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HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR MOTHER, BABY,
STANDING IN THE SHADOWS?
by Author's Name
"It's ten-forty-five. I got out of the neighborhood and pulled over at the first mailbox I found. I want you to get this last tape, if only because of the phone billswait, a car is coming"
Stop. Rewind. Play.
"wait, a car is coming" Jack Russell's voice spoke from beyond the grave, through the convenience of a cassette tape and a stereo system.
Tyrus Absalom reached over to the stereo and pulled out the tape. Although Absalom had just arrived on a red-eye flight from Washington, he didn't show the slightest hint of fatigue; he regarded fatigue, or any other human feeling, as a sign of weakness. Absalom held up the tape. "We found this in the mailbox, in an envelope addressed to you. We believe the car in question was carrying the SIRECOM agent who killed Mister Russell. Fortunately, our car chased her off before she could retrieve this."
Absalom's employer tapped his finely-manicured fingers on the endtable. "What about Russell himself? How is he?"
"Quite dead. Our assistance came a little too late."
Absalom's employer frowned, and removed a white pawn from his chessboard. "Such a messy job... so unlike Owen's usual caliber of work. The Hauptmann situation must really have him upset. And that," he said, toying with the black king, "will cause him to make increasingly more frequent and more fatal mistakes. Until finally, he himself ends his long and interminable reign."
"Helped along by you, sir?" Absalom flashed an uncharacteristic and rather conspiratorial grin.
"Undoubtedly," said Jarvin Tazakles. He toppled the king over, and picked up a black knight. Any good chess player always had more than one angle of attack, and it was time to move to his second front: the loyal, deadly, and oh-so-manipulable Dan Carter.
Dan Carter was entering his third week of captivity, in the dingy Chicago apartment he'd been confined to ever since leaving the Colony. But his captors, Anne Benson and Harvey Hauptmann, were the ones going stir crazy. After a couple weeks of this squalid existence, both of them had exhausted every "Three's Company" joke they could think of, and they were starting to snap at each other a lot. Things couldn't hold on much longer, and the situation wasn't helped by the fact that Carter took a perverse glee in every squabble they had.
The last fight was precipitated by a TV broadcast which showed Eric Anderson, Tempest himself, apparently returned from the dead and walking around New York City.
"He can help us!" yelled Harvey. "He's the most powerful Omega in the world, for heaven's sake!"
Anne tapped her foot and tried to be civil. "Grandpa, for the tenth time, he's just a sixteen year old boy. He can't help us fight a man like Cornelius Owen. And how will we find him, anyway?"
"Dammit, Annie, if we just had him with us at our meeting "
"What meeting? We still haven't figured out how to meet Owen without getting screwed "
Harvey started to pound his fist on their second-hand table, but Anne telekinetically stopped him. "We don't need to shatter what precious little furniture we have, grandpa."
Harvey glared at her, his hand still frozen in midair. "Annie, I swear sometimes you are just like your mother. Sometimes you are both so obstinate "
"Yeah, well maybe we both get it from you, big guy!" Anne dropped her telekinesis, and Harvey, caught by surprise, dropped his hand into the table anyway. It split in two.
They both stood there sheepishly, until Harvey quietly said, "Which one of us gets to say 'I told you so'?"
Before Anne could answer, a loud moan sounded from the cot that held Dan Carter. "Oh, great," muttered Anne, "we woke up Sleeping Beauty. More fun from our little fascist peanut gallery."
Anne and Harvey walked over to the cot, which was set up before the cheap black-and-white TV that Anne had gotten to keep Dan complacent. (Since they lacked the money to buy one, Anne telepathically convinced a pawn-shop owner to give it to her.) Tempest was no longer on the TV, instead an announcer was droning on about some rock concert. Dan, oblivious to everything, was twisting and turning as much as the handcuffs would allow.
"Another Vietnam dream?" Harvey asked. Ever since Anne had invaded Dan's subconscious in an interrogation, he'd been plagued by old terrorswhich pleased Anne and Harvey immensely, since Anne could scan him for more information.
Anne gently, carefully reached out with her telepathy. "No, this one is different... it's... "
An open grave, filled with bodies. Thousands of bodies, Wes Hickman and Cornelius Owen and Harvey and Anne and Dan right on top. A giant was straddling the grave, pouring bodies into it from his immense red mouth. A shirt with the Greek letter omega and an Uncle Sam hat completed the all-too-familiar picture of the giant, who looked up and seemed to recognize Anne. I will claim you, he said, as I have claimed generations before you, and Anne's mother came pouring out of his mouth in a tide of blood.
Anne screamed and broke contact with Dan. The next thing she knew, she was lying on the apartment floor. Next to her, Dan was wide awake, but silent and frightened. Harvey was standing over her, looking very worried and confused.
"What was it, Annie? Are you okay?"
Anne sat up. "I don't understand... Carter was having the same dream that you and I had... the one with the giant."
"Carter was having it? But how?"
Anne massaged her forehead. "I wish I knew. Maybe there's a common factor... but between us and Carter?"
"Here, Annie, let me help you think." Harvey moved to turn off the television, still blaring on about the rock concert.
"Wait!" Anne yelled, telekinetically restraining Harvey once again. His hand was inches away from the knob, which would turn off the television, which was currently showing the Rolling Stones logo of an immense, blood-red mouth.
"I can't believe I'm doing this," grumbled Wes "Interface" Hickman as his fingers tapped into the electronic keypad lock. The lock opened itself easily; too easily, thought Hickman, because this job is beneath SIRECOM's elite "Seekers" unit. Particularly when there are far more important things to do, like capturing Harvey Hauptmann and Anne Benson, or keeping Cornelius Owen from taking over the agency.
But Brenda Washington, the nominal head of SIRECOM and Hickman's boss, had ordered him to make this run, so that was that. Perhaps it was because she didn't completely trust the other two Seekers. While the man known as Phase had served with distinction on a number of missions, he also had a strange case of amnesia which erased all memories of his previous life. And Susan Lee, known on the job as "Hyper," had never worked with the main missions team before. It was possible, albeit unlikely, that either one could turn traitor.
Although, as Hickman walked past the rows of slabs and freezer units, he was hard pressed to see how a turncoat could hurt them much on this run. Phase was only there to slip through walls and open non- electronic doors, something Hickman probably could've managed with his lockpicks. And Hyper's ability to boost other people's physiologies, giving them anything from a temporary adrenaline burst to a complete and instant burn-out, wouldn't do them much good here.
The door swung open and the three Seekers entered the cold storage room of the Arlington County Morgue. Row after row of slabs were set in the walls before them, many of them containing the newly dead. Something about it felt wrong to Hickman.
Apparently, the others felt the same way. "Gee, boss," whispered Phase, "it's weird to think that all the people we kill end up here. I mean, on the field you never think about it "
"Don't think about it now, either. We have a job to do." The Seekers prowled through the morgue, finally stopping before one particular door set in the wall. The tag on it read, "Russell, J."
Hickman couldn't help but sag his head and say, "So Brenda's games really did get you killed, huh? I'll be damned " Then Hickman stopped, because it occured to him he might be damned for what he was about to do. At least it wasn't as messy as grave-robbing. "Phase, go to it."
Phase dematerialized, becoming invisible to Hickman and Hyper. Although Hickman couldn't see him, he knew Phase was slipping his immaterial arm into the lock, and working at it until he found and dematerialized the cylinderon cue, Phase reappeared with the cylinder in his hand. Hickman muttered a prayer and pulled the slab out, expelling a cloud of frosty air into the room.
Jack Russell was lying face-up on the slab, his black skin turned an icy gray. His head and chest showed numerous bullet wounds, but somehow they didn't look as bad as Hickman would have imagined. Still, they were bad enough to send him here.
"Poor guy," Hickman said. "If only Brenda hadn't mixed him up in all this." He turned to face his agents. "Okay, you folks ready for stage two?"
All three reached inside their trenchcoats and pulled out sealed envelopes. Each opened them, and read the letters within: Hickman's only said to assist Hyper and get everyone out of the building.
Hyper read her letter, read it again, and shuddered. Then she reached out, hesitantly, and placed her hands on Russell's chest. Hickman and Phase looked at each other with puzzlement as Hyper concentrated and poured all her power into the body.
After a tense, silent minute, Hyper recoiled from the bodysweat had broken out on her almond skin. Hickman grabbed her, and even his metallic hands could tell that her skin was burning hot. He asked her, "Are you okay?"
"F... fine," she gasped. "Did... did it work?"
"Even Tempest isn't that powerful. I'm afraidwhat?" Hickman turned to chew out Phase, who was tugging at his arm.
But the words never left his mouth. Phase was pointing to the slab, where Jack Russell's eyes were flickering open.
Getting Russell out of the morgue had been easyeasy like the whole run was easy, except for the questions it raised. Phase gave Russell his clothes, and then slipped out of the building, naked but invisible and intangible. Hickman and Hyper carried Russell out of the building, and by the end Russell was even starting to walk again.
They hopped into Hickman's unmarked car, where the naked Phase was waiting for them. Hickman floored it, planning on getting out before any more surprises popped up.
Once they were well away from the morgue, Hickman said, "Hyper, why didn't you tell us you could raise the dead?" Hickman was afraid of the stink his post-mission report would raise, and he was wondering how he could just bury the whole thingno pun intended.
Hyper was tending to Jack, who still looked pale and sickly but was otherwise in all too good a condition. "I can't raise the dead, Interface," she answered. "I never could. My orders just said to jump- start this man as much as possible. But there was already life there to jump-start, I felt it."
Phase was shivering in the front seat, and not just because of his nudity or the late November cold. "Then Russell was never dead? How could even Virginians fail to notice that?"
Hickman's fists clenched the steering wheel, nearly breaking it. "They didn't miss a damn thing, Phase. Jack Russell is an Omega."
They had already missed most of the broadcast, and what little was left didn't tell them muchjust that the Rolling Stones would be having an extremely large concert in San Fransisco, and were catching some kind of flack for it. It still didn't make sense to Anne, but she knew that logo was somehow the source of the giant visions.
"You were the first person to have this dream, grandpa," said Anne. "Any idea why that logo would terrify you?"
Harvey shook his head. "I have no idea. Their music is reason enough, isn't it?" He tried to crack a convincing grin, and almost succeeded. "Oh, I forgot, you kids like them, don't you?"
"You skipped a generation, Harv. Mom is the one who likes the British Invasion, remember?"
Realization dawned in Harvey's eyes. "Yes, that's right..."
"Anyway," continued Anne, "my guess would be that I somehow 'inherited' this dream when I lifted it from your mind on our car trip out here. Come to think of it, there could've been some Rolling Stones on the radio then... and I had one of my visions when Billy Moulder played that Stones song at the big ritual to beat Shiva...." Anne started pacing frantically around the room, trying to put the pieces together.
"What about that other time you told me about, Annie? The first vision you had, when you were looking for Eric? No music then."
Anne paced even faster. "I've got it. I've got it! All my abilities were amplified then, because I was with seven or eight other telepaths. That somehow triggered this vision, which I've been having ever since. I wonder if it's a glimpse of the past? Or... the future?" Anne halted abruptly, then started pacing again. "I transmit the dream to Carter when I invade his mind "
"Thanks, babe," piped Dan, from his cot.
"Shut up, Carterand his dream is triggered by the TV. But why the Rolling Stones in the first place, grandpa? What's the reason?"
Harvey thought for a moment, tapping his fingers on his knees. He knew that Anne was a good personwith him, at least, she'd never invade his thoughts without asking.
"I really have no idea," he said.
Anne stopped pacing, and looked like she was about to say somethingbut she let it drop. "I have another idea," she said. "I'm going to dig up some information on them, see if there's anything in the past that might provide a clue." Anne smiled as she pulled on her coat. "I'm afraid you got stuck with guard duty againsorry." Anne waved goodbye and left the apartment, while simultaneously projecting a screen of low-level thoughts that would prevent passersby from recognizing her.
As soon as the door slammed, Dan Carter said, "You're a pretty good liar, Hauptmann."
"I've been lying all my life." Harvey wasn't the slightest bit angry. "Besides, my family has gotten pretty good at being lied to." He cast a weary glance down at Dan. "So, how come you knew I was lying?"
Dan chuckled. "Are you kidding? As soon as we knew 'Otto Blume' was Harvey Hauptmann, we got a complete dossier on him." Dan flashed an especially vicious smile, because he knew he was turning the knife around in the wound. "So Altamont was a pretty cool scene, huh? Wish I coulda been there."
Harvey said, "Shut up, Carter," but his heart wasn't in it.
"Yessir," Dan added, "I've always loved them Stones."
Anne's research was easy, too easy considering the way her luck normally ran. The public libraries had precious little on video, and no way to view them in the building, but there were enough books on the Rolling Stones that it was a start.
I can't believe I'm sitting here, Anne reflected, I'm on the run from just about everybody, and taking time to read about some old rock group. Too bad Rich isn't here, he actually likes them... the thought of her old lover was no longer painful, it just motivated Anne to work that much quicker, so she could free him from Owen's captivity.
Anne didn't really know what to look for, but was hoping something would jump out and grab her. At first, nothing didthere was nothing about Omegas or Overman or SIRECOM, just loads of boring anecdotes about who slept with who. Briefly, Anne wondered if those old farts were just red herrings.
Then she came across her first reference to Altamont.
"Too many people attended... Hell's Angels on security, what the hell were they thinking?... someone shot at Jagger... a controversial documentary, eh?" Perhaps it was just because Anne was paranoid, or perhaps it was that vision triggering on a subliminal level, but either way, Anne felt that this one violent episode was the key. After all, what was more likely to get Harvey so worked up: murder and rioting, or the Stones dressing up like women to promote a single?
Well, given his general opinion of the counterculture, that would get him worked up, too, but not in the way this vision does. Anne almost laughed at that thought, and left the library.
GIMME SHELTER was loads more interesting than any of the other stuff she'd seen on the Stones. Anne watched it well into the night on a tape player in the University of Chicago's undergraduate library.
The movie documented the 1969 Altamont concert from start to finish, even replaying and zooming in on footage of a black man pointing a gun at Mick Jagger, then getting stabbed by several Hell's Angels.
Morbid fascination aside, that wasn't what interested Anne the most. Somehow the overall picture, of forces conspiring to wreck the concert before it ever began, was much more compelling. She was also grabbed by the ending: millions of garishly-dressed hippies silently leaving the concert grounds, wearing shellshocked looks like the army had just napalmed their home. Like they were refugees from a war-torn Pepperland.
But what really caught Anne's eye was Mick Jagger's concert outfit: tight black pants, a long purple scarf that trailed like a cape, a shirt with an Omega symbol on it and, just for good measure, an Uncle Sam hat.
This was it. Unquestionably. This was where the vision came from. It was so obvious and so ludicrous, that Anne couldn't help but giggle as little Jagger strutted around the stage, in a costume that made him look like a superhero... and that letter on his shirt, could it mean...
"He's an Omega!" Wes Hickman shouted. "And you knew it all along!"
Brenda Washington continued to sit calmly behind her desk in SIRECOM's Washington, D.C. headquarters. She neatly steepled her fingers, and said, "Of course I knew, Wes. I would never have involved Jack in this mess otherwise. A normal human wouldn't stand a chance against Owen's killers."
Hickman was still angry. "You still sent him off to certain death."
Brenda smiled. "But you see, Wes, his death isn't that certain at all. I obtained some confidential records from the P.G. County Police that indicated he was an Omega healer. I even had Jay Ortiz sneak a look at him, and sure enough, he showed up as a powerful but untriggered Omega."
Hickman turned bright red. "Jay was in on this too?"
"He only knew he was being asked to spot a latent. Besides, he was under orders to keep it confidential, even from you. Unfortunately," she continued, ignoring all of Hickman's protests, "Jack himself didn't know he was an Omega either. I think his 'death' threw his body into shock, and the cold of the morgue probably kicked him into hibernation. So I sent Hyper in to revive him." Brenda smiled again, only now Hickman could see that this smileperhaps like all of her smileswas very, very fake. "So now everything's okay."
"Tell that to the poor guy downstairs. He thinks he died."
"That's okay, I'm setting up a new identity for him," Brenda answered, seeming to miss Hickman's point. "But Wes, everything I've done has been absolutely essential. Whatever Jack learnedwhatever was important enough to get him killedcould help us topple Owen."
Hickman had to concede that she was right. He just wasn't sure if putting Brenda in Owen's place was such a good idea anymore.
Two stories down, Susan "Hyper" Lee emerged from the debriefing room, exhausted from a long session. The debriefers had almost as much trouble accepting Jack Russell's "ressurection" as Susan did, and they probably would've retested Susan's Omega power if they hadn't received word that Russell was indeed a self-regenerating Omega.
Physically and emotionally drained, Susan headed for the lounge, where she found Phase, relaxing in new clothes.
Phase put down his soda and looked up at her. "They gave you a hard time, too, huh?"
Susan flopped down beside him on the couch. "The hardest. If this was an easy mission for the Seekers, I don't want to know what a hard one will be like."
Phase smiled reassuringly. "You handled yourself really well today. You'll be a full Seeker in no time."
"Thanks. Have they learned anything more about Mr. Russell?"
"Well, it's pretty clear that he is an Omega. Other than that, I really can't say...." Phase meekly gave her an I-can't-help-you look.
Susan was suddenly very curious. Not quite sure why, she asked Phase for more information... and subtly raised his blood-sugar levels and hormone production.
Phase started growing excited, and he said, "Well, okay. It seems that Russell is involved in this whole Washington-Owen thing."
"Was that what got him... er... killed?"
"Strictly off the record, I think so. What's more," Phase said, leaning towards her and lowering his voice, "Russell was investigating this whole Hauptmann thing."
Susan shook her head. "How do you know all this?"
Phase grinned and inflated his chest a little. "Wes asked me to eavesdrop on Russell's debriefing. Invisibly, of course... Wes is getting the impression that Washington isn't telling the Seekers everything she should be." Phase started rocking back and forth restlessly. "Oh, I heard so much before Russell passed out and they ended the session. You know why I think Washington wanted us to spring Russell?"
"He has some valuable information on Owen?"
Phase laughed. "Information, yes, but not on Owen. Somebody else was helping Russell. He wouldn't say, who, but whoever it was " Phase stopped and looked at his soda can. "What did they put in this stuff, crack? This stuff is wild!"
Susan sat bolt upright and stared into space. "Phase, II have to go."
"Susan? Are you okay, Susan?"
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," she said, her voice hollow. "It's justall this debriefing, it's made me late for an appointment. I have to go."
Susan ran out of the lounge. Phase shrugged and finished his soda. It was strangely unsatisfying.
Susan left SIRECOM HQ (located under Washington's Miresco building) as she did every day, going through the whole routine of security checks and telepathic screening. She got into her car and started driving home.
Once she was a few miles away from the Miresco building, Susan felt compelled to find a one-way alley. She turned down the nearest one, as she always did when she felt this way, and kept driving at full speed. Susan was extremely bothered by the fact that it was a dead-end alley, but this did not prevent her from continuing to accelerate.
There was a rush of wind, and then brief feeling of disorientation, like there was no light or gravity or anything around her, and then she was no longer in the alley. Instead, she was heading for the edge of a cliff.
Susan hit the breaks, and the car came screeching to a halt. Still calm, Susan got out of the car and looked around. She was standing on a cliff high above a rocky shore, facing an island which was about a quarter mile out to sea. Some kind of medieval monastery was perched on the island, postcard-perfect. Susan had the strangest sense of deja vu...
She turned around to see that three other people were standing right there. A young American Indian male, a South American woman, and a white man wearing a leather jacket, turtleneck, and scarf that looked like they came right out of a sixties spy show. The older man and woman looked very intense, the man especially so, while the Indian seemed rather bored. Susan, startled to see them, jumped back and nearly stumbled off the cliff.
(Stop,) said the woman, and Susan did. The woman snapped her fingers three times, and said, (You're home, Susan. It's time to tell us what SIRECOM has been up to lately.)
The post-hypnotic suggestion, undetectable to even SIRECOM's security probes, kicked in and Susan started talking.
Susan was sitting in her car, in an alley somewhere in Washington, D.C. Even though it was a dead-end alley, Susan's car was facing towards the open end, as if she'd just driven out of the wall. She turned on the car and looked at the clock.
Eleven p.m. Time sure did fly whenever she had a mission.
J.L. Steele stood on the Channel side of Mont. St. Michel, while the wind whipped his scarf about him. The Channel shone silver in the moonlight. For no particular reason, he whistled a few bars of the "Marseillaise."
A woman's voice called from behind him, in lilting Portugese. "Is that happiness, J.L.? Not an emotion I usually find emanating from you."
Steele did not bother to to turn around, he simply reached out and duplicated Anna-Marie's telepathy. (Surely you've felt this happiness before, Marie... on the eve of battle.)
(You liked our little canary's song today, then?) Anna-Marie walked up alongside Steele. Her Brazilian features did not glow in the moonlight, but seemed even darker by comparison.
(Very much,) answered Steele. (This is even better than our discovery that Tempest was back. The strife within SIRECOM could well shatter the agency. Nothing less than those bastards deserve.)
(How do Hauptmann and Benson fit into this?)
Steele kicked a rock out over the cliff, into the Channel. (Who gives a shit?), he projected, his Gallic demeanor somehow making the profanity seem elegant. (The important thing is, they've got people upset enough that we can explode the situation into a full-blown civil war.)
Anna-Marie's mind flushed at the thought of all the violence that would produce. (So whose side is the Cadre on?)
(Isn't it obvious?) thought Steele. (Our own.) Below him, the rock was sending out ripples that might one day cross an ocean.
Anne came tiptoeing back to the apartment well after midnight. Dan was passed out on the cot, but Harvey was sitting up, apparently waiting for her. For all her years of independence and her formidable Omega powers, Anne briefly felt as though she were caught sneaking in after curfew. Harvey had that kind of effect on people.
"You're up awfully late, grandpa."
"I know. I have to tell you something."
"Me first." Anne reached inside her jacket and pulled out a picture she had rather guiltily ripped out of a library book: Mick Jagger, strutting around in Omega shirt and Uncle Sam hat. "I think this is the cause of our visions, a concert the Rolling Stones gave at Altamont in 1969. A pretty nasty murder happened there.
"Now the group is giving another concert, very close to the date and the place where Altamont happened."
Harvey eyed her suspiciously. "And this means... ?"
"I think it would be the ideal place for our hostage swap with Owen." Harvey started to protest, but Anne waved him to silence. "No, no, listen. They'll have extra security to avoid trouble. There will be millions of witnesses, limiting Owen's ability to screw us over. And best of all, the Rolling Stones are a Fortune 500 corporation, but aren't U.S. citizensfree from SIRECOM's authority." Anne then paused dramatically, holding up the book clipping with Jagger in his Omega shirt. "And I think at least one of them is on our side."
Harvey, aghast, looked at the picture. He just couldn't believe that this skinny, posturing pop star was the source of his visions.
"Now," Anne asked, "you said you had something to tell me?"
Harvey looked up at her. She did seem set on this concert thing, and he had to admit that, except for the nasty visions related to it, it was a good idea.
"Uh... forget it. Nothing important."
The minute his telephone rang, Owen knew that the Benson girl was calling; he'd changed his private line, so she was the only one who would call this number.
Nicola Dare, Owen's current top assassin, craned over to look at the caller ID readout. "Some streetcorner in Chicago... not the same phone booth as last time."
Owen smirked. "So she's at least smart enough to change phones. Well, this may be a bit of fun after all." Owen turned on the speakerphone and the recorder. "You haven't called in a while, Ms. Benson, I was beginning to worry that something happened to you."
"I haven't talked to you in a very long while, Owen... and I'm not 'Ms. Benson.'"
Owen's heart skipped a beat. The gruff voice of Harvey Hauptmann triggered Puccini arias in his head... it had been so long.
Owen regained his composure and said, "So good to hear from you again, Harvey. It has been far, far too long. Have you finally established your terms for our little exchange of guests?"
Hauptmann was much more bitter than Owen remembered. "Oh yeah. There's going to be a Rolling Stones concert in San Francisco in early December. The exchange will take place on the main floor of the arena, in the middle of the show, with plenty of witnesses. You're going to put some money in a safety-deposit box here in Chicago; we'll buy tickets for you and Rich and leave them in a different safety-deposit box in San Fransisco." Harvey went into the specifics, barely restraining his hatred for Owen.
After he was done, Owen clicked his tongue and said, "Very professional, Harvey. You've been reading Dan's spy manual, I can tell. But I must insist that you allow me to bring more friends down onto the floor... two Omegas on one old man just isn't fair."
"My heart bleeds, Owen. Tough luck."
"More friends, or we have no deal and no trade." Beside him, Nicola snickered, since she knew that Owen didn't want to get Dan Carter back. And she knew Harvey didn't know that. Advantage Owen.
On the other hand, Nicola didn't know that Harvey's and Owen's chief desires were not to trade hostages, but to meet each other. "How about this," Harvey countered, "three people on your side, three on ours. If you don't want your side to be represented by a sick old man, you can always opt to send someone else."
Owen laughed, a barking Bostonian laugh of the kind once heard throughout America's halls of power. "How funny, Harvey, I was about to say the same thing of you. Very well, I agree to your terms." He hung up. "A rock concert? What has gotten into that fool?"
"A rock concert? I don't know what's gotten into me...." Harvey shook off his overcoat and tried to warm himself by the apartment's pathetic little heater. His Omega-born invulnerability notwithstanding, the cold Chicago air really got to him. Harvey reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out the coins the telephone had spat back at him after his call to Owen. It was strange, but Harvey wasn't complainingit was the only time he'd saved money in a month.
"I really don't like it, Annie," Harvey said as he pocketed the coins. "What if those visions aren't showing a riot in the past, but in the future? What if we're just causing them to come true?"
Anne replied, "I don't believe in prophecies anymore, grandpa."
Neither of them could think of anything to say.
Then Anne came out of the kitchen (where she'd been shackling Dan to the stove), and told Harvey, "What I mean is, I think the visions just pointed us toward Jagger. It was our subconscious telling us that he sympathizes with Omegas... or maybe he's even a... "
"Don't say it," growled Harvey. "Don't say it because it isn't true. Overman isn't real, and neither is Jagger."
Anne confusedly stammered, "Butbut of course Jagger's real."
"That's not what I mean. I mean, he's not anybody special either. And he won't help us. If he would ever help anyone, he would've helped at... at Altamont." Harvey spoke the word with reverence, the way he might speak "" or "Ardennes" or "Buchenwald." Like a battle that left deep scars. "But he didn't help anyone."
Harvey looked out the window at Chicago. His eyes travelled in the direction of where the Colony used to be; once a home for hundreds of friendly Omegas, now the Colony was just an empty old junkyard. "Nobody will help us, Annie. We have to help ourselves."
Anne would never say it around Harvey, but she wondered if that philosophy was much different from her lack of faith in prophecies.
"How funny, Harvey, I was about to say the same thing of you. Very well, I agree to your terms."
Wes Hickman fairly glowed as he finished playing the tape for Brenda Washington and the rest of the special Seekers team. "I finally managed to do it," Hickman crowed. "I tapped into Owen's phone line and got the whole conversation on tapedates, times, everything. We can bust Owen and the felons, and we'll get chances in Chicago and San Fransisco."
Brenda and the Seekers bristled with excitement; at last, they had some of the goods on Owen. The only person who didn't share the jubilation was Jack Russell, who was still feeling a little out of place.
Hickman clapped Jack on the shoulder. "And I couldn't have done it without Jack here and his discovery. That was really a good piece of detective work, finding out about the secret lines."
Russell didn't quite have enough blood back to blush, but he still seemed embarrassed. "That was just a side discovery, really. The bills are the important thing..."
"In due time," Brenda said. "Right now, we're going to get you out to Chicago, to catch Hauptmann and Benson at that safety-deposit box. Here's the setup..."
The Seeker named Hyper listened attentively. She felt like going for a drive that evening....
Across the Potomac, Mrs. Cornelius Owen (nee Clarice Porterhouse of the Boston Porterhouses) was seeing off her husband. It was one of the rare moments when they both could be found in his bedroom.
"It is not the young woman who is at issue here, Cornelius," said Clarice. Her tone of voice was not at all angry or improper, yet it was in fact as emotional as years of high-society upbringing, and decades of living with Cornelius Owen, would ever permit.
And she really wasn't concerned about Owen taking a trip of indeterminate length with the young, lovely Nicola Dare. She had long ago reconciled herself to Owen's infidelities, and besides, the prospect of sex with the Dare woman seemed more of a threat than a temptation.
"It is that young boy," Clarice continued. "You have broken him, Cornelius, like a plaything, and now you are going to drag him even further into your world."
Owen merely continued packing his suitcase. "I think you'll find I've left more than enough money in your account, Clarice darling. If not, you know whom to call."
Clarice would not be dismissed so easily this time. "Cornelius Owen, you have to let that boy go! It is sick, what you are doing to him! Why, you've practically made him a slave..."
Owen paused in his packing and grinned. "Clarice darling, are you sure you're not just jealous because Richard and I get on so swimmingly? Not at all like that effete son of yours..."
"Cornelius, he is your son, too! Maybe if you had raised him, and not that god-damned agency !" Clarice's composure was falling away more and more each moment.
Her husband's, however, was firmly in place. "Clarice darling, I married you for two reasons: to increase my fortune and to propagate my line. You accomplished the first long ago, and you failed spectacularly at the second. If I ever give you the third responsibility of telling me what to do, I shall inform you, but," and here his real emotion, a deep-seated anger, started to shine through, "given your rather spotted record, I don't see that happening any time soon!"
Clarice didn't know whether to be crushed or outraged. "II can't let you do this, Owen, I know things "
"Then you'd better keep them to yourself, Mrs. Owen," said Nicola Dare. Nicola had just entered the bedroom, without Clarice noticing at all. Although Clarice couldn't fail to notice the large, pistol- like bulge under Nicola's jacket. "Why don't you just stay in the house for the next couple of weeks, Mrs. Owen? I'll have a very discreet man look after you."
Clarice stormed out of Owen's bedroom, and into her own. Not knowing what to do, she grabbed a small Paul Revere teapot (Cornelius's silver anniversary present to her) and hurled it at the large mirror over her bed. Clarice watched as her reflection shattered and fell apart.
...To reveal a camera behind the mirror.
While Cornelius Owen finished packing, Clarice did what she always did. Nothing.
And in Laurel, Maryland, yet another telephone was ringing. Even after all these months, there was still a little tension each time it rang, a little hope that it might be news. At this point, George and Martha Benson wanted any news, good or bad, just so long as it brought some much-needed closure into their lives.
Martha picked up the phone. "Hello?" She could only hear city noises, and a faint sobbing. "Hello, is anyone there?"
Martha nearly dropped the phone. When she recovered, she said, "Annie? Annie, is that you? Are you alright? Where are you?"
"I'm... fine, mom. I'm with grandpa."
"Oh, God, is he alright? What happened to you?"
"We're both okay, mom. We've been through a lot, but... we might be coming home soon."
Tears weren't streaming down Martha's face yet; part of her still didn't accept that she was hearing this, another part thought it was a sick joke of the telephone.
"But we might not come home at all, mom. I just don't know. I don't know if I can make this work. Either way, I had to... I had to..." Anne's voice dissolved into sobbing again. Martha began to join her.
"I love you, mom. And dad, andeveryone. I have to go now."
"Annie, wait! I love you too!"
"I know, mom. I have to go. I'm sorry."
END OF PART NINE.
To be concluded!
Next Issue: Legacy 10!
You thought this issue was long? Well, stick around for next issue, because it's the economy-size payoff to a lot of plotlines. Yes, Legacy is finally hitting double digits, and to celebrate, the main story begun in Legacy #1 will reach its conclusion! Lots of action, adventure, double- crosses, revelations, and enough mayhem to make up for nine issues of people talking! I'm really excited about it, and I hope you don't miss it!
Wes Hickman, Phase, and the Seekers appear courtesy of Matt Dempster. J.L. Steele, Rebecca, Rift, and the Cadre appear courtesy of Kay Green. (NOTE: This issue takes place after Cadre #1-5.) Jarvin Tazakles and Tyrus Absalom appear courtesy of Matt Rossi. Thanks to all of these folks for letting me play so extensively with their creations.
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