Oracle

 

home / season six / episode eight / act I

   

Monday, 10th December, 2001
The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Fingers rapping impatiently on the desk in the office that he used in the infirmary, rereading the memo that had landed in front of him that morning, Cox waited for the visitor he expected. He had already discussed the security breach - or ‘incident,’ as Mr. Parker preferred to call it - with the Chairman that morning, and everything was set in motion for the events that were to come. The first steps were already underway, without having waited for official permission, but Dr. Cox knew in what light Mr. Parker regarded such situations and had already been prepared.

A knock at the door interrupted his musings and he looked up sharply, straightening his brow and endeavoring, despite his rage, to produce a pleasant expression.

“Come in.”

The door swung inwards and the woman appeared, closing it carefully behind her and turning to face the office’s sole occupant.

“Dr. Cox?”

“Good morning, Sun-Chai.” He gave her a beaming smile. “Come in. Sit down. I wanted to talk to you.”

She took the seat he indicated with a wave of his hand and looked up expectantly.

“I’ve been noticing that you seemed a little unwell of late,” he began carefully. “As you know, I had a series of tests run on you yesterday and I’ve got something that might help.”

Opening the drawer of his desk, he produced a small glass vial and a syringe, carefully pulling on a pair of latex gloves before attaching the needle to the plastic tube.

“A dose of this every eight hours should have you back to blooming health in no time.”

Sun-Chai watched the man warily. She knew that he was in charge of her daughter and the rest of the Seraphim, and she had full confidence in the work he did with them, but such extreme treatment for what was merely a terrible headache was enough to make her cautious. Before she could inquire as to the actual contents of the syringe, however, Cox opened a drawer of his desk, removed a tourniquet and stood up, walking around the desk towards her. Immediately getting to her feet, the woman met his gaze as her curiosity was replaced with feeling of resentment that he thought she needed to be shown what was very obvious. In addition, she was determined that the man wouldn’t touch her.

“There is no need for the demonstration, Dr. Cox. I am well aware of how to administer this.”

Quickly filling the syringe with the amount specified on the vial, she removed the tourniquet from his hand and fastened it around her upper arm. When she was ready, she slipped the needle into the vein and depressed the plunger. Cox returned to his chair, watching the woman out of the corner of his eye.

Sun-Chai sat down also, unclipping the tight band from her bicep, and placing it and the used syringe on the desk. The headaches which had begun upon her recall to the Centre, and which had been the reason for the medical examination that she had undergone, quickly began to fade, and she looked up in astonishment at the speed with which it was gone. The pleasure she felt at its disappearance seemed slightly disproportionate, but, even as she was about to remark on this, the man in the chair opposite spoke.

“I think that’s enough for now, Sun-Chai. I’ll have somebody come for you in eight hours so that I can give you the next dose and make sure it’s having no adverse effects.”

“Of course,” she agreed, suddenly happy to know that the doctor cared enough about her to give the medication himself. He stood up again and she did the same, waiting for him to reach her side before she turned toward the door. The man placed a hand in the small of her back, steering her in the right direction, and the woman gave him a grateful smile as she left the office. Cox watched her go, a smile curling his own lips, as the door closed behind her.

When she was gone, he stood and removed a small sachet from his pocket, picking up the phone and dialing a number. Within minutes, a sweeper appeared in the doorway.

“Yes, sir?”

The doctor offered the packet. “It’s the same as before, Charles,” he told the man. “Make sure it’s in Sun-Chai’s lunch.”

“Of course, Dr. Cox.”

Taking the small plastic bag, the sweeper turned smartly and left the office, heading for the kitchens to carry out his assignment.

* * * * * * * * *

Saturday 15th December, 2001
New Boston, Texas

The woman threw back her blankets and reached out for her hairbrush as she stood up, brushing the long, blond hair and then firmly fastening it at the back of her head. She quickly glanced at her watch as she walked into the bathroom, mentally checking through the contents of her fridge and cupboards as she turned on the shower, making sure that there was nothing left to buy. She knew he would come today. Everything confirmed it. She just had to be ready.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

The ringing of his phone brought Cox’s attention away from the photos he was looking at and he picked up the receiver.

“Cox.”

“You want something?”

“Did you find the case?” the doctor demanded.

“It was hard to miss,” Valentine chuckled. “Smack bang on the middle of my desk. I’ll assume that it’s not the latest treatments for my boss.”

Cox snorted derisively. “Working with Lyle’s softened your brains.”

“What do you want, Cox?” Valentine demanded. “Be quick about it. I’m waiting for Lyle to appear and then we’ll be off down south in obedience to ‘Daddy’s’ orders.”

“Fine. You know Sun-Chai?”

“We haven’t been introduced, but I’ve done the necessary reading and seen her in action once or twice. Lethal woman.”

“Not for long,” Cox laughed. “She’ll come to you very soon, begging for help. All you have to do is administer a shot of that and give me a call.”

“And then?” the sweeper demanded.

“And then I’ll expect a couple more works of art,” Cox stated, glancing at the photos on his desk once more. “You know how much I love them.”

“Of course,” Valentine affirmed. “I’ll assume you’ve got all the necessary paperwork.”

“Definitely,” Cox agreed. “And make sure…”

“No time,” Valentine interrupted. “Gotta go. Boss is coming.”

The dial tone sounded in Cox’s ear as he heard a knock on his door, and the man swept the pile of photos into his drawer before hanging up the receiver.

“Come in, Sun-Chai.”

The dull-eyed Asian woman walked into the room, closing the door carefully after her, and sitting down as Cox nodded at the seat.

“How is it going, my dear?” the doctor asked paternally. “Everything all right?”

“It’s wonderful,” she affirmed quietly, smiling at him dreamily. “Just wonderful.”

“I’m so glad,” he exclaimed, rising to his feet. As he approached her, Sun-Chai remained seated, her eyes taking several seconds to travel from the chair he had occupied to the man as he arrived beside her and began checking her pulse.

The woman watched him, feeling the warmth that had become a vital part of her being ever since first coming to see Cox at his office and receiving the first dose of that wonderful medication. The headaches hadn’t returned since she had been receiving the regular injections every eight hours, and she thought that such relief from the pain which made her virtually unable to think was worth any side-effects the drug might induce. Not that she had felt any yet.

Cox reseated himself, satisfied that his regular injections had fully addicted the woman.

“I have to tell you,” he began, “that the Chairman is anxious to have you back at work. So for that reason…”

“Can’t I stay?” Sun-Chai begged, with a sudden fear that, once far away from the Centre and from this man, she would suffer the pain again, perhaps even worse than before.

“No, my dear,” he affirmed. “But I’m sure you can manage to give yourself the treatment. After all, you managed so well the first time.”

“Please, Dr. Cox, let me stay,” she pleaded. “I’ll do anything here.”

“It’s out of my hands,” he explained in gentle tones. “I can only do what the Chairman tells me to, and he wants you back out there, but I can provide you with everything you need to keep the pain away, and I’ll give you a final shot now.”

“But how will I get more when I run out?” she demanded desperately.

Cox pulled out a photo of the sweeper, pushing it over the desk to her. “Do you know Valentine?”

“No, sir,” she responded, examining the man’s facial features with her eyes. “But I have seen him around sometimes.”

“Well, I’ve asked Valentine to keep you well provided with the medication you’ve been taking, at least for the next few days until you start to feel better.”

Sun-Chai smiled, feeling the warmth rise again at his concern, forgetting the rumors she had heard about this man. “Of course,” she agreed cheerfully, delighted at the possibility of such pain-free happiness continuing for as long as she wanted it. “I can find him.”

“His cell phone number is written on the back of the photo,” Cox told her. “He’ll be expecting your call.”

Cox waited for the woman to turn the picture over, memorizing the numbers. Once she was finally looking at him again, the doctor produced a glass vial and handed it to her. From his desk drawer, Cox took a number of plastic syringes and a strip of needles. “Sun-Chai, this will get you through the next few days. If there are any problems, all you have to do is get in touch with Valentine and he can help you.”

He walked over to her, quickly administering the shot after a brief hunt for a viable vein. Cox saw the woman’s lips curl into a smile as the drug took hold and nodded in satisfaction as he peeled off the gloves and threw the needle into the sharps bin.

“Well, that’s everything,” he affirmed as she relaxed back in her chair. “If there are any major problems, Valentine will give me a call.”

“Thank you, sir,” she responded, eagerly seizing the vial and pocketing it as she stood up, turning to the door.

* * * * * * * * *

New Boston, Texas

Jarod could feel his shirt sticking to him, his breath coming in painful, labored gasps; a stitch tugged at his side as he ran, the light dimming as evening approached. His grasp on the bags in his hands were becoming tentative as his fingers became slippery, and he was almost ready to believe that there was no escape this time when he rounded a corner into a small alley and saw the open doorway.

Instinct sent him in through the space, and his momentum carried him almost to the far side of the room. Jarod quickly spun around, prepared to face whatever new threat he was presented with, in time to see the door silently swing shut, revealing a woman who had been standing behind it. Her blond hair was drawn back from her face to reveal blue eyes that shone with a determined light, fixed on him. Jarod glanced quickly around, taking in the fact that the room in which he stood had no windows and that the only exit was the same door by which he had entered. Even as he made a move towards it, however, the woman stepped forward also and placed one finger on her lips.

“What…?” he demanded, fear making him aggressive.

“Shh!”

Her whisper was urgent and, even as Jarod's hand reached out for the doorknob, his eyes took in the sight of the key silently and smoothly turning in the lock. Jarod's hand snapped back from the knob as if it burnt him and he cast a suspicious look at the woman. As Jarod was about to speak, however, pounding footsteps could be heard in the alley, stopping just in front of the place where Jarod was standing. Instinctively, he took a step back, looking around for something to use as a weapon if they broke the door down.

A small security screen mounted on the wall in the corner, and beside which the stranger was standing, caught his eye, and Jarod took a wary step closer, keeping a decent distance between himself as the woman. On the screen, he could see a group of men on the other side of the wall as they looked up and down the alley, trying various doors. What caught Jarod completely by surprise, however, was that the door in through which he had run wasn’t visible on the screen. Stepping closer, momentarily forgetting his concern about the woman in his astonishment, Jarod narrowly examined the surface, unable to pick out any lines that would designate a door. As he did so, however, the two men halted to look around.

“Well, where is he?”

Jarod tensed at the familiar sound of Lyle’s voice, seeing that the woman who now stood beside him looked almost as anxious as himself. He couldn’t help wondering who she was, even as he obeyed the logical directive to remain silent.

“I don’t know, Boss,” Valentine retorted shortly. “He definitely came down this way. There are two possible exits from the alley, though.”

“Then get down there and find him,” Lyle growled and Jarod could hear the pounding of a number of pairs of feet as sweepers who had been chasing him for the last half hour took off in obedience to the directive.

“Never expected him to be in this part of the world,” Lyle growled. “What’s he doing here?”

“I don’t know,” Valentine replied, and Jarod could hear sounds suggesting that the two men were carrying out careful searches of the various piles of rubbish in the alley that he had barely noticed before entering the room. “But he couldn’t have found out about that lead. We only got in an hour or so ago ourselves, and the guy said that he’d only just seen her.”

“Nothing here,” Lyle spat. “We’re wasting our time. Let’s see what the sweepers found.”

“You want me to leave someone here to guard the place?” the sweeper suggested.

“Why don’t we just leave a man in every street in the city?” Lyle mocked. “Don’t be stupid. If he’s here, it’s only a matter of time until we find him.” He chuckled mercilessly. “It’s not like my sister and her posse are here to hold us back this time.”

The footsteps sounded loudly in the silent room as the two men made their way down the alley in the direction that the sweepers had gone some time earlier.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Miss Parker entered her office impatiently, the doors pushed back so hard that they almost closed again in her face, and she sat down at her desk with a glare in the direction of the flat surface. It was almost impossible for her to sit in the same room with the Chairman, listening to the terms of supposed endearment with which he thought he was favoring her, and it was only the thought of what would happen, to herself and others, if she revealed the secret to which she was privy that prevented her from refusing to attend the weekly conferences.

A small murmur from the corner caught her attention and she looked over to find Angelo hunched up in a chair with a piece of paper cradled against his chest and, she could almost believe, a faint smile on his face. When he realized that he had her attention, Angelo scrambled off the seat and sidled over to the desk, placing the page in front of her. She glanced at the features of the young girl in the photograph, noting the long, blond hair and bright blue eyes, before Miss Parker turned her attention back to her brother. Even as he was about to disappear, she reached out one hand and gently grabbed his wrist.

“Who is that, Angelo?”

He sent a small grin in her direction. “Oracle,” the empath muttered, twisting easily out of her hold and ambling from the room.

She stood up to follow him, but, by the time she got to the doorway, he had already disappeared. Rather than looking for him, suspecting that he would go to some hidey-hole of his own and not be found until he wanted to, Miss Parker returned to her desk and picked up the photo.

“Oracle,” she murmured under her breath, eyeing the young girl’s features and guessing that she was only about three or four years of age. Something about the features seemed vaguely familiar and, as she got up to leave the room, her mind was busy, struggling to recall where she had seen similar looks before.

* * * * * * * * *

New Boston, Texas

When the silence outside the room had continued for several minutes, Jarod turned to the woman who still stood beside him.

“Who are you?”

“A friend,” she responded with a small smile. Turning, she walked towards a seemingly blank wall at the back of the room. Stopping several paces away, she stretched out a hand and pressed a button beside her. Jarod started violently as a door that had been almost invisible in the wall now swung silently open to reveal a well-lit room in the space behind.

“If you want somewhere to cool down, or maybe to have a drink,” the woman said, “may I offer you the use of my home?”

He raised an eyebrow, edging warily towards the door behind himself at the same time. “You live here?”

“I have to live somewhere,” she retorted. “And I doubt that you want to return to the streets while they’re still crawling with sweepers, do you?”

Jarod looked at her sharply, his heart pounding in his ears even faster than it had been when he was being chased. “What do you know about sweepers?”

“That they dress in black suits, use their first names and are generally mindlessly obedient, with no real personalities of their own,” she answered. “Oh, yes, and they also work for that charming organization called the Centre.”

His hand was touching the key by this time, ready to turn it quickly and bolt through the doorway, when she suddenly turned to face him.

“You don’t have to be afraid of me, Jarod. I’m not one of them, nor do I work for them. I was a victim, just like you.”

His eyes narrowed, having silently unlocked the door in preparation for his escape, but Jarod was unable to stop himself from asking his first question again.

“Who are you?”

Her lips curled into another small smile. “I’m Rebecca, the first Red File.”

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

“Sydney!”

“Miss Parker.” The psychiatrist raised his head from the paperwork he was reading, recognizing a familiar tone of voice and mannerism as the woman stalked into his office. He waited for whatever information she wanted with a feeling of resignation. “What can I do for you today?”

“Oracle.”

The psychiatrist remained motionless and silent with his eyes trained on her face, his own facial features expressionless; at the same time, he was forced to recollect that the woman in front of his desk had the identical gift for finding out snippets of information as her mother. He just wished from the depths of his heart that she hadn’t found out about this one.

“Well?” she demanded impatiently after a long minute of silence.

His voice was calm. “‘Well’ what, Miss Parker?”

“What is Oracle?”

“An oracle is a person or thing considered as a source of knowledge, insight or prophesy. It can also be a wise saying or a prophetic statement.” Sydney turned back to the papers he had been reviewing when she entered.

“You know,” Morgan began conversationally, resting one hand on his desk, “if I didn’t know you better, I’d honestly think that you didn’t have any more to tell me.”

His response was firm. “I don’t.”

She straightened up and placed one hand on the pages, forcing them down onto the desk’s flat surface. The man looked up at her again, unable to prevent a hint of annoyance from appearing on his face.

“You won’t believe me, Miss Parker, because you never do, but I have nothing more to say to you on the topic of Oracle and I want you out of my office immediately.”

He stood and faced her, his tones suddenly cold.

“I meant now.”

“I’ll ask Broots and see what he can find out for me,” she snapped.

“Ask whatever you like to whomever you like, but don’t ask me.”

He released the pages, walked around his desk and left the room.

* * * * * * * * *

New Boston, Texas

Jarod's eyes widened in disbelief. “But…that’s not…you’re…”

“Dead, I know,” she stated evenly. “Or so they think. But rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” She waited a moment, but the man failed to understand the reference, so Rebecca continued. “That was always what they were supposed to believe, but I assure that I’m as alive as you are. Although,” she added thoughtfully, “if you hadn’t run in through my doorway just now, I might have been even more alive.”

The man narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

“You don’t,” she replied with a graceful shrug. “All you can do is trust me when I say that’s who I am. I might be able to give you a little evidence to prove it to you, but for that you’ll need to stay, and obviously that’s something you’re not too keen to do right now.”

“And I suppose you figured that out through some psychic skill you possess,” he snapped.

“Actually, yes,” she responded, laughing. “Although I wasn’t nearly as good before Jacob began to teach me.”

Jarod froze at the name, staring at the woman, his voice a faint whisper. “Jacob Ritter?”

“Is there any other?” Still smiling, she waved a hand at the lit room, visible through the open door and in which was a large living area. “I’m sure you could do with something to eat by this time, let alone a cool drink. Come in, Jarod, and then I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

“Broots!”

The technician jumped slightly before turning in his chair from watching the details flash over the screen to see the familiar look of impatience on his boss’s face and waited to hear her request. “Yes, Miss Parker?”

She walked over to him. “What are you doing?”

“Basic security check.”

“Can it wait?”

“Well, I do have to finish it…yes,” he finished with a sigh, stopping the motion of data across the screen with the press of a button. “It can.”

“Good.” She pulled up another chair to sit beside him. “I want you to find out everything you can about anything called Oracle - project name, person, everything.”

He turned to the computer at once, looking back at her over his shoulder. “Why don’t you ask…?”

“I tried to ask Sydney but he got edgy.”

The technician looked up at her curiously as the machine began its task. “The same way as when you asked him about Eclipse?”

She looked at him as the computer began to produce the first superficial results. “Now that I think about it, that was similar, yes.” She stared thoughtfully at a spot above his head. “So this probably does have something to do with the Centre.”

* * * * * * * * *

New Boston, Texas

Lyle angrily slammed the door of the car and glared at the steering wheel for a moment before he started the engine.

“Another total waste of time,” he growled. “No Rebecca and no Jarod either.”

“The sweepers will find something,” Valentine affirmed with irrepressible good humor. “Then we can come back and wipe the place clean. And in the meantime…”

Lyle glanced at the other man out of the corner of his eye, seeing the smile curling the corners of his mouth, and raised an eyebrow. “What did you have in mind?”

“I used to know this area pretty darned well, Boss,” the other man suggested. “All the women got to know me pretty well too.”

“I bet they did,” Lyle chuckled, his good humor rapidly resurfacing. “Anything to my taste?”

“There’s a great series of Asian joints along the main streets, all take-out, if you get my meaning.”

“Perfectly, Valentine,” Lyle agreed. “We may as well take advantage of the good setting for a few days. And I do need a little recovery time, particularly after the latest hospital stay.”

“Oh, I meant to tell you about that…”

“Not yet,” the driver ordered. “Unless it’s urgent. We’ve got more important things to do now.”

“Sure thing,” Valentine agreed cheerfully. “You’re the boss.”

* * * * * * * * *

Jarod uneasily sidled into the room, keeping an eye on the door to ensure an escape, should he feel the need for one, and quickly looked around. His eyes rapidly came to rest on a framed photograph on a nearby shelf, and the pretender gazed at the familiar features of a young man standing next to a girl who was sitting at a table, in a position Jarod couldn’t help but find horribly familiar, as she looked at something that he suspected was a simulation.

“Jacob and I,” the voice of his hostess informed him from the corner where she was taking a jug of cold drink out of the small fridge in the kitchenette, “taken from one of my DSAs.”

He spun around to stare at her. “You have…?”

She waved her hand at a case standing open on a table in the corner. “I wanted to be able to see my life too, just like you did with yours. Luckily for me, though, I’ve only got a few disks.” She cast an almost sorrowful glance at the Halliburton case he still held in one hand, before placing the jug on a tray with two glasses, and carrying it over to the corner, where he stood. Rebecca waved her hand at one of the chairs and sat down in the other herself.

“What are you?” he queried, sitting down warily, making sure that his things were still within easy reach and waiting for her to taste the contents of her glass before drinking his own. “Why did the Centre want you? When were you there? How long did you stay? When did you escape? How did you get out? Where...”

She laughed softly. “I always knew you were curious, Jarod, but, even for you, that seems a little extreme.”

“How do you know my name?” he demanded sternly.

“I would have thought that anybody associated with the Centre would have known about you, and it wouldn’t have been exactly difficult for me to guess your identity, even if I hadn’t already had a good idea of what you looked like.”

“How?” he shot back.

“Sydney,” she returned with another smile. “And my own knowledge.”

“Oh, yes,” he commented sarcastically, returning the glass to the table and eyeing her skeptically. “Of course. You’re a psychic. How could I have forgotten?”

“You don’t believe in such things,” she stated, unable to keep a twinkle out of her eye. “Just because you’ve never met one before doesn’t mean they don’t exist, does it? After all, some people could say the same things about pretenders.”

“Fine,” he retorted, still uncomfortable with his current situation. “What’s your association with the Centre?”

Smiling, Rebecca settled back in the chair, refilling her glass and suppressing her amusement at the impatient look in the eyes of the man opposite, before she began.

“I was brought to the Centre in the middle of 1962…”

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

“What have you got?” the woman’s voice demanded from the doorway and the technician turned from the screen with a slight shrug.

“Unfortunately not a lot. Oracle was a project in the early days of the Centre.”

He handed her a folder and Miss Parker opened it as Broots continued.

“She was born in early 1959. She was brought to the Centre when she was three years old, after both her parents were killed in a car crash.”

“And what is she?”

“What do you mean?”

Miss Parker sighed impatiently, flipping the folder shut and then folding her arms, the red booklet dangling from her fingers. “Her special gift: pretender, empath, what? What reason did the Centre have for wanting her?”

Understanding, Broots turned the screen so she could see it. “She had the genetic predisposition that we know is common to all pretenders, but apparently the Centre was more interested in her ability as a psychic. That’s why her project name was Oracle and she wasn’t regarded as being a part of the Prodigy Project although,” he corrected himself, “she did do occasional work for that in 1962 and early 1963.”

“A three-year-old psychic?” Miss Parker's voice betrayed her skepticism even as Broots nodded.

“According to what I read in a police report, two months before she was brought to the Centre, a boy living in the house next door went missing. They were searching for him for almost 36 hours, until Rebecca told her mother that he was ‘in the pipes, in the dark.’”

The woman doubtfully lifted a perfectly manicured eyebrow. “And what did she mean by that?”

“There was apparently building work going on in the neighborhood. The boy had crawled into one of the water pipes that were going to be installed and, as it narrowed at one end, got stuck there. If the girl hadn’t told her mother, he might have been dead before they found him, especially as rain had stopped construction and was several inches deep across the whole building site. The pipe was filling fast when they got him out.”

Miss Parker leaned against a desk. “And how did the Centre know about her in the first place?”

“You might be able to guess. To get pregnant, her mother was a patient at…”

“…NuGenesis,” she finished in resigned tones.

He nodded. “It just so happened that, right after the crash where her parents died, one of the first doctors on the scene knew about her. He claimed to be a relative.”

“I don’t suppose it was our old friend Raines, by any chance?”

Broots shook his head. “No. The name isn’t provided in here, but the person who made that claim brought her to the Centre. According to the report, she was sedated for the journey, and, a couple of hours after she arrived, she was put under the care of…”

Miss Parker jumped in, understanding a possible reason for the psychiatrist’s reaction earlier that morning. “Sydney?”

“No.” He pointed to a name in the folder and she looked from it to the technician, nodding slowly.

“Jacob.”

On to Act II

 
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