A warm sunny day though breezy. White clouds fill the sky changing shapes by the minute. The Finding is half what it was yesterday, and while alert, are expecting nothing of any consequence to happen today. Officer Jones is on duty, and his peaceful outlook as well as those of his other officers, are blown away when Officer Jones receives a call from the Finding sentries hidden in the Southwest outskirts informing him drones are in the area. Their exact number is unknown. Immediately the call for masks is given. All search the skies but see nothing. Officer Jones calls the other quadrants and tells them an unknown number of drones were sighted in the Southwest quadrant. All eyes scan the sky searching, momentarily distracted by the sounds of rustling leaves as flocks of birds burst from the trees into the skies above. Suddenly shouts of “there….there” sound from each of the quadrants over the open phone lines. Others point to the sky trying to pinpoint the exact location of the incoming drones. From a distance, yesterday’s drones looked like birds peacefully flying overhead while today those ‘peaceful birds’ are suddenly now diving from the highest of the clouds starting their attack. Officer Jones quickly counts six maybe eight drones before running for cover as suddenly one explosion is followed by another. They appear then disappear in a matter of seconds leaving behind a compound in ruins. With nothing left to burn, only the ashes of a few small fires still smolder. The compound is leveled, and the drones have disappeared back into the clouds.
Officer Jones watches the sky but is sure no drones will return for there is nothing left, not here. He gives the order to withdraw quickly and quietly to the outskirts keeping intervals, then lay still remaining camouflaged. He calls Monroe, “The compound is destroyed… Thankfully no one is hurt. The drones surprised us… I don’t know what might happen next. I know they accomplished demolishing the compound and probably believe all of us are dead… Possibly a second wave might be coming… Right, we have to figure it out fast. I’m on my way.” Officer Jones puts his phone in his pocket, sighs and looks up at the now peaceful sky. Shakes his head, thinks…’sure didn’t last long.’
The team, with the exception of Officer Jones and Pamela, gathered at their new location to plan their next step. Rushing out of earshot, Bob calls Pamela. He has the urge to go get her. It wasn’t long ago, Pamela was kidnapped in San Antonio, and Bob is not sure what the culprits had in mind.
Jesse says, “They wasted no time. It seems Neville is expendable to them after all. They wanted him to escape but couldn’t make that happen, and now they’re afraid he’s going to rat them out so in their opinion, Neville’s got to go.”
“I think we need to talk to Neville now to see if he’s willing to make a deal,” Samantha adds.
Pamela answers the phone, and Bob says, “You alright?”
Hearing Bob on the phone, they all turn to look. It’s obvious Pamela is on the line. They listen in, in hopes of learning some new information from her Doctor Randolph visit.
Pamela hears the urgency and fear in Bob’s voice and quickly replies, “I’m fine, What’s wrong?”
Bob takes a deep breath and asks, “Where are you? Are you close?”
“Maybe ten minutes away.” Pamela asks again, “What’s happened?”
“Drones leveled the compound.”
There is shocked silence now on the phone as Pamela shares in Bob’s urgency and fear. Then she asks, “Is everyone all right? No one was there, right?”
Bob assures her, “No one at all. We’re all fine. No one is following you, are they?”
“Don’t worry, really. I exited I 12, at La Combe, and I was the only one who did. What is happening there?”
“Planning our next step.” Bob notices the others are listening and now relieved Pamela is okay, he asks, “Learn anything on your visit?”
Pamela tells Bob, “I learned our nurse Harriet Drew and Neville were an item. Neville was her boyfriend, or so we were told by a woman named Sharon in personnel.”
“Really? Interesting… That could change things. I’ll tell Samantha and the rest. Be careful. See you shortly.” Off the phone Bob shares his new found information. “Looks like Neville and our nurse may have been in a relationship.”
Jesse says, “If that’s true, and if our nurse friend is an informant, that’s a double whammy for Neville. Now that his former partners believe Neville will tell all, even his girlfriend wants him dead.”
Samantha smiles, pauses then states, “I have an idea. Let me question Neville, and you all play along with me.”
The others are not really sure what she has up her sleeve, but she is the lawyer, and they witnessed the ‘light bulb’ light up.
“Can Officer Jones send pictures of the compound?” Samantha asks Monroe.
“I’ll get him to send them.” Monroe calls Jones to make his request. A few moments later, his phone beeps, and the pictures are there.
Samantha asks, “Are we ready?”
They nod and all quickly enter Neville’s room.
Startled Neville looks at them, “My, aren’t we in a hurry.”
Samantha tells him, “Yes, we are. You should be.”
“Hurry for what?” Neville asks.
“To make a plea bargain,” answers Samantha.
“Why?” Neville replies.
“To stay alive,” Samantha answers. Samantha turns to Monroe, “Do you have the pictures of the compound?”
Monroe hands her his phone containing a video of the compound ruins. Samantha shows Neville and tells him, “This is where you were yesterday at this time. You’re expendable now. Looks like they want you dead.”
Looking worried, Neville takes a deep breath.
Samantha adds, “We don’t have much time.”
Neville remains silent, but it’s obvious the gears are turning. He’s wondering how to proceed.
Samantha tells him, “It’s up to you. The guy who’s trying to kill you may succeed and get away scot free. You have it in your power to take him down before he gets to you.”
All of the others look on but say nothing. They feel as though they are the audience in a play.
Samantha continues, “I want to offer a plea deal. You tell us what we need to know to stop these experiments, and I’ll talk to the DA on your behalf. Mr. Dugat, whoever wants you dead, thinks you’re dead, but it’s only a matter of time until they find out you’re alive. They don’t know where you are, but we can’t hide you forever. They’ll try to finish what they started when they find you. It seems to me you have a choice of receiving a reduced sentence with a chance for a new life when you get out or certain death.”
Neville protests, “I would make a plea bargain if I had done anything wrong. You’ve got the wrong man.”
“Oh, yes. You’re Justin Covell. I remember. You know, whether you’re Neville or Justin or somebody yet to be named, you’ll still be just as dead.”
“What exactly are the charges… against Neville?”
“Oh, that’s up to the DA, but I imagine kidnapping, attempted murder, if not actual murder for starters.”
“Speaking of kidnapping and attempted murder, do you think they knew I wasn’t Neville?”
“I think they knew you WERE Neville.”
“Why do you think I was thanking everyone for saving me? They kidnapped me and were going to kill me.”
“Mr. DUGAT, I think you want to keep your lie alive. That’s what I think. Did you see the video of the compound?”
“I did,” Neville replies.
“Why do you think that happened?” asks Samantha.
“It’s obvious someone wants me dead.”
“Did you put up a struggle when they kidnapped you?”
“Yes, I fought them as hard as I could.”
“Yet, those of us in the other room heard nothing. They pushed you though a window that was hardly big enough for a child, but no glass was broken nor a sound made. We only knew you were gone because Jesse Gunn checked, otherwise we wouldn’t have known you were gone, or as you say abducted. You still say you fought them tooth and nail?”
“Yes, I did what I could.”
“So two aliens, Avantans I believe before the change, each with their two hands, managed to hold your legs and arms together to get you through that tight window. Who was it that held your mouth closed that prevented you from calling for help, while you were screaming and kicking?”
Neville says, “I was afraid they’d kill me.”
Samantha responds, “Of course, that’s why you were so grateful you were saved. You held out hope we’d come to your rescue. But, I’m confused, why wouldn’t you help those in the process of helping you?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I have it on good authority you growled and slashed at those trying to save you. They thought you wanted to get to the bayou.”
“I’d say your ‘so called authority’ doesn’t know what they are talking about.”
“What would you say if I told you I’m an alien, and I was the deer that knocked one of the deer carrying you off his feet causing you to tumble. I am ‘the authority’.”
“I’d say you’re trying to trick me and get me to admit to something that didn’t happen.”
Samantha tells Neville, “It’s no trick. I was that deer, and you were growling just like I said. You came toward me slashing those Draakar claws of yours, and you wanted to kill me, but… you were just too damn slow…”
Neville is visibly upset, angry, and worried.
Samantha in contrast, exudes confidence. “Mr. DUGAT, Here are the facts. They tried to save you. They failed. Now they want you dead… It’s that simple. I will go to the DA, and I will be back tomorrow. Perhaps we can reach an agreement. No one knows where you are so you should be safe tonight, but we cannot guarantee your safety should you continue to keep silent. Mr. Cane, is Nurse Drew on her way?”
Monroe looks like a deer in the headlights, an actor who has forgotten his lines. There is a pause then Samantha comes to his rescue with raised eyebrows and the world’s quickest nod.
Monroe picks up on the cue and answers, “Yes.” He takes a quick breath and smiles slightly feeling pleased with his successful one line.
Neville looks as though he’s been punched in the stomach.
Samantha decides this is a good time to leave and walks out followed by the others.
Pamela arrived just moments ago and waits outside the door. Quickly Bob goes to her. Pamela assures him she is fine. The others sit waiting to hear of her visit with Doctor Randolph. Samantha keeps her attention divided between listening to Pamela while hoping to hear Neville call to them asking for a plea deal.
“Any luck with Neville?” Asks Pamela.
“Not sure yet, … trying to scare him into making a plea deal,” Samantha responds.
Pamela tells them, “I’m sure Doctor Randolph has absolutely nothing to do with the experiments or kidnappings. Before Doctor Randolph was made Chief of Staff, he and Neville talked, even went to lunch a few times. Doctor Randolph felt Neville was picking his brain. They only talked in passing after he became Chief of Staff. Harriet Drew worked there but left six months ago. Doctor Randolph didn’t know her, but a lady from personnel said Neville and she both stopped working close to the same time and... she believed Harriet Drew was his girlfriend.”
“If she is or was, I believe that romance is dead,” says Jesse.
“Bob agrees, “Looks like it.”
“Oh, and according to Doctor Randolph, Neville is hostile and resentful toward Osteoans. He feels they are dying out because of their assimilation. They’re bringing their destruction on themselves by hiding who they are. I believe Neville Dugat is not the main leader, but they recruited and used him for his knowledge.”
Samantha adds, “That’s why Doctor Randolph felt Neville was picking his brain. Neville was trying to learn some of Doctor Randolph’s expertise.”
“Neville’s job must have been developing formulas for the drugs for injections. Perhaps he was in charge of the experiments. That would explain the unidentifiable ingredients in Jesse’s blood and others.” Pamela is silent, but only for a moment then her face goes sour in disgust as if she took a bite of something vile and putrid, and she says, “Neville didn’t care if they lived or died… or how his experiments affected… his guinea pigs.”
Monroe adds, “Well, we need to find the son of a bitch in charge. He’s declared war. This has to end.”
They all look at each another with new hope. Samantha says confidently, “The END starts now.”