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Author's Chapter Notes:

In hopes of finishing sometime before I turn 70, I am (at least in the nearest future) doubling chapter size. Enjoy.


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, Emily

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 had played her for a fool. Parker slammed on the breaks and with one smooth motion grabbed her cell phone and her gun, sprinting off the pretender, who was stumbling badly in his mad flight. With whatever lovely concoction Lyle had given him, how far did Jarod seriously think he was going to get.

She pressed redial on her cell, grateful as Sam answered immediately. “Sam, he’s making a break for it a hundred yards from the east entrance.”

She slammed her phone shut refocusing on Jarod’s form which was still easily in her sights.

“Jarod – stop!” she commanded as she cocked her gun. “Unless you want a bullet in your ass for when I drag you through the Centre doors…” she left the threat hanging in the air as she continued after pretender, easily gaining ground.

Looking to her left she saw Sam running towards them quickly, so she resisted the temptation to fire a warning shot in Jarod’s direction. The less noise, the less any morons in the area would notice.

She continued the chase, until Sam overtook her and gained the remaining few yards on Jarod, tackling the pretender to the ground. Parker smiled as the two men landed with a heavy thud, the sweeper not wasting time to pin Jarod’s arm’s behind his back with the pair of handcuffs that were already half on.

“I hope it’s the designer drug in your system that is making you this stupid Jarod.” Parker remarked as she assisted Sam in holstering the angry pretender to his feet. She jabbed her gun into the base of his neck and was rewarded with a grimace. “Not one damn word Jarod,” she warned, surprised when the pretender actually remained silent.

“Did you get us a room?” Parker asked Sam, giving him a nod of appreciation as he handed her the oversized motel keychain. Together they each grabbed one of Jarod’s arms and began dragging him back towards the motel.

Five minutes later one very fuming pretender was sitting under heavy restraint on one sinfully uncomfortable motel chair. Parker caught Jarod’s eye as Sam finished securing his left leg to the chair leg, stepping back to admire his handiwork.

“Are we done with the temper tantrums for the evening now Jarod?” she asked pointedly, jabbing her gun into his chin.

Angry eyes met her stare and she just raised her eyebrow. “I see we’ve moved onto the silent treatment, real mature.”

Parker took a step back and began circling her catch of the day. “I’m going to tell you how it’s going to be. In about eighty-five minutes Lyle is going to be outside the Centre, ready to drag you back to wherever he so desires, and if you are not there, heads will roll, specifically that of your surrogate Daddy. So I propose that you use those remaining eighty-five minutes to reverse whatever damage you did that got Sydney and Broots into trouble in the first damn place. Understood?”

Jarod was trapped. Between Miss Parker, Sam and these stupid handcuffs, he was definately trapped in this room with them. And Parker was right, Lyle's mystery shots were playing havoc with his thought processes. And Sydney and Mr. Broots were in serious trouble. And Emily was in danger of Alex. These thoughts kept swirling through his head and then the images started appearing. Images of Sydney and Mr. Broots in coffins and Parker yelling that this was his fault. Images of Emily down on the ground dead and Alex laughing. Images of Lyle and giant needles, cattle prods and metal cages. He groaned and started thumping his head on the table next to him.

"End SIM, please. Refuge, Sydney. Please."

Even with his head hitting the desk every other second, he could feel the other two standing over him. One figure disappeared and quickly reappeared. His head was held upright by the hair and water was thrown into his face. He blinked his eyes rapidly and shook his head. The flying water drops captured his attention for a second and then his mind seemed to clear. He looked up to see Miss Parker standing next to him with an empty water glass.

He took a deep breath and again shook his head to finish clearing it. He had to think. He knew there was no way he could leave Sydney and Broots in danger, not even at the risk of his own freedom. And, besides, he knew he needed Sydney's help and, if he could free Sydney and Broots, then maybe Miss Parker could help free Emily. Maybe.

"I need a computer."


Bravery was highly overrated, Broots concluded as he readjusted himself on the uncomfortable concrete floor. Apparently pure and utter exhaustion wasn't enough to make his body calm down enough to sleep. Finally he just gave up and pushed himself into a sitting position in the tiny cell. As he gave his face a tired rub he wondered what was happening with Sydney. His session with Cox had to be over by now, it had been hours since Broots was dragged off by Cox' sweepers and left here to rot.

Broots sighed deeply as he thought about what had transpired since he had arrived to the small cell. Convinced that they were seconds away from executing either him or Debbie, he had run around in his cell, screaming in the most threatening way he knew that if his daughter went missing, there would be people looking for him, vicious people, people that'll stick your eyes out and eat them...raw. But as time progressed Broots quickly discovered that the only reaction he was getting was laughter.

So, after stubbing his toe on the door, he decided to go for the emotional approach. He leaned up against a small opening in the lower corner of the door and started talking to the sweeper guarding the door. And after a while of listening to the crazy guy in the cell talking to himself Frank, the newly hired nightshift sweeper, was getting bored and decided to answer him. For a while they were just talking back and forth about nothing really. But desperate to make the sweeper sympathize with him, Broots somehow managed to lead the conversation into more emotional areas.
Apparently in all his years of working with Sydney something had rubbed off, because after a couple of hours with his face pushed up against the metal door, Frank was reduced to a weeping boy as he realized his father's cross dressing was the reason he didn't feel comfortable showing emotions in front of other men.

But at that very moment Frank's shift ended. And when the new guard arrived and found Frank buried in Kleenex, he was slightly stunned to say the least. Things did not improve when Frank, in his new found appreciation for emotions, decided to greet the sweeper by giving him a big hug and whispering softly into his ear, It's ok, big boys cry too.

Broots had a feeling Frank wouldn't be coming back to the Centre any time soon.

So for now he was just sitting quietly in his cell, trying to decide how many days it would be before he was dumped in a ditch somewhere for betraying the Centre. Sighing deeply he laid down on the floor again and pushed his face up to the corner of the door, "Hi, my name is Broots. What's your name?"


Parker paced impatiently behind Jarod as Sam finished setting up the laptop he had commodered from the poor motel clerk. Seeing he was done she leaned over, handcuff key in hand. "You going to behave, Jarod?"

Jarod had been fighting with himself for the last 20 minutes. If he cooperated with Parker, he was on a one-way trip back to the Centre. But Sydney and Broots needed his help and he had to work with Parker to give that. Besides, if they freed him even a little, he might be able to work out something.

When Miss Parker's question penetrated his thoughts, he looked up, gave a deep sigh and nodded his consent.

"So what's your glorious plan genius-boy?" Parker questioned as she released Jarod's hands, standing back. She looked at Sam, "he tries anything shoot him in the ass."

"Any idea who is Lyle's contact back in the Centre? I simmed it with both Cox and Raines, but am leaning towards Cox."

"Score one for the labrat. The King of Roadkill has his grubby hands all over this one."

Jarod gave her his imfamous smirk.

"I just learned a couple of new saying while I've been out. 'Payback's a bitch' and 'What goes around comes around.' Either one would work."

"The plan, Jarod." Parker repeated impatiently.

"God, you're impatient. We do to them what they did to Sydney and Mr. Broots. Use Lyle's access code to put lots and lots of money into Cox's account."

"May i remind you that if our asses are not on the Centre doorsteps in forty minutes, Sydney's welcome mat won't be the only yanked..."

Jarod leaned back in his chair, deep in thought. After a couple of minutes, he looked up.

"You've been in charge of SIS. What would it take for the sweepers to ignore Lyle and Cox and release Sydney and Mr. Broots?"

"Direct triumvirate order, and ignore the sweepers, let the cleaners handle it. They have an aura of finality few can ignore."

Jarod looked at the purloined laptop.

"If I got into the mainframe, I can create some release orders, supposedly from the Triumvirate. That would supercede any authority Lyle and Cox claim."

Parker nodded curtly, giving an impatient look at her watch.

"Do it."

Jarod moved his chair closer to the table with the laptop, watching Sam closely as he did so. Now was not the time for the sweeper to pull an attitude. He moved the computer so Parker couldn't see the screen and started typing.

Parker rolled her eyes at Jarod's pathetic attempt to remain coy. She reached out and grabbed a wadful of Jarod's hair keeping the tension just enough to grab his attention.

"No secrets Jarod." She warned.

Jarod pulled his head away from her grip, loosing a few hairs in the process. He gave a mental shrug, figuring his access the mainframe was no secret. But then another distraction grabbed his attention.

"I need something to drink. Some Dr. Pepper will be fine. Maybe a PEZ refill, too."

"Sam, get Jarod a water." Parker ordered smoothly. "This is not the Ritz, Jarod, just get it done so we can get the hell out of here.

Jarod snorted. Like leaving this lovely establishment to head for the Centre was some treat to look forward to. But his fingers never stopped their typing, not even when Sam about threw the water glass at him.

Parker had to admit it was impressive to watch Jarod work. She strode over and gave the order a quick glance.

"Thank you Jarod." she admitted sincerely.

"I didn't do it for you," he answered. "Sydney may be trying to get me back to the Centre, but that doesn't mean I want him hurt. And Mr. Broots has a daughter who needs him."

Parker exchanged an intense look with Jarod before dumping the handcuffs back on the table.

"Get him ready, Sam."


Sydney was surprised to see the door to his "containment room" open.

"You're free to go" were the words from the unidentifiable sweeper. No, Sydney more carefully examined the demeanor of the suited man who had opened the door, noting the briefcase he carried as well. He was definitely of cleaner breed.

The doctor didn't need telling twice and shot up from his seat, curtly nodding at the man as he brushed past him. Sydney had worked here long enough to know that mystery blessings were not to be questioned in the Centre. Stepping out of the room, he noticed Cox glaring at him from a few yards away, clearly in a heated argument with some of the other cleaners. Cox whipped his cell phone out of his pocket and Sydney barely saw his mouth start ranting before he was in the elevator and on his way to a single digit sub level to make sure Broots hadn't gone into shock or seizure. Who knew how much time they had?

" think you could let me out?" Broots said hopefully, after keeping up a one-way conversation with the guard for quite some time. Unfortunate it hadn't gone as well as with the previous guard. Even after telling the sweeper all about Debbie, his ex-wife, and most of his extended family, the only reaction he had managed to get so far was a "shut-up" somewhere in between great-aunt Hilda with the clump foot and cousin George who he hadn't seen since he was taking in for tests by some local scientists.

He could hear muffled arguing outside the door, but he couldn't make it out. Then someone walked towards him.

Suddenly he found himself lying on the floor, as what he was leaning on, the door, was suddenly gone and he was surrounded by light.

"Mr Broots" A deep voice said, for a moment he thought it might be God. But quickly decided it wasn't, by rationalising that God probably wouldn't call him 'Mr'.

Despite being blinded by the bright light, he somehow managed to get himself off the floor, and into a somewhat standing position.

The voice continued, "You are free to go."

Chapter End Notes:
Next chapter: Thursday would be good for me

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