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Author's Chapter Notes:

Thanks again for awesome comments.

There's a bit of a twist involved in this chapter (as you can see from the "cast"), hope you like. 


Each character is written by a different author (well almost, some writers add on a second later in the story), so to help you readers keep it all straight, each character has a different color.

Writer / Character

Jacci - Mr Cox

KatieQ - Miss Parker

Manoline - Broots, Mystery person

Tinanaz - Jarod

TLM - Sydney

Whashaza - Lyle, Alex

A new chapter will be posted approximately twice a week, check end notes for when the next is scheduled to arrive.

Jarod paced in his room. Lyle was up to something. The monitors caught his remarks about not caring about family any more and about bringing the girl. Jarod interpretted that as Lyle had kidnapped either Emily or possibly Zoe. That made at least two others he would have to rescue when he got away from Lyle and Alex.

Jarod was going over different escape plans when he noticed all the monitors growing dark. He hurried over to the main keyboard and typed in a refresh command. Nothing happened. Jarod tried different commands, but soon nothing worked at all. Jarod didn't know what was going on, but he decided that it was maybe time to leave this room and to take his chances with Lyle.

The escape command didn't work. He was trapped in his little mind room. He continued typing in commands at the keyboard and was finally rewarded with a command history. What he found truly shocked him: his subconscious self-preservation instinct finally kicked in and took control.

Jarod dropped to his knees and started rocking back and forth. For once in his life he had no idea of what to do next.

“Something’s changed.”

Lyle frowned at Alex’s statement. “What do you mean?”

“I think Jarod’s unconscious.”

Lyle raised one eyebrow. Stepping beside Alex, he looked directly at Jarod. The only visible difference from his previous state was that the pretender’s eyes were closed. Wrapping his hand into Jarod’s hair, he viciously pulled the man’s head back. The pretender’s muscles were slack and his head moved without any resistance.

“Fine, then we can get him conscious again.”

Alex grinned. He reached into a bag he had brought with and pulled out a small canister of smelling salts. Breaking it just under Jarod’s nose, they watched as the pretender jerked before his eyes slowly slid open and focused on Lyle.

Jarod was rocking back and forth hugging his knees in a corner of his little mind room. Then a sudden jerk grabbed him and pulled him away. He opened his eyes to the totally unwelcome image of Lyle staring back at him. He closed his eyes again, trying to stop the dizziness that assaulted him.

Lyle stepped towards the door when the knock sounded; satisfied that Jarod was once again with them. He was aware of the pretender’s gaze as he pulled his little surprise package inside.

“Jarod, say hello to your long lost sister,” he said with flourish as he dragged Emily to stand in front of his captive.

"Get your filthy hands off me!" Emily hissed. She looked up only to find herself standing face to face with her long lost brother. She wasn't really sure how to react to that, but cosidering the fact that they were currently being held by what she could only assume was the Centre, she decided the celebration would have to wait. With dilated pupils and a pale, almost bluish tint to his skin he looked far from the healthy man she'd seen in a few selected pictures. His eyes were darting aimlessly from side to side, and he looked so out of it she couldn't be entirely sure he even knew she was there. She had no idea what was going on, but they were obviously willing to drug her brother to get it, and that did not bode well.

Jarod tried to jump out of the chair, but the ropes he hadn't noticed before stopped him. "Let her go, Lyle," he demanded angrily. "She isn't part of this. It's between you and me."

“Uh uh, Jarod. You brought her into this when you failed to follow directions. What happens to her from here on out is up to you,” Lyle grinned, “Do you want me to hurt her?”

Jarod knew he had to do something to stop Lyle. But what, he didn't know. His head was spinning and he couldn't get his eyes to focus. And he knew Alex was in the room somewhere and that was another threat he had to keep track of.

"What do you want, Lyle?" Jarod asked, trying to buy a little time. "Whatever it is, it must not be Centre sanctioned or we wouldn't be here."

“I want you to do as you’re told.” Lyle hissed. Reaching out he captured Emily’s chin and forced her to look at him. “I’m sure Alex has plans for her.” Returning his gaze to Jarod, he watched as Alex dropped the blue notebook and a pen in his captive’s lap. “You always have a choice, Jarod. Now choose.”

Jarod grabbed the notebook to keep it from falling to the floor. He knew Lyle would interpret that as an act of defiance. He could only hope that his internal programming held and that the notebook held nothing for him to fear. He closed his eyes tight, but quickly opened them again. Looking down, his hopes were rewarded, just not in the way he expected.

The words were too blurry for him to read.

“You’re supposed to start writing, Jarod,” Lyle commanded, His hand tightened around Emily’s arm. He was visibly hurting her as a way of controlling Jarod. The pretender growled and then picked up the pen as he turned to the page where he had previously stopped writing.

Emily could feel Lyle's breathe against her skin and it took a great deal of self control not to reach back and claw her skin off. He disgusted her to the core, and his little friend in the corner didn't seem much better.

Jarod grabbed the pen even though he couldn't make out any of the words on the pages. His hands started shaking, but he couldn't tell if it was from anger, fear for Emily, or an after-effect from the drugs coursing through his body. No matter what it was, though, he knew he had to write something. Something that wouldn't get Emily hurt. He gave a shudder and dropped both the pen and notebook.

He hoped that would buy him a little time, but didn't count on it. His only hope for the minute was to get Alex and Lyle fighting.

Lyle flung Emily at Alex, his face darkening with anger. Pressing his hands onto the chair’s armrests, he leaned over the pretender.

“You shouldn’t have done that.”

Jarod started convulsing. He didn't know if it was a Pretend or real, and he didn't really care. He just couldn't stop.

"Jarod!?" Emily screamed desperatly. He didn't answer, just continue to shake. "Jarod!?" The shaking got more violent, then the chair fell to the ground.

How in the world were they going to get out of this?

Alex moved towards the pretender and with a glance at Lyle, pulled out a knife and cut the rope. Laying him out on the floor, he quickly assessed his condition.

“He’s having a reaction to the drug.”

“He’s never done that before?”

Ignoring Emily as she knelt across him, Alex replied, “He’s been playing around with his own concoctions, remember. We need to stabilize him.”

“Fine, do it. I’m going to phone Cox to update him.”


Broots walked across the small cell one more time. He had been doing this for the better part of an hour, but he still managed to bang his knee on the horizontal pole each time. Sydney, who was using the pole for it's intended seating purposes, clearly moaned each time the flesh connected with the metal perfectly in sync with the distinctive 'ping' indicating it was an hollow object.
But Broots just kept walking, he needed to think and he couldn't do that sitting down.

After 23 'pings' Broots came to the conclusion that Cox was probably working for Lyle. After all, he was the one who had brought them here, and Cox was clearly not calling the shots. After 47, he concluded that whatever reasons they gave the Tower which allowed them to have this little T-Board, that was not why Cox and/or Lyle wanted them here. Cox's questions so far had been nonspecific at best. So either they were working their way up to the grand finally, or they had nothing and were just stalling. Either way, even after 78 pings and what would turn into an exceptional bruise on his left knee, Broots still couldn't figure out why they wanted them out of the way so badly.


Lyle turned, watching Alex work on Jarod as he waited for Cox to pick up. After the third ring, he heard the familiar greeting.

“There’s a problem.”

"Of course there is," Cox said tightly, controlling his breathing, having no intention of losing his temper with this buffoon. "What now Mr. Lyle? You lost your other thumb?"

His knuckles turned white and he had to take a deep breath to control his anger. Alex was giving Jarod a sedative and it seemed to be working.

“Your drugs are not working. Jarod has gone into seizure and I had to sedate him.”

"What?" Cox said, leaning forward. "What did you do Lyle? These drugs would not cause a seizure." He said, knowing that they weren’t going to cause any physical damage to Jarod. He never should have trusted Lyle with this.

“Yes well, they did. I think he’s been trying to find a counteragent. He’s been taking his own mix.” Lyle picked up one of the bottles and threw it against the wall. “You should’ve anticipated this.”

"Get him in here now!" Cox demanded, shaking his head. "You were supposed to be watching him." Cox had never been happy with this plan from the get go. It needed to be done in a controlled environment. There were just too many variables that could not be accounted for. Lyle had lobbied hard though and won the day, and now Cox had to clean up the mess.

“Where are you going to keep him, Cox? With him back at the Centre, we increase the chance of my sister sniffing him out. You do remember the agreement you signed to keep this off the radar.”

"27 sublevels Mr. Lyle, hundreds of empty rooms and corridors, I am sure we can manage. I need no reminder of our agreement and I am sure between any false leads you will be sure to leave and the current woes of the majority of the pursuit team, Miss Parker will have much to occupy her time and attention. Just get him in here before this goes any further awry." He instructed, struggling to maintain a civil tone.

“Fine, but keep my sister under surveillance. You shouldn’t underestimate her abilities.”

"You worry about your sister, and leave Jarod to me," Cox told him, knowing that Lyle wasn’t going to let go that easily. "Just make sure she has something to sniff out and send her on her way. Inform me when you arrive with the pretender, take him to Renewal for now and we will assess the medical situation before deciding how to proceed. Bring anything he might have used."

“I’ll do my part.”

Lyle hung up, not caring if he upset Cox further. Things were not going according to his plans and that was never good.

“I have to take him back to the Center.”

Alex clearly wasn’t happy. Lyle didn’t care about that either. There was nothing they could do to prevent Jarod from going back.

“Fine. He won’t wake up until your back at the Centre. His vitals are good, so there shouldn’t be a problem.” Alex stood and moved over to Lyle. “So, tell me. How are you going to prevent Jarod from telling Cox a tale about me?”

“Jarod will do anything to keep his sister safe and knowing that she was in your capable hands, will keep him compliant.”

Alex grinned and turned his head to look at Emily. “And if he doesn’t behave?”

Lyle returned his grin. “I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to make her pay for his indiscretion.”



Sydney had long ago given up on telling Broots to calm down. He felt like he told him at least once a day. So instead, he sat on the bench contemplating all the possible implications of their current situation. As he ran through the hypotheses he and Broots had already put together, he pinched the bridge of his nose, annoyed with how redundant it was. Honestly, none of this made sense and they weren't going to figure anything out as long as they were trapped in here. The pieces weren't fitting together and Sydney couldn't help but wonder if this was on purpose or simply a great mishmash of mistakes made by the uppers in control.

He could only hope that with Miss Parker mysteriously freed, she would be able to accomplish something and find the answers they needed. Even more hopefully and less likely, she would be able to figure out where Jarod was so that she or Sydney could find a way to help him. The odds of Miss Parker aiding Jarod were slim to none though, but Sydney always held out hope.

He cleared his throat and told Broots again, not to panic.


Her nostrils were invaded by the smell of cheap cologne and old sweat as two arms gripped tightly around her waist, dragging her limp body into a standing position. By the time she realized what was going on they already had her walking. The burling men surrounded her on every angle, leaving no room for escape, or breathing for that matter. So this were the 'Sweepers' her father used to talk about.

For as long as she could remember she had both hated and feared the Centre, without being entirely sure why or even what it was. When one of their employees many years later decided to throw her of a building she concluded that had been a good thing.

Disgust filled her as one of the men leaned against her ear, whispering softly, almost seductively so, "Make one wrong more, and you will be shot."

The Centre, despite its iron grip on her life, it had always just been just a vague concept. Until now. Although it took a while before she figured out the details, she had always known the broad strokes. 'The Centre' was the reason her mother cried herself to sleep every night. It was the reason she had always hated town cars, and never dated a man who wore dark suits. And in the end it was the reason she spent every minute of her life running. Maybe she wasn't changing location all the time, but she was always running. Right now that was probably the only thing keeping her sane. After all, this wasn't so far from normality.

As she watched the unconscious form of her brother being dragged out the back door of the hotel, the only thing she could think of to give her some form of comfort was knowing that these people, whatever their motivation for drugging him may be, they clearly viewed Jarod as an asset. And that meant they would use any means necessary to keep him alive.

Panic was slowly beginig to creep up on her as the reality of the situation began to hit. Instead of letting it get the better of her she tried to analyze the situation. She needed to get away, and it had to be soon, once they were inside the walls of the Centre she could never do it on their own. But how on earth would she manage to bring Jarod with her in his current condition?

No, for now it seemed the best measure would be sticking to soothing breaths and compliance. If an opportunity presented it self she would be ready to take it.

Chapter End Notes:
Next chapter: Saturday

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