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Change in Time

By Robyn Nyx

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 Robyn Nyx

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Change in Time

Working in the past is hell on your future.

Landry’s life has always been about doing her duty and giving it her all, and when they have to stop a deranged serial killer in the past, she tries to stay focused. But now, with Jade Carter always on her mind, her worry about Delaney’s mental welfare, and her attempt to have a normal life, things feel more complex than ever before.

Plagued by nightmares and memories of the woman she left behind in Nazi Germany, Delaney knows things have to change, and she’s the one to make it happen. But making those changes may mean she loses Landry forever. When she sets her plans in motion during their mission, she has no idea how it will end. Will their differences demand the ultimate sacrifice?

The Extractor Trilogy: Book Two

Change in Time

© 2017 By Robyn Nyx. All Rights Reserved.


ISBN 13:978-1-62639-881-8


This Electronic Original is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 249

Valley Falls, NY 12185


First Edition: November 2017


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.


Credits

Editor: Cindy Cresap

Production Design: Susan Ramundo

Cover Design by Sheri (graphicartist2020@hotmail.com)

By the Author

Never Enough


The Extractor Trilogy:

Escape in Time

Change in Time

Acknowledgments

I’d like to thank all the background staff (proofreaders, copy editors, typesetters, et al) who have worked tirelessly to produce this book. As always, my thanks to Cindy, who continues to extol the virtues of American English versus the language of Shakespeare and patiently teaches me all about hyphen usage, compound possessives, and obscure grammatical rules I had long forgotten. My thanks to Gemma at Writing Gems, who combs through my manuscripts backward looking for hidden messages and always manages to find something everyone else has missed.

Hugs, kisses, and love to my mum and dad, who read everything I write and proudly proclaim my authory-ness to all who will listen (and to those who try not to!). And my final thanks go to my wife, Victoria, whose expertise guides me, whose words motivate me, and whose love lifts me high enough to need an oxygen tank.

Dedication

To my wife, Victoria, who sits beside me as I write every day and whispers words of encouragement when I stumble.

My words and my life are forever yours.

Chapter One

11:30 p.m., May 24, 2076—Pulsus Island


Landry pulled her car into the lot and jumped out. She opened the rear door and tried hard to steel herself against the vision of how damaged Jade looked. She leaned in, slipped her arms beneath Jade’s limp body, and took her out of the car before kicking the door shut.

“Everything’s going to be okay, baby. I promise.”

It must’ve been the hundredth time she’d said it in the thirty minutes since the accident. Usually, she never made promises unless she was sure she could keep them. Worse yet, this one depended on her mom.

She leaned her ear to Jade’s chest. Her breathing was shallow, but Landry took it as a sign of hope. Her mom was a damn fine surgeon, but she couldn’t bring people back from the dead.

“Donovan, is that you?”

Landry nodded, thankful it was Garrett at the cargo platform. “Sure is, hoss. I need to go back to the island.” As she walked toward him and into the platform lights, Garrett’s expression changed, and Landry could see he wasn’t about to let her board the train with Jade in her arms.

“Whoa there, cowboy. Who have you got there?”

“I’ve called ahead. Elena Donovan is expecting us. I need you to drive us home.”

Landry could see Garrett processing the information. Everyone knew Elena was Landry’s mom, and given that her first mission at Pulsus saved Elena to continue her work with Jay Jenkin, they also thought she had special treatment. Landry tried to make sure that it wasn’t actually the case, but in this instance, it was probably best for Garrett to believe it.

“No one called me, Donovan. You know I can’t let a civilian on the island or I risk losing my job.”

Landry stepped into the personal space between them as calmly as she possibly could considering the storm of emotions in her head. “Step aside, Garrett, or you risk losing a lot more than that.” Landry was serious. Nothing and no one was going to stop her from getting Jade on the island to see her mom, and if that meant putting Garrett down, that’s what she’d do.

Garrett must’ve understood exactly what she meant, because he moved out of the way. Landry nodded her thanks.

“Take this train as fast as it goes, hoss.”

“If you’re sure, cowboy.” Garrett still looked uncertain but jogged off to the cab to set the train on its return to the island.

Landry got into the first open carriage and settled gingerly onto a seat, careful not to move Jade too much. She rested Jade’s feet on a luggage rack to elevate them in an effort to cope with the blood loss. Landry was far too aware that if she didn’t get Jade to her mom fast enough, the potential decrease in circulation could result in gangrene and the removal of her leg. With no road to concentrate on, she only had Jade to look at, and it didn’t fill her with hope. Her olive skin was drained of its usual color, and her lips were beginning to show a bluish tint. She lifted Jade’s hand and saw the same effect in her fingernails.

As the train began to move, she pressed her lips to Jade’s hand and kissed her gently. “I’m going to take care of you, baby, I promise.” Another promise I don’t know if I can keep. Landry knew it was desperation, and it was for her benefit, not Jade’s.

Landry placed her head on Jade’s chest and closed her eyes. There was nothing else she could do right now. She was at the mercy of the high-speed train. And when she got to Pulsus, Jade would be in the hands of her mom. She hoped Jenkin wouldn’t be there with her. A confrontation with her mom’s lover wasn’t what Landry needed. If Jenkin tried to keep her mom from helping Jade, Landry could only hope her mom would make the right choice.

* * *

There was no one guarding the platform, but Landry knew the cameras and body scanners between here and the regen lab would monitor her arrival and track her movements. Security would be alerted to the presence of a non-Pulsus employee, so she had to get there before they tried to stop her.

She thanked Garrett before putting Jade in her car and flooring it to the regen lab. Her mom greeted her at the door on the ground floor.

“Landry, what on earth are you doing? Is this the girl you were telling me about?”

Landry sidestepped her and headed for the elevator. “Mom, I don’t need your judgment right now. I need your help. She can’t lose her leg…I can’t lose her.”

Her mom said nothing as they got in, and she pressed for the surgical level.

“What did you tell Jenkin?”

“I told her you had an emergency, which is all I knew at the time. She’ll soon find out what’s really going on when security alerts her to this breach.”

Her mom waved her hand in Jade’s direction, and Landry pulled Jade closer to her, feeling unreasonably protective given that it was only her mom who could save Jade.

“You can’t let her stop you. Promise me.”

Elena stepped out of the elevator and looked back at Landry. “You don’t have to lecture me, sweetheart. I took an oath to do my utmost to save people, always. I won’t let your friend die.”

Landry followed her mom to an operating room and waited as she prepped for surgery.

“Lay her on the table.”

Landry gently placed Jade where her mom had instructed and stepped back. She activated the pod, and the body scanner zipped up and down the length of Jade’s frame in seconds. Her blood pressure and body temperature appeared on the glass screen beside the table, along with detailed analysis of Jade’s organs.

“She’s in hypovolemic shock. I need an IV to extract and replicate her blood to have any hope of replenishing what she’s lost before she suffers any kidney or brain damage. You got her to me in time to save her life, but I can’t guarantee her leg.”

Landry felt her own legs falter and sought support from a nearby blood station. She heard “heart strength,” “dobutamine,” and “gangrene,” but was already fixated on her mom’s previous words, “I can’t guarantee her leg.” She didn’t hear anyone approaching until it was too late, when strong hands grabbed her, and her arms were forced behind her back.

“What the hell have you done, Donovan?” Jenkin stepped in front of Landry.

“You should let me go right now unless you want this to get nasty.”

She laughed dismissively, confident in the abilities of her cohorts to keep Landry under control, and turned away. “Elena, what do you think you’re doing?”

Jenkin moved toward her mom, and Landry kicked out, sweeping Jenkin’s legs from under her. She crashed to the floor while security pushed Landry to her knees.

“Don’t even think about trying to stop her.” Landry still managed to pull the ones holding her forward.

Jenkin got up and brushed her clothes down. The anger and bruised pride in her eyes was ill disguised.

“I won’t stop her from saving your girlfriend, Donovan. But I will wipe her memory and have her put back home none the wiser. And I will deal with you.”

Jenkin nodded to her security detail, and Landry felt a blunt blow to the back of her head. She fell to the floor, dazed, and was vaguely conscious of her wrists and ankles being fixed into bindings.

“JJ, that wasn’t necessary.”

“Just because she’s your daughter doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply to her, Elena.”

“I realize that, but you didn’t have to knock her out.”

“They’ll have to hit me harder than that if they want to knock me out.” Landry grunted as she was hauled to her feet, and Jenkin turned to face her again.

“Maybe this’ll work then, tough guy.”

Jenkin pulled something from her pocket and pressed it to Landry’s neck. She felt a sharp pain before everything went black. Jade.

Chapter Two

1:00 a.m., May 25, 2076—Pulsus Island


“What the fuck is this?” Landry gestured as best she could with her hands secured to the bench she was sitting on.

“You need to calm down, pumpkin.”

“Don’t call me pumpkin, and don’t tell me to calm down. Tell me about Jade. Where is she? How is she?”

“She’s under strong sedation while her tissue repairs.”

Landry checked her watch. One a.m. “You better tell me Jenkin hasn’t wiped her mind.”

Her mom shook her head. “I wouldn’t let her do that yet. Jade’s system wouldn’t be able to cope with it.”

Landry blew out a long breath and tried to temper the desire to destroy anything and everyone that might stand between her and Jade. “What do you mean, ‘yet’? Jade’s a civilian—Jenkin has no right to touch her. If she did, she’d be committing a criminal offense, and I swear to God, I’d take her down for that.” And if the authorities didn’t do anything, I’d take care of the bitch personally.

Elena sighed and sat beside Landry. She tentatively put her hand on Landry’s thigh and squeezed. “Honey, have you considered the possibility that a mind wipe would be for the best? You don’t know that Jade can cope with what’s happened. The things we’ve done for her are way beyond anything they’ve developed on the mainland. It’s possible her brain won’t be able to cope with it. Would you rather she went crazy? And what if she tells people about our work? We’ll have every government in the world sailing to our shores trying to buy our expertise…or steal it.”

Landry ignored the government angle. “What if she went crazy? That’s ridiculous logic, Mom. She was going to die, and you saved her. I’ll speak to her, explain what we do here, and why we have to keep it a secret. She’ll understand. I know she will.”

“Now you’re the one being ridiculous. How can you know what she will or will not do? You’ve only known the woman a few weeks. This isn’t like you, Landry.”

“How would you know whether it’s like me or not?” Landry regretted the words as soon as they tumbled from her mouth. The insinuation that her mom didn’t know her own daughter was her most powerful weapon when she was angry. But she needed to get her on her side, and she knew damn well pissing her off wasn’t the way to do that. The look of sadness that dropped like a theater curtain over her mom’s eyes was obvious, and Landry tried to change tack. “You’ve never known me in love before, Mom. I’ve never known me in love. This is what that looks like.” Finally saying it out loud made it seem even more real. She only wished she’d said it to Jade when she had the chance. I have to have another chance.

Elena had stiffened from the comment, and she visibly relaxed a little. “I understand love, Landry, I do. And I’m glad you’ve found it.” She moved her hand from Landry’s thigh and took her shackled hand. “But we can’t run the whole Pulsus organization on the ebb and flow of your emotions. You know that.”

Landry withdrew her hand. “Jade’s no threat to Pulsus, Mom. And neither am I. Why am I in an isolation cell?”

“You assaulted JJ, and you broke the rules regarding civilians and this island facility. What did you think would happen?”

“I have to see Jade. If you don’t get me out of here, I’ll break out. There’s no system in the world I can’t infiltrate and override.”

Elena raised her eyebrows. “Even with your hands incapacitated?”

She sounded impressed and more than a little proud. Landry tipped her head to the side slightly. “Try me. But it’d be less painful for everyone else if you just let me out.” She could see her mom considering the options. “Give me a security escort if you need to. Is it Jenkin you’re afraid of?” Landry decided to appeal to her mom’s sense of independence, hoping Jenkin hadn’t fucked it out of her. She balked internally at the image of Jenkin with her mom. I’ll take a mind wipe now.

“Of course I’m not afraid of JJ.”

“So take me to see Jade.”

Landry’s challenge hung in the air, waiting to be accepted or dismissed.

“Fine. Let’s go.” Elena stood, walked to the security panel on the wall, and tapped in the ten-digit code to release Landry’s wrists.

Landry smiled. Like mother, like daughter. Neither of them could walk away from a direct challenge, no matter how obvious or manipulative it was.

* * *

As they made their way to Jade’s recovery room, watched closely by everyone they passed, Landry didn’t ask the question about Jade’s leg. She admitted she was afraid to know the answer. If her mom hadn’t managed to save it, would Jade even want to live? Would she blame Landry for saving her and say she’d rather have died? Landry knew that extremely active people struggled to cope with life-altering disabilities that came as an adult. She was sure she’d struggle to accept life without a limb. Although the field of prosthetics was greatly improved from previous decades, even Pulsus hadn’t managed to create artificial limbs as perfect as the real thing. Jade would be able to play basketball but not at the same level. Right now, basketball was her life. How could she cope without it?

Her mom had been uncharacteristically quiet too, making Landry think she didn’t want to admit her failure. They got to the room, and her mom paused as if she was going to speak, but didn’t. Landry’s sense of dread grew larger, and the ball of heavy anxiety in her gut became almost unbearable.

Landry saw the bedsheets clearly outlining two legs. You’re okay. Jade’s color had returned, and aside from the myriad tubes emerging from various parts of her body, she simply looked as though she were sleeping. Landry wondered about waking up next to her every day on the mainland, just like they were supposed to have done this morning. She went to her bedside and leaned down to kiss her. The warmth and softness of Jade’s lips were further comfort.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

Landry nodded. “I’ve been getting ready for this my whole life. I just didn’t know it.”

Elena smiled as she adjusted the sedation and stimulation chemicals via the terminal on the opposite side of the bed to Landry. “She’ll come around in five minutes. I hope you know what you’re going to say.”

“Let me worry about Jade. Please keep Jenkin away from us.” Landry delivered her words softly, but her implied intention was lined with steel. If Jenkin came anywhere near Jade to wipe her memory, her mom wouldn’t like the consequences.

“I’ll keep her away as long as I can, pumpkin, but you’re going to have to face the consequences of this eventually.”

“And I will, but I have to talk to Jade first.”

Elena shrugged and began to walk away. She turned back as she got to the door. “If it’s ever a choice, Landry, it’ll always be you.” She didn’t wait for a response and disappeared from view.

A dry, croaky voice interrupted Landry’s processing of her mom’s parting words.

“Where am I?”

Landry turned back to the bed and took Jade’s hand in hers. “My workplace.”

“Landry, I can’t feel my leg. What happened?” She tried to get up but was still sedated and too weak to move. “Please, Landry, tell me what’s going on. I remember the crash. My leg was in so much pain. It was crushed by the tree. I remember everything.” Jade grew increasingly panicky. The machine monitoring her vital signs showed her pulse quickening and her blood pressure rising. “Oh Jesus Christ, I’ve lost my leg. I’m never going to play basketball again. Landry, talk to me, please. I can handle it, I promise. I just need to know.”

Landry took a deep breath. She’d risked everything to bring Jade to the island, and she had no idea how long her mom would be able to keep Jenkin at bay. Do I tell her everything or just the bare minimum? There was also the small detail about getting Jade to keep the big secret too. “Your leg’s fine, baby. My mom fixed you up.”

“What? What do you mean? How is that even possible?”

“My mom’s a scientist and a surgeon. The best in both fields. She invented something called regenerative technology, and she used it to rebuild your leg.” Landry paused as she saw Jade’s eyes grow wider with disbelief. “When I went down to you after you crashed, your leg was crushed beyond repair for a mainland hospital, and I couldn’t let you…you were going to die if I waited for an ambulance. You would’ve been dead before they got you to the hospital.”

Jade shook her head and again tried unsuccessfully to push herself up from the bed. “Landry, I don’t understand. Please tell me where I am.”

Landry took the bottle of electrolyte water from the side table and offered the straw to Jade’s lips. “You’re parched, baby. Drink some of this, and I’ll tell you…” Everything? Jade took small sips of the pinkish liquid, but her eyes remained fixed questioningly on Landry. “We’re on Pulsus Island, just off the coast of Muir beach—”

“The Farallon Islands? I thought they were all uninhabited nature reserves.”

“They are, and we’re just behind them. It’s a man-made island…well, a woman-made island, to be precise.”

“Baby, you’re making no sense. I’m groggy from…I don’t know, the drugs, the accident. Please just break it down for me.”

“The island was created by an organization called Pulsus. It kind of floats, but it’s secured to the sea bed with supporting piers and temporary foundations that can be moved. It’s never had to move yet, but the option’s there.” Landry suddenly felt like an advertisement.

“Okay,” Jade said slowly, a little unsure. “And what does Pulsus do?”

“They try to make the future better.” By sending people like me back to the past. Landry wasn’t sure how much to tell Jade and if any of it would put her in more danger than she already was.

Her eyes narrowed. “If they make the future better, how come their technology isn’t available for everyone? How come no one even knows they exist? Or is this a government hideaway project, like Area 51 in the last century?”

Straight to the point. Landry laughed and held her hands up in mock surrender. “That’s a lot of questions, babe. It’s complicated, and it’ll take some time to explain.”

She gestured to her body. “Apparently, I’m not going anywhere for a little while, so why don’t you explain it to me?”

Landry smiled. How can you sound so sexy when you’re all indignant? “For starters, it’s not a government project. We don’t work for them, and they don’t fund us. Pulsus is a philanthropic organization bankrolled by a woman called Jenkin, and they are considering how to make regenerative technology available to everyone.” It wasn’t a direct lie. She knew her mom wanted that, and she was trying to convince Jenkin. The problem was, if they revealed the regen tech, the island’s anonymity would be lost, and the whole world would want a piece of everything Pulsus had. It would make their time travel interventions all but impossible. Still, Landry felt awkward for bending the truth slightly. She had a growing need to be completely honest and open with Jade.

“What’s your role in all of this? Are you a scientist? Are you a geek disguised in a jock body?”

There was mirth in Jade’s voice, but Landry could hear she wasn’t playing around. She’d been blasé about Landry’s occupation to this point, but now that she was partly involved, her need to know the truth was clear.

Landry shifted uncomfortably in her chair, feeling like her future with Jade might depend on how she answered this line of questioning. “Not so much.”

“Because you being a scientist wouldn’t explain why you have to go away for long periods of time and can’t be contacted, or that you risk your life every time you go on a ‘mission.’ What do you do?”

Landry glanced back at the door, unsure whether she should wait for her mom to return. “How important is it to you to know what I do for a living now that you know where I do it?”

Jade tilted her head and looked puzzled by the question. “How important is it to you to keep it a secret from me?”

“Baby, please know that I don’t want to keep anything from you, but I’ve already risked my job by bringing you here to save your life…and your leg.” And I’m risking your memories. “Jenkin doesn’t want me telling you any more than you already know, in case you talk to other people about it. She’s paranoid about her intellectual property, and the isolation of this island is paramount to that.”

Jade was quiet for a moment and looked contemplative. “I feel like I should worry less now that I know where you work, but the secrecy this Jenkin woman is insisting on somehow makes it even more dangerous than I thought it was. I need some time to process and think about all of this, Landry. I want to be with you, and I thought I’d be able to handle not knowing what you do, but in reality, now that this has happened,” she gestured at her leg, “I’m not so sure.”

Landry felt every muscle in her body tense. This was crunch time. After they’d made love last night, she knew she wanted to make this relationship work. Nearly losing her altogether made Landry realize she could no longer contemplate being without her at all. She sucked in a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “I can’t lose you, Jade. I…” Say it. Tell her. “I think I love you.”

It was the first time Landry had said those words to anyone other than her mom and dad, and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d said them at all. Jade smiled the kind of smile Landry wanted to see for the rest of her life. She took Landry’s hand in hers.

“Wow. I bet that’s the first time you’ve ever said that before someone else did.”

Landry shrugged. “It’s the first time I’ve said it period.” And the last if you don’t say it soon…oh fuck, what if you don’t?

“Then I’m doubly honored.” She laughed gently. “Don’t look so lost, baby. I love you. I was falling hard at our first date, and my usual safety net never materialized. Now it’s up to you to catch me.”

“Just give me the chance. I’ll tell you everything, but not here and not now. I need to get you safely off the island first.”

“What do you mean, safely? You make it sound like I’m a prisoner.” Jade’s anxiety was palpable.

“Jenkin will do almost anything to keep this place off the grid. My mom’s talking to her now. She knows I won’t let her near you, so I guess it’s a waiting game to see how unpleasant this might get.” Jade had no idea what Landry would do to keep Jenkin away from her, but for now, she didn’t need to.

“Will she listen to your mom?”

“I hope so. There’s got to be some perks to my mom sleeping with the boss.” The door opened, and her mom and Jenkin walked in.

“Donovan, would you step outside so we can speak in private?”

Landry shook her head. “I’m not leaving Jade’s side, Jenkin.”

Her mom touched Landry’s shoulder in an effort to comfort her. “I’ll stay with Jade, Landry. No one else will come in, I promise. Please, go outside and speak to JJ.”

Landry looked at Jade, and she nodded her assurance. “I’ll be fine, baby. Go.”

Reluctantly, she followed Jenkin out of the room, down the corridor, and into a small office. Jenkin closed the door behind them.

Chapter Three

2:30 a.m., May 25, 2076


“This whole thing is a massive breach of protocol, Donovan. What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that I don’t give a damn about your protocol and that I knew how to save Jade’s life. Nothing and no one was going to prevent me from doing that, even your paranoia.” Landry couldn’t stop herself from being combative, though she knew it wasn’t the right play. When she’d first been recruited by Jenkin, she liked her, but everything changed the moment she realized she was sleeping with Landry’s mom. She didn’t want to analyze the immaturity of her anger. Instead, she held on to the thought that Jenkin had manipulated the whole situation to get her mom into bed, and that simply wasn’t acceptable. Every encounter since had been a confrontation, however minor.

Jenkin sat on the edge of the desk and put her feet on a chair. “You’ve risked the integrity of the organization and the longevity of our projects. For one woman.”

“We do things for one person with every mission.”

“That’s not the same, and you know it. We change the life path of one person to affect millions of people. What has saving Jade achieved for anyone other than you and her?”

Landry pulled the chair out from under Jenkin’s feet and sat on it. “You used the tech for personal gain when you sent me back to save Elena. I’ve done the same. I would’ve thought you might understand.”

Jenkin adjusted her position and smiled tightly. “Elena was the only person who could ever have invented regenerative technology. Her mind is one of a kind.”

“And apparently so is her body. I’ve always wanted to know what you offered her to get her into your bed.” Landry figured she was about to be kicked out of Pulsus, and this might be the last time she ever saw Jenkin, so now was a good time to ask.

“You mean, back into my bed.”

Jenkin’s smug look made Landry want to pound her fist into her face until it was bloody. “What’re you talking about? She was straight and married with kids before she was murdered. You were just friends.” Even as she spoke the words, the pieces began to drop into place. Her mom had told her they’d been buddies since college, and they both studied at Harvard and MIT. They worked together even as they moved around the country after her dad had died. The new knowledge didn’t make her want to kiss and make up with Jenkin. Quite the opposite. She balled her fists, and her slightly too-long nails dug into her palms, reminding her she needed to clip them.

Jenkin smirked and moved to another chair opposite Landry. “Your mother has never been straight, Donovan. We’d been fucking since before you were born. We were always supposed to be together, but life conspired to keep us apart somehow. I had the chance to bring your mother back to life and back to me.” She leaned back in her chair and shook her head. “Back to you, too. I would’ve thought you might have shown some gratitude for that by now.”

“I guess I’d never thought of it that way. I don’t suppose her second husband, David, is thanking you though. You showed up, she divorced him, and left him to raise their son.” In truth, she didn’t give a shit about her half-brother or his father. Their marriage had never sat well because it seemed way too soon after her own father had died.

“That was unfortunate. But you can blame your father for that. If he’d let Elena go in the first place, she never would’ve met David because she would’ve been with me from around the time you were five.”

Landry scoffed. “What the hell are you talking about? She would never have left Dad.”

Again with the smug look that Landry wanted to shave off with a blunt butter knife.

“Whatever you think you know about the relationship between Elena and your father is all wrong. What you think you know about your father is bullshit. He was no war hero. He was a war criminal.”

Landry stood and kicked her chair back. It collided with a metal table and medical instruments tumbled to the floor. She grabbed Jenkin by the throat and pressed her hard against the back of her chair. “My father was a patriot. I should snap your fucking neck.”

“You’re so much like him. Truly, you’re daddy’s girl.”

Jenkin tried to wrangle Landry’s hands, but she gripped tighter. The problem was her mom’s words before she jumped to Neubrandenburg. “You have no idea who, or what, your father really was.” Do you know? “What the fuck do you know about my father anyway?”

Jenkin tapped hard on Landry’s hands to indicate she might speak freely if her windpipe wasn’t being crushed. Landry released her, retrieved her chair, and sat. She tried to calm her temper. She was tired and emotional, with the latter feeling being particularly alien. The woman she loved had nearly died, and now it seemed Jenkin might be about to crush her long held beliefs about the father she’d placed on a pedestal.

“Your father gave an order to destroy a village of innocents in the Fall War in 2045. It ended the war but at great cost.”

Landry was only four when the Fall War began, and it was over before the season it was named after. She’d studied it in college and remembered the rebel forces in Chile had surrendered when US forces had bombed the rural area of Lumaco, where their leader had taken temporary refuge. He’d falsely believed the Americans would never risk such huge collateral damage. It was memorialized as one of America’s most disastrous incursions, but the president stood by the decision because it did end the war. Liberal America was appalled.

“There’s no way he could’ve made that decision. He wasn’t that high up in the chain of command that early in his career.”

Jenkin nodded. “No, he wasn’t. And he should never have been allowed to make the decision, but the commanding officer had been badly injured and was in a coma. Frank was next in line, and he was ambitious. He saw an opportunity to end the war with one order, and he did it without compunction.”

Landry felt herself sink deeper into the chair. She could no longer stare down Jenkin, because it seemed she was right. Her father was a war criminal in everything but name. How had he been promoted time and again after a decision like that? She felt cold and saw her hands begin to shake a little. She gripped the arms of her chair to disguise the weakness. Landry tried to refocus. That was the past, and it had no bearing on what was happening now. Jade. Jade was her priority, and she needed to convince Jenkin to let them leave the island without wiping her memory. But she also needed to know more about her mom and Jenkin. Why hadn’t her mom told her all of this?

“What did that have to do with you?”

“Your mom tried to leave him as soon as she found out what he’d done. It went against everything she believed in and everything she thought Frank was. He said Elena could leave if she wanted, but she couldn’t take you. I was waiting for her, so we could start the life we should’ve always had.”

Landry glanced up at Jenkin and saw something akin to hatred in her eyes.

“She chose you rather than her own happiness. She continued to choose you, and it eventually got her killed.”

“What?”

“Your father left instructions with some questionable associates for if and when he died. He wanted you away from your mom if he couldn’t be there, and he wanted you to follow in his footsteps. He had a vision for the rest of your life, and it didn’t include Elena. She wouldn’t give you up, so they murdered her to get to you.”

This is too much. “No! That’s insane. You’re trying to say my father had my mom killed. If that were true, why didn’t she ever tell me? Why did she let me go on thinking my dad was a war hero if you’re telling the truth?”

“You don’t think it was devastating enough for her that Frank would rather kill her than let her raise you? You think she’d want to share that with you? She’s protecting you. Even now, she protects you. And what do you give her in return? Nothing but petulance and attitude. You’re a selfish daughter of an asshole, and you struggle to control your father in you every day.”

Jenkin was wrong. She didn’t struggle to contain her aggressive side, which apparently was all her dad. She struggled to find who she really was in the midst of her two realities. She’d never lost her temper or been unable to control her violent side. She wasn’t a slave to the inherited characteristics of this new father figure. I can’t be.

“If that’s true, why keep giving me the top priority assignments? If you don’t trust me, why trust me with the fate of the world?”

“Because I believe in Elena, and she’s convinced you’ll always do the right thing. Until tonight, you continued to prove her right. But now you’ve risked everything your mother and I have built at Pulsus for the sake of one insignificant woman.”

Landry straightened her shirt and stood. “She’s not insignificant to me, Jenkin, just like Elena isn’t to you. Let her leave without tampering with her mind, and you can do what you want to me.”

“Don’t be so melodramatic, Donovan. It’s not like I’m wiping you from her memory. We’re just taking a few hours from her brain, that’s all.”

Landry slammed her hand on the metal table that’d recently shed its instruments to the floor. “The tech is still untested. You’ve no real idea what the effect will be because you haven’t got to human trials yet.”

“We’re further along than you know. And it’s Elena’s work. She’s always right.”

“I’m warning you, Jenkin. If you touch Jade, I’m done.”

“We’ll see about that.”

There was a confidence in Jenkin’s voice that worried Landry. “What have you done?” Landry clenched her fists and advanced on Jenkin. She pulled a Taser from her pocket and aimed it at Landry’s chest.

“Exactly what needed to be done. This is my island. These are my facilities. You don’t tell me what to do.”

Landry weighed the odds of getting close enough to Jenkin before she discharged the barbs. They weren’t heavy in her favor, and she had to get to Jade. “You’ll keep.”

She yanked on the door so hard the handle slammed against the wall, embedded in it, and stayed open. The two guards stationed outside the door stood in her way. Landry rounded her shoulders and laughed.

“You’re not paid enough for what I can do to you. Move.”

They looked at each other and back to Landry, before they stepped aside without checking with Jenkin. She walked beyond them and smiled to herself. Sometimes her reputation was worth having.

Chapter Four

12:15 a.m., May 25, 2076


Delaney had been enjoying an unusually pleasant sleep when the island-wide alarm for military personnel called her to action. She turned over, stretched her arm over to the other side of the bed, and expected to run her hand over Ilsa’s soft skin. She was disappointed when she realized she was alone again. Still, Ilsa had been in her dreams…Delaney had returned to Ravensbrück only an hour after she’d left a few days ago, and Ilsa was sound asleep from their lovemaking. Delaney woke her, quickly explained who she really was, and Ilsa had followed her without question.

Her occasional dreams used to focus on Landry. Delaney wasn’t sure how she felt about her being replaced. Surely it’s progress. As she quickly dressed in jeans and pulled on a shirt over her tank, Delaney tried to decide how she felt about the knowledge that, right now, in this moment, Ilsa was dead. Delaney wondered what happened to her, and if she’d managed to escape the camp. Before they’d jumped and rescued Dr. Cancer Cure, Ilsa had left the camp and become a teacher when the war was over. She hoped that had still been the case and that she hadn’t suffered at the hands of the Gestapo when the prison break had led them to her door. She hoped the Berliner lesbian Delaney had murdered and left in her stead would’ve been enough to remove Ilsa from suspicion. She decided to look her up later.

Her phone buzzed and indicated it was Simson. She ceased her conjecture and focused. Why the alarm at midnight? Why the alarm at all? Delaney had only ever heard it in drills, and they only carried those out during the night for the first year. Now they were at more sociable times.

“What’s going on?” Her voice was dry and throaty, so she coughed and tried to clear it. “Do you know something?” Delaney opened the door of the freezer, took out a bottle of Absolut gold, and burned away her sleep breath with the peachy flavor.

“You’ll never guess.”

Delaney sighed. “No, I probably wouldn’t, and I won’t try. I hate guessing. Spill.”

“Open your door, and I’ll tell you in person.”

If it hadn’t been for the siren, Delaney might’ve thought this was an elaborate ruse from Simson to get back into her bed. She replaced the bottle beside its four identical companions and closed the door. She grabbed her jacket from the back of the sofa and headed out to find Simson on her deck, enjoying a smoke as she rocked in her porch chair.

“You look like something out of a freaky Deep South movie. You waiting for your next kill?”

Simson smiled broadly, flicked the butt onto the floor, and ground it out purposefully with the heel of her boot. “Donovan’s brought a civvy onto the island.”

Delaney shook her head. “Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.”

“What?”

Delaney remembered it was an English saying she’d picked up from a mission before they were working together. “It means ‘bullshit.’ Where’d you hear that?”

Simson jumped up and stood too close for Delaney’s comfort. She moved past her and leaned against the deck balustrade.

“Sorry, but it’s true. I called in when the alarm sounded. Jenkin wants to see you personally.”

Delaney turned back around and tried to keep her temper under control. This could ruin everything. “Does Jenkin think it’s got something to do with me?”

“I don’t know. When I called in, Kondo told me to get you straight to Jenkin at the regen lab.”

Kondo was Jenkin’s personal bodyguard. Overkill, Delaney had always thought. Life on Pulsus island was anything but threatening, though Delaney had plans to change that for Jenkin. “Who’s the civvy?” Delaney had met the little family who owned the restaurant in Landry’s building and the leggy femme had told her all about the child’s recent illness. Had Landry risked everything to save her life?

“Her girlfriend.”

Simson took obvious pleasure in delivering that line. Too much. Delaney punched her in the gut, and as Simson doubled over, followed up with a solid swipe across her jaw. Her heavy frame thudded to the wooden deck, but Delaney pulled up short of a gut kick and stepped away. She took a breath. Control yourself.

Simson struggled to her feet before she slumped back into the rocking chair. “What the fuck?”

“Stop pushing me, or next time, I won’t stop kicking you.” Simson looked down, and Delaney could see she’d got the message. It was time she started seeing Delaney as her senior officer and not her fuck buddy. “You’re my number one, Simson. Act like it.”

“Sorry, sir.” She kept her eyes downcast.

That’s more like it. “No more snide shit about Donovan. Are we clear?” She deliberately used Landry’s surname. If she wanted Simson to believe there was emotional distance between her and Landry, she needed to start acting like there actually was. The thought of Landry not being by her side when her plans came to fruition was weighing heavy. She was desperately trying to ignore the possibility that what she was doing might push them further apart. And if it did, getting Simson to do what Simson did best, was going to be one of the toughest decisions of her life.

“I get it.”

“Good. Let’s go see what the fuck all this is about.”

* * *

“She wants to see me?” Delaney asked of Kondo, who stood guard at the door of one of the inspection rooms. He looked even more serious than he usually did. With the usually uneventful assignment that guarding Jenkin was, Delaney figured he might be enjoying himself tonight.

He nodded and opened the door. “She’s waiting for you.”

Simson tried to follow, but Kondo placed his hand on her chest. “Just her.”

Jenkin looked up from her tablet as Delaney walked in. She had dark circles around her eyes that seemed to age her another decade over her fifty-six years.

“Thanks for coming in, Delaney. Please, sit down.”

Delaney did as instructed and waited for Jenkin to continue.

“What have you heard?”

Delaney shrugged. “Not much.” She wasn’t about to give Jenkin anything.

Jenkin smiled in that superior way that high-level managers do when they think they know something more than they actually do. Jenkin couldn’t even begin to understand Delaney or Landry. They were soldiers, and Jenkin was a jumped-up lab rat with an overrated opinion of herself that matched her bank balance.

“Donovan has brought a civilian onto the island. A woman called Jade Carter. Do you know her?”

“Why?” Delaney hadn’t decided how to play this yet. She needed more information. What was Jenkin up to? What was her end game?

“It’s an innocent question, Delaney. I just need an honest answer.”

“I don’t know her. I’ve met her once.”

“What do you know about her and Donovan?”

“Probably nothing more than you know.”

“Seriously, Delaney, there’s no need to be coy. I don’t suspect you’re involved, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

That was what Delaney was worried about. If there were sanctions against Landry for her actions, they could take her off extractor duty. Delaney couldn’t risk the same thing happening to her. She had to play ball. She shifted in her seat to show her discomfort with the situation. Soldiers stuck together, and Jenkin expected that.

“Landry’s my friend, Ms. Jenkin. Is there some way I can help her?”

Jenkin smiled and nodded. “I’m glad you asked. There’s a way you can help her. Carter was seriously injured when Donovan brought her to the island, and her injuries were life threatening. Elena has fixed her, and Donovan expects to leave the island as if nothing has happened.” She leaned across the desk. “I’m sure you understand why I can’t let that happen.”

Delaney squinted a little. Surely murder wasn’t the Pulsus way? “What are you suggesting?”

“Don’t worry,” Jenkin replied, obviously picking up Delaney’s suspicions. “I’m not considering what your mind might naturally run to. That’s not why I asked you here.”

“So why did you ask me here?”

“Donovan’s in a holding cell right now, and her girlfriend is in recovery.”

Jenkin paused, but Delaney made no move to fill the silence. If Jenkin wanted her help, she was going to have to spell it out.

“I want you to instruct Elena to mind wipe the girlfriend. She can’t leave this island knowing anything about what we do here. Donovan is deluded and thinks she won’t talk. I don’t share her optimism.”

Fuck. “Why me?”

“Because I’ll be keeping Donovan busy, and you have a family connection. You’re the closest she has to a best friend, and Elena likes you. I think she’d prefer it if you were the one Donovan lost her heart to…now that we know she’s actually got one.”

Jenkin chuckled at her own attempt at humor. Delaney wasn’t amused but smiled anyway. She’d been trying to find Landry’s heart for three years without success, and yet this basketball bitch had managed it in less than three weeks. I’d like to do more than wipe her mind.

“You realize what you’re asking Elena to do?”

Jenkin huffed dismissively. “Her priority is Pulsus. She’ll understand.”

Delaney nodded, but Jenkin was wrong. Elena’s priority had always been Landry, and it always would be. “And the mess this is going to create? Donovan will go crazy. You know that, right?”

“This is the only way Donovan remains working at Pulsus. I’m sure she’ll blow up, but she’ll calm down eventually. I don’t want to lose her as an extractor. I wouldn’t tell her, but she’s the best we’ve got.”

“And you’re certain there’s no other way?”

“The girlfriend could stay on the island, but she’s too high profile and probably wouldn’t entertain the idea. I don’t see another way around the problem that Donovan has brought to us all.”

Delaney clenched her jaw. Jenkin had no right to speak of the whole island as a community, an “us,” not when she could discard operatives like Griffin without a second thought. “How long are you giving her to calm down? The next mission is scheduled in four weeks.” She had no idea how Landry was going to react and whether “calming down” was even an option. To serve her purposes though, Delaney didn’t need Landry to forgive Jenkin. Delaney needed her angry and sore for revenge. That’s when she could put forward her big plans.

“I’m prepared to delay the mission, if necessary. It’s one of our most important missions to date, and I want the best team to complete it.”

Delaney knew why. Saving this environmental guy would mean billions for Pulsus in new generation technology. “Leave it with me. I’ll keep you posted about my progress with Donovan when this explodes. I expect I’ll have to follow her to the mainland.”

“Whatever it takes, Delaney. You have all our resources at your disposal. Kondo will tell you where to find Elena.”

Delaney nodded. “Consider it done.” And then together, we’ll take you out.

* * *

Delaney grabbed hold of the solid chrome handle and paused. Who knew Landry’s actions would benefit my plans? She concealed a grin and pushed the door open to see Jade and Elena chatting as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“Elena, I need to speak with you, please.”

Jade looked in her direction and smiled sweetly. Delaney neither knew nor cared whether it was genuine. She did know it made her want to destroy her beauty. Landry probably wouldn’t be so in love if Jade wasn’t such a looker.

“Hi, Delaney, how are you?”

Delaney nodded. “I’m good, thanks. How’re you feeling after our super doc has fixed you up?” Though she never should’ve even tried to help you.

“Grateful that your best friend is secretly saving the world rather than being a crazy drug dealer. I’m a lucky girl.”

Elena touched her arm. “You should rest now.” She injected what must’ve been a sedative into the intravenous drip in Jade’s arm. “Landry will be right here waiting for you when you wake.”

Jade slipped easily into unconsciousness, and Elena stepped closer to Delaney. “What is it, Delaney?”

Delaney recognized the suspicion in Elena’s voice. Landry and her mom shared a deep mistrust of people generally.

“I’ve been told to order you to wipe her memory.” She gestured at the sedated Jade and once again, struggled to control the urge to simply end her. Landry couldn’t love someone who was no longer around.

“Why send you? Why hasn’t she come to give the order herself?”

“You know why, Elena. She’s busy with your daughter.” Delaney moved closer and took Elena’s hands in hers. “This is the only way Landry has a future with Pulsus. We can’t have civilians knowing what we do.”

Elena was in an impossible situation. If she followed Jenkin’s orders, she risked losing Landry forever. If she disobeyed Jenkin, it had repercussions for the future of the whole organization.

“You have no idea what you’re asking me to do, Delaney.”

Delaney released Elena’s hands. “I know exactly what I’m asking you to do, Elena. I’ll be there for Landry, whatever happens, but this situation is bigger than just her.” There was an unmistakable look of resignation in Elena’s eyes. You have no choice.

“If I do this, I lose my daughter. She’ll never forgive me, and Jenkin knows that.”

Delaney could see the tears begin to form in the corner of her eyes. “It’s not like you’ll be wiping Jade’s memory of Landry. You’re rewinding her life to just before the accident. It’s for her own safety, and Landry will eventually see that. You’ll have to give her some time, that’s all.”

“You make it sound easy. It’s taken me nearly three years to get to this stage in our relationship. How much time do you think she’ll need to get over this?”

Delaney shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you, Elena. Nothing I can say is going to make this easier for you.”

Elena shook her head. “I’ll do what Jenkin wants me to do because it’ll make it easier for Landry. When you go back and report that I’m following her orders, tell her to find me alternative quarters too. I can’t expect Landry to forgive me if I’m still sleeping with the enemy.”

Delaney smiled to herself. She couldn’t have imagined how well this misstep from Landry would’ve worked out for her plan. Jenkin’s order would surely tip Landry toward Delaney’s vision now. And Elena will do anything she can to make it up to Landry. If the two of them joined her, ousting Jenkin would be easy.

Chapter Five

4:00 a.m., May 25, 2076


Jade was unconscious and Elena sat beside her in a chair, holding her hand. It should’ve been a scene that made Landry smile, her mom nursing her lover, but instead it struck the unfamiliar feel of fear into her heart. The look on her mom’s face told her everything she didn’t want to know. Terror took physical form inside her body like a tightening claw around her lungs and made it difficult to breathe.

“What did you do?” Landry’s words were barely audible.

“I’m sorry…” Elena slowly rose and began to walk toward Landry. “I truly am.”

“What did you do?” This time the words were more forceful. She pushed Elena aside, rushed to Jade, and checked her vitals. Everything seemed to be peaking in the right places. She felt her mother’s touch on her shoulder, but she shrugged it away. “Don’t touch me.” She turned to face her, and though Landry knew the answer, she had to ask. If her mom had betrayed her, she wanted to hear her say it. “Tell me you didn’t do it.”

“I had no choice, pumpkin. We couldn’t risk Jade telling anyone about what we do here. Not yet.”

“You promised me…you said you wouldn’t do anything until I got back.” Landry struggled to keep her voice even. A rising anger threatened to burst from her chest. This was an unforgivable treachery, and it had come from her mother. What do I do with this? If it was anyone else, she’d already have them on the floor with her hands around their throat. “Mom…” Landry leaned down, put her head to Jade’s chest, and tried to process the situation. “What if you’ve done damage? This was untested technology.” She balled the cotton bedsheet in her hands and tried to control her reaction. It didn’t matter that the order probably came from Jenkin. Her own mother had lied to her. She’d made a promise she clearly had no intention of keeping just to get her out of the room. She turned to face her. “What kind of a mother are you?” Landry believed it was an internal thought, but the look on Elena’s face told her she’d said it out loud.

“I did it for you, Landry. My tech has never failed, and I had tested it. On myself. Believe me, I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”

Believe you? I’ll never believe another word that comes out of your mouth. And how is this what’s best for me? How would you know what’s best for me? You’ve never known. You don’t know me at all.”

Landry turned back to Jade and began to pull out the wires and sensors that linked her to various monitoring machines. Disconnecting them set off a frantic monotone drone that echoed around the room.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m getting her away from you. I’m taking her off this island before you and Jenkin do any more damage.” Landry wrapped the sheet around Jade and gently lifted her from the bed. She turned to find Elena holding the door open. As she walked toward it, Jenkin appeared around the corner.

“Take some time to calm down, Donovan. The cleanup crew has removed any trace of our tech from the crash scene. You should take her to a hospital so they can keep an eye on her for any complications.”

“Spare me the fake concern.”

“You misunderstand me. I’m not concerned for her.” She motioned dismissively at the unconscious Jade in Landry’s arms. “I need to ensure there are no questions asked about the accident, so you need to take her to a hospital, just like you should’ve done in the first place.”

Landry ignored the barbed comment and walked past Jenkin after a last look at her mom. There were no more words for her. Not yet. Landry had to make sure Jade was all right and that the mind wipe hadn’t affected her in any other ways than Elena had intended. She looked down at Jade’s face and the claw around her lungs seemed to tighten again. What if you don’t remember me?

* * *

“Hey.”

Landry was glad to hear Delaney’s voice as she closed her car door at the platform. She was the only one Landry could trust now, and that thought saddened her. She tried to push her mom’s actions away from the forefront of her mind for now and concentrate on Jade. “You’ve heard what happened.”


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