A Little Paranoia…

A few moments later, Photon abruptly spun on one heel and headed toward the elevator without a word.

Rock took off after Blink. He really wanted to search for that creature and loose some building tension… but he realized he had a different duty to perform for now.

Blink ran to Comm room 1, looking for Dr. Lee. She also looked for a place with a datajack. Damn it! she thought. If she could just get in there, between her and Holly, they could find this thing. She saw Rock catching up with her. "This is getting too damned weird, big guy. Not what I signed up for…"

The lift let them off a few doors up from the Comm Room. Lee and Morsham looked up as Blink barreled in, followed shortly by Rock.

"Good to have backup on this, Rock." she whispered. "DR. Lee, this thing is Dangerous. Whatever it is, it nearly killed Dr. Martins, and when I grabbed it, it nullified my cybernetic arm… it seems to be able to absorb a great deal of punishment, as well. I'd like to see if it could withstand Rock pulling it apart, though. I want to jack in with Holly. Between her scanners, and my infiltration abilities, we should be able to track it down. It can go anywhere, Dr. Lee. Consider that before you make your decision. It can go places we can't."

Lee held up a hand. "Back up and replay… balf speed… what thing?"

"Real briefly, Dr. Lee. There is an intruder in the building. It is serpentine, VERY strong, very fast, and invisible to normal sight if it wants to be. It can move through the lighting system, I'm thinking. It attacked Photon and Dr. Martins. It nearly killed April. It was strong enough to hang from the ceiling and lift her up by the throat off the ground. It got away from us and is still loose in the building. Does that about cover it, Rock?"

Rock looked down at his missing hand when Blink mentioned wanting to see him pull the thing apart. "Also, can this unit," he said holding up his arm without a hand, "withstand serious impact if I hit somebody with it?"

"I would say no." Morsham said,"But I think it could removed. Considering your impressive physiolgy, for a while."

"This thing is weird, Dr. Morsham. I've never seen or even heard of anything like it. Doesn't matter. When I find it, it's dead."

"Lets regroup before we rush off. Holly patch me through to Circe and Shcimesson" Morsham said.

"Yes ma'm"

The two ackknowledge a second later. They'd found Sheba and were en route to comm room.

"Great. Dr. Lee, let me connect with Holly. Between us, we can find this thing. You know it. Besides," Blink siad with a grin. "It will give you a look at my neural interface close up and personal."

"Its not that crystal, Blink. Lotta issues involved." Lee sighed. "for one I don't think I don't know if Hol is up to interface work."

"You're kidding, right? Well, let me find out. I can find out quicker than you, probably. If we mesh, we hunt the thing down for you. If not, I'm outta there faster than you can say 'backlash'." Blink started to get angrier. "Look, doc. After what that thing did to April, I am going to find it." she tried to calm herself down some. "This is our best chance to find it. Between the skills Holly and I can use, and Sheba's probable enhanced senses, we can find it. The rest of the team can destroy it once that is accomplished."

"Hol's matrix is highly esperimental. We're not even sure how your interface systems work. In fact, Mosham and I were discussing an evacuation."

"Abandon Holly? Evacuate? Oh joy…" Blink looked around behind her shades, trying to notice anything that might be an interface. "What happens then? You reprogram Holly somewhere else? How's Ivy gonna feel if we abandon this place, leaving that… whatever behind? Dr. Lee, this is the only way you're gonna find out. My interface is unique, and according to my father, universal. It was designed that way."

"Hey, if Blink is willing to risk it…let her. 'Cause if not, we're wasting time. And can you please help me remove this thing?" Rock asked holding his injured hand out.

"I don't want to risk it. Holly is too valuable." Lee grinned. "Besides, she's fine. As you should know Blink location in Virtuality is relative."

"Yes, Dr. Lee. I know exactly how virtual it is. Do you? I also know you can't put a computer like Holly 'back' once you've scattered her like that. You need some massive storage to move her, and you don't have anything portable like that."

Lee smirked slightly. "No. I have no idea how Hol's systems work. I merely designed them. Trust me, she's in the least amount of actual danger of any of us."

"That does provide a sense of what I guess is security." Holly said.

"We're responsible for you. and this is getting entirely out of hand." Morsham stepped forward reaching for the unit.

Photon chose that moment to walk into the room. She sat down heavily in an empty chair and stared off into space, not speaking to anyone.

Morsham looked up. "Jennifer., you look like you've seen a ghost."

Photon spoke, but didn't look toward the doctor. "Not quite… had the shit scared out of me… 's all." Her voice was nearly inaudible.

"I can get you a seditive if you like." Morsham said.

"No… thank you."

Warp followed Photon then headed into the med bay to make sure Ellce made it there safely with her patient. Ellce was tending to the doctor, who still lay unconsious. She looked up a moment when Warp stepped in then turned back to the monitors.

Morsham unsnapped the cuff after a few moments examination, exposing raw pinkish flesh rippled and twisted forming vestigal fingers. She frowned slightly.

"What's wrong?" Rock asked, noticing her expression.

Just thinking." she replied quietly.

"About what? Is there something wrong with my progress?" he asked.

"At this point, Your guess is as good as mine. More likely more so if you've lost a limb before."

"Dr Lee, I think I've located the origin of the intruder. I back traced the systems failures and power surges. They center on an interior locale. Blink's bedroom." Holly said. "A tactically odd location to begin sabotage."

Lee nodded, "True… but it's not conclusive." He turned to the group, "Cy, Rock… head up there and secure the area. I'm going to get some equipment together and join you in a moment. Circe can try to use her mental abilites to locate this…creature. I want to keep Sheba out of this if at all possible, you concur Ingrid?"

"Very well." Cy and Rock left the room and headed for Blink's quarters.

The older woman nodded, looking up from Rock's stump, toying with the medical collar. "Blink, you said this thging could… negate your cybernetics?"

"Yeah. I grabbed it, and it was as if my arm went dead. I used my other arm to shoot it with my pistol." Blink was shocked at the revelation that this… thing came from her room. Could something have followed me from there? she thought. Am I responsible for this? Blink began to pace around the room.

"Holly what all has been found out about this intruder?" Warp asked.

"Beyond what has been discussed nothing." Holly said. "It seems to have originated in Blink's quarters."

"That does lend more credence to the idea there is a connection," Morsham said quietly.

After hearing Holly's conclusion Warp stepped out into the pricavy of the hall. "Holly could the creature have infiltrated somehow on Blink's body? If so would you scan Blink for any signs?"

"How should I know? I don't even know what it is? Nothing came up on the security scanners." Holly replied.

"What about the medical scanners, Holly." Blink whispered. "Look for other traces of my DNA, besides here."

"Can you do a more thorough scan on Blink in case someone/something else has control over her and she doesn't know it?" Warp asked as he paced in the hall.

"Both of those would be Dr Martins' forte." Holly said.

"Yeah, but she's conveniently indisposed. Holly, you have the results of her last test don't you?" Blink looked at Dr. Morsham. "According to April, I am, or was, pregnant. I don't know, now. Maybe something got inside me in 'there'…" Blink shivered. "Somebody has to get April awake. And we have to find that thing, by any means possible. LEt me jack in with Holly. We'll find it. She's a smart girl."

Morsham was taken aback. "Pregnant?"

"The tests showed Blink had some simlar chemical changes to a pregnancy, Dr. Morsham," Holly said.

"Blink," Lee said as he was heading for the door. "Its nothing personal, not really. I've got to go link up with Rock and Cy."

"They are currently in the lift. More technical problems" Holly said. "That's whats delaying Schemssion, Circe and Sheba as well."

"Yeah, nothing personal…" Blink replied. "Dr. Morsham, let's go down to the med lab. I want to check on April." And find a datajack somewhere… screw Dr. Lee. I'm going to find this thing!!! "Unless you want to stay with Jennifer? Photon? You want to come down to the med labs with me?"

Photon shook herself. "Yeah, I gotta do something or I'll just sit staring into space for the next several hours."

"So everytime you use your powers we're going to have to keep you under observation?" Warp asked blink.

"I don't know. Could be. Holly will just have to keep a constant watch for… changes, I guess. I don't understand how these powers work anymore than anyone else." Blink left the room, heading for an elevator.

Warp followed along behind Blink not trusting in the fact that she might not be who they thought she was.

"Blink, the elevator systems are not up to peak performance at the moment," Holly said.

Ellce was still working over the doctor. She smiled at Photon and Blink as they entered, plainly glad to have company. "Dr. Martins is going to be all right I think… " she said quietly.

Some of the tension went out of Photon. "Good," she sighed. She heard someone come in behind her. Spinning around she found herself face to face with Schemisson. Behind him, Circe stood with the cat creature, more so stood in front of her as Sheba was hudding behind the blonde, looking around in wide eyed fascination or perhaps terror.

Photon looked curiously toward Sheba. Hmm… interesting.

Sheba murred worriedly, peeking at Photon as she spoke. "Why is glow?" she asked softly, "Like night bug?"

"I don't know… don't worry, though, it's mostly harmless."

"Don't be frightened, she won't hurt you," Circe said soothingly. "Not everyone here is quite so… short fused." as she spoke the blonde fixed Shemesion with hard glare.

"Glad you could join the party, Boss-man. Circe, Sheba, I'm glad you all got here safe." Blink said. "Have you been updated?"

"Holly has kept us abreast of the situation. Are Rock and Cy in place yet?" Schemmesion asked. "I don't think they're type for gaurd duty, not like this… but seems we've run out of options."

"Not yet, the lift is down so there making there way up on foot… so to speak." Holly said.

Sheba flinched, ducking behind behind Circe as voices and looks were directed at her. The empath reached back and ran a soothuing hand through her fur.

Warp watched Sheba and the others while keeping a watch out for the creature.

Schemssion looked leery. "Warp, Blink, if I COuld speak with you for a moment…" he turned and strode into the hall.

Warp fpllowed Schemssion to see where he wanted to talk to them.

"Sure." Blink looked back at April, then followed Schmeisson into the hallway. "What's up?"

He turned to them voice dropping to nearly a whisper, "I think she's been compromised. Don't say her name. I think you know whom I mean. She's coded to respond to her name being mentioned allowed with full interest. I want you two to use your powers to go up to the res level and poke around. I think Cy and Rock being delayed is just too much of a coincidence."

With Blink watching Schmiessen, "You mean she is compromised?" Warp asked while pointing at Blink.

"No, not her," Shemission replied slowly.

"The one that is here, but not here, Warp." Blink replies.

"Well, I cna find out if I can find the damned jack… there's no one better at getting to… those kinds of areas. We'll check it out, won't we, Warp?" She lightly punched Warp on the arm.

"Sure." Warp kept watch more on Blink then Schemeissen.

"Well, get going." he said.

Warp opened a viewing portal that he sent to the residence area to get sight of a hallway and opened a portal upstairs to walk thru. The hall lights were still flickering and dim. He didn't hear or see anything but… there was a sense of being watched.

Warp motioned Blink to step thru and then followed her through.

"You coming?" she asked.

Warp followed Blink through and kept shining his light around in a 720 degree arc looking for the creature.

Blink's room was quiet and dark, slightly cool. A slight musty stink hung in the air, stale sweat and body odor. Nothing moved… nothing made a sound.

"Let's keep checking out the other quarters." Warp suggested as he kept his flashlight and a light portal shining covering as much as possible.

Blink took a step toward the door. Something yanked her foot back wrenching it out from under her. A ropy tendril coiled up her leg, hauling her toward the bed!

"AIIIII!!!" she screamed. "What the hell? Warp, help me!" Lowering her gun and pointing, she fired where it came from under the bed.

Schemmsion stepped back into med lab. Sheba flinched away from him but if he noticed the German said nothing. Circe stroked her again. "Look, Photon. I'm going to try to read this… thing… if I can… I need you to cover me. I don't know what its capablities might be."

Photon nodded. "I hope you have better luck than I did… damn thing doesn't leave heat traces."

"Perhaps a thermal cloak…" Shcemission muttered. Ellce looked up as if about to speak but went back to tending to the doctor.

Circe spoke softly to Sheba, "I'll be quiet for a time but there is nothing to be frightened of… be calm." Wide eyeed the felinoid nodded crouching in a corner that gave her a veiw of the room.

Circe lay down on one of the diagnostic beds, closing her eyes. Her breathing slowed, the tension fled her features melting away so quickly as to be almoast frightening…as if the woman herself had slipped away.

Only the chirping from the medical monitors disturbed the silence. Then Circe sat bolt upright and screamed!

Or she could have the same luck and get scared shitless by the damn thing. Photon closed the distance between herself and Circe rapidly, then touched her gently on the shoulder. "Mary, are you okay?" she asked softly.

"God… I…touched it… " she panted,wide eyes, terrifed. Circe hugged herself, closing her eyes for a moment then she climbed off the bed. "Let's go…"

Sheba, who had almosdt bolted at the scream, watyched Circe perplexed.

Photon nodded, then spoke into her comm unit. "Photon to all–be advised that Circe had… an adverse reaction when she managed to 'touch' whatever it is telepathically, so we won't be able to track it that way. If you find it, make sure you disable it, at the very least." She headed toward the door.

"I can track it…it was just… its hard to explain." Circe cut off, trying to slip that icy facade back into place. But it was plain how shaken she was. Something alien was in those chill blue eyes. Fear. Checking her pistol one more time she holstered it. "Its in Blink's room."

"Warp and Blink are there already." Schemession said leading the way out.

"They're under attack." Holly said suddenly. "I can't get a clear image from that level at all. You must hurry. I think Warp is badly injured."

"Shit…" Circe broke into a run.

"You said it." Photon sprinted toward the nearest stairwell, then headed up and toward Blink's room.

Again and again, she squeezed the trigger, each shot thunder in her ears, drowing her screams. More, it was still on her, another shot, another, until she realized there was silence. Nothnig but the clicks of an empty chamber. It lay on her, ripped through and oozing a brackish stinking liquid.

Warp kept sawing at the bed and the monster under the bed until said monster was no longer moving.

"God!" she screamed, throwing what was left of it off of her. "What the fuck… Holly? You there?" Fuck Schmeisson, fuck everything… he didn't have that on him… She looked around, patting herself for an extra clip, then reloaded the pistol. She put her back against the wall, looking at Warp. "I think the bed is dead, Warp." she tried to quip.

When the bed fell in half and there was no monster under the bed, "Blink let's go back to the infirmery" Warp opened a portal that opened beside Circe and dragged himself thru holding it open for Blink to come thru if she wanted to.

"Right behind you, Warp. Gotta get you patched…."

The portal flickered, wavering in and out of existence. Warp felt light headed, blackness creeping in on the edge of his vision. Leaving a bloody trail behind him, he dragged himself forward, face screwed tight in pain and effort. The portal shrank, slowly closing.

Blink stepped back, not sure if she could make it through.

Photon and Circe burst through the door.

Blink spun, pointing the gun at them, then raising it to the ceiling. "Damn! Don't do that… Warp's hurt pretty bad, he went through there to the infirmary…" She turned, pointing to the now almost closed portal.