Author's Note: Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti is the Romanized transliteration for the Russian KGB.

XXIII

From the open doorway leading into the cafeteria, Giacomo saw Olga embrace Alpha as if he were her own. For many, looking at Alpha was a constant reminder of Nyromi's absence; that she was not there by his side. Knowing of Olga's repeated attempt to become the boy's immediate supervisor, Giacomo was at the least grateful that at least one other cared for the boy. Feeling a twinge of guilt strike him, Giacomo strode forward to interrupt this moment of affection.

"Excuse me," Giacomo said as he approached the two.

Slowly turning away to wipe her eyes, Olga quickly regained her composure as she stood to face Giacomo.

"Yes; Doctor," Olga hurried.

"Am I interrupting anything?"

"Well…I…not at the moment Doctor: Is there any trouble?"

""No-no, not at all, Olga; it's just that I was hoping that Alpha could help me with an errand. That is, if you don't have anything planned for him."

"Perhaps later, Doctor; but not at the present time."

"I see, let me know of your plans and I will assure you that Alpha is free."

"Thank you; Giacomo," Olga said managing half a smile.

As she watched Dr. Giacomo Gianncomo walk away with Alpha at his side, a sudden chill crawled up Olga's spine. Noticing that Giacomo's hands remained behind him instead of reaching out for the child as he had done so many times before; an air of apprehension surrounded Olga. Dismissing the notion as her coming down from the emotional onslaught she allowed of herself; Olga took Alpha's tray along with her own to the nearest garbage receptacle. Thinking that she needed a distraction, Olga decided that the remaining day might be better spent at the shooting range.


"So," Alpha started as he lifted another box into Giacomo's Lancia Delta Integrale. "Why are we moving boxes again?"

"These," Giacomo stated as he hefted another unmarked case into a small trailer nearby," are going to the new compound in Rome."

"…Why Rome?" Alpha asked after thinking on it for a moment. "Wouldn't we be at risk of exposure?"

"Apparently the higher ups think that hiding what you do is a good idea when done out in the open."

"…Oh," Alpha managed as he attempted to rationalize the decision.

"Now come, help me finish this and we'll take a small detour on the way there."

"A detour; where to Giacomo?"

"To a very special place…for both of us."

For the next hour, Alpha and Dr. Gianncomo carried boxes into the trailer, filling it to capacity. After attaching the secured trailer to the Lancia; Giacomo was quick to leave the compound as he sped towards Lake Mezzano.


-Approximately one hour later-

Fernando Bianchi ran throughout the administration building asking but one question. Quickly running out of options, Bianchi finally burst into the break lounge for the administrative assistants. Looking at the women within the small room with a glare laced with panic; Bianchi asked, "Where's Giacomo?"

All six of the women in the room gave Bianchi their full attention, if only to grant the doctor a blank look. Taking their silence as his answer, Bianchi took the elevator to the top floor. Upon arrival, Bianchi marched right past the receptionist.

"We have a situation," Bianchi nearly yelled as he entered the Director's office.

"…Bianchi?" Director Lorenzo asked, angry at the sudden intrusion.

"He has everything; the lab results, the trial samples, the corroborating research…everything!"

"Who…?" Lorenzo asked as he stood to march out the door.

"Giacomo…Dr. Giacomo Gianncomo."

"Whatever he has cannot possibly be much," Lorenzo stated as he picked up his phone to dial the front gate. "I personally saw to it that his new security clearance would be restricted."

"But the archives," Bianchi said as he planted his hands on Lorenzo's desk. "We never locked him out of the damned archives!"

"…My God," Lorenzo managed as intense panic set in.

A moment later; front gate security answered Director Lorenzo's call, "Front entrance, Emilio speaking."

"Emilio; this is Chief Director, Giacomo Lorenzo."

"Sir," Emilio simply stated as his tone immediately became more rigid. "What can I do for you, sir?"

"Have you seen Dr. Gianncomo leave the premises?"

"Yes, sir; I have. Approximately one hour to an hour and a half ago. He left in his Lancia with a trailer attached."

Switching the receiver to speakerphone; Lorenzo continued to speak as he put on his suit jacket, "Did he mention where he was going?"

"He said something about showing the boy around Rome, sir."

"…Boy?"

"Subject Zero was with him, sir."

Hitting the END button on his desk phone in passing, Director Lorenzo dialed a short sequence on his mobile.

"Mr. Croce," Lorenzo commanded.

"Director;" Jean answered. "Are you calling to check on the progress?"

"No, I need whatever you can give me. We have a Code: Abel, I repeat; a Code: Abel."

"What are your orders, sir?"

"I need road blocks on all major roads going to and from Rome with patrols on the smaller outlying roads."

"Yes; sir," Jean replied.

"Give me an immediate halt on every ferry, train, and aircraft outbound from Italy."

"Yes, sir, but I am not sure for how long I can maintain the halt without alerting the other agencies."

"Maintain it for as long as you can. Also I want notices sent out to every possible Agency and law enforcement body to look for a white early nineties Lancia Integrale. Tell them that a convicted molester has one of the Vatican's choir boys. That should alert them enough and still keep it out of the press."

"I'm on it, sir; anything else?"

"Yes; do not, I repeat, do not harm Giacomo and especially not the boy."

"Yes, sir; Dr. Gianncomo and Subject Zero are not to be harmed."

The elevator arrived just as Director Lorenzo ended the call on his mobile. When he arrived outside of the main building's lobby, his mobile rang once more.

"Go ahead," Lorenzo said stepping into the sedan waiting for him.

"Director Lorenzo of the Chrysalis Foundation?" a stern voice asked on the other end.

"Yes, what is it?"

"This is the Polizia de Stato; we have a bead on your BOLO."

"Where…and when?"

"Approximately fifteen minutes ago his Integrale was seen entering the private campground area of Lake Mezzano."

"Thank you," L:orenzo added before ending the call. Dialing another number, Lorenzo waited for Jean to answer.

"Sir," Jean retorted.

"Mr. Croce, we have a change of plans. I want everything we have sent to Lake Mezzano."

"Do we have a confirmed sighting?"

"Not one hundred percent, but I have a hunch."

"I understand, sir."

"Leave the other Agencies with their orders. I don't want any prying eyes if this gets…dirty."


Standing at the shore of Lake Mezzano, Alpha threw another flat stone and watched it skip before it disappeared into the blackness of the evening dusk. Approaching him from behind, Giacomo softly placed his hands on Alpha's shoulders. Jumping at first; Alpha quickly leaned into the good Doctor's warm embrace.

Breathing slow and deliberately; Giacomo spoke softly, "Do you remember child? Do you remember when we first came here?"

"Yeah…I do; we caught so many fish that first day."

"And we even discussed the why in regards to the shapes of the constellations. What is it I said that made you laugh? …Oh yes, I remember…."

"Who doesn't like to play connect the dots every once in a while?" Giacomo and Alpha said in unison.

A hint of a chuckle escaped Alpha's lips and in the next moment, the air suddenly became silent as he and Giacomo stared into the night sky. After a time, Alpha stepped away from Giacomo before turning to look at him.

"…Giacomo?" Alpha asked looking deeply into his eyes. "Was it supposed to be this way?"

Gazing at the child before him, Giacomo was at a complete loss for words. Alpha continued to stare at Giacomo awaiting an answer. Then suddenly, Alpha could smell smoke coming from the trees. Soon after, a faint red glow could be seen. Obeying the trained instincts that had become as second nature; Alpha ran though the trees toward the rising glow. Making a feeble attempt to keep up with Alpha; Dr. Gianncomo cursed his age as he did so.

Arriving at the clearing where Giacomo's Lancia sat; the scene that greeted Alpha was one of complete shock. Giacomo's Lancia Integrale, along with the attached trailer, was completely engulfed in flames.

"Giacomo…!" Alpha called. Hearing the old man approaching; he called again, "Giacomo, your car is on fire!"

"…I know," Giacomo answered solemnly after catching his breath.

"B…but," Alpha stammered as he divided his attention between Giacomo and the inferno.

"Just let it burn, bambino; just let it burn."

Glancing at Giacomo on last time, Alpha then turned toward the flaming vehicle.

Reaching into his left pocket, Giacomo felt the cold weight of the small .44 caliber revolver.

"Joaquin Solomon, it's his name."

Mounting his finger within the trigger guard, Giacomo pulled the gun from his pocket and brandished it at his side. With great reluctance Giacomo aimed the barrel and leveled it against the back of Alpha's head.

"Because you are all I have, Giacomo."

Taking slow and deep breaths, Giacomo tried in vain to hold his hand steady. Every time he held his breath in anticipation of squeezing the trigger, Giacomo could hear the boy's laughter. It had been so long since Alpha's laughter had reached his ears.

With tears filling the wizened lines of his face, Giiacomo shut his eyes as he lowered the revolver.

"…Agent Alpha!" Giacomo yelled at the boy.

Standing upright almost immediately; Alpha answered, "Sir," his body acting on reflex to the command. Only a moment later did Alpha wonder of Giacomo's command.

"Listen and listen well," Giacomo began, for these are the only orders I shall issue and I will not issue them again. I expect them to be followed to the letter. Do you understand, Agent Alpha?"

"Yes, sir; Doctor," Alpha once more answered on reaction.

"Your orders…your orders are to," Giacomo said as his voice began to break. "Your orders are to escape from that wretched place by however means you can. Upon your escape, you are to live. Live….as best you can…my bambino."

With his last phrase, Giacomo could no longer contain his emotion as his will had been set.

"No child, it wasn't supposed to be this way. By heaven, it wasn't supposed to be this way."

"Giacomo…?"

"I…" Giacomo tried as he attempted to catch his breath. "I'm sorry…I'm so very sorry…but I'll never let this happen again. Bambino…please; forgive me…"

Looking back, Alpha turned just in time to hear Giacomo's revolver fire.


Some time later; Director Lorenzo and Dr. Bianchi arrived with a cadre of SISDE agents. Sprinting into the small clearing, Bianchi was the first to react to the burning wreck that had formally been Giacomo's Lancia and rented trailer.

"No!" Binachi yelled in futility. "Put it out, somebody, please!"

As Bianchi screamed orders to whoever was closest, Lorenzo walked to where he saw the boy. As Lorenzo approached Alpha, he discovered the scene that the boy couldn't take his eyes off of; Dr. Gianncomo had taken his own life.

"Agent Alpha," Lorenzo called, yet he received no response.

Alpha felt the need to cry, to wail, to mourn the man who had become as a father to him. However, the only comprehension his young mind held was a parade of endless screaming; a symphony of shattered glass that he would not be able to rid himself of, for some time to come.