Show: Pretender and Orignial Characters
Part: 1 of 3
Setting/Season: After IOTH
Rating: PG13... a little R
Spoilers: None really.
Warnings: Violence, Language, Torture
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Pretender characters so don’t sue me. The PHQ characters belong to me.
Summary: Jarod helps other pretenders find one of their own when a friend goes missing after investigating a new Centre Project called Resurrection.
A/N: These original characters were created long ago on NBC's Centre Exchange Board. They've kind of gotten into a roll playing group and now have a small world all their own... Thought I'd share it with you. Hope you like. Also this story kind of goes along with my story More Than You Think which you should read first; however, there is a great deal of time between the two.
Jarod spent much of his time searching out information the Centre wanted to keep hidden, since Carthis. It still bothered him the scrolls had been lost and he’d never gotten to read them. Of course, in true Centre tradition, Mr. Parker pulled an extreme exit by jumping from a plane. Of course, Jarod had the mildest amount of respect for his exit because it was a tradition of his to make his exits as annoyingly extreme as possible, to Miss Parker.
Jarod sighed. Parker and he’d gotten ever so slightly closer on Carthis and they’d literally gotten close to kissing but Ocee had interrupted them. He liked the woman but at that moment he wanted to push her out the window. Things between Parker and he had changed considerably. She’d even wished him luck in finding his mother which seemed more and more unlikely as time passed. As a matter of fact, he’d had no luck at all tracking her from Carthis… yet another disappointing thing Jarod would have to live with.
The screen in front of him blinked momentarily as a connection to his computer was made. He leaned over prepared to pull the plug directly from the wall but paused as a word typed across his screen. “Resurrection.”
“Resurrection?” Michael’s voice was as smooth and calm as always. Jarod didn’t get even the slightest hint of the man who’d lost it six months ago when their mutual friend McKenzie died. Michael had gone from his cool collected and deadly self to unpredictable, dangerous and grief stricken and back again.
“Yes, I didn’t understand it either. I figured I’d need to do a lot of digging but as it turns out I was wrong.” Jarod cleared his throat. “Project Resurrection was implemented approximately eight months ago; apparently, they are trying to either clone someone who has died or re-educated someone to be the person who died. I can’t be sure, the information I found is sketchy at best but one thing’s for sure, whoever they want back in their lives provided them with enough usefulness to make such a Project a top priority.”
Michael was surprised though his expression would have hardly shown it. “Any leads you have on this Project would be appreciated.”
“I suspected as much.” Jarod laughed slightly. “I took the liberty of tracing Project file transmissions and I’d say Project Resurrection is coming out of a corporation building in New York. The Centre’s contributed quite a bit of money to them in the last few years. I sent all the information your way.”
Michael rose from his desk and crossed the room to another terminal in the corner. He quickly pulled up Jarod’s information and requested blueprints for the building via one of his connections. “A Centre facility?”
“Bet my reputation on it. I figured you’d be more than willing to take a look around while I try and figure out more about Project Resurrection.”
“You were correct.” Michael stated as the blueprints popped up on the terminals screen. He terminated the call with Jarod and set the phone down.
At Jarod’s lair, he stared at the phone for a moment. “Goodbye.” Jarod shook his head as he got back to work.
Michael stood starring out at his surroundings. He’d come to the New York building hoping to find a connection to the Centre. Of course, he already knew the Centre was involved but knowing and having evidence were two separate things. It was for the best. The Centre was a powerful enemy and bringing anything less than hard evidence would no doubt be a waste of time.
Natasha and he had been working to this very goal for sometime. Of course, Jarod had been an enormous help since they’d come into contact with him. At that very moment, they had no idea where Jarod currently was. Jarod rather liked it that way. He showed up when they needed him or visa versa, but the rest of the time he wasn’t an easy man to find, despite Michael’s ability to do so if needed.
Michael focused his attention on the guards and the security station. He’d already created access for himself, but he needed to do his homework and he believed he was ready to infiltrate the building. He stepped out into the flood of people and started for the first elevator.
Michael had almost reached his goal when his peripheral vision registered a familiar form. He looked to his right, mentally taking a step back. The one person he’d always relied on and who had been killed in an explosion six months ago stood in front of the elevator to his right. “McKenzie.” He whispered under his breath.
Michael abandoned his mission to follow his heart. If it were McKenzie, then she wasn’t dead and his best friend was still alive. The doors in front of her opened and Michael quickly pushed through the people between him and his new goal, stepping inside the elevator as the doors closed. Of course, there weren’t many people who made Michael completely stop thinking but McKenzie happened to be one of those people and the moment he entered the elevator he spoke her name. “McKenzie?” Bad idea.
Mr. Lyle stared at him with obvious shock and yelled, “Grab him.”
To Michael’s surprise and horror and stinging pain registered on the side of his neck and even his fast reflexes did nothing for him as McKenzie jabbed him with a needle.
Miss Parker watched Lyle by the elevator’s talking to someone she didn’t recognize. Some man she suspected had ties to Lyle’s disgusting history.
Sydney startled her as he put his hand on her arm. “I’m sorry. What is so interesting?”
Parker jutted her thumb towards Lyle. “My baby brother is up to something. He’s been working on the pretender houses ever since Connor disappeared. I know he’s hiding something and everything has been really close mouth since yesterday. I want to know why.”
Broots ran across the reception area towards Miss Parker. “They brought a man in yesterday.”
Miss Parker’s heart jumped into her throat. “Was it…”
Broots shook his head. “No. They don’t know who he is, only that he seems to know about the Centre and he may have knowledge of the pretender houses and possibly where Jarod is.”
Miss Parker turned from Broots and Sydney and led the way into her office. As soon as the doors closed behind the two men she whirled around. “Broots, I want to know who they have in custody and I want to know what Lyle’s been hiding for the last six months. I’m sick of being the last to know anything. I’m also sick of playing along.”
Broots nodded and headed for the door. “And Broots, I want to know who Lyle’s new friend is.”
Michael had never been captured before, but the circumstances had been unusual in this instance. He’d become distracted by McKenzie. She was there and she was alive. He could have sworn she’d died when the car exploded six months ago. He’d mourned for her and yet she was alive. Of course, it didn’t dawn on him that she might not be the McKenzie he knew. He’d approached her which wasn’t the best idea, and now he was waking up tied to a chair. He shifted trying to free his hands from their bonds but had no luck.
The room was dark except from the light that shown down on him. From the darkness in front of him McKenzie walked out; her arms folded across her chest. Something about her was different and if he had to guess…
“Who are you?” McKenzie asked as she started circling him.
Michael wanted to scream his name. She should know him, but she didn’t and he suspected the Centre had altered her in some way. “Who are you?” He eyed her.
She smiled at his return of her question. “You’re a delight aren’t you?” She stopped to the right of him and bent over his shoulder. “They call me Elena.”
Michael winced at the mere mention of the name. He now knew he was in the bowels of the Centre. “You are not Elena.”
McKenzie had begun to travel around him again but his comment threw her and she stopped in front of him. “Really?” She chuckled and then turned towards him. “Then who am I? What was it you called me in the elevator?”
“Your name is McKenzie.” Michael looked up at her with mild defiance.
The woman, who believed her name was Elena, shook her head. “I don’t know who you think I am but I’m not this McKenzie person.” She smiled devilishly. “Now, your name.”
Michael smiled back at her. “You already know my name.”
Elena’s frustration got the better of her and she closed the gap between them quickly, backhanding the restrained man. “Answer me!”
“Elena.” A voice came over the P.A. system and she turned, straightened her clothing and left the room.
Raines stepped up next to Lyle. “You’re little project… is moving along… nicely. I don’t want… her harming… this man. If he knows her… then I would suspect… he knows… about the pretender houses… and by extension… Jarod. If we can’t… get the information from Connor’s… daughter then I want it from… this man.” He wheezed through his words.
“What about Resurrection. The point was to get the information we need from Elena.” Lyle looked at Raines. They had brilliantly come up with a foolproof way of getting to Jarod.
“Attempts… to get that… information… have been… fruitless.” Raines wheezed. “Keep him… alive.”
Lyle looked to his father blankly. “I won’t let her kill him. She’ll just persuade him.”
Raines glared at Lyle before turning and shuffling out of the observation room, just passing their new Elena on his way out.
“Lyle, why did you interrupt me? I was just starting my methods of persuasion.” Elena pouted at him as she slid between him and the viewing glass.
The corner of Lyle’s mouth turned up. “My dearest Elena, I have no intension of preventing you from your interrogation, but I also want you to use caution. He is dangerous and Raines wants him to live. He suspects this man knows the locations of the pretender houses, and that is useful, considering their assault on us of late. If he does work with them or he knows where they are it could bring us one step closer to Jarod.”
Elena gave a huff as she blew air through her lips. “Fine. I won’t kill him.”
Lyle smiled at her. Ever since they’d wiped McKenzie’s memory and re-educated her, with major help from a specialist, she’d been quit a bit different. He’d seen the mild hesitation in her but she’d done exactly what he wanted from her. Of course, they hadn’t gotten any information from her in regards to the pretender houses, Connor’s whereabouts, or Jarod’s whereabouts. Of course, they had another agenda by resurrection Elena and McKenzie had done a fine job of slipping into her mother’s skin, but to Raines disappointment, McKenzie’s own abilities seemed to be wiped away leaving the talented telepath, virtually normal.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get your fun soon enough.” He leaned in and kissed her on the lips gently, before turning towards the exit.
“Lyle?” She called to him and waited for him to turn back.
“Who is McKenzie?” She looked to him finding it suspicious that their capture seemed to think she was the woman he was looking for.
“She was a woman who worked for the pretender houses, but she died six months ago. This man must have known her.” Lyle mentally checked over the circumstances leading up to the capture. His explanation was plausible. “You do look a bit like her, of course, you are far more beautiful.” Lyle smiled and turned leaving Elena to contemplate what he’d said.
Natasha paced her office waiting for Jarod to get the message she sent. He checked in like clockwork as did everyone involved with them. It was a request simply to keep everyone in contact. She was worried. Michael had been gone too long without word. It wasn’t like him. He never missed a check in, even if he had to send a text message.
Jarod’s face blinked onto her computer screen. “Nemesis, your message sounded urgent?”
Natasha quickly took a seat at the desk when she heard her code name. “It is, Jarod. Michael hasn’t checked in and he’s been gone for three days. It isn’t like him to be so lax.”
“Maybe he’s on a deep cover operation? He was checking out the New York build that had ties to the Centre.” Jarod offered the suggestion knowing it wouldn’t really be an answer. He too was worried about Michael, now that he knew Natasha was.
Natasha shook her head. “Michael was doing reconnaissance, which you and I both know. He was looking into the New York front company because of Project Resurrection. Michael also believed this group was involved with the attempt on the Ukrainian Presidential Candidate’s life.”
Jarod sighed as he nodded. “I was also rather suspicious about that attempt. It sounded very similar to Centre agendas of the past.”
“Point is, Michael hasn’t called in and I need someone to track him. I know I have a lot of resources but you’re the best person for the job, without McKenzie…” Natasha let the thought linger in the air. Both Jarod and she turned mildly ashen as they thought about their friend being gone. She missed her niece immensely and she knew Jarod missed McKenzie as well.
Jarod’s face dropped at the mention of the woman’s name. “Nem, I understand.” He paused for a moment. “I dug a little deeper on this Resurrection thing. I believe the Centre is trying to resurrect a coma patient by re-educating a telepathic subject to believe they are said person. It looks like they kept them together long enough for the telepath to slip into the other person’s personality. There is mention of a doctor who apparently helped convince the telepath she was the coma patient.”
“So they’re brainwashing people to be operatives we got rid of?” Natasha looked at the screen where Jarod’s image frowned and nodded. “I want to stop this too, Jarod, but we have to find Michael. Something tells me he’s going to lead us right to our resurrected operative.”
“I’ll get on it and get back with you tomorrow, same time.” Jarod reached towards the screen and the connection severed.
Natasha waited for the connection to end before letting out the breath she’d been holding in. She had set aside the sadness of losing McKenzie and tried to ignore the feelings, but the realization she was missing key team members weighed on her. Lily wasn’t speaking to her and she had no intention of returning to the San Francisco House (she’d moved to Cairo more than 18 months ago), which they’d only recently moved back into. Eddie had lost it when McKenzie died and to her surprise Michael had also. Of course, Michael’s sorrow was short lived as he buried the pain he was feeling. Robyn was dead, killed by McKenzie after betraying them to the Centre. Jeremy was still gone and Ally or Question, as she is more widely known, had taken off to Tokyo about the same time Lily left.
Natasha’s mind wandered to the newest people to come into the house. Teren was a strong telepath who couldn’t control his powers and wasn’t good in missions. Jaidyn, her daughter and McKenzie’s sister, hadn’t the time to really know her older sister but had managed to care enough to stick by the Houses. Jaidyn was skilled, extremely so but when it came to tracking someone like Michael, there were few people even capable.
In all the time she’d known Michael, only a handful of people had accomplished the feat; Kristina Black, deceased; William Akers, deceased; McKenzie, deceased; and Jarod. She couldn’t imagine turning to the other senior-operative of the house, Connor, who’d stayed with them for McKenzie, and was tempted to leave when she died, but stuck around when Natasha told him about Jaidyn. She still didn’t trust him but he’d proven he wasn’t going to harm his children.
Connor’s tall, dark form cast a shadow across her office floor and Natasha looked up at him. “Did Jarod agree to search for Michael?” He asked coldly.
Natasha rose from her chair. “Yes.”
“Do you believe he can track Michael? Not many can.” Connor was polite as always. Seemingly concerned, but she knew better. The man had literally believed she was capable of harming McKenzie by letting Elena, her sister, hand McKenzie over to the Centre. Something she hadn’t been privy to. Of course, Natasha was devastated to think her sister was that kind of monster but Michael had come up with evidence to support it. Once she explained to Connor she had never known what Elena was up to and that Elena had accused him of something very similar, they both had a lot of thinking to do.
Natasha sighed as she turned towards him. “The only other people I could have asked are dead. What else am I supposed to do?”
“You could let him fend for himself?” Connor remained calm which was something new. Twenty years ago when they lived together he was a hot head and quick to an emotion. Years of pain and death, deadened him inside.
Natasha looked at him with disgust. “You are heartless.”
Connor’s voice rose slightly. “You let these people get to you.”
Natasha yelled back. “These people are my family! I would die for them!” She tried to calm herself but she was worried about Michael. The man wasn’t an actual family member but she viewed him as such.
Connor stepped closer to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “You are not what I thought you were.”
Natasha stared into his intense blue eyes in surprise. In all the months he’d been there with them, there had been no physical contact between them. They hadn’t even hugged at McKenzie’s funeral. Nothing. Her heart skipped a beat at his touched remembering when they were once lovers. She’d thought those feelings were gone, especially with all the pain he caused her, and yet there it was. “Ditto.” She turned away from him.
Elena opened the door to the cell slowly. The man who’d refused to give up his name had just gotten his first round of electro-therapy. He looked beaten but she knew he was far from it. His was a very strong willed person, which she could respect and break.
Michael hung his head. His weight was on his arms which were securely restrained behind the back of the chair. If not for the chair he’d have fallen over by now which would do nothing for his stubbornness. As it was he saw the respect shown to him for not screaming out during the torture; his tormentor was impressed as was McKenzie, who sadly believed she was Elena and was presently in charge of torturing him, her best friend.
“My dear man, I have to say we are all impressed by your stamina.” Elena closed the door behind her.
Michael flexed his arms making himself sit up straight and glare at ‘Elena’ through his sweaty hair which now hung in his face.
“I would like to play another game with you if you don’t mind?” She glanced at him briefly. “Of course, you don’t. Despite you’re situation, you’re actually happy you’re here which is disturbing, I must say. Anyways, let’s talk about my game.”
Michael tossed his head back making his hair clear his face so he had an unobstructed view of Elena.
“There is no name for the game, but a few rules.” Elena reached into her pocket and pulled out a switchblade which she quickly opened. “I ask you a question and if you lie or refuse to answer, I cut you.”
Michael glared at her defiantly. “First question.” He spit out.
Elena smiled slightly. “What is your name?” She circled him slowly.
Michael knew answering that was something he wasn’t about to do. “Raven.”
Elena stopped in front of him and straddled his lap. “Really? Why?”
“The Raven is often associated with death.” Michael stared at her coldly, trying to make himself believe, that despite her appearance, she was not McKenzie. And yet he still searched for the woman he cared for thinking she had to still be inside this depraved person. He wanted to believe McKenzie would stop Elena from killing him.
“Interesting, but you’re name isn’t Raven.” She cut him across the chest as she quickly got to her feet. “Moving on. What do you know about the Pretender Houses?” He remained silent so this time she cut his arm. “Where is Jarod?” Still nothing and she cut him. Twenty three cuts and questions later, she was called out of the room without any answers.
“Elena, this is getting tiresome. He’s given you nothing.” Lyle stared at her impatiently.
She slammed the blade into the desk infront of the viewing glass. “He is willing to die to remain silent. And he seems to think I’m that woman. He stares at me as if he’s trying to find her.”
“Then may I suggest we use that to our advantage.” Lyle smiled wickedly at Elena.