“How can any of this be true?” I say, sitting up straighter. “I would know if it were true. I would have the classified data, I would have been briefed—”
“You’re still only a child, Mr Warner. You forget that sometimes. You forget that your father didn’t tell you everything.”
“Then how do you know? How do you know any of this?”
Castle looks me over. “I know you think I’m foolish,” he says, “but I’m not as simple as you might hope. I, too, once tried to lead this nation, and I did a great deal of my own research during my time underground. I spent decades building Omega Point. Do you think I did so without also understanding my enemies? I had files three feet deep on every supreme commander, their families, their personal habits, their favorite colors.” He narrows his eyes. “Surely you didn’t think I was that naive.
“The supreme commanders of the world have a great deal of secrets,” Castle says. “And I’m privy to only a few of them. But the information I gathered on the beginnings of The Reestablishment have proven true.”
I can only stare at him, uncomprehending.
“It was on the strength of what I’d uncovered that I knew a young woman with a lethal touch was being held in an asylum in Sector 45. Our team had already been planning a rescue mission when you first discovered her existence—as Juliette Ferrars, an alias—and realized how she might be useful to your own research. So we at Omega Point waited. Bided our time. In the interim, I had Kenji enlist. He was gathering information for several months before your father finally approved your request to move her out of the asylum. Kenji infiltrated the base in Sector 45 on my orders; his mission was always to retrieve Juliette. I’ve been searching for Emmaline ever since.”
“I still don’t understand,” I whisper.
“Mr Warner,” he says impatiently, “Juliette and her sister have been in the custody of The Reestablishment for twelve years. The two sisters are part of an ongoing experiment for genetic testing and manipulation, the details of which I’m still trying to unravel.”
My mind might explode.
“Will you believe me now?” he says. “Have I done enough to prove I know more about your life than you think?”
I try to speak but my throat is dry; the words scrape the inside of my mouth. “My father was a sick, sadistic man,” I say. “But he wouldn’t have done this. He couldn’t have done this to me.”
“And yet,” Castle says. “He did. He allowed you to bring Juliette on base knowing very well who she was. Your father had a disturbing obsession with torture and experimentation.”
I feel disconnected from my mind, my body, even as I force myself to breathe. “Who are her real parents?”
Castle shakes his head. “I don’t know yet. Whoever they were, their loyalties to The Reestablishment ran deep. These girls were not stolen from their parents,” he says. “They were offered willingly.”
My eyes widen. I feel suddenly sick.
Castle’s voice changes. He sits forward, his eyes sharp. “Mr Warner,” he says. “I’m not sharing this information with you because I’m trying to hurt you. You must know that this isn’t fun for me, either.”
I look up.
“I need your help,” he says, studying me. “I need to know what you did for those two years. I need to know the details of your assignment to Emmaline. What were you tasked to do? Why was she being held? How were they using her?”
I shake my head. “I don’t know.”
“You do know,” he says. “You must know. Think, son. Try to remember—”
“I don’t know!” I shout.
Castle sits back, surprised.
“He never told me,” I say, breathing hard. “That was the job. To follow orders without questioning them. To do whatever was asked of me by The Reestablishment. To prove my loyalty.”
Castle falls back into his seat, crestfallen. He looks shattered. “You were my one remaining hope,” he says. “I thought I might finally be able to crack this.”
I glance at him, heart pounding. “And I still have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“There’s a reason why no one knows the truth about these sisters, Mr Warner. There’s a reason why Emmaline is kept under such high security. She is critical, somehow, to the structure of The Reestablishment, and I still don’t know how or why. I don’t know what she’s doing for them.” He looks me straight in the eye, then, his gaze piercing through me. “Please,” he says. “Try to remember. What did he make you do to her? Anything you can remember—anything at all—”
“No,” I whisper. I want to scream the word. “I don’t want to remember.”
“Mr Warner,” he says. “I understand that this is hard for you—”
“Hard for me?” I stand up suddenly. My body is shaking with rage. The walls, the chairs, the tables around us begin to rattle. The light fixtures swing dangerously overhead, the bulbs flickering. “You think this is hard for me?”
Castle says nothing.
“What you are telling me right now is that Juliette was planted here, in my life, as part of a larger experiment—an experiment my father had always been privy to. You’re telling me that Juliette is not who I think she is. That Juliette Ferrars isn’t even her real name. You’re telling me that not only is she a girl with a set of living parents, but that I also spent two years unwittingly torturing her sister.” My chest heaves as I stare at him. “Is that about right?”
I laugh, out loud. The sound is insane.
“Ms Ferrars will find out about all this very soon,” Castle says to me. “So I would advise you to get ahead of these revelations. Tell her everything as soon as possible. You must confess. Do it now.”
“What?” I say, stunned. “Why me?”
“Because if you don’t tell her soon,” he says, “I assure you, Mr Warner, that someone else will—”
“I don’t care,” I say. “You tell her.”
“You’re not hearing me. It is imperative that she hear this from you. She trusts you. She loves you. If she finds out on her own, from a less worthy source, we might lose her.”
“I’ll never let that happen. I’ll never let anyone hurt her again, even if that means I’ll have to guard her myself—”
“No, son.” Castle cuts me off. “You misunderstand me. I did not mean we would lose her physically.” He smiles, but the result is strange. Scared. “I meant we would lose her. Up here”—he taps his head—“and here”—he taps his heart.
“What do you mean?”
“Simply that you must not live in denial. Juliette Ferrars is not who you think she is, and she is not to be trifled with. She seems, at times, entirely defenseless. Naive. Even innocent. But you cannot allow yourself to forget the fist of anger that still lives in her heart.”
My lips part, surprised.
“You’ve read about it, haven’t you? In her journal,” he says. “You’ve read where her mind has gone—how dark it’s been—”
“How did you—”
“And I,” he says, “I have seen it. I’ve seen her lose control of that quietly contained rage with my own eyes. She nearly destroyed all of us at Omega Point long before your father did. She broke the ground in a fit of madness inspired by a simple misunderstanding,” he says. “Because she was upset about the tests we were running on Mr Kent. Because she was confused and a little scared. She wouldn’t listen to reason—and she nearly killed us all.”
“That was different,” I say, shaking my head. “That was a long time ago. She’s different now.” I look away, failing to control my frustration at his thinly veiled accusations. “She’s happy—”
“How can she be truly happy when she’s never dealt with her past? She’s never addressed it—merely set it aside. She’s never had the time, or the tools, to examine it. And that anger—that kind of rage,” Castle says, shaking his head, “does not simply disappear. She is volatile and unpredictable. And heed my words, son: Her anger will make an appearance again.”