Welcome Home

The room was large, more an auditorium than meeting room. At one end stood a podium and display screen that took up most of the wall. One wall over looked the sea, sunlight pouring in to provide most of the illumination. Standing before it was a woman. She was tall and powerfully built. Green skinned she was wreathed in flowers and vines that served as clothing but in truth served more to decorate than conceal. Her bearing was regal as she swept her eyes over the expanse of the ocean like a queen surveying her domain. After a moment she cocked her head as if listening to something then walked to the front of the room. Another woman joined her. Sleek and pale, she was dressed in white from head to toe, loose silky garments that flowed about her. "Still troubled by this, Ivy? Is it so hard to let go?"

The green woman said nothing but took a seat. "I support Paragon's efforts in this and is better to have these criminals doing something useful rather than leeching off the world." She silently added, Like most of humanity does anyway. Ivy was one of the few beings who felt truly secure in the presence of Willow. The telepath could not penetrate her mind; linked to the Green, her mind was vast. It would be like a trying to take in the entire world while standing in the bottom of a well. Willow would never try to invade her thoughts anyway, Ivy admitted almost grudgingly to herself. She was considerate in the use her gifts. "I wanted more surveillance on the assassin. She's dangerous and hard to control. I felt her probing at the bio shields last night… prying like a caged animal. She has no control."

Willow sighed and sat as well. "Mary is a troubled girl but no more inherently evil than any other meta… less so in fact. She's an empath sculpted by her environment. She was plunged into a sea of darkness, and she learned to swim. It's as simple as that." Willow glanced around. "Where's Velocity? She doesn't like to leave your side." Ivy smiled slightly. "I finally managed to convince her that I do not need a nanny 24 hours a day and that she needed to relax. She's on the beach." Willow nodded. "And what of the other… recruits?"

"The boy Warp is troubled and self-focused, perhaps more so than Mary. He has been forced to rely utterly on himself for survival from an early age and fears giving his trust because he both does not want to be betrayed and fears abandonment. He does not accept responsibility well. The agent is a professional nothing more, nothing less, not a true criminal. Nippon more wanted to get rid of him than anything else, I think. As for Molly Oswald… interesting. I do not sense a powerful criminal nature in her at all… more a sense of rebellion. She is immature and has little concept of where to direct her energies." Ivy sighed, "So… we have two children, a failed spy and a angst ridden hired killer… perhaps those two Velocity and Paragon captured will fit right in."

In the hall, Jennifer tugged her collar a little more into place. It felt like she was being brought up for review, not the inductees. "You like fine, Jennifer", Paragon said, voice full of calm assurance.

Easy for you to say, she thought. He never looked flustered or out of place. Always the stoic. Glancing up at him she looked over his features, the square jaw, blue eyes and rugged face. Handsome, intelligent and fatherly in a way. He choose the right name.

"You're sure you feel up to this… working with the project subjects? I know I dropped it into your lap suddenly, but you were the best choice among the Knights." As he spoke, they stepped into the auditorium.

She shrugged nervously. "No. But that's never stopped me before. Besides, it wasn't a complete surprise… I had a bit of warning from Engrid, of all people."

Paragon stepped up to the podium. "If we're already… then let's begin." The far doors opened and one by one the Purgatory team members were brought in. The guards were in heavy armor, sporting assault rifles and black ceramic armor. They moved with an almost mechanical precision. The team members were still cuffed as they were brought to the front row and seated. "Please remove the restraints, they are here voluntarily." As the request was followed he continued. "Welcome, this is to be your induction into the project and an organizational briefing as well. Your presence here indicates a desire for reformation. You've trusted us enough to agree to this and that trust will be returned."

Doug looked around at the others, and when he saw the guards approaching he turned so his cuffs were easier for the guards to get too. Wonder who these others are?

Circe nodded silently, looking around at the assembled group. Douglas, of course she recognized but there were two newcomers. A young woman in sunglasses. Dark, she was lean with a confident and somewhat arrogant look to her. Circe noticed a slight Asian cast to her eyes, and another man. Older, obviously athletic and large without being cumbersome. He looked like a professional athlete perhaps, the expression he wore one of feigned disinterest and mild disdain.

Blink looked around at the people. Who the hell are these people? she thought. Paragon, Ivy, Willow, everybody knows them. What have you gotten me into, Father? Glancing at Circe, Nice tattoos. That young guy isn't too bad. Maybe this won't be all bad… She smiled slightly, adjusting her sunglasses. I suppose I'd better listen.

After everyone had taken a seat Paragon contiuned. "First I'll open up to questions." He looked from face to face, trying to read the expressions there. Ivy looked directly at Circe, glowing eyes narrowing a touch. Hostility was plainly written on her face.

Circe returned Ivy's look calmly, feeling better rested than she had in years. No worrying about being attacked in my sleep. No stray emotions from other people intruding to disturb me. What's wrong, Ivy? Don't like me? Don't think I should have been allowed into the program? Or are you more offended by my tattoo than by me, thinking me presumptuous? Well what do you have to think about what I'm about to say?

Circe raised her hand slightly to get Paragon's attention. "First, I'd like to thank whoever had the foresight to put the shields on my room," she said, her voice sincere and devoid of any sarcasm. "It was the first time in as long as I can remember that I was able to sleep soundly without… interruptions." A slight, thankful smile crossed her lips. And no nightmares. "I would like to know what our schedules will be like. Will there be training sessions with the rest of the team, for example."

"So where are we going to be staying? What is expected of us? What things are we allowed to do and not do?" Doug asked. There that should cover most things.

"Mr. Paragon, since we really didn't have that much time, I think introductions are in order." Turning to the others briefly she said, "You can call me Blink." She turns back to Paragon, pretty sure that he already knows who she is.

"You will be assigned to operations as they arrivce these should be primarily involve dealing with other metahuman crimes and high risk covert and investigative operations. In answer to Circe's question,there will be training opeations to allow you to familiarize yourself with each other's abilities and powers. Between missions you will housed at facilities donated by Ivy off coast." He smiled slightly at Blink. "and you're correct introduction to seem to be in order. Who'd like to start?" He seemed enthused by the generally positive progress so far.

"As Paragon has already said, I'm Circe," Circe said in a neutral voice. Every eye in the room was drawn to her. Her voice, her body, everything about her begged to be examined in loving detail. Her face was an angel's, the vine curling along it an exotic touch that lead the eyes over fine features. Deep eyes, fine skin and full red lips that conjured up any number of fantasies. Her body was a work of art, full of erotic promise even in her relaxed pose, the conservative cut of her suit doing nothing to hide Circe's devastating female perfection. She quickly scanned the faces of those assembled, watching and gauging reactions and recognition.

Blink admires Circe from behind her sunglasses. Bet she's no Doll. I wonder what her skin feels like….Wouldn't Daddy be surprised? Then again, maybe not!

Willow was intriuged, sensing the psionic field, almost an unconscious effect emitted by the girl. A protective aura of sorts making her more imposing and all the while something to be treasured. Perhaps to compensate for her insecurity… to make herself wanted in at least one way. Glancing at Paragon, she noted even he seemed somewhat affected. Impressive, he has one of the strongest wills I've enountered… but the affect is so subtle, almost insidious… with training perhaps she could produce other, similar effects.

Ivy felt nothing but contempt, the attempt of this pathetic woman to sway her with so… animal a trick. She saw the vine tattoo crawling over her body, swelling and bursting slowly choking the life from her… sending her flesh back to nourish the earth. Ivy smiled.

When it was his turn, "I'm called Warp and I can bend space to make two points seem closer then they actually are." Warp tried to think of what he had heard of the other two newcomers.

The older man stood up, slowly scanning the room while making eye contact with everyone. He spoke with a mild accent, perhaps German or Swiss. "My name is Richard Von Schmiessen. I was formerly in the employ of the European Hegenomy as part of a covert-ops team whose name and objectives I am not willing to discuss at this time. During my last operation, I was abandoned by the government as the result of a botched mission at a classified location. My purpose for joining this project is to win my freedom by showing my former employer that they made the biggest mistake of their lives." All the time, Von Schmiessen's eyes regard everyone with an cold, icystare. He seemed to be saying "if you have a problem with that, you cantake it up with me."

Von Schmiessen remained standing at attention. "I have to ability to channel energy directed at my person. I can use it to boost my physical abilities, create a protective shield against other energy attacks, or reflect the attack back at the source. These abilities made me ideally suited as the point man on most missions."

He once again made eye contact with the entire room. "I expect us to work as a team. Whomever is leading this group will be given the respect that is necessary for the team to function as a unit. Individually, we cannot survive. As a team, we can do almost anything. I have nothing further to say."

A professional, Circe thought with respect. I don't know about the working as a unit thing, but he definitely seems to know what he's talking about. He needs to loosen up a bit, though.

Boy, Ivy and Circe sure don't like each other. and I thought I had started. Great. Somewhere else I get to be treated like a child. Uh uh. Not this time. "It would help to work with each other, if we have to work together, I suppose. What about equipment and such? Will that be part of the training too?"

Paragon nodded to Blink, a little taken a back by the slight edge of irritation that had crept into the young woman's voice. "Equipment will be assigned per operation and request. Of course access to extremely high level devices will be monitored." Stepping back he gestured for the girl, or young woman to step forward. She glowed. Not an aura but her skin seemed to softly emit light in a steady somewhat soothing glow.

After the others had introduced themselves, the young woman who had entered with Paragon stood. She adjusted her mostly white costume one last time, then spoke. "Some of you already know who I am anyway," she flashed a smile toward her brother and Mary, "but since everyone else has done introductions, I will too. In costume, I'm Photon; otherwise, I'm Jennifer Morris. Either one will do. I'll be going along with you on missions and I will be training with you as well. To be blunt about it, I'm going to be along as your watchdog."

Jenbug is joining us? Not sure if I like this… she did get us brought in, Warp thought.

Just like old times, Circe thought. Ivy chuckled softly never looking away from the psionicist. Paragon shot her a quizzical glance.

Wonder what Blink's powers are? Light emitter, energy redirector, psychic killer and dimension warper plus an unknown, can't imagine what missions we would be great at for stopping criminals… Warp thought while he listened to the others questions.

Boy, wouldn't daddy be pissed if I told them who I was in front of all this coverage? Blink's smile gets wider. "I guess I should say what I can do too. I 'blink' at least that's what I call it. I can move from one place to another, and I am an expert at infiltration. Just doing what I was made to do…"

"If we're all sharing what we our powers are, I guess I'd better follow suit," Circe said with a wry smile. "I'm an empath. I can make your strongest desires, or fears," she added softly. "Appear to come to life. I can also alter people's sense of reality, make friends into foes, day into night, or turn their worlds upside down."

Paragon took the stand again. "The first week or so will allow you all to familiarize yourselves with each others abilities in real life and Virtual simulation and also allow testing of the monitor implants." He paused to let the reminder of the implants sink in then continued. "Each operation you will be sent will be on a voluntary basis. We cannot make you take risks greater that you wish. Also, you are not considered an expendable resource. This is a rehabilitation program not extended capital punishment. I won't deny that you will be asked ro take risks perhaps greater than those asked of normal forces. The level of risk involved will determine how you sentence is affected."

Not that it would matter to me, Circe thought. How many missions would I have to complete to work off 27 life sentences? I'm in this for the rest of my life.

"Can we earn the right to eventually earn the right to live in places of our own choice?" Warp asked while looking over Blink.

The question seemed to surprise Paragon slightly. Turning his gaze to Warp he spoke, "There isn't any expected payment for being in the program as its an opportunity in itself." He looked back to the group as a whole. "Are there anymore questions or shall was move on to other aspects of this induction?"

Interesting, I see what the city gets out of this now… they get people who risk their lives and all they have to do is provide room and board and if you want anything over that well it's tough nuggies. Just as bad as the damn corporations. Guess we'll never at this rate be expected to totally pay our debt to society so they have us protecting them and bringing offenders in and more people joining us at slave wages for the city… Warp looked around at the others, to see what reactions they were having to what had been said so far.

"Will we be allowed visitors? Immediate family, I mean," Circe asked. I know Willow said she'd make arrangements, but even she can't do everything.

So the opportunity should be enough? Right… No more questions, your honor. Let's get on with the show, Blink thought, smirking ever so slightly.

Family? I didn't know she had any… interesting. "Arrangements can be made for visitations by family and close associates," Paragon replied, looking a bit more closely Circe now. She certainly didn't fit the profile he had envisioned from her basic file work. Intelligent, most definitely, but either not the heartless killer she tried to project at times… or a very good actress. No, a good actress in either case.

Circe noticed Paragon's studying her. What are you thinking, Paragon? What do you see when you look at me? Do I match the psych profile your "experts" came up with, or am I throwing everything for a loop. Hell, I don't even know who I am anymore. That last thought made her feel uncomfortable. She had molded herself into what she thought she was, built a whole life around it, and the bottom of the basket that held it all was just ripped away. Oh, you're just being stupid, Circe, she thought to herself. You know who and what you are. It's like a new pair of boots with two inch heels. You just have to get used to them.

"Would I have access to resources to try and find my parents and siblings?" Warp momentarily glanced at Jennifer then returned his glaze to Paragon and Willow.

Jennifer met his gaze, then sighed and dropped her eyes slightly. So. Found only to be lost again, it would seem… Willow reached over and patted her hand reassuringly.

"Yes. You will have the same access to records and the Data Net as any other citizens." Paragon replied. Willow met Warp's eyes. She was curious. The ill feeling he had for Jennifer. It was shame, perhaps given time… "In addition, there are other facilities on the compound you may find useful, both physically and mentally. In fact, I'd like to continue this there after the medical exams."

Medical exams, Circe thought. Why those? Didn't they get enough when Warp and I were in that VR prison? The thought of someone poking and prodding at her body made her uncomfortable, but it didn't show from behind the mask. Well, it's probably to make sure we won't die on the operating table when they put in the implants. Not that some here wouldn't object. She tried to remember what she could about Ivy, perhaps to try and figure out if there was some reason for that hostility - other than the fact that she was a murderer. She vaguely recalled something that happened in Brazilia years ago, an attack by esper or something.

I wonder… Does she hold all psychics in such contempt because of it? Does she view Willow that way too? Circe thought to herself. She looked at Ivy again. You'll be the hardest one to convince, and probably my worst "enemy" in this. Will you go out of your way to ensure I fail?

Warp looked at Willow. Wonder if she's probing my mind when she's looking at me like that?

Medical exams? Oh fucking great! I wonder if they know about daddy's 'state-of-the-art' technology…I'm an infiltrator. I don't know what use I'll be with this kind of group. "Paragon?" Blink asks. "What kind of medical exam?"

"Standard procedure; also, to assist with the tracking implant procedure," he replied, sensing the general unease that seemed to have filled the room. "Nothing invasive, either. It's mainly to ascertain your condition and physical aspects of your meta abilities."

"I understand these tests have already been performed upon Warp and myself. Are there another set to be run on us?" Circe asked.

"Didn't you already get that information while Circe and I were in the Virtual Reality hell?" Warp asked while paying attention to the reactions of his question among the hosts of this party.

"The initial steps were performed on the both of you but there are further procedures to be handled both for the implant process and general health purposes." Paragon's tone was reassuring, sympathetic, actually.

"Will be allowed to select the equipment we use on the missions, or is it pre-selected? I have no desire to use inferior American technology when European tech is superior," Von Schmiessen spoke up.

Ivy stifled a laugh. Shooting her a look, Paragon turned to the man. "The Hegemony isn't involved in this Program as you may know and I'm certain you know their… limited export policies."

A look of disgust came over Warp's face. Oh great get to be a lab rat again. Just what I don't like. Warp shivered with the painful memories.

Ah, so you're concerned about the health of your prisoners, but care nothing for those on the street, Circe thought. I remember being turned away from a so-called public health centre.

"Well, if there is nothing more?" Paragon stepped down, gesturing toward the rear doors. They opened and there were several guards waiting. They were not cuffed again, but simply escorted out. The tension in the air was thick, the Meta cops watching them like hawks, hands over near holsters or holding tight SMGs. Paragon and Photon walked with them but the other member stayed behind. Taking two lifts down, they stepped out onto a white hall. Circe and Warp recognized the sharp medicinal smell of the place. Several lab coated people were waiting for them. Engrid, a slim woman with dark greying hair, was among them. Stepping forward, she brushed a stray hair from her face and began to speak. "I can guess none of you are looking forward to this so we'll make it is quick and painless as possible. Ladies, with me… Gentlemen, please follow Dr. Taylor."

Circe nodded to Engrid in greeting, but remained silent. Do you like your job, Engrid. Are you looking forward to studying us like lab mice? And what will you do with the information you collect?

They make it oh so easy to have a guard shot in the foot. But no I'm supposed to be good. Don't make a face at them they will probably use it as an excuse to shoot. Knowing the city these are probably the most trigger happy guards they could find. Warp thought as he walked past the guards. He and the other men were taken to separate rooms.

"Well, here goes nothing. It's not like I haven't been a patient before. Let's get it over with, please?" Blink put in, stepping up behind Circe. Up close the woman was even more devastating. Blink took a moment to savor the opportunity for a rear view as she was led into an exam room.

Wow. She's absolutely gorgeous… wonder if she knows what I'm thinking? Are our thoughts open? Think I'll check on what daddy can send me. Maybe some more state-of-the-art stuff… wonder if Circe likes girls?

The examinations were professional and clinical in the extreme. Mostly neural scans and chemical tests, they left the subjects feeling perhaps slightly low on bodily fluids, but not too terrible for the experience. Afterward, they were assembled in a hangar and lead into a VTOL plane for transport to their new "home". Paragon and Jennifer were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps distressingly, the only other occupant of the plane was a Doll. She looked identical to Elcie, Warp and Circe noticed, right down to the jumpsuit. "Hello, everyone, I'll be serving you during this flight. We have food and drinks and I'll do anything I can to make you comfy." She smiled, blue eyes shining with the sheer joy of being a slave.

"Do you have the fixings and facilities for omelettes?" Warp asked, as he realized how hungry he was.

"Um… yes, I can make you one right away." She nodded and looked around the cabin. "Anyone else hungry?"

"Omelettes are fine, thanks," Blink replied.

I hope that there won't be Dolls like this everywhere at our new home, Circe thought to herself. That type of cheerfulness is so annoying. Wonder if they'll let me just sit in my room as much as I want. And I wonder if Ivy will allow me to have a plant, or will she be petty?

The Doll waved to Circe. "Hi, Mary!"

Circe's head jerked up in surprise, pulled from her thoughts by the Doll's voice. "Elcie? Hi. Sorry, I was just thinking about something. I'm fine, but I don't suppose you've got any of that cake?"

"Yep, sure do," she nodded. "How much would you like?"

"As big a piece as I'm allowed to have," Circe replied with a grin.

From their seats, Blink and Von Scheimesson saw two large metal sarcophagi being loaded by remotes into the plane's cargo hold. A technician was checking some readouts along the sides. Cryo storage crates, Blink realized, having liberated quite a few of them. But way bigger than I've seen.

"Mr. Von Scheimesson? What do you think are in those?" What would be necessary for a crate that size?

Von Schmiesson regards the two crates. "Perhaps some non-compliant members of this project. I have seen cryo storage crates that size before, but used to transfer hostile subjects." He turns and motions to the Doll. "Would it be possible to get an alcoholic beverage on this flight? I have a craving for some European lager."

"Sorry sir… but alcoholic beverages are a no-no." she looked genuinely sad. "Oh, its time for take off. Please secure yourselves."

Yeah no alcohol, no freedoms, nothing that would make you feel better or temporarily escape from their control. Wonder if we're being watched on this flight? Warp looked around for sensor and optical equipment, looking first where he would hide the stuff if he were going to watch dangerous people.

Elcie turned to leave the cabin. One has to wonder is she the pilot. After a moment the plane lifts straight up and out into the bright blueish gray of the Pacific sky.

Circe sat back in her seat, doing up the safety belt. With a sigh, she relaxed her shields to let her passive senses expand through the plane. It was surprising, but she sometimes felt more tired when trying not to use her powers like this than when she did. She stretched out her legs, relaxed back into the seat, and tried not to think how high up they were, or the fact she may never see civilization again.

They have a doll piloting us? A concerned look flashed across Warp's face. Well, wasn't going to show them more of my tricks but I need to know. Warp tried to make a quick estimate of where the pilot's compartment was. Space roiled and split in front of him followed by an intense rush of air! The portal had opened outside the plane. Quickly he let the hole snap shut.

"If you wanted to look outside, raising the cover on your window is much more safe," a slightly miffed-sounding female voice spoke, presumably from hidden speakers, "and if you were trying to look somewhere else, then shame on you. That's no way to start your rehabilitation, throwing spatial distortions all over the place… what if that had opened up in the engine… or in the control system? That'd put an end your chances for parole, wouldn't it? Everyone else's too, I imagine. What a shame that would be… and they'd all have a good 10-20 seconds to look at you and say 'What was all that business about? Now you've gone and killed us all.' Some people… no consideration."

Circe tried very hard not to chuckle. So they gave the Doll a sense of humour. Or was it really Elcie? I don't think they'd be able to program her to cook and be mindlessly pleasant as well as pilot a plane like this. Then again, it would be smart on their part to have had the pilot already aboard and shielded from us. Wouldn't want the prisoners highjacking the plane.

Warp set back with his eyes closed. So they already have methods to tell when I'm using my powers. Bet they are going to say when I can practice use of my powers too.

Ellce returned pushing a small tray. "Here you are." She served Warp first. "You didn't say what kind of omelette so I made a basic one with cheese… well, not real cheese… but it's good." Then she moved to Circe, serving her some cake, a rather large piece. "There you go."

"Thanks, do you have real orange juice?" Warp asked before starting to eat the omelet. "Fairly good. Thanks, Ellce."

"Thanks, Ellce," Circe replied with a smile as she picked up her fork.

"I'd like to take this time to say hello to one and all, and welcome aboard Flight 1 and only to Penal Containment Facility Alpha. I am Holly, your Artificial Neural Engram Operating System. If you look out either side window you will see water, so there is really no point. The flight path looks smooth and we should arrive safely within the hour… 47 minutes, 23.45 seconds to be precise. I'd like to say that you are all safe in my hands, but since I don't actually possess them, that would be a falsehood on many levels. Actually, I suppose there is really no reason for me to actually worry about the safety of this flight on a primal level, since if it does crash I am not in any danger. But I can assure you that I would feel a great deal of programmed failure negative emotional feedback which can be associated with the human feeling of guilt."

This time Circe did chuckle out loud. If this is an example of what life in Penal Containment Facility Alpha is like, it's either going to be really amusing, or just downright weird.

"Well isn't that special." blink replies. "So happy the computer would feel guilty. Actually, I'm kidding. AI's are very important. Sorry, Holly." Blink is now looking around for someplace to plug in. "So, where are we going, Holly?" I wonder if a computer can be a friend?

"Wonderful, sarcasm and banter!" Holly sounded delighted. "We can exchange witticisms and jibes, perhaps even smug comments and double entendres. Our destination is the sunny and festive island of… well, it doesn't have a name, but it's the locale of Penal Facility Alpha… and I'm not sure it's festive, but humans tend to associate sun and tropical climates with festive. I can am certain its sunny. Local rainfall levels are quite low."

"You're going to be a pain, aren't you, Holly?" Blink asked. She got up and walked over to where Ellce and Circe were.

"Am I causing duress, or was that a spunky come back? If so… what was it based on? I was merely relating the local weather format," Holly inquired. "As part of an attempt to motivate a positive outlook on this situation… considering that you will be spending an estimated 90-95% of you time there you should at least have the mental conception that it's a pleasant place… if not festive. Perhaps a brighter color scheme… purple perhaps? Is that festive? Or flowered hats?"

"It was a joke, Holly. Or a spunky comeback, if you prefer." Blink smiled. Could be fun to 'get to know her', if she'll let me in…

Ellce smiled when Mary laughed, giggling herself. If she truly got why she was laughing was debatable but it seemed at least genuine.

Circe hid a frown as she continued to eat her cake. Once she was done, she sat back in her seat again and closed her eyes.

Ellce paused then looked down at Circe. "Did I do something to make you sad?"

Circe shook her head. "No, Ellce," she replied. "Just thinking about something a bit unpleasant. Nothing to do with you."

"Ok… I really want… to be friends… if you want…" she answered, her sadness plain as a child's.

"Sure, Ellce," Circe said soothingly. "We can be friends."

A doll concerned about feelings, yeah right… Warp thought as he finished eating his Omelet. "Would you bring some orange juice?" Warp asked Ellce.

"Ellce? Do I still get that omelette?" Blink asked. She tentatively puts a hand on Circe's shoulder. "You ok? Is there anything I can do? I don't know any of these people…maybe we can be friends?"

"Oh… sorry, ma'am," Ellce said, and served Blink quickly, then refilled Warp's glass. She started back toward the front of the plane, casting a glance toward Blink and Circe, sighed softly and continued.

Down below, among the rattling of the storage compartment, a more rhythmic sound could be heard. A steady pounding. Even, constant, almost machine- like, it came from the cryo suspension units. Engine noise masked the sound from onboard sensors even as the unit's side bulged and split, spilling a mist of cryogenic gases that left a thin layer of frost on all that they touched. Two pale hands gripped the edges of the tear and pulled. The metal shrieked in protest but gave under the relentless pressure, widening enough to allow the prisoner freedom. He pushed free, squirming from the tear in a grotesque parody of birth. The edges scored his skin, minor injuries. They meant nothing. He turned his gaze on the other crate. Rushing over to the other cryogenic unit he knelt beside the control panel. He quickly surveyed the controls before attempting to open the unit. The controls were beyond anything he'd seen before. No matter… the direct approach had worked for him. Gripping the frigid edge of the crate he began to pull.

Holly spoke up. "Here now… that's odd… there's been a 5 degree temperature loss in the cargo area. Oh, my… not good, not good at all. Well, not for you, but troublesome for me as well. There's been a stasis leak in the cryogenic units." She sounded miffed. "Substandard materials… likely pirated off some Hegemony design. Shoddy… simply shoddy. Who wants to go and seal off the leak before the hull turns brittle and the plane explodes?"

Circe immediately cast her mind downwards, seeking out any active minds. She was stabbing in the dark but it was worth a shot. There was a focused mental presence there but it resisted contact. Nothing but concentration leaking through its single-minded focus.

"Mr. Von Schmiesson, this looks to be more your area of expertise, since you said you could absorb other energy and expel it later, correct?" Warp suggested.

Von Schmiessen unbuckled his seat belt. "I suggest that three of us go down and investigate the problem. The subjects inside the cryogenic units are of an unknown quantity to me and I would request backup. I will take the point. I will also require some sort of weapon designed to incapacitate the subjects in the cryo tanks. Without one, we risk letting the subjects destroy this plane. Who is coming with me?"

"Holly? Do you have an I/O port I can use?" Blink asked. "Maybe I can help you determine an alternate course of action. Mr. von Schmiesson? Does your ability relate to all forms of energy? If so, you might be the best candidate for redirection of the energy until it can be sealed. Circe? He said the larger crates might be storing live people, maybe some more reluctant members of this project. Can you tell?"

Von Schmiesson turns towards Blink. "I cannot deal with kinetic energy. Therefore, if the subject that is free is physically strong, my abilities will be limited." "Will I be receiving some sort of restraining device for the subject or will we be forced to hold it down with our bare hands?" Von Schmiesson didn't wait for a reply and headed towards the back of the plane. "Open an access to the cargo hold. I'm going in."

Damn! I'm no good for this… "Without a weapon, I'm not much good for a direct approach, I'm afraid. I could try to get someone down there quickly, if that's what's needed. Other than that…" Blink is slightly agitated.

Ellce stood to the side, hands clasped in front of her. She looked worried but said nothing only trembling slightly.

"No, maybe, and yes." Holly replied. "With an addendum they are, well, most likely were, at this point in time, holding two possible Synthetics, combat-oriented types. Rather like all of you, barring possible artificial origin and not being in the Project under its authority."

"And there are no retraining devices on board. It was a trust gesture… rather ironic isn't it?" Holly said thoughtfully. A click signaled the hatch opening.

Circe, only one of the two has awakened from cryosuspension. He's not necessarily hostile but will be easily provoked. Willow broke into Circe's mind with an abruptness that carried her sense of worry more than her words.

Who are they? Circe's mind raced, running over the names and descriptions she knew of meta criminals that matched what Willow told her.

They call themselves the Gemini… working names Cy and Rock, Willow replied.

"Circe, can you talk to them mentally? See if you can warn them to be careful since we are still in the air?" Warp asked Circe.

"I think I should go in first," Circe said with determination. "I know them. Its Rock and Cy." Walking up beside Von Schmiesson and taking a deep breath, she signaled Holly to slide the panel back. There was a short series of stairs leading down into the cargo hold.

"Good luck… be careful…" Ellce whispered, crossing her fingers.

"I'll go with you, Circe, I've worked with them in the past also." Warp followed Circe up to the doorway.

Why do I have the feeling I'm going to get left out of a lot? Blink turns around and walks toward the cockpit. "Holly? Could I come in? They don't need me back there. I'll just be in the way…"

"Well there's not a lot you can do up here either but if it will give you more a sense of control or perhaps a momentary distraction from your possible demise, of course." The cockpit access slid back, opening onto an empty cockpit. A single seat was front of the control and viewport looking out over a seemingly endless expanse of blue.

Blink enters the cockpit and looks around. "Do you want the door closed, Holly? I'd kind of like to hear what's going on back there. Nah. Demise doesn't bother me, I just …" Blink sighs. "So, how much did they tell you about us, Holly?" Blink looks over the controls. I wonder if Holly will let me practice these skills, she thought, rubbing the spot where the computer link came out of her arm. She sighed softly. "I wonder just how much those people are going to need someone like me. Holly? Can you turn on the speakers for me, so I can hear what's going on?"

"Well technically they haven't told me anything about you but I have access to the files on you so I know what is there. I can watch you all the time but that might distressing to you." Holly replied. "But then if you didn't know then it wouldn't be… but that would be unethical on certain levels. Speakers on." The sounds from the main cabin came into the room.

"Not much I can hear from here. Well, if they need me, I guess they'll call. So, Holly. Did you know I can speak to computers without actually talking?"

"You mean via a internal neural modem or is that a roundabout way of saying you're a good typist?" Holly paused. "Was that snappy?"

"I have an internal connection that allows me to 'jack in'. And it was snappy, but not sarcastic enough. Don't worry, I'll teach you about sarcasm. We have a lot in common, I think. Say, is there a way to open the cargo hatch from here? Maybe if they could push it out the cargo bay door, or something. But then I guess we'd depressurize, or something. Can you monitor down there, and if so, can I jack in and follow?"

"You'll teach me… goody for me If I had feet I'd be dancing happily," Holly replied. "Was that better? I tried to add more venom." A screen lit up, display a frost crusted view of the cargo hold. Blink could make out a dim shadow of the scrambling people. "I can't let you interface and the monitors have been damaged, it seems."

"Can't or won't? Never mind, it's not important right now. What can we do to possibly get rid of that crate spewing the frost? Can we open the hatch without sucking everyone out? And yes, that was a little better. Almost 3rd grade level… If everyone is fastened in, and the crate with the other person it is held down, maybe we could push the other one out the cargo bay door. It got in here, it can go out, right?"

"Can't and won't in this particular scenario. No I/O ports suitable for Neural interface and my directive doesn't allow for it. Third grade… does that make me a brat? Oh… yes, the unit could be dumped… there would likely be significant environmental impact and I would be required to submit an impact statement to the Environmental Monitoring network but there's a good chance you don't want to hear about that now…"

"Rock," she called out. "It's Circe. I know you want to get Cy out of cryo, but you can't just break her out. If you do, you'll kill her, not to mention yourself and the rest of us. There's a leak in the coolant that's going to shatter the hull and cause the plane to crash. You don't want to put Cy's life at risk like that, do you?"

Circe nodded once, then started down the stairs, making no effort to disguise the fact she was coming. She looked around the hold as she descended. Warp followed. The cargo was tight, packed with crates and other supplies. Here the noise of the engines was painfully apparent, making Circe have to shout to be heard. She could see him, a huge pale shape visible through the piled cargo.

"Put her in danger?! I'm trying to save her!" Rock shouted back to her, not really recognizing the voice… not really caring at the moment. He kneeled back down beside the control panel again, trying to figure out a safe way to open it up. "Make them free her!" He couldn't make the controls still.

"I know you're trying to save her, Rock," Circe shouted as she began to make her way over to where he was as fast as she could. "But before we can work on getting Cy out, there's something we have to do. When you broke out of your container, you ruptured the coolant line and it's going to cause the hull to crack and the plane to crash. You've got to close that line, otherwise there's absolutely nothing you can do to save her. We will crash, and you will have killed her. Hear those engines? We're out over open ocean. If we go down, there is absolutely nothing you will be able to do to get her out. So work with me on this one, okay? I swear to you that if you help shut down the coolant leak, I will do everything I possibly can to get Cy out."

"Rock it's Warp. The people who know how to do that are not on this flight," Warp yelled over the engine noise.

"Dammit, Rock," she swore. "Would Cy expect you to kill yourself to free her? Do you want her to live with that for the rest of her life? Just half a person?"

"I would be willing to sacrifice myself along with everyone on this plane to ensure her safety, but this isn't going to do that. What are you two just standing there for?! Let's move it!" Rock moved over to the unit he freed himself from, being careful not to step in any of it or let the mist spray him. He tried to determine where exactly the leak was coming from and the best way to seal it. The mist was pouring from the rent in the side of the containment unit.

Warp walked behind Circe to look at Rock waiting for his reply. Circe really has grown strong over the years. As they drew closer to the sound of his voice, the temperature dropped rapidly growing bone chilling in seconds. The back of Circe's hand brushed a crate and stuck momentarily to the frigid metal coming free with a painful tearing.

The pain angered Circe but she shoved it aside. What gives you the right to make that decision, bastard? "Warp. Can you try and vent the coolant out of the plane using your portals until we can get that leak closed," she asked, cradling her hand. "Pick an exit point as far from the plane as you can."

Warp looked over Circe's shoulder to see where the gas was venting from so he could open a warp portal to a safe distance behind the plane to vent the gas. Space rippled and split parting like water quickly forming a vortex of howling air, sucking out the cryogenic gasses. The plane lurched violent, throwing Circe against a crate, both her and Warp's ear popping. Holly stabilized the plane swiftly.

Rock was staggered by the sudden rush of air, the freezing gasses biting into his skin, forming tiny icy crystal in his eyes and hair.

"He does seem to enjoy using those spatial distortions with little warning… perhaps it gives him a sense of control… or machismo…" Holly asked Blink, "Though the symbolism of his powers seems more female being orifice based rather than penetrating… I wonder, has that affected his psyche…?"

Von Schmiessen dropped to the floor of the cargo hold, quickly analyzing the situation. He saw Circe and Warp just getting to there feet. Vaguely he could make out the hulking pale naked shape of who he presumed to be Rock. I hope that whatever friendship that Circe has with this person is strong or else this plane is going down in a hurry. "What can I do to help stabilize this situation?"

"We need to close the rupture in the cryo unit's cooling system. Warp vented the accumulating gas outside, but I've no idea how much more is in there," Circe said. "Come with me. I'll deal with Rock, and you see about the leaking unit." She turned and looked at Warp. "Go and check with Holly. Tell her we're venting the gas outside until we can get a repair done. And check to see if we've managed to slow or even stop the damage to the hull."

Warp turn to Von Schmiessen, "Can you draw the cold out of the outer edge of the plane that is already frozen?" Hmm going to have to keep opening portals since they usually only stay open about 12 secs each. Maybe If I open a new one every 6 secs…

"I'm afraid my powers are of little use in this situation. My powers work against energy, not physical forces like heat and cold."

"Damn," Circe muttered under her breath. "So it's absorption of things like lasers, electricity, and that sort of thing?"

She started to work her way over to where Rock and, she presumed, the other cryo unit was. She came up to him as the wind started to die down. She'd never really been this close to him before. Even naked he loomed, massive and solid pale skin making him look like some marble statue come to life, musculature smooth and well defined almost sleek yet exuding a scarcely contained animal power. Like a snake he turned to her, eyes deep blue, icy cold sending chill along her spine deeper than the frigid air.

"Circe, if I'm going to keep venting the gas I'm going to have to stay down here and keep opening portals they only stay open for short periods of time like 12 seconds or so." Warp replied as he made ready to open another portal.

"Try to find something to tie around me as a tether," Rock said to Circe. Then he turned his head towards Warp, "Can you open one of those the size of that unit? And can you maintain two 'windows' at the same time?" While he was speaking, he was shoving the unit with Cy in it off to the side some.

Circe looked around for a length of chain or strapping. Something long enough to tie around Rock, and sturdy enough to keep from being snapped. "You're going to have to be careful. We're over open ocean right now, and it's not only be a long swim back, but a long way down." Most of the other crates were tied down with strong plastic tethers she could unsnap to use.

Warp looked over the unit in question. "You know the portal only stays open for 12 seconds then it will cut anything passing thru it. Also if you open that wrong and Cy goes falling there is no one that can fly to go catch her. Also what happens if she needs medical help to get revived? I didn't see any doctors on the plane."

Circe moved to the crates and started to undo some of the strapping. She took one of the straps from one set of crates, and another strap from a second set of crates, so if the crates shifted they wouldn't all go flying. Her hand aches slightly, only serving to sour her mood more. The straps popped free with elastic twangs.

"Rock the portal would only be open for 12 seconds and I can't open it much bigger then the size you've seen in the past. I don't think that plan is acceptable at all. I would hate to see anything happen to Cy just like you would let the doctors at where we're heading to release her." Warp kept a portal open venting the gases from the open container.

Up in the cabin Blink spoke to Holly again, it gave her something to focus,"What, he's thinking, to push the crate with Cy in it out? Wouldn't it be the broken one that needs to go out? Holly, get that network of yours in gear here. What's the percentage of success if you open the cargo hatch?" Blink asks. "And how long do we have before hull rupture?"

"The sudden depressurization will make control difficult. There is a 78.4% chance of some cargo loss, 80.237% of fatalities among those down there. Hull disturbance has been slowed appreciably. There is approximately 2 minute 23 seconds until a critical point is reached" Holly replied. "Is that in gear?" She almost sounded smug.

"What are you talking about? The leak is not coming from Cy's unit, it is the one I was in. Can you make one big enough for it to fit through?" Rock looked longingly at Cy's unit for a brief moment.

"What the hell do you know about plans, Warp. All you ever do is whine like a baby," Circe snapped as pulls the straps away and walked over to Rock. "It's not my fault. Society made me do it. Rock's gonna push the leaking unit out of the plane through the portal so we don't have to worry about the gas anymore. Is that so difficult to understand?"

She looked around of a ring of other sort of thing she could attach one end of the strapping to. The back of her hand was raw, the skin peeled away but the sudden freeze was keeping the bleeding to minium and to an extent the pain.

"OH. Even easier I think I can one big enough to take it out. Get ready to push it through. Let me know when you're ready." Warp looked for a nonfrozen item to grab onto and waited for the others to grab onto something. Warp kept venting portals until the other two were ready, yelling towards the hatch. "Don't open the hatch we'll port it out!"

Holly murmured, "Oh my… I'd advise you to strap yourself in… "

Circe left one end of the strap tethered to the floor and tossed the other to Rock. He tied it around himself and gripped the unit. It was frigid, freezing his skin to the metal in an instant. The pain was insignificant.

Sheesh, just because I didn't understand your plan at first… Not like I have telepathy or anything like that. Concentrating Warp reached out, pulling the fluid fabric of space time apart hared than ever before. A portal opened, sending heat shimmmer ripples through the hold, opening over the vast blue of the ocean screaming by. An instant later then interior of the plane became a bucking tempest wind screaming into the void. Circe, Warp and Rock were nearly pulled off the ir. More near the rear Von Schmiesson was spared the worst of it. The plane itself lurched, the damaged hull groaning in complaint. "Go ahead and push it in." Warp screamed above the roaring winds.

Teeth clenched Rock shoved with all his strength. The unit came loose with sharp crack of breaking ice and slid toward the portal and through, suddenly giving way as resistance ceased. He was thrown off balance and started to tumble forward and out into space. He was jerked up short by the tether just as the portal snapped shut. White hot pain shoot up his arm. Looking down his wrist now ended in a stump, spurting rhythmically. Frowning he shoved it into an evaporating pool of coolant, freeze cauterizing the neat cut. It would hold for awhile and these things always grew back.

Warp disentangled himself from where he had rooted himself. Warp looked around the inside of the plane and saw that rock was missing his hand. Ouch Warp shuddered and started looking to see Rock's hand was still in the plane. He didn't see it, most likely sucked out of the warp portal.

Without saying a word, he merely nodded at Warp. Then he turned and faced Circe. "You made a deal with me. I would like to ask you to complete it now, before we reach our destination… wherever that may be. And do you think we could find me some clothing?" He grinned slightly before his thoughts slipped back to Cy. He walked over slowly to her unit, hoping that it would just open so that she could hold him in her arms.

Circe stared for a moment at the impassivity on Rock's face. My God, how can he be so calm? She painfully pulled herself up off the floor. "Holly, can you hear me?"

There was no response for the computer.

"You guys ok down there?" Blink yelled down the hatch to the hold after stepping out of the cockpit. "Holly, what's our status? Are we still intact, or are you gonna tell me a good lie to keep my spirits up?"

"You are intact… the plane on the other hand is somewhat damaged but functional… hmm, which would you have preferred… a lie or the uncomfortable and likely unavoidable truth of you own demise?" Holly asked thoughtfully.

Ellce looked visibly relieved,"I'd better get blankets… there gonna be cold… hope that didn't try to take the other one out of suspension… it would have killed without the right procedure." She hurried off.

"We need immediate medical attention for Rock," Circe replied to blink rubbing her sore hand and feeling strangely about it. "His hand got caught in the closing of the portal and was amputated. Then we need an update on the status of the hull. And info on how to open that cryo unit safely. Does anyone here know how to operate one of these things?"

Somewhat bedraggled they all climbed up out of the hold to rejoin the rest. Ellce back pedaled away from the imposing figure of Rock.

Warp looked at Rock's stump, "Sorry, wasn't trying to make you lose your hand, just never been able to hold the portal open longer then that." Warp had a stunned look on his face. I cut my friend's hand off. Jenny could have killed Circe or myself that other day. I ever realized the portals were this dangerous. Never really thought of it. Warp thought as he walked woodenly back up into the plane and sat back down staring in space for the first time realizing how dangerous his powers could be.

Rock muttered to Circe, "I'll be okay, once she's out."

Ellce was returning with the blankets. "Sure. Its simple… but you probably shouldn't do it…" She bit her lower lip. "The person in there must have done some pretty bad things."

"Yeah, well, I did some pretty bad things too, Ellce," Circe said softly. "But I gave my word. You understand that, don't you? If you make a promise, you have to keep it as best you can." She rubbed the back of her hand again absently. "Besides, if we don't, Rock will just tear into that other unit and we'll have to go through all of this again and we might not be able to save the plane this time."

Rock jerked his head towards Ellce, showing a fire burning in his icy blue eyes. He was about to snap at her before he refrained himself. "I'm the person that was in the other unit… and look at the good I helped do for everyone on board, even at personal loss to me… a part of me." He raised the stump that used to have his hand attached to the end of it for emphasis. "Please, free my sister."

"But if you hadn't done bad things and been put in there you would not have been in there and it was you breaking out that broke it and almost killed everybody." Ellce said to Rock, looking thoughtful.

Typical Doll thinking… simplistic. "Well, why don't you tell us anyway, Ellce. If she can't or won't, I can get it open. I have some experience in that area." Blink grins a little with that last. "And the blankets would be a good idea, and whatever else we need to prevent hypothermia…Holly, can you raise the temperature in here about 5 degrees or so? Whatever would be optimum for what we're doing here. Also, any basic first aid kits in here?"

"Check and yes, Ellce if you would see to the injured. To take the focus of LC- 14575 the other cryo prisoner should not be released according to my directives. That is not negotiable." Her voice took on a cold flat tone. Blink thought, Override subroutine… no free thought on the particular topic for her. Bet I could change that, if I could get in…

"You shouldn't try to open it. It's not the locks, it's the medical stuff… she would die without the right procedure." Ellce, looking more then a little relived went to retrieve the medkits. She started to walk up to Rock but hesitated. "Do you want me to fix your hand?"

Warp stared off into space. My portals can actually possibly kill. Warp kept thinking over and over while staring off into space.

Not really wanting her help, Rock replied, "Whatever. No drugs though." He avoids eye contact with her, just staring off.

"It'll hurt but if you don't want them…" At the look of unconcern from Rock she sighs and examines the stump of his arm, frowning clinically and set to work. After applying some synth flesh and anti septics she moves to Circe.

"Do you want painkillers please say yes I don't want to hurt anyone anymore." She seemed on the verge of tears.

Circe looked down at her hand. "I'm not feeling anything right now. Just bandage it up, and if I feel any pain, I'll ask you for something, okay?" She gave a half-smile. She's no ordinary Doll, she thought. She has very unusual programming.

Nodding she gently bandaged Circe's hand. "There… would you like some more cake to help make you feel better?"

A spontaneous grin crossed Circe's face. "Sure," she replied.

Ellce smiled as well. "Um…if you can see if you can get him… " she glanced at Rock, "to take pain killer… his pain response is…dull like mine but it must hurt and its going to worse."

Circe moved to sit next to Rock her hand starting to throb… "There's something else you need to know, Rock," she said softly. "This plane is on en route to a penal colony of sorts. A prison for metas. You were probably captured by someone involved with Special Crimes, and they decided to ship you off with us. It's an island off in the middle of nowhere that Ivy so graciously donated." She didn't bother to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.

"Well, considering the nature of your crimes and abilities it could be a much more uncomfortable placement for all of you." Holly mentioned,"Typical confinement methods are power negation or Hotsleep."

"If it were simply a matter of opening the locks and turning off the cooling system, I'd do it. But I know nothing about cryogenics. I… I could try check to see if she's alright, though." Circe turned her head and looked at Ellce. "Do you know how cryo works? Not the chemicals and machinery, but how it affects the person? Is the person asleep and able to dream?" Circe asked. If there's some form of brain activity where thoughts or images are, I may be able to contact Cy and find out if she's okay.

"I didn't." Ellce replied," I don't think anyone does."

Circe frowns slightly. This may make things more difficult. She looked at Rock again. "I know you and Cy have a form of mental link. Can you sense anything through that?"

He shook his head slightly, a look of sheer pain filling his eyes so potent it made Circe's heart ache for a moment. It was utter loneliness. The look she must have had in that horrible void they'd put her in before.

Circe closes her eyes and extends her senses down into the cargo hold, this time looking for a passive mind. There has to be some sort of activity. They couldn't shut it all down safely. Could they? There was nothing down there active or not. Nothing at all.

"Circe? You've been handling this…how do you want to do it? I can open it, but I don't have the medical experience to guarantee Cy's safety. We also don't know what Holly can do to enforce that directive, although she said there weren't any restraining devices aboard. Can a computer lie? Blink wondered.

Rock thought of two options immediately… sleeping gas or decreasing life support until compliance is achieved.

Circe looked at Blink, then at Rock. She hesitantly held out her injured hand to him. "I can't sense anything either," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "But it's up to you, Rock. You've heard what could happen, that we may actually do more harm than good if we try and get her out ourselves. We're about half an hour away from landing, and they never would have put her into cryo if it would have been harmful. Can you hang on that long," she asked. What did Willow say about learning how to use my powers in a different way. I know how to make him feel worse. That would be easy. But can I take it away? Damn, I wish we could have found out why he woke up.

"Again. The second Cryo prisoner will not be released. That is an order." Holly's voice was again flat, empty of any emotion.

"Geez, Holly. Don't get your panties in a bunch. We heard you the first time!" Blink looks at Circe and Rock, then shrugs her shoulders. Rock? Let's just wait the half an hour, ok? If I opened it and she died, you'd never forgive yourself, or me, for that matter. Let's play it safe for the moment, all right?" Why couldn't Circe sense anything? Does cryosleep completely shut you down? That would be as bad as The Place Blink shudders for a second.

Circe frowned, fighting down her anger and rebellion at being ordered around. She remembered the judge's words. The slightest sign of problems and that would be it for her. But there has to be a way around this.

"What happens if her unit was damaged during the commotion? Are you responsible for the welfare of all on board?" Rock asked, directing it to the computer.

"Great! logic games!" Holly sounded excited. "Ok… from my perspective she and you are not passengers on this vessel but listed cargo and dangerous cargo at that. Like radioactive or biological dangers. A threat to the ship and the public at large as well. I can be totally objective about this as it doesn't personally, not that I have a person but in a figurative sense, about the arrival of this plane. Barring the fact you are all nice people and highly enjoyable to converse with, why should I not enforce my directives?

"Then I feel pity for you…that you won't ever be able to grow past the boundaries of your programming." Rock leaned back against the chair he was sitting in and closed his eyes, thinking only of Cy. "Will you at least deactivate the shield preventing me from talking to her?"

"I don't think it's a shield, Rock," Circe said. "There was nothing preventing me from scanning or detecting her. I couldn't sense anything. Her mental activity is so low that I couldn't contact her at all." Circe glanced over at Rock. I'm not about to tell him that trying to read her was like trying to read a block of wood. Or an ice cube.

"Because I require a logical reasoning for attempting to act against my directives makes me limited? If I conceded to every desire expressed to me then I have changed from set of implanted directives for another–yours–and have not grown in any measurable way, merely changed operating systems."

"But your directives include ensuring the safety of said cargo, correct?" Circe asked. "And you are programmed to simulate a wide variety of human-type emotions, correct? Is pain or a feeling of immense loss one of them?"

"My emotional scope is wide enough to appreciate a sense of failure should I not achieve my directive and other negative program responses. An inanimate object, the cargo has no safe or unsafe condition, only secure and insecure. It can be defined as safe and unsafe and there are procedures for handling both." Holly replied.

"The way I understand it, Rock is linked with his sister, and incomplete without her. Imagine if you were suddenly cut off from your central processor, and all you have left is the capability left within this plane. How would you (chuckle) feel? Besides, Holly. It's the friendly thing to do!"

"My operating capacity would cut substantially and I would not be able to participate in this interesting debate. All my focus would be channeled into controlling the plane." Holly paused. "Along those lines the truly friendly thing to do would be to release all of you in some neutral area then crash the plane over the ocean and claim there were no survivors. Such action violates the core of my programming, my directives… morals, so to speak. The cryo escapee broke free of cryo containment of his actions. Releasing the other only serves to aggravate a already negative situation."

Von Schmiessen strides purposefully over to the hulking behemoth. "Although I sympathize with your plight Rock, 'Holly' is correct. We can be ordered to forcibly remove you from the plane. This is not an option of my choice, but I will follow orders. There are other ways to resolve your problems."

"I agree, unfortunately. We only have a few minutes before landing, and someone who knows what they are doing can get Cy out. I don't like being forced into the decision, though. Holly, you're too damned logical. I'll give you a sense of humor yet! I'm sorry, Rock. It won't be much longer."

"Soldiers have been ordered to their deaths throughout history." Rock shrugs and stares off at the horizon through the window. "But if you know of another way to resolve it, then please speak up."

Von Schmiessen turned to face Rock with a snort of disgust. "What could you possibly know about being a solider? Only stupid men follow orders to their death unless there is absolutely no other way out. I was smart enough to make that decision, although it cost me my own personal freedom."

Rock lets a small grin cross his face before it quickly disappeared.

Ellce returned with another blanket which she draped over the silently staring Warp. She paused, a look of helplessness coming aver her face, then sat another piece of cake down beside him. Turning she gave Circe her piece. "I think Warp's really… sick or something."

Circe looked at Warp, then back at Ellce. "Sick? What do you mean?"

"He's just staring… not saying anything at all…" She paused, not certain of what else to say.

"Warp, don't feel guilty. Me losing a hand is insignificant compared to the plane crashing and killing everyone on board. I'll be fine…really." Rock tried to sound convincing, although he was seriously distracted at the moment.

Circe looked over at Warp again. What's up with you now? Withdrawn into your shell of denial over something again? She felt a deep shock, an emotional numbness stemming from some great shock, a very recent one.

Circe looked at him, puzzled. What happened? What was it? She leaned towards him a bit. "Warp. Yo, Earth to Warp. Talk to me."

Still staring off into space with a small hard to hear voice, "My portals can kill, Jenny could have been killed. She could have killed me by pulling me out of a portal, I could have killed you or Rock. I could have killed everyone opening a portal inside the plane. I never realized that that type of portal could harm someone let alone kill." Once started his words ran fast but only Circe could barely hear him. he kept repeating everything over and over.

Circe got up from her seat and moved to sit next to Warp. She grabbed his hand and squeezed, trying to get his attention. "Warp. Come on Warp. Doug, you've got to listen to me," she said softly. Gotta make him feel calm, more in control. She reached out with her mind and wrapped herself around him, seeking out the shock and fear and trying to replace it with calm. "What happened was an accident. As long as you don't close a portal on someone, they'll be okay. You'll never willingly do that. We all know that." She paused. "I know that."

"I just never realized the portals could kill. Jenbug pulled me out of one earlier could have killed either of us. Things like that I can't control. Also they only stay open for 12 seconds. If someone follows me too late they could be killed. Or what if someone who cares about body parts reach in to grab me and lose their hand how could I live with myself." Warp kept mumbling coherently and staring off into space. Thoughts of body parts, pools of blood floating through his mind.

"Then you'll just have to be careful. Make sure everyone knows how the portals work," she said. "You can't tear yourself up over something you have no control over. You know your limitations. Work around them." Her voice was soft and she continued to try and calm Warp.

"I thought I did. I didn't know the portal closing could take a body part off. What if there is something just as dangerous that I never encountered before some odd situation that hurts people I like or love or friends. I guess I really belong out here with the killers and career criminals. I might open a portal where someone is standing and I'm a murderer." Warp pulled his legs up and started hugging them. "I'm not a killer but how am I ever going to be able to port to a distant place I can't see when I know if there is someone there the portal opening might kill someone who doesn't have a chance to dodge and no warning. I mean as far as I know my viewing portal might be able to kill someone or even my images portal can kill. Maybe I should ask about getting my powers nullified. I'm not a killer but with my powers and porting long distances that might not be true longer. I mean I already took someone's hand off. I mean every time I see Rock's missing hand I'll see what evil things my portals can do. What's next a head or leg?" Warp was shaking while he was hugging his legs in a death grip.

"His hand though. He won't have his own hand now for life. I've only hurt people in the past to defend someone never hurt anyone by accident. His hand is gone it's probably been eaten by fish there's no way to replace his own flesh with flesh… He's calm now but he'll still want to kill me later." Warp sat with a look of horror on his face he talked low and calm.

"Warp," Circe said, her voice becoming firmer. "He's not going to want to kill you. He's a professional, and he knew what the risks were. If he was going to do something, he would have done it already. They'll look after him when we land. Listen, if Rock isn't freaking out over it, you shouldn't be either. It'll just make things worse." Now that's cold, Circe. But the truth. Rock was talking like he didn't care, or that it didn't matter.

What is it with Ellce? Blink thought. Dolls don't usually have this kind of emotion. "Rock? Tell me about Cy. What's she like?" Maybe if I can distract him for a bit…

Wincing slightly at the mere mention of her name, Rock closed his eyes and turned his head away from Circe. "Thank you for the concern, but now is not a good time. How much longer until we land? Half an hour?"

Holly replied. "15 minutes,23 seconds approximately."

"Sorry, Rock. I should've guessed. Maybe another time?" Blink turned to look at Warp. What happened down there? she wondered.

Rock stood up and rewrapped the blanket around himself. He picked up an extra blanket and went back down to the cargo area. He unfolded the extra blanket and pitched it out over Cy's cryo-unit. Then he sat down up against it and waited for the nightmare to end. He felt tired… so tired. Quickly he drifted off to sleep, head slumping forward to his chest.

The flight continued with no more interruption. Holly was silent, somehow contemplative. Circe felt Willow softly touch her mind. I've put the one known as Rock into a semihypnotic state… he should be fine. How are the others?

More or less okay, I'd guess. I'm the only other person who got physically injured. Back of my hand touched one of the metal crates in the hold and ended up tearing off several layers of skin. It doesn't hurt, or at least not yet. Circe shrugged. Doug's having a hard time though. When the portal closed after we jettisoned the leaking cryo unit closed, it closed over Rock's wrist and amputated his hand. Rock's taking it okay, but Doug's flipped right out. Seems he didn't know what would happen if someone was in a portal when it closed.

Great Mother of…I'll have Ivy prepare a medical team for your landing. Willow was shocked, even a little horror in her voice.

You know, Rock was amazingly calm about the whole thing, Circe said. What do you know about him? Does he have some sort of powers that wold make him not be concerned about losing his hand?

I suspect a reduced pain response and inhibited emotional outlook. Perhaps induced by shock or engineered. He is possibly a combat Replicant so both seem likely. For safety's sake I have placed him an induced sleep state… odd though the centers of his mind devoted to dreaming and subconscious thought are retarded.

Really? Circe was surprised. Well, I suppose if they are combat replicants they wouldn't want anything to interfere with them doing their jobs. Imagine not being able to dream. No nightmares would be nice, but not being able to have full dreams?

It limits his creativity and empathic abilities to a large degree but I believe the link he shares with the "sister" unit somehow compensates.

"Please strap in for landing. I'd like to says its been a pleasant journey… but I guess it hasn't", Holly said. After all were seated she started the descent. The plane settled with the slightest jar. The port cycled open with a soft whoosh admitting a rich floral scent and a wash of warm air.

"Well, folks. Looks like the fun's about to start!" Blink said with more humor than she felt. Nice talking with you Holly. We'll have to do it again sometime, face-to-face." Blink hurries off the plane. Well, now. Wasn't that a fuckup… Wonder what other happy surprises they have in store for us?

"It was good talking to you as well. This has been the most interesting trip to Penal Facility Alpha I have piloted," Holly replied. Ellce began clearing the plates and trays, glancing at Warp with a concerned look.

The plane rested on an elevated platform, smooth end slightly pearlescent white. All around was thick tropical fauna, heavy with flowers and fruits. One could almost imagine this was Earth as it was untold thousands of years ago, natural and unspoiled. Another looked revealed buildings among the plant life, deep green and smooth surface they melded with the surrounding terrain instead of being imposed on it. Indeed they almost looked grown instead of constructed.

A soft rustle heralded the arrival of Ivy. She seemed to simply grow from the plant life around the platform assuming a fully humanoid shape in seconds. She seemed taller here, more imposing. If it was actual or simply an affect of her surroundings was anyone's guess. The leaves and vines that served as her clothing scarcely covered her now, seeming more of an afterthought.

Once everyone was out she spoke. "Welcome. This island was a former a outpost of Brazilia but will serve as your… home for the duration of your sentence. As you can see there are no guards. Anywhere but the 4th quadrant is open to you. Destruction or tampering with the flora and fauna will not be tolerated under any circumstances. There is a staff they will have separate residences. Are there any questions?"

"What is considered tampering?" Circe asked. "Are we allowed to pick fruit from the trees?" She looked at Ivy passively, knowing full well how much at the woman's mercy she was here, surrounded by all this plant life. And it makes me half afraid to ask about the orchid. Circe's hand was beginning to throb even more that before, the hot air seeming to aggravate it.

"The ecosystem here is somewhat delicate. You may look, explore if you like but do not cut, burn or kill anything. There are internal gardens to supply you nutritional needs."

Ellce stepped off the plane. Ivy looked from the other prisoners to her. "This is Brazilia territory and operates under our laws. As a Replicant you understand what that means?" Ellce nodded. "Your decision?"

"I… I don't have one… yet." Ellce replied, looking nervous.

Ivy smiled slightly. "It's difficult. I understand, child. The offer is open for as long as you need."

"What are the laws about Replicants here," Circe asked, finding herself suddenly concerned about Ellce.

"Slavery in all forms is illegal in my district. Ellce can stay here as she wishes and be a free being." Ivy replied, somewhat tersely.

Ellce can be free here, Circe thought with a touch of surprise. She looked over at the Doll. Can she handle it? I mean, do they even have free will beyond the programming they've been given to serve? She found herself hoping the answer would be yes, and she hid a smile. Now wouldn't it be great if we could break that programming. The folks back home wouldn't be too pleased.

I don't understand what it means… "Excuse me, Ms. Ivy. Are there maps and such to show the 4th quadrant? And where are our quarters and such located? Do you have medical facilities? We have some people that need to be checked out."

"Holly has full maps of the facility and grounds. Your housing is there." She gestured to over shoulder to the cluster of buildings among the greenery.

The plane's cargo area opened as several tracked 'bots rolled up to unload the holds. They looked shockingly industrial against the natural backdrop. The cryo unit and an unconscious Rock were taken out first and carried toward the facilities. A frown crossed Ivy's face as they passed her. "You have two hours to settle in. You can decide room arrangements for yourself. In addition, you will be given reproductive inhibitors for the duration of your stay. The last thing needed is more of you."

Yeah, who died and made you God… "Thank you Ms. Ivy" Blink says sweetly as she walks by. She walks to the buildings indicated, looking for a room. Hope Warp's doing ok. Shit, I hope they're all ok. We have to be together for a long time… I wonder how long I have to do this, anyway? Bet Holly knows….

Warp walked woodenly over towards the buildings.

Ivy glanced at him as he walked by then turned back to the others. "If there are no more questions, I will depart."

Willow will be able to deal with Doug far better than I can, Circe thought as she too watched Warp walk towards the buildings. She looked over at Ivy. Bet you hate the fact I'm here, let along the fact I'm alive. Well tough shit.

"Ellce," Circe said to the Doll. "I'm going to the infirmary to get my hand looked at. Would you like to come with me?" Ellce nodded and walked along side Circe toward the base. Circe tripped, nearly losing her footing all together but Ellce catches her. Looking down, she sees the edge of vine snaking back into the general flora. Ivy stared at her… waiting.

Ellce frowned, looking worried. "She really doesn't like you… is it 'cause of what you did?"

What do you expect me to do? Circe thought. Freak out and try to kill you? Fat chance. Take your petty little revenges. It's going to take a lot more than that to get me to screw up and get sent back to prison. She simply nodded at Ivy, letting her know that she knew what she had done but wasn't going to do anything about it. Is that going to make you angry too? I am not Psiphon, Ivy. I have killed, but I have never maimed or destroyed anyone's mind. That is something I would not do.

Circe turned her attention back to Ellce. "It's a lot more than that," Circe said. "Her son's mind was destroyed by a mentalist a couple of years ago. I think she hates anyone with mental powers, even more so if they've used them to commit a crime. Hell, if I had a child and someone had done that to them, I'd probably feel the same way." She shrugged. "Everyone wants a scapegoat, and now Ivy has got one. She hasn't been able to get the man who hurt her son, so now she can take it out on me. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened to me."

"Oh…" she looked sad. "Come on lets go to the medical center." She started walking again. Circe was about to follow when she felt Ivy's eyes on her again. Glancing back she saw the green woman was now standing only a few feet behind her. There was a satisfied smirk on her face.

"It's going to be a long sentence for you." Whether a statement or observation it was hard to tell.

Circe just shrugged. "We do what we have to do. I'd recommend, though, that someone makes sure the paths are kept clear of vines. I'd hate to think someone else got hurt because you're out to get me." Circe looked Ivy right in the eyes.

"I know why you hate me even though I've had no part in what's happened to you and your family. I know you don't want me alive, let alone in this project. I accept that, but it's going to take a lot more than a simple prank like that to set me off. I have no doubt you'll enjoy every minute you spend finding ways to try and torment me, to punish me for things that other people did to you and yours."

"I'm not afraid of you, Ivy, or what you can do. You know, you and I are very much alike, no matter how much you deny it. We were both trying to get revenge for what happened to us in the past." Circe looked at Ivy for a moment longer, then turned and continued to walk towards the buildings.

Ivy chuckled. "If I'd wanted you dead. You would be dead, Mary or Circe… I don't hate you in particular… just what you stand for. You have the gift of reaching into minds… the center of being itself in the animal world and all you have used it for is to hurt and kill. Yes… you wouldn't be in this program if not for Willow… she is more forgiving than I. I want to see you punished for your crimes… the abuse of what was given you." She paused. "How long will it be Mary? before the true you surfaces… the urge for vengeance or anger makes you lash out and crush another mind… end of life?"

"That's not really fair, Ma'am… " Ellce spoke up. "I mean Mary did some bad stuff… but she wants to make it better… she feels bad about it… I know she does… but people won't let her make it better… they just think they know her already… like they think about us Dolls."

Circe stopped in her tracks and turned to look Ellce. "Thank you Ellce, but I don't think she really cares about that. We're just animals and beneath her notice." She looked at Ivy again. "What makes you think that is the true me? You only know what I've done. I freely admit what I have done is wrong, and I make no attempt to justify what I did. I am not the man who harmed your son. I'm not capable of crushing minds, or stripping them bare and leaving them a wasteland. If you consulted with Willow you'd know that. Besides, it's not up to you to punish me now, is it." Circe crossed her arms in front of her, gingerly avoiding her now badly throbbing hand. "The courts sentenced me and put me in this program. I intend to fully hold up my end of it. Will you hold up yours? I find it hard to believe that going beyond the law and acting against the judgement of the court is on your list of duties as a part of the Project."

"The paid killer wants to moralize… I know exactly how you kill. You use fear and illusions to drive you targets either to panicked deaths or push them until their bodies fail. Can you think of more miserable way to die? Drowned in your own terror… smothered by it until your heart stops or death seems a sweet release. As an empath you didn't feel the living hell you subjected your targets too? Did you think you lulled them into a gentle sleep?" Again the derisive laugh then she looked at Ellce. "You have a point though… prodding her proves nothing… thus I will observe and wait for her true nature to show itself… and Mary… no life is beneath my notice for good or ill. Don't talk to me of respect for life murderess… you are not Psiphon but are of his ilk. And in case you were not listening… I am the law here as in all Brazilia."

They merely got what they deserved… What I thought they deserved, at the time. I remember each and every one of them. When I'm awake, or when I'm asleep. But you'll never understand that. There's very few people could, or would want to understand. Ivy's certainly not one of them. "Oh, I was listening alright. But I serve the Project, not you. I will follow your laws, but if you expect me to bend over and kiss your leaves, you're sadly mistaken."

"Nothing I can do can bring back the people I killed, and I can't pretend I can. I harbor no illusions. I know I'm in the project for the rest of my life and what I need to do with the use of my powers." A smile crossed Circe's face. "It's kind of like foxglove. A little bit can be helpful and can even save your life, but too much and it'll stop your heart cold. If you have a heart, that is. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to be going. I ripped the top several layers of skin off my hand on a super-frozen metal crate when trying to keep Rock from going ballistic and breaking his sister out of her cryo unit. It's finally thawed out and it really hurts. We don't want me lashing out now, do we," she said with a slightly mocking grin.

"All things in their time, Mary…all things in their time" Ivy replied.

Circe just laughed softly and turned to continue her walk to the infirmary. I'll let you have the last word, Ivy. There's no way I can win this battle with you, and I doubt I could win the war. If I even break in the slightest bit, you'll have your victory. Nothing I can say or do will ever change that. Now, I had really better get this hand looked after. It's really beginning to hurt. Another thought struck her. Hmm… I had better ask.

Willow? Can I ask you a question if you're not too busy?

Please, feel free… Willow replied.

Exactly how much power does Ivy have over us here on the island? She seems determined to see me fail. I don't want you to think that I'm complaining like a child, but if she has set herself up as my enemy…

This island is part of Brazilia and she is its regent. She has all legal authority here… but I don't think she will sabotage you directly. Despite her extreme emotion at times she is an honorable woman.

Willow could sense a touch of irony in Circe's thoughts. Well, she's already to provoke me twice. Once with words, and once by tripping me with vines. If it comes right down to it, Willow, she more or less threatened me. Where is the honour in that? Am I going to have to spend the rest of my life at her mercy, wondering what she's going to try next?

To put it bluntly… if she had wanted to truly provoke you or destroy you, then it would have been more than any words or an attempt at to make you fall. Her power both physical and legal is immense. She is testing you.

I know. Circe sighed. It seems like everyone is. That still doesn't make it any easier. She ran her uninjured hand through her hair. Could you direct me to the infirmary? I need to get my hand looked after.

There is much you have to prove… its difficult but true… But I feel you are up to the task. I believe Ellce knows where it is I have been able took over your facilities in any great detail.

Thank you for having faith in me Willow. I know there's a lot I have to prove, but the question is: no matter what I do, will it ever be enough for someone like Ivy. Or Paragon.

Circe turned to Ellce. "I just realized I have no idea where I'm supposed to go once I get to the buildings. Do you know where the infirmary is?"

"Ellce, did they tell what I had done?" Circe was surprised to find herself beginning to like the Doll. She was certainly unlike any she had ever met before. If we are going to be friends, she certainly deserves to know. If she can't handle it, then fine. I'll keep out of her way as much as I can.

"I know you did bad things… real bad… you killed people for money," she said quietly.

"Twenty seven," Circe replied just as softly. She took no pride in that number. She never really did. It was all part of the facade. "You sure you still want to be friends with me? I'm not exactly Ms. Popularity around here."

Ellce stood stunned. "27…really?" She blinked. "but…but you don't act mean."

Circe could keep a small smile from crossing her lips. "I'm not. Not really. Something happened to me a long time ago, and after that I learned how to be. I can be very mean, Ellce. Very cruel. What Ivy said about how I killed people was completely true. As far as I could tell, all the people I killed were criminals. I tried to make sure of that. I would have never tried to kill anyone like you, or Willow, or even Ivy." She shook her head and gave a short, soft laugh. "I felt like I was punishing them for the awful things they had done. For the worst of them, I reached into their minds and found out the thing that scared them the most, then made their fears come to life. Make them think they were in that situation or faced that person. I'd push the fear higher and higher until their heart would stop." Circe's voice had become detached, the self-defense mechanism of separating what she had done from her inner self kicking in.

"In the end, I've become as bad as they were. Probably worse." Circe kept her gaze averted from Ellce. "Like I said before, are you sure you want to be my friend. I understand completely if you don't."

The Doll was quiet for a long time. With a sigh she spoke. "You're… trying to make things better though… and I know… know you're nice you just haven't had the chance to be so I want to be your friend."

Circe looked at Ellce. "You're a lot braver than most Naturals I know," she said with a soft smile. "Do you know how to draw," she asked, suddenly changing the subject. "I used to draw a lot when I was little. People, plants, especially orchids. Do you think there'll be orchids growing wild in the jungle here?"

"I can't draw… " she looked sad for a moment. "I can sing though…what's an orchid?"

"An orchid is a type of flower. It doesn't live in the ground, but usually in trees," Circe explained as they continued to walk towards the infirmary. "They get everything they need to survive from the air. They only bloom once a year, but when they do, it's amazing, and in all sorts of different colours. Bright reds and purples, orange, white, fuchsia, yellows. Absolutely beautiful. Some of the smell really nice too."

"Wow… sounds pretty…I bet there are some of those around here… " Ellce said quietly looking around.

Warp kept walking towards the buildings not really seeing anyone barely managing to stay on the path in his stunned condition. The buildings up close where smooth and soothing green, organic but oddly not disturbing to look at. The seemed to made of the same pearlescent material the landing platform was constructed of. There were several darkened windows as well. A door irised open for Warp to enter. Inside things were a touch more "normal." The room was a large living room/reception area with several sofas and tables. The lighting was provided by glowing panels set in the ceiling. Warp fell into a seat and stared into space.

Blink stepped inside and caught sight of the staring Warp. "Warp? Warp!! Snap out of it, buddy! This isn't doing you any good. It might take some adjusting to, but you can do it. We're going to need you at your best, you know. Want something to drink? Water, juice, something?"

"No, thanks." Warp answered in a barely heard voice as he continued to stare off into space. Do I even dare to open a portal? Either someone else's or my limb or life could be lost. How do I know whether my viewing or reaching portals can't kill also?

After a short pause, "Are we supposed to be doing something?" Warp asked Blink.

"Just finding our rooms, getting settled in, I guess. You know, Warp. Instead of worrying about what happened, you might want to figure out how to best use what happened. You never know when it might be useful to cut something off like that. Rock isn't worried, and they'll take care of him here. Isn't he supposed to be really hard to hurt? Anyway, you let it distract you, and you could end up with this." Blink taps the side of her head by the eye. "Or someone else could. You didn't do it on purpose, but now you'd better figure out what to do about it." Blink walks to whatever room/elevator is available. As she walks…"Holly? You around?"

"Yo!" Holly spoke up. "Was that colloquial and streetwise I thought that dealing with street level personal I should affect a more earthy and familiar persona… or When I be dumping bytes with the go-boys I don't want 'em feelin' dissed by any high tone chatter I throw down."

"Oh, pleeeeze! Chummer, if you're gonna be nettin with the deckers, you gotta be a part of the show. Seriously, though. Do we have access to you in our rooms? If there's an I/O port somewhere, I could share space with you on a personal level, ya know. Show what the cyberhighways are really like? Whaddya say?" Blink takes the first room she comes to that opens. Wonder what we'll do for clothing, equipment, stuff like that. "Holly? Do you know the duration of our sentences? Just curious."

"Yes I do." she replied. "It's a matter of record."

"Cool. Guess I'll check into that later." Blink heads upstairs, takes the first room she comes to. "Holly? What are we supposed to do now? And, if you wouldn't mind, could I get the specs on this compound? Ivy said you had the info."

"I'll download them to your room tereminal when you pick one. Just settle in, relax… chill, even. There is going to be an organizational meeting later."

"Ok, Holly." Blink chuckles. "We'll make you a comedienne yet!" Blink walks into the first room she comes to and takes a look around. "So, what's the jazz on this meeting? Got any dirt for me?"

The room was spacious with a large circular bed, a couch and a bay window looking out over the jungle. A terminal setup took up one corner along with a holo screen entertainment suite. Another door lead off to presumably the bathroom facilities. The room maintained the smooth organic flow of the rest of the building.

"Errr Holly? Could you point me to one of the unoccupied rooms. I want to get a shower and change into some decent clothes if that would be possible." Warp asked and started looking around.

"As they are all unoccupied you can choose which you like… residence rooms are on the second floor."

"Holly what other facilities are there and where do I get clean clothes?" Warp asked. "Is there a display where you can show me a layout of this place?"

"I can display the layout on your room terminal and clothing is provided in the rooms as well," Holly answered.

Warp started walking up the stairs to the second floor, "Holly which side of the building has what views?" Maybe I can find one with a view of the pool or ocean or something, unless Ivy decides to block Circe's view of the ocean or such.

"The rooms on the left are ocean view," Holly replied.

Von Schmiessen asked if there were any exercise facilities and the direction to theme. Holly directed him down side hall.

The door irised open to admit Circe and Ellce. "The medical facilities are upstairs… there's a lift over here."

"Good," Circe said. "Then that's where we'd better get going." She looked down at the bandage on her hand as they walked towards the lift.

In the lift Ellce turned to Circe. "I've got something to tell you but it's a secret… will you keep it?"

"I… well… um… let me talk to you later," she said as the lift doors opened. She stepped out first to lead Circe down a short hall to a medlab. Small but well appointed, it was the same soothing color scheme as the rest of the building if with a touch more white. The replicant began to take out supplies to treat Circe's hand more throughly. Through a pane of reinforced glass, Circe could see Rock laying sedated.

"What's going to happen to him," Circe asked. If he was able to wake up out of cryo, what's to say he's not going to overcome those drugs?

"There now your hand should feel better." Ellce said with smile. Following Circe's look she glanced at Rock and seemed to shiver a little. "He's scary… and there's another one, too… hope there isn't trouble."

"I don't think there should be," Circe said. "As long as the situation is explained to them and they don't feel like they're being threatened, it should be okay. Willow should be able to do a fair bit to help out with that." She looked back at Ellce.

"What Ivy said about you being free here. I hope you decide to accept it." Circe looked down at the bandages on her hand and fussed with the edges a bit. "You're different from most Replicants I've known. I'm not saying I known many personally, but you're… Just different. And I'm glad."

"I'm not different, not at all… it's just…" Ellce trailed off. "Would you like to go to your room?"

"Might as well," Circe replied, standing. "Will your room be near ours?"

"No. It won't I don't have one." Ellce replied and lead Circe from the room. "You can pick any one you like, these all can see the ocean." She gestured to the rooms on the left.