Dark Secrets Unlocked
(seventeen years ago)
"We are well pleased with your marksmanship and your physical development," Dr. Connley told the silent boy across from him. This was their normal weekly meeting. Truthfully, they were more than pleased with his progress. He was exceeding even their most optimistic goals in all areas except intelligence. But if the research he'd heard about was true, he might be able to do something about it. "How would you like to put your skills to use?" Connley asked.
Vin looked up at his captor in shock. He had long ago given up any hope of freedom or even the chance to see the world outside the walls of his prison. "As you wish, sir," he managed to get out, unsure what this new opportunity represented.
"Very good," Connley replied, a smile creeping across his face. "You will be given all the necessary information shortly." Then, with a wave of his hand, he dismissed Vin to go back to his room to complete his studies for the day.
Once the guard locked the door, Vin sat at his desk to continue his studies. Looking at the books waiting his attention, Vin reached for the one on top. Opening it, he didn't see the words, his mind still focused on the opportunity presented by Dr. Connley. A chance to get out of his cell and do something ... anything.
Hearing footsteps approach his room, he looked up expectantly. Using his training he determined there were two people approaching. The first set of steps passed by. A few moments later, he was rewarded with the sound of a keycard sliding in the scanner and a key turning in the lock of his door.
"Good morning, Vin," Dr. Celia Thompson said, entering the room. "I'm here to brief you on your upcoming mission."
Having stood when he saw it was one of the female doctors entering, Vin offered his chair, which was readily accepted. Standing at attention before one of his teachers, he waited.
"Why don't you sit down on the bed," she encouraged, waiting for the young man to comply. "There. Now, what we have in mind is a very simple mission. We need you to break into a secured location and retrieve some information; you are to return here when you have achieved the goal. We believe the training you have been receiving has sufficiently prepared you for this mission. Do you feel ready?"
"Yes, ma'am," Vin replied. His mind was racing. This mission could be the opportunity he'd been waiting for to free himself from this nightmare. His mother wouldn't have wanted him trapped here; he knew that with every ounce of his being. He knew for sure that she wouldn't want him stealing.
Seeing the flash of hope in the expressive blue eyes, Dr. Thompson made a mental note to see if there was some way in the new strain being developed to change the eyes. "We're going to implant a tracker in your ankle so we'll know where you are at all times." Pausing to ensure her words had been understood, she continued, "Now, come here and we'll go over the blueprints."
"But, what were you supposed to steal, Vin?" JD interrupted.
"JD, let him tell it at his own pace," Buck admonished.
"Sorry," JD apologized.
"'S OK, JD," Vin said. Then releasing a sigh, he looked into the eyes of each man around the campfire before continuing. "I didn't find out until years later what it was I had taken. But I still clearly remember the terror of the night."
(Fifteen years ago ? a few days after the briefing)
Silently he moved through the shadows, creeping ever closer to the targeted building. He had memorized the patters the guards followed in their patrols. Though he possessed a silenced gun and a silenced rifle, he hoped he would never have to use them. The thought of killing someone made him physically ill.
Ignoring the slight throb in his ankle, a result of the implant, he moved to the wall opposite the guard. Waiting and watching until the guard turned the corner, he made his way across the shadowed compound to his target building.
Knowing he only had moments before the guard returned, he quickly set to work over-riding the security system. Hearing the click of the lock as it released, he pulled the door open and slipped inside, ensuring the door made no sound behind him. Before sliding under the video camera focused on the door.
With his nimble fingers, he quickly made some wiring adjustments to the camera that replayed the same scene continually to the monitor. His presence cloaked, he continued on through the maze of corridors he had carefully memorized. He found his target and as quickly as possible worked his way through the security codes set up to protect it. The final obstacle brought a smile to his lips; a simple door lock. Removing the pick he had secreted upon himself, he made short work of the lock and entered the room.
The information Dr. Thompson had provided him didn't outline the exact location of what he needed so he quickly made his way to the file cabinet and opened it. Finding a batch of files, he pulled the ones he needed and slid them into the pouch on his back. He then removed a few items from his pack as well as a timer. Setting the incendiaries in the file drawers, he set the time for fifteen minutes, hopefully long enough for him to download what he needed, plant the worm virus and destroy the lab.
Scanning the room, he determined that the computers were linked to one server set in the corner of the room. It appeared to be a closed network. Pulling out the diskette with which he had been provided, he slid it into the A-drive of the machine and booted it up. As promised, the diskette got him past all the security. Removing that diskette and sliding a tape into the drive of the server, he quickly typed the commands to download all the information contained therein.
Glancing at his watch, he discovered he had only three minutes before the incendiaries went off. While he waited for the tape, he had been busy planting more of the devices around the room. Finally the tape stopped. He ejected it, sliding it too into the pouch and removed a second diskette. This he inserted into the floppy drive of the server.
Without waiting to see the completion of the download, Vin crept out of the room, making his way back down the hall. He was close to achieving the door he had entered when someone started down the hall toward him. Overcoming the panic that threatened to engulf him, he pulled his lock-pick and opened a nearby door, sliding inside and waiting for the sound of steps to fade.
A small noise behind him drew his attention away from the hallway and to the back of the room. Though it was dark, his superior vision made out the form of a boy not much younger than himself rising to a sitting position in his bed. He noted the initials JD on the boy?s nightshirt. Swallowing his panic, he didn't move hoping the boy would return to sleep.
Holding his breath, Vin waited silently. Watching the dark head and blinking eyes begin to search the room, Vin began praying the boy wouldn't notice him. Finally, a hand reached out and flicked on a bedside lamp. Vin blinked several times trying to adjust to the sudden light. When he finished, he found himself staring into a pair of hazel eyes.
"Who are you?" the sleepy boy asked, offering a large yawn as punctuation.
Vin opened his mouth to reply when he caught sight of the picture of the boy's mother sitting on the table beside him. His mind quickly flew back to his mother, "Always remember, boy, you?re a Tanner." But his mother was gone. Most of the time, he was called by his series number; not his name. Seeing the love that had gone into the handmade quilt on the boy's bed, the truth of what his life had become crashed down upon him, taking his breath away. "I'm no one," he whispered before turning to the door and checking for the sound of footsteps. Hearing none, he quickly slipped out, praying the boy wouldn't give him away for at least ten minutes, long enough to ensure Vin's escape.
"That was you?" JD whispered. "I thought it was a dream." Taking a deep breath, he tried to catch his friend?s blue eyes. "Vin?" he tried again. "That was you? You really were in my room?"
Vin couldn't look at JD. He knew the effects on the compound that his incendiaries and other surprised had wrought. He had effectively shut down that entire project and escaped with their most critical information. Instead of offering a verbal answer, he simply nodded.
Fire flashed in JD's eyes as his memory of the remainder of that night returned. "You set those explosives!" he accused. "You're the one that destroyed the compound. You killed eight very good people that night as well as shooting and killing three guards." JD's breathing was coming in harsh gasps as tried to control his emotions. "I felt sorry for you," he said harshly. "You were right you are no one. No human, no boy could have killed that easily."
Without thinking, JD rose from his position and sprang at the Texan. So unexpected was the attack that none of the others had a chance to react before JD landed upon the other man, beating Vin with his fists.
Vin didn't even try to defend himself. How do you ever get over the blood and guilt? He wondered. He deserved JD's anger; he deserved JD's scorn; he was nothing.
"JD stop!" Josiah commanded, hauling the young man off of Vin and thrusting him into the waiting arms of Buck and Ezra. Turning to look down at Vin, Josiah knelt and looked at the form before him, seeing the broken, lost, scared boy within. He could see the deep regret and sadness that ate at Vin's soul reflected in his eyes. "You're not no one, Vin," he offered softly. "You are a remarkable man who had survived what no man should." He allowed a few moments for the sincerity of the words to penetrate Vin's shattered psyche. Finally seeing acceptance for the words, Josiah reached down and helped Vin up.
Knowing it wasn't a real defense, Vin felt he should at least try to explain. "I didn't have a choice, JD," he began, his voice quiet and filled with old pain. "I was just a kid too. They planted a tracker in my ankle that would have released a poison into my system if I'd strayed outside the parameters they set. They had me wear a wire so they could hear everything I did. They were waiting for my return. If things didn't go exactly to plan, I would have been dead. The guards shot at me first; I only defended myself." Finally he had only one more bit of information to offer. "I was the one who pulled the fire alarm to get everyone out."
JD looked into the open, honest, sorrowful blue eyes of someone he considered a brother. He read the truth in his eyes and struggled to decide if he wanted to hold onto his anger. Finally putting himself in Vin's position, he realized he could have done nothing different. His shoulders slumping as his anger departed, JD nodded and said. "Sorry, Vin. Guess I didn't see the full picture."
"It's alright," Vin assured the young man. Taking a deep breath, he continued his narrative. "The location I broke into was a top secret government facility. They were working on the I-series. Ezra can probably tell you more about it than I can, but there was a flaw in the control of the subject. In order to correct it, they were overlaying certain patters of stable brains, scanned and duly documented, with those in their I-series."
Ezra interrupted. "Forgive my interruption, but before you continue further in your recitation, I believe it fair to warn everyone that the patterns used were taken without the knowledge of the contributors."
Vin nodded and continued. "They had successfully overlaid six subjects, JD included. The patterns they used..." Vin's voice trailed off as his eyes caught the green ones across from him.
"Mine," Chris whispered. "Ours," he corrected tearing his eyes away from the blue ones that haunted him to look at Buck. "The extra tests before one of our missions," he clarified.
Buck's eyes grew in amazement, his jaw opening slightly as the impact of that information sank in. "We were used?" he began before trailing off to look from Vin to JD.
Josiah sighed and added, "You weren't the first to be mapped." Six sets of eyes turned to evaluate the man speaking. "When they happened upon the possibility, Victor Fitzgerald insisted he be mapped and his son, Martin, the first to receive the imprint even though Martin was completely different genetically than those in the I-series. It worked. Martin survived past his fifteenth year and is now working Missing Persons for the FBI in New York."
"So, why did Vin steal it?" Buck asked. "If they allowed it for this Martin Fitzgerald, why not Vin?"
"I was in Connley's hands, remember? He wasn't working for a government anymore. His program had been shut down. His only hope to attain it was for me to steal it. That is, if he wanted to keep me and the others to come," Vin clarified, bitterness and loathing clearly audible in his voice.
"So you broke in and took that information," Buck said. "It saved your life so we could meet you," he continued, trying to find the up side to this situation.
"That's not all he took, Mr. Willmington," Ezra interjected, looking directly at Vin and seeing the young man lower his head, shame coloring his cheeks. "He took the details of the experiment, the I-series, the sample patterns and a list of names of subjects. That is, of course, the little gifts he left behind."
"Gifts?" JD asked, confused.
"The incendiaries, bombs and the worm virus," Vin admitted, unable, once more, to meet the young Bostonian?s eyes. "The only problem was, the files were missing one bit of data: the amount of time." Looking into the dark distance, Vin recalled the day two years after the break in.
(fifteen years ago)
Vin stood in the room, eyes wide and dancing with fear. He knew Dr. Connley had been spending a lot of time and energy on something. Now that he saw the machine, Vin found none of the curiosity that had plagued him. Now he found only fear.
"Strip to your shorts and get on the table," Dr. Fathers ordered.
Vin obeyed, never taking his eyes from the monstrosity before him. His fear dictating his movements, Vin very slowly made his way across the room and stopped by the indicated table. Now that he stood amidst the monstrosity, he could no longer control his trembling.
Seeing the boy had yet to get on the table, Dr. Stapleton walked over and physically lifted the slight frame into position. Without sparing the subject a second glance, she started attaching wires. When Vin reached up to remove one, she simply slapped his hand away before taking the offending appendage and strapping it down in restraints. She then proceeded to follow suit with his other hand, both ankles and his head. For good measure, she set two more straps across his body, leaving him completely immobilized as she finished the rest of her work.
Vin's heart was racing. He had never liked being captured, being trapped. The fact that he had no idea what would happen only increased his anxiety and need to escape. No matter how he strained, though, his bonds would not relinquish their unyielding hold. After what seemed an eternity, he saw Dr. Connley approach.
"This should be painless," Dr. Connley said to the boy strapped to the table while looking at Drs. Stapleton and Fathers. Receiving a nod, he adjusted one last setting on the machine he'd spent most of his resources and time developing. With a quick twist of his wrist, the machine started to hum. At first, Vin felt a small tingle run through his body. After fifteen seconds, he found he had trouble focusing. It felt as if his brain was being attacked and wouldn?t stop. At thirty seconds, he could no longer stand the pain and released a piercing scream before passing out. At one minute, Dr. Connley turned the machine off, satisfied he had achieved his goal.
On To Part 10
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