Part 4


Tsar arrived at Jr. Command with but a few minutes to spare. Still reeling from the unexpected, indirect contact with the woman who made an appearance at the Old Orphanage, he noticed on his desk a manila folder labeled; Operation Memories.

What’s this?

Inside the folder he pulled out a typed written report titled:

Cargo One – Jagged Island.

Instantly, images displayed in his mind as a mixture of aromas assaulted him; human waste, rotting flesh, and chlorine. He rubbed his nose trying to rub the offensive scents away as he looked to the symbol heading.

The heading had the same symbol that was also on the entry door of the training school; a small owl sitting on a book. Tsar read quickly through the few paragraphs, and on instinct, he pulled out his knife.

The report stated events that Tsar mostly knew about because he’d lived them. But what troubled him was – who had left this? When, and why?

Within the windowless chamber, Tsar sat at his desk with a small fluorescent light capturing only the document directly beneath. At the bottom, an entire sentence was scratched out.

Is this another test?

Three light taps at the door averted his attention from these questions: why was there a sentence scratched out and why a report on this particular time in his life? He looked over his shoulder to see the door push in, just wide enough for his contact to slip inside.


Without turning to directly face the man, Tsar inquired, “Did Chief Fitz receive the invitation?”

“Yes, sir. He’ll be in attendance for the upcoming Regional meeting.”

Tsar tapped the desk, “And the players for Solstice celebrations?”

“Yes, sir. Several will be in key places and in variety. Each has their method of receiving orders. No locality will be left unattended during the celebrations.”

“Do you have pictures so I can familiarize their faces?”

“Yes, sir.”

Tsar turned to his contact as the man pulled out several photos from an envelope and set them on the desk. Tsar shuffled through them. Some were beautiful, some crude, some plain, some ugly, some fat, some emaciated; Men and women, young and old. Strange is strange. Sex is sex. Keep the members and associates happy, keep them addicted, keep them subjugated.

Tsar put the pictures back in the envelope and set them on the side of his desk. “What’s arranged for the elite members?”

His contact reached into his back pocket, pulled out another envelope, and handed it to Tsar. “Some of the best from the surrounding cities.”

Tsar quickly rummaged through the faces, memorizing each one. Flipping to one in particular, he hesitated, a female he worked with in the studio from LakeRidge.


Tsar handed Butterfly’s picture back to his contact, “Take this one off the list. Her caliber is of a different class. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. Will there be anything else?”

Setting the pictures of the elite players to the side, he scooted his chair back, stood, and faced his contact. Tsar squared his shoulders and stood to full height, hovering over the man by a clear four inches. Quietly he studied the man’s demeanor; his body language, his face, and finally locked eyes with him. Having only been recently introduced, Tsar detected a weakness in the man. Network records showed him to be incredibly efficient, and with his ties to the Village, his position, and his history in general, Tsar had agreed to work with him.


“You know the saying, ‘a man’s command is only as strong as his weakest link.’ Do you understand?”

His eyes held steady with Tsar’s and, without hesitation, his contact responded, “Yes, sir.”

Not convinced that the man was as loyal as was necessary for this position, he ordered him, “Watch the house and property. Keep me informed on any activity that might interfere.”

Again his eyes steady, convincing, “Yes, sir.”

Tsar handed him a list of items. “Prepare tracking devices and establish both video and audio surveillance immediately but not in the bedrooms. The home will be available this evening, you have two hours. Get me some cocaine to keep on hand should I need to be alert.”

“Yes, sir. Surveillance will be set up this evening. Should I leave additional necessities here as well?”

Tsar handed him a key. “Yes. And surveillance is also set up in here. If I have trust issues with you – you die. Understood?”

Without any quizzical response or expression, the man replied, “Yes, sir.”

Tsar held his eyes upon the man for a few seconds longer before turning back to business, “You know Chief Fitz fairly well. Tell me. Will he challenge my position?”

Without wavering, the man answered, “Yes. Yet I believe the meeting’s agenda tomorrow night will relinquish any challenge from the start.”

To be certain to stay within time perimeters, his contact looked down at his watch.

Tsar inquired, “I understand Fitz made a special request and that the Regional’s will be responding to it at this meeting. Do you know what it is?”

“According to my contacts, the Chief frequents the Phoenix Center for services. I’d wager with the new possibilities here in the Village, he’d like to initiate sister operations.”

So the Chief is, at least in-part, responsible for the resuscitation of the Old Orphanage and the channels beneath. Hmm…

Tsar had studied the Phoenix organization. His contact was not privy to know the depth of operations within the Phoenix Center – only the middle ground. The middle ground held some risk but the operations deep beneath? There’s no way to reconcile such exposure in the Village should it be compromised as it had been decades ago by the local man. This degree of madness left a sick feeling in Tsar’s gut.

Without responding to the information drop, Tsar concluded their meeting, “If you see me in public, you don’t know me. If I speak to you in public, you don’t know me. If you betray me, your family dies. Understood?”

Again, no emotional response as his contact replied, “Yes, sir.”

“We have to move quickly to establish the area in accordance with Network code. Carry out your assignments and prepare to watch the home front. Is there anything else for me?”

“No, sir.”


Tsar looked back at the door as his contact exited and considered that his assigned contact seemed to take things in stride.

He had concluded, upon his first-time meeting with the man, that he had a certain respect for Francine Manning. He admired and perhaps even desired her. It was likely that, while it was Captain Sylar Downs assignment to watch Manning’s property over the past few years, the man began to see Chase Manning’s wife more intimately.

Francine Churchill, the young girl that had brazenly entered Tsar’s world so many years ago.

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