Chapter 8, Part 3
“This is Doctor Braxton’s lab,” Sergeant Lattimer pushed open double doors lined with safety glass. Cassie cautiously led the others in behind the Sergeant. Three exam tables lined the east wall. The rest of the room was taken up by equipment in their own cubicles. Monitors hung blank over the tables and the lab smelled like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
“Hello?” Luke called.
There was a clatter from a back room and a stout figure in a white lab coat hurried out carrying a plate. He stopped short when he saw the visitors. He pushed on a pair of glasses hanging around his neck and beamed.
“You must be the new kids!” he chuckled and hurried forward. “Cookie?”
“It’s not even 9 in the morning, Freddie,” Luke told him but took a cookie from the proffered plate anyway.
“This is Doctor Freddie Baumgartner, an expert in genetics,” Sergeant Lattimer introduced him.
“Most people call me Freddie, my last name is so hard,” Freddie said in a thick German accent.
“Hi,” Cassie shook his hand. “I’m Cassie.”
“Ah, the girl with wings!” Freddie exclaimed.
“How did you…?”
“Ah, Charles filled me in last night. He was so excited he had to make some tea.” Freddie leaned down to Abby’s level. “And who might you be?”
“I’m Abby,” she replied in a voice barely above a whisper.
“Well, Abby, would you like a cookie made with real chocolate?”
Abby hesitated and looked up at Cassie.
“It’s really early in the morning,” Abby whispered to Freddie.
“I’ll tell you my secret. It’s never too early for cookies.”
Abby snuck her hand out and stole the smallest cookie on the plate. Freddie beamed again and straightened up, taking a more serious tone when he met the boys.
“So you study genetics,” Sam asked, the distrust evident in his voice. Freddie didn’t seem to take offense.
“Yes, from what we’ve seen with Luke and Josh, your genetic code has additional markers in it. Not human markers. After Amelli’s testimonies and evidence, we needed to see if what he said was true. We will only run tests on you if you give us permission,” Freddie reassured them.
Cassie released an imperceptible sigh of relief. At least it sounded like they had a choice in the matter. They left the lab a few minutes and several cookies later. Josh met them back in the main atrium.
“Enjoy the tour?” he asked. Cassie nodded tightly. The safety she had felt with the officers hadn’t extended to everyone on the tour of the base. But that was to be expected in any situation. You can’t trust everyone.
“Braxton wanted to talk with you and Sam,” Josh said.
“Can we come too?” Caleb piped up. Cassie got the feeling it wasn’t going to be great news. She and Sam better find out first and then figure out a way to break it to the kids.
“No, but we’ll fill you in later,” Cassie told him.
“We can go check out the game room,” Luke offered and Cassie shot him a grateful smile. That would distract the two of them long enough.
Lattimer and Josh accompanied Cassie and Sam across the dirt road into a single story barracks building. They entered a wide office filled with monitors and papers. Braxton was there with a steaming mug of tea. Another man in uniform sat at the desk who introduced himself as Captain Santos.
“Braxton has told me what he knows about you two. He leads the science division but I’m obviously military,” Santos began. “I understand there was a girl that went missing the night your apartment was attacked?”
Sam let Cassie take the lead. “Yes, her name is Mariah, sir. Do you know who took her? Where is she?”
Santos held up a hand to forestall the rest of her questions.
“We got our confirmation from the local police. The men that took her are Amelli’s but we still don’t have a location on where their base of operations is. Paranoid men tend to be discrete about those sort of things.”
“But do you think she’s all right?” Sam butted in.
“Amelli has another young man like you two with him. I don’t think he’ll hurt Mariah.”
“But?” Cassie sensed there was more.
“I don’t think she’ll be as comfortable as you will be here.”
“She’s just a kid!” Cassie exclaimed. “What do people want with us? Why do they want us? Can’t they just leave us alone? We don’t want to hurt anyone!”
Sam lay a calming hand on her shoulder and she flushed and looked down at the floor. “Sorry, sir,” she mumbled.
“I think it’s understandable considering the circumstances,” Santos’ gruff voice said kindly.
“Captain Santos is already working to find out where she is and if we can get her back to you,” Braxton said.
“Thanks,” Cassie said.
“Is there anything we can do to help?” Sam unexpectedly said.
“We would like a thorough history from all of you to see if we can match anything to what we know about Amelli’s movements,” Santos said.
“On my end, we’d like to study you all physically. Amelli is convinced you’re dangerous and we’d like to try and figure out why he thinks that,” Braxton said. “My team and I have some theories we’re developing on why you are like you are. We’d appreciate your cooperation.”
Sam and Cassie exchanged a look. They’d been through enough together that they knew what the other was thinking.
“We’ll do our part to get our sister back,” Cassie agreed.
I know it’s not Saturday. I have no excuse other than I got a new book in the mail yesterday. 🙂
What do you think of Freddie and Captain Santos? Do you think Cassie should trust them?
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