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Another chapter, another story. Threats in the shadows and tragic events on our way.
As always, comments are really appreciated.
This time I have to thank to Antoinette, who still helped me through this chapter. And a huge thank to the lovely DanielleSmileyFace, my new Beta Reader for Mind Rain. Thanks a lot! Your help is very much appreciated!
JACKSONVILLE - Florida
Jarod and Ethan had spent the whole day doing some investigation about the Triumvirate. It wasn’t easy to find the names of the members of the organization, neither its sponsors. But at least, now they knew where it was. By controlling the visitors’ movements, they could discover the names of some big shots to give Agent Zane.
“It’s impossible.” Ethan complained, after hours of research. Major Charles was helping them, too.
“We can’t give up, son.” he said. Jarod agreed with his father.
“I created a software to monitor e-mails, a while ago. They’re very good at covering their communications, but they can’t keep them from me. Lately, however, they have been inactive. Now that I think about it, it’s been like that since we got back from the island.”
“Since they got the Scrolls.” Ethan corrected him.
“When you were down there…” Jarod said, “Did you ever see anyone of them? Would you recognize their faces if you saw them?”
Ethan shook his head, “I had to be very careful not to be caught, Jarod. The only person I spotted was Mr. Parker.”
Jarod snorted. And at that very moment, his software finally gave some results.
“Apparently, our African friends just sent an e-mail to our beloved Raines.”
At that very moment, Raines was in his office, reading the Triumvirate’s answer to his request. His madness had reached exaggerated levels, seeing that he had decided to solve an old problem. Sydney had ruined his entire life, both professionally and personally. He had stolen from him the only valuable pretender The Centre ever ha; he had acted like a father to his biological daughter; he had been involved in Gemini and Ethan’s escape. If he didn’t stop him now, he would soon find out the importance of the bastard that Brigitte had carried in her womb. It was just an experiment, to his eyes. And yet, come to think of it, that baby was his grandson.
Willie had been alerted. As soon as Raines gave the order, he would move and eliminate the “problem” once and for all. A well-placed bullet would be enough to close the matter.
But Raines knew that he couldn’t act without an official justification, and most of all he couldn’t without the Triumvirate’s permission. Until then, Raines hadn’t said anything to the Africans about Sydney’s involvement with Jarod, since the shrink was the only bond still connecting the Pretender to the Centre. With Sydney dead, Jarod would disappear, and so Raines would say goodbye to all his hopes of ever finding him.
But now, the situation was different. The doctor was getting more dangerous, he was asking too many questions. Raines was sure that his questioning about Mind Rain was no coincidence.
When he opened the message in his safe mailbox, Raines’s eyes brightened up.
“It seems that your lucky days are over, Doctor Freud.”
So said, he called Willie, “The time has come, Willie. I want things to be clean, no witnesses, are we clear?”
“Yes, Mr. Raines”, he answered, putting the silencer on his gun.
Jarod had intercepted the message, but he hadn’t been able to decipher it yet; sometimes, the Triumvirate codification algorithms were very complex thus he needed to use a different software to crack the code.
“What is the notification about?” Ethan asked, a bit worried. The voices were getting louder and more insistent.
“I don’t know yet.” Jarod complained.
Sydney was in Angelo’s room, trying to discover what Lyle had been up to in the last few days. The empath seemed much more relaxed since his last conversation with Miss Parker. She always had a weird influence on Angelo. Maybe the common baggage of their childhood made them blend.
“Angelo, please tell me. What did Mr. Lyle want you to do?”
“Find…Jarod…” he answered, smiling, “But Jarod doesn’t want to be found.”
Angelo grimaced, it was one of those grins that Sydney had learned to interpret as an expression meant to say, ‘I’m always a step ahead of you and I’m having the time of my life!’
Sydney smiled in response, “You’re right, Angelo. Our Jarod is very good at throwing us off the scent.”
Suddenly, Angelo changed attitude and hit the floor, agonizing in pain.
“Danger…danger!” he cried, rolling all over.
Sydney thought about Miss Parker. She was still in her office with Broots, they were making up fake leads on Jarod to give The Centre a right impression on the pursuit.
“Who’s in danger, Angelo? Is it Jarod?” Sydney asked, worried.
Angelo shook his head rapidly.
Ethan heard the voices increasing in intensity, but they were overlapping to such an extent that he couldn’t understand what they were saying.
“What’s going on, little brother?” Jarod asked him, noticing his internal struggle.
“I think…something’s going on…” he murmured, his eyes closed.
“Miss Parker?” Jarod asked, frightened.
“No, no…it’s someone else.”
Angelo was still moving, and Sydney couldn’t help him. Very few times he had seen him so freaked out.
“Angelo! Please, calm down!”
“No! Danger!” he yelled again, standing up and running out of the room.
“Angelo!” Sydney cried. He left all his things in the room, even the encrypted mobile given to him by Jarod. He started chasing Angelo through The Centre corridors.
Jarod heard the signal made by his software, indicating a complete translation, so he focused his attention on the Triumvirate’s e-mail.
“Object…Execution…That doesn’t look good.”
Seeing your frequent warnings about the doctor’s conduct,
we authorize his immediate execution.
We won’t allow him to go on and help the pretender on the run.
Remove Refuge, once and for all.
Jarod didn’t need to read more to understand the situation. He took his phone and stood up, starting to pace back and forth with nervousness.
“Jarod, what does this mean?” Ethan asked, the voices more and more involved and present in his head.
“Come on, Syd, answer…please Sydney!” the pretender said, speaking out loud.
The phone was idle for a minute, so Jarod ended the call.
“Damn it!” he shouted.
Sydney was trying to reach Angelo. He was running towards Sublevel 19, but he couldn’t figure out why.
“Angelo, stop! Let me help you!”
The doctor didn’t think for a second that Angelo was alluding to the fact that he was the target. He couldn’t have known that Willie has been ordered to follow him and find the most suitable place to kill him.
Parker was in her office with Broots. With one eye, she was checking the fake banking movements created for Jarod, with the other she checked on Michael through the surveillance videos on her computer.
Aside from the constant coming and going of doctors and nurses, the boy seemed to be healthy, intelligent, and still unaware of his importance.
When her new mobile phone rang, she answered rapidly, “What?!”
“Miss Parker, I must talk with Sydney, now!” a very worried Jarod spoke to her from the other side.
“I haven’t seen him for a couple of hours, he was working with Angelo. What’s going on?”
“If we don’t warn him right now, he’s going to die!”
Angelo had finally reached Sublevel 19, where he wanted to take Sydney to have a chance and save him. He had the distinct feeling of someone controlling that place. Maybe they would see the doctor in time to come protect him.
“Angelo, why did you come here? Is the boy in danger?”
“No…Sydney…” Angelo answered, finding only the psychiatrist’s dazed gaze and his shortness of breath for the long run.
“I’ve just intercepted an e-mail from the Triumvirate, they consented to an immediate execution of Sydney. You must find him, Parker!” Jarod begged her.
She didn’t need to be told twice. She took her 9mm from the drawer and checked if it was loaded. While doing this, her eyes fell again on the computer, so she noticed Angelo and Sydney’s presence in one of the four surveillance cameras.
“Move, Broots!” she shouted to the technician.
“What’s going on?”
“Sydney is in danger.” she answered, exiting the office in a rush.
Sydney and Angelo were leaning against the wall next to the door that gave access to Sublevel 19. Angelo was breathing fast, still shaken and upset.
“Danger…Sydney!” Angelo repeated.
Sydney opened his mouth in shock when he finally realized that Angelo was trying to tell him that he was in danger.
Willie hid in the shadows, trying to understand how much Angelo could be considered as a “witness”. Raines had asked him to perform a clean job, without indiscrete eyes watching. But after all, Willie wasn’t sure he could be considered as a person, at all.
Jarod opened the surveillance video and, just like Miss Parker had, he found out that Sydney was close to his son’s room, “Sydney!”
“He can’t hear you, Jarod.” Ethan reminded his brother.
“I must save him!”
Meanwhile, Miss Parker and Broots were running like hell to reach Sublevel 19.
“D’you think that the person who wants to kill Sydney is going to do it in daylight, under everyone’s eyes?”
“With my mother, this wasn’t really an issue, was it?” Parker asked, thinking about Catherine’s murder staged in the main elevator of The Centre. Broots had to admit that she was right.
Sydney felt something, as if somebody was watching him. Angelo motioned to him to be quiet, putting a finger on his lips. They were hiding behind a wall, but someone was ready to get closer and kill Sydney. Angelo felt he was the only person who had ever taken care of him with respect. He couldn’t allow them to hurt Sydney, even if he wasn’t able to communicate these feelings to him.
Willie took aim, ready to shoot as soon as Sydney showed up.
Jarod saw the sweeper from another camera. Willie was waiting, aiming with his gun, equipped with a silencer. In another video, Jarod noticed that Angelo was raising his face, almost as if he was looking at his direction.
“What is he doing?” Ethan wondered.
Angelo was smiling and moving his lips, as if he was trying to say something.
“I don’t understand.” Jarod whispered, desperate. He had learnt to read lips, but he couldn’t understand what Angelo wanted.
Ethan closed his eyes, “Lights.” he whispered, guided by the voices.
“Of course!” Jarod snapped.
Parker and Broots reached the entrance of the main corridor of Sublevel 19; she aimed the gun in front of herself with caution.
Broots walked behind her, being careful not to make any noise.
Angelo really hoped that his friend got the message.
“Angelo, what shall we do?” Sydney whispered, worried and powerless in front of uncertain danger.
“Lights.” the empath whispered.
Right then, the sublevel lost its energy, with the result that all lights were turned off and all the zones were left in darkness.
Jarod was proudly contemplating his work; the cameras had an infrared visual, so he used it. Willie seemed afraid of that sudden change, he looked frantically around, trying to get his eyes used to darkness.
Praying that Parker had her phone with her, Jarod called her.
Parker took the phone, which she had asked Broots to switch to silent mode. Another little help from her inner sense, or maybe just common sense.
“Where are they?” she whispered.
“Willie is alone. He’s hiding behind a pillar, 100 feet from where you stand. Sydney and Angelo are at the end of the corridor, now they’re invisible, but I won’t be able to keep the lights off for long. As soon as The Centre notices the voltage drop, they’re going to re-establish the power.”
“Great!” she growled in answer, giving Broots the mobile but without ending the call.
Then she moved slowly towards the direction indicated by Jarod. Meanwhile, Willie made a few steps forward, too. Sydney and Angelo were just two, and that was the ideal chance to kill the shrink without anybody else watching him.
“Angelo, what shall we do?” Sydney asked again, spying over the wall, and hearing footsteps coming towards them.
Angelo didn’t know. He was just praying that Jarod and Miss Parker would help them in time.
Miss Parker walked slowly, but she couldn’t see anything in front of her. The darkness was absolute.
Willie was in the same condition, but he had the advantage of being ahead of her, so it didn’t take long to him to hear Miss Parker’s heels behind him. Without thinking twice, he turned around and shot blindly. Miss Parker was faster, or at least her inner sense was. She threw Broots on the floor and she stepped aside, too, hearing the shots ringing out very close by.
“Parker! Broots!” Jarod exclaimed into the phone.
But the phone, during the jump, had fallen on the floor in the middle of the corridor. Jarod’s voice was echoing in the silence left by the shots.
“I know you’re here!” the sweeper said out loud.
Sydney was nervous, worried for the fate of those who had come down there to save him and Angelo. He didn’t know why, but he knew he wasn’t the only one risking his life.
Miss Parker ordered Broots to stay where he was and leave the phone on the floor. Willie changed his mind and turned back in their direction, intending to eliminate those who had followed him down there.
“Parker! Please, answer me!” Jarod’s voice was shouting.
Willie seemed much too focused on the phone to realize what was happening behind him. Sydney had decided to act, he couldn’t allow Miss Parker to risk her life to save his.
Suddenly, he stood up and ran against Willie, trying to tackle him.
“No…Sydney!” Angelo cried.
Parker stood up rapidly and tight then all the lights turned on and blinded them. Using his senses, Sydney continued his fight with Willie to seize for his gun, but the sweeper was much stronger than him – and much faster. He threw him on the floor and Sydney collapsed, helpless.
While Parker was trying to get used to the light again, she aimed her gun in front of her.
“Sydney!” she screamed.
Jarod was looking at the scene with fear, he knew that his mentor couldn’t make it against Willie. At the same time, Parker was a much easier target, she had to hurry in getting a hold on herself.
“Parker, use your inner sense!” Ethan shouted, trying to concentrate very intensely on his sister.
Everything happened in a second. Parker closed her eyes and shot blindly, guided by her desire to prevent Willie from killing the only man who had been a father to her all those years. At the same time, Willie shot in the direction of the man at his feet, placing the bullet the most precisely he could. The two shots came at the very same moment. A second later, two bodies fell.
Jarod was looking at the scene feeling powerless. Willie had been gunned down from the shot Miss Parker had placed right in his nape.
When Parker opened her eyes, she ran over Willie’s still body and she saw Sydney on the floor, right next to Angelo. A pool of blood was expanding beneath them, Sydney had his hands completely soiled of it.
“Sydney!” she screamed, starting to cry.
“It’s not mine!” Sydney reassured her.
While Raines and Lyle arrived on the scene, Parker realized that Angelo had been shot. She squeezed his hand as blood came out from his chest. Willie had hit him close to his heart.
“Angelo…Angelo, please hold up!” she shouted.
Sydney was pressing on the wound. Broots reached them, with Miss Parker’s mobile phone in his hands.
“Call someone, Broots!” Jarod shouted form the other side, then he closed the communication, terrorized at the idea of losing another brother.
Ethan was squeezing his shoulder.
Angelo’s eyes were half-closed, his mouth curved into a little smile. “Sydney…Miss Parker…safe…” he said, with sincere joy.
“You’re going to be ok, Angelo. You must hang on. Don’t give up, you understand me?” Sydney screamed.
Broots was still calling for the doctors, while Sydney pressed on Angelo’s chest with all the strength he had. His blood was still coming out from his wound, the hemorrhage seemed to be unstoppable.
“Miss Parker…Jarod…danger…” Angelo whispered. Once again, he was trying to advise the only friends he ever had of the great danger approaching. He felt that somebody would do everything to kill them, as they had just tried with Sydney.
Hearing those words, a very angry Raines left the corridor. Lyle didn’t understand what was going on, or why Willie had a hole in his head. He just knew that they couldn’t afford losing Angelo, he was much too important to The Centre.
“I’ve called the doctors; they’re looking for a gurney!” Broots shouted.
“Fine!” Lyle said, a bit louder than he intended. Parker sent him a questioning look.
“Miss Parker…friend…Jarod…friend…” Angelo whispered.
From the other side of the camera, the pretender couldn’t help but crying at the words of his dying friend.
“Angelo…” he whispered, “Hold on, please.”
Parker squeezed Angelo’s hand tighter and got closer to his ear, “Don’t you dare die and leave me here alone, do you understand?!”
Angelo smiled and closed his eyes; he was now unconscious. Sydney touched his wrist and felt his pulse getting weaker and weaker. At that moment, a doctor and a nurse came from the corridor with a gurney and a defibrillator.
They put Angelo on the stretcher and started to move rapidly towards higher Centre levels, where they would reach the hospital wing.
Parker was still crying, the gun held in her right hand. The other was completely covered with blood, and so were her clothes and the floor. Sydney was shaken.
“I’d better go and call for a cleaning team. Willie’s body must disappear. By the way, nice job, sis-”
Parker didn’t let him finish the sentence and silenced him with a look that would incinerate the Antarctic. Lyle disappeared, his mobile still at his ears to call other sweepers.
“Who wants us dead?” Sydney asked her, still astonished.
“Not both of you. Just you…Jarod advised me in time, but it wasn’t enough...to save Angelo.”
“He put himself in the middle…he got between me and the bullet…. He saved my life.” Sydney revealed Miss Parker.
“That’s what happens to all of us at the Centre. We put ourselves between a bullet…and a father.” she admitted with sarcasm.
Stunned by her words, Sydney felt guilty. Angelo had tried to save him, the one who had exploited his abilities for years.
Miss Parker’s mobile rang, and Broots gave it to her; she held it with sufferance. She didn’t talk, she let him be the first to speak.
“Ethan and I are leaving. Be ready for when I get there.”
“Ready for what? Your downfall?” she asked, exhausted.
“We’re taking our son out of there, Parker. And I swear I’m going to blow up The Centre once and for all.”
The communication ended. Parker stared at her phone, a mix of surprise and shock in her eyes.
“What did he say?” Sydney asked.
“That time has come to stop watching the people we love diying.” she translated Jarod’s feelings.
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