The sun was just beginning to color the mountains. Max, perched on the balcony rail of the hotel room, was suddenly homesick for the sunrise in Seattle as viewed from the Space Needle. It was the same sun, but half a world apart, and she hadn't imagined that she could miss that dingy city so much.

She had come full circle in the past 6 months. She was back in Switzerland where she and Logan had begun their whirlwind world tour. And she felt as homesick and out of place as she had when they had first touched down in Geneva. Unbidden, images of her last day in Seattle were haunting her.

Her hair, shoulder-length now, stirred in the breeze, and she remembered with photographic clarity Gen, crouched in the dark under the train tracks, binding her limp arm to her side and explaining to Max that this was where they parted ways. Her arm hung as if it had new joints, and Max knew that it was broken in several places. From the way she removed her fatigue shirt, it was probable that her collarbone was broken, too, but she only hissed at Max when she made a tentative move to help.

"Look Max," she said through clenched teeth. "You don't know when you've got it good. You're gifted, you're strong, you're brighter than your average bear and you've got loyal friends. And what do you do with it? Steal stuff? Feel sorry for yourself? Wait for people to remark on how beautiful and talented you are? So you had a crummy childhood. Everyone thinks they had a crummy childhood. You wouldn't even be working for Logan if he weren't working for you. You've got this fantastic opportunity to do something with yourself and you play these stupid mind games with a great guy and act like your all that." She gave a little gasp as she tightened the shirt binding her arm to her midsection.

Max was furious at this point. "What, like you're a shining example of moral fortitude."

They had argued for a heated moment, and Max could remember every hurtful word that they had traded. She didn't want to remember it, though. She knew now that Gen had only been honest. When Logan told her as much of Gen's story as he'd been told, Max had felt overwhelming pity. She tried to imagine being raised in a loving family and being thrust into Lydecker's caring hands. She had been trained to a lifestyle that Gen was completely unprepared for. Her family was turned into pawns before her eyes, and there was nothing she could do about it. Max had never realized as clearly as then how lucky she was to retain her freedom. Even under the crush of Lydecker's heavy handed manipulation, Gen had made her own choice, made her own break for freedom, knowing full well that she would live with the repercussions of it forever.

Where, Max wondered, was Gen now? With at least an arm broken, where would she have gone? Hospitals were as taboo to Gen as they were to Max, and visiting her family was inviting a death warrant. Perhaps she hadn't made it out of the city at all.

Max put a hand in front of her eyes. She was feeling maudlin, as she often did when she was bored. Traveling the world with Logan had been fun, but seeing new places was beginning to lose its charm. She felt like she should be doing something, as if she were wasting valuable time. Logan wasn't entirely happy either, she knew. He wrote, occasionally, impassioned pieces about economics or politics, but he didn't have the same fire about journalism that he'd had being Eyes Only. He swore up and down and sideways that he didn't regret anything he'd done, but Max knew that he missed being the crusader of justice.

There was movement at the door to the balcony, and the object of Max's latest musing wheeled himself onto the deck. "Good morning, early bird," Max told him with a smile. She gestured to a box that was sitting on the rail next to her. "We got a package, but it's addressed to both of us, so I thought I'd wait for you."

Logan, never at his best in the morning, smiled and blinked. "Did you order breakfast?"

Max shook her head. "I thought we could go down to the buffet. It smelled delicious."

She picked up the package, and walked with Logan back into the room. He had turned on the television, and a woman with a thick British accent was relaying the world news. "So, are you going to open it?" Logan asked. He looked as if he was starting to wake up.

"Which one of us is part cat?" Max teased. She used a nail to break the tape at the seams, and peeled back the lid. She had already, out of habit, smelled it and listened for mechanical workings, and had little fear of a trap.

The lid pulled back to reveal tissue paper, and a small pile of magnetic storage tapes. A note was folded on top. Logan picked up one of the tapes and inspected it curiously. There was no label.

Max picked up the note and laughed. It was short, and written in sparse, neat handwriting.

Max, Our dear friend Lydecker has been shipped back to Wyoming in disgrace and the Manticore project has been dismantled. Original Cindy loves her new job, Kendra's new roommate snores and Normal got an ulcer last month.

Logan, Thanks for the loan.

It was signed without salutation, simply: Gen.

Logan turned the tape he was holding over and said with astonishment, "My files? She copied my files?"

Max was delighted. "You can re-start your crusade to save the world." She shrugged and said flippantly. "Never understood why it was worth the trouble, but hey, everyone's got their soft spots."

Their attention was abruptly caught by the television. "Oil prices plunged a dollar or more in the United States following a telling expose from Streaming Freedom Videos in New York. Thought to be local to Seattle, the cable hack has sprung up in four major cities in the past five months. The major network channels are not complaining about the hacks, claiming that more people are watching their stations in the chance of catching another broadcast of the popular unauthorized clips." The woman went on to talk about economic repercussions in Europe of the American gas prices.

Max had to laugh at the expression on Logan's face.

"She stole my show!" Righteous indignation rang from his voice.

"I thought that saving widows and dogs had gotten boring," Max said with a laugh and a bright smile.

Logan, pouting, rejoined, "It's the principle of the matter."

Max put the box aside and balled a loose sheaf of tissue paper. "She didn't exactly steal it, she just borrowed it. She returned the tapes, didn't she? Now come on, my stomach is about ready to implode and I don't want anybody to get to the waffles before I do."

Logan tossed the tape he had been inspecting back into the box. As he wheeled out after Max, he was still grumbling, and Max echoed him. "I know, she stole your show. Come on, Eyes Only, let's go save the world from waffles."


*********
Authors notes. What a monster! This was supposed to be a nice, short piece about a nice, sweet girl named Gen. Hah. Apparently, she had other plans. About two chapters in, she took complete control. That'll teach me to go into a writing project without an outline. No, there won't be any sequels to this unless someone else writes them (you can breath easy, Nevermore!). And I don't mind anyone writing them as long as they tell me and credit Gen to me. Please review! I had so much fun with this, and I love your feedback!!!