Dr. Sofia Landon sat in her office, tapping the edge of her desk with her teeth-bitten nails. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore. She picked up her phone and called Brandon Ethans, who was most likely getting ready to go home to his family. When he picked up the phone, she was instantly relieved.
"Ethans, I need you to do me a favor," she said quickly.
"Doctor, you sound nervous. Are you all right?"
She could hear the sounds of Ethan packing up for the day. Usually, she would let him go. If there were something left to do, she would do the rest so that he could go home; this time, she couldn't sit still for another minute. She knew what the rebels were capable of doing. She had taken a chance in contacting Captain Smith so early in the game, but she knew she had to get him on board so that the other well-trained Creatures would agree with her plans.
"I'm fine, Ethans. Can you contact Captain Smith before you leave? I would like to make sure he's safe and that no harm has come of him."
"You think he can't protect himself, Doctor?"
"The Captain doesn't want to make a scene anymore. If I know him well, I know that he probably would have the rebel pulverize him to death rather than showing his power and exposing himself to humans like us."
"Will do, Doctor. Give me a minute."
Ethans hung up his phone, leaving Sofia Landon in her office again, terrified for the Captain. Before Dr. Marks passed away, he had spoken to her about how it would be being the head of CON experiments. Long hours and impatient Creatures, was what he said. But she hadn't imagined how much pressure and stress she would feel for the Creatures themselves when they were out on their own. The leader of CON, Mason Chance, should have been worrying about the Creatures—him and that silly little blond assistant of his, Norah. But they were both in Europe, having meetings with the European branch of CON, leaving her and Brandon Ethans to manage the United States branch. She hated having to worry about Creatures when she could have been doing experiments trying to help them. She especially hated being so cruel to Captain, who she respected and had a kind of love for. Ever since she met him, she felt as if he was that rebellious little brother she had to reign in so that he wouldn't get into any trouble. Even now, she felt the need to protect him from everything—even though she really didn't know how she was supposed to protect him. All she could do was call him and keep him as close to CON as possible.
Her phone rang and she grabbed the phone instantly, her voice breathless as she said, "Dr. Sofia Landon."
Captain Connor Smith's voice was level—no hint of the sarcastic tones he had used on her when they had met.
"Captain," Sofia replied.
"Where is Mason?" he asked gruffly.
"He's not here," she told him. "He's on a special trip to Europe."
"Europe," Captain Smith repeated. "Europe. At a time like this? Tell me you're joking, Doctor."
"I wish I was." Sofia felt like laughing. If Smith was well enough to be sarcastic, he was probably fine. Nothing had happened to him. Not yet anyway, she reminded herself.
"Dr. Landon, are you familiar with the term Scrallen?"
"Scrallen? I'm afraid I've never heard of it. Look, Captain, I would like to talk about our discussion yesterday in regards to—"
"This is important, Doctor. And what I'm about to tell you is ten times more important than if I'm joining you or not."
She guffawed. "I beg to differ, Captain."
She stopped in her tracks, instantly going back to the days when she had watched him training, calling out her name and waving frantically when he spotted her watching him with rapt attention.
"Sofia, Asch Clark attacked me today."
She felt her face blanch. She was prepared for letters—letters that warned Captain Smith that if he joined CON, he would face heavy consequences. She was prepared for some attacks on CON and on Captain Smith, warning them that if they stepped in front of the war again, things would get ugly. But she hadn't prepared that Asch Clark, the man who led the rebellion and who had killed the aging Dr. Marks, would personally meet with Captain Smith to warn him of the war. Wasn't he far too busy kidnapping Creatures and creating an army out of them?
Captain Smith told her how Asch Clark had caught him off-guard and had attacked him in the middle of the street. He told her about Scrallen, a term he didn't know about but had hoped Sofia knew. He told her it seemed important for them to know. He had a gut feeling that it was important in the battle they were waging against the rebels.
"I'm sorry for the trouble we've caused you, Captain," Sofia said, using gentler tones she had used before. "I'll send extra guards to protect you."
"I don't need to be protected like a child, Doctor."
She sighed. "Then what is it you want, Captain?"
"I will help you with this war you're telling me about."
"You'll join us again?" She couldn't help but show a little excitement. It was interesting having Captain Connor Smith around. But her excitement quickly dwindled as he continued to speak.
"I won't join as Captain, Dr. Landon. I'm only going to join as… as an advisor of sorts. I don't want to be responsible for deaths again. One war was enough. Besides, I'm sure one of your other Creatures are more suitable for Captain position, someone stronger and more willing."
"It was never about that," she said quietly. "We need someone who can lead us, Captain Smith."
"Then I'll find you that person. But don't expect to find one in me."
She sighed. She supposed that was the best she could get from him. At least she could kind of tell five of the Creatures that he was on board with the war. Mason Chance would have a field day, considering that this was the main task he had given her before he left. He told her he wanted Connor Smith back as Captain Connor Smith, leader of the CON soldiers. She supposed that once he got back though, he could straighten things out. Then again, she remembered that when Captain Smith left, the two hadn't really separated on peaceful terms. Still, she hoped things would work out in the end.