Protective Custody

 

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Die Fakultt
Berlin, Germany
9am CEST
Thursday 16th May 2002

The Direktor looked up as the door to the office opened and the woman appeared in response to his summons. He could see that her eyes were puffy and dark-ringed, her lack of energy obvious in the droop of her shoulders and the way her feet dragged.

"You sent for me, Herr Direktor?"

He rose from behind the desk, slamming the door shut with his hand, and shoving her further into the room, so that she stumbled and almost fell. Her eyes widened, panic evident in them, but she made no effort to fight or get away. That fact seemed to fan the fury that was already burning in him, and which had only been exacerbated by reading about Leiden's death in the newspaper he had received a few minutes earlier.

Delius slammed his foot into the side of her leg, sweeping her feet out from under her, and bent over to punch his fist into her stomach. After the first strike, he remembered that she was pregnant and focused his next hits on her chest and arms. Weak cries came from her mouth at each contact, but he ignored these, knowing that no one would come to help her if they valued their lives.

The first spot of blood on his hand reminded him of the ignominy of being forced to send one of his most prized possessions, this woman's son, over to the man who held the position he, Delius, coveted, and the strength of his blows doubled.

When he finally stopped to draw breath, the woman lay unconscious on the floor in front of him, the marble of his office floor being covered by a slowly-increasing pool of blood. Straightening, he stepped around to pick up a pile of papers from the desk, about to leave the office, when there was a knock on the door.

"Come in."

His head of Security entered the room, his face expressionless. "Excuse me, Herr Direktor," he began apologetically, "but you never gave me back that report you wanted to work on."

"Oh, yes," the German conceded, nodding at his computer. "I've made the necessary changes, but you'll have to print it out yourself."

He left the room at once, knowing that Winston couldn't access any files Delius didn't want him to, the majority being password-protected. Closing the door, he saw that his secretary was working and didn't even have time to spare him a glance. Nodding in satisfaction, he got into the elevator.

As soon as the door was shut, Peter Winston dropped to his knees beside the woman, avoiding the blood as he checked for a pulse. The door opened and Maria entered with a bowl of water and a cloth, her face wearing a resigned expression, which faded to one of horror when she saw the state of the translator.

"This happens often?" the man snapped.

"Too often," Maria responded, cleaning her friend's face. "But it hasn't happened for a while."

Winston picked up the phone, calling for a stretcher. When he turned back, the secretary was cradling Julia's head in her lap, holding the cloth against a split in her lip, which was continuing to bleed. The man knelt down on the floor, feeling the woman's arms and legs for any breaks, even as the door opened and a medical team entered.

* * * * * * * * *

Prometheus Building
Dallas, Texas
2am EST
Thursday 16th May 2002

A scream shattered the peace of the nursery floor, and every child was instantly sitting up in bed as a boy began to sob, crying out in a foreign tongue. Amy, after quickly checking on Tempest, hurried into the room next door, seeing that Peter was sitting up, howling, as tears poured down his face. Helen appeared as Amy hurried to the bedside, and the caregiver turned with a quick direction.

"Get Jordan and Joseph."

She sat on the side of the bed, gathering the child in her arms and seeing her own charge appear in the doorway, her eyes wide. Rocking Peter, the woman managed to get the howling to dissolve into small, pathetic sobs, but he constantly called out for his mother and paid no attention to the words she was murmuring in his ear.

Joseph appeared in the doorway a moment later, Jordan looming behind him, Jacob in his arms. The German man caught up his son, and Amy moved aside, seeing the child's arms curl around his father's neck, sobbing against his throat. Joseph seemed to be asking questions, but it took a few minutes until Peter was calm enough to answer them. The healer looked up at Jordan as he listened to his son's voice, finally providing an explanation for what was happening. The young man looked suddenly ill as he tried to explain, tightening his hold on the boy he carried.

"He says that Peter saw his mother being beaten. Apparently she's very ill, in the infirmary. She's pregnant and there's the risk that they might lose the baby, or that she might die."

There was a prolonged silence in the room following this, broken only by the soft sobbing of the boy in his father's arms. Suddenly Helen's eyes blazed with purpose.

"North," she stated firmly. "He can at least tell us what's happening there."

Leaving the room to fetch a phone, Jordan explained what she had said to Joseph, who was pale, his tension obvious in his eyes. Going over, the young man sat down on the bed, seeing as Jacob reached out of his arms to embrace his small friend. Peter raised his head and, after a moment, returned the hug.

Helen returned with a laptop and a speakerphone, plugging them in. Jordan eased Jacob off his lap and onto the bed, sitting down in front of the computer and finding Die Fakultät's coordinates, as the overseer of the nursery made the call. The remote viewer's voice was sleepy as he answered, but when he knew the reason for the call, he became more business-like. There was a moment of silence before he began to speak, and Jordan mentally censored what was being told to them before repeating it to the man and his son.

"She's alive, but looks badly injured," was the first report. "And she's being put into a bed. There's plaster on her left arm and leg, as well as a bandage over one eye."

"The baby?" Jordan demanded, knowing that this was one of Joseph's major concerns.

"I don't know," North responded after a moment. "There's no way for me to find out."

Even as Jordan was glumly repeating this to Joseph, the door of the room opened and Alastair appeared, cell phone in hand. He hurried to the bed, sitting down and slipping an arm around his friend's shoulders.

<"It's okay,"> he stated softly in German. <"She's going to be all right, and Winston said that they managed to save the baby.">

Jordan sighed with relief before translating it for those who hadn't understood. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement in the doorway and turned to find the other seven Seraphim waiting there, their eyes all fixed on the small, sobbing child. Tempest sidled over to join them and Jacob seemed to feel the pressure of their gaze, because he eased himself out of Peter's hold and held out his hands to Jordan, nestling close when he was picked up.

As soon as there was space around the small German boy, the eight children moved as one to the bedside, Raphael and Uriel climbing up to hug their half-brother. Joseph let Peter slip down to the floor, and the boy was hugged by each of the other six children in turn, each murmuring a few words in his ear. Jordan saw the look of concern on the faces of all the children and remembered the discussion he had had with his father about having to make sure that the Seraphim learnt to value other peoples' lives. He was unable to help seeing this as evidence of the fact that, despite the environment in which they had spent the first developmental years of their lives, it didn't seem as if it would be as difficult a task as it had first appeared.

The caregivers now began to extract their charges from the room and take them back to their own rooms. Peter had climbed back into his father's lap, wrapping his arms around Joseph's neck and snuggling close to him. The man embraced his son and, using Alastair as translator, it was agreed that Peter could spend the night with his father. Jordan felt Jacob's head droop down onto his shoulder, knowing that the child's limited reserves of energy had already been sapped by the night's events, and excused himself from the room.

The residential floor seemed strangely empty, with so few rooms in use, their occupants being in Blue Cove. Jordan wandered along it, increasing his pace when he felt Jacob begin to shiver. The boy had little control over his body temperature and Jordan knew how important it was that he not be allowed to get either too cold or too hot. A door along the corridor opened as he passed and Major Charles stepped out, following the young man to his room.

"Is everything okay?"

Jordan noticed appreciatively that the man hadn't asked what had happened. Any pressure there had once been for details about Jordan's actions had all but vanished since he had left to rescue Jacob, and he valued that, returning the favor by answering questions with as many details as he could supply.

"It's fine," Jordan told him. "There was a problem with Peter and Joseph, and they needed me to translate. That's it."

The man brushed Jacob's hair smooth with a smile. "You put him to bed and I'll make you a hot drink, okay?"

"That'd be good." Jordan sent him a grateful smile, carrying the boy into the shared bedroom and laying him on the little bed, releasing Jacob's relaxed hold around his neck and tucking the teddy-bear into his arms. By the time he had piled some pillows at the head of his own bed and crawled back into it, Major Charles appeared with a steaming mug, which smelt deliciously of chocolate, and Jordan beamed as he accepted it. "Thanks, Da."

"Make sure you get some sleep," the man told him, grinning. "I don't want to have to answer to your dad if he pays us another unexpected visit."

"Yeah, he's a real bully," Jordan agreed, smiling as he picked up his book, seeing the older man turn away. "Good night."

* * * * * * * * *

Delaware
6am EST
Thursday 16th May 2002

The rising sun shone onto the café in the small town, making the few cars parked outside it look pink in the reflections from the sky. Quickly, however, the rosy gleam faded and the sky became its usual blue. One of the café's regular customers sauntered inside, his brow furrowing briefly in annoyance as he saw that his favorite table was in use, before shrugging off the irritation, sitting down at the bar to order his usual breakfast, and flirting with the waitress as he did so. He cast another look over at the table, seeing that those sitting there were strangers, and then turned to attack his meal with enthusiasm.

Three people sat around the table, one all in black, with a leather jacket slung over the back of his chair, another woman dressed in a neat black suit and immaculate white shirt, and a third man, also in a suit, whose concerned eyes were focused on the man opposite.

"Are you sure you got rid of it all?" Sydney asked as Jarod paused to draw breath.

"I don't know," the Pretender responded, toying with his napkin. "Somehow, I don't think so. They wouldn't use all of Kyle's genetic material at once, would they?" He looked at the man opposite for the confirmation of what he already suspected, seeing the older man slowly shake his head.

"I don't think so."

"Unless they've already used the rest," Kim broke in suddenly, seeing the eyes of both men swing around to her, the startled expression in them suggesting that this hadn't occurred to them, or that they had been trying to avoid thinking about it. "I mean," she continued, "what's to say that they haven't? Just because Mr. Parker didn't ask Sydney to oversee the child's development before? If that's all, they might have created another clone while Jarod was still at the Centre. Or because Rebecca didn't know about any of others? Who's to say she's perfect?"

Sydney swilled around the last off his coffee in the mug before drinking it. "We don't know that for sure," he finally admitted. "All we can do is hope they haven't."

Jarod nodded slowly before looking up. "Could you see what you can find? If there is another -- or others," he corrected gloomily, "I want to know."

"Of course," Sydney agreed quietly, placing a hand over that of the younger man. "You know we'd tell you."

Nodding again, Jarod pushed his chair back and stood up, swinging his jacket over his shoulders. "I should go," he told the two people. "I've got to get back."

"To Texas?" The psychiatrist looked startled. "How will you…?"

"Not Texas." Jarod's eyes twinkled darkly. "Let's just keep the location a surprise, okay?"

"Somehow that's not unusual," Sydney remarked drily. "Look after yourself, Jarod."

"You too." He grinned. "Thanks again."

Walking over to the counter, he pulled a note from his pocket and dropped it into the hands of the waitress, ignoring her offer to give him change, before opening the door. With a nod to the two people in the corner, he crossed the street and disappeared down an alley. Sydney watched him go before turning to his niece.

"Well, that's the excitement over."

Kim smiled, putting out a hand to help her uncle. "And you're going to go home and have a good rest before turning up to work, right?"

Sydney rolled his eyes and gave a fretful sigh. "You don't let up, do you?"

"Nope." She grinned at him. "Just like my father."

* * * * * * * * *

Trader Vic's Campground and Emporium
Rural Blue Cove
7am EST
Thursday 16th May 2002

Sebastian looked up from a list he was checking over to see the familiar figure enter the grounds and slowly make his way over to his trailer. The slumped shoulders and jerky movements were so unlike Jarod's normal motion that he rose and followed the Pretender to his trailer.

"What is it, mate?" he enquired softly, upon entering, to see that Jarod stood beside the table, on which stood his laptop and DSA player, apparently hunting for a particular disk.

"Nothing."

"Crap," the Australian told him succinctly. "You took off like a bat out of hell, and now you look like your whole world's come crashing down." His voice softened as he sat on the man's bed. "Come on, Jarod, we're friends. Talk to me. Get it off your chest."

The older man sighed deeply before slowly turning. "I guess I really should be used to the Centre exploiting my family by now," he stated bitterly. "But somehow, every time it happens, it gets that much harder to take."

"Yeah, it does," the pyrokenetic agreed, thinking of his son and sister.

"I could deal with it, if it was just me," Jarod continued, his voice strained. "I'm used to that. But when they do stuff like that to my brother…"

"Ethan?" Sebastian was startled. "What did they do?"

"Not Ethan." The Pretender glared at the ground before suddenly looking up, the comprehension dawning in his eyes. "Of course. You never knew about Kyle."

"I'm not a mind-reader," the younger man reminded him softly. "I've heard the name, in relation to Tempest, but that's all."

"I know," Jarod returned impatiently. "Kyle died four years ago last week. The Centre killed him. I… It's hard to talk about him, even now. But they were going to clone him. That's why I left. I had to stop them."

Sebastian's hands clenched in rage, and he took several deep breaths before speaking. "And did you?"

"This time." The man kicked angrily at the floor. "But there'll be a next time. There always is."

Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Sebastian looked over surreptitiously to see a man hovering around the doorway, the pyrokenetic catching his eye and shaking his head. The blue eyes flashed and the platinum blond head nodded curtly before the man turned on his heel and vanished.

"Worry about next time then," the pyrokenetic stated firmly. "If it even happens. It'll take time until they're ready to try again, and the current regime may not even be in charge by then."

"Geez, I hope not," Jarod growled, breath hissing between his teeth, hands clenched at his sides, before he turned, his expression apologetic. "You're right, Sebastian. I did stop it. Now I just have to stop thinking about what might have happened if I hadn't."

"You said yourself that it's what you were trained to do," the younger man responded with a weak attempt at a grin. "I can't blame you for it. Look, why don't you go and do a workout? Maybe you'll be able to shake it then, or at least get rid of your excess anger on something that won't feel it."

"Good idea," the Pretender agreed, pushing off his shoes and padding over to his bag to take out the shoes he used in the gym. Sebastian gave him another long look before slipping out of the tent, divining that he wanted to be alone.

Jarod crossed the campground in large strides towards the massive tent that had been set up in the middle. It served a two-fold purpose: it made them look like a real circus and it also acted as a place to hide the equipment that would become necessary later. Inside, there was an area set up like a gymnasium, but it also included circus-type equipment, such as a trapeze and a tightrope, which had been provided with the big top.

As he entered the outer area of the tent, he could hear that someone was using the trapeze, also seeing, as he warmed up, that the large inflated pillows had been moved into position in case of accidents. He swept the heavy canvas side back, entering and looking up to see that a woman hung by her knees from the trapeze bar, increasing her swing until it was in time with the other bar. When she was ready, she caught the bar in her hands and released her legs, managing a graceful arch over to the platform on one of the central poles of the tent.

"Where'd you learn that?" he demanded when she was safely on her feet, and Elizabeth grinned down at him.

"I always wanted to run away and join the circus when I was a little girl," she laughed, "so I went to gymnastics classes and learnt the skills I might need one day."

"You're full of secrets, aren't you?" he teased. "Next, you'll say you had a pet lion cub."

"Always wanted one," she told him, reapplying resin powder to her hands from a bag on the pillar and clapping to remove the excess. "But lions don't go too well in the Australian climate. And they eat heaps!"

He grinned, starting up the treadmill and beginning to jog. Even with just the regular activity, he could feel some of the tension begin to ebb away, his shoulders straightening and head going up as he began to sweat. A pile of towels were stacked nearby, and he grabbed one without even breaking his stride, draping it over the bar in front of him as he increased the speed to a flat-out run.

Jarod didn't know which he heard first, the click or the woman's horrified yell, turning just in time to see her body falling fast, arcing away from the air-filled pillow beneath the trapeze equipment, taking in the fact that the bar was now only attached at one end. His hand found the emergency stop button, but his feet were still traveling backwards on the belt when he saw her body hit the edge of the air bag, rising off it again, a dull thud echoing in the large tent, as she slammed into the ground, landing heavily on her left side. He was halfway across the tent towards her when the door was swept back and Trevor entered at a run. Both men reached her at the same time.

"Don't move her," the Pretender warned immediately, sinking to his knees and gently tapping the cheeks of the pale woman, lying with her eyes closed. "Elizabeth?"

Her dark eyes were even darker than usual as they opened and looked up at him. "Ow," she told him succinctly.

Trevor brushed the hair away from her face, his face panic-stricken. "Where does it hurt, Liz?"

"I think it'd be quicker to say where it didn't," she told him weakly. "My little toe isn't throbbing too much."

Jarod's hands slid along her body, checking for any bleeding. "Any place that hurts more?"

"Left arm," she ground out from between clenched teeth. "And my back's not too happy."

The Pretender gently tapped her left kneecap. "Can you feel that?"

"Uh huh."

He repeated the action on her right, relieved at the positive response, moving along to gently feel her right arm, touching along the shoulder and across her chest. It was when his hand reached the point at which the swelling had already started that she winced.

"Ow," she stated again, closing her eyes briefly but opening them when Trevor made a tiny noise in his throat. With her right hand, she reached out and took his. "I'm all right, Trev," she stated, in a surprisingly calm voice. "I'll be fine."

The psychic's fingers wrapped around hers, looking up at Jarod out of anguished eyes, but he remained silent, seemingly incapable of speech. Rising to his feet, Jarod ran over to the entrance of the tent. He saw Sebastian nearby and whistled to get his attention. The Australian loped over, his long legs carrying him quickly over the ground.

"What's up?"

Jarod drew back the tent flap so that the other man could see inside. "Get a stretcher, and make sure Namir's waiting in the infirmary."

"Sure thing, mate," the pyrokenetic agreed, wheeling around and heading off for the tent in which they had set up a temporary hospital for their stay in Blue Cove.

Going back into the tent and dropping the flap, he returned to the injured woman, seeing Trevor's eyes fixed on Elizabeth's face, which was quickly losing color as shock set in.

"How did you know it happened?" he asked the man softly, seeing that the pain had increased to the extent that Elizabeth was no longer capable of speech, her jaw clenched and the fingers of her right hand curled tightly around Trevor's hand, her eyes squeezed shut.

"I saw it." The psychic shuddered, briefly closing his eyes. "God, I hope I never see anything like that again."

Jarod placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, keeping the fingers of his other hand lying gently against the woman's neck to check her pulse. Before he could actually utter any of the sentences forming in his head, the tent's entrance was swept aside and a group of people entered with a stretcher. Jarod supervised the loading of the woman onto it and took one end himself, gesturing at Trevor with his eyes as Sebastian appeared.

Once Elizabeth lay on one of the beds in the infirmary, he shooed most people away. While the healer moved in to begin treating the injuries, Jarod turned on a small electric kettle and, when it boiled, made mug of hot, sweet tea. It was as he carried it across the small tent that he realized his former depression had fled in the necessity of action, and although it wasn't a situation he would have chosen, it had certainly given him a rapid change of outlook.

"Here," he ordered Trevor. "Drink this."

The psychic tried to push it away, but the older man insisted, forcing it into his hands. "It'll do you good," he instructed, suddenly grinning. "Trust me, I'm a doctor. Today."

Sebastian laughed somewhat weakly, his tanned complexion paler than normal. "You're a fraud."

"I'm a Pretender," Jarod protested indignantly. "There's a difference. Remind me to explain it to you one day."

Before anybody could comment, Namir crossed the room to the trio, leaving one of the nurses to cover Elizabeth with blankets.

"She has a break in her arm," he reported. "I've started it healing. It will need a few days, though, to be back to full strength." He glanced at Jarod. "A bandage might be useful, to keep it still and also to remind her not to use it. The nurse is going to put that on."

"What else?" Trevor demanded anxiously. "What about her back?"

"It is -- " He once more turned to Jarod, providing a word in his native tongue for which he clearly didn't know the English alternative, and the Pretender translated for the others, adding details that he had been simulating in his mind from the fall.

"It's a strained muscle, probably caused by twisting in mid-air when the bar broke. That's also what aimed her away from the air bag. We should get a bigger one, or a net instead, in case it happens again."

"We'll have to look into that," Sebastian mused. "It should never have happened at all."

"It was probably only an accident," the Pretender responded. "After all, no one else had used the trapeze, so it probably wasn't checked as carefully as the other equipment." He saw that Trevor was rapidly losing patience and finished translating the comments Namir had made. "She'll need to spend the next few days in bed to allow it to heal properly, but there shouldn't be permanent damage. It would've been a lot worse if she'd hit the ground directly."

"And that's it?"

"Yes," Namir reported. "Apart from feeling sore for the rest of today."

"I'll give her something to help with that," Jarod put in. "The guards on night duty can go without her special skills for a few hours."

Sebastian nodded soberly, waiting until Namir had left the tent to check on the trapeze bar and Trevor had moved to the bedside, before turning anxious eyes to the older man.

"I don't want to sound selfish," he began, "but what about tonight?"

"I don't know," Jarod admitted thoughtfully. "It'll depend what state she's in then. He eyed the man in concern. "I don't like the idea, but I could always sedate you. There wouldn't be much of a risk then, if any. The medication would prevent you entering the dream state. You wouldn't be as rested, but it would be better than no sleep at all."

"You won't have to do that," a weak voice interrupted, and both men turned to find Elizabeth watching them. "If I can have something now to get over the shock, I'll be all right by then."

"You're going to be one of those medical professionals who are terrible patients, aren't you?" the Pretender teased, moving over to the bedside and looking down to see the woman grin faintly.

"I was a terrible patient long before I was a nurse," she informed him as he took the syringe that the nurse standing beside him offered. "I've never liked bed that much, outside of proper times." She flashed a quick grin at Trevor. "But I'm learning it has other uses, too."

"This is one of those times, for you," Jarod reminded her, as he slid the point of the needle under the skin of her arm, ignoring the other comment. "Behave for the next day or two and I'll let you know when you can get up."

"Bully," she informed him, slipping her hand into Trevor's once the shot was given.

Jarod stepped away from the bed, seeing the psychic's fingers brush against the woman's cheek as her eyes closed, her head turning slightly in his direction. Knowing that he wouldn't be needed for a few hours, he gave the nurse some directions and then left the tent, heading back to the big top and his interrupted workout.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware
11:30am EST
Thursday 16th May 2002

"Do you know what happened?"

Sydney didn't even bother to lift his head from his paperwork as the doors of his office were flung open and the woman marched in. "Good morning, Miss Parker," he greeted her politely. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking. Sorry to have worried you."

She snorted, throwing herself into the chair on the other side of the desk. "I already know why you were late," she stated. "Kim told me."

He looked up. "I didn't think you'd object."

The woman shrugged. "Who says I am?"

"I assumed, from the fact that a whirlwind just arrived in my office, that something big has just been brought to your attention, and couldn't imagine what else it might be." He smiled. "If it's not that, you'd better tell me, before I expire from curiosity."

She glared at him. "You're just making fun of me now."

Sydney's voice was calm. "What makes you think that?"

Morgan snorted once more. "It'd serve you right if I didn't tell you."

He smiled. "You'll never be able to restrain your natural feminine urge to gossip to that extent. I know I'm safe to learn all about it."

She glared at him again, but yielded quickly. "Okay, remember when Broots took the day off to go up and see Debbie?"

The man nodded, leaning back slightly in his chair.

"Well, records show that Kim was up there as well. In fact, she and Broots came back together."

"And this surprises you?"

The woman glared at him. "You knew?"

"I knew Broots was interested in Kim, yes," he admitted, smiling. "She told me that they went out to dinner one night. She's quite taken with him, it seems."

"Well, they've done it again," she told him triumphantly. "Yesterday, Sam overheard Broots asking Kim over to his house for dinner last night. And I was driving past this morning on the way to work and saw Kim's car out the front, so she probably spent the night."

He stared at her for a second in amazement before chuckling. "Good luck to them."

"You don't mind?"

"Mind?" Sydney sent her a bemused look. "Why would I mind? Kim's a grown woman, and Broots is a mature man with a daughter, of whom he takes excellent care. What's there to mind in that? I'm glad my niece has found someone as responsible and honest as our Mr. Broots."

Miss Parker's response died on her tongue as the door of Sydney's office was shoved open and the technician appeared, looking strained, walking straight past her to the desk and putting down the newspaper he carried under one arm.

"I think you'll want to see this," he told the psychiatrist. "It was just sent over from Die Fakultät by courier. Several copies, in fact. The Chairman has one."

Sydney looked down at the paper, his breath catching in his throat at the familiar photo staring at him out of the front page.

"Leiden," he murmured, reaching out to unfold the paper, his eyes widening as he saw the large, black headline announcing the next Executioner murder. Suddenly he looked up. "Do you have the package this came in?"

Broots put a hand in his pocket and pulled out the plastic bag, straightening it out and laying it flat on the desk. Morgan stared at the writing for a moment before looking up at the older man.

"That's Yuri's handwriting!"

"Are you sure?" the technician demanded, and she nodded.

"I saw it when I was going through his sims. That's definitely his."

Sydney nodded. "I thought it would be," he stated softly. "This has been a long time coming."

"You're happy about this?" Morgan asked in amazement.

"Not happy," he told her quietly. "Just relieved."

* * * * * * * * *

Pakor Frozen Foods
Baltimore, Maryland
Midnight EST
Thursday 16th May 2002

The place was locked up tight after Jarod's invasion, security positively impenetrable.

Except for a ghost.

The man's head was covered by a black hood that hid his platinum blond hair and his face, except for the eyes. His lithe body sheathed in black spandex, his hands covered by gloves, his feet by flexible slippers with silent rubber soles, he slipped in unnoticed and headed straight for the big store-room where the most important biological samples were kept. Carefully, he opened the door and slid the two containers he'd brought with him into the cool room.

From another container in a slender backpack, he withdrew a hose and liberally sprayed the entire interior with the contents. The highly flammable gel would cling to every container in the room, making sure the fire destroyed everything. He didn't care whose samples were stored there. He hadn't been assigned this mission by anyone.

He had simply looked into the faces of those children at Sanctuary, and the agony that contorted Jarod's features at the campground, and knew it had to be done.

There would be no more designer babies made from this stockpile of genetic material. He knew a few of the samples had been withdrawn recently, and tracking those down would be his next mission. They wouldn't be too hard for someone like him to find, especially since he knew where to look.

Surveying his handiwork, making sure everything was set, he pushed the two containers of napalm further into the room and detached a small bomb from the bottom pouch of his backpack. Once it blew, the ensuing fire would spread all over the room, heating the napalm containers until they exploded. The fire would burn for a very long time, and everything in that room would be ash by the time it burnt itself out.

He set the timer and pushed it into the room, inserted a soft piece of metal in the door lock to jam it closed, and slipped back out into the night.

From a safe distance away he watched the commotion as the room blew and the security team kicked into gear, bringing in the fire department and trying to assist them in battling the blaze. He smiled as more of the building caught fire and the conflagration spread, eventually consuming fully half the facility. This would be an expensive loss for the Centre.

One he hoped they would never forget.

He turned away, mask discarded along with his gloves and backpack, and strolled down the street amidst the crowd of onlookers, pleased for once to be invisible among them.

End of Episode
Protective Custody
Two Episodes To Go!!

 
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