[b "I know it's hard for you to see him in danger, it's hard for me as well, but maybe he does have to face it himself. I'm not going to pretend to be able to understand what goes on in Jason's head, i've never been able to do that but I get the feeling that he thinks that he needs to do this alone. Trust him."] Jason was a proud man but the empath had more skeletons in his closet than anyone else, perhaps even more than Nico himself. Nico thought that Jason wanted to atone for the wrongs he had done, maybe this was Jason's way of making up for all of the hurt that he had caused by being in the Organisation's pocket. Nico had a sneaky suspicion that it was also tied to Kate, Jason hadn't been there to protect his sister at the end, he had been on an errand for the Organisation so maybe he was making sure that he would be there for Lucas because he couldn't be there for Kate.
[b "I thought about it Keelyn, maybe I still will."] It was a genuine smirk that crossed his face in response to Keelyn's little taunt, he had actually forgotten what her voice sounded like and hearing her voice say those oh so familiar mocking words brought a familiarity to the room that had been sorely missing. He looked over to the child in Keelyn's arms and he could tell that holding her son again was the greatest gift that anyone could give to her.
[b "I told you I would. I keep my word."] He tried to anyway, he had promised Janessa that he would get her senses back to her and he had failed to do that, forcing Janessa into the clutches of the Director so when he had promised to return Keelyn and reunite the family he vowed that it wold happen one way or another, no matter the cost. Nico pointedly looked away to give the family the modicum of privacy that they deserved, there was so much that had happened in the last months that Keelyn would have absolutely no idea about. They would need to catch her up soon, it was too dangerous to keep her in the dark, there was Michael and all of his inevitably nefarious schemes, the Organisation who were always looking to capture or kill them. The Director had also gotten involved personally with Janessa and possibly most importantly...Jason was now Janessa's alpha. That was a huge amount of information for the transference healer to process. Nico would fill her in in due course but she needed to recover some strength first.
[b "Dylan is...he came out of the coma just as you intended and he's been safe for the most part, as safe as we ever get anyway. He's not actually here right now...I, we, had an argument and I said somethings that I shouldn't. I guess some things never change. It's not really a good idea for us to be in the same room right now anyway, give him some time to cool off and then you two can talk. The important thing is that what you did for him worked. He's fine and now you're awake as well. For once things are looking up for us."] If only Nico was aware how ironic those words were as at that very moment Dylan had been captured by the Organisation and was now at the mercy of all of their worst enemies, Bennett, Pascal, Michael and the Director. Nico briefly wondered how Keelyn would take the news that he was now in a relationship with her sister, the two had never seen eye to eye on most things but he respected the transference healer and he thought that she respected him as well, although he might be wildly mistaken. For now at least he was just glad that she had woken from that terrible coma and could live her life again.
Hearing Nico’s faith in Jason was reassuring. Janessa knew that Hyperion was powerful, having witnesses his abilities both as an ally and an enemy over the years. The abilities he’s collected make him far more powerful than any one Super they’ve crossed in the past, not to mention his ability to gain new abilities simply by being in close proximity to other Supers. He was calculating, resourceful, and strong – more than a match for most of the Organization’s minions, even if he was outnumbered. Despite this, Janessa couldn’t shake her concern.
[b “I just wish he would let us help him. He shouldn’t have to face this alone.”] Janessa whispered as she closed the gap between her and Nico and rested her head against his shoulder. The young Feral’s mind was a whirlwind of worries: fearing for Jason’s situation, the guilt about Lucas’ imprisonment, Dylan’s disappearance since his fight with Nico, the shame in letting the Elemental down, her sister still in a coma, the threat and confusion regarding her old pack… Janessa felt as though everything in her life was in turmoil right now and the only thing that seemed to be right in her world was the fact that Nico was there with her, helping her through this. If she had been alone like Jason, Janessa wasn’t sure she would have lasted this long.
With Delta’s interruption, Janessa was nearly frozen with the news. Her relationship with her sister had been uneasy before Keelyn’s sacrifice and as much as Janessa was desperate to see her sister healed, she was plagued by doubts. It was easy to idealist someone who was lying helpless in a hospital bed, but the truth was that Keelyn didn’t have a lot of friends under this roof. She and the Tanners have always been at odds, and Janessa was sure the only reason they took such good care of her through this ordeal was because she had taken Dylan’s place. Keelyn and Janessa had never really patched things up completely after all the lies and deceit, and from what Janessa remembered, Keelyn and Nico had been on tense terms shortly before Keelyn lost consciousness. So much had happened since Keelyn fell into that coma: Jackson’s rescue, Nightmare’s death, Emma’s murder, her deal with the Director, her relationship with Nico. Janessa couldn’t help feeling anxious and uncertain. What do you say to a sister who’s been comatose for the last several months, especially after all that’s happened?
It was only as Nico moved towards the room that Janessa finally felt she could follow. She clung to his hand as if it were a lifeline, knowing he’d understand her nervousness in seeing her sister awake for the first time in months. As they entered the room, they saw that everything Delta said was true. Keelyn was sitting up in the bed, hugging her toddler son tightly to her chest with her cheek resting against the top of his head. Jackson – the emotional empath that he was – could sense his mother’s confusion and fear and did his best to project an air of joy and reassurance that seemed to permeate the entire room. Even so, Keelyn’s arms were shaking as she held her son for the first time since her captivity in the Organization. As her sister and Nico entered the room, Keelyn hastily wiped away any traces of tears that had filled her eyes upon waking. Despite everything, she still couldn’t shake that fear of appearing weak, even in front of her family.
[#aa0000 “I’m surprised you’re still here, Shadow. I thought you would have left me to rot a long time ago. Don’t you have better things to do than watch me sleep?”] Keelyn retorted, attempting a smirk, but the façade fell away to something far more sincere.
[#aa0000 “You saved Jackson… you kept your promise, brought him home… thank you.”] Keelyn’s voice was hardly more than a whisper, but it was the most genuine tone Janessa had ever heard from her sister. She could see the gratitude shining in Keelyn’s eyes, directed at both Janessa and Nico. It was that look that erased the doubts from Janessa’s mind and gave her the courage to cross the room and wrap her arms around her sister and nephew. The Pierce family stayed like that, in silent relief for several minutes. Janessa pretended she didn’t see Keelyn’s shoulders shake with sobs, knowing Keelyn wasn’t the type to like her suffering broadcasted. It did, however, prove to the elder sister that Keelyn’s time spent trapped in her own mind was one of the worst experiences of the young woman’s life.
When Keelyn seemed to regain her composure, Janessa broke their embrace and gave her sister some space. Jackson was happy and content in his mother’s arms and Keelyn looked like she was desperate for answers… anything to distract herself from her own little breakdown.
[b “Jackson… he’s so big. I must have missed months…”] She observed, looking between Janessa and Nico for answers.
[b “The Kid, Tech, was in a coma… did I help him? Is he ok? What happened? What did I miss?”]
Nico was glad to talk to Janessa after the terrible day he had had so far the arguments with Raven and Dylan weighed heavily on his mind but the presence of Janessa made everything seem that little bit more manageable. While the woman herself was comforting, her words were far less so. It seemed that Dylan was right, at least partially; Janessa wouldn't do anything to help Lucas but it really seemed like there wasn't much to be done from their side of things anyway. Nico had to admit that if the Director had taken a personal interest in Lucas' abilities, and why wouldn't he, then things really would be much more difficult than anything they had tried before. They knew so little about the Director, only gaining snippets from Jason and from the single time that Janessa had met the man face to face that anything could be waiting in store since the mysterious figure was so invested in this particular test subject. Lucas would be in the most secure part of the Organisation's headquarters with guards, probably supers guarding him as well along with whatever else the Director has employed to guard his most treasured prize.
[b "Jason would have the best chance out of all of us to actually succeed. Our very presence would set every alarm in the building off, he can move about as if there was nothing amiss. Not to mention he could temporarily gain the abilities of any other super guarding Lucas, or anyone the Organisation holds captive for now, it makes him a potent weapon. he's strong and he's smart...he is also a little overconfident and arrogant sometimes but...I can't believe i'm about to say this but he has earned the right to be. He could beat us all with one hand tied behind his back if he wanted to. I know you worry about him but he really is the best option for this."] Nico was well aware of Janessa's overprotectiveness of her Alpha and he couldn't pretend to understand all this feral, alpha, pack business but he would support Janessa if she needed it and he was confident that Jason would do the best that he could for Lucas, if only because that was what Janessa wanted. The pack bond went both ways after all.
Nico stayed silent as White Tigress thought about what having Raven and Delta on their side would really mean and as she spoke, she raised some very valid points. Having a few more allies would certainly be useful and if they were as skilled as Janessa then they would be most welcome especially, if Janessa claimed, their potential could be enhanced by being close to other ferals. Keeping tabs on Michael was an interesting point, it would be extremely beneficial to know where he was going or what he was thinking, maybe Raven and Delta could help with that...if they could ever really turn away from Michael. Nico wasn't convinced that it was truly possible but he held his tongue. She was right about one thing regardless, the pair were indeed dangerous whatever they decided. [i " I guess it will come down to: are the benefits of having them here worth the risk?”] That question reverberated around Nico's head and the truth was that he wasn't entirely sure. Uncertainty was deadly he had learned that a long time ago. Make a choice and deal with the consequences but sitting on the fence was the worst thing possible, either way he was going to need to make a choice soon, one way or the other. The interruption from Delta was, for once, welcome as it heralded the good news that he had been waiting for for while now, it also meant that he had kept his promise, he had given Janessa her sister back and that was more important to him than almost anything else.
[b "Keelyn, glad to see that you're finally awake, had a good nap?"] Nico said the joke with the ghost of a smile on his face, he couldn't do anything about Dylan not being here despite Keelyn wishing to speak to the kid but he was sure that she would be far more interested in speaking to her sister and infant son. Nico hung back a little, in almost the same place as he had stood when he had argued with Raven earlier. All the same Keelyn was awake and that was cause for celebration.
Janessa wasn’t sure whether it was her strong distrust for Raven or her deep concern for Nico that ignited the defensive fire in her chest – probably a bit of both. Her fist clenched at her side and she glared daggers at the retreating form of the rival Feral, lingering long after Raven had left her field of view. It helped to hear Nico’s reassurance that he was alright and that their argument seemed to have stopped at trading insults, not escalating to something more physically harmful. But Nico’s playback of the fight wasn’t exactly reassuring, especially admitting that he had a rather bitter confrontation with Dylan earlier as well. It was a bit unnerving to hear that the young Technopath had trusted her so little that he felt the need to spy on her. Janessa would have to try to resolve things with Dylan herself once this was over, but her first duty was to report on her meeting with Jason.
[b “I think I know why he stormed off… If Dylan was listening in to my conversation with Jason, he probably heard some troubling things. I won’t lie to you Nico, but you’re probably not going to like what you hear. Jason confirmed that Lucas is with the Organization – in fact, he’s an interest to the Director, which means far more security and higher stakes than any of their other captives. The Director knows Lucas can see the future, Nico. They’re doing everything they can to extract visions from him with no concern for Lucas’ wellbeing. Jason insisted that it would be impossible for us to rescue him ourselves… he even forbid me from trying. It was an Alpha’s order… I can’t disobey him Nico.”] Janessa admitted. She could only imagine the betrayal and personal hurt that must have raced through the young Techopath’s mind when he overheard Janessa faithfully agreeing with her orders.
[b “Jason is going to try to break Lucas out of there himself, but it’ll take time. It’s not going to be easy, and it’ll be incredibly dangerous, but he promised me he would try.”] The Feral explained with clear concern for the dangers her Alpha was placing himself in.
The Elemental’s next question came as a bit of a surprise to Janessa and she had to bite her tongue to keep from blurting out an impulsive response. Nico clearly knew her well, as he warned her not to do just that! Instead, Janessa swallowed her immediate reaction and took several moments to think about what was being offered. She forced herself to push aside her harboured resentment for her old Pack and consider things objectively. When she finally answered, her voice was calm but still rather uncertain.
[b “It wouldn’t hurt to have a couple extra allies, especially with the threat of the Director and the Organization hanging over our heads. As strong as I may be independently, Ferals are so much more powerful working together. That Pack Mentality I told you about… when we’re in sinc, we’re a force to reckon with.”] Janessa offered. It had been so long since she’d run with her Pack, but she could still remember that empowering feeling of fighting side by side as one cohesive unit. She had felt flutters of that feeling with Jason, but it wasn’t the same. They hadn’t had much chance to fight together without one of them being forced to hold back.
[b “It would also be a useful way of keeping tabs on Michael. If we could earn their trust and their loyalty… they’d never betray Michael willingly, but they certainly wouldn’t help him if it meant hurting us. I just… I don’t know Nico. There’s so much tension between us and them right now and until we actually earn their alliance, they’re dangerous. I guess it will come down to: are the benefits of having them here worth the risk?”] Janessa explained. She wasn’t sure if she wanted them here or not. As much as she complained about their presence and watched them untrustingly every chance she got, Janessa couldn’t help but harbour some remote longing for her old Pack. She still cared about them, just as Raven admitted, they still cared for her.
Their conversation was briefly interrupted as Delta stepped out of Keelyn’s room. Having heard him coming, Janessa motioned for Nico to pause their conversation long before the other Feral entered the room. She was confident he hadn’t heard anything, especially since the room down the hall was suddenly filled with gleeful shrieks from the young Jackson Pierce.
[#005500 “Sorry to interrupt, Shadow, Tigress. Your sister is waking up. She’s still pretty disoriented and she’s week from the coma, but she’s asking for you. Both of you, and the Technopath.”]
The dark elemental listened to Raven's responses and it was clear that he had gotten under her skin, it hadn't been Nico's intention to insult her but he obviously had. He stood there and watched her as vent her frustrations. He was actually a little nervous around the feral right now and was preparing to defend himself against her if she decided to attack him. Nico wasn't all together sure that she wouldn't. There she was furiously telling Nico that it was he who was the manipulative one here and that the only reason that she volunteered to escort the healer was because she feared it would end in a slaughter otherwise. Who was she worried would come out the worst in that eventuality? Was it Nico and Janessa or whoever Michael sent after them that she was concerned for. It was not so surprising that she had such thoughts, after all the first time they met each other Nico had murdered Nightmare, maybe that was all she thought him capable of. Nico couldn't believe that Raven didn't believe that Michael was every bit as manipulative as they all knew. The man was calculating and cruel, and while he didn't think that Raven was a mindless puppet, she was undoubtedly a puppet of some sort...whether she knew it or not. Delta seemed like the sole voice of calm, while not happy that feral was at least civil. Raven stormed off and only a few moments after that Nico left the room only to find Janessa.
[b "I'm fine Janessa, really I am. We had a bit of an argument. I seem to be doing that a lot lately."] Nico told Janessa all about what Raven had said about maybe staying with them, about his own response, about not trusting her, about his suspicions that Michael was using this all as a big opportunity and how she had stormed off and everything the other feral had said.
[b "How did things go with Jason? What does he know and while we're on that subject Dylan and I had a row, a pretty bad one actually...I said some things I really shouldn't. It was all about you, well not really but he was listening in on your conversations through your communicator. I told him that it was wrong but he wouldn't listen then he stormed off somewhere as well."] Nico felt much worse about what he had said to the young Tanner boy than what he had said to Raven. He wasn't proud of what he had said but it was the majority of it was the truth, no matter how cruel it had been. While Nico was resolved to make things right with Dylan at some point the dark elemental was far more interested in hearing all about Janessa's meeting with Jason and what his one time best friend had said about Lucas Lee and any involvement the Organisation had in taking the man from his home.
[b "I have a question for you, I know what your first thought will be but really think about your answer. Would it be so bad if Raven and Delta stayed with us? I'm sure that if we talked to Delta and explained that we wanted them to stay then he would talk Raven down. I'd probably have to apologise but if I had to...It's up to you Janessa. If you think they mean it, if you think that they would be useful and could be trusted then I would be willing to give them a chance."] Nico grimaced at the thought of having to go back to Delta or Raven with his tail between his legs and apologise for what he had said, even then there was no guarantee that the two members of Janessa's old pack would accept it. Nico trusted Janessa's judgement implicitly and if she believed that it was a good idea then he would back her.
So far the conversation between the Feral and the Elemental had been civil, even good-natured, but the moment Nico started throwing out accusations the atmosphere of the room changed dramatically. Raven’s playful, sarcastic smirk fell into a bitter scowl and her tone took on a far sharper edge.
[#aa0000 “Michael didn’t [i choose] Janessa’s old pack for this mission, [i we] volunteered, and it wasn’t for the sake of manipulating you. Delta was once close friends with Cody when he lived at the Sanctuary, and I still owed you for killing Nightmare, not to mention out lingering bond with Janessa. We convinced Michael to let us escort the Healer because we were afraid if anyone else tried to enter your territory, it would end in a bloodbath.”] Raven cut bitterly. Not only was she being defensive of her leader, but she also took it as a personal insult that Nico was implying her very purpose here was as Michael’s soulless puppet. She may have had her issues with Janessa and of course her loyalty to Michael demanded her to feed him information when relevant, but she had no intention of causing any harm to Janessa or Nico. Even the kid would have been out of harm’s way had ne not impulsively stormed off with the Telepath, and Raven could easily justify their part in Dylan’s disappearance – The kid was at risk anyway, at least this way they were found by Michael’s people. He’d be safer under Michael’s watch than anywhere else.
As the accusations continued to fly and Nico’s temper rose, Raven took each word as blatant attack of her character. Throughout his entire rant, she could hear the insults hovering, unsaid behind the rest of his words: manipulative, traitor, liar, disloyal…
[#aa000 “How [i dare] you?”] her voice was dark and cold, completely void of that playfully teasing tone she usually carried. Her eyes were narrowed into a sharp glare and every muscle was visibly tensed as if the Feral expected these words to turn to physical blows at any moment.
[#aa0000 “All I wanted was an invitation, so I could reason with Michael to allow me to stay. He is a great man, not just the manipulative villain you all make him out to be. Michael is fighting for the rights and freedoms of all Supers and so long as my values align with his, I will fight at his side. But that does not mean I have [i any] intention of betraying you! I am not some mindless puppet! If I didn’t agree with Michael’s orders, I wouldn’t follow them, and I sure as hell wouldn’t turn my back on you and your friends just because he asked me to. You’re a hypocrite if you think my loyalty to Michael makes me any different that Cody, who’s best friend is one of us. Or Janessa who’s Alpha is the Organization’s obedient little pet!”] Raven hissed. Nico has definitely struck a nerve with the Feral. As if beckoned by the hostility of the room, Delta hurried in to see what was going on. It took him seconds to read the tense postures and fierce expressions. Not wanting things to get even more out of hand, he crossed the room and placed a firm hand on Raven’s shoulder as a silent reminder to keep her temper under control.
[#005500 “We came here because we genuinely wanted to help you. If we’re not welcome, we’ll leave as soon as your friend is healed.”] Delta offered to Nico while Raven took a few moments to regain her somposure. After a few breaths, Raven forced herself back to that smug, sarcastic manner she usually held – even if the expression didn’t quite reach her eyes.
[#aa0000 “And you hand the nerve to ask me for answers. Well played Nico, you actually had me fooled into thinking we were on the same side. You’re the manipulative one here.”] Raven retorted, bringing that taunting tone back and feigning indifference. She turned back to the Healer, who had been staring awkwardly at the two during the tense conversation.
[#aa0000 “Wrap this up. I want to be out of here by morning.”] Raven demanded, forcing the Healer to return to his work. By the twitching of Keelyn’s fingers and the stirring behind her eyelids, it looked as if the young woman would wake sometime during the night.
Needing some time to cool off, Raven left Delta to supervise the Healer while she shoved past Nico on her way out the door, meeting an anxious looking Tigress on the way. The two exchanged some brief, cutting words before Raven took off and Janessa entered the safe house, going directly to Nico’s side.
[b “Are you ok? It takes a lot to push Raven’s patience like that… she didn’t hurt you, did she?”]
[b "Of course I have, I'm an open book can't you tell?"] The sarcasm was thick in the dark elemental's voice, it was painfully obvious that they both knew that Nico had an affinity of keeping secrets, especially about his past and Raven would be able to see that a mile away. Nico knew that he was being a bit hypocritical asking about Janessa's past, especially when he could just as easily as ask Janessa herself, when he himself kept so much of his background shrouded in the shadows that he so deftly controlled. He never really expected Raven to tell him what he wanted about Janessa's past, as she said herself it meant telling her own history and that interested him a great deal. She was an interesting woman and the fact that she was all tied up in Janessa's past made her an even more interesting prospect.
[i "Maybe I’ll feel more up to sharing once I’ve learned I can trust you.”] Nico had to suppress a snort of derision, as if Raven would ever trust Nico, the thought was preposterous and Nico wasn't sure whether he would ever trust Raven either, he found it hard to believe anyone who willingly followed Michael, Cody Tanner still aroused suspicion from time to time because of his previous loyalties.
[b "Believe me you're preaching to the choir...I'm well aware that Janessa has a flair for the heroic. You're right if she thinks that she can save one person by throwing her life away she will do it without a second thought and to tell you the truth it scares me. Not much does but her recklessness and determination to keep everyone but herself safe is one of them."] Nico realised that Janessa would say almost the exact same thing as what he himself was thinking. Nico knew his worth was less than hers. He was a killer and she wasn't that was a very important distinction to make. Janessa's only fault was that she cared too much for some people and was too loyal for her own good, there were a number of similarities between the feral he loved and the dark elemental himself and that hadn't escaped his notice, in fact he liked that she understood him in so many ways but Nico loathed that she shared this trait with him. She was worth so much more than a broken man who lived in darkness.
[b "Of course I have ulterior motives, as I'm sure Michael does sending you here. i'm not an idiot Raven. He could have sent anyone to accompany this healer but he chose members of Janessa's old pack. It was rather heavy handed of him, I expect him to tread far more lightly when trying to manipulate us..."] Nico was at least glad to hear that the healer would be finished soon, it was taking far too long for his liking, it hadn't taken Kate this long to recover but maybe Keelyn was far more damaged than the illusionist had ever been. HE was just about to start reminiscing about his first love when Raven said something that made him stop dead in his tracks.
[b "What exactly do you mean by "give you a reason to stay"? Are you talking about defecting from Michael, from what's left of the Sanctuary and joining us? That is a very bold statement and you are smart enough to know that I don't trust you. Why would I ever accept an offer to join you, you give me no reason to believe that you want to join us instead of spying on us for your charming leader. I won't let you be the reason that he finally gets what he wants out of us. I can't pretend to know what he wants or how he's going to get it but I don't want to have anything to do with it. The answer is No Raven."] There was a note of finality in the dark elemental's voice, in truth he quite liked Raven but he knew that Janessa wouldn't approve and he simply couldn't risk that this wasn't a scheme of Michael's to get close to Jackson or any of the others.
Michael was just thinking how simple things at the Organisation were getting and he was a little disappointing how boring it was becoming. Bennett was his puppet without even knowing it, he had used the Catalyst project to give him three incredibly, loyal, incredibly powerful supporters and he was well on his way to removing Pascal as an obstacle. With his new position he could also now arrange for legitimate reasons to find time to study Lucas Lee and find out what he could about the Seer's visions. Bennett was right for once, using the telepath in conjunction with the Seer might actually give them full visions instead of the ramblings that the madman was sporadically babbling. The charmer found himself at Pascal's office and put all thoughts of Lucas from his mind for now, he had other matters to attend to and if all went to plan, which he was confident that it would then Bennett would soon be sitting in this office which meant that Michael himself might as well be. The charmer knocked on the door and waited for a response before entering.
[#cc8000 "Forgive me for interrupting but I was told that you wanted to be kept informed of the Catalyst project. The project was put in motion with three subjects who were put into the field only an hour or two ago and have returned with Dylan Tanner and another super of unknown ability but seems to be another contact of Shadow's and White Tigress'. No injuries were reported on our side and it is unclear whether they even saw their captors. It was a resounding success sir."] Michael masked the pleasure he took in delivering this news and didn't fail to notice the look of surprise on Pascal's face. No doubt the man was wondering how the project could move forward so quickly and be a resounding success, to have two captured two targets at least one of them highly valuable. A powerful Technopath was always a good thing to have in your employ. Michael now needed to use a portion of his ability to guide Adrian Pascal's next move, the man was already inclined to butt heads with Bennett but now his presence was an annoyance, he needed removed from the equation altogether. Letting a thread of his ability seem into his voice, the handsome man continued talking.
[#cc8000 "I think that this project would be better handled under your command sir. Bennett has her uses in developing weapons but now that we know that it works, I see no reason why she should continue in her capacity. She should be, need to be removed from her position. Don't you deserve far more than her, you have been here for so long, done such stellar work while she is nothing more than a lab rat. Replace her and you shall flourish like no one else in the Organisation ever has before."]
Michael was sure that would be enough to get what he wanted but there was one last thing Pascal could do before his usefulness came to an end all together.
[#cc8000 "If I may be so bold sir, I feel like I have served you faithfully and there is one thing that I have wished for for some time. Please sir, could you broker a meeting for me with...with the Director?"]
Raven could sense the lingering hostility as Nico entered the room. She knew that his recent fight with the young Technopath was on his mind and that it would take at least a few hours before that rage dwindled enough for the Elemental to want any contact with the teenager again. That suited Raven perfectly. She knew Delta’s current conversation with Michael revolved around the young boy’s absence and rather vulnerable emotional state. With the boy blinded by anger and hurt, storming off to prove himself, he’d make an easy target; even more so considering his friends and family wouldn’t be looking for him for hours, assuming he needed time to cool off from his fight with Nico. She doubted whether the Elemental would even notice the Technopath was gone until one of the others drew his attention to the fact. Dylan Tanner and his Telepathic friend would be safely in Michael’s hands long before his friends and family realized he was missing. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to keep the Elemental distracted with other matters.
[#aa0000 “You don’t talk much about Tigress’ past? That’s a shock since I’m sure you’ve told her everything about yours.”] Raven retorted with a sarcastic note and a knowing glance. She didn’t have to know Nico well to conclude that he was just as – if not more – secretive than Janessa.
[#aa0000 “As much as I would love to piss Tigress off by spilling all her deep dark secrets, it’s really not my place. Telling her story means telling mine and Delta’s as well, and there are things the three of us would much prefer to stay in the past. Truth be told, you and I barely know each other Shadow. Maybe I’ll feel more up to sharing once I’ve learned I can trust you.”] Raven stated honestly. Reliving those days was painful for all those involved and Raven wasn’t willing to share her own dark history, even if it was an effective way to make Janessa miserable.
[#aa0000 “I will tell you this, though: If you care about her, you should keep an eye on her friends. One thing I learned about Janessa, is that she doesn’t see her own value. Even her parents treated her like dirt compared to her sister. Tigress grew up seeing her only value as a protector – a shield – for everyone else. And by the look of things, she hasn’t changed much. She’s still willing to take risks and go solo if it means protecting the people she sees as more important than herself. She’s done it with her sister, the toddler, you, that pint sized Technopath and his family…. And from what you’ve told me, it sounds like she’s trying to protect her new Alpha too.”] Raven stated, having no doubt Nico would have noticed the trend after his many years fighting side by side with the Feral. This behaviour was something her old pack was very aware of. Talon was often forced to order Janessa not to play hero in certain situations in attempt to keep her safe from herself.
[#aa0000 “You’re getting awfully bold Shadow. Asking about my Alpha? Makes me wonder if you’ve got an ulterior motive?”] Raven questioned, raising a brow at the Elemental. She doubted his questions were simply driven by curiosity, but Raven wasn’t a fool. All of these questions could be answered by Janessa. She would feel her bond with Raven just as easily as Raven had sensed Janessa’s change in loyalty. At least this way, Raven had some control over the information given.
[#aa0000 “No, Delta and I don’t have an Alpha. Despite what Janessa’s actions may lead you to believe, it’s not that easy to replace an Alpha. Our loyalties still lie with Talon… even if he is dead.”] Raven explained. It was that strong tie to their late leader that caused such resentment towards Janessa for abandoning them for a new Alpha. Not to mention the risk of giving that much power to a Feral they don’t know if they can trust. For now, it was easier and far safer not to fulfil the role.
[#aa0000 “The healer is almost finished. It won’t be long now before the girl wakes… which means our time here is limited.”] Raven stated, glancing pointedly towards the door to show she didn’t intend on being overheard by anyone but the healer and Nico himself.
[#aa0000 “Once Keelyn is back on her feet, there will be no reason for us to stay… unless you make one. Let’s be honest, Nico, it wouldn’t hurt to have another Feral around here, especially one that knows Janessa’s history like Delta and I do. I know Tigress and I have our issues and I’m sure she’d be furious to have me stick around, but the truth is, despite our current resentment, Janessa’s still part of my Pack. It’s not so easy to break that bond, even if the little traitor deserted us. I may not like her, but I don’t want to see her dead, either. I could help you keep her safe, if you wanted me to stay. Of course… the choice if yours.”] Raven offered, giving Nico the option to either welcome her into the group or banish her from it upon Keelyn’s revival.
Bennett wasn’t surprised to hear of the success of her new Projects, though the speed at which they fulfilled their mission was impressive, even to her. Bennett knew that her Project was flawless but even she couldn’t have expected them to capture their targets in so little time. She was excited to test their potential, to see what else her new Agents could accomplish, but for now, she was more than happy to bask in their success.
[#ff00ff “Dylan Tanner… oh yes, the Technopath. That little Runt is going to wish he died the first time I stabbed him.”] Bennett hissed. She had fully intended to kill that pesky little Technopath the last time she had the fugitives in her grasp, but Shadow forced her to bring in the healers and save the kid’s life. As tempting as it would be to finish what she started, Bennett knew there was a far better use for the young teen. He had surpassed the Organization’s Technopaths time and time again, demonstrating just how powerful his abilities were. Why waste that potential if they could harness that power for the Organization? As loyal as this brat was, he was still just a child – easily broken if one applied enough pressure. The woman couldn’t deny that the satisfaction of breaking that irritating little teenager was far less about his value to the Organization and more about her own personal vendetta.
[#ff00ff “I will have the Technopath moved to the containment cell in my lab. I have plans for that one… as for the other, see to it that he’s tested and questions as usual. In fact, why don’t you choose one of the new research assistants to do the grunt work for you. It’s about time you hand your own minions, don’t you think Oliver?”] Bennett offered, showing a smug gleam in her eye that conveyed just how pleased she was with his work.
[#ff00ff “We heard intel that there was a Telepath working with the fugitives, if we were lucky enough to get our hands on him, this will be an even more remarkable success. Pascal has been having troubles getting much more than muddled glimpses out of that Seer he’s got locked up, and it’s been years. My research on Telepaths – albeit rather limited, as rare as they are – leads me to hypothesize a rather simple solution. If the Telepath can draw out more complete visions and thoughts from the Seer’s mind, we may actually be able to forge legible premonitions. Of course, this theory would have to be tested and depends entirely on us getting out hands on such a rare ability. Still, if you managed to capture one… Oliver, can’t you just imagine the jealous resentment on Pascal’s face?”] Bennett – clearly in a good mood with these latest developments – was practically beaming at the thought of showing up her college.
[#ff00ff “Yes Oliver, you do certainly deserve a promotion. I will have the paperwork submitted to head office and you can consider yourself no longer a lowly assistant. I, of course, will still be overseeing your projects – just a formality really, until you get used to your new position. But you have access to the labs, the subjects, the equipment, and are encouraged to take initiative with your own projects, so long as they don’t interrupt my own work. You’ve done well in the short time you’ve been here Oliver, I hope you keep these high standards in your own work.”] Bennett offered, giving praise where it was due and outlining the benefits of being her new partner. [i Partner]… well, more like glorified assistant in Bennett’s eyes. She had no intention of giving him equal power and authority to herself, as was evident in the restrictions she’d set for him. But if marking him as a step above the other Assistance would keep him happy and buy her time to overthrow Pascal, she’d do whatever it took.
Nico was livid and honestly he couldn't remember being so angry in a very long time, probably when he had beaten pascal to a pulp with his bare hands was the most recent time he had felt this full of rage. Who exactly did Dylan think he was, preaching about the truth and casting doubt on Jason with a few overheard scraps of conversation taken out of context, the boy was a fool. Raven's comment brought a cynical smile to Nico's lips, she was smart enough to figure out that the one who was watching them most often was a telepath but to rub his face in the comment was exactly what he would expect of the woman despite not knowing her for very long Nico found himself liking the feral despite who she worked for.
[b "Am I really that obvious? You must be able to guess why I'm here...White Tigress. What aren't you telling me about her past. I know you're not going to spill your entire life story to me and I'm not asking you to. I just want to know more about her past...we don't talk about it much."] It might be nothing, it might just be Nico being paranoid but the dark elemental had a strong feeling that Raven hadn't told him something important about their time together in the old pack. Nico still couldn't get over the fact that an Alpha could kill one of their pack. He meant what he said to Dylan, Jason did deserve the benefit of the doubt and he did trust the empath...to a point. Like it or not there was no way around the fact that Jason was imbedded deep into the Organisation and as far as Nico could see that wasn't exactly going to change anytime soon, despite Janessa's determination to change all of that.
[b "Would you mind if I ask you a personal question? Do you have an alpha now?"] That was another thing that Nico was curious about Janessa had a new alpha in Jason but had the rest of her old pack moved on? Was Raven an alpha to Delta and the others and how did that work if she took orders from Michael as well or was her alpha under Michael's influence. Maybe she didn't have one...that opened a whole other load of questions. A wild, insane impractical thought struck the dark elemental. Could they somehow bond Raven, and possibly Delta, to Jason. It would weaken Michael's hand and strengthen theirs but Janessa was sure to hate the idea. It would make tactical sense but would be near impossible to implement, how the hell would he even pry the two ferals away from the Sanctuary's leader. Nico knew how much Michael valued his pawns, he would hate to lose his game pieces if he didn't have to.
[b "How much longer is this going to take. It didn't take nearly this long when Ka...when I saw this happen before."]
Michael watched the whole takedown on the cameras that the three Catalyst enhanced supers wore and in his opinion nothing could have gone better. Bennett would be thrilled, clearly her Catalyst programme worked and knowing their abilities before and now seeing them in action he had to admit that the Catalyst certainly had an enormous impact. All it made him think about was how powerful he could become if he too was enhanced by the Catalyst...how he longed for such power but he knew that submitting himself to the project would only result in his discovery as a super and having that little secret surface in the Organisation now would be more than a little problematic. HE hurried to Bennett's office to break the good news, after all she had promised to promote him and make him her partner if this worked.
[#cc8000 "Excuse me Ms Bennett, I thought you would want to know. Mirage, Zeke and Tempo have just secured two Supers Dylan Tanner and another that we have yet to identify but he appears to be an associate of those rogue supers that are so irksome. They will be put in cells by now, if you wish to question them I believe they will be in place by now. Shall I break the news to Pascal that your Catalyst Project was an overwhelming success. I'm sure it would cause him great distress knowing that you will soon have his job. He is rather outdated isn't he."] Michael sneered as he spoke, truth be told he took great pleasure in pitting the two against him and despite the fact that he loathed Bennett's views on supers he was sure that backing her would be the better play. Pascal's best days were behind him, he never had been the same since he had his face caved in by Nico. Michael had to work very hard to keep his face straight as he thought of that, he would have liked to see the man in such a painful position. Of course Michael was in it all for himself and when the time was right he would leave Bennett behind him. She was still quite useful for now so he had to tolerate her...for now. It was the Director that was the mystery, in all his time at the Organisation Michael had never seen the man that ran everything at the Organisation.
[#cc8000 "If you need anything Ms Bennett you know that I am at your service although there is the small matter of our partnership given the success of the Catalyst project..."]
Janessa knew she had crossed a line by bringing Katherine into this. Jadon’s harsh tone and cold stare didn’t surprise her in the least, though they did at least give her reason to pause. She understood her Alpha’s reasoning and did appreciate his efforts to keep her and her team safe. What concerned her was his insistence to do this on his own. Breaking in may have been more possible for Jason in his position, but it was no less dangerous. If he was caught, his own life or freedom could be at stake. Janessa paled at the thought of the Director stripping Jason of the little liberty he still had in his captive life. She knew that rescuing Lucas held inevitable dangers for anyone involved, she just didn’t like that idea of all that risk settling on the shoulders of one person.
[b “I haven’t forgotten what Bennett is capable of.”] Janessa retorted with a cold edge to her voice. Her time spent a prisoner of that soulless woman was etched in the Feral’s mind and Janessa would sooner take a death sentence than fall to that fate again. But it was her experience with Bennett that made her that much more concerned about her Alpha.
[b “Why are you trying to do all of this on your own? You have a team Jason! You have a pack, you have friends, you have family. Maybe it is more dangerous for me to try to break in than it would be for you. But you can’t tell me that you’re better off alone than you are with back up. Please, for once, just let us help you.”] Janessa insisted. She was only partially satisfied with Jason’s promise to call if he needed her. The Feral could only hope that he would follow through and not drive himself further into this mess without using the resources that were offered to him. For now, there was nothing more to say on the matter. Janessa had already been gone far longer than expected and she didn’t want Nico or the Tanners getting worried.
[b “Stay safe Jason. And please do call me if you need me.”] Janessa offered in farewell before slipping away, using the shadows to cover her escape from the Organization.
[#ff6622 “So Jason’s earned the benefit of the doubt, but I haven’t? I know what I heard Nico! I came to you with this because I thought you trusted me!”] Dylan argued back. He was hurt by the realization that Nico would take Jason’s and Janessa’s word over his but in his current state that hurt just turned to anger and frustration. All the pent up emotions Dylan had concealed from the pain of losing his sister, to the guilt surrounding Keelyn’s condition, to the suspicion and betrayal he felt towards Janessa was bubbling far too close to the surface. He would have been smart to just walk away, shut himself in his room, and wait for this wave of emotion to pass. Unfortunately, the young Technopath wasn’t thinking clear enough to take that course of action. Instead, he stayed and argued, snapping his accusations at Nico until the Elemental had lost his patience.
Whether it was the heat of the moment or the hard truth finally revealed, Nico’s words cut deep. It didn’t help that nearly everything Nico said confirmed the darker thoughts in Dylan’s own mind. Not only the recent tragedies, but every incident from the past that Dylan had felt responsible for was laid out in front of him, marking the Technopath as the root of every one. Keelyn’s current condition, Emma’s death, his and Cody’s capture at the hands of Michael, the deal Nico was forced to make, the risks the Tanner’s had imposed on the entire group since they met… Dylan had worked hard to convince himself that his recent efforts to protect the family had made up for his past mistakes, but that obviously wasn’t the case. Nico held the boy responsible and Dylan was in no place to argue.
The younger Technopath that Nico had met years before would have handled the situation far differently. He would have dropped his aggression instantly, stifled a sob and broken into a steady stream of apologies and pleas for a chance to make things right. He would have worn that pain and guilt prominently on his young face and shown Nico exactly what impact his words had on the boy. But the Dylan that stood before Nico today was not that same innocent child and his reaction was far more adversarial.
[#ff6622 “Maybe you shouldn’t be trying so hard to save me then, Shadow. Clearly, it’d be safer for everyone if I wasn’t here.”] He spat with a bitter and cutting edge to his tone – one that sounded foreign coming from the boy that had always been so eager to please the group. He didn’t allow the hurt to show in his face, only anger and resentment. He took Nico’s invitation to leave, saying nothing to his brother or sister as he disappeared with only the Telepath at his side.
The journey had been quick, painless, and relatively quiet. Having Andrew at his side made Dylan over confident and his recent fight with Nico left him feeling far more impulsive than usual. He didn’t even hesitate when he saw the injured Feral lying broken on the ground. Despite his current distrust towards Janessa, he was at her side in an instant, combing his mind for any bit of knowledge or training that could spare her life. He was just raising his hand to his communicator in a desperate attempt to call for help, when he felt his limbs ripped back and bound faster than the boy could comprehend.
[#ff6622 “Andrew! No, let him go! Leave him…”] A sharp pain beckoned the black shroud that settled over the young Technopath’s mind, silencing his cry and leaving him at the mercy of his captors. The last bitter, self-depreciating thought that flashed through the boy’s mind was that at least he wouldn’t be around to cause anymore trouble for the others.
Raised voices and sharp insults were easily caught by the prying ears of an attentive Feral. Even muffled by the walls and closed doors, Raven caught nearly every word of the fight between Nico and Dylan. She wasn’t surprised that the boy eagerly fled the safe house, judgement clouded by his emotions, nor was she shocked to see the Elemental return to his watchful post at Keelyn’s bedside. The comatose woman was making huge gains in her condition. According to the healer, it would take just a few more days, maybe a week before they would see signs of Keelyn waking up. Nico and Janessa had hardly left the girl unattended during the process, clearly distrusting her company. It was no surprise that while Nico was losing ground with the other members of his team, he would seek to protect those he still could – Keelyn.
Delta had excused himself to speak with Michael and while his absence wasn’t overtly suspicious, Raven knew better than to leave the stirring thoughts of the Elemental to wander towards suspicion. The way he was watching her, however, gave Raven the opening she needed to by her Pack some time.
[#008800 “You’re an Elemental, Shadow, not a mind reader. You can stare at me all you want, but the only way you’ll get your answers is to ask.”] Raven spoke, keeping that smug, teasing tone she typically carried.
Jason stood there his face a mask of calm serenity as Janessa huffed and grumbled about how it was all so unfair that they could do nothing about Lucas but again she had missed his point entirely. Sometimes that girl just didn't listen. At the mention of his sister's name Jason's eyes narrowed and his voice became noticeably harder.
[#1473b7 "Watch yourself Pierce. Use your brain, if any of your little group tried to break in you'd be caught before you even knew that an alarm has been raised. I didn't say that we shouldn't bother trying, I said that YOU shouldn't do it. I'll do it myself. I don't need to break in, I won't raise alarms. I said that I couldn't walk in any time I wanted but that doesn't mean I can't get in. I have guard duties down there, I can probably manage to swing something but I'd be burning one or two bridges and calling in a lot of debts."] Jason didn't care about Lucas one way or the other, what he had to endure was nothing short of horrific but it didn't mean anything to him. The most difficult part of freeing Lucas would be trying to find a way to justify that not having the Seer would benefit the Organisation, if Jason could reason that out then he was free to act but until then he was bound to make the Organisation stronger. It might take some time but he was sure he would be able to do it eventually.
[#1473b7 "The best thing you can do is be as far away from here as possible. It won't do any good for you to be caught her and left to Bennett's experiments. The Director won't stop them either, so don't think that your bargain with him gives you any leverage, until he wants you, you will be at Bennett's mercy and as far as I can tell she doesn't have a shred of it. As you should remember..."] Jason knew that Janessa had already suffered at the researcher's hands and that alone should make her wary of the woman. He did have an ulterior motive however and if Janessa was as far away from here as possible then she couldn't possibly make any more bargains with the Director and that was his biggest fear. Despite Janessa being an intelligent woman she often let her emotions rule her judgements, something Jason was guilty of from time to time, but he had been working on that aspect of his personality.
[#1473b7 "Get out of here, I'll need a bit of time to think of a way to free Lucas but you have my word i'll do my best.I'll let you know if I need you."]
[b "Ever since Kate was killed Jason has been on our side, he has helped us every time we've asked him for help likely at great personal risk to himself. He's earned the benefit f the doubt."] Dylan argued back, surprising Nico with his vehemence. Dylan wasn't the only one whose patience was wearing thin.
[b "I had to go out on "some secret mission" as you put it because your sister got herself killed! Why do you think Michael let you and the rest of your family leave? He doesn't give anything for nothing! If it wasn't for me likely the rest of your family would also be dead and you along with it. Not to mention waking Keelyn up from her coma, which as well know was your fault as well. She put herself into a coma so that you could come out of one. I seem to spend all the free time I have cleaning up the messes that you and your family leave behind! You might have grown up since we first met but sometimes I don't think you've learned anything! I do what I have to in order to keep you safe and I don't really care if you agree with it or not now get out of my sight!"] Nico's temper was raging and he didn't care if his words hurt Dylan as they were likely to do. [i "Fine. Trust her if you want to, but I’m only interested in the truth.”] The truth? What did Dylan know about the truth, he was just a kid and still very naïve at that. He knew he had crossed the line with what he had said but he didn't care, he was just so stressed lately. Between everything involving Emma's death and Michael's goons being here to heal Keelyn along with learning about Janessa's old pack Nico just wanted everything to be over. Janessa was his rock, keeping him grounded but hearing that she too was snooping around the Organisation and was worrying him. Nico swept out of the empty room and found himself in the room witht he healer working on Keelyn watched over by Janessa's former pack. Nico leaned against the wall, his black eyes watching Raven. She intrigued him, what she knew about Janessa's past, what hadn't she told him about their time together?
The telepath looked at Dylan like this was a strange request, he was still a little shy around these people being the newest of the group by far, that was if they had actually accepted him into their group and weren't just keeping him around because it was convenient. With a nod the telepath agreed to follow the young kid, still eager to help them out any way that he could.
Michael listened to the communication from Delta with a wry smile on his face, with the technopath and the telepath out in the open Michael had the chance to kill two birds with one stone. Earlier that day Michael's three willing pawns, Mirage, Tempo and Zeke had been subjected to Bennett's new project with the Catalyst and the results were favourable, time for them to be put in play. If this worked not only would he be promoted and in the Organisation's good graces, he would weaken his enemies and possibly gain a few new supporters depending how things resolved, if not no harm done.
[#cc8000 "Stand down Delta, I don't want to give them any reason to suspect you. I have other factors at work. Stay where you are and continue doing what you are doing."] Michael ended the call with Delta before issuing a new order to the three supers under his control.
Dylan and the telepath walked down the dark streets, taking care to hide if anyone was getting too close, Andrew's ability made this all too easy as he could hear the thoughts of those approaching and was able to keep a good lookout for anything suspicious. It didn't take long, or need telepathic abilities, before they found something that made them freeze in their tracks. Lying there in the middle of the street was the bloody, barely breathing body of Janessa. One of her legs was sticking out at an odd angle, unmistakably broken while her face was swollen, covered in bruises and had a bad cut on her head had stained part of her hair red with blood and her breathing was shallow and inconsistent. It looked really bad.
The two supers tried desperately to do what they could for their clearly dyeing friend, they were so preoccupied they didn't realise just what danger was creeping up on them. Tempo raced by as only a speedster could and thanks to the Catalyst's involvement he was even faster than Emma, he slapped a pair on handcuffs on both Dylan and Andrew before they knew what was happening.
[#17686e "What the hell..."] The few words were all that the telepath could get out before he was hit on the back of the head with what felt like a brick, in truth it was the fist of Zeke, the density shifter, who had turned his skin as hard as concrete before doing the same to Dylan Tanner knocking them both unconscious. The bloody, broken mess of Janessa's body disappeared and a small woman with short blonde hair emerged from a side street. This was Mirage, the illusionist. With their quarry in hand they headed back to the Organisation, Bennet and most importantly Michael.
Janessa was trying not to feel bitter, but after hearing the horrors Lucas Lee was being subjected to, it was hard to turn away and accept that nothing could be done. She wasn’t sure if she could return to her life knowing that while she was free, living in the safety of her family and friends, the Seer was being tortured mercilessly for hours at a time. Janessa couldn’t help but wonder if Lucas might prefer death. She knew that if she were in his place, she’d welcome any fate that would put a stop to that magnitude of suffering. But if it were the Feral locked away instead of the Seer, would her friends be just as ready to abandon her?
[b “So you’re saying it’s hopeless and we shouldn’t bother even trying? Would you feel the same if it were me in Lucas’ place? Or Nico? Or Kate?”] Janessa knew dropping Jason’s sister’s name was unfair, but she couldn’t think of any other way to stress how strongly she felt about this. Still, without breaking her bond with Jason entirely, she was forced to abide by his orders. She wouldn’t try to save Lucas, no matter how much it hurt her and her friends to leave him in that awful prison.
[b “Is there anything else we could do to help Lucas? Anything to draw the Organization’s attention away from the Seer? I won’t try to save him if you don’t want me to, but if there was anything else I could do to make things easier for him, I would.”]
Dylan’s eyes narrowed to a frustrated scowl when Nico questioned his information. Did the Elemental really think he’d be casting doubt and blame towards his psudo-sister if he wasn’t absolutely sure about his intel? Sadly, Dylan didn’t have that unwavering trust that Janessa and Nico seemed to share for one another. Both of them had kept far too many secrets from the Technopath in the past and he was far past giving them the benefit of the doubt. Dylan knew what he heard and no sly justifications on Janessa’s part could distract him from what he knew to be true. Jason gave the order and Janessa intended to follow it at the cost of Lucas’ life.
[#ff6633 “Hyperion told her it was impossible to break in and he forbid her to even try. Nico, he works for the Organization! What if he’s not the double agent Janessa thinks he is? What if he’s turning her away from Lucas because he’s protecting the Organization’s assets! Janessa is going to let that man die just because her Alpha told her to!”] Dylan argued back. He wasn’t usually this confrontational with Nico, but the Technpath’s patience had grown far too thin.
[#ff6633 “I wouldn’t have to eavesdrop if you two would tell me the truth! My sister wasn’t even in the ground yet and you two were out almost getting yourselves killed on some secret missions you won’t tell us anything about. If I have to spy on you to make sure you don’t do anything stupid, I will.”] Dylan insisted, having no intention of backing down. He wouldn’t apologize for breaking their privacy if it meant keeping them safe, especially when that valuable information could shed some light on situations like this! Dylan knew Janessa’s dishonest history well. More than likely, the Feral would come back with some excuse as to why they couldn’t save Lucas yet, and hurry to distract the group with some other, more urgent mission. The Technopath wasn’t going to allow that to happen this time. He wasn’t going to abandon Lucas, no matter what lies Janessa returned with.
[#ff6633 “Fine. Trust her if you want to, but I’m only interested in the truth.”] Dylan dismissed as he turned on his heels and headed out into the hallway. He wouldn’t rick Janessa getting back and spinning Nico some story to convince him to abandon Lucas. Dylan would just have to intercept her before she reached the safe house and force the truth out of her. Fortunately, there was one member of their group that was perfect for this type of confrontation.
[#ff6633 “Hey Peter, do you think you could help me with something? It’s important. I need you to come with me to meet Janessa, before she gets back to the safe house.”] Dylan called to the Telepath, hoping the man would accompany him. Janessa wouldn’t be able to lie to the mind-reader and Nico would have to trust Peter’s abilities over the Feral’s words. What Dylan didn’t know was that separating the Telepath and Technopath from the safety of the group would play right into the Organization’s hands. Bennett had ordered Michael to test his new recruits by capturing two of the fugitives and Michael’s inside informants were quick to react when they heard the youngest Tanner making plans to leave.
Delta excused himself from the safe house under the guise of a perimeter check. Once he was far enough away from any meddling ears, he contacted his leader with the information.
[#1122aa “Michael, I’ve got something. The mind-reader and the kid are on their way out, headed east towards the Organization building. The Feral still hasn’t returned yet and we can easily cause a scene to draw the attention of the remaining Tanners and the Elemental. It’d say you’ve got a couple hours before those two would be missed.”]
[#06b9ea "I know it's not fair but that's just how it is. I'm sorry about your friend, I really am but sometimes there is just nothing that you can do about it. It might seem harsh to hear but life isn't fair and sometimes no matter what you do, things don't always work out the way you want them to."] Jason wanted to comfort his pack but he was nervous that Janessa was going to do something reckless and stupid, lets be honest here, she didn't always have the best track record. If he made it clear that there was nothing to be done to help Lucas then maybe there was a chance that Janessa would drop the whole thing altogether. His worst fear was that Janessa would somehow try and make another deal with the Director in order to free Lucas from his torture. The Director would never go for it, no feral no matter how skilled was worth what a Seer could do, but Janessa could easily get in over her head and tangled up in so many binding agreements with the Director before she knew it. It was a delicate situation and one that Jason hoped he was handling as carefully as necessary.
Nico wasn't entirely surprised to find Dylan when he opened the door to the room that Nico was in, Nico had spent most of his time hanging just out of sight of Keelyn's door in case Raven or Delta tried anything funny. The tone of the young technopath's voice was grave enough to worry Nico but his words were something else entirely.
[b "Well if he knows where he is and what kind of security surrounds him then it should be easy to get him out. The Organisation's facilities haven't exactly been that hard to infiltrate."] Nico was growing a little irritated with the Organisation's constant meddling in his life, it was to be expected but half his time these days seemed to be breaking into one of their facilities for one reason or another, truth be told it was tiresome. Hearing that Janessa agreed to not try and free one of Nico's oldest friends did seem...odd but the dark elemental trusted Janessa explicitly.
[b "I'm sure it wasn't like that Dylan, are you sure you heard what you think you heard? Besides if Janessa really was refusing to rescue Lucas there must be a reason for it. I trust her and I can't believe that I'm actually saying this but I trust Jason as well. He's come through for us almost every time we've needed him and he has this pack bond thing with her. i don't think he'd put her in harms way. Did Jason say that he wouldn't help Lucas or just that Janessa shouldn't? There could be a hundred explanations for what you heard through her communicator. I'm not particularly happy that you are eavesdropping on us all either..."] Nico might be putting on a brave face and while everything he said was entirely possible the truth was that he was just as unnerved by the overhead conversation as Dylan was. Despite his reservations he meant what he said; he really did trust Janessa, they had been keeping secrets from each other since the first day they met and it had led to nothing but disaster for everyone. Nico was determined that this time things would be different.
[b "We'll wait for her to get back and explain herself, then we can figure out what our next move will be. I promise you this Dylan, we won't leave Lucas to suffer like this for a second longer than he has to but we need to be smart. The Organisation are getting more dangerous and we need to account for that. When Janessa gets back she can tell us the whole story, until then I don't want to hear anything else about the matter."]
Janessa felt the guilt and the desperation set in as Jason confirmed Dylan’s suspicions. Not only was Lucas being held captive by the Organization, but he was being relentlessly tortured, kept near death without a moment of reprieve for years! The fact that she had only met the man once, didn’t soften the situation. Janessa may have been nothing more to a stranger to Lucas, but the kindness the man had shown them upon their escape from Vincent Boyd years ago was something she had not taken for granted. He sheltered them when no one else would. Even with his ignorance to his own abilities, Lucas had put his life on the line to save three stranded Supers, knowing the risk it put him in. And what had they done in return? Abandoned him, forgotten him, and allowed him to suffer this endless hell without even a second thought!
Hearing Lucas’ current condition only strengthened Janessa’s resolve and she was now more determined than ever to get the Precog out of here safely. But as that determination burned, Janessa was caught completely blindsided by Jason’s words. This was no longer a warning… this was a command. The authority in his tone fell like a weight on her shoulders, and the Feral instinctively bowed her head in submission. Jason had never given her an Alpha order before. He had always allowed her to make her own decisions, even against his approval. Even though she knew Jason was only trying to protect her, the order was so finite; so unwavering, that it nearly made Janessa cringe.
[b “It’s not fair to leave him there, Jason. He’s a friend… he helped us when no one else would. How can we just leave him to this? It’s a fate worse than death.”] Janessa pleaded, but she could feel the weight of his order lingering overhead. It wasn’t as consuming as the Director’s commands, and Janessa knew if she resisted enough, she could break the order… but if she did, she would also break her Pack bond with Jason. For probably the first time since Janessa and Jason met, she dropped her argument and nodded obediently to his order.
[b “If that’s what you want Alpha… I won’t try to break in.”] She conceded. Janessa’s head swan with the consequences of her decision. Not only would she be condemning that kind man to endless days of torment, but she’d also have to find a way to convince Nico to drop this. With or without Jason’s intel, Nico would find out where Lucas was being held. It wasn’t in his nature to give up so easily, especially on people he cared about. But if Janessa was forbidden to help and if this place was as dangerous as Jason said, she couldn’t let Nico go in alone!
Janessa’s troubling thoughts were interrupted by Jason’s confident tone. Of course he’d fine it ridiculous that two Ferals would be able to take down an Empath, and truth be told, Janessa knew he could take care of himself if it came to a fight. She just wished that was all Delta and Raven were capable of. Despite herself, Janessa couldn’t help but shine a relieved smile when Jason assured her he wasn’t going anywhere.
[b “Thank you Jason… I really needed to hear that. I know you can protect yourself, I’m just nervous around those two, that’s all. You can take them in a fight, I have no doubt about that. Just keep in mind… there’s more than one way to hurt someone. I just wanted to warn you they were coming. A Pack protects it’s Alpha, just as much as the Alpha protects his Pack.”] She assured him.
[#112288 “You sure about this Kid? You know he’s going to be pissed. Maybe you should wait and see what she says once she gets back?”] Cody cautioned, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. Sarah was putting Jackson down for a sleep, leaving the two brothers to discuss their options. Both knew that Nico and Janessa would be furious once they learned what the Tanners had been doing, but with the recent loss of their sister, the boys would take that chance if it meant not losing anyone else. Still, Cody wasn’t looking forward to the backlash, especially since Dylan was insisting to take the brunt of it on his own.
[#ff6622 “So she can lie to us again? Nico and Janessa have been keeping secrets from us and each other since day one! You really think she’s going to be open and honest about this? Nico needs to know what’s going on, and I’m not going to sit here wasting time when I can actually do something to help. Trust me Cody, I know what I’m doing.”] Dylan insisted. The brothers had decided it was better to leave Cody out of the front lines for this, but it didn’t make it any easier to watch his little brother rush off to confront Nico on his own.
Dylan had matured a lot since he had first run into Nico years before. He was no longer that shy, cowardly little kid hidden away in his computer lab. The years had hardened him, made him more confident and far more assertive. He was able to push back his nerves and walk into Nico’s room with his head held high, prepared for whatever reaction he may have.
[#ff6622 “Nico, I need to talk to you. You’re really not going to like this, but it’s important.”] Dylan insisted.
[#ff6622 “Jason does know about Lucas. He knows where he’s being kept, he knows about the security, and he knows exactly what the Organization has been doing to him all these years. But he’s forbidden Janessa to save him. Alpha’s orders, she has to do what he says. Janessa’s going to leave Lucas to die.”] Dylan stated with assurance. He wasn’t trying to cause a rift between Shadow and Tigress, but he couldn’t stand idly by while an innocent man suffered because of Janessa’s inability to break Jason’s orders.
[#ff6622 “I was sick of the secrets… The last time you and Janessa went off on your own, you both came back badly injured and exhausted. I didn’t want either of you to end up like my sister, so I hacked your communicators. I’ve been listening to Janessa’s conversations since she left the safe house, that’s how I know about Jason. I heard it for myself Nico. He forbid her to save Lucas and she agreed.”]
Nico listened to what the young technopath had to say and the dark elemental trusted everything the kid had to say without question, Dylan had prooved himself time and time again so if he gave any information the chances were that it was correct. If the disappearances were not being investigated then the Organisation must be involved in some way, either by actually taking them or simply exerting pressure to make sure the case simply was never looked into. Hearing Dylan talk about how Lucas was probably being caged like and animal, experimented on and possibly even tortured, his heart sank, it was a horrible thought to contemplate. Lucas had been a good friend when he was young and despite not being particularly close as they grew up he was still a good man and didn't deserve whatever it was that he was suffering.
[b "I know you'll do everything you can for him. I know I may not always be enthusiastic about the pack bond you have with Jason but right now i'm just grateful for any lead we might get. Do what you need to do, i'll meet you there later."] Given that Nico could travel practically anywhere in the blink of an eye it was better for him to wait until Janessa had spoken to Jason before leaving to Lucas' old house to try and find any clues as to what happened to him. Besides Nico really didn't want to leave Keelyn any more vulnerable than she had to be and even if he took one of the Tanners with him to Lucas' it would still mean that the other two would stay here with Janessa's old pack. It wasn't something that Nico liked but what choice did he have? Besides he probably wasn't going to be away for too long, what was the worst that could happen?
Jason just left the Director's office, the man had insisted on having him in the room while he made his phone calls and signed papers, it was frightfully dull but the Director did it on a regular basis, Jason suspected it was an exercise in power. As he sat there bored, his senses sharpened which could only mean one thing and he wasn't sure how he felt about it. Jason made his excuses and left following to where the bond led him and eventually found himself in front of the feral.
[#06b9ea "Pierce, good to see you as well."] Jason couldn't help but force a smile out, despite repeatedly telling her to distance herself from him Janessa never wavered and that loyalty was refreshing. Her next line of questioning brought a furrowed brow and a frown to the Empath's face as she was now treading on very dangerous territory.
[#06b9ea "Lee? Yeah we have him in custody although...it's quite grim. he's not a normal super. He's being held in the most secure rooms in the building, no one can get in without specific authorisation, including me. This isn't somewhere you can just waltz in. I think it's even more secure than the Director's office. I know how you think, and you can't break into this place, it's simply not possible. I forbid you to even try it."] Jason's voice harened at that last sentiment but it was for her own good. Not only would she get herself and anyone else with her caught but if Lee really was a friend then it would do no go anyone seeing him in that condition. The man had been tortured every day for three years, kept on the very edge of death so that he could be farmed for fragments of the future to use. It was a truly disgusting sight.
[#06b9ea "Ha, only two? I think i'll be fine, after all I'd have all the same tricks they would and one or two other of my own. I think I can deal with them. Pierce, listen to me when I say this because I mean it, If they want to get to you through me, they're going to have to bring a whole lot more firepower to do that. I'm not going anywhere."]
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