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As soon as Devon pulled Vincent around the corner, he shook his arm and let him go. The man was whining at him again, and Devon could take no more. "Shut up!"

"But Mr. Shade, I—I can't do this. This is murder!"

Devon scoffed as he continued to march on. "You have already murdered, many times over."

Vincent reared back."Excuse me, sir, but I have not."

"Really?" Devon raised an eyebrow. "What do you call the ones you helped load into the back of my truck when we are done with them?"

Vincent flushed and swallowed, eyes shifting to the ground. "Subjects," he mumbled. "They are subjects."

Devon halted and pulled Vincent to a stop. "Be a man. Be truthful about who you are, at least to yourself. You torture men, and you kill them."

Vincent's face paled to the point Devon readied himself to catch him. Vincent put his hand to his stomach, and his eyes widened. His whispered voice revealed his newfound recognition. "That is what I am. That is what I have become. How did this happen?" Tears threatened to roll down his face.

Devon scolded him like a teacher scolds an errant student. "I have no patience with this type of behavior. Be a man. You did what you had to do to help all of mankind. It is what we do, what we have to do for a better future for--for everyone. Yes, some fall by the wayside, but that is inevitable. It is what befalls some so the rest can go on better and stronger than before."

Vincent hung his head, rejecting Devon's speech.

Devon slapped Vincent's arm and startled him. "Stop acting like a child. Your incredible curiosity and skill got you here. You should be proud."

Vincent's mouth dropped, and he gave Devon a quick, hard stare.  "Be proud?"

Devon clucked at him as an old grandmother would to a stray boy. "Yes, of course. Now come on."

Devon was a few steps down the hallway before he realized that Vincent wasn't behind him. He stopped and looked back. He waved his arm. "Come on!"

Vincent didn't move an inch. "No, sir. I won't do it. I'm not going to help you kill your niece."

Devon marched back to Vincent. "When did you turn into an imbecile? I'm not going to kill Sonora. That subject—"


"That subject simply will not break. Every time I think he is in my control, a light of independence flares in his eyes." Devon clenched a fist. "I can't have that. What happens when he decides he doesn't care what happens to Sonora? That he wants to live? He will get away. They all could have."

Vincent's brow creased. "But we are so careful. We double and triple check the straps, the locks and the drugs we give them."

"Yes, and that conditions them to think they can't. But what if we forgot a dosage just once, or if all straps and locks weren't as they should be. They could take advantage of that. The thing is they're a pampered lot. Wherever their home is, it must be safe, secure. If they were a streetwise, scrappy bunch, it is unlikely we could have kept them. So I break them before they start thinking too hard. It is their ignorance of the distance we will go to get what we want that kills them."

Devon gestured his irritation at Vincent with the flip of his hand. "I'm not going to hurt my niece, not after everything I do to keep her safe. But he doesn't need to know that.  I'm going to let him see you take dolphin trainer and Blake out of the frame, and then I'm going to give Sonora a playful push into the tank. From his angle, it will seem murderous. No harm to anyone. Of course, he will think there was, and that is all that matters. So can you handle this?"

Vincent hesitated, but if he went along with Devon then maybe he could make his way back to Ian. Let him know his girl was okay, and maybe this time, succeed in getting him out of the cage. It was a sick thing to pull on a man, but in the long run, it was for his own good. 

Vincent winced. Isn't that what I've been telling myself this whole time about all this? But this time it is really true. He stood a little straighter. From this moment on, I'm a different man. 

He gave Devon a sharp nod. "Yeah, I can handle it. No probs."

A/N: I know this is a shorter chapter, but I will have another one tomorrow. :) If you are enjoying the story, please press the little star below. 

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