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Chapter or Story Chapter or Story
New chapter (well duh), 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, Sam
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
“And miss all the fun?”
Jarod heard that damned voice coming from behind him and knew that his situation just got worse. Parker had been buying into his "drugged out of his mind state", but he just knew the owner of the voice was going to make that a true condition.
He tried to pull away from Sam's iron grip on his arm and, when that didn't work, looked over at Sydney for help. He knew that Sydney wouldn't help him against Miss Parker, but lifelong habits were hard to break. Maybe it was time to act up again. No, that was getting old and wouldnt work in his favor. Maybe he could try ... um, no that wouldn't work either.
A wave of dizziness swept through him and, for a brief second, he was glad the burly sweeper had such a tight grip on him. He shook his head in the hopes of clearing it and heard Sydney asking if he was OK. The approaching footsteps diverted his attention from Sydney, though, and fear swept through his body. He knew the owner of the footsteps didn't have his best interests at heart. In fact, the footsteps meant certain doom to him. Jarod knew that if he didn't get away very, very quickly, then he was facing the loss of his freedom and the joy of becoming nothing more that a labrat for the Centre, with no more rights that a bunsen burner. He was a human being, damn them all, and it was time that even Sydney saw that.
His eyes darted around quickly. Parker was at the front of the car, Sydney and Broots were coming out of the woods in front of Parker, and Sam was holding Jarod up against the rear passenger door. The dreaded footsteps were coming from the driver's side of the car and could be discounted for now. Jarod plotted out his escape and made his move. He leaned over against Sam, acting as if he was dizzy again, and, when Sam tried to readjust his grip, Jarod broke free and headed into the woods.
“And miss all the fun?”
Broots turned around and almost peed himself when he met the eyes of a very angry, and very armed Mr Lyle. Last time he had seen the single-thumbed man he had handcuffed both himself and Sydney, locked them down in SL-nobody-knows for the purpose of them answering questions to which their answer could either get them killed or keep them alive long enough to answer the next question. Strangely enough the experience had done very little to change his perception of Mr Lyle.
Broots' eyes flickered from person to person from where he stood a little out of sight in the woods, or so he liked to pretend it was. They all looked completely gobsmacked as they watched the new arrival. Broots found it slightly odd that Jarod, who hadn't looked at anything other than the mans shoes, seemed to know exactly who he was dealing with...but he supposed geniuses could do that. He decided to take a hint from the trained virtuoso and diverted his eyes down into the grass, no longer seeing a reason to establish eye contact with unstable individuals with guns.
Then, as if stung by a bee, Jarod started running. That is if you could call the drunken sailer's walk he was attempting to uphold while still keeping his eyesight firmly planted below everyone's knees 'running'.
Broots, who was staring intently at the forest ground while walking in small, square circles in an attempt to calm himself knew nothing of what was going on until he was interrupted by a lot of swearing, so he stopped. All of a sudden he heard, and felt, a loud thump and plummeted to the ground, something heavy and squirming landing on top. When he open his eyes seconds later the heavy 'something' had been yanked away and the loud swearing had turned into undecipherable muttering. So he brushed off his clothes and continued walking in slightly square circles in the dewy forest.
Parker just stood back with her hands on her hips as Sam pulled Jarod off of poor Broots. Her tech had fallen to pieces and Jarod was an easy week overdue from being checked into the nuthouse. Add her homicidal twin to the mix and things couldn’t get any better.
Jarod’s brown eyes flashed with anger as he was pulled over to her. “Now where is a leash when you need one?” Parker asked sarcastically. She could only imagine the look Sydney was giving her.
She turned to face her twin, “What’s this? Another scheme which has only lead you down the path of corporate suicide?”
“That’s not really a smart thing to do, Emily. Now be a good little girl and let go of that piece of glass before you cut yourself.” Alex stated calmly, glaring at her out of one eye while he tried surreptitiously to move his neck a few inches further away from the sharpened end that had drawn a thin line of blood.
“What did I just say!” She said with more force than she thought she had left and pushed the sharp object further into Alex’ arteries. In her head a twisted film of all the times he’d drugged her, all the times she’d had to run from the dark clad men, was playing, over and over. “You try that again and I will separate your head from your neck. Do think I’m kidding?” She whispered seductively into Alex’ ear. Her makeshift knife boring deeper into his skin. “Come on, test me.”
“In case you forgot, I can pull this trigger a lot quicker than it would take you to slash my throat. Are you really prepared for all that blood?” Alex asked, while pushing slightly with the gun that nestled snugly against Emily’s body.
She was after all, Jarod’s sister and as such, should be averse to shedding blood of another human being. A flaw but a predictable one none the less that could be exploited.
“Now unless you want me to kill you, I suggest you stop play acting and put the glass down.”
“Me slashing your throat is synonymous with dying, getting shot in the side isn’t.” She wasn’t entirely sure that was true, but at least she had something working in her favor; she was far more desperate than he was, threatening someone with parts of a broken frame should be proof enough. Not waiting for him to respond she moved on to the next topic,
“Now you are going to tell me who you were talking to on the phone, why you are drugging Jarod and what the hell I have to do with any of this.”
Desperation he could respect. And although he was faintly annoyed at her for the attempt to coerce him into talking, he was also admiring the fire and determination he could see in her eyes. And he was out of the house and far enough away from the Centre group, not to arouse their attention. He also had time, something that was rarely a given with Jarod’s family and although the makeshift knife was still drawing blood, he still had his gun against her side.
He gave her his best smile, raised an eyebrow in best Parker fashion and said, “You, my dear is insurance that your brother will do as he’s told. As for drugging him, you of all people should be able to figure it out, after all the pretender gene runs in your family.”
She should have known she was nothing other than a bargaining chip, and under normal circumstances she would have. But this was about as far from normal circumstances as she had ever been, the gun gradually bruising her side a constant reminder of that. Her mind was blank, she couldn’t think properly, and therefore acted solely on impulse, which was both good and bad, if she had any control of her own actions she would probably have surrendered long ago.
“Humor me, Alex. Tell me why you are doing this.”
Alex gave a low chuckle and when she glared at him, he gave a wink. The disgust on her face was priceless and he decided to be magnanimous. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t he in control, despite the precarious position of the instrument right next to his main artery.
“Because I’m a better pretender than Jarod, and despite that fact the Centre continued to search for their so called missing key. And your brother has no idea why they want him back. But I do; their so-called second rate pretender. You should have seen Jarod when I told him on the bridge that he’ll never get to see his mother. Priceless. The hurt and confusion on his face alone was worth the jump.”
Emily had no idea what her demented, and obviously suicidal, kidnapper was going on about, but he seemed to be in a sharing mood so she continued her line of questioning, hoping this time, if she played her cards right, they might actually provide some answers “So then why do they want him back?” As she waited for his response she carefully fished an object out from his pocked, the sociopathic pretender obviously too caught up in his own mind to notice her actions.
“Tut tut, not yet, Emily. You don’t get that luxury of knowing. I jumped of a bridge to stop your brother from finding out the truth. You are not as important as he is. So, when last did you see your mother?” Alex asked conversationally, giving her another leer just for good measure.
Without a second thought she jammed the object she found in his pocket into his torso and emptied its contents just beneath his skin. He fell to the ground instantly, the now empty syringe still attached to him. She bent down to grab his gun and whispered into his ear,
“Maybe I’ll tell you someday.”
Jarod glared at Parker as Sam dragged him back to the car. He was not going back to the Centre and Lyle was not gonna drug him again. He didn't care how about what he had to do to get away or how badly he might have to hurt someone, but he knew that his very life would be on the line back in the Centre. And Sydney would not be able to help him. Unfortunately, as his little jog proved, his eyes still weren't focusing properly and his muscles refused to cooperate.
He gave a soft grunt as Sam practically threw him into the back seat of the car. He looked out the window opposite him and saw a sight that turned his blood cold. Lyle was peering in at him with a wicked smile an his face. A grin that said 'what until you see what I have in store for you'. Then, without warning, Lyle's face split into two, blurred a bit, and then melted back into one. Jarod closed his eyes and shook his head, hoping that would make Lyle disappear. A quick peek over at the window proved that wrong.
A gentle hand on his right arm turned his attention away from the grinning face opposite him. Sydney was calling his name, over and over, and demanding that he look at him. Jarod started to look over at Sydney, but then decided that no, he didn't want to look at his mentor. He closed his eyes, leaned back in the seat, and tried to pretend that he was totally alone. No Parker taking him back to the Centre, no Lyle grinning in glee at him, no Sam to yank him around, and no Sydney to pretend to care about him. And no Broots, wherever he was; he could stay there where Jarod couldn't see him. Without knowing it, his lower lip started to protrude.
"Jarod! Jarod, open your eyes!" Sydney demanded, smashing a hand to the car window. "For God's sake, look at me, Jarod!"
There was no point hiding the desperation in his voice. Sydney was panicked by Jarod's obviously delusional state. His charge into the forest had been poorly calculated, something quite unlike his typical pretender's moves.
Sydney ignored the disapproving glance from Lyle and opened the car door to slide into the seat beside Jarod, whose eyes were closed. He appeared to be muttering to himself with slight shakes of his head. His face was pale, with drops of sweat beading on his forehead, and he was trembling slightly. Sydney hoped, longingly hoped, that these were the signs of withdrawal from the drugs he'd been on. But this wasn't his area of medical expertise. Jarod's expertise however...
"Jarod, please," Sydney whispered, leaning close to the younger man as if he had a secret to share. "I want to help. You can't possibly think I ever approved of what's been done to you. If I'd known..." He took a deep breath. "Well, I would have done something. Jarod, are you even listening to me? We don't have time to waste."
And they didn't. He could see through the window, Miss Parker and Lyle biting at one another like rabid wolves. Soon enough, one would storm off with a mission in mind. And it seemed Jarod was always pivotal in any plan that the Parker twins were engaged in.
"Come on, Jarod."
Sydney's persistant nagging voice was finally more than Jarod could bear to ignore and he reluctantly opened his eyes.
"I'm not going back to the Centre," he told his mentor in a monotone. "Please don't make me. Please? NO, don't answer, please, just don't say anything."
He knew his plea was for nothing. Sydney was powerless against the Centre and unwilling to go against Miss Parker's wishes. Jarod just wished that once, just once, Sydney would put Jarod's needs first.
He pushed those thoughts out of his head, something he had done millions of times in the past. Now was not the time for that. He suspected that Alex was in the house, possibly (probably) with Emily. He now knew what he had to do, but the mere thought made his stomach churn. He turned to Sydney, a hint of fear along with a dash of repugnace apparent in his eyes.
"I need your help, Sydney. I have to SIM Alex."
“I’m protecting you, Parker. Can’t you see that,” Lyle said, glaring at his sister. With the Pretender safely tucked away in the car with an obviously worried Sydney at his side, he could focus solely on his sister and getting the Pretender back under his full control.
Parker snorted. "Protecting me from what Lyle? Your orchestrated T-board? Your pyschotic partner in crime? That's a load of crap and you know it."
“You’ve got it all wrong, Sis,” Lyle said, barely keeping his anger in check. Putting on an air of innocence, he tucked at his glove, “There’s no partner in crime and I wasn’t the one who orchestrated the T-Board. It was some rogue agent from the Triumvirate and I assure you that he’s been taken care of. Now why don’t we settle this back at the Centre, preferably while Jarod is back in his nice cozy cell in SL-27?”
Parker finished making her away around the car, squeezing herself between Lyle and the car. Crossing her arms at her chest to give an air of strength she spoke dangerously, inches from Lyle's face, "Save me your denial Lyle. You leave your thumbless paw print over everything you touch. Leave Jarod to the professionals, and go find yourself a thumb to suck on."
“You’re on dangerous ground, Parker. You don’t want to antagonize the only person who can help you.” Lyle tilted his head, his eyes boring into hers, “Why did you decide on bringing Jarod White Cloud and not the Centre, Sis? That in itself is grounds for another T-Board.”
"Spare me the threats. The only T-board anyone of us will be going to is the one that will determine how genius boy in the car has regressed from a man-child of age 14 to one of age two in a matter of a few days. I swear he would drown himself in the bathtub if left unattended. Hardly a desirable trait for the Centre's prized pretender?"
"Jarod is being retrained under the supervision of the Triumvirate. There’s nothing more to add except that they’d take exception if Jarod doesn’t start his next treatment as soon as possible. They want him pliable and if you hadn’t interfered, he would’ve nearly been done with his first round of treatment.”
Taking a capped syringe from his jacket pocket, he started towards the Pretender. “Speaking of which…”
Parker didn't hesitate, grabbing Lyle's wrist with a fistful of anger, enjoying as he grimaced. "There is a hell of a difference between pliable and needing a wet nurse. My job is to retrieve and return Jarod to the Centre - safely. Until a crazy Zulu shows up and tells me otherwise, Jarod is staying under my control."
"Let go of me,” Lyle hissed, as he tried to jerk his arm out her grip. He was close enough to see the momentary fear in the Pretender’s eyes and he gave him a smirk before turning his full attention on his sister. “He needs this Parker. You don’t want him to go into withdrawal. He might end up a vegetable and that would be your fault.”
Parker let go of Lyle with a hard shove, sending him stumbling back a few feet before he was able to steady himself. "Nice try. Maybe you should save that for one of your Asian beauties. I hear you like them nice and...pliable."
“We gonna continue to trade insults, Parker or are you actually for once going to do your job and bring wonder boy back to the Centre?” Lyle said quietly. He was tired of fighting his sister and had decided that he’d take her for a visit to his mountain cabin as soon as this whole sordid business was completed.
“And before you say anything else, I’ll be riding in the back with Jarod just to make sure that you do deliver him back home where he belongs.”
Parker stuck her hand out just as Lyle reached for the car door, blocking his access. "Sam," she commanded, not breaking eye contact with her twin as the sweeper helped himself into the back seat, sandwiching Jarod between himself and an anxious Sydney.
Giving his sister his best glare, he slid into the front seat. Broots was standing beside the car looking as usual like a wet puppy about to be drowned. Lyle had no idea how the tech had managed to make it into the Centre, never mind on his sister’s team. Giving Miss Parker a raised eyebrow, he smiled and said, “Well, are we going?”
"If boy wonder needs his diaper changed, it's your responsibility," she sneered while gracefully entering the car.
"Whatever," Lyle said, waving his hand dismissively while giving the Pretender a wink when he caught his eyes in the rearview mirror. "Let's go."
Parker jerked her car into gear, enjoying the three audible grimaces that sounded in the car as heads thumbed against the leather seats - only Sam managed to stay silent. As they sped down the driveway Parker looked into the rear view mirror, watching as Broots' forlorn figure disappeared from sight.