Bubblegum Boy
Chapter One

by Jared Ornstead
aka Skysaber

Author's Forward:
I'm going to have to break up the number scheme I'd thought I'd
work on as there's way too much to fit in before the already
established storylines. This does not cover the Tenchi arc, which has
to be done, or some of the other critical nonsense that I'd very much
like to write. But it does begin to plug a hole I'd left in the
superspy's history, falling between Otaku Reflected and Eva Revolution.
Nor will this be the only arc that falls between Otaku Reflected
and Eva Revolution, as I've got a Tenchi arc that absolutely must be
covered, and a Dirty Pair segment I want to fit in. And, in the
process, I'm close to certain that more will be required. So rather
than give number to the arcs, which I'm sure will change, they will be
named instead.

There was a faint blurring of everything, and when it cleared Jared
found himself standing in a short corridor leading into a small room.
Before he really had time to gain any bearings a man-shaped armored
robot had noticed him and shoved him into the room.
It's voice box resonated. "You're supposed to wait in there."
Stumbling back into the room, Jared caught himself and did his best
to assess the situation.
One: He was garbed and equipped as usual. That was a good thing,
many of his toys should still be functional, if not all of them.
Two: He was not alone. Five women were waiting in the small room
with him, for what he did not know.
Three: There was another guy in here that looked identical to
himself, even down to the hairstyle and clothes.
Four: Clothes were something of an issue. The girls did not have
any. Their sitting there in just tank tops and panties made him
profoundly uncomfortable. They apparently noticed this and one of them
even smiled. Turning to her companions she said.
"Well, I guess we're not so bad. After all, it isn't everyone that
can get a rise out of an unprogrammed 42-S." She shook her blonde hair.
Jared drew himself, still rapidly collating data. "Hello, my name's
Skysaber."
The other four girls looked at him, a redheaded one in concern.
"Hey, has someone triggered your programming early? You shouldn't be
trying to bond with another Sexaroid."
His lack of information was clearly critical. Folding his arms he
leaned back against a wall. "Would somebody please tell me what is
going on?"
Now the girls were actually worried, the guy who looked like him
hadn't moved even to twitch a cheek muscle. His double acted like a
store mannequin The blonde one of the five girls stood up, coming over
to him acting almost like a performance coach. "Okay, listen carefully.
You are a model 42-S sexaroid, like that one." She motioned to the
immobile copy of him. "You're both more advanced than the rest of us.
We're all just thirty-threes. But they needed the higher end for you
two to get the personality algorithms right. Look, you shouldn't be
active yet. We haven't even arrived on station, your owner isn't here
for you to bond with."
He nodded. Helpful to know what they thought he was. "And your
names?"
She looked a little stunned, but didn't make an issue of it. The
lady shrugged. "Not that it matters but my name is Lou. The one sitting
there who spoke after me is called Meg. Those are Sylvie, Nam and Anri.
The one in the corner is another Skysaber."
Meg tossed a lock of red hair out of her eyes. "Unless they change
our names when they sell us. They do that sometimes."
Lou was about to move away but Jared caught her wrist, turning it
over to look at her hand, feeling her pulse. "We're androids, do you
say? Then how come you've got a pulse?"
The girls really were beginning to feel puzzled. Lou just let him
hold her hand. "For realism, of course."
He looked into her eyes, then tilted his head to look at her face.
Finally he shrugged. "You look real enough to me. More importantly, you
act like real people. Would it offend any of you if I were to just
presume you were real enough to make friends with?"
They all laughed. "Sure. " The one named Sylvie said. "We're all
new from the factory, it might be good to try out our programming
before a human expects us to be good at it." She moved to remove her
top.
Programming. Sexaroids. He backed off waving his hands in a gesture
he'd picked up from Ranma. "Hey, wait a minute! That's not what I was
trying to suggest!"
Lou seemed to find revelation in his action. "Oh, I see." She
concluded. "Somebody loaded the regular Skysaber profile into you
instead of the hentai one." She sat back on her chair, smirking.
"Whoever buys you is in for a surprise."
Nam had been examining them. "Do you think it really might have
been an accident, Lou? Anri and I are more cute than sexy. Couldn't he
be for the same type of buyer?"
Jared nodded to the five of them. They were helpful, but weren't
telling him too much. He decided to investigate on his own. "If you
will excuse me, ladies." With that he activated his invisibility power.
Sylvie and Meg shot to their feet. "What?" They both cried, staring
around, but he was nowhere to be seen.
"A hologram?" Nam ventured, trying to understand things.
"Couldn't be, he held my hand. I felt it." Lou corrected, also
searching.
"But they couldn't make a Sexaroid that could really do that!"
Sylvie practically yelled. "They don't have a visual stealth system for
anything, including the combat boomers!"

Very interesting, Jared thought, slipping out of the room past
the light armored security robot at the entrance. In a short while he'd
explored most of the open shuttle. It was a cargo craft climbing up out
of the atmosphere, carrying some workers and more expensive equipment.
Luxury goods (like the sexaroids, he presumed) were kept separate from
the main hold. It was a reasonable guess that the guard boomer was
there to keep passengers from sampling the goods.
Well, they looked like people, they acted like people. He could
care less if some company had built them. Unless there was some kind of
override function someone could use to turn them against him he was
willing to call them friends.
He located what he needed and returned to the small room, dropping
back into the visible spectrum.
They all turned to ask as one. "How did you do that?"
Jared shrugged, laying out objects. "To be honest, I don't really
know. I just started doing it one day. I think it has something to do
with altering the bands of light, moving them around me or something.
All I can tell you for sure is that it works."
Separating one bundle from the pile Jared handed it to Lou. "There
you go, Lou. One pair of technician's rank tabs, a jumpsuit uniform,
the full kit."
The sexaroid stared at the bundle, not taking it. "What is that
for?"
Jared looked around at the girls. He sighed, ducking his head away.
"Look, you all are very beautiful. It's just the life you take for
granted sounds an awful lot like slavery to me. Somebody owning you."
He shivered. "The whole idea of being property just freaks me out. You
don't even have to add prostitution to that before I'm gone." He
gestured to the clothing and gear he'd brought back with him. "I
thought that I'd offer you all a chance to get out with me. From what
I've seen it should be pretty easy to slip in among the techs. There we
can pass ourselves off long enough to get a better handle on our
situation and maybe find a way to avoid getting caught and enslaved for
good."
He was regarded in wondering astonishment.
"Are you an infiltration model, then?" Nam asked.
His back straightened. "Either I am the real Skysaber, or I have
been made to think so. Either way doesn't matter one bit to me. I'm
still going to behave according to what I think is right. Sleeping with
strangers and consenting to be property aren't right, therefore I will
avoid them. First step in that is to avoid the attention of those who
would seek to force me into it, and that can best be done by being
where they are not looking. Do any of you wish to come with me?"
There was a mass scramble for the uniforms he was offering. Their
sudden change astonished him.
"Uh, any particular reason why the change of heart?" He asked in
puzzlement.
Lou mashed her lips to his, releasing him to speak even while she
continued dressing. "Skysaber, to anyone else we're just toys with all
the rights of a toaster. You treat us like you care about us and
expect us not to leave with you? I don't care if you're the screwiest
boomer Genom ever manufactured. I'm with you."
"Goes for the rest of us, too." Meg added, sliding her legs into
the ship pants.
"Will we get deactivated for this?" Anri asked, buttoning the last
clasp on her jacket.
"Only if we get caught, and then not likely." Nam concluded.
"They'll just assume it's a programming aberration and at worst they'll
test us. Sexaroids are too valuable to throw away."
Jared was looking in some concern at his double, the one who still
hadn't moved. "What about him?"
"Useless." Lou informed him.
"Yup," Meg supported. "Unless you know the activation phrase you'll
never get him to move, then he'll bond with the first person he sees.
Their loyalty is one of the reasons why the Skysaber series is so
popular. Well, that and the fact that they're capable of turning into
girls and back into guys."
Jared nearly got sick. "You mean my curse makes me a popular
sexaroid?" He went and threw up in a convenient disposal. Cleaning
off his mouth he gathered himself back up. "Okay, sorry. Danger we all
share, I guess. Now, what skills have we got besides the obvious?"
The girls all looked at each other. Meg shrugged, volunteering.
"We're an 'Executive Aide' package. I'm the technician, with enough
repair skills to maintain all of us, plus a private home and office and
a small motor pool. Nam here is a domestic; cooking, cleaning, first
aid and all that is her thing. Anri is a secretarial. She also
maintains network security. Sylvia is a personal trainer, doubling as a
bodyguard. And Lou is a performer, singing, dancing and the rest of
that is her deal. That's all in addition to the 'obvious' skill package
we all share, how to dress and act and drive a car. Our skills are to
either add to our sale value or to appeal to a certain kind of
individual." Her green eyes bored into his. "We can all pick up more
skills later, either from programming chips or practice."
Jared probed, alert for advantage. "How do the programming chips
work?"
Meg, the sole redhead among the girls shrugged. "They're just
standard optical chips with a skill encoded. Just like humans use in
their cyberware."
"Do you need to keep the chip loaded or can you download it into
memory?" The superspy pressed, sensing a course of action.
"Oh, we definitely download. Once in online memory then it takes
about a week for the skill to be fully assimilated and integrated so we
can put it into practice." Meg regarded him curiously while she
finished putting her jacket's buttons together.
"Only assimilating one skill at once?" Jared asked.
"That's right. But we can carry up to ten chips at a time in our
jack."
"Do you get any kind of effect right away?"
Meg pondered. "Sure... I think. What I think is the case is that
while the chip is loaded we get to use the skill fine, just like a
human who put the chip in their cyberware should. It's integrating it
into our own memory that takes the extra time, and it's supposed to be
fuzzy for a while."
Jared was in deep consideration. "Hmm, I don't suppose you have
any chips, but could you make one? And could you all benefit from the
same chip?"
The sexaroid pondered his question, eventually responding. "I guess
I could, and I suppose we could share. Why?"
Jared smiled and stretched his muscles. "Because they haven't given
you too many skills to start with and the more you have, the easier
life becomes. For instance, if you all had technical skills of one sort
or another it would be easier to pass ourselves off as techs. If you
had the equipment could you create a skill chip based off of your own
knowledge that could be used by the others?"
All eyes turned to Anri, who considered thoughtfully. "I guess I
could. It's all standard programming so far. I don't think I could do
it once we all had a chance to refine our skills."
Jared nodded decisively.
"Good, because this shuttle is carrying all sorts of equipment for
the station, and we have hours if not days before we get there. I doubt
we'll find anything so useful as a carton of combat skillchips or
espionage programming, but if Sylvie and Lou were to get technical
programming we'd fit in alot better. If our enemy gets wind of the idea
that we may be hiding ourselves as humans they'll think they'll know
our skills and limits and will look for people matching those. The less
we match their profile of us the harder we become to find."
Lou put an hand on his shoulder. "They'll have our descriptions.
All our appearance and statistical data is on the shuttle's computer,
due to be transferred to the station."
The boy frowned. "A problem. Anri, if I got you to a terminal do
you think you could access that file? We'd better erase it if we can,
alter it if we can't, alter our appearance if those don't work. But
that's the last choice, and it's not a good one. Our best bet is to
take sole possession of the file. There are likely things we'll want to
know about us that they never bothered to tell us. Any secret destruct
or override codes are likely going to be in that file."
She nodded seriously.
"First we need to escape." Jared concluded. "And for that we need a
plan, and to get one I'm going to need time to think, as right now I've
no idea how we could do it," he mulled. With his various enhancements
escape wasn't an issue for him, there simply was no problem. He could
transport down to the planet's surface with ease... except, he'd never
actually been there on this version of it, and that made things
complicated, not to mention he was still a bit iffy about it and wasn't
too sure he could carry passengers... And that was all assuming that
those abilities of his still worked.
It was sounding like that was a last resort, and if he could get
away with this group conventionally that would be a better idea.
How to do it, though? The question plagued him for moments, then,
still a bit unused to all this, he checked through his catalog of
Superspy items and came to an idea that made him grin. He looked up
after his half-minute of contemplation.
"Sylvie, you've got bodyguard programming, right?"
The beautiful brown-haired girl shrugged. "That's what they paid
for me to be."
"And Meg is a tech and Lou is a performer?" He asked to confirm,
smiling. He got two puzzled yet helpful nods in response. "Well," Jared
confidently rubbed his hands together. "Taken separately those aren't
much. Combine those skills and you've got a really good start for a
covert ops team."
Meg and the rest of the girls shared confused looks. "But how? You
mean we ought to work together? How is that any different than what we
are programmed to do?"
"Actually, it isn't much. You'd pick that up sooner or later. No, I
was in all seriousness thinking of something more along the lines of
'If each one of you had those skills' which makes the whole equation
vastly different. You see, a performer of no matter what kind, has to
be something of an actor. An actor can pretty easily imitate another
type of person if the role is general and undemanding. That's exactly
the skill you want for slipping past guards and whatnot, but if only
one of you can act, the others can still be easily caught. Then still
even the best actor can flub a role or be caught up by security checks,
which in this type of situation can easily turn hazardous. That's the
sort of situation where you'd need to be able to handle yourself in
combat, because to be caught is utter destruction once things have
progressed that far. Well, if only one of you can fight, and it isn't
the actor, then you'd be messed up from the start, like trying to walk
on two broken legs. No. Then we're going to be doing lots of stuff you
shouldn't ordinarily be able to do, which means that no one is going to
do it for us, and since this is a space station we're going to most
things we'll want to accomplish will be very technical, and it's just
better that more of you know how to do them. It'll speed things up and
if one get's hurt that doesn't entirely stop the rest from escaping."
"I guess I'm not very important." Nam offered softly.
"Au contraire!" The superspy offered a gallantly contradictory
gesture. "No, a proper domestic is going to add more joy to life than
all the combat training there ever was. A good fighter can protect
some things, but fighting skills don't necessarily give them anything
all that much worth protecting. Do not sell yourself short, Nam. You
are as vital to happy living as any person that ever was, and happiness
is what we live life for! All the combat and other junk is just to
keep others from destroying happiness that you and your kind create."
He shot a confident glance at Anri. "And don't you be thinking that
you aren't vital, either. Network security and the breaking of it are
almost the same, and secretaries are those that go about getting things
for others; and massaging the system to get useful things like IDs,
clothing, housing, gear and equipment, not to mention transportation,
is just about the perfect skill to have unless we can get off this
place asap."
Meg was regarding him curiously. "But how are we going to do that?
Our skills came from the programmers at the factory. We don't just plug
into a wall and share them. I'd need equipment and time... all sorts of
stuff." She gave him a very unhappy grimace. "And then I still couldn't
operate on myself, so my skills would be outside of the mix."
"No, no, no!" He titched a negatory finger, which swiveled to point
back at himself. "I will be the one doing the swapping among the rest
of you, monitoring the equipment, which I already happen to have." He
pulled the necessary, portable versions of the boomer AI editing
machinery out of his Standard Light Urban Survival Pack, laying them on
the table in front of the bugeyed girls. "Better than the chips we'd
previously discussed, this will swap implants of the skill software
directly - just like at the factory."
"But first!" He chimed into their silence. "I am going to take a
nap." And with that he pulled up the boomer programming and repair
skills from his One True Watch's catalog of options, queued them up in
the Synoptic Teacher, slid it on his head, and laid himself down to
sleep.
An hour later he awoke to find Meg had already arranged the girls
into a near-circle with their backs to each other, and Nam (who, he was
surprised to find, was a nursing model as part of her domestic
responsibilities) just lowered the scalpel that she'd used to cut a
thin strip of skin open at the back of Anri's head, exposing an
interface not normally accessible for daily usage. Then Meg took the
handy set of waiting cables she'd already laid out and slid their plugs
into those exposed sockets. Sylvie and Lou were already cabled and just
nervously waiting for the operation to proceed. The other ends of all
their wires joining at a complicated but competently arranged junction
box.
"Oh, you're awake!" Nam noticed, smiling beatifically.
"Yes, I am." He replied unnecessarily, rising comfortably into a
sitting position as he glanced over Meg's work, nodding politely. "Very
well done. The setup's almost complete except for you and Nam here."
Meg smiled at him approving of her work. "Thanks. She's just about
to do my plugs and then I'll try not to fumble the scalpel opening
hers."
"No need." He happily corrected. "I am quite skillful with a
knife." He smiled at Nam. "You do not need to fear scarring."
She gave a little involuntary sigh of relief. Meg looked
embarrassed.
Taking the scalpel he had the last two girls hooked to their cables
in moments, then they all laid down as he hit the button to proceed.
The junction box sent the commands to sleep, and he immediately began
initiating some protocols to arrange the safe swapping of their
non-redundant programming. The complicated setup began churning busily
through all the data, noting in cybernetic relief that it was all still
fresh from the factory and therefore able to be modified as he
intended, and swiftly the work of swapping skill programs was rapidly
underway. The newly-educated spy spent some time ensuring that
everything was going right, that personality algorithms would remain
unaffected and that proper safeguards were in all place, then
nursemaided the procedure through to completion.
As he was really using a quite powerful setup the data exchange was
over in a short amount of time and the girls began to awaken, feeling a
little stiff and groggy as their minds absorbed the newly arrived flood
of extra skills.
Jared was calmly going about assisting them, removing plugs and
cables no longer necessary. "I took the liberty of exchanging
poorer-grade programs with higher, in the case where more than one of
you knew a skill but programmed to different levels of ability. Most of
you could handle a spacecraft, for example, but Nam's piloting software
was really quite advanced so I gave you all copies of hers. There are
naturally going to be differences, of course. I didn't allow any
alteration of your personalities, and basic aptitudes were set long
before you rolled out of the factory so no chance of altering those, so
what you do with those skills is going to be different. But all the
same I think we're all on to a winning strategy here. You each know
enough to get along very well indeed."
The superspy smirked, adding. "I also deleted all of your property
identification tags. Rooting about in there I found there were subsets
and overrides and codes that could've blown everything if they'd been
activated, so I got rid of them. The loyalty imprints were especially
tricky, but they're gone now. It's just as well. They weren't
programmed very intelligently and probably would've slipped in a couple
of years anyway."
"How come we weren't feeling any loyalty before now?" Anri came to
a sitting position, rubbing skin back over the socket at the back of
her head.
Jared shrugged expressively. "You hadn't met your owner and he had
no chance to activate them yet. Be glad, the kind of guy who has to buy
women isn't going to be much of a prize to meet. I don't doubt you
would have gotten sick of him very quickly. But you'd still have to
love him due to programming restraints and the conflict would not have
made you happy."
Nam was just about to say something when warning lights and sirens
announced the passengers should prepare for docking.
The redheaded superspy shrugged, returning the equipment to his
Standard Light Urban Survival Pack, ready to get his little covert ops
team in motion and hopefully get one of them access to the shuttle's
computer when the hulking soldier android suddenly filled up the door.
"Just where do you think you're going?" Its vocal synthesizer
growled.
Jared had forgotten all about that thing. If it could speak it
could probably hear and there went their plans. Unless...
"Want to join us?" He asked.
It raised a mighty hand. "I'm going to report this! You are all
assigned..."
Jared lowered his lightsaber as the security boomer's head hit the
floor three seconds before its body. Rising from his stance he said.
"There goes the stealth plan. Leaving bodies behind always complicates
these things. I'd dispose of it, but I don't think detonating a plasma
grenade inside a space shuttle would be such a good idea."
Sylvie stared at him. "You said nothing to us about being a combat
type. Just how many programs have they stuffed in you?"
Jared couldn't help but grin. "Just about everything, I think.
Planning to bail out?"
Nam took Sylvie gently from him. "No, Sylvie, it doesn't matter
what class he is. He's already helped us. Besides, wouldn't freedom be
a fun thing?"
They all considered that.
"I guess it would be." Sylvie ventured, as if discovering the idea
for the first time.
Nam, Meg and Lou all grabbed their technician's packs. "Look, we've
got to erase that data." Nam interceded.
Jared gestured to the door. "Taking it is better. Our gateway is
unguarded. If you'll move forward toward the control room there is a
terminal just inside the doors going to the crew section. I hope you
can work it. Oh, here." He handed Meg the Nerd Toy. "I hope you don't
have to use it, but if someone walks in on you. This may be the best
thing."
Meg turned it down, smiling. Her eyes flashed eerily. "Don't need
it. If someone walks in on us, they'll discover that these sexaroid
functions can be used for more than stimulation." Seeing his puzzled
look she elaborated. "Our eyes. We can use them to hypnotize.
Ordinarily we're supposed to use it in our job, but it could put
someone unconscious if we wanted to."
He grinned. "Even better. Well, off with you. The rest of us will
mingle to avoid getting caught here."
The two parties split separate ways.
A short time into the unloading process a station executive led a
small party of boomers into the room to collect the sexaroids. The
woman was shocked at the sight of the decapitated combat type, then
assessed the missing cargo. Turning to her escort she ordered.
"Seal off the shuttle, cordon off the landing area. I want every
person who left this ship searched and verified! The most irreplaceable
part of the cargo has gone missing. We are looking for the culprit, and
we need to find those sexaroids immediately!"
The nearest boomers bowed. "At once, Miss Erics. We shall begin
immediately." The secretarial boomer began to relay commands to the
station managers, while the bodyguard units began to spread out.
Miss Erics put her hands on her hips and stood gazing on the
statue-like figure of the inactive Skysaber sexaroid. "Pity you are
nothing like you are supposed to be." She condemned the unit for the
abomination it was, falling very short of the character it resembled,
then she abruptly turned back to her duties.

Jared, Sylvie and Anri stood in a huddle in the open cafeteria just
outside the shuttle launch and landing bay. Each were sipping a hot
cocoa and watching the departing passengers for their friends and
traveling companions.
Another man tried approaching one of the two girls but Jared
flashed him a glare that said "Back off, man. Private property." About
half had been turned away so far, others braving the glare to make an
attempt on either Sylvie or Anri. The girls had been taught gentle
turn-downs, but once or twice Skysaber had had to use his martial arts
to get the point across.
The station personnel were girl-happy. Somebody ought to do
something about the ratios to keep them from getting hormone crazed. So
far Jared had counted three men for every woman on-station. With those
odds it was no wonder a few polite words or a glare weren't turning
that many men away.
"I wonder what could be keeping them?" Anri worried.
"Could be anything. Waiting always seems to take too long." Jared
crushed his empty cup and tossed it in a recycle bin. It hit the lid
and banked in as lights and horns began to blare. Alarms were sounding
and gates closing across the loading area. "Then again, they might have
been caught." He amended.
Sylvie was nervously dancing from foot to heel. "So what do we do?"
Jared was measuring things carefully. "If they come out of there in
the next thirty seconds, we join up and lose ourselves in the depths of
the station."
Twenty seconds passed in nervous anxiety. A file of security
boomers ran out of the station and stemmed the tide of exiting
passengers. Jared pushed himself off of the wall, declaring, "They'll
never make it out alone."
"So what do we do?" Anri pleaded, looking decidedly cute in her
confusion.
Jared tossed her a grin. "Good people look out for their friends.
We go in after them, of course. Besides, they're looking for people
trying to get out of the shuttle, not back in."

Two grenades rolled to the feet of the wall of boomers. They looked
down in time to catch the huge EMP explosion of the mighty little
devices. The wall of boomers fell over like overbalanced statues, which
is exactly what they'd become.
EMP explosions fried all the sensitive electronics in the area.
Cameras and radios went blank, power cut off to parts of the landing
area while emergency lighting struggled to cope. The humans and
technicians aboard the shuttle raced past the fallen barricade holding
their assorted luggage and fleeing for the still-open exits. The human
tide passed over and around the security checkpoints the boomers and
human guards were trying to set up.
"Now's our chance, ladies." Jared gestured his two companions into
the remarkably clear area just around the cargo shuttle. They ran back
aboard with little or no problem, sealing the disembarking hatch behind
them.
Inside the shuttle things were less of a mess than outside. The
people had left in a panic, overturning consoles and leaving debris all
over. Lights and electronics still struggled to function, but the
ship's construction had been a slight help in alleviating the effects
of the EMP blast.
"We'll search the forward sectors first." Jared commanded. "And
stay together. If we split up we'll lose more time finding each other
than we'd spend searching for our friends."
They ran down the corridor to the crew section. On their way they
saw the open door to their enclosure room. Outside it a pair of groggy
boomers swayed in an effort to keep on their feet. The pair spotted the
oncoming trio and opened their mouth cannons wide to fire. Jared leapt
at them, his lightsaber springing to life.
The trio ran on, leaving chunks of battle boomer to slide apart
behind them.
Lady Erics climbed unsteadily out of the compartment. Her
secretarial boomer had shorted completely. Since she'd been standing so
close, the minor explosion had singed her uniform and burned her hair,
but in spite of that she could almost swear that the unit that
destroyed her bodyguards had been a Skysaber style sexaroid. Too
befuddled to act upon it, she stumbled out toward the rear hatch.

Jared and his two companions burst in upon the other three in the
pilot's cabin. They were huddled in fright by the back wall. Jared
looked on them kindly. "Hi. Get frightened?" He asked in an
understanding way.
Nam pulled herself up, Meg was holding a gun she'd gotten from
somewhere. "I don't... the data's downloaded, but not erased. I did
that much. But soon police boomers were running around and we had to
hide..."
"It's okay." Jared soothed. "It's perfectly understandable to
panic. After all, you haven't been free more than an hour or so.
Dealing with the unexpected takes time and courage to get used to. Come
on. The ship looks clear. Anybody know how to pilot this thing?"
All raised tentative hands. "We do."
The True Skysaber gestured magnanimously toward the door. "Well,
Captain Meg, Copilot Sylvie, your flight crew awaits you. Are we ready
for takeoff?"
The scattered sexaroids moved in a mass to the cockpit. There were
seats for all of them there, and the systems had been far distant from
the EMP explosions. Meg did a quick check that revealed them to be down
to 30% reaction fuel, the midship sensors were out, but otherwise they
were able to fly.
"Very well." Jared strapped himself in to one of the rear seats.
"Launch us, if you would be so kind. I wouldn't worry about the fuel
status. Thirty percent left probably means they regularly make a round
trip in this thing. Should be more than adequate for what is, in
essence, a very long fall with occasional braking thrusts."

The chaos in the shuttle launch bay was just beginning to subside
into order again when the large docking clamps that held the spaceship
down suddenly strained in their moorings as the main ship engines
fired. Emergency clamps released and the hulking ship shot out of the
massive bay, spreading a fresh panic among the shocked employees.
The massive station crew managed to get its wits together and
launch intercept fighters only after the cargo shuttle was well on its
way back into the atmosphere. The pursuit lost it somewhere in the
region of Japan.
An official inquiry was launched, but no crash site was found.
Accusations began to fly of one corporation or another having staged
the raid and using their own private landing fields for retrieving the
stolen ship. But, like all the best raids, the ship was never found and
the inquiry went nowhere.

Somewhere in the Coral Sea

"Hiya, Meg! How are we doing?"
The redhaired sexaroid looked up out from under the console to see
the redhaired superspy grinning down at her. She smiled back up at him,
standing up to wipe her hands clean on a rag. "Well, that's about done
it. We should have full system control restored. There really wasn't
much to repair from the EMP blasts. You shorted a few door controls,
but the midship area was surprising clear of important stuff. All of
the computers are forward and the engines are behind."
Helping her to her feet turned into a warm hug, and he whispered in
her ear. "The important stuff, my dear, was you, not the shuttle."
She melted, oozing up against him, but he didn't notice, releasing
her to get some space to smile mischievously down at her. "Want to know
what we took with us on our abrupt getaway?"
Matching him smirk for smirk, she nodded. They tore off to the rear
toward the main cargo area, him taking and holding her hand as he
dragged her excitedly that way.
The Orca class cargo shuttle was very much the semi truck of space.
It had a tiny control cab forward with very small storage used mostly
for special or extremely valuable cargoes while the back was a shipping
container of immense proportions, backed by equally powerful engines.
The EMP bombs had gone off in the comparatively small passenger
sections where there really wasn't much to damage.
Arriving back at the cavernous cargo holds, Meg stopped and
whistled admiration. There were thousands of packing crates secured by
nets into racks all along the walls and ceiling. In the center of the
floor were piled construction materials strapped down and bolted. Nam
was standing on a platform twenty feet off the main floor cataloging
the wealth of industrial machinery in long rows. Anri had found a huge
boomer approximately the size of a small commercial fishing ship lashed
down to the decks and deactivated, near stacks of coffin-sized crates
holding space development and other boomers as well as powersuits for
labor in vacuum.
In other places Lou was skipping across the tops of several well
cushioned shipping boxes which labels revealed to be the complete
disassembled parts to a mainframe supercomputer. And Sylvie was amusing
herself, having found out a store of weapons which she was lovingly
cataloging.
Meg was impressed.
"You haven't seen the best part." Jared told her, taking her by the
hand to a stack of outwardly unremarkable containers and beaming with
gladness. "This!" He told her, motioning toward the unimpressive
containers. "Is a complete nanofactory!"
Meg's jaw dropped.
There were those who knew about the nanite-based self-repair
functions of some boomer models, and there were fusion-capable boomers
whose very substance could meld with other artifacts to increase the
boomer's capacity and power - all of which was achieved by the use of
specially tailored (yet rarely self-replicating so as to reduce the
chance for the whole thing going out of control) nanomachines.
But where the technology in combat boomers was limited to combat
specific roles, the true best use for nanites was in fabrication. You
get yourself a vat of the nanomachines under careful computer control,
and whatever you put in that vat the nanites can recreate in nearly any
shape desired. Put in a wrecked car and get back out a brand new one,
or two washing machines and a stack of toaster ovens, or a pile of
weapons. The technology was limited only in that it couldn't turn one
molecule or atom into another. So if you put in steel, whatever you got
out would be made from steel.
But the nanomachines for such a facility were hideously expensive,
and plain old industrial automation was faster. So nanofactories were
quite rare. They were versatile, and could create nearly anything that
you had plans and rawmats for. But there simply wasn't the need for
them in most applications, other alternatives were cheaper in operation
and setup and had higher production rates. A factory using assembly
lines could be churning out thousands of cars at a time, a nanofactory
only one.
So nanofactories saw only limited roles. Small ones were used in
prototyping to create one-time runs of parts used in experiments of all
types. But the really large facilities only saw use in orbit, where
disposal of garbage was as big a problem as importation of raw
materials, and they were literally swimming in baths of solar power.
Nanofactories in that sort of situation were vital, as they were the
ultimate in recycling, turning waste into rawmats and solving two
problems at the same time.
"Unfortunately we can't run it." Jared confessed, sighing
regretfully. "The dang thing consumes more power than most small towns
- waaay too much for the shuttle's generators to handle. And while we
have parts of a fusion reactor on board, they cannot be assembled into
anything like a working model. There's just too few of them."
The redhaired lady sexaroid chuckled, looking up at her benefactor.
"You know, that's odd. With a functioning nanofactory we could make
the parts for the fusion plant. But we can't run the factory without
the plant."
"It is amusing." Jared wryly admitted. "But if we could run it
another way, even for a very short while, we could get the reactor
parts to have it up all the time."
"Not inside this bay." Meg looked around at the tightly cramped
space.
"True." Jared admitted, sucking in his lips briefly to chew on them
while thinking. "So it becomes imperative if we want to run this stuff
to find a place to unload."
"A genuine secret base?" She asked girlishly.
"Of course!" He replied with fire in his eyes. "But for it to be
really secret we'd have to be the ones to build it." The spy amended.
"There's not much use in having billions of dollars in valuable
machines if you can't set them up and use them. But there's even less
point in having it all taken away because you didn't take care to hide
it properly."
"So what's the plan?" Lou, who had been listening, hopped off a low
crate and joined them.
Jared shrugged, regarding the blonde kindly. "Well, there's lots of
work to be done, but we've got a force of space construction boomers
who ought to be able to do it if we tweak them a bit so they can work
underwater. We've got plenty of tools. I think the thing to do is find
a good seamount and drill ourselves a nice headquarters."
"There's lots of tools and machinery in here, but drilling tools we
don't have." Lou sadly shook her head.
Jared bit his lip. "That's right. Not much need for them in space,
is there? How about explosives?"
Lou shrugged prettily. "Military grade? Some, yes. Blasting? No. We
can put craters in armor plating, but not move much rock."
"So we're going to have to mix some, then. Or recalibrate lasers to
do underwater cutting work." The spy pondered, then sighed, rolling his
eyes. "This would all be soo much easier if we had the nanofactory
running. Drilling machines aren't complicated, and we could have the
project done with less fuss and bother than any other way. Blasting is
just too obvious to hide easily, plus it creates less-stable tunnels.
Stability is a concern if we're going to be living there."
The trio spend a moment in silent contemplation.
"Jared," Nam called out, joining them. "We've got a problem. There
aren't any medical facilities in the load. I checked. The best we've
got is a few first aid kits in the crew area. If one of us becomes sick
or injured..." She left the note hanging.
"And construction work sees alot of injuries, even deaths." Jared
agreed, nodding. Then he brightened. "So what we've got to do is build
a base to set up our equipment. To do that we're going to need to fill
in holes in our present outfitting, and to do that we're going to
have to locate those things we need and obtain them. Since we're
talking several billion dollars worth of high tech property the
simplest and most direct solution is to steal what we need from bad
guys who already have it." He posed, thinking. "So we're going to want
some more development boomers, space or sea types would both do. We
need some esoteric gear to make much of what we already have
functional... advanced medical facilities because injuries to you girls
aren't easy to fix, drilling or mining equipment of course. And last of
all we're going to require some very rare components to get our fusion
reactor functional, that is if it isn't a whole lot easier to just
steal an entire reaction system of another type, like an old-type
nuclear plant. But those are heavy, already installed, and non-portable
for the most part."
"Steal it?" Meg thought. "Okay, I guess that would work. But why?"
Jared shrugged "We are stealing as an act of war. Genom and its
cronies are ruining everything good or decent on this world, and
slaughtering innocents at their whim to save a few yen on testing. We
oppose them because they first declared war on us, and as our enemies
that makes them a legitimate target. Since the corporation that runs
the stations is just a pawn of Genom, well, that just makes everything
fair."
"War?" Nam appeared puzzled. "How do you steal as an act of war?"
"It works this way," the redhaired superspy informed her, raising a
finger. "In olden days generals spoke about tactics as the way to win
battles, maneuvering troops. Since the start of mechanized armies
generals sneered at tactics as the way to win and spoke in loving tones
about logistics, maneuvering supplies. But frankly, in World War II and
most of the succeeding conflicts it became really obvious that you
can't maneuver what you don't have, and the nations with the highest
production won the wars. So, we are in conflict with Genom, the highest
production entity on the planet, or in this solar system. The way to
beat them is to reduce their production capacity while raising our own.
Thankfully we are far from being their only enemy, so there's
considerable attention they've got to give to other things if they want
to retain their place of dominance. That gives us opportunity, which I
intend to use by taking production from them and adding it to our own -
the cheapest and simplest route to accomplishing both our goals at
once. And I intend to begin by procuring those bits that would bring
much of what we already have to functional status."
"So where do we find them?" Meg asked.
Jared sighed. "The parts we have are all space related. It stands
to reason that our best bet of finding compatible parts are the same
sources from which we got this shipment. Especially if we can look over
some cargo manifests, we can almost certainly find much of what we need
to get what we've already got functional."
"That still won't get us mining equipment." Lou observed, cocking
her head cutely.
"It might." Jared shrugged. "After all, they intend to mine the
moon. The gear for that has to come from somewhere. But let's just
start with what we can and see where things go from there. It is highly
unlikely that all our needs will be satisfied by one more raid."

The orbital launch platform at MegaTokyo was typical of the orbital
stations that had replaced much of air traffic across the globe. The
vast plain of bleached white concrete shimmered in the sun, broken by
alloy towers that were the various launch vehicles standing upright in
their pits. Maintenance crews and cargo transshipment were as busy and
as hectic as in any major port, with company inspectors and customs
officials there to take care of their share (or receive their share of
the take) of smuggling.
With so busy an environment it went perfectly unnoticed that one
maintenance crew, made up almost entirely of women, had parked in the
recesses of the control tower's inner reaches. With their toolboxes and
coveralls, as well as the studious way they went about their work, many
an inspector could pass them by with nothing more than a word or two
about how well they seemed to be pursuing their job, whatever it was.
The cables leading up from a portable diagnostic computer to the base's
communications hub, exposed in an open panel in the wall, just seemed
to be part of the business.
It was, it just wasn't maintenance related.
"I found it." Anri smiled, typing away, her face lit by the
flickering screen. "Shuttle alpha beta two under spacecorp's registry,
heading up to Genaros 5 with a load of boomer labor, replacement parts
that includes most of what we need, and another nanofactory is being
loaded on right now to replace the one they lost."
"We hardly need another when we can't run the one we've got now."
Meg groused as she positioned herself to look. "Don't they have any
generating capacity?"
Anri shook her head. "Sorry, the only power generation on the list
is half a thousand tons of solar collectors on shuttle beta six four,
also on spacecorp's registry and heading to Genaros 5, but the shipment
is under guard."
"Sixty two security boomers and a Doberman." Meg whistled. "That's
formidable."
"What else is going up in that shuttle?" Jared asked, carefully
under his breath as he pretended to play around with the comm cables.
Actually, he found quite to his surprise a hidden relay bug like their
own spliced in and began removing it.
"Top Secret." Anri told him, typing away. "Most of the rest is
classified, but this isn't even entered into the computer."
Jared nodded to himself. "That's the good stuff, then. Anything
worth that type of security is either very worth having or even more
worth denying to our enemy." He came to a conclusion. "Alright, this is
what we'll do. You girls proceed with the plan to take the shuttle with
the parts we need, and I'll do what I can to take the other out of
action."
"Right." They nodded.

Five sexaroids in pilot's uniforms too baggy to follow their curves
(and stuffed with towels to disguise them) walked up the access ramp
after exiting the elevator of the loading arm extending to one of the
spaceport's waiting shuttles. There were no cameras out here, the
intense blasts of heat during regular liftoffs would have fried any
they tried to install. The inspection worker who stood with a clipboard
to sign off for launch had his gaze met with a pair of beautiful brown
eyes that started mysteriously flashing.
The man's face went slack. He stumbled off to the elevator and
would remember nothing but a vague impression the regular crew had
boarded.
The regular crew lay asleep in their quarters. About ten minutes
ago five beautiful women had entered, eyes had flashed, and all the
crew had suddenly decided to party. Not realizing the women had left
with their flight uniforms, they broke out the booze.
"Systems check." Sylvie ordered, having grabbed the uniform of the
shuttle captain in the shuffle and automatically fitting herself to the
role.
"All systems are green." Nam reported.
"Requesting station clearance now." Anri reported, typing where her
small portable computer was tied into the shuttle's comm systems,
feeding the control tower an image of the flight crew they'd expect to
see requesting liftoff.
The five girls grinned when the console speakers reported. "Shuttle
alpha beta two you are clear for liftoff."
"Roger control." Sylvie answered, though really it was Anri feeding
the responses back to the tower and she was effectively talking to
herself right now.
Settling snug into their seats, the sexaroid crew prepared to
launch.

The trick with Doberman boomers was they were mental midgets, about
the same level as a pet. They would attack anything that wasn't
broadcasting a friendly IFF signal. So in order to keep them from
mindlessly destroying anything in their territory they were kept locked
up in cryogenic kennels, held in the machine equivalent of suspended
animation until they were released to kill something.
This made it sadly easy for certain superspies to access routine
maintenance hatches on the kennel, patch through to the doberman's
small brain as maintenance or repair people sometimes had to do,
quickly crack a passcode via the Cellslicer, and reprogram the droid to
think of an entirely different IFF signal as 'friendly.'
Now if they activated the darn thing it would rip everything around
it to pieces. On that thought, he also reprogrammed the kennel's
release codes just in case they tried activating it when he didn't
want everything in that cyberdroid's vicinity destroyed. Now that only
left sixty two security boomers.
Nothing like the 55-C series that Genom would develop in, what was
it, six years? Yah, that most heinous of cyberdroids wouldn't even be
street tested against the Knight Sabers until 2032, so, yah, that was
six years away. The present series just weren't cut out of the same
cloth, even the Doberman series had a number of upgrades to look
forward to before they were as tough as shown in the anime. Heh, the
ubiquitous mouth-laser weapon system appearing everywhere in the show
hadn't even made its introduction yet. Which raised the possibility
that something could be done to halt its development.
Shaken out of his introspection by the rumble of engines followed
by the vice-like grip of launch, Jared drew his Nerd Toy, activating
the lightsaber function. It was now, when the pilots were all consumed
in dealing with the stress of launch and the multitude of things that
detailed, and when the engines were at their peak driving them up into
orbit and putting out more interference than a bucketful of sensor
jammers, that his real opportunity lay. With onboard radios down the
security couldn't communicate, and that gave him ten minutes of action
time.
The first two security boomers fells to a single slice of his blade
as he came out of concealment among the crates behind them.

"How are we doing, Nam?" Sylvie asked without looking from her
controls.
"We are leaving port radar range and passing into satellite
detection area. Window is two minutes, thirty seconds away. Main
boosters have completed firing."
"Anri?"
"Yes?"
"Notify ground that we have a problem."
"Alright, beginning transmission." She typed away, sending the
messages through her machine so that ground control would see the
images she sent instead of their real faces.

One man fighting sixty opponents is a losing proposition in normal
cases. Even if the man is profoundly skilled there's got to be some
equalizer like a corresponding lack of skill among his enemies in order
to make that possible.
However, in a situation of communications blackout as existed
within the confines of a shuttle during launch, it could be carefully
arranged into a series of some sixty ambushes, in which case a
well-trained monkey could stand a chance against sixty men. The
cyberdroids were not hot on thought processes either. That was
something that was going to come in time, and indeed, it was AI
advancements that enabled them to appear so close to human that was
part of how the 55-C series came to be Genom's best selling product.
"Thirty-four, thirty-five..."
Jared shot the two boomers guarding the cockpit approach corridor
in the back of the head, once each, putting away his laser pistol even
as they crashed lifelessly to the deck. If not for WWWA enhancements he
probably wouldn't have been able to walk during liftoff, but as it was
he was managing fine. Sneaking around a bend in the passageway he saw a
lone boomer guarding access to the shuttle's computer core and shot it
down just as it spotted him.
"Thirty-six. Okay, the forward sections are clear. Now to see
what's left in the rear bay." He turned around and began heading to the
aft section, taking careful note that he was slightly behind on time
and deciding to jog.
In the computer bay, which he'd not entered, a woman sat staring at
her screens in disbelief. The first reason was clear enough, for four
minutes now she'd been watching a man move on a launching shuttle
where G-forces had her pinned to her own seat. The next was just as
obvious, said man was easily cutting down combat boomers that had been
promoted by Genom as the latest in high-end security. That he was doing
so casually and quickly only added to the amazement.
But what really floored Miss Erics, chief of security on Genaros 5
and overseeing this cargo shipment personally because of its extreme
value, was that was SKYSABER out there doing all this! She could be
sure, and was growing more certain with every moment. The Nerd Toy, his
laser pistol, the cheerful banter to himself as he was openly more
concerned with the time this operation of his was taking than any doubt
of its success. He was... well, he was so downright shocking he could
even...
...could he even be real?
So what side did that place her on, if the most virtuous superspy
in the universe was acting against her? Somehow her fingers failed to
find the alarm button as she just continued watching the cavorting
figure in combat, now tearing into the guard of the cargo section.

There had been a long conversation, the sexaroids reporting through
the images of Anri's computer a growing number of electrical faults and
problems, which Sylvie made sure to maintain the illusion of by minute
course alterations.
The spaceport controllers were now frantic, appearing as it did to
them a disastrous flood of faults. But the sexaroids remained calm.
"How much longer, Nam?" Sylvie asked.
"Ten seconds. Counting down: nine, eight, seven, four..."
"Four!?" Meg, nervous in her chair panicked. "What happened to five
and six?"
"I'm coming to them." Nam giggled, enjoying teasing her friend.
Speaking quickly to make up for lost seconds, she finished. "Three,
two, one, five, six... NOW!"
A charge jettisoned out an airlock exploded, a large enough blast
to be seen by the cameras now trained on the 'distressed' vessel, but
timed precisely to be just distant enough to avoid damage, even though
it didn't look like it. What it looked like a catastrophic failure of
one of their drive engines, which Sylvie, acting as pilot, was very
careful to mimic in turning their supposedly crippled ship planetside
in a lurching dive.
"Mayday, mayday, MegaTokyo Tower, have lost starboard engine and
part of..." The recording stopped just as a carefully planned second
blast exploded not far out of their cockpit.
"Ouch, that was too close." Lou flinched from her copilot's couch
at the near burst.
"Maybe," Sylvie agreed. "Now comes the hard part, pretending to
crash and still pulling out a landing to leave us all in one piece."
There came a bump and debris scattered in their falling starship's
wake.
"Hurray!" Nam cheered, raising a fist in the air.
"Good driving, sis!" Meg reached forward to squeeze Sylvie's
shoulder affectionately, her nervousness now gone.
"With the navsatt gone..." Anri postulated.
"The rest of this is a cinch." Lou grinned, leaning back in her
chair to stretch. "Nothing else could track us this high, so we can
land however we want, no more faked emergency."
Sylvie smiled with the rest of them. "I'm still going to keep an
act up, there may be other watchers we don't know about. But I'm not
going to put us in danger anymore. From here on it it'll be easy."
"Hurray!!" The rest all cheered.

Miss Erics knew her presence aboard the shuttle to be a deeply held
secret. She'd gone out of her way to hide it herself. What she could
not understand was how had anyone managed to discover what was being
shipped? The manifests couldn't be read as they were mostly blank, only
covering a routine lift of bulk materials that should've warned away
the curious. Price for good solar collectors was dropping all of the
time, so it was not the sort of thing to inspire greed or lust,
certainly not by anyone capable of fielding a 42-S sexaroid with
capabilities so closely matching the real Skysaber.
Such a boomer alone would be worth more than the cost of the
shuttle and manifest cargo, so that left as the only possible answer
that someone knew of the secret cargo being carried, and had learned of
it in time to launch this interception.
The very thought boggled her. She'd only barely learned in time to
divert from her search for the last stolen shuttle in time to board
this one. So whoever it was had sources of information far superior to
hers, and she was on the very short list of people who were supposed to
know about this secret. That thought joined several others as being
almost too frightening to contemplate.
She watched through the monitors as he dispatched the last of the
security force. The boomers had stood less chance than apples against
William Tell. She wasn't sure they would've been able to save the
shuttle even if she had warned them. The alarm might just as well
have been interpreted as a hull breach and confused them, and they
hadn't needed to be confused to be cut down like grass before that
scything saber.
Sitting quietly in her chair as the vast thrum of launch and the
huge hand-like pressure of acceleration continued, she noted that the
last of her guard force had been dispatched with ten seconds to spare
before main thrusters completed their firing and communications aboard
the ship would work again.
Abruptly, the pressure of launch and the roar of main engines
ceased, and Miss Erics sat forward in her seat, triggering
communications through the automated bridge. They hadn't dared to use a
human crew to lift this shipment, as they might've discovered what they
were hauling and let out the secret.
"MegaTokyo Tower, we have a situation." She said, confident her
voiceprint was being scrambled before transmission.
In the background she could practically swear she heard the tower
complain "Not again!" before a more professional voice broke in. "What
is your problem, shuttle beta six four?"
Just then the rising shuttlecraft met a sizable chunk of descending
navsatt debris that the automated flight system hadn't known to evade.
The blonde Miss Erics smacked her head hard upon the console at the
unexpected lurch and lost consciousness.
Elsewhere in the pilotless shuttle, Jared also felt the lurch. Even
though he kept his feet through it, he decided that now would be a good
time to go visit the cockpit and charged up in that direction.

Lou looked up from where she'd been monitoring communications.
"Hey, that shuttle Jared is on just radioed for help." She listened
again for a second. "And now they're not responding to ground control's
hails."
"Could be good news." Meg enthused. "He could have taken it."
"I think that's what we'll assume." Nam agreed. After all, they
weren't responding to ground control's hails either and were already
well on their way to reentry, still keeping to the lanes where ground
was blind.

Jared rushed into the cockpit prepared for battle. What he was
not prepared for was the sight of Earth spinning merrily above his
head indicating that the ship was in a crazy drunkard's fall. The
flight control software had overloaded and shut down, now gravity was
doing the rest.
Smirking, he slid into the pilot's seat. Much to his surprise, but
not to anyone else, he had proved to have the same concealed interface
socket in the back of his head as the rest of the sexaroids, and Nam
had taken opportunity to link him to Anri and shared across all her
skill programs before they'd started this mission. That included all
the programs copied from everyone else, and he was now, as they were,
quite an accomplished space pilot.
Correcting their spin, he made for a chosen landing point.

Genom Tower had not yet reached the lofty heights planned for it,
yet it still sat with oppressive presence, blotting out much of the
MegaTokyo skyline. Already it was one of the largest structure in the
world, later it would eclipse its few rivals. But Brian J. Mason was
thinking not so very far into the future as he was conniving to save
his present as he entered into the cavernous office of the chairman and
founder.
"Sir, I'm afraid the project we were lifting to Genaros 5 has been
lost. The shuttle it was on has crashed, no survivors. That makes the
third shuttle to that station to be lost this week, sir."
"What information from our private source at the spaceport?" Quincy
growled in that too deep to be real voice of his.
"I'm sorry, sir." Mason bowed slightly, in harmony with his
peculiar resemblance to a member of the Addam's Family. "But one of our
remote listening devices was discovered and removed. I ordered the rest
to self destruct lest they be traced to us."
Quincy did not believe in coincidence, only conspiracy, and his
grasp on the world was not yet firm enough so as to be unshakable.
"Hmm, someone must have connected enough facts to discover our secret
involvement in research being conducted there. Begin covering our
tracks at once. Cut off development and funding to Genaros 5 and
relocate our laboratories to more secure locations. Destroy all
evidence of our illegal projects at once on station and restart them
elsewhere. I warn you, Mason, it would be unfortunate if Genom's name
were to surface even slightly if there is a scandal."
His threats were enough to frighten even the ghoulish Mason, who
bowed. "Yes, sir. I'm aware of that, sir."