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Author's Chapter Notes:

Thanks for many, many (many!) lovely reviews


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

Check end notes for when the next chapter is scheduled to arrive


Jarod turned around and looked back up at the Sydney's cabin as the car sped down the driveway. He knew he was watching his freedom and very probably his very sense of self, thanks to those shots of Lyle's, disappear down that long dirt path. A flash of sunlight off a shiny object caught his attention, but before he could see what it was, Sam elbowed him in the ribs and told him to face forward. He glared at Sam in frustration, but did as he was told. But a possible escape scenario was forming in his brain.

He slouched down in his seat and softly started moaning, as if in pain. He closed his eyes, grabbed his stomach, and started swallowing non-stop. He hoped that anyone watching him would think that he was getting sick. He felt a hand on his shoulder and heard Sydney's soft whisper asking if he was all right. He groaned again and leaned forward.

“I’m gonna be sick,” he mumbled just barely loud enough for the other occupants to hear.

“Swallow it,” he heard from the driver’s seat.

“Parker, I think you better pull over. He got sick all over the backseat of my car earlier.”

Jarod was surprised that it was Lyle encouraging Parker to pull over, but he wasn’t about to stop him. He gave a couple of heaves just for the fun of it.

The car was barely stopped when Sydney was pulling him out and over to the side of the dirt road. He dropped to his knees, looking back the way they came to see if anyone was there. He could see the dust thrown up from a speeding car and pretended to heave some more, buying time for the approaching vehicle. He quickly looked down, hoping no one else notice what he had seen, and missed the fishtailing stop the other car made.

Parker glared into the rearview mirror as Jarod began to moan loudly, obviously caught in some cross between a hellish nightmare and a drug induced stupor.

"Syd, shut him up," she commanded smoothly and rolled her eyes as the shrink tried to gently coax the pretender back to reality. With a shake of her head, she slammed on the breaks, causing all the occupants of the car to lurch forwards.

“Where did you learn to drive, Parker?” Lyle snapped, grabbing the dashboard while his head slammed against the window with a loud crack. “We need to get there alive, if you don’t mind.”

"When it comes to you, I do mind," she snapped back before catching Jarod's eye in the rearview mirror. "Welcome back to the land of the living," she patronized, ignoring Sydney's chiding at her unnecessary remark. "While you were dancing with the sugarplum fairies, Lyle was writing you are one way ticket to Coxes' chamber of wonders."

“Speaking of which, I think that we should give Jarod his dose now and not wait till we’re at the Centre. If he deteriorates any further there might not be enough left to work with. You don’t want that, do you, Parker?” Lyle asked as he takes the syringe out of his pocket, an eyebrow raised in familiar Parker fashion.

Parker didn't miss a beat, slamming her foot against the brake and watching again as all occupants lurched forward. She glanced over with false enthusiasm, "Did you manage to stab yourself that time Dr. Jekyll?"

Lyle ignored his sister while he scrambled to get the syringe of the floor before it rolled under the seat. He snagged it just as she did another hairpin turn, spinning the car around a corner and narrowly missing the oncoming truck that filled the windscreen for a second. He couldn’t help the swear words that escaped as he glared at his sister while hoping that he hadn’t look too much like loosing his cool.

I wouldn’t do for Jarod and Sydney to see his sweaty palms. And he understood clearly why no-one at the Centre except her team wanted to be in a car with Parker.

She clearly was insane.

“Can you maybe slow down a bit, Sis? I don’t want Jarod to throw up in the car. It’s hell to get it cleaned up afterwards.”

Parker ignored him once again. "Tell me Lyle, what's in that syringe that is so damn precious? It's obviously turning Jarod into Sesame Streets target audience. You want him delivered to the Centre, we need answers, and by gauging how fast the miles on the odometer are flying by, you better start talking fast."

Lyle was silent for a moment as he contemplated how much to tell his sister, aware that hers wasn’t the only ears in the car. But as he briefly met the Pretender’s eyes in the rearview mirror, he decided that Jarod knowing wouldn’t change the outcome.

“It’s a drug devised by the Triumvirate to get that stubborn streak out of wonder boy and make him an ideal employee at the Centre. “

Parker snorted. "That's about as far fetched as you finding yourself with a new appendage."

“Fine, you don’t have to believe me, but I’ve seen the results and it works.”

Seeing that Lyle was being forthcoming she continued to press, "And who is running the show? Cox?"

“Amongst others. You don’t really want to get involved, Parker. It could get you a one way ticket booked to Africa if you’re not careful.”

"Save me the false concern Lyle. You only show it when you want me out of the way to continue with some idiot scheme to gain more corporate power. Have you ever considered that you are as much of a pawn in this as Jarod? That Cox is letting you know only what he wants and stringing you along?" Parker asked pointedly.

“I know what I’m doing, Parker. Do you?”

"Is that how you are controlling your madman Alex? This miracle concoction?"

“Alex? What makes you think Alex is involved?” Lyle asked innocently, his hand straying casually to his gun.

Jarod looked around. The dirt road he was on had disappeared and Lyle's grinning face was smirking at him from over the front passenger seat and heard his remark about becoming an ideal employee at the Centre.

"Not an employee, don't wanna go there. Don't, don't, don't." He started kicking at Lyle's seat in between Miss Parker's wild starts and stops.

"Don't like it there. Like the sun and ice cream and PEZ and going outside and " Sydney sucessfully hushed him at that point and Jarod bounced back in his seat and started pouting. Then the thrill of bouncing announced itself in his brain and he started bouncing back and forth in the seat.

"Boing, boing, boing. Bouncy, bounce bounce." Jarod started singing along with his bounces, much to the astonishment of his fellow passengers.

Then Jarod caught sight of the syringe Lyle was holding and he totally lost what little self-control he had left. He started fighting with Sam and Sydney, trying to get out of the moving vehicle; screaming the whole time about there being "no more Jarod".

The bouncing was frightening for so many reasons. Jarod was losing his grip on reality and it was all due to this mysterious drug, that same drug that Lyle was attempting to inject the pretender with now. Sydney couldn't bare the thought of seeing Jarod slip even further away from him. He grabbed one of Jarod's arms in an attempt to subdue his frantic scrambling for the door. Sam was doing a far better job physically, but verbally, Sydney was able to calm him back into a mumbling state of worry.

"Don't you dare touch him, Lyle," Sydney warned with a rough edge to his smooth voice, the kind that said this psychiatrist might just be ready to blow in crazy and unpredictable ways and nobody in this car wanted to witness that. "Whatever will be done can at least wait until we're at the Centre, which judging by Miss Parker's driving, shouldn't take very long."

Jarod continued mumbling obscure nonsense, but Sydney managed to stop the bouncing and the kicking which was definite progress. He was rubbing a circle into one of Jarod's shoulders in order to soothe him.

"It's all right, Jarod. I promise, nobody's going to hurt you. Everything's going to be fine."

He prayed he wasn't lying this time.


Emily shot a glance at the funny little bald man desperately trying to make the key hit the ignition, as he had been for the past four minutes or so. Of all the things she'd pictured when the word 'Centre employee' came to mind, this had not been one of them. Alex on the other hand... The moment the thought struck her she automatically became more aware of the things outside the car, doing her best to see if anything was moving in their direction. She had no idea how long the drugs took to wear of, for all she knew he could be waking up any minute now. Which was why she needed to get away.

She rubbed her wrist, it was getting sore from clutching the gun for so long, a feeling she hoped to never repeat after today, "So besides hunting down Jarod like a stray dog, what is it you do at the Centre, Mr Broots?"

"I'm a computer engineer" Broots said and tried once again to make the key hit the tiny little hole of the ignition. He did not do well under pressure, and having a gun pointed at him definitively qualified as pressure.

"Figures," Emily muttered under her breath, almost groaning in despair from his lack of of coordinative skills. She was afraid to think what might happen if he finally got this thing out on the road.

Broots chose to ignore that comment, seeing as she was holding a gun and all, and simply carried on trying to complete the seemingly uncomplicated task of getting object A into slot B.

She was staring at him rather intently so Broots decided to try and start up a conversation. After all he had gotten rather good at it after that little stint in the T-Board cell, "So how did you end up in the middle of all of this? At White Cloud of all places."

"I'm not sure," She said quietly, not willing to elaborate too much on that fact seeing as he was working for the same cooperation as her kidnapper did. Why couldn't he just get that damn car started? She wanted to get out of her now, while she still had a microscopic chance of locating and releasing her brother.

Broots' key-movments became more forceful as he closed one of his eyes, hoping it would help him with his aim. "What do you mean 'you're not sure'? Can't be that difficult to remember."

"It is when you are unconscious," Her eyes followed the direction of the keys, and it was making her dizzy, a feeling she'd had more than her fair share of in the past few days.

Finally she got tired of waiting and decided to take matters into her own hands. In one smooth motion she leaned forward, grabbed the keys from his hand and pushed them firmly into the ignition. A small smile graced her lips and she could hear a sigh of relief from the seat next to her.

She grabbed the key and tried to twist it, "Now all we've got to do is - " She stopped mid sentence, it wouldn't budge. She tried again - no luck. She tried a third time, and a fourth time, each time putting just a little more pressure on the delicate metal object.

"Eh...miss," Broots said cautiously as he watched her push the key harder and harder in an attempt to turn the ignition on, "Be careful so it doesn't -"

- snap -


"Oh you've got to be kidding me!"

With half of the key sealed into the ignition and the other part in her hand, Emily felt like shooting something. And for once, 'it' wasn't Alex.

Chapter End Notes:
Next chapter: Tuesday

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