Sierra was like Dr. Fabre once. She was nieve. Dr. Fabre knew the truth. So, what is Dr. Fabre planning and what does she really know? Could she be the one responsible for Sierra’s fate? Find out in the next chapter of Catching Time!
[Read First Chapter Here.]
Chapter 13: Everything She Wanted
A large antique clock chimed, it echoed through every hallway and crevice of the house. Everything inside the building looked perfect. It almost looked like no one lived inside. To an outsider, the building looked frozen in time.
The house belonged to Annabelle Fabre.
At a large dining room table, Dr. Fabre sat alone. She was reading over her files as she sipped on water and ate her egg salad. Nothing concerned her because she controlled time.
Sierra was like her once. Every trip back in the timeline was new and exciting. Maybe, Sierra thought she was making the world a better place. That was nieve. Annabelle knew the truth. She knew that no matter how much people tried, they couldn’t stop human nature. No matter what any organization or government did, they couldn’t stop this war.
Dr. Fabre knew because she tried and failed. Instead, she’d make life easier. Well, easier on herself anyway. There was a reason why she lived in the perfect house, had access to be genetically modified, and was virtually untouched by the war. She made it that way.
“Briggs, call my ride,” Dr. Fabre said as she flipped through a page. She closed the file. Avery’s documents were now complete.
“Yes, doctor,” The voice belonging to Briggs said through her cell. He was Dr. Fabre’s newest personal assistant. The short man was a voice command away. Dr. Fabre didn’t want to see a physical trace of him until she needed him. She had him in his own separate waiting room until called upon.
Getting up, she placed her napkin on her plate, briefly organized her papers next to a worn journal, and tucked the paperwork neatly under her arm. Satisfied with her work, she pushed in her chair and strode down the hallway with a purpose.
Her footsteps echoed through the hallway. Nothing in the house was personal except one portrait that was nestled behind an unused coat rack by the front door. It was the only object visible that had a trace of imperfections. The sun had eaten into the edges, and the colors were turned to a tinted yellow.
It was the only reminder of Dr. Fabre’s past.
Annabelle smiled brightly through the picture frame, her eyes creasing at the corners, making her look older and even more attractive. Happiness suited her. In the photo, a man had his arm around her shoulders, and they both had hands resting over a golden retriever with bright yellow eyes.
As Dr. Fabre walked to the front door, she didn’t even glance at the picture. It was now a part of the furniture, there for decoration but of no sentimental value. The photo was no longer a reminder of who she had been. She had chosen to move forward with her life, and everyone she loved had decided not to. It was something a time machine couldn’t fix.
Briggs stood in the hallway by the front door and opened it for her. He took a small glance at the photo and was about ready to open his mouth but thought better of it when Dr. Fabre shot him a glare. She walked towards a black car that was parked in the driveway.
“Take me to the Organization, Briggs.”
“Yes, Dr. Fabre,” Briggs responded. He followed her down the driveway, opened the car door, and held it open as Dr. Fabre slipped inside. He fidgeted slightly before speaking again, “Ma’am, it’s rather strange that you keep that book and those papers with you. Are you sure you don’t want me to upload them?”
Dr. Fabre shot him another glare.
“It was only a suggestion,” he stood up straighter.
“An unfortunate suggestion and never call me ma’am.”
“Yes, Dr. Fabre.” He closed the door before he could mess up again.
Dr. Fabre sat back in her seat. This was going to be Brigg’s last trip to The Organization, he wasn’t working out. Finding a new assistant would be easy, but the hard part was finding one that wouldn’t ask so many questions. She hated employees that pried.
The car started, she flipped her book and the files over in her lap as she felt the car start with a low rumble. One thing she would never do was upload the contents of her work to a server. Even if the server belonged to The Organization.
There was something about paper that always felt so human. It was the opposite of what Dr. Fabre had made herself. If you made a mistake you had to erase it, the paper never returning back to its former glory. There was always a smudge of led, a crinkle on the surface, or the little flakes of an eraser.
It was like time itself.
When a group was ordered to go back and alter the timeline, a crease was made. Soon, there would be so many creases that it would be impossible to time travel. Dr. Fabre had heard an example that time was like an old cassette tape that could be rewritten over and over again. Each time, the little black tape would become thinner and thinner until it tore. The files that she had and her book were a reminder of that.
The power that she had now would not last forever if used unwisely.
Dr. Fabre opened up her book. The handwriting was hers but not hers even though Dr. Fabre was the author. Well, some other version of herself was. According to her book, everything was going as planned. She had calculated everything.
If she made any false move, she’d be killed.
Reading through her notes, Dr. Fabre had no idea why her future self had chosen Sierra. In her book, she said that they could have chosen anyone with an impulse control problem and a chip on their shoulder. Everything just started to align right when Sierra was brought in by her brother. Until recently, this version of herself had never met Sierra in person.
Nothing about the woman seemed imposing. Although Dr. Fabre could see that Sierra was brash. Dr. Fabre didn’t really care for her. She was only here in this era because of her brother bringing her in for a joyride. Dr. Fabre fixed it so Sierra could stay. She meant nothing for her own timeline and everything for this one.
Avery, on the other hand, Dr. Fabre almost felt sorry for. Avery was only a pawn, she was only sent because of Sierra’s eventual attachment to her. It didn’t matter much about who she was, and that’s what made Avery’s situation so unfortunate. Dr. Fabre thought it was a shame she had to spend her time getting strung along by someone so bullheaded and trigger happy.
Darkness engulfed the car as it passed under a tunnel. Dr. Fabre felt the familiar blip as the vehicle was transported off the island and back to what was left of the United States or, more specifically, San Francisco. Dr. Fabre and Briggs continued their journey to The Organization through a winding road. They were surrounded by destruction.
The word fate turned over in Dr. Fabre’s mind as she looked at the charred Earth. She hated how inevitable the word fate sounded, but she had learned that some meetings were fate.
The thing about time travel was that it was hard to alter fate.
Sierra and Avery had met in every alteration of the timeline, no matter how Dr. Fabre moved it. Sierra had shot Avery in each iteration. Dr. Fabre couldn’t believe they were actually compatible, that Avery would be the person Sierra would burn the world for. Right now, she just didn’t see it.
Dr. Fabre tried so many options, her book was filled with scribbles of past failures. She couldn’t believe it took her decades to figure out how this actually worked. For example—if you tried to save someone from dying in a car crash and let them live their lives in their own continued timeline, they’d die from choking on a hot dog two days later. If you moved them to a different era, they could live out their lives. It’s how they started recruiting for The Organization and military.
This was why the war could never be stopped. Dr. Fabre gave up, preventing it and moved her efforts to stop her eventual assassination. Even if she was just buying herself time, another seventy years was better than five months.
She wasn’t ready to die, she couldn’t mess this up.
The car stopped at the entrance of The Organization. A slam of the drivers’ side door was heard, followed by a scuffle of compact footprints as Briggs made his way to open her door.
“Anything else I can do for you, Dr. Fabre?” Briggs opened the passenger door to the car.
“Yes, I want you to escort yourself off of the premises.” Dr. Fabre said calmly as she placed the flats of her feet on the pavement and stood up to her full height. She towered over the man, and it wasn’t just because of her height. The woman was imposing when she wanted to be.
“Dr. Fabre?” The short man stood frozen.
“You’re fired, Briggs.” Dr. Fabre said simply before walking away towards the entrance.
It was time to visit another pawn. This may save Dr. Fabre’s life and end another’s, but that didn’t really matter to her. Not anymore.
“Are you here to see inmate A24?” The woman behind the reception desk asked. The woman shifted anxiously, where she stood, her wax-like skin was unremarkable next to Dr. Fabre’s.
It really wasn’t anyone’s intention that there should be a site in The Organization that held prisoners. It started with the military once they realized that you really couldn’t mix time-traveling deserters with the regular population of inmates. It was a security risk. The Organization didn’t want the general population to really know what they were doing.
Sure the people of the ‘2090s knew that time travel exists, but The Organization didn’t want them to know the details.
“Yes, I’d like to have a short talk with her.” Dr. Fabre replied and smiled politely. She knew the woman at the reception desk recognized her. It wasn’t every day that Dr. Fabre made a personal visit to anyone in The Organization. It was even less common to see her when she was low ranking, pulling strings behind the scenes. Dr. Fabre had tried to stay as low-profile as possible until recently.
“I’ll have her in room A05 if you want to take a seat while you wait.” The woman smiled back.
“That would be great, Thank you.”
Dr. Fabre made herself comfortable in the waiting room, but she didn’t have to wait long, the woman from the reception desk walked up to her within a few minutes. The woman appeared as though she didn’t know what to do with her hands as she stood there awkwardly.
“She’s waiting for you when you’re ready. I’ll escort you to the room.”
“Yes, thank you.” Dr. Fabre got up and walked with the woman to one of the doors with a digital lock key. The woman stopped and stepped to the side as she started entering in the code.
“I’m a big fan, by the way. I’m so glad I get to finally meet you,” The woman said as the digital key turned green.
“Is that so. I’m glad you think so highly of me.” Dr. Fabre said mechanically. She was actually tired of hearing it from her peers. It was apparent from the woman’s demeanor that she was starstruck.
“It’s not every day you get to meet the founder of time travel.” The woman smiled again as she placed her hand on the key lock, and a light traced her fingers.
“Yes, that almost seems like another life.” Dr. Fabre wanted the woman to get on with her job. She hoped she wouldn’t get asked for an autograph.
“They should have done this a long time ago. I mean, have one of the founders in charge of the project. The military doesn’t really know what to do with this technology.” The lock stopped tracing her, and the door opened with a whoosh.
“I’m glad you think that if only everyone did,” Dr. Fabre replied as she placed her hand on the woman’s shoulder and leaned into her ear. The woman tensed up under her, blushing. Dr. Fabre was positive that she had just made the woman’s day. She smiled one last time at the woman and casually walked inside the interrogation room.
In the middle of the room, a small woman with black hair was sitting down and handcuffed to the table. She lifted her head and glared at Dr. Fabre with uninterest. It was night and day from her last interaction. This was going to be interesting.
“Bliar Lee, I’ve heard all about you.” Dr. Fabre smiled, breaking the silence as she sat down in the chair across from Bliar.
Bliar was the last person Sierra was close to. She was her best friend and extremely bright when it came to her work. Unfortunately, she was just as impulsive as Sierra. They both caused trouble when on their own or together. Bliar was extremely malleable because of her intense emotions. Dr. Fabre just needed to plant the right idea for Bliar to do what she wanted. Bliar only had to believe that she could save Sierra.
“Have we met before?” Bliar sat up straighter. “I can’t tell anymore, you all look the same.” Blair looked at Dr. Fabre dismissively.
“Hmm,” Dr. Fabre hummed, she needed an icebreaker. “I can tell why Sierra likes you.” She decided that she was going to drop Sierra’s name early. Dr. Fabre wasn’t going to drag the conversation with small talk. She needed Bliar to know why she was there.
“I have nothing to say to you.”
“Then listen.” Dr. Fabre tried to keep her composure. She didn’t like it when people disobeyed her. “Do you want to know why The Organization is after Sierra.”
“I heard she started this war. I don’t believe it.” Bliar shrugged. “Sierra’s not a monster, unlike you.
“I thought you didn’t know who I was?” This time Dr. Fabre grinned; she caught Bliar in her lie because they did briefly know each other. Bliar was one of the only field employees that would come and talk to the technician staff and upper management. That’s how she had met Victor.
“I-uh-fine, I know who you are.” Bliar shrugged.
“How do you know I’m a monster?”
“You give off that feeling.”
“I’m sure you’re an excellent judge of character. I’m sure Victor would agree.” Dr. Fabre crossed her legs under the table. She could see Bliar’s mood shift.
Bliar fidgeted with her handcuffs, a brief flash of anger streaked across her face. “Don’t say his name,” Bliar shot back.
“What about Sierra, I’m sure you know her pretty well too.” Dr. Fabre switched the subject back to Sierra. She was getting Bliar just where she wanted her. Both topics were still fresh wounds.
“No, Sierra wouldn’t,” Bliar looked at her as she became defensive, “she would never hurt anyone on purpose.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Yes. I know you met the woman that Sierra accidentally shot,” Bliar paused for a moment to make her point. “Sierra put me through a lot of shit trying to nurse her back to health. Have you ever met anyone that would do that? Then, that same woman came back and told me Sierra killed Victor. That’s a lie… that ungrateful bitch.”
“Is that so?” Dr. Fabre watched Bliar. She was obviously already getting worked up.
“Yes, it is. I don’t know what you’re doing here, but you’re not going to convince me that Sierra’s a killer. You need to leave her alone, she didn’t kill Victor, and she’s not starting this war. This is all just a big misunderstanding.”
“You really believe in your friend, don’t you?”
“Yes!” Bliar sat back in her chair, exasperated.
“Sometimes, people change over time.” It was easy to tell Bliar was ready to defend Sierra with everything she had.
“Not Sierra, listen to me, please.” Bliar stood up the best she could with her hands planted firmly on the table. She wasn’t able to move from it because of the handcuffs.
“You know what, let’s take a walk. I’m sure you’re tired of seeing the inside of this building,” Dr. Fabre said, figuring out that Bliar was even more loyal than Dr. Fabre was anticipating. She hoped that this was a good thing, but she wasn’t quite sure.
Outside, the sky was blue, and the grounds around The Organization looked flush with greenery. Walking trails lined the outside of the building, but not all was what it seemed to be. Military guards lined the perimeter of the grounds. Outside of the greenery, the land was scorched. A few skyscrapers lined the distance of makeshift apartment arrangements for the workers and military personnel of The Organization.
Bliar walked next to Dr. Fabre, standing out in an orange jumpsuit, her hands were cuffed in front of her. The guards eyed her cautiously as the two walked by.
“Isn’t this better than being inside?” Dr. Fabre strode confidently next to Bliar.
“Sure.” Bliar shrugged, her expression was unreadable as she looked at the ground.
“Let’s cut to the point.” Dr. Fabre led Bliar to the edge of the grass until they were looking out into the territory beyond The Organization. “You know who I am, and you know what my job is. If you don’t, then the easiest way to explain it is that I’m the person put in charge to prevent that.” Dr. Fabre pointed to the scorched Earth beyond The Organization.
“I know you want me to testify against my best friend, right?” Bliar didn’t look where Dr.Fabre was pointing but straight at her instead, “You want the remainder of the planet to feel great that they have a person to connect to this disaster. I’m not going to sell your lies.” Bliar started to get animated again.
“No,” Dr. Fabre shook her head, her voice was slow and steady, “I want you to stop her so none of this will ever happen,” Dr. Fabre waited for Bliar’s reaction.
“What?” Bliar’s eyebrows furrowed.
“You’re her best friend.” Dr. Fabre eyed Bliar, “Sierra will change. I know you don’t believe me, but she will.”
“But stop her, I don’t get it?”
“I made the mistake of sending a match to dry kindling. That woman that I sent after her, she’s the same woman that you met.”
“You mean the one that Sierra shot?” Bliar still looked confused.
“Yes, her name is Avery Rozario, and she needs to be stopped before she can influence your friend.” Dr. Fabre replied, finally getting to her point. This is what Dr. Fabre wanted, she wanted to destroy everyone that Sierra cared for. What would make it perfect was to get them to extinguish each other. It would be the thing to push Sierra over the edge and what Dr. Fabre needed, “Avery’s an excellent liar, but I’m sure you know this.”
“A single woman convinces Sierra to become a killer?” Bliar still wasn’t sold.
“It’s not as simple as that, but when you put it that way, yes,” Dr. Fabre said, but she was starting to doubt this tactic. It wouldn’t work, to begin with, if Bliar never believed Sierra was responsible for the war.
“Sierra needs her friends to remind her who she is.”
“You don’t know her very well. Sierra doesn’t need me to remind her about anything, her beliefs are pretty unbudgeable. I should know,” Blair said, it looked as though she was making up her mind. “You’re the one that’s not telling me the truth,” she finished.
“So, you won’t save Sierra,” Dr. Fabre eyed Bliar. She didn’t want her to hesitate in her answer, but she could tell that this wasn’t working.
“No,” Bliar looked at Dr. Fabre as though her decision was final. “I don’t trust you, a single woman can’t convince Sierra to do this. You’re lying.”
This wasn’t the reply Dr. Fabre was hoping for. She realized this wasn’t going to work, it was a waste that she took the drive over here. Her book had said it was going to be easy, but Bliar was stubborn, and Dr. Fabre was getting nowhere. She was going to have to try again, and she’d need someone else to do the convincing. Dr. Fabre was ready to cut her losses and reset Bliar’s memory the same way Sierra had done to Avery.
“If that’s what you want,” Dr. Fabre really didn’t like when people disobeyed her, “You could have made this easy on yourself.”
Dr. Fabre lifted up her hand and raised three fingers. One of the guards that had his eyes on them pressed a button on a device on his wrist. It triggered the safety of Blair’s handcuffs, causing a shock to go through the wrists of the cuffs. The cuffs had a safety mechanism that was stronger than a taser. Dr. Fabre watched as Bliar’s eyes rolled back in her head, and she fell to her knees.
“Are you okay?” A guard ran up to them but addressed Dr. Fabre.
“I will be.” Dr. Fabre smiled. She watched as Bliar fell from her knees to the grass. “Can you carry her to testing room W?”
“Yes, Dr. Fabre,” The guard said.
Dr. Fabre walked back to The Organization alone. This went horribly, but she was still going to get what she wanted. Dr. Fabre had more than one trick up her sleeve. Bliar would be sent after Avery, and she was going to do it out of her own free will. For Dr. Fabre’s full plan to work, one of the two needed to die, and it needed to be by each other’s hand. It needed to be orchestrated perfectly for it to work.
There was no rush, Dr. Fare had all the time in the world.