by Toni Walker
|Ethan Fairchild in The Legacy's mission: |
Cloak & Dagger
He knew something was wrong but his body had stopped functioning. He felt stuck in place, his feet glued to the dirty tiles in the hallway. Like a car with its steering wheel locked up, Ethan maintained a robotic stance, frozen in place, for many minutes. And when his legs would no longer support his weight, his body collapsed.
Senses were the only functioning aspect of Ethan's body. He could almost mentally picture his brother, Kevin's, GPS tracker. All Legacy agents had one embedded in their shoulder. Every agent except him, that is. The nanites had disabled it as soon as they'd been introduced to his system back in Bulgarian ten years earlier.
The GPS signal was like a throbbing warning light, warning him to stay away from the tech. Ethan didn't know why. It was almost as if he could sense the nanites intentions. They opened themselves up when he was weak and they were in control.
Ethan's mind drifted into an almost dream-like state as Legacy personnel hefted his body onto a gurney and wheeled him into the infirmary.
The lights of the operating room faded as a technicolor meadow loomed before him. He forgot he shouldn't be able to smell the grass or feel the wind, but it was as if he was truly standing there in some sort of false heaven.
On a blanket in the middle of a field sat a young girl no older than eight. Her dark hair rustled in the breeze. From afar he could see she was playing a game of cards. As he approached he could tell it wasn't playing cards in her hands. They were tarot cards. But it was the back of the cards that drew his attention and had him taking a step back. The cards were decorated with the image of Madam Zoltan.
"Where did you get those?" he asked.
"They're a special deck. My grandmother made them. She was a gypsy in Romania."
As Ethan focused on the Madam Zolton face, he was transported to another place, a dark alley, a city in the middle of the night. The streets were vacant. And only sounds of distant traffic disturbed the silence. It took a few minutes to realize in this reality, he could only watch and not interact.
The haunting voices of young boys shouting insults niggled at the back of his psyche, vapors from a past long forgotten. A boy of twelve or fourteen cautiously watched the shadows as he made his way through the darkened narrow streets of a nameless European city. His navy logo-less t-shirt and dark jeans melted his image into the night.
He was very good at avoiding the obstacles in his path. The boy easily evaded two guards positioned around a darkened theme park. When he came to a chain-link fence, the boy pulled a pair of wire cutters from his bag making an opening only large enough for his small body to fit through.
Once inside where there was a bit more illumination, Ethan realized where he was and exactly who the boy was.
That young boy was him!
Bette didn't know where she was going in why this is happening to her. She got the photographs, cyphers and notes from the kitchen table shoving them into messenger bag along with her identification, bank records, and laptop. She had a feeling her apartment might not be here when she got back.
She ran to a local restaurant downtown that was up for sale. It was a locale she had used once in the past. No one could connect her to it. She felt safe hiding out there temporarily.
The first order of business was to find out who Jacques Dupree was and exactly who it was that had warned her.
Once she had her laptop set up in the restaurant's office she did a search for the phone number of the person who had warned her. The search came up with nothing.
It was a burner phone registered to John Smith. Someone was definitely covering their tracks.
Bette got as far as she could with the computer searches. All she was coming up with was a big fat zero.
She stared at her reflection in the ornately decorated bathroom of the restaurant. Her eyes were bloodshot and red rimmed, not exactly a great look for her. On the back of her arm was a red patch in the shape of a square, exactly the size of the dissolving patch they used to subdue suspects. Could someone knocked her out? Plus those things had a nasty memory erasing function. Exactly how much of her memory had been compromised?
* * *
Talking to Agnes Edgington, the housekeeper, wasn't the problem. Getting her to her was. Faith had been to the estate a few times as a child, but she didn't have clear recollections of her time there.
There was only one door in the library and that was the only option they had at the moment. Fouts worried about the amount and location of guards. It was a statistic Fergus couldn't readily supply. This fact annoyed Fouts. He didn't like going forward practically blind. The trio slowly open the ornate door and hid in the shadows. All the curtains were closed giving the interior and more black appearance. They waited for a few beats. When I heard no movement out the door, the three of them made a break for the hidden hallway only the servants used. Daniel found it ridiculous people treated each other this way in today's day and age. But it was obvious Chandelor Knight believed himself above the law.
The secret hallway was vacant when they stumbled inside. It was also a very narrow passage, barely wide enough for the width of a man's shoulders.
"Can't you call labor board? Don't you have a union?"Faith asked. "This is like eighteenth century thinking. You're all practically slaves."
"We feel lucky to be employed by a man such as Mr. Knight. This is only a temporary situation. Once we get rid of Liz, everything will go back to normal," Fergus said.
"I wouldn't bet my bottom dollar on that."
* * *
Bette Marsden studied the files and photos from the table in her apartment. The one of the man in shadow interested her the most. She scanned the image into her computer and began manipulating it in Photoshop. She gave the image more brightness and found the man's face clear enough for an attempt at photo recognition. She connected to the Legacy's database to make the comparison. Thus far she had access to Legacy resources, but if they realized she was going out on her own her access might be nixed.
The search came back relatively quickly. This man might be someone the Legacy really valued. Two men stared back at her from the computer, both were identical in appearance.
"Ian and Ethan Fairchild. Interesting," Bette mumbled. "Sons of the director."
She studied the photograph again. Whichever Fairchild this was, he was being taken prisoner. Getting back the son of the director might be profitable, and she needed funds quickly.
Bette noticed a landmark in the background.
She knew that mountain. It was in southern Bulgaria.
It took only moments decide. She was going to Bulgaria to retrieve a Fairchild and cash him in for a wealth of dough.