Hybrid Biotract #23
Broots stood on the stone steps, eyes on the ground. His stomach was
upset, but at least it had stopped cramping. He had a feeling the nausea
would be with him for a while.
The sound of footsteps made him look up, and he saw Miss Parker striding
toward him, purpose in her eyes and her stride. He had not wanted to talk
to her about this inside the building, too afraid their conversation might
be monitored by unwanted ears. Here, at least, he could see if they were
being watched, and he had in his pocket a small device that would provide
enough white noise interference to disable anyone listening in with electronic
devices at a distance.
"What is it, Broots?" she demanded, slinking to a graceful
stop a few feet away.
"We've got trouble, Miss Parker," he told her. "You know
that security tap I couldn't find? Well, I did."
She crossed her arms, waiting for more. "And?"
"It's Valentine. He's tapped into God knows what. Maybe everything.
And Mr. Lyle has had me checking up on a guy named Lucian Bruce--"
"Never heard of him," she interrupted. "What does he have
to do with this security breach?"
Broots stepped closer, dropping his voice to a nervous whisper. "I
don't know who he is, either. But he's powerful enough to have the whole
Triumvirate killed off 15? years ago." His eyes got round, remembering.
"And guess who carried out the sanctions for him? Valentine!"
She frowned. "Is he behind this new rash of murders, too, with Yuri
doing his dirty work for him this time?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. But this Bruce guy, whoever he is, if
he's got enough power to execute the Triumvirate, we don't stand a chance.
We better get the hell outta Dodge and disappear. You, me, Sydney, Kim
Anybody we care about."
"It's too late for that," she shot back, and dropped her arms
with a heavy sigh. She met his curious gaze with sadness in her eyes.
"We have lives to save, Broots," she told him softly. "You
go if you want. Take care of Debbie. But my -- Sydney and I are staying
And thanks for standing by me, all this time. I've learned to treasure
your friendship, Laszlo."
He straightened, too stunned for words for a moment. "You know my
She gave him a sad, sweet smile. "Yeah. And you know mine. You know
all my secrets, don't you, Broots?"
His shoulders crept up around his ears as he stuffed his hands into his
pants pockets. "What secrets would that be, Miss Parker?"
"It's your job to find things out. You do that well. And if you
don't understand something, like the DNA records on the Seraphim, you
learn. Don't you?"
How she had figured that out, he'd never know. "Yeah. So I know
about Gabriel." He gave her a shy smile that withered away in light
of this dangerous new knowledge. "So you want to tell me about the
rest? I'd rather not be kept in the dark. I know something's up between
you and Jarod. I've had too many phone calls to wipe off your records
not to figure that out."
She told him. He sat down on the stone steps, staring at the ground,
his mind awhirl with the visuals.
"Oh, God," he breathed.
Miss Parker squatted down beside him. "You can still go to Debbie,
if you want."
He could. He knew that. But he had made his decision long before she
offered him this escape. "Who's gonna watch your back, if I duck
out now?" he asked her. "I've come too far with you and Sydney
to take off when you need me most. Debbie's safe, and my brother will
take good care of her, if I
" He met her eyes, that knot in
his belly forming again. "I'm basically a coward, Miss Parker. I've
never stood up to anybody in my life, except where my daughter's concerned.
If it was just me, I'd be running so fast Michael Johnson couldn't catch
me." He sighed. He stood up. "But I believe in you. I know you're
doing the right thing. And I'm staying."
There were tears in her eyes as she smiled at him. Without another word,
she turned and walked away, back in the direction from which she had come.
Only this time, her pace was pensive and slow.
He left along a different path a little while later, and decided he needed
to see Kim. She had become very important to him lately, and he wanted
to spend as much time with her as he could. While he still had the chance.
* * * * * * * * *
Our Lady of Refuge Convent
Emily lay on the bed, drowsing as she watched over her mother, sitting
in her wheelchair and looking out the window. It was nice to see her like
that now, realizing that she was actually seeing what was on the other
side of the glass. They had talked a great deal over the past few days,
and old wounds were healing for both of them. They talked to Jarod on
the phone every day, and he was late calling.
Her cell phone rang, and she got up to answer it.
Only it wasn't Jarod.
"Emily, where are you? The paper said you didn't show up for work
yesterday. Did something happen? Is it Jacob?"
Her heart dropped into her shoes. "This is for me, mom," she
told Margaret, and carried the telephone out into the hallway, shutting
the door so her mother wouldn't overhear. She held the phone to her ear,
her throat constricting as she heard his wonderful, terrible voice. "I
know who you are, Paul," she told him hoarsely. "I know you're
The earpiece was silent.
She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to hold back the tears. "I know
that the Executioner hates powerful people. But what the papers never
reported was that the victims were all connected to the Centre. Is that
where you're from?"
There was such calm in his voice. Such resignation. He knew it was over
between them, and he knew why.
"Did they train you to do those things?"
"No. I killed those people on my own." He sighed, and it was
ragged with emotion that did not show in his voice. "I want to talk
to you, Emily. In person, not over the phone."
"That isn't a safe or smart thing for me to do, P--Yuri."
"Are you back in Dallas?"
She sniffed back tears, but they spilled onto her cheeks anyway. "No.
And don't go back there. They won't let you in. They'll turn you over
to the police."
"You don't want me to get caught?" There was a note of hope
in his voice.
"I want you to stop. No more killing. Ever."
"I can do that. But how will you know I've stopped? How can I--"
"You should be in prison, Paul. Yuri, or whoever you are."
"That's just it, baby. I'm anybody. I'm a Pretender, just like your
brother. I don't have a clue who I am, where I come from
But when I'm with you, I'm not. I know exactly who I am. I'm the man who
She pulled the phone away from her ear so he wouldn't hear the sob that
statement wrenched out of her. But the tears were not going to stop. She
couldn't be in love with a murderer
but she was. "Don't call
me again, Paul. I don't want to see you, not ever again. How could you?"
she screamed at him. "How could you?!"
Punching the off button, she disconnected the call and leaned against
the wall, weeping and broken. She would never get over him. She had seen
the photographs of his victims, knew how horribly they died, and could
not reconcile how a man who had made love to her as tenderly as Paul Jennings
could share the same skin as Yuri the Executioner.
But then, he was a Pretender. He could be anyone he wanted to be. Except
* * * * * * * * *
The Hidden Truth Chinese Restaurant
"To what do I owe this invitation, Mr. Sun?" Miss Parker asked
as she lifted her wineglass. The man sat across the table from her, his
expression troubled as it never was inside the building where they worked.
She would never have guessed that he had been undermining corporate rule
all these years, but that was because he was so good at hiding his real
feelings. Now, however, he didn't seem to care, and the mask was gone.
"I wanted to talk with you in private," he told her. "Since
our little trip to Dallas to check on the kids, I think we've all discovered
a few important things about each other. Like whose side we're all on."
He raised his eyes to hers, and she could see the pain in them. But there
was something else, too. She thought it might be approval.
"For a long time, I thought you were just like the Chairman,"
he went on. "That's why I didn't trust you with any of what I was
doing behind the scenes. It's good to know that you really are like your
mother. I'm proud to know you."
"Ditto, Mr. Sun. I can see why my mother liked you so much. I just
wish I'd gotten to know you better."
He smiled then, briefly. "Please, call me James. All my friends
do." He toyed with his place setting, eyes downcast to the table.
"So I guess it's time to lay our cards on the table. Let's start
with the questions I know you have for me."
She nodded, appreciating his quickness. "What's your relationship
with Peter Winston?"
He grinned, his green eyes twinkling. "Peter and I met after he
stole a painting I had donated to a museum in my hometown. I put out feelers
to buy it back after the theft, and he didn't work with fences at the
time. He was damn good. Gotta admire cojones like that."
"And now?" She felt herself smiling as well, surprised yet
again by the reference to her college chum's shady past. She'd never have
expected something like that of such an All-American kind of guy. But
then, she knew too well how appearances could be deceiving.
"Now we share information, with Sam as our go-between. We help each
other. Something big's about to happen in Berlin."
"I know. He told me, and I promised to keep him apprised of developments
He looked at her then, his expression guarded, eyes wary. "Now it's
my turn to ask you questions, I guess. What are you planning?"
"I'm not showing my hand just yet, James. Just in case. Things are
about to change big-time, and I need to have you around for backup, in
case I fail."
He nodded approvingly. "Just let me know if I can help."
"When the time comes, you'll know what to do." She thought
about the list of names Jarod had given her, and wondered briefly if Sun
had a copy of it. That list had come from Berlin, she was sure, but it
had on it the names of people who could be counted on to help in the coming
confrontation. Peter Winston had been on it, as had Sam and several others
she knew. Jock Voorhees from Boer City was listed, along with a handful
of others at that station.
But she wasn't going to risk getting Sun in trouble with implementation
of her mother's plan. Let him stand aside so that, if things went badly,
there would still be a few good people who could watch over future development
of the Centre, and hopefully find a way to make the positive changes that
needed to happen. He'd be her ace in the hole, in case things went horribly
"Do something for me, James," she asked softly.
"For you, anything," he promised.
"Stay out of it. Keep a low profile, and if anything happens, keep
your nose clean. Understand?"
He nodded. "For afterward. Just in case." He sighed, and studied
his empty plate again. "You know how I felt about your mother, Parker."
A sad smile flashed across his lips and was gone. "Morgan. I wanted
to thank you for letting me watch that DSA." His eyes filled with
tears, and one rolled unheeded down his cheek. "Raines told me he
was going to help your mother fake her death. He didn't tell me how, but
I was one of the executives who signed off on her death certificate. He
knew he could count on me for that, even though I saw her in the morgue,
and knew she was still breathing."
His gaze rolled up to the ceiling, and he brushed the tear away. "I
went to Renewal to kill him, after I saw that recording. Did you know
that? I was going to kill him for what he did to her. But I couldn't."
Morgan sat quietly, all too aware of his pain, of the deep affection
he had for Catherine that still lingered in his heart, just as it did
in her father's.
"I couldn't, because he wouldn't have felt it. It wouldn't have
mattered. There was no justice to be had for her."
"She was someone special," he mused thoughtfully. Then his
eyes rolled over to take in her face. "And so is her daughter. I
salute you, Morgan. That's the highest compliment I can pay you, that
you not only look like your mother, but you have her heart and her courage."
He lifted his glass then, in salute. "To Catherine, and to her daughter."
"To dreams," she returned enigmatically. "May hers come
true, one day soon."
Their glasses clinked, and the drained them together, the spirit of Catherine
Elaine Jamieson Parker warm and alive in their hearts.
* * * * * * * * *
Trader Vic's Campground and Emporium
Jarod stared at the computer screen, his eyes burning with fatigue and
grief as he read the email from Jordan. He needed to be there, but he
had to be in Delaware. His heart was torn in two.
A knock sounded at the door of his trailer, and he minimized the post
before going to answer it.
Trevor stood there, his jumpsuit crisply pressed, sharp creases on the
trouser legs, not a hair out of place. But it was his solemn expression
that caught Jarod's eye, and he stepped aside to let the man into his
temporary home. Trevor glanced around for someplace to sit, but the furniture
was covered with technical notes and printouts of Jacob's medical records.
The Pretender worked tirelessly on the boy's health problems, even during
the midst of the other matters he was juggling. He picked up several of
the piles and set them aside, offering his friend a seat on the built-in
sofa. The little trailer was not made for comfort, but for utility and
convenience, but no one seemed to mind. Trevor, though, seemed decidedly
out of place in those clothes and that setting.
"What can I do for you, Trevor?" Jarod asked cordially, returning
to his seat at what served as a kitchen table. The narrow built-on panel
only seated one.
"I came to ask you if you'd take a little time off," the other
man announced. "A few of us are jetting off to Vegas for an overnight
stay, and we wanted you and Faith to come with us." Then he smiled
softly. "Elizabeth and I are getting married tonight."
"Congratulations!" Jarod crowed, grinning broadly. "This
is a little sudden, isn't it?"
Trevor's good humor melted instantly, and he swallowed hard. His voice
was huskier when he spoke again. "I've seen enough of the future
to know I belong with her, and she agrees."
"I'm guessing Sebastian will be best man?"
Nodding, Trevor fixed him with a sad eye. "Please come with us,
Jarod. Have a little fun. Enjoy yourself for a change. Lighten the load.
Maybe you and Faith could tie the knot, too." He swallowed hard,
and turned slightly away. "It would be a good thing, considering--"
"Faith and I are just starting to explore a relationship,"
Jarod returned warmly. "We're not ready for something as permanent
as I view marriage. I don't want to do something rash, just because I
don't know what the future holds for me, and regret it later."
"But Jarod, I've seen
" Trevor bowed his head, covered
his face with his hands. "So many people won't be coming back--"
"I don't want to know," the Pretender assured him, feeling
the weight of impending doom settle in on him. He had been feeling that
dread for weeks now, not only because of little Jacob. "Please, keep
your visions to yourself this time. I really don't want to know what you've
Trevor laid his hands in his lap and nodded, staring at the floor. "Will
you come with us, then? Have a night on the town with us, and wish us
Jarod smiled. "I wish you that anyway, and thank you for the invitation.
But I need to stay here. I have things to do, to get ready."
"Okay." He stood up, and Jarod did also.
The Pretender stepped forward and embraced the man. "You'll be happy
with each other," Jarod declared. "I've seen how she feels about
you in her eyes. You're a lucky man, Trevor."
"Yeah. I know." Trevor smiled, and left quietly.
Jarod sat down again and maximized the post, reading it over again, even
though he had it memorized by now. Elizabeth would not be in camp that
night, and she would not stand watch over his dreams. They would be terrible,
he knew, filled with fear, horror and tragedy, all the things that bothered
him in the subconscious realms during his waking hours, all the possible
flaws in his planning and their terrible consequences. This time, he had
to be perfect, but that was impossible. There were too many random factors,
too much he couldn't anticipate.
And that meant death. Trevor had seen it already. Someone Jarod loved
was going to die, and he had come to love many of the unusual, gifted
people of Sanctuary. There was a sense of family with them, even though
he had his whole family back now, everyone but Kyle.
The Pretender closed his eyes and summoned up a picture of his brother's
face from memory.
Only this time, Kyle was smiling at him.
He wondered what that meant.
* * * * * * * * *
Children's Medical Center
Jordan sat by the bed, holding onto the little boy's hand, staring out
the window while Jacob slept. He slept a lot these days, because his body
just didn't have the energy to function anymore. He had pain in his joints
that no amount of morphine would address, and headaches that rendered
him almost blind, due to intracranial pressure. Jordan could feel the
ghost of that pain in his own body, and knew that there was nothing he
could do to help.
His eyes burned from wanting, needing to cry, but he couldn't. Jacob
didn't understand that he was dying. Or maybe he did, and looked forward
to it. Still, Jordan couldn't let him know how much the prospect of losing
He had a son. Jacob was his child, born from his DNA, not Jarod's.
And in the short time he'd had with the boy, he learned to love him, to
think of him as his own. His father's words in Barrow came back to him
as he remembered necking in the dark with Merritt, about what they had
almost done. He'd have been willing at the time to go as far as she would
let him, without thinking of consequences. Now, however, he understood
what Jarod had been trying to say. Barrow was a lifetime away, and he
could never go back to the innocent he had been then.
Turning to look into that weary little face, he felt his heart squeeze
another painful beat in his chest. One day, he would marry and have a
child the normal way. He knew that now, understood the responsibilities,
the heartaches and joys of parenthood. But no child who ever came into
his life again would take the place of this one.
Jordan glanced up as the major wandered into the room. The older man
offered a grim smile and a nod, and took a seat in one of the guest chairs.
He glanced at Jacob, and sighed.
"I just spoke to your dad," Maj. Charles told him quietly.
"He's told me where your grandmother is. I'd like to go and visit
her soon, maybe bring her back here. But I'll stay as long as you need
Jordan straightened up and sniffed. "You go on ahead. I knew where
she was, but Emily swore me to secrecy." He rubbed his face wearily
with his free hand. "We'll be all right."
The major shook his head. "Margaret's not in any danger where she
is," he explained. "She's doing well. There's no hurry."
His gaze wandered over to the sleeping child. "How long did the doctors
"Maybe a week. Or days. Not long, now." Jordan's eyes welled
up and spilled over, and he scrubbed the tears angrily away with the back
of his hand. "It's so unfair. He's so little. He's had so much pain
Major Charles got up and came to him, put his arms around the teen's
head and shoulders and held him close while he wept. "I know, son.
But you gave him the world. He's happy now. He's ready to let go."
Jacob stirred, and Jordan cut off his weeping instantly, sniffing back
the last of his tears as he turned reddened eyes to that dear little face.
"Hey, squirt. How're you feeling?"
"Tired," Jacob told him breathlessly, wheezing as he talked.
"Don't cry, Daddy. I'm not scared anymore. Not with you here."
"I don't want to lose you, Jake," Jordan told him, reaching
up to stroke the boy's hair and cheek. "It hurts me to think about
"I'm sorry," the boy whispered back. "I don't want to
hurt you. I love you."
"I love you, too, baby," the teen sniffed.
Jacob smiled. "That's all that matters, isn't it?"
Jordan nodded. "Yeah. Love is all that matters. It's all we get
to keep. That and memories."
Jacob closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep again, worn out by the
effort to talk. It took a little while for his smile to fade away. Jordan
watched the regular rise and fall of the child's chest, and heard the
wheezing increase as he struggled to breathe. Jacob's organs were shutting
down, one by one, and no amount of medicine or surgery or treatments would
His son was dying, and he had no choice but to watch.
Love and memories.
That would be Jacob's legacy.
End Episode 24
One more episode to go!