Touched
By Erana Zeitler


Dedication: I wrote this for myself, as I'm the only one I know personally who ever even watched SSSS. But I also want to dedicate it to Anakin, for selling her original SSSS tapes to me and allowing me to watch forty-nine of the fifty-two episodes made. And I want to dedicate it to Rhianwen. Her excellent "In the Shelter of Your Arms" is what inspired me to actually take this idea and write it. I only hope my eventual Sydney/Malcolm story measures up. -- And that the lack of a beta-reader isn't too painfully obvious.

Touched
By Erana Zeitler

Prologue

He awoke from nightmarish dreams into a reality far colder than his imagination could ever have conjured. The usual sounds of water dripping through the faulty heating system had vanished, to be replaced with a silence which always woke him faster than his state of the art alarm clock.

Malcolm got out of bed, the faint moonlight streaming through dark curtains the only light he had to maneuver by. Reaching out a hand for further support, he followed the wall out into the hallway and down the staircase, internally debating as to whether to curse his parents for the heating problems, or the lack of a hallway light switch.

The bucket was in its usual spot next to the oil burner, and Malcolm was grateful he'd remembered to empty it before he went to sleep. The damn thing sometimes went for a month without a single problem, and sometimes it couldn't seem to go for more than five minutes without needing to be drained of excess air. It made sleeping in winter irritatingly unsatisfying.

Twenty minutes later the all important draining task was completed. Unfortunately the freezing cold temperature had wiped away any chance he might've had of falling back asleep. He made himself a cup of coffee, took his coat from its usual hanging place on the railing, and headed into the comforting darkness of the make-shift office.

He'd only been slouched back in his chair for a moment when the computer began to emit the usual purplish background that inevitably accompanied Kilokhan's inopportune nagging. "Meat-thing," the computer program greeted, sounding disgustingly chipper to Malcolm's admittedly sleep-deprived brain, "I was not aware humans were capable of function during the 'wee' hours of day."

"It's morning, not wee hours of *day*, and we're most assuredly *not*," Malcolm replied, sipping from his coffee and placing it carefully down onto the floor before glaring back at his unwanted guest. "Whatever you want, can't it *wait*? Have you no conception of *timing* in that huge mega-mind of yours?"

"I do not have a *mind*, you limited-thinking…"

"Oh, shut UP!" Malcolm interrupted, closing his eyes. "Believe it or not, you Kilo-twit, just because I'm sitting here doesn't always mean I want to talk to you."

"I shall gladly depart," Kilokhan announced theatrically, and, Malcolm knew, pointlessly, "once you have given me a virus upon which I may reek unspeakable havoc."

Malcolm went for another sip of coffee in lieu of a response.
"Do not ignore me!" Kilokhan shouted, with his usual overdone fury.

"You know, for a computer program, you sure do get emotional."

This implication seemed to calm Kilokhan dramatically, as Malcolm had known it would. "Computer programs are above such petty things as 'emotions'," the program said testily. "Emotions are a human weakness, one which is easily exploited."

"They are, huh?" Malcolm sat up in his chair slightly, waving a hand in the air as an invite for Kilokhan to rant away.

"Of course, meat-thing. Provoking emotion is the key ingredient to my eventual domination."

"Well, provoking, sure," Malcolm replied, feigning boredom as he examined his fingernails in the pale light. "But what about removing?"

"Ah! A world of meat-things mine to command and control! What a brilliant concept. I applaud your ingenuity!"

"It'll have to be tested, first, of course," Malcolm said smoothly, inwardly hiding a smile. If only people were as easily manipulated as computer programs. "Would you have control over which emotions were removed? Positive and negative… for example?"

"It would be horrifically easy for a being with my intellect and skill to do as you have requested," Kilokhan answered pompously. Malcolm idly wondered just what it was the program did in its spare time… he had a sneaking suspicion the answer would be endlessly entertaining. "I assume you have a virus which could be used in such a manner?"

"As a matter of fact, I do," Malcolm said, taking another sip of coffee and sorting through the papers in front of his scanner. Locating the correct drawing, he placed it face-down on the screen and sat back to watch Kilokhan do his thing. "I only want the positive input to get through, got it?"

If Kilokhan found that request unusual, he gave no indication. "Should I assume I am to send this into some possession of the Collin meat-thing?"

Malcolm sipped his coffee and shook his head.

Even though the computer generated image on his screen had no eyebrows to raise, Malcolm could still sense the movement anyway. "Then where shall we test this creation, meat-thing?"

Malcolm held up his hand, and pulled back the sleeve on his black satin nightshirt. "My watch."

~End Prologue~

End Note: I just want to assure whomever may stumble upon this story, I have no intention of changing Malcolm's personality long-term. I like him just the way he is. g I also apologize for any off characterizations, now or in the future, as it usually takes me a few chapters before I really get the voices down.