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Cause/Effect - Part II

Interlude 3.15

Uploaded on 8/15/2009

Carhart looked up when his door opened and wasn't surprised to see Emilio slipping inside and shutting it firmly behind him.

The senior Vega leaned against the door and stared at the General for a long silent moment. Emilio's back was pressed against the door and a wrinkled white t-shirt rode up slightly and tangled in his black pants. He looked a cross between sleepy and hungover, his short black hair half spiky and half straight, like he'd just rolled out of bed and hadn't bothered to look in a mirror to make it go one way or the other. His tanned skin was paler than usual and there were shadows under his heavy-lidded green eyes.

"Who told you?" Carhart asked, looking away finally to stare blankly at the laptop in front of him. It wasn't connected with the apparently still unsafe network and his PC hard drive was still down for the count due to the virus. His alternative was a fast replacement and a very tiny laptop that had keys more suitable for elves than a grown man.

Emilio stared at Carhart and his expression was one of moody darkness that never boded well for the ensuing conversation. "Obviously not you, General," he drawled.

Carhart winced and dragged his finger along the touch pad, staring down at the files that swung off and on the screen as he thumbed between them. It was a skeletal version of everything he had on his desktop but it was the best he could do for now.

Sin's picture stared out of the laptop screen sullenly as Carhart went over Sin's mental history for the fifteenth time in the past couple of hours. "I knew you would find out. I know you have sources."

Emilio released a sound that could only be described as a low feral growl and stalked across the room, grabbing the laptop and hurling it off the desk without even a brief hesitation. "Maybe you should have been the one to fucking tell me my son is about to be executed."

Carhart didn't react and for a brief moment his fingers remained hovered above the desk as if the laptop was still in front of him and not crushed against the wall. He sat back and looked up at his friend wearily. "Emilio, I'm trying to find a way but it's not going as well as I'd hoped."

"You ain't trying to do shit!" Emilio exploded furiously, green eyes glittering dangerously as his anger began to boil over. His teeth ground together and he leaned across Carhart's desk, grabbing the other man's shirt and pulling him forward until their faces were only inches apart.

Carhart just stared at Emilio impassively, not reacting to the proximity. "I'm trying to find a way to get Vivienne to put a hold on the termination-- to get her to realize that he probably did not do this, that it doesn't make sense for him to have done this, but everything I have is circumstantial and since even his doctors don't fully understand his illness, we can't--"

"Fuck the fucking illness!" Emilio roared in Carhart's face and backhanded the General so carelessly that the disrespect of the simple but painless strike left Carhart momentarily stunned. It wasn't the first time Emilio had bitch smacked him in the time they'd known each other and Carhart was pretty sure that Emilio remembered how badly it rankled him.

Carhart pulled away from Emilio and stood up so quickly that his chair flipped backwards. "What the hell do you want from me, Vega?" he snapped. "I'm doing what I can but there's only so many fucking miracles I can pull out of a bag for Sin and I think I've used them all up in the past seventeen fucking years while you were down in Mexico doing coke and having sex with prostitutes!"

Emilio glowered at Carhart, walking around the desk rigidly and once again getting right up in Carhart's face. Anger and impatience radiated off his powerful body and mixed with the scent of cigarette smoke, coffee and the slight musk of sweat.

"Believe it or not," Emilio said at length, glaring daggers into his former partner's cerulean blue eyes, "I came back for my son. I came back because I realized that this fucking place was gonna kill him."

Carhart searched Emilio's face and found nothing in his expression but genuine determination, anger and the uncertainty of an emotion that could possibly even be fear. Fear for his son. It moved Carhart to such an extent that all his defensive anger melted away and he sagged in defeat as Emilio's tirade continued.

"And I could care less if he fucked that chick with a butcher knife before slicing her into ribbons. It's a sad story but I give more of a shit about my son, not the bitch who was likely gonna sentence him to death when Marshal Chink from Euro Division arrives."

"I don't even think he did it," Carhart said again. "It doesn't add u--"

"I could give a shit if he did it or not," Emilio cut the General off coldly. "My point is that you're either gonna man up and help me get him out of this fucking mess or you're going to keep hiding behind your desk and your Agency protocol."

Carhart faltered and stared at Emilio uncertainly even if he didn't feel entirely surprised by what Emilio was implying. "What?"

"I have a plan," the other man said impatiently, finally stepping back out of Carhart's personal space to run a hand through his unruly black hair. "And I need some codes to pull it off. I can get them without you but it will be faster if I don't got to hit up Ryan."

"Wait, what!" Carhart brought his hands up to cover his face as he shook his head incredulously. "You think you're going to break him out of the Fourth? Emilio, he isn't fucking accused of snapping a rapist's neck this time-- he's accused of killing an Investigator who like you said, was going to undoubtedly sentence him for termination in the coming months. Vivienne isn't going to let him walk away like she and Connors did last time. You and everyone involved will get terminated too!"

Emilio stared at Carhart with an unimpressed glare. His eyes narrowed into green slits, his lip raising in a snarl. "If you knew what I had to do to get back here, you'd fucking know that the possibility of termination doesn't scare me."

They looked at each other at length and finally Carhart's gaze cut away as discomfort swelled inside him, as an epiphany that had been trying to creep to the forefront shouldered its way to the surface. But he pushed it down again, not wanting to deal with it just yet.

"Emilio, I love Sin--"

Emilio's expression shifted slightly and a glimmer of something unidentifiable crossed his face before he just raised his brows. "That so?"

"Yes, that is so," Carhart bit out, irritated by constantly being unable to get his words out. "But I do things my own way and it's worked for me so far. I've kept Sin alive despite everything for nearly two decades without breaking down the entire system."

Emilio scoffed at that. "Your sense of duty and responsibility can swallow my load. We don't have time for delicate fucking sensibilities, General. We got less than twenty hours before the bogus investigation comes to a close and as we speak, your faggot ass guards are locked in that cell with my boy taking turns beating on him because they're all up in arms about miss hot to trot Investigator being gutted."

The hair on the back of Carhart's neck rose and he felt stupid for not having taken that into consideration sooner. He'd posted Gerant there specifically but the man had field agent training as well and wouldn't have been able to stay for long.

"Damn it all."

Emilio jabbed a finger at Carhart. "I'm gonna contact you in an hour, babe. And if you're not with me on this, I'll know who you're loyal to."

They stared at each other for another tense moment before Emilio turned away with a disgusted sigh and marched out of the office, slamming the door so violently behind him that a framed picture crashed to the floor and shattered into pieces.

"I would like to request more time before Agent Hsin Liu Vega's fate is decided," Boyd said, standing at attention in front of Vivienne's desk. His back was straight, his arms loose at his side; his expression and tone remained purely professional as he watched her.

Vivienne narrowed her eyes, looking thoroughly unmoved. "That is not your place to ask."

"I am aware of this fact, Marshal, and I appreciate that you gave me the chance to meet with you on such short notice. But even if it's not my prerogative, I would like to suggest it nonetheless. I truly don't believe that he did it--"

"Of course not," Vivienne said coolly, cutting him off. She leaned back in her chair, eyeing him in what seemed to be a mixture of irritation and distaste. "You are unintelligent when it comes to Hsin Liu Vega. Your opinion, however, is meaningless."

"Wait," Boyd said urgently before she could turn her attention back to the papers in front of her. She looked up at him in displeasure but he continued stubbornly. "Please, give me a moment of your time. I've been his partner for three years and I can tell you I really don't think he did it."

"Are you forgetting Lydia Connors?" Vivienne asked impatiently. "This is hardly the first time the man has been accused of such acts."

"Lydia had him on a cocktail of drugs she had administered, then decided to molest him while asking about topics she knew he would be most unstable about," Boyd said dismissively. "Bridget wouldn't have been doing the same thing. And he's been much more stable since treatment--"

"I am well aware of the reports and do not need you to rehash information," Vivienne said curtly. Her expression didn't change as her ice blue eyes scrutinized him. "Your argument is based solely on your opinion, which has been well-established as being colored by your past relationship with him. The fact that you are incapable of seeing his faults does not change reality. I have given that man more than enough chances and he clearly is incapable of acting rationally." Vivienne turned her attention back to the papers.

But Boyd didn't leave, even though she could have easily meant that to be a dismissal. "With all due respect, Marshal, this isn't about my past relationship with him. The facts simply don't add up. He's on medication and has stabilized. If even the father he thought he'd murdered reappearing from the dead didn't trigger an episode, why would an interview with a non-aggressive woman do it?"

"He is perfectly capable of killing in cold blood," Vivienne replied disinterestedly, her gaze flicking along the reports in front of her while she held a pen poised over the paper.

"But why?" Boyd pressed. "Why would he do that? Even if we assumed she was going to recommend his termination, what would he possibly gain from killing her then hanging around to be found with the murder weapon?"

Vivienne's eyes narrowed slightly and she didn't immediately respond or look up.

"He's a skilled assassin-- probably the best the Agency has right now. He wouldn't be sloppy like that," Boyd said firmly.

"The evidence at the scene only points toward Agent Vega," Vivienne said resolutely. She set the pen down after a second and crossed her arms. She was expressionless as she leaned back in her chair, watching Boyd. "He was alone in the room with her, he is known to be unstable, even with the medication we clearly cannot fully trust him. And we do not know exactly what transpired within the room. Regardless of your blind belief that he did not have an episode or kill her, there is no reason to believe otherwise."

"What if--" Boyd started to say but he cut himself off when the lights abruptly went out.

No backup generators kicked in and the office fell into total darkness, aside from the muted light through the full-length windows. Through the darkness, he could just barely see his mother's head snap up.

"What is the meaning of this?" she demanded as she stood abruptly; he could hear her chair roll backward and bump into the bookcase behind her.

Boyd looked around, keeping his voice purely surprised. "I don't know. Are we having another raid?"

There was a moment of cold silence before he heard buttons being pressed. "Aisha," Vivienne said shortly and when she didn't hear a response, she made a soft sound of impatience. "Open the door," she commanded Boyd.

Boyd made his way a little slowly to the door, feeling along planes and edges until he felt the doorknob. He tugged the door open and saw that the reception area was also completely black, as was what they could see of the rest of the seventeenth floor through the glass walls. He felt his mother's presence striding toward him; she moved past him decisively, actually putting a hand on his upper arm and pushing him out of her way so she could move through the doorway.

"Aisha," Vivienne said again firmly and Boyd could hear Aisha nearly knock over something on the desk. "What is happening?"

"Marshal," Aisha said breathlessly in the dark, her voice tight and a little frightened, although there was also a hint of relief. "I-- I don't know. I was just working on your schedule and suddenly everything went black."

Vivienne hissed quietly and strode to the full-length windows that showed a phenomenal view of the city. With it so dark inside, it was even easier to see the city laid out before them; the lights shining from streets and homes and cars. Boyd could make out her outline as she stood right in front of the windows and peered down to the best of her ability.

"The electricity appears to be out in the entire compound but not the surrounding blocks." Vivienne's voice was curt and utterly displeased. "Get me a comm unit. I want a status check with the guards immediately."

He could hear Aisha fumbling with some of the drawers.

"Boyd." Vivienne's voice was a firm command and he looked over at her, not needing to say anything before she continued. "You will stay with me. If this is indeed another raid, you will protect me until the guards arrive."

"Of course," Boyd said in agreement.

His eyes were slowly starting to become accustomed to the darkness; enough that he could see his mother's stare burning into him, her arms crossed beneath her breasts.

"I found one, Marshal," Aisha said after a few moments of digging around.

"Good." Vivienne walked over to the desk and held her hand out. When Aisha handed over the comm unit, Vivienne attached it to her ear and turned it on swiftly.

"Lt. Gerant, what is the status," Vivienne's cool voice rang out, although they couldn't hear the answer.

"Is it related to the virus?" Vivienne demanded. She paused briefly, probably listening to his reply, before she continued curtly, "Have there been any attacks reported? Is there intelligence to indicate that this is another raid?"

She paused again while he presumably responded before she said, "Alert me when you have finished."

Several minutes passed of pure darkness, peppered with Vivienne's cool voice checking in with various people. Several guards arrived at her office just in case but no good information was gained. They were in the midst of determining whether they should move to the bunker when the lights suddenly flickered and turned back on.

Boyd blinked in the sudden brightness, squinting his eyes and tilting his head toward the floor briefly. When he looked up again, he saw wary relief scattered across the faces of those in the room, mixed with confusion on others.

Boyd's heartbeat quickened but it wasn't for the same reason everyone else's probably would be and he forced himself not to glance out the window. He felt worried and suspenseful, half listening to Vivienne demanding answers over the comm.

At one point, Vivienne said sharply, "Yes?"

Whatever Gerant responded, it was apparently not what she wanted to hear. Vivienne went completely still and her eyes narrowed until only the barest hint of ice blue could be seen. Her jaw set and her straightened back turned tense. Her intense stare centered on Boyd even as she repeated flatly, "Missing."

Boyd watched her as if he had no idea what was being discussed, all the while feeling a wave of intense relief roll over him. Thank God, he thought almost desperately, knowing from her expression that the plan had been successful.

Vivienne was briefly silent as Gerant presumably responded and whatever he was saying, it clearly was not making her happy.

"And how exactly did this happen." The way she spoke, it was not a question. Her ice blue gaze had not so much as twitched as she scrutinized Boyd, who stared at her with slightly drawn down eyebrows and a questioning look, as if he had no idea what was going on.

"Yes," Vivienne said lowly into the comm after a few seconds. "You will." Her jaw set before she dropped the comm to her side.

"Where is he?" she demanded, this time to Boyd.

"Where is who?" Boyd asked blankly.

"Hsin Liu Vega went missing from his cell," Vivienne said coldly and the room suddenly went very still and silent. Many of the guards exchanged looks and a few narrowed their eyes, watching Boyd suspiciously once they saw her questioning him.

Boyd ignored their reactions and raised his eyebrows instead. "How is that possible?"

"Do not insult my intelligence," Vivienne said shortly, her fingers tightening against the comm unit until her nails pressed into her palm, her knuckles starting to whiten. Her gaze was an icy slit through blond eyelashes, her lips a tight line that didn't hide her impatience. "Where is he?"

Boyd shook his head. "How would I know? I've been standing right here with you."

Vivienne's expression shifted and for once, the anger was clear in her eyes. She didn't look away from Boyd as she ordered the guards, "Bring him to the Detainment Center."

Her eyes narrowed and her voice turned cold. "See to it that we receive answers immediately. Tell them that they are to use whatever methods they deem necessary."

"Yes, Marshal," one of the guards said smartly while he and another guard detached themselves from the others to approach Boyd.

Boyd didn't bother to resist when they grabbed his arms. "I can't tell you something I don't know," he said, eyes narrowed as he frowned.

"You know and you will tell me," Vivienne said confidently, then finally shifted her glare to the guards. "Inform them that they are to send me a report as soon as they have gathered any information of note."

The guards nodded curtly and started to lead Boyd out of the room. As they walked into the hallway, he could just hear her snapping, "Find Emilio Vega. Bring him to Detainment as well. I want answers from both of them."

"Where is Hsin Liu Vega?"

Boyd sat in the chair, his hands secured behind his back. The room was purely white and mostly empty except for the interrogation table and chairs to the side. The way it was arranged mirrored the place he'd interrogated Jane Doe during training.

"I don't know," Boyd said, looking over at the man in near boredom.

His interrogator was a person he hadn't seen before. Dark-skinned and nondescript aside from his shaved head, the man's dark eyes nonetheless had a calculating quality to them when he watched Boyd. It would have been unnerving had Boyd felt anything other than complete determination to see this through.

"That's interesting," the man observed, pushing the chair back and standing. In the otherwise silent room, the scraping noise of the chair legs against the floor was especially loud. He calmly walked around the table, stopping at Boyd's side and staring down at him. "Because whenever Vega disappears, you seem to somehow be involved."

"I wasn't aware that he had a tendency to go missing so often that such a statement could be made," Boyd said idly, raising his eyebrows.

"You've broken him out of Fourth before," the man said rather than reply to the comment, expression passive as he reached out and threaded his fingers into Boyd's hair above his left temple.

Boyd stayed perfectly still, looking up at the man sidelong, his gaze steady as he didn't answer.

The man's fingers tightened just enough to be painful and he leaned down so he could say mildly into Boyd's ear, "I think it would be in your best interest to cooperate. We know that there is little question you are involved. After all, you excel in escape strategies and you've done it before, correct?"

"It'd be a little hard to be involved when I was standing right there in front of my mother," Boyd said blandly. "And if you're basing your entire argument on the one time I did break Sin out, then you should be aware that I tried to go the legit route first. I had a formal meeting with Marshal Connors the same as I requested one with Marshal Beaulieu. There would be no reason for me to break him out right away."

"Unless you wanted us to think that." The man's stare was dark, uninviting, and seemed to burn through Boyd. "Obviously your previous strategy didn't work, and mentioning the first incident would be a convenient excuse."

"I would be pretty stupid to do something so obvious and then provide you with the excuse right away if that were the case," Boyd said plainly, giving the man a sidelong look. "I know I have a lot to work on but I'm not an idiot. When I tell you I don't know, I don't know."


The man stood, releasing his hold on Boyd's hair. Boyd started to look to the side when the man abruptly hit Boyd so violently on his left cheek that his head snapped to the right. The momentum threw him from the chair and, unable to move his arms, he hit the floor hard. He squeezed his eyes shut and grit his teeth as pain spread across him.

"What's the matter?" the man asked calmly, walking over to Boyd's side and staring down at him. "I barely even hit you."

Boyd didn't answer, gathering energy to push himself up. Before he could, the man suddenly slammed his heel down on Boyd's left shoulder right where the skin graft was still sensitive. A strangled shout escaped Boyd, who cut the sound off immediately and panted as he tried to ignore the way the pain reverberated through him.

"Oh, that's right," the man continued, his tone making it obvious he'd never forgotten. "You were hurt recently, weren't you?"

He kicked Boyd hard in his upper arm, where the gunshot and debris scars were. Boyd grit his teeth and tried not to make another noise, although he wasn't entirely successful.

"Does it hurt?" the man asked in mild curiosity. He kicked Boyd even harder, enough that Boyd's body lifted briefly off the floor before he crumpled against it again.

"Maybe the wounds haven't fully healed yet." He stomped down on Boyd's upper back with more strength than before and Boyd couldn't help a short, twisted scream.

"Maybe it hurts a little more than normal when I do this." He steadily put more and more pressure until Boyd felt like he couldn't breathe properly due to the pain and the weight.

Boyd's mouth dropped open and he panted against the floor, moisture puffing out against the pure white and darkening it. He groaned lowly, then slit his eyes open and looked over as best he could from his position. He had to breathe heavily to gain the energy before he hissed, "What's your name?"

The man watched him with a non-expression. "Joseph."

"Well, Joseph," Boyd muttered, eyes turning dark and almost cold as he stared up. "You wouldn't make a good masseuse. You missed a spot."

There was a long moment in which Joseph stared at him evenly before he removed his foot and Boyd breathed a little easier, although the pain didn't immediately dissipate.

"You seem to have become more defiant with time," Joseph observed as he started to walk around Boyd.

"Thank you," Boyd muttered.

"That wasn't a compliment." Joseph paused at Boyd's right side and studied him briefly. Almost as if mirroring Boyd's position, his hands were clasped lightly behind his back. "Although it is a quality we seek when you're dealing with the enemy, you shouldn't be doing this to your employers."

"I'm not tr--"

Joseph casually kicked Boyd in the ribs hard and quick, cutting off anything Boyd was going to say. Boyd let out a strangled grunt. "I think you've been exposed to bad influences."

"I think you're reading into this too much," Boyd mumbled, breath harsh and caught against the floor.

"If it were my choice, I would terminate you," Joseph continued as if Boyd hadn't spoken. He watched Boyd without emotion and added, "I would like to, in fact."

Boyd didn't answer and Joseph kicked him again, swiftly and violently. There was nothing malicious in Joseph's face as he did so; he simply delivered the kicks with a violent snap of his leg that wrenched the breath from Boyd and made him cough roughly.

"Where is Hsin Liu Vega?" Joseph asked firmly.

"I don't know," Boyd hissed and Joseph kicked him even harder. Boyd's eyes widened in pain and he couldn't help crying out; he collapsed against the floor again and wished his arms were free so he could protect himself in some form.

"Where is Hsin Liu Vega?" Joseph repeated.

"I don't know!"

Joseph leaned down and grabbed Boyd by the hair, hauling him up roughly until he was half standing and half dragged to the table. Joseph slammed Boyd's forehead against the edge of the table with a resounding crack and Boyd's vision briefly darkened even as he gasped.

"Where is he?" Joseph demanded and Boyd nearly shouted in pained anger, "I don't fucking know!"

Joseph made a noise in the back of his throat and dropped Boyd, who couldn't stop himself from crashing against the floor again.

"Very well," Joseph said peaceably, as if he hadn't just been throwing Boyd around.

Joseph strode to the door and knocked on it twice; the door opened just wide enough for him to have a quiet, brief conversation with someone on the other side. After a moment, the door shut firmly and Joseph walked over to Boyd's side.

"You seem to have forgotten that we know all about you."

Boyd squeezed his eyes shut against the aches in his body and set his jaw.

"We know your greatest fears; your greatest weaknesses," Joseph said sedately when Boyd didn't respond. "We know you're afraid to be held down. We know you're afraid of drowning. We know how you operate."

"That's great for you," Boyd muttered.

"We know how you feel about Hsin Liu Vega," Joseph continued as if Boyd hadn't spoken. "We know how irrational you become about him. We know you are involved in this."

"Are you people deaf?" Boyd demanded, pushing himself onto his back where he glared up at Joseph. His entire body ached furiously and he could already feel nasty bruises spreading across his chest, making his ribs ache each time he breathed. "I told you I wasn't. You're making me wish I was, though; just so I'd have something to tell you to make you shut up."

"We know everything about you." Joseph raised his eyebrows slightly. "We even know how often you had sex with him thanks to your enlightening information during training."

Boyd's eyes narrowed and he looked away, angry with himself once again for having given any of that information away.

"You said you loved him and thought you still did." Joseph paused then crouched next to Boyd, his arms resting over his knees, his hands hanging loosely. His dark gaze that seemed to see too much bore through Boyd like a knife. "If you weren't lying, which I don't think you were, then I find it very difficult to believe that you would not do everything within your power to save him if you perceived his life to be in danger."

Joseph reached out, once again sliding his fingers through Boyd's hair. Boyd started to jerk away but Joseph clenched his fist and yanked Boyd's head back, forcing his face up so it was more clearly visible. Boyd watched him with a narrow-eyed glare, expression doggedly unreadable.

"After all, isn't that what you did on your latest failed mission?" Joseph's voice was quiet and almost intimate-- as if they were close friends; as if he were remembering secrets Boyd had whispered to him in confidence.

"I have nothing to say to you," Boyd said lowly.

"Maybe not now," Joseph allowed, tilting his head thoughtfully. "But you will."

He didn't wait for a response before he stood, yanking Boyd up by the hair again and dragging him this time toward the door. Boyd struggled to get away at first but that quickly changed to struggling to move along with him; the stinging from his scalp was burning even down his neck and he desperately wanted to alleviate some of the pressure.

Joseph didn't notice or, more likely, didn't care about Boyd's discomfort. Guards opened the door and hands were suddenly at Boyd's sides, jerking him up by the arms and dragging him down the hall. Boyd couldn't see much except the floor, and the position made it that much harder to ignore the way his body hurt. It wasn't long before he was pulled into another room. He barely got the chance to look up before he was picked up off the floor and tossed onto a table.

He knew what was about to happen and his heartbeat skyrocketed despite himself. Even with the tips he'd learned from Emilio, even with the extra level 10 training, waterboarding still terrified him. Even if he logically knew he wasn't really drowning every time he was subjected to it, the years of phobias and horrific experiences came back and it hit him just as hard to feel that vulnerable-- To be that powerless at the same time as he felt like he was being drowned.

He tried to control his breathing, tried to keep the flash of fear out of his eyes. He'd known this was going to happen the moment he'd decided to save Sin. He'd known they were going to blame Emilio and him, and he'd known that it was an incredibly high possibility that the Agency would go straight for the torture that they knew would hit them the hardest.

Yet even knowing ahead of time, it didn't stop the anxiety that rushed through him as his arms were released from behind his back; as he was shoved down and his wrists were secured at his sides again. It didn't stop his breath from quickening as they pushed his head down and he felt that terrifyingly familiar, slight downward angle and the tightening of the straps across his body.

It didn't stop him from gritting his teeth and his body from tensing as they reached for the cloth.

"Such fear from someone who has nothing to hide," Joseph observed lightly, running an almost gentle hand down Boyd's cheek.

Boyd jerked his face away, teeth gritting further. "Don't fuck with me," he growled. "You know it doesn't mean anything except I'm afraid of this."

"Maybe." Joseph's fingers slid away. "Or maybe you're afraid of the information you're going to give away. A man can only be so strong in the face of his greatest fear, isn't that right?"

"Maybe you're incapable of understanding English when I tell you I don't have any information," Boyd hissed and before he could draw another breath, the cloth was shoved down over his face. He jerked despite himself but he didn't make a sound.

"You will tell us everything we want to know," Joseph said idly, no doubt or hesitation in his voice. "If you don't, we simply won't stop."

Boyd could feel his breath quicken as he heard a small table get wheeled over; as the distinct sound of water sloshing in a jug seemed entirely too loud to him. He squeezed his eyes shut against the black cloth and tried not to relive all the horrible moments he'd been subjected to in that same position. His heart was pounding so hard in his chest it literally hurt and he couldn't stop the fearful thrill of panic that shuddered through him.

"Where is Hsin Liu Vega?" Joseph's low voice asked even as the water began to descend.

Continue to Cause/Effect: Part III