Fade Chapter Thirty-three

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Based on an original series and alternate future by Sonny & Ais called In the Company of Shadows.

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Slash (M/M), het (M/F) and graphic language, violence and sexual situations. Not intended for anyone under 18!


Book One: Evenfall See Evenfall chapter list.

Book Two: Afterimage
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Fade Chapter 33

Uploaded on 9/26/2012

When Kassian offered Sin a clean shirt, he didn't even look up. He slid off the stool in Kassian's kitchen, and stripped his own t-shirt off silently. He was still covered in Jon's blood, despite having relocated to Kassian's house hours ago. They'd left Harriet's in the early morning hours and laid low for most of the day as Emilio and Carhart sent them brief updates on the situation. So far everything seemed clear; Seong was buying the story.

Kassian had done his part with Harriet. He'd turned her into a believable participant of a fight with a level 10 agent, and she was likely in the medical wing at the compound now because of it. Between having to brutalize Harriet, and the lack of information on Boyd, Kassian looked almost as tense as Sin.

"Drink?" he asked gruffly.

Sin pulled on the black sweater that Kassian had given him, and nodded. A Heineken was set in front of him, and he picked it up immediately. He didn't particularly feel like drinking, but he needed to do something to dull the rising sense of dread and anxiety.

Kassian rested his elbows on the counter as he hunched forward. "Fuck all of this. Seriously, Vega."

Downing a long gulp of beer, Sin stared at the wall and said nothing. He wasn't in the mood for talking. He was in the mood to kill Seong and Dana and every one of those moronic kids in Annadale. A trickle of beer went down the side of his chin, and he licked his lips absently. He could taste something iron on his mouth which meant he hadn't done that great of a job of cleaning his face of Jon's blood, but he didn't care.

No one had expected him to kill Jon that quickly. Emilio had ranted at Sin the entire time that Ryan worked on creating the information trail. His father had demanded to know why he hadn't waited because they could have gotten more out of him, but Sin had bluntly said that he didn't really a give a fuck about anything else Jon was responsible for. His priority was Boyd. Emilio could be happy with the fact that Carhart would never be blamed for the mole now.

Emilio had stormed off as soon as they'd set up the scene, and prepped Harriet. She was bleeding and bruised, and obviously distraught, but she'd known exactly what she planned to say to the Agency.

"This might all go to shit," Kassian said after drinking half of his beer.

"It might."


Sin got to his feet and walked over to the back door in the kitchen. He stared through the window as he took another long gulp of beer, and his eyes automatically fell on Kassian's pool. The memory of Boyd and him in the pool, his body crushing against Boyd's and their lips so close together haunted him. Even if he'd been with Boyd as Danny, it wasn't the same. It hadn't been him, and it didn't even feel like his own memories, not with the way they blurred and mingled together confusingly.

"There has to be something more than this," he said finally. "Something I'm missing. This can't be the end of the line."

There was the sound of a glass bottle scraping against the counter as Kassian dragged his own beer closer to him. "I was just thinking," he said. "There is another option we could try. But it's kind of risky."

"Do you think I give a shit about risky?" Sin turned around, and pinned Kassian with a glare. "What is it?"

Kassian tapped his fingers against the bottle. "Before Boyd disappeared, he found out that his father had been involved with JG and that he'd gotten some serious dirt on the Agency. It turns out that he was never killed in the bombing. Connors and the old Inspector had him killed."

"How did he find this information after all of these years?" Sin demanded skeptically. The information sounded familiar, like he'd heard this before, but the details weren't populating in his head. "His mother?"

"No. I told his mother. Some uncle popped up out of the woodwork. After Boyd disappeared, Ryan and I looked into his name and it turns out he's likely Boyd's uncle on his father's side: Riley Beaulieu. He started communicating with Boyd and let it slip that Cedrick had been researching Vanguard Industries before he disappeared. Boyd looked into it and found out that it was to the Agency what Murphy Corps is now. I don't know how he found out the rest, but he appeared one day with a flash drive full of encrypted information that Ryan unlocked for him."

Sin frowned, his eyes narrowing. "So let me get this straight. This Riley popped up out of nowhere, hinting at Vanguard Industries, and led to Boyd researching things. Is there any reason to believe Riley knows Boyd is affiliated with the Agency?"

Kassian spread his hands. "I don't know."

"I don't believe in coincidences."

"Well, neither do I."

Sin exhaled slowly, getting impatient. "Is the uncle also involved in JG?"

That was when Kassian straightened again, and pushed his bottle away. "That's what me and Ryan had started to wonder. We gave up on looking into this once we found out that it was more likely that Janus had taken Boyd but I started thinking... if the Journalist Guild was able to dig up dirt on the Agency, why not on Janus? What if they have intel that we don't?"

"The odds of him being involved with the Journalist Guild are a lot higher than him not," Sin said. "Why else would some random civilian pop up wondering about Vanguard Industries years after the fact? Whatever the case is, how do we find this person?"

Kassian hesitated, frowning. "We could try to track down his phone number. I think it's likely they exchanged numbers at least. I don't know if either of them used it, but it's a shot. The problem is, it's risky. Bringing JG to our attention. We're Agency, Vega. People like that can smell it on us."

"I don't care. I'll do whatever it takes."

Despite his reservations, Kassian didn't argue much more. He already had a plan for how to track Riley down. Kassian got his laptop out, and Sin easily logged into the account for Boyd's personal cell phone provider. Once they accessed the records for the previous two billing cycles, it wasn't difficult to isolate the number. Every number that Boyd had called or received a message from could be accounted for except one.

Boyd had received a call from the unknown number two months ago, just two weeks before the abduction. Three days after the abduction, Boyd's account showed three calls from the phone number and nothing after that.

The phone number was still active and from there it was easy enough to trace the GPS.

Riley's phone placed him in Jamesport; the same city where Boyd had told Kassian they'd first met. They headed to the small city almost immediately.

It led them a small, old-fashioned, 24 hour cafe. Warm light glowed on the sidewalk from the large windows that allowed them to easily see inside.

There were only five people inside, not including the lone waitress. Two of the customers were sitting together in a corner booth. The woman wore a large, floppy hat and sunglasses. She was sitting across from a man that was recognizable from Boyd's old photo album as Riley Beaulieu.

A small bell on the door jingled when they entered, and the waitress glanced up at them as they immediately headed toward the corner booth.

Riley and the woman were in the middle of a quiet conversation, and Sin focused on it as they approached.

"Listen, Lola," Riley was saying with heavy sarcasm, his arms braced on the table as he leaned toward her. "I don't give a damn what Butcher said, it's bullshit. And if you don't take those stupid sunglasses off--"

He broke off abruptly as Kassian came within speaking distance. Riley and the woman looked up as Kassian paused next to them.

"Hi. I'm sorry to interrupt."

Sin didn't speak, but he observed the widening of Riley's eyes at the sight of Kassian and the quick flick of a gaze in Sin's direction. Riley's shoulders tensed.

With a frown, Riley stretched one arm across the booth and leaned back, eyeing the two of them. The woman pushed some of her thick black hair over her shoulder and turned her head toward the newcomers. Up close, Sin could see that she was dressed in expensive clothing.

"Can I help you gents?" Riley drawled. He jerked his chin toward the woman. "If you're going to ask if you can have my date, the answer is yes."

She leaned back, her arms crossing. Her dark red lips frowned.

"We need to talk to you alone, if that's okay," Kassian said with a smile.

Riley looked over at the woman, his eyebrows lifting slightly. She slid out of the booth with a nod, taking a small clutch with her. She hardly glanced at Sin and Kassian, adjusted the wide-brimmed hat, and left the cafe.

As soon as she was gone, Riley turned his attention back to Kassian and Sin. "So, what's this about?"

"We can't talk here. There's a park down the street," Sin said, not bothering to introduce himself or Kassian.

Riley's eyes narrowed faintly and he looked seriously between the two of them. He drew out his wallet to toss some money on the table, and stood. "Lead the way."

Sin looked Riley up and down before turning around. He strode out of the cafe, not bothering to wait for the other two. The park was three blocks away and close enough to the underpass of a major highway that the noise easily masked conversation. It also appeared to attract a shadier crowd as there were several people around clearly performing transactions or looking to solicit.

A fair haired young man attempted to catch Sin's eye when he walked in. He ignored the kid and didn't stop walking until they were further away from the entrance.

"We want to know what you wanted with Boyd," Kassian said bluntly when they had all gathered in the shadows of the overpass. "Were you using him to get information on Cedrick or his research?"

Riley's eyebrows rose. "Well, there's something to be said about getting to the point, I suppose."

He drew out his phone and typed something onto the screen. After a few seconds he put the phone back in his pocket and then leaned against the concrete wall.

"I don't know what you Murphy Corps types use for counter surveillance but now we're using mine as well. To answer your question, yes and no. Cedrick left something and I can't find it. I think he left it for Boyd, but then Boyd disappeared."

"So you coming back into Boyd's life was just an excuse to get information for the Journalist Guild." Sin scoffed, and shook his head.

Riley shrugged. "So do you have news on him or do you plan to turn me in? I only went with you because I know Boyd trusts you both, and I was on my way to trusting him."

"On your way to trusting him. You mean getting him tied up in your Journalist Guild bullshit in a way that could get him killed." A humorless smile turned Sin's mouth up at the side. "But I'm sure you don't give a shit about him, just your agenda."

Riley rolled his eyes. "Oh come off it. Why do you think we left him out of it so long? Seems Ceddy boy was killed over all this so bringing in the kid seemed like a terrible idea but we finally got desperate enough we had no other choice. I still thought maybe I could leave him out of it, that's why I didn't tell him everything at first, but I planned to when we met up. Only, he never made it. So are you going to tell me what this is about? You have info on him or Vanguard?"

"You fucking moron. If you gave a shit about him, you would have left him out of it totally."

"The information you sent him looking for can get him killed if the wrong people find out that he has it," Kassian added, eyes narrowed at Riley. "And at this point I'm not giving you a goddamn thing. When he first went missing, it seemed more likely that he was killed because of you and your Vanguard information. If we find him and it comes out that he got ahold of that information, it still will."

Sin crossed his arms over his chest. "He doesn't give a fuck, so let's get to the point. What do you people know about Janus?"

Riley was in the middle of grimacing at them but the name 'Janus' caused him to grow more serious. He pushed away from the wall. "You think they have him?"

"I know they have him."

The frown became an outright scowl. "Those fuckers..." Riley pulled out his phone and flipped through some screens again, his thumb moving quickly and his eyes flicking over each window. His eyebrows drew down, the scowl growing more pronounced until he shook his head abruptly.

"I don't have anything good on me. I'll look into it, though. We get a lot of crackpot leads which don't go anywhere a lot of times, but when it comes to Janus, you'd be surprised."

Kassian looked around, his gaze falling on a cop car that was cruising by before flicking back to Riley. "We have a massive amount of data on Janus. Massive. And it still isn't enough to lead us to him. But the Journalist Guild's sources are not the same as our sources so the combination of the two might lead to something."

"In other words," Sin said curtly. "We want everything you have."

"Fine by me," Riley replied. "Whatever it takes to get Boyd back. But I want to talk to him when he's around again."

"Whatever it takes to get your information," Kassian corrected him, not bothering to conceal his distaste. He shook his head. "You know how to get ahold of me, I'm assuming."

"I can find you," Riley said with a nod. He glanced down at his watch, his brown gaze flicking back up and around the area. His lips pinched briefly.

"Listen," he said, meeting Kassian's eyes first but then settling firmly on Sin's. "If you want to be pissed at me I don't give a shit, but you shouldn't judge the Guild based on me. I normally don't do the community outreach shit because I'm no good at it. But there are people higher up who've been worried sick since hearing Boyd went MIA and agonizing like you wouldn't believe over the decision to pull him in. Keep that in mind if anyone else ever contacts you."

Sin stared back at him, expression not moving. "At this point, any organized group of people with an agenda or a mission can suck my dick. The only thing I care about is Boyd. So don't bullshit me. I'd hate to have to kill one of his few remaining family members."

Kassian put his hand on Sin's shoulder, but removed it when Sin cast him a flat glare. "Let's go, man."

Riley shrugged again, looking thoroughly unmoved by Sin's words. He glanced down at his phone and thumbed something on the screen. "We're on record again, boys. Good luck."

Without waiting for a reply, he turned and walked in the opposite direction. He lifted the phone to his ear and Sin overheard him say, "Hey. Meet me at the hive; I need some work done."

"We should have taken him to a rooftop so you could hang him over the side of it," Kassian said as they headed back to his truck. It was several blocks away, and the same police cruiser drove up the block again. Between Sin's menacing expression and body language, and Kassian's imposing build, they likely looked like trouble.

"I told you. You wanted to take the friendly approach."

"Yeah, well, I try to be civilized sometimes. He didn't deserve it. He's as bad as Vivienne. They all just want to use the kid for their own purposes."

Sin walked around filthy puddles that had a strange, chemical film on top of them. It drew his attention briefly until his cell phone vibrated in his pocket. Sin pulled the phone and glanced at the screen.


Kassian frowned, and stopped walking. "Do you think it's about Jon?"

"Doubt it," Sin said. "Seong won't announce that he was the mole. She'll look stupid if one of the few level 10s were involved. She'll cover up his death and blame it on Ivan. Guaranteed."

The blond agent shook his head. "Bitch."

Sin hadn't thought too much about Ivan in the past several weeks, and he ignored the pang that went through him. He could deal with that later.

"What?" he demanded, picking up the phone.

"Be here immediately," Carhart said instantly.

"I'm tied up," Sin said. "Can Bex and my father handle it?"

"No." There was a pause. "We might have a location on Boyd."

Sin froze, and his eyes widened. He hung up without another word, relayed the information to Kassian, and sprinted the rest of the way to the truck.

"Forakis has recently come forward with some interesting information," Carhart said.

He'd started talking as soon as Sin had burst into the room. He'd made it in under a half hour after Kassian had broken every traffic law in the city to get there. The blond had been loath to stay behind when Sin headed up to the briefing, but he'd taken the time on compound to snoop around and see if word of Jon had spread while he waited.

"What information?" Sin demanded. He was standing up, palms pressed flat against the table as he stared at the general. "How do you know Boyd is there? Just get to the fucking point, please."

"Cálmate, hijo," Emilio said sharply. His eyes flicked to Bex and then back to Sin, as if trying to remind his son that they weren't supposed to be openly discussing Boyd.

Sin inhaled deeply and didn't take his eyes off of Carhart.

"It's fine," Carhart said, looking at Emilio before returning his gaze to Sin. He looked infinitely calmer than he had in weeks, likely because word of the mole's capture had already spread to upper admin. "As we know, Forakis deals in slaves. Janus buys those slaves to recruit for their army."

A holograph sprung up above the table, and Sin focused on it. It showed an image of Forakis and his compound. He swiped his hand across it impatiently, moving to the next image. There were two images juxtaposed: One was a large facility in the middle of an arid, flat land and the other was the inside of what looked like a sterile room. There were individuals in beds that were covered by protective bubbles.

Sin's fingers dug into the side of the table. "What the fuck is that?"

"Janus has been developing bio-weaponry for a long time. We've also known that they're not just developing it for wide-scale attacks on civilian populations. They're focusing on more targeted attacks, and according to Forakis, they've been purchasing slaves to test their chemicals on. They've been asking for the sickly, the healthy-- slaves of all sizes and medical backgrounds. They want to know how their drugs react to a variety of different people."

"Is it just slaves that they're using?" Emilio asked. He had leaned forward on his elbows as he stared at the images.

"No," Carhart said evenly. He didn't look away from Sin as he said: "There's reason to believe that they've been using hostages and prisoners as well."

"How do you know that?" Sin demanded. His voice guttered out low, and he ripped his eyes away from the picture. The mental image of Boyd inside one of those bubbles wouldn't leave his mind. "Conjecture or fact?"

"Forakis' contact in Janus stated as much, so I would say it's a fact." Carhart changed the image, and a map came up. "Forakis expressed concerns for healthy slaves being wasted as guinea pigs, and his contact stated that they were saving the riskiest experiments for captured enemies."

Bex made a sound in the back of her throat and stood up as well. Her eyes went to Sin and her mouth twisted to the side in a slight frown. "Alright well, is there any intel on how many captives versus slaves there are? The high risk experiments are probably cordoned off, no? It'll make it easier to find our people."

There was a brief pause as Carhart stared at the holograph with pursed lips. When he didn't immediately speak, Emilio snorted.

"This ain't a recovery mission, is it?"

"No." Carhart met Sin's eyes directly. "You are to recover data on the experiments, and any other intel that can be found before destroying their research."

"Well that's bollocks," Bex blurted out. "We're supposed to just leave the bloody kid behind if we come across him?"

Carhart looked between the three of them and raised his eyebrows. "That wasn't specified precisely. The Marshal is currently dealing with a situation. General Katsaros informed me that no agent is to go out of his way to do a recovery for a damaged prisoner."

Sin gave a short nod, and returned his gaze to the map. He would have recovered Boyd with or without that loophole. Raising one hand, he flipped back to the previous image and studied the picture of the high-risk experiments.

Emilio's shoulders moved in a rolling shrug. "I see. Well. Let's get this party started then, shall we? How soon are we out?"

"Immediately. Go to Artillery and then directly to Transport."

Emilio slid his panel into his pocket and stood. He left, and Bex filed out after him. Sin looked away from the holograph and started to the door.

"Hsin, wait." Ryan glanced at Owen and Jeffrey quickly and wet his lips. There was a nervous shift before he looked up at Sin again. "Can you send me a text... after egress? Or tell Emilio to? Please?"

Sin didn't hesitate before saying: "I will."

Ryan's lips tugged up in a slight smile, and one of his thin hands slid down to squeeze Sin's larger one before it dropped away. "Thanks."

Nodding shortly, Sin headed to the door. He left with Carhart right behind him, both of them silently going to wait at the elevator bank. Sin could feel the general's eyes on him but that wasn't atypical. After the experiment had been reversed, Carhart constantly watched him even if he didn't always verbalize whatever he was thinking.

They got on the elevator together, and Sin stared straight ahead. Agency politics were not something he'd ever been good at, and it was easier to not speak to Carhart at all sometimes than to watch every word he said. Self-censoring wasn't a skill that Sin had mastered. But Carhart broke the silence after a moment, and reached out to grasp Sin's wrist.

"If you get one, bring back a spare," Carhart said vaguely. His fingers tightened around Sin, and his eyes narrowed. "Please be careful."

"I'm not going to run off and die."

"Wear a vest."

"I'll be fine, General," Sin said, making a face. As the elevator drew closer to the lobby, Carhart scowled and pulled him closer. He dropped all pretense and spoke frankly on the compound for the first time since Sin had regained his memories.

"Don't be a fucking hardhead, Hsin. We've already lost you once, and every time you go on a mission I feel like I might lose you again." Carhart stopped only briefly as the elevator dinged on the ground floor. "It's not hard for things to go wrong on a mission. The mole was responsible for a lot, but not everything. Anything can be arranged once an agent's usefulness has run its course."

The doors opened and a group of agents appeared before them. Even so, Sin hesitated and stared at Carhart as the crowd stared at the two of them. It was only when Carhart nodded did Sin turn and walk away. The words nagged at him, and his tension only got worse. The message was ominous, especially since Carhart had actually hinted at it where people could overhear.

'Make things go wrong on a mission'? The implication of Seong arranging a death on an assignment wasn't lost on Sin. If she wanted to be discreet with high profile agents, that was the way to go. But would she try to get rid of him after all of the testing and enhancements? Sin didn't think so, but that didn't mean she wouldn't go after Boyd if he was recovered. She seemed to have something personal against Boyd. Whether that had to do specifically with Boyd or possibly with Vivienne, Sin didn't know.

Eyes narrowing, Sin crossed the compound and headed to Artillery. As he was fitted for protective body armor with active, digital camouflage, he watched Bex and ignored the artillery agent who was gushing over the synthetic fiber optics and light reversal that the suit was capable of.

Bex would be the one ordered to take out Boyd if it came down to it. Even if Seong thought Emilio was on her side, Sin highly doubted she would entrust him with murdering his son's lover.

Arming himself with an M6A2 and Boyd's Sig, Sin remained silent as they headed to transport. Wishing there had been more time to grill the general was pointless, but he did it anyway. The words had him on edge now, and he continued to observe Bex but she seemed no different than usual. Besides that, she seemed to like her place in the unit now despite earlier problems she'd apparently had with Boyd. According to Carhart, after seeing Boyd's work in the field, Bex had put him on whatever mental list she seemed to have that deemed an agent worthy of her respect. Beyond that, she wasn't like Jordan; Bex was too forthright and blunt to manipulate other people into trusting her for a long period of time.

Sin was aware of Emilio watching him, but they barely spoke to each other until they boarded the Agency's jet.

Janus' labs were located in a defunct power station outside of Page, Arizona. The flight was just over three hours, and Emilio sketched an outline of a plan on the way there. Paranoia about comm transcriptions prevented him from overtly giving Sin room to search for Boyd, but Emilio ordered him to search the holding rooms for research which would put him in the same area as the captives. Bex was put on point to collect data, set the charges to destroy the facility, and Emilio would be doing recon from the van.

The plane landed at the airport in Page, and from there they took a jeep out into the desert. It wasn't more than a fifteen minute drive, but they stopped further out. The place appeared dark and disused, but as Sin scanned the property through his night vision goggles, he saw that there was a camera system in use. It wasn't state of the art, but it was enough to be trouble.

"The range isn't far on those cameras," Sin said, pulling the strap to the goggles down. He turned to Emilio and Bex. "We can get within fifty feet of the facility before it will pick us up, and stick to the shadows of the smokestacks. According to the kid in Artillery, these suits will process the light and environment around us and account for it. We should basically be cloaked until we're close to human eyes."

"Yeah, and I don't even see no humans around anyway," Bex observed. She was still watching the facility with a slight frown. "I dunno if I trust the fact that their security seems dodgy."

"Don't assume shit ain't secure just 'cause of the outside," Emilio said. He adjusted his comm and sank down into the driver's seat of the jeep. "Proximity to the city makes it so they have to keep it looking inactive. Once you get inside, it's gonna be a whole new ballgame, kids. Try to keep the fireworks to a minimum at first."

"Got it," Bex said as she hopped over the side of the jeep.

Sin started to follow her, and Emilio grasped his forearm at the last minute. Sin looked down at the tattooed hand that was holding him before flicking his gaze up to Emilio's face.

"Watch your back, boy." Emilio jerked his head towards Bex's retreating back. "Katsaros made a comment about trimming dead weight once Janus is tied up. I don't think they can make moves with everything so close to being finished, but I'm startin' to think they want your whole fucking unit replaced once all of this is done."

"And wipe my memory again."

"I wouldn't put it past them." Emilio released Sin. "So watch your back."

They looked at each other for a moment before Sin followed Bex. The sinking feeling that things were just going to keep going wrong was starting to feel like a normal part of his existence.

The difference this time was that the solutions were clear: If he found Boyd alive they would have to get out of the Agency once and for all, or get rid of Katsaros and Seong.

Continue to Fade Chapter 34...