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Author's Chapter Notes:

As I told you before, things are going to get faster from now on. 

Chapter 13 has some action, finally! The boys are making a step forward to destroy The Centre.

It's written a bit in an Alias style, because that's my favorite tv show.

Oh, and I love Agent Zane. I've always thought she has something irresistible. She seems nice and tough at the same time :)

If you don't like the code names I chose, well...Next time write your own story!

And as usual thank to my wonderful Beta Readers, Antoinette & DanielleSmileyFace!


Two days later – 9.47 a.m.

It had taken Jarod, Miss Parker, Sydney, Broots and Ethan a whole day to project their plan to get inside The Centre archives. Seeing the importance of the mission, all of them had to be at the right place at the right time, with no exception.

Seeing Broots and Jarod’s computer skills, they would be the ones to penetrate The Centre security system, while Ethan would process data during the download to decipher them in real time. Jarod feared that there might be more safety precautions arranged by The Centre, which could lead to data cancellation in case of archives hacking. He couldn’t risk losing such a good chance.

Agent Zane had been alerted, she was waiting for their transmission to start, helped by a crowd of the more skilled N.S.A. computer-technicians; should everything go well, she would have enough evidence to organize a raid to The Centre the following day, along with F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents, trusted persons whom Jarod had worked with over the years.

The plan was easy; Broots and Parker would inform Lyle that Jarod had been seen elsewhere, making him leave the Centre for just enough time to allow Jarod and Ethan to break into the server room. Unfortunately, to make it more believable, Miss Parker would need to get away with her twin. Her staying at The Centre could arouse suspicion.

Broots and Sydney, on the contrary, wouldn’t go. The psychiatrist had the excuse for staying back because he wanted to watch over Angelo during his recovery therapy. Actually, Sydney’s assignment was to check on Raines’s movements.

Angelo was feeling better and better and he was eventually out of danger. He had also stopped repeating that Miss Parker and Jarod were in danger; now, he seemed much more interested in the baby the woman was carrying. The day before he had given Parker a drawing portraying her with a very huge tummy. To the unaware eye, the portrait would remind them of Catherine while she was pregnant.

Miss Parker was a bit anxious because she was afraid that Angelo would unintentionally reveal something to Lyle or Raines. But he removed all doubts from her when he told her, “Your baby is a secret. Miss Parker is finally happy, and Angelo, too.”

Maybe for the first time in her life, she had given her childhood friend a huge and honest hug, realizing how much she cared for him. 

That morning Parker had broken into Lyle’s office with Broots, ready to play her part.

“Looks like St. Nick came sooner – or later, depending on the point of view.”

“What do you want, sis?” Lyle asked her, a bit annoyed by her intrusion in his office. He was writing to Hasani, and Miss Parker was the very last person he wanted around while communicating with the Triumvirate.

“Our favorite fugitive made a false move, Lyle. Jarod is in New York, and if we hurry, we might get him, this time.”

Lyle seemed torn between the hunt and the mail he was writing. He knew how important it was to capture Jarod, but so was what he was doing. The message included the details for Hasani’s arrival at The Centre, and it had to be perfect.

“Sis, why don’t you go on your own?”

Parker felt a shiver down her spine. A refusal from Lyle was not expected, she had to convince him to leave.

“Well, if you want me to take the whole credit for Jarod’s capture, you just have to ask, Lyle. I thought you were wiser than that. You’re making this so simple for me.” She chuckled. so said she went towards the door, followed by a very nervous Broots.

Miss Parker was almost sweating, but she had to be resolute.

“Parker!” Lyle called out, after a long fight with himself, “Can’t you give me an hour?”

“As you know, the lab rat sniffs our smell even before we set foot out of here, so this seems a question that doesn’t deserve an answer. Well, come to think about it, the fact that you’re anchored to that chair would make us less recognizable to Jarod’s nose.”

Parker hit the mark; Lyle stood up, in a visible fury, and reached her, “Let’s go.”

As soon as he went out, Parker sent Broots a knowing glance and after a nod, he ran away. Parker let Lyle walk a few meters in front of her, then she took Jarod’s safe cell phone.

“It seems that Lyle and I are chasing you, together, like good little siblings.” she whispered, while walking through The Centre corridors.  

“Fine. Be careful when you get there; I’ve left a very special surprise for Lyle in the lair.”

“What kind of surprise?” she smiled to herself.

“Let’s just say that you should let Lyle be the first one to enter.”

“Who were you pretending to be, this time?”

“A sewer worker.” he answered from the other side, smiling.

“You said you hoped you’d never have to do it.” she said, laughing. She remembered what Jarod had told her after being held hostages at the Dover Town Bank.

“And in fact I didn’t, I just…pretend I did!”

Parker sighed, “Be careful.”

“You too.”

Jarod hung up.

Parker looked at her brother, moving in the distance, then she sighed. She didn’t need to be careful because she would be far from there, while the people she loved the most in the world would be at The Centre, risking their lives. She’d never felt less useful before, even if her inner sense was saying that she was doing the right thing.

Broots was counting the minutes that still separated him from 10.00, the time when “Operation Reset” would start, as Jarod and Ethan had named it.

Still three minutes to go, he had to stay calm. He was ready at his laptop, while Sydney was in Angelo’s room, pretending to assist him during his healing, but as much ready as Broots to intervene, should it be necessary. Jarod and Ethan were already positioned at the entrance of The Centre air ducts, waiting for Broots’s sign to start crawling their way inside the building. They would enter as Jarod always did: in the very same way he had escaped the first time.

Carrier, do you copy?” Jarod asked, testing the earphone he had borrowed from the Agency.

“Loud and clear, Rogue.”   

Jarod looked at Ethan with satisfaction. They had chosen code names even to avoid anyone discovering that he and his brother were getting into The Centre, in case should they ever find out.

Keeper, do you copy?” Jarod continued.

“Here we go, Rogue. Ready to move should it be necessary.” Sydney commented, looking at Angelo who had recently started to walk again and seemed rather tense.

Zed, do you copy, too?”

Agent Zane was at the other side of that transmission, listening to the whole conversation in her office; her technicians were ready to download the data that Jarod and Broots would send at any moment.

“Everything’s packed and ready here at base camp. Good luck.” she commented.

We’re going to need it, Jarod thought.

“It’ll be fine.” Ethan cheered him up.

“Do the voices think so?” he asked.

“Nope, this time it’s just me, hoping for the best.” his brother confessed.

Ten o’clock. Jarod gave Ethan a look and then spoke, “Carrier, we’re moving.”


Broots started to upload the looped images of all The Centre surveillance videos. Jarod and Ethan had to reach Sublevel 23, where Broots had verified the presence of Server 39 at The Centre.

“I’ve never even noticed, but a huge data amount converges in one room only, which is located in SL-23. It seems that it is an abandoned area, where nobody ever goes, but I’m pretty sure that it shields the access to The Centre’s main net.” Broots explained to Miss Parker and Sydney.

“What makes you so sure?” the woman asked.

“Well, every computer net must have a main hub, and in that room the levels of used power are always at the highest, which makes me think that – ”

“There’s always an active data storage,” Parker concluded his explanation.

“Well, they couldn’t keep such a huge net alive without a large amount of power, and that’s The Centre location that uses the largest amount of electricity.”

“Great job, Broots.” Sydney commented.

Jarod and Ethan were crawling inside the ducts. They had been able to work out the shortest way to reach SL-23 with Angelo’s help, seeing that he knew those tunnels better than anyone else.

“You haven’t told me yet, what you would like to name my niece?” Ethan whispered, while the two siblings crawled across a rather narrow duct.

“Well,” Jarod answered, a bit strained, “I’ve always loved Cassandra’s myth, the Greek priestess with the ability to foresee the future.”

“You know what happened to Cassandra, don’t you?” Ethan asked Jarod, with uncertainty.

“Of course, but you asked me what name I liked and I told you the first one that came to my mind.”

“If you like mythology, why don’t you look at the Muses? I’ve always loved Clio.”

Jarod kept silence, without ceasing to crawl. If he ever got out of that situation, he would have to ask Parker if she liked the idea of naming their daughter after the Muse of History, whose symbol were…Scrolls.

“Where are we?” Ethan asked, always whispering.

“We need to turn right, here.” Jarod commented, looking at the GPS map that he had at his wrist.


Agent Zane was tense, pacing back and forth. She was afraid that Jarod and his men, whom she didn’t know anything about, would be discovered. But it was too important for them to get that access, and Jarod was ready to give his life to make her download the data. She wouldn’t waste a second to use them to destroy that abysmal place.

“Any news?” she asked her men.

“There’s no contact yet, agent Zane. They’ll be in touch.” one of them reassured her.


Parker was on the plane with Lyle and she couldn’t avoid looking at her mother’s watch. Remembering that Jarod was the one who had given it back to her made her sweat. At that very moment, he could be signing his warrant as an eternal prisoner of The Centre.

“Are you okay, sis?” Lyle asked her, seeing her so nervous and quiet.

“I just hope this time he won’t escape.” she commented. “I hate watching him running away under my nose, it makes me feel like an idiot.”

Amused by his sister’s confession, Lyle answered, “It’ll be very delightful to pay him back with the same currency when we eventually bring him back to The Centre.”

Miss Parker could only imagine what tortures Lyle had in his mind for Jarod, should he ever come back to the Centre. She hoped with all her heart she would never find out.


Jarod stopped in front of a grate above a corridor, “Here we are. Carrier, we’re in position.” he said at the earphone.

“Okay, Rogue. Is Oracle with you?”

“Yes, I am.” Ethan confirmed.

“Fine. Cameras are in loop and I will be able to keep them like that for fifteen minutes, we don’t have much time.” Broots informed them.

Keeper, are there any movements at the upper floors?” Jarod asked.

Sydney was now walking in the corridor of the management offices, where he was controlling Raines’s position. At that moment, he was in his office, unaware of what was happening a few feet beneath him. 

“The way is safe for the time being, Rogue.”

Jarod looked at Ethan, nodding in agreement, “Are there any sweepers beneath us, Carrier?”

Broots checked the real cameras of the sublevel. There was no trace of sweepers, they had accurately chosen the time of the day when the guards shifted. Moreover, there were no men inside the main server room. Its own safety was due precisely to the lack of sweepers. The computer could protect itself, thanks to all its defense mechanisms, unconsciously created by Jarod and Ethan while pretending for The Centre.

Jarod took an electric screwdriver to open the grate, then he got out of the duct, making way for his brother to get down, too. They both had a backpack with computer equipment. Jarod put the grate back at its place, without closing it. The two pretenders moved across the SL-23 corridor, which was dark and aseptic, much like all the other Centre hidden sublevels.     

“This isn’t definitely a Sunday picnic,” Jarod stated.   

“Neither the cocktail party for a book presentation.” Ethan said while they walked towards the control room. Jarod was following Broots’s direction, “The power backlog is right at the end of this corridor, in a room guarded with an Alpha Code opening, the highest authorization level.”

“And how do we get inside without the code?” Jarod asked, sure that Broots had thought about that, too. The two of them had reached the metal door, it would open only if they typed the right password.  

“The code changes every thirty seconds.” Broots explained, “Plug in the USB that I gave you, I’ll get the signal and I’ll try to bypass it from here.”

“And what if you don’t find it in thirty seconds?” Ethan asked.

“Well, then you have to run out of there as fast as you can.” Broots informed them.

Jarod took the key provided by Broots from his backpack and plugged it to the device. Immediately, a list of characters changing randomly and very fast appeared on it. The code would be ready as soon as Broots deciphered it.

“Twenty seconds, Carrier.” Jarod stated, noticing that the code was appearing too slowly.

“No pressure, Ja…Rogue.”

Jarod and Ethan saw the code forming on the device and when it was complete, Jarod typed it on the keyboard as fast as he could. The door opened with a dull noise and the two of them slipped through it without any problems. They both breathed a sigh of relief. Now, the main control room was in front of them, one more step and all the information of The Centre database would be in their possession.  

Jarod and Ethan prepared their respective laptops and Jarod connected with the main hub. More or less, it didn’t look much different than any other computer, but its importance was evident, at that moment. Jarod started to work on his terminal and he reached the point when he needed the access passwords.

“Here we go, Carrier…It’s time to do some magic. Keeper, now it’s your turn.”    


When he heard his name, Sydney walked towards Raines’s office and entered without knocking.

“What the hell do you want?” the chairman asked.

“I thought you’d be glad to know that Parker and Lyle left after a sighting of Jarod in New York.” Sydney said.

“Why did you stay?” Raines inquired him, a bit suspicious.

“Angelo worries me. I want you to help me understand what’s going on with him. Since he got hurt, he doesn’t act the same as before.”

Sydney knew it wouldn’t be easy to make Raines take the bait. But he had always showed a soft spot for Angelo; he had been his main project, his first failed experiment that had later proved to be useful for The Centre.     

“What do you mean?” Raines asked, standing up.

“It seems to me that he isn’t as receptive as before…” Sydney lied, while reaching the desk. Between his hands, he had a sampler that he needed to put next to Raines’s computer without being seen. He leaned his arms on the desk, while Raines moved next to him. He could sense the huge disgust he felt for him. That was the moment when Sydney realized that Raines had certainly been the instigator of his murder.

“Did you take him to the room where we keep all Jarod’s stuff?” he asked him.

Sydney turned around and let the sampler slip next to the computer.


“That’s it! Oracle, Rogue, in a minute we’re going to have access to the computer and we’ll be able to download the passwords!” Broots yelled, starting to copy the information from Raines’s computer.

Jarod had waited for that moment for years, and now that he was actually living it, he couldn’t believe it.


“What are you going to do with Angelo?” Raines asked, while Sydney covered the sampler on the desk with his own body.

“I don’t know. This aggression shook him very much. As if he didn’t want anything to do with anybody anymore. I don’t think he’s going to be useful to The Centre anymore.”

“Are you suggesting we should eliminate him?” Raines asked, in a sadistic way.

Sydney stared at him, furious, “I was thinking about a relocation! Spending time outside would do him good. Maybe in a psychiatric clinic, he’d like it.”

Raines chuckled, “In all the years we’ve been working together I’ve never heard you say anything more ridiculous, Sydney. Now leave, I’ve got work to do.”

Keeper, we need twenty seconds, I’m not over yet.” Broots almost shouted in the earphone.

Sydney leaned and took Raines by his collar. “By the way…” he said through clenched teeth, “I know everything about your attempt to kill me. I know you ordered Willie to murder me. And I know that the fact you didn’t manage to reach your goal is driving you mad.”

Raines was looking at him in fathomless anger. 

“Rest assured, I will – not - allow you to harm anybody anymore, neither Angelo, nor Miss Parker!” he enunciated every word.

Jarod was very proud of Sydney, but he also realized that he had just bitten off more than he could chew; Raines wasn’t aware of the fact that they knew that Miss Parker was in danger, seeing that the Triumvirate had decided to eliminate her.

“Why should I hurt my daughter?” Raines asked him.

“When have you not?” Sydney replied, recovering from the previous slip up.

Keeper, we have the package. You can leave.” Broots said in the earphone.

Sydney let go of Raines’s jacket and put his hands behind his back, then he silently recovered the sampler while his rival got back to the desk that had once belonged to Mr. Parker. He didn’t seem to have noticed anything.

“It’s not over, Raines.” Sydney commented.

“You bet, Sydney.” the other whispered, grinding his teeth into a smirk which looked like a satisfied smile.


Jarod received the passwords from Broots and started to insert them mechanically and fast, without daring to breathe, such was the excitement. When he was over, he had to wait a few seconds; if everything went as he hoped, the server would start to show the 38 locations names and the files would all be downloaded.

“The longest ten seconds of my life.” Jarod murmured.

Broots was holding his breath, and so was Ethan.

The server gave a positive message and began to list all the locations, transferring all the data through the door opened by Jarod and Ethan.

“Bingo!” the pretender shouted, smiling.

Carrier, open communication with Zed!” Ethan said.


“Agent Zane, Jarod opened the communication door, he’s trasnferring all the data!”

“Be ready to close it as soon as we got everything!” Zane shouted in answer. 


Oracle, are you decoding?” Jarod asked.

“The software is working in real time, Rogue, we are going to need…four minutes!” Ethan communicated.

Oracle, we don’t have four minutes. The cameras loop will be over in two, after which you’ll be seen by the sweepers!” Broots shouted. In the meantime, he was controlling the movements of the sweepers, everything seemed normal.

“Find a way to keep them busy, Carrier, your job is over up there.” Jarod screamed, still typing codes at his keyboard.  

“How?” Broots asked.

“Think of something!” Jarod replied, angry.


Ethan was decoding all the files. As he processed them, he sent them through the door they had opened with the N.S.A. a few minutes before. 

“We’re at the twentieth location,” Jarod explained.

Ethan nodded, his eyes running over the command lines he was setting. At that moment, Jarod realized his fears had been well-founded; a few precautions set by The Centre became active, the system would delete the files in a matter of minutes. 

“No…No, no, no!” Jarod screamed.

“What’s going on?”

“The database had identified the external access, it activated a virus that’s going to delete all data!”

“How much time do we have?” Ethan asked, worried.


Broots entered the control room where a gorilla was checking all the screens in front of himself.

In one of them, Broots recognized the SL-23 room where Jarod and Ethan were in that very moment. In a few seconds, they would appear on the video.

“Uhm…I need help!” Broots shouted, capturing the man’s attention.

“What’s going on?” he asked, turning around.


“Damn it, we’re never gonna make it!” Jarod shouted.

“How many left?” Ethan asked.

“Four! And without those four we’ll never have the total data decryption! We’re going to miss some parts and we won’t be able to rebuild anything! Zed, are you downloading?” Jarod asked, opening communication.

“Yes, we are, the situation is under control here at base camp!” she said.

“Well, here it isn’t, we have a virus ready to come into operation and if we don’t stop it, all of this will be a useless waste of time!” Jarod explained.

“We can try and slow it down from our side. If we send some data through the communication door, maybe the system will see it as secondary access and it’ll take more time to activate the virus!” one of Zane’s technicians said.

“Do it!” she shouted, “Jarod, we’re trying to help you from our side.”    

“Great…” he commented, not very convinced.

“You’re not the only genius in the ocean, you know?” Ethan said in amusement.

“I certainly hope not.” Jarod stated.


“I’ve got a problem with my terminal, it appears that I’m running out of memory and I cannot work!” Broots told the sweeper.

“Call for a technician!” he answered, he didn’t look like an informatics engineer, just a careful observer of the control screens.

Right then, Broots saw Jarod and Ethan appearing on the video and he winced, because the man was turning around again. Feeling cornered, Broots took the man by his jacket and turned him towards himself.

“But you must help me! It seems that I’m the only one who can do things, here, but you don’t know how difficult it is to have the reputation of the one who must solve all the problems!” he shouted, pretending that he was complaining.


“We’re at the last location, Zed! Oracle, how much time for the decryption?”

“Thirty seconds, Rogue!”

“Unbelievable, it seems that your intervention actually slowed down the virus! I think we can make it…”

“Even here at the N.S.A. we have resources, Rogue!” Zane commented.

Jarod smiled while the server showed the message of data download complete. He unplugged his laptop quickly, but Ethan still needed a few seconds.


“Listen, geek, I don’t have time to waste!” the sweeper replied, standing up and showing Broots all his height.

Broots let his eye fall on the video; Jarod and Ethan were still there.

“Hey, I’m just asking for ten minutes to help me restore my terminal!” Broots begged, more and more afraid of the situation.


“We’re over! The files are deciphered, Zed did you receive the package?” Ethan asked.

The N.S.A. technician raised his thumb towards Agent Zane, then she smiled, “We got it, Oracle. Go home.”

Ethan unplugged the laptop and all the cables, then he threw them inside the backpack. He and Jarod ran out of the room and the door snapped behind them. The way was still free.


“Get out of here, if you don’t want me to kick you out!” the sweeper shouted, starting to cracking his fingers.

Broots noticed that Ethan and Jarod had just exited the room, so that camera was under control again. The next one showed them running towards the duct.

“Buddy…erm…I don’t want to fight…” Broots commented, retreating while the sweeper pushed him towards the door using his weight to terrorize him.

Meanwhile, he saw Jarod hoisting Ethan inside the duct, and a few seconds later the pretender disappeared, too, and the grate was back at its place.

“All right, man, I’m leaving. I’ll look for somebody else to help me.” Broots retreated.

The man looked at him menacingly while he exited, then he got back to his place. Everything seemed normal on the videos.


Carrier, we’re going out, we delivered the package. You did an awesome job!”

“Speak for yourself, I almost had a heart attack! You should see how big the surveillance technician was…” Broots explained to Jarod.

“Did you make it?” Sydney’s voice asked, he had been silent all that time, even if he had been listening to everything happening in SL-23.

“It’s not over yet, but the system didn’t activate the virus, all the data were downloaded. Carrier, close the door we created for the N.S.A.”

“Done.” Broots commented, back at his desk. It was unbelievable, they had really made it. And nobody seemed to have noticed.

“It was easy.” Ethan commented.

“Maybe too easy.” Jarod pointed out, while they were exiting the tunnel from which they had entered.

“I think the imminent visit of the Triumvirate lowered Raines’s level of caution. But be sure, they’re going to discover the intrusion.” Broots explained.

“Not if a very good tech gets rid of all the traces we left behind us…Starting from the surveillance video that shows us during the escape.” Jarod said.

At that moment the communication ended and Broots took off the earphone.

Always the worst jobs for me, he thought.

Chapter End Notes:

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