Mt. Enterprise, Texas
Well, what a scoop, Lyle commented as he took in the people
who were slowly getting up off the floor, their eyes on the gun he held.
Not only Andromeda, but Jarod, too, and if it isnt the long-dead
psychic. Rebecca, my dear, for somebody whos been dead 36 years,
I do have to say that youre looking remarkably well. A little pale,
perhaps, but thats understandable.
He waited, but the group remained silent. The older Hatchers were staring
in disbelief at the man who was now standing in their hallway, Rebeccas
face was still white, her eyes wide, and Jarod himself was cautious about
making any sudden moves when he had no method of defense, even as he glanced
the others out of the corner of his eye. Only Andrea seemed relaxed, but
he could see a look of concentration in her eyes that reminded him of
Faith when she had pressured him to leave the Centre, and Jarod idly wondered
what the girl was trying to do, even as he frantically tried to think
of a way out that wouldnt get them all killed.
Im sure youre looking forward to coming home, Jarod,
Lyle continued. After all, its been such a long time since
your last dose of Aurora. You must be looking forward to getting back
to it. In all the DSAs I saw, you didnt exactly seem to be objecting
to it. Self-medicating at the end there, or so I heard.
Of course, its an unexplored joy for Rebecca and Andromeda,
Lyle added as his gaze moved to the woman and her daughter, strolling
into the living room and stopping directly in front of the still-silent
group. But, from what I hear its certainly one youll
love. After all, it must be nice to be able to sleep at night and live
such active, fulfilled lives during the day.
Jarod hadnt been able to shut out his words, and the part of him
that never ceased to long for the drug now seemed to be rising inside
him, making its presence felt. His self-control forced it down, but he
still knew it was there, and he could feel beads of sweat beginning to
form on his forehead as he set his jaw. The cool hand that slipped into
his was a momentary distraction, and he looked down subtly to see that
Andrea had wrapped his fingers in hers. Before Jarod could react to this,
however, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and looked up to
see a solid object flying across the room. The marble bookend slammed
into the back of Lyles head and his unconscious form slumped to
the floor at Jarods feet.
Jarod's first reaction was to put his foot on Lyles gun and his
second was to eye the others in the living room. Andrea had taken Rebeccas
hand and there was more color in the psychics face as she turned
Theres another one, she stated quietly, as he bent
down to pick up Lyles gun and check that it was loaded. Lyle
had a sweeper with him.
Then we have to leave - now, he ordered. Looking at the Hatchers,
he saw that they were both watching him.
Of course, the woman agreed instantly, still shaken from
the incident and unable to help casting another look at the man on the
carpet. Her husband placed an arm around her shoulders and she could feel
that he was also trembling as they quickly left the house.
Even as they reached the end of the driveway, however, a figure loomed
out of the darkness and Jarod stopped abruptly, his fingers tightening
around the pistol he held.
Get out of the way, Valentine, he growled, having recognized
the man immediately from several descriptions that Miss Parker had given
Jarod! the sweeper exclaimed, his tone mockingly delighted,
although his eyes glinted like steel. What a pleasant surprise!
If that hand makes a move in the direction of your gun, youll
lose it, the pretender declared.
My gun? the other man queried politely.
Your hand, Jarod affirmed, his eyes remaining fixed on the
man as he spoke to the woman who still stood beside him. Rebecca,
get into the car. Take the others with you.
The group moved toward the vehicle that was still parked at the curb,
another directly behind it, and Jarod returned his full attention to his
Your boss is currently bleeding all over the carpet in the living
room of the house there, and he nodded his head in the direction
of the building. So I suggest you get in there and fix him up, or
you might find yourself on the lists of the unemployed next week.
Oh, dear, Valentine exclaimed in tones of mock horror. How
terrible. Well, I certainly wont try to follow you then, and find
out where you go.
Jarod could hear that the engine was already running and he saw out of
the corner of his eye that a door was being held for him by the girl in
the back seat.
See that you dont, he growled and then jumped into
the vehicle, which sped from the curb as soon as he was in it. Valentine
smiled snidely as he watched it drive away.
Not this time, anyway, he muttered to himself. After
all, I wouldnt want a hole in my new suit.
Putting a hand into his pocket, he produced a slip of paper, eyeing the
times that were written on it and glancing at his watch. Making allowances
for time differences, he would expect a call within the next hour or so,
and that meant getting Lyle out of the way. Valentines lips curled
into a tiny, vindictive smile as he walked up the path to the house.
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Mr. Parker glared at the clock on his desk and rapped his fingers impatiently
on the flat surface as he waited for the call he was expecting.
They were supposed to check in at midnight with their next report,
he growled to the man sitting on the other side of the desk. Theyre
over six hours late.
Maybe theyre caught up in the middle of something,
Cox suggested mildly.
I can make a good guess what, the Chairman sneered. Remind
me to have a good look at their expenses for this month. I wont
have them padding their reports with things like that when theyre
supposed to be retrieving valuable Centre property. He glared at
the floor. If they havent called in two hours, send a team
to whatever town they claimed they were going to and find them.
The jets in for repairs, Mr. Parker, Cox reminded him.
I dont care how you do it, the older man boomed. Just
get down there and find out whats going on!
* * * * * * * * *
Mt. Enterprise, Texas
Valentine strolled into the house as the car disappeared around the corner,
eyeing the shards of glass with amused disdain as he avoided stepping
on them. The next sight that met his eyes was his boss on the floor, a
small, solid object on the floor beside him and blood seeping onto the
rug. Picking up a framed photo of four people from the hall table he eyed
the blond girl sitting next to a taller man, with sparkling brown eyes,
his arm around her shoulders. Thoughtfully raising an eyebrow, the sweeper
slid the photograph out of the frame and pocketed it, looking down again
in time to see the man lying on the floor begin to move.
Wakey, wakey, Valentine muttered under his breath, reaching
into his pocket and extracting the case he kept there. Selecting a syringe,
he filled it from a vial and then approached the man.
Lyle moaned, feeling the pain in his head and the firm hand on his arm
as it pushed up his sleeve and began to search for a vein. Opening his
eyes, he blinked until his vision cleared and then, as the needle slid
in under his skin, pulled himself carefully into a sitting position.
Is that one of yours, he demanded in a slurred voice, or
a gift from Eve?
No poison apples from me, Boss, Valentine assured him as
he recapped the needle. It ought to be only a minute or two more
and then we can get into the car. Ill order the jet down here and
we can go back to the Centre.
Lyle mumbled, leaning against the
Who? Valentine demanded. I didnt see anyone.
Rebecca, Andromeda, Jarod
they were all here.
Andromeda, maybe, the sweeper agreed. But I dont
know about the others. If they were, theyll be long gone by now,
so lets not worry about it.
Lyle considered protesting, but the pain in his head was too great and
his hand snaked up toward the spot where the bookend had made contact
with the back of his skull. Valentine helped Lyle to his feet and to a
chair. After waiting for a few more minutes, they left the house and drove
* * * * * * * * *
Somewhere in Texas
Jarod looked warily at the woman who was driving, seeing that there was
more color in her face as she concentrated on the road. Glancing over
his shoulder, he saw Mr. Hatcher staring blankly out of the window, his
fingers firmly wrapped around one of his daughters hands, while
Andreas adoptive mother clutched her other hand. The girl herself
was resting her head on Mrs. Hatchers shoulder, her eyes closed
and gingerly biting her bottom lip. Jarod believed he could guess at the
thoughts that were passing through her mind as he turned back to the woman
in the drivers seat.
Are you okay, Rebecca? he asked softly.
I think so, she responded equally quietly.
Want me to drive?
I dont think we should stop yet. Maybe when we get further
away - like over the state line.
He nodded in silent agreement, feeling his fingers still wrapped firmly
around the gun in his hand, and Jarod unloaded the bullets into the palm
of his other hand, putting them into his pants pocket before sliding the
empty weapon into his other pocket.
Are you so sure you wont be needing that anymore? asked
a soft voice from the back seat and Jarod turned to see Mr. Hatcher watching
I hope not, the pretender responded honestly. Ive
never liked using them.
You wont, Andrea added without opening her eyes. Not
from Lyle anyway. He and his sweeper are going back to the Centre.
Hes still alive? Jarod demanded.
Im not strong enough to kill him, the girl protested
indignantly, looking up. And that other man got there in time to
stop the bleeding.
You did that?! Mrs. Hatcher stared at the girl in disbelief.
But how could you
Youve often been confused by things that have happened when
Andrea was around, like the TV changing channel on its own, or, when she
was little, finding her playing with toys that you thought youd
locked away, Rebecca put in. This was another of those moments.
How do you know that? the man in the back seat demanded,
putting an arm protectively around his adopted daughters shoulders.
How could you possibly
I just do, the woman affirmed. Your daughter, as youve
suspected for quite some time, has the ability of a telekinetic. The action
this morning was a result of that.
Did she get it from you? the other woman asked suspiciously.
Is that how you knew?
I cant be sure, Rebecca responded slowly. But
I think its likely.
And are there any other
unexpected surprises waiting for us?
Mr. Hatcher proposed, his voice containing a hint of asperity.
How do you think I knew about D
Lyle coming? the girl
demanded, sitting upright in her seat.
Lets wait until we can get somewhere that we can sit down
for a proper conversation, Rebecca proposed before anyone else could
answer this. I think that would probably be the best.
* * * * * * * * *
Tyler Municipal Airport
Lyle turned to Valentine just before getting onto the small jet that
had eventually arrived, and was now waiting to whisk him back to the Centre.
in that town
the man said with difficulty,
struggling to speak clearly in spite of the powerful painkiller that had
been administered during the drive.
Dont worry about it, Boss, the sweeper soothed. Ill
take care of it. You get back so they can fix that hole in your head.
Nodding cautiously, Lyle let himself be assisted onto the aircraft, with
a hand pressed to the back of his head, where a bandage prevented him
from bleeding too badly. Keeping his delight at the directive hidden,
Valentine listened in seeming obedience to the final directions before
leaving the jet so it could begin its return journey, and took his cell
phone out of his pocket as it rang. The ID showed him who was calling
and the sweeper beamed as he answered.
Sun-Chai! What a delightful surprise! What can I do for you?
* * * * * * * * *
Were you planning to take your daughter away with you? Mrs.
Hatcher demanded at the end of a long discussion.
Rebecca looked up with a smile as the question she had been struggling
not to ask ever since the conversation began shot out of the womans
mouth like a bullet.
She knows you as her family. It would be much harder for her if
she had to adjust to me without you being there too.
Andreas father sighed at this before looking up again, instantly
contrite. Im sorry. I know shes your daughter and you
have every right, of course, but
All I want to do, Mr. Hatcher, is to help all of you, meaning that
for Andrea to protect herself and those she loves, she needs to learn
how to use her abilities. Thats what I want to teach her. And also,
the woman added honestly, her eyes glistening. I would like to get
to know my daughter properly, as my daughter.
And what do you want, Andrea? Mrs. Hatcher turned to the
girl, partially reassured by the other womans response to her question
but still nervous.
know, the girl responded slowly, sitting
silently for a moment before making up her mind and turning to the psychic.
Yes, I do. I want to be able to protect all of us from the Centre,
and from him. She looked up at Rebecca. Teach me more.
The psychic smiled. Of course I will.
* * * * * * * * *
He arrived at the large train station and had just begin to look around
when he felt the hand clutch at his arm. Looking down, he smiled into
the haggard face and pain-filled eyes of the woman who had appeared at
Help me, Sun-Chai whispered desperately. Please
Why, of course, Valentine affirmed cheerfully. Thats
what Im here for.
He half-carried the woman to his car, making it seem to any interested
observer as if they were simply close friends, and opened the back door
for her. Pain wracked Sun-Chai, making it totally impossible for her to
get in on her own, and she was unable to summon enough strength to force
the man to give her the drug, as she had believed she would do when the
injection that morning from the latest vial Cox supplied had failed to
ease the pain sufficiently. Sun-Chai leaned weakly against the car and
watched as he searched his pockets for the black case, finally locating
it and removing the desired items. Her eyes were fixed on the glass vial
as soon as she laid eyes on it, her desire for the drug palpable as he
loaded the syringe.
Where? he asked curtly and she slightly raised one arm. He
pushed up the sleeve on the Asian-style dress that he admired so much
and raised the vein that already had a number of dots visible on the skin
along its length. The injection was rapidly completed, and then he capped
the needle, seeing the look of panic in the womans eyes fading rapidly
to their recently acquired dullness. He kept an eye on her as he returned
the case to his pocket.
She felt the warmth traveling along her arm and down her body as the
drug was quickly absorbed into her system, the pain easing with its usual
speed. It was only at the last minute that Sun-Chai felt something different,
and she vaguely noticed Valentine stretching out his arms to catch her
as the world suddenly went black.
* * * * * * * * *
Rebecca placed a candle on the living room table, looking at Jarod with
a hint amusement on her face, before turning back to her daughter as she
sat next to her on the sofa with her legs crossed.
Go ahead, Andrea.
The girl focused for a moment and then the wick flared into light.
Good! Youve been practicing! Rebecca exclaimed, pleased.
Now put it out - no blowing, mind you.
For several long minutes the girl focused, but the flame continued to
burn steadily. Eventually she looked up, frustration evident on her face.
Its harder to destroy something than to create it,
Rebecca agreed. She glanced at the candle and the flame went out immediately.
How do you do it?
Let me show you. Rebecca put out her hand, gently covering
her daughters with it. There was a moment of silence while Jarod
watched the two women, Andreas eyes closed and a small cleft in
her forehead as she concentrated.
Do you know now? the psychic asked gently.
The girl nodded, opening her eyes and then looking over at the table.
As she did so, the candle lit itself and then, a short time later, put
itself out again.
Andrea looked over to see the amazement in Jarod's eyes and she giggled.
I know. Rebecca smiled. Now, grab your book.
The woman reached out an arm to prevent the girl from getting up off
the sofa and going over to a bag that had sat in the corner of the living
room since the five people arrived. Not that way - with your mind.
Bring it to you.
The book flew across the room and landed with a loud bang on the table.
The sound was enough to bring Andreas parents into the doorway,
from the kitchen where they had been talking.
Open it at page 18, Rebecca directed.
Andrea stared at the book for a moment before closing her eyes. Jarod
couldnt help holding his breath, as the cover slowly opened and
the pages flipped over, finally stopping at the requested one.
Well done! Rebecca hugged the girl, who looked up at her.
You didnt help?
Not one bit. I wouldnt. You need to learn how to control
it on your own.
Andreas expression was eager. More!
Rebecca laughed as the book shut on its own and she looked at the girl.
As her daughter began to concentrate, Rebecca looked up to see the expressions
that appeared on the faces of the Hatchers. Even as she watched, they
turned away and returned to the kitchen. Sighing sadly, the psychic turned
back to her daughter.
Jarod's eyes traveled from the girls face as she concentrated on
the task she had been set to the woman sitting beside her. He noted the
determination in Rebeccas eyes that her daughter would succeed in
learning everything necessary and Jarod couldnt help wondering if
he would have the chance to teach his son to use his own skills. Jordan,
too, would require education of a type that he, Jarod, was far more qualified
to provide than his father could be and he knew that one day soon they
would have to sort out their unique situation so that that education could
begin to go forward.
Feeling his eyes on her, the woman looked up. In the mans eyes,
Rebecca could see the doubt he was feeling and smiled. In response to
the question on his face, she nodded slowly and then looked down once
more at her daughter.
* * * * * * * * *
She could feel the restraints around her wrists and neck as the blackness
lifted abruptly, looking up to see Valentine standing above her, recapping
a syringe. He slid the needle containing a drug that had nullified both
the sedative and Aurora into his pocket as he spoke.
Good morning, he stated smoothly. Nice of you to join
The warmth was gone, Sun-Chai suddenly realized, and a feeling of panic
filled her as she fought against the restraint, gagging as the rope across
her throat cut into her windpipe. It distracted her momentarily from the
pain she had felt lower down in her body, the nausea and the agonizing
cramps in all her limbs.
What do you want? she hissed, glaring up at the man who was
doing up the buttons of his shirt, thus giving her another hint as to
what had happened while she was unconscious. The anger his actions caused
bubbled up in her, but the ropes were tight and she couldnt move.
Oh, its not me, he assured her mockingly. After
all, Im just a lowly sweeper. I simply do what Im told, as
you would have been better to do, he added menacingly. If
you hadnt poked your nose in where it didnt belong, you wouldnt
be in this mess now.
The Seraphim, another voice interrupted smoothly, arent
Cox wandered over to stand beside Valentine and looked down at the woman
strapped to the bed with narrow eyes. You had your work to do, Sun-Chai,
and you should have focused on that and not tried to find out what else
Thats my child, she screamed, struggling against the
ropes again. Why shouldnt I be allowed to see her?
Because your place is where the Centre sends you, Cox spat,
striking the womans cheek with an open palm and sending her head
sharply to the left, leaving her cheek glowing. Its none of
your business what we do in Delaware.
It was none of her business, Valentine corrected
with a smirk. Now it doesnt matter anymore.
Yes, thats true, Cox mused. He eyed the woman again
before turning to the man. We have the signed sanction. You know
what to do.
Oh, yes. Valentine looked down at the woman who was again
lunging futilely against the bonds, the eagerness in his eyes clear as
Cox left the room. I certainly know what to do.
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Sydney closed the door of the car, having collected his coat from the
back seat, and was about to put it on when his cell phone rang.
This is Sydney.
The voice on the end was slightly mocking. Hows Lyle?
I dont know, Jarod, the psychiatrist responded honestly.
I havent seen him. He paused. Are you okay, or
he stopped, unable to continue.
Were fine, the younger man assured him. Rebecca,
And her daughter?
Jarod glanced through the window to where the girl and her mother sat
on the sofa, wrapping his coat more firmly around himself. Theyre
both fine. I think theres some heavy discussion ahead, but for the
moment its looking good.
Im glad to hear it, the psychiatrist stated softly.
Tell her I said hello.
Ill do that. Jarod disconnected the call, returning
the cell phone to his pocket as he gazed at the rising sun.
* * * * * * * * *
Valentine closed the door, consulting his watch to find that the cleaner
team Cox had ordered for him would arrive in a little under an hour. Sliding
the digital camera back into his pocket, he wiped the final smears of
blood off his fingers onto a tissue to protect his suit, and then took
his car keys out of his other pocket. Replacing the tissue, he felt the
thin sheet of paper that he had taken from the frame in the house in Mt.
Enterprise and examined the face of the girls older adoptive brother
as he got into his car and headed for the airport.
Stopping at a traffic light, he reached down to the floor of the car
and picked up a large parcel. It had taken a moment out of the past few
busy days, but when he had seen it in a shop window he had been unable
to stop himself from going in and buying it. She would like it so much,
he knew, just as she had appreciated the perfume and other gifts he had
* * * * * * * * *
Rebecca took the framed photo out of her bag and propped it up on the
shelf of the bedroom in the building where she had driven them. For a
few moments she gazed fondly at the man in the picture before turning
at the sound of a knock on her door.
May I have a word, Rebecca?
Of course, Mrs. Hatcher. Rebecca indicated a chair in the
corner and sat down on the end of the bed. What can I do for you?
The older woman raised an eyebrow. I thought you would already
The psychic smiled faintly. Actually, I do, but some people find
it a little disconcerting if I tell them what they want to know before
Nodding, Mrs. Hatcher stared at her hands before looking up again. Why
did you come into Andreas life now?
Because she has to learn how to protect herself. Her abilities
and knowledge as they are now, if they were left untrained, could cause
more harm than good.
In what way?
You saw what she was capable of today, and that was with only limited
training. If Andrea struck out in anger with that sort of power, she could
conceivably kill somebody, and I would hate for her to bring that sort
of guilt on herself.
Is that personal experience talking, Rebecca?
Hearing the anxiety in the other womans voice, the psychic looked
up sharply. No, Mrs. Hatcher. Ive never killed anybody in
And that other
My psychic knowledge is what keeps me most safe. By being better
able to predict what other people might do, and what will happen, it can
help me to avoid some potentially dangerous situations.
But not all.
Life isnt certain, Mrs. Hatcher, and its impossible
for anybody to guarantee what will happen in every situation.
There was a long moment of silence before Rebecca spoke again.
Your daughter is still the same person shes ever been. Andrea
hasnt changed inside herself. What is different is the fact that
she now knows what she can be capable of, if she works hard, and also
to what purpose her skills can be put. Theyre the things I want
to teach her, and theyre also the things she wants and needs to
learn. She can teach herself everything else, and she would have done
that whether Id appeared or not. I can teach her an element of control,
and thats all.
Is that what you were taught?
I had three years of being instructed in that, yes. When that time
ended, I was given to people to whom my skills were as unusual and frightening
as Andreas are to you. They tried to convince me the abilities were
nothing more than figments of my imagination, and denied that they existed.
They did love me, I know that, but they were scared of me because they
never saw me as normal.'
Taking a deep breath, Rebecca fixed her eyes firmly on the woman opposite,
Please, Mrs. Hatcher, you love Andrea as much as if shes
your own daughter, and Im incredibly grateful for that. Dont
let what youve just learnt about her now alter the feelings you
have for her. She still needs you - shes still your daughter. You
both brought her up. Youve sculpted her mind and heart into the
person shes become. Shes a wonderful girl, Mrs. Hatcher.
Rebeccas eyes shone with unshed tears. I know how proud you
are of her, and you have every right to be. Shes a credit to both
Shes your daughter, the other woman offered hesitantly.
Genetically, yes, Rebecca agreed. But emotionally shes
still yours, and shes so afraid that you wont want her to
be, anymore. I tried to hide from her the things I went through, with
the people I called my parents, but she picked up on it anyway, and shes
terrified that that will happen to her, as well.
* * * * * * * * *
The man marched in through the door of the room, throwing himself into
a chair and looking over to where the woman sat, calmly watching him.
Ramona shook her head. Not yet, Sebastian.
He shook his head in frustration, his voice a low growl. We know
how it works, what it does and what it could do. I fail to understand
If we jumped into this too quickly, it might be dangerous,
the woman protested.
It couldnt be any worse than it is now. He glared blankly
in the direction of the floor before lifting his eyes to the dark-skinned
man who sat opposite. Any suggestions?
We need an expert, Trevor stated. Despite everything
we know about Aurora, we cant do more until we know more about it
and there isnt a single person here able to work it all out.
But there is someone, Sebastian queried. If there wasnt
Youre right, the other man interrupted, leaning back
in his chair and linking his fingers behind his head. Theres
someone who is an expert on this drug. He knows, even better than the
people who created it, what its capable of.
And if we gave him an invitation
As long as it was one he found impossible to refuse, Trevor
retorted calmly. I cant see any real problem with getting
him here, or getting him to stay.
A slow grin appeared on Sebastians face as he rose from his chair
and went over to the screen that showed the outside world, staring at
it for a moment before turning.
Then, by all means, lets begin preparations to welcome our
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Whats this? the man demanded as a black folder was
handed to him by Lucy as she arrived at his bedside in the infirmary.
A report about a staff death, Mr. Lyle, his secretary replied.
Mr. Valentine seemed very eager for you to see it.
Nodding, he opened the booklet, gazing at the photograph of the woman
and starting slightly as he recognized her features. Reading through the
details of the death that the cleaner team had sent back, he could also
recognize the way in which she had died. It was particularly familiar,
considering the treatment he and Valentine had doled out to the unfortunate
women who had caught the sweepers eye during their recent excursion
to Texas. He knew full well why Valentine had wanted him to see this and
a wave of jealousy enveloped him as he flapped the folder shut.
His eye was caught by the shapely woman who still stood at the bedside
waiting for further orders and Lyle looked her quickly up and down before
sitting up in bed, his mood changing abruptly as the scent of her perfume
caught his attention. He could remember the feeling of the woman with
whom he had spent the previous night, but that hadnt been enough
then and, considering all that he now knew Valentine had enjoyed, it was
even more important for him to even the score. Lyle knew that, in front
of him now, he had the perfect way of doing it. With an effort he managed
to keep his feelings away from his face and forced a smile.
I think its time I got out of here, he commented in
a pleasant tone. Lucy, would you mind giving me a lift home? Im
not sure Im up to driving.
Of course, Mr. Lyle, she responded lightly. Shall I
get you a wheelchair, sir?
Im sure you can give me a hand when I need it, he told
her. Im feeling a little hungry as well. If youve got
some time, maybe you could join me for dinner?
I would be delighted, Mr. Lyle, the woman stated, offering
him her hand to get up.
* * * * * * * * *
Rebecca opened her eyes to see the first rays of the winter sun lighting
her room. She had barely slept all night, only closing her eyes an hour
earlier, having talked until late into the night with her daughters
adoptive father while Mrs. Hatcher was in serious discussion with Andrea.
Smiling faintly, the woman looked up to see her daughter curled up in
the armchair with a blanket wrapped firmly around herself.
Just like you, Andrea agreed. Jarods gone.
I know. Rebecca pulled herself up in bed. He never
stays around for long.
Nodding in agreement, the girl got up and came over to sit on the bed.
For several minutes there was silence, until Rebecca reached up to brush
a long strand of blond hair off the girls face.
Talk to me, Andrea.
Its kind of hard. The girls lips twisted into
a smile. You already know what Im going to say.
As do you, Rebecca reminded her. But its easier
to say it. Then youll know Ive heard it, rather than worrying
that I wont have understood.
Nodding again, the girl looked up. I dont know what to call
I do have a name, the psychic reminded her with a smile.
And, if I do say so myself, its quite a nice one.
But thats the name everyone uses! Andrea protested.
I want to call you something different!
Youve already got something in mind, Rebecca remarked.
You almost let it slip before.
The girls eyes were fearful as she looked up, but the expression
in her mothers eyes brought the tears to her eyes as she threw herself
into the womans arms.
Momma, she murmured. Thats the name I want to
give you. I cant call you the same thing as what I say to my other
I know, Rebecca soothed, feeling the girl begin to sob softly.
I know, Andrea.
No! the girl asserted, looking up suddenly. Not that
Rebecca raised an eyebrow. You want me to call you the same thing
Because you know, too, like he does. You know what Im capable
of, and when you call me that, it means that Ill remember it as
well. Its - important for me.
If its what you want, her mother agreed, holding her
close, then thats what Ill call you.
* * * * * * * * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
She saw the delicate china vase, filled with red roses, as soon as she
entered her office, and the woman took only seconds to identify the giver.
Over the past few months, ever since Valentines arrival at the Centre,
such gifts had become commonplace and all ended up in the same place -
Picking up the vase, Miss Parker hurled it into the corner of her office,
watching with a feeling of satisfaction as it shattered, the rose petals
scattering over the highly polished floor. Sitting down at her desk, she
was about to pull out the latest security reports when there was a knock
at her door.
Sydney and Broots appeared in the doorway, the latter wearing a blanched
expression, and he was breathing quickly as he handed her a folder and
the psychiatrist closed the door.
important, Miss Parker, he mumbled, sinking
into a chair and mopping his brow as the older man took the other chair,
only revealing his tension in his eyes.
She quickly read over the information, her eyes coming to rest on the
signature on the bottom of the page, and she paled as she looked up.
making any attempts to hide this, she
said unevenly as the truth hit home.
Its an official sanction, Sydney replied slowly. Why
should they hide it?
So they - wanted him to kill Sun-Chai, she muttered, unable
to help casting an uncomfortable look at the small heap of smashed china
on the floor, the petals looking like drops of blood on the floor.
It looks that way, the older man returned carefully, sitting
back in his chair. And I suppose the only thing we have to find
out now is - why? What did she find out that she shouldnt have?
* * * * * * * * *
Rebecca left her room and walked down the hall a short way. She was about
to tap on another door when it swung inwards, away from her.
Come in, Momma.
The girl glanced up from her position on the bed, a book in her hand,
as the woman walked over.
Youre leaving, arent you?
Rebecca nodded. Yes, Andromeda. I am.
But youll come back?
You know I will. The woman sat beside her daughter. Ill
come back whenever you need me, or maybe even if you just want me.
The girl sat up and threw her arms around her mother. Ill
You can call me at any time, you know that.
And I will, I promise, Andromeda stated solemnly.
And if I need help
Im a thought away, her mother told her.
Rebecca put her hand into her pocket and pulled out a small box. This
is just a keepsake for you to remember me by.
Andromeda opened it, finding a silver medallion on which the major stars
in the Andromeda system were emphasized in gold. Immediately she released
the catch and slipped it around her neck.
I love it.
I love you, Rebecca told her softly.
And I love you too, Momma. Andromeda hugged the woman tightly
around her waist. Dont stay away too long.
End of Episode