CHAPTER 2: HOLD ON Sun got stuck as it's making its way back down

We find ourselves in a familiar part of town

And all that I've seen means nothing to me, without you

"…And that's when I ended up here" Zoë concluded her story for the Storyteller, a tall man in an open robe with strange tattoos, a long necklace and staff. "I suppose now its time for me to die or something isn't it?"

"No, not yet"

So when I see you again we'll make the most of it

Tell then sun to start moving again

The taste of your kiss I've still got on my lips

And I'll take you there with me

"What do you mean 'not yet'? I think that dose of Morpheus I got was lethal, I can tell I'm dying all the time" For some reason it didn't scare her, but Zoë did feel sad that she wouldn't see her friends or father again. It would have been nice to talk to them one more time.

"There is a saying used by some people like you 'Balance Provides', Your story has not yet come to an end"

Head crashed down, air condition myself to sleep

A great night out, that will, continue to the end of the week

And all I've seen means nothing to me without you

"But still…"

"This has been quite interesting but it is time for you to continue writing your story Zoë…"

WINTER

Something in Cameron's pocket was glowing; he looked down and pulled it out. It was Zoe's necklace! He'd found it when he tried to visit the Castillo's home, but that still didn't change the fact that it had been in the pocket of his coat. By the light it gave off he found a table with a doll's house that looked like a replica of the one he was now trapped in. Something about that dollhouse tripped something in Cameron, triggering a flood of memories that weren't his.

Flashes of statistics and reports, a giant flower in a tube, scientists, a greenhouse, people, strangers, plans, plans, plans.

Cameron dropped the necklace on the table, it flashed and hovered in mid air, facing him. Then with a great flash the room turned white from the light it gave off and the necklace expanded into a massive holo-like glowing symbol. Cameron made to grab the necklace but the moment his fingers touched it the world turned upside down…

So when I see you again we'll make the most of it

Tell then sun to start moving again

The taste of your kiss I've still got on my lips

And I'll take you there with me

THE STORYTIME

"Ahh, Zoë we have a guest." The Storyteller said out of the blue.

"What?" Without warning there was a bright flash and someone was thrown to the ground from midair. Nearest Zoë could tell their 'guest' was male, tall and lanky. The land was perpetually dark and the ground, so like liquid frozen in time didn't help, neither did the strange rippling in the air like a gas but without a source.

Its you and me connected to a satellite

Its you and me and love through a machine

Its you and me connected through a satellite

Its you and me and love through a machine

"Hey! You over there, are you alright?" Zoë shouted as the stranger groaned and picked himself up

"Yeah, I've just 'acked into another person's dream world, been trapped in a giant doll'ouse and flung through a port'al to some other dream thing. But yeah I'm just absolutely wonderful!" The stranger shouted back, his Cockney accent taking Zoë by surprise.

So when I see you again we'll make the most of it

Tell then sun to start moving again

The taste of your kiss I've still got on my lips

And I'll take you there with me

"Jeez, sorry for asking" Zoë snapped, mostly to herself.

"We should treat our…No, no, no" The Storyteller.

So when I see you again we'll make the most of it

Tell then sun to start moving again

The taste of your kiss I've still got on my lips

And I'll take you there with me

"What'd I miss?" the stranger said as he walked over "'e looks like someone died"

"It has arrived, you must go now!" The Storyteller snapped.

"What the hell…" The stranger tried to say.

"It has arrived, go now, I will distract it'

"What arrived!" the stranger snapped.

"The Undreaming"

The stranger and Zoë both turned around, The Undreaming grew from the sky, a pitch-dark blob that folded itself out. Long, thin tentacles reached out towards the group as the three slowly backed away. Zoë tried to hide her fear, hoping that the terrifying…thing wouldn't see her. The stranger was shaking, but backed up slower, as if he was sizing up his target.

"Do not be fool Cameron, you cannot fight this enemy" Without warning the thin tentacles shot towards the group.

"OH SHIT!" both Zoë and the stranger shouted in unison as they dived in opposite directions. The tentacles snaked past and curled around, coming back and lancing towards Zoë. She backed up but knew she wouldn't be able to pull the same dodge twice, perhaps this was how she would die. Just as they got within reach a swipe of red drove them back, the stranger swung again and again at the tentacles with a burning branch from the fire.

"Back off!" he shouted. As the tentacles retreated, as if the Undreaming was reconsidering its plan of attack the stranger dodged back so he was standing near Zoë. "Cameron Beaumont, call me Cam. I don't 'ave time to explain this but I used a Dreamer to hack into your dream; we're both 'ooked up to one now." Cam added "In the real world. We need to go, I can help you, give you some strength until we can find a cure for your Morpheus OD but first we need to punch outta here"

"Go Zoë, you need to finish your story!" The Storyteller shouted.

"Al, alright, I'm coming then, maybe I'll hold of dieing just a bit longer" Zoë said quietly, she had accepted that she was going to die, but no there may be a chance to change that. Maybe she could find the strength, for Reza, Damien, all her friends who would suffer if the Dreamer was released.

"Take my arm" Cam ordered Zoë did so as he grabbed at his wrist. Then the world went white…

CASABLANCA

Today I offer all myself to this I'm living for my dying wish,
I give it all, now there's a reason, there's a reason, to give it all

Gabriel looked up from his examination of his hands as Cameron opened his eyes and sat up. The…Dreamer he had called it, had retracted long ago. Cameron rubbed at his head and glanced over at Zoë, she was still sleeping, still in a coma. He looked surprised.

"Dammit, I thought…I need to go back in" Cameron immediately began rustling around in his bag, "I just 'ope I still have enough Morpheus"

"Didn't you say this was dangerous?" Gabriel asked, the young man had plainly stated that there was a big risk but had still gone ahead. Despite not knowing him well, Gabriel respected him for his courage.

"Yeah might've said somethin' like that…bingo!" Cameron replied unconcernedly as he withdrew a needle full of Morpheus. "Keep an eye for anyone, and if the doc arrives I'm a long lost cousin or something" Without hesitation Cameron moved to jam the needle into his arm.

"Wait" Cameron looked up "Why are you doing this? You don't even know Zoë, I think.

Cameron hung his head, he wasn't quite willing to tell anyone just how much he really knew about her "We…'ave some, ah shared history, how can I put this without it seeming seedy? Um, I can't really explain, I just won't let this go, I won't let WATIcorp get away with what they've done." 'To me' he nearly added, but he didn't need his only lead thinking that he was in this purely for personal revenge.

"Wait, what if I…" but Gabriel trailed off as Cameron put a hand to his head.

"I'll be there soon…"

Softly Cameron sung a short verse that made Gabriel's skin tingle:

Running down corridors, through automatic doors

Got to get you, got to see this through

I see hope is here in a plastic box

I've seen Christmas lights reflect in your eyes

The monitors began to beep and the lines on their screens got more jagged. Within moments three doctors burst in shouting in untranslatable medical jargon. They pushed Cameron out of the way and he staggered against the wall. Soon the lines on the monitors began to even out again. Finally one of the doctors said something Gabriel could understand.

"She's coming to!"

Gabriel's heart leapt, after hearing for so long that his daughter was going to die and now…but he owed Cameron a lot, if he'd done what he said he had. Zoe's large brown eyes fluttered open she looked around groggily and saw Cameron leaning against the wall.

"Thankyou" She managed to say.

"Anything for a beaut'iful lady" Cameron replied with a roguish grin, 'Already with the wisecracks? I must be getting desperate'

Zoë managed to return the smile before closing her eyes, returning from the Storytime had taken an enormous expenditure of energy that she didn't have. She just had time to see her dishevelled father look like he was about to faint before the world went black.

"Well she's asleep, all vitals are normal. I'm guessing she pulled herself out of that coma somehow, must have been a hell of an effort" A tall doctor with a black mullet commented. "lets get this logged, there's nothing that can be done until she wakes up again" With that the doctors filed out, leaving Cameron, and Gabriel alone with Zoë.

"Well…thankyou, I guess…what did you do?" Gabriel asked, managing to pull himself together enough to ask Cameron that question.

"Uh, I really 'ave no clue, I um…this may not be the best time to point this out but I actually had no idea that would work" Cameron explained uncomfortably. "So uhh, yeah this was kind of a gamble…on my life Zoë wasn't in any danger the whole time, I think" Cameron scratched at the nape of his neck, hidden by his long brown hair. Before Gabriel could speak he heard a ringing sound that he immediately knew was a mobile, he had heard Zoë's ringing often enough.

"Bugger' Cameron muttered, fully aware that he should have turned off his mobile before he entered the hospital. He satisfied himself by diving for it and quickly answering it. "Cameron's Crematorium: you kill 'em we grill 'em, Cameron Beaumont owner and proprietor speaking" Cameron answered at Autogun speed.

"Cut the crap Beaumont"

"Yeah, make it quick I'm in a hospital an' I'm only answering this because I forgot to switch my mobile off"

"Spare me your excuses Beaumont, have you found her yet?"

"Yeah I found 'er"

"Have you done as I instructed?"

"Yes I did as you instructed, don't forget it was my idea to hack the Dreamer" Camero snapped irritably, he hadn't slept since Europolis and that had been at least a day and half ago. And now thisguy comes along and…

'Don't forget that it was I who saved your ass from…"

"Doctor" with that Cameron hung up on his infuriating benefactor. There actually was a doctor, he came in and began explaining something to Gabriel. Cameron tuned out; he'd never understood a word of anything to do with Biology and hadn't tried to. Computer Science, Software Programming and Electronics were more his thing. While the doctor was talking Cameron briefly entertained himself with memories of aggravating people with his extensive knowledge of programming. The mention of his own name brought him out of his reverie.

"It was really Cameron over there"

"What? What'ever it was I didn't do it" Cameron asked in a confused tone.

"You had some hand in helping Ms. Castillo out of her coma?" The old doctor asked.

"Umm, maybe she sensed me, we were close after all" Cameron quickly invented. "I really 'ave no idea, she was always a stubborn girl" He tried his trademark disarming grin on the doctor, it had worked on Mags, once.

"Mmm, yes" The doctor replied, clearly unconvinced.

"Anyway the important thing is she's recovering, right?" Cameron tried.

"Yes, yes of course" The doctor was taken aback by the unexpected angle Cameron tried. "Well, if you all know each other I'll just leave you" with that the doctor left.

Cameron pulled up two chairs opposite Gabriel, one to sit on and a plastic one to put his feet up on "If nobody minds I haven't slept for thirty hours. So I'll do some catching up now" With that Cameron closed his eyes and immediately fell asleep.

Gabriel gave him a few moments before walking out to find a phone; he had some calls to make. When he found a phone he pulled a small slip of paper from his pocket with a number on it. He punched in the number and waited for the other person to pick up. Eventually they did.

"Alien the Cat, owner and proprietor Olivia de Marco speaking how may I help you?"

"Olivia?"

"Why hello Mr. Castillo, how's Zoë?"

"Good, I'll explain later but I need your help"

"Just name it"

"I need you to find out anything you can on someone called Cameron Beaumont."

"Cameron! I, I mean I'll find what I can" With that Olivia hung up too quickly. Gabriel got the distinct feeling she knew more than she was letting on. Just as he stepped away from the phone it rang again. He checked the name on the screen: Olivia de Marco. Gabriel answered it "Olivia?"

"Got the information: Cameron Beaumont, born March 2nd 2209 to parents Shuni and Daniel Beaumont in WATI City Japan, current status as a Japanese Citizen. Entered an orphanage at eight then won a scholarship to a WATi sponsored high school. Dropped out at fifteen but not before getting extremely high marks in Comp Sci, Software Programming and Electronics. Hmm, sounds like my sort of guy, ahem, anyway disappeared for a year before joining WATI as a security technician. Was working there until three moths ago, that's where the cookie crumb trail ends. Described, as being extremely good at what he did as well as a brilliant guitarist and singer, seemed to pick up anything he was shown extremely quickly. Hey…there's a side note here that says 'Is used to being able to charm people into helping him' sounds like a few of my contacts'. Well that's it, a few purchases made here and there, I can log where he went: North China, Siberia, some old industrial town in Russia, Europolis, then arrived here in Casablanca yesterday."

It wasn't exactly what Gabriel had been expecting, but then again what had he been expecting? "Alright, thankyou Olivia"

"Just one question: Does this have anything to do with Zoë? Cameron Beaumont just entered your hospital, he's there right now"

"It might do, thankyou anyway Olivia" with that Gabriel hung up and headed back to Zoë's room. This Cameron had some explaining to do.

ALIEN THE CAT

Olivia read over all her information again, trying to find something she had missed when an email appeared on her system with a suddenness that made her jump. She opened it and read through the message twice:

Olivia de Marco,

You don't know me well but this is important, I know you don't trust me but you have to listen. Attached to this email is a file containing evidence that there is more to WATI's Dreamer. I need you too take this information to The Hand; they're the only ones with the guts to expose this. By the way, I need that program you gave Reza about being able to leave a message on another system, I need a contingency plan and I can't wait to see the look on Gilmore's face when she sees all the shit I got here.

Cameron Beaumont

PS this email will self destruct three seconds after you transfer the file, I'm not joking this time.

Olivia quickly downloaded the file and, true to his word, the email vanished, victim of some kind of hidden carnivorous program. Well Cameron had proved to have even greater skill with programming than she did, though it did cause a twinge of jealousy that he was able to hide the carnivore program in an email without her finding it. Olivia read through the file, her horror growing, joker he may be but there were just too many similarities between this and what Zoë claimed she had found in WATI HQ. She did as Cameron asked and emailed the data to The Hand, but asked them to wait until she could confirm with Cameron about the time to release it…

CASABLANCA HOSPITAL

As Gabriel approached his daughter's room he heard a noise from within, as he got closer he could distiungish…music? He got to the room and opened the door. Cameron had woken up and, apparently refreshed, had dived straight into a rendition of a song Gabriel couldn't recognize. As Olivia had said he was extremely good, but as soon as he saw Gabriel he stopped. "John Butler Trio, Treat yo Mama" He said as a way of explanation.

"How do you feel?" Gabriel asked.

"Like I was between two Scramjets in a head on collision" two voices answered at once. Gabriel looked around for the second voice and saw Zoë, awake though looking slightly sleepy and sitting up against the back of her bed. The two speakers glanced at each other, having both said exactly the same thing.

"Zoë! You're awake, how do you feel?" Gabriel demanded.

"A little woozy but other than that I'm fine, I could really use something to drink right now" Zoë replied, she was still a little sleepy and her throat was seriously dry.

"Sorry, they took my Jack Daniels at the door…oh you want water, I'll go get some and leave you two to catch up." Cameron said as he stood and put his guitar with his bag on the floor.

"Wait, you should here this too" Zoë said as Cameron walked to the door.

Cameron looked over his shoulder "If it's about WATI I already know, everything you found, and what I found as well is with The Hand, or should be." He hung his head "Believe me I probably know more about this than you do, or would ever want to" With that he left, leaving Zoë and her father alone.

"Well…or don't I want to know?" Gabriel asked.

"This isn't a joke dad, just listen please" with that Zoë began to explain everything she had learned in those two weeks.

And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we'll make it anywhere
Away from here

She explained how she had been sent strange visions through the Wire and when Reza had gone missing how she went to look for him. Her journey had taken her to Newport where she was attacked by two WATI agents who hooked her up to one of the Dreamers and subjected to an extremely lucid dream. Though Zoë was still convinced it was real she told her father it was just a very real dream. Then she had traveled to Japan and WATI HQ where she had learned the truth about the Dreamers. She decided to leave out certain names and facts like Damien Cavanaugh, Alvin Peats or that Reza was dead. Her eyes nearly welled up with tears but she hid it, choked them back. Then she told Gabriel how she'd gone to Russia and found out about Faith. Then she'd arrived back home and gone into the Dreamer again, Zoë was careful to leave out what happened, only that she didn't remember anything after that. It wasn't exactly a complete lie.

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Gabriel listened to the tale in total amazement; Zoë had no reason to lie to him, and it explained the Static. But still, it was just so…so impossible, a huge conspiracy by a producer of entertainment bots? At the same time he couldn't help but feel proud of his daughter, she'd gone from a bored, listless college dropout to a woman with direction and determination. 'It's like she was determined to become some kind of hero and save the world' Gabriel thought with an inward smile. Well if half of what she said was true, and he had no reason to believe she was making it up, she would make a good hero.

Louder louder
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say

"Well that's about it" Zoë concluded.

To think I might not see those eyes
Makes it so hard not to cry
And as we say our long goodbye
I nearly do

"I was worried sick, and when I found out you were in a coma and the doctors said you wouldn't make it…" Gabriel blurted out what he had felt but managed to cut himself off.

"Its your worst nightmare, the very worst" Cameron, who had just reappeared with three cups and a jug of water finished for him. "I know the feeling" Then he turned to Zoë "How do you feel, still thirsty?"

"Very" Cameron poured two glasses of water and handed one to Zoë "Thanks" she answered and drained the whole glass in one. Cameron had barely moved his own glass to his lips. He was looking at her with one eyebrow raised, something about it made her uncomfortable and she looked back at her father. But she could still feel Cameron's eyes on her. "How long am I stuck here?" she asked.

"Another few days at least, so they can run some tests and pronounce you in full health" Gabriel explained, that was what the doctor had told him.

"Or tell you this is a drug-induced fantasy and that your really going to die" Cameron said with a grin.

"Last I checked this was the real world" Zoë answered, slightly irritated by Cameron's poorly timed comment.

"Define reality" Cameron shot back, still with that damned grin!

"I think we have more important things to talk about than this" Gabriel cut in smoothly.

"I don't, umm so I'll just leave then. I fnayone needs me I'm staying at the Ryukyu Flats in the South District. Yeah, I come from Japan so I'm used to the style there" Cameron grabbed his bag and guitar then left…

RECORDING BEGINWithin a few days Zoë was declared ready to leave the hospital and given a full bill of health. But the doctors still had no idea how she made such a sudden recovery from what appeared to be a one-way slide into death. In fact by the time she had woken up she should have been so far into the coma and so drained of strength that it would be impossible for her to wake up. The mystery, unresolved and showing no signs of ever being so was shelved. If only they knew, well its not my problems, WATIcorp is. With Zoë on our side we might just stand a chance, I hope she's as good at what I'm planning as she is hot RECORDING END