An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
The Well-Manicured Man is
forced to give
"Something's come up," he says, a frown stamped deep into his face. He leans forward and the lamplight tints his skin a warmer color.
Nice to see you, too. How've you been, Alex? Tell me about all the time you spent busting your butt trying to slip someone inside FarmaCol. No? Didn't think so.
"Must have, at this hour," I say, taking a seat. I put one leg up and let my ankle rest on the opposite knee. "What's this about?"
"Children," he says. "Geniuses, to be precise."
For weeks he's left me on my own to figure out a way to access the stockpiled vaccine, but now he up and calls me in the middle of the night to talk about a bunch of little eggheads?
The Brit lets out a sigh and sinks back into the chair, setting aside the cup of tea he's been nursing. "The Project has taken an interest in a certain group of young people who have the potential to provide us with invaluable data for the hybrid proj--"
He frowns at me. He hates it when I cut past his civilized facade.
"Yes," he says after a pause. "At any rate, it will be easier, when we need them, if these young people haven't been in the public eye. So we've endeavored to guide them in directions that will maintain their anonymity."
"We've created enrichment groups for them, places where they can go and try a variety of challenges, and where they can relax in the company of others like themselves."
I force a smile. Gotta love the syndicate, showing so much empathy for a bunch of poor, misunderstood kids. "So the problem is--?"
"Diana Fowley has been monitoring the various groups for us. Recently one particular boy came to her attention. He's clearly got an advanced level of psychic ability. Frankly, it appears to be much greater than anything we've seen before." His voice drops from informational to serious and his eyes get that steely look. "She's convinced he's been reading our operatives there. The situation could pose a serious threat to us."
"What? She figures he could be going through their heads like unlocked file drawers?"
"In a manner of speaking."
"How old's this kid?"
So what do they think he's going to do with the information? Find somebody to sell it to? He could, but even a kid genius is just a kid. Who'd believe him?
I clear my throat. "And this concerns me how? We've got problems of our own, in case they'd skipped your mind: 24,000 doses of liquid gold gathering dust in a warehouse in Cali. You haven't even bothered to ask me about that. For that matter, where the hell were you two weeks ago? You skipped town and didn't even leave me a note."
The Brit leans forward into the light. Irritation shows in his eyes. "It concerns you because you were nearly chosen to eliminate this boy."
"I don't take out kids."
"You were chosen. You would have had no choice."
"Have Powell do it." Roger Powell the spook. In more ways than one; guy gives me the creeps.
"Conveniently, you were out of the country," he goes on. "But I had to put myself on the line to cover for you." A glare for good measure. He pauses. "They did ultimately select Mr. Powell, but things have taken an unexpected turn. There was a chess match earlier this evening--"
I pull forward. "Klebanov? That was Powell?" I almost laugh. "He killed Klebanov?"
I heard it on the radio on the way over. Figured it for some sort of payback coming from Mother Russia. "Fuck."
"Unfortunately Powell was apprehended not far from the arena. The FBI has already opened an investigation, which will have to be carefully managed, and the boy remains alive and is still in their hands." The Brit pauses, and after a beat or two goes on, his tone a little different now--something in it I can't quite read. "I'm afraid the complications are more serious than we could have anticipated. The one man who could have finessed this investigation with the greatest degree of mastery is no longer among us."
My mouth drops open. The Brit's waxing nostalgic about the old man? "He deserved what he got," I say, checking my impulse to spit on the obviously expensive carpet. "You think he was in it for the group, or for the mission? If you do, you're delusional. He was in it for himself. No one else."
"Yes, well"--he clears his throat--"be that as it may, he displayed a foresight the others never have. He had connections--means--the rest of us have never managed to duplicate." He looks straight at me and presses a buzzer on the table. A few seconds later the butler appears.
The Brit hands him the tea cup and saucer. "Thank you, that will do. For now."
It dawns on me that this is a display, a statement that we're not alone here. As the butler leaves, I make out a slight bulge at the side of his waist. An inside-the-waistband holster, but not the most discreet one in the world.
"What the hell is going on here?" I ask, setting my foot back on the floor in case I need to get up in a hurry. A low-grade tension starts up inside me.
"I'm not overlooking the danger he presents, or his self-serving nature," the Brit goes on. "But we ignore at our peril facts we may not like." He seems to steel himself. "He's alive."
My heart twists, a wrenching skipped beat.
"My dissatisfaction with him was as deep as anyone's," the Brit's saying, the sound muffled behind the blood thundering in my ears. "And yet I felt that getting rid of him might prove to be a rash decision. It can be worse than imprudent to divest oneself of resources that may yet prove valuable." A pause. "Which was precisely my thinking when I plucked you from the depths of a certain missile silo in North Dakota."
"Where?" I manage, my voice a dry rumble. "How?" He thinks he can beat the odds, that he can handle a poisonous snake without getting bit.
"Canada. In the Laurentian Mountains two hours north of Quebec. When the decision was made to terminate him, I rushed to his apartment. He'd already been shot. He was near death, but I managed to get him away to a private facility." He pauses. "It was touch and go for many weeks, but he's a tenacious old buzzard." There seems to be the hint of a snarl in his voice. "He's been in a cabin in the woods these last many months, recovering his strength."
"And the others? They don't know?" Alive. I picture the Brooklyn flat, waking up to footfalls in the middle of the night, Marita arriving to tell me she'd gotten word that he was dead.
From the Brit.
"No." He shakes his head and sits up straighter. "But they will soon enough."
"Marita knew this?" The wound's scraped raw again. Was she in with him on it? How far back did it go? Was she playing me even then?
"No," he says. "I confided in no one. Just as I never told anyone about you." A pause. "You must go there, bring him back. No one else is going to be able to turn around what this mistake over the boy has turned into."
"Find somebody else." Not if he were the last man on earth.
"I can't be seen as having been the one to save him. He's agreed not to mention me. You're the most plausible one to have had contact with him--"
"Yeah, if nobody remembers what he's tried to do to me."
"The others know nothing of the details of either of those incidents."
"Yeah, well, for some reason I remember them pretty damn clearly."
"The fact remains, Mr. Krycek, that we need his expertise and his connections to diffuse this situation. Keeping the group from exposure can mean security for you and I and our vaccine project as well."
"Kill Powell," I say, leaning forward, not missing the way he's characterized the vaccine project. Like he's the one who's taken the risks. Made it work. "Without the shooter, they've got no leads, no trail leading back to the group." I shrug. I could go to Quebec, kill the old man myself. It's not like I haven't pictured the possibilities a thousand times in my head.
"There's still the matter of the boy."
"How hard can it be to steal a kid?"
The tone of the Brit's voice changes. "With the paranormal angle, I expect Mulder and his partner will be eager to investigate the boy's powers."
"If they find out about him."
But I know already I don't want Mulder sticking his finger into this pie. The last thing I need is to end up at odds with him. It was like we actually connected the last time we crossed paths. Okay, maybe it was just a rope bridge tossed across the chasm, but it was something. Something I might need one day. Besides, I don't want to sidetrack Mulder. If he's doing anything to find out more about the Rebels, I want him to keep at it.
"There's more, unfortunately."
I refocus on the Brit.
"He's become rather more active than I would have liked during these last few months." Another pause. "He's been corresponding with Diana. Actually, I first heard about the problem with the boy through him. He's managed to influence several personnel decisions within the FBI as well."
"You save a snake, you can count on him striking back."
"Mm, yes, unfortunately. But I believe he can still be valuable. And given the realities of this current situation, I believe it would be more prudent to have him here, working where he's relatively visible. Where he can be watched." Two fingers settle against his chin. "I'm convinced there's something he hasn't told us--something he's held back from the group all these years. I believe he may have some sort of edge, a hedge against the future."
Something I've been convinced of for years. "Wouldn't surprise me."
"I want to know what it is."
It could be the ultimate payback--to expose the old fucker and steal his precious secrets. Though the idea of having to share space with him on this planet again, to breathe the fouled air he breathes...
Even on the plane, and then aboard the chopper, sandwiched in next to the rookie the Brit's sent along with me, I don't know what I'll do when I get there, whether I'll be sitting next to the old man on the return flight, wracking my brains for a way to unlock his secrets, or whether I'll just end it at the cabin--shove three inches of cold Beretta steel in his mouth and pull the trigger.
I try to fight it but my mind keeps drifting back to that night, Marita coming in at 4 a.m. with her news, both of us trying to wrap our heads around the report of the old man's death, each of us thinking it was too good to be true but hoping all the same that it was. I feel her spooned in front of me, her skin just starting to warm up. I remember that she pulled my arm around her waist and when she finally spoke, she said she'd thought it would feel different, that having him gone would change things, but it hadn't; the future was still bearing down on us, our path just as risky as ever.
At least she wasn't lying to me: the thought keeps coming like the faint sound of a bell ringing in the wind. As if it makes a damn bit of difference now. Maybe it's just the only thing I can find to hold onto as the chopper drops to skim lower and lower over the trees. Obviously we're near our destination. I picture the old man's smirk, the smoke rising from his lips, the casual way he waves his hand to discount something--a theory, a strategy or his own flesh and blood. The knot in my gut tightens, and as the cabin comes into view I struggle against the drowning feeling that rises around me.
I reach for the solid steel comfort of my gun, press my thumb hard against the jutted-out ridge of the slide release until the pain brings me clarity. Get ready to jump, Aleksei.
© bardsmaid 2005 |