Team Knight Rider - Season Two
Chapter Nine: Friend and Foe
Philip Brooks sat at his office desk, typing up a report on his computer. He was a man in his late thirties whose blond hair was greased back on his head and who wore a cheap suit that was made to look expensive. His office was bare but for his small desk and a withering potted orange tree sitting in a corner.
Suddenly the phone rang. This was strange since Philip’s phone hardly ever rang this time of night. He quickly reached over and picked it up.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Mr. Brooks," a gravelly voice spoke to him.
"Uh, yes boss?" Philip asked, recognizing the voice.
"Yes, boss," he replied, "I’ll get right on it."
The phone line went dead. Philip rested it back on the receiver and stared at it a moment. Then he started to get to work.
* * *
Kyle sat comfortably inside Dante, watching the extravagant Drake Hotel across the street. There was a lot of activity in front of the fanciest hotel in LA. Kyle kept his eyes on the entrance, watching as people came in and out. He noticed a limousine pulling in front of the hotel and sat up in his seat. The driver got out and went around to open the back door. Kyle watched closely as a familiar figure climbed out of the limo, tipped the driver, and allowed a porter to carry his single bag to the front entrance.
"It’s him, Kyle," Dante spoke up.
"I know," Kyle said. He lifted his wrist-com to his mouth.
"Annie," he said, "He’s here."
* * *
Annie paced around the room, waiting. The grand hotel she was staying at in LA was the most extravagant in the city. The room she was in was one of the best. It was larger than most, with one king size bed, couch, entertainment system, full desk and large windows overlooking the city. She was up on the 31st floor. It was late in the day. Only a day had gone by since Team Knight Rider had stopped Chaser’s plot to blow up the White House. Annie had only arrived at the hotel room an hour earlier.
As soon as Annie heard Kyle’s voice coming in through the earrings she wore, Annie tensed. She had never before been nervous at the prospect of seeing James. In fact, before today she had always felt excited at the prospect. Now, ever since she discovered just how violent and corrupt he was, Annie was feeling very different.
The door opened without any warning, and James breezed in. He gave her a wide smile as he walked in, then tossed his bag on the bed, came over to her, embraced her, and kissed her deeply. Annie returned the kiss, all the newly repressed feelings she had for him returning in an instant. She had always enjoyed being with him, even knowing he was a criminal. He had always been so generous and gentle with her, and had treated her with respect. And he seemed to love her.
James finally pulled away gently, then looked down at her with affection on his face. Annie looked up at him almost guiltily.
"How have you been?" he asked her.
"OK," she said.
James kissed her again, then pulled away completely and shrugged off his jacket. Annie watched him.
"So how did it go in Washington?" she asked him.
"Aside from a few minor problems," he told her, "I’d say the project was a complete success."
* * *
Inside Dante, Kyle frowned and shook his head.
"A success?" he asked out loud, "It totally bombed!"
"Oh, good one, Kyle," Dante replied with sarcasm.
"He’s lying," Kyle said, "He must be covering it up."
* * *
Annie leaned against the desk, watching as James sat on the bed and untied his shoes.
"So what’s our next move?" she asked him.
James glanced at her and smiled.
"You sound eager," he said, then continued, "Actually, I have something I need to take care of first in Texas. It should only take a few days."
He stood up, barefooted, and started untucking his shirt.
"But afterwards," he told her, "I thought maybe we’d take a nice long vacation somewhere nice and warm and private."
Annie smiled, though her eyes weren’t in it.
"Why can’t I help?" she asked him.
James sighed and refused to look at her.
"It wouldn’t be a good idea," he told her, "This is something I have to take care of on my own."
Annie frowned, noticing he was looking uncharacteristically serious.
"Why is that?" she asked him.
"Because this is family business," he finally admitted.
Annie looked at him, puzzled. He had never mentioned family before.
"Family business?" she asked.
"It’s nothing to be concerned about," James told her, indicating he wanted to close the subject. Annie didn’t push it.
"I have an idea," he said as if he’d just come up with it, "Why don’t you go pay Pablo a visit while I’m gone?"
Annie sighed. Pablo was James’ old friend. The two of them had known each other for years. Annie had only met him a few times, but he was a very nice, friendly man. Ramon "Pablo" Riguerez was also a very rich man Annie knew to be a very successful Mexican industrialist who owned in operated many businesses, big and small, including the Riguerez Mining Corp. and the RP & Venezuela Manufacturers.
"I’d rather be with you," Annie told him. She had nothing against Pablo, in fact she liked him, but she wanted to stay close to James.
James looked at her, then came over and put her arms around her.
"I want to stay with you too," he told her sincerely, "But this is very important to me. And I can’t do it if I’m worrying about you the whole time."
"You know I can take care of myself," she reminded him.
"I know you can," he told her.
He kissed her on the cheek, then led his hands slide down her arms until their hands met and clasped. Suddenly James frowned and looked down at her hand. At that point Annie closed her eyes for a moment, remembering.
"Where’s your ring?" he asked her curiously.
"I, um, went swimming and forgot to take it off," she lied to him, "I’m sorry. It was an accident."
James stared down at her for a moment with a strange look on his face, and for a second Annie was afraid he was on to her. But then his face cleared and he shrugged without concern.
"That’s all right," he assured her, "I can always get you a new one after this next job is done."
He squeezed her hand, then undressed to his boxers and disappeared into the bathroom to shower. Annie sighed as soon as he shut the door. She had forgotten the ring up until he noticed it missing. She had just been too wired about spying on him with Team Knight Rider that it left her mind.
"Are you OK?" Kyle’s voice came over com-link.
Annie grabbed the tiny transmitter out of her purse and spoke into it.
"I’m fine," she said, lying again.
"Try to get him to tell you where he’s going and why," Kyle asked.
Annie blinked her eyes.
"I’ll try," she promised.
James was only in the shower for a few minutes before he came out wearing only a bathrobe. His brown hair was wet and sticking up. He looked adorable. Annie tensed herself. Now or never.
"James," she said, "Where will you be going?"
James replied shortly.
"I’m leaving for Texas first thing in the morning," he told her, avoiding her question.
Annie sighed silently. She knew this act well. James had a way of leaving out all the important information.
"And you’re not going to tell me about it?" she asked.
James looked at her.
"I promise," he told her, "As soon as I get back I’ll tell you every single detail."
Annie frowned as James turned back to the TV, turning on the news. Then Annie thought of something.
"James," she asked, "do you know anything about Codebreaker?"
James turned to her, face surprised at her question. He frowned and hesitated.
"I know of him," he admitted.
"He’s ruined a lot of Chaser’s plans," Annie prodded.
James nodded silently. Annie went to sit on the bed near him.
"Chaser must be pretty mad at him by now," she suggested.
James let out a soft humorless chuckle.
"Chaser’s just toying with him," he told her confidently.
Annie narrowed her eyes at him.
"You know who Chaser is?" she asked.
"I know exactly who Chaser is," he replied, a touch of bitterness in his voice.
James then recovered and glanced at her a bit guiltily.
"But I’ve never actually met him," he added.
"But you’ve worked for him, right?" she asked.
James shook his head.
"Nope," he replied, "Never have and never will."
Annie frowned, wondering if he was telling another lie.
"James—" she began.
As soon as she began to speak, James reached over and put a hand over her mouth. He then grabbed her hands and pulled her up off the bed, embracing her snugly.
"Let’s not talk about work anymore," he said, "Promise me we can just relax until I leave tomorrow."
Annie hesitated, then looked up into his eyes.
"I promise," she told him softly.
James gave her a tender smile, then drew her close and kissed her.
* * *
Kyle reached over and shut off the com-link to Annie’s bug. He then sat back in his seat.
"Looks like Annie’s really getting into her work," Dante commented.
Kyle waited a moment before answering.
"She loves him," Kyle finally replied.
"Yes, I did know that," Dante told him, "Now what?"
"Annie will put a bug on James in the morning," Kyle said, "We’ll figure out where he’s going and follow him. Hopefully he’ll lead us to something big."
"And until then we wait," Dante said unexcitedly, "Am I right?"
"On the nose," Kyle agreed.
* * *
Annie planted the bug in James’ jacket while he was in the shower the following morning. When he came out, James dressed and packed his briefcase and small piece of luggage for his trip. He and Annie then parted at the door.
"Miss me?" James asked her.
Annie forced a smile.
"Always," she told him.
James then kissed her passionately, once again making her forget herself. When James pulled away, Annie opened her eyes and looked up to his eyes. He was regarding her thoughtfully, his eyes seemingly full of affection.
"I love you, Annie," he told her suddenly in a soft voice.
She felt a tear forming in her eye but immediately willed it away.
"I love you too," she replied, meaning it.
James gave her a small, almost sad smile, then squeezed her hand once and left. Annie watched him, then closed the door after him. As soon as she was gone, she contacted Kyle.
"Kyle," she said, "He’s leaving."
"Good work, Annie," Kyle told her, "I’m sending Trek and Plato after him now. Jenny and Domino will be there in a few minutes to pick you up."
"OK," she replied.
Annie then began to pack her bags, willing the descending tears to disappear.
* * *
Trek wore baggy jeans and a bright yellow T-shirt with a black alien head and the words "I Believe" stenciled on it. He also wore a backwards cap and a really dorky pair of sunglasses. Hiding behind a swimsuit magazine, Trek watched as James made his way through the airport. He followed James through the metal detectors and across the terminal. He got a few odd stares as he did his undercover spy routine, hiding behind shop carts and newspaper stands as he tailed his target.
"The name is Bond," Plato spoke up, "James Bond."
Finally James turned off the main corridor and went to Gate 97. As soon as James showed the receptionist his ticket and disappeared to board the plane, Trek glanced at the destination.
* * *
"He’s going to Houston," Trek informed them half an hour later in the SkyOne situation room, "His flight is supposed to arrive at 10:35."
"JP," Kyle said immediately, activating the com-link to the cockpit, "Houston, Texas on the double."
"Another interesting little tidbit," Trek continued, "Is that James registered under the name James Stewart."
Kyle looked at him, disturbed. The others were also surprised.
"He used the name Stewart?" Erica asked, glancing at Kyle.
Jenny also looked at their leader.
"Why would he be using your last name?" she asked.
"Maybe he’s trying to be funny," Dante quipped.
"I don’t see anything funny about it," Kat spoke up.
"When have you ever thought anything was funny?" Erica asked her motorcycle.
Kyle shook his head.
"It doesn’t make sense," he agreed, then added, "Then again, nothing James has done so far has made any sense."
"So," Duke spoke up, addressing Kyle, "why would James be going to Houston?"
"He mentioned something about family?" the seventh person in the room suggested.
They all turned to Scott Barnes. Scott was an FBI agent, like Annie. In fact, he had been Annie’s partner when they were back spying on Bridges. Annie and her boss had both insisted upon allowing Scott to assist them in capturing James. Annie and Scott were good friends, and Annie trusted him. Scott had an exemplary track record. The tall dark-haired brown-eyed 30-something man was also quick to pick up on things. Especially how gorgeous Jenny was. He had barely taken his eyes off her since he arrived on SkyOne that morning, a fact that Kyle quickly came to dislike.
"James once told me that he had no family," Annie told them, shaking her head, "I don’t know what he could have been talking about."
"Maybe he was lying," Beast suggested.
"Or maybe he just wanted to give you an excuse so you would leave him alone," Erica added.
"There has to be something there," Trek mumbled to himself.
"Trek," Kyle addressed him, "I want you and Plato to run a search of any possible connection between James, Olivier, and anything that has to do with Houston."
Trek nodded and ducked out of the room. Kyle turned to his second in command.
"Jenny," he told her, "I want you and Domino to see if there’s anything important taking place in Houston in the next two days. Find out everything."
Jenny nodded and stood up, just as Scott stepped forward to join her.
"Maybe I better help," he suggested.
Kyle watched with irritation as Scott followed Jenny out of the room.
"Look out, Kyle," Domino spoke up, "Seems you finally have some competition."
Kyle ignored her.
* * *
By the time SkyOne landed in Houston, James’ plane had already arrived. Kyle and the others all gathered in the situation room to listen in on James’ bug as he left the airport and checked into a hotel, once again under the name Stewart. As soon as he reached his room, James made a call on his cell phone. Kyle turned up the volume to listen.
"Beunos dias, Pablo!" James greeted his ‘callee’ warmly, "Como est… ?…Si, si…Si, estoy en Houston…"
"Why doesn’t he speak in English?" Erica complained.
Kyle gave her a look, silencing her.
"Pablo," they heard James say in a more serious voice, "I need you to send over a kit right away…Yes. Chaser will likely try to contact me soon."
Kyle and Duke exchanged glances.
"Listen, Pablo," James said, his voice sounding hesitant, "Has Annie called you at all?…I see. I guess I should have known. She’s working with Team Knight Rider now."
At that they all exchanged surprised glances. James wasn’t supposed to know that. Kyle looked at Annie, but all she could so was shrug.
They were even more surprised at James’ next statement.
"Yes," he said, "TKR is probably in Houston by now…Yeah. Maybe when this is all over, I can finally tell her the truth…OK, amigo. Ma¤ ana."
They heard James hang up. Seconds later there was a sudden loud crackling sound. Kyle shut off the com-link to save their ears.
"He must’ve found the bug," Duke guessed.
Kyle turned to Annie.
"How did he know we were here?" he asked her.
"He’s good," she told him.
"What’s this kit supposed to be?" Erica asked curiously.
Again Annie shook her head.
"It couldn’t be his gun," she told them, "He brought that with him."
"How did he get a gun past a metal detector?" Duke queried.
"James has a number of disguises and false identities," Annie told them, "He probably posed as a cop or government agent or something."
"That tears it," Kyle decided, "From now on, whenever any of us go out, everyone wears a vest."
"But I hate those things," Erica complained, "They make me look awful."
"Would you rather have a bullet through your stomach?" Kat asked.
Erica rolled her eyes, shaking her head. Duke turned to Jenny.
"Why were you wearing your vest back at Olivier’s hideout, anyway?" he asked her.
Jenny looked from him to the others.
"Well," she said, "after Olivier mentioned he was going to kill one of us, I started wearing it as a precaution. I thought everyone would be wearing one."
She looked around at them. Kyle, Duke, Trek and Erica all shook their heads.
"Trust Jenny to be the only one with sense," Beast spoke up affectionately.
Kyle smiled. He then turned to Jenny.
"Did you find anything?" he asked.
Jenny gave him a negative look.
"Sorry, Kyle," she told him, "But there’s nothing happening in Houston right now that would attract James’ attention."
Kyle nodded, then turned to Trek.
"What about you and Plato?" he asked.
Trek leaned forward enthusiastically.
"I thought you’d never ask," he said, "Plato and I managed to trace Olivier’s bank account. It seems he was being paid indirectly by a software company in Houston called Coalescence Software Inc. It’s a private company. The president is a man named Philip Brooks. They have two locations. One is their main offices in downtown. The other is a research and development building a few miles away."
"We’ll follow that," Kyle decided, "Dante and I will go pay a visit to Mr. Brooks. Jenny, you go take a look at that R&D building. The rest of you dig up all you can, and try to keep an eye on James."
Kyle and Jenny stood up. Scott immediately went to join them.
"Mind if I tag along?" Scott asked Jenny.
Jenny hesitated as Kyle cast Scott a sidelong glare.
"Um, sure," Jenny replied.
Scott smiled back. Kyle breathed out soundly.
"Oh Kyle?" Dante spoke up.
"Never mind, Dante," Kyle said shortly, recognizing the tone in his car’s voice.
* * *
"I’m sorry, sir," the annoying receptionist told him, "but you can’t see Mr. Brooks without an appointment."
"I’m with the Foundation for Law and Government," Kyle told her patiently, "If you’ll just tell him that—"
"I’m sorry," the receptionist repeated, "but without an appointment I can’t help you. Now why don’t you go home and make an appointment with Mr. Brooks first?"
Kyle turned away, growing impatient.
"This has to do with a very important matter," Kyle told her evenly.
"Then I suggest you make an appointment," she told him more firmly.
Kyle gazed at her for a moment, a gaze that she returned. He then nodded lightly and turned away. He headed back for the exit.
"Would you like me to make an appointment?" Dante spoke up.
Kyle was about to tell Dante just where he could make his appointment when the receptionist called him.
Kyle stopped and turned back to look at her.
"Mr. Brooks will see you now, sir," she told him.
Kyle walked back over to her, puzzled.
"What was that?" he asked.
The receptionist rolled her eyes, not even an ounce of regret on her irritated face.
"His office is on the fourteenth floor," she told him, "The elevators are down the hall."
"Thanks," Kyle told her insincerely.
As Kyle walked towards the elevators he noticed the security camera mounted in the corner, watching over the main foyer. He glanced at them once and realized someone, likely Brooks, must have seen him and recognized him.
"I guess an appointment isn’t necessary anymore," Dante said disappointedly.
Kyle chose not to reply as the elevator took him up to the fourteenth floor. He came out into another, smaller reception room. A large red-haired woman in her forties sat at the desk. As soon as Kyle entered she pointed down the hall. Kyle gave her a polite smile and nod and followed her direction. He walked down to the end of the hall and found the door marked "Philip Brooks - President". Kyle knocked.
When Kyle entered, he found the office inside to be very large, and yet very bare. The only features were a small desk, a large picture window, and a dead plant in the corner. The man sitting at the desk was very plain-looking and wearing a tacky polyester suit. He looked up at Kyle with an obviously fake smile on his face. Kyle walked over to the desk, and they shook.
"I’m Kyle Stewart," he introduced himself, "I’m from the Foundation for Law and Government."
"Yes, my receptionist informed me," Philip told him, "What can I do for you?"
"I just have a few questions," Kyle said, "My team and I are tracking a man named James Arthur. He used to work with another man named Vincent Olivier. Both of them are criminals. We managed to find some evidence that suggested Olivier may have been connected to your company."
Philip immediately shook his head.
"Never heard of him," he told him.
Kyle watched him and nodded.
"OK," he said, "Do you recognize James Arthur?"
"Never heard of him either," Philip said.
"What about the name Chaser?"
Philip shook his head unhelpfully.
"Sorry," he said, "I can’t help you."
Kyle nodded. This guy was just not cooperating.
"Why don’t I send for my head of security," Philip suggested, pressing a button on his phone, "I’ll have him give you a tour of the building."
"Um, right," Kyle replied, "Are you sure--?"
"I’m a very busy man," Philip went on to say, "I have to tell you I have very little time to help out the government."
Kyle glanced at his desk. It was completely empty. He couldn’t see the computer screen, but Kyle was sure it wasn’t pressing business.
Almost right away a man entered the room without so much as knocking. He was a tall, beefy guy with a no-nonsense appearance and a perpetual scowl on his face. He wore a gun belt that was fully equipped, as well as a radio on his shoulder. He looked at Kyle with distaste.
"If I find out that either of those men had anything to do with this company," Philip continued, "I’ll be sure to contact you."
"You do that," Kyle said.
Philip smiled and nodded to the stranger.
"This is Mr. Walter," he told him, "He’ll give you a brief tour on your way out."
Kyle nodded reluctantly.
"Thanks for your help," he told the brief man.
Philip didn’t reply. He just watched as Walter practically herded Kyle out of the room. From then on Walter kept a close eye on Kyle as they walked. He didn’t offer to point out any sights or rooms of interest.
"So," Kyle began, trying to strike up conversation, "You been running security here long?"
Walter just looked at him and scowled. Kyle grinned humorlessly and looked away, pretending to be interested in the wall.
They came up to a bank of elevators, different from the ones he had come up in. Walter pressed the down button. Kyle then glanced farther down the hall, where there was a big metal door marked "Restricted" in big bold letters. It was the only door in the whole building so far that wasn’t unmarked and plain. Kyle narrowed his eyes at it, then turned to Walter.
"How about a peek inside that room?" he asked.
"How about you leave now," Walter growled.
Kyle let it drop. He glanced once more at the restricted door before stepping into the elevator with the temperamental security chief.
Kyle left the building a few minutes later under Walter’s watchful eye. Kyle felt his eyes on his back as he walked over to Dante and climbed in.
"Talk about your cold shoulder," Dante commented.
"Yeah, no kidding," Kyle agreed, "I was afraid if I made the wrong move he’d rip my head off."
"So did you notice anything strange about that place?" Dante asked.
"You mean the fact that besides Brooks, Walter, and the two receptionists we didn’t see any other employees in the entire building?" Kyle asked, "Or how about for a software company they don’t seem very busy. Not to mention that restricted area that looks like it’s built to keep any unwanted intruders out?"
"That," Dante agreed, "plus the fact that every single floor between the lobby and the fourteenth are totally empty. Also, after I did some digging I found out that Coalescence Software Inc. isn’t even on the market for software."
"It must be getting its money from somewhere," Kyle said, "Can you trace any of their transactions?"
"No," Dante said, "All incoming monetary transactions have been blocked, and the codes to open them are encrypted. It would takes me years just to break it."
"They’re hiding something behind those restricted doors," Kyle said, "We have to find out what."
"So what are you suggesting?" Dante asked, as if he didn’t know.
"I’m suggesting we sneak in tonight and take a look behind those doors," Kyle said.
"I just knew you were going to say that."
Kyle depressed a button on the communications console.
"Jenny?" he asked, "Any luck?"
"None, Kyle," Jenny told him, "The R&D lab is totally clean. There’s nothing out of the ordinary, besides the fact that they seem to be working on a skeleton crew."
"All right," he said, "Meet us back at SkyOne."
Kyle started Dante’s engine and looked in his left side mirror, waiting for the traffic to ease up before he could pull out into the driving lane. Then, as Kyle was still looking at the mirror, the passenger door suddenly opened and a figure slipped inside. Kyle whirled his head around, surprised. He was even more surprised when he recognized the intruder.
"Codebreaker," he stated.
Kyle’s younger half-brother sat coolly in Dante’s passenger seat. He wore jeans and a leather jacket, as well as a baseball hat covering his short white-blond hair. He also wore his usual sunglasses to cover his white eyes. He didn’t look at Kyle, but kept his eyes on the road ahead.
"Let’s just drive, Kyle," he told him in a calm, quiet voice.
Kyle nodded and pulled out onto the street.
"I hope you know it’s very rude to just come barging in like that," Dante spoke up irritably.
Codebreaker, or Mason, released a half-grin. Kyle stared at him, counting on Dante to steer himself.
"So are you after Chaser too?" he asked, reluctant to approach the topic he really wanted to talk about.
"Kyle," he said, "you and the rest of your team should stay out of this investigation and not interfere."
"I can’t do that," he said.
"I understand," Codebreaker told him, "I realize you don’t want to just give up a case. But Chaser is an extremely lethal man. If you continue to pursue him, then one or more of your team could be killed."
"We all know the risks," he finally replied, "This is a government matter, anyway. It’s under our jurisdiction. Besides, when I start something, I like to finish it."
Codebreaker smiled and nodded. Kyle narrowed his eyes at him.
"I heard that Chaser was toying with you," Kyle mentioned.
"Yes," he said, "I’ve known that all along. I’ve been after Chaser for four years. Now I’m finally starting to get close."
"So what do you know about Chaser?" Kyle asked, "Not to mention Philip Brooks and James Arthur?"
"Only that you should keep far away from all three," Codebreaker replied.
Kyle sighed through his nose and glanced away. He decided to give up on questioning Codebreaker anymore, knowing the young crime-buster would give away no new information.
"Kyle," Dante spoke up, "don’t you have something to say?"
Kyle gave Dante a look, then glanced at Codebreaker nervously. He wondered if the young man knew of their common blood.
"Um, Codebreaker," Kyle began, "I mean, Mason. I don’t know if you know this, but—"
Codebreaker suddenly cut him off as they reached a stop light.
"Just heed my warning, Kyle," he cautioned.
Then, without another word, Codebreaker opened Dante’s door and slipped out just as he had slipped in. Kyle watched him go, deliberating on going after him but deciding against it.
"And he didn’t even say good-bye," Dante spoke up.
* * *
As soon as Kyle and Jenny were back on SkyOne, they all met in the garage. Kyle filled them all in on his conversation with Brooks as well as that with Mason.
"He actually said one of us was gonna die?" Erica asked distastefully.
"Not in so many words," Kyle told her, "But he was right, Chaser does seem dangerous. And something is definitely up. I’ll understand if any of you want to sit this one out."
"Not a chance," Jenny said, "We didn’t come this far just to give up."
"I’m with Jenny," Duke agreed.
"Me too," said Trek.
They all turned to Erica, who was hesitating.
"Oh, fine!" she gave up, "I’m in too."
Kyle smiled at them all and nodded approvingly.
"So what’s the plan?" Scott asked.
* * *
Kyle, Scott and Annie, all dressed in dark clothes, moved stealthily through the dark corridors of the CSI building. Kyle led the way, making sure to look around every corner for security guards or cameras. There were none.
"For a big building like this, there’s not much security," Scott commented.
"There’s no security," Kyle said, "Not even an alarm. It’s like they don’t care who comes in and goes out."
"Yeah," Scott agreed, "Any old thief could waltz right in."
"Except that there’s nothing here worth stealing," Annie spoke up.
They found the staircase and started up to the 14th floor.
"This place almost gives me the creeps," Annie said, "It’s seems so deserted and empty."
"You sure there’s something worthwhile in here?" Scott questioned Kyle.
"Positive," Kyle said surely.
They came out on the 14th floor. Kyle became more cautious since this was the floor with both Brooks’ office and the restricted area. Strangely enough, this floor was just as dark and deserted as the first. Kyle remembered how to get to the restricted area and led the way. Once they got there, the three government-trained people converged around the thick, steel door.
"Now that sticks out like a red thumb," Scott remarked.
"Trek? Dante?" Kyle spoke into his wrist-com, "You getting this?"
"We see it," Trek responded, "Looks like this is gonna be trickier than I thought."
"Can you get through it?" Kyle asked.
"Need you even ask?" Dante said.
Kyle grabbed a small black device from his utility belt and placed it over the locking mechanism on the door. He then placed another one over the keypad. As soon as they were both on, a red light on each box came on.
"It should just take a few minutes," Trek informed them. He was sitting outside inside Dante. Both of them were there to help them get through the steel door.
Trek was true to his word. Three minutes later the lights on the boxes changed from red to green, signaling the door was unlocked. Kyle pushed open the door slowly, finding a pitch-black room inside.
"How about some light, Dante?" Kyle asked.
Seconds later the lights in the room came on. They all entered and looked around. The room was not all that large, even smaller than Brooks’ office. On the opposite wall was a small table with a computer sitting on it. It looked old. In fact, the whole room was filled with dust. And the computer and table were the only items in the whole room.
"Now this is even weirder," Scott spoke up.
"Whatever you do, you had better do it soon," Dante warned them, "A silent alarm system activated in the building as soon as you opened the door."
"There must be something important on that hard-drive," Kyle guessed, going over to it. He reached down and turned on the computer, half-afraid it wouldn’t work. But it did. It took over three minutes for the computer’s hard-drive to boot up. Once it did, the monitor revealed only two files. One was named EXP.DRL, and the other NMS.DRL. Kyle immediately grabbed a disk out of his pocket and inserted it in the drive.
"We don’t have time to read these," he said as he copied the files, "We’ll have to look at them when we get back."
"You won’t be going anywhere!"
Kyle and the others whirled around to see Walter and four other security guards. Walter had a gun and had it aimed at them. Annie was the closest to him. She and the two men put their hands up.
"I thought I’d be seeing you again," Walter told Kyle. He still wasn’t smiling.
Annie suddenly whipped her hand out fast to grab Walter’s gun hand and knocked it from his grasp. Then she, Scott and Kyle attacked. Kyle and Walter both aimed for one another, while Annie and Scott expertly took care of the other four men.
Walter, who dwarfed Kyle by about 6 inches and 80 LBS, came charging at the TKR leader. Kyle waited until he was almost on him before he ducked and caught Walter’s stomach with his foot. Walter grunted, but stayed on his feet. He turned back to Kyle and made a swing at him that Kyle barely managed to avoid. Kyle faked at the huge man with his left hand. As Walter moved to block it, Kyle punched him hard in the stomach.
Walter didn’t even flinch. Instead he glared at Kyle with clenched teeth. He was about to make another lunge at him when he suddenly gasped, eyes going wide in surprise, and started to shake. A moment later he fell to the ground and collapsed. Behind him stood Annie, an electric shocker gun in her hands. She gave Kyle a grin, which he returned.
"Thanks," he said.
"We gotta get out of here," Scott spoke up.
Kyle quickly went and grabbed the disk from the drive and pocketed it as he followed the other two out of the room and back down the stairs. They met no more security personnel as they made their way out of the building and climbed back inside Dante where Trek sat in the passenger seat waiting for them.
"What did you find?" Trek asked.
Kyle dug into his pocket and pulled out the disk, holding it up for Trek to see.
"Let’s go to SkyOne and see why these two files are so important," Kyle said.
* * *
"Let’s read the EXP file first," Kyle said only 25 minutes later.
He and the others were gathered in the garage around Dante, who had uploaded the files into his mainframe.
"It seems that Coalescence Software Inc. does not specialize in computer software after all," Dante told them all, "Big surprise. It seems to have been an experimental research lab. Various experiments were done on human beings, all young boys, relating to bionics, robotics, and bio-chemistry, as well as DNA mutations. Some of these experiments involved attempting to meld man with machine, in particular the brain."
They all turned to Trek.
"They inserted chips into their brains in order to increase their memory and potential," Trek told them, "It’s such a controversial practice it’s banned practically all over the world. Dante, does it say if any of these experiments were successful?"
"No," Dante replied, "It gives no data as to the results of the experiments. It may have been erased, however. It seems that the whole operation was moved to a second location about eight years ago."
"Does it say where?" Duke asked.
"No," Dante said again.
"Something must still be going on there if they still have the building running," Kyle said, then asked, "Do either of the files contain information on Chaser or Brooks?"
"I’m afraid not," Dante said, "But it does contain information on your father."
Kyle’s face dropped at the mention of this, and the others glanced at him uncertainly.
"Go ahead," he urged.
"It seems your father, along with a man named Dr. Lugae, were the ones who owned and ran this operation," Dante told them, "In fact, Dr. Lugae was the one who designed and performed the experiments. The NMS file also contains a list of young boys that they kidnapped and brought in for their experiments. Among the names is James Mason."
Once again, this had an affect on Kyle since he knew Mason was his younger brother.
"It makes sense," he finally responded, "It concurs with the information we got off those restricted files on Mason. It also means that he was brought here."
Jenny turned to Trek.
"Could Mason’s abilities be the result of those experiments?" she asked him.
Trek raised his eyebrows and sighed.
"I’m not sure," he admitted, "I guess it’s possible, though it’s still amazing the extent at which he can figure out any code. If I saw the procedures and data on all the experiments, I might be able to figure out how they did it."
"Unfortunately, we don’t have that information," Dante told him.
"This also means that Kyle’s father and brother are also connected to CSI and Chaser," Domino spoke up, "Maybe even James too."
Kyle frowned and stared at Dante’s hood.
"That file said something about the lab being moved to another place," Erica spoke up, "Since the R&D lab is the only other building here, couldn’t that be it?"
Jenny shook her head.
"If they did have a lab set up there, we never saw anything," she told them, "There weren’t even any restricted areas."
"Plato," Trek said, "bring up a diagram on the R&D place, would ya?"
"On the double," Plato replied.
They then watched as Plato put a diagram of the building up on one of the monitors.
"Darn," Trek said, "There’s no secret rooms or anything."
"We’re going there anyway," Kyle decided, "There might be something we missed. Besides, it’s all we have right now."
He nodded to them all and went around to Dante’s driver’s side door.
"Come on," he told them, "I want to be in and out of this place before daylight."
* * *
On to Part Two