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Author's Chapter Notes:

Hey all. New chapter as promised, 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

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 down sidewalk, headed towards the local mall. He needed a new laptop in the worse way. And that is what he was: in a worse way than earlier. He had developed a tremedous headache in the ninety minutes since he had left the motel. A voice was getting louder in his brain demanding that he write in his blue notebook. A blue notebook that wasn't his and that he didn't have. A blue notebook that he had no intention of writing in.

A top-of-the-line laptop and printer purchase later, Jarod was checking in a mid-range hotel. He asked for an upper floor room with no balcony or adjoining room. That would prevent Lyle from entering through a neighboring door or through the window. The up-graded security latch was accompanied by the dresser being pushed in front of the door. The room was now as secure as Jarod could make it.

Jarod quickly logged online and into a larger hospital's employee records. He needed a decent sized labratory to check his blood; he knew Lyle was drugging him. Now it was time to find out with what and how both recover from and and to innoculate against it. A quick note to Angelo would help in that regard, too.

Jarod knew he needed to rest, too. The last drugged sleep he had was not very restful and his body was demanding some real sleep. Hopefully he could get a couple hours of good hard sleep before the ever occuring dreams brought him back awake. Hopefully.


Sitting at the long end of the T-shaped table, Sydney clasped his hands together. Patience had always been one of his strongpoints and now he was testing his skills. As long as they could wait, so could he. All he had to do to dull the boredom was to think of Miss Parker and Broots together in the detainment room and the riveting conversations they must be having in his absence.

Sydney began humming. Nonsense notes at first. After time it turned into a familiar tune. Hm ha hm hm, hm ha hm hm. Low high low low, low high low low. There were 32 slats in the long portion of the table, 98 all together. The psychiatrist smiled kindly as assorted people walked by every so often, handing pieces of paper to and from various occupants of the room. It was silly to put Sydney through a T-board. As one of the leading Centre psychiatrists, he'd designed the psychological strategies to be implemented during the process. Jarod had helped perfect them.

He took a sip of water and stretched his arms out. Patience was the key and patience he had. Jarod however, needed his help and this was stalling him. An interrogation would be next. Depending on what they wanted. He could only assume a rapid fire of questions would be sent his way to "overwhelm" him. They could try. Until then he would just have to wait. One can't rush his interrogators.

Cox was not at all pleased about being pulled prematurely out of his discussion with the lovely Miss Parker. He did not let his displeasure show though, it would not have been professional, and Cox prided himself on his consumate professionalism.

It would worry Parker that he had left before even starting and perhaps that was a good thing. Let her worry about what her friends were going to let slip or what lies they might fabricate to extricate themselves from any wrongdoing.

Smiling as he saw the old man there, he paused for a moment watching him. Sydney would not be easy to crack, he was old and wise, as well as wily, having managed to survive for a very long time when all the others had perished. Sydney was not to be underestimated.

After observing him for a few moments, he finally allowed his presence to be known, walking across to take his place, sitting down directly opposite the old man. Putting his papers in order he finally looked up at his colleagues, and then at Sydney.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said politely. "Shall we begin Doctor?"

Sydney smiled just as politely. He could play the phony charm game just as well. He had been doing it all his life here after all. "Oh I'm certain you are sorry, Mr Cox. We can begin if it suits you. What shall we discuss first? Our failure to return Jarod? Whether I think Miss Parker and Broots are doing their jobs to the best of their abilities? Or maybe something entirely different? I'm on the edge of my seat!"

With that, Sydney patted the seat beside him and then properly refolded his arms on the edge of the table. He stared at Cox with the security and confidence of a man who has nothing left to lose, and nowhere else to be.

Cox had to smile at the insincerity of the doctor's words. "It does suit me, thank you Doctor." He shuffled his papers, no hurry to move this along. Broots would be sweating bullets by now and Miss Parker would be about to perforate her ulcer. It had been a wise decision to keep them separated.

"Well, of course your dismal failure to return the Pretender, despite numerous opportunities, is a major concern to us." He looked up at him and smiled. "Please sit back doctor, if you fall from your seat you may injure yourself, and we can't have that. Do you think we should restrain you to prevent you from hurting yourself?"

Sydney was confident, and Cox could see he thought he was well in control of this situation.

"Injuries to myself should be of your least concern," Sydney stated simply. He could tell that Cox was enjoying himself and his newfound position of power. A thousand psychological theories flew through his mind as he considered the implications of that. It was usually the most insecure, validation-seeking type who enjoyed control the most. Then, he supposed, some people were just evil.

"I am not concerned, but it might impede this investigation," Cox countered smoothly. "Why don't you tell us why we are here then?" There was only one way this battle of wills was going to end, and the sooner the shrink figured that out, the sooner they could get down to business.

"I'm here because you and whomever higher up authorized this, deemed it more important to run through this charade again instead of letting Miss Parker, Broots, and myself do our jobs." Sydney explained as if he were speaking to a child, crossing his arms. "Now who do you expect to find Jarod?"

"Certainly not you." Cox scoffed. "How many years has it been Doctor? Surely you cannot expect me to believe that today was the day?"

"And you believe your odds are better without three of your most capable workers?” Sydney laughed bitterly, before addressing Cox’s implication. “Jarod contacted me several times today and yesterday. Something was different this time. I don't expect you to understand. I only expect that as an employee of The Centre for more than thirty years, you would trust my judgment, especially regarding Jarod."

"Our three most capable workers are seemingly incompetent fools. And we are well aware that Jarod has contacted you doctor, what is more disturbing is the fact that you have not shared that with us until now."

"Which would have resulted in what? Only shattering the trust I've worked so hard to build with Jarod. When Jarod needs someone to trust, you can be sure I'm the first one he'll go to. Maybe you believe that's hindering the pursuit, but I can assure you that without it, he would have vanished long ago. He's too smart to do otherwise. Why anyone ever believed it would be easy to return him is beyond me."

"I would have assumed you would have refrained from telling Jarod you were just doing your job." Cox said calmly. This was going to get them nowhere but running around in circles. "Let us move on to something else then shall we. Something of more immediate concern."


Parker watched apprehensively as Sydney and Cox squared off at the T-board. For all his blundering and air of ignorance, she had to hand it to the shrink for his nonchalant demeanor. Few men could retain that kind of class. She could almost imagine the sweat-riddle, trembling disaster that would be Broots.

She wished she could overhear the conversation but then again, that was the point. Intimidation and defeat was the goal of any T-board. Her team had barely made it through the last one. Ironically it was Jarod's truant ways that had saved them. Few could have screwed up the golden egg that Bridgette had been given, but somehow the queen of platinum blond had managed.

While she didn't doubt that this T-board had been assembled as a stall-tactic by her thumbless brother, the Tower didn't go to such trivial lengths over nothing. Parker could tell by the look on Coxes' face that he was about to inform Sydney of the purpose of this little gathering.

Parker turned away from the window briefly, allowing herself a deep cleansing breath. She pushed away the fear, the anxiety, the questions and focused on the interaction between Sydney and the resident Taxidermist. In the game of Life, nothing was trivial. The psychiatrists body language in the next few minutes would tell her everything she needed to know about the purpose of this T-board. Was it really about their failure to return Jarod back to his cage, or was it as she suspected some neverland scheme to land their asses in the sling? A stiffened back, an incredulous look backwards or a guilty man fighting instinct in order to remain still and relaxed. How many rules had been bent in the Jarod pursuit? How many missed oppourtunities, forbidden phone calls, exchanges of information? Stack these incidences up and heads could roll - literally.

Lyle's arrogant expression flooded her mind as Cox glanced briefly in her direction. She winked at him, imagining exactly what she might do to her little bro when this was all said and done.

This time he really had gone to far.

Parker forced her mind back to Sydney as she watched Cox pose the question they had all been waiting for.

She prayed for a twitch, a glance, a sign that Sydney was shocked by the allegations.

In this case, nothing would mean something, something terrible, for all three of them.


Jarod slowly opened his eyes. A strange feeling of heaviness filled his body. A heaviness that he finally attributed to something he very rarely experienced: a good, solid sleep with no nightmares. A sleep that most people took for granted. A sleep that did not involved sedatives, injections or even blows to the head. A sleep that he would love to have again.

He remembered the day before as his mind started working again. He remembered waking up in that cheap motel and finding the tracking device in his back. He remembered testing his blood at the hospital an hour away and finding out the results.

A glance to the bedside table showed the prescription bottles that housed the antidote he created from common antibiotics. His mind was clearer than it had been for a while. He didn't know how long Alex and Lyle had been messing with him, but it was time for it to end. Time for both men to find out just how wrong it was to mess with him. And now that he could think, he could do some research into what Lyle was up to.


In the small cell viewing the T-Board he watched Sydney as closely as he could through the small glass slot in the worn down metal door. He tried not to think about all the people who had made it so worn down, but after being in here for what he could only guess was hours, he was having a hard time not to. Most of them were probably dead, he didn't allow thoughts of the others to enter his mind. Being in a T-Board twice, that was like like taking a second spin in Russian roulette.

He didn't like being alone in any room of the Centre, much less when he was facing a T-Board. There was nothing to do but think. Thinking leads to more thinking, which leads to panic and involuntary Freudian slips,and that was why they kept them separated this time, he thought as he tried to convince himself that the red-ish stain just under the 'window' was rust.

He knew Miss Parker was here as well, he saw the sweepers bring, well more like shove, her into the room next to him. Somehow that made him feel a bit better, though he didn't really know why. It only meant that she wouldn't wonder where they were and that she wasn't able to pull any strings to get them out.

After staring at what was beginning to look like teeth marks, in the lower right corner of the door for far too long, Broots saw movement outside the door out of the corner of his eye. And it was more than the regular 'my leg fell asleep'-shifting that had been going on for the past hour or so. He looked up and saw Sydney being escorted away from the table by a sweeper. He couldn't see his face, so he had no idea what the doctor was feeling. Not that he could read much into it if he could.

His mind started racing as Sydney got closer to his door. Who would they interrogate next? Miss Parker, or him? Where were they taking Sydney? What was this T-Board all about anyway? Why was Mr Cox administering the board? And was he the one who was really behind it, or was he just a puppit?

He finally concluded that he would try something new, staying positive. If he tried to look on the bright side of everything then things couldn't look that bad...he hoped.

Step one: the stain was definitively rust.

Chapter End Notes:
Next chapter: Wednesday next week (got an exam on Tuesday, wish me good luck. I may need it.)

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