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Story Notes:

(This is just me ranting a littlebit, feel free to skip to the Chapter Notes)

A little over a year ago I (aka Manoline) posted a news article right here on Missing Pieces, asking if anyone wanted to join me over at the PretenderSIM forum to cowrite a RPG (basically means you write exclusively for one or two characters, and have no say as to what the others might do).

In the end, five people replied. Some were seasoned fanfic writers, some were new to the game. But regardless of experience level, this type of writing was something different for all of us and I don't think anyone had expected what was to take place in the following year. After the initial confusion over this new and strange way of writing faded, we found ourselves writing a story. Maybe not a perfect one, but a story none the less.

It was exiting, nervewracking, strange, unexpected and a bunch of other adjectives, but most of all it was fun. And with a little luck you'll enjoy reading it as much as we did writing it.

Jacci, Katie, Tina, Tiffany, Sue - We did it!

(And yes I know the title sucks, my fault)



Author's Chapter Notes:

Each character is written by a different author (well almost, some writers add on a second, but that's later in the story), so to keep it all straight for the reader, each character has a different color.

Writer / Character

Jacci revealed in chapter 6

KatieQ - Miss Parker

Manoline - Broots

Tinanaz - Jarod

TLM - Sydney

Whashaza - revealed in chapter 2

As you can see there are a lot of font colors involved, so this is most definitively best viewed in dark skins.

A new chapter will be posted approximately twice a week, check end notes for when the next is scheduled to arrive.

 

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a review, we'd love to hear what you think.


Broots adjusted himself on the black leather seat of the towncar. Leather may be stylish but he didn't find it particularly comfortable. Also, it tended to make embarrassing sounds whenever he moved. It never made sounds when Miss Parker moved though, or Sydney for that matter. He spent a couple of minutes pondering why that was, and finally concluded that it was probably some Centre secret he hadn't been privy to.

After all, it wasn't that long ago he was simply a tech in SL 5 with 9-5 workdays, with deadlines that didn't get shorter everytime he talked to his boss. Back then the worst thing that could happen in a day was loosing a game of solitaire. Needless to say, things changed after he started working for Miss Parker.

He suddenly remembered where he was and started fidgeting again. He always got nervous when following up on a lead. No matter if it was one day old or one week old, the possibility of running into Jarod got his heart rate up.

He could feel Miss Parker glaring at him, which only added to his anxiousness.

---

Jarod paced around his living room. He knew They were coming, but he just didn't care. He wanted, no, needed to talk to Sydney; he knew that. But Sydney wanted him back at the Centre, so would he really help him? Parker was coming too and that was both good and bad. Good because he missed his childhood best friend and bad because he could see her turning into what her father wanted more every day. Could she, would she really take him back to the Centre knowing what she now knew? Would Sydney even try to stop her from capturing him? The more these thoughts spun through Jarod's mind, the faster he paced around the living room.

They were coming. He had to leave, but his body was exhausted. He knew he hadn't slept in over a week and his mind was turning into mush. They were coming his mind screamed to his body. Time to leave, NOW!

Jarod grabbed his leather jacket, duffle bag and DSA case and left the apartment.

---

Sydney reluctantly stepped out of the car, surveying their surroundings. Another abandoned shack of a place that Jarod had called home for a short while. To Sydney, The Centre was still Jarod's home. It was at least where he came from, but every day, Sydney grew less confident that it was where Jarod belonged. Science had always been his first priority, his true passion. Meeting Jarod fueled that passion, but ignited another one. Sydney had grown very protective of his young pretender and to this day, nothing was more important than Jarod's well being, in or out of The Centre.

Which is why Jarod's lack of phonecalls recently had Sydney so disturbed. While Miss Parker was infuriated by every call Jarod made her, Sydney took each as a sign that he was still okay. Protective certainly, parental perhaps, but Sydney sensed that Jarod needed him right now. Or was that just desperate hope?

Miss Parker, armed and ready, had already charged through the door to the latest lair, with Broots scurrying behind, so Sydney stuck his hands in his pockets and ambled along after them, knowing like always, that Jarod wouldn't be there.

Upon entering, Sydney looked around for the usual clues, toys, jokes, leftover uniforms, whatever Jarod felt like leaving this time. Like Broots often hinted, it was exacting to anticipate what new puzzle Jarod had in store for them. The psychiatrist loved to see his prodigee shine. However, there was nothing here.

"Are we sure this is the right place?" Sydney questioned.

Broots peaked up from behind Miss Parker. He looked around in disbelieve.
The place was completely empty. There was no furniture, no decorations, nothing to indicate there had ever been anyone living here, least of all Jarod.

"Well, yeah. This apartment was rented by a Jarod Meyers a month ago. He paid in cash for 6 months rental. I ran an image recognition program I developed on the security footage of all the local ATM's in the area. And surely enough the same day he signed the contract, he was spotted making a sizable redraw. And again at the same ATM a week later. It's rare to get such a clear lead regarding Jarod." He said excited.


"Clear, my ass." Miss Parker muttered as she lowered her gun in frustration, giving the bridge of her nose a tired rub as she felt the pent up adrenaline drain from her body. She had long ago given up hope that they would actually succeed in dragging Jarod out from one of his lairs, but everytime a door was kicked in, she felt that flutter of hope that maybe, just maybe it would be the end.

Reholstering her weapon, Parker turned around and faced her pursuit team, her eyes catching Sam's briefly. She didn't know why she continually requested Sam's presence on the hunt, the hired muscle was a waste of time as they ran the wheel in Jarod's hamster cage.

"I think your boy has really outdone himself Sydney," she exclaimed tiredly. "As always we blustered in here conveniently too late to catch the man of the hour and now must submit ourselves to running his little maze to prove some god damn point about our twisted lives. What is it this time Syd, the empty room is a metaphor for the emptiness he feels inside? A room full of nothing which is exactly what i have to show the boys in the Tower when we return - empty-handed again?"


Miss Parker, please!" Sydney chastised paternally, "Something is wrong here. We haven't heard from Jarod in weeks and now the first lead we have on him in ages takes us here, to nothing. It means something. With Jarod, it always does. Frankly, I'm worried."

He ignored Miss Parker's scoff and roll of the eyes. Sydney crossed his arms, pondering the possibilities of the situation. The ringing of his cell phone broke the group from their blank stupor and all eyes were on him as he lifted the phone to his ear with the habitual "This is Sydney." Upon hearing Jarod's reply, Sydney turned and quickly walked out of the door, not willing to let Miss Parker or anyone else ruin his chance of connecting with Jarod.

He stood outside, shifting his eyes to make sure nobody else was around him. "Jarod, thank God. It's been so long since you've called, I've been worried. What's wrong?"

Parker frowned as Sydney hastily disappeared from sight. She sent Broots a warning glare as she crept towards the doorway, her suspicions confirmed as she heard the shrink quietly greet the pretender. If Jarod was calling to taunt them on their recent failure, he would have called her. If he was calling Sydney it meant he needed something, paternal counselling or a well buried Centre secret. She leaned discretly against the doorframe, tempted to rip the phone out of the pyschiatrist's hand and trade a few words of her own with the errant pretender. For this moment in time however, there was more to be gained from eavesdropping.

Jarod was lost. He was in the middle of a large city, but he didn't know which city it was. His duffle bag was gone and he was lucky that he was wearing his jacket or he might have lost that too. The DSA case, however, was firmly gripped in his right hand. So firmly gripped that the knuckles were white and his arm muscles were trembling with exhaustion.

His mind cleared briefly as his stomach rumbled. He looked up to see a small diner and could almost taste the mouthwatering aroma of freshly cooked hamburger. Deciding that he had nothing better to do, he entered the diner.

As Jarod munched on the huge double cheeseburger and fries, he thought about the last month. Not that he could remember much, for some reason his mind was a blank. He was pretty sure that the Centre wasn't playing mind games with him again, but he wasn't sure. He could remember leaving Santa Fe after finishing the Pretend with the antique store owner. He could remember climbing on the bus, but he didn't know when or where he got off the bus.

His cellphone seemed to magically appear next to his ear. He could hear the ringing on the other end and then the much needed voice saying "This is Sydney".

"Refuge."





Chapter End Notes:

Stay tuned, many more chapters to come.

Next will be posted Monday(-ish)








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