Hi! Okay, okay, I know the third season has already started up, but hey, this is what COULD have happened, right? I mean, it's a good idea, bear with me, please. You can go to my EFC site here. Also, yes, I know this thing is not finished, but just be patient, and come back soon to get the next part of it!
Sara Ann O'Conner was a problem child. Everyone agreed on that. It was understandable, too. She'd been taken from her parents and put in various foster homes since the age of twelve...and now she was sixteen. The problem was, no one wanted to keep her, because she was too much trouble. Every home she'd been in could recall at least one time that she'd been brought home by the police...and that was just the start.
It was anyone's guess as to what went on in her head--or how to help her. Most just threw up their hands in despair after a few months. And it was also anyone's guess as to how much trouble she would get in when she went off on her own...which she was determined to do the minute she turned eighteen.
So the years passed, and nothing changed. Her eighteenth birthday was not much of a celebration, and the next morning, Sara Ann was packed and heading out the door. Her current foster family just let her go...and forgot about her.
But had anyone bothered to keep track of her after this happened, they would have been suprised. The first thing she did was drive to the nearest city and get a job. She spent the next year renting a sleezy apartment and flipping burgers at Burger King. And then, as soon as she'd saved enough money, she headed southwest. She spent another year going from town to town, all the while making her way towards Arizona, stopping to find another job when she had to, but never staying in one place for long.
She finally reached her destination--Tucson, Arizona. The city of her birth had changed a lot in the years since she'd been away. It had grown a lot--too much, she thought. It wasn't the same place. She'd come back, hoping to find her home...and instead she got this urban nightmare.
But she made the best of it. She found a job at a gas station and, in her spare time, did research. What she was researching, she never told anyone.
About a month later, she emerged from a large building downtown, clutching some papers in a folder and looking very white in the face. Shaking, she climbed into her car and just sat there for about an hour, staring straight ahead at nothing, her face devoid of any expression. Then she drove off, stopping only to put the papers in a nearbye dumpster.
Sara Ann O'Conner dissapeared that day, and the police department gave her up for dead two months later. No one missed her, until she didn't show up for her job. No one cared that she was gone. Exept one person. And that person would soon have other problems on her hands.
Dorothy Jennings sighed and turned off her computer as she heard the storm grow worse outside. It was one of those old things, a 1999 IBM, and she didn't have a circuit breaker for it. "I suppose I SHOULD install one," she thought aloud. "One of these days."
Picking up Triskal, one of her numerous cats, who had been curled up in her lap, she wandered out of the study and down the hall to the kitchen to see about fixing dinner--regardless that it was almost eight o'clock at night. It was her typical schedule.
Dorothy lived alone in a fairly large house just down the road from the town of Summerhaven, situated in the Catalina Mountains at the foot of which sprawled the city of Tucson, Arizona. Tucson had been growing fast in the past decade or so, and Summerhaven with it. Dorothy, a loner who made her living as an anonymous writer whose books were hardly recognized by anyone, had found the town just the right size. The house might have been a little too big for one person, but she liked big houses, and proceeded to fill it up with cats, plus two Australian shepherd/wolf hybrid dogs, and a couple of horses in the stable behind the house. In Summerhaven, she was generally known as a recluse who had just showed up one day and rarely left her home exept to shop for groceries and such. No one knew her, and she didn't seem interested in knowing anyone, people generally left her alone.
One of her dogs, named Brynach, stood up eagerly from his dogbed in the corner when she entered the kitchen. The other dog, Briavael, just yawned and went to sleep. She set food down for the dogs and the cats, then fixed herself a microwave dinner and took it out to the living room to eat it while she watched the evening news to find out just how bad the storm was going to be. She could hear the first drops of rain starting to hit the roof as she turned it on.
Unfortuneatly, the media could not have been less interested in the weather at this time. She frowned and turned up the volume to listen to the live news broadcast.
"...and the whole world is still in shock, both at President Thompson's latest action, and at the comepletely unexpected arrest of North American Companion Agent Da'an. Da'an will be facing charges of high treason. The Taelons have not yet revealed anymore information on this subject. It was also shockingly discovered that several people working directly for the Taelons, amoung them namely Captain Lili Marquette, were also directly conntected with the Resistance, and have also been arrested..."
The reporter droned on and Dorothy sat soaking in every word--and thinking hard about it.
She had been minimally affected by the arrival of the Taelons, five years before. Summerhaven was even too out of the way to be visited by Volunteers looking for Resistance members. Dorothy had been keeping up to date on outside events, though, and it had always been obvious to her that humanity had been selling themselves out to the Taelons since the day the aliens arrived. Da'an's arrest spelled the death of humanity's last hope.
Dorothy shook her head and sighed. She almost wished there was something she could do. Almost, but not quite. It would take something a heck of a lot more drastic than this to pull her away from her quiet little life. There was no way she was going to forfeit what she'd wanted for so many years. Besides, there was nothing she could do. She was just so out of the way.
Now, if the Taelons or the Resistance or someone showed up on her doorstep, that would be a comepletely different matter. But that wasn't happening. No way could that ever happen.
Liam stared at the broadcast in disbelief. Lili...and Da'an...arrested? Both?
"Hey, it was her fault," said Doors, standing nearbye guessing what Liam was thinking. "You warned her not to try to pull that stunt on overloading the power source on the Mothership. She didn't listen. She paid for it. And don't tell me you're concerned about that Taelon!"
Liam whirled and, for a long moment, Doors and Kincaid locked eyes, Liam flexing and tightening in hands in an huge effort not to blast Doors to a crater with his shaqaravah on the spot. He managed to choke down his rage and then turned and walked out of the room without saying anything.
Augur was talking to HoloLili in the next room. She was giving him updates of any new information that came through the Taelon datastream.
"Hey, where're ya headed?" Augur asked Liam as over his shoulder Liam headed towards the elevator.
Augur jumped and turned around comepletely. "Now, wait JUST ONE SEC, Liam," he said. "I can understand you're going to want to rescue Lili and Da'an...but don't you think it's just a WEE BIT EARLY to go dashing off to the rescue? Like maybe we should wait until we know if you're a suspect yet--and just how many other Resistance cells are left intact?"
"So you heard."
"HoloLili just told me."
"Doors is driving me crazy. I'm beginning to wish you'd have just left him behind when you used that little gizmo to teleport us out of that flat. Besides, I know for a fact they don't suspect me yet--and won't, as long as I can show up and give an account of myself."
"That won't last long. Da'an and Lili both know...and I hate to say it Liam, but it's true. They won't stand the interrogation for long."
"Then I'd better get them out of there, quick."
Augur sighed, and shook his head. "Just wait until I can have HoloLili make sure you're not officially suspected."
Liam nodded curtly as he waited for HoloLili to finish running the scan through the Taelon computers.
"Meanwhile, there's one other things you should be thinking about," Augur said. "This place will only be safe for a short time. Too many people know about it. What we want is to find a place that's a lot more obscure until things die down and the Resistance can get back on its feet."
"IF the Resistance can get back on its feet."
"I think it will. Most of the arrests were only made in North America--the other countries weren't nearly as affected. And we've been getting several reports from Resistance leaders in small towns all over, saying that everyone's underground, they're fine, and prepared to wait this thing out. I think you'll find that a lot more cells emerge from this intact than the media is saying."
"If you say so."
"Liam, you're not going to gain a single thing by being depressed. Shape up! HoloLili says you're clear to go."
"Good. And I'm fine, just worried. I'll feel a lot better once I have Da'an and Lili out of there--and you do have a good point. Start thinking about locations for a possible new headquarters--I'll do the same."
"Fine. Just be careful, okay? The last thing we need is for you to get arrested, too."
"I will." Liam turned and walked into the elevator.
Augur sighed and turned back to HoloLili. "Hey, you heard him. Start running a scan of possible new headquarters."
"Yes SIR!" HoloLili replied. She was dressed in full army uniform, and, as usual, playing the part. Augur just sighed and turned to something else.
Lili woke up with a start. She looked around, and realized that she was alone in a shuttle. The shuttle was on autopilot--in interdimensional.
Lili shook her head and tried to figure out what had happened. One minute, she'd been arrested by Sandoval and put in a blue tank for further interrogation later, the next minute she was here.
Slowly climbing to her feet, Lili walked over to the pilot's seat and sat down heavily. She checked the shuttle's destination, hoping it would reveal something to her, but all it showed was a point someplace VERY far away from Earth, in the middle of nowhere. It appeared to be in territory neutral to both Taelons and Jaridians--yet whoever had put her here had been very specific in putting in these coordinates--and then covering their tracks. She couldn't find out who'd done this. Why would they want to send her to that place?
Lili took a deep breathe and decided there was only one way to find out--to let the shuttle continue on its course. She set an alarm to go off when the shuttle was five minutes away from coming out of interdimensionl, then settled back to take a nap.
Dorothy was still watching the news when the words suddenly went silent and a severe thunderstorm warning scrolled across the top of the screen. Dorothy rolled her eyes. "Really? We hadn't noticed." Just then the doorbell rang.
Dorothy jumped about a foot. "It's NINE O'CLOCK!" she exclaimed to herself as she headed toward the door. "Who on Earth could it be?"
On the step was an African-American woman obviously not dressed for the weather. She looked relieved to see someone was home.
"Hi. I'm SO SORRY to disturb you, but my car got stuck in the mud a bit down the road," the woman said, having to almost shout over the sound of the rain. "Do you have a telephone I could use to call a tow truck?"
Dorothy stepped aside. "Come on in."
The woman stepped in and Dorothy shut the door gratefully. "I'm afraid there's no way you're going to get a tow truck up here, not at this hour and not like with the road like this. Besides, it wouldn't suprise me if the phones are out. But you can at least come in to get out of the rain. In fact, considering this place is two miles from the nearest motel, you might as well plan on spending the night."
The woman blinked. "Oh, no, I couldn't, really..."
Dorothy smiled reassuringly. "It's all right. This happens at LEAST once a summer. Hikers get caught up here all the time. I thought it was a little late in the year to have it not have happened yet..."
The woman still looked doubtful and nervous, but said, "I don't know how I can repay you. My name's Alicia Hickman, by the way."
"Oh, it's nothing," Dorothy answered. "Have you had dinner?" She headed in to the kitchen to microwave another meal without waiting for an answer.
Privately, she knew they were both lying. It was true that she had had lost hikers spend the night here before...once...a couple years ago. And this woman was obviously not a hiker. Hikers didn't take cars up the road through the mountain pass at nine o'clock at night, dressed in nice, stylish clothes. She judged Alicia must have left Summerhaven only half an hour or less beforehand. But if she wasn't going to reveal the true reason for her being here, Dorothy wasn't about to ask.
She came back out with the microwave dinner and handed it to Alicia.
"Thank you so much," Alicia said.
Dorothy smiled again, to put her at ease. "My name is Dorothy Jennings."
The news, meanwhile, had come back, and was now reporting about the massive arrests being made, which cities had the largest number of arrests made, and descriptions of those still at large. Alicia looked slightly nervous at this, but relaxed when they stopped and went on to the search for Jonathan Doors.
"Tell me," Alicia said, "what do you think about the Taelons?"
Oh yeah, Dorothy thought. She's asking that NOW? And what am I supposed to tell her, that I think the Taelons are out to get us and humanity is being a comeplete idiot?
"I dunno," she answered carefully. "I don't have any sort of opinion, one way or the other. We really don't get affected by that out here."
Alicia frowned and shook her head. "That won't last long. This is going to affect everyone, no matter where they live." She met Dorothy's eyes. "The time is coming when we're all going to have to know where we stand."
Dorothy let a small, puzzled frown crease her face at these words, but she said nothing, because just then there was another knock at the door.
Alicia suddenly jerked and stood frozen. Dorothy walked to the small front hall and opened the door.
Standing on the doorstep were two policemen, backed by a woman who was obviously a Volunteer--comeplete with shiny jumpsuit, Implant, and skrill.
"Ma'am, we're tracking a dangerous fugitive," the first policeman said. "The Tucson Resistance leader. We found her car down the road a bit. Has anyone been by this house?"
Lost hiker, Alicia? Dorothy thought. Yeah, right. She only hoped that Alicia had had the good sense to hide--where, she didn't know, because she was certain that someone would be at the back door, too.
Dorothy thought quickly. Giving the three her most dazzling smile, she said, "No one's actually been to the door, but there's a barn out back where I keep my horses--you'll want to check that. And of course, there's woods all around here for miles."
The policeman nodded, and the Volunteer and the other policeman left, presumably to search the barn. But the first one stayed. "I'll need to search the house, of course," he said. "I hope you understand."
"Of course," Dorothy said, stepping aside to let him in.
"Thank you for cooperating," he said, stepping inside.
That was his mistake. The moment his back was to her, Dorothy reached out and, too swift to stop, pulled his gun out of his holster and cocked it.
"Don't move," she said, pointing it at him. "I know how to use this thing and I'm not afraid to shoot."
He wisely froze.
She gestured to the closet beside him with her head. "Closet. Get."
He got in, and Dorothy took away his radio as an afterthought before locking the door behind him.
Alicia came around the corner, from wherever she'd been hiding. "Nice acting. Can you actually use that?" she asked, gesturing at the gun.
"Yup," Dorothy answered cheerfully, uncocking it and lowering it, but without offering any further explanation. It was quite true--she'd had quite a bit of experience with guns--a fact she'd spent the past five years trying to forget, along with the rest of her past life.
Alicia shook her head in amazement. "That was...impressive," she said. "So, I guess they told you who I really am?"
"Not a lost, hiker, that's for sure. Tucson Resistance leader, huh? Now THAT'S impressive."
"Yeah, well, what are we going to do about the other three? There's one at the back door, too."
"Jump 'em, I figure, and lock them all in the closet together. After that, I have no clue."
"Well..." Alicia trailed off into thought for a moment. "Chances are, they came in a shuttle. I suppose we could just wipe their memories, dump them in the shuttle, and leave them down on the other side of the mountains. By the time anyone finds them, they'll think they tracked me down there before I got away."
"WIPE THEIR MEMORIES?!?!"
"It's the standard procedure."
"And you were planning on doing this in what way?"
"I can get a couple of the medical staff up here to perform the operation."
Dorothy just looked at her.
"Look, it's either that or keep them here for the rest of their lives."
Dorothy sighed. "I guess I have no choice. So much for a quiet evening! Come on, we'd better get going before they come back from their unsuccesful search of the barn."
"We'll have to knock the Volunteer unconcious. You can't disarm a skrill."
"Whatever. I'm leaving HER up to YOU."
"Thank you SO much."
"Augur, there's another message coming in," HoloLili said to Augur. "I think it's another Resistance leader, checking in."
"Put him on."
"It's a her."
"Ooh. Yeah, put 'er on."
The screen flickered to life, showing the face of Alicia Hickman.
"Hello," Augur said, giving her his best attempt at a charming smile. "Agent Kincaid can't come to the phone right now, but if you'd like to leave a message, I'll deliver it to him as soon as he gets back. Unless, of course, you'd just like to talk, in which case I'm all ears," he said, winking.
Alicia gave him a 'yeah, right' look and said, "Alicia Hickman, Tucson Resistance cell leader, checking in. 20% of our members were arrested, 48% are unacounted for, and the rest are in hiding. We have a temporary base of operations set up outside a small nearbye town, we'll be all right for now. Hickman out." The screen blanked out.
Dorothy raised her eyebrows as Alicia shut her global. "Base of operations?"
"Unless you're kicking us out, wherever I am is the base of operation until we can find someplace permanent."
It was the next day, and the three policemen had had their memories wiped and effectively deposited in their shuttle on the other side of the mountains. The Volunteer, on an impulse of Alicia's, had had her CVI disabled, and it had turned out that she'd been unwillingly implanted. Her name was Cari, and she'd been a big help. She'd left to go back to the Mothership about an hour ago, pretending her memory had been wiped as well, and they were expecting a report from her on the conditions up there in about another half hour. Meanwhile, fifteen Resistance members besides the medical staff had shown up and were still hanging around.
But an idea had been seeping into Dorothy's head, and now she had only to decide if she wanted to act on it. That is, she DID want to act on it, but something was holding her back.
Finally, she said slowly, "Suppose this became your permanent base of operations?"
Alicia's head shot up. "Here?"
"Why not? It's out of the way, no one ever comes here, and it's big enough that you could easily keep things hidden until you get a structure built underground, like the origional one your described to me."
Alicia looked thoughtful for a moment, then began to smile. "Was that an invitation?"
Dorothy took a deep breath and nodded. "Yes, it was."
Alicia broke into a grin. "Than we accept!"
Oh, boy, Dorothy thought. I wonder what I've gotten myself into?
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!?!" Zo'or demanded of Agent Sandoval.
Sandoval took a deep breath. "I came to interrogate her, only to find the guards unconcious, with Captain Marquette missing from the blue tank."
Zo'or looked furious, and Agent Sandoval very nervous, for a long moment, before Zo'or finally said,
"Close off all the shuttle bays immidietly! Get every team on it! I want her found--instantly! I will accept NO excuses!"
"Yes, Zo'or," Sandoval said before making a hasty exit.
The thing is, Dorothy thought, that I've just been living alone for so long...ON PURPOSE. I didn't WANT any contact with the outside world! I must have been a lot lonelier than I thought. What was I saying last night about the Resistance showing up at my door? Or not being affected by the Taelons? I can't believe I asked them to set up their permanent base of operations here. What was I thinking?! I must be crazy! There goes my quiet little life...and what is it about Alicia that's been bothering me so much? She almost looks like...no, it couldn't be. I wonder if that's her real name?
She went on and on to herself while five more Resistance members showed up at the doorstep and Alicia took a report from Cari, who announced that so far, Da'an had not yet been interrogated, Agent Liam Kincaid, North American Resistance leader, had shown up on the Mothership and was not suspect, and had been given a two-day leave until they could assign him to another Companion agent, and that Captain Lili Marquette, also up there quite a ways in the Resistance hierarchy, had been arrested but was now missing.
"No one knows what happened," Cari whispered, glancing over her shoulder at a noise behind her. "And Zo'or's furious. I have to go." She quickly shut the global, and Alicia took a deep breath and closed her own.
"Good news and bad," she said, and relayed what Cari had told her to Dorothy.
Dorothy nodded thoughtfully. "Why don't you tell Agent Kincaid about Cari? If he has any plans to get Da'an off the Mothership, she could help, and besides, he ought to know we have a DCO up there."
Alicia frowned. "Risk himself to rescue a Taelon? Even Da'an? I don't know...but you're right, he should know." She opened her global again and dialed Liam Kincaid.
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