By the time they arrived at Steinmauer, Robert was wishing he had given Agent Tom Jacobs the famed WSB chop and left him prostrate on the floor at the clinic. His incessant chatter was getting on his last nerve. Unfortunately, Robert knew he needed Jacobs at the moment, or at least he needed his badge. His own status as self-proclaimed Agent of the World, who’d only recently come out of a coma, did not exactly give him jurisdiction here and he wasn’t about to waste a second waiting on his connections at various agencies to process the necessary paperwork.
Robert rolled his eyes as Jacobs attempted to give him a final warning about following his lead. “I know it may not be the way you’re used to doing things, but—” Jacobs was saying. But Robert was out of the car and half way to the door before the agent could finish his rant on protocol.
By the time Jacobs caught up with him, Robert was already at the front desk, preparing to launch a full scale verbal attack. Jacobs put a hand on Robert’s shoulder and stepped in front of him, flashing his credentials. It nearly killed him, but Robert forced himself to hang back and allow the young one to speak to the guards first. Only after his presence was explained, did he step up to speak again.
“I understand that a few days ago Ms. Devane arrived here with a request to visit Cesar Faison.”
“Yes, sir. She had clearance from one Frisco Jones at the WSB.”
“Right. You were on duty at the time?”
The young man, Schaub, nodded sheepishly.
“What else can you tell me about that visit?”
He cleared his throat. “Well, she—”
The older of the two men cut in. “You mean other than the fact that she somehow managed to tamper with our security system, take out two of my men, and usher the criminal out of here?” he growled in a Germanic accent. He glared at Robert, obviously irritated by his line of questioning.
“Listen, I know all of that.”
“Mister… Scorpio… is it? It has been all over the news. Worldwide coverage. I do not see the point in rehashing what we have told all of the authorities already.”
“I understand what it looks like, Mr. Zeller,” Robert said, eying the man’s name badge. “But I’ve had a lot of experience with this woman, and my gut tells me that things are not as cut and dry as they appear to be.” He glanced around Zeller to look at young Schaub again. “Now, I need you to tell me everything that you remember about that visit, and don’t leave anything out.”
Both guards looked toward Agent Jacobs who nodded in silent support of Robert.
The young guard cleared his throat again and started in. His voice was shaky. His English, though grammatically accurate, sounded strained. He seemed to struggle with stringing the words together. “She was admitted at nine-forty. I processed her credentials and she entered the visitation area. Mr. Faison was brought in—”
“Hold on a minute,” Robert interrupted. “Tommy Boy,” Robert said to Jacobs, “What time does your report say she entered?”
Jacobs consulted his notes. “Nine thirty-two, sir.”
“How do you explain that?” he asked Schaub.
“Yes, sir. That was the first time.”
“What do you mean, the first time?”
“Sh-sh-she entered and was searched at nine thirty-two, but while I was verifying her credentials, she received a phone call. There was no service.” He looked sideways at his superior, who showed no signs of surprise at this admission. “So, she exited to take the call and returned at nine forty. At that time, I processed her and the visit began.”
“What time did she receive this call?”
“I don’t know exactly, sir.”
“Approximately… what time did she receive this call?” Robert asked, his temper starting to flare.
“Maybe it was two minutes after she arrived.”
“Which would be about what? Nine thirty-four?”
“I believe so, sir.”
“Let me make sure I have this right,” Robert said. “She left to take a call and returned six minutes later?”
“When she returned, how did she look to you?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, I mean… did she look nervous? Was her hair mussed? Did she look… different? In any way?”
“No, sir. She looked just the same.”
“And when you searched her again—”
“I did not search again.”
“What do you mean you didn’t search her again?”
“I had already done that.”
“She left and came back six minutes later, and you didn’t think that you needed to search her again?”
The senior guard broke in again. “What are you implying, Mr. Scorpio?”
“What am I implying? I’ll tell you what I’m implying. I’m implying that a hell of lot can happen in six minutes and —”
“Ms. Devane was—as far as we knew—a trustworthy officer of the law! Our procedure is none of your concern, Mr. Scorpio,” Zeller reminded him.
“That’s exactly my point!” Robert shouted.
“What is your point?” Zeller asked.
Robert looked at Jacobs, who’d been watching the entire exchange, and then back at the guards. “What if the woman who entered the second time was not really Anna Devane?”
“That is absurd.” Zeller grumbled.
“Is it?” Robert said.
“Yes,” Zeller nodded.
Robert shook his head. “I don’t think so. You see, from the footage that I saw—now it was only from behind, mind you—but from the footage that I saw, the woman who left here with Faison did not look like Anna Devane.”
“Her face was identical,” Schaub countered.
“That may be,” Robert said. “I’ve seen some pretty convincing disguises in my time, but some things can’t be imitated.”
The men regarded him, still skeptical.
Robert continued. “Anna Devane is one of a kind. This woman… she didn’t act like Anna. She didn’t hold a gun like Anna, she didn’t walk like Anna, and she sure as hell didn’t wear a skirt like Anna,” he said with a bit of a snicker. When no one responded he added, “And she was taller!”
“She was?” Jacobs finally said.
“Yes!” Robert answered.
“And just who do you propose this imposter was?” asked Zeller.
“I haven’t figured that out yet.”
“Unbelievable,” Zeller shook his head.
“Humor me,” Robert said, looking at him with one eyebrow raised ever so slightly.
Zeller folded his arms in protest, but allowed Robert to continue with his questions.
“So, after this woman entered—the second time—what happened then?”
“I returned her weapon,” Schaub said.
“Why the hell would you do that?”
“Ms. Devane was authorized to carry. Faison is considered a dangerous criminal.”
“Tell me something I don’t know!” Robert barked.
“Within minutes our system issued a virus alert and several terminals began to shut down.”
“A virus? I thought you said the system was hacked?” Robert asked.
Jacobs looked confused. “I… ah…”
“It was a virus,” the guard went on, “introduced into our mainframe forcing a system shutdown. In the chaos, she waited long enough for the shutdown to affect the cameras, most of them. Then she took out our men in the room with the butt of her pistol, stole a keycard and—”
“All right, I’ve heard enough,” Robert said. “Jacobs, what the hell kind of investigation are your people running here? If I were you I’d get some men to trace the source of that virus. If the two issues are actually connected, you might actually get some answers.”
“Of course,” Jacobs answered, already commandeering the desk phone.
With Jacobs distracted, Robert took the opportunity to slip out for some fresh air. He sat down on the aluminum bench just outside the door and let out a sigh that was combination of exhaustion and frustration. Truth be told, he was nowhere near ready to be out of hospital, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. As long as Faison was on the loose, Anna wasn’t safe.
“Six minutes,” Robert mumbled. He still wasn’t sure what had occurred during those six minutes, but Anna had clearly been compromised. He stood up and began to pace slowly in front of the bench, his fingers occasionally stroking his face over his upper lip as he thought. At one point, he wandered a few feet away, consulting the reach and angle of the security cameras. When he returned to bench and sat down again he noticed a strange sound. It was an intermittent buzz of sorts and for a moment, he thought he could feel the vibration. He checked his cell phone out of habit. That wasn’t it. The sound continued for a few more seconds and then stopped. He glanced around and saw nothing at first. But when it happened again, he followed the sound more carefully until he found it. There, on the ground, wedged between the building and the foot of the bench, was a phone in a white plastic case.
“Anna!” Robert grunted as he practically dove for it. He pried it out and looked at the display. The screen was cracked, but it was still legible. It read: Duke Lavery. Slide to answer. Robert quickly answered before it could disconnect. “Duke!”
“Robert is that you?”
“Yeah, Duke it’s me. What’s going on?”
“That’s what I’d like to know. Have you seen Anna?”
“Well, she came see me at the clinic…” Robert trailed off, unsure as to how much Duke knew.
“Have you seen the news? The reports are saying that she’s broken Faison out of prison.”
“Listen, Duke, about that…”
“Do you have any idea what happened or where they could have gone?”
“Not yet, but I’m working on it.”
“Where are you? I can come and help you.”
Anna’s comment about sending an amateur to do a professionals job replayed in his head. “No!” Robert shouted. “Ah, what I mean is, it I could really use your help there. I need someone in Port Charles to keep me apprised of the situation there. In case Anna calls. I need you to stay put and call me the moment you hear anything.”
“Robert, Faison is incredibly dangerous! Do you honestly expect me to just sit around and wait while he does God knows what with Anna—”
“Lavery, please, let the professionals handle this.” There was a long pause. “I will update you as soon as I have something concrete,” Robert added.
“Fine. See that you do,” Duke said curtly, his pride damaged. He hung up without another word.
Robert took a deep breath, relieved that he had managed to dissuade Duke. He took a few seconds to regain his bearings and then looked at the phone again, hoping to find a clue of some kind. Aside from the large crack across the screen, the case was also scratched up. It had obviously been dropped or thrown. Was that before or after the escape? Had there been a scuffle? Was she hurt, or had she hurt them? Robert hit the button on the phone, hoping it would contain some clue.
He slid his thumb across the screen to unlock it. Faced with a passcode screen, he paused momentarily, then tried four numbers. One-zero-one-two. He was granted access and greeted with a low battery warning. He dismissed it, thinking it was a miracle it had any power left at all. He scanned the long list of received calls. Most of them were from Interpol and other law enforcement agencies. Several were from Duke. Eventually, he scrolled far enough to find two calls received at nine thirty four two days earlier, from Dr. Brit Westbourne, the second of which included a voicemail. Robert pressed play and listened with bated breath.
“Commissioner, it’s me again. Our call got lost. As I said before, my mother recently made contact. We have reason to believe that she has my son and she’s holding my son on Cassadine Island. Nicholas and I are on our way there now. Please call me when you get this message.”
“Her mother. That’s it! Obrecht!” Robert said. Faison’s partner in crime. Why hadn’t he thought about her before? Hostages, kidnappings, medical procedures, she would stop at nothing for that freak! She had to be involved. And if Britt was right, they were hiding out on Cassadine Island.
Robert stood and slipped the phone into his pocket. He didn’t even consider going back in for Jacobs. Why bother. Interpol still believed Anna was responsible for this mess. Robert knew better. With no time to lose, he headed for the car that had dropped him and Jacobs off earlier. If his instincts were right that madman had taken her again, and he wasn’t about to let him get away with it. Not this time!
Ready or not, Robert forced himself to break into a slow jog. “Hang in there, Anna, sweetheart. The cavalry is coming!”
** All previous chapters are available in the archives or at www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson **