Chapter 13: Comeuppance – part 4
As Shane strode out of his quarters he thanked the powers that be once again for his wife’s ability to teleport and his alien side. Without its emotionless calm he’d never be able to hide his happy satiation from a nooner with Addison, or keep his paranoia under wraps.
Last week’s impromptu conversation with Captain MacKenzie had raised Shane’s suspicion to record levels. The chief of security of the Alpha facility claimed to be part of a network of employees fed up with Triptych’s games. If not for Addison’s insistence of the man’s sincerity, Shane would have laughed in MacKenzie’s face. It reeked of a set-up. Yet Shane found himself hoping that it wasn’t. Until he found a way to break his contract with Triptych—and 20 years of dead ends didn’t bode well—the corporation effectively owned him, and it had gone to extremes to keep him and Addison apart. They wouldn’t let Gibson and the Chairmen interfere with their relationship and their family any longer.
Shane was pondering how they’d keep Gibson at bay when he entered his lab. He stopped short as the door slid shut behind him. No one was there. For an instant he was annoyed; his employees’ lunch hours were staggered so this wouldn’t happen. Then his paranoia screamed a warning as his peripheral vision caught a blur of motion. Pain pricked his neck, and the world spun and went dark.
When Shane finally forced his eyes open—difficult when light lanced pain through his head—he stared at his reflection. It spoke. He hadn’t. Weird.
His head rocked. A moment later the sting of his reflection’s slap caught up with him. That shouldn’t happen, Shane thought groggily.
His reflection sighed and rolled its eyes. “God, you’re a lightweight.” Its giggle sent a shiver up Shane’s spine. “I guess that makes me one, too.”
The fog began to clear from Shane’s mind. Muzzy alarm replaced it. That’s not a mirror. He squinted at his twin. “Who… who are you?”
His double smirked. “Who do you think I am?”
“Not me. I’m me.” Shane’s arms ached. He tried to move them to a more comfortable position, but failed. Something held them behind his back.
“Are you sure? Appearances are everything. You taught me that.”
Shane half heard his twin’s words over rising panic. He tried again to bring his hands forward. The thin band binding his wrists bit into his skin. Pain chased the last of his drowsiness away.
His clone chuckled as Shane frantically looked around. He sat on the floor of his office with his back to the leg of a table. His captor had zip tied his ankles and wrists, the latter to the table leg. The bastard wearing his face squatted six feet away, clearly enjoying his struggles. Over his shoulder Shane saw that the door to the lab was closed.
Now that he could think straight Shane didn’t need his hands. He reached mentally for his prism but found himself fumbling. Undeterred, he grasped for the crystal but came up empty.
Shane’s double laughed gleefully. The bastard held up one hand, which was clenched into a fist. “I can’t be Dr. Shane Myers without my prism, can I?”
Shane saw red and shivered simultaneously. His attacker even sounded like him. “Who the fuck are you,” he growled, “and what do you want?”
The clone smiled coolly. “Your former slave. I did everything you wanted. Even changed for you. You didn’t like having the tables turned, did you?”
Ice gripped Shane’s heart. “J—Joon?” he whispered.
“In the flesh,” he (she?) said with a flourish. “Yours now.” Her laugh held an edge of hysteria. “The student has surpassed the teacher. I’m the master now.”
Shane stared, horrified.
Dad, what’s wrong? You’re scaring me. Jake sounded almost as alarmed as Shane felt.
Jake, stay away from the lab! Go get—
Jake’s worry tripled. Dad, I can feel you, but can’t hear you. Hold on. I’m coming!
“NO!” Shane shouted aloud and telepathically. Joon’s fist slammed into his face, spraying sparks across his vision. Warm wetness trailed down his cheek from the gash under his eye.
“Indoor voice, please,” Joon chided.
Adrenaline, fear, and anger had Shane trembling. He scrambled to hurl his fury at the crazy bitch but couldn’t hold on to it. Rather than worry about what drugs she’d shot him full of, Shane used it to fuel his ire. Snarling, he drew his knees to his chest, then pushed back and up against the table with everything he had.
Books, papers, and glassware crashed to the floor as the table overturned. Too late he realized that although he’d gotten his feet under him and was close to freeing his hands, he was bent backwards and completely prone. With a wicked smile contorting his face, Joon darted in. Her arm flashed back and forth and up and down, shredding Shane’s shirt as he straightened and pulled his arms free.
Joon danced away. In the moment it took for Shane to find his balance, he wondered why his torso was cold and wet. Then he saw the bloody steel blade in her left hand. Scalpel, he realized as severed nerves screamed at once.
Adrenaline pushed Shane’s muscles hard enough to break the zip ties around his wrists and ankles. The tough plastic bit down to bone, but Shane was beyond caring. It was kill or be killed.
Shane lunged forward in a Tae Kwon Do form, intending to disarm the crazed woman. Either the drugs had slowed him or Joon was incredibly fast. She dodged his strike, then lashed out with one hand.
The hand holding the scalpel.
Shane barely felt the slice across his neck. He did feel the hot spray of blood and the rough carpet against his cheek when he fell.
A few feet away the framed portrait of Addison he kept hidden in a hollowed-out book rested on the ground, propped up against a jumble of debris. Addison’s gorgeous face smiled through the broken glass. Shane smiled back before blacking out.
For the fifth time Jake wrenched his eyes from Chantal’s cleavage back to the titration pipette. He was determined to finish the tedious and utterly redundant exercise. For reasons that escaped him Mrs. Ludwig insisted that her students prove to themselves what was blatantly obvious: adding a base to an acid increased the solution’s pH. Duh.
Unfortunately Jake couldn’t tell Mrs. Ludwig why he was so distracted. He imagined the conversation he so wasn’t going to have. “Look, I totally get this. Can I just start on the homework or something?”
“The lab is mandatory, Jake.”
“Could I at least do it later today? My dad’s screwing my mom and his shields slip every now and again. Kinda distracting, you know?”
Mrs. Ludwig would have blushed scarlet. “That’s, um… mandatory. The lab. Here. Now.”
Jake blew out a frustrated breath. “Then can I switch lab partners? Jorge, maybe? Chantal’s practically shoving her tits in my face.”
The pH meter beeped rapidly, jolting Jake back to reality. “Dammit, Jake,” Chantal muttered. She jiggle— walked to his side of the lab table. “Move over. I’ll do it. Jesus.”
Jake opened his mouth to retort when unease bubbled up. Letting Chantal take over the stupid experiment, he sensed for Lynn, Mom, and Dad. The former two were fine. Something was up with Dad.
Less than a minute later his father’s unease had escalated to anger and panic. Dad, what’s wrong? You’re scaring me.
Worry joined Dad’s turmoil, but Jake heard no reply. Jake’s heart pounded in his chest. Dad, I can feel you, but can’t hear you. Hold on. I’m coming!
Jake pushed past Chantal, which jostled the labware and made her shout with irritation. He made a beeline for the door.
“Jake, where are you going?” Mrs. Ludwig called.
Ashlynn’s thoughts broke in. What’s wrong?
Jake, what is it? Mom asked.
Ignoring the idiot teacher, Jake burst into the hall. He set off for his father’s lab at a dead run, dodging around Triptych employees. Something’s wrong with Dad, he broadcast to Lynn, Mom, and Dad. He heard me, but didn’t reply.
Jake felt his mother’s and sister’s worry and indecision. We’re cataloging items with half of my staff, Mom said.
Stay, Jake said as he rounded the corner leading to the lab. I’m almost there. I’ll call if we need you.
The door to Dad’s lab was closed, prompting Jake to skid to a halt. He tried the handle: locked. As he focused on the lock, movement in his peripheral vision got his attention. He glanced down the hall in time to see a tall, thin, dark-haired white man turn a corner. “Dad!” Jake called aloud and telepathically.
The man kept walking.
Shaking his head, Jake unlocked the door and let himself in. He was stunned to find the lab empty. Something is very, very wrong, he told Lynn and Mom as he sprinted to the door to Dad’s office. It was also locked, but quickly opened.
He pushed the door open and screamed at the top of his lungs.
Blood was everywhere; pooling on the floor, sprayed on the wall and overturned table, and covering most of Dad, who lay crumpled on the ground. Dad’s blood. Adrenaline surged as Jake stared at the pulses of red oozing from his father’s throat.
Jake wasn’t sure if his mother or sister had screamed. He scrambled to Dad’s side, placed one hand on his lacerated chest, and pulled his crystal from his pocket.
Ashlynn shrieked a short distance behind him. “Shane! Ohmigod, Jake, do something!”
“I am!” Jake tried to connect with his prism to start healing something, but couldn’t concentrate with Lynn’s and Mom’s panic in his head. Instead he dove into alien side. Cool and calm, he activated his crystal and checked his father’s body for injuries.
Ashlynn crouched down on Dad’s other side. “What did… He’s alive, right?”
“Quiet,” Jake ordered. “Alive, just barely.” Dad’s neck was the worst injury by far, so Jake channeled his prism-amplified energy to heal the wound. “He should be stable after I mend his jugular.”
“And if he’s not?” Lynn whispered.
“He will be.” Jake refused to consider the alternative. “You’re distracting me. Be quiet, or go find out who did this.” Unsurprisingly, his sister did not take the order well. Jake didn’t care. Blocking out everything else, he poured every ounce of concentration into knitting the severed vein back together.