Episode 19: Tunnel Vision
by Toni Walker
Never before had his past consumed him to the point of endangering a mission, but for the first time, he was beginning to doubt his ability to stay focused.
Ethan Fairchild rubbed his temples. "How in the hell did we ever get into this mess?"
Bobbie Sullivan provided a quick retort. "My vote is for Psycho Big Bad Number One.” He was fifteen feet ahead of Ethan in the dark passageway. He'd had a bad feeling for awhile and that feeling was only getting worse. “How close are we to the exit?”
“It’s just ahead.” Ethan passed everyone and placed a hand on the door at the bottom of the stairway leading to the basement. The nanites went to work again giving him a clear view of the room beyond the door. “It’s clear. Everyone out.”
Ethan’s mind reading ability must have been seriously lacking because when he opened the door, he heard the click of a gun. Then CinDee and a couple of goons joined him. They too were sporting fashionable weaponry.
“So nice of you to join us,” Irish Quinn said.
“You know, I’m real thoughtful that way,” Ethan said.
“Come on, Ethan,” Stephen said. “We can take them.”
Another two goons came up behind them shoving a gun into Octavia’s back. She didn’t flinch but Stephen quickly changed his tune.
“What do you want with us?” Bobbie said.
One thug grabbed Bobbie by the scruff of the neck. “You’re expendable. You aren’t part of the project.”
“Project?” Bobbie croaked.
“Take him out and kill him,” CinDee said with a gleeful chuckle.
“NO!” both Ethan and Stephen shouted.
“I don’t think you boys have much of a choice, now do you?” CinDee followed as the brutes drug Bobbie out of the room screaming for his life.
Irish moved his gun toward the opposite door. “Inside.”
“You know, I’m really claustrophobic…” Ethan began to complain but another man hiding behind the door swung the butt of a gun at his head. He toppled to the floor as a small amount of blood oozed from the wound.
“I told you not to injure him,” said an older man walking forward. “Clean him up and then take him to the chamber.” As they drug Ethan away the older man stared at Stephen. “So sorry to get you involved in this. I appreciate what you’ve done for my daughter.”
Stephen looked at him in confusion? “Your daughter?”
“That would be me.” Octavia tapped him on the shoulder and wrapped her arms around him. “We had fun, didn’t we? I mean, I’ve enjoyed our time together.”
“You’re involved in this?”
“I’m afraid so. And I’m sorry.” Octavia drew a small pistol from the waistband of her slacks and shot Stephen in the chest. Stephen’s eyes were full of shock and uncertainty. “Nothing personal. It’s just business. And we can’t leave any nasty loose ends. That wouldn’t be professional of me.”
She shot him again and as the last breath left his body she leaned down and kissed him.
“Did you have to make it so graphic?” Her father asked.
“You wanted to test your theory. Now you can.”
The two of them watched the body and waited. If his theory was correct, it would become apparent in a few moments.
Stephen coughed and attempted to sit up but that wasn't the most amazing thing about what was happening to him. Stephen Webb was actually healing right before their eyes.
"Spontaneous regenreation?" Octavia said?
When she looked down again to survey his wounds, she found Stephen Webb had disappeared.
Ethan quickly recovered from the pistol whipping. The nanites were very forgiving when it came to healing. He had a bit of a headache but nothing more.
Finding Bobbie had been easy. All he had to do was follow the screams.
"Hey, you know it's not right to kidnap people, right?" asked Ethan as he tapped the goon on the shoulder. "When are the bad guys going to learn and hire more intelligent people?"
He hauled back and slugged the goon who let Bobbie slip out of his grasp. Then he returned the favor and grabbed the gun from his holster and slammed it across the goon's face.
"Thanks," Bobbie said. "I thought I was a gonner."
"Get to the security room. I'll meet you there." Ethan gave Bobbie directions. The nanites really were working overtime for him today.
"What about Stephen?"
"Don't worry about him. I'm sure he can handle himself." Ethan placed a hand to his head and found the blood had already dried.
"You don't even have a cut. That's amazing."
"It's nothing. Now go." Ethan was trusting the nanites to guide him as he made his way to where he believed he'd find what he was looking for.
Kaye Corday had conned her way into the Zeller mansion pretending to work for Julian Black. The drugs she’d been under were now wearing off and her mind was clear. She knew she’d have to play the game if she wanted to get Dare out of Julian’s clutches alive.
Dare grabbed her arm and pulled her close. “What are you doing,” he whispered once Black’s back was turned and talking on his cell phone.
“He thinks I’m still under their control.,” Kaye whispered. “If I can play along, we may be able to bring these guys in.”
“You’re insane, you know that, right?”
Kaye winked at him and then punched him in the face, before knocking his feet out from under him.
“Sorry, baby,” she cooed. “I had to make it look realistic.”
Kaye backed away from Dare and returned to Julian Black. “You’re not going to get any information out of him. He’s too stubborn, not to mention trained in mind control techniques.”
Julian seemed unconcerned. “That’s okay. It’s not his mind that I’m after.”
Kaye glanced back at Dare. Three men had surrounded him, one of which had a tazer. “What are you doing?” Kaye shouted as one minion pointed his tazer at Dare and pressed the button. The man glanced at Kaye when the tazer had rendered Dare unconscious.
“He’s following orders, which is what I suggest you do.” Julian peeled a chunk of apple holding the paring knife expertly in his fingers. He popped the chunk into his mouth. “We wouldn’t want your sister to meet an untimely end, now would we?”
Kaye wasn’t sure how empty his threats would be, but she knew how far to push a man like Julian. And right now, it was time to back off.
“What do you want me to do?” Kaye said.
“That’s my girl.” Julian smiled and slipped another slice of apple in his mouth. “Go back to the mansion,” he said. “Bring me Jared Quinn.”
My eyes grew wide. “He’s my partner.”
“Exactly,” Julian’s eyes held a devious twinkle. “He’ll never suspect someone so close to him is working for me.”
“I’ve been reviewing the security tapes and something’s not right,” Bobbie said. “So, I did some investigating and discovered a strange inconsistency. Dagmar Krause, the old cranky woman, supposedly died 3 years ago in German.” Bobbie produced the obituary from a popular German newspaper’s online archive. The photo matched Krause exactly.
“She’s looking mighty spry for a dead woman,” Ethan said.
“That has to be an imposter,” said Bobbie who was known for stating the obvious.
“Ya think?” Ethan said. “Take a look at the rest of the security footage. See if anyone else shows up on the obit list. I have a feeling our bad guy isn’t who we think it is.”
“Right away.” Bobbie gathered the footage together on the desk.
“Stephen, stay here and stand guard. I want to know exactly what I’m dealing with.”
Steven nodded and Ethan left looking for some answers of his own.
“We now have three specimens. I want to know what makes them unique. Each of them have never admitted their special gift but the signs are there,” Julian Black looked to Octavia. “Your experience in this field make you uniquely qualified for the experiment.”
Octavia wasn’t’ much of a talker. She nodded at Julian and returned to her research.
Kaye had no clue what they were talking about, but she began to get an idea when the goon squad carried Dare’s body in the catacombs.
“This is pretty creepy,” Kaye mumbled as she followed Julian and Octavia down a large stone stairway that should have been under an ancient castle, not a mansion. She flinched when she walked into a spider web. Somehow her carefully honed emotions were cracking. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d experienced fear, but coming down into this dark, dank pit was playing with her head.
The stairway ended and a doorway sat snuggly in front of the last step.
“Take him in there and place him in the device,” Octavia’s smooth Russian accent came and went. Currently, it was in startling full force. She even talked to herself using strictly Russian phrasing. Kaye wasn’t fluent in the language, but she did know that Octavia wasn’t a happy camper.
When the flat slab was covered with a clear Plexiglas outer shell, Kaye thought the device might be some sort of cryogenic chamber. She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Julian silently motioned in her direction to the goon squad. The three men were big, much bigger than she , but she did have one advantage over them. She was a black belt and a master of Krav Maga.
“What’s this?” Kaye said backing away toward the exit. “Don’t’ trust me anymore?”
“Actually, you’ve proven to be a remarkable ally, Kaye. Unfortunately, you possess a trait I need to study as well.”
The part of Kaye that went psycho when her sister was kidnapped simmered beneath the surface of her consciousness. She didn’t know what it was or where it came from but the intense sudden wash of emotions was throwing her for a loop. Before the goons could force her down on the next available slab, Kaye passed out.
Jared, Echo and Mac were nearly to the end of the tunnel when loud animal-like screams came from the room beyond the tunnel.
“What in the hell was that?” Jared Quinn said.
“Proceed with caution,” Mac motioned for Echo to remain by the door.
“I’ll hack into these fiber optics and see what I can find.” Echo was good at anything having to do with computers, from installing programs to hacking bank accounts, not that he really did the latter. But it was nice to know he could if the situation ever arose. “Be careful, you guys. Whatever that was, it sounded pretty nasty.”
“Copy that,” Mac said into his wireless mic. The two of them had ventured forward into the lower levels of the mansion. “I’d appreciate a schematic of the house, whenever you make a connection in the line.”
“It’s my first priority,” Echo said.
Jared had a partner but he wasn’t used to working this closely with them. The partnership of Mac and Echo was win-win, even thought it was obvious Mac was in charge.
The first few chambers were empty. The area below the mansion seemed to be more massive than anyone knew.
“You could have a Dungeon and Dragons conference down here and still never fill up the place,” Jared said. Each step he made was careful and deliberate as he surveyed each room.
“Where in the hell did that noise come from?” Mac asked.
As Jared stepped into the next room, he knew the answer to Mac’s question. “In here,” he said.
Blood splattered the walls and the floor was streaked with red bloody skid marks. It looks like someone dragged a body out of this room,” Mac said.
“From the amount of blood everywhere, you can be pretty certain that person is dead. No one could live and lose that much blood.”
Neither seemed to notice the circle of concrete slabs behind them. As Jared backed up taking in the bloody scene, he bumped into one of the containers covered with Plexiglas. The hood over the coffin-like effigy retracted revealing a person lying inside.
“Take a look at this,” Jared said. “There are two others just like this one.”
The woman lying inside looked dead but her body displayed an almost bluish glow.
Mac approached the body and gasped. Pressing a ginger to her neck, he realized she was still breathing, if only barely.
“It’s Gia Doyle,” Mac said. “She’s still alive.”
“This one looks like Dare Ransom and that one…” Jared approached the third coffin-like enclosure. “Rudy? What in the hell happened down here, Mac?
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” Mac said.
“Unusual activity in the basement chamber,” Bobbie said.
“Define unusual?” Stephen asked.
“Beyond the normal. I’m detecting multiple life signs down there.”
“Is there anyway you can contact Ethan?”
“Actually,” Bobbie admitted. “Ethan has somehow been wirelessly transmitting updates to me through the building’s security system.”
“Exactly how is that happening?” Stephen asked?
“I have no idea, but we don’t know anything about the nanites in Ethan’s blood Somehow those little micro suckers are giving him the ability to wirelessly access computer networks.”
“Relay back to him the info about the basement activity. He’ll probably want to check it out. In the meantime, I suggest you call your Headquarters and apprise them of the situation. We may be safe right now but we don’t know who else is in the mansion with us.”
“I’m on it,” Bobbie said.
Kevin Fairchild wasn’t sure where he was, but he knew the bed was comfortable. Events of the last few days replayed in his mind. His father was a traitor. Somehow, deep inside, he’d know the truth. His father had been acting strangely for years.
The room where he found himself was a sunny bright yellow. Definitely not somber colors. On top of the dresser were photographs of three young girls. One looked like a young Jazz Demarco, the woman who owned the Wolves Den, a bar he frequented far too often for someone who claimed not to be an alcoholic.
He leaned up on his elbows and a pain shot straight down his spine. He yelped in pain alerting anyone in the adjoining room that he was awake. He took quick shallow breaths as he eased himself back into a lying position.
“Dammit!” he muttered under his breath. His back was still awash with pain when a red-headed woman appeared in the doorway.
“He’s awake,” she said to someone he couldn’t see. As she approached him, she smiled wanly. “I wouldn’t suggest moving too much. You’ve done quite a number to your spinal cord.”
“Do I know you?” Kevin asked.
“My name is Rachel Demarco. My sister was the one who brought you here. She’s a nurse in the infirmary where they were keeping you.”
“The blond chick?” Rachel nodded. “Your sister is psycho, lady!”
“My sister is a disturbed young woman who forgot to take her medicine. When she’s under the proper medical care, she’s as lucid as anyone.” Rachel ardently defended her sister’s actions even thought she knew what chaos Maxie could cause.
A man’s presence filled the doorway. He was someone Kevin recognized. “Mitch?” he said. “What in the hell is going on, man?”
“There was an incident in your room in the infirmary. A candle shaped in the form of an apple released an as of yet unknown gas into your room. The air filtration system at the infirmary is one of the best in the world. It caught most of the gas, but just enough entered your blood stream to cause your bizarre behavior.”
“Bizarre? I don’t remember anything.”
“You’ve been having almost lucid waking nightmares. One was about a man named Carter Wayne. Do you remember him?”
“Vaguely. He was some sort of teacher, wasn’t he?” Kevin said.
“No,” Rachel interjected. “He worked on a television show with me. After your brother came to the set, Carter fell off the grid. He’s disappeared.”
“I don’t know what you expect me to do about it,” Kevin said.
“We need you to find him,” Rachel said with desperation in her voice. “We think he’s in danger.”
“I’m not psychic, lady. Whatever happened to me that day when I had those visions, it was a fluke.”
“You have to find him,” The woman rushed him, gripping the lapels of the oversized robe he was enveloped in.
Sweat stained his brow. The pain was inching upward. He had a high tolerance for pain, but he also knew everyone had their limit.
“Lady, I’m not moving from this bed. At this point, I don’t think it’s even possible. I’m not sure what you expect me to do.” Kevin shifted uneasily relieving some of the pressure he’d been experiencing.
“He’d right, Rachel. He’s not going anywhere. It’s a miracle he didn’t seriously injure his back.”
“I don’t want him to go anywhere. I want him to do his psychic thing. He doesn’t’ have to move to find Carter. All he has to do is focus.”
Kevin tried not to laugh, but the idea was ludicrous. He wasn’t a psychic. “Easy for you to say.” Kevin glanced around the room looking for someway out of this precarious situation. If only he could get a message to Ethan or somebody at Legacy Headquarters. They could help him.
The image of their second mother popped into his mind. Emma Rappaport was sitting at Ethan’s desk glancing over a pile of bills. When the two of them were out on missions, Emma handled the paperwork. They gave her an outstanding salary and her own large cottage on the Smith Island facility, but Kevin always thought she looked a little sad. His image of her tonight was no different.
“Emma, you have to find me,” he said silently hoping Rachel or Mitch wouldn’t know what he was attempting.
Emma glanced over her shoulder, as if hearing someone walk into the house. “Kevin? Is that you, dear?” she asked.
“Call Boswell. Have him activate my tracker.” He tried to mentally project his thoughts to her.
She walked into the great room and glanced toward the door.
“That’s odd. I could have sworn…” Emma picked up the phone and dialed a familiar number. She clicked her fingers on the receiver impatiently until someone answered the extension.
“Oh, I’m so glad I caught you, love.”
Kevin couldn’t hear the other end of the conversation but he knew from the number displayed on the handset that she had indeed called Boswell.
“I just had the strangest sensation a moment ago. I could have sworn Kevin had come into the mansion. Could you be a dear and see if he’s in the vicinity?”
She listened a moment then said, “Thank you, dear. I know it’s silly…”
The connection was suddenly terminated when Rachel grabbled him again.
“You must tell me where Carter is” She shoved a photo into this hand. “This is Carter. Please help me.”
Kevin looked at the photo. He had no choice since his bizarre connection to Emma was terminated.
The man in the photo was tall, at least six seven and in top physical condition. A flash of insight bombarded him. But it wasn’t the man he saw when the vision blossomed in his mind. It was a boy. Emma was there again but she looked much younger.
“Can I play when them, Em?” The young boy asked. He had a British accent and a very articulate way of speaking. He gazed over at two bassinettes each containing one baby. “Aren’t they terribly bored just lying about all day?” he asked.
“That’s what babies do, CW. They eat and sleep. They won’t be able to play for quite awhile, okay?”
CW sighed. “All right, but can I help feed them the next time they cry?”
“Did you hear that little Ethan and Ian? Your big brother wants to help me feed you. Isn’t that brilliant?”
The shock of the revelation knocked Kevin out of the vision. His eyes stared up at Rachel and Mitch. Then he expelled a ragged breath. Did he really want o tell the duo that Carter Wayne could possibly be his missing brother, CW?
Is Carter Wayne really Ethan and Kevin's brother?
What is the real reason Julian Black wants these ten special agents? What do they possess that he wants?