Title: The Mastermind

Author: Sybil Rowan & WingedPanther73

Pairing(s)/Characters: No romance/ a story that features 001, 002, 003, & 004

Rating: T

Summary: Ivan's memories of when Jet, Frances, and Albert were each brought to the Black Ghost organization and his thoughts and actions to protect them.

Warnings: None really, it's pretty tame.

Author's Notes: This is really WingedPanther73's character study of Ivan. This is really Sybil's character study of Jet, Frances, and Albert. Can you tell who wrote what? Just because there aren't enough stories about 001 out there! Yeah, Ivan!!!

Disclaimer: Cyborg 009 is owned by Shotaro Ishinomori.

Beta Reader: WingedPanther73 & Sybil Rowan

Date: April 19, 2009

Word Count: 6,133

Ivan watched Frances from his cradle on the kitchen counter, eyes open only a sliver. She was rushing through warming up a bottle of milk for him before Chang-ku came down to prepare breakfast for the other cyborgs.

She hummed a pleasant tune as water began to bubble. Ivan found the mathematical structure of the notes pleasing, the mechanical portion of his brain sub-processed and analyzed the patterns and discrepancies for his amusement.

Ivan activated the telepathy clusters to extended his consciousness outside of the kitchen as the organic portion of his brain slowly came online. His mind paused, sensing Jet plodding down the hallway. Ivan scanned Jet's mind and found out he wasn't in a cheery mood at all. Ivan didn't bother with a temporal scan to predicted what was coming.

He slyly looked over to the doorway just as the redhead trudged in; Jet gave him a half groggy glance and walked over to the refrigerator. Ivan activated surface level scans on both Frances and Jet as they gave each other wary looks.

:Great! I can't sleep and the only two people up are whiny girl and the creepy baby. Oh! I hope he's... yeah... looks like he's asleep. Just my luck. Wonder what's on the tube in the mornings... good night... it's four fricking thirty in the morning! Man, that old gas bag Gilmore needs to score me some good stuff for this pain. That old bastard owes me!:

The baby-cyborg could easily pick up the ghost pains Jet was experiencing from the loss of his natural legs. Ivan could reprogram Jet to not experience them, but he knew that wouldn't cure the bitter hatred driving the phantom pains. Ivan had no doubts Jet's subconscious would strike him again by noon.

To Jet's credit, he didn't stumble or show any outward signs. The redhead cyborg opened the refrigerator and rummaged around. He pulled out a large cardboard box, opened it, and got out a piece of cold pizza.

:Disgusting! He's going to eat that! And then he walks around like that! Dressed in boxer shorts and a filthy tee-shirt, not even caring about the rest of us who are here. He only thinks of himself. It amazes me how someone as kind as Joe can get along with such a pig!:

Ivan kept an eye on Jet as he tossed the rest of the pizza back in the refrigerator and leaned against the door. He took large bites of the impromptu breakfast. Jet fixed a glare at Frances and thought :I dare her to say a word. Come on... come on... say something! Anything! I'm going to explode from being crammed in this safe-house. All this 'civil behavior' is driving me nuts!:

Ivan glanced to see Frances' lips quiver as she tended the boiling water. She glared back at Jet before turning to her task and thought :He wants me to say something! That's his little game. He's just trying to aggravate me because I've told him time and time again to think of others. I've done nothing but be nice to that boy. I've tried so hard to get along with him... If Jean-Paul were still alive, I'd have him sit down with 002 and give him a lesson on how to act around women!:

Ivan found it ironic that they both knew they were in a petty struggle with each other despite having no ability to read each other's thoughts. It was something organic and non-mechanical. He was baffled by body language; maybe their mutual feelings of distaste were conveyed through this medium. He prodded his own organics into more activity; maybe the answers were held there.

"Must you do that?" Frances finally snarled.

Jet's face took on a lopsided smile as he thought :Ho, ho! Ha! I got her!:

"What's it to you?" Jet asked before stuffing the last bite of pizza in his mouth. He made a protracted display of licking his fingers; Frances slightly shuddered.

"I was here first and...."

The baby cyborg's general scans alerted him to another mind in the hallway. It was Albert Heinrich. Frances perked up; her expression softened as her acute hearing picked up his movements.

She clamped her mouth shut and turned back to get the bottle out of the hot water. Albert came in and looked at the frosty pair. Ivan added Albert's mind to the active surface scans. :Not again. I'm sure they were about to have another fight. Why can't they just realize we're in this together and make the best of it?:

Ivan agreed with Albert. They needed more focus on the situation at hand. Petty bickering reduced the effectiveness of the team, leading to lower levels of alertness and wasted resources.

Ivan's thoughts were interrupted by a large surge of pain rolling off of Albert. The man didn't show any outward signs of pain, either. Ivan judged him to be every bit as unyielding as Jet, but in a more quiet, subtle way.

"Good morning, Albert. Chang-ku is still asleep. I'm sure you have the dignity to wait for a proper breakfast," she said, testing the milk on her wrist.

"Who do you think you are? My mother? I can eat whatever I please, lady!"

"You're so horrible! Why can't you be like the others and show me some respect?"

"Jet, stop antagonizing Frances. You know the things that irritate her."

"I knew you'd take her side!"

"I'm not taking sides because I think Frances needs to stop being condescending towards you." Albert didn't look over at Frances' sharp intake of breath; he focused solely on the lanky, tall New Yorker. Ivan noticed both Frances and Jet furiously blushed; neither could string a coherent thought together as Albert continued. "If you wouldn't have interrupted me like a five year old you would have heard me tell her that."

Both Frances and Jet screamed 'When have I been condescending?' and 'I'm not a fricking five year old!' in tandem at the German man. Albert took a deep breath as they both launched into arguing their points. Ivan could sense the patient, intelligent man was almost at the limit of his self-control with the petty bickering. Albert's thoughts were getting closer to complete sentences before he self-censored them for profanity.

Just yesterday Chang-ku and GB had an extreme fight because Chang cut up a magazine GB was still using. Even Pyumn had chastise Joe while teaching him the intricacies of sharp-shooting. Albert, who seemed to walk into the middle of all these fights, had resorted to handing out his uncensored opinions, which tended to offend everyone. The only cyborg who seemed above the fray was Junior, but that was because he kept his opinions to himself and took long walks in the woods around the house.

Ivan could tell things were getting worse as the weeks stretched on to a month in hiding. It was time to institute a team-building exercise to shore up the cohesiveness of their team. His attention turned back to the trio in front of him having a three-way fight.

There was a time the three of them got along perfectly, but Ivan knew their memories of that time were hazy. His weren't; it was a little after he had been changed and his father was trying to persuade him into cooperating with the Black Ghost. That's when these three, Jet, Frances, and Albert, came one-by-one to the Black Ghost's home base.

"I will not tolerate this any longer! You will cooperate, you ungrateful child," Doctor Gamo screamed, fists waved in the air. Ivan didn't move a muscle; his organics were firmly locked in sleep mode and he was making no effort to override their natural control over his body.

"According to the initial test it showed growth in the activity of the organic parts of his brain. That re-formulation of the GRXC-5 did do its job, but we aren't able to replicate it. We aren't pleased with results we can't reproduce," a man in a dark suit said, bending over the sterile, plastic cradle Ivan was in.

"I promise it works. He's just being difficult."

"Regardless, we move on. The first test subject will arrive within the hour. We've decided to assign him the first design in the series, however, Skull has decided to designate your son as test subject 001. This new one will be 002."

"Wonderful! That means I'm a full member?"

"Yes, Doctor Gamo. Welcome aboard," the man said. They shook hands and smiled at each other.

"If they go with that design that means I'll have to prepare the flight programs within two weeks. Not much time."

"Yes, but we have confidence in you. We'll let the computer monitor your son."

"You mean 001," Doctor Gamo corrected. The man nodded in approval at the cold, analytical Russian doctor.

"Now this new one is an American." The man consulted a clipboard. "A male. He was found after a street fight. Our agents report that he's eighteen and he was involved in gang activity. He just committed a murder and was running from the police when they caught him. They consider him a good candidate because he won't have anyone looking for him. Everyone will assume he skipped town. The problems they cite with him are malnourishment and he tested positive for high levels of amphetamines in his system. He'll be dried out and on liquid nutrients by the time you'll do your part. You'll only have three hours."

"But that won't give me time to preform a lobotomy."

"Skull changed his mind. No lobotomies. He wants data on thinking soldiers. We have ways of keeping them under control. Besides, where would he go? He's just street trash on an island thousands of miles away from America. He has no choice but to obey us."

Gamo chuckled and followed the man out into the hallway. Ivan was finally left alone to mull over this new development. He quickly activated the telekinetic clusters to override the readings provided by the monitoring equipment, then he extended his telepathic awareness until he located the American's mind.

He finally reached the mind of the American. He was in a deep sleep so Ivan had free reign. He began with some surface and shallow probes to find this one was called Jet Link and was from New York city. Ivan triggered the memories and saw that this young man's judgment was clouded by amphetamines when a rival gang wandered on their territory. A knife was pulled on Jet and he let anger escalate the fight. Ivan saw that Jet was deeply remorseful about the stabbing the moment it happened, but was terrified about jail and worse.

Ivan quickly saw the usefulness of this one. Skull would be giving him both flight and accelerated reflexes and speed; he would be extremely useful. Ivan began placing blocks on key memories that were likely to come in useful. Skull would only be able to modify or control Jet if they could access the critical memories that would give them sway over him.

Particular attention was paid to Jet's sense of camaraderie with his fellow gang members. That would come in very handy later. It was replaced with a false memory of a sense of superiority and arrogance. Finally, he ramped up Jet's sense of independence. That should make him challenging to control, even for Skull.

Ivan retreated from the depths of Jet's mind, maintaining only a surface scan level and set himself in monitoring mode.

"I know you're trying to make me look foolish! Damn you! Move those blocks!" Gamo screamed, pointing to a small stack of colorful blocks on a round table across the room.

Ivan stopped playfully reaching for the blocks with his hands and turned an angelic expression to Gamo as he telekinetically squeezed one of his testicles. :Like this, Daddy dearest?: Ivan emitted a classic baby's giggle as Doctor Gamo's face took on a purple tinge. :Or did you want me stack the "blocks"? No? OK.: Ivan turned back to the blocks, reaching for them with his hands and making gurgling noises.

"Doctor Gamo! Are you still wasting time on 001?" An elderly man in a white lab coat came into the nursery that looked more like a computer lab.

"I'm telling you he's manipulating the computer somehow and refusing to cooperate. He thinks he's smart! I'll show him yet!" Gamo yanked the clipboard away from the man and looked it over. "Our next test subject? Frances Arnoul. French, female. Nineteen. In athletic shape and well nourished. Good choice."

"Our agents made a mistake on this one. They thought she was a single girl living in Paris and studying ballet. It turns out she was on her way to meet her older brother when they kidnapped her. He gave chase, but they escaped. Now the man is trying to find her."

"Those idiots! I hope Skull teaches them a lesson." Gamo flipped a page over on the clipboard. His face brighten up. "Ah... good choice for the design. I talked to research and development and they finally made that breakthrough with the artificial eyes. No wonder they want to assign this new test subject... 003... enhanced senses. You know, she'd make the perfect spy."

"We only are working on combat models, Doctor. It doesn't matter what their temperament. Skull wants to prove that all humans can be converted and made into useful, powerful tools."

"I'll be along shortly." Gamo handed the clipboard back to the man in the white lab coat and turned back to Ivan. "You better make up your mind to obey me!"

Ivan continued going through the motions of being an alert, happy, ordinary baby as he reached out to find the girl. The details about her that he had plucked from the scientist's mind were not promising at all. It might be a kindness to giver her a hemorrhage on the flight in.

When he located her mind, he probed deeply and was alarmed at what they had done. To make her into a cyborg would be more cruel than what they had done to him. The only grace was that she would not be a combat model. Only one thing stopped Ivan from killing her outright, her maternal instincts were very strong. He would need that. He carefully bolstered them on her flight in, before locking them away. It wouldn't due for her to act overly maternal in front of the scientists.

After protecting her most important asset, he next had to ensure she could survive. Discipline was useful, as was her love for her brother. He quickly bolstered both of them. She needed purpose to survive. Finally, he muted her natural sensitivity so she would be able to do what was necessary. Blocking it would be too risky, and would give away his manipulations, but it could not remain at its current level.

Ivan monitored her the rest of the way while he reviewed the plans for her new body. He gave one of the scientists a little inspiration on the senses to further optimize them. It wouldn't due for his new guardian to let things slip by while he was "asleep."

"Need I say that the 001 test subject is quickly becoming your greatest embarrassment, Doctor?" An older woman with her hair pulled back and pinched features waved a finger at Ivan's apparently sleeping face. "Skull wants to know what progress you've made."

"He's only refusing to use his powers in our tests because he's willful. I tell you, I don't know how far his powers have grown. He's found ways to manipulate the computers."

:Aww, you figured out I can play with the computers! You get a cookie!:

"I have to scoff at your assertion that the Black Ghost's computer monitoring systems are fallible. Accept the blame rightfully yours and sign to have this project... terminated."

Gamo glared at the woman and leaned towards her. "No one is destroying my ultimate creation! I worked hard on his brain enhancements. It wasn't my fault the mother was an interfering cow! He got it from her!"

:Actually, "Dad", I think I get it from you. After all, you killed her. Besides, it's obvious that you're being quite stubborn as well.: Ivan telekinetically goosed the woman while she was looking at the bland monitor read-outs.

The pinched faced woman had a flash of nervousness cross her face. She schooled her expression to it's former sourness and thrust a clipboard at him. He took and studied the papers while she scrutinized Ivan.

"This is your concern now. The fourth test subject is on its way."

"Good! I need another challenge."

"This is challenging. You see, our men over in Berlin have taken advantage of the latest events over there."

"The new wall? How foolish my Mother Russia is. It'll only be a matter of time before the Black Ghost dominates the entire world because of the mutual distrust and war between countries."

"This one is a German national. He's older than the 002 and the 003 models."

"I see. Thirty years old, not terrible, but the fact that they already had to amputate his arm on the way over is bad. All this trauma."

"He was trying to sneak a woman into West Berlin. When the communist guards tried to stop them, there was an accident. She died at the scene so our men left her. There was enough material that wasn't crushed in the wreck to work with. They recommend him for the armor and heavy ammunitions because several internal organs will need replacement. He was in excellent health so I think his chances of surviving such a radical cyborgization will be good enough. I gave my approval to that order."

"I haven't finished the programming for the targeting systems."

"Well finish it! Skull has given us only an extra week on this one. Money is getting tight so we need to work fast or all of our hard work will be down the drain."

"Yes, ma'am," Gamo snarled and thrust the clipboard back at her. She walked out of the room and slammed the door. Gamo turned to Ivan. "I hope you're happy! If you don't start proving your worth, Skull will throw us out! Then what? What's the use! You are just like that woman!" With that, Gamo swirled and stormed out of the room.

Ivan quickly found the newest recruit to the macabre experiment. He cursed the Black Ghost for being so stupid as to arm someone who would wake up grieving the loss of his wife. Were they trying to create a monster running amok? Wasn't he causing them enough issues?

Ivan reviewed the data on the planned procedure and decided that this might be the perfect time-bomb. Ivan carefully locked away every emotion attached to the man's wife. The nascent grief, the love, the affection, the warmth, the agony. Every single emotion associated with his lovely wife was locked into a tiny, inaccessible box. He then carefully rearranged a few associations so that when it was unlocked, at the right time, of course, it wouldn't overwhelm him with grief and rage.

"Good morning, 001. My name is Doctor Gilmore."

Ivan looked over at the brown haired scientist dressed in a crisp white lab coat. He looked to be in his mid-twenties. He was carrying a clipboard. No sign of his father or any other scientist. This was the first time Ivan had sensed a scientist walking around the base alone.

"I'm here to examine your progress and make recommendations to the Black Ghost. I read over all your father's work so I know you can understand what I'm saying."

Ivan didn't bother to respond. Instead he went into Gilmore's mind and took an assessment of the man. He immediately learned that this young scientist had been lied to. Gamo had told Gilmore that Ivan had been born mentally retarded and had no chance at survival except by the surgery and chemicals administered.

Gilmore had also been told that Ivan's mother had tragically died of pneumonia and Gamo had played the part of a desperate, grieving father willing to do anything to save his son. Gilmore had been so moved by the lie he had came over to Ivan's nursery to see if there was anything he could do to help advance the cause, even though it was against regulations to not have an escort at all times.

Ivan could tell this man was brilliant and idealistic. He had believed the Black Ghost's propaganda about helping advance humanity and alleviate suffering. The Black Ghost had been desperate to get this man on board because, as Ivan could tell, he had an enormous IQ.

Ivan could also tell Gilmore didn't know about the other three cyborgs. Ivan had been mentally keeping tabs on the three others because this was the day they were going to be thrown into their field test. It would be the first time the Black Ghost let them meet and interact together so this was a crucial moment for Ivan's plan. It was also the first time the three of them would be taken off their drug cocktails so their minds would have independent thought.

Ivan had already seen the plans of the testing grounds in Doctor Gamo's mind. It was a large forest with small transmitters in a square perimeter. These transmitters would send out a painful shock to any cyborg that wondered too close, but leave flora and fauna undisturbed.

"You know, I thought it would be nice to just get a quick peek at you while I had the chance. It would seem Doctor Gamo, understandably so, has become distressed over your progress, so the Black Ghost thought I might be able to coax you out of you shell."

:Doctor Gilmore, I have no time for a chat right now.: Ivan's mind reached out to the three cyborgs across the island. Frances was starting to wake up; she was panicked. She was running and calling out for her brother. Her calls brought Jet around.

"That's amazing! Telepathy. Never in my dreams did I think I would have a chance to be a part of something so wonderful."

Ivan felt Jet get up and start moving towards Frances. Their minds were simultaneously startled as they laid eyes on one another for the first time.

:So wonderful? Doctor Gilmore, I really believe you need to do more research into the Black Ghost organization.:

Frances was asking Jet who he was, why they were here, where her brother was. Jet was shaking his head at her and telling her that he didn't understand what she was saying. The flaw in Ivan's plan was there. Without communication, they wouldn't be effective. He quickly sensed that Albert, who knew both English and French, was close to them but still quite groggy. Ivan triggered a spike of adrenaline to help Albert get moving. They would need him for this little mission.

"They said you weren't talkative at all, but you seem cooperative. They also say you're quite brilliant. I see you have a chessboard over here. How about a little game?" Gilmore asked dragging a table beside Ivan's plastic cradle. The man set the pieces up and pushed the white side towards Ivan. "Come on, your move."

:If you insist.: Ivan considered blocking the cameras from accurately recording the events in the room, but decided he'd had enough of dealing with "Dad." Embarrassing Gamo would be more useful, and bring Gilmore around more often.

Ivan telekinetically moved a pawn forward as he continued to monitor the other three. They had opened fire on Jet and Frances. Thanks to the adrenaline boost, Albert was able to tackle them to the ground in time. Frances and Jet were shocked at Albert's appearance, but came around when more danger presented itself.

Things were going well for Ivan, but he would have to place the idea for a translation device to be implanted in their brains. After all, wouldn't it improve the combat efficiency if they could communicate seamlessly? Besides, his father would be arrogant enough to believe he came up with the idea all on his own.

"You know, 001, I have a feeling we'll become good friends."

:I have no doubt of that, Doctor Gilmore.: Ivan borrowed a few processing cycles from a nearby computer to finish decimating Doctor Gilmore while he maintained his attention on the struggles of the other cyborgs. With Albert acting as translator, they resolved most of the communication problems. Their new issue was simple: they didn't know their own abilities.

Frances was having issues dealing with her new senses. She assumed her weird perceptions were a result of her drugged state, so she kept flinching from things that were distant, and reacting to the discussions of the men who were sniping at them from tall towers.

Jet was also having difficulties. The rush-job on his flight program resulted in an erratic performance. His acceleration device flaked in and out. He would have been shot twice if the soldiers he appeared in front of hadn't been so startled by his sudden presence. As far as flying went; the snipers only let him get ten feet in the air before they stunned him. He fell hard towards the ground, stood up, and shook off the pain.

Albert was the most effective of the three, mainly because he was acting to protect Frances out of sympathetic affection for her. He had let his wife die, he wouldn't let this woman die at the hands of soldiers as well. That, along with their ability to directly communicate, enabled Frances to guide his artillery strikes effectively.

As the last robotic cannon exploded, remote-controlled drug injection devices doped them up again. Ivan felt them go unconscious and fall to the ground.

Doctor Gilmore woke with a start. He'd just had the most horrible nightmare. Ivan quickly spoke into his mind, :Don't speak out loud. Just think your answers.:


:That's right. I just showed you how Doctor Gamo actually killed my mother. I can still remember from before he operated on me. There was nothing wrong with me, just as there was nothing wrong with the other three cyborgs in this facility.:

:Other three? I was told you were the only one!:

:Come now, Doctor. How do you think military weapons are developed? You create prototypes with a variety of specifications, and then mass produce the best models. Mind you, finding volunteers for becoming a cyborg isn't that easy.:

:001, what are you talking about?:

Ivan felt some irritation as he was forced to reroute the video feed of the other three cyborgs to Doctor Gilmore's video screen in his private bedroom. The grainy image of the three came into focus. Albert and Frances sat side-by-side, his arm over her shoulders while she sobbed into her delicate hands. Jet knelt close by and patted her head. He gave Albert a hard, defiant look and said, "How do we get out of here?"

"I know as much as you, but we must figure something out. You got here before me, if you say this happened to you in July. Was there anyone else?"

"I think it's just the three of us. This is the craziest nightmare. I just want it all to fricking end! I mean... why us?"

"I don't know, but we'll leave. Tomorrow," Albert promised in English.

"I just want to back home and see Jean-Paul again and leave this all behind," Frances said after quiting her tears.

"Let me guess, she wants to get out of here too?" Jet asked. He was starting to pick out meaning from her French.


"But where can we go... like we are? We're nothing but freaks. They had no right to mutilate us like this and then make us fight for our lives. They're sick, twisted mother fu..."

"I know, but let me ask you if you have a home to go to?" Albert asked.

The teenage boy flushed and shook his head.

"Neither do I. She has a home so we can at least make sure she gets back and then we can figure out where to go so we're not so obvious. You can blend in, but I'll have some difficulty." Albert raised his metallic hand. Jet smirked and shook his head.

"I'll swipe you a pair of gloves when we get out of here. You know, her crying gave me an idea. Guys always hate to see a girl in trouble. Even some of these jerks." Jet hitched his thumb toward seven guards engrossed in a poker game.

Albert returned his smirk. "I like the way you think, 002." The screen went static; Gilmore was left utterly shocked.

Ivan showed Doctor Gilmore the video of the first test the cyborgs experienced just to drive the point home. :Do they look happy to you? I didn't think so. Unfortunately, as you can see from their last test, they aren't strong enough to survive right now. Neither am I. I just haven't developed enough stamina to help them escape or even really take care of myself. I intend to destroy this evil organization using its own tools. I can't save these three from their fate, but I hope to save the world from their fate one day when I am stronger. Will you play along until we can all get out of here?:

:Are you kidding? I'm quitting now! I refuse to help bring monstrosities like that into the world! Those poor, pitiful people!:

:In that case, I'll send carnations to your funeral, Doctor. You can't quit. You're on an island, and the Black Ghost will just use you for their next test.: Ivan brought up video feeds of other Doctors' "retirements" along with the resignations they'd proffered. :I suggest you play along. Oh, and they won't be happy if you "know" more than you're supposed to.: Ivan let himself smile as he sensed the good doctor resignedly acquiesce.

Ivan tuned in the three cyborgs' minds as they were lead out to their training ground. Excitement, nervousness, and loathing tainted all three of their thoughts as they quietly waited for the exact moment to come.

Just as the guard deactivated the shock transmitters, Frances dropped to the ground in a pretend faint. The seven guards all looked towards Frances, which gave Jet enough time to knock three of them out and Albert enough time to threaten the other four with his mechanical hand.

Ivan lost all respect for the Black Ghost organizations' hiring practices as the three cyborgs made their way to the south side of the hidden island where the boats were kept. They would really have to invest in a higher caliber of goon if they ever hoped to succeed in their quest for world domination. Ivan mentally sighed and figured it would be solely up to him to keep them on the island.

The problem with them escaping now was three-fold. First, they had forgotten him! They couldn't be allowed to escape without him, or he'd be stuck here forever. Second, despite this initial escape, all it really did was show how sloppy Black Ghost was. If they got away, it would result in vastly heightened security and make escape that much more challenging. The Black Ghost would only get more dangerous with the experience. It simply wouldn't do for them to leave now and the Black Ghost to get wiser from the experience.

Thirdly, the three of them were entirely too unprepared and weakened from their ordeals to get through all the defenses the Black Ghost had set around the island. Ivan knew they wouldn't even last an hour out at sea before the floating mines would destroy them. At least if he kept them on the island for now they would have a real and safe chance at escape when the opportunity was truly available.

Ivan prodded the minds of the soldiers on the dock to look at the direction Frances, Jet, and Albert were coming from. They brought their guns to bear and took cover as the three hit the edge of the dock. Soldiers came pouring from the forest and then the three of them were shot with tranquilizers and dragged back to base.

He knew this was going to start the process of "Big Freeze." The Black Ghost scientists had whispered about it for two weeks now. Ivan had found out from Gilmore that the Black Ghost was running low on resources and needed time to rebuild, a long amount of time.

Not only that, each of the cyborgs still had minor flaws in their initial designs that Skull wasn't pleased with. He wanted more progressive technology to be developed before any more test subjects were taken into custody and turned into cyborgs. From what Ivan overheard, Skull was pleased enough with this first set of three that he wanted them fine tuned when the technology was ready.

This was a step in the right direction for Ivan's plans. If the four of them were put in cryogenic sleep, it would give him time to introduce himself and orient them. He would ensure that his mind stayed fully active, of course, and aware of his surroundings at all times. He would make use of Doctor Gilmore to handle the minor details.

Fifty long years passed like five days for the frozen cyborgs. It was enough time for Ivan to establish telepathic contact between them, make a plan, and gain their trust all while their bodies slept. During most of that time, the Black Ghost organization merely performed research, perfecting the acceleration device and inventing other technologies that would prove useful.

Finally, test subjects started arriving again. Ivan told Jet, Frances, and Albert about it while they still slept. He didn't make contact with the new ones, he only observed. There was not much else Ivan could do until they were unfrozen.

First, an insanely strong cyborg was created. Then a fire breather was made. These were followed by a shape-shifter, a super-swimmer, and finally the acceleration device was installed. Ivan had plenty of time to alert each new cyborg to his plans... all except 009. Jet, Frances, and Albert had been awake for a week when it was time to go into action.

Joe was disoriented, to say the least. Ivan had to guide him every step of the way. Once he was with the others, it was critical to destroy as much of the Black Ghost's equipment and weapons as possible. They would need time to get to know each other before Black Ghost started pursuing them, or they wouldn't function as a team.

The battle was pathetically easy, but challenging enough to solidify everyone's sense that they were a team, and needed to stick together. Ivan had to exercise restraint to not wipe out all the opponents himself. It was to his advantage to let the others think he was weak, that he could function only infrequently.

Ivan closed the memories off and refocused on the present. Frances was trying to kick Jet's shins while he laughed at her. Albert held her around the waist so she couldn't advance on the redheaded cyborg. At the same time Albert was yelling at Jet to stop mocking her. Yes, it was definitely time for a team building exercise. After all, the Black Ghost could use a slight hint at finding their location.

The End.