The characters, settings, and other recognizable details portrayed in this story are neither my nor my brother’s property. Xander Harris, Giles, Buffy Summers, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
, and all its related elements are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. Gobo Fraggle, Fraggle Rock
, and those elements are property of Jim Henson’s estate, Jim Henson Productions, and Disney. Darien Fawkes, The Official, Eberts, The Invisible Man
, Eric Weiss, Alias
, Jack Foley, Jake 2.0
, Kelly Robinson, I, Spy
, John Drake, The Prisoner
, and all other characters, settings, plots, and related elements are the respective properties of their creators, production companies, and distributors. No copyright infringement is intended; no profit will be madeNot-the-Author’s-Note:
Okay, this is getting out of hand. Currently, phoukabro has sixteen or so stories to my…three. However, this does mean I get to post non-crossovers to my heart’s content. Anyways, here’s the deal: phoukabro gets some sort of strange, twisted satisfaction from bribing me, his sister, into posting his stories here and then forwarding him the feedback. Why this is, I don’t know. Probably something to do with trying to talk my parents into leaving him at the hospital shortly after he was born. At least I get dinner out of it occasionally. Let me warn you, though: my brother is a sick, sick man. Funny. But sick. Do not eat or drink while you read this, and it’s best if you’re someplace private. Having to explain some of the lines to one’s coworkers is…awkward.Secret Agent MenSaturday night, 1 a.m.
Xander Harris cursed under his breath as he forced open the door to the high school administrative office. The crack of the door as the lock broke echoed loudly in his ears. He entered the room and quickly shut the door behind him, and strained for the hint of any sound. After a few moments of quiet, he made his way to the student files.There's got to be a better way to do this than breaking into a school after midnight just to read this girl's permanent file.
Xander pulled out a flashlight from his bag and scanned the file cabinet. Okay, S, T, U, V, W... she should be in here. Let's see... Wiseman... Wiseman.... Here we go, got her file.
Xander pulled out the file and shut the file cabinet. Just as he got up, he caught the sound of shuffling feet. Xander froze.I know I heard something that time.
He scanned the room, but he could barely make out anything in the darkness. Giles is going to owe me for this one.
Ten hours earlier.
"Gobo! Keep it down! I'm on the phone!” Xander yelled.
His traveling companion, Gobo Fraggle, stopped jumping up and down on the bed. He plopped down and started rummaging through Xander's suitcase.
“Sorry about that, Giles. Now what were you saying?” Xander asked.
“I said that the girl's name is Heather Wiseman. Our source says that she's been involved either directly or peripherally with several questionable incidents,” Giles explained.
“So, we think she's a Slayer?”
“That's one of the possibilities.”
Xander sighed. “Giles, this isn't one of your wild goose chases, is it? I mean, did these strange events involve her bench pressing a Yugo? Or maybe she was caught getting into fights with PCP gangs around a local cemetery?”
“Not as such,” Giles admitted.
“So why are we looking at her? Remember the whole thing with Cassie Frasier? I do not want to wind up in military custody again. And it turned out she wasn't even a Slayer.”
“Xander, please believe me. I have the utmost faith is this source. He's never given me a bad lead before.”
Xander heard a faint squeaking over the phone line.
“Are you cleaning your glasses?” Xander asked.
“..... no,” Giles answered as the squeaking stopped.
Giles sighed. “The information the Council has received from this source has been invaluable. And we have never gotten any false or useless information. So whatever is going on with this Wiseman girl, we should investigate.”
“So who is your source, anyway?” Xander asked.
“Well... in these cases, there is a great need for anonymity... and what's in a name when you really get down to it, after all 'A rose by any other -'”
“Giles?” Xander interrupted.
“Are you saying you don't actually know who is giving you this lead?”
“Xander, this source has had a long history with the Council. He's already been verified by members of the old Council.”
“Were these members killed off by the First, by any chance?”
“Well, yes. But when I began rebuilding the Council, I was contacted by him. And I took all necessary precautions. But every single piece of information or lead I've received has been panned out. So please just believe me, and investigate this girl.”
“All right. I'll start today. I'll contact you if I find anything.”
Xander hung up and turned back to his room mate.
“Hey, Gobo. I'm heading out.”
“Oh, boy! Where are we going, Mr. Xander?”
Xander stopped. “We're not going anywhere. I'm going to do some boring research and less boring breaking and entering.”
“But I wanted to learn more about life among the Silly Creatures,” Gobo whined.
Xander grabbed the remote control for the TV and turned it on. “You want to learn about humans, watch more TV. It's the best tool available. Knock yourself out. And remember, if you get hungry get food from the cooler we brought. Do not get anything from the honor bar.”
“Why not Mr. Xander?”Because last time our room had an honor bar, you ate half of it and I wound up having to explain the $200 added charge to Giles.
“Because... because that food goes to starving kittens. Do you want to take food away from the poor little kittens?” Xander asked.
Gobo's eyes widened in sadness. “Gosh, no, Mr. Xander. I promise I won't take any food from the kittens.”
“Great. So I'm going out. You watch all the TV you want. It's filled with information.”
Xander closed the door as Gobo sat down on the bed.The little guy means well, but he sure can cause trouble. Luckily, I know just how to play him.
Xander crept along the hallway, clutching the file. In the empty hallway, every sound seemed to echo loudly. With each step he took, he heard the sound of his footsteps.
He saw a glint of light flash and stopped abruptly, but for a split second, the sound of footsteps continued.
Xander slowly turned. The light he noticed was from a vending machine. He gazed down the hallway, but it remained empty.
“Guess there's no one else here. Because I sure don't see anyone,” Xander said.
“Boy, I sure could go for a snack,” he announced.
As he walked up to the vending machine, he pulled out some loose change from his pants pocket. He put the money in and got a coke. Then he stepped to the next machine and bought a bag of potato chips.
“This'll sure hit the spot.”
Xander awkwardly placed the file in his bag, followed by the flashlight. The cast on his right wrist, slowed him down, but he managed. He opened up the bag of chips and popped open the coke, but instead of drinking, he stood perfectly still. After a minute of silence passed, the squeak of a rubber sole shoe sounded ten feet from him.
Xander turned and sprinted down the hall. When he got to the corner, he turned. To the side of the hallway, a stairway let up to the second floor. Xander dumped the chips on the floor just before the stairs. He then crouched down on the stairs out of sight.
Xander strained his ears, trying to hear any sound above his own heartbeat. He could barely make out the soft tapping, as if someone was trying to tiptoe. Xander held his breath, as the barely perceptible sound got closer. The sound stopped. Xander felt a bead of sweat run down his neck.Crunch.
The sound of the potato chips being crushed rang out. Xander jumped up and flung the soda just above the potato chips. The liquid splashed off an unseen body and slowly dripped down the form.
Xander pulled out his Zat'nik'tel
and pointed it at the wet, unseeable form.
“Hold it right there,” Xander ordered. “I see you now.”
The figure looked down at himself and saw the soda clearly outlining him. He looked back up at the weapon Xander held. Taking in the situation, he had only one response.
Twelve hours earlier...Stan Lee once wrote that with great power comes great responsibility. In my case, the great power of controlled invisibility came with the unfortunate side effect of becoming uncontrollably violent without regular medication and being drafted into working for one of the most under-funded intelligence agencies in the world. On the plus side, I get full treatment for my condition and a pardon for my less than respectable past activities. On the down side I had to report to an occasionally petty bureaucrat, and my cover agency kept changing to whatever branch had a surplus that quarter.
Darien Fawkes figured it was going to be a crappy assignment as soon as he walked into the Official's office.
“Hey, boss. Here I am, right on time. Unlike a certain partner of mine.”
“I see that, Mr. Fawkes,” the Official said. “I've got your next assignment.”
“Uh, shouldn't we wait for Bobby? I mean, we are partners, and I know how you hate repeating yourself.”
The Official's assistant Eberts stepped up. “Agent Hobbes is taking his vacation. He was at the maximum accrual. As a result, he has to take some days off or he'll lose them.”
Darien shook his head. “Couldn't you give him a payout instead? It's kind of inconvenient going on an assignment without my partner backing me up.”
The Official shook his head. “We don't operate that way.”
“The budget's tight this quarter. Frankly it was either pay the electric bill, or give Hobbes his payout. We chose to have lights.”
The Official continued. “Your next assignment is to investigate the disappearance of two people. Lisa Wiseman and her daughter, Heather. There have been a number of unusual incidents involving the two of them. And there are rumors that agents of an unidentified agency were present. I need you to look into the matter. Find out what happened to the women, see if you can uncover anything on the agency involved, then report back to me.”
Eberts stepped back up. “Before you go, I need to issue you your new identification. It's a new fiscal year, so our cover agency has changed.”
“Fine with me,” Darien replied. “I was tired of being an agent for the Department of Weights and Measures. So who'd we get this time? NSA? CIA?”
Eberts shook his head.
“FBI? DEA?” Darien's voice had an element of desperation. “ATF? Secret Service?”
Eberts shrugged apologetically.
“C'mon, just give me something. Federal Marshals? Highway Patrol?”
Eberts handed Darien his new ID. Darien flipped it open and examined.
“Oh, you've got to be kidding me.”
“Sorry,” Eberts said. “Here are the profiles for the two women. Since you are working without a partner, I believe you should begin with the least dangerous lead. The address for the daughter's school is at the bottom of the second sheet.”
Darien looked through the profile. “Okay, I probably won't find anything, but I'll start there anyway.”
Darien shook off the quicksilver coating that made him invisible. He raised his hands and looked at the man pointing the strange ray gun at him.
“Okay, why don't you put the Flash Gordon pop gun away. I'm unarmed.”
“Who are you?” Xander demanded. “Why are you following me?”
“First of all, I wasn't following you. I'm a federal agent investigating the disappearance of a student here. I was looking for information on her in the office when you broke in.”
“That is so... somewhat plausible. Can I see your ID?” Xander asked.
Darien sighed. “That's really not...”
Xander raised his weapon.
“Fine,” Darien pulled out his wallet, opened it, and handed it to Xander.
Xander took the ID and looked at it. Then he looked up at Darien, raising his eyebrow. “Federal agent?”
“It's a federal agency! And I work for them, so that makes me a federal agent.”
“But what's with the whole invisible deal you have going on?” Xander asked.
“It's a long story,” Darien responded. “So why are you here?”
Xander straightened up. “I'm also looking into the disappearance of a student. Heather Wiseman?”
Darien nodded. “Me too. Who are you working for?
“For the Reformed Watchers Council,” Xander answered. “We do some work with Homeland Security.”
Xander slowly lowered his weapon. The two men stood across from each other in silence. Xander finally spoke.
“So, we're both investigating the disappearance of this girl.”
“And her mother,” Darien added.
“Now, I want to find them and make sure they're safe. Why are you looking for them?” Xander asked.
“Make sure they're safe,” Darien replied. “Also find out who's involved in their disappearance and get evidence on them.”
“Right. I have some information and I assume you do too.”
“So....” Xander began. “You want to, like, team up or something?”
Darien shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. So what's in the file you grabbed?”
“Let's take a look.”
As the two men walked back to the office, Darien turned to Xander. “It's kind of odd that two independent groups are both looking into this.”
Nine hours earlier, Agent Eric Weiss entered the office of his new supervisor.
“Director Robinson? You wanted to see me?” he asked.
“Agent Weiss, come in. You mind if I call you Eric?”
“Um, yeah. Fine. No problem.”
“Great,” Director Robinson said. He leafed through a file on his desk. “So I see you're returning to the CIA after a quick stint in the NSC. What brings you back?”
“Well, sir, to be honest, I missed the field work. At the NSC, I was stuck behind a desk all the time and I felt like I wasn't getting anything done,” Weiss explained.
“I've looked through your file. You did a lot of good work. You were part of the group that took down the Alliance of Twelve, K-Directorate, and the Covenant. Very nice. And you want to get back in the field?”
Director Robinson put the file. “If you don't mind me asking, why did you leave the CIA in the first place?”
“I was part of a small close knit group,” Weiss answered. “I began dating one of the agents, but she was injured, and eventually died.”
“Then after my best friend's funeral, I just felt it was time to move on.”
Director Robinson frowned. “That would be Agent Vaughn. I thought he was still active.”
“He is,” Weiss said. “It was complicated. But I'm anxious to get back out and do some real work.”
Director Robinson closed the file and began to study Weiss. “I run a pretty tight division here. We may not tackle the biggest threats, but even the smallest case affects people's lives. Now I worked my way up as field agent for the State Department. And one thing I learned is that out in the field, trust is earned, not assigned. So, why should I trust you enough to give you this assignment?”
Weiss considered his answer. “Sir, I worked most of my career with people I would trust my life with. When I left originally, it was because I felt the group I was with was becoming a bunch of coworkers and not a family. I'm not asking to be given anything here. I'm asking for a chance to earn my place.”
“All right,” Director Robinson nodded. “I've got an assignment for you. Consider it an audition. Two women have gone missing. Lisa and Heather Wiseman. I want you to find out what happened to them and who's responsible.”
Saturday night, 2 a.m.
Xander watched as Darien pulled out a set of lockpicks and began working on the lock to the real estate office. After just a few seconds, Darien opened the door.
“Nice work,” Xander observed.
“Well, I wasn't always a federal agent,” Darien replied.
They made their way inside the office and down the hall. Xander glanced at the directory.
“Lisa Wiseman's office is four doors down to the right. Let's -”
Darien stopped him. “The light's on. Someone else is already here.”
Xander glanced down the hall and saw light coming out from the bottom of an office door. He looked up at the name plate on the door.
“That's Lisa Wiseman's office. You think someone else is looking into her disappearance?” Xander asked.
“Or maybe cleaning up their tracks,” Darien answered.
“I'll head on in. You go transparent and follow me. Jump in if there's trouble,” Xander said.
Darien nodded. A second later, he vanished.
Xander stared at the spot he had last seen Darien.
“That is one of the freakiest things I've ever seen. Surprised he doesn't hurl every time he does that,” Xander muttered.
“Uh, you know I haven't gone anywhere, right? I can still hear you.”
Weiss looked up as the door to the office was kicked in. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at the intruder.
"Freeze!” Weiss ordered.
“You freeze,” Xander replied. He pointed his Zat'nik'tel
“Settle down,” Weiss said. “I'm just here -”
“Breaking and entering?” Xander cut in. “It's after hours and I don't think you work here.”
“Do you work here?” Weiss asked.
“I... that's not the issue. Why are you here?”
“Look, let's calm down, okay?” Weiss lowered his gun. “I'm a federal agent. And I'm investigating a missing person.”
Xander slowly lowered his weapon. “Lisa Wiseman?”
“Yeah,” Weiss said. “Let me guess, you're also looking for her.”
“We're looking for her,” Darien said. He appeared behind Weiss and stepped up to his side. “So there are three different organizations looking into this case?”
“Four,” Weiss said.
“What do you mean?” Xander asked.
“He means that he already ran into me at the Wiseman house an hour ago,” a figure announced, standing in the doorway. “I was in the restroom.”
“Looks like we need some introductions here. I'm Xander Harris with the Reformed Watcher's Council. We're an NGO that sometimes works with Homeland Security,” Xander said.
“Agent Eric Weiss, CIA.”
“I'm Jake Foley,” the newcomer said. “NSA.”
“Darien Fawkes, I'm with...” Darien mumbled the rest.
“Who? I didn't catch that,” Jake said.
Darien sighed. “I'm with Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration.”
Jake and Weiss stared at Darien.
“It's a budgeting issue, let's just move on.”
“Now I may be new to this, but does this kind of thing happen often?” Xander asked. “Four different agencies all independently looking at one case?”
Weiss shook his head. “There are some occasional fights over jurisdiction, but I've never heard about something like this happening. How were you put onto this case?”
“My boss got an anonymous tip,” Xander answered. “Darien?”
“My supervisor said an anonymous source brought the case to his attention.”
“Mine too,” Weiss said. “Foley?”
“Anonymous source,” Jake answered. “Look, that's not important now. We're all trying to find what happened to these women, right?”
The other three nodded.
“So we can either work against each other or work together. The lives of two people may depend on how we act. Can we work together on this?”
Xander nodded. “Yeah, I can.”
“Sure, why not,” Darien said.
“I'm in,” Weiss agreed.
“Good. What information do we have?”
“Okay, I spent all day in the local library researching these women in the paper and other public records,” Xander said. “Here's what I found out. Lisa Wiseman is the mother of Heather Wiseman. Just over a year ago, her husband died in a subway accident. Since then, she and her daughter have been involved either directly or indirectly in a number of interesting events.”
“Both mother and daughter were present at the capture of a Japanese terrorist. A few weeks later, Heather is struck by lightening, but after a short hospital visit is released unharmed. At Thanksgiving, a group of armed robbers attack their house, but are captured and turned over to the police.”
“A month later, Lisa Wiseman is present at a party thrown by Senator Kragen. There's a break in at the party and some classified material was stolen. There was a standoff where Lisa Wiseman is taken hostage. Luckily she's rescued, but one man there was shot.”
“A few weeks after that, there are some suspicious deaths that are traced back to a Dr. Bing. Reports say that Heather Wiseman was spotted socializing with Dr. Bing. When investigators track down Dr. Bing they find him dead. The case is never solved.”
“And that brings us to a little over a week ago. Heather Wiseman doesn't show up at school, and Lisa Wiseman doesn't show up at work. When a friend of the family stops by, he finds the house has been broken into and the place is torn apart. He files a missing persons report. Any questions so far?”
Jake spoke up. “So how'd you lose the eye?”
Xander sighed. “Any questions about the information on the Wiseman women?”
“Actually I'm kind of curious about the eye thing too,” Weiss said.
“Yeah, I didn't want to say anything, but if the others are asking...” Darien added.
“Dudes, that guy,” Xander pointed at Darien, “turns invisible. Why don't you bug him? Why do you have to focus on my eye?”
“I figure the invisible thing is probably classified,” Jake answered.
“Plus asking about it just seems rude,” Weiss said.
“Yeah, so spill. How'd you lose the eye?” Darien asked.
“I didn't lose it. I misplaced it. There's a difference. Now what other information do you guys have?”
Weiss stepped up. “We didn't find much at the house. But we did determine that someone had already gone through the house. It was a professional job. We're not sure what was taken, but we can make some guesses. There were no diaries, journals, letters, or other records. So it's possible that whoever went through the house also took the Wiseman women. By taking any paper records, I think that they were worried about references to some person or place that can be tied back to them.”
Jake took over. “The hard drive on the home computer had been wiped. But I was able to access some information on it.”
“How'd you do that?” Xander asked.
“I'm very... handy with electronics,” Jake answered.
Weiss nudged Xander and whispered to him. “Dude, classified information. Don't be rude.”
“I found a web search history. Lisa Wiseman was trying to find out information on a Dr. Theodore Morris and a Michael Newman.”
“I've heard those names before,” Xander said. “They showed up in some of the records. I think they were present at the Thanksgiving day events. And also the Senator's party.”
Darien perked up. “I think I've heard that name also. Hold on a sec.”
Darien pulled out his phone and dialed a number. “Hey, Keeper? It's Darien. Quick question for you. Have you heard of a Dr. Theodore Morris?”
As Darien listened to the person on the other end, Weiss stepped up.
“After the house, we came to the office here. Again, we found that several files and correspondence have been removed and the computer was wiped. But we caught a break. Lisa Wiseman just got this office before she disappeared. So she hadn't moved in completely. I checked her old desk and found some letters from an attorney. The letters talked about her husband's accident. There's a lot of detail about some possible class action lawsuit involving the ambulance service that treated Mr. Wiseman after the accident.”
“Wait a minute,” Xander interrupted. “The hospital report said that Michael Wiseman died on impact. How could the ambulance service treat him?”
“That's a good question. The letter goes on to mention that when the ambulance brought Michael Wiseman to the hospital, the admitting doctor was Theodore Morris.”
Darien closed his cell phone. “The plot thickens. According to my source, Dr. Theodore Morris was the leading pioneer in the field of human construction sciences. Apparently he was years ahead of everyone else. Then he dropped out of sight about five years ago. There were rumors that he was working for some government black ops projects.”
“So let me put the pieces together,” Xander said. “A little over a year ago, Michael Wiseman is officially killed in a subway accident. But unofficially, he survived long enough to be taken to the hospital and released into the custody Dr. Morris, an expert in human construction.”
“Shortly after that a Michael Newman keeps showing up around the edges of the lives Lisa and Heather Wiseman. Dr. Morris is always close behind him. Then when Lisa Wiseman starts looking into the circumstances of her husband's death, she and her daughter disappear.”
“Now here's where I start speculating. What does Dr. Morris want with a critically injured man? Why does Michael Newman keep showing up around the Wiseman family? And what did Lisa Wiseman find out that made someone snatch her and her daughter?” Xander finished.
“If Dr. Morris is working on a black ops project, maybe he needed a test subject,” Darien said. “And maybe the test subject decided he missed his family.”
“Would a government agency really do that? Even a black ops group?” Xander asked.
“Yes,” Jake answered. “They would. Force a person to cut himself off from his old life. Keep secrets from his friends and family.”
“Treat him like a tool,” Darien said. “With no other purpose than to serve their needs. Yanked around like a puppet on a string, grateful for even the smallest aspect of a private life.”
“Can we find out where Dr. Morris is now? And also Michael Newman?” Xander asked.
“I can get the NSA tracking them,” Jake said.
Dr. Theodore Morris entered the debriefing room. He saw that Michael Wiseman was seated at the table with two guards on each side of him.
“Where's my wife and daughter?” Michael asked.
“There are safely detained,” Dr. Morris asked.
“Look, I did the mission just like you told me. Will you just let them go? You owe me that much.”
“I owe you?” Dr. Morris asked. “If it wasn't for me you would have died in the subway. I gave you a second chance at life. I engineered the perfect body for you. I gave you the opportunity to serve your country in ways you could never dream of. And in return, I ask for very little. For you to put up with a few very reasonable restraints. For you to let your family move on from the horrible accident that ended your former life. And this is how you repay me.”
“Please,” Michael begged. “Please, just let them go. I won't run anymore. I promise.”
Dr. Morris sighed. “Mr. Wiseman, how many times have we been through this? You try to contact your family, I have to stop you. Every single time I remind you of the consequences of what your actions will be. Then when your tracking chip was disabled, you take the first chance you get to try to run away with them. Did you honestly think I wouldn't catch up with you?”
Anger burned in Michael's eyes. “That's what really upset you, isn't it? That you weren't in control anymore. One of these days, you'll find out what it's like to be treated like an object.”
Dr. Morris shook his head. “That's not the way the world works, Mr. Wiseman. Frankly, I know too much and have too many powerful friends for that to happen.”
“What's going to happen to Lisa and Heather?”
“It hasn't been decided yet.” Dr. Morris replied. “Best case scenario is that any trace of your second life is wiped clean, and they're released and kept under close surveillance. If your wife is smart, she'll realize she can never prove anything. But if she's as stubborn as you, her outlook is much bleaker.”
Dr. Morris turned to the guards. “Take Mr. Wiseman back to his quarters.”
As the guards escorted Michael Wiseman out of the room, an aide approached Dr. Morris and handed him a file. Dr. Morris opened it and began reading.
“Is this confirmed?”
The aide nodded. “The subject is fresh from Iraq. He's in critical care. His psych profile suggest he's much more amenable to taking orders, and he has no close family.”
Dr. Morris sighed. “I was actually becoming fond of Mr. Wiseman. Then he had to pull this latest stunt. Very well, let me know when the subject arrives on site. I'll oversee the transfer. We'll have to make some modifications to the face and fingerprints. Michael Newman has had too much contact in the outside world for us to simply switch him over and hope no one notices the difference.”
Jake and Darien drove down the highway, following Xander and Weiss in the car in front of them.
“So, what you said earlier, it sounded like you had some first hand experience. Is it bad?” Darien asked.
“Not like Wiseman has it,” Jake answered. “I was working as a tech at the NSA. There was an accident in one of the labs. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I came out of it with a lot more skills, but with a few drawbacks. The NSA helps with the drawbacks, but I can't tell my family or friends about it. What about you?”
“I volunteered for an experiment my brother was running. It was either that or serve a very long prison sentence for my life as a burglar. But there was an attack. My brother was killed, and I was on the run. I was contacted by this group. They would help me handle the effects of the experiment, and I would work as an agent for them. They've kept their end of the deal, but it would have been nice to have other options.”
“My biggest goal was to be an NSA agent,” Jake said. “Now I am, so I can't exactly claim I'm being forced into anything. It makes me think about what Michael Wiseman is going through. That doesn't seem right.”
“No, it doesn't. How much latitude do you have on this mission?” Darien asked.
“I'm thinking, maybe at the end of this, Michael Wiseman and his family could slip through the cracks.”
Jake nodded. “We'll see what we can do.”
In the car in front of them, Xander and Weiss were talking.
“There's something about this whole thing that bugs me,” Xander said.
“You mean besides the whole experimenting on an innocent civilian, and kidnapping his family when he doesn't play ball?”
“It's just that looking over this, the group that's doing this covered their tracks pretty well. But I've seen enough edited police reports to know when something fishy is going on. Then Darien has connections that give us background on the lead doctor. Jake is able to retrieve the files and track down the whereabouts of Dr. Morris. And you have experience breaking into secret bases. So isn't it a little odd that the four people that can figure out what happened and have the skills to do something about it are all put on the case at the same time based on an unknown source?”
“I've been thinking about that,” Weiss said. “I worked with this guy named Jack Bristow. He'd been in the business for decades. One night while we're doing surveillance on a job, he tells me some rumors.”
“Urban legends. Basically the equivalent of ghost stories for spooks. The one I remember was about a place called the Village. Supposedly spies who knew too much or had caused too much trouble would be taken there. No one knows where the Village actually is. Some say near Morocco. Others say somewhere off the Baltic coast. Some even say close to London. And no one knows who runs it either. But if some spy or double agent disappears without explanation people say they were taken to the Village.”
“So what does that have to do with us?” Xander asked.
“Legend has it that only one person has ever escaped from the Village. And that since he escaped he goes around causing trouble for all those super secret black ops groups and helps the people that are in trouble with them.”
“Any of that actually true?”
“I don't know,” Weiss shrugged. “I mean everyone I talked to say they've never seen this guy, but every now and then someone will say they heard from a friend of a friend about something he did. So maybe this guy is the one pulling our strings and getting us to help the Wiseman family. On the other hand, maybe it's all just a fairy tale.”
“I don't know. I've run into a few fairy tales myself. Stranger things have happened.”
Weiss nodded. “Yeah. I've seen some of them.”
“Everyone know their part of the plan?” Xander asked.
Weiss, Darien, and Jake nodded.
“All right then. If everything goes off as planned, we'll meet back here in one hour. Be careful.”
Jake looked up at the building. He took a deep breath, then began to quickly climb up the facade. As Darien concentrated, a silvery coating enveloped him, then he disappeared.
Weiss turned to Xander. “You're up. You sure you can cause a distraction?”
“Oh, yeah,” Xander replied. He pulled out a packet of ketchup and a peeled grape from his pocket. As Xander walked around the side of the building to the front lobby, he pulled his eyepatch off and brushed his hair down in front of his face.
Weiss followed at a discrete distance. He stopped at the front door and watched as Xander acted.Okay, Harris is walking up to the front desk. He's ignoring the guards, trying to walk past them. They're stopping him. He's trying to shoulder his way past, but gets shoved. Now he's falling on the floor screaming. Looks like he spread ketchup on his hand and face. The guards are freaking out. He dropped the grape on the floor. Now, he's screaming in the lead guard's face, smearing ketchup on his uniform. The second guard just stepped on the grape. Now the second guard is throwing up. Look like it's time to move.
Weiss stepped through the front door and quickly made his way past the front desk. As he walked by, he heard Xander's screams.
“MY EYE! YOU STEPPED ON MY EYE! WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? OH GOD, THE PAIN!”
Weiss moved down the hall and stopped by the fire alarm on the wall.
Jake Foley was hanging outside an office window on the sixth floor when the fire alarm went off. As soon as he heard the alarm, he smashed the window and climbed inside the office. Jake spotted the computer on the desk. He turned the computer on and concentrated. After a moment, the layout of the building appeared on screen.
Jake scanned the information until he found what he needed.
“Darien, you there?” Jaked asked, speaking into his headset.
“I'm listening. What do you have?” Darien answered on the other end.
“The detention rooms are on the third floor. Go up the staircase on the northwest corner. When you come out, take the first corridor on the right. About a hundred feet down are the detention rooms. When you get to the rooms, I'll have the system unlock the doors. You get Lisa and Heather Wiseman out. I'll make sure the security systems get fed false information. You just watch out for guards.”
“Got it.” Darien said, signing off.
“Weiss, you copy?”
“I'm here.” Weiss responded.
“You and Xander keep as many of the guards occupied as you can. Darien's getting Lisa and Heather. I'm in their system right now. I'll contact Michael Wiseman and free him. Then I'll get any dirt I can on this operation.”
“Copy that. I'll see you on the outside.”
As Weiss turned the corner of the hallway, two security guards ran into him.
“Halt! Identify yourself!” the first guard ordered.
“I'm Agent Weiss,” he answered, flashing his ID. “We've got a break in on this floor. Did you hear the alarm?”
The first guard paused in confusion. “The fire alarm went off.”
“It's a cover for the break in. Look,” Weiss glanced down at their badges, “Phil. Do you really want to explain how a high level enemy agent broke in on your watch while you were busy tracking down a false fire alarm?”
“Uh, no, sir.”
“Good,” Weiss spotted a nearby door. “Now you and Robert here make sure no one gets through this door. And I mean absolutely no one.”
The two guards stood in front of the door, watching as Weiss walked down the hallway away from them.
Lisa Wiseman banged on the door to her cell.
“Hey! The fire alarm's going off. You can't just leave us in here to burn up! That's illegal! We have our rights!” she shouted.
“Right, mom,” her daughter, Heather, remarked. “Cause they've been really respectful of our rights otherwise.”
The door opened and a guard entered. “Look, lady, my orders are to keep you here. And until otherwise, you're going to stay in this cell. I don't care if there's a fire, hurricane, or plague of locusts coming. You are not getting out -”CLUNK!
The guard fell to the floor in a heap. As he hit the ground, a figure appeared behind him, shaking off a silverly residue from his skin and clothes. He dropped the lead pipe in his hand.
“Hey, I'm Darien. I'm here to get you out of here and reunite you with your husband and father. Sound good?”
Michael Wiseman sat on the bed in his cell. The fire alarm had been blaring in his ears for the past five minutes. No matter how hard he tried to muffle his ears, his enhanced hearing made sure that the electronic shriek was clearly audible.
“Come on, guys! Could you just cut off the alarm? Please?”
To his surprise, the alarm fell silent.
“Mr. Wiseman?” a voice intoned over the speaker in the room.
“Are you, in fact, Michael Wiseman?” the voice asked.
“Yes,” Michael answered. “Who is this?”
“Are you also known as Michael Newman?”
“Are you with Dr. Morris?”
“Please answer me. Are you also known as Michael Newman?”
“Yes. I was Michael Wiseman, until the subway accident. Then I was put in this body and given the name Michael Newman. Who are you? What do you want?”
“I can secure your release, but you must act quickly if you want to be with your family.”
“Where is my family?” Michael demanded.
“There are being rescued as we speak,” the voice informed him. “Once out the building, they will be transported to a safe place, where they will no longer be in danger. If you want to meet them, listen carefully, and do exactly as I say.”
“Who are you? Why are you doing this?” Michael asked.
The voice paused as it considered its answer. “My name is Jake Foley. And I'm a lab rat, just like you. I figure we lab rats should stick together. Now listen to me. I'm keeping the security system occupied. But once you leave your cell, I can't stop the alert from going out. So you'll have to move fast. Your family will be transported to the town of Oshawa just over the Canadian border. But I can only arrange transport for them. Once you're free, you'll have to make your own way there. Can you do that?”
“Yeah. I can. They haven't gotten a replacement for the tracking device in me yet.”
“Good. Your family will be at the Travel Lodge in the city. We are arranging new identifications for them and you. Now, once your family is clear, I'm going to unlock the door to your room. When you're out, exit the building as quickly as possible, and make your way your family.”
“What about the people here? They're not going to just leave me alone.”
“My associates and I will make sure they are otherwise preoccupied.”
Outside the building Darien shook off the quicksilver coating. Beside him, Lisa and Heather Wiseman did the same.
“Get in the car,” he told them. “Once my friends are out, we'll head to the private airport and get you to safety.”
Darien spoke into his headset. “I'm clear. Everyone else, get out of the building.”
Weiss walked out into the front lobby. As he passed Xander writhing on the floor, he nodded.
“OH JESUS, HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? IT....oh, is that the time?”
The two guards watched Xander calmly get up.
“Sir, please! An ambulance is coming. Just lay down until it gets here.”
“But, it's almost nine. Battlestar Galactica
is going to be on,” Xander explained. “It's a new episode. Maybe next time.”
“But your eye.”
Xander shrugged. “These things happen.”
And with that, Xander walked out of the lobby into the parking lot. He spotted the cars and made his way to them. Darien and Weiss were already there.
“Hey. We ready to go?” Xander asked.
“Just waiting on Jake,” Weiss answered.
“I'm here,” Jake said, running up to them. “Let's go. Michael Wiseman's door will open in a couple of minutes. We need to get them as far away from here as possible before that happens.”
“What about busting the place?” Darien asked.
“I connected their system to the NSA. Right now all their dirty laundry is being copied, and my boss is sending a dozen agents over to begin making arrests.”
Back inside the building, Robert turned to Phil.
“I'm pretty sure this is a supply closet.”
“Don't be stupid. They wouldn't have us guard a supply closet. That wouldn't make any sense.”
“But it says so on the floor layout.”
Phil sighed. “It says that on the floor layout because they wouldn't put top secret room full of highly classified data, now would they?”
“But yesterday, I saw a janitor getting toilet paper out of it.”
Before Phil could respond, a voice came over the intercom system.
"CELL BREACH ON LEVEL 4. CELL BREACH ON LEVEL 4."
Dr. Morris was relaxing at his home, when his cell phone rang. He sighed and answered the call.
“What is it?”
“Sir, there's trouble at the headquarters.”
Dr. Morris sat up, now fully alert. “What kind of trouble?”
“We've got alarms going off everywhere. Fire alarms, medical emergency alarms, security alarms, system-”
“Security? Have you checked the detention cells?”
“We're trying, but communications are down, and we're having trouble with the elevators.”
“Wait a minute. Along with all the alarms, communications are down, and the elevators don't work?” Dr. Morris asked.
Dr. Morris thought for a moment. “Someone's broken into the computer system. This is bad.”
“What do we do?”
“Get to the servers. Erase everything. If the systems are compromised, then all our files are at risk. We can't let those get out. I'll contact security.”
“I'll get on it.”
Dr. Morris ended the call then dialed security.
“This is Dr. Morris. Lock down the building right now. Don't let anyone in or out. Then begin a floor by floor search.”
“Uh, Dr. Morris? I don't think I can do that.” the security chief said.
“WHAT? I don't think you realize the gravity of the situation here. Now if you want a job tomorrow, hell, if you want to stay out of jail you'd better -”
“I can't do anything. A dozen NSA agents just arrived and are taking everyone into custody. We're -”
Dr. Morris ended the call. He got up, ran to his desk and began grabbing papers.Got to get out of here. If the project is being investigated, they'll be on their way here. Just need to make sure I have insurance.
Cramming the files into his brief case, Dr. Morris turned to his computer. He started it, then began a program.That should wipe all the files clean. If I can make it to Senator Johnson's house, I should be safe there. I have too much information on too many important people for them to let me get arrested.
Outside the house, Dr. Morris did not notice the hearse drive up and park. A tall pallbearer exited the vehicle and walked to the front door.
Inside, Dr. Morris finished packing and made his way to the front door. Just as he reached for the doorknob, he noticed a white gas seeping in from the bottom of the door. He barely had time to pull back before he fell to the floor, unconscious.
The four men watched as the private jet took off, carrying Lisa and Heather Wiseman toward their family reunion. Weiss turned to Xander.
“Looks like your transport came through fine.”
Xander nodded. “Yup. Will those new IDs you got them pan out?”
“Oh, yeah. I used the CIA's best forgers. Plus I called in a favor to my old friend Marshall. He's running a program that wipes out their old identities and inserts the new ones in every database in the world.”
“I didn't know that was possible,” Xander said.
“Marshall excels in things people don't know is possible.”
Darien smiled. “It must be nice to have those kinds of resources.”
“It doesn't suck,” Weiss said.
Jake closed his cell phone and joined the others. “My boss just informed me that they picked up ninety percent of the project's personnel. And Michael Newman is listed as missing.”
“So he's on his way,” Xander said. “Looks like everything worked out as planned. Which, all things considered, is kind of surprising.”
The four men stood in silence for a moment. Jake glanced around, then spoke.
“Well, I gotta say, it was pretty cool working with you guys. I wouldn't have been able to pull this off on my own.”
Weiss nodded. “Yeah. It's nice to do some hands-on work with a solid group again.”
The others nodded in agreement.
“Well, I should probably head back,” Darien said. “I have to be debriefed tomorrow and I better start working up my report.”
“Yeah,” Xander said. “I need to check in with my boss too.”
The group stood around, not leaving for another few seconds.
“Hey, do you guys... I don't know, want to hang out and get a beer or something?” Jake asked.
The waitress placed the drinks down on the table.
“I got two beers, one frozen daiquiri, and a club soda.”
“There you go,” Weiss said, paying for the round. He turned back to Xander. “Look, all I'm saying is that maybe you're putting too much importance in how you expect your friends to act. I mean , it's only normal for people to drift apart. Especially after high school.”
Xander shook his head. “Not after what we went through. Besides, this is more than drifting apart. I'm talking some heavy issues here.”
“No, you're talking about how you're upset that your friends weren't as devoted to you as you were to them. Things can come between even the best friends. It happened to me, but I didn't whine about it.”
“I don't whine,” Xander protested.
“Dude, you've done nothing but whine since we got here.”
“My friend slept with a soulless murderer,” Xander pointed out.
Weiss laughed. “My best friend married a double agent.”
“My friend's boyfriend tried to kill me,” Xander said, trying to top Weiss.
“My friend's mother shot me in the neck,” Weiss countered.
Xander thought for a moment. “My best friend from childhood became a lesbian and didn't tell me about it. I found out when she accused me of being prejudiced against her.”
“My best friend in the agency joined a black ops division and didn't tell me about it. I found out when I stumbled across them in the middle of a mission.”
Xander wracked his mind for a comeback. “My friend ran away for the summer. I didn't know if she was alive or dead. Then she just showed back up and wanted to act as if nothing happened.”
Weiss put his beer down and stared directly at Xander. “My friend faked his own death. I gave a eulogy at his funeral. I didn't find out he was still alive until months later.”
Xander opened his mouth, then slowly shut it. “Yeah, I can't top that one.”
Weiss smiled in triumph. “Next round's on you.”
Two seats down, Darien and Jake were deep in conversation.
“So, do you have a doctor slash scientist that looks after you? Someone who's way hotter than they should be? ” Jake asked.
“Yep,” Darien answered. “You got a more experienced partner that always reminds you about how long they've been on the job?”
“Yeah. Do you have a hard ass boss who sometimes you think maybe doesn't have your best interests in mind at all times?”
Darien nodded wearily. “Are you always having to put up with limited resources and outdated equipment?”
“No,” Jake said. “Actually we've got the best equipment available. It's pretty cool.”
Darien glowered at Jake. “You suck.”
Down the bar, Weiss was ranting to Xander.
“So after this person kills god knows how many people and has tried to kill me and my friends personally, they expected us to work with him. I mean, how stupid can you get? We're supposed to trust this person just because they haven't tried to kill us recently?” Weiss finished.
Xander nodded. “Dude, I know exactly what you mean.”
As the next round arrived, Xander's cell phone rang. He glanced at the caller ID and opened the phone.
“Hey, Giles. What's up?”
Weiss turned his attention to Jake and Darien.
“So, you guys worried about what you're going to tell your bosses?” Weiss asked.
Jake shook his head. “Not really. When I talked to my boss, she was happy to run the bust. She's getting a lot of credit for this.”
“I think my boss likes showing up other agencies,” Darien said. “So the fact that we just helped shut down that place will make him pretty happy. What about your boss? Are you in the clear?”
“Uh... I don't know him that well. I think I may be in trouble,” Weiss said.
“Hey, guys,” Xander interrupted. “I've got to head out. I've got another assignment. I need to get back to my hotel and get my stuff before I head off. It was great working with you all.”
The others got up and shook hands with Xander.
Xander zipped up his overnight bag and hefted it over his shoulder.
“Hey, Gobo! You ready?” he called out.
Xander heard the toilet flush in the bathroom. A moment later Gobo shuffled out.
“Don't forget to wash,” Xander reminded him.
Gobo turned around and shuffled back into the bathroom. Xander opened up the honor bar and glanced in it.Still fully stocked. Well played, Mr. Harris. Well played.
Xander closed it up and looked around the room for one last check. He noticed an envelope on the floor just by the door.Must be the bill.
Xander picked it up and opened the envelope. He pulled out the bill and half glanced at it as he walked around the room, checking to make sure he had everything. He heard the faucet in the bathroom shut off and saw Gobo walk out of the bathroom.
“You ready to go, buddy?” Xander asked.
“Yes, Mr. Xander. Where are we heading to now?”
“Chicago. Giles just called me. He's got an emergency and wants me there as soon as possible. So we've got to...,” Xander stopped as he read the bill. “Uh, Gobo? Did you turn the channel to 99?”
“Yeah. That had a lot of interesting programs about Silly Creatures on that channel.”
“Gobo, that was the pay per view channel! I've got twenty hours of charges here.”
Gobo looked puzzled. “But you told me to watch TV. And I learned so much from that channel.”
“Gobo.... You're right. I told you to watch TV. So I guess you learned all about....” Xander glanced at the bill again. “The Spice Network? You spent twenty hours watching the Spice Network?”
“It had so many interesting stories. I never knew that the female Silly Creatures were so friendly to pizza delivery men.”
Xander slowly shook his head.I don't know which is worse. Telling Giles I ordered twenty hours of porn or trying to explain to him that my Fraggle ordered them.
Eric Weiss stood before the desk of Director Robinson. He nervously shifted back and forth as the Director read his report.
“If you're still reading, I could come back later,” Weiss said.
“No, no. I'm just soaking up a few of the more interesting details,” Director Robinson said. “Not exactly a standard operation, was it?”
“No, sir. Although once the details of the case came up, I felt that a standard approach wasn't -”
“I'll bet you did. Of course, I sent you out to find to women who disappeared and investigate who was responsible. And when you come back, both women are still missing.”
“Sir, in my defense, the women were rescued from an unlawful detainment and voluntarily moved to an undisclosed location.”
“You also exposed a major government operation.”
“An illegal operation.”
“And you let another agency take credit for it.”
“Well... yes, sir. I did.”
Director Robinson closed the file. “So bottom line it for me here. The women are safe, free, and reunited with their family?”
“Uh... yes, sir,” Weiss answered.
“The bad guys busted?”
“Yes, sir. I mean, some are still being rounded up. And one of the top people is still missing, but the operation has been shut down.”
Director Robinson smiled at him. “Great. You know I had my doubts about you. But I think you're going to fit in here just fine.”
“Thank you, Director Robinson.”
“Please, don't be so formal. Call me Kelly. Take a seat.”
As Weiss sat down, Kelly Robinson pulled out a humidor and offered him a cigar.
“In the office it's easy to forget about the people that get affected by the work. I like to have field agents that care about the everyday people. I remember this one time in Mexico City that Scottie and I... That's my old partner Alexander Scott. We were trying to find a mole in the American embassy when....”
Dr. Theodore Morris awoke with a headache. He looked down and saw that he had been dressed in a pair of black slacks, dark blue turtleneck, and dark blue blazer. He looked up and saw an older woman dressed the same, sitting at a table.
“Sorry about the headache. Rover can be a tad rough.”
Dr. Morris looked around.
“What happened? I was just leaving my house when... Where am I?” Dr. Morris asked.
“You are in the Village.”
Dr. Morris shook his head. “No. I'm not... This kind of thing does not happen to me. I'm the one in control. I shouldn't be here. What do you want with me?”
The woman shook her finger. “That would be telling.”
“You must want something.”
“We want what you have. Secrets. Information. We want information.”
“I can't give that to you,” Dr. Morris protested. “I can't... I have nothing to give you. I'm a simple researcher. I know nothing of value. Whatever you're looking for, you won't get it from me.”
“By hook or by crook, we will.”
“Look, someone's made a mistake. I obviously should not be here. Just let me talk to someone,” Dr. Morris pleaded.
The woman sat before him in silence.
“I've got to talk to someone,” Dr. Morris continued. “You could get into a lot of trouble holding me here. What's your name?”
“I am Number 2.”
“Number 2? Who's Number 1?”
The woman allowed herself a small smile. “You are Number 12.”
Michael Wiseman hugged his wife and daughter to him. He rocked back and forth, unable to believe he finally had his family back.
Heather looked up at him. “Dad? Is it... is it really you?”
“But I saw your body. I saw....” she choked back her tears.
“I know. It's along story. But it's really me. Want me to prove it? The first book you read was Hop On Pop
. You wanted to act it out when you read it. I let you. I had more cushioning back then.”
Heather hugged him tighter. “I just can't believe you're actually back with.... Who's that pervy old guy watching us?”
Michael and Lisa turned towards the man Heather had spotted. About ten feet away, an older man sat at a table watching the family reunion. He was tall and lean, with a full head of gray hair. He smiled and gave a wave to the family.
Rising, the man approached them.
“Mr. Wiseman, I presume? I do hope you're not going by Mr. Newman anymore.”
“No, I'm... Wait a second here. Who are you?” Michael Wiseman asked.
“A concerned citizen. I found out about your situation and brought it to the attention of a few interested parties,” the man said.
“So what does that make you? My number one fan?”
The man's eyes hardened. “I am not a number. I am a free man. And as of today, so are you.”
“It's really over?” Michael asked. “No more experiments, no more missions, I can really spend the rest of my life with my family?”
The man nodded. “You will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. Your life is your own.”
Lisa Wiseman stepped up to him. “We can't thank you enough. What's your name?”
“Drake,” the man answered. “My name is John Drake.”The End.