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This Fanfic is the sequel to Rivalsand Memories.
"Fear's Only Enemy"
by Mel Lane
Brrrrinnnggg! Brrrrinnnggg! Malorie walked over to the counter, sat at a stool and answered the phone. "Hello?" She fingered her new iceberg pin from Jarod.
"Malorie, how are you feeling?" Miss Parker asked.
"My arm is a little sore, but other than that I'm fine. You have your memory back," Malorie replied knowingly.
"Yes," Miss Parker answered. "Most of it anyway. I have a number of bunny stories in my head and I have no idea where those came from."
Malorie giggled. "While you were in a coma, Jarod insisted we read to you and he chose bunny stories," Malorie replied.
"So, Jarod really was there the whole time?" Miss Parker asked.
"The whole time," Malorie answered. The doorbell rang. "Hold on a sec." Malorie lay the phone down and went to answer the door. She checked out the peep hole first. She saw a man and woman, both wearing grey suits, and carrying clipboards. Malorie opened the door. "May I help you?" she asked.
"I'm Lisa and this is Steve and we're taking a survey," said the woman.
"Survey of what?" Malorie asked.
"Of how many people will let a complete stranger into their home," Steve answered. He pushed the door open wider and barged in.
"What! Get out of my house!" Malorie yelled. Steve hung up the phone. "Hey!"
"Not until we get what we came for," Steve replied.
"I don't know what I could have that you could possibly want. Now, please, leave!" Malorie exclaimed.
Malorie ran over, picked up the phone and started to dial. Steve knocked the phone from her hand. It dangled by its cord near the floor. Malorie ran for the bedroom where she had another phone. "Get her!" Lisa ordered.
Steve grabbed Malorie by the arm, but she broke free and started to make her escape by running behind the couch. Steve pushed over the couch and another chair. Malorie screamed. Steve pushed over coffee tables and lamps. Picture frames broke. Finally, he grabbed Malorie by the left arm. She winced. That arm had recently been grazed and was sore. Steve brought a struggling Malorie to the door. Lisa pulled her gun.
"No questions, no screaming and no struggling," Lisa said. Steve let go. Malorie walked between the two of them to their silvery gray car. Malorie's house door had been left open.
The silvery gray car pulled away from the curb.
* * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Miss Parker entered her office, flipping through a folder containing possible locations on Jarod. She sat down at her desk. She didn't feel like looking through the folder. She wondered if it might be a good time to request some vacation, even though she had been gone recently for eleven days. However, she didn't think getting hit by a car, being in a coma, getting amnesia, and nearly getting killed counted as a vacation.
Just then, the phone rang. "What?" Miss Parker answered.
"Miss Parker, so glad I caught you," said a strangely familiar but mockingly evil female voice.
"Who is this?" Miss Parker demanded.
"Someone with a deal for you," replied the voice.
"What kind of deal?"
"A deal you'd better not turn down, for her sake," the voice answered.
"For whose sake?" Miss Parker demanded.
"What do you want with my cousin?" Miss Parker asked. There was a silence. Then, a click. Miss Parker hung up the phone and dialed her cousin. Busy signal.
Miss Parker sat there puzzled a second. She dialed it again and it was still busy. Suddenly, she recognized the voice on the phone. Akiva! One of the workers and residents of The Fortress. The Fortress who had once kidnapped her. Did they now have Malorie?
Miss Parker was still brooding over this when Sydney walked in. "Miss Parker, are you alright?" Sydney asked, noticing the worried expression on her face.
Just then, the phone rang again. Miss Parker picked it up. "Have you figured it out yet?"
"Figured what out?" Miss Parker demanded. She covered the phone with her hand. "Syd, tell Broots to trace this call," she whispered. Sydney nodded and exited.
"Our little game," Akiva laughed.
"What could you possibly be finding so amusing?"
"There's a tinge of fear in your voice. By the time this is over, we'll have made you more afraid than you've ever been in your life."
"And how do you plan to do that?" Miss Parker asked coolly.
"By making sure there is only one you," Akiva answered.
"I don't even know for sure that my cousin is missing," Miss Parker replied.
"Go to Alaska if you don't believe me," Akiva answered. She hung up.
Miss Parker dialed Malorie's home one last time. "Officer Otis Cantrell speaking, how may I help you?"
"Did you say Officer Cantrell?" Miss Parker asked.
"Sure did, ma'am," Officer Cantrell replied.
"Officer, what are you doing at my cousin's house?" Miss Parker demanded.
"You are related to Malorie Howard?" Officer Cantrell asked.
"Yes, I'm her cousin. Now, where *is* she?" Miss Parker demanded.
"Would it be possible for you to come here?" Officer Cantrell asked.
"Why? Where is Malorie?" Miss Parker demanded.
"We aren't sure. Her house has been ramsacked and she's missin'," the officer said. Miss Parker hung up the phone and thought a second. Akiva had been telling the truth. Malorie was gone and The Fortress had her.
Miss Parker had been at The Fortress once. It had been a horrible experience. And then, she had to be rescued by Jarod. She'd been told it was impossible to escape from The Fortress but Jarod had done it. Would he do it again?
* * * * *
There are Pretenders among us. Geniuses with the ability to become anyone the want to be.
In 1963 a corporation know as the Centre isolated a young Pretender named Jarod and exploited his genius for their research. Then one day, their Pretender ran away...
* *THE PRETENDER* *
"Mr. Clark! Will we be stopping soon?" asked a woman. She had backpacking equipment. She had curly black hair and brown eyes and orange camping clothes.
"Please, call me Jarod. Don't worry, Mrs. Leonard. We are almost to the campsite," Jarod told the woman.
"Mr. Jarod! How many times have you led a camping group up to Piney Point?" asked a little girl.
"As long as I've been a guide, Liz," Jarod answered.
"How long is that?" asked her brother.
"About three hours, Jason," Jarod answered. The adults laughed. The kids looked amazed.
"Cool!" said Jason. "I'm going to be a tour guide."
"Why?" Liz asked. "It might get kind of boring doing the same job over and over again, doesn't it, Mr. Jarod?"
"I wouldn't know," Jarod replied.
* * *
Miss Parker looked around. Officers were taking all kinds of samples for forensics specialists to analyze. Miss Parker picked up a photograph of her and Malorie. She brushed the glass off of it and put it back on the coffee table.
"Ma'am, that's evidence. You need to leave everything as it is," said an officer.
"It's a photograph," Miss Parker answered, dryly. "Have *you* found anything?"
The officer shook his head. And Miss Parker knew they wouldn't. The Fortress wouldn't have left anything that might give a clue to their existence. Miss Parker was about to exit when her cellular phone rang. She flipped it open and huffed out an exasperated, "What!"
"Now, do you believe me?" Akiva asked.
Miss Parker looked around the room. "What is it you want?"
"We want you, working for us," Akiva answered.
"Never!" Miss Parker growled.
"I'll send you an invitation to your cousin's funeral," Akiva replied. "Good-b--"
"Wait! What do you want me to do?" Miss Parker questioned.
"We'll be in touch. If you breath a word of this to anyone, Malorie dies." Akiva hung up.
* * *
"Jarod, this is the biggest group we've had up here in a while. Twenty-
five including nine children," said one of the guides.
"Pete, we haven't had a group that needed three guides in almost four years," said the female guide. "At least it's nice weather. I really hate leading groups up in the rain. Usually, they slip and slide and fall in the mud and then expect us to help them up by getting just as muddy as they are."
"I, for one, have better things to do than lead a group of whiny tourists up this mountain, Lelise," Pete answered. He looked at a family trying to put a tent up and watched it collapse. "None of which know how to put up a tent." Pete ran his hand through his blond hair and went over to help a family with their tent.
"Pete doesn't seem to enjoy being a guide," Jarod told Lelise.
"He hasn't. Not since Tamra died," Lelise answered. Lelise had long blond hair pulled back into a pony-tail. Her eyes were brown.
"Tamra?" Jarod asked.
"She used to be a guide. She absolutely loved it and Pete loved her. Couple months back she fell from the cliff that's just over that ridge.
She was killed," Lelise explained.
"Tamra fell? She was a guide. How did she fall?" Jarod asked.
"We think she was distracted and tripped but we aren't sure," Lelise answered. "Come on Jarod, that couple needs help with their tent."
* * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
"Miss Parker, we have a hit on Jarod!" Sydney said, bursting into the office.
"Where?" Miss Parker asked. She had been waiting for another call from Akiva but a hit on Jarod was something she'd been hoping for.
"Wichita, Kansas," Sydney answered.
Miss Parker got up. She'd been hoping for a hit somewhere close to The Fortress, like New Hampshire or Maine. She followed Sydney out of the office.
* * *
"Yah, Jarod plowed my fields. I reckon three weeks. Haven't seen him in a while now yet," the farmer answered. "He's a hard worker. Yup, mighty fine fella."
"Did Jarod leave anything behind?" Miss Parker inquired.
"Now dat ya mention it, ye did," the farmer pulled a red notebook from his back pocket. "He was aways scribblin' in dat thang. Don't rightly understand a word of it."
Miss Parker snatched the notebook. She flipped through it. It was full of algebraic equations. "Here's something for Broots," she said.
As Sydney began a conversation with the farmer about Jarod, Miss Parker's cell-phone rang. "What?!" she exclaimed as she headed back towards the car.
"How's the weather in Kansas?" Akiva asked.
"How do you know where I am?" Miss Parker demanded.
"Not important to the matter at hand. Hopefully, you'll be back at the Centre by 10pm tonight, because that begins your first set of instructions," Akiva answered.
"Now hold on, I am not doing anything until you give me proof my cousin is alive," Miss Parker replied.
"It's on your desk and so are your instructions. Have a nice day," Akiva laughed. She hung up.
Miss Parker snapped the phone closed. "Come on, Syd!" she ordered. They got in the car and drove away.
* * *
Intergroup Concourse Level
"What is your hurry, Miss Parker?" Sydney asked.
Miss Parker handed him the red notebook. "Have Broots find out if there is any pattern to these equations. I'll see you later, Syd," Miss Parker replied. She entered her office. On her desk, was a box. Miss Parker opened it cautiously. First, was an envelope, on it was written "Malorie's life" in large letters. Miss Parker opened it. Inside, she found a DSA disc with a current date.
Also in the box were dozens of small black things that looked like miniature microphones and speakers. She examined them. They had tiny little adhesive backs so they could easily be placed anywhere. On the bottom of the box was a map of the Centre. It was covered in tiny red dots that showed where the tiny listening devices were to be placed.
Miss Parker checked her watch. It was about six. Two hours before Akiva claimed something important was supposed to happen. She took the DSA and exited her office. She told Sydney that she was going home and would be back soon. He had given her a skeptical look but hadn't said anything.
When Miss Parker reached her house, she noticed a number of items out of place. Someone had obviously searched her house. Mostly they had looked in desks and drawers; places you'd expect to find important papers. Miss Parker found it rather nerve-racking to know someone had been through her house without her permission. It gave the house a non-home feeling. It was no longer a place that she could expect to be safe. The Fortress always had a plan. And for the second time it involved her.
Miss Parker sat down on her window seat and placed the DSA in the player. She debated whether or not to start it. It had been on this same window seat more than a year before that she had played the horrible DSA Jarod had sent that contained the sounds of her mother's death. Would it now play her cousin's death?
Miss Parker took a deep breath, then hit play.
Unlike most DSA's it was in color. Not that it made much of a difference in the beginning.
It was dark. Finally, a small amount of light focused itself over Malorie. She was strapped to a chair. Familiar figures came into view. First, red-headed Akiva then, Dr. Politan with a syringe. "What are you doing?" Malorie demanded. Dr. Politan injected her with what was in the syringe. "Ow!" She tried to break free. Malorie saw the camera. "You're taping this. Why?"
"Your cousin insisted upon proof you were alive," Akiva answered. She was keeping in the shadows so only her voice could be heard and a dark outline of her figure could be seen.
Some inaudible whispers could be heard in the background. Malorie heard them and yelled, "Don't try and save me! They want to kill you! Stay away!"
"Quiet!" Akiva yelled. She slapped Malorie across the face. Malorie was silent but she still tried to wriggle free. Finally, she got one hand free of the straps. She pulled the other one loose and pushed Akiva away.
"Sedate her!" Akiva ordered. Malorie tried to push away Dr. Politan's cart of syringes and vials of sedatives.
Dr. Politan went for a syringe. She managed to grab one before the cart went out of reach. Akiva grabbed hold of Malorie. "No!" Malorie
yelled. Dr. Politan stuck her with the needle. Malorie winced. The screen went blank.
Miss Parker checked her watch as she took the DSA and placed it in her pocket. She got up.
* * *
Flashlights went on in several tents. The guides leaped up. They ran to Tent Four.
A woman and her two sons were standing outside. "There's something in our tent." the woman exclaimed.
The boy had blond hair. He put on a pair of glasses. "I believe it was a small mammal searching for rations to feed it's young."
"What?" another camper asked.
"Alan means that there's an animal in our tent looking for food!" yelled the younger boy.
Jarod started into the tent. "Jarod, wait!" Lelise exclaimed.
"I'll be careful." he said. He was gone a couple seconds. He came back with a small baby raccoon.
"Oh!" the woman backed away from it.
"It's so cute!" said Liz.
Jarod walked over near the trees and put it down. It scurried away back into the forests. Pete looked around. "Alright everyone, back to bed. Show's over," he said.
"Oh, I couldn't sleep now!" said Liz.
"I'm hungry," said Alan's little brother.
"Be quiet, Louis," Alan's mother said.
"Well, if everyone is up to it, I suppose we could roast some smores," Lelise offered.
"Okay!" the kids ran to their tents to get marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate.
Jarod stood there puzzled. "What's a smore?"
"Jarod, you've never had a smore?" Pete asked.
"You'll like them," Lelise said.
Jarod waited as everyone roasted marshmallows. "Here!" said Liz. She handed Jarod a smore.
"Marshmallows, and chocolate between two graham crackers. These are very good," Jarod exclaimed.
"I told you you'd like them," Lelise laughed.
* * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Miss Parker's cell-phone rang. "Well, at least you're punctual," Miss Parker answered.
"I try to be. Have we convinced you to work for us?" asked Akiva.
Miss Parker got up and began to pace her office. "It is a temporary arrangement. I do one thing for you and you give me back my cousin."
"Not quite," Akiva replied. "It's not just one task."
"What!" Miss Parker exclaimed. She ran her hand through her hair. "You want me to bug the Centre and..."
"...And whatever the Eradicator wants, for as long as he wants," Akiva finished.
"If you plan on keeping her forever then, you might as well kill her. Life inside The Fortress is no life at all," Miss Parker replied.
"The Eradicator thought you might say that," Akiva laughed.
"Did he?" Miss Parker asked sarcastically. "He's controlling my life without warning. I have to wonder, what is his strange fascination with me?"
"The Eradicator doesn't give warnings, that's why he's so deadly," Akiva's voiced flexed evilly with her words. "And if you don't do what we ask we won't kill her. We'll simply torture her and send you a copy. And finally, when she dies, we'll do the same to you."
"Fine, what do you really want?" Miss Parker demanded.
"Right now we want you to bug the Centre. After four more tasks we release your cousin and, if you promise to work for us, we let you both live." Akiva hung up.
Miss Parker turned to the task at hand. She folded the map and placed a few bugs in her pocket. Next, she dumped the rest of the bugs in her drawers. She exited her office, stopped next to one of the security pads and placed her hand lightly on it, then moved on.
Shortly after she walked away, Brigitte walked up. She found the tiny device and examined it. She smiled evilly before placing a red sucker in her mouth and going to inform Mr. Lyle of her newest discovery.
* * *
The sealed door to the cell opened. Malorie got up as Akiva entered. Following Akiva was a sweeper pushing a cart of food. "What's this?" Malorie asked looking skeptically it the food. "Some sort of new experiment?"
"This," Akiva replied. "Is lunch." Noticing Malorie still looked a little perplexed, Akiva continued, "Your cousin is doing what we asked so we are doing as we promised." Akiva ate a grape off the fruit bowl.
"What exactly did you promise?" Malorie asked.
"To keep you alive, for now," Akiva and the sweeper exited, leaving the food.
Malorie looked at the food. Roasted chicken, fruit, mash potatoes, salad, bread, butter, jam, gravy. It all looked delicious. However, she wanted out a lot more than she wanted food.
Just then, Akiva returned. "You really should eat," she said. "We've got plans for later and I don't want you to be hungry."
* * *
"I hate hiking!" whined a woman. Her husband had insisted they hike for relaxation. So far, Mrs. Jean Metler, was not feeling very relaxed.
"Smell the fresh air," Mr. Metler answered
"We'll rest here," said Jarod. The campers all plopped down in their various locations and rested. Jarod walked over near the cliff. It was pretty high up but not disguised. It would be pretty easy to see it, even in the dark.
Lelise walked over next to Jarod. "I believe that Tamra was pushed by some guy she used to know who was hiking that day. Oh, what was his name? Leo something."
"How can you be sure?" Jarod asked.
"Because it wasn't a big group like this one," Lelise answered. "There was me Pete, Tamra, two regular campers who come once a week, they're here today Mr. and Mrs. Metler, one teenager and another woman, and that Leo guy."
Jarod found it hard to believe that the one person in the group who didn't like camping would come weekly.
* * *
Miss Parker was anxiously waiting for Broots to reveal Jarod's next lair. Working for the Centre was bad enough, working for the Fortress would probably be twice as bad. And now Akiva had told her that unless she DID work for The Fortress then they were going to kill her and Malorie. Jarod had become her one and ONLY alternative.
"Come on, Broots!" Miss Parker ordered urging him to speed up in his task. Jarod had sent some kind of plant that had at first seemed like poison ivy but it was actually a rare non-poisonous ivy that was only found in--
"Laramie, Wyoming!" Broots exclaimed.
"I'm on it," Miss Parker exclaimed. She was out the door before Sydney and Broots could say anything.
* * *
Private Centre Plane
Miss Parker lit a cigarette. This job was becoming more stressing by the minute. She looked at the time and took a bottle of pills from her pocket. She put out her cigarette and got up. She headed towards the back of the plane. She was running water from the tap when a hand grabbed her and covered her mouth. Miss Parker broke free, but as she reached for gun she found it had been taken. "Who are you?" she asked the dark figure on the plane.
A man emerged. He was dressed like a sweeper. He had dark blond hair and brown eyes. He was pointing Miss Parker's gun at her. "I am one of The Fortress sweepers, one that has infiltrated the Centre. And I am here making sure you aren't doing anything foolish."
"Foolish, like what?" Miss Parker questioned.
"Like enlisting the help of a certain Pretender to help you save your cousin," the man answered.
"My job is to find Jarod. If the Fortress wants my help as one of their undercover operatives then they had better let me do that job," Miss Parker countered.
"That had better be your only reason for going to Laramie. Because I'm not the only Fortress operative on this plane," the man replied. He started to head towards the front of the plane. Before going through the curtains, he handed Miss Parker her gun.
Miss Parker couldn't seem to figure out why it scared her more that he'd returned her gun than it had when he'd taken it. It was almost a sign that The Fortress knew she wouldn't cross them.
* * *
It was getting late. The sun had almost set. Pete had taken eleven of the campers down already because they had gotten tired. Lelise and Jarod were ready to take down the other fourteen. Lelise took the lead Jarod took the rear. All the children had gone down with Pete. Mrs. Metler lagged behind. She seemed annoyed. Soon most of the group was far ahead.
"A little to the left Mrs. Metler. Don't want you falling of the trail," Jarod said.
Mrs. Metler was oddly silent. She moved to the left. "Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Jarod ran over to the cliff. "Help me,
Jarod! Help me!"
"I'm sure that's what Tamra said to you right before you pushed her," Jarod answered. Mrs. Metler looked down. She gripped the cliff.
"What are you talking about?" Mrs. Metler asked.
"I'm saying you killed Tamra Anders, by pushing her off this cliff," Jarod answered.
"I didn't do anything. Now, help me up please!"
"At first I couldn't think of any motive but earlier today I heard you complaining and then it was clear," Jarod continued.
"Please! I'm slipping!"
"Admit it Mrs. Metler! You killed Tamra Anders!" Jarod taunted.
"Okay! I did it because I was tired of hiking. I thought that if there was an accident I could convince my husband hiking was too dangerous, now, please help me up! Please!"
"Let go," said Jarod calmly.
"What!" Mrs. Metler screamed.
"Let go," Jarod repeated. "This isn't the cliff. That's still a few feet down the path. There's a grassy ledge right below you." After planting her feet on the ledge, she was able to pull herself back up.
"No one will believe you," she told Jarod.
"Really?" said the sheriff, emerging from the brush, followed by Pete. Mrs. Metler gasped as the sheriff placed cuffs on her and began to read her rights.
"Thank you, Jarod," said Pete. "This is the kind of closure I needed."
"You're welcome," Jarod replied.
* * *
The Eradicator pushed a button and a screen show a man. The same man that Miss Parker had seen on the plane. "She's doing just as you expected, sir, looking for that Pretender."
"Stay with her, if she becomes more," The Eradicator paused. "Shall we say progressive, you know what to do." The man on the screen nodded. The Eradicator pushed a button and the screen switched to Akiva. "Begin."
"Right away, sir," Akiva answered.
"What do you want? You've had me in my cell for hours. Now, suddenly, you want me," Malorie asked.
"Walk," Akiva ordered. She led Malorie to a room different from the one seen in the DSA. It had a large screen and a smaller one in front of a chair. Dr. Politan had a small table filled with different items.
"Isn't my cousin doing everything you want?" Malorie asked.
"Sit," Akiva ordered.
"I want some answers!" Malorie replied.
Two sweepers wielding guns pushed Malorie towards the chair. "Sit!" Akiva ordered again. Malorie looked at the men with guns and sat. The men began to fasten her neck, arms and legs to the chair, but not with leather straps, metal ones.
"What are you doing?" Malorie asked.
"An experimental procedure, it shouldn't hurt, too much," Akiva answered.
"What kind of procedure?" Malorie asked. She watched Dr. Politan scan her and turn on the screen. It just showed blue. Dr. Politan nodded to Akiva.
"She is in the parameters for it but barely. It could have some side effects," Dr. Politan told Akiva.
"She'll have to do," Akiva answered
"Do for what?" Malorie demanded. "What do you want to do with me?"
"Be quiet," Akiva ordered sharply. She picked up a syringe and injected it into Malorie's neck. "Don't be alarmed. It just temporarily disables everything below your neck. Precautionary."
"Precautionary for what?" Malorie demanded.
"Okay, begin," said Akiva. She hit a button and the chair reclined. Malorie watched wide-eyed as Dr. Politan took a large syringe and placed it right near her head. Then, she picked up another and injected it into her arm.
As Malorie slipped into unconsciousness she heard Dr. Politan whisper, "I'm sorry, Malorie." Then, she began to feel a tinge of a needle on her right temple.
When Malorie awoke, she felt funny. She had a killer headache. Dr. Politan looked at her, then looked away. "Is she awake?" Akiva asked from the other side of the room. Dr. Politan didn't answer. Akiva walked over and looked at Malorie, who stared back. "Next time I ask you something, you answer." Akiva hit a button and the chair sat up again. Akiva exited.
"What did you do to me?" Malorie whispered. Dr. Politan didn't answer. "Can you at least tell me why I have a headache?"
Dr. Politan filled a syringe. Malorie shrunk back. "This will help your headache."
"I don't want anymore injections, "Malorie answered. "Just tell me what you did to me. Please."
"I can't," Dr. Politan said. She lowered her voice to a whisper. "Injected into your brain is a small device, it has to do with mind control."
Akiva returned. She shot Dr. Politan a warning glare. "We're ready," she said. "Calibration of systems is complete." She hit a button on the screen. First, the neck strap tightened forcing Malorie to look at nothing but the screen. Suddenly pictures began to flash on the screen, of explosions, grenades, guns, people being shot, setting off grenades, terrorist attacks.
"Why are you making me watch this?" Malorie demanded. "Turn it off! Please!" Akiva motioned to Dr. Politan. They both exited. The video continued to play, for hours, repeating and repeating and repeating and soon all Malorie could do was watch the video.
* * *
"Hold it right there, Jarod!!!!" Miss Parker yelled. She was annoyed. She had been chasing him half way around the mountain. It had started raining and now she was getting muddy. Finally, she fired her gun.
"A little trigger happy aren't you, Miss Parker?" Jarod replied.
Miss Parker had sent the sweeper team away an hour ago. It was partly because she didn't want Jarod to feel so trapped he would run away.Then she wouldn't be able to talk to him, and partly because she was unsure which agents were Fortress agents in disguise. However, she still had the lurking suspicion that the Fortress agents were following or at least watching her.
Finally, Miss Parker yelled, "The Fortress has Malorie!"
Several gun shots fired from the trees. Miss Parker ducked near a bush. She heard foot steps tramp by. They paused a few feet away then moved on. Miss Parker emerged from her hiding place. The person seemed to start coming back. "Hold it right there or I'll shoot," Miss Parker yelled. "Now, why are you shooting at me?"
"I wasn't the one who fired those shots."
"Jarod!" Miss Parker exclaimed. "Who was firing the shots?"
"The Fortress, they don't want you getting my help," Jarod replied. "But they weren't firing at me, they were firing at you. That means you were telling the truth." Jarod walked right up to Miss Parker even though she still had her gun on him. "Now, do you want my help or not?"
Miss Parker hesitated. Finally, she put her gun away. "They say they'll kill her Jarod," Miss Parker told him.
"Or they want you to think they will," he answered.
"What do you mean?" Miss Parker asked.
"They tried to kill you. Maybe you were never what they wanted. You were just an added bonus to a perfect plan," Jarod replied. He started down the path. Miss Parker followed. "By coming to me you broke the deal, now they don't want you."
"Oh, well how relieving," Miss Parker replied, sarcastically.
* * *
Mr. Lyle entered followed by Brigitte. "Is Miss Parker here?"
"No, she's out looking for Jarod," Sydney answered.
"How is it that every time I wish to speak with her she's out looking for Jarod and yet she never manages to catch him?" Mr. Lyle wondered.
"I wonder the same," said Brigitte.
"You always seem to come at a bad time," Sydney decided.
"Hmm, perhaps so. You will tell me when she returns?" Mr. Lyle inquired expectantly.
"Of course," Sydney answered.
Mr. Lyle nodded and exited. Brigitte followed. Just outside the door, Mr. Lyle stopped and turned to Brigitte. "I want an eye kept on those two. They might have also been in on these." Mr. Lyle held up one off the bugs. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I must supervise the debugging of my office."
* * *
"Ready," said Dr. Politan. She was wearing a headset an spoke into it's microphone. Beside her stood Malorie. Malorie was dressed in a navy blue suit and skirt. She looked a lot like Miss Parker. Malorie even had a gun. She raised it up at Dr. Politan's order. "Aim," Dr. Politan ordered. Malorie aimed her gun. "Fire!"
Malorie pulled the trigger on the gun and pointed it at the pictures on the screen. It showed several generic people and also some familiar Centre personnel; Sydney, Broots, Mr. Parker, Mr. Raines, Mr. Lyle. She fired at each of them on order. The gun fired no bullets, only tiny darts. Finally, a picture of Miss Parker appeared on the screen.
"Ready," Dr. Politan ordered. Malorie raised the gun. "Aim." Malorie pointed it. "Fire!" Nothing happened. Malorie hesitated.
"Fire!" Akiva ordered stepping into view. Malorie still didn't shoot. Akiva looked at Dr. Politan disapprovingly. "Why is it that every time we reach this picture she doesn't shoot?"
"There could be several reasons," Dr. Politan answered. "One that she loves her cousin very much and one more complicated reason."
"And what is the complicated reason?" Akiva asked
"She thinks it's a picture of herself. She has no death wish. She wouldn't shoot herself," Dr. Politan replied.
"I want that fixed. Get her to shoot at that picture," Akiva ordered.
"Why is that one so important to you?" Dr. Politan asked.
"Because her killing Miss Parker, will be the final step in her becoming Miss Parker," Akiva responded. Then, she exited.
* * *
Miss Parker tapped her finger on her coffee cup still finding it hard to believe that she was sitting across the table from Jarod. At any moment she could jump up and arrest him and take him back to the Centre. However, she couldn't because of Malorie. If she took Jarod in, then the rescue would surely fail. So, instead he was asking questions and she was answering them.
"How many days have they had her?" Jarod asked.
Miss Parker thought a second. "I'm not sure if they contacted me as soon as they took her or waited a while." Suddenly, the abrupt phone call came to mind. Malorie had told her to hold on but she never returned to the phone. Had that been the day they took Malorie? Why had they waited three days to call? If it had been her they were after they would have called right away and had her working for them as soon as possible. "At least a week," she finally said.
"Well, that's everything I need. It would help if I knew the exact reason they wanted her, to give an idea of where they might be keeping her," Jarod said. "Have they sent you anything?"
Miss Parker took the horrible DSA from her pocket. She also took out the one bug she hadn't placed, the one that went in her father's office. Jarod examined both items then put them away. "Meet back here at eleven tomorrow morning." Jarod got up and headed for the door. "There's a hotel about a block east of here." Miss Parker nodded.
* * *
"Ready! Aim! Fire! Again! Ready! Aim! Fire! Again! Ready! Aim! Fire! Good!" Dr. Politan yelled the directions. Each time Malorie shot. This time not even stopping at Miss Parker's picture.
"I assure you sir, she is functioning at 97%, better than any of our others," Akiva told The Eradicator. They stood looking through a window about two stories above Malorie's drills.
"Is she under full control at all times or can she be released to a normal state?" The Eradicator asked.
"Your choice sir," Akiva replied, with an evil smile. She handed The Eradicator a head-set. He put it on.
"I shall take control now, Politan," he said. She stopped yelling orders. "Fire!" he whispered. Malorie shot at the screen, in perfect aim. The Eradicator whispered another word.
Malorie dropped the gun. She looked around at the screen and the people. "What am I doing?" she asked herself. She looked at the screen. It was a photo of Miss Parker. She realized she had been shooting at it. Dr. Politan gave her an unsure nod upward. Malorie was about to look up when The Eradicator whispered the word again.
Malorie picked up the gun and resumed drills. The Eradicator turned to Akiva. "Impressive," he said.
"Yes, sir, it is," Akiva responded. Suddenly, The Eradicator gave Akiva an evil grin. A red light began to flash. "Sir?"
"Intruders!" he laughed. "I think it's time we started our new secret weapon on some real targets."
* * *
"What tripped the alarm?" Miss Parker demanded. They were in a storage area.
"Must have been a laser scanner," said Jarod.
"Well, what good is looking at storage orders going to do us anyway?" Miss Parker inquired.
Jarod opened a box and took two sealed vials; One of a blue liquid another of purple. Then, he looked at a clipboard. "Sub-Level 32," he said. "They've been shipping this substance there and labeling it MH."
"MH, Malorie Howard, let's go." Miss Parker and Jarod ran to the elevator. Miss Parker looked for an express button, the only one that looked like it might be one was labeled "Eradicator". She hit it. All buttons turned red and the elevator started descending faster. Finally, it halted at SL-32.
Jarod and Miss Parker ran out. Several shots fired behind them. They ran the other way finally ducking into a dark corridor. Someone still followed and shot at them. Miss Parker grabbed her own gun and started to fire. Jarod stopped her and led her around the bend. They reached a lighted corridor and got in an elevator and headed for SL-39. When they reached the rocky storage area they rested a second.
"Why did you stop me from firing?" Miss Parker asked.
"I'm beginning to believe it was only you they were going to kill," Jarod said.
"How do you know?" Miss Parker asked.
"Because I found this in the hall." Jarod held up a small iceberg pin. "I gave this to Malorie right after her arm was grazed. I found it in the hall. By firing at you, they threw off your deal but Malorie is alive."
Miss Parker who didn't want to think what Jarod was implying, questioned, "What about those vials you took?"
"The Fortress wanted them so we should want them too," Jarod answered. "I'll have to analyze them." Then, he headed for the hole in the wall. He pulled a large storage container away and they both climbed through. They started through the winding tunnels.
"Last time I was here, you'd just rescued me and I asked you why. You told me you figured you owed me. Owed me for what?" Miss Parker asked. Jarod didn't answer.
* * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Three Days Later
Miss Parker studied the mail in her office. It had been three days since the attempted rescue and she hadn't heard from Akiva. She was back to chasing Jarod. Everything was back to normal except, Malorie was still missing. There was nothing to indicate that she was going to be returned anytime soon.
Just then, the door opened. Brigitte entered. She took a red sucker from her mouth and looked expectantly at Miss Parker. "What do you want?" Miss Parker demanded. "And what did I tell you about knocking?"
"Sorry, luv, this couldn't wait," Brigitte answered.
"Now let's get one thing straight," Miss Parker replied, standing up and getting up close to Brigitte's face. "I don't love you. I don't like you. I don't even care to be in the same room with you. The only way you and luv could ever fit in the same context with me, is that I would love killing you. Don't call me luv! Clear?" It was becoming clear that her missing cousin was beginning to weigh heavily on her personality.
"As crystal," Brigitte responded, along with a patronizing smile. "Now, about these," Brigitte held up a bag full of the bugs Miss Parker had planted around the Centre. "Why have you planted them all over the Centre? And what were you doing in Mr. Lyle's office today?"
"I wasn't in Mr. Lyle's office. And I know nothing about those," Miss Parker answered.
"Really?" Brigitte looked at Miss Parker searchingly. "I could have sworn it was you who walked out of there this morning."
"Are you accusing me of lying?" Miss Parker glared at Brigitte.
"Not lying, mendacity," Brigitte replied.
"What right do you have to accuse me of anything? Get out of my office!" Miss Parker nodded toward the door. Brigitte didn't move. "NOW!"
Brigitte took several steps towards the door then turned back around. "I assure you this is not over." Brigitte licked her lollipop. "We'll talk again."
"You can bet on it," Miss Parker replied.
Brigitte placed the sucker back in her mouth, exited and closed the door.
* * *
Miss Parker's Office
Miss Parker was looking over some work and files and thinking about Jarod's last locale when her office door opened. "How many times do I have to tell you to knock?" Miss Parker said. Upon receiving no snide Brigitte remarks, Miss Parker looked up. "Malorie!" she exclaimed. She got up and walked towards her cousin. "Malorie, are you okay?"
Her cousin looked a little strange. She wore a black Miss Parker outfit and instead of her usual cheerful glow she was just kind of--there. There was a solemn expressionless look on her face. Suddenly, she looked surprised. "Cousin? How did I get here? Help me, I don't know what they've done but it's--" The solemn look returned. Malorie pointed a gun at Miss Parker.
"Malorie! What are you doing?" Miss Parker exclaimed. She didn't even know her cousin knew how to use a gun. "Malorie!"
Malorie's expression didn't change. And suddenly it all made sense. In one of Akiva's calls she had told the whole plan. She said she was planning to make Miss Parker very afraid. And when Miss Parker had asked how she'd said, "By making sure there is only one you." It hadn't made sense at the time but now it was all very clear.
Suddenly, Miss Parker's cell-phone rang. She looked at her cousin unsure whether to answer or not. "Answer it," Malorie said. Miss Parker moved slowly.
"What!" she answered.
"So now you finally see the fruits of our labors," Akiva said.
"What have you done to her?" Miss Parker demanded.
" We turned her into to you." Miss Parker was puzzled. "Actually, we ran a little experiment, dealing with mind control. It worked," Akiva answered. There was always a mocking back tone to everything Akiva said. Like she was amused by every conversation.
"You put Malorie, my cousin, under mind control. Why?" Miss Parker asked.
"To make her become you but work for us. And now it's time for her first test. You know what they say about Fear's only enemy. I will give you one final clue, castle. Good-bye." Akiva hung up the phone.
Miss Parker closed her cell-phone. Akiva had never said bye before. Was it like a final good-bye? Did it mean she never expected to see her again? She glanced at Malorie. Malorie took several steps forward. "I understand," Malorie said. She pulled back on the trigger on the gun.
"Malorie! Don't listen to them. Malorie, listen to me," Miss Parker pleaded. "Put down the gun. Malorie, please." Miss Parker realized this wasn't working although Malorie seemed to be hesitating. However, it still seemed like she wasn't getting through. "Malorie, Malorie don't, Malorie!" Miss Parker finally leaped at her cousin and pushed the gun up. It fired at the ceiling. Malorie fell to the floor. Miss Parker examined her cousin. She was alive but her breathing was irregular and she was unconscious.
Miss Parker exited her office. She started down the hall. Sydney came running up "I heard gun shots. Are you alright?" he asked.
"Fine, but The Fortress has Malorie under mind-control. She needs a doctor," Miss Parker replied.
"You're right she does."
Miss Parker spun around to see a familiar face. It was Dr. Politan. Miss Parker pulled her gun. "What are you doing here?" Miss Parker demanded. "You did this to my cousin. You work for them."
"I never wanted to but it's not about me anymore. I ran some extra studies on rats with the drug. On the eighth day after injection, today, they all died. The drug begins breaking down a day after injection. " Dr. Politan explained. "We injected this drug into Malorie six days ago. It turns into poison on the seventh day. If I don't inject your cousin with an anti-drug by tomorrow morning 9am she will die. Unfortunately, I don't have the drug. All my supplies are under lock and key at the Fortress. I couldn't risk taking them."
Miss Parker looked undecidedly at Dr. Politan. "What are the symptoms?"
"As it begins to break down, it becomes less effective. It begins to mesh with the person's emotions. makes it harder for them to breath, makes them faint at times," Dr. Politan stopped to think a second.
"She's in my office," Miss Parker led Dr. Politan to her office. She looked at the spot she'd left Malorie. Malorie was gone. "Where is she?"
"I don't know. Akiva or The Eradicator could have ordered her somewhere. She needs to have the least activity possible so the poison doesn't get pumped through her bloodstream," Dr. Politan replied. "We had one other human subject and once he realized the control we
had over him, he killed himself. He refused to let us make him hurt others. Do you think Malorie would do the same?"
Miss Parker debated a second. Malorie was such a sweet, kind and loving person. She had a sense of humor but wouldn't joke about things that were important. She had been more than a cousin, she had been a true friend. She had such a zest for life. Would she give it up to save the lives of others? If Malorie was herself at that moment then probably she would. If she was remembering that she had nearly killed Miss Parker then she would have reached her limit. And suddenly, a new thought sprung forth.
"I don't think that's what we should be worried about," Miss Parker answered. "The real question is, does The Eradicator know he's losing control?"
"By now, he probably does," Dr. Politan replied. "Which means--"
"Which means he'll want to kill Malorie before she has a chance to tell anyone about what's going on," Miss Parker finished. "She must have figured this out now. I think I know where she is, or at least where she's going."
Miss Parker explained several things and listened to Dr. Politan's precautions. No one noticed that Brigitte was peeking in from around the corner and listening to every word.
* * *
Miss Parker got out of the black Centre car. She had pondered Akiva's phone call on the way over. Fear's only enemy? And what did castle have to do with anything? Akiva's mind games were almost as annoying as Jarod's puzzles. At least his had a point, and they led somewhere...eventually.
Dr. Politan and Sydney followed Miss Parker up the walk. Miss Parker also wondered what to do if they found Malorie. Dr. Politan didn't have the anti-drug, and she didn't know the code word that made Malorie normal again.
When they reached the house Miss Parker noticed something sticking out of mailbox. She took it out. It was the vial of purple liquid Jarod had taken from The Fortress. "The anti-drug!" Dr. Politan exclaimed.
Miss Parker read the note quickly. Now you owe me, it read. Miss Parker tapped lightly on the door. She knocked harder. There was still no answer. Miss Parker tried the knob. It was open. They pushed open the door and entered cautiously.
The house was decorated nicely. The living room had a royal red look. "I'll need to mix this with water," Dr. Politan said. She headed into the kitchen.
Miss Parker and Sydney continued on. The house was warm and homey but it was beginning to seem like there was no one home. Finally, Miss Parker rounded a bend and found the den. There was fire crackling. She could hear two people in the den speaking in low whispers.
Miss Parker turned. Malorie stood behind her. Her gun pointed at Miss Parker. "Malorie, it's us."
"I know who you are. I know why you're here," Malorie said.
"Then, you know we don't want to hurt you," Sydney said.
Miss Parker glanced at her watch. It was 6am. If they didn't get Malorie the anti-drug in another three hours, she'd die. "Malorie, give me the gun!" Miss Parker ordered calmly.
"I can't do that. I have to see this through!" Malorie answered.
"Malorie, please!" Dr. Politan exclaimed, coming up behind her.
Malorie turned sideways unsure who to point the gun at. "You all just stay away!" Malorie yelled. She was breathing hard and coughed
"Castle!" said Sydney. Malorie looked at him strangely then brushed past all of them and ran out of the house.
Miss Parker, Dr. Politan and Sydney ran to the door. They didn't see Malorie. However, they did see another Centre car driving away. The person in the car tossed something out the window . Sydney picked it up. It was a lollipop stick. "What's Princess Try-Hard doing here?" Miss Parker demanded.
"I don't know," Sydney replied. "But something tells me we should find Malorie before she does."
The trio got in their car and started down the road. They searched a couple hours finding nothing. "Sydney, why did you say castle to Malorie?" Dr. Politan asked.
"Because that's what Akiva told Miss Parker over the phone. I'm guessing variation of castle must be the code word," Sydney answered.
"Oh no! Miss Parker, look!" Dr. Politan exclaimed.
Miss Parker looked out the window. Malorie stood on the ledge of a bridge. Miss Parker checked her watch again. It was 8:50. They had ten minutes. Miss Parker also saw something else. Brigitte! And her gun was pointed at Malorie.
Miss Parker leaped out of the car. "Brigitte!" she yelled, pulling her own gun. "If you shoot that gun, I swear I'll kill you!"
Dr. Politan also jumped out of the car. "Malorie's going to jump!" she yelled. She ran forward. Brigitte fired. Dr. Politan fell to the ground. Miss Parker fired. Brigitte leaped out of the way. Miss Parker and Sydney ran towards Malorie.
Sydney checked Dr. Politan and shook his head. Miss Parker approached Malorie slowly. "Malorie, come down!" Miss Parker ordered. She stared at Malorie's face. It was solemn, expressionless. The Eradicator was in control. "Malorie, if you're still in there come down."
"Fortress," Sydney said. There was no change.
Miss Parker could see the poison beginning to take full effect. Malorie wavered slightly on the ledge. Breathing was becoming something that needed effort. Please, don't let her faint, Miss Parker thought. "Malorie! Listen to me! Not to him! Come down!"
"Fort!" Sydney said. No change. Malorie turned towards the edge of the bridge. Miss Parker looked down. There was a highway far below. A jump would surely be fatal. However, Miss Parker was beginning to realize finding the code word might not be enough. She needed to find Malorie. "Stronghold," Sydney tried.
Brigitte got up. "Let her jump. Saves me a lot of trouble," Brigitte said.
Miss Parker turned to her rival, gripping tightly on her gun. "Not one more word!" Miss Parker turned back to her cousin. She glanced at her watch. It was broad daylight. The watch read: 8:56. Miss Parker turned to Sydney.
"Citadel!" Sydney tried. That didn't work either.
"Malorie! You know me. I am your cousin. I am your friend. Don't do this to me!" Miss Parker pleaded. Finally, Miss Parker opened her wallet. She took out a picture. It was a wallet size of the one Malorie had at her house. Miss Parker and Malorie together. Miss Parker held it up for her cousin to see. Malorie wavered slightly. "Please." Miss Parker's voice was almost a whisper. Malorie looked a way and took a step forward. Then, she stepped down. She hugged Miss Parker.
Miss Parker felt her cousin go limp in her arms. "Quick, the anti-drug!" Miss Parker ordered. Sydney took the syringe from Dr. Politan. He injected in to Malorie.
"We'd better get her to a hospital," Sydney said.
Miss Parker and Sydney carried Malorie to the car and drove away. Miss Parker didn't see Brigitte stalk to her car and drive away. She was too busy worrying about her cousin.
* * *
Miss Parker paced the waiting room. "Relax, Miss Parker, you'll upset your ulcer," Sydney cautioned.
"They said they'd tell us as soon as she woke up! She's been in there for two hours!" Miss Parker exclaimed.
"There is a lot of poison in her system. It will take some time to get it all out," Sydney answered.
Just then, a nurse approached them. "Please come with me," she said. Miss Parker and Sydney followed the nurse. She led them to another woman. She had blonde hair and brown eyes.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Elizabeth Herald. You are Miss Parker," said the woman. "Well Malorie is doing pretty good. I expect we'll be able to release her in about a week. Would you like to see her?" Miss Parker nodded. Dr. Herald led them to another room. "Now, I ask that you don't stay too long. And for now, one at a time. She needs to rest."
Miss Parker went in. She saw the IV and several machines monitoring different things, heart-rate, pulse and blood pressure. Malorie looked a little pale. Miss Parker wondered if this was how she had looked when she was in a coma. Miss Parker saw Malorie's face light up when she entered. Miss Parker took a seat in a chair beside the bed.
"How do you feel?" Miss Parker asked.
"Better," Malorie said. Her voice sounded weak. "I'm sorry."
"I nearly killed you," Malorie replied.
"It wasn't your fault. The Fortress was controlling you," Miss Parker answered.
"When I was back at The Fortress and they were training me. I wouldn't shoot your picture at first but I did. However, when it came to really shooting you I couldn't."
"It doesn't matter anymore," Miss Parker assured her cousin.
"What about the mind control? Can they still--"
"I don't think so. Dr. Politan didn't tell us. However, on that ledge when you got down, you got down even though he told you to jump. Besides, the anti-drug neutralizes the poison that was controlling you," Miss Parker replied. Malorie yawned. "I'll let you rest. See you later."
Miss Parker had just gotten into the hall when her cell-phone rang, "What?"
"How is she?"
"She's fine Jarod. Thank you for the anti-drug," Miss Parker replied.
"So what are you up to now?" Miss Parker asked.
"An idea that Malorie gave me," Jarod answered.
"Really, and what is that?"
"It had something to do with that pin I gave her. Catch me if you can!" Jarod hung up. Miss Parker hung up.
* * *
Blue Cove, Delaware
Miss Parker sat in her office. Brigitte entered caught Miss Parker's warning glare but still just came right in. She placed a yellow sucker in her mouth and looked expectantly at Miss Parker.
"I don't care if you don't knock. I don't care if you call me luv. I care about my cousin." said Miss Parker. "I don't know who ordered it. But the next time you point a gun at her, I'll kill you,"
Brigitte took the sucker out of her mouth and said, "For future reference, luv, this time Mr. Raines ordered it," Brigitte stalked out of the office.
After Brigitte exited, Miss Parker wondered if she'd given in too much by giving up the luv thing. Finally, she decided she hadn't. Nothing was giving too much when it came to Malorie. Nothing.
* * *
Two Weeks Later
Miss Parker and Malorie sat on the couch in Malorie's living room. Her house was all fixed up. They were roasting marshmallows. Everything was back where it belonged. Everyone was back where they belonged. "So, why again are we making smores?" Miss Parker asked.
"Oh, Jarod sent me the fixings as a get well gift," Malorie replied, taking her marshmallow out of the fire and blowing on it.
"I should have known," Miss Parker answered.
"We need more graham crackers," Malorie said. She got up and went into the kitchen. The phone rang. "Oh, could you get that?"
Miss Parker answered the phone with a cheerful, "What?"
"Celebrating your victory?"
"As a matter of fact Akiva, I am," Miss Parker replied. Then, she became more serious, "What do you want?"
"Don't relax yet. For The Fortress is always ready with new ideas, challenges and schemes," Akiva answered. "And you never know when they might involve you or your cousin."
"If the Fortress ever lays a finger on me or my cousin again. They'll regret it," Miss Parker warned. "And I figured out the answer to your riddle, Fear's only enemy is me."
"You and I shall meet again!" Akiva exclaimed, she sounded angry. "And next time you won't win." Miss Parker hung up.
Malorie came and sat down next to her cousin. "Well, how did you figure out that riddle?" she asked.
"It was while we were thinking up variations to fortress and castle. I realized the Fortress had decided they were fear. By rescuing you, we defeated them. It counts in all cases. The only way to overcome fear," Miss Parker answered. "Is to conquer it."
Malorie smiled. She placed the marshmallows on the graham crackers with the chocolate. She handed it to her cousin. They each bit into one. After Malorie took her first bite, she fingered her iceberg pin and said, "What do you think Jarod's doing right now?"
"I get the feeling," Miss Parker said, looking at the pin. "That he's someplace very cold."
Antarctica Exact Same Moment
"Come on jump," said Jarod. He was bundled up and looked kind of like an Eskimo. He was standing on the edge of an iceberg. Another man stood on a boat a few feet away.
"I'm afraid, I can't!" said the man.
"Oh come now. You have nothing to fear but fear itself," Jarod told the man. The man jumped. He landed safely on the iceberg but slipped nearly falling into the water.
"What about freezing to death?" The man sounded annoyed. Jarod helped him up. Jarod smiled. He breathed in the fresh arctic air.
"Here." He handed the man a plastic bag.
"Smores," Jarod answered.
"Who eats them in the winter time?" the man questioned, angrily.
"I know of two people who are," Jarod replied. He grinned at the thought.