The Sixth 10
Shaken, stirred, and unwound
Cory doesn’t think the picture of Javier he’s staring at, is real. It can’t be. The boy in the picture looks spry, young, and is throwing a mean stare at the camera just like the Javier Cory knows would the last time he saw him, which could be a day or weeks ago. Miriam didn’t happen to mention how long Cory had been unconscious when he woke with her watching him. That was a couple of hours ago. For all he knows, he could have been asleep for years before that and is now waking up to a nightmare.
The eyes in the picture are as cold as Cory remembers them, though. The face bears the unsoiled smoothness of kinder days. Javier looks all the fifteen years the report says he is but still as cold as he appears to be these days. Those eyes still bear the warnings of broken bones if Javier speaks and the intended doesn’t listen. The jaw line is still the same. Square chin with a broad jowl that a hammer would splinter on.
He still has that unwelcoming look to his icy gray eyes, too. There should be some mention in the report that the picture was taken as a warning about the cold, callous man the world would turn Javier Montrose into. Sure, Javier is one of the good guys, but he does have that whole domineering thing going for him, as Cory recalls.
Javier has to be at the forefront of everything he’s involved in or he finds a way to be. The kid in the picture looks like he’d be saying the same thing if he were Javier. His head is tilted up and his eyes are directed at the camera saying “I demand your attention.” That’s Javier to a fault. Still, none of what Cory read on the page with the picture stuck on it can be true.
What bothers Cory most about the report is that he knows Javier as an honorable guy. He wouldn’t betray anyone and most certainly wouldn’t be working for an organization like Gencor in any capacity. If Javier is working for Gencor that’s a problem because that means he will not betray his orders under any circumstances. Cory has zero doubts about that.
The guy is a stickler for orders. If Javier is given an order he follows it to the letter until he is sure he achieved every objective possible. Whatever rules are in the orders, Javier follows them fully. The only time he’ll accept changes to orders or rules is when they’ll help him to further the objective of the orders he’s following.
It was Javier who first suggested the Defender unit that rescued Cory, lock him up until they learn more about him. They refused, of course because Simone insisted they did no such thing, which made Javier insist even more. Over the course of several months, eight to be exact, Javier had suggested they keep Cory from getting near anything. It took a while before Javier started treating Cory civilly. Even that comes with a lot of reservations to this day.
And there was the traitor that Cory would swear, Javier killed in cold blood.
Javier has maintained that it was in self-defense since it happened, to anyone who hears about it and asks. But Cory remembers the frightened stare frozen on the corpse’s face when he and Simone snuck into the morgue to see her body, some nine months ago.
The woman’s name was Adessa Sumtree. The mission was a routine supplies purchase in which it was reported that Adessa went missing or Javier did, according to the gossip Cory heard. Shopping is a mission these days, as aggressively as Gencor seems to be expanding their reach. However it went, they found one another. When the others found them, Javier and Adessa were at the tail end of their fight and she seemed to be losing. Adessa tried to escape and almost got away. That’s when the people with them said Javier unleashed and energy beam from his hands that cut Adessa in half.
There’s no way to verify the story. There’s no record to speak of. No recordings from the mall security cameras. Javier and the unit he lead were the only ones who reported what took place that day. But one day when Cory accidentally mentioned her name he could have sworn he picked up panic from Javier. It was buried and Javier said it was guilt about what happened. Cory didn’t feel like he had a right to question a tenured defender like Javier so he dismissed the whole incident. Cory isn’t even a defender so why should he insist on anything.
Cory sighs. He drifts down the page. Might as well read the rest of it. After what he read about his own mother it can’t get any worse, right?
Javier Montrose. Height, yodder yodder. Parents are Eugene Del Montenegro and Elle Montrose. Father deceased. His mother is a bio-physicist in a Boston lab that whoever wrote the report didn’t seem to think was important to scribble in. Javier has come a far way from home on all accounts, Cory reads on.
Javier Montrose is considered a highly trained intelligence gathering operative capable of staying in character for long periods. His upbringing on rough terrain, first in Spain and then on the streets of several New England towns, while his mother did her studies and worked, prepared him for the life he’s living now. When he was discovered at the age of fourteen, Javier had already been involved in several violent incidents. The way the report reads, ‘allegedly’ being left out of it, someone knows Javier well.
Cory chills when he reads – ‘current assignment: to form a bond with Simone Abernathy through any viable means and indoctrinate her into the will of “The Keep”.’ The Keep is capitalized, which usually signifies importance.
So what the hell is The Keep and how come nobody mentioned it before today?
Cory turns and sits back on the bed-head to take in all he’s just read. His own mother has been dating this, Jason Nelson guy, who is supposedly the CEO of some huge company spanning the globe. The company Jason is CEO of isn’t named in the report. Javier, someone Cory would consider an… ally, sort of, is working for the organization Jason is supposed to be running while being a ranking member of the Defenders. He certainly didn’t expect to read that.
Cory gets distracted from his thoughts by Miriam trying to probe his mind again or did he get nervous and lose control of his abilities. Cory feels her nudging. He presses back against her to let her know he’s onto her. Miriam stops trying to get into his head once she feels calm.
“What triggered you?” Cory feels the question rummaging through his mind. “I can feel you from the orchards. Control is a must here.” Miriam sends.
“You could have called!” Cory telegraphs a mental response as harsh as he can without seeming rude.
“Not for what you’re reading.” Miriam responds.
Why couldn’t she call him over the phone if she feels something’s wrong?
“The phones can be tapped easily. We cannot. Well… I can’t.” Miriam says.
Cory gets nervous. Did she feel him thinking that too?
Miriam projects a mental image of the orchard she is in. She is sitting on a beige lounge chair overlooking a field of flowers. Miriam shows Cory the way to the orchard from his room through two long hallways that lead to a parking spot where several off-road, four-wheelers are parked. Cory has never ridden an ATV in his life. But Miriam shows him a watchman he bets will be more than willing to take him out to where she is. “Come. We will discuss.”
There is a way to take her invite. Cory feels it might be her way of getting him out of the house so she can talk to him about losing control of his abilities. Losing control isn’t good and Cory feels a way about doing it. If that’s what she’s going to do then it goes to reason it’s going to affect him and cause him to lose control even more. There’s nothing worse than losing self-control while trying to control self.
“Stop that!” Miriam snaps at him.
“Crap!” Cory sits straight on the bed.
“It is more of a face to face about what we’re dealing with.” Miriam explains and lets Cory feel the impression of truth. She wants him to know what they’re doing and hopefully help him to control his abilities. If he’s close enough she figures she can focus in on his inability to stop bleeding his emotions out. Maybe then she can help him stay in control.
Cory feels it’s more of a way to get him to calm down. She’s still hovering about the fringes of his thoughts. Miriam is shielding him too, Cory feels.
Simone would be doing the same thing if she were here. It suddenly dawns on Cory that Simone must be going nuts worrying about him if anyone figured out what happened to him or she hears about it. He’d snuck away to go and see his mother while everyone was distracted by life. An armed patrol was waiting for him just outside the enclave where his mother lives so he didn’t make it home.
He’d had to run for his life. He barely had time to think about Simone and she may have picked up on his emotional turmoil while he was running. She can usually tell when he’s anxious or in trouble. Simone is a teenage girl that may just be Cory’s best friend.
Cory and Simone met while he was in a Gencor holding cell, courtesy of his mother. Cory had been complaining about hearing voices before he found out it was his unnamed mentor who was communicating with him while he was in the facility. His mother went into mom mode and sought out any help she could get. She wanted him to have the best possible care she could afford and Gencor laboratory services was the place she chose because she worked for their corporate office and knew of its extensive fields of work.
His mother swore at the time that it was the best place she could think of. She knew the offices and how they worked and would know everything that was happening to him, she’d said at the time. Cory hates it that he’s starting to question whether she knew about his condition and put him there to keep people from knowing about him.
But Cory was being held captive by Gencor. It’s the only explanation he is sure about when it comes to the lab he was being “quarantined” in. His mother came to see him daily at first so things seemed ok. But after his diagnosis, she was advised to cut her visits to months apart until she was told otherwise. She agreed after discussing things with Cory.
But the tests were not normal psychological tests. There were physical tests and, slowly, Cory was cut off from anything outside the walls of the laboratory. The advice from his mentor who began communicating with him daily didn’t help.
While Cory was being held captive by Gencor he’d missed his mother terribly one day and got nervous that he wouldn’t see her again. His energies were all over the place that day. That caused him to leak psionic energy Simone felt and latched onto. The two of them kept in contact became friends that way, but Cory kept saying he didn’t know where he was when she’d ask. Several weeks later, the Defender wing mounted a bloody rescue that left several bodies strewn across the property.
What Cory found out later was that they happened to attack the facility he was in because they were trying to rescue a scientist named Elaine McDuff. The unit had been lead by Javier to the facility to extract her. Elaine projected exactly why she had reached out to them in the first place before she succumbed to injuries sustained while they fought to get her out. As it were Simone wanted to find Cory, but he wouldn’t tell her where he was because he didn’t want anyone knowing he was in a mental institution. So she was happy Dr. McDuff revealed the name.
With Dr. McDuff’s final instruction they were able to find Cory that day and rescue him.
From the moment they found Cory, Simone became his guardian against everyone, even Javier who wanted to leave him on his own once they got out of the facility. She argued that she would be going with Cory if they didn’t take him. No one but Cory and Simone had been aware that the two of them had been in communication before that day. Not until they sat down to debrief a group of unit leaders.
Cory feels he should reach out to Simone to let her know he’s ok. There’s really nothing to stop him from doing that now. He’d run away from the Defenders and haven’t been in contact with them since. Simone will be worried, as protective as she is of him. She’s that kind of kid.
Cory takes a deep breath and begins to expand his mind in order to find Simone. He knows the adept feel of Simone’s psionic sphere. He knows she will be doing everything in her power to find him. All he’ll have to do is find that one piece of psionic vibration that’s hers among all the other minds in California.
It doesn’t take long.
Cory feels Simone. Panic and dread are the first feelings he picks up. She’s trying to keep calm. What’s happening? Cory goes further, shielding himself from everyone else. He wants to see what Simone is seeing. Simone’s block is as high as he’s ever felt so there’s no way to reach her right now. But he wants to know what’s causing her to panic.
Rory is somewhere close to Simone. It feels like she’s losing her mind. She is never one to panic about anything as long as Cory has known her. It feels like more than panic. When Cory latches onto Rory’s mind he feels deep pain. She is in so much pain mentally it hurts him physically. Her mental block is all over the place, which allows Cory to see what she’s seeing and feeling. Night. Desert. Jason.
“Oh mo…” Cory hops from the bed to the floor. He immediately feels Miriam in his head. She got by his mental block. She’s seeing everything. Cory feels like his head is about to explode and realizes Miriam is sending pure shock to his kinetic synapses.
Cory presses at his temples trying to stem the feel of Miriam pressing at his head. He loses consciousness next.
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