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FIC - Primeval - Damage Control (Tangled Web Series), PG (K+)

Damage Control

 

A Story in the Tangled Web Series

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”  Sir Walter Scott

Title: Damage Control
Author: maddie_amber
rating: K+ (PG)
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, the characters of Primeval don’t belong to me.  I’m just borrowing them and I promise I will put them back when I’m done.  No infringement intended. 
Characters: Lester, Jess
Paring: Becker/Jess implied but not established
Summary:  Above all else, James Lester hated damage control.  Not for the first time he wished Jenny Lewis was still on staff

 

 

Above all else, James Lester hated damage control.  Yet, increasingly he found himself in a position which required creative obfuscation to divert attention from recurrent anomalies and their accompanying often fatal creature incursions.  It was one thing to bandy to the superstitious, conspiracy theories of the deluded, but to explain the obliteration of a child who had done nothing more devious than act out at school was beyond his realm.  He sighed deeply, and not for the first time wished Jenny Lewis was still on staff.  She had been damn good at her job and he had found no one quite as capable. 

“They’re back.”  Jess Parker popped into his office long enough to disrupt his increasingly foul mood. 

“Excuse me?” he questioned.  It had been a long and annoying morning with the anomaly at the McKinnon School and Burton’s inexplicable desire to order the mass extinction of numerous already extinct species, none of whom Lester would personally miss.  He had little patience left. 

“They’re back from the school.  They’ve taken Captain Becker to the infirmary.  I was going down there now to see how he was doing.” Jess had turned and was halfway to the door when he spoke.

“Miss Parker,” he said in his most intractable voice, “that will have to wait.  I’m sure the medics will do just fine without your assistance.  We have more important matters to attend to.”

“But…”

“No buts.”  Jess’s face dropped and for a moment Lester almost succumbed to her devastated expression.  He had suspected for some time that their all-too-young team coordinator had more than a casual interest in the ARC’s head of security.  From his office perched above the main operations floor he had seen the look on her face when no one else was present, a radiant cheerfulness reserved exclusively for Captain Becker.  Lester suspected the feeling might be mutual though neither of them actually knew that yet or were willing to admit it.  It appeared most of the ARC personnel were suspect, and he had even heard rumor of a betting pool of some sort.  A rumor he had done his best to squash.

Right now their personal relationship was irrelevant.  He needed Jess's full and undivided attention as well as her considerable skill at ferreting out the facts.  Besides which, the medics would operate much more efficiently if she were occupied elsewhere. 

"I need your particularly eloquent, or should I say brilliant, capability at locating information."

"Couldn't Connor…?"

"Connor should be busy writing a report of his own.  So I need you."

Lester ignored this crestfallen version of Jess's normally bubbly persona, though he did wonder if there was something bothering her besides the current state of Captain Becker.  None-the-less, distracting her might be beneficial for her, and would definitely help him make order of the current mess.  Debacle might be a better word choice.

"Yes," Jess responded in a defeated tone. 

"As you well know we need to create a story to explain the current situation."

"Cover-up you mean?" she said glumly. 

"Yes," he agreed and was pleased to see her raise an eyebrow in surprise as he agreed with her, anything to get her motivated to the task.  "Two people, two innocents, died today.  I do not need to tell you that.  But we need to create a convincing explanation as to why.  To do that I need information and I need it quickly.  We do not have an abundance of time to fabricate our story.  I need as much as you can uncover about the backgrounds of the teacher and the young girl."  Jess flinched slightly, and Lester did not fail to notice.  "You should probably give priority to the teacher.  While you are working on that task, I will be briefing the minister."  When Jess did not move immediately he motioned her out the door with a wave of his hand.  She turned on her heel and left, but not before her expression changed from a pleading glance to a somewhat annoyed pout.  Had she been just a bit younger, she would have said she stomped from his office. 

With a series of rapid phone calls Lester contacted the appropriate officials and arranged for the closing of the school on the pretense that there had been a toxic chemical spill in one of the laboratories that required clean-up.  Considering Connor's activities there that statement was not completely untrue, he told himself.  He ordered teams into the building to obliterate all traces of the incursion and anomaly.  A thorough search had been conducted and the last of the stunned, gassed and dead creatures, Theroce-somethings, had been tossed back through the anomaly and it had been sealed.  Guards would remain on duty until it closed permanently.  Scouring up every last trace of blood, guts and mangled bodies would take a few more hours, along with the repair of any damage to the physical structure and contents of the buildings.  He wished concocting a believable story for the families of the dead were as easy. 

Lester had just completed a rather disagreeable telephone conversation with the minister when Jess appeared in his office door again. 

"And what have your discovered, young lady?" Lester asked. 

"I've uploaded it to your terminal."  Jess sighed then stepped around Lester's desk and quickly entered a sequence of keystrokes on his laptop.  "Everything you should need is here." 

Lester noted that she had returned to some semblance of her normally optimistic and cheerful self, and he hoped his intervention had in some measure contributed to her improved temper. 

"I need to do a bit more digging.  There are some inconsistencies in Beth's mother's financial records that might be useful."

Lester did not ask who Beth was, as it seemed rather obvious.  "Excellent," Lester nodded as he settled in to examine her report.  After a moment, he glanced over the top of his monitor.  Jess waited expectantly.  "Yes?" he asked.

"I also wanted to report that the medics say Captain Becker should make a complete recovery.  Matt's quick action saved his life and his leg.  He's been released from the infirmary and placed on medical leave for at least ten days."

"Good to hear," Lester answered distractedly.  He glanced up again.  Jess still waited.  "If you would like to check on him and give me a first-hand report, it would be appreciated." 

Jess's face exploded into a glorious smile.  For a minute he thought she was going to give him a hug as well.  One hug by one employee per day was sufficient to ruin his reputation, so he was inordinately glad when Miss Parker, forwent the hug, spun on her heel and fairly raced from his office.

"I want you back here in ten minutes," he called.  Whether she heard would remain to be seen. 

He quickly forgot his demand for her timely return as he delved into the materiel she had brought him.  The problem, he soon discovered, was not going to be the teacher as he had no parents, siblings, spouse or children to console and coerce.  He appeared to be a truly solitary soul.  It would be simply enough to arrange a fiery automobile "accident" to conceal the true accident that ended his life.  All the police needed to find was sufficient physical evidence to conduct DNA testing and identification. 

The circumstances with young Beth Halloren may prove to be much more vexing.  It appeared she was the daughter of a single mother who lived much too well on the salary she was supposed to receive.  The inconsistencies Jess had alluded too perhaps.  The money trail had gone cold before Jess had been able to locate the source, but the fact that the money trail existed screamed of the potential for a scandal, with someone willing to pay a great deal to keep the particulars confidential.  The name on girl’s birth certificate was that of her mother’s ex-husband, a sanitation worker – certainly not the source of this amount of money.  Leverage ARC personnel could use to assure the mother's cooperation or the whole sordid affair would come to the fore.  Lester doubted she or the girl's father would desire that result.   Reaching for the phone he began making the necessary calls.

Hours later Lester sighed, rubbed bleary eyes and sat back in his chair.  He hadn't moved from it in hours and he was numb.  Once again confirming he truly and deeply hated damage control.  This incursion had been disastrous, but could have been worse had it occurred during a normal school day.  It was just a matter of time before that happened.  How much longer are they going to be able to keep the anomalies hidden?  How many more times was he going to have to lie to himself, the minister and the public? 

After reviewing the facts and fabrications, he scrawled his signature on the last report, sealed the last file and placed the appropriate security codes on all of the computer records.  The lies had been told, the truth obscured, arms twisted to achieve compliance, or bribes paid to purchase silence making the cover-up complete.  The appropriate public servants would have the appropriate answers and the general populace would be none the wiser.  So why then, did he have the nagging feeling that this particular fiasco was going to come back and bite him in the ass?

* * * *

The grainy snippet of CCTV recording looped over and over.  There was very little too see.  A dark hulking shadow, the low guttural growl, the sound of a young girl's scream were blurred but potent images to a grieving father who's child had just died a horrific death.  He had watched the tape until he had memorized each flicker of black and white, each detectable sound, and each scratch in the audio.  He also memorized the only two faces on the tape, one dark haired, and one medium.  Too far from the camera for a positive identification, even enhancement of the film had given little new information.  They could have saved her but they had failed to act and his daughter was dead.  He would not forget.  He had the time and money to be infinitely patient.  The time would come when he would know who they were, and they would know him. 

<the end – for now>

 

Comments

Oh, wow. I'm terribly intrigued now. Very, very interesting. :D
Ooh, intriguing. Very intriguing.
Ooh! This is an intruiging start to the series!