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Author's Chapter Notes:

Hey again. I'm getting pretty good with the "on time"-thing, ain't I? *grins*

This chapter is a little longer than usual, 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

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.


Alex was waiting beside the elevator with two sweepers, his body language shouting his unhappiness with Lyle’s choice. They had briefly debated the issue again when he had phoned the other man to give the location and had lost.

He hated losing.

He squeezed in last, feeling the closeness of the walls and the sweepers bodies. He hated Lyle and what had been done to him by the thumbless man and the triumvirate. But he hated Jarod even more and Lyle knew that and exploited it.

He breathed a sigh of relief when the door finally opened on their designated floor. He turned to Lyle, “He’s barricaded the door. No outside entrance.”

Lyle scowled in irritation, clearly not happy with Alex’s statement. “So what do you propose, Alex?”

The sociopath allowed a smirk before turning to one of the doors closest to where they were standing. He knocked once and the door opened on a pretty girl no older than eighteen.

“Lyle, meet our damsel in distress.”

Lyle chuckled, his eyes appraising her body. “That’s funny. I should let you organize these types of things more often.” Indicating the hallway, he bowed slightly, “After you, my dear.”

They moved with her and as she came to a stop in front of the door to Jarod’s room, they flattened against the wall, making sure that they were out of viewpoint. The girl knocked, waiting until they clearly heard Jarod’s voice asking who it was. Lyle grinned in appreciation when the girl’s voice indicated her fear and sorrow when she said, “I…I’m sorry to disturb. I…I saw you earlier a…and I…need help.”

Hell, Lyle though, if it was him behind that door, he would open it. Silence met the request until the girl gave an audible sigh and turned as if to move away. He could hear Jarod asking her to wait and then the sound of something heavy being moved. As the door started to open, he pushed the girl out of the way, slamming it further open with his body into a very surprised pretender’s face. He could see the small sliver of blood starting just above one eyebrow where the door had cut and as the last sweeper entered and closed the door, he waited for Jarod’s next move.

Jarod looked at Lyle, ignoring both the blood dripping down his forehead and the sweepers who were surrounding him.

"You would pull an innocent into this, Lyle. Or did Alex think it up for you?"

Alex moved past Lyle and the pretender, heading straight for the side table where an assortment of bottles stood. After the third bottle he knew what Jarod had done. He had tried to make an antidote to the drugs that they had been administering and from his lucidness, had been fairly successful. Eying the rest of the room and failing to see the blue notebook, he moved towards the pretender, his eyes darkened by his hatred of the man.

“You’ve been a busy little bee, haven’t you Jarod?”

Jarod glared at Alex, but refused to answer him. He knew that Alex's weakness was his inferiority complex and Jarod hoped to play on that by ignoring him.

"Tell my, Lyle, how did you get Cox to run a T-Board on Miss Parker, Sydney and Mr. Broots. Did you promise to find him something dead to play with?"

Lyle froze for a second, and then the grin returned. “I didn’t do anything, Jarod. All I did was following orders to bring her and her stooges in.” Lyle sank down into one of the chairs arrayed in the small sitting area, indicating with his gun to Jarod to seat himself in the one across from him.

Jarod looked around the room. He had to get away or he knew he would be in serious trouble. The problem was there were too many of them and he didn't have to save just himself, but the girl too. There was no way he could leave her with those two sociopaths.

He commanded Alex to check the laptop before pulling a blue notebook out of his jacket and tossing it at the pretender.

“You left something at your last place.”

The voices in Jarod's head started screaming. He knew he had to resist, but the pull to write in the notebook was almost overwhelming. The last piece of resistance he could muster went into tearing the notebook in half. Then he fell to his knees and grabbed his head, all the while rocking back and forth.

"Kyle's notebook, not mine," he told himself. "I use red, not blue. Not mine, don't use it. Not mine."

“You’re wrong, Jarod. You use blue. Here, let me show you.”

Alex made sure he had a good hold on Jarod’s neck before thrusting one of the pretender’s previous written ones into his face. Jarod balked but he was ready, forcing him to look at the handwriting and the words.

“You use blue and you need to complete your next one.” He leaned even closer, his whispered words only meant for the trembling man beside him.

“If you don’t, I get to play with the girl. Do you want her on your conscience because she surely would not be on mine?”

Jarod swallowed. He knew Alex meant every word he said. But he also knew that the girl was as good as dead anyway. There was no way Lyle and Alex would leave her alive for her to tell anyone of what happened or to I.D. them. His mind raced for a solution that would save both of them.

The hand on the back of his neck tightened and he knew that he had to look at the notebook. The more Alex wanted him to look at it, the greater the danger from it. He finally unfocused his eyes and looked at the notebook. The writing was nothing but blurred scribbled. Blurred scribbles that made no sense. He was safe for the minute.

“He needs his dosage, Lyle. He can’t focus until he’s under.”

Lyle leaned back and looked at them with dead eyes. Jarod’s head was bent, his whole body screaming defeat and defiance at the same time. Alex wasn’t gentle on his hold; he could see the bruises already emerging where the sociopath’s hands gripped into the pretender’s neck.

He wanted his revenge and if he had to wait a little while longer, he’ll do that. He extracted the case, taking out the prepared syringe. Making sure that Alex had a good hold, he jabbed it into Jarod’s arm, not caring if he left a bruise or not. The pretender struggled briefly until the fluid had drained away and then went limp.

Alex waited a few seconds before once again placing a book in front of Jarod, stating that he needed to finish the notebook.

Jarod could feel the fluid burning through his veins as it headed towards his brain. He had to resist. He had to. His freedom and the girl's life depended on him remaining alert. Then he heard Sydney's voice echoing from the past about how to disengage himself from his surroundings.

He struggled to remember how to do so, the injection and the notebook pulling his attention in other directions. He was finally able to recall the procedure Sydney had taught him. He opened the door into the hidden room in his mind and walked in.

Jarod's body went totally limp and unresponsive. He was safe for now. He had bought the time he needed to figure things out.


Lunch was over and they were back at it, and now it was time for some serious fun. Cox watched as they brought Parker out, still cuffed and waited until she was seated before giving the command to take the cuffs from her. She was big on the threats to maim and kill and various other things, but he doubted she had the balls, so to speak. Still, it was a fun excuse to leave her restrained, knowing how much she would hate it. And it gave him a pleasant image to think about during the tedious hours of this interminable T-board.

"The circus freak show finally gets its grand finale." Parker remarked snarkily, her ice-cold glare focused on Cox.

"You seem to think very highly of yourself," Cox drawled. "What makes you think you are the main event in this little circus?

"You saved the best for last." Parker stated evenly. She had watched Cox toy with Sydney and Broots, and by the gleam in his eyes she could tell he was enjoying this more than he should be. She casually looked at her watch. "How was lunch?"

"Fine thanks," he said, amazed at her vanity and sense of importance. "It is time to get back to work though. Sooner we start, sooner we can all get back to what we do."

"It's your show." Parker stated, sitting back and feigning boredom.

"Yes it is," he agreed, sitting back as well. She was a cool one, that was certain. "You don't like me do you Miss Parker?"

"I don't trust you." Parker answered slyly. "Tell you what Cox, let's cut the idle chitchat. We aren't here to discuss your warm fuzzies. Why don't we get on with this futile charade? Last time I checked I had a pretender to catch."

"You don't trust anybody do you Miss Parker?" he asked, ignoring her completely.

"What's this really about?" Parker demanded cattily, ignoring his question. It was taking ever ounce of restraint to maintain her cool exterior. She was sick of Cox's mind games.

"Do you trust Mr Broots?" He asked her slowly, as if she was dense. "I know you do not like him."

Parker leaned into the table, her eyes narrowing. "Broots is likely the only male specimen in this building who is worth trusting. He's more transparent than Raines' oxygen tubing."

"So he couldn't fool you then?"

"He doesn't need to." Parker snapped back.

"Yet he managed to keep his divorce and custody battle from you AND he lied to the Centre about his marriage status. Would seem to me Mr Broots is quite the dark horse, or are you just naive and easily fooled by him?" He leant forward, folding his hands carefully on the desk, his eyes intent on hers.

Parker huffed slightly. "What trouble has the spineless tech got himself into now?"

"So you do trust him, despite his deception and your clear dislike?" He asked, clearly amused by that concept. "Perhaps if I lie to you, your trust in me will increase?"

Parker shook her head. Cox was a moron, his brainless assumptions clearly demonstrating this. "The key word is transparent Cox. Broots may have hidden some trivial matters in the past, but we always knew something was up. If I were you, I would end this pointless freak show and point the finger at whoever dubbed you into believing Broots was behind anything. He's more loyal than a golden retriever.

"Would have thought you were more a bunny person than a dog person Miss Parker," he shot at her. So she was defending Broots as well. It would seem either the good doctor and Daddy's Angel were both in on this little scheme, or both much more stupid than even Cox already thought they were.

"At least I like them alive."

Oh she was so clever with the barbs. He raised his eyebrows in amusement and unclasped his hands. "I guess that is it for now then."

"I'm glad to see we have accomplished a whole lot of nothing. It appears to be the Centre theme of the week." Parker remarked dryly standing up as the sweepers approached her. They had been trailing Jarod on a trail of nothingness, and now this pathetic excuse of a T-board. "I assume you have enough brain cells to recognize the futileness of all of this, and call off your hound-dogs. There is nothing to be found here but an arrogant lab rat."

"Oh, you are mistaken Miss Parker, there is much to be found, and much has already been revealed, it has been far from futile. Jarod will be found, rest assured on that, although that is not our primary concern right now."

Parker pulled her arm away from the sweeper. "Jarod is vulnerable right now. You screw this up and your road kill collection will be getting a new addition."

"I am not the one that screws it up on every occasion Miss Parker." He quipped. Her lack of success was not looked favourably upon by his superiors.

"I think Jarod managed to make you look like an ass on more than one occasion, and that's saying something for the King of Roadkill. I'll be waiting with my silver-lined I told you so. Make sure you pass that along to my idiot twin brother. I know he's behind this." Parker remarked as she was led away.

As he watched the sweeper escort her back to the cell, he drummed his nails on the table for a moment, thinking about the best way to get one of them to crack. All of their nerves would be frayed by now, and people that are short tempered are usually a bit more honest with their reactions. The decision made, Cox stood up, wondering if Lyle was having any success, and hoped he was. He wasn't sure how long he could reasonably drag this out without drawing undue attention to himself.

"Put them all in the same cell." He ordered the nearest sweeper.

"Which cell?" The sweeper asked.

Cox gave him a withering look. "I don't care." He said before sauntering off.

Chapter End Notes:
New chapter: Wednsday the 25th

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