"Tell me you've got something, Broots. You've been wriggling like a worm on a hook all day."
It had been another five miserable weeks of dead ends. Despite numerous leads on the Wallaces and hints from the simulation, everything lead to nothing. Jarod had pulled a Houdini yet again, not just hiding himself but a dozen other people, vanished from Pennsylvania without a trace. Property records -- nothing. Remote tapping of the remaining relatives' phones -- nothing. Angelo's email -- nothing they already didn't know. Satellite records -- conveniently diverted away while the family slipped away. Any and all reports of even mildly intelligent thirteen-year-olds -- none remotely promising, although events like science fairs and university programs for gifted youth were now being continuously monitored. It was a maddening, demoralizing failure on Parker's shoulders. Her only consolation was that Lyle and Brigitte appeared to be having no better luck.
"Yeah. I've got something. Not sure how useful it is, but definitely something you should see. I've called Sydney up too, here he comes." Syd walked up behind Broots' chair with raised eyebrows. "Okay. So, remember how I tapped your father's email?"
"I thought you could only read the headers without setting off alarms."
"Yes. Well, sort of, I can decrypt two or three before the other tech guys become suspicious. So I found one worthy of taking the risk. The header was 'Fenigor security breech footage' and there was a large attachment. It was dated two days ago."
"Broots. Wow, way to take the initiative. So what was in the email?"
"Not much in the actual text, but the file was in fact security footage from a Centre facility in South Africa. Watch."
The film showed a spartan institutional room, with a white-haired balding figure figure sitting in a easy chair, staring into space. The video was shot from a bizarre location, apparently from the ceiling as the angle appeared to be straight down into the room.
"So Fenigor IS alive," Miss Parker commented, leaning in over Broots to look at the monitor. "Where was this shot from? Weird angle, it's hard to make out people's faces."
"The camera was in the ceiling next to the light. There aren't any other angles because ... well, watch."
A blond figure in a white lab coat and holding a paper notebook walked into the room. From above it was hard to see much but the top of her head, but as she looked around it was clear that the woman was Annalise Wallace. She walked over to Fenigor and rested her hand on his cheek for a few seconds, during which Fenigor didn't so much as twitch. Then she walked around the room ripping out all the obvious security cameras and shorted all the electrical outlets near the floors. A light knock tapped at the door, then she let in Jarod.
Annalise spoke softly. "I've killed all the electrical in the room, except the light in the ceiling. This is him, right?"
"Yes." Jarod waved a hand in front of Fenigor's face. "Can you tell what they've done to him? He's sitting up but is much less responsive than he was at the Centre six months ago."
Annalise pulled up a chair and took both of Fenigor's hands in her own. She sucked in a breath. "They've severed the two hemispheres of his brain and taken out some frontal cortex. He's still conscious in there but has no way of communicating with the outside world. Trapped forever. Who would do such a thing? Why wouldn't they just kill him?"
Jarod rested his hand on the crook of her neck, touching her bare skin, an oddly intimate gesture. Broots could feel Miss Parker tense up behind him but she didn't say a word. Neither did the two people on the screen for several seconds. Then at some unheard signal Annalise picked up a pen with the notebook in her right hand, while keeping contact with Fenigor with the left. She began to ask a series of questions, clearly pre-planned. After each statement she silently scribbled in the notebook, apparently extracting the answers from Fenigor's mind.
"Do you have enhancements so we can see what she's writing?" Parker asked.
"Done already, here you go."
ANNALISE: What is Jarod's last name?
ANNALISE: Who are Jarod's parents?
Charles Tully Margaret Tully
"Tully?" said Parker incredulously. "You spent thirty-five plus years of your life wanting to know a name, and it turns out to be Tully? I may have to send Jarod a condolence card."
ANNALISE: Was Kyle Jarod's brother?
ANNALISE: Did Major Charles kill Catherine Parker?
ANNALISE: Who killed Catherine Parker?
? sweepers ? Raines Parker Ctr
Time stood still for Parker at the ambiguous response. She wanted to reach through the screen, will the telepath to ask the right questions, to wring every last bit of information out of Fenigor until his brain was nothing more than a bloody pulp. Why did they kill her? What was she doing that was such a threat? Was my father really involved? But the woman didn't ask any of these things. Instead she shook her head at Jarod and held up a single finger. Fenigor's eyes had closed by then, and he was taking ragged deep breaths.
ANNALISE: Where is Donoterase?
At that Fenigor suddenly toppled forward onto the woman, and she gently tipped his unconscious form back into the chair. The woman seemed shaken and drained, and she and Jarod sat for quite a few seconds with his arm around her, stroking her face. Finally Jarod spoke. "Gemini? Is that a place?"
"No. He didn't know the location. It's a project name he associates with the word 'Donoterase'. He passed out before I could get any more, couldn't tell if it's the one with the children or not."
"We need to go. They'll have noticed the broken cameras by now." She nodded and they both got up and exited the room. The recording ended.
Parker shook herself out of her reverie to focus on the last part of the conversation. "What the hell were they talking about there? Donoterase? Children? Broots, Syd, anyone?"
Sydney, who hadn't said a word during the entire recording, was staring at the transcript like he had seen a ghost. Without responding to Parker he swiftly turned and strode out of the room.
"Well that's not suspicious. He knows something, Broots. See if you can figure out what this Donoterase is, and if Gemini is a real project name or not."
"I'll add it to the list. If it is some super secret project, though, some people may not want us digging around for it."
"That's why you get to do it. Be discrete."
"Gee, thanks. You're not going to make me start spying on Sydney now, are you? I mean, more than his cell phone."
Before she could respond, his monitor started chiming loudly. A few magic keystrokes later, he frowned. "There's an alert from the Jarod list. A new one has popped up from Bank of America's credit card division. 'Jarod Lowell,' staying at the Ananda Wellness Retreat in California. Charge authorization is from yesterday and the card was just activated last week."
A gleeful smile spread across her face. "It's him. He took his psychic girlfriend on vacation after getting back form South Africa. Ananda -- that's pretty high end."
"No kidding. The authorization is for five thousand dollars."
"I'll give him brownie points for taking her someplace nice. Surprised he isn't using 'Jarod Tully' already. Come on, call the jet and set up your babysitter, Broots. We have a plane to catch."