Marty knocked on the door and heard a muffled "Come in" from inside the door. He opened the door and entered Marcus' office. Marcus looked up and smiled. He gestured to one of the chairs in front of his desk. Once Marty was settled, Marcus looked at him expectantly.
"Well? What did you find out?"
"Not much, sir."
"So he told you nothing? And you didn't pick anything up?"
"No, nothing so far."
"Have you tried to read him?"
"No sir. You know what happens if I push it."
Marcus scowled and nodded.
"Yeah, I know, but if you don't get anything soon, I may need you to try it anyway. Mr. Archer is…concerned that we haven't learned anything new."
"I'll let you know if I get anything from Dr. MacLeod, sir."
Marcus looked at him silently for several moments before nodding.
"Okay. Do what you can, but be prepared to push if I need you to, understand? When I do tell you to push, it will be because Mr. Archer has ordered it. Is that clear?"
"Yes sir, Mr. Kelly."
Marcus smiled as he got up from behind the desk to show Marty out.
"That's good Martin. You're doing a good job, keep it up."
"Thank you, sir." Marty left the office and went down to his desk in the security office.
Over in the lab complex while working on the Alzheimer's project, Brett told Russell a little about what Marty told him. Mostly about how ruthless Archer was. Russell shared his concern about the safety of their boys. He proposed that the families get together soon and talk about this. Brett agreed and throughout the day, they let the others know about getting together that weekend.
That weekend they all met at Brett's house. It was a nice Saturday for mid-October. Sometime in the early afternoon the families started arriving. They spread out some blankets under the trees in the backyard for the boys to play on. The adults got comfortable and visited as everyone gathered. They talked about the boys, what they were doing at work and other news like that. Once everyone was there, Brett stood up from where he was sitting with Kathy.
"Thanks everyone for coming over today. It has become important that I let you know what is going on. I have recently met with someone who wishes to help protect the boys. This person has told me that we cannot trust the GRA. He told me things about them that he endured as a teenager at the hands of the GRA when they were called the PRI. He told me that he was one of many who were taken off the streets by agents of the PRI. Of all the people taken, he was the only one who survived…intact."
"What do you mean intact?"
"All of the others either died or had to be institutionalized, Bill. The experiments done on them caused some of them to be destroyed mentally. He told me of a friend of his, who instead of being a vibrant teenager, was reduced to sitting in a chair, drooling, and catatonic. He learned much later that his friend died before he turned eighteen."
"Who is this friend?"
"It's Martin Swift, the Chief of Security at the lab."
"What!? How do you know you can trust him? He works for Kelly. I've seen them talking together several times."
"I don't entirely trust him, which is why I don't plan on telling him everything. He told me that Archer is ruthless about what he wants and always gets what he wants."
"So what does he want with us?"
"I think he wants our kids. Martin doesn't know what he wants with them, but whatever it is, it will not be for their benefit. He also said that Archer won't let anything or anyone stand in his way."
Many of them were shocked by this and worry creased many of their faces, especially the ladies. After the initial shock, the men started to show their anger at the possibility that Archer would do something to their children. Brett had to speak up to try to calm them down.
He got them to eventually settle down and they gave him their attention once again.
"So Brett, what do we do next and when? We're not letting that asshole Archer do anything to our sons." When Wyatt said that he looked at the others and all of them were nodding their agreement with his statement.
"Okay, I have sent ten thousand dollars to my friend to start on getting new documents for everyone. I gave him everyone's information and what degrees and experience you each have. Mac said that he would do his best to do what each of you want done. I don't know if there will be further costs, but I can ask Mac. So…do we disappear or what?"
For the next several minutes, they talked and discussed the ramifications of disappearing. They had to cut ties with all friends and families, even those who were gathered here. They had to lose all associations with their former lives. They discussed what they needed to do, so that Archer and the GRA would not easily find them. There were several ideas, but many were not certain enough.
They all agreed that Brett's idea of the sham overnight sleep study for the boys was a good starting point. There biggest worry was how they would convince Marcus Kelly and Hank Archer that all of them had in fact been killed in the "accidental" explosion of the lab.
It was Patrick who came up with the idea that seemed to have the biggest chance of success.
"What do you mean by cadavers, Pat?"
"Stony Brook is a large university teaching hospital. In the school and the hospital are cadavers that are used for teaching purposes. We could see if it was possible to steal a few of them to secrete in the lab so that after they put out the fire from the lab, it will appear that there are real bodies in the rubble. Maybe that way Archer will believe that we all perished. We will need to make sure that the bodies are thoroughly burned so that identification is impossible."
"I think that could work. We also need to make sure the bodies are near to where the explosives are placed and that they are soaked in something like gasoline or kerosene so that they catch fire quickly and burn up, so that only bits and pieces are left."
Brett looked at his wife.
"Kathy, do you think that those of you that work at the hospital, or the university, could get access to the cadavers?"
Kathy, Cheryl, Julia and Wyatt exchanged looks.
"I don't know. We can try to see what we can do, but I'm not sure."
The other three nodded their agreement.
"If we can, the next step is how to get them from there to the lab. I can't see us easily walking out of the building with them."
Brett nodded as he paced a little while he thought while the others discussed what to do about how to get the cadavers. Some talked a little about saving at least some of the research files. Brett needed someone who could do this. He thought about Marty, but dismissed that as too risky. He still did not trust him enough to reveal that much of the plan to him. Then it came to him…Mac. He may know people who could do that.
"I think I have an idea, but it may cost money. I could ask Mac if he can help us. Like I mentioned earlier, I have already paid him to help us out with our documents. I've spent about twenty thousand so far in getting help to investigate Archer and his bunch. If the rest of you could get even ten thousand each that I can give to him, I think we can make this work. With that much from each family, I think that not only would we be able to get excellent identity documents, but he could help us get the cadavers into the lab and come up with the type of explosives that we would need to destroy the lab building or at least render it unusable and the bodies unrecognizable. What do you guys think?"
Each the couples discussed the idea between themselves. Brett went to sit with Kathy as he waited for them to decide. When he saw that they had seemed to come to a decision he gave Kathy a quick kiss and then stood up once again.
"So does this sound like something that would work?"
"Stephanie and I can put up fifteen thousand."
The other couples agreed to that amount as well. It was also decided that they would get it in cash as they would also decrease the chance of anyone tracing the payments. They told Brett that they would wait until he contacted Mac and found out what he could do to help them with the plan. With the decisions made they relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. The barbecue was prepared and they enjoyed the rest of the afternoon playing with the boys and making small talk. For the most part they didn't talk about what was ahead.
That evening after everyone left, Brett sent an email to Mac asking for a meeting. Sunday morning when he checked his email there was an agreement to meet that evening at Stony Brook Beach. Brett got there at dusk and stood at the railing looking out on the water between the beach and Young's Island as the sun set behind it. He became engrossed in watching the sunset as he ran over in his head everything that had been discussed the day before that he didn't realize anyone else was there until a voice spoke up startling him.
"Beautiful, isn't it."
Brett turned, looked over his shoulder to the right, and saw Mac was standing there smiling.
"Sorry to startle you, but you seemed to be miles away."
Brett smiled back and nodded.
"So what did you need to talk about?"
Brett looked around and saw that other than a few people in the area, there wasn't anyone nearby so he turned back to watch the sun as Mac moved next to him.
"Everyone has agreed that we need to disappear. We have even gained an ally of sorts. He said he was the only partial success of the PRI's experiment that ruined your older brother."
"Who is it?"
"Martin Swift, the head of security at the lab. Apparently he lost a friend to the experiment as well and he came to me last week with an offer to help us protect the children from Archer and the GRA."
"Can you trust him?"
"I don't know yet. He seemed sincere enough, but I also have not made any commitment to him. Other than that, I will keep quiet about what he told me and will let him know if he can do something to help us. He said that if either Kelly or Archer found out what he had told me, then he would probably be made to disappear."
"That sounds like Archer's way of doing things. That at least I can believe, but I caution you in trusting anyone who gets a paycheck from Archer."
"I don't plan on it. This is too important to our friends and families."
"Okay, so what can I do for you?"
"How are the new papers coming?"
"We're doing okay. The hard part will be inserting records into the databases of the universities and colleges that you and your friends supposedly received your degrees from. We're doing pretty good at finishing up with that part and since more and more records are becoming digital, it's a bit easier than it would have been twenty years ago, so that is in our favor."
"Well, we have come up with a few ideas about how to help our disappearance. For starters, by the end of the week I will have $105,000 cash for you to use to assist us in the escape plan. The other seven couples are putting in $15,000 each, do you think that will be enough?"
"I'd say more than enough, in fact it is more than I would need."
"Well, it is to cover other expenses that we have come up with to make our disappearance more believable. Do you have anyone you can call on to help you with some less than legal arrangements, other than the paperwork?"
Mac looked at him sideways a little warily. "I think so, depending on what it involves. Hopefully you're not asking me to get rid of anyone like Archer, or this Kelly person, are you? As much as I would like to take care of Archer, I don't think I want to get involved with a hit on someone."
Brett shook his head, "No, nothing like that. We have an idea and there are a couple of elements that would be difficult for us to procure to make it successful. We need explosive devices of some kind that could start a huge fire in the lab, causing it to be completely destroyed. And we need someone to help us get some cadavers from the university to the lab."
Mac let out a low whistle as he turned his attention to watching the last sliver of the sun as it slipped below the horizon. He was silent and the two of them leaned against the rail until the last of the light faded away. Mac turned towards Brett and leaned on the rail. "I think I know some people to help us with this. How are we supposed to get a hold of these cadavers?"
"We have some of our people, including my wife, who work and teach, at least part of the time, at the university. They have cadavers stored there that are used by the medical students. We need help in transporting a few of them to the lab secretly."
"Whoa, back up. Maybe you better explain a little more of this plan."
Brett nodded and launched into an explanation of how they planned to disappear from view. Mac listened, asked for clarification on some points, and offered a few ideas; such as renting a safe house to store anything they would be taking with them, the things needed to pull off the disappearing act such as the explosives, plus their alternate identification papers. Mac offered to take care of that. He believed that it would be easy to do with the amount of money that the families were giving him for expenses.
When it seemed like they had things pretty much planned, at least as best as they could. Mac came back around to Martin. "You said that this Martin guy was the only partial success of the PRI's experiments. How was he a success, even if it was partial?"
"He told me that sometimes he can pick up what people are thinking."
"You mean telepathy?"
"Yeah, something like that, but the ability is inconsistent. The experiment involved them doing some sort of surgery, or something like that, to make a change in their subject or victim's brain that was supposed to lead to having some mental abilities like telepathy. Martin is the only survivor of the experiment."
"Well now I know what happened to my brother, thanks. I'll get back to you on everything as soon as I talk to some people. Bye for now."
They shook hands and went their separate ways.
At the lab, things continued as normal, no big discoveries or advances. Brett held back on having the boys brought in for checkups. Martin and Brett had started to be seen together, sometimes taking lunch together. This was so that Marcus would see that Martin was trying to get closer to Brett in hopes of picking up anything from him. Marcus commented positively on that to Marty one day and told him to keep it up.
By the next weekend, Brett had everyone's cash and met up with Mac to hand it over. They met at a park in East Northport. It was a little cool as fall was in full bloom. They sat on a bench and watched the kids and families playing in the park while they talked.
"Brett, I'd like to try something. I want to do a dry run on getting a delivery truck into the complex and at the same time give your ally Martin a little test."
Mac handed Brett a piece of paper.
"Give this to him and tell him to expect a delivery truck and a work van on Tuesday. Don't tell him anything that might be in it. The work van is going to be me and he is to arrange for it to be there for routine maintenance on the security systems. I'm going to be the maintenance guy for the cameras. I want to get a look at the security set up. There will be a couple of my guys in the truck and will unload a large cart. This is the kind of cart that we will be bringing the bodies and the explosive into the complex. It will be empty, but I want to see how we're going to do this and see what he can do to take care of security on short notice, because when it is time to move, we probably won't have a lot of lead time."
"Sounds good, I'll give it to him tomorrow."
"How fast can the people at the university get us access to the cadavers? I'd like to do a dry run on that as well."
"I'll talk to my wife when I get back. I assume that part will be done at night, since I can't see us being able to do this during the day when there are more people around."
"Okay, let me know what day. Although I think that the sooner we do it the better it would be."
"I'll try to see if it can be done maybe Tuesday night and let you know."
"Good, that'll work. I don't have anything else. Let me know if Martin can arrange his side of the test."
"Will do, see you later."
Once again they went their separate ways. At dinner that evening, he and Kathy talked about it and she agreed that they would see what they could do about testing everything on the university side on Tuesday night. After dinner, she called Cheryl and Wyatt to let them know what was planned. Once she made her arrangements, Brett sent the information to Mac. Brett checked his access to the lab computers, especially Marcus and Alastair's. He found nothing to worry about. Although there was a query from Archer to Marcus about any further progress concerning Brett's research. Marcus remarked on the apparent success of Marty making friends with Brett. There was no hint that there was a set up, with Marty pretending to be his friend to trap him into revealing anything that Marty could pick up. So far Marty seemed to be on the level concerning his assisting them. Tuesday would tell. He would check again on Monday after he had given the paper to Marty. Then he would see if that information was leaked to Marcus or not.
On Monday morning Brett saw Marty at the security desk and invited him to have a cup of coffee with him in the lab. Marty followed him and after getting a cup of coffee, Brett handed him the paper. Marty looked at it and read it.
"What's this about?"
"Just a delivery that's coming in tomorrow."
When Brett said that, Marty caught something from Brett. It was deliberate on Brett's part. What Marty had not realized was that whenever they had talked over the last couple of weeks. Brett always tried to "send" something to Marty to see if he could pick it up. It was his own little test of Marty's ability. This time, finally, Marty's ability cooperated.
Marty nodded and folded the paper up. He immediately put it in his left pants pocket. Brett glanced up at him with a little surprise on his face and Marty smiled and tapped the side of his head. Brett gave him an answering smile. They finished their coffee while engaging in some small talk about Brett's wife and son.
When Marty left the lab, Brett engaged his camouflage program on the computer and sent a quick note off to Mac
That night Brett checked the both Marty's and Marcus' computers. There was no evidence that Marty had betrayed them.
The next day late in the afternoon, a van pulled up to the front gate to the lab complex. The guard at the gate checked his list and nodded before waving the driver through. Mac nodded and gave the guard a smile as he drove to the parking lot by the smaller building. He got his bag out of the truck and went inside. Inside the building, he walked up to the security desk in the older building and showed the guard his work order.
The guard gave it a quick glance before picking up the phone and calling down to the security office. He listened for a couple of moments and nodded, "Yes sir."
He looked up at Mac, "Go down that hall there and look for the door that says security. The lieutenant said he will be waiting for you inside.'
Mac followed the directions and found the door labeled "Security". When he entered he saw a man leaning against a desk facing the door. Mac saw the bars on his collar and figured this was the lieutenant. He walked up and held out his hand.
"I take it you're the lieutenant?"
"Yes. I'm Lieutenant Swift."
They shook hands and Marty gestured at the security camera desk. Mac nodded and moved over to sit at the desk. Marty stepped back and watched him silently. Mac did his best to ignore him and started checking the camera feeds. Eventually Marty went back to his desk to do some paperwork. Mac slipped a floppy drive disk into the computer and booted up the program on it. Once the program was installed, he removed the disk and slipped it back in his bag. In the cameras he saw the delivery truck approaching the front gate. He looked over his shoulder.
"Some of the cameras are going to go offline while I run diagnostics."
Marty looked at him steadily for a few moments before nodding and turning back to his work. Mac entered the commands that turned off the cameras that showed the truck. He continued turning off cameras that showed the truck and once they had parked next to the newer building, the men in the truck got out. He kept turning off cameras as the men came into view. He watched as they made their way to the lab pushing their large carts with the crates on them.
Once the men got to the lab, Mac made note of which cameras showed the route to and into the lab in a small notebook. Once he had that information, he slipped the notebook back into his bag and started checking the cameras and turning them back on as the men made their way back out to the truck. Once the truck pulled away and left the complex he stood up and turned to Marty.
"I'm all done here. Everything looks good."
Marty looked up at him and smiled, "Okay thanks."
Mac had his hand on the doorknob and had pulled it open when Marty spoke once again, "Well, did I pass?"
Mac stopped and carefully looked at Marty who had gotten up from his desk and was now leaning against his desk. Mac didn't answer right away as the two men looked at each other. "We'll see Lieutenant, we'll see."
Marty nodded and waved his hand in the direction of the door. Mac turned and left the room. He left the lab complex giving the security guard a wave as he left the grounds. A few miles down the road, he pulled in behind the delivery truck and got out. The two men in the truck got out and met him at the back of the truck.
"Everything go okay?"
"Yeah, pretty simple. We know the route to the lab. It will be no problem getting the packages inside. We're going to go get some dinner before we head over to the university and see how that goes."
"I'll follow along and take notes."
The men nodded and got back into the front of the truck. They drove off after removing the magnetic signs off the work van and replacing them with other signs before throwing the signs in the back of the truck, Mac followed behind them. They met up at a diner near the university and had a decent dinner. They talked quietly among themselves about the layout of the lab. Once they finished the meal, they got back in the vehicles and headed towards the university. They parked in the Health Sciences Center Garage and waited until it was about nine o' clock. When it was time, they drove around to a little used service door that opened into the basement. When they walked up to the door and knocked, it was opened from inside. Wyatt was waiting there for them and he led them to the cadaver storage room. Mac made some notes in his notebook and then after shaking Wyatt's hand, he and his men left the building and drove off. Mac drove past the truck and waved to the men as he headed home. It was now time for a lot of planning.
The next couple of weeks were uneventful. It was well into November now, so temperatures were cooler and they had had a few rain storms. It was starting to get a little wintry. Marty came by Brett's house to give him an update on what Marcus and Archer had been requesting of him, he told Brett that they were getting a little insistent in the requests and he was worried that they may want him to push harder. So far he had been reporting to Marcus that he had picked up some bits and pieces from Brett, but it mostly had to do with the Alzheimer's research he was working on with Russ. Marcus was glad he was getting something, but he was a little frustrated that it wasn't anything that they wanted. Marcus had also told Marty that Alastair was working with them as well, so that he wouldn't be concerned if he saw him at Brett's computer in the lab when Brett wasn't there. Brett acknowledged that information with a nod, but did not tell him that he knew about Alastair.
Several days later, Brett received an email from Mac. He wanted to meet. That Friday they met in Brookwood Hall Park in East Islip, NY. They met in the Arts Museum before leaving and walking through the park. It was mid afternoon and most people were at work or school so there were few people about. It was pretty cool so they were bundled up in coats. They took a path that led near Knapp Lake.
"We're ready when you are. Here, this is for you and your friends."
Mac pulled a large accordion file folder from inside his coat and handed it to Brett. Brett slipped it under his coat.
"Inside you will find all the paperwork for all of you, including diplomas from universities that you attended, driver's licenses, social security cards, and passports all in your new names. There is also another envelope inside with the keys and directions to the safe house. It's leased and paid up for the next six months. When you folks are ready, there is a large safe inside that you can use to store any cash and these documents until it is time to use them. The house is on the edge of Oyster Bay."
Brett nodded as Mac gave him the instructions, "How much notice will you need for your end of the plan?"
"We have everything mapped out, we could be ready within one day, but two days would be better."
"Okay. Marcus has been after Marty about getting more information about my work. I think it's getting close to time for us to go."
"Just let me know. Just send an email to the address with the word "TIME" and we'll get things ready for two days from that date."
"There is one other thing and this is extremely important. For the plan that I have, we will need some people to watch our children at the safe house on the day we put the plan into action. Can you make that happen? We need to know that the kids are safe."
Mac stared out over the lake for a minute or two before turning his attention back to Brett and nodding.
"Yes. I'll ask Terry to babysit. He'll do it. I've told him a little bit about what's going on and he's been helping me a little with some of the setup. There are one or two others of my friends that I trust that can help. Is that acceptable?"
"Yes, if you think that will work, I think that will be fine. We'll probably get the kids there that day and leave them in Terry's hands before heading to the lab. I need to make sure that everyone at the lab believes that all of us will be there."
"What about the kids not being there?"
"I've got that covered, so don't worry about that."
"Very well. I've got a hidden back door program into the lab security system. I'm going to control the cameras from the outside and run a camera loop so that they won't see anything out of the ordinary from the security desk. My guys will take care of the rest of it, the transporting of the cadavers and the explosives. One of my guys will stay behind when the truck leaves to help you get the explosives set up and show you what to do and lead you to the escape route. After that, it's up to you when to start. Others of my men will be at the back fence where they will help you folks escape and then hide your tracks so no one knows you went that way. They will also drive you to the safe house. Once you have left the building I will cause a meltdown on the camera system so that there is no record of what's going on."
"I guess that's it then. As soon as I think it's time, then I'll let you know. I think it's going to be soon though, from what Marty has been telling me. He's getting pressure from Kelly and Archer to get more information from me."
"I'll tell my guys to be ready to be called. I would suggest you don't wait too long. I know what these guys are like. Well, I'll be on my way. If there is any problem with the house, be sure to let me know as soon as you can."
They shook hands and Mac headed back to the art museum where their cars were parked. Brett waited for a few minutes before he too headed back to his car.