Chapter 14

The flight to San Francisco was rather uneventful, to say the least. It was just James and Cybil on the helicopter, since their flight pattern was automated based on GPS tracking. The flight controls were simple, but only used in emergency situations. Thankfully, they never came into play. Aside from occasional touchdowns to refuel, the duo never even touched the ground, which was a godsend for James, as he had way too much on his mind.

As he turned around in his chair and stared at the woman sleeping adjacent to him for what felt like the billionth time, an all too common thought entered his head.

Why am I doing this?

No matter how often he asked himself that fundamental question, the answer never ceased to elude him. It seemed to flit about through his mind, evading any cognizant grasp, shape, or form. There were times he looked at the person that he considered his daughter wondering to himself what exactly he'd done. As a matter of fact, throughout the process of creating his "family", a number of ethical qualms in quagmires into his had wandered into his head. Most obvious of them was the fact that he was creating what were effectively human war machines. No matter what became of them, James could never forget that their original purpose was to serve as tools in a bid for power launched by some enigmatic company with a madman at its head. He personally hoped that when he had sent the other five siblings off for adoption that they would never have to get involved in this, and that Cybil would eventually follow suit and pursue a normal life. And yet, that ideal couldn't have been more opposite to the situation he found himself in now.

Even worse, there was the idea that not only was he creating what were effectively test tube soldiers, but one of them (being Tyrone) was, by all accounts, a child. A child. Getting to know and see the boy up close only made him more grateful that he managed to pull him out when he did. He was also thankful that Ty was even willing to listen to him at all in the first place. He had turned out remarkably well, thanks in no small part to Elena. Unfortunately, he was merely one example. For all James knew, the boy could have been an anomaly.

That line of thought naturally led to the idea that there were still three siblings completely unaccounted for, being Max, Rachel, and Ryu. Even as he and Cybil head towards Max, they had no idea what the situation was, or what he'd think about all this. Rachel had so much of a process tied to her "adoption" that it would be hard to tell what she even stood. Perhaps most troubling of all, Ryu was little more than a ghost at this point: he effectively vanished from the face of the earth after James had placed him up. Considering his abilities, as well as his lack of a lower body, he couldn't guarantee he would even survive a meeting with the sharpshooter.

At times like this, he wondered what possessed him to say yes to this in the first place.

Without really thinking about what he was doing, he gently woke Cybil up.

"Are we there yet?" She groaned, half drowsy.

"No, Cybil," he replied, trying to sound cool and collected. "I need to ask you something."

"Okay… What?"

Even knowing that he had to ask you this question at some point, he couldn't quite prepare himself for it. After a few long moments of mental debate, he finally made himself force it out. "Cybil, do… do… do you regret existing?"

James watched as the girl's expression changed from puzzled to thoughtful as she considered the question. He really couldn't imagine what her answer would be.

Instead of answering right away, she asked a question of her own. "Why are you asking me this?"

To assuage a guilty conscience, perhaps, a voice in the back of his mind mused.

Paying it no heed, he answered, "Just curious."

If she doubted his words, she didn't show it. "Um… uh… I don't know…"

"S-sorry to spring this on you!"

She didn't respond. She seemed to be back in her own thoughts. Until…

"No."

"Huh?"

The girl looked up at him and shook her head. "No, I don't regret it."

"You don't?"

Her gaze directed itself at nothing in particular. "You asked me a long time ago if I regretted knowing about my brothers and sisters. My answer hasn't changed."

James was taken aback by the determination in her voice as she made her next statement.

"Thanks to you, Ty, and Elena, I got to see how people live. Really live. I want… I want a life of my own. You wanted that too, right?"

"Well, yes."

"Well, that's okay then." Cybil made her best attempt at a reassuring smile. It maintained an air of warmth to it, even if it appeared rather stilted.

While James was grateful that she was taking this well, part of him was worried that she was taking this too well. "Are you sure you're going to be all right? I mean, you don't have to do this."

"I want to do this!"

The man sighed and shook his head. "I-I just don't want you to have to be responsible for cleaning up my mess."

"Your mess? This isn't just your mess. It's ours. I've done things…" She paused for a moment to collect herself. "I've hurt a lot of people. I almost took Ty's mother away from him."

"You had no control over that! For the longest time, you couldn't even think on your own!"

Cybil visibly flinched, burying her head in her hands, causing James to immediately regret his wording.

"It doesn't change what I've done," the girl whispered, her voice slightly quivering. "I need to make this right. I need to find my brothers and sister, and stop Wester. I just… have to."

James's heart broke in two. He hadn't been particularly surprised that it took her this long to say all this, he expected it as well, but it still hurt and terribly to hear it regardless. Now, in his mind, there was only one decision to make.

"I'll help you. Any way I can. We'll get this family back together, put this nightmare behind us, and you'll get to have something resembling a normal life."

"Promise?"

He smiled in response. "Promise."