Chapter 31


Alexis walked in to start her day and heard clicking sounds. "Meet our new case." Leslie motioned to the autopsy table.

"Another one? I'm beginning to question if I'm an M.E. or a veterinarian." Alexis would laugh if it wasn't so tragic.

She heard clacking sounds. Leslie countered her thinking. "A dead body is a dead body and we aren't here just for the engineers and contractors. The colony needs our help as well. And we will provide it."

"And I'm glad to offer mine. It's just that this needs to stop. They aren't killing them for the meat. Someone's just killing for sport." That was the part that Alexis hated the most.

More clacking sounds. "I happen to agree. Which is why I'm going to go talk to our contractor and then to the mayor." She had already stated her disdain for whoever was doing the killing.

"You're not going to…?" Alexis pointed at the dead wildlife on the table.

This time it was clicking sounds. "You are more than qualified to handle this without my help, as you have demonstrated for the last year." Leslie had come to be impressed with Alexis during her time there.

"Good luck." Alexis moved over to her dead body and started organizing her tools. "Poor guy. …Or gal." She hadn't figured that out just yet. "Now let's see just what happened to you, shall we." She picked up a laser scalpel and began opening the body up a little. "As usual there's no slug, so it wasn't a primitive weapon as Kim would call it. That just leaves laser, plasma, or something else. The security teams for the contractors all use plasma, however, all the colonists have are lasers. And since these and all of the other wounds are precise, I'm going to say laser." That meant it was a colonist to her. And since there were more of them than the contractors it didn't lower the pool of suspects down much.

Then Alexis had an idea. "Jack, are there differences in lasers? Would one produce a different wound than another? I seem to remember that lasers at home had different sources of what produced them." Maybe that would help; she started kicking herself for never asking.

"You are correct. There are solid state, excimer, gas, dye, and semiconductor. Each will produce a different result. You have already tested and found that chlorine, fluorine, argon, krypton, and xenon are not present. That will eliminate gas and excimer."

Alexis suddenly saw Jack show himself and he was dancing with a huge smile on his face. A voice Alexis knew well but hadn't heard in a long time said, "I would guess solid state, myself."

Alexis's scalpel dropped from her nerveless fingers and she turned to look in stunned amazement. She launched herself at Kim, wrapped her arms around her and began crying. "Oh, my god, KIM! You're alive!" Alexis refused to let go of her and couldn't stop ugly crying.

"I'm a little surprised myself, to be honest." Kim didn't want to think about what she had had to go through to get here. She was still being hugged tightly. "You planning on letting go?"

Alexis shook her head. "No," she sobbed. "…you might disappear on me again."

"I'm not sorry I had Jack take you away. Though I'm betting that he's already told you that he would have done it without my yelling at him." Kim had faith in him.

Alexis's breath hitched. "Yeah, he did, but that didn't make it better." Using both hands she wiped the tears from her face then snagged a handful of tissues to mop beneath her runny nose. "So… Your place?" Alexis wanted to talk and learn everything that had happened to her friend.

A couple of flashes later and they were standing next to the pool that was empty. Kim looked around. "It hasn't changed much."

"It's yours, why would it change? So what happened? Why aren't you…" Alexis hated the word dead, especially when it came to her best friend.

"Dead? That's a not so funny story. Is there any wine left?" Kim was going to need a drink first. Alexis nodded and hurried off to get a couple bottles, knowing it might take more than one to get through her story.

"Starting at the beginning." Kim sat down and sipped her wine. "I saw a wall, if you will, headed for me…us really. It was like a wave and I just knew what it was."

"The null field." Alexis wasn't guessing.

Kim nodded. "The station was starting to go over the event edge of the black hole and get sucked in. I knew it would crush it and everything and everyone. My first thought was you. I couldn't allow you to stay." She wasn't sorry she had done what she had done.

"You should have let me stay, damn it. I knew the risks. I was so mad at Jack I started thinking of how to get him off my arm." She glared at her. "Losing you hurt, Kim. It hurt a lot. I was so very angry." Alexis was beginning to remember just how mad and was getting pissed again.

"I'm still not sorry and I did miss having you around. It was lonely for a while there," Kim admitted.

"A while?" Alexis was perplexed. Who had shown up to join her?

"Well, I did have 22,202 clones of me to keep me company."

"Twenty two…thousand!" Jack had never told her just how many clones there were.

"And two hundred and two. Though all of them are still in their bubbles so the conversations were a little one sided," Kim chuckled lightly. Alexis smiled a little.

"So how did you escape? Nothing escapes a black hole." Alexis was pretty sure of that.

"You want the long story or the short one?"

"Both, but start with the short." Alexis wanted answers she could learn exactly how later.

"After you were gone I had to run to the other side of the wave before Jill could get me back up to the command deck. I'd like to take all of the credit but Jill did all of the work." Kim gave credit where credit was due.

"We found that the station had a fail-safe that we'd tripped without knowing it. It was such a small subroutine that neither Jill nor Jack noticed it. It turned off the null field in stages so that the power change didn't get noticed. The station started moving toward the black hole little by little. The clone storage happened to be the closest so it was affected first, which is why I noticed it.

"Jill worked fast and managed to restore the null field, but it took time to get back on the other side of the event horizon." Kim was actually impressed at what Jill had managed to do.

"It took time? I thought you were dead for a whole year!" Alexis was bordering on being furious.

"Oh, no. Yes, it took a few months to undo what it had only taken a few hours to do. But, no. The rest of the time was taken moving the station to a new location." It was a station not a space ship.

"Move, as in it's not next to a black hole any more?" How was that possible? Alexis saw Kim smile softly and point to the sky. Alexis looked up, not understanding. Then her eyes opened wide. "NO! You mean it's up…" She pointed skyward.

"In orbit? Yep. It and every clone that's on it. Took a little while to get here." Kim hadn't liked that part much.

"So you didn't kill them?" Alexis meant the clones. She watched her friend shake her head. "O-K-A-Y." Had she made that much of an impression on her? "Did you find the time machine? Did you learn why?" She really wanted to know the last one.

"I did both, actually. That massive cone is, in fact, the time machine. Even Jill hasn't yet figured out how it works and you wouldn't believe the amount of power it would take to run it." Kim rolled her eyes and it had Alexis grinning since it mimicked what Kate did exactly. "As to who and why? I found that out, too." Kim had blown a fuse after Jill had found everything. Alexis sat there and glared at her, waiting impatiently for her to give.

"Hold onto yourself. There are actually two more stations filled with clones," Kim began.

"TWO!" Alexis couldn't believe that. Just what the hell was going on? "How many yous are there?" And what was Kim going to do with all of them?

"There are actually 66,606 of me. Each station holds the same amount. Though not each station has a time machine. Just this one." Kim had been happy about that.

"Sixty-six thousand six hundred and six of you! …Why?" What were they going to do with that many Kims?

Kim gave her a clue. "You remember that I was the head of security for the corporate headquarters."

"Yes, but what does that have to do with anything? They don't need that many to capture a city, do they?" Was that place that protected? "Does someone hate your corporation that much?"

"No, but you're close." Kim was impressed again. "They are planning on a hostile take over. A complete hostile take over that will take place in a really short space of time. Apparently they had me for longer than I thought. They had every access code and secret I know about the Choam corporation."

Alexis's mouth fell open. "All that so they could take down your company?" The 51st century really was different. "All right, you know who and I'm guessing you know when. So what now?" What was Kim planning to do?

"Next? Next I'm going to start a war. All 66,606 of us. I just need to get my hands on the other two stations, arm all my clones, and then I'm going to bring hell to them. They're going to learn that they have messed with the wrong woman." Kim was going to make them suffer.

Kim was back and Alexis didn't want to lose her again. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Kim at first thought of saying no. Then she thought maybe. But Alexis was her best friend and she could tell that Alexis hadn't taken her supposed death well. "Let me get the other two stations and start arming the clones. I'll let you know."

Alexis pointed at her. "You better. Don't have me use Jack to find you and hunt you down." Alexis was determined to help one way or another.

"There will be combat and likely a lot of killing." Kim had plans to do a lot of damage.

"I have a weapon that I haven't used yet. I have lots of stun charges left in it." She still had no intention of killing anyone, but that didn't mean she couldn't stun everyone who got in the way.

That got Kim out of her chair to hug Alexis. "I've missed you." Kim was ready to start crying.

"I've missed you, too." Alexis beat her to it and started to softly cry while hugging her back.

"Come with me. You should see Kate now. She looks so much better. She and Dad are so happy." Alexis suddenly had an idea and then another thought. "What about the clones we didn't go in search of?" There were more Kims out there somewhere.

"I gave up on those and blame you for that." Kim had had every intention of killing them.

Alexis raised her arms in victory, earning a glare from Kim. "Race you to Dad and Kate." Alexis lifted her arm, pressed the panels from memory, and vanished in a flash of light. She only had to wait a moment before Kim arrived at the door to the Manhattan loft in her own flash of light.

Alexis held up her hand to knock when Kim stopped her. "What about Redd? Are you still seeing him?"

Alexis let her head drop forward and that told Kim a lot. "We broke up. I realized that I liked him mostly because of his color and because of the size of his cock. I didn't actually love him for him."

Her response pleased Kim. Alexis had grown up a lot in the last year. Then she noticed something else. "I told you that you would grow."

Alexis smiled; she placed her hands under her breasts and lifted them a little. "Yeah, to be honest it was Jack that noticed first."

"And you said cock without any hesitation. You've changed in the last year." Kim liked it.

"Yeah, a few less body issues." Alexis felt better about herself. Kim hugged her.

"Come on, you should see Kate." Alexis smiled and knocked. She knocked twice before the door opened. "Hi, Kate!" Alexis had never been this happy and it showed.

"A-lex…is?" Kate was happy to see her but hadn't expected who she'd brought with her.

"Kate, this is Kim." Alexis kind of liked the look of utter surprise on Kate's face.

Kim knew her mouth had fallen open as she looked Kate up and down. Kate was still very conscious about how she looked and placed a hand on her belly.

Kate watched both of them enter; still taken aback, she closed the door. "Alexis?" She wanted an explanation.

"She didn't die. Isn't that great!" Alexis was still so very happy. "Where's Dad?" Alexis didn't see him.

"He's…he's out shopping. Something about wanting to find one more thing for the baby. I didn't think we needed anything more but he wouldn't listen." Kate actually found his enthusiasm a good thing. She was into the I'm tired of being pregnant phase of her pregnancy.

Kim followed Alexis into the living room and sat down next to her, waiting for Kate. "You're what, seven, maybe eight months along?" Kim guessed.

"Tomorrow will be 7 months and 2 weeks." Kate placed a hand on her belly as she sat down. "So, what happened?" As in how was she alive?

"I got lucky. I still have a challenge ahead of me so I can't celebrate just yet." She did have an advantage though so she felt good about the outcome.

To be honest Kim found it strange to see herself pregnant. "I see you've recovered from when you were taken."

Kate still had a hand on her belly. "Yeah, I hear I have you to thank for that. The shots and the powders and other things. I was a mess and sure that I would never be my old self. Castle has been great, too." She knew she couldn't have done it alone.

"Can I ask?" Kate was full of questions.

"You can ask, just don't expect a lot of answers. I really would like to answer your questions, but there's just too much at stake. It isn't just your life that's at stake. It's a lot bigger than you think," Kim said.

Alexis added her voice. "I wish we could, Kate. Just be happy with the result." It was something Kate could live with, she just wished she could know more.

"Have you decided on a name?" Kim inquired.

"Lilly, we've settled on Lilly. I know Castle is going to call her Lilly pad, but one or both will grow out of it." She was betting that Lilly would grow out of it before Rick did, if ever.

"A girl." Kim liked the thought of having a little girl. "I'm happy for you. I've never thought of having a family and with what is coming, not sure if I ever will." She had thousands of clones and thought that was more than enough. She didn't need kids.

"Never say never," Alexis cautioned, using her own words against her.

Kim laughed then changed the topic. "So what happened to Bracken?"

"We don't know. One day he was in the news seemingly being hunted by everyone and then, nothing. I'm told we have you to thank for finding out it was him." Kate still didn't understand how her twin knew so much.

"I have a few friends. They're very helpful. I've learned the hard way that no one person can do everything." Kim felt Jill softly shocking her.

"If you two will excuse me. I'm finding that being pregnant means constant trips to the bathroom." Kate struggled to extract herself from the sofa and moved toward the bathroom just off the master bedroom. What Kim had said resonated with her and how she had lead her life up until the most recent fight to stay alive.

Kim waited until Kate was long gone. "Yes, Jill?"

"You should look at the elephant sculpture on the table. There is something inside it that I have scanned. Kate will want it."

"I don't remember that being here." Alexis leaned over to pick it up and examine it.

Alexis was still turning it around in her hands when Kate came back. "That was my mother's. I found it again in the stuff that my dad had saved for me. It used to be on my desk in the precinct." She was thankful that her dad had saved almost everything that was hers.

Alexis was still examining with it when a piece fell off and something fell onto the floor. She put the elephants back on the table, picked up the piece, and what had fallen out. The look on Kate's face told both of them that she didn't know that it had been in there.

"I think Dad has an old dictation recorder." Alexis laid the tape on the table and went into his study to search for it.

Kate picked up the tape, sat down, and studied it. "That might be the recording you were looking for," Kim remarked.

Kate still didn't understand. Why was her mother even involved in any of this? Just what was on this tape that would get her killed?

Alexis was back. She took the tape from Kate, put it in the machine, and pressed the button.

They all listened to it. "That's Roy. What's he doing on this tape?" Kate was lost.

They heard Bracken talk about having Kate's mother killed to silence her. It still left Kate in the dark as to why her mother had to die, but she finally had proof that her mother had been murdered and that Bracken had ordered it.

Tears continued to roll down Kate's cheeks when the front door opened. "I got it!" Rick was happy with himself. "Alexis!" Rick's eyes lit up and he smiled widely when he saw that his daughter was home. "Kim?" That she was there was a huge surprise. Hadn't Alexis said that she was dead? Then he saw Kate. "What's wrong? Is it the baby?" He dropped his shopping bag and rushed to Kate's side.

He placed a hand on her belly, worried about both her and their baby. "We found the recording, babe. Bracken talks about having my mother killed." After all this time and everything she had been though, she finally had what she wanted most. She had her mother's killer, she had Castle, and she had a family. She wasn't married yet but that was coming up fast. Just a few more weeks. She wanted to be married and didn't care if she walked down the aisle just as she gave birth.

Kate looked at Castle and couldn't stop the tears. Finally, it was over.