Gradually, a single thread of thoughts and feelings came clear and Roslin recognized it almost without thinking. Opening her eyes was harder than she expected, the sudden light making her head throb.
"Jarod?" Even though it was barely a whisper, her voice seemed almost too loud to her.
"Hey Roslin. Welcome back."
Jarod smiled, relief at seeing her awake echoing in his thoughts and emotions.
She tried to smile in return, but her mind was slowly starting to function again. Roslin realized where she was, adrenaline flooding her system as she recognized the lab. Trying to sit up only brought pain and the realization that wrists and ankles were restrained. She panicked, struggling harder and forgetting she wasn't alone.
"Hey, hey, Roslin."
Jarod saw the panic enter her eyes and he was on his feet immediately. Talking softly, he rested his hands on her shoulders for a moment before moving to unfasten the restraints at her wrists. It took longer than he liked for her to focus on the new freedom and for the panic to start receding.
"You're safe, Roslin. No one is going to hurt you." Jarod kept eye contact with her as he spoke, hoping Roslin would relax a bit. "Most of what you remember didn't really happen, Ros. Juliana had her people drug you and let a psionic mess with your head before we were able to find you."
Roslin took a few shuddering breaths and nodded slowly. As Jarod moved to undo the other restraints, she leaned back into the support of the bio-chair, just trying focus on what was going on now. It took a few minutes before she trusted her voice enough to speak and when she did, her voice was hoarse and weak.
"I remember things, Jarod. They felt real, bu..." She coughed, closing her eyes as her head began to throb. When it subsided a little, she continued. "They seemed real, but wrong. If that makes any sense."
"The psionic they had working on you was able to create full sensory hallucinations. That would make them seem real rather than like dreams." Shalimar's voice floated into the lab as the feral arrived. Roslin stiffened at the sound, but by the time Shal had crossed the lab, she managed to relax. She was able to take the glass of water the other woman offered without her hand shaking.
Roslin took a sip of water, her voice less hoarse when she spoke again. "I remember thinking something was off, I think."
Jarod moved to check the scans, still keeping an eye on Roslin. Shalimar took the opportunity to steal the chair he'd been sitting in.
"What's the first thing you remember after the GSA grabbed you, honey?"
Roslin thought for a second. "Waking up in a cell. Thorne took me to Harrison's lab. Eckhart and Juliana showed up. Then it gets fuzzy. Just bits and pieces."
As she talked, the hand holding the water began to tremble. Jarod left the computer, coming to her side and resting a hand on her shoulder. Roslin took another drink, her voice uncertain as she continued.
"I remember being home, I think."
She shook her head slightly, trying to clear the memories up, but it only made her head ache worse. Shalimar took her hand, brown eyes meeting hers before the feral spoke. "Honey, after you warned Jess, you never went back home. Emma and I picked your stuff up for you."
Shalimar's voice was gentle, but the words didn't seem to want to register. Roslin leaned back and closed her eyes, trying to think. She didn't notice when Jarod slipped the glass from her hand. Shalimar was telling the truth - Roslin couldn't help but sense that. She wanted to believe the other woman. It made more sense than the bits and pieces she was remembering.
"I don't know what to think. It doesn't make any sense."
Shalimar brushed some hair from Roslin's forehead, her touch light. "Don't try to figure it out right now, Roslin. Get some rest. Jarod and I will both be here if you need anything."
It only took a few minutes for Roslin's eyes to close, and she appeared to sleep quietly under the watchful attention of both Shalimar and Jarod.
I was working out against the bag when Brennan showed up. I had already worked up a sweat, but working myself to exhaustion was the only way I could think of to stay away from the lab. He steadied the bag for me, not saying anything for several minutes.
"How about something a little more challenging, bro?"
I thought for a moment before nodding and moving to the center of the room. Bren let the bag swing free, crossing to the only keyboard in the dojo. He punched in a few commands, activating one of the more advanced simulations. There was just enough time for him to join me before the tangible holograms of GS agents came at us.
By the time the simulation ended, we were both staggering.
Brennan punched my shoulder lightly. "You going to be okay, now?"
I wiped the sweat from my face before answering him. "For now."
Taking a deep breath, I tried to explain at least part of what had me so upset, the part that wasn't obvious. "Roslin's been through so much, Bren. And Juliana's still out there, with all of Paragon's resources behind her."
That stopped my firend cold. I could tell he hadn't thought past rescuing Roslin. His expression turned thoughtful and just a bit worried. "And we don't know what Paragon's real goals are. I didn't think about that Jess. We may be dealing with another, more secretive, Genomex."
"With better security. I didn't have time to set any backdoors in their system. If Juliana is half as good as Jarod said, she'll make sure their security is increased all around."
"Damn," by the sound of Bren's voice, he was as depressed as I was now.
Tired, but showered and with a fresh cup of coffee, I made my way to the observation room. I acknowledged the others, settling in front of one of the computers. It looked like I might have gotten more than I expected from Paragon's systems, and I was still sorting through all the data. Right now, I just needed to find anything pertaining to Roslin.
Emma had filled me in, so I knew that Roslin woken up and was just sleeping now. I also knew about how she had panicked at first, but things had been quiet for a while before I found anything significant.
"Adam," my voice was louder than I intended and it startled my mentor. "I found the data on the experiment that caused Roslin's telepathy."
Adam didn't wait for me to shunt the data over to him, joining me instead. He studied the screen for a few minutes, then pointed out the changes, half-nodding to himself. "They didn't know about her empathy, but these alterations didn't destabilize it. It's just the connection between the empathy and telepathy that makes it seem they're both mutating."
"Well, that's good news, I suppose." I sighed, looking at the screens. "There's still a lot of data to go through, Adam. They've been runnig this genetic program for a long time."
Concentrate on anything concerning Roslin for now, Jess. We can sort through the rest of it later."
Roslin woke up and managed to eat something, but she was uneasy even with Jarod. Adam suspected she was still trying to determine which memories were real and which ones weren't. I wanted to go down to the lab, but I was afraid it would do more harm than good, so I watched from the observation window until she fell asleep again.
Once back at my computer, I added a 'time created' parameter to the search filters. Suddenly several large files popped to the top of the list. Frowning I brought up the properties of the first file. It was a video file and I looked at the time stamp. It matched the time we were at Paragon. I opened the file.
"Oh my god..." I doubt Emma heard the words, but I know she felt the spike in my emotions as I watched the video. I barely noticed when she joined me.
"That's..." She turned away from the monitor. "Adam, Jesse found the output from the neural visualizer."
Turning back to me, Emma rested a hand on my shoulder. "Restart it, Jess."
I really didn't want to watch it again and I fidgeted with my earlobe for a minute before doing as she'd asked. The twisted versions of me, Adam, and Emma were hard to watch. I let my attention drift when a new window opened at the bottom of the screen showing more video files. "Guys, there are other files. No wonder she's afraid of us."
I took extra care as I shoved back from the computer and stood up. I couldn't just sit there. Pacing might not help, but at least I wouldn't be looking at those videos.
"Roslin already has trust issues. I don't know if she's going to be able to get past those." I gestured at the monitor, still pacing.
The unfamiliar voice stopped me. I turned to see Jarod standing near the door. I hadn't even realized he'd left the lab.
"Now that we can show her which memories are false, her abilities will do the rest. It'll take some time, but she'll trust you all again, and sooner than you might think, Jesse."
I looked at him for a moment, knowing the hope his words had sparked showed. Finally, I nodded and headed back to the computer with renewed energy.
"All right then. Let me make sure I found all the video files."
It was late by the time I found all the files and we decided to wait until the next day to tell Roslin about them. I wanted to be the one to give her the news, but Jarod and Adam were worried about how she might react to seeing me. It took a lot of talking, but finally I convinced them as long as Jarod and Shalimar were with Roslin when I did and that I didn't come too close to Roslin.
I thought I was ready for it, but Roslin's reaction when I stepped through the lab door left me speechless. She flinched, fear and betrayal warring with trust in her eyes and in her expression. Expecting that reaction wasn't the same as experiencing it. I stayed where I was.
Shalimar stepped to Roslin's side, resting a hand on her arm and murmurring quiet reassurances. Jarod stayed at the computer, but I could tell he was monitoring the situation closely.
Finally I cleared my throat and spoke. "We have something you need to see when you're ready, Roslin. Paragon recorded the false memories they gave you."
I looked Roslin in the eyes, trying to project my concern and sincerity without coming any closer. The last thing I wanted to do was scare her even more. I understood why she was afraid, but it hurt that she was afraid of me.
"I know you're confused. Hopefully the files we found will help you straighten things out." I caught Jarod's slight nod and continued. "We're here when you're ready, Roslin. All you have to do is ask."
Roslin was looking more thoughtful and less afraid. I offered a slight smile, hoping it was a good sign, before I turned to leave. As the door slid open, I heard Roslin asking to see the files, and I began to believe that Jarod had been right.
To everyone who has stuck with the story to the end, thank you. I have a sequel in mind, so if you want to find out how well Roslin recovers and what Juliana, Harrison, and Eckhart are up to, please leave me a review or comment. Anonymous reviews should be enabled, so you don't have to have an account on the site to leave one.