Prey Universe AU (Ezra, Seven)
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Chris ran his hands over his face as he looked at his reflection in the sink full of water. He avoided the mirror. There he would see the dark circles under his eyes, the disappointment, and he wouldnt see Sara step out of the shower like she used to. New species. Was this some kind of a joke a bad movie on the Sci-Fi channel? Except, it was real: it was real because it felt real. It hurt to think that the world was changing. It hurt to know that he was changing.
Chris wiped his face with the towel and made sure he hadnt left any shaving cream on his chin. He was meeting with FBI Agent Kirk today. Should be interesting. Travis was a good man, but he had a tendency to follow the book a little too closely. Some rules needed to be bent and sometimes broken all together.
The house was quiet as he walked down the hall toward the kitchen, and he wondered if Standish was still sleeping. He doubted it. Ezra Standish didnt seem like the type that would sleep late. He was too efficient and calculated. Even his facial expressions were trained.
Chris stopped at the guest room door and paused, noticing it was open just a crack. He knocked softly on the doorframe, wondering if he should make more than his usual coffee and cigarettes for breakfast. Ezra, he said quietly, opening the door.
The room was empty, and the bed looked like it hadnt been slept in. Nothing was out of place, not even the photograph of Sarah and Adam that Ezra had picked up the night before. It was in its exact location. Chris shrugged his shoulders, thinking that Standish had left, probably out trying to get himself killed, or worse, reunited with his clan.
Chris stepped out into the living room and found Standish at the dining room table looking through an old photo album. Surprisingly, the detective wasnt angry about it, but rather surprised. He watched Ezra for a moment. His shirtsleeves had been rolled up to his elbows and his hair was disheveled. Funny, even his attire looked tired.
Mr. Larabee, Ezra said, not bothering to look up. That particular aftershave is rather pungent.
Havent worn aftershave in three years, Ezra, Chris responded, heading to the kitchen.
Ezra cocked an eyebrow and turned the page. Then might I suggest you find yourself a new brand of soap?
You can suggest all you want. Chris opened the refrigerator. You want something for breakfast? he called, waiting for an answer, and then quickly closed the white door.
No, thank you, Ezra responded.
Most important meal of the day, Chris said, dumping a pitcher of water into the coffee maker.
Maybe for you.
Chris put the can of coffee back into the cupboard and he paused looking at Ezras back. Why didnt you kill Mary?
Ezra shook his head, unsure of the answer. He tried to focus all of his attention on the images in the album. Some were in black and white, while others were in color. He recognized Chris, but nobody else. Ezra wasnt sure what drew him to the pictures or why he felt the need to memorize every one of them.
Those are my folks, Chris said, placing a cup of coffee in front of himself and one in front of his houseguest. They adopted me when I was three.
You were forsaken by your clan? Ezra questioned, knowing that was what happened to dominant children who werent considered pure.
I dont know, Chris responded, taking a drink of his coffee. What about your family? he asked, hoping for some kind of a response.
Parents are inconsequential, he answered honestly, shaking his head. Clans decide the fate of each child.
You said that your father named you? Chris asked, not understanding.
He did, and my mother brought me up until my fifth year at least I think she did, Ezra spoke softly, unsure of his words. He didnt know why he was saying anything.
What will you do?
Ezra shrugged his shoulders and sighed. If I stay he didnt know how to continue.
Chris paused, understanding a little of what Ezra was feeling. I want you to stay here while the rest of us meet with Agent Kirk, he said, finishing his coffee.
Do you think thats wise?
I dont know what the Bureau is after, and I dont know what your people are going to do to you if they find you, but Id be willin to bet it wont be good. Chris fingered the handle on his cup. Stay here. As soon as I know more, the others and Ill come back here.
Hiding here is only a temporary solution.
Maybe, Chris agreed, but Ill know more tonight and thats all we need.
Ezra paused a moment and watched as the detective got up to refill his cup and then he placed a piece of ice in his coffee. Youre scared, he said. It wasnt a question, but rather an observation.
Youre afraid if they discover you and the others are like me, youll end up dead.
People are scared and when theyre scared they have a tendency to do stupid things. My concern lies with this town, and my friends.
Ezra nodded, and then closed the photo album. Things were out of his control, and he hated it.
Detective Larabee? an older man questioned, stepping up behind the tall blonde.
Chris turned: Yes, he answered.
Im Agent Kirk, the short bald headed man introduced himself. His beard was cut short, almost to the point of not needing one. His jowls hung low on his face giving him an Elmer Fudd look.
Weve been expecting you, Chris said, motioning for the FBI agent to enter the break room.
Everyone but Ezra sat around the long table, reading, writing, or bitching about the cheap gold watch they would get for retirement.
Chris motioned for Kirk to take a seat. Would you like some coffee? he asked, pouring himself a cup.
No, thank you. The agent rested his briefcase on the table and opened it up retrieving some files. Commissioner Travis said hed informed you of my arrival and the situation surrounding it? he asked, making sure everyone understood.
Youre here about the new species, JD said, tossing his Guns & Ammo magazine onto the chair behind him.
Thomas Kirk laughed, and then placed his briefcase on the floor next to his feet.
Sorry you hade to come all the way from Washington to hear that this whole thing is just a bad joke, Buck said sarcastically.
Its not a joke, Kirk responded, tossing one of the files to Buck. 35 years ago it was discovered that there was a possibility of further evolution within the human genome. 25 years ago the first Homo genius was discovered
What happened to im? Buck asked, not bothering to look inside the file.
He died, came the short reply. We know theyre here, and we dont know how many there are. However, our main concern is discovering their agenda. What do they want? Are they going to continue on their murderous rampage?
Youve known about this for 25 years? Chris asked, his voice laced with anger.
No, Kirk responded, we didnt know about their homicidal tendencies until the increase of non-family related murders some ten years ago. You all have to understand that these Homo genius
Dominants, Nathan corrected.
Dominants are highly secretive. We believe their numbers are still small, and thats the reason there hasnt been the outbreak that weve expected.
Who all knows about this? Chris asked.
Myself, the six of you, Travis, and a few selected government officials. The news broadcast was a leak by whom? We assume by one of the new species. We believe they broke the story to create skepticism in the public eye.
How did you find out that we knew? Josiah asked, pushing his pencil around on the table.
Kirk smiled: Theres little that happens in the world that the Bureau doesnt know about.
Computers, JD answered. Id be willin to bet you were monitoring Nathans computer.
Thomas ignored the comment. I understand you have one of the dominants in your custody?
Im sorry? Josiah questioned, not liking where the conversation was going.
No harm will befall him, Kirk reassured, not understanding their hesitance. I only want to ask him some questions. We need to find some answers so we can better prepare ourselves for the future.
What do you plan to ask im? Buck asked, surprised that he felt so defensive of the man they were speaking about.
The DEA has managed to develop a drug called Dioxen, its similar to the Sodium Pentothal that weve used on terrorists and murderers. It lowers the subjects inhibitions more so than the Pentothal and its more reliable than hypnosis.
And you want to use this stuff on a dominant? Nathan asked.
What makes you think its goin to work? JD questioned.
In the diluted form, it works amazingly well on humans.
Chris shook his head: I dont want anyone becoming your science project.
Its completely safe, I assure you, Kirk said, reaching into his briefcase to retrieve a vial.
What will it entail? Nathan asked.
Ill administer approximately 1cc directly into a vein, and within seconds, the subject will become relaxed and willing to answer any questions posed to them.
How long will it last? Nathan questioned.
The results have been questionable in human participants. Sometimes its ten minutes or it could last for as long as thirty, Kirk answered willingly.
What kinds of questions to you intend to ask? Josiah questioned.
Kirk opened one of the files and passed the psychologist a list of questions. I understand your concern, he paused, but you have to understand that these individuals are exposed to diseases that have been extirpated for decades.
How would you know this? Chris asked, getting suspicious.
Seven years ago, these documents were found. Kirk passed out photocopies of papers that looked to have been handwritten, perhaps from a journal of some kind. Its a diary of procedures that children are put through starting at the age of six I want to know why, and what their intentions are.
Youre thinking biological warfare, Nathan responded, reading over the information. A breakout of any of these illnesses could wipe out millions of people, he sighed, shaking his head.
You think theyre going to re-release the bubonic plague? Chris asked, running his fingers through his hair.
It would be faster, more efficient, and more viable to kill millions of people in one fell swoop than killing a few people at a time like they are doing now, Kirk responded, trying to make these people understand the urgency.
This is Nathan paused, looking for the right word, monstrous. He couldnt believe what he was reading. Children were trained to kill, exposed to things that they were never meant to see; it was as if they were tortured. I dont think it would be a good idea making anyone whod lived through this, to re-experience it through that injection.
He wont be reliving anything, Doctor Jackson, just answering some questions, Kirk reassured.
Says here that children are pulled from their mothers by the time theyre five years old, JD said sadly.
Wheres the rest of it, Chris asked, tossing the papers down onto the table.
We were only able to recover this small amount.
What about the ones that want to live like regular people? Vin asked, remembering what Ezra had said the night before.
There arent any, Kirk quipped.
Vin shook his head and stood up, moving toward the coffee maker.
What if he doesnt agree to take it? Chris asked, moving the conversation back in Ezras direction.
The CDC will move into the area and start a blood drive
You do that and youll start a panic, Chris snapped.
Its a chance Im willing to take, Kirk replied calmly.
Chris ran his hands through his hair and looked out the window for a long moment. So much was running through his head so much indeed. Ill talk to him
Chris, Josiah protested.
If he doesnt agree youre on your own, Chris snapped, and then left the room abruptly.
Vin and Nathan left the room following the detective, leaving the rest of them at the table.
Should we be going? Kirk asked, unsure of what their absences meant.
I reckon well leave when Chris is good an ready, Buck replied, kicking his feet up onto the table.
What in the hell do you think youre doing? Nathan asked, slapping his hand on Chris desk.
I know exactly what Im doing, the detective responded. I have more to think about than just one man at this point in time, Nathan.
And the rest of us? the doctor challenged.
Exactly! Chris snapped.
What if Ezra refuses to take it? Vin asked, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest.
Ill make that decision when the time comes.
Nathan shook his head; he didnt like this at all not at all.
Ezra looked at Chris as though the man had just asked him to jump in front of a speeding train. He looked at Vin and Nathan and saw the uncertainty in their eyes. It didnt take a rocket scientist to figure out that things were bad. Ezra didnt know these men well, but for some reason he liked them, and on some levels he even trusted them. But the extent of that went was being proven at the moment.
The decision is yours, Ezra, Chris said, hoping that Kirk managed to drive off a bridge before reaching his house.
And just how reliable is this mans credibility? Ezra asked, unconsciously pulling the sleeve of his shirt down.
My personal opinion of the guy Chris paused, I think hes a dick.
Vin chuckled: You aint the only one.
And you, Dr. Jackson?
Ive read through the medical papers on the Dioxen from what Ive read and researched about it in the last few hours it works like a sedative.
Ezra nodded: When is he supposed to be here? he asked, referring to Kirk.
Any minute, Chris answered reluctantly.
Will he leave when he learns there is nothing to be gained from this?
We could hope, Vin muttered.
I dont know, Chris said, watching Ezras movements.
Ezra nodded his head, contemplating the idea. Ill do it.
You sure about that? Nathan asked.
Ezra nodded: Yes. He wanted needed answers just like the rest of them.
Josiah sat on the sofa next to Ezra as Nathan injected the Dioxen into the vein of the dominants arm. Chris and Vin stood back, wanting to intercede but unable to. Buck and JD sat on the dining room chairs, unsure about the whole procedure. Kirk sat in a chair across from Ezra, his papers that were filled with questions tucked neatly in his grasp.
You feeling all right? Nathan asked, pulling the needle out of Ezras arm.
Ezra nodded, unsure of what he should be feeling. He blinked his eyes a few times, trying to clear his suddenly blurry vision. When someone reached out to touch him, he pulled back violently. He couldnt concentrate on the voices in the room there were too many of them.
Ezra? Kirk said, reaching out to touch the dominants knee. When his hand was slapped away, he pulled back. How old were you when the training started?
Ezras brow furrowed and he looked straight ahead. Five, he answered softly.
Josiah watched Kirk and he watched Ezra, wanting to do something that would help. He wanted to know why Ezra had agreed to this. Was he in search of answers himself? Chris had told them about the conversation hed had with the man earlier that day, and for a man whod lived life in hiding for so long he was now willing to turn his back on everything Why? Josiah rubbed his jaw, not understanding but realizing that these so called dominants were more human than they were willing to admit.
Why were you exposed to diseases? Kirk asked.
I dont know, Ezra answered.
Did any of your kind die because of it?
I dont know, came the soft reply.
How old were you when you first killed?
Ezra furrowed his brow and kept quiet. The drug didnt completely release his inhibitions.
How old were you when you killed your first man? Kirk tried again. However, he didnt receive a response. Who trained you?
Ezra blinked, concentrating on the form sitting in front of him. But he didnt see Kirk, he saw Jones. Ezras back arched and he violently threw his head back, his jaw clenched tightly. The veins on his neck bulged, and he struggled to breathe. Memories long forgotten flooded his mind. Images from his past, things hed tried to forget, things that hed been trained to forget, came rushing back.
Josiah reached out to support the form next to him.
What did you have me give him? Nathan yelled, placing his hand behind Ezras neck, feeling how tight the muscles were. Damn it!
Its not supposed to happen like this! Kirk yelled, moving out of everyones way. He genuinely didnt understand what was happening.
Ezra reached up with his left hand and pulled frantically at his shoulder. The pain was intense, and no matter what he did, it wouldnt stop.
Ezra, whats wrong? Nathan almost yelled, trying to get his attention. The doctor slapped Ezras face, trying to get his eyes to focus.
Sh sho ulder came the harsh reply.
JD! Nathan yelled, my medical bag! He ripped the sleeve of Ezras shirt up to the shoulder and tried to see what he was clawing at. Shit! he swore when dominant went suddenly limp, falling into Josiahs arms. Nathan pressed his fingers to Ezras throat, trying to feel for a pulse. Hes alive, he said, shaking his head.
I think it would be best if you left, Chris said, towering over Kirks short stature. The warning in his voice wasnt lost on anyone.
This has never happened before, Kirk protested, grabbing his files and briefcase. Ill have to notify my superiors.
Yeah, Buck snapped, you do that!
Josiah held Ezra upright while Nathan looked at his shoulder, while trying to understand what had happened.
JD slammed the door after Kirk made his hasty retreat. He gonna be okay, Nathan? he asked out of concern.
Nathan shook his head, angry with himself and the situation. Its a tattoo, he said softly, exposing more fully Ezras shoulder.
Of what? Chris asked, watching over the room like a hawk.
I dont know, Nathan replied. Its some kind of pattern. He moved out of the way so the others could see.
Looks like a star chart, JD said nonchalantly.
Josiah adjusted his grip when Ezra started to come around. The big man took a look at the pattern tattooed on the dominants shoulder and sighed. It did look like a star chart. He helped Ezra sit up and placed the wet cloth that Buck had gotten on his forehead.
What happened? Chris asked, squatting down in front of Josiah and Ezra.
Let him get his bearings, Nathan said, documenting Ezras blood pressure and breathing.
Ezra blinked a few times and then pushed Josiahs hand away. He didnt want to be crowded, and at the moment he was feeling claustrophobic. What happened? he asked, not remembering a whole lot.
You had some kind of a seizure, Nathan answered.
Ezra furrowed his brow: Did Kirk leave? he asked, rubbing his hand behind his neck.
Chased that little prick out of here, Buck answered, just as confused as everyone else.
Nathan moved away when he heard his cell phone ringing. He saw JD exit the kitchen with a glass full of water.
Did you remember anything? Chris asked, sitting in the chair Kirk had been in earlier.
Ezra paused. Yes he remembered he remembered more than he ever wanted to. He remembered being forced onto his belly and held down as Jones tattooed his shoulder with a sharp needle and ink that burned when it entered his skin. He remembered the smell of the cave floor where it happened. He remembered his mother standing there watching, unwilling to help him. He remembered a needle being inserted into his neck and the blood that stained his shirt and the training that followed.
Ezra rubbed his eyes and tilted his head back. No, he answered softly.
Chris nodded, not believing him, but unwilling to push the subject.
Here, Ezra, JD said, handing the man the glass. Its warm sugar water. My ma used to give it to me when Id get hurt or somethin works like a charm. He smiled; watching as the dominant tentatively drank it down.
My folks used to give me that as well, Nathan said, stepping up to the group.
Mine too, Josiah said, looking in question to the men standing around.
Must mean somethin, Buck commented.
Nathan motioned to his phone: That was my friend in Houston. Seems he ran the blood through already and he says that it originated in the South. Florida, Georgia, maybe Virginia he cant be for sure where. However, hes had some other samples come to his attention and the antibodies originate from a town in Mexico. Chihuahua, to be exact.
What does that mean? JD asked.
Means Ezra may have been born in one of those states, but the species may have originated in Mexico, Nathan answered. Would explain his accent, he added.
You boys up for a trip? Chris asked, keeping his eyes on Ezra.
Buck smiled: Those little Mexican gals sure are pretty. He raised his eyebrows in play.
Chris shook his head and laughed. If there was one thing about Buck, it was the fact he never changed. Ill call Commissioner Travis and let him know whats going on.
I want to go, Ezra said without a hint of emotion.
We all will, Chris reassured, getting to his feet.
The land looked more like a haven for dust-ridden armadillos than people. Rocks, dirt hills, and dead brush lined the nonexistent path. The suburban rocked back and forth as it passed over the rough terrain, causing dust to gather behind the speeding vehicle. The sun made the land seem more desolate as it baked the already burned ground.
They were heading to a place known to the local community as, El Embrujada, The Haunted. Vin and Chris had tried to get as much information as they could about the land, asking questions that wouldnt give away their reason for being there. As far as everyone knew, they were archeologists on a dig. It had been an old woman, known as a witch that had given Chris the information he needed. The place they were searching for was the home of the strangers, people who werent like the rest of them, people who seemed unnatural and evil.
El Embrujada was a small place hidden by the colored mountains. Nobody went there. Fear and superstition kept them away. Some believed that the land was cursed and those who walked on it were doomed. While others believed that the residents that had once lived there would come back and kill anyone who tried to uncover their secrets.
Josiah pulled the vehicle to a stop, instinctively knowing that theyd arrived. No questions were asked as everyone stepped out of the suburban.
You sure this is it? JD asked, looking at the red painted ground. Only rocks, mountains, and caves existed here. Nothing was alive. There werent any plants or puddles of water. The land seemed to have been forgotten, except by those who remembered it.
This is it, Ezra said, walking away from the rest of them.
Josiah took a deep breath and scanned the area. None of them knew what they were looking for, but six of the seven of them knew, with absolution, that this was the place they were looking for. He watched as Nathan pulled out his computer and set it up after opening the back of the suburban. Vin looked around, his eyes seeing more than the others, but not knowing why. Chris watched his men his men as they maneuvered over the land. They were all here for answers, and they wouldnt leave without finding some.
Vin and Chris entered the cave together. The sun lit the entryway, but beyond the first few yards was complete blackness. Chris handed a flashlight to Vin and started walking forward. The cave walls were dark, almost red, and covered with cracks and crevasses.
You have any idea what were lookin for? Vin asked, running his hand over the rough rock wall.
Not a clue, Chris answered.
Vin paused, moving his flashlight forward. You feel that? he asked softly.
Chris nodded, slightly surprised. He felt as though he were entering a void, not an emotional one, but rather a physical one. He scanned with his flashlight the ground ahead. The cave widened, creating a round room. Obviously it hadnt been created by nature. In the center of the cave rested a fire pit that hadnt been used in years, now covered with dirt and debris.
Vin squatted down next to the pit and picked up a long narrow rod. The end was sharp and when he wiped the dust from it, it was covered in singed ash that had hardened over time. He handed it to Chris who took it questionably. They didnt know what it had been used for, but Chris assumed it was similar to what had tattooed Ezras shoulder. These dominants may be the next to evolve on the evolutionary chain, but their rituals were ancient.
Who the hell are these people? Chris asked in disbelief.
JD and Buck walked around the site looking for anything that could lead them to information regarding the new species. They didnt know what they were looking for, only that they were looking. A gentle wind had picked up, moving sand and dirt over the harsh red rock, making it look more like a satin cloth blowing in the breeze.
What do you thinks gonna happen? JD asked, not really expecting an answer.
Wish I knew, Kid. Buck looked up toward the horizon. He noticed for the first time how the sky looked different here. The horizon line was a dark pink that faded and turned blue, even the land seemed brighter where the mountains kissed the sky.
Josiah watched as Nathan, ever the scientist, looked at the land with a critical eye. He moved around slowly, trying to absorb everything he could. He didnt now what they were looking for, but he knew they had to find something.
Josiah kicked the ground, unsure of what it was he was feeling. He was a psychologist: he was supposed to understand these things and he was supposed to know what to do. But he didnt. Nathan, he said softly, bending over to get a better look at the item hed just discovered.
Nathan walked up beside his friend and got down on his knees. With Josiahs help, he moved dust and rocks away from the form. Its a body, Nathan said, carefully digging around the edges.
Josiah looked up in question when the small body covered in rags appeared like magic. What do you want to do? he asked, watching as Nathan started to peel aged linens away from the form.
I packed a small exam table. Its on the luggage rack Nathan paused, if you can get it down, we can move the body.
Josiah rushed toward the truck, wondering if this was what they were meant to find.
Ezra stood in the center of land, watching everyone. Hed been here before. He got down on his knees, feeling as though this was the place where he was supposed to be. He pressed his hands down on the earth and started to brush the dirt away. The object he was uncovering was large and circular in shape. The rough edges snagged his palms and fingers but he kept at it. He continued moving the soil away, exposing more of the sides. Whatever this was, it was large, metal, and well buried in the earth.
Nathan examined the mummified body that had been buried in a shallow grave. Shes young maybe fourteen, Nathan said, removing more of the rags that had encased her. My god, he gasped, getting a better look of the girl.
What? Josiah asked, concern etched in his voice.
She was pregnant, Nathan replied, looking up, She had four fetuses. He looked carefully at the mummified remains.
What? Josiah asked in disbelief. Do you think thats what killed her?
I dont know, Nathan sighed, running his hands over his head.
Chris and Vin exited the cave with more questions than theyd had before. Buck and JD joined them as they made their way toward the back of the suburban. Nobody spoke, not knowing what to say.
What the hell, Buck gasped, looking at the remains of what used to be a living being.
Nathan looked at everyone and shook his head: Ill have to get her body back to the lab so I can look more closely at her, he said, flustered already with what hed discovered.
Whats wrong? Chris asked, knowing something had happened.
She has four uteruses, Nathan sighed.
Theyre building an army, Josiah said, more to himself than anyone.
What do you mean? Buck asked.
If all the womens physiology is as altered as this girls Josiah paused, just think of how many dominants are out there.
Hes right, Nathan responded. But I have to get her back, take a look at her bone structure. See if I can discover out how she died.
Okay, Chris agreed. He looked around: Wheres Ezra?
Josiah turned and looked past the suburban only to find the Southern-born dominant digging in the dirt. Ezra, he called, walking with the rest of them to where Ezra was digging.
The top of the pillar was showing. The dulled metal shined in spots as the descending sun glistened off of it. Rust and rock seemed to cake to the piece, and it was so old that it seemed ancient. Josiah squatted down next to the Southerner.
What is it, Ezra? he asked softly.
Ezra turned questioning eyes toward the big man and sighed. If I knew the answer to that question, Mr. Sanchez, I wouldnt be digging in the dirt, he answered sarcastically.
JD and Buck both got down on their hands and knees and started digging, and quickly the rest joined them. Chris went back to the suburban and grabbed the shovels hed brought just in case.
When enough of the pillar was exposed, hieroglyphics appeared like magic beneath their hands and the cold steel of the shovels.
What in the hell is it? Buck questioned, running his hand over the intricate signs.
Chris ran his hands through his hair. JD, you and Buck get to town and find any books you can on hieroglyphics.
This things too deep, Chris, Josiah said, rolling back on the heels of his shoes. Well never get it out of here.
We could x-ray it, JD spoke up, take images with a computer, that way youll have the whole thing on file without having to dig up the pillar.
Can you do that? Chris asked.
JD smiled: Hell yes, he replied with a twinkle in his eyes.
Get what youll need in order to do it, and find the books, Chris ordered, watching as Ezra continued to dig.
Buck headed toward the suburban with JD on his heels. They removed the camping gear from the top of the luggage rack and carefully positioned it on the ground. The others continued to dig, disregarding the sun that was making its descent.
Josiah and Nathan pounded the stake into the ground, tightening the rain cover on the tent they were sharing. The sky gave no indication of an approaching storm, but like most things in life, anything was possible. Vin and Chris finished putting up the large tent that Vin had nicknamed the Condo. The structure stood over six feet tall in the center, and two sheets helped create the illusion of three rooms.
Dont know about yall, but Im hungry, Vin said, grabbing his duffle bag looking for a snack.
Josiah chuckled; he didnt know how the bounty hunter stayed so thin. If he wasnt eating, he was thinking about food, and nothing absolutely nothing, was safe as far as food was concerned. Josiah looked out past the camp that theyd made and looked toward the form that refused to leave the pillar. Ezra rested on his knees, hunched over with his arms crossed in front of his chest, just looking at the object trapped in the ground. Josiah didnt understand what it meant, and he didnt understand why the Southerner was pulled to it so strongly.
They were all attracted to this ground, feeling as though something were here, or had happened here to draw their attention. They didnt know what, but for some reason this place felt familiar. Strange, having never been here before, Josiah thought, and never having even known about this place until a week ago. And yet, here they were, finding a body that could tell them more about their kind, and a pillar that, perhaps, could explain their history.
Theres some food in the cooler, Vin, Nathan said, grabbing his suitcase and pillow.
Chris looked up after throwing three sleeping bags into the tent he intended to share with Vin and Ezra. Unsure of what lay ahead, he turned his attention to the Southerner, trying to understand what was going through his head. So much had happened in the last few weeks, and for reasons he didnt understand all of these men had taken the place of his family. They were brothers in a sense, and in more ways than just their shared DNA. What would Sara think? He sighed, knowing shed invite each and everyone of them into her home and give them a sister they never knew they had. Chris smiled at the thought. He missed her; he missed her so much it hurt .and Adam. Chris only had to think of his son and a smile would come to his face. He missed the boys antics, his stunts, and the way hed get creative with a cardboard box. Would Adam have eventually become a dominant? Yes, he would have, and Chris knew it. The doctors had said that Sara shouldnt have any more children after Adam had been born. Was that something Chris had caused he hoped not.
Think he knows somethin? Vin asked, and then bit down on his sandwich that hed filled with potato chips.
I think hes scared, Chris said, only he doesnt know it yet.
What do you thinks on that pillar? Vin questioned, looking up toward the sky, watching as the stars twinkled in their environment.
Hell, I wish I knew, the detective sighed, turning his attention to the fire.
Here, Nathan said, handing Chris a plate of food. Theres more if you want it. He took a step forward, but was pulled back by Chris hand.
Ill take it to him, he said, taking the plate from Nathan and headed to where Ezra was seated.
Bring any candy bars, doc? Vin asked, finishing off his sandwich.
Nathan sighed: You want to know how many autopsies Ive done on folks that didnt eat right?
How many ave you done on the new species? Vin asked behind a smile.
Nathan shook his head and moved back towards the fire.
Nathan made you a plate of food, Chris said, handing the plate over.
Ezra looked up: Im not hungry. He returned his gaze toward the column.
Chris sat the plate on the ground next to the Southerner and then seated himself. This where it happened? he asked, resting his arms across his knees.
Ezra remained quiet.
Vin and I found a fire pit in that cave we were in, Chris said, picking up the pickle off of his plate.
Ive been here before, if thats what youre implying, Ezra said softly.
Do you know why?
The Southerner paused; truthfully, he wasnt sure why hed been brought here. I would assume from the evidence discovered that perhaps this was some kind of ceremonial ground.
Like a church? Chris questioned.
Ezra laughed for the first time since hed met the detective and the others. No, he responded.
Chris nodded, not in understanding, but knowing and trusting that Ezra had told the truth. What happened here what do you remember? he asked sympathetically.
Ezra turned and looked hard at the man next to him. What should he say? Did he remember? He remembered a lot of it, but not everything. My childhood memories are fairly new to say the least. They come in flashes, rather than he paused, not knowing what to say, as hed never experienced it before.
Memories, Chris answered, and he received a nod. Do you think the Dioxen had something to do with that?
Ezra shrugged: It started before then.
That why you didnt kill Mary?
The Southerner hesitated. Was it? Did he see Billy run for his mothers arms, triggering a memory within himself? I dont know why I was brought here, and I dont remember the pillar.
What do you remember?
Jones, came the soft reply.
I met him here first I think he paused, There were three of us that Jones took with im.
Whered he take you?
I believe California first, and that is where the training began from there I dont remember.
What did the training entail? Chris asked, surprised Ezra was saying so much.
The Southerner reached up and touched his neck unconsciously. He shrugged his shoulders, not ready to talk about it. He wasnt sure what had happened during his training, but he knew that hed been programmed in some way. He knew that his memories had been erased and he knew that emotion was something hed been trained not to have.
Chris watched him for a moment, realizing the conversation was over. He was surprised it had lasted as long as it had. He could hear the others sitting by the fire talking, and the sound of the fire crackling brought back memories of his wife and son. He remembered Sara and Adam on their first camping trip. Buck had managed to scare them both to death by pretending there was a bear in the area. Needless to say the ladies man didnt sleep in a dry bed that night, thanks to Adam accidentally spilling a bucket of water on Bucks sleeping bag.
Howd they die? came the question out of nowhere.
Chris sat back, slightly surprised, until he remembered what Ezra had said some time ago about being able to sense things. They were killed in a house fire three years ago.
Sarah went to visit her folks and the house she was staying in had faulty wiring, or so the investigator said.
You dont believe that? Ezra questioned, looking at the man sitting next to him.
Chris shrugged: I dont know, he answered quietly, looking at the pillar. Come on, he said, getting to his feet. The others are going to think weve started bonding, he replied with a joke.
Ezra cocked an eyebrow and slowly got to his feet. With all kinds of thoughts running through his mind, he followed Chris toward the others.
Nathan continued to examine the body, while the others tried to discover what the symbols on the pillar stood for. The early morning sun heated the dusty ground ferociously. Josiah and Vin had stripped their shirts off trying to stay cool in any manner they could. Even Chris had opted for a white tee shirt as opposed to his dark ones.
The sound of the body of the suburban bouncing on its axels as the tires hit bumps and rocks filled the air, and everyone looked up from their positions around the site. Dust particles blew up behind the vehicle and rocks shot out like bullets from the back of the tires.
Buck slammed on the breaks and jumped out. Weve got to hurry he gasped, as JD emptied the back of the suburban, feds are on their way.
Shit, Chris swore, jogging up to help JD with the equipment. Howd they find out?
Dont rightly know, but Id be willing to bet theyve been keepin a pretty close eye on us, Buck replied, helping JD set up the computer equipment.
How longs this goin to take? Chris asked JD.
Shouldnt take too long once we get everything ready, the kid reassured.
Josiah and Nathan prepared the body theyd found for the trip home. Vin and Ezra worked at getting all of the camping gear packed up and tied to the roof of the suburban, while the others started to x-ray the pillar. It didnt take long before things were getting shoved into any available place in the vehicle. JD worked on his laptop after hed crawled into the back seat with Vin, trying to align the x-rays in the correct order. Chris, Buck and Ezra jumped into the middle seat, while Josiah and Nathan took the front. The former FBI agent drove, using all of the skills hed learned so many years ago while working in the field.
Each bump caused the seats to rise, and Buck swore when his head connected with the roof. He understood they had to be out of the area before the feds arrived. Chris knew that if they were discovered, everything theyd found would be confiscated, so it was important to depart.
How do you think theyre watchin us? Vin asked, after Josiah got them to the main road.
Could be satellites, computers, surveillance shit anything they could use they would, Chris griped, turning in his head around to look at JD. Howre you comin?
Almost got it, the kid responded.
You think were goin to make across the boarder okay? Vin questioned, looking out the window.
We should, unless the feds put up a block, Chris answered, turning to face the front of the vehicle.
What in the hell are we gonna do? Buck asked, annoyed with the situation.
What we always do, Chris commented, keep our heads together, and do what we have to.
Ezra stood back and watched as JD pinned the last piece of the puzzle together on the wall. Images of the pillar now hung on small pieces of paper, looking less intimidating, and significantly more complicated. Josiah continued to research anything he could about hieroglyphics, and so far, every path he took led to a dead end. Thankfully, the seven didnt have any difficulties getting across the boarder, and as a result, upon arriving home, Nathan had been spending all of his time in his lab working on the body theyd found. Chris, Josiah, and Buck had gone back to work at the department, not wanting to create much attention from their brief absence.
You dont know what any of that means? Vin asked, wiping his fingers on his pants after finishing a bag of Cheetos.
No, unfortunately, Ezra replied, leaning against the back wall.
You heard from any of your people? the bounty hunter tried to ask subtly.
No, Ezra said, shaking his head. He wasnt the only one that thought it was odd that nobody had tried to contact him, and on many levels, it worried him.
Any of this look familiar, Ezra? JD asked, stepping away from the puzzle on the wall.
I wish it did, Mr. Dunne, but Im at a loss as to its meaning.
What do you think theyre doing, the kid paused, I mean, whats the point in trying to kill humans?
Not all of them want to, Ezra said sadly, and I dont think that human annihilation was our races intention.
Then why are they killin? Vin asked, trying to understand.
Fear, separatist views, power could be any number of reasons, Ezra responded.
Who would know? JD asked, wanting to come up with a reason for the needless violence.
Ezra shrugged his shoulders, unwilling and unable to give them the answer he knew they wanted to hear.
I dont know about you, Chris, but I dont know if I can trust this guy, Buck said, entwining his fingers together behind his head. He leaned back in his chair and looked across the room toward his friend.
Hes all we got, Chris said flatly. And I trust im.
How do you know he aint leadin us down some kind of twisted path?
I dont, Chris snapped.
Weve known him what three weeks maybe?
Youve known who for three weeks? Josiah asked, stepping into the offices.
Ezra, Chris replied, continuing on his paperwork.
Josiah nodded: I went through some old cases and our mysterious Mr. Jones is mentioned four times. Never with a first name, three of those cases surround murders involving prominent members of society. The other case is the robbery of a pawn shop.
What was taken? Chris asked.
Guns and ammunition.
No, Josiah replied.
How do we know Ezra was telling the truth about Jones? Buck asked, getting to his feet and taking one of the files from Josiahs hand.
Everyone looked up when Nathan entered the room carrying a stack of files. Ive got some information for you, he said softly. Is it safe to talk here?
Chris nodded. Apparently, it was safer than his own place.
Nathan grabbed a chair and pulled it up to Chris desk. The girl Josiah found in Mexico was approximately 14 when she died, and she was pregnant. However, the pregnancy didnt kill her: a bullet wound to her stomach did. I found this, he placed a small bullet on the table, encased in one of the fetuses.
How long ago do you think this occurred? Chris asked, trusting the MEs assessment.
When I first saw the body, I thought that maybe it was 9 months to a year ago, and given the conditions of the land the body was buried in its no wonder as to why it mummified so quickly. However, after closer examination he paused, unsure if he believed his answer, Id say its been closer to 40 years.
What? Buck asked, in shock.
But there was more there than just bones? Josiah questioned, not fully understanding.
Nathan nodded: Shed been mummified, rather well, from what I found.
Did you find any other abnormalities other than the four uteruses? Chris asked.
Im running a DNA sample on all the fetuses to see if they shared the same father. Its too difficult to tell if the women of the species share the same lung and heart size that the men do. Nathan ran his fingers over his head. What Ezra told us about blood loss being fatal for dominants isnt true.
I knew he was lyin? Buck snapped.
What do you mean? Chris asked flatly, ignoring Bucks tirade.
Blood loss for a dominant wouldnt be any different than it would be for a human, Nathan continued. However, a transfusion would be life threatening.
Why would he make something like that up? Chris questioned, more to himself than anyone.
He doesnt know differently, Josiah answered.
Nathan agreed, For a dominant to become submissive, it would have to take an outside force of some kind, like we saw with the Dioxen and a significant loss of blood would do that. He paused, and looked at the others. I noticed a scar on the side of Ezras neck a few weeks ago
You think he was bled? Chris asked.
Could be, Nathan responded. It would make him more susceptible to his training and too weak to fight back.
A primitive form of brainwashing, Josiah spoke up. Chris, you said when you started talking about Jones that Ezra fingered his neck. The subject probably brought up some memories, and the fact that he doesnt have any clear images from his childhood leads me to believe hed been programmed, in a sense, to perform his duties of...
Killing, Chris finished for the big man.
I have a hard time believing that Ezra wouldnt have a conscience, unless hed been trained to numb himself.
Then why make up the story about blood loss when Vin got shot? Buck asked.
Thats a human response, Josiah responded with a smile. Ezra correlates bleeding with the loss of life in a sense, a loss of himself. That probably started occurring when he was bled and during Jones training.
Seems a bit extreme. Buck fingered his pencil, thinking about everything that had been said.
But so is the situation.
Nathan walked slowly down the hall to his office, thinking about everything that had been said. He was a scientist. He was supposed to look at what the evidence told him before he made up his mind, and yet, the evidence was just as confusing as the situation. A new species of man with an agenda all their own. They didnt feel emotions like humans, or at least not as deeply. Ezra was the only one whod not been raised in the human world. The rest of them had. The rest of them had the same experiences as anyone else walking the streets. They knew feelings of guilt, sadness, anger, depression, joy, and happiness. Nathan smiled. When hed graduated from medical school he was so happy. It had been the happiest day of his life. And to think that Ezra had never had the opportunity to feel such emotion ate at Nathans heart.
Im sorry, sir, but you cant go in there, a uniformed officer said, placing his hand on Nathans chest.
The medical examiner looked up, surprised that he hadnt noticed anyone. Whats going on? he asked, looking through the windows on the doors behind the officer.
Doctor Jackson, a man wearing a long tan coat said, sticking his hand out.
Nathan grasped the hand tightly and then released it. And you are?
Officer Daniels, he answered quickly. Im afraid your office and lab were broken into earlier this afternoon. Your assistant, Mike Thomas, was hit from behind
Hes okay, but we need you to look around a let us know what is missing. Im afraid, the officer paused, itll be a lot.
Nathan nodded: Can I see?
The officer motioned for Nathan to follow him. When he opened the doors, it looked as though a train had sped through the lab. Tables were upturned; tools, sheets, and towels littered the floor. Several of the cooler doors had been opened and the body from Mexico was gone. Nathan entered his office to find his computer gone. His disks, files, and notes were all missing. Everything that wasnt important to the work hed been doing the last few weeks, had been left on the floor, scattered like garbage on the side of the road.
Your assistant didnt see anyone come in, but after he came to, he noticed some of your things were missing
Is there any chance Ill get it back? Nathan had to ask, despite already knowing the answer.
Theres always a possibility.
Any idea who might have done this?
No leads thus far, the officer shook his head.
Nathan nodded: Shit!
JD continued to fiddle with the tools on the kitchen table. Everything from audio and visual surveillance equipment, to computer gadgets cluttered Chris normal workspace. Sara would have had a fit. Even Chris was having a hard time dealing with the piles of papers and books that the group had managed to find regarding DNA, genetics, and physiology, that now lay strewn across his home.
When the detective got the call from Nathan that everything hed been working on had been stolen, everyone went on full alert. Chris knew the feds were keeping a close eye on them, but he didnt think theyd stoop to something so low.
Chris watched as Ezra stood by the far window in the living room. He was either unwilling, or too scared to step in and try and help with the research. Perhaps it was a little of both. Perhaps Ezra was feeling guilty for betraying what hed grown up believing was right, but knowing now, that it had been wrong.
Hey, Nathan? Vin called, looking at the images of the pillar that hung on the wall. Was all of our blood tests on that computer of yours at work?
No, the doctor replied. Id put them all on my laptop, but, if JDs right and the feds are monitoring it, it wont be long before they find out that were all dominants.
If they already know theyre out there, why circle in on us? JD questioned.
Id be willing to bet that theyre not, Chris commented, leaning against the wall.
When Ezras jacket started ringing, everyone turned their attention toward the Southern-born dominant. He rubbed his hip, knowing he needed to answer his phone. Quickly, he reached for his jacket and retrieved the item, only to turn and disappear out the back door.
You know Ezra had a phone? Vin asked, looking at Chris.
Chris shook his head. Why should it bother him, they all had phones. Lets get back to work, he said, moving toward the kitchen.
So who are we gonna be spyin on? Buck joked, picking up some of the surveillance equipment.
JD smiled, and watched as Vin picked up a chair and seated himself at the table. Chris figured if the feds were goin to be spyin on us, we might as well be spyin on them. He smiled, handing one of the bugs hed created over to the bounty hunter.
Buck fingered one of the buttons and smiled: How do you know this is gonna work?
I made one of these to plant on Ezra JD shook his head noticing the questioning look coming from Vin, I planted it on him after that first day we met him, but I never tested it. So it aint like Im spyin on him or anything.
So how do you know it works? Buck pushed again.
JD rolled his eyes and carefully put on his headphones then turned on the equipment. He smiled when he heard Ezras voice get picked up by the bug clearly. Quickly, JD turned it off. It works, he said confidently.
So how come youre so good with electronics? Vin asked.
My mom got me a computer when I was ten because I kept taking her vacuum cleaner and TV apart, JD grinned, By the time I was twelve Id rebuilt my computer, and most of my friends.
Buck chuckled: No wonder Chris hired ya. He looked toward Vin. So, whats your special talent?
The bounty hunter shrugged his shoulders: See that video box next to the TV? he asked. When JD and Buck nodded, squinting their eyes slightly. Its Some Like it Hot want me to read what it says about it?
JD laughed: You can read that?
Not word for word, but I can get the gist of it.
Shit, Buck sighed, leaning back in his seat. You got some powerful eyes there, Tanner.
The sound of an engine starting caused everyone to rush toward the door. They watched helplessly as Ezra backed his car out of the driveway and then sped away.
Shit, Chris swore.
Wheres he goin? JD asked.
Buck turned a smiling gaze to the kid: Thats what youre gonna tell us. He grabbed the kids shoulders and turned him toward the surveillance equipment. That bug you planted double as a trackin device?
Dont take me for some kind of an amateur, Buck, JD replied good-naturedly.
I knew there was a reason I liked you.
Chris shook his head, thanking JD for having the insight to plant the bug that hed been told not to. Josiah, he looked to the big man, wheres he going?
I wish I knew, Josiah sighed, shaking his head. But he wouldnt leave without a good reason.
I hope not, Chris said, moving up behind JD.
The kid sat at the table and got his equipment running, knowing it wouldnt be long before he found Ezra.
Turn on the audio, JD, Chris said, wanting to know what was going on exactly.
JD nodded and unplugged his headphones from the receiver. The only thing coming over the speakers was the soft sound of an engine running, and the subtle shifting of gears.