Icy Kold warehouse
Faith parked beside the unmarked silver van at the loading dock. She
checked the address again on the piece of paper Ethan had given her, and
verified it against the weathered sign above the abandoned building. This
is it, she announced, getting out of the car. Come with me.
Jarod quietly followed her. They climbed up the concrete steps and pushed
open the door to a darkened interior. It smelled of dust and expired refrigerant.
Faith closed her eyes for a moment and felt for the hum of emotion, found
it, and headed in that direction. She had no idea who she was supposed
to be meeting there -- only that they would help Jarod.
One small room upstairs in a row of offices had been cleaned and made
over into a miniature hospital room, complete with a railed bed with built-in
IV pole, and an array of monitoring equipment.
Jarod! called an older man, rising from his seat with obvious
excitement. Son! Im so glad to see you. Are you all right?
He drew the Pretender into a firm embrace, then backed off to look into
Im fine, Jarod said automatically.
Faith noticed the teenage boy in the back of the room, hovering over
a machine. The look in his eyes was haunted, and she felt his fear, his
No, Jarod's not fine, she told them. But Im assuming
from all this equipment that you know what he needs.
Dad, what are you doing here? Jarod asked slowly. Jordan?
Whats going on?
The older mans face fell, recognizing that Jarods muted reaction
was not normal. His eyes went to Faith immediately. I imagine youre
the one Ethan told us about. Faith, isn't it? Thank you for getting my
son out of that hell-hole. My name is Charles, and this is Jarods
son, Jordan. He swept a hand in the boys direction.
Faith smiled slightly. I wasn't sure I was ready for this, but
Ethan can be very persuasive. She glanced up at her long-time friend,
and her tiny smile disappeared. Were all scared for him. I
just hope this works.
You hope what works? Jarod asked. His eyes wandered around
the room, taking in the equipment, and the concern on Jordans face.
The youth still hadnt said a word of greeting.
The major took his son by the arm and led him over to the bed. Were
going to help you beat this thing. Weve done the research, gotten
the information we need, and--
What makes you think I want to beat it? Jarod demanded. That
he felt the threat was obvious. He just couldnt seem to get worked
up about it.
Charles shot a troubled glance at Faith, then looked back at his son.
Are you going to fight us?
Jarod shrugged. I'm not going to hit anyone, if that's what you
mean. He clutched the box and vial that held the remains of his
tether. As long as I have this, everythings okay. His
eyes pleaded for understanding. Dont take it away from me,
please. It makes me happy. It's everything I want, everything I need.
Jordan looked quickly away, busying himself with preparation for the
task at hand, but Faith felt his torn spirit from across the room. She
didnt have to see the boys face to know there were tears in
his eyes. As gently as she could, she soothed his hurt, boosting the logic
that told the boy it was the drugs talking, and not Jarod.
Providing comfort was less draining, if a bit more unfamiliar. And this
boy felt so much like the Jarod she knew as a child that it was almost
frightening. The resemblance itself was uncanny. But she had work to do,
and turned her attention back to Jarod.
Sit here, son, Charles ordered. Were going to
hook you up to an IV. Jordan has trained as an anesthesiologist, and will
put you to sleep while we clean out your system. Im sure you know
how its done already. Well be using one of your own inventions
to help with the rapid detox, to make the physical withdrawal easier.
Ive been learning how to administer and monitor the medications.
He grinned. Its nothing like being a pilot, but Im a
quick study. Youre going to be just fine.
Jarods eyes went to Faith. And what will you do? he
She took his hand. Ill be watching over you, making sure
you can find the way back to us.
Yeah. Youre good at that sort of thing, the pretender
shot back with just a hint of sarcasm.
Charles did not try to relieve his son of the drug that he wanted so
badly. Instead, he donned a pair of latex gloves and grasped Jarods
free arm in search of a vein. He sucked in a sharp breath as he saw the
needle marks tracking all the way up to both elbows. Charles turned Jarods
hand over and started feeling along the back of it for a suitable point
of entry for the IV.
* * * * * * * * *
Sydney sat behind the desk, his face haggard from weariness, but his
attention fixed on the young woman across from him. Her distress was obvious;
she could not function properly in her current state, and he had to help
her. He had to find a solution to all this, and soon, or there would be
I cant explain it, Nancy said softly. Angelique
was comfortable with Jarod in a way she hadnt been with anyone,
even me. Im worried about her. Shes withdrawn and combative,
refusing to let go of her doll and hiding in the corner when anyone enters
the room. The only one who seems to connect with her now is Gabriel, maybe
because he and Jarod were so close. How do I reach her? What can I do
to help her accept this loss?
The psychiatrist kept his expression neutral, but he couldnt help
the feeling of joy that had come with the news of Jarods escape,
though he was deeply concerned about the impending withdrawal his protégé
would experience. He was afraid that, if the measures he tried didnt
work, the young man might resort to suicide to end his pain.
Nancy was the third caregiver in his office that morning, all of them
stressed to their wits end, which only worsened the childrens
He sighed. Since we dont know where Jarod has gone or how
long he may be away, we must treat this as a worst-case scenario. The
children were just becoming accustomed to Jarod, and it has upset them.
This will manifest in a variety of ways, some of which are already being
exhibited. He paused, pondering the case notes he had read on this
particular child, wishing once again that he might work with her and the
others directly, rather than secondhand. Its not surprising
that Angelique has regressed. She trusted Jarod to be there, and that
trust has been violated. It will have to be built back slowly, piece by
piece. Let her work this out in whatever fashion she chooses, aside from
hurting herself. Be patient with her, and be calm. She needs that from
you, more than ever now.
The young woman nodded, sighed and stood up. Thank you, Sydney.
Ill do my best.
She had no sooner left than Broots came in. "I'm sorry for interrupting,"
he said in his typically hesitant fashion.
"You're not. Our session was finished." He took the notes he
had made and placed them in Nancy's folder, intending to transcribe them
later. "What can I do for you, Broots?"
The tech took the question as an invitation, and sat down in the chair
Nancy had just vacated. "You heard that Jarod escaped, right?"
Sydney crossed his arms on the desk in front of him. "Since the
entire Centre has heard about it, that knowledge did finally make its
way down to me, yes."
He winced at the other man's dry, sarcastic tone. "Well, Miss Parker
is trying to figure out how and why Jarod left. I've talked to some people,
but you knew him best, so I figure youre the best source of information.
"'Knew' being the operative word," Sydney replied. "I
haven't seen Jarod, except from a great distance, since she brought him
in. I don't know that I'd be qualified to answer your questions at this
Broots leaned forward in his chair. "Look, Syd, I know you resent
the fact that they wouldn't let you talk to Jarod, and I don't blame you.
I mean, you practically raised him from a little boy. But I don't think
Miss Parker had anything to do with that decision. I don't think she's
deliberately shutting you out."
"Has she said something to you?"
He shook his head. "No, it's more like a feeling I get when I'm
around her. Miss Parker isn't the same person she used to be, you know?
I mean, she's still tough when she has to be, but she's just
apologizes after making cracks, she says she trusts me
different. Does that make any sense?"
A tiny smile flickered at the corners of Sydneys mouth. Yes,
I suppose it does. Shes finally becoming her own person, rather
than her fathers martinet.
So, then, how do you think this thing with Jarod happened? They
said the drugs they had him on would make it impossible for him to leave.
From what Ive read of the research, I agree with that supposition,
Sydney returned thoughtfully. Its more than just the physical
addiction, however. Jarods conquered that before, and could certainly
do it again. Under Auroras influence, he wouldnt have had
the will to walk out on his own.
Broots sat back in his chair, mouth hanging open for a moment. You
mean, someone helped him? Like who?
Sydney couldnt help smiling, knowing Broots wouldnt understand.
Theres only one person who could have done it. If Miss Parker
thinks about it, shell have the answer. All it takes is a little
faith in herself and her own abilities.
Broots frowned, realizing that he wasnt going to get anything more.
Then he nodded, and left.
Sydney had been thinking about that problem all morning, since he received
the first frantic call to come into the office, and discovered what was
going on. Faith was a troubled woman, but she cared for Jarod and Miss
Parker. She was connected to both of them, and only someone with her talent
could have persuaded the Pretender to walk away from the source of his
pleasure. She would take care of him, and do her best to keep him safe.
He just hoped that what she had to offer would be enough to keep Jarod
* * * * * * * * *
Icy Kold warehouse
Jarods eyes were closed, his breathing regular and even. He didnt
flinch when Charles removed the kit and vial from his relaxed grasp, and
everyone heaved a collective sigh of relief. He was unconscious, the medication
already in his veins to purge Aurora from his body.
"So far, so good," Jordan said.
He seemed calm, at least on the outside. Faith knew he was more than
competent to play this role; after all, he had Jarod's genius, and his
own skill as a pretender. Still, she knew he was worried -- both of them
were. She got up from her chair, and went across the room to sit beside
the Major. "All we can do now is wait," she told him.
He smiled. "Ethan didn't say much about you. He just told me that
you and Jarod had known each other as children, and that you could help
him in a way no one else could."
"I only met Ethan for a few minutes, but I knew Jarod had a half-brother.
an inner sense, in the same way Miss Parker does. When he
came to me out of the blue and told me it was time to get Jarod out, I
knew he was right."
"He also told me you had a unique talent."
She took a deep breath. Im what they call a hyper-empath.
I can sense other peoples emotions, but my major 'talent' is being
able to collect and then reflect back whatever emotion I choose."
It sounds so odd when I say it out loud. Offering a small, tight
smile, she added, Strange, I know. But we all have the ability to
some degree. Were all connected to each other, especially when were
physically or emotionally close to someone.
Charles nodded. It does sound kind of fantastic, but Ive
seen a lot of impossible things in the last few years. Theres a
large part of our brains that go unused, and I imagine these types of
things come from that unknown territory. He frowned. Only
the Centre seems to be on the leading edge of exploring and mapping it.
"Taking his natural desire to escape and magnifying it is how I
persuaded Jarod to leave, even under the influence of Aurora, but it was
a near thing. This is a very strong drug. It will take a long time for
him to recover from its influence." She did not add her doubt about
whether he would ever completely conquer it.
"You must have been at the Centre the same time as Jarod was. Were
you one of their subjects?"
She nodded. "I was nine when they took me out of the orphanage where
I was living. That's a little older than they liked, but I had a skill
they desperately wanted. They used adoption as a cover, so no one would
be suspicious. My legal name is Faith Parker." She watched Charles'
reaction, but other than a slight raising of his eyebrows, he was silent.
Jarod had already been there for years, but he was still kind and
gentle. He always wanted to help people. A memory crept up on her
unexpectedly, bringing a soft smile with it. He said I was beautiful
You are, Charles agreed.
Faith shook her head. "I haven't been beautiful for a very long
time, Major. At least, not on the inside. But I always remembered him
saying that. There's a part of Jarod that managed to stay innocent, even
in the hostile environment of the Centre. Sydney had a hand in it, I'm
sure; but part of it was just his nature. He always seemed to know how
to find the good in a situation, or a person, if there was any."
"It sounds as though you knew each other well."
moments, events that Jarod will tell you about
when he's ready." She looked over at Jarod's form. He appeared to
be sleeping peacefully. No one deserves that more than you, Jarod,
especially after what you've been through. I only wish you could have
gotten it some other way than through Aurora.
Mentioning the events that had brought them together reminded her of
Eclipse. Her eyes closed, momentarily, as her mind slipped back to that
place and that time.
The boat that represented Jarod's return to consciousness skidded
onto the white sand beach of their imagination. Faith stepped out over
the prow, and Jarod followed her.
Something squished when he walked, and he glanced down at his feet.
One of them was stained black, and as they watched, the substance absorbed
quickly into his skin. He turned to look back at the hungry ocean, roaring
angrily for its missed meal, before the scenario dissolved completely.
As Faith came to awareness, she was back inside the Centre, in a small
room, sitting with her back to the wall. Jarod was right there with her.
Jarod? she asked.
He lifted his head and looked over at her. What was that?
he asked. What was that black stuff? I could feel it going through
She knew he was too fragile right then to understand the truth --
that a small part of Kodiak Brown's personality had managed to merge with
his. That revelation would have to wait until he was stronger.
Its nothing, she lied. Dont worry about
Faith opened her eyes and stared at the blank wall across from her, repeating
softly, Its nothing at all.
* * * * * * * * *
The tech fell into the guest chair across from his boss. "I can
say with complete certainty that Jarod got out through the ventilation
again." He tossed a file folder onto her desk, closed
his eyes and rubbed them. "I thought you were going to have those
sealed off, and motion detectors hard-wired in."
She sipped her hazelnut cream coffee. She had managed to return home
long enough to dress and groom herself properly, leaving her minions to
start gathering the information she needed. Now she was digesting everything,
taking it all in and trying to find the places where the errors occurred.
"I put in a request last month to my father. Apparently, that got
shelved. None of the improved security measures I suggested were implemented,
with the exception of the front entrance, and his chain of command superseded
my orders to the contrary."
"What I want to know is, why did Jarod leave?" the tech wondered.
"He's hooked on Aurora. There's no supply for it outside of here."
She pondered that for a moment. "Angelo, maybe?"
Broots shook his head. "Angelo wouldn't go near him in that state.
He was afraid of Jarod. But I did talk to Sydney, and he seems to have
figured things out. He said if you thought about it he was sure you would,
"Bunny," she murmured, remembering the toddlers distressed
admission. "Bunny took Jarod." She glanced up and saw that Broots
was staring at her as if she had lost her mind. "That's what Gabriel
told me, that someone named Bunny took Jarod away. Who would do that?
Who could make him
She stopped. That was it. Someone had forced Jarod to leave, and just
anyone with a gun wouldn't have been able to overcome his dependence on
Aurora. It would have to be something else, something even stronger, if
that were possible.
She sat up straight in her chair, set down her coffee cup and looked
the tech in the eye. "Get me everything you can lay hands on concerning
the Looking Glass project."
"Well, there wasn't much the first time, so I doubt that I'll find--"
"Just go, Broots!" she snapped.
He was out of his chair and on his way to the door when she apologized.
He just grinned at her and ducked out the door. Two years ago she'd never
have let an apology slip out. She let it slide, confident in the fact
that she had just found a bargaining chip that might allow her to keep
* * * * * * * * *
Icy Kold warehouse
Charles checked the dosage four times, meticulously expelled the air
bubble from the syringe, and loaded it into the IV port that took it into
his sons arm. His attention was firmly fixed on his job, and he
was performing well. Faith decided he didnt need a distraction and
moved away to a chair near the heart monitor.
She studied the boy instead, remarking to herself how the memories of
young Jarod flooded back when she looked at him. She couldnt help
How come youre looking at me like that? Jordan asked,
checking the electronic panel once more, before making brief eye contact
You look just like--
I know, he cut in.
This has been hard for you, she said softly, scooting her
chair a little closer to him. Youve been experiencing something
strange, a connection to Jarod like nothing youve ever known, and
its scary. I know about that sort of thing.
Jordans gaze went to hers and held. How did you know?
She shrugged. Youve got the same blood, the same heart and
mind. How could you not feel this terrible thing thats been happening
The teenagers surprise gave way to understanding, and to relief.
Concern etched itself into tight lines around his mouth as he observed
his patient, and checked the monitors again. You knew him when he
was a teenager, right?
Faith nodded. She could feel her face relaxing with the memories. Yes,
was he like me then?
Jarod was always an optimist, looking for the bright spots. But
he was also troubled about what they did to him, what they made him do.
Some of it was bad, very bad.
He had been about Jordan's age the last time she saw him as a child,
after Eclipse. They had been shut away together, in the hope that she
could save his original personality. Attempts to retrieve the other subjects
had failed miserably.
He shivered, and she wondered if he was cold. It was just a
dream, wasnt it? he asked her desperately. I didnt
really hurt anyone, did I? He stared at his hands. I can see
her face. I can see the knife in my hands. I didnt want to do it.
Why couldnt I stop?
She felt the distress coming off him in waves. The simulation hadnt
broken him, but she feared that what lay ahead, the realization of what
he had done, would unhinge his mind. As long as he had those memories,
as long as they continued to torture him, he would slip further and further
away until no one could reach him. She could already feel him retreating.
Rest, she whispered, holding his hand and encouraging
him to lean against her. Itll be okay.
He was so drained, so weary from his internal struggles, that he obeyed.
And while he was unconscious, she took those dark memories and built a
wall around them, just strong enough to let him recover.
Soon afterward, the Centre had done a little brainwashing of their
own, making him forget he had even seen her. But the wall she had built
to protect him had been placed with such care that it held for 25 years.
She remembered her delight at seeing the others who came to visit after
she arrived at the Centre. Those three had been her lifeline, her only
source of hope. What she felt for Jarod, her adopted sister, and Angelo
was the closest thing to love that she could recall since losing her parents.
And she wondered if that wall she had so carefully built out of love
had ended up hurting Jarod in the long run, doing more damage than the
memories of Eclipse might have, had they been left for him to deal with
on his own. She had told Sydney that she would deal with this problem
in her own way; and yet, it was still an open wound.
There wasnt time to come to terms with it now. There were far more
important things on her mind, not the least of which were the three men
in that room. She turned back to Jordan and began engaging him in safer
topics of conversation, doing what little she could to help in the adjustment
to this newest facet of his relationship with the man he now called father.