…" He trailed off and looked at her closely, his voice becoming soft. "You don't mean Ethan, do you?"

It wasn't posed as a question but she shook her head in response.

"What is it?" he asked when she hesitated.

"The photo?" she prompted gently, watching him immediately reach into his bag and extract one, holding it up to the screen. "That's him," she sighed regretfully, hearing a small voice from behind her repeat the word "Daddy."

"Who?" the man demanded. "What's going on?"

Rebecca hated the thought of what her knowledge was going to do to him, but he had to know the truth.

"There's another clone planned, Jarod," she finally admitted. "The Centre's going to clone Kyle."

* * * * * * * * *

25 Washington Avenue
Blue Cove, Delaware
8pm EST
Wednesday 15th May 2002

Sydney paced the length of his living room, studying the carpet and trying to reach a decision. He knew that what he should do immediately was contact Jarod and have him do what he could to stop the project. But the Chairman had made a point about the extra security he had arranged for this project, as if guessing what Sydney might do, and he also had to be sure that any attempt the Pretender might make wouldn't be traced back to the psychiatrist.

However, he also couldn't bear the thought of what Jarod would suffer if and when he ever learnt about the project, should it be allowed to go ahead now. The tentative trust had been built between them slowly, and it would only take one misunderstanding, such as this, to tear it apart again. The photos of Jacob lay on the coffee table and he eventually picked up the one with the phone number, turning it over and picking up his cell phone.


"Jarod, it's me."

"Sydney!" Jarod sounded relieved. "I was going to call you, but I didn't think you'd be home yet. I wanted you to look up a project for me."

The psychiatrist thankfully put aside his own news. "Why wait until I was home?" he enquired. "I can't do a lot from here."

"No, but I didn't want the chance of anyone overhearing the conversation," the younger man went on. "If this project is for real, the security surrounding it would be second only to Fort Knox, to try to keep me out."

"What project?" Sydney sat on the sofa. "Tell me what it is. I'll do whatever I can."

There was a deep sigh on the other end. "I got a call from Rebecca," the Pretender began. "She has this idea that the Centre's going to clone Kyle."

Sydney's eyes flew to the folder in front of him and his breath caught in his throat, but he stayed silent and allowed Jarod to continue.

"Now, I don't know if this is for real. I don't know why they'd bother, but that's never stopped them before…"

"It is real, Jarod," the older man interrupted softly. "That's exactly what I'm calling you about."

A second of silence followed this, before Jarod spoke again, his voice cracking slightly. "How do you know?"

"Mr. Parker has asked me to oversee the boy's development, after his birth," Sydney explained as gently as he could. "He's looking into the future, in an attempt to retain the Chairmanship."

"He said that?"

"Not in so many words," the psychiatrist admitted. "But it's not hard to read between the lines." He waited for a moment, but Jarod remained silent. "The project is called Ares," he continued.

"Son of Zeus," Jarod spat. "How appropriate."

"There's not a lot on it," the older man went on, ignoring this. "So far, the only information I've got is the details about prospective surrogate mothers. I do know, though, that Fenigor has been at Pakor for the past two days, and Morgan was asked to provide extra security for the place, which is supposed to continue for the next two weeks. After that, the security moves to Donoterase and then back to the Centre in March next year."

"He really is thinking long-term," Jarod ground out, other noises suggesting that he was pulling on his jacket. "But we'll see just how good that security really is."

"Jarod, please, be careful," Sydney begged. "They're waiting for this -- in fact, they're counting on it. And if they do catch you, who would stop them then?"

"You'd be surprised," the Pretender responded drily, before his tone became filled with anger. "My brother saved my life, Sydney, and I'm not going to let them get away with this. He would've been devastated enough to discover that they'd made him a father, but I'll be damned if they're going to clone him, too."

There was a sharp beep on the other end as Jarod disconnected the call and Sydney pressed the button to turn off the phone. A thought occurred to him, however, and he switched it on again, putting in a number and waiting for the call to be answered as he picked up the folder about Ares, remembering to adopt the tone he used at work when the call was finally answered.

"Kim, it's Sydney. Would you mind bringing a car around? I think I may need some help."

* * * * * * * * *

Pakor Frozen Foods
Baltimore, Maryland
11pm EST
Wednesday 15th May 2002

Slipping into the darkened room, Jarod looked around carefully by the limited light of the torch he carried, knowing how long he had before the security guard would pass by the door. His eyes scanned a list on the wall and he found the relevant number, pulling on the necessary protective gear before opening the frozen storage container and withdrawing the first holder. The samples he was after weren't there. With a feeling of increasing urgency, his heart pounding in his ears and a dull metallic taste in his mouth, Jarod took out the second. When that also failed to provide the object of his search, he urgently hunted through the last two.

Kyle's samples were missing.

With trembling hands, Jarod refitted the lid, not bothering to tighten it, and tore off the mask. If the samples had been removed, that meant only one thing -- they were already being used. His eyes flashed around the room, knowing that the implantation wouldn't be carried out in the storage room. Another door caught his eye and he hurried over to it, silently pushing down on the handle and easing the door towards himself.

The neighboring room was, thankfully, empty. The small light on the microscope, which allowed a camera to take pictures every few seconds, provided sufficient illumination for him to see the vial on the bench nearby. Snatching it up, Jarod saw and instantly recognized the numbers, turning furious eyes to the microscope. Fitting his eye to the eyepiece, he felt a tightening in his chest as he saw that the cells had already begun to divide and multiply. The clone of his brother was being formed on that Petri dish, right there in front of him.

His hand hovered for a moment over the switch on one side of the large glass cube in which the microscope was mostly housed, and which kept the cells at a constant temperature. After a brief pause, Jarod flicked the switch. There was a small whine, then silence.

Yanking open the box, Jarod pulled out the Petri dish, carrying it over to the sink and washing the contents down the drain. Leaving the circular glass container lying on the shining silver surface, he turned to the door, checking his watch to see when the guard would pass.

"Well, well, well," remarked a cool voice from behind him. "What have we here?"

* * * * * * * * *

Schöneberg Apartments
Berlin, Germany
6am CET
Thursday 16th May 2002

The old man entered the bathroom of his apartment and turned on the tap, filling the basin with hot water for his shave. Opening the mirrored cabinet, he removed the equipment he needed before closing the door again with a firm click. It was then, in the reflection of the rapidly fogging mirror, that he saw the tall man, dressed all in black, standing directly behind him. Wolfram Leiden drew in his breath to yell for help, but before he could make a sound, a clear film of plastic was placed over his mouth and nose, pulled tightly until the back of his head was pressed against his attacker's chest.

Leiden's frail hands clawed at the surface of the mask, and although some of the clear film was scraped off by his fingernails, the mask was too thick for him to scratch through in the short time he had left to live. His assailant's dark eyes gleamed as the man fought for air.

"The Executioner strikes again," Yuri muttered, seeing the German's eyes widen as he struggled. "But they don't know the truth, do they, old man? They can't see a pattern. And yet it's so clear."

He could see the man's eyes rolling as he began to lose consciousness and there was a glint of satisfaction in Yuri's eyes.

"None of your victims were ever this lucky," he spat. "Their deaths were long, slow and lingering. Or else they had to live with nightmares of you for the rest of their lives, like Sydney and Jacob Ritter. Remember them, Leiden? Those two helpless little boys you treated like guinea pigs? If you don't remember, they sure remember you. Or Sydney does. I'm sure he'll consider this one a favor, once he finds out."

Yuri held the mask with one hand and pressed two fingers against the unconscious man's neck to search for a pulse. There was none. He glanced at his watch, waiting for another full two minutes, before he released his hold, letting the man's body drop to the floor. Leiden's wrinkled skin was a pale gray color and the veins stood out darkly on his forehead. Removing a black hood from his pocket, the Pretender pulled it down over the dead man's eyes, knowing that the gloves he wore would prevent any prints from showing up.

After closing the bathroom door, he crossed the bedroom in the same silent strides he had made several hours earlier to conceal himself in the shower stall and noiselessly left the apartment. He stripped off his gloves and pocketed them, knowing that the warmth of the season would make him look suspicious if he left them on, and pulled out his cell phone to report a suspicious sighting around the building to the local newspaper. The Press would feel that the Executioner had, after a break, struck again. Herr Delius, Mr. Parker and the other big guns at the Triumvirate would know for certain.

* * * * * * * * *

Pakor Frozen Foods
Baltimore, Maryland
11:30pm EST
Wednesday 15th May 2002

Jarod's hand froze on the door handle and his heart seemed to stop. There was a dull click that he had no difficulty in recognizing, and the Pretender turned slowly to meet the blue eyes of the man watching him. Cox had apparently entered the room from the storeroom, and he must have done so almost silently. Jarod deliberately gazed at the gun in his hand.

"Were you expecting my brother's DNA to fight back?" he enquired, thankful to hear that his voice betrayed no sign of his anxiety.

"DNA doesn't turn on taps," Cox responded immediately. "Nor does it turn off heaters, the action of which caused a small alarm to sound." He smiled in satisfaction. "You didn't know that, did you, genius?"

The Pretender raised an eyebrow. "Does one also go off when the temperature of the frozen cells drops?"

The doctor's eyes widened slightly as he understood the implication and he aimed the gun at the electric lock on the door, shooting to make it blow so that the door would be sealed shut, before spinning on his heel and racing into the storage room. The door separating the two rooms also clicked loudly as it was locked and then the Pretender grinned. He pulled the outer door towards him, slipping silently into the corridor, and pulling it shut after him, the damage to the electronic lock making it henceforth impossible to open. Firmly pressing the alarm button on the lock for the storage room made that also seal, but then lights and sirens disturbed the former silence of the corridor and the man took off for the exit at a run.

Jarod could hear feet pounding after him, emphasized by muffled yells, apparently from Cox, who now found himself trapped. The person chasing him was gaining, and the Pretender put on an extra burst of speed, knowing that if he could get to the front door, he would have a better chance of escape.

The guard on the door was already waiting, but fortunately had been looking the other way when Jarod rounded the corner, his momentum carrying him right into the man and sending the suited figure crashing back into the wall. That cleared the doorway, and Jarod was through it in a bound, still hearing the dull pounding of footsteps behind him.

His car was several blocks away, not having wanted to alert any guards who might have been on duty at the perimeters of his approach. He wondered now if he would be able to make it. Even as he thought this, however, the headlights of a vehicle parked only a few hundred feet down the road suddenly blazed brightly and the passenger window was wound down.


The voice was familiar, and he headed instinctively for the car, even as the door to Pakor Frozen Foods was flung open, a team of guards streaming out. The rear door of the car was opened and Jarod threw himself inside, the car taking off from its parked position at once. The momentum of the vehicle slammed the door, and Jarod lay across the back seat, struggling to catch his breath. After a moment, when his heart was no longer pounding so loudly in his ears, he rolled onto his side, looking up at the psychiatrist, who was watching him from the front seat in concern, and managed a feeble grin, his eyes flickering briefly over to where Kim sat behind the wheel, her hands wrapped firmly around the wheel and her eyes focused on the road, before looking back at Sydney.

"Good timing."

On to Act IV

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