Warp's countdown finished. Before him space rippled like a stone disturbed pond. It parted like a curtain onto the deck of the yacht. Fresh sea air washed in, salty and somewhat humid. The woman was leaning over the railing looking out at the plane. She was a blonde, hair cut a boyish bob, nearly naked her bare buttocks firm and smooth… Her pale skin was flawless, bright in the sunlight, the wisp of black holding her thong in place sharply contrasting. She waved at the plane shouting,"Hello!"

Von Schmiessen stepped through the portal. He paused somewhat at a lose for words. They hadn't been given in any protocols for announcing themselves.

Over the com link he says "Everyone be ready because I have a strange feeling about this"

"My name is Von Schmiessen. The group I represent received a distress call concerning this vessel. Are you in need of assistance?"

Before he could muster something to say the woman pivoted and looked in straight in the eye. Her were a slate grey and met his with boldness that took him aback for a moment. Her face was delicate, triangular with classic high cheekbones and full lips now curling into a smile. Her breasts were small but firm above a flat belly. "Hello. You must be here about the alarm. I have to apologize but it was a mistake. Someone panicked or something", she said quietly seemingly not in the last surprised by the portal or the team's appearance.

Blink looks over to Photon. "Hey, Jennifer. How do we announce ourselves, anyway? Jump in and say, 'We're the Purgatory Project?' It has no style…" Blink steps through the portal.

Jennifer grinned. "Of course it doesn't. What does, though?" She followed Blink through the portal.

Warp motioned for the others to go thru ready to stop anyone from entering at the last second to prevent unneeded dismemberments.

Blink stands next to Von Schmiessen. "Quite understandable. Would you mind telling us what the panic was over? There doesn't seem to be any fire or anything." Blink switches between IR & UV vision, looking for signs of anything strange. Particularly at the woman.

"An electrical disturbance there is really no need for you to be here," the woman replied, still smiling.

Back on the plane, Rock turned to Cy and grinned, You know, if we really wanted to go, we could wait for everybody to go down and then have Warp open another portal for us to do down through. Maybe we should just wait here though…in case something happens and they realize that they really did need us. He winked to her with his last comment.

Rock walked over next to the cockpit and stood next to his sister. He didn't like just standing around when there was possibly something to do down on the yacht.

Cy nodded thoughtfully, Something isn't adding up.

After watching the last go thru, "You know I can put you anywhere on the boat I can see. I don't need anyone here with me until there's someone we're rescuing or holding captive." Warp said unaware of the twins talking.

"I would have to inform the field commander of any such actions." Holly stated.

"Snitch," Rock muttered in response to Holly's comment. "Thanks anyway Warp. Maybe if they start dying, then it might be acceptable for us to leave the plane."

"So now we have someone that follows bad judgement with following the establishment blindly," Warp noted.

"What was that you said, Warp?" Rock asked, wondering if he would care to repeat that statement.

"I said to Holly that she was following bad judgement with following the establishment blindly." Warp answered.

"If your combat ability is equal to your wit perhaps Von Schmiessen's assessment of your proper placement was more justified than he knew." Holly replied. "And Warp my action in informing the team commander of any unauthorized relocation of personnel falls under basic combat protocols. Not knowing where you resources will lead to unnecessary time loss and possible mis-maneuvering and friendly fire injury."

"Holly, if I thought you were anymore than just a machine and that your rebuttal was your own wit instead of several subroutines linked together… I might find that offensive," Rock replied.

"Oh my, I am wounded…but then again by your assertion I can't be…but yet you try…either you are not sure of our convictions or not terribly bright." Holly replied, utterly deadpan playing up a lack of emotion. "An engineered killing machine with less overall thought process outside its field than most household appliances comments on "lack of her personality" now that is unique. If there was any evidence to justify you're arrogance, I might be more inclined to support you but so far all I have seen you do is get captured, rather easily, and display a general lack of combat knowledge, tactics and protocols. So far the greatest disruption to this mission has been dealing with your colossal ego. Perhaps it is an error in your personality subroutines. Poor programming for a poor project." This was a totally new experience for Holly and she wanted to analyze it further. She did not "like" this biological. His presence was unpleasant, a negative feedback response. Interesting.

"You've misquoted me. I said nothing about your personality…but of your lack of original wit. And to correct you again, the greatest disruption has been the lack of trust that each member of this group has for one another…including you at the moment." Rock calmly replied. Artificial intelligence. Hmmf.

"Wit, persona and personality go hand in hand. A simple fact. And you implications are clear. As for trust you have done little in my measure to engender such Why should you expect it? On the strength of your reputation? I do not distrust you. I think you're self assessment is far overblown, if we must argue 'misquotes.'"

"Holly," Circe said, her voice firm and authoritative. "In the future, if you have such comments to make about the personality of someone on the group, I recommend you keep it to yourself until a more appropriate time. And that goes for everyone else too. Keep your problems to yourself until after the mission. That sort of behaviour is disruptive and leads to failure. Understood?"

"I responded to an insulting comment directed at me for no other reason than my stating a fact," Holly replied.

And I did nothing more than to give you an appropriate nickname, Rock thought to himself.

"That's no excuse, Holly," Circe said. "And now is not the time to discuss it. You, I and Dr. Lee will discuss this at after the mission is completed."

"I am not biological, so I am to accept insult without comment?" Holly protested.

"I understand that, Holly, but there is no need to argue the point now," Dr. Martins said. "Circe has a valid point."

"True. But I still do not… like him," Holly seemed even more bemused even as she said the words.

Back on island Dr Lee glanced at his fellows. There was a look of fascinated surprise on his face. "Well…that response was certainly more…venomous than I expected…" Martins nodded. Holly. I want you to do a level one integrity check for me. I am turning the plane over to its on board auto guidance."

Martins spoke quietly,"are you sure that's wise?" Lee nodded. "If there is some internal problems, Hol could do more harm than good to them out there and should only take a few moments."

"Yes, Dr. Lee." She was disappointed but could always play the experience back later. "Going offline. The VTOL is on auto."

"Cy, Rock, com. Folks, something's not right here. Like I said, I'm an infiltrator, not a combatant, really. I'd feel a lot better if you were here."

Circe hid a frown. I do not like this. We're walking in blind. Heck, if Hart were sleeping, I'd at least pick up dreams. She scanned for Hart again, this time trying to dig deeper into his mind. Who else is on the ship, Mr. Hart? She could just barely hold his nearly inactive mind in her lock, nearly losing it when she tried to further her probe. Muttering a curse she wondered if she should try to rouse him some how. As she pondered the decision, she felt the light cares of a mental scan sweep over the plane. Soft as feather it almost escaped her notice all togther.

That's it. You're mine. Circe widened her sense to the fullest, seeking out the source of that sweep. Her action was automatic, a hunter's instinct. She knew exactly how dangerous a psychic could be. She sense the source of the attack,a powerful if untrained mind but its exact location eluded her. The scan was general not aimed for her so backtracking was difficult.

Warp continued looking at the ship ready to open a portal as he pulled the clip from his weapon checked the number of rounds in it and reloading the clip after checking to see if there was a round in the chamber.

Von Schmiessen's voice comes over the com link. "Rock, Cy, are you ready to go if I give you the word? I believe that I may need your services after all."

Rock responded in a playful tone, "Maybe if you say 'please'. And we are always ready for what you seem to be anticipating to happen."

"Just say where you want them to board the ship." Warp noted

Damn, Circe thought. "Private channel to Von Schmiessen. We have a powerful but untrained psychic aboard. I'm trying to locate it now." She started to do a systematic scan of the ship, sending out teasing probes, hoping to lure the person into contacting her. She could sense the general location now, below decks near the area where she had sensed Hart.

"Understood, Circe. Private channel to Rock and Cy. It appears that we have a very powerful psychic on board. I am in need of your abilities but I am worried about members of the party being mind-controlled. Get Warp to open a portal for you and join the rest of us on the yacht. Close channel. Private channel to Warp. Warp, open a portal for Rock and Cy but be ready to open one to get us all off this ship."

"Channel to Von Schmiessen, you want them where at on the ship?" Warp asked while looking over at Rock and Cy motioning where the portal would open as he looked over the ship once again.

Rock walked over next to Warp and waited for Cy to join him. "Let's see. We want to access the lower level as quickly as possible, so…how about near that door there?" he asked, pointing in the general area for Warp to see. You ready? I'll take the lead.

Von Schmiessen spoke into the comm link. "Private channel to Warp. Put them on the deck just to my right, preferably near some access port so we can go in if we have to."

On deck, the woman looked from face to face still smiling. The smile did not reach her eyes. They were flat almost glassy. "I really think you should go now."

"Actually," Blink starts, "Brazilia law," she made up some sections and paragraphs off the top of her head, "require us to investigate all distress signals and unscheduled traffic through travel lanes. Since you fit both protocols…" Blink stands ready to draw her weapon. "Surely you don't wish to be…uncooperative?" She gives her best 'innocent' smile.

The woman looked from face to face again. "You should leave now." Her voice was flat, empty now of even the pretense of emotion.

Warp told Von Schmiessen where he was putting Rock and Cy before opening the portal to right before those doors. "Here you go express to ship." Warp added as he motioned them thru his portal.

Jennifer backed up slightly, making sure she had plenty of room to move if it was necessary. No, she corrected herself, when it's necessary. This whole situation stinks.

Jerking her gaze from the group to the portal the woman's jaw dropped… and continued to open, stretching her cheek until they split with a plastic ripping. A metal nozzle jutted from her mouth clicking into place and spraying a stream of fire toward Von Schmiessen Blink and Photon.

"Damn it, I was right! She's a bot!" Blink draws her pistol, then her body begins to shimmer, appearing and reappearing in different places in the immediate area.

Von Schmiessen tries to roll out of the way, drawing his pistol at the same time. The ball of fire washes past him as he rolls. Blink feels the flames sear her body in flashes as she flutters between reality and… elsewhere. Gasping in pain she staggers to the side, pistol clutched in her hand.

Throwing herself to the side, Photon willed a field of light into existence. It sputtered and glistened against the encroaching heat but held.

Bitch! Blink thought. She watched to see what the others would do, a plan forming in her mind. "Com Von Schmiessen, Photon. I can blink beside the thing and blow it's brain out. What I need to know is if the Gyoko has enough to penetrate the metal."

"Firearms are Von Schmiessen's territory, not mine," Photon replied.

Warp felt a cold tingle in his limbs for a moment, then a pressure behind the eyes. A stab of mental energy thrust into his mind like a dagger, searing Circe's perceptions. His hand jerked toward his pistol.

"Com Circe, Circe would you please help give me a location on the person pounding on my head? I would like to return the favor!" Warp grunted out in pain to Circe over the communicator.

Bastard! Circe swore. "Rock! Cy! Restrain Warp without injury immediately." Reaching out she sought to lend Warp strength to resist the attack. His hands froze above the pistol twitching and jerking spastically.

Your ass is mine, Circe thought as a small, evil grin covers her face. Searching for the source of the attack she felt its location to an extent but it was potent. Focusing her mental energies, she tried to impress something on it surface, a sensation…smoke and fire.

Circe pushed harder, trying to slip panic into the mix. Her hope was to get the attacker off-balance enough to slip in and gut her mind. Combat instincts were starting to kick in, her thoughts to disable first, immobilize second, eliminate as final option.

Rock reached out to remove Warp's pistol from his hand and then grabbed him by both wrists, holding them down at his sides. "Warp, fight them. Don't let them in. Think of a huge fortified wall…a barrier around your mind."

Warp turned and punched Rock full in face. Staggered a step more by surprise than pain, Rock blinked once.

Warp suddnely felt realized as the invisible strings jerking his limbs went limp. The preasure behind his eyes faded away. Looking around stunned for a moment he quickly got his bearings.

Bitch! Blink thought. She watched to see what the others would do, a plan forming in her mind. "Com Von Schmiessen, Photon. I can blink beside the thing and blow it's brain out. What I need to know is if the Gyoko has enough to penetrate the metal."

"Firearms are Von Schmiessen's territory, not mine," Photon replied.

Von Schmiessen fires off a couple of shots at the bot. "If the Gyoko can penetrate, we need to distract long enough for you to get next to it. The bot appears similar to some I've seen in the field. Very fast and unpredictable."

Jerking back as the shots sparked of its face and shoulder tearing away chunks of plastic flesh. Metal gleamed under the fake flash, scarred by the bullets but not apparently penetrated. It stepped forward, 6 inch blade ripping from its forearm locking into place with quick clicks.

Von Schmiessen took a couple more shots at the bot. The bullets gouged out chunks of "flesh" making sparks jump from the armored surface. It seemed perhaps shaken for a moment then started forward emitting a electronic howling. "Just as I suspected. Channel to Warp, Rock, Cy. Warp, get Rock and Cy on the ship and get Blink off. We need some muscle down here."

Son of a bitch! Blink thought, squeezing off two hasty shots as she dove away from the bot's swipe at her. The gleaming metal claw whistled past her in a lethal blur.

"Com, Von Schmiessen. I think you made it angry. Let's see if it melts." Photon raised her hand and fired a beam of light toward the bot. She struck it in the side. Smoke and the stink of burning plastic filled the air. Photon's beam punched a red rimmed hole in the armored hull of the robot. It paused and swivelled its head nearly 180 to look at her, the flesh at is neck twisted and ripping at this unnatural movement.

"I hate assassin bots," Photon muttered, firing again. The shot caught the robot in the neck. Sparks flew and one of its limbs jerked spastically.

Von Schmiessen slams a new clip into the Gyoko. "Open channel to Photon and Blink. Let's form a triangle around this target. Then I will draw it's attention with some suppression fire."

"Von Schmiessen: Gotcha. I'm a big fan of disassembling machines like that one." She fired off another burst at the bot. The bolt scorched the metal hull vaporizing more flesh, leaving the metal "skull" exposed. The chest tore, fake breasts falling away, hanging in fleshy strips to expose a mini Gatling cannon. It whirred to life then opened up with a high pitched buzz. Bullets chewed up the deck and peppered Photon. Her field took the brunt of the assault but it the impacts left her gasping.

Shaking his head momentarily, "Warp, are you back in control?" After Warp had nodded that he was, Rock walked back up next to him and placed the pistol back into Warp's holster. "We've got to get down there, can you open a portal up to the side of that thing?" Come on, Cy.

As he spoke, blinding pain erupted in his mind. Cy felt some small backwash of it. Rock nearly dropped to his knees pressing his hands to head feeling like his head was going to explode.

Cy growled, "channel Circe, where's the bitch? Warp I want you to place me on her fucking head!" She felt her weapons extend.

The port leading to the next deck swung open, door nearly torn from its hinges by the blow. Dressed in heavy robes, a figure moved onto the deck. It was huge, billowing under its black clothing a hood covering its face. It didn't walk but seemed to more so…ooze over the deck leaving a glistening slime trail that sizzled and popped eating into the deck.

"What the hell is that?"Blink cried out. Man, this is NOT my scene! she thought, looking for some kind of cover. She scanned it with IR and UV. "Holly? can you give me some info on this thing? Big, ugly, and oozing an acid trail? Rock, Cy, where are you? We need some Serious help down here!" Blink fired a shot at the thing, not expecting much, but looking to see what, if anything would happen. Her shot tore into the mass of the thing's chest. Ichor erupted from the wound falling hissing to the deck. Holly didn't respond, still offline.

Who the hell took Holly offline? "Cy, Com. Where's the control center on this thing? Maybe we can stop it from there." Blink looked around, trying to find a position of advantage. What's going on here? Obviously we weren't meant to stumble on to this, whatever it is. She remembered seeing what looked like the command deck just below this one and few feet to the left.

Rock tried his own advice to Warp, thinking of a barrier around his mind…like a concrete wall fortifying himself from the attacker. Get out. Get out!

Circe snarled in anger when she saw Rock go down. You're dead, my friend. She sought out the mind attacking Rock and began to assault it, trying to tear into it like Cy's blades through flesh and bone. That was one mistake you will never make again. Tell me, what are you afraid of?

Warp saw Rock sway. Shit, now he's under that thing's control… that does it. Warp looked out the window at the robed figure and pulled his pistol aimed it away from the twins as he opened a small warp portal to shoot the robed figure from the side opposite of the group so his companions were neither in front of or behind the target. His finger froze unable to pull the trigger.

"I'm afraid I'll have to kill everyone on this boat if you do not retreat," Warp said in a flat voice.

Rock tried to grab the gun from Warp but he danced to the side, stepping back. The portals flickered closed. He raised the gun to fire at Rock.

Cy lunged, striking Warp's wrist in an attempt to jar the gun from his hand. He whirled and fired past her, catching Circe in the stomach.

Rocked tried to kick the gun from Warp's hand but missed as he backpedaled smashing a slight dent into the hull. The VTOL rung like a gong. Warp spun, grinning manically.

"No," Photon said loudly, not taking her eyes from the bot, "you'll try. And we'll be more than willing to chastise you for it."

Warp concentrated trying to push the foreign presence out of his mind at the same time turning all of his thoughts to 3-d dimensions and concentrating on one point outside the plane where the robed figure was without thinking of what the results would be, and rotated to points on either side of the figure like turning it inside and out so everyone could see the brains.

Von Schmiessen aims for what he thinks is the head. "We do not respond to threats. Your abilities will not be enough to overcome your current situation. Release your mind control and surrender immediately. Private channel to Circe. Circe, prepare to help me fight a mind control on either Warp or myself."

"Big talk Norm!" The thing gurgled, hoarse phlegmy voice coming from somewhere under the hood. Rippling tentacles erupted from under the robe. Moist and oozing greenish mucus they lashed out Blink grasping at her, nearly gagging her with their acidic stench.

"Yuuuuuuuckkk! Not in this lifetime, ugly!" Blink stepped back, then disappeared into elsewhere, reappearing behind the mucus beastie. The chill of that…place seeped into her bones. She'd closed her eyes during the blink but the sounds…the sensations…."Circe, com. Can you give me a picture of the area the psi-guy is in? Maybe I can get there and end that threat… physically." That's what I do best. I'm next to useless out here. The last thought was angered.

Water geysered from the pool as something shoot from the pool. A vague outline shimmered in the sun for a moment high in the air. It landed with a wet thump. Just a wavery form, crouched low. It scuttled toward Von Schmiessen, rapidly.

He whirled to fire on the creature as it scurried toward him. His shots sparked off the deck, just missing. The creature struck knocking Von Schmiessen to the floor. He could see it now. A pale faceless things, naked and pulsing. No mouth, no nose just two hate filled ebony eyes glaring into his. In utter silence the creature raised it arm. It ended in a lamprey sucker almost more of an obscene tendril lined mouth than a limb. Richard knocked the clumsy blow aside, countering with a quick jab that glanced off the creature's skin.

Lost in a moment of electronic confusion, the robot looked around sweeping pale grey human eyes over the deck searching for a target. Ragged flaps of synthetic flesh waved in the breeze as it moved. A few sparks shot from it dented hull, its neck screeching in protest as it looked around. "She" spotted Blink and opened up with the chest cannon. Shredding the door frame and wall with a barrage a bullets the bot's assault knocked Blink from her perch in a rain of debris.

"Shit!" the robed thing bellowed, struck by shrapnel as the door disintegrated. "cheap junk store piece a shit…" Turning with a moist gurgling to Blink it hissed softly sliding toward her. "Time to die slitch."

"This just isn't going to be your day, drek-face. Adios, chummer." Steeling herself, Blink shimmered into the other place, reappearing in where she remembered the control room to be, she hoped. Guessing at the size of the room, she tried to give herself a foot or two of clearance from the floor. Then she blinked and the world turned inside out. Cold/heat, up/down these were vague notions in…wherever she was… color and sound where inverted intermixed. and just when Blink thought she would go mad. It was over. Laying on a cold metal floor she was staring up at the ceiling, shivering. Cold sweat crept pooled on her face, between her breasts on her belly. It was blessedly quiet here.

Photon gather her wits, swallowing a anther mouthful of air. Shaking her head to clear it, Photon sized up the situation. The bot was still staring at where Blink had been. SO was the thing. Von Schmiessen was wrestling with a pale white thing, trying to force his gun into position and keep the creature's suckered arms off of him.

Von Schmiessen squeezed off a shot, the explosive report starting the creature back for a second. A small trickle of blood seeped from its side where the bullet had creased its pale flesh.

Warp was blocked against the wall by Rock and Cy. Both pair of ice chip eyes were focused on him, cold and calculating. He didn't know if they were waiting to help him or kill him. Just past Cy's shoulder he could see the deck and the scrambling forms on it. Did he want to risk opening trying an attack from here… ?

Knocking Von Schmiessen's guard aside, the creature pinned him to the deck leechlike tentacles squirming over his chest. He felt them…sink into his body… spreading a cold numbness through his body.

Photon rolled to her feet, putting up her force field again. Maybe I can catch it off-guard this time… She aimed at the bot's gun and fired. Her laser sliced across the bot's midsection, leaving a glowing scar. It sputtered and doubled over.

Rock grabbed Warp's pistol. Cy, keep an eye on him. I'll check on Circe. He walked over and grabbed the first aid kit hanging on the wall.

Warp shook his head slowly, trying to clear it. He stepped over to the control chair and sat down resting his head in his hands.

Blink stood up, taking stock of her surroundings. She looked around for a control panel of some sort. She breathed deeply, trying to gain some of her strength back. She was on the bridge, empty and quiet. The console she used to he climb up to her feet has a section…twisted, melted and coated with a clear slimed. She'd blinked into the edge of it or near it. God… she shook her head. Looking around the room she saw that one chair was occupied. The seat before the communications station. Small and curled up, the figure looked about 7 or 8. A loose blue tunic hung over its almost skeletally thin frame. Bald and pale it was difficult to tell if it was even alive.

"Back online…oh my…" Holly said over the rigs.

Von Schmiessen wrestled with the thing the cool slimy flesh sliding under his fingers as he tried to grapple it into a position to bring his gun to bear, levering it over he pin it by the neck.

The worm thing heaved its bulk around,"Yo light bulb…over here…" it grunted. "gonna have ta dirty up that nice white suit." Tentacle lashed out and coiled around Photon, pinning her arms and legs crushing the air from her. It dragged her limp form across the deck. "Aww she's out… no fun at all…"

Warp reached from the control, a maniacal grin spreading over his face. They refused to respond. Cy grabbed him from behind pinning him to the seat.

"I have returned the VTOL to auto control. Just in case." Holly said, somehow managing to sound smug.

Rock kneeled down by Circe. He examined her wound and began to administer first aid to her as he looked over at Cy and Warp momentarily. Do you have him under control? The bullet hadn't penetrated her suit fortunately.

Panting and pale Circe tried to focus on that mind, felt it slipping through her exhausted fingers. Her bruised gut flared up, sending a jolt of pain along her spine. Her vision swam in and out of focus. She couldn't get more than the loose location. Below decks near the front of the yacht.

Straining against Von Schmiessen, the creature threw Von off him. Flipping over it regarded his coldly, crouching on all fours, Sucker like "hands" and "feet" pulsing and squirming on the deck. Its skin shifted, colors flowing over it until it faded away completely.

Blink draws her pistol, pointing it at the figure on the chair. "Holly? I'm in the control room. There's someone here. She quickly described the figure. . Any info you can give me?" She does an IR scan on the creature in the chair, then looks for a datajack… It was alive or at the least warm. The control setup was rigged for interface use.

Holly hmmed. "Nothing in my banks… one of the perpetrators has possibly left the scene upstairs and maybe coming your way. It has some form of invisibility powers Be careful Blink……try closing the room door."

"Shit, Holly. that was not what I wanted to hear!" Blink backs up and closes the door, sliding a chair under the handle.

Blink looked at the person in the chair once again, gun still trained on it. She extended the jack from her arm into the control interface, searching for the control protocols of the vessel.

The door buckled, metal caving inward but the chair held.

The creature in the chairs eyes popped open. They were dull featureless marbles. "Why you are you messin' everything up?" it asked. It had the voice of a small boy. It was a small boy, mutated but a child.

"Sorry Warp, " Cy muttered and slammed his head brutally into the console. "Now Holly I want you to listen to me carefully. The team is getting its ass kicked we have several options. I want to know if you will follow me on them. If you don't. They will all most likely die. We are out our teleporter so we have to improvise. Do we have a deal Holly?"

"I don't think rendering him unconscious was strictly necessary as it seemed his mental actions were unimpaired but since its done now." The VTOL started toward the Yacht. "prepare for a quick aerial insertion. Von Schmiessen and Jennifer will need some assistance."

"My thoughts exactly. " Cy replied

"Activate Circe's medpack and links." Dr Martin's said over the rig, "I'll help from here as much as I can."

Circe swore weakly. "The motherfucker is somewhere below decks near the front of the yacht." She opened her eyes and looked up at Rock and gave a weak smile. "I'll be okay. Holly, open up a channel to everyone for me, will you? Guys, the psychic is somewhere below decks at the front of the yacht. I'm down, and Warp's control of himself has been compromised. I'll do what I can up here."

"Holly, is there any form of restraints up here? Someplace we can lock Warp up until we can be sure the enemy psychic is taken care of?" Circe looks at Rock and Cy. "Is it possible for you two to get down there without the benefit of Warp's powers? I'll be okay, but you're going to be needed downstairs. Your job will be first to neutralize the psychic, preferably keeping it alive if at all possible. Secondary tasks will be to assist find Hart and to assist the others if required. Remember, as much as it may go against our typical actions, we have to keep from killing as much as possible on this mission."

"You can lock him in the storage area." Holly said. "Blink has the psionic located but she is in need of assistance. Cy you head to the control room. There is a perpetrator attempting to get to Blink. Chameleon type blending powers and enhanced strength seem to be its forte"

Cy nodded, and threw open the side door, Through the door, left then right, ladder down. She threw a grin after her thought towards her brother. Then coiled.

"Jus' you an' me now…well an' her." The worm thing held up Photon, slithering closer keeping its bulk mostly behind her. "Pretty thing…wonder does that glow go all the way down…" it hissed somehow making its phelgmy voice sound all the more repellent.

"You'll never know," Photon retorted. She twisted her body suddenly, attempting to get at least an arm free. Twist and squirm as she could she couldn't break the thing's grip on her.

"Channel to Cy and Rock. Is Warp under control yet? I've lost sight of one of the assailants. He appears to have some sort of chameleon power. Holly, if you're online please give me a status of everyone's location."

"Blink is located in the yacht's bridge. Warp is unconscious in the storage area. Cy and Rock are preparing to join you on deck." Holly replied.

"All comm units: Holly put us right over top of the combat, 5 feet up. Heads up team!" Cy said over the comm links.

Von Schmiessen carefully maneuvered around the creature staying at what he thought to be the edge of its reach. It chuckled, gurgling like a backed up sewer pipe as its tendrils ran slowly over Photon's body. "Soft sweet little thing…we gonna have some fun later…" Seeing an opening he ran toward the door down below decks.

"All part of the job. Don't make me kill you, please. I just want to end this as soon as possible." Blink held the gun steady, ready to fire at the first touch of anything. "Make your friend at the door go away, or I'll shoot anyway, and deal with the consequences later."

"You're just like dad…just like him…you want us to be slaves!" the kid shouted.

Blink said, "If I had to hazard a guess, Adam, I'd say you shanghaied the old man, and you're taking him off somewhere. I'd never think of doing that to mine, he's pretty scary. So, are we going to try and work this out? Somewhere along the line, lethal force is going to be necessary, and I'm still pissed about the assassin bot and the ugly slimeball. So, what's it going to be?" Blink tenses her finger on the trigger.

"You'd ace a kid? they got you bought and paid for…." Adam shook his head. "And call me BrainChylde…Adam's the name he gave me. "

The door jostled at another blow.

BrainChylde stood and walked to the door, painfully making his way over. Blink found she couldn't move, not even tighten her finger on the trigger.

"Okay, BrainChylde. Paid for, yes. that's what a prison sentence is, I guess."

"Prison?" he sounded confused.

Rock set the first aid kit next to Circe so she could use it if need be and then stood up and walked over to the door. I'll go first, ok?

The VTOL glided up to the yacht, howling jets throwing up clouds of steam and mist from the pool. The door slide open.

Rock looked down at the yacht and jumped. He moved over to the door and waited until Cy was with him before he opened it to go through. He landed near the edge of the pool. Photon's captor shuffled around trying to follow Von Schmiessen. "I'll get to you later Rockster…"

Cy leaped joining Rock at the door, she followed him through, weapons at ready.

Photon continued to squirm, using her naturally lithe body to best effect. "Quit yer dancin' we can party after I get yer boyfriend…" The worm thing grunted wheeling around toward Von Schmiessen. Her arm slipped free. For an instant her hand glowed like a small star enveloped in a halo pure white, her bones a dark shadow at the core of radiance then she unleashed the glow. It burst against the thing's side with sizzling pop. It screamed in pain and shock releasing Photon all together.

"Ya little slight…c'mere…Wyrm wants ta hug ya!", bellowing the creature turned and lunged for Photon, acid oozing tentacles lashing out. One struck her across the chest, coating her with stinking ichor…mostly of it spattered and fell to the deck deflected by her light sheathe but some touch her uniform, eating through it to her skin. It ran and oozed, melting into a pinkish liquid where the acid touched it. She stared in horror… amazed it didn't hurt more than it did.

Photon rolled away from the thing, coming to her feet in a single fluid movement. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to handle lit lightbulbs with your bare tentacles? You might get burned." Another flash, this one less intense, erupted from her hand, and a beam shot toward the creature. The shimmering bolt struck the creature full in the chest staggering it back. Its robes evaporated revealing the extent its hideous body. it's a mass of tentacles and worms, shapeless and oozing. Her beam caves through it, incinerated flesh and fluid in an instant. Thrown back by the explosion of gasses and solid light it topples down the stairs and lies in a stinking bloated heap.

Feeling the effects of the pain killers seeping through her system, Circe allowed her self to relax a moment. Wind from the open hatch blew over her, warn and salty. She could almost drift away but…no. Clamping down her will she forced herself to sit up. This wasn't over yet.

"Circe, easy. you stats just peaked, let the unit to its job or I will personally kick your ass when you get back here. No one makes me look bad." Dr Martin's chuckled.

"Better get you steel toed boots on, then, Doc. The others have no defense against the other psychic. They need me, and I don't give a damn how you look. Turn off the sedatives or I'm going to trash my med system. They're screwing up my concentration." Circe was less than amused. She had failed in her task, and that bastard was going to pay for it. She wasn't going to kill him. No, that would be too easy, and she wasn't going to fall into that trap again. She had other options now.

"Blink, Von Schmiessen, Photon. Have you found the psychic?" Circe's voice came shooting over the link, her tone dead cold.

"Circe, you're on the edge of shock. Give it a moment. You're not going to be any good laying there in convulsions either," Martins replied.

"Then hurry it up." Circe was angry, more at her physical weakness than anything else. "I want something put on the agenda for development. We've got to get mental defenses for the others. It doesn't matter to me if it's some contraption, or if it's because I train them how to protect themselves by using my talents on them. We can't afford to have something like this happen again."

Warp groaned, slowly coming to. "Lie still Warp, you may have a concussion at the least," Martins said over the link. "Dammit I need hands out there…"

"Out where?" Warp asked as he surveyed the closet he was in.

"Out there with you…" she replied. "Now just lay down and do not try to use those powers."

"Why not use my powers?" Warp asked groggily.

"You could hemorrhage and die." Martins said flatly. Warp's penchant for bullheadedness and stalling could get him killed this time and she wasn't going for it.

Warp moaned, "I ache what happened to me? Why do I feel tired? Holly could you at least give point of view of what's happening to the others since from what Martins says I shouldn't be active."

"You got it." Screens rezzed in showing the action from Cy and Rock's point of view.

"Yeah, Big Brother's new idea…this is how we work off our sentence. Hell, you think I want to be here?" Blink tried to escape from her immobility. She checked the ships computer for any possibilities.

"Certified?" he asked, small eyes widening a touch. "…why don't you come with us, then?"

"Certified, brain-boy. Come with you? Where? Um…could you make whatever's out there go do something else? I'd hate to be fragged while we were jawing, eh?"

"BrainChylde." he said, frowning. "Leech won't hurt ya if you don't do anything, you can join the Resistance."

"Channel to Circe. I believe the psychic is on the bridge with Blink. I'm en route." Von Schmiessen races to get to the bridge, keeping an eye out for any assailants. Taking the stairs down to the control deck he finds himself in a hallway. Following Holly lead Von Schmiessen heads toward the bridge. Rounding a corner he finds he comes up short, facing pale…thing that had attacked him on the deck. It was beating on the control room door.

BrainChylde looked thoughtful and then shoved the chair away from the door. "Yeah… you're definitely not a Sap…so you could work for us…help do a major Harry on the flatliners…bust 'em." Opening the door he revealed that Leech like thing standing there. "Where's Wyrm?"

Leech looked from BrainChylde to Blink quizzically and the kid shrugged. The "expression" on its…no her…its nudity and proximity made the things sex apparent, seemed quizzical It stepped inside heading toward Blink.

Blink fought the paralysis in her limbs with all her will but couldn't seem to break free. Desperate she flipped the mental switch and "blinked." She was gone.

Photon shuddered at the thought of that… thing… touching her, then spoke into her com unit. "Photon to all–wormy's down."

Cy headed downstairs after giving the Worm thing a quick look.

"Cy," Holly broke in over the rigs. "Perhaps you should go and scout for the hostages and other terrorists."

"Holly, give me location on the others–I'm going below." Photon headed toward the same hatch Cy had used.

Von Schmiessen stepped up to the door. BrainChylde spotted him and was about to shout a warning when he fired at Leech. The gun's report thunder down the corridor. The bullet caught her in the left leg, tearing a groove of bloody flesh free as she whirled, dropping to all fours.

Leaping to the ceiling the Leech things scuttled across it, fading from sight as it headed to the door. Von saw the amorphous from drop from the ceiling slamming into him.

Circe lies still, trying to gather her resources so she could back in the action. "Thanks Circe this makes it easier," Dr Martins replied, the stress only slightly evident in her voice. "You're doing fine but you may have some internal bleeding… definitely bruising."

"Wouldn't be the first time," Circe murmured. "Holly, can you give me a holo image of the ship, along with symbols indicating where all detected people are? Mark team members with a blue symbol and hostiles and unknowns in red."

"I've totally lost Blink's com signal" Holly announced. "She's not on my system."

Circe automatically reached out with her mind, trying to find the woman's mental signature. For a moment she felt nothing then Blink's mind…reappeared in her perception followed an instant later by crackling discharge of energy and sound. Circe was momentarily blinded by the burst. Blinking the stars out of her eye she saw Blink laying curled up on the cabin floor. She was naked and covered in bloody scratches. As she looked closer Circe saw the carving formed patterns, whirls and spiral twisting along the woman's limbs and body. At times they almost seemed to make some sort of sense to be trying to communicate something but Circe mind recoiled from understanding.

"Oh my god….ohmygod!" Blink chokes back the scream, trying to gain some semblance of her surroundings. "Where am I? " blink sits up, arms wrapped around her legs, rocking softly.

Circe shook her head, trying to clear it. I'm going to have to ask her what all that was later. Seeing Blink's condition ignited Circe's anger again. "You're back in the VTOL. You're going to be fine." That's it. You guys are going to experience my loving touch. Circe's mind darted out again, seeking out the most psychically active mind on the yacht below. He seemed to have gone quiet she couldn't sense him.

BrainChylde glared at Von,"Die!" A surge of pressure built in Von Schmiessen's head, growing into a staggering pain, like a bomb was exploding behind his eyes in torturous slow motion.

Rock heads down the stairs and down the hallway. He heard movement up ahead and went into stealth mode. "There's someone up ahead." He checked his rig and saw that Von Schmiessen was there, staggering back from the door. Cy remained quiet, shadowing her brother, her weapons at ready.

Von Schmiessen rubs his temples. "I hate mentalists. Always wanting to do things the hard way." Von Schmiessen slams another clip into his Gyoko.

Von Schmiessen says, "Time to do things my way. He can't mind control us all so if we rush the psychic at least two of us should be able to get through and incapacitate him. Get ready to go in on my mark."

There was a sensation of motion before Rock and Von Schmiessen, a wet sucking sound above. BrainChylde was lifted into the air by some invisible force and seemed to vanish.

Damn, she swore. "Has anyone know where the psychic is? I lost the tag when I got knocked out."

"Visually I am not reading him on any of the rigs. The chameleon may be acting to conceal him as a hypothesis." Holly suggested.

"Back in the plane?" Blink says. "Oh thank god. I was…I was…" Blink pauses, trying to remember what exactly had happened to her, looking at the scratches on her body. She shivered. They seemed to coil and writhe under her skin, thin crimson trails etched in her flesh. "Looks like a job for my favorite doctor…" she whispered. Assuming she even wants to look at me anymore… "Holly? Are there more clothes on the plane?"

"There are some spare uniforms in the storage locker." Holly said. "Are you all right Blink?" There was a sense of a concern in her voice.

"Good Lord…" Dr Martins said catching sight of Blink through the rigs. "Get her a Med Pack, please Circe." Circe could hear the tension in the woman's voice. The sight of Blink had startled her quite a bit. Looking over those strange marking Circe could understand.

Circe nodded and stood carefully. She retrieved a medpack and walked over to Blink. "Make sure that once this is on you don't exert yourself. If you do, the dear doctor will threaten to kick your ass." She grinned slightly as she applied the medpack to Blink. "Unless, of course, you're into that sort of thing."

The ship lurched violently, an explosion shattering the port side. The blare of the fire alarm seemed almost quiet in comparison.

"Channel to Warp. This is Von Schmiessen. Prepare to get us off this boat and onto the VTOL. When you make visual contact with me on the bridge, open up a portal for us."

Rock held up his hand to stop Von. "Wait, what about the hostages? They might be in danger from that blast…it sounded like hull damage."

"Warp is temporarily unable to use his abilities," Holly said. "Manual recovery is the only available option."

"Holly! Prepare for a manual extraction. People, we have to find Hart and get off the boat ASAP. We've probably got five minutes before the ship sinks so lets move fast. Circe, Cy, and Photon, you must find where Hart is and get him of the ship. Let's move people!"

Photon was momentarily staggered by the blast, but quickly regained her balance. "Holly, what the hell was that?"

"Some type of charges planted along the hull." Holly replied. "The ship's integrity has been compromised!" she announced over the comset.

Photon swore. Great. I get below decks, then something like this happens! "Holly–can you give us an estimate on how long we've got to get out? I don't want to leave Hart here if it can be helped."

Dr Lee answered instead of Holly. "Assuming this vessel matches normal safety parameters for the type, you should have about 5 minutes, more or less."

"Lowering for pick up now." Holly stated, extending the entry ramp.

Blink pulls herself together and heads for the storage unit. Keying it open she finds Warp laying in the floor. An ugly purple bruise spreading over his forehead.

Warp looks up to see a bloodied and naked Blink stepping into the storage area

"What the hell happened to you?" they said at the same time.

Blink put on the uniform, waiting for the word on her status from the doctor. She stood by the door, ready to lend whatever assistance she could. "Com Dr. Martins. So, do I disgust you now, Doc? I really need to know."

"What kind of question is that? Don't be silly…what kind of physician would I been if minor laceration drove me into fits of disgust…now acne…that's disgusting," Martins replied.

"Well, that's a relief. Since acne isn't in my genetic makeup, I guess I'm ok. I'd like to know more about these scratches and cuts, when you have some time." C'mon guys. This is too weird. Find Hart…get out of there. Ewwww! butt-ugly is coming back!

"I was going to ask you were they some facet of your abilities, Blink," Martins asked. "We definitely have to look into this but what ever they are they are not serious. There shouldn't even be any scarring."

"Martins, did someone activate my medpack?" Warp asked from where he lay in the closet.

"Yes, I and Dr. Morsham are working on you now." Martin's replied.

"Holly, do you have any anti-intruder systems aboard the VTOL," Circe asked. "The people we're going to be fighting are going to want to get off the yacht, and we don't know about the condition of the lifeboats." She reached out with her mind, trying to lock onto Hart again so she could lead the group to him.

"None as such, no." Holly replied. "It isn't specifically a combat vehicle."

"Doc, how long til Warp is ok? Holly, can you give me a visual of the ship and the team's locations?" All right, Brainchylde. Where would you go if you were going to escape? "What kind of cargo capacity does this thing have, Holly? And where would it be?"

"I'm actually not sure. I have no idea how his powers affect his physiology." Martins replied quietly. "I want to keep him off his feet."

"I wish I could use his abilities instead of mine…"

A grid wire representation of the boat faded into view in Blink's rig. "It's a non standard design so all this based on speculation. But the central cargo areas are rather small and divided up into kitchen and mechanical One here," a section near aft was highlighted,"and here." The other was near the center of the vessel. "Just below the main living area…or where they should be.

"Holly, can we tap into that computer with a bounce from GlobeSat? Since it's active, it has to be at least remotely connected, right?" Blink pulls out another comppad, ready to start typing. "Also, do you think I can do more from here, or down there?"

"The computer doesn't have its uplink active unfortunately." Holly paused. "You'd have to access from within the ship."

"Damn! I was afraid of that. All right. Assuming that Brainchylde is as smart as he appears, there has to be a contingency. There must be more time available then we think, or they'd be scrambling to get off of the ship as well. They could hide until everyone has left, then get off themselves. Where would they go? Damn, damn, damn!!! I need to get back into that control center." Blink steels herself for the teleport. "Doc, am I healthy enough to go?"

"Well the monitors aren't picking up anything drastically out of the ordinary…so if you feel you are…but Blink, isn't teleporting 'blind' so to speak…dangerous?" Martins sounded very concerned.

"Yes, it can be. However, I've been in the control room before, so it's not a blind. And since I'm in control of myself, there shouldn't be any incidents. I'm not crazy about the idea, doc. Believe me."

Washed in the downdraft from the VTOL's thrusters, Von Schmiessen almost shouted into the rig, "Channel to all. This is Von Schmiessen. The VTOL is in position. You have one minute to get onto the deck and off this ship. The hull has been damaged and the ship is probably already taking on water. If you find any members of the crew or Hart himself, bring them onto the deck. Close channel. Open private channel to Holly. Holly? Are we ready?"

"Ready for pick up." Holly replied.

Circe took a deep breath, closed her eyes and waited. There wasn't a lot more she could do. The meds eased her body into warm languorous state. The ache in her midsection faded to a dull distant sensation. Holding her lock on Hart she waited for something to come up.

I wonder, Circe thought. We need more info on those guys on the ship. Maybe I can get it. She thought for a moment, trying to remember what the law said about the use of her powers in such a situation. The laws on illegal use of telepathic powers were fairly intricate and draconian. It was considered at the very least invasion of privacy of the highest order.

Behind her Photon heard a long sizzling hiss then crash. Looking back she saw wormy had eaten his way completely through the deck. Shocked cries started to rise through the hole he had made.

"Com, Von Schmiessen. I think I've got him. Wormy just burned a hole through the deck, and someone down there is making a lot of noise." She ran back out on deck and peered down through the hole. A few feet below she saw the apparently unconscious mass of tentacle rapidly eating its way through the bunk it had fallen. Looking up through the hole and shouting to her were several men in naval uniforms. Crouching down, Photon winced slightly as pain flared up in her burn. The edges of the hole looked rounded and smooth.

Photon spoke into her rig again. "It's not Hart–it's the crew. And we'd better hurry–wormy's still going. He's eating his way through a bunk right now. If he makes it to the hull, we've got a problem." She tested the edges of the hole with her hands, then grabbed one and swung down into the compartment.

"Thank God! Are you the…Hey…you're that meta hero kid…Glow or something", a young man said snapping his fingers in recognition.

An older man, perhaps the same age as Jesse stepped forward. "Photon," he corrected. "Mr Hart was taken by those animals. He and his guests. Where're fine here."

"Don't be so sure about that. That explosion already put one hole in the hull, and he," she gestured with her finger toward the mass of tentacles eating its way downward, "is likely to put a second hole in it. Do you have any idea where they might have taken Mr. Hart?"

With a disgusted glance at mass on the bunk the older man continued. "This vessel has layered failsafes, at the least we at least 30 minutes. I last saw Mr Hart being taken to his state room…. the guests were with him believe." With a sigh, he gave Photon an apologetic look. "I'm sorry I can't be more specific they rushed us like animals…"

"Photon to Von Schmiessen. I've found the crew. They say that with the failsafes this vessel has we have 30 minutes. They also think that Mr. Hart and his guests were taken to his stateroom."

"I'd rather not chance the 30 minutes, so let's get out as soon as we can. Where's Mr. Hart's stateroom? All we could get was a general layout of a ship of this type."

"Its on the deck below. The stairs are right outside the door to the left…oh…my names Erickson…supposed Captain of this little vessel," he smiled self-deprecatingly.

"I'm about to get onto the VTOL," Von Schmiessen responded to Photon's report. "Can you meet me at the stateroom? Channel to Circe. Circe, meet Photon and myself at the stateroom."

"Circe to Von Schmiessen. I'm afraid that's not possible. I got a good shot from Warp's weapon in the gut before he was subdued. With Warp injured, and with the possibility of a residual tag on him by the enemy psychic, the use of his abilities is suspect at best. My getting there will either not happen, or will wait until Holly gets low enough for me to get out."

"Channel to all, If someone is near the crew ask what life rafts and other emergency or secondary boats are on board. One of them is probably the escape method for the opposition." Warp suggested. Just what I would have planned for an emergency…

"All is not a designated channel. Unable to comply." Holly replied to Warp. "Just kidding. I felt some levity might ease the overall stress level."

"Blink to Von Schmiessen. do you want me to see what I can do from the control room? Maybe we can give the ship a few more minutes of life? Holly, two questions. First, do we have room for the crew of that ship on the plane? And second, can you give me basic directions on how to control that ship once I'm there?"

"The VTOL can hold the necessary passengers, Blink. As for helping you pilot the ship, I can access Online Databases on ship control and navigation to offer assistance. Perhaps one of the crew could be sent to you offer assistance as well," Holly said.

"Great. Wish me luck." Blink concentrated on the right side of the doorway leading down, then shifted into…elsewhere. She was there, beside the door taking long deep breathes as cold fire raced along the gashes in her skin. It was the closest she could come to describing it had anyone asked. But there was no time for this. Von Schmiessen's back was to her, the roar of the VTOL masking the pop of her appearance.

Von Schmiessen spins around to face Blink. "Channel to all. We need the crew on the deck so we can get them off of here. I would like Cy and Rock, with the help of Blink, to get to the escape pods and prevent are friends from leaving without saying goodbye. Close channel. Open channel to Holly. Holly, I'm getting on the VTOL."

Blink stealthily crept back to the control room she was at before, following Holly's schematic. Once there, she jacked back into the computer, searching for the emergency protocols. "Ok, Holly. I'm in. What should I look for? An automatic contingency plan, maybe?" blink looked around, using IR and UV again, trying to avoid any potential ambush. This time I'm shooting first, she thought. Shouldn't have mattered that it was a kid.

"Try looking for the emergency departure protocols." Holly suggested. The systems were active, one pod recently disembarked.

"Holly, does that mean someone was in it?" She looked for what Holly had told her. "Com Circe. Hey, gorgeous. Can you detect any minds away from the ship that aren't ours? I've got one pod missing, but it could be a diversion." Blink tried to turn the ship to emergency procedures. The pods would have been activated from the inside. They could hold up to two normal sized humans. Leech and BrainChylde could have fit easily.

"Unable to determine if there was or not." Holly replied. "Metro is sending a cruiser to our location, ETA 15 minutes," she announced to the entire group.

"I advise we just secure the personnel and wait," Martins suggested. "There are too many injuries as it is."

Circe shook her head, far too mellow because of the meds to make a retort about what Blink just called her. "Sorry, Blink. No can do. The pain killers and other stuff they've pumped me full of has clouded my senses. I can't even reestablish the lock I had on Hart right now."

"Doc, I'm with you. Holly, can you tell Metro to step on it? I don't like this situation one bit. I'm no tactician, but something about this whole thing stinks," Blink listened to the other chatter on the channel.

"Chip trued and certified, go girl," Holly replied.

"Rock, Cy, I can send you to the general locale of the escape pods. Try to isolate any terrorists that may ne suing them as a means of a escape." Holly said, patching up some schematics to the twin's com rigs. Nodding Cy headed down.

Rock, being ignored by Von Schmiessen, decided to stay with Cy and followed her down below. His senses tingled with anticipation. The pods were situated, not surprisingly on the residential decks. Quiet except for the distant creak of straining metal, the level was almost peaceful, the dim lighting relaxing…and perfect for an ambush.

Cy whirled around as something moved behind them. Two sphere rolled toward, small and black. The twins hurled themselves to the back down the hall as sound and light filled the air. The concussive wave hit a split second later, a wall of air washing over them.

Blink looked up at the explosion. She tried to see if the ship 'knew' what had happened. The internal fire alarms had been activated, the systemry detecting a concentrated fire in the lower deck. Emergency procedures had been initiated already.

"Rock?" Cy called out softly, checking herself over. She seemed intact, Rock looked fine as well. But a wall of fire now blocked the far end of the corridor. Overhead gas jets started up, spraying the hall with fire acrid smelling fire suppressant.

Now I'm pissed off, Rock thought to Cy as he stood back up. He examined the wall of fire now being extinguished and got a running start and jumped through it.

Clearing the flames, Rock looked down the hall. It ended in a series of steps leading down toward the engine room if he remembered schematics correctly.

Aren't you coming, sis? Rock asked as he quickly scanned the area for the intruders.

Just a second, brother dear… the flames died down under the gas jets assault and she stepped over them, grinning playfully at Rock.

What a waste of combat time, he replied with a smirk. They moved down the hallway, covering each other as they always had, while checking the various rooms as they went.

Haste gets you wasted, Cy replied.

"OK, then, Captain Erickson… let's get out of here, shall we?" Photon headed for the hatch. The hatch refused to open for her, sealed from outside. A concentrated beam carved through the lock in a few seconds. Stepping into the hall, Photon found it clear, perhaps a littler more dim than she would like it though.

"The staterooms are this way," the captain started down the hall, "You men wait here until we return, there's no need in putting everyone as risk." The stairs down were right where he said, a short flight down to a more poshly decorated floor, rich carpeting, real wood and other expensive trapping place conspicuously around. A burned trail in the thick pile rug proved Wormy had been down here before. "Mr Hart has the main room, right over there." Erickson pointed a set double doors.

"Photon to Von Schmiessen… get down here. Wormy's definitely been here, but I can't tell how long ago."

"Captain… is there any way I can scan that room to see what's in there?"

"Not even from the control room," Erickson replied, "it was set up without monitors or internal security. The doors themselves are reinforced…nothing short of high powered explosives to get through them…internal air supply and sealed environment…it was designed as a refuge but it makes a wonderful cell too, I suppose."

Photon felt as well heard another explosion, this time on the deck she occupied. The smell of smoke quickly filled the air followed by the hiss of gas jets and a blaring alarm.

"Holly do you have an overhead view available of the ship so I can see if there are any vessels trying to leave the ship? I can at least monitor and act as another pair of eyes. Also what level are we allowed to act to stop these terrorists from escaping?" Warp asked.

"No overhead few without changing altitude." Holly replied.

"Our primary concern is getting the hostages out alive, keep the use of force in particular lethal force to a minimum," Engrid replied over the links. "This group isn't even actually sanctioned yet."

"Comm private to Blink and Von Schmiessen. Blink, does the computer have a record of how long ago that launch was gone?" Warp asked. "Holly don't change altitude but watch the radar for any ships leaving this area."

"Well…duh… but its unlikely our systems could read such a small target." Holly said. "I am trying to adjust the systems to bests compensate with the help of Dr Lee."

"Now Holly. Be nice. Checking , Boss-man. Was about 4 minutes ago. No record if anyone was on board, although the specs show it requires someone on the inside."

Now if this plane had sonar buoys… Warp thought to himself.

Blink looked for controls to the doors on the ship, trying to figure out what was closed and whether or not doors could be opened/closed to contain the fire, release hostages, etc. I'm out of practice, Blink thought to herself. I ought to be able to rip through this system like nothing.

Reaching into the ship's network was like trying on a new suit. You had to feel out the tight spots, the odd seams and get a feel for it before hitting the scene. Blinked "stretched" twitching a muscle there, a limb here, deep in the interface, the ship becoming less a suit and more a body, as she tested its limited and methods. Calling up the emergency protocols with a flick of her mind she isolated the correct subroutines to control the fire control systems. There was a lockout on one part of the ship…the central cabins. It sat, black and forbidding, in Blink's awareness… an annoying little void in her perceptions. The code lock looked fierce, literally…a three headed metallic dog, snorting flame and locking its baleful gaze on her and grinning, baring rows of Silver needle teeth.

Blink let her avatar come into focus. An armored warrior, with mirror shades, sword upraised her left hand, and a blaster at the right. She stood with confidence, studying the "Cerberus" ICE. Interesting. What could be so important as to need this kind of protection? And what can I do to get through it? She wold have liked to have Katana running, maybe some Bunnies and Flack, as it was now she was bare nerved and open assed and it didn't feel good at all. The Progs Icon was A Cerberus, but the MK number wasn't clear and just judging by the resolution it was burning major processing power…something very high level. Delving back into the ship's schematics, Blink traced down the over all floor plan. The central suite was off limits. It had its own circulatory system, its own power supply. Taking a guess, she would imagine ol' Cerberus was guarding the only access link to the main rooms systems.

Blink waved to the doggy, and backed out. Another time, with more in my belt maybe. "Holly, there's some major ICE in this baby. I'm not equipped to take it on just now, so I'm leaving it alone. The doc wouldn't forgive me if I fried my brain."

"What type of program?" Holly asked

"Cerberus, don't know the Mark number, but it looks pretty fresh, if you know what I mean. I don't have the warez to take this on, Holly. If you were jacked in with me, maybe. I'm not sure I'd tackle this with full power on, go- girl. Scary shit here. Looks like it is protecting the central chamber access of the ship."

"That coincides with the physical security around that area. But judging from what Photon is doing we don't have to worry about that area," Holly said over the link.

"Okay…" Blink disconnected her link with the computer. Looking around, she started to make her way out of the control room.

"And Paragon said this wasn't all fun-and-games…" she muttered under her breath. In a louder voice, she continued into her rig, "Photon to Von Schmiessen… There's been an explosion on this deck, I'm going into the cabin now."

She walked toward the double doors and opened them.

Mildly surprised to meet no resistance, she was even more startled to find herself looking another woman in the face. Small, pale and fine featured she more resembled a fine porcelain doll, somehow brought to life, rather than a woman. The silken kimono wrapped about her tiny frame only served to heighten the image.

"Ah, you must be the authorities," she bowed slightly. "Please enter." She stepped aside beckoning Photon within. Her voice was soft and had a hint of Nipponese accent in it. Beyond her the room is richly appointed but not as gaudy as the rest of the deck, simple elegance seems to be the rule. There are several stuffed leather chairs centered around an oaken meeting desk. A bar runs along one wall in front of a panoramic window looking out onto the sea, now a slightly lopsided view.

Standing behind the bar, arms clasped behind his back is tall man in a dark blue robe. His hair is shocking white. "Please… have a seat… Kimi, see if they would like something to drink."

Photon blinked. This wasn't the reaction she'd expected… she hadn't expected stark raving terror, either, but after several explosions on ship a bit more urgency and the desire to get off the ship would definitely be normal.

"No, thank you." Photon paused. "Ah… you are aware that there have been several explosions, and the ship is likely to sink?"

He turned and Photon saw this was the Mr Hart everyone had been so desperately seeking. "I assure you we are quite safe. This vessel has multiple safety systems to compensate for this contingency." He gestures to the chairs. "Please…it's the least I can offer after you most timely assistance."

Photon crossed to one of the chairs and slowly sat. I hope he knows what he's talking about… this is his ship, after all.

He took a seat as well. The pale woman, Kimi returned with a tray. There was one cup on it. Sitting it down in front of Hart, she took her place behind his chair and waited silently. "You are Photon, yes? One of the Genesis Knights? I can only assume the rest of you esteemed organization is here as well. Alex did take the precaution of disabling this rooms external monitors." He sighed slightly, shaking his head. "He is…uninjured, I hope?"

"I'm not here with the Knights, actually. I'm here with a different organization. We're not even official yet, but we were the closest assistance when your distress call went out. About Alex, I don't know. He wasn't in the fight on deck. Blink reported that someone in the bridge got away, though."

A pained look flickered in Hart's eyes for a moment. "Ahh…I see…that would be Alex most likely…or BrainChylde as he insists on calling himself. He's…troubled…my son is… our relationship was never the best and since his mother died, it's worsened. Alex has fallen in with criminal elements, namely the Mutant Liberation Front…they engineered part of this…but I think there was another party involved. My guests, Dr Fuchida Hasakawa and Dr Marvin Eckers were abducted right out from under the MLF terrorists that seized this ship."

Photon's eyes narrowed slightly. Abducted? Or… I think I'll have Holly pull up all information on those people. Hopefully it's just my suspicious nature… "Hmm… well, if they left the ship before we got into visual range it's entirely possible, I suppose. Our transport's radar capabilities aren't anything special."

"That entirely possible. Or perhaps some sort of submersible was used. According to Kimi they were equipped with diving units." Hart replied.

Von Schmiessen checks his gun to make sure he has a full clip of ammo left. "Channel to all. What's happening people? We need to get all the passengers off this yacht before it sinks. If you need assistance please confirm."

"I'm okay," Circe replied,"Has anyone found Hart yet?"

Photon excused herself, then replied, "I have. The crew can direct you to the stateroom."

"Circe to Photon. What's Hart's condition? Is he conscious?"

"He seems fine," Photon replied.

"Fine," Circe said in surprise. "Are you sure? I couldn't detect any high level brain activity at not even five minutes ago. Have you got a way to determine if he's real or not?"

"Computer confirms safety factor well within the time it will take for Metro to get here, Boss-man. Unknown assailants still on the ship, presumed, of course, due to the explosions. Not sure how many. 1 escape pod gone, unable to confirm passengers. Anything else?" Blink smiled to herself, deciding to make her way to where Photon was.

She met several uniformed men coming up the stairs, presumably the ship's crew. They stopped as startled as she was.

Blink tensed."Um, hi. Have you seen a pretty girl in a jumpsuit, glowing? I need to find her." Boy, that was lame, she thought.

Looking at the uniform, one of the men nodded. "You're with Photon right? She's with the boss." He jerked his thumb back down the stairs. "In the stateroom."

Following his lead Blink made her way to the double wooden (or plas-steel as she knew from the ship's records) door. They opened as she approached revealing a pale woman in a kimono. Over her shoulder she could see Photon's distinct glow. She was sitting at a table with Hart, a distinguished looking middled aged man.

"Kimi, please bring our visitors in and see to it the others are brought in as well." The tone he used with her wasn't overbearing but certain, the voice of one used to having his orders followed. Kimi bowed once and proceeded out into the hall.

Blink looked like hell. Pale and haggard it seemed like she had lost 20 pounds since the last time Photon had seen her.

"Photon? Everything ok?" Blink turned to the man in the room. "You must be Mr. Hart." She offered a slight bow, that of equals. "I had an encounter with your son… and his friends. It was rather….enlightening." Blink's tone had completely changed. She now spoke in clipped phrases, with no deference to the man in the room.

If it bothered him he didn't show it, instead looking concerned. "Alex wasn't injured, was he?"

"Not to my knowledge. He may have escaped on one of your pods. This isn't the safest place to be right now for him."

"I see." Hart said quietly, steepling his fingers. "Well, there is the matter of the two doctors. as I said I think they were taken by another faction all together. I was incapacitated for sometime until Kimi revived me and what she had to relate was most unusual."

Over the links on a universal line Engrid spoke up. "All right, everyone let's just hold steady until Metro arrives. I think this incident has panned out."

Cy and Rock continue to check the rooms, eventually making their way to the stateroom. Descending the stairs to the utility chambers, Cy and Rock found the deck was sealed. The monitor by the door indicated that the room beyond was sealed due to environmental contamination.

Turning at the sound of footsteps behind them Cy and Rock found themselves looking up at bowing pale oriental woman in a kimono. "My apologies for the delay. Mr Hart requests your presence in his chambers."

Holly came over the link. "Just as a note. Kimi is most likely a replicant. She's not among the crew manifest or the guests have been accounted for…in a sense."

"No shit, really?" Blink whispered. "You just need some work, Holly. We'll take care of it."

"Eat me," Holly replied casually.

"Channel to Cy and Rock. This is Von Schmiessen. Please inform Mr. Hart and his entourage that he needs to get off the boat as soon as possible."

"Already done," Photon replied. "He's of the opinion that the ship's safeguards are more than sufficient to keep her afloat."

"Private channel to the docs: So is it safe for me to get up and go sit down up front?" Warp asked patiently.

"Just try not to do anything to strenuous, but there no reason why can't sit up. Tell me if you have any nausea or dizziness." Dr Martins replied, still concerned.

The boat shifted in the water, sending a quick rush of panic through everyone until was plain it was righting itself, not sinking. Everything was level and the alarms shut off the fires were extinguished.

Cy and Rock were escorted by the comparatively diminutive Kimi back to the stateroom. She bowed to Hart and stood to the side apparently awaiting further instruction. Hart gestured her forward and told her to recount the event leading up to now.

She spoke softly and clearly, little emotion coloring her account. "At approximately 2:30 Pacifica standard time, Alex Hart and two mutant humans identified later as Leech and Wyrm seized control of the ship's course and functions through use of force and a computer override apparently installed by Alex. They also took control of a security A2 C class 'Droid to assist them. Mr Hart was detained in his stateroom and tranquilized with a powerful combination of sedatives. Alex used his psionic abilities to mask his thoughts and intent from my perceptions." Was that a touch of shame in her voice? "Afterward I was rendered temporarily non functional through use of physical force by the assailant known as Leech." The remaining guests were secured here in the stateroom with Mr Hart but were left conscious. I was locked in the medical area but managed to escape and work my way here through via… classified… means. I arrived in times to witness the abduction of the other guest by two masked but apparently female figures, each heavily armed and equipped for underwater operation. Assessment that due to the stealth they employed they were not part of Alex's plotting, which seemed to be a simple hostage/ ransom situation."

Over the link, Circe listened in. Perceptions? Did she mean mental perceptions? From a Doll? She'd heard street buzz about so called Voodoo Dolls with all sorts of weird powers but thought it was a load…but maybe there was something to it.

Hart nodded and Kimi stepped back. "Those two men were two of the big names in biotechnology today."

Engrid ahhhed over the link. "I thought those names sounded familiar, Euro sci types if I recall correctly."

"Channel Blink; Blink please ask: So is there a portal to dock a sub on the ship?" Warp asked over the radio. Warp then sat up and cautiously moved himself back to put his back against the wall of the closet trying to regain his center of balance.

No, not that Blink had seen in the ship's files but there was a hull breach below the water line. She'd assumed it was damage from the bombs, a bit more regular than the others but now…maybe not.

"Holly, lower the ship so I can get back on the deck of the ship." Von Schmiessen checks all his gear to make sure everything is secure. "Private channel to Photon. This scenario does not make sense. How did both Hart's child and the kidnappers know that the boat was going to be out here? Someone is not telling the truth and my bet is Kimi. I'm coming back onto the ship and into the stateroom."

Von Schmiessen joined the others a few moment later. Hart looked up as he entered. "Ah, the commander of this force, I assume. I must apologize for the conditions but as you understand things have not gone well in the last few hours. Kimi, if you would get the commander a drink."

Wonder what daddy knows about all of this? Blink thought. Much as I hate it, I need to talk to him. "Mr. Hart-san? Please forgive me, but I am feeling quite run down at the moment. I will return to our vehicle for rest." Blink stood, and offered Hart a slight bow, then headed for the plane.

"Holly are there any steady or intermittent signals out of the unusual signals coming from the ship? If it was an inside job they would of had to have a way to signal the sub or a beacon." Warp suggested. "Even with someone on the inside to help find the ship."

"Nothing out of the ordinary that we could detect," Holly said. "Actually no transmissions at all aside from the distress beacon earlier."

Blink reached the upper deck, stepping gingerly around an black rimmed hole in the deck and heading up the stairs. The VTOL hovered above the pool now, engine stirring up a minor monsoon. She paused, hand going to her stomach. A touch of nausea still lingered from her "blink" earlier.

"Why has that room below been sealed? Environmental contamination?" Rock asked.

Hart glanced at Kimi. "Some rooms below decks have been sealed to prevent flooding. Those would be listed as biologically contaminated."

Cy leaned against the doorframe, Well brother dear looks like play time's over. She sighed.

"Metro has arrived, they want to speak with the commander. I think that would fall more to Dr Morsham," Holly said.

"Or me, Holly," Photon spoke up. "I'm supposed to be the liaison between the Project and regular law enforcement, after all."

"I'll route you through Photon," Holly said and Photon heard the conversation between Engrid and the Metro patrol. Just as the doctor was referring the officer to her. He asked for situational report.

"Mr. Hart and his…" she paused momentarily, unsure of how to describe Kimi, then continued, "assistant are alive and apparently unharmed. Doctors Fuchida Hasakawa and Marvin Eckers have apparently been abducted from the ship by persons unknown, taking advantage of the confusion caused by the persons who seized control of the ship. The ship itself is damaged but appears to be in no danger for the moment."

"As for the persons who seized control, they have been identified by Mr. Hart as 'Leech', 'Wyrm', and 'Brainchylde'. Brainchylde is apparently Alex Hart. He and Leech are believed to have left the ship in an escape pod, but," Photon looked at Rock and Cy briefly, then continued, "this is not definite, so be careful when you board. Wyrm is unconscious and eating his way down through the ship's decks–he's highly acidic, it seems."

The all too familiar shape of a metro police air car skimmed the waves, Blink sighed. Nice to see some things never change. She climbed onto the VTOL

Warp watched thru the heads up display the Metro arriving. Funny every time I've watched them arrive before it was from an angle where they were heading away from me towards where I had been never from this angle before. Warp mused with a wry grin on his face.

"I guess this shows how much we need to work together, eh Holly?" Blink sat in a chair, waiting for her stomach to calm down. She entertained herself for a moment with thoughts of a certain pretty redheaded doctor, then reopened her eyes. "Holly? Can you interface with a deck? I was just wondering if you could run the net with me…could be 'real' handy!"

"Well Blink…I can but I can't." Holly replied quietly. "Not with you. It's a directive. You could compromise my systems." The AI sounded genuinely sad or at least to Blink she did. "I hope that does not hurt you feelings."

Blink was about to answer when a cramp seized her, a knot in guts so sharp it made Circe wince with "sympathetic" pain. Rushing to the tiny toilet, she barely made it in time. Kneeling over the bowl she emptied her stomach and was racked by dry heaves.

"Jesus," Martins cursed over the link, "Circe get her to lie down. I want all of you back here ASAP. Hand this off to the metros."

"What wrong Blink?" Warp asked concerned.

Circe approached her carefully kneeling beside the shivering woman. "Easy…you'll be fine." She said soothingly helping Blink back to her seat.

"Metro, we're handing this off to you now. We've got a medical problem. Photon out." After saying her farewells, she headed back to the VTOL, mention of Wyrm seemed to remind her of the burn on her stomach, the pain flaring up again.

After the team had been reassembled in the VTOL, Holly set off back for the Island.

"I am surprised at our success on this mission, but things could've been both better and worse." Von Schmiessen pulled a clip out of his gun. "We will have to work on deciding who does what on the mission team so that everyone knows what they're supposed to be doing."