Dedication: To my friend Jessie without whose help this would not have been possible and to my friend Roger whose patience allowed me to write when I should have been working.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This is an amateur publication intended solely for the entertainment of its readers. It is not intended to infringe on the rights held by ABC, Columbia Pictures, Henerson & Hirsch Productions, or anyone else.
By Desertgal (c) 1987
"How was the meal?"
Paul looked up at the man from where he sat on the edge of the bed. He was of average height, very thin, with blond hair and blue eyes. He was younger than most of the keepers in this place and really seemed to care, but the white coat and ring of keys were the signs of his authority. This young man was part of the organization which was controlling Paul's life and the life of his son.
"The same as always. Everything tastes the same in here. Everything smells the same, everything looks the same, everything is always the same." In the six months since he and Scott had been brought to this place all Paul had seen were white walls and people in white coats. His rooms were white, the corridors were white, and the exam rooms were white. There were no windows and the lights were never turned off. Paul had been able to count the days by the cycle of the meals.
"It's not really that bad, is it?" Andy looked into the man's eyes as Paul Forrester stared at him with that intense, penetrating, far-away look which always made Andy feel so uncomfortable. Paul Forrester was tall, muscular, handsome, and appeared to be in his late thirties. Andy had always felt there was something odd about this man but he didn't seem to be dangerous enough to require so much security.
Andy took the tray from the table and called the control room. Entering and leaving the detention rooms was no easy task. The inner door had a combination lock worked by the control room personnel and a very sophisticated double key lock. One key on the right side of the door and the other on the left side had to be turned simultaneously. The secondary door had a different combination lock, also worked from the control room, and a hand print lock. The final door into the hall contained a voice activated lock and a card lock. The card lock was worked from a location in the hall by a person who came from the control room just before the card was needed.
The combination used in the card lock was changed on a random basis. The door lock combinations were changed every time someone entered and left. The voice and hand print activation data were stored in the validation file just prior to the entry by the authorized person. The storage wouldn't occur if the prints were not on file in the master security computer. After they were used to leave the room the prints were deleted. All the doors locked as they closed and the next door in sequence wouldn't open if the previous door wasn't locked. It wasn't possible to reach two doors at the same time.
Andy wasn't sure why these two people, one of them just a boy, required such tight security, but he never asked because one thing he'd learned quickly was to never ask questions about the people detained. The extra money he received for the work here was a much needed supplement to his income from the hospital cafeteria. The Federal Security Agency maintained this center for detention and interrogation of all types of people. Andy had worked in the center during the five years it had been open but this was the first time he'd seen all the security measures used.
The total physical restraint Paul had experienced during the first months of his captivity had gradually been relaxed. The regimen of physical and psychological testing, which had once been almost constant, now occurred with much less frequency. After several weeks of having only flimsy hospital gowns to wear, Paul had finally been given normal clothing.
While his living conditions were somewhat better, Paul's whole world still was no larger than an average motel room. The main room contained a bed, table, two chairs and a bookcase. The TV, VCR, and cassette player had been provided during the last week. Every inch of the main room and the bathroom were constantly monitored by video and audio equipment. The only privacy Paul had was in his mind and most often his thoughts were of his son.
It pained Paul to think of Scott. He hadn't seen him at any time during the months of captivity, however he was certain Scott was close and was being treated in a similar manner. Paul's direct questions about his son had gone unanswered. He had only been told Scott hadn't been harmed during the capture.
Paul's own injuries had healed. Fox hadn't let him use the sphere to treat the burns but the body he inhabited had finally healed. It seemed certain part of the treatment given him by the doctors was pure experimentation. What did these people want from him? They poked and prodded and tested and experimented. They asked questions but didn't seem to believe his answers. Why were humans so certain they had the answers to everything? It was getting very hard to maintain a positive attitude.
Scott was pacing the room. His food lay untouched on the tray as he kept reliving the scene in the classroom. If only he'd been more proficient in the use of the sphere maybe things would've worked out differently. Something had tipped him off that day about the men who were talking to his teacher. He didn't know if it was a sixth sense because of the months of being a fugitive or if it was something he'd inherited from his father, but he knew they were from the FSA.
The other students were just glad the lecture had stopped so they could talk with each other. Jerry nudged Scott. "Are you going to the game with me tonight?"
Scott didn't take his eyes off the men as he said, "I'd planned on it".
"Are you going to take Cindy?"
But Scott was no longer listening. Ball games, girl friends and school dances didn't seem so important at the moment. He reached into his pocket and removed the sphere. There were two doors to the classroom and he wanted to distract the men long enough to make his way out the back door without being seen. The task would've been easier if he hadn't been seated so close to the middle of the room. Scott would have liked to create the illusion of a person moving out of the door but knew he didn't have the ability so instead he concentrated on making an empty desk fall in the front corner of the room.
"What's the marble for? Aren't you a little old for toys?" When Scott didn't answer Jerry moved closer so he could see better. He watched as the silver marble seemed to get transparent in Scott's hand. "What's happening?"
As the sphere returned to a solid silver color Scott turned to him angrily. "Please leave me alone! I have to do this."
Scott turned back to look at the marble in his hand and Jerry watched as the sphere first became transparent, glowed white and then blue. He took a step back and tripped over his desk. Everyone looked up at the noise. When the agents saw the blue glow coming from Scott's hand they leaped in his direction.
It was too late to create a diversion. Jerry had seen to that. Scott headed for the back of the room but students were out of their seats and the going was difficult. Everyone was trying to see what was happening. Scott reached the back door just as it opened and two more agents appeared. The men flanked him, gripping his arms in their hands. Scott kicked and jerked in a desperate attempt to get free. During the struggle he dropped the sphere which had been clutched tightly in his fist. The first two men walked up behind him and clamped his wrists into handcuffs behind his back. The room was in an uproar as students were climbing over each other to try to get a better view. The teacher was spluttering this couldn't be done in her classroom and everyone was talking at once.
Jerry saw Scott's silver marble come rolling across the floor. He crawled under several desks, around legs, and over piles of books to retrieve it. He hesitated about touching it but the teacher was coming down the aisle toward the commotion at the back of the room so he grabbed the marble and pushed it deep into his pants pocket. Somehow he knew it would be important to Scott.
After Scott had been restrained by the four men and the handcuffs, George Fox entered the room. Scott's eyes blazed in recognition and hatred. He thought of his father.
"Have you taken it from him?" demanded Fox.
"Not yet Mr. Fox. We just got him subdued." The agent shrunk away from this short intense man who was his boss.
"Well what are you waiting for? Do you want him to use it?"
The first agent reached for Scott's pockets. Scott aimed a loose foot at a strategic location and doubled the man over. They weren't going to take him without a fight.
Fox grabbed Scott's legs and pinned them. "Take everything from his pockets, now!" A second man began to remove the items. When everything was on the desk Fox released his grasp. "Where is it? I know he has it on him somewhere. Look in his desk."
The man whom Scott had kicked was finally recovering and told Fox about seeing the blue glow just before Scott had bolted for the door.
Fox looked at the boy as he said, "He must've dropped it or given it to someone. Search this room and all the students."
Mrs. Anderson had finally worked her way to the back of the room. "Now wait a minute. This is my classroom and you can't come in here acting like storm troopers. What gives you the authority to search these young people? What are you doing with Scott? He's a good boy."
"Miss, uh ..."
"It's Mrs. Anderson."
"Mrs. Anderson, I'm George Fox with the Federal Security Agency. This boy is wanted in connection with an extremely sensitive government matter. He will not be harmed but I must insist upon searching everything in this room until we find an important piece of evidence."
Jerry listened to this exchange and realized he had the object they wanted. Being a very shy young man, he didn't know what to do. Scott had become his friend during the short time he'd been in the class and since Jerry didn't make friends easily he felt a great loyalty to Scott. Jerry was shunned by most of his classmates because he was short, overweight, wore glasses and made good grades. He couldn't imagine what these men would want with Scott but didn't believe his friend had done anything bad enough to deserve this treatment.
Jerry went back to his desk and stared down at it. An idea started to form. If he could only get the leg loose from the desk top, the marble would fit inside. A brief glance in the direction of the men told him they would be busy arguing with Mrs. Anderson for a while yet. He dropped to his knees and looked at the bolts holding the leg in place. It wasn't going to come loose easily.
Jerry heard the one called Fox say, "I'm not going to leave until I have what I came for. Is that clear Mrs. Anderson?" The short man who was in charge seemed to dominate the whole room. It was apparent just hiding the marble wouldn't work as he didn't appear to be the type who would give up easily.
Jerry began to look around the classroom. Since several subjects were taught here maybe he could find something to exchange for the object. He moved slowly towards the supply cabinets at the side of the room. The first one was always locked but the others contained equipment used in the physics, chemistry, and engineering classes. After looking towards the group at the back of the room he started searching through each cabinet.
He'd almost given up when he found what he was looking for in the bottom of the physics cabinet. Jerry wasn't sure exactly how the device worked but he'd seen it demonstrated at the science fair. One of the seniors had talked about measuring acceleration due to gravity or something like that. It consisted of a metal plate and a steel ball bearing. Jerry looked toward the back of the room before he removed the ball bearing and quietly closed the door.
The argument between Mrs. Anderson and the government man had reached a fever pitch. Three of the agents held a still struggling Scott against the wall.
Jerry heard Mrs. Anderson saying, "This is the United States of America. You're not going to search these children or this room without the proper authorization. Do you have a search warrant? You do know what that is don't you?"
"I'm working on something so important to national security..." A movement near the center of the room caught Fox's eye. "What do you have there?"
Jerry had made his way back to Scott's desk and was bending down to place the ball bearing on the floor. The man was on top of him and had grabbed his arm before he could drop it. "Is this what you're looking for?"
Jerry watched as George Fox grabbed the bearing, looked at it for a heart stopping moment and then placed it in a small plastic container. Jerry stole a look at Scott and saw the hurt in his face. His only friend thought he'd betrayed him to these awful men. If only he'd been able to get the bearing onto the floor without being seen but at least Jerry had the satisfaction of knowing the real marble was safe in his pocket. When Scott came back to class he would give it to him and explain.
Andy really felt sorry for the boy. He knew what it was like to be separated from a parent because his mother had been in and out of the hospital many times during his childhood. Then one day she went back and didn't come home. But now he had to stop thinking about that and put on a happy face before he entered Scott's room. Scott seemed to be an average teenager who needed a friend and Andy was trying to be that friend.
"You must not have been hungry."
"I guess not." Scott stopped walking and watched Andy.
"Are you sure you won't eat something? If you don't eat they'll force you and that isn't pleasant." Andy knew how the staff worked and didn't want Scott to face the indignity and pain of tube feeding.
"They can't make me eat."
"Well, OK. But don't skip too many meals." He tried to sound cheerful as he asked, "Would you like to play cards or talk for a while? It must be hard having no one to talk with except the doctors and the interrogators."
"Isn't that against the rules? I thought you said before you couldn't tell me anything. Where's my father? Is he all right? Why can't I see him?" Scott lashed out at Andy because he was hurt and angry.
"Scott, I can't talk about your father. There are some things we can't discuss, but that doesn't mean I can't be your friend."
Actually, Andy had been surprised when he'd been called into the director's office and asked if he would talk to Scott as a friend. It had always been strict policy that the support staff never communicated with any detainee. The FSA dealt with national security matters and it seemed very odd Mr. Fox wanted a kitchen worker without a top clearance to talk to a high security prisoner. Andy knew all the rooms were wired for sight and sound and anything which was said would be recorded and analyzed. This was likely just the director's way to get the boy to talk in a more relaxed situation. That bothered Andy, but it was overcome by the deep feeling Scott needed to talk to someone. What could this young boy say that would be so bad?
"Just leave me alone." Scott still remembered seeing Jerry give his sphere to Fox and was in no mood to try to make friends with anyone.
The researcher was back to ask more questions. She was a pretty young woman with skin the color of chocolate and short black hair which framed her face. Paul had seen some of the great variety of human races during his short time on earth and it amazed him how one people could come in so many shapes and colors. Everyone seemed so different and yet alike at the same time. He had observed fear and anger between the races and didn't understand. Weren't these all one people? Why did they hate each other just because they looked different? Why did they hate and fear him because he was different? All he wanted to do was find Jenny and reunite his family. Family, that was a human institution. He really was becoming more and more human all the time.
"Do you remember me? My name is Doctor Ely."
"Yes. You're the one who asks questions about my home."
"We want to understand why you're here. What are your intentions toward the human race? What special abilities do you have? One way to get these answers is to find out what your people are like."
"I have told you before, my world is different. We do not have the variety of people, languages, laws and religions you do. We do not have the wars and conflicts which plague your world. Everything and everyone on my world works together for the peaceful acquisition of knowledge about ourselves and the universe. We are a race of scientists and teachers. We send space craft to study different species all over the universe in an attempt to learn. There are no hidden motives behind this activity. We simply want knowledge for the sake of having knowledge. We pass this knowledge to future generations so they can build upon it. The greatest joy my people have is to learn something no one else has ever known before."
"That all sounds very noble. Do you mean to say you have no plans for conquest? Aren't there any dissenting voices among your people? Is everyone so alike there are no individual thoughts?"
"My people are very much alike, but we are individuals. Conquest of another species gains no knowledge which cannot be gained through peaceful means. If a species is warlike, primitive or violent we observe from a distance. When a species appears to be compatible with our way of thinking we sometimes make contact. Such contact is very rare."
"How do we rate in the universe?"
"You are a very primitive species, but very interesting."
"Why did you contact us if we are so primitive?"
"You know that was not my choice. My space craft was disabled by your military. I learned to care for Jenny Hayden during the time I inhabited her husband's body. I did not mean for it to happen. Now that I'm back, I'm becoming more and more human all the time. The feelings and sensations which this body feels are very powerful. We have nothing like this, although it is possible we did have such feelings in the ancient past. Jenny Hayden taught me to love. Love is something all my people could understand because it is the most wonderful thing about humans."
"What do you mean?"
"We do not have love in the same way you do. Every being cares deeply for every other being. If my people knew individual love as you do, I think it would be good. Our ability to care would encompass and envelope those feelings for the individual without loss of the caring for everyone as a whole."
"Do you mean to say there are no conflicts of any kind on your world?"
"It is a mystery to me how the people on your planet can care for someone who is like them, but hate and kill someone who is different. Can you explain that? I want so much to understand."
"I'm supposed to be asking the questions."
"You ask the questions, but you do not listen to my answers." Paul turned away from her and sat in silence. She would get nothing more from him today. He had wanted to ask about Scott but knew she would only give him the same answers he had been getting for months. Why wouldn't they let him see his son?
Paul had many books and tapes in his room but he spent most of his time trying to understand how he and Scott came to be in such a mess. Why hadn't he sensed the presence of the agents? Had he become complacent because they'd eluded Fox so often? The town had been good for both of them. Scott was making friends in school and Paul had a steady job as a burger cook at the Jolly Roger Burger Factory. It wasn't an easy job, or a high paying one, but he made enough money for the basics. Photography jobs weren't easy to get in such a small town. They'd landed here after a particularly close call and needed money and rest. During the many hours when Paul was alone he often thought of his last day of freedom.
"Paul, there's a customer who wants to see you." It was the noon rush and he couldn't understand why the manager was calling him away from the grill. Paul wiped his hands and made his way to the counter.
Celeste hoped her anger didn't show as she said, "Well, it is you Paul. I've been watching you from the counter for several minutes but couldn't be sure."
Paul looked at the dark-haired young woman standing in front of him. She was nearly as tall as he was, but looked very fragile and feminine. Her green eyes stared into his as she waited for his answer. "Yeah, it's me."
"This really is a coincidence. I didn't think I'd ever see you again after you dumped me in St. Louis. What are you doing working here? Hiding from something?"
It was that old problem again, someone from Forrester's past. By the sound of this woman's voice she didn't really care a lot for him. Dumped was a pretty harsh word. It probably meant Forrester had a fling with her and then left town.
"Yeah, you know me, always hiding from something." He chuckled.
"Or someone. I just wanted to say hello. I know you'll never change, but we did have some good times didn't we?"
"We sure did. I have to get back to work now. It's been nice seeing you." Paul was relieved to see the woman wave and leave the restaurant smiling. He'd gotten out of that painlessly and didn't feel any threat. His job and safety were still secure here.
Celeste went straight to the police station. Paul Forrester had taken a $5000.00 advance from her and never completed the photo job he'd started. Forrester never kept his word about anything so it didn't really surprise her but she didn't like losing so much money. The policeman she'd been talking to didn't seem to believe her story.
Officer Williams looked up from the paper on his desk as he asked, "Miss Harbert, what proof do you have this man took your money?"
"I don't have anything with me, but just look up his name in your police computer. When he took the money five years ago, I filed a complaint with the St. Louis police. It should still be listed."
The policeman doubted the woman's story but he had to follow through on the report. She'd said Forrester was an award winning photographer so it seemed unlikely he would be wanted for a robbery in St. Louis. Officer Williams decided the easiest way out of the situation was to access the NCIC network and show the woman there was nothing on Forrester. When the inquiry came back with a Priority One message to call the Federal Security Agency, Officer Williams began to take Celeste Harbert seriously.
The call which Officer Williams placed to the FSA office was rerouted through to the radio in George Fox's car and he received the call while only a few miles from the town. Fox and his men had been working a grid search since losing the alien a few weeks before. It was so frustrating always to be just one step behind them. Now that he had some manpower, George Fox was doing a systematic search outward from the last sighting so it didn't really surprise him a call would come from so close to his location.
"Mr. Fox, Paul Forrester has been sighted in a Jolly Roger Burger Factory here in town. Do you want us to apprehend him?"
"No. Don't move on him at all. Keep all law enforcement personnel away from the establishment. Don't even let any of your men go there to eat!"
"Oh. Okay. But do you need any assistance?" Officer Williams wondered why the man sounded so agitated.
"Yes. I'll be at your location in a short while. Please have a map ready showing the location of the local high school and the restaurant."
"The high school? Why?"
"I can't tell you that, just have the locations marked for me."
"Is that all? Why is this guy wanted by the FSA? Since when are you guys interested in a small-time thief?"
"Officer Williams, I can't tell you why he is wanted, but it's more significant than a petty theft. Please wait for my arrival."
Celeste Harbert left the police station after assurances Forrester would be apprehended. She was told to come back the next day to identify him. George Fox walked into the room just as she was leaving and never knew the person he abruptly brushed past had delivered the alien into his lap.
Paul had returned to the grill and become immersed in burgers, fries, and chicken patties. The lunch crowd was busy as usual and he didn't notice the four men who came into the kitchen area because they were wearing the Jolly Roger uniform. During the noon rush many people were always going to the storeroom in back for some item needed at the counter.
Paul first sensed something was wrong just as two of the men placed handcuffs on both his wrists and someone shackled his legs. He jerked to the left with the spatula still in his hand. The man holding the handcuffs on the right side almost lost his grip but managed to hang on. The sudden movement caused the whole group to fall forward onto the hot grill. Paul's arm and side were badly burned. One of the FSA agents was also injured but he managed to maintain his grip on the struggling Forrester. Both sets of handcuffs were finally clamped onto the wrists of the agents and Paul was spread-eagled between them.
George Fox didn't appear until Forrester had been subdued. He said nothing, as the look exchanged between the two of them said everything. He finally had the alien.
Paul winced in pain as the agents began to move him away from the grill. The whole Jolly Roger staff was watching the commotion as were most of the patrons. It was difficult for the agents to clear a path out of the kitchen area. Fox stopped them long enough to get the sphere from Paul's pocket. He knew the significance of that tiny orb.
"Please let me heal this burn. I can also help your man. He is hurt much worse than I."
"No. Do you think I'm some kind of fool?" George Fox held the sphere between his thumb and forefinger right in front of Paul for a brief moment. "I know that if I give you this, nothing will be able to hold you. You'll just have to wait on our poor human doctors to treat your injury."
Paul didn't try to struggle any longer. His arm and side hurt a lot. There was nothing he could do with so many men surrounding him. How had Fox managed to get so close with no warning? Would Scott be safe? Was there any way he could warn him? With that thought he passed out from the pain.
George Fox had the test results spread on his large desk. The physiological tests were all way outside of human norms but the results were similar to those obtained from Dr. Dukow after the alien had been treated for the cold. This seemed to indicate there were no major changes occurring in the body it inhabited. The young one's tests were not as unusual as the alien's but there were still many abnormalities.
The alien's psychological tests indicated a very peaceful, honest being. Fox knew that had to be an act. A creature who could travel across interstellar space would surely figure out a way to invalidate these tests. It wanted humans to believe it was not here to harm anyone. The results from the half alien boy were more what he expected. There was deep hatred and resentment indicated from all the standard tests.
So far he'd gotten nowhere in attempts to find out the alien's true motives for being on Earth. All that nonsense about being invited by the Voyager probe was just so much science fiction. The probe may have led it to us, but its motives couldn't be benign. It had said its people studied many other species in the universe and found humans very interesting. But what did it find interesting about us? Would we be easily conquered? Did they want our planet for its resources or did they want our people?
His speculation was interrupted by the arrival of Doctor Sarah Ely. Even though she was the head psychiatrist on this project he did not agree with most of her opinions.
"Come in Dr. Ely." Sarah noticed the reports on the desk as she took a seat. This man had been obsessed with the search for the alien for over fifteen years. She smiled inwardly as she wondered what might be found in a psychological profile of George Fox.
Sarah took a deep breath before she began, "Mr. Fox, our methods don't seem to be getting us any closer to the answers you want. The alien insists he came only to observe our planet and had no intention of making contact."
"It, Dr. Ely, not he. Do you really believe that? Why would it come back?"
Sarah didn't understand her boss. Fox knew why the alien came back better than anyone on earth. Paul's feelings for Jenny and now his son had brought him back to a world where he knew he would be in danger. Fox wouldn't accept the fact the alien could care for someone. She couldn't make Fox see Paul was a much better person than a lot of humans. Fox didn't approve of the staff using words like 'he' and 'person' to describe the alien but she couldn't bring herself to call that gentle, kind being in the cell down the hall a creature or an 'it' except when she had to.
"I would like to change my line of questioning. There are so many things he... er, it could teach us. We need to be asking about the spacecraft. Where is it? He wasn't shot down when he came back this time so it's still out there intact. What type of propulsion does it use? Can we adapt the technology for our use? How do they manage to travel across light years of space? They have to have solved the problem of faster-than-light travel. Their social system is much ..."
"Enough, Dr. Ely! These questions are important. I'm not unaware of the great intelligence which propelled this creature across the universe. If we're to believe what it says, this isn't their first visit to our planet. I want to know what they did on all those previous trips. We have to try something different to get it to cooperate. How's the questioning of the boy proceeding?"
"Scott is unable to tell us much of anything about his father. He's just learning about these things himself. It's apparent there are abilities which he's discovering but we've stifled that. Without contact with his father Scott cannot learn and grow to his full potential."
"You mean it can't develop all of its alien powers."
"I guess you could put it that way. Would you agree to allowing them to be together? We could learn by observing their interaction. The creature would talk to its offspring about things it never would discuss with us."
"No, Dr. Ely. I don't want interaction except as a last resort. I have another plan. We'll take the boy to the intensive interrogation room and put the alien in the observation area. Then we'll have Cramer work on the boy while the alien watches. If it won't talk to us after seeing what is being done to its offspring we'll know two things. First, its intentions are not innocent, and second, it really can have no feelings for another being."
Sarah was aghast. Intensive interrogation was the euphemism used by the FSA when it wanted someone tortured.
"But Mr. Fox, Cramer is an expert in torture. Why would you want him to question the boy?"
"Don't argue with me, just do it. Now go."
Sarah knew she couldn't stand by and let Scott be harmed, but she didn't know what to do. She was in deep thought as she left George Fox's office. He was her boss but that didn't make him right.
Sarah made her way down the silent corridors to the main data center. This building was always quiet. There were never many subjects being detained at one time so the staff was small. The complex itself was several stories underground with three foot thick walls made of reinforced concrete. There were no outside noises even though they were in the center of Bethesda directly under part of the hospital.
Sarah sometimes questioned why she worked for the FSA. Her practice in the hospital was rewarding and she spent much of her spare time as a volunteer in a home for disturbed teens. The FSA recruiting had talked about the patriotism of working for one's government but it really was an unsavory job. Most of the subjects were espionage agents, criminals or worse, but the Forrester case was different. He and his son were decent people and didn't deserve to be treated this way. Sarah truly believed they were good people even though she knew the truth about both of them.
It took a little talking to get past the guard at the door of the data center. She had access to anything in the room so it wasn't a question of her being unauthorized to see the data, it was just out of the ordinary for a staff person to want to go into the room. Normally Sarah would request information and it would be delivered to her office but this time she didn't want anyone to know what she was doing. Actually, Sarah wasn't really sure what she needed or wanted. There had to be something in all the data which had been collected in the past months which would help her get Paul and his son out of this place.
She stopped at that thought. Was that really what she was doing here? Did she want to help them escape or just keep Scott from being tortured? It didn't matter at this point. She needed something that would help.
All the data which had been collected on the alien was stored in this data center. There were technical reports on 617W. The spacecraft had been recovered relatively intact and much data had been collected. There was the analysis of the makeup of the sphere. She knew virtually nothing about the item except it seemed very important to the alien. No one had been able to determine how it functioned. She didn't see much help in these items.
There were stacks and stacks of video-taped interviews made of the people who had known Paul and Scott in the town where they had been captured. There were even a few tapes made of others who had known them in other places. She would start by watching these.
Scott was angry. He didn't know whether to be angry with his captors, his father, his mother, Jerry, or himself. He just knew if he were a normal teenager he wouldn't be in this room alone. Why would his mother want to give birth to an alien's child? Didn't she know what it would be like for him? But then he realized there would be no 'him' if he didn't have the father he did. He was angry with himself for being angry with his parents. In his heart he was proud of what he was but it was just so hard knowing he was like no other person in the universe. Even though his father was an alien on this world, somewhere out in the cosmos there was a whole planet of beings like him, but there was no being anywhere in the universe with the same mixed heritage of Scott Hayden.
It was easier to be angry with Jerry. Why had he given the sphere to Fox? Of course he had no way of knowing the significance of it but still he thought Jerry was his friend. One of the researchers had told him it was just a normal ball bearing but Scott was sure that had to be a trick to get him to tell them how it worked. That was a laugh since Scott didn't know how it worked. They wanted him to tell where the real one was hidden. It just didn't make any sense. His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Andy with his evening meal.
"How're you feeling tonight?"
Scott raised himself to a sitting position on the edge of the bed. "How do you think I feel? I want to get out of here where I can run in the sunshine. I want to go to a ball game and a dance. I want to talk to a friend."
"I've told you I'll be your friend."
"Oh yeah, I know how that works. You get my confidence and then I tell you everything."
"No Scott. I don't even know why you're here."
Scott leaped from the bed and walked over to Andy. "Oh you don't? You don't know my father is from another world! You don't know I'm half like him! You don't know we'll never be set free just because of what we are! Give me a break!"
Andy was shocked. This he didn't expect. He knew both subjects were seen by a psychiatrist almost daily, but never suspected Scott had such delusions. He didn't act crazy, but could that be why he was being kept here? What interest would the FSA have in a psychotic teenager? What was Paul's mental state? He had sensed something very different about Paul but Scott seemed to be a normal teenage boy. He decided to say nothing about what Scott had said. The director wanted him to get Scott's confidence and to start by doubting what he said wouldn't be a good beginning.
"Really, I didn't know these things until you just told me. I work in the kitchen. I was given permission to talk to you because you seem lonely. I'm a student at the university and I'm not really that much older than you. We really aren't that different."
"Hah! Didn't you hear what I just said." Scott turned and walked across the room. When he reached the far wall he turned to face Andy before continuing. "There's no one like me anywhere in the universe. I'm not human and I'm not like my father."
"I do sense a great emptiness in both you and your father."
At the mention of his father, Scott again approached Andy. "You've seen my father? Is he OK?"
"Yes, I've seen your father. He's fine, but I cannot tell you more. Please don't ask. Let's talk about other things. Tell me about your school. Did you have any friends there?"
Scott wanted to resist but he needed to talk to someone so badly he began to pour out the anger he felt at Jerry. He didn't reveal any information that would help Fox or the government but it helped to talk to someone close to his own age. Before long he and Andy were talking as if they'd known each other for many months.
Sarah awoke with a start. She didn't remember falling asleep. The tape was still playing in the VCR and a young boy was being interviewed by George Fox.
"Now son, just tell me what you know about Scott Hayden. Were you a friend of his?"
"Scott's my friend. What did you do to him? Why isn't he in school?" Jerry looked very small sitting across the table from Fox.
"I can't tell you everything, but Scott hasn't been harmed. I need to know what you saw in class yesterday."
"I saw your goons tackle my friend and take him away." Jerry had turned away from the camera, but Sarah was sure he was almost in tears.
"Jerry, tell me about the silver sphere. The one I took from you isn't the real thing. Where is it?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes you do. Did Scott give it to you? You'll be in serious trouble young man if I don't get that sphere. Now tell me where it is." The boy cowered into his chair and began to whimper.
Sarah shouted at the image on the screen, "Fox, you bastard!" She quickly looked around to see if anyone had heard. Fortunately at this late hour the room was empty.
The sphere which had been taken the day Scott was captured apparently wasn't the genuine item and Fox seemed very determined to find the real thing. It had to be important and powerful.
Sarah needed to learn more about the significance of the spheres. She searched the technical data but found very little useful information. The one which had been taken from Paul was being kept in the secure lab. Since she didn't have access to that part of the building, a direct approach was out of the question. Fox was convinced the boy had Scott's sphere. It would seem the best hope for Paul and his son would be for Sarah to get the sphere from Scott's very loyal friend.
As Sarah left the room, she pondered how to accomplish the task. Jerry wasn't going to give the sphere to a government official. Fox had seen to that by badgering the boy so badly. Sarah needed to be able to get Scott to tell Jerry to give the sphere to her but that wouldn't be easy. Scott hadn't been very cooperative in any of their interviews. He didn't trust anyone.
As Sarah walked past the bank of surveillance monitors on her way out of the building she stopped in amazement. Scott was talking to Andy like a long lost brother. Maybe, she'd found a way.
The next morning Sarah waited for Andy in the parking garage outside the bugged walls of the complex. "Andy, do you remember me? We met outside Scott's room one day."
Andy stopped and looked up to see who was speaking and was startled to see one of the doctors. He was afraid his lengthy session with Scott the night before was going to get him in trouble. He did have the director's permission but the fantastic things which Scott had told him didn't seem to be something the FSA would want anyone to know.
"I think I remember you. You're the psychiatrist, right?"
"Yes, my name is Dr. Sarah Ely. I saw you on the monitor last night talking to the subject, Scott. He seems to trust you. Did Scott tell you why he and his father are being detained?"
Now Andy was sure he was in trouble. "He did say some pretty fantastic things. He must be very sick. I didn't believe most of what Scott said but I think he needed a friend, someone to talk to who wasn't trying to get information from him."
"Do you ...?" She stopped. Someone was coming up the walk. "We can't talk here. I need your help. Paul and Scott need your help. What Scott told you about what they are is the truth. Someone has to get them out of there, soon. I'll get back to you." She hurried to the elevator leaving Andy standing with his mouth open in amazement.
"But General Wade, what do you mean Cramer isn't available? I need him now." Fox's voice was controlled, but inside he was angry.
"I'm sorry, George, but he'll be working for another agency for a few days. You'll get him as soon as he's finished. Your alien isn't going anywhere, so just keep your shirt on."
The General had broken the connection and George Fox hung up the phone in anger. His plan was already falling apart. The one good report on his desk said the kitchen helper had talked to Scott most of the night. There was no substantive information revealed during the conversation, but it was an opening. Maybe now Scott would relax and start being more helpful.
"Please excuse the interruption, Dr. Ely. Now what were you saying?"
"Mr. Fox, I would like to interview the boy, Jerry, who's the good friend of Scott's. Maybe he can tell me something which will allow me to break into Scott's world. Andy's conversation was a good beginning but I need more."
"What makes you think you'll be more successful than I was doctor?"
"I'm a trained communicator. It's my job to find out what people are thinking."
"Do you think you can get him to tell you where he's hidden the sphere?"
Sarah looked startled. It wouldn't be good to admit too much knowledge about the object since it could compromise her plans. "I'm not fully aware of its significance, but if that is what you want me to discuss, I can try to make him comfortable enough to tell me."
"Very well then. I'll have your travel plans arranged. Is that all?"
"Well, actually no. I also would like to try some more written tests on both subjects. The first group was inconclusive. If I have a second I can correlate between them."
"I thought it was the consensus of your department the standardized tests would be of no value on alien subjects."
"Yes, I know, but I plan on trying something different."
"Very well, but you have only until Cramer is free. After that, the course of action is going to change."
"Yes sir." Sarah left the office with a new sense of urgency.
It hadn't taken much talking to convince Andy she was sincere and her plan was simple. The high tech surveillance would be circumvented by a method used in school rooms all over the country. But first she had to gain Paul's trust.
Paul felt a deep emptiness. In all the time he'd been on this world nothing matched this misery. His feelings for Scott were stronger than ever. He kept wondering if he hadn't come back, would Scott have been free? He had made Jenny so unhappy. He had destroyed any chance she had for a normal life. What kind of life could Scott have among this paranoid species? These were human feelings and emotions but Paul didn't recognize his own loneliness as being at their root. Everything he was feeling was so foreign. His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of one of the research people. It was the one called Ely.
"Hello Paul. We're going to do some written tests today. Please come to the table."
Sarah positioned herself so her back was to the camera. It was important there be no clear view of what was on the papers. Paul took the seat opposite her and folded his hands.
"I'm going to ask you a series of questions. Please write your answers as quickly as possible."
Paul looked down at the paper she was placing in front of him. It appeared to be blank but he could see very faint writing. Dr. Ely continued to talk as he began to read:
Erase this after you read it. I want to help you and Scott. Please believe me. I mean you no harm. We must get Scott's sphere from his friend but Scott will only trust you. Please write a note and give it to Andy.
Paul looked into Dr. Ely's eyes. She seemed to be sincere but there was only one way to tell with certainty. He moved slightly and bumped the table. As both of them bent down to retrieve the papers and pencils Paul's hand brushed the back of Dr. Ely's. He managed to grasp it for a moment and stare into her eyes. He felt her shiver slightly. The contact had been brief but finally a small ray of hope had entered Paul's lonely world.
It seemed like the time for the evening meal would never come. Paul felt more hope now than at any time during all the months of captivity. He'd always been able to protect and defend his son but the months in this place were taking their toll. The depression he felt was as foreign to him as was the love he'd felt for Jenny.
Finally he heard the doors begin to open. Paul tried to act cheerful as he asked, "What's for dinner? Something good I hope, I'm starved."
"It's more of the same." Andy didn't make small talk and Paul sensed his fear. Was there a problem? The encounter was too brief to be certain.
It wasn't too difficult for Paul to write a message on the napkin. The camera was constantly on him, but he'd made sure there were lots of papers on the table before the meal was served. He continued to write while eating and by doing a little shuffling managed to write his son a message. Paul hoped Scott would believe it came from him.
The pickup of the note from Paul was simple. Andy put the napkin into his palm until he had his back to the cameras and then a slight body movement concealed the action of slipping it into his pocket. It would've been simpler just to hold it, but he couldn't work the door locks if he kept it in his hand. The short walk up the hall between the two rooms seemed much longer than it was. Andy was sure someone had seen him pick up the note and would be coming for him at any minute.
As Andy entered Scott's room it was obvious Scott didn't want to talk. Andy began to sweat. He didn't have to pretend as he took the napkin from his pocket and wiped his face. He placed it on the bed beside Scott making sure the writing was visible but still hidden from the camera.
"Don't you think it's warm in here? There must be something wrong with the ventilation." Andy picked up the napkin and wiped Scott's face.
"I'm going to go see about it." He clamped Scott's hand around the napkin and left.
Scott thought Andy was acting a little odd but he waited until he was in the bathroom with his back to the camera, to unroll the small piece of paper. His heart skipped a beat when he read what it said:
Trust Dr. Ely and Andy. Do what I say even if you think it is dumb. They will get the sphere from your friend. Remember Beth and the cougar.
Scott knew this message was genuine. The encounter with the cougar had been the beginning of his trust of his father. As he flushed the note down the toilet, Scott began to think about what he could write to Jerry. It gave him a warm feeling inside to realize his friend hadn't betrayed him and had somehow managed to keep his sphere away from Fox. Jerry was a true friend.
Sarah kept touching the small scrap of paper which she fervently hoped would be the key to freedom for Paul and his son. The feel of it reassured her and calmed her nerves. A few days ago she would never have believed herself capable of what she was about to do. Sarah knew she'd been watched from the moment her plane landed but she was certain Jerry and his parents were unaware they'd been under twenty-four hour surveillance since it was first learned the sphere taken in the school wasn't genuine. The FSA was very good at what they did.
"Jerry, my name is Dr. Ely. You may call me Sarah."
"Hello Dr. Ely. My mom said you were from the government."
"Not exactly. I do work for them, but I'm a psychiatrist. Do you know what that is?"
"You're a shrink. What do you want with me?" Jerry was angry. The government man who'd come to talk to him was mean and it was frightening to think about what might be happening to Scott. He didn't want to talk to this new person.
"I want to talk to you about your friend Scott. He's very alone right now and it would help if he knew you were still his friend."
"I don't want to talk to you people about Scott."
"That's okay. Can we go out into the yard? It's such a pretty day." Sarah knew the house was wired and needed to get Jerry outside.
"I still won't talk about Scott."
"We'll only talk about things you want to discuss."
Jerry led the way through the kitchen and into the back yard. Sarah was pleased to see it was completely fenced and not visible from the street. The 'goons' couldn't see or hear her now.
"I have something for you Jerry, from Scott. He needs your help."
Jerry eyed her warily as she removed the small piece of paper from her purse. "How do I know it's from Scott?"
"Just read it and decide for yourself." Jerry took the note hesitantly.
Jerry, give my silver sphere to the person with this message. Trust me. I know you erased Mr. Johnson's diskette. This IS Scott.
The handwriting looked right but it could've been forged. However, Scott was the only person who knew Jerry had erased the answers to the math quiz and he wouldn't have told anyone. Jerry looked at the young woman sitting across from him. There were tears in his eyes.
"This really did come from Scott, didn't it?"
"Yes Jerry. It's very important I take the real sphere back to him."
"What is that thing? Why is it so important? I saw it glowing in Scott's hand the day they took him away. That little mean man wanted it so badly."
"I don't know all the answers, but I know Scott and his father need those spheres. It's important for their freedom and maybe their very lives."
Jerry got up silently and went to the corner of the house. He scratched away the dirt and turned to Sarah with the sphere in his hand.
"Please help my friend Scott." Sarah took the sphere and held him in her arms as he began to sob quietly.
Sarah had gone straight to Fox's office as soon as her plane landed. George Fox wasn't pleased the woman had been unable to get anything from the boy, but his ego was soothed by the knowledge that at least she hadn't been able to do something at which he had failed. It really didn't matter. Cramer would arrive later today and then they all would see what the creature was really like.
"We have nothing to discuss Dr. Ely. You haven't accomplished anything with your interviews and you didn't accomplish anything with your written tests. You couldn't even get the sphere from a fifteen year old boy. I'm not going to change my mind about the use of intensive interrogation."
"I'm not here to talk you out of that course of action, Mr. Fox. It does seem to be the next logical option." Sarah surprised herself she could lie with such conviction. Fox was staring at her.
"What? Do you mean to say you've changed your mind?"
"No. But I've accepted the inevitable. That doesn't mean I agree with your methods."
"Then what do you want? We have nothing to discuss."
Sarah looked up at Fox and spoke slowly and deliberately. "I think the central monitors in the interrogation area should be turned off during the questioning. The fewer people who know what happens in there the better. The alien will be in the observation room with the guards and me. The local monitors can be used in the interrogation room to watch the boy and Cramer."
Fox thought for a moment. It seemed odd Ely would acquiesce to his plan, but what she said about the monitors made sense. "The central monitors will be shutdown for the duration of the interrogation. I'll also be present in the observation room."
Sarah smiled inwardly as she left the office. The room security was much too difficult to bypass in order to release Paul and Scott. It pleased her to think she would use Fox's own plan against him.
The intercom interrupted George Fox from his thoughts as the secretary said, "Mr. Fox, there's a Jerry Simmonson on the phone for you."
"It's a young boy. He says he needs to talk to you about his friend."
"Put him on." Fox remembered now.
"This is George Fox."
"Mr. Fox, I want to help Scott. The lady who was here said he could die without the silver marble. I don't want that to happen. Please come and get it."
"Tell me where you are."
"My mom and I are here in Washington at the Channel Inn Hotel on Water Street."
"Okay, I'll be there in less than an hour." Damn, why did it have to be all the way across town. The interrogation session was due to begin within the hour but he had to follow this lead personally. It was too important to leave to the incompetents who always seemed to surround him. If he tried to postpone the interrogation he might lose Cramer's assistance for several more days. If the traffic cooperated he could make it to the hotel and back before Cramer arrived.
Andy was shaking by the time he hung up the phone.
"Paul we're going to take you to another room. These shackles are necessary. I'm sorry." Sarah watched as the guard placed the chains around Paul's waist, wrists and ankles. Sarah saw Paul looking at her with an intense stare. What was he thinking? Does he think I've betrayed him? Can he tell what I'm thinking? She looked away. It disturbed her to see him trussed like this but it was necessary.
A second guard joined them in the hall and the two of them flanked Paul. Sarah walked behind the group looking at the rifles they carried. She hadn't foreseen this. It was the first time she'd seen any weapon other than a tranquilizer gun anywhere near Paul or Scott. Fox was taking no chances.
The room into which Paul was taken was dark except for one wall. This contained a window which looked into a brightly lit room.
Sarah instructed the guard to take Paul's wrists from behind his back and manacle him to the chair. She placed her hand on Paul's shoulder as he sat down.
Paul looked up abruptly at Sarah's face and then turned slowly to watch the guard. The man separated his hands and locked one to each arm of the chair. With that task completed the guards took their place at the door.
Paul began to study the second room. There was a chair in the center with many straps and wires. The walls were lined with cabinets and machinery. He was trying to figure out the use for the apparatus when he saw Scott being brought into the room.
"Yes, you've been brought here to watch the interrogation of your offspring." Sarah bent forward slightly as if for emphasis. "After you see what happens in there you'll tell us what we want to know." Sarah felt herself trembling as she put the sphere in Paul's hand and sat down in the chair next to him.
Scott was struggling with the guards. He stopped suddenly. He sensed a presence he hadn't felt in months. "Dad?"
"What? How does he know?" Sarah looked at the boy through the glass and then at the man seated beside her.
Paul didn't respond as he stared at the sphere. It had begun to glow. Sarah gasped as one guard slumped forward. The second man began to raise his rifle but he hit the floor before the gun reached his shoulder.
"What did you do to them? Are they dead?"
Paul was busy unlocking his shackles. "There was no reason to harm them. A decrease in the blood flow to the brain causes a temporary lack of oxygen. They fainted."
"How do you know these things?"
"Human physiology is not complex. They will wake up with a slight pain in the head."
"We need to be gone long before then. These rooms aren't being monitored but once we enter the hall there'll be cameras every few feet."
Paul turned his attention to the men with Scott. They were disabled in the same manner as the first guards. Scott's chains fall away just before the glass separating the rooms shattered.
"Dad! I knew you were there. I felt it." Scott and Paul rushed to the opening and embraced. They held each other in silence for many seconds.
Sarah observed the pair from a distance and wondered what they were thinking. The way they held each other without speaking made her wonder if they could read each other's thoughts. When Paul put his hands on Scott's shoulders and pushed him away slightly Sarah saw tears in their eyes.
"Paul, we have to hurry. The other sphere is in a room on the next level up. We must retrieve it and get out the front." Sarah didn't like to interrupt their reunion but time was critical.
"You're right Dr. Ely. Come on Scott". Scott climbed through the opening and the trio made their way silently into the hall.
Sarah held her breath each time they passed one of the security cameras. The sphere in Paul's hand glowed constantly but Sarah still couldn't shake the feeling they were being watched. Paul had explained he was creating the illusion of an empty hall but her mind rebelled at believing such a thing was possible. Sarah had started to relax by the time the elevator doors opened on the second level. The trip to the secure lab had been uneventful.
"Halt! Who are you? You don't have authorization to be...!" The guard fell against the wall and slid to the floor. The locked door clicked opened as Paul touched the knob.
George Fox cursed the rush hour traffic as he made his way back to the complex. There'd been no Jerry Simmonson at the hotel. It had been a ruse to get him out of the building. Someone was helping the alien to escape. Why did people always help it? What kind of control did it have over them? It had never affected him.
Since he'd called ahead to have the building secured George Fox was surprised when he didn't have to enter his special code to call the elevator. He jumped on the guard as soon as the doors opened.
"Why isn't this building locked down? I called and told you there was an escape in progress."
"Nothing shows on the monitors. The halls are empty."
"Don't you people understand anything! That thing isn't even human! It can make you see what it wants you to see. Turn on the monitors in the intensive interrogation room. Now!"
The guard punched the appropriate buttons and the image flickered into view. The men were still lying on the floor where they'd fallen.
"Scan all the monitors. Find it!" But George Fox knew it wouldn't show up on a screen. Where would it go? He was standing in front of the only exit.
Fox pointed at the men in the control room, "You two get rifles and come with me." He pointed at the guard behind the desk and said, "You stay here and watch this exit. Don't let anyone in or out. And lock down this building!"
The two guards grabbed the weapons from the locker and chased after Fox. He was headed down the stairs to the second level. They caught up to him just as he entered to corridor leading to the secure lab.
"The aliens will be down this hall. You're not to let either of them escape. Anyone who is with them is expendable."
A few feet down the hall Sarah watched as Paul put his hand on the front of the safe. It had a sophisticated electronic lock but it was open in a few seconds. As he took out the sphere and gave it to Scott their hands touched. Sarah saw them exchange a look she didn't really understand. "Let's go you two. We haven't much time."
As the group started to leave the room, Fox came through the door. "Stop, Forrester! You can't escape. You and your offspring will be killed if you try to leave this room."
Paul sighed as he said, "Do you really want to destroy us? I have never meant any harm to your planet, your people or to you."
Paul and Scott looked intently into each other's eyes for a brief moment. As Fox started to move towards them Paul's sphere began to glow steadily. Scott's was taking longer but soon his sphere also began to glow.
"Shoot! Shoot them now!" Fox was gesturing wildly at the guards. He saw the first man fall with a thud. Fox glanced sideways as the second man began to jump up and down. He grabbed the rifle just before the guard fell. Fox fired once before he too passed out.
Paul looked at his son and smiled, "Your aim was a little off wasn't it? You were supposed to be affecting the brain not setting his shoes on fire."
"It worked didn't it. Besides, I haven't had as many years of practice as you."
"If you only knew how many years. We'd better be going now Dr. Ely." But Sarah was no longer standing beside them. The rifle shot had entered her abdomen just below the rib cage. She was crumpled on the floor in a puddle of blood.
"Dr. Ely!" Paul knelt beside the still form. She had a weak pulse. "Sarah, can you hear me?"
"Paul, you have to get away. Don't worry about me. I'll be all right."
"No you won't. That wound is bad and you will die without help."
"There's nothing which can be done. Quick treatment in a trauma center might save me but there's no time." Her breath was coming in short gasps now and speaking was difficult. "I'm a doctor and I know how badly I'm hurt. You have to get away. Don't worry about me. If you don't escape...my death...will be... for...nothing. Now go!"
Paul was silent as he placed Sarah flat on the floor and opened the front her blouse. He had the sphere in his right hand as he put his left hand on top of the wound.
"What...are you ...doing? You must ...leave." Sarah struggled under his firm touch but she was getting weak from the loss of blood. It was getting harder for her to speak.
Scott took her hand in one of his, placed the other on her shoulder and looked deeply into her eyes. "Just be quiet now. My father must concentrate. You'll be all right."
Sarah saw the sphere begin to glow. She felt a warm sensation in the middle of her body. She couldn't see everything which happened but soon Sarah felt the pain ease and knew the internal and external damage was being healed. She had known these beings were from another world for months although it had been hard to accept at first. But all her examinations and questions hadn't prepared her for what she'd seen and experienced today.
The healing process took several minutes. Scott knew the guards were going to be awakening soon but he also knew his father wouldn't leave Sarah until she was completely healed. He held her hand and continued to look into her eyes.
She smiled at him. "You and your father are ...really very special ...people."
"Hush now. Save your strength. You're a very special lady. You've risked everything to help us escape. Nothing can ever repay that." Several more minutes of silence passed before the glow faded from the sphere.
Paul removed his hand from Sarah's abdomen. He and Scott helped her to a sitting position. Paul continued to hold Sarah's hand as he said, "You've lost a lot of blood but you'll be healthy again soon."
"I don't understand what you did, but I thank you for it."
"Can you walk?"
"I won't be able to go with you. I'm too weak and would just slow you down. I can't run from what I've done here. I'll stay and face Fox. I can handle him."
"Are you sure?"
"Trust me. I know what I'm doing. My career is secure without this FSA job. Fox can't do anything to hurt me." Paul was looking at her with that intent look which used to make her uncomfortable.
Sarah continued quickly, "You must go down the hall to the stairs and up one floor. Follow the signs to the main entrance. There will be a guard there but I know you can handle him. A switch on the desk opens the doors to the control room. Inside there's a panel which unlocks the elevators after a lockdown. These are the two men from the control room so it'll be empty. The elevator opens into a parking garage at street level. Andy is waiting outside in a beat up yellow van. He has your wallet but I'm afraid I couldn't find the rest of your things."
"That's all right. We've had to start over before. We can do it again." Paul took both Sarah's hands in his. "We will always remember you." He kissed her on the forehead and rose to his feet.
Scott hugged Sarah before standing beside his father.
She looked up and said "I will always remember both of you. Good luck and good bye."
Scott was laughing as he said, "Did you see that guy? He was really scared of you."
"Yes. He made an assumption about what I did to the other men because of what he'd seen on the monitors." Paul scanned the street in front of the building. Traffic was flowing heavily in all four lanes. The sidewalks were a sea of humanity because of the people coming out of the many high rise buildings. "I wonder where Andy is waiting."
"There he is. Let's go." Paul grabbed Scott's arm as he started to run towards a van.
"Be careful. We don't know if that's the right vehicle. Don't attract attention by running."
But the warning was in vain. Being of a suspicious nature, George Fox had stationed men outside the building. As soon as Paul and Scott had emerged, two agents headed toward them with guns drawn. One man shouted, "Halt or you will be shot."
People screamed and ran in all directions. Paul pushed Scott towards the van as he took the sphere from his pocket. The agents were very close even though their approach had been impeded by the crowds.
The agent repeated his warning, "Drop that, now, or we will fire!"
When the sphere began to glow Paul looked up to see the guns become red hot masses of metal. As the agents threw them to the ground and tried to stop the burning in their hands Paul rushed to catch up with Scott.
Andy had been watching the street and had gotten out of the van when he saw Paul and Scott approaching his position. "What took so long? What happened to those men? Where's Dr. Ely?"
Paul didn't stop running as he said, "We ran into a little trouble. Now we need to get away from here fast."
The three of them scrambled into the van and Andy gunned the engine. He forced his way into the traffic flow. The semi-quiet of the van was a welcome relief after the tension and noise of the last several minutes. The calm didn't last long.
"Dad! That car is following us. It pulled out as soon as we moved. I think I've seen them talking on a radio."
Andy looked back at the car and then made his way into the left turn lane. "There's one way to find out. Hold on." He made sure the car was following before making a right turn from the center of the street. The squeal of brakes, the honking of car horns and the yells of drivers filled the air. The muffled sound of a crash could be heard behind them. For a short moment it looked as if they were alone but soon the car reappeared. The right side was now indented several inches.
"I think you were right Scott." Paul removed the sphere from his pocket and began to concentrate. Andy tried to watch as the blue glow filled the inside of the van.
"What is that thing?" No one answered his question, but he saw the car behind them splutter to a stop. "Did...? Did you do that?"
Paul smiled as he said, "Yes. Just a little engine trouble, but it won't stop them long."
"Then you..." Andy looked at Scott. "You really are what you said."
Scott looked into his father's face and nodded affirmatively.
After the incident with the agents, Andy had chosen to avoid the main streets. Paul and Scott were enjoying the sunshine and the peaceful sights and sounds of the residential neighborhoods through which they were driving. Finally, Paul broke the silence. "Do you know where we are supposed to go?"
"Dr. Ely arranged for you to fly back to the West Coast. The tickets and some money are here but because of all the problems they need to be changed to a later flight. You'll be flying out of National because it's farther from the center. Why didn't Dr. Ely come with you?"
"Dr. Ely was ..."
"Oh, oh. We've got company. That car is back." Andy was staring into the rear view mirror.
Paul glanced out the side window. "I think this is another one."
"There's one my side too." Scott's voice quavered. "We're surrounded."
The next several minutes were a blur. As Paul used the sphere to stop the rear car, the side cars pulled ahead and nosed together to block the van. Andy had to brake hard to avoid a collision. He slapped it into reverse and rammed the rear car. The agents from the front cars were approaching as Andy careened off down a side street. He drove randomly for several minutes until he was sure they weren't being followed. Andy stopped in an out of the way place near a marina on the Washington channel.
"We're on the wrong side of the Potomac river." Andy pointed south and said, "The airport is over there. The FSA is sure to be watching the bridges."
Paul only vaguely heard the remark as he was looking at his surroundings. "Why are there so many different kinds of boats here?"
Andy looked where Paul was pointing. "This marina is used by many types of people. There are fishing charters, private yachts, sailboats, and other pleasure craft moored at the various docks. These at "D" dock, are mostly houseboats."
Paul raised one eyebrow as he asked "House boats? A boat is a vessel for traveling on water. How can a boat be a house?"
Andy looked at Paul quizzically. "Some people live on boats. I don't know why. It's not all that unusual."
Paul shook his head. He wondered if he would ever understand humans.
Andy arranged passage across the river for Paul and Scott with a lady who lived at the marina. She agreed to take them to a mooring where they could get a ride to the airport.
"I guess this is good bye." Andy extended his hand to Paul.
As Paul shook Andy's hand he looked deeply into his eyes. "There is no way to properly thank you. You have given us the greatest gift any person could, our freedom and our lives. Will you be all right?"
"Yes. I have to take the van back into the streets as a decoy for the FSA. I'll lead them away from this area."
"When you finally let them catch you, just tell them I forced you to help us escape."
As Paul released Andy's hand, Scott hugged Andy warmly. "Thank you for being my friend. Even though we talked only the one night, I feel I really know you."
As Andy drove away, Paul turned to Scott. "Sarah and Andy have once again proven many people on this planet do care about other living beings. There were many times during the months of our captivity when I began to doubt there was any good in the human species."
"You were depressed and lonely. I felt the same way."
"I didn't like what I was feeling."
"Nobody does, but you have to believe things will get better."
"The emotions were so foreign to me. It was like nothing I've ever felt before."
"Feeling down is a normal part of being human."
"Human beings are very resilient. Trouble and adversity seem to make you a stronger and better person. Humans are at their very best when things are worst."
Scott smiled as he put his arm around his father's shoulders. They walked in silence to the boat dock enjoying each other's presence.