"…And so I propose we channel more resources into the day care program. If we do that, the children could be used more effectively and…"

It was always like this. 'How can we use this?' Followed by a thousand reasons why it couldn't be worth it. With her brain, Astrid could almost predict the things they were going to say.

It could be argued that this council wasn't even worth it; that a dictator would be more effective in deciding matters. She knew they needed laws, and fairness in governmental decision, but she had to agree with Sam on this one thing; things took forever when there wasn't much to be gained from siding with one another. Especially with the snack food provided courtesy of Quinn to all the representatives.

She was about to raise a point that child labor was a morally wrong concept, even if it could possibly lead to more food for all, when a loud banging on the doors to the building was heard, cutting the speaker off in mid sentence.

"Astrid, there're people here to see the council." Jack said.

"And the council will see them at this meetings conclusion." She replied while turning her attention back to the group.

"No, Astrid, you don't understand. They're from the islands."

Albert immediately rose to his feet and called out, "What?"

"The islands I believe he said Albert, and they probably didn't bring batteries or a form of money. Please take your seat." Astrid said. She could hear more than muttering behind her as she went to the door.

She looked at Jack, then the thirty or so faces staring at her. "Where is Sam?" She asked in a whisper.

"They're bringing up the rear. What are we going to do with them?" He replied, pointing toward the crowd.

"Might I suggest we introduce ourselves when we requisition a home?" One of them, the apparent leader, said.

It was said in such a way that, through the feeling of unease, Astrid could only half say half mutter, "Of course. Right this way."

The party approached the center of the room, in front of all the delegates. Their leader stepped forward and said, "My name is Morpheus. It would be very good if you could give my friends and I a place to reside. Preferably a large one so that we can accommodate all present."

"Do the others have names?" One of the more short tempered delegates asked.

"Of course, this is-"

"I'd prefer it if they talked for themselves, just so we know you didn't buy them off the street and pay for Jack's loyalty."

"I don't know how that would prove I didn't," he said, making the speaker's face go a deep red, "but if you insist upon it. Alucard, move them into order."

The tallest one, Alucard, began arranging them in order unknown to any. It may have been an order that would be most convenient to get a point across, because it looked too rehearsed for something bought this morning.

"As you have seen, I am Alucard." He said bowing his head slightly and getting back into the line at the farthest left point.

One of the girls walked forward. She had an heir of confidence unseen by those trapped in the starving world for too long. "My name is Kate." She said bowing her head in the same fashion as Alucard had before.






They all did the same thing. Step forward, bow, name, back up. It was almost mechanical. They all seemed strange in some unidentifiable way except two. One of the girls in line, Mockingbird, definitely wasn't biologically a girl, but other than that, she couldn't pick up more than foreboding. And the boy who advanced next. He would be burned into Astrid's mind for a while. He was strange in very many ways. She just noticed it, but he hadn't blinked since arriving. He was bald, and he had odd markings on his head.

"Strings." He said in a barely audible whisper.

Then came the children. Astrid hardly paid attention, probably to evaluate what was odd about everyone and what was going on with the last boy. It grabbed her attention when Morpheus' voice brought her back to the present, what she assumed was, minutes later. "Do we have our house then?"

"We must discuss it, but it seems like it would be fine." Astrid said. It was like she wasn't in her proper state of mind today. She just kept agreeing with him; wanting to give him what he desired.

"Astrid, are you insane?" Albert asked standing immediately, "we hardly know him. He could be trying to get food, people, what have you and get out."

"I assure you I can be trusted." Morpheus said with a small smile crossing his lips. "If you want to test me, put me, or should I say, us on a probationary period. It should solve all of this."

Albert sat back immediately watching his entire argument dissolve with little effort. It was the rule of the FAYZ; you sound grown up enough, people will follow you for comfort, no matter how unreasonable the request.

"We'll put this to vote then. If you could just wait outside until we finish it would be greatly appreciated." Astrid said.

"Of course Astrid, come then children." He said. He began ushering out the children. Those he had introduced first were the only ones left with him as the last child shuffled out the door.

"Oh, I forgot to mention, are any of you... with Power?" Astrid said with a little hesitance.

"Everyone but the younger kids, why?"

"Just watch out for anyone calling themselves Human Crew. They'll try to kill you."

"Good to know." He muttered as he left the room.


"Do we get to rough up this, Human Crew, sir?" Asked Alucard.

"Only if we see them, we can't pick fights too early now. It would be bad for the plan." Morpheus replied.

"If we do see them," Xander said, "than I want at least one."

"Should we tell them why we were on the island in the first place?" Kate asked.

"We should save that story for another time I think. We'll stick to an interfamily camping trip. That sounds harmless enough, right?" Morpheus asked.

Everyone began laughing in a hair raising, spine tingling way.

"I should really count them, just in case someone else has." Morpheus said to himself.

"We have your answer." Someone called from the courthouse.

"We'll be right there." Morpheus called back. When they went back in, older kids only, he had left four more islanders than they came into the courthouse for the first time with.