Maura woke abruptly the next morning, feeling instantly impatient. Glancing at her clock, she saw it was still an hour before her alarm was due to go off, but she knew her mind was too alert to return to sleep. Instead, she got up and rushed through her morning routine, finding herself in her kitchen sipping coffee before seven. Her speed was actually quite commendable, since she was still hindered by her sling and damaged arm. Her wounds were healing, but far too slowly for her taste.
The original plan had been for Susie to pick her up around eight, and they would head over to the industrial district and surreptitiously look around. They weren’t really expecting to find anything, but they both knew that sitting around waiting for Nina to come through with more information was outside the realms of possibility given their current state of anxiety.
Maura could almost taste the answers that lay just out of reach. After so many years of fruitless searching, she finally had some support, and it felt like they were getting close. All the frustration and anxiety, the pain and emotional trauma, it would all be worth it if they could find out what had happened to Jane and find a way to help her.
Maura had barely given a thought to her own situation since leaving the hospital. When Susie had told her about the new Chief Medical Examiner, her thoughts had all been concerned with how he might fit into the conspiracy surrounding Jane, not with how this affected her own career. She had been more worried about Susie’s suspension than the implications of her own thinly veiled removal from office.
Nina had said enough to make Maura realise the general assumption at the station about the reason for her forced medical leave. She suspected it would be an uphill battle to be reinstated to her position, even though on the surface she was only off until her gunshot wound healed. The quiet way her successor had been appointed spoke volumes about the intent.
And yet, Maura found that she really wasn’t concerned for her position. She had been nonchalant about her job for some time, years if she was honest, so the prospect of losing it all didn’t have the same impact it once would have. She would miss working with Susie, but most other enjoyable aspects of the job had been eroded by her diminishing sense of purpose.
The only thought that inspired her presently was saving Jane. Maura firmly believed that Jane had done nothing to deserve the trauma she had endured, and was committed to doing everything in her power to get Jane’s mind back and help her recover. Whether that meant they could be friends again, or whether everything would be completely different, it didn’t matter. Maura felt she owed Jane more than she could ever express, for not only saving her life that last time and every other time, but also for everything Jane had done to enrich her life leading up to that moment. To repay that debt, she would see this through to the end no matter what it cost her.
Maura was dragged out of her thoughts by the sound of knocking. Puzzled, she cautiously made her way to the door, her face breaking out in a smile when she saw an impatient and fidgeting Susie waiting for her. Susie grinned wryly as she passed Maura. “I know, I’m early. Who can sleep?”
After a brief catch up and planning session, the two set off in Susie’s car. Maura could drive despite her healing injury, but her arm started aching deeply with prolonged use, so it was better to let Susie drive while Maura scrutinised everything they passed. She still had no idea what to look for, but she was hoping she’d realise if she saw it.
The duo had just finished their first drive through the industrial district, finding nothing of interest, when Nina called. It was just before eight, so the streets had only just started to fill up with commuters.
Maura answered her phone, her excitement audible in her voice. “Nina? Any luck?”
Nina laughed before answering. “Well good morning to you too! And yes, I found something. Our person of interest was spotted travelling directly into the district, along North Avenue. He wasn’t trying to be stealthy, it was a straight line from the motorway. I’m sending you the most likely locations he would have been going to.”
Maura felt her phone vibrate with a received message. “Thanks Nina, we’ll check it out now.”
Nina’s voice grew concerned. “Wait, now? Where are you guys? You were going to meet at eight, right?”
Maura glanced at Susie, who was still driving as she listened. “We’re driving around the industrial district, why?”
Nina huffed. “Maura, I don’t want you guys going anywhere near there without backup. Give me half an hour and I’ll meet you there. Neither of you guys is a cop, you can’t just go poking around.”
Maura considered it for a moment. “We won’t try to go inside anywhere, but we’ll start driving around. Call me when you’re nearby and we’ll tell you where we are.”
Nina sounded slightly panicked. “Maura, wait, you don’t know if…”
Maura hung up on the distressed analyst, knowing neither of them was going to win the argument anyway. “Come on Susie, Nina sent us some more specific places to look.”
Susie frowned, having caught the defiance present in Maura’s part of the conversation, but declined to comment, instead looking at Maura expectantly, waiting for directions.
Maura eyed the suggested locations, quickly planning a route that would take them past all of them in the shortest possible time. “Head out here and go left. Don’t worry, we’re just going to look from the car, we’ll call Nina if we actually find anything.”
Fifteen minutes later the duo realised they may have found what they were looking for. They slowly drive past a run-down apartment building, clearly abandoned for years, which was unremarkable amongst the rest of the dishevelled buildings on that street. However, the state of the art surveillance cameras pointed at it seemed suspicious. Maura encouraged Susie to drive past it, hoping that nobody would see them on the cameras. They parked half a block away and quickly called Nina.
Nina sounded frantic. “Where are you guys? I’m almost to the district, give me your address and don’t move!”
Maura sighed. “We’re fine Nina. We think we found the place, but we’re waiting for you as agreed.”
After relaying the street address, Maura settled back in her seat, taking calming breaths to remain composed. Susie anxiously tapped the steering wheel, sending furtive glances around the street.
After only a few minutes, Nina’s car passed along the street next to them, quickly pulling into a space. Nina jumped out, clearly annoyed, and moved to Susie’s window.
Susie barely had time to get the window down before Nina started a tirade. “Don’t you guys ever do that again! I thought you were going to get caught, you could have been killed! I thought we were going to wait until we had more information before doing anything crazy?”
Maura put her hand up soothingly. “Nina, calm down, please! We weren’t going to do anything, we just wanted to find the place! But now that you’re here, we can go in. Did you bring your service weapon and computer equipment?”
Nina rolled her eyes, her anger deflating at a speed that made Maura think she was more worried than angry. “Yes, I have everything in this backpack. Now, if we’re doing this, you two are staying behind me, and if I tell you to do something, you do it. I’ve told Korsak where we are just in case we get into trouble, but since he’s retired he can’t do much in an official capacity. We need to handle this the right way.”
Maura nodded as she got to her feet. “Agreed. Shall we?”
Susie wordlessly grabbed a backpack from the back seat, filled with various supplies Maura had thought might be useful. The three set off back down the street, casually approaching the suspicious building.
There was a door hanging off its hinge at the front of the building that they could use to get in easily. Nina cautiously entered first, unclipping her gun but not drawing it. They found themselves in a lobby, with a front desk and several destroyed couches. Two elevators were taped off in the corridor behind the desk, and a set of emergency stairs could be seen behind the elevators.
The three searched the room carefully. Susie started looking over the desk, Maura through the corridor to investigate the back of the building, and Nina started checking out the elevators. Nina and Susie looked up curiously when the power suddenly came on.
Maura returned first. “It doesn’t look like there’s anything back there. Just some office space and storage rooms, all empty. I found the electrical panel and turned on the power in case we wanted to try the elevator.”
Susie stuck her head up from behind the desk, her expression frustrated. “There’s nothing here. None of the papers are anything relevant, there’s just lists of visitors. I’ll take photos just in case.”
Both turned to Nina, who was still looking at the elevator panel with a puzzled expression. “There’s something off about the elevators. A building this size wouldn’t need two elevators, it’s only five floors of apartments. There’s also a service button here that looks like it’s been pushed more often than the residential floor buttons.”
Maura walked into the elevators, instantly agreeing with Nina. The floor buttons were all lit up, as were the open and close buttons, but the worn service button seemed to be blacked out.
Before either could start theorising, the button suddenly lit up. Susie gave a little squeak of excitement before rushing over to the lift. “I found a secret button under the desk! Did it do anything?”
Nina rolled her eyes. “Can you two please stop pushing buttons? We’re trying to be stealthy here, remember?”
Maura and Susie had the wisdom to look apologetic, but they were just too anxious to find answers to display the appropriate amount of caution.
Nina huffed in frustration. “Yes, Susie, it looks like we might be able to press this mysterious service button now.”
Maura immediately reached out and pushed the button, shrugging helplessly when Nina glared at her. The doors immediately closed, and the three felt the elevator start to move down.
Susie frowned, her excitement fading in the face of sudden nervousness. “Was there supposed to be a basement?”
Nina glanced at the panel to check and then shook her head, shuffling in front of the others and drawing her weapon as the lift stopped.
The doors slid open silently, revealing what seemed like another lobby. The walls and floor were white tiles, making the room feel clinical and sterile in the bright lighting. There was nothing in the room besides a desk and several cameras, one of which was pointed at the lifts. Nina quietly stepped forward, her eyes flitting around the room quickly.
Maura and Susie stayed close behind Nina as she moved into the secret basement. They quickly discovered that the four visible doors were open and unlocked, with no discernible signs of life. The lights were on, but no sounds pervaded the space. A stale smell permeated the air, accompanied by the familiar smell of death. All three glanced at each other uneasily.
Maura noticed coloured lines on the white ceiling, and realised they were route lines similar to those used in hospitals. They only needed to figure out which colour corresponded to a particular location to be able to navigate easily. All the lines terminated at the elevators, which would make it easier to escape quickly if they needed to. She wordlessly pointed out the lines to the others, receiving a knowing nod in return.
Nina squinted at the colours, then moved more assertively, apparently choosing red to follow. They ducked through the red door, all rigidly alert for signs of danger.
They discovered a long corridor on the other side of the door, with rooms every five meters. There were glass windows that looked into each room, revealing a uniform arrangement of a metal bed and two chairs in each room. The bed had minimal padding and no sheets or blankets, instead being equipped with wrist, ankle, waist and head restraints. There was a panel of electronics in each room, next to the bed. Maura frowned, having never seen equipment like that in any hospital. Each room was equipped with two cameras, both focussed on the bed. There was an intercom next to each door. Maura also noted that every door was secured with a keypad and a heavy duty deadbolt.
The unknown purpose of the rooms made Maura even more uneasy. The restraints implied that people were being held here against their will, which hopefully meant they were in the right place. However, the implications of people being strapped to beds and recorded while some mysterious apparatus was used on them were alarming and disquieting. The silence and desertion of the facility only contributed to her apprehension, since something must have gone very wrong to prompt the abandonment of such an elaborate setup.
Around six rooms down the corridor, they discovered a room that looked very different. The door had been ripped off its hinges. Maura had thought it was missing until she realised it had been thrown through the glass into the room on the opposite side of the corridor. Some of the glass had been knocked into the corridor, littering the floor. The bed had been tipped over, the frame twisted where the restraints had been attached. The chairs had been thrown into a wall, smashed beyond repair. All three gasped when they realised there was a body lying under one of the chairs in a pool of dried blood.
Maura put a hand on Nina’s arm, her expression silently requesting permission to go in. Nina glanced around furtively, obviously unhappy with the prospect, but nodded. Maura gestured for Susie to stay put before she entered the room. Susie was obviously on edge, her eyes wide and skittish as they flitted around the destroyed room.
Maura mentally tried to pull up her medical examiner persona before stepping closer to the body. Opening her bag, she pulled out a set of gloves before she moved the broken chair. Being careful to avoid jostling the body, she examined the body as she had done hundreds of others.
The deceased man was lying face down, so she examined his back first. He was wearing typical clothes one would expect from a laboratory worker. She could feel from the lividity that the body hadn’t been moved. Rigour had long passed, and the body had started to decompose. Maura could see from the condition of his hand and arm that the sterile environment had preserved the body.
When it came time to turn the body, Maura couldn’t suppress another shocked gasp. The man had multiple deep lacerations across the entire front of his body, including his face which had been sliced to the bone. There was also a cut across the man’s voice box, which from the amount of blood was most likely the first injury. The cuts were clean and continuous, several inches long in most cases. The depth of the cuts indicated that the killer had possessed a massive amount of strength, as well as a long sharp blade. Curiously, the cuts originated from both left and right, and there were both upward and downward strokes. If this was a regular homicide, Maura would be telling the investigators to look for a very long knife, or a bayonet, or a machete. Or possibly a sword.
Without access to her lab, Maura knew she wouldn’t be able to determine much more about the manner of death. She looked appraisingly around the room, noting the diagonal blood sprays. The man had definitely been killed in this room, and given the broken restraints and door, it seemed likely that whoever had been contained had broken free and attacked their captor.
Maura felt a rush of hope at the thought, followed by a surge of dread. If they were right and Jane was here, if she was right about Jane escaping rather than being set loose, then Jane was the most likely suspect in this man’s death.
She looked at the injuries through the filter of her new realisation and frowned. Except for the first injury to the throat, the other injuries almost seemed panicked, with no major organs being targeted. The strength needed to cut bone was obviously present in the assailant, but they hadn’t used that strength to perform a killing strike. It seemed more like a victim fighting back, rather than a planned murder.
Maura realised she was speculating, and that she was trying to rationalise the man’s death in case it turned out to be Jane who had caused it. She needed more information, not speculation.
Standing up and glancing around the room once more, Maura moved back to the others and spoke softly. “He was definitely killed here, the amount of blood on the floor would have been a fatal amount to lose. I want to try and find a record of the video surveillance for the room before I conclude anything else.”
Nina frowned, but kept her voice low as well. “Dr Isles, this isn’t the time to hold back. I know you don’t like guessing, but this isn’t an official investigation. If there’s something we need to know, tell us!”
Maura glanced back at the body. “The wounds indicate that the killer possessed great strength, and the murder weapon was most likely a long blade, something like a sword or long knife. The pattern of the injuries may indicate a frenzied defensive attack, rather than a premeditation.”
Susie’s eyes went wide. “So you think someone escaped? Jane?”
Maura sighed as she nodded. “That thought did occur to me. I don’t know. I need to see the tapes.”
Nina nodded, now understanding Maura’s reluctance to speculate, and indicated for them to resume following her.
The corridor seemed more sinister after their gruesome discovery, the silence oppressively filling the sterile spaces. Susie was breathing shallowly next to Maura, who was having trouble keeping her own nerves contained. Nina was clenching her jaw, determinedly moving forward despite the tension evident in her tight grip on her gun.
When they finally reached the end of the corridor, they found another broken door, much heavier and more robust than the ones they had seen so far. It was torn off its hinges in a similar manner to the first, however this door had been dropped in place instead of thrown.
They found themselves in a control centre. The walls were lined with monitors, all currently blank. There were banks of control consoles, all facing a different sector of monitors. The coloured lines all converged here, suggesting that this room was the hub of the facility.
Once Nina cleared the room, they moved to examine the consoles. They quickly realised that there were splatters of blood on the controls, but there were no bodies as far as they could see. One console appeared to be the building control console, and it had a bloody handprint on a button labelled Master Lock Override. The button had been locked inside a shield that prevented inadvertent activation, but the plastic box had been smashed.
Nina immediately moved to a console labelled Records and turned it on, getting a reaction immediately. A screen asking for a password flashed in front of her, prompting her to open her bag and start pulling out gadgets.
Maura realised Nina would most likely require a significant amount of time to find the information they needed, so she moved to another console which seemed to be the surveillance main control. Nudging the mouse, she found that the screen came to life without requesting a password. Susie settled in next to her as she started browsing through the records.
Maura eventually found records grouped into Subject numbers, Room numbers and Agent numbers. The size of the files indicated that she was looking at thousands of hours of footage. Instead of randomly flicking through files, she opened the Subjects folder.
She was again confronted with a daunting number of folders. The numbers started at 100, and ended at 452. There were numbers missing, for example there were only 15 subjects that started with 3, but there were 95 that started with 1.
Maura’s eyes fell on the number 314 and stopped. She remembered Lucas referring to Jane as subject 314 right before she had transformed into not-Jane. With a slightly shaking hand, she opened the folder.
Again, there were several subdirectories in the folder. Her eyes settled on one called Acquisition. With a deep breath, Maura opened the only video file in the folder.
A large screen on the wall came to life, playing a clip from a surveillance camera. There didn’t appear to be audio to accompany the visual component. Maura suddenly realised she didn’t need sound to understand what was happening.
She was looking at the basement where Lucas had attempted to kill them. As she watched, her hand moving to her mouth in shock, she saw the elevator arrive and Jane step out.
Jane exited the elevator, still talking and pointing out places. Maura followed, patiently listening to Jane’s story and prompting her when necessary. Jane walked over to the electrical fuse box, pointing at the switch she had flipped to save Tasha’s life. Maura waited in the middle of the room, still listening, her arms hugged around herself defensively.
Susie grabbed her arm supportively, realising this would be hard to watch. “Do we really need to see this? I mean, you were there, so….”
Maura shook her head. “No, I want to see this. It might explain what happened to Jane, why we couldn’t find her.”
Susie nodded, clearly not thrilled, and turned back to the screen. Maura noticed Nina was also watching the screen, a download in progress from the console she was accessing. The silence that still pervaded the room was eerie in the face of the events about to be shown.
Jane and Maura moved further into the basement. Jane was gesticulating, pointing out landmarks as she took Maura through the sequence of events. Maura was nodding, her expression pained but determined.
Jane suddenly tensed, her gaze fixed on the bottom of the pillar that Maura was standing next to. After little more than a moment she lunged at Maura, her arms encircling the surprised woman and lifting her off her feet, throwing them both away from the pillar. The pillar exploded in a shower of concrete, throwing the flying pair of bodies off course and towards another pillar. Maura’s head collided with the concrete, her body falling to the ground limply. Jane fell on top of her, still shielding Maura from the brunt of the explosion. The camera was obscured by a cloud of dust.
Maura watched her own head strike a column with a wince, understanding now why she had trouble remembering things from that day clearly. Susie’s hand tightened when she saw the blow, and Nina stood to place a hand on Maura’s shoulder supportively.
After several long seconds, the dust in the video cleared. Jane moving, coughing hard but obviously alive and conscious. She had several cuts on her back and arm, but she seemed to be okay. Once she stopped convulsively coughing, they saw Jane bend over Maura, her face panicked when she couldn’t rouse her friend. She touched Maura’s face, yelling in desperation when there was no response.
Maura frowned in confusion, the expression mirrored on Susie’s face. “But, there’s no leg injury. I had a huge chunk of metal embedded in my leg, as well as massive bruising on my arms and head. I don’t understand…”
Nina spoke softly. “The video isn’t over yet Maura.”
Maura tensed, realising she was right.
Jane pulled off her jacket, using it to cover Maura. She bent down and said something, squeezing Maura’s arm before she stood up. From the far side of the image, a figure suddenly moved into view.
All three women gasped. Nina was the first to find her voice. “That’s Lucas! He was down there with you guys!”
Jane heard Lucas approach and spun to face him, her face confused. She spoke, her expression questioning. He responded as he moved closer, his arms held out reassuringly. Jane indicated back towards Maura, her face becoming worried again. Lucas nodded, approaching to stand next to Jane.
As Jane turned back to Maura, bending over once again, Lucas pulled back his coat and reached for something on his belt. Jane was speaking, reaching for Maura’s hand, when she suddenly stiffened. Lucas’ hand came into view, holding a large hunting knife. He raised the knife, about to swing it down towards Maura.
Maura couldn’t help her yell. “No! Jane!”
Nina and Susie tightened their grip, both realising there was most likely worse to come.
Jane spun around in front of Maura, somehow keeping her body in between her unconscious friend and their assailant while regaining her feet and shoving him away. Lucas stepped away and dropped into a fighting stance, the knife pointed at Jane’s heart.
Jane screamed angrily, her body language defensive of Maura.
Maura gasped again. “Oh, god, she’s putting herself between me and him. He was after me, not her!”
Lucas lunged forward, and Jane responded by grabbing the hand with the knife and twisting it away. Lucas used the opportunity to strike Jane’s unguarded side with his free hand, making her double over and fall back. He stepped forward and slashed with the knife at her chest. She managed to twist away from the full brunt of the strike, but caught the blade directly in the face.
Maura and Susie screamed. They could see the blood dripping down Jane’s face from the deep cut. Both remembered the distinctive scar on Jane’s face when she had first turned up at Maura’s house, and they now knew why it had been so bad. Maura was sobbing now, her emotions from the memories of that day now merging with the horror she was watching.
Lucas pulled back to observe the damage he’d done. Jane staggered back towards Maura, blood dripping into her eyes from the rapidly bleeding wound. She wiped her face, desperately trying to clear her vision. She yelled at Lucas again, her rage clear on her face.
Jane’s feet knocked into Maura’s leg, and she bent down to check where her friend was. She whipped her head back and forth, obviously trying to figure out where Lucas had gone despite her blindness.
Lucas smiled maliciously when he realised how helpless Jane was. He glanced around, putting the knife back in its sheath and picking up a piece of rebar that had been blown out of the destroyed pillar.
Maura whimpered as she watched him approach. “No, no, don’t hurt her! No!”
Lucas approached quietly, noting that Jane still didn’t know where he was. He moved behind her, and took up position above Maura. Raising the twisted metal, he smiled victoriously.
Suddenly Jane lunged, throwing her body over Maura’s just as he swung the rebar down. It pierced her back, the force of her leap diverting the weapon from its intended target. The metal burst through Jane’s chest, the end finding its way through Maura’s leg before hitting the solid floor.
All three observers screamed in rage and disbelief at the screen. Maura broke, her sobs becoming uncontrollable as Susie grabbed her in a crushing hug, her own tears flowing freely. Nina put a hand over her mouth in disbelief, tears running down her face as well. None of them could look away as the horrible vision continued.
Lucas screamed in rage, obviously upset that Jane had gotten in the way. He let go of the bar, stepping back in disbelief. Jane coughed, her lungs obviously compromised as blood leaked out of her mouth. Her hand found Maura’s face gently, and her palm affectionately caressed an unresponsive cheek. Jane’s head dropped, and she lay still.