The Perpetual

Part XVII continued

Colonel Throckmorton stood outside the pressroom nervous. The answers flying through his head were ones that even he could not contain. He did not know how yet he was going to salvage his career, save the lives of his friends who had succumbed to this terrible disease, and keep the world sane all at the same time. Fulton Swiley had been wrong, the world was not opening its eyes to something new, and this was just the regular cycle of sensationalism. If he admitted that yes, there were werewolves on board the Pytheas in so many words than he would be giving Swiley what he wanted. How could he not admit it though? Those questions left him befuddled, but there were certain things he had to do regardless whether he liked his answers or not.

He looked at the collection of staff who were prepared to brief him on whatever he needed to know before going into that room full of sharks. They were nervous and had all asked him, "Is it true?" several times before he managed to get them organized again. He needed as much information as they could provide him before he went in. This was going to be a challenge enough as it was; he needed to know everything that the public or the press knew, and he needed to know it soon.

"Okay, I want a list of all the different clips that the media has aired on different stations with werewolves in them. I don't need to see them, I just want to know what they do." Throckmorton ordered. He looked at several blank faces, but a couple of them dashed off to the monitor room quickly at the question. They would have an answer shortly, though it might take them a little time to compile it. Good, let them take all the time they need. The longer the press had to wait, the more anxious they would be, and the less structured their questions would end up being.

"I also want blown up pictures of all the crew and security guards on board the Pytheas. Get them ready for me to point to. Any family members would be great as well. How long will that take?"

"Five minutes, I can get the copy room to make them up in five minutes if I hurry," a wiry little man volunteered.

"Good, get going right now."

"I'll be back with them as soon as possible, sir." the wiry little man darted off down the hallway as well.

"Now, what has the atmosphere been in there like?" He indicated the pressroom with a jerk of his head.

The two remaining junior officers looked to each other a bit skeptically. The one on the left finally shrugged, "Pretty fiendish, sir. They almost started chanting your name at one point I think."

Throckmorton snorted. That would have been interesting to see though. Frankly, he was not eager to face them, yet he had given his word. He was going to tell them the truth, as much as he thought they could handle. However, he needed to know more. He needed to know what sorts of questions might they ask. "What is the general consensus on our engine failure explanation? The cable station I saw called me a bold-faced liar. I know most networks are not that controversial, so what is the consensus?"

The one on the right shuffled a but before the man on the left finally spoke again, "I don't think they believe you. I would expect you to be drilled on trying to cover up the truth when you go in there. Most are giving it little credence. Some believe that it actually happened but that you used it to cover up the real threat, from the werewolves' sir. Are you serious? Are they really real?"

"Unfortunately yes, but you didn't hear me say that." Throckmorton gave him a very piercing gaze, and the man nodded. He turned and stared at the one on the right, who would not look him in the face. That was a breech in protocol, and if he were in a stricter mood he would be obliged to remind him, but there was something else going on here that he wasn't aware about. He saw the red hair and the bright complexion, and the way his body tensed at infrequent intervals. This was the one who he had asked to find out about the man in the tan coat and the pipe. What had he discovered? Something unsettling perhaps?

What could be more unsettling than having a group of werewolves running about on one of the spaceships causing many millions of dollars in collateral damage? Being on the ship with them perhaps? Still, this young man was not suffering from such a problem; it was obviously something else on his mind. "What's on your mind, Henry?"

Henry looked him in the face, "Well, I found that guy with the tan coat and pipe, and I talked with him."

"I didn't ask you to do that." Throckmorton pointed out. "I had hoped you would not confront him directly."

"Well, nobody could tell me who he was. I finally confronted him, asking him what he was doing in the pressroom. He flashed me an ID." Henry then trailed off, his voice disappearing into the silence. The man to his left was staring at him as well, wondering just what it was that he had uncovered.

"And?" Throckmorton prodded him.

"It's not something I should even be mentioning." Henry trailed off once more, this time looking away from Throckmorton altogether.

"Eric, go check on the others and see how they are doing." Edward looked at the man on the left who seemed very interested to find out what was going on. He looked a little disappointed, but he walked off after the others to go see what progress was being made. Throckmorton then let his gaze bore into Henry, "Now, tell me who this man is."

"I didn't see his name, I didn't have time, I just saw the Presidential Seal, and then one other word and that was all I needed."

"Henry, what was it." Throckmorton drew in his breath; the Presidential Seal was enough to get him fired if he so much as whispered this to another soul. They had a way of knowing who you were and what you were doing and whom you were talking to. Henry was taking a big chance by just telling him this. Of course, Throckmorton didn't care anymore; his job was already on the chopping block. Of course, if he could salvage it then he would, but if things got really bad, this might not be a bit of information that he could use to his advantage.

Henry shook his head, "No, I can't say it."

"Write it." Throckmorton pulled out the printout of the original message that they had received form Corigliano and a pen. He had put the message in his jacket because he wanted to remember it; he did not want what was written there to be forgotten. This thing that started it all was too important somehow. Henry took the paper and pen in his hands; both were trembling from diffidence. He leaned over, looking around before he put the pen to paper. He wrote slowly, several times taking the pen away as if to scratch out what he had written, afraid that somebody might see. Perhaps it was too dangerous to know. Who could he possibly work for and what were his interests in this affair? Those questions could not be answered easily, they had to be analyzed and balanced against one another, structured properly and gauged precisely. He may never know the full extent of the mystery going on about them. It was simply beyond his mind's capability to understand.

Henry handed him the paper back finally, the pen on top of it. He had folded it in half, so Throckmorton had to lift up the edge to see. He peered at the word, and then closed the paper. He then opened it up again and took a second look. Finally, a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, he put the paper back inside his coat, and replaced the pen in his pocket. He nodded to Henry, giving him a half-smile. He knew what must have been going through Henry's mind right now, he was dead. He had given away information that he was not privileged enough to do, and would now suffer the consequences of it. Edward could almost bring himself to believe that he would too, but he would deny that he had heard it from him very strenuously.

He shuddered at what he had read, as it now made so much sense. Who else could it have been that had been behind this whole project? True, it could have been anybody, but nobody but them made the sort of sense that it did. He remembered the warnings he had received from Blumenfield when they had begun working together, and from her predecessor before that. He was not to interfere in anything they did, no questions asked -- there were other agencies that he had been told not to interfere with either, but they had not yet interfered with him. Until today, he had never occasion to worry about disobeying this rule. Now, he was trying to find a way to get around it with no one the wiser.

Yes, who but the Hasmoneans would be behind this? He smiled to himself, the feeling of sickness past.

"Hey!" Lassie called out from her perch down on the unsuspecting populace of four below. All eyes turned in her direction as she sat there with her legs dangling out the shaft.

"Lassie!" HuggyBear smiled at seeing her, but his smile was forced, she could tell.

"Ah, you're back." Thibaudet looked up. "What did you find?"

Lassie gave him a dirty look, "I might tell you if you all help me down and tell me what happened here. Where is everybody?"

Thibaudet motioned to Jansen to help him get Lassie down, but Jansen just glowered at him and stayed seated. Thibaudet shrugged and walked over to the far end of the Greenhouse where Lassie waited for him. He held up his hands, and she gingerly set her feet into his palms, and then was gently lowered to the ground as he grabbed her by the waist. She brushed herself off, happy to get the fresh soil beneath her legs, and happy to be standing on them again too. Of course, her prime concern was about the others, but she just wanted to make sure she felt all right herself.

Thibaudet looked back at Pillow and HuggyBear, both of whom were glaring at him hatefully. Pierre sighed and turned to look back at Lassie with a very sorrowful glance, "Things have gone badly for us here. Dutton became a werewolf about two hours ago; he slashed Captain Rhodes on the way out. I take it you know what happens to those who get hurt by the werewolf. I notice your friend isn't with you."

She wished her eyes could burn a hole into the falsely sympathetic Thibaudet. "Yes I know what happens. Lovewolf saved my life, now you leave him alone."

"I'm sorry that had to happen." Thibaudet looked ashamed of himself. For some reason, she could tell that it was real this time. His sympathies were not just mimed for her benefit; these were real emotions and real feelings. "Something terrible has happened here as well. It's partially my fault as well. Lapwolf found out about it, and he began berating Rhodes to bite him, figuring that he'd become a werewolf too."

Lassie shook her head, "That idiot. That sounds just like him."

"Well, yes, and it got him shot in the leg because once it became obvious that Rhodes was not going to do it Lap decided to open the door and go visit the real werewolves." Thibaudet pointed out.

"So where is he? I didn't see him." Lassie asked trying to peer out past the others. It then suddenly clicked, he was not here. That was why Pillow was crying, because Lapwolf was not coming back, something had happened and Lapwolf was now dead. She began to shiver, her eyes going distant. "Is he dead?"

"Yes. When Rhodes shifted, he stole Lap's body and took him off to eat him. Apparently the werewolves only eat the injured or the dead." Thibaudet turned away for a moment, a disturbed look in his eyes, "I let Rhodes take his body, I did nothing to stop him. I could have, but I didn't."

Lassie nodded, and then looked at her friends, they needed her. She walked past Thibaudet, who did not object, and came to sit beside HuggyBear and Pillow. Pillow's tears had dried, but his nose was still dripping and his eyes were still soggy. They both looked to Lassie, a vacant expression on their faces. Then the face was filled with sympathy and sorrow, for each of them. They all had lost somebody important to them, each of them had lost another friend, and only they could understand what it was like.

"Lassie, Lapwolf is dead," Pillow uttered, his voice devoid of any joy.

"Yes I know," Lassie nodded, and his head fell into her chest in anguish. Lassie cradled Pillow's head in her arms. She had felt pain, but he felt more. She brushed her hand through his hair, feeling the soft contours against her hands. She held him there as his weeping was renewed afresh. HuggyBear leaned back, trying not to look. Lassie continued to comb through Pillow's hair, straightening it, organizing it, and trying to calm the weakening boy. She meticulously organized it, each hair laid next to another in perfect alignment. His heart may be in chaos, but at least the hairs on his head, all of them numbered, would be in perfect order.

She was not sure who it calmed more, Pillow, or her. Lassie wondered for a moment whose heart was being the most mended by this. What was more rejuvenating, to receive help, or to give it oneself? Lassie felt as if she was healing her own wounds with the giving. Lovewolf may now be beautiful, but he was not more beautiful as a wolf than he had been when he and HuggyBear had been together sharing their lives together. Was that not what life was about, sharing it with another, having another who knew what gave you joy and what made you complete? With another, one was able to find fulfillment. While she may never have truly known such love, she knew what it was about. She wished that even after all of this there would be a way to reunite them as they should be, but it did not seem likely.

"Lovewolf is?" HuggyBear finally asked, unable to restrain himself anymore.

"Beautiful," Was all she could think to say.

HuggyBear nodded, sighing, trying not to let his own misery overtake him as well. Lassie continued combing through Pillow's hair as he lay there, his tears no longer flowing, but his body shaking with the all-encompassing misery every once in a while. She could say nothing to him that he probably hadn't already heard. She just sat there holding his head in her lap as he finally began to calm down. She did not expect him to get up so soon, but he did push himself to a sitting position. He was ashen faced, but calmer than before. He breathed deeply a few times, ignoring the questioning glances the others were giving him.

"Pillow?" Lassie queried. "Are you going to be okay?"

Pillow nodded, "Yes, I think I'll be fine."

Lassie nodded, rising to her own feet. "What about you?" Pillow asked, looking up at her. "Are you going to be all right."

Lassie shuddered, "I hope." Pillow turned away form her once again, losing himself in his private thoughts once more. Lassie looked about, seeing Thibaudet still standing over by the vent, probably contemplating. Jansen was deliberately ignoring them as he typed away into his computer. She felt in her pocket, it was still there. She had something else she had to do; it was something that would be very important to him. She calmly walked over, trying to hold her fear of rebuke or recrimination from him. For some reason, she did not want him mad at her, she wanted him to get up and be happy because of her. She still did not understand it.

She stopped in front of the desk, and looked down at him, as he gave her a warning glare. She pulled the ring from her pocket and cupped it in the palm of her hand. "I wanted to return this to you. I'm sorry I took it in the first place."

Jansen peered into her hand. His face went white and he stood up so fast that the chair behind him fell to the ground. He reached into her hand, and pulled the ring out, staring at it in the light. He turned it over looking at it in so many different ways that it seemed like he would never put it down. The almost perpetually gloomy demeanor was quickly replaced by one of near euphoria. He tried several times to say something, but each time it came out as nonsense. His whole body twitched and radiated such joy that she found it almost offensive in some way. How dare he be happy while others were not?

What happened next she was not sure if she was glad about or whether she was sickened. Jansen came around the desk and wrapped her up in both of his arms giving her a very big hug. She put her own arms around him, returning the hug gingerly as she felt herself nearly crushed from his embrace. "Thank you so much. You don't know how much this means to me." Jansen said into her ear. The words had a glow to them, almost celestial. Lassie nodded, unable to think of anything to say in response.

She noticed that others were watching them as well. Thibaudet was giving them a rather curious look, while Pillow and HuggyBear were more noncommittal. She was sure that Huggy was not as ambivalent as he let on, but she was not going to challenge him on it, not now. Pillow, well she wasn't really sure what Pillow was thinking. Lassie was not interested at all in what Thibaudet was thinking.

Jansen finally let go of her, and dashed back around his desk. He opened up the drawer, and then pulled out the black leather box, and carefully placed the diamond ring back inside. He held the box close to his chest for a moment, breathing deeply, his eyes closed. Memories of a time far better than this presumably. Lassie certainly could think of many such memories. She blanched as they all seemed to include friends that were now gone. She wondered what Jansen's involved. The ring, the ring that had never been given, given to whom? His lover, the one whom he would marry? What had happened to Jansen that made him so guardedly jealous of others even touching this ring?

Jansen sunk back into his chair, his whole desire to type gone, his whole desire to do much of anything was gone. He just stared happily into the stars above him, his eyes blinking several times, not really noticing anything else. Lassie came over and cleared one side of his desk off and sat down across from him. She stared into his face, the slim features, filled at once with rage, and then a moment later with forgotten love and joy. What was he like? What had he seen? Whom had he lost?

"What're you thinking about?" Lassie finally asked him.

Jansen did not turn to look at her, but instead moved his mouth for a minute without saying anything at all. Finally his eyes drifted from their heavenly perch back to her rather plain face, "I was thinking of old times. I was thinking of the reason I keep that ring. When I lost it, I just couldn't think of anything else. Now that you've given it back to me... well things are just looking right once again." He gave her a little smile and a nod of his head. She returned it.

"Who was the ring for?"

"Somebody special." Jansen looked longingly out into nothing.

Lassie nodded. "You never got to give her the ring did you?"

Jansen shook his head, "No, she left me for another. I wanted to ask her hand in marriage, but apparently, I loved her more than she loved me. We had some wonderful times together though." Jansen stared dreamily off into the stars again.

"Do you still love her?" Lassie felt like she wanted to hug him now. This was so terribly tragic; the one that he had loved had deserted him for another. It felt like what Lovewolf had done to her. He had been her friend but she had deserted him for his lupine pack. She felt like she was in some sort of bizarre soap opera. If things went according to soap opera style, Jansen and her would be going behind the ferns in another fifteen minutes for some mutual sympathies.

She laughed to herself, but did not let Jansen know that.

Jansen was tapping a pencil to his chin, his eyes glazed over. He sighed and shook his head, "In a way I still do, but not as much as I did when we were together I guess. I'd rather just be happy knowing that my love was not lost completely." He fingered the black leather box, stroking it affectionately.

Lassie gave him a bright smile, "I hope you can find somebody more worthy of that ring someday."

Jansen looked her in the face and gave a small chuckle, "I hope so too."

When Throckmorton finally walked into the pressroom ten minutes later, he was completely prepared. A few of his press-aides followed after him carrying the tripod and the pictures, with their backs to the press so that Throckmorton could reveal them later. There were three tripods, each with one picture resting on the frame's crossbar. He was going to knock them off of their feet, and he knew exactly what to say. He hoped that this was going to work. The revelation that the man with the tan suit and pipe was a Hasmonean was not anything that disturbed him greatly. For some odd sort of reason, it only seemed fitting. Why not, of course. He was probably the one who got the tapes off the ship too. Still, it made no difference; he did not control the press, from this point on they were Throckmorton's.

Of course, they all began immediately shouting questions his way as soon as he stepped into the room. He ignored them, walking straight for the podium. He held up his hands, motioning for them to be silent, his face calm, deliberate. He was not about to betray any expressions of lack of confidence. There would not be a single verbal comma in his answers. He would be poised, ever ready for the grand slam of all questions; ones designed to tear him into the ground. He was also ready for the charges and accusations that were most certainly going to fly again him. He was prepared for each and every one of them. He may not have all the answers, but this time, classified information was not going to be a good enough excuse, with a few notable exceptions. He would not reveal the current situation on the ship, or his suspicions about the Hasmonean angle, but that was pretty much the extent of it.

He scanned the crowd, looking at all the faces of each trying to be the first to get in a question. He grabbed a nearby gavel, and began pounding the podium with it, anything to get the crowd to shut up. He saw many familiar faces; in fact most of them were from the same press meeting earlier. He saw the man with the false toupee and wire-framed glasses sitting in the front row, one of the few major respectable networks that was giving complete coverage of the story. The others were sure to be here now after the video footage came in. There was the beak-nosed man from some obscure paper that he had never heard of sitting in the middle. Even the man with the bright red mustache that had stuttered his entire question the last time was there. And of course, the man in the light tan suit with the pipe hanging out one side of his mouth was there; he sat towards the back of the room leaning back in his chair with his legs crossed; he looked completely at ease, no hint of any intent in his face at all.

Staring at the man's face, that bright almost cheery expression reminded him of something, but he couldn't quite place what. He shrugged it off, probably nothing important. He was under a lot of pressure these days, and his mind could very easily be playing tricks on him. Right now he had to focus on what was important, and the fact that he was a Hasmonean was not that important in the grand scheme of things. "Ladies and gentlemen of the press, please, I have a few statements that I'd like to make and then I will take questions one at a time. Please remain silent unless you are called upon to ask a question." The chatter quickly died down after that. They were after his statements; they wanted to catch him in a lie.

Throckmorton licked his lips as he went over the quickly constructed speech in his mind. He had to be perfect, no screw-ups, he had to remain confident and sure of himself. He had to ensure that he kept his job, they kept their lives, and the world kept its sanity. "I would like to say that everything I told you before was true at the time. Rumors of the werewolf have gotten out of hand and have been exaggerated and blow out of proportion. There are no werewolves on board the Pytheas, despite what you saw on those film clips. Yet at the same time I want every person to recognize those clips as very much authentic tapes from aboard the Pytheas.

"Now, I know that sounds contradictory, but every word of it is true. There is no werewolf problem on board the Pytheas. That situation has gotten slightly out of hand, but it is not a problem. The problem still remains with refueling the ship so that the unfortunate souls on board the Pytheas can come back home to us. Each one of them is a living human being; each one of them is scared that they might never see the Earth again. This is a very emotional time for all of us, and the last thing they need is for this simple experiment that has grown beyond the bounds of its original purposes to be blown out of proportion down here.

"Now, we all saw the actions up there, we all saw the transformation on video. We all saw what happened to the man with the rifle. Let's face facts, that was not the prettiest thing in the world to witness. I didn't like seeing it myself. I want to assure you however, that both men are alive and well, neither is hurt anymore nor is having any physical problems. Let me simplify that. Neither of the two men you saw in the video with the metamorphosis are dead. Both of them are still alive. Both of them are going to be coming back to Earth with the rest of the crew.

"You, as you probably ought to be, are wondering just why I am so sure of myself in this. One of the research experiments, I cannot say by whom that is confidential, was involving metamorphic materials. This is a very radical branch of science, and most people these days are just beginning to glimpse its possibilities. A metamorphic material will reshape the very structure of your body, in almost any conceivable way. Don't look at me like you don't believe it possible, you all saw the clip. It is authentic I assure you. However, the benefits go beyond just becoming what you have seen here. That was a test run conducted in a closed environment on willing subjects.

"Now, just think, no longer will replacement limbs have to be vat grown, they can be grown right out of your own body. That is one thing that can come of this, as long as long as the research is given a chance to continue. If this gets blown out of proportion, that might not happen." Throckmorton took a quick sip of water from the glass that always seemed to be full there. He knew he was making promises he couldn't keep. That was okay, because the task to fulfill that would fall to the one who was responsible, and they knew it.

"Now, one might be wondering what advantage there is to what appears at first glance to be a werewolf. I assure you, there is no such thing, once again that was a rumor that got started because of a misinterpretation with the Shapeshifters. The Shapeshifters oddly enough were not on this trip as was originally announced to worship the moon but to participate in this experiment. Nobody else on the ship was supposed to be affected, but due to the engine failure and subsequent problems things have gotten a bit hectic up there. A lot of people have been infected and become what you call werewolves, but what I call miracles of modern science and human intellectual achievement. It is my intent to make sure that they receive full recompense for this unfortunate turn of affairs. Attempts are being made to get this under order and to return these man made wolves to men again.

"Of course, there are human beings we are talking about here. Despite what that video showed, these are real people. Let me introduce you to them." Throckmorton stepped away from the podium and walked over to the first tripod. He turned over the picture that was resting there. It was Malcolm Danielpour's rigid looking visage. "This face may be familiar to you. This is Lieutenant Malcolm Danielpour. He was the miracle that you all saw shapeshift. The experiment that was being conducted was to determine if one who had been killed would when treated also come back to life. As you saw, it was a success. Danielpour died in the engine failure, but now he is alive again. He grew up in Washington State, near Seattle in fact, and has two brothers and one sister. His parents are still alive, and they are going to be very worried about him. He has two nephews that he goes to visit every time he is on leave. He is a man, not the monster you all have made him to be.

"Here is another supposed monster." Throckmorton spat the word out contemptuously as he turned the next picture over. It was of John Corigliano. "This should be another familiar face to you all, and name too. You have asked me before whether this man was alive, you saw him apparently be killed, but what you didn't see was that he is now once more alive. John Corigliano, like Lt. Danielpour before him, has become a shining example of the genius of man's ability to progress beyond the confines of his own body's limitations. John served in the air force for ten years before transferring over to us, and in that time he has an exemplary record without any citations or reprimands. This man has served his country proudly and faithfully to a fault. Should we castigate him just because at the moment he may have fur? I hardly think so.

"And here one last face for you all to remember." He walked to the last tripod and turned the image around, and took a deep breath when he saw it. "This man is named Captain Havergal Rhodes. He is a dear personal friend of mine. He has been with us for many years, never deterring from his duty, even taking time to make sure that his team was a friendly one and that they all liked each other. He went above and beyond the call of duty in so many ways, including in his personal life. He is an only child, who has never been married, but he has had love before. Like many human beings, he lost that love. Now, through a freak accident, because of some mechanical oversight, he too is going to be joining the ranks of what you all have dared to term 'monsters'.

"The werewolves as has been agreed they are, are not really anything but humans who have changed in shape. They are still who they once were, and will be so again. If we can consciously make ourselves ignore this fact for the sheer desire for sensationalism or just to get attention, then we are less deserving to be human beings than these men who no longer look like human begins deserve to be. As I said, along with the rescue operation there is an on going effort to reverse the process. I have been assured that the most drastic effects will wear off in time, but this is the start of a science that is not beyond the capability of the human mind to understand. This is something that will change the world, but it is not a werewolf. Let me say that again, this is not a werewolf." Throckmorton returned to the podium, took another drink to quench his parched throat, and then looked out at the skeptical faces before him. "Are there any questions?"

The man with the fake toupee of course had his hand in the air quickly. Throckmorton nodded at him and he peered up, recorder at the ready. "If these are just humans with fur, then why did Danielpour rip Corigliano's chest out? It looked to me that John was quite frightened."

Throckmorton smiled, "I know, it did to me too when I first saw it. However, after talking with the others, I found out that it was a manner of play-acting. They wanted to see just how quickly it would take affect. John agreed to perform the operation, on the guarantee that he would be reverted once it was over, and made Danielpour who was now waking up to find himself in a very lupine body. The attempt was to get Malcolm to use the lupine instincts, to see if they were present. This is a study in psychology as well as physiology after all. Don't worry, Danielpour has been debriefed and is doing fine." The lies came so easily; they were things that could never be proved. It didn't matter anyway; the situation was irrevocably out of his hands.

"If they aren't werewolves, then why did they change under the light of the full moon?" the beak-nosed man asked next.

"The full moon was just a publicity stunt, it has nothing that I know of to do with the process." Throckmorton gave the man a confidant smile. Truly, he was in much better control of this audience than he had been the last time.

He waited for more questions, but amazingly enough, the room was pretty silent. He did not remember ever being at a press meeting in which there were so few questions asked. Perhaps he had answered them al in his speech. No, that could not be it at all.

"Why did you lie to us last time?" one of the Tabloids asked petulantly.

"I did not lie to you. I just withheld pertinent information that you were not ready to deal with."

"So you are only telling us this because of those videos?" he pushed.

"Something along that line." Throckmorton gave him a knowing look and then stared across the room, wondering if there would be another word spoken. He took a look at the man in the back, with his pipe hanging out of his mouth. He was smiling.

End Part XVII

Charles Matthias