Prologue

Echo looked around the room with a world weariness she was pretty sure she could pull off now that it was the apocalypse and she was starting to get a gray streak in her hair. "I don't have to tell you how important this is. If these frequencies aren't monitored for the next forty-eight hours, we may never know where the limits of Neuropolis surveillance are. The fate of the world could be at stake here. We're all counting on you." She turned to leave, then paused. "Any questions?"

"Yeah," said Paul Ballard. "I still don't understand how only this room can monitor the frequencies while staying a tech blind spot, out of the entire Dollhouse."

"Paul, you know I can't begin to understand the details on this type of stuff," said Echo. "Topher said it was only safe for everyone if the operation was done in this room."

"Topher also said he had personally been to Narnia," Alpha pointed out, at the same time Paul protested, "Everyone?"

"In the same breath," Alpha added. "What he said was, 'You two have to stay locked in that room and monitor frequencies for forty-eight hours, and I have personally been to Narnia.' I'm not one to judge crazy, but I think Topher's just a tiny bit less reliable than he used to be."

"I agree," agreed Paul.

"That very rarely happens. Which coincidentally is another reason we shouldn't be locked in here together," said Alpha.

"Also, he killed me."

Alpha scoffed. "Just your brain, and let's face it-"

"I'm not changing my mind about this!" interjected Echo, and marched out of the room. The two men looked on hopelessly as the thick door to what had pre-apocalyptically been the handlers' lounge slammed shut.

After a few seconds, Paul said under his breath, "She hasn't locked the door. She's still out there. There's still time."

Both men bolted towards the door.

"Hey, Priya," came Echo's voice.

They almost literally skidded to a halt.

"Hi, Echo," replied the Australian woman, sounding like she might be holding back laughter.

"You know what's probably the least sexy thing in the entire world?" said Echo.

"I don't know, mucus? Hawaiian shirts? Robot fetishes?"

"Complaining," Echo said pointedly, and louder than was necessary for a casual conversation.

Alpha and Paul backed away from the door. There followed the distinct sound of it locking, followed by what was possibly a high five, and probably muffled laughter.