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Chapter 13

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      Jack ran to Alex when he saw him at the door; the human could barely stand. "What's wrong?" Jack asked.

      "I think I'm coming down with something," Alex replied, leaning against the wall as he struggled with his shoes.

      Jack picked him up and carried him to their bed. There he removed Alex's clothing and tucked him in. Alex tried to protest, but he couldn't muster the strength to even hint that he wasn't in that bad a shape. Jack kissed him and told him to rest while he prepared something to help him fight what ever he'd caught.

      A few minutes later he was back with a broth reinforced with protein additives, immune boosters and a mild pain killer. Alex drank it slowly while Jack disrobed and joined him. Alex placed the empty cup on the nightstand and curled up against Jack; within moments he was asleep.

      The next morning Tristan was up early; Alex had barely stirred when he got out of bed. He took the human's ID card and connected it to the computer to add the command lines it needed. When it was ready he ate and then got dressed in a human style business suit.

      "Why are you dressing up?" Alex asked weakly as Tristan adjusted the tie.

      Jack turned and went to kneel next to the bed. "There was a message from Glacomel on the system; they want me to come in today. I'm guessing they made a decision."

      Alex placed a hand on Jack's cheek, "they'd be idiots not to hire you."

      Jack took the hand in his and kissed the palm, "thanks, I don't know how long I'll be so I want you to just stay in bed and rest. Don't worry about your company, I sent them a message to tell them you were sick." He kisses him tenderly, "I'll nurse you back to health when I get back."

      "I'll be waiting." Alex told him.

      With reluctance Jack let go of Alex's hand and stood. He smiled at him before turning and leaving the room. He made sure he had Alex's ID card before heading out.

      * * * * *

      Tristan swiped the card and placed his hand on the scanner at the entrance gate to the company, the guard stationed there barely looked up at him as the system processed the information and gave him the green light. Complacency was one of Human's biggest flaws, if nothing had happened while they were in alert status, they couldn't imagine anything happening now that it had passed.

      The program Tristan had triggered with the card swipe was simple; it told the system that what ever information it had just received was correct for Alex's ID. It also activated another program that would let the ID unlock one other door.

      Moving about the company was simple, all he had to do was act like he belonged where he was going and no one gave him a second glance. When he reached the door leading to the company mainframe he swiped the ID and it opened for it.

      There was no one in the room, other than to do maintenance; no one had reasons to come here. He sat at the console and plugged in the data card, he couldn't tarry; he still only had a short amount of time before his presence would be noticed. While the program activated he started digging through the system's database, looking for anything that could help him. He didn't expect to find what he needed here, but he wasn't about to let the opportunity pass.

      It was less than five minutes before the door opened and armed security filled the room.

      "Get away from the terminal," the closest one said, indicating with his gun where he should go. The twelve humans crowding the room were armed with Similik stunners, not lethal, but certainly painful. Tristan stood and moved as instructed, keeping his hands visible. All the guns remained pointed at him while he moved. One of the men reached for the protruding data card.

      "Don't touch that!" exclaimed the entering technician. He pushed the man aside and sat at the console. "For all we know he trapped it to crash everything if you pull it out."

      "What's the status of the system?" the man asked.

      "Give me a minute," the technician replied as he typed, "ok, he inserted a program to corrupt some of the archive, but I got here before any serious damage."

      The guard nodded and took out a radio. "Things are under control here, what do you want us to do with him?"

      "Bring him to my office," the man at the other end said.

      He pointed at two men, "take him to the chief's office, if he so much as twitch shoot him and drag him there instead."

      "Yes, sir," one of them said and pointed to the door with his gun; Tristan walked toward it.

      "The rest of you can go back to your stations."

      The two men escorted Tristan up a few floors to a non-descript door. It opened before either one announced their presence. Tristan entered the small room followed by his escort, barely a foot behind him.

      The man behind the desk looked at him. "Did you really think you'd be able to just waltz in here and take us down?" Tristan didn't reply. He recognized the man's voice from Mitch's call. He was in the right office. "I don't see what you thought you'd accomplish with that program," Thomas said before pressing the button on the radio, "how is it coming along?"

      "The tech's says no serious damage's been done. The few files we lost will be restored from the backup during the next sync."

      Tristan didn't react when Thomas studied him. "Is he certain that we haven't lost anything of value?"

      "Yes, sir. The damage was very minor."

      "Tell him to look again. I've read this guy's file. He wouldn't have inserted a program in the mainframe just to do minor damage." Thomas kept looking at Tristan for a reaction as he spoke, but he didn't get one. "Why don't you just tell me what you did to the mainframe and make it easier on you?"

      Tristan didn't reply, he simply smiled as cursing came from the radio. Before Thomas could ask what was going on the lights started flickering.

      Tristan used the distraction to elbow his escort in the throat with enough force to send them crumbling against the wall, trying to breathes. He grabbed one of the dropped Similik and shot Thomas with it, and then the two other men.

      He pushed Thomas out of his chair and sat in from of his Computer, a top of the line Celaran; the screen was filled jumbled files. The other program in had inserted in the mainframe was disrupting everything. Internal communications were down, doors weren't opening and computers weren't responding to anyone.

      Tristan entered a command and the screen cleared up. Since this was Thomas' computer and he had already been logged in before all this started he now had access to every files within the company, it was just a matter of finding the one that ordered his imprisonment.

      It wasn't quick work; all the searches he did with his name brought back was his criminal file was well as a compiled personality profile. He was able to isolate the files that the previous security chief had been responsible for, but he ended up having to look at all of them to find the right one. More than once he had to stun one of the men again as they started waking up.

      Once he had his file he looked up who had ordered it, Emrill Karson. The name meant nothing to him so he searched through the company database. He had been the company's president until he retired, halfway through Tristan's imprisonment.

      Tristan sat back, this felt a little too convenient. Sander Harkson had died a few months before Emrill had retired. The death could have been an accident, after all no one else who had been involved had been eliminated. He had to remind himself that the human wasn't like him; he had probably never considered that he might escape and come looking for him. He still did another search through the system in case another name came up, but none did.

      He took one of the data chip on the desk and copied his file to it. When that was done he typed the command that brought the chaos back to this computer. He then went to the door and swiped Alex's ID in the door lock. It took a moment for the commands to be processed and then it opened.

      * * * * *

      Tristan stood next to the bed, looking at Alex sleeping. He was trying to decide what to do about him. The most efficient thing to do would be to kill him, but it wasn't like the human could give them any information they didn't already have. From somewhere at the back of his mind came the thought that maybe he could bring him along. Their time together had been enjoyable; it would be easy to convince him to abandon everything he had.

      Tristan growled to himself in annoyance. He'd been playing Jack for too long if thoughts like that were surfacing. The human meant nothing to him; his time here had just been toward accomplishing a goal.

      "Jack?" Alex said weakly before opening his eyes. He smiled at him for a moment and then frowned, "is something wrong?"

      Tristan looked at the human for another moment before speaking, "Men are going to come here to question you about me. Don't lie to them, tell them everything we did."

      "I don't understand, what's going on Jack?"

      "Jack doesn't exist," Tristan said flatly, "he was someone I created so I could use you," before turning and leaving the room. He wiped Alex's computer completely making sure even the backups didn't contain anything. Then he went through the room and pickup everything that was his. Jack hadn't been the tidiest of person.

      He came in front of the Defender, Alex had placed it on the mantle, and felt the momentary ghost of guilt over what he was putting the human through. He easily pushed it aside, reminding himself he meant nothing to him. Once there was nothing left to indicate he had been here he headed to the door.

      Alex's hand reached out from the bedroom's doorway to grab his arm as he passed by it. "Don't go," he said leaning against the frame. He was covered n sweat. "I don't know what's going on, but I can help."

      "No you can't," Tristan replied, growling in annoyance at the human's hand on his arm.

      "I love you Jack," Alex pleaded, "I'll do what ever it takes."

      For a moment Tristan found himself wanting to caress Alex's cheek. Annoyed at himself he pushed the human away and watched him land on his back among the covers he'd dragged off the bed. "Jack never existed, be content I'm letting you live." He said sharply and left Alex's apartment.


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