"It's over," Faison told Helena as he hung up the cellular phone. There was a shooting at the Andrews Vineyard a little while ago, and it appears that Jared Andrews was declared dead of multiple gunshot wounds at the scene. His assailant turned the gun on himself and is, regrettably, dead, though it appears that he was the father of a young woman who was killed earlier by the late Mr. Andrews." Faison exhaled a plume of cigar smoke and smiled broadly. "And so it begins. Three more WSB agents died or disappeared today, along with a few other agents of even more shadowy organizations."
"What about WEB? Have you heard from that operative yet?"
"No, nor will I, directly. His orders were much the same as the other man's, but it's about time for the evening news to air, and if all went according to plan, there should be some news on that front about now." He turned on the television and waited patiently, pouring himself a glass of vodka as he waited.
"The news is sketchy, but our sources report that a guard began shooting fellow employees at WEB, a consulting firm in San Francisco today. Reports are unconfirmed as yet, but one unnamed source has reported that the head of that firm is believed to be among the dead." The reporter paused and asked someone who was exiting the building for a comment. "Excuse me, but can you give me any information on the identities of the dead?"
"Go to hell," the woman answered abruptly. "You @#$%^& vultures!" She strode out of the building, and the reporter turned back to the cameraman.
"We'll continue to bring you breaking news on the shootings at WEB. Back to you..."
"That isn't a definite yes," Helena pointed out. "She could have survived, and if she has, she will be more formidable than before-besides being enraged."
"You overestimate our adversary. Besides, as I've explained to you before, WEB is a defensive organization. Unlike us, they will not strike first. They retaliate, but if the group is without leadership, their effectiveness is greatly diminished. Without Jared Andrews, Jake Lowell, Jack Johnson, and their leader, Marty, WEB is nothing. Yes, they have other agents, but they are all followers. Yes, they're regrouping as we speak," Faison continued patiently. "I know how they work. For the time being, they'll deny everything, and it will be said that Marty is on vacation, or recovering. Only when there is someone taking her place will the news come out that she died today. But, it will take time for them to recover, and by then, it will be too late, especially since Jared Andrews is out of the picture." He smiled. "You know, Helena, I will miss them, in an odd sort of way. I've enjoyed matching wits with them, but they, too, fell by the wayside, much as did Robert and Anna Scorpio. Even Frisco Jones has breathed his last. A well placed bomb in a high flying jet and even the most elusive of agents can't escape."
"Where did you learn to throw like that?" Jared asked the young woman who stood breathlessly beside him.
"Softball," Chrissie answered, staring at the man she'd only recently learned was her natural father. His eyes were dark, like hers, and she could see hints of Jack when he smiled. "I still can't believe what happened."
"I'm more than glad that it did," Jared said, wondering when she was going to get to the part about what she was really doing there when she'd thrown the rock that had hit Frank White's hand and caused him to flinch when he fired, missing Jared. White had been overpowered quickly, and it had only taken a few minutes to arrange a cover story. "You know that you're going to have to act like I'm dead. That's what has to be believed for the time being. "This is really strange," Chrissie told him. "Look, Mr. Andrews-that is, good grief! I don't know what to say. I came here to-that is-I need to know-" Her eyes were troubled, and she looked away for a moment. "Jack told me that.."
"He said that..." She turned back to him and asked, "Are you really my natural father?"
Jared nodded, explaining, "I didn't know until your mother was married to Peter Castles and it seemed that any entrance into your life would be presumptuous of me." He shook his head and gave a wry grin. "That seems to be the story of my life. I understand that you recently heard from Jack."
Chrissie nodded. "I just had to hear it from you."
Jared smiled. "Anything else you want to know, health wise, or anything else I'm at liberty to tell you-the answers are yours. Our current situation is a tad more difficult. Your part in tonight's little fiasco will have to be unreported at present-or my cover and your life will be in danger. But, as soon as this is over, we'll get together-if you still want to talk." He took a deep breath. "Chrissie, I've missed a lot of your life-and I have no right to any of it. Peter Castles has done an excellent job of being a father, from what I can tell. But, if you can find room for me...."
"I have a bad feeling about this," Robin commented to Jason as the two of them met in front of the warehouse. It was dark, and the place was unnervingly quiet.
"It'll be okay," Jason told her, though he had a similarly sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. That feeling was further magnified as one of Sonny's bodyguards patted him down and removed his gun. Then, he waved them into the warehouse.
"Good of you to join me," Sonny greeted his long time friends in a tone that was cordial at best. There was an underlying layer of ice, and it was then that Jason knew for certain that Robin had been right. Something was definitely going down.
"Sonny-what's up?" Jason asked, his tone carefully neutral.
"You tell me."
"You told me to come up-I came."
"Same here," Robin said. "You said that Jason acted like something was bothering him. What's wrong here?"
Sonny sighed as Matthews entered the room. "Robin, Jason, this is Stuart Matthews. We handled some business recently for him, and he's unhappy with the results. Extremely unhappy."
Matthews smiled, but the smile went no farther than his lips. "Good evening."
"Mr. Matthews has," Sonny continued, "made allegations as to what happened to his merchandise. He says that you two, accompanied by one Marcus Taggert, were seen in the vicinity of this building on the last evening that the merchandise was here."
"I was checking on it," Jason told Sonny, reasonably. "That's my job. I did see Taggert sniffing around, and we had words."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Sonny demanded. "You never mentioned that Taggert had been near the goods."
"By the time I found out that there was a problem, it was too late. Besides, he didn't get inside the building."
"Jason," Sonny chided. "Why am I finding it harder and harder to believe you? And Robin, you never were any good at telling lies."
"Sonny," Robin said, "You shouldn't be saying this in front of me. You know that I don't want to know what you do, that I'm your friend regardless of everything."
Sonny shook his head and sighed deeply. "I used to believe that. I want to believe that, but the proof is clear. You've both betrayed me, and I can't live with that. I can't let you live with it, either."
"Sonny," Jason began. "Let Robin go. This is between you and me."
"Oh Jason," Sonny said, shaking his head again. "This is so unnecessary. I trusted you. I gave you a home, a job, and I respected you when your own family would have had you locked up. Or, were they in on the scam? Or, was it just Tony Jones that knew that you weren't brain damaged?"
"Sonny," Robin injected. "You don't want to hurt us. It's not too late for you. You don't have to kill us. You can turn your back on this life."
Sonny laughed harshly. "Are you kidding? You think that I have a choice in this matter? When you betrayed me, you signed your own death warrants. You knew the rules of this game, of this way of life. And, you chose to do it anyway. Why? Robin, wasn't I good to you? I gave Stone everything, and then, made it possible for you to have treatment for your illness. I asked for nothing in exchange. Nothing. I didn't even burden you with information that you could use against me so you wouldn't feel you had to lie. I gave, and you took! And kept on taking and now, you've turned on me!"
"Get rid of them, Corinthos," Matthews ordered, watching as Sonny conducted his inquisition. "I gave you proof of their lies."
"I'll do it in my own good time, but first, I have to know the extent to which my organization has been compromised. You want to stay around for the grand finale?"
"No, but I'll leave my associate to act as witness." With that, Matthews made his exit, his natural fastidiousness preventing him from watching what promised to be a very messy affair.
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