The Sixth 12
“Don’t lose visual of Ms. Abernathy.” Jason instructs through the COM device while a puff of black dust kicks up in the darkened morning against the horizon. The dust reddens in the taillights of the motorbike every time Simone pumps the brakes. She must be terrified after what she just witnessed. Jason had done a good job making her feel defenseless against him before Rory pulled that stunt of hers, slamming into him and giving Simone the chance to escape. He wants to make sure Simone stays scared. The less time she has to regroup to think, the less dangerous she will be. To his left, Jason takes a gander at Rory being hauled off the ground by the two men who stayed behind to guard him. She is dead-weight in their hands.
He can hardly believe his good fortune and, of all things, who it came from. Rory.
Jason has only one real thought of, Rory. The girl is a useless waste of material. He made that assessment the day he met her over fifteen years ago as a scrawny four-year-old, green-eyed carrot top. Nothing’s changed. She still has not reached her full potential and he doubts she ever will. She didn’t even put up a fight this time. Smart as she is, she’s no better than a doting teenager. Who says red heads are dangerous. There’s only one real reason he hasn’t removed all life from her body yet. One seemingly complicated reason.
Jason takes a cell phone from his pocket and dials a number. “Make the call!” He orders when a woman says hello. “Let your people know we have eyes on Simone Abernathy, she’s on the move and I don’t want her going anywhere near her home. I want her searching for that boy.” He continues as the taillights of the motorbike bounce across the flat grasslands in the early morning hue. “Make sure we have a small detail near every tunnel we know about. One or two people should do. I want her to know we’re watching those tunnels.”
There’s a good chance she’ll get tired and run low on kinetic energy quickly in her state of mind. Her emotions have got to be all over the place. The motorbike will become useless to her at that point. She may go into hiding then. Jason is fine with that because as long as she’s out there and scared there’s a chance Cory will reach out to her. If he’s lucky, Cory may even make an appearance, if he’s still alive.
Jason listens to the voice on the other end with intense agitation.
“She’s resourceful, she’ll fend for herself.” He listens again. His eyes roll. “If she knew where he was or if he’s even still alive do you think they would have been out here?” He grunts and hangs up the phone. Stares at Rory, arms dangling limp in the arms of the man that is hauling her away. Long strands of red hair swims in the breeze. You’d swear Jason abused that useless girl, the way she acts around him. Been like that since day one. Miriam has something to do with it.
But she is still alive because Jason has always been unable to access one part of her mind. A memory lobe. He’s tried getting into her head several ways since he’s known her, but someone powerful keeps thwarting his efforts. It has to be Miriam his former mentor, and far as he knows, someone he’s replaced. Her and the dead low-life are the only two people Jason has ever known who may be strong enough to fight him. One is dead and the other one is in hiding.
It is the only reason Rory is alive. Whatever information is in that head of hers might be valuable. Jason stopped worrying about incriminating information about himself a long time ago, but valuable information is another thing all together. And it is, however, important to shield his organization from the vast majority of society. It would be nice to have more time to practice extracting information from hardheaded kids, but time is up. Rory is back home until whatever time her usefulness wears thin.
He turns just as the motorbike vanishes from sight over the horizon. He can still see dust being kicked up by the tires. There must be tears streaming on the wind as Simone tears cross the grassy road because she couldn’t help Rory.
He sincerely hopes she doesn’t go getting herself killed. He wants Simone to help him find his precious cargo. What a stroke of luck if he could get them both in one fell-swoop. It had been years since Simone was born, and Jason had spent countless millions tracking her every move and being thwarted by that organization that keeps protecting her, even with his people among them. He’d wanted her as a replacement for Miriam so that when he finally finds her and ends her miserable existence he wouldn’t lose too much power. Now he was that much closer to having control of her.
But Cory was an unexpected bounty delivered to him by his own mother. When he first showed up he didn’t seem like someone Jason should pay any attention to. That was until his tests started showing signs of a cover up and Jason started looking into his files himself. That was the first time he knew the Defenders had people inside Gencor. Many of them died when he found them. Some are still around.
Cory is powerful beyond reason. Jason tested the kid’s power himself and damn near lost his mind. But he’d had it rough. Cory’s father died in an explosion in a Gencor chemical lab. All it will take to turn him is a father figure and some attention. Simone is just a pliable teen. And they are friends. The pieces were usable as long as Jason could use them properly.
He already has Tatiana under his thumb. She is Cory’s mother. Simone is an only child and very much orphaned. Letting them find one another is the best plan of all. Then reel them in hook, line, and sinker, using on to reel in the other.
Jason lifts the cell phone in his right hand and rolls to the dial pad. Presses the number six and tamps it down until the phone starts dialing. Then he puts the phone to his ears and waits till he hears the voice on the other end. “No.” He says when she asks if he was going to make the eight o clock in London.
He listens with impatient eyes when he hears a bank name. “Absolutely not!”
An opportunity to sign onto a deal with a consulting company worth millions. “They turned me down when I was starting out. I told you the story.” He says. Continues when she asks if he’s calling for something specific then. “My business trip got cut short and I’m hoping you’ll let me treat you to lunch when I get back this afternoon.”
He rolls his eyes while she prattles on about needing more time to look for her son, she would keep the phone and books and keep working to keep herself occupied in the meantime. It sounds crazy, like a grieving mother would. “Tatiana, I have the best people hunting leads for Cory’s whereabouts as we speak. I’m sparing no expense trying to find…” Jason looks around to make sure no one is listening to his conversation. One of the men has Rory in arms and is carrying her away. The other is close by awaiting orders. Jason waves him away. “I am not. I’m doing it because you’ve been my best assistant. But I’d take that.” A guilty smirk. “You want me to lie?” He turns to make sure the man is gone. He’s walking. “No. I get what you’re going through, that’s why I want to take you to lunch, ease some of the pressures off you.”
There is a long pause in which his eyes open wide and he’s staring off into the flatlands. “That was wrong for Fran to say and I’m going to have a talk with him when I get back. Know what? I’m going to promote you so you don’t answer to anyone but me. But, rest assured. I’ve got people looking for Cory, he was in one of my labs, after all. And lunch is on me. I’m not taking no for an answer, Tatiana.”
He flinches several times while he listens.
“I swear I’m not trying anything. Just lunch. Boss and assistant. I need to know you’re ok. Ok.” He hangs up. What call could be more important than his call? Jason stares at the horizon. He starts in the direction his men are walking. That fed better be at the convoy waiting for him.
The whole night has been a nightmare. A simple transport has now turned into a full-scale manhunt for Cory. Jason hopes he survived the explosion that happened less than a quarter mile from here, which has him out here getting dirt all over his brand new boots.
Someone with a lot of power came calling last night. And according to one of the people who survived the explosion, Cory was seen being levitated through the destruction. Jason did check his memory and saw what the man saw. He couldn’t tell if Cory was alive and the vision of his man had been blurred.
His family got a nice gift to thank them for his service. The man was severely weakened by the explosion and couldn’t handle the interaction. He died thirty seconds into sharing his mind with Jason.
When Jason catches up to the guard that slows to let him catch up, he says. “We have a hawk in the air tracking the girl. It’s armed. We can bring her down anytime.”
Jason gives him a curt nod. “Good.” He continues walking and takes a breath. “Keep it out of sight. I don’t want her spooked, but it’s good insurance to make sure we don’t lose her. I’ll want to have access to it.”
“We’ll tap you in.” The guard tells him. “The lab techs still don’t know what hit the convoy and…”
“You mean they don’t want to say it’s her!” Jason cuts him off with a sneer. “Those old loyalties are going to cost a lot of you your damn lives. If I so much as catch a stray thought that shows any of you helping her I’ll kill everyone they know before I kill them.” Jason warns sternly. “Make sure the word gets out.”
Jason squints as the six AM sun comes rising over the ridge. “That agent I asked to talk to?”
“Waiting in MOPS. Partner left it to us to give him a ride in.”
“Field leader has been informed and will make any necessary reports available… if necessary.”
“Good.” Jason says. It takes them no time to make it back to the mobile operations office (mops). It consists of one extra large, armored cargo-van filled with the latest surveillance tech, a semi used purely as a source of additional power should they need it, a second cargo loaded with weapons and tactical equipment and enough people to use them, if they are needed.
Jason enters the main cargo van and makes his way through a narrow hallway, passing people on his right and left with heads turning to look at him. He says nothing to anyone. Almost at the end of the corridor he turns right into a locked gray door and pushes it open. Inside an office lined with a gray metal desk, bare, one steel chair behind it and one in front of it with the federal man from earlier sitting down facing the desk, two guards directly inside the door, and one steel chair behind the desk for Jason. Steel cabinets the same gray as the desk and chair line the room on all corners. There is one window behind the desk, up high.
Jason takes a seat at the desk with his eyes on the federal man.
The federal man looks at him but says nothing.
Jason waves his two guards out of the room. They hesitate only a moment before moving out and shutting the door behind them. That’s when Jason pulls a pen and pad from his desk and sets them in front of himself. Pushes them toward the agent after nodding at him.
“My name is Jason Nelson.” Jason starts.
“I know who you are, sir.” The federal agent explains.
Jason nods. “That’s cool.” He says. “Saves us some time. I’m sure you also know that there will be a story prepared if you don’t make it back?”
The threat is clear. The agent swallows the rock now stuck in his throat. He nods, clearing his throat at the same time. Yes, yes he does. He’s quite sure he was warned about that the first time he chose to be assigned to Gencor detail years ago because of the money it paid.
“Pretty sure your field commander also briefed you on how things work out here.”
It wasn’t a question, the federal man sees right away. He nods.
“Good.” Jason adjusts the pen and notebook in front of the agent. It is an eight by ten with two hundred and fifty pages, all-blank. Enough to write a novel if the agent so chooses. “I’m also sure you’ve had experience with those like me, if you’re working this detail.” Jason says.
The agent nods. Not a question. Again.
“So, instead of forcing me to get the information from you the hard way,” Jason leans into his request. “Why don’t you start detailing your assignment for me, on that pad. I’d like to know who gave you the assignment, also, who knows what you’re doing, I want that too.” Jason keeps eye contact with the agent when he adds. “And, for the record, you might resist for a couple of minutes. But consider that nice young brunette waiting for you in the Condo on Seneca.”
The federal man shudders. He wants to call her now just to check on her. They’d been dating steadily now for the past four years, as of last Thursday. She loves to mark every month in fun ways that makes him appreciate monthly anniversaries. This last one was special. He learned they were about to become parents and he’d decided to go ring shopping. This assignment was providing much of the cash needed for the one he wanted to get her.
The federal man picks up the pen. He pulls the notebook under his hands and starts writing longhand. Before long he’s turning to page two.