Stefan looked at his computer screen, and smiled. He watched his fingers, almost as if they belonged to someone else as they entered the final sequence of numbers. He hesitated, looking at the numbers which represented years of work, years of searching, and years of frustration. They were all there, and now, as he depressed the 'enter' key, he watched as he sent them scurrying out into cyberspace, activating other codes, which in turn would activate still others. And, from all over the world, there would be responses, movements of funds in some cases, revelation of other information previously hidden and thought lost, and the destruction of other information that the world need never know. It was only a matter of a few hours, he knew. The information flew along the lines like so many electronic dominoes, moving steadily along, and soon, no matter what Helena tried, he'd be unstoppable, able to effectively cut her off from her financial ties and render her impotent.
And, then, he'd go to her, and reveal what he'd done, and make it clear that her last, best hope was to surrender her hostages and return to Greece, or somewhere upon which they would mutually agree. Stefan would show Faison, Helena's miserable little cohort, that his grand schemes were doomed to failure from the start, for he'd backed the wrong Cassadine. Faison's failures wouldn't go unpunished, either, Stefan decided. The man had enemies who would enjoy knowing his whereabouts. And then, when it was all over, Stefan would woo Barbara, persuade her to return to him, and the Cassadines would return to their island, where paradise reigned along with the Cassadines. Oh, yes, he added, as an after thought. Alexis could either go with them, or she could return to New York, to her practice there. Yes, life would be good. Hard work, diligence and perseverance would pay. He smiled, leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers as he contemplated his now, much rosier, future.
"All these years, and you never told me?" Suzi said to Peter Castles, her husband. It had been over an hour since Marty had left, and that had been one of the longest hours in Suzi's life. She'd thought that she'd been frightened when she'd learned about P.J.'s disappearance, but now, she was more than frightened—she was—she didn't even know how to describe what she felt. Betrayed came to mind, however. "You have been in the intelligence business all this time and I never knew?"
"You didn't need to know," Peter told her, his eyes begging her to understand. "I never did anything illegal—never."
"Then what was Marty talking about? And why is P.J. being held by these people? What is it that they want of us?"
"I'm sorry, Suzi," Peter shook his head. "I didn't want you to worry about anything. I knew that you had secrets, but none of them mattered to me. I knew how I felt, how you told me you felt. Tell me that you still love me."
"Tell me who you are." Suzi turned to face him, her eyes troubled. "I need to know."
"I'm the man who loves you, the man who, without you, finds no real reason to go on."
"Then what are we going to do? What kind of trouble are we involved in?"
"Me, not you. I never intended for any of this to touch my family." He searched her face for what he desperately needed to see, the love and faith that had always greeted him before. This time, however, he saw something different, and it chilled him. "Tell me that it's not too late for us, Suzi."
"It's not too late for us, Peter. Us. You and me. We! Do you understand what I'm saying? No more protecting each other by lies of omission. No more hiding behind concern for each other's feelings. This is a partnership. Agreed?"
A broad smile split his face, and Peter caught her in his arms. "A partnership, Suzi. We can do this together--that's the only way."
Lucy looked at her watch for what had to be the millionth time that evening, and crammed yet another chunk of chocolate into her mouth. Her breathing seemed erratic, even to her own ears, as she forced herself to wait for Kevin to arrive. He was coming home tonight, she knew, but she also knew that tonight would be a turning point in their lives. Indeed, it would be a turning point in the lives of many others. There was something going down tonight, she knew. Something big, and potentially dangerous.
Suddenly, the phone rang. "Hello?" she answered, anxious to hear Kevin's voice.
"Lucy? It's me. Look, things are about to get really interesting. Can you meet me at the Quartermaine place in about half an hour? Oh, and by the way, stop off and pick up Audrey Hardy."
"Yes. Tell her that this is a surprise party for Tom. Trust me, it will be."
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"Lucy, since I don't know what you're thinking, I'm not certain, but probably. Anyway, this is important."
"Got it, Doc. Anything else?"
"Yeah. I love you."
"I love you, too."
Alexis glanced at her wrist watch, noting very carefully the time. Stefan's plan was probably underway by now, but that really didn't matter. In games such as this one, it was the trump card that won, the final move in which she'd checkmate him, no matter how much wealth he'd managed to accumulate. This time, things were going down her way, or no way. To that end, Alexis knew, she had to make a few preparations, and fortunately for her, they should pose no particular problem.
She looked at the wooded area that surrounded the mansion in the distance, and smiled smugly. Years of experience in lurking around in secret passageways, of memorizing the ins and outs of such hidden areas, this one included, would finally pay off. Faison had mentioned that this evening would be a turning point, and that he expected their plans to come to fruition rather quickly after this. "Which means that I have to move tonight, to put my own plans to work."
Moments later, she walked into a cave which was partially hidden by a clump of rhododendrons. Reaching into her purse, she extracted a flashlight which she switched on, smiling as she saw the marks she'd made years ago when she'd discovered this exit to the mansion. Cassadines, she knew, always had emergency exits, no matter how well fortified the castle, and no matter in which part of the world it had been built. This one she'd discovered on her own, and had kept it a secret all these years. Tonight, this secret exit would be the entrance to her future. This time, a Cassadine would use it to take the castle, so to speak. What one lacked in strength, one made up for in stealth. She smiled as she walked towards the entrance that led to the basement, and a series of other passageways.
Oh, Dad," Jack interrupted, once Jake and Frisco had stopped glaring at each other. It had only been about five minutes since he and Jake had arrived, and their information could wait no longer. "Whatever is going down is going down right away."
"Marty should be here soon," Jared told him. "She called just before you got here—seems she's been lining up a few more allies."
"Good. We know where Helena's hideout is, and about the security arrangements. Unfortunately, part of the cost of learning this involved taking a couple of Faison's men which, when they don't return, will alert him that something is going on."
"Move, countermove," Jared nodded. "Okay, give me the locations and I'll make the necessary arrangements. My best guess is that he can't move everybody quickly enough to another safe house, and that he'll be more likely to put some alternate form of security into effect."
"I think you're right," Marty said, entering the room where she hugged her son and his father. "Gentlemen, things are about to get extremely interesting. I have a few calls to make—Frisco!! Great to see you again. How was the Med? Jake, be sure to tell your father that next time he plans to rescue someone, to tell me first! Saves me a lot of gray hair!"
"Okay, guys, there are a few things that could get a tad dicey, and I'd really like to take Faison alive, if possible—Besides me, there are a few people who have a lot of questions for that nasty little man. As for Helena—do what you must. She's beyond the loose cannon stage—probably quite insane, which makes her dangerous and unpredictable."
"Count me in," came another voice. Luke Spencer strolled into view, along with Connor.
"Nice place you've got here." He looked around at the safe house, the address of which he'd been given earlier as the place they'd all meet later. "Helena's mine, Marty. She's got my wife and kids."
"This isn't about vengeance, Luke," Marty told him. "So if you think it is, you'll stay here, tied up neatly like a Thanksgiving turkey." Her tone brooked no argument, and her eyes were uncompromising. "I'd rather you went with us, but this can go down either way."
"I'm going," he told her. "I can handle team work."
"Fine. Part one of the plan is already in effect. Just remember this—while Helena may go off half-cocked, Faison doesn't work that way. He always plans for contingencies, for the unexpected. With any luck, right now, we're a step or two ahead of him. So, everybody, let's get ready. This is going down tonight."
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