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FURYBOOK6 video recording the DNA warhead


BOOK II. Middle Game.

- o - o - o -

The Senator and Scott breathed a long, hard sigh of relief as the
pursuing Guild agents ran past. They heard a brief exchange of gunfire
and then silence descended on them. After the violence of the past few
hours the silence was welcome, and yet disquieting. The Senator
wanted to peer outside the door but Scott warned against it. So far
they had been forgotten and they might just stay that way. So they
waited in silence, almost afraid to breathe.

A loud cheer shattered the quiet as surely as any gunshot and this made
Scott nervous. A few minutes later the same Guild agent who'd sent
them on their mission walked thru the door. His catsuit was torn but
the gleam in his eyes said it all. He was on the winning side. "Thank
you," his voice boomed.

"What?" Scott queried.

The agent's voice had a sound of triumph "Your efforts helped us secure
Hassan's personal office. From there we could issue false orders and
thus hasten our victory. You are heroes. We are sorry for your friend
but her death had meaning. Her sacrifice will be talked about in the
Guild for a hundred years. Once we have cleaned up here you are free
to go, we will give you the papers you need to get back to your country
and we will arrange a flight back to New York."

Scott's heart soared, at last he was getting out of this hell hole and back
to his loved ones. It seemed almost a lifetime ago that the evil Dr
Bexley took him. In reality it was a lifetime ago that his life had
changed, maybe for good. Scott was starting to feel a little depressed
again as his thoughts wandered back to his wife when the Senator
grabbed his delicate hand and said "Come on, cheer up, we're going

The Guild agent interrupted and said, "Not just yet. You are to go to
this address in Manhattan and wait. You are not to talk to your family
or friends until you go there. If you do not do this you will never be
back to how you were before."

Scott grew angry at this response, "Who the hell do you think you are?
Telling me what I can and can't do. Who will we meet at this place
that'll help us."

The Guild agent ignored the first part of the threat and simply replied
"Dr Elizabeth Bexley will meet you there. That is all I know."

Ignoring Scott's evil glare the Guild agent fished inside his catsuit and
gave the Senator a folded piece of paper and a key, he then turned and
walked out.

- o - o - o -

The Guild commander stood over the sobbing Matthew and looked at
Elizabeth's limp form, "She died well," was his only comment as he
turned away and started to survey the damage around him.

Matthew couldn't believe that Elizabeth was dead. He knew that each
change used a lot of energy and that sooner or later she would hit the
limit of what her body could stand but this was unreal. It wasn't like
Elizabeth to have miscalculated something this big, not like her at all.
His mind flashed back to the conversation they'd had in the
communications room. What was it she'd said, ' With what I have
planned next I might not. The only thing that can kill me is myself.'

Matthew sighed once more. Elizabeth had known something like this
could happen. That's why she'd told him to go to New York and wait
for Salah. In her last few moments alive she'd given him the chance to
be turned back. She had fulfilled her promise, and now in death she had
redeemed herself the only way she knew how.

There was still a nagging doubt at the back of Matthew's mind, maybe it
was disbelief or maybe it was something else. People like Elizabeth just
didn't die. She'd have had a backup plan for just this contingency, her
changeling organ was too perfect and she was too fastidious to let
herself be killed by overloading her system. Besides during the Fury
she'd covered every aspect of her plan and built in multiple failsafes. It
was only a lucky break that had eventually stopped her. When, he
decided Elizabeth was in control of a situation then very little happened
that she didn't wish to happen. She would KNOW the state her body
was in. She wasn't some amateur in the use of changeling organ. She
knew every aspect of it and every way it could be used. After all she
was nothing if not, inventive in using it. Creating wings for herself to
fly out to him, the poison dart weapons, being able to heal major
wounds without effect to herself, and finally the four armed killing
machine that had ripped it's way thru Hassan's elite forces like a hot
knife thru butter. Elizabeth didn't give up, didn't slow down she was
inexorable and when push came to shove a survivor. A thought struck
Matthew, and he gently placed her body on the ground and stood up.

"Hey, someone get me a doctor," he called out.

Matthew repeated the call for a few minutes when the Guild commander
came running in. "What is it?" he demanded.

"I want Dr Bexley checked by a doctor. I need to know if she is really
dead," Matthew asked.

"I will see what I can find. We owe her much," the commander said and
walked away.

Matthew had to wait for two hours, not knowing if he was right or not.
He stared at Elizabeth's seemingly lifeless body, looking for the slightest
sign that she was alive. To the naked eye, and to the touch Elizabeth
appeared dead.

Matthew's train of thought was interrupted by a tall lanky figure walking
into the room. With him he carried a large bag marked with a red
Cross and he had the air of command about him. He bent down and
said to Matthew, "Quiet, I need to listen."

Matthew waited with baited breath as the doctor examined Elizabeth in
great detail. The doctor then gave a nod and stood up.

Unable to wait any longer Matthew asked, "Is she?"

The doctor's brown eyes looked right into Matthew's and said, "She is
alive but barely. See! She is still warm to the touch. I can detect very
little heart rate, maybe one or two beats per minute, and her respiration
is almost non existent. She is in a state of almost complete metabolic
shutdown; it's as though she is clinging onto life as by a thread. She
needs more help than I can give her. Wait with her. We will get her to
a hospital."

Matthew was stunned, he was so sure that he'd detected no pulse at all.
One beat a minute! That WAS no pulse at all. What the hell was going
on inside Elizabeth?

The doctor picked up on Matthew's confused look and explained, "I can
offer no explanation for this, only that she needs proper treatment.
Now wait here. There is no time to drive her to a hospital, we will have
to fly her. We owe her much, now we pay some back."

Within twenty minutes Matthew and Elizabeth were in a chopper flying
towards Adelaide General Hospital.

- o - o - o -

"You can't be Kat?" Tina exclaimed.

"Why not?"

Tina eyed Salah suspiciously, "Because you're dead. Cathline and
Matthew Stephens saw you die. Besides you had cancer."

Kat sighed, "Just because I look like Salah doesn't mean to say I am
him. As to what happened to me during the last year. That is, shall we
say a long story. Besides it's time we blew this joint and get outta here.
If all's gone well then Elizabeth's time bomb is about to go off and the
Guild will be finished. With all due respect, I want to go home.

Tina smiled, somehow she felt drawn to this mysterious stranger known
as 'Kat' ,"What about Cathline? She needs medical attention"

"We'll take her to the local ER and then we go to New York. There's
someone coming there, who I've been waiting to meet," tears formed in
Kat's eyes as she thought of seeing Matthew again.

"You're talking about Matthew Stephens right?"

Kat nodded, "Yeah. It seems we have spent more time apart than
together. We've been married for nearly five years and only a week of
that has been 'normal'. Still it's nearly over. Come on give me hand
with Cathline, I'm sure she's put on weight since I last saw her."

"She'd thump you for saying that," Tina smiled.

"She would too," Kat smiled back.

- o - o - o -

The stretcher team was waiting at the helipad as the chopper came into
land. As soon as the wind from the spinning rotors had died down they
rushed in and put Elizabeth's seemingly lifeless body on a gurney,
attached an oxygen mask to her face, and wheeled her away from the

Matthew ran after them and was about to go into the ER room when he
was stopped by a nurse, "I'm sorry miss, you can't go in there."

"Why not! She's very important to me. I need her, hell the whole world
needs her."

The nurse sighed, it'd been a long day, "Please, can you give me her
name She looks a lot like Rachel Martin but she's been missing for

Matthew really didn't want to open up this can of worms but it had to
come out sooner or later. "She's not Rachel Martin. Her name is Dr
Elizabeth Anne Bexley, and mine is Matthew Stephens."

The nurse raised an eyebrow. Either the young woman standing
opposite her was stark raving mad or she was telling the truth. Mind
you the young Woman did look familiar but why would she be bringing
Dr Bexley in for emergency treatment? They were mortal enemies as far
as she could remember. The nurse decided to call the police after she'd
dealt with the woman in front of her. Her response was simply, "Ok.
Why don't you sit down over there The doctor will call for you when
he's ready."

Matthew saw a free seat in the waiting area and sat down. At least
Elizabeth was still alive, albeit only just, but that was enough for
Matthew. His spirits rose as he thought that he was now free of the
Guild and on his way home. Matthew refused to allow himself to hope
that Kat was alive -- he felt that if he dwelt on that too much, then all
the pain and hurt of the last year would come flooding back. Memories
now dulled by time would become razor sharp once more, and would
only serve to break his heart once more. The same went for Elizabeth's
promise to turn him back, he did believe her intent. But would she have
the know-how?

Instead, his thoughts wandered back to the Guild. By now Elizabeth
would have uploaded the entire Guild database to the world and slowly
but surely the purging of Guild agents from their positions of power
would begin. All around the world such and such a figure would be
asked to step down, face prison or worse. The full extent of Guild
atrocities over the past few centuries would be exposed for all to see.
Matthew allowed himself a smile, Elizabeth was right, the Guild WAS
finished. Sure, a few would get away but like the Nazi party after the
Second World War their numbers, and influence would slowly dwindle
away. When they got the disks to the government and the truth and
motives behind the attack on Tel-Aviv were exposed the Guild would
have nowhere to hide. Matthew once again marvelled at Elizabeth's
plan. She was a Trojan horse within a Trojan horse. While working to
get rid of Hassan she'd been working towards the Guild's downfall.

A worrying thought struck Matthew and his good mood was shattered.
The Guild would soon know about Elizabeth's double cross, and boy,
would they be pissed. He had never met this Salah, who Elizabeth was
in league with but he was sure he wouldn't take betrayal lightly. He'd
seen the Guild in action against each other and knew that he'd have little
chance against even one of them. Elizabeth, assuming she lived thru
this, might just win, but where would that leave him?

Matthew thought a little longer and then realized that Elizabeth must
have thought all this thru. The destruction of the Guild would take
months, if not years to work thru and she couldn't count on being able
to hide all her 'friends' for that long. Whatever Elizabeth's solution was,
it was probably already in place and only she knew about it. The
answers Matthew wanted to know were laying in a hospital bed, near to
death and unable to help. Yet again, Matthew was at the mercy of Dr
Elizabeth Bexley.

- o - o - o -

Kat looked at the ER doctor, concern showing in her face, "Is she ok?"

The doctor nodded, "Yeah Rachel Martin will be just fine. It's a fucking
shame about her eye though. Whoever patched it up didn't do a bad job

Tina interrupted, "When can we speak to her?"

The doctor turned to Tina and replied, "She should be awake in a
couple of hours. We've administered a sedative and put her on a drip to
help her body recover. Speaking of such you really ought to get
checked out yourself."

Tina shrugged, "I'll be fine, say, when will the cavalry be here?"

"If you mean the feds? Oh about an hour."

Tina nodded her satisfaction and turned to see Kat's anxious looking
face, "I'm sure it'll be ok. You did rescue us after all."

Kat paused for a few moments and then replied, "Yeah I know. It's just
that we're on a tight deadline here. I'm not sure if we can afford to be
grilled by any passing FBI agent. We still have Israel to stop and
millions of lives depend on us. Now I was never privy to what Hassan
and Osman were scheming, but I do know that what happened to Tel-
Aviv was just the catalyst. We will wait until Cathline is able to walk
and then we go. This isn't over yet, not by a long way."

"Are you always so upbeat?" Tina asked.

Kat gave a smile, "I used to be, now I see only what will be. We have a
week at the most before it all goes straight to hell. When it's all over
then I'll be upbeat again."

A few things puzzled Tina. Why did Kat pretend to be Salah? What
was Dr Bexley really up to, and more importantly was Scott still alive.
Kat caught her circumspect look and guessed what she was thinking.
"I'll explain everything later on. Just let's say that I trust Dr Bexley and
that I'm sure Scott can take care of himself. In the meantime I'm Salah
to anyone but Cathline and yourself."

- o - o - o -

Scott and the Senator boarded the plane and sat down in the non-
smoking section. Scott still felt alien in his new body, the clothes felt
strange, the voice was strange, and every man on the plane gave his
comely form the once over. If the senator was concerned he didn't
show it. However the relief of going home was shared by both of them.
The plane took off an hour later and soon was cruising at altitude.
Scott gave a deep, womanly sigh. Home was only ten hours away.

For his part the senator was deep in thought. Clearly, he and Scott
were pawns in a larger game, but who was the grandmaster now that
Hassan was gone. He suspected that this Salah was behind it, but
clearly this Dr Bexley had some influence on proceedings. More
worrying was the Guild activities with the changeling organs. Of course
if he had been his normal self he could have gone right back and
exposed the whole thing and been taken seriously. Now, in his
secretary's body -- with no easy proof to say he was who he said he
was. The task was much more difficult than he first thought. The
president would believe him and that, he decided was the only chance of
exposing the whole deal.

- o - o - o -

A tap on the shoulder interrupted Matthew's introspective thoughts. He
looked up to see two cops standing above him, one man, and the other a
smaller brunette woman. The woman cop was saying, "Excuse me miss
, we need to speak to you."

This threw Matthew a little but he then realised that the nurse must have
called them. They did have Dr Bexley in custody after all. All Matthew
could say was "Sure?"

"We'd like you to come to the station to help us understand what is
going on," The man demanded.

"Why? I want to stay here, with Elizabeth," Matthew replied.

"From what the doctor tells me she's not going anywhere. Hey you can
relax, you haven't done anything. We just need to know how come
Matthew Stephens is suddenly Dr Elizabeth Bexley's best buddy in the
whole world."

Matthew sighed, he didn't really have any choice so he stood up and
went with the two officers. The station was about a half-hour drive
away and a burley cop showed him to the interview room. The door
was closed and Matthew sat down to wait.

The two officers who'd brought him in stood watching Matthew from
behind one way glass. The man turned to his partner and said, "Jill, I
dunno, she sure looks like Matthew Stephens."

Jill shrugged, "Me too Shane. We'll soon know. If she's got tattoo's all
over then it's him, and if not we hold her until we find out."

Shane looked at Matthew for a few more seconds and then asked, "Who
do you think she really brought in? It can't be Dr Bexley can it?"

Jill's face looked blank, "No idea. The last anyone heard of Dr Bexley
was that she was swimming around in the Indian Ocean. If it IS her we
need to hold her until she can be deported. Have you contacted

"Yeah, I've got her complete file coming thru in about an hour, but from
what I heard she's one nasty bitch."

Jill thought for a moment. They couldn't hold Matthew Stephens, if it
was him, indefinitely. They would either have to charge him or let him
go. First things first. Check if it really was Matthew Stephens or an
impostor. "I'll go in and check her story out. We can hold her for
impersonation if she's lying."

Shane agreed. It was the best plan they had so far.

Jill went to her desk and picked up a tape recorder, checked that it had
two tapes in and that it was in working order. She then signed the chit
giving her responsibility for it. She walked around to the heavy cell
door, unlocked it and walked inside. From his vantage point, behind
one way glass, Shane could see and hear everything that went on inside
the cell.

Matthew was by now getting a little bored. He'd been waiting around
here for what seemed like an age and was getting nowhere fast, so when
Jill walked in it was a relief. Of course this was all part of Jill's strategy
but then Matthew didn't know that.

"Hello again," Jill said plugging the tape recorder into a nearby socket.

"Hi. Look when am I getting out of this place?" Matthew demanded.

"Hold on a sec," Jill fumbled with the tape player until it started
recording. "That's better. This is inspector Jill Spencer serial number
165432 interviewing a woman who claims to be Matthew Stephens.
The purpose of the interview is to determine her identity and to
ascertain if the woman currently being treated at Adelaide General is
indeed Dr Elizabeth Bexley." The set piece delivered, Jill became more
relaxed. It was important to get the subject at ease. Matthew just sat
opposite and waited.

Jill brushed her blonde fringe back from her eyes and started to speak,
"First things first. I need you to prove to me that you are Matthew
Stephens. According to news reports you've been missing for some

Matthew thought for a second, "That's easy. When Dr Bexley was
turning me into her she made me have a large hydra tattooed over my
body. I can show you if you want."

Jill was happy at this. The woman had passed the first test with flying
colors, "Please."

Matthew undid his catsuit top to reveal his full, firm bosom. Just above
the cup on each breast Jill saw the head of a dragon like creature. The
work was exquisite with the colors still vivid and the patterns intricate
and detailed. This came as a shock to Jill. She'd been expecting to find
nothing and therefore dismiss the woman as a fraud. However this new
turn of events turned the whole thing upside down. Hell, it really was
Matthew Stephens sitting in front her. If she was telling the truth then it
really was Dr Bexley in intensive care. Jill collected her thoughts and
for the benefit of the tape said, "The woman has just shown me a very
detailed tattoo of a hydra. In my opinion this confirms her identity as
Matthew Stephens."

Matthew had just finished dressing himself and interrupted, "Satisfied,
now can I go please."

"I'm sorry, not just yet. Now tell me how you came to be here and why
you think that the woman you brought in was Dr Elizabeth Bexley?"

- o - o - o -

Kat too was seated in a police interview room and was finding the
attention uncomfortable. For her part Tina was out of her depth, she
was on the receiving end of the interrogation for a change. Tina knew
the drill, they'd play one against the other and try to find holes in their
stories, and then slowly dissect them until one of them broke or made an
error. Tina heard the handle on the cell door turn and in walked her
inquisitor, a tall athletic woman with brown hair and a sharp and
determined look about her.

"Hi Detective Cox. My name is Detective Sandra Wilson. I'm not
going to play games with you because you probably know them all

Tina smiled, "I know. Let me guess, you're going to ask me what the
hell went on in between getting kidnapped at the New York Hilton and
now. How come Rachel Martin lost an eye, where Detective Scott
Harris is, where Marcel Devereux is and who's the rag head who came
in with us?"

Detective Wilson gave a knowing nod, "Hmm, I think you about
covered it there."

Tina took a long deep breath. She decided, that Salah's true identity
was one particular fact she didn't want to mention, after all things were
confusing as it was. Instead she sat back on her chair and said,
"Detective Harris and myself were assigned to look after Rachel Martin.
Rachel had requested our presence as she suspected that Dr Elizabeth
Bexley had somehow returned from her exile."

Detective Wilson raised an eyebrow, Dr Bexley was involved, that was
just the perfect start to what would turn out to be a pretty shitty day.

- o - o - o -

The Senator stretched out his long shapely legs and looked over
towards Scott. He was still asleep and seemingly relaxed, The Senator
on the other hand found it impossible to sleep on a plane at the best of
times. He thought about waking Scott, just to have some company but
then decided otherwise, Scott needed his rest. The large tv screen in
front of him came to life and CNN news appeared. A smartly dressed
TV reporter stood outside the UN building. Behind him flew the flags
of several nations, one of which was at half mast. The reporter started
to speak.

"Hi, this is Matt Dillon for CNN world. Tensions in the
Middle East grew today at the news that Israel has put its
forces on war readiness. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Saudi
Arabia, Iraq and Iran have done likewise while Pakistan has
offered to ship part of it's nuclear arsenal to Egypt should
Israel's invocation of the Fury Directive be approved. The US,
British, French and Russian governments have all condemned
Egypt's actions stating that use of the Fury Directive is entirely
justified. Great Britain and the US in particular voiced their
outrage at Egypt's attempted assassination of the British Prime
Minister. For it's part Egypt continues to vigorously deny any
involvement in the genetic warhead attack on Tel-Aviv nearly
just over three days ago. In spite of the evidence presented to
the UN the Arabic nations continue to support Egypt's stance."

The Senator took a deep breath. "Fucking hell," he swore. This was
serious news. From the sounds of it the Middle East stood on the verge
of war and it looked as though at least two nuclear powers were going
to get involved. Things would get very messy, very quickly indeed. An
even more worrying thought crossed his mind. He'd speculated that the
Guild had developed changeling technology and were somehow going
to use it. This attack on Tel-Aviv using genetic weapons was just too
close to the Guild's knowledge for comfort. Furthermore Egypt was
one of the more benign states, and there was little chance that they
would pull a stunt like this. The Senator sighed, for the first time since
his transformation he felt utterly helpless. He desperately needed to get
back to the Senate and try and stop the coming war. On reflection, he
decided there was nothing he could do until the plane landed and he'd
met with the infamous Dr Bexley in New York. The Senator fiddled
with his seat position and tried to get some sleep.

- o - o - o -

Matthew was about to go into the finer details of the Guild's civil war
when there was a sharp staccato knock at the door.

"Yeah," Jill called out.

Shane's voice was muffled thru the solid door "You gotta minute."

"Sure. Inspector Jill Spencer pausing the interview at," she checked her
watch, "19:25." Jill reached over and pressed pause on the tape.

"Now what?" Matthew asked. He was getting tired of this
interrogation. It brought back those nightmare memories of his first
trial and subsequent imprisonment.

"Don't worry. Back soon," Jill offered, she stood up and made a rat-tat
knock on the cell door. Matthew heard a key being turned and Jill went
out. The key was turned and Matthew was alone once more.

Outside of the cell Jill saw Shane holding a large brown folder. She
could just make out the words 'Dr Eliz" before the rest was covered by
Shane's hand.

"I take it that's Dr Bexley's file from Interpol," Jill nodded.

Shane nodded, "I've had a quick read and thought you needed to read

Shane handed the folder to Jill who looked around until she could see a
free desk. Jill walked over to the desk and sat on a beaten up old swivel
chair. Shane followed and grabbed a nearby swivel chair and sat down
beside her. Jill spent a few moments scanning the document and then
sighed, "Fuck!"

Shane nodded, "Why us? As you can see the file confirms what we
know of her. We could be out of our league here."

Jill read out parts of the file, "IQ is 160 plus. She's fluent in five
languages, a Medical doctorate, and degrees in Bio-chemistry, and
genetics. She's a smart bitch isn't she?"

"That's not all. Read on," Shane said.

"Umm. She ran the TG-Gen lab back in the US. She's prone to
sociopathic behaviour with aspects of schizophrenia or MPD. Wow,
the guy who did this has classed her as 'Lethal'," Jill exclaimed.

"Never heard of that one," Shane admitted.

"I read about it. Part of Interpol's new classification's I think. Put it like
this, your average serial killer or terrorist carries around an 'Extremely
Dangerous do not approach, classification.."

"I know that," Shane retorted.

"Well 'Lethal' is a few notches above that. It means that everyone who
comes into contact with the felon is either dead or maimed afterwards.
In other words contact with Dr Bexley seriously damages your health.
She's probably the most dangerous woman on the planet!"

Shane thought for a few moments, "So now what do we do? Matthew
claims she's all better now thank you very much and she's needed to
stop a new war in the Middle East."

"Dunno. All I know is that Dr Bexley is responsible for the deaths of
eighteen people in the US, countless kidnapping's, and continued
genetic research in outlawed areas. I think we should get her on a plane
as soon as we can. She's the yanks problem after that," like Shane Jill
just wanted out. This was bigger than both of them.

"You believe her? Matthew that is," Shane asked.

"Yeah, I do. We've sent units to the place where Matthew said they
were held. We should hear from them in an hour or so. I think we'll
keep him in until they check his story out. He's then free to go, and if
they find this Guild Matthew has gone on about, then we'll know the Dr
Bexley bit's true as well."

- o - o - o -

"So Dr Bexley was behind the attack on Tel-Aviv," Detective Sandra
Wilson confirmed.

"No not behind it. The Guild used her technology to do it. She was in
league with them. She helped them in return for them helping her turn
back from a mermaid."

"Do you know Dr Bexley's whereabouts?"

"Sorry, no. Look, I've told you all I know, I want to get back to the
hospital to see how Rachel Martin is," Tina complained. This had been
going on and on for around 2 hours and Tina was getting frustrated.

"I'll find out for you. Let me just get this one thing straight, this man,
Salah, he helped you to escape?"

Tina nodded, "Yeah. He broke us out, we owe our lives to him."

Sandra took a deep sigh. She'd wanted to implicate Salah in the
kidnapping but both Tina's story and Salah's matched, "It's ok, he's in
the clear. They'll probably give him a medal or something. Shame
about Rachel Martin's eye though."

"Yeah it was," Images of Cathline's bloodied, eyeless socket came
flooding back to Tina. 'Shame' was too mild a word for what Cathline
had gone thru at the hands of Osman.

"Look, I have a few things to clear up. As far as I'm concerned it's
over. The feds and our SWAT teams are on their way to this Guild
stronghold you talked about so no doubt we'll be able to confirm things
then. You should be able to go in an hour or so."

"But just don't leave town for a while," Tina finished off.

Sandra nodded, "Got it."

- o - o - o -

Jill was at her desk, filling in her report. She'd left Matthew to stew for
a bit as she wanted to put a little pressure on him. Jill had adopted the
habit of doing paperwork as she went along rather than leaving it until
the end as Shane did. Her concentration was broken by her phone
ringing "Inspector Jill Spencer," she answered.

"Hi. This is Dr Gates at Adelaide General. You NEED to get up here
as soon as you can."

"Is it about the woman claiming to be Dr Bexley?" Jill asked.

"Yeah. She's not dead if that's what you were going to ask. Put it like
this you NEED to get up here and bring the other woman along with

"Ok we'll come. See you in a bit," Jill sighed and put the phone down.
She had a hunch what the doctor had found. However she didn't really
want him to have found it, as it made things much more complicated
than they already were.

Jill sighed, and put her pen down, and went into the cell to break the
news to Matthew and Shane.

Adelaide General Hospital was just like any other modern medical
facility. All gleaming white on the outside, and plastic and sterile on the
inside. After checking at large, pine reception desk Jill, Shane and
Matthew waited for Dr Gates to show up. They didn't have to wait
very long as some 20 minutes later a tall gangly man in a white coat
walked over to them and extended his hand, "Hello My name is Dr
Gates. You must be Inspectors Spencer and Jackson."

Matthew interrupted, "How is she doctor?"

The doctor shrugged "Matthew Stephens I presume. I was hoping
you'd tell me. But I've an even better idea, I'll show you, please follow

They followed doctor Gates thru a winding series of almost identical
corridors. After taking an elevator up a couple of floors they were
shown into a large room. In the middle of the room was a bed
surrounded by electronic equipment that continued to emit a beep every
so often.

Laying on the bed, attached to multiple drips lay Elizabeth. Her eyes
were still closed, and as far as Matthew could see there was no change
in her condition. Matthew walked over to Elizabeth, hoping to see
some sign of life but he was disappointed.

Dr Gates went over to a nearby desk and pulled some X-Rays from a
brown envelope. He attached them to the viewing light on the wall
before calling Jill, Shane and Matthew over.

"What are we looking at doc?" Jill asked, pointing to the outline of a
skeleton and various white fuzzy blobs that were being shown on the

"These are various X-rays, ultrasound and cat Scans taken of the
woman brought in us today. They show that her anatomy is very
different to that of a normal human being. She seems to have a
secondary heart where her womb should be, and this seems to be able to
take over the instant the main one fails. A lot of her internal organs
have similar failsafes build in. In her abdominal cavity, and sharing
space with her second heart are a smaller liver, kidney, and even a lung.
Now, it looks as these new organs can't support the body for extended
periods of time, but they do look capable of stepping in while the main
organ is repaired."

"She has two hearts?" Shane exclaimed.

The doctor nodded, "Yeah that's not all. She also has a large organ
where the appendix should be. At first we thought it was an inflamed
appendix, but scans show it's internal structure is very different."

Jill was intrigued. This must be the changeling organ Matthew claimed
Elizabeth had grown inside herself, "Different? How so?"

"It seems to be similar to the pancreas both in form and function. As far
as we can tell it's sole job is to produce enzymes and proteins. In other
words it's the biological equivalent of a chemical factory. It also seems
to be directly attached to the spinal cord, which could indicate links to
the brain or central nervous system. I've no idea what it does and it's
too complex to study unless we remove it. It's so embedded in her that
if we remove it she'll die, it's part of her."

Matthew glanced over to where Elizabeth was lying, "How is she doc?"

"She's alive and seemingly in a state of hibernation. Her body has shut
down everything except her smaller heart, a lung and her brain. It's as
though she on emergency power and even that looks as though it's
starting to fail. She's on glucose and saline drips to help her recover,
but given the unusual state of her anatomy I've no idea if that'll do any
good. But it's normal treatment for extreme exhaustion. She needs to
recover slowly and by herself. She'll live if she wants to live is what it
comes down to. I must say that if I was trying to give my body the best
chance of survival I'd do exactly what's happened here. Keep oxygen
flowing to the brain and heart. The rest of the organs can take care of
themselves for a while. The life support equipment is helping to take
the strain away from her. I'd love to know how she got like this and
what in hell that organ is."

Matthew looked at Dr Gates and replied, "I think I may be able to help

- o - o - o -

The squad car drew up to the hospital where Cathline was being treated,
and Tina and Kat emerged, followed by Detective Wilson. They were
shown to a side ward where a slim nurse met them at the door.

"How is she?" Tina asked.

"She's up and well. The knife wound wasn't that serious and it
penetrated the shoulder muscle. It's just as well we got to her just in
time otherwise it could've been much worse. She's a little weak but
there's no reason why she should be out of here in a day or so," the
nurse replied.

"Any chance of it being sooner?" Kat asked.

The nurse shook her head, "I'm sorry sir. Shock can have a delayed
action so we'll need to keep her in overnight anyway. Between you and
me she's been a right royal pain in the butt. She's keen to get out and
get on with her 'critical mission' as she calls it. We only shut her up
after we threatened to sedate her."

Kat smiled, "Sounds like her. Can we go and see her now?"

The nurse moved aside and gestured for them to go inside.

Kat peered inside and saw Cathline propped up in bed, one arm in a
sling and reading Newsweek with her one good hand. Cathline heard a
slight sound and turned to face them. When she saw Tina she gave a
little smile which then turned into joy as Kat walked into the room. Kat
gave Cathline a look that said 'keep my real identity quiet', and Cathline
understood by saying, "Hi Tina, Hi Salah. They let you out then?"

Kat nodded, "Yeah they're cool. You can't keep a good man down.
The nurse tells me you have to be in here for a while and that you're
being a pain."

Cathline still couldn't really believe that it was her friend, alive, well and
standing before her. She wanted to stand up and hug her, tell her how
much she's missed her, tell her that Matthew still loved her, and tell her
all the events that she had missed. For some reason Kat was still being
cagey, probably something to do with that cop standing behind her. All
Cathline could reply was, "What else would you expect from Anne

Kat smiled, Cathline was using her old password from the Fury days.
Tina was feeling a little left out, but she let it pass, this was Cathline's
and Kat's moment. She turned to Detective Wilson and said, "Hey these
two got pretty close while we were in there. How about some privacy,
We can wait outside."

An incurable romantic at heart Detective Wilson agreed, with the
proviso that they stand guard outside the door.

Cathline spotted this conversation and called out, "Hey, what are you
two whispering about?"

"Just thought you two could do with some privacy. We'll be right
outside." Tina said and turned to leave.

"Tina, Thanks," Cathline said softly.

After Tina and Detective Wilson had left Kat made sure that they
weren't being observed before rushing over to Cathline and giving her a
large hug. Tears formed in Kat's eyes and she moved to brush them
away. Cathline too was overcome with emotion and said softly, "I
missed you. You should have seen Matthew, it was so sad."

"I know what he went thru, I saw it all. But that's later, come here,"
Kat said and went to hug Cathline a second time. To Kat's amazement
Cathline pulled away saying, "Kat.. I can't. I don't dare. Sorry. Maybe

Kat ignored the rebuff and sat down on a nearby chair, "Cathline I've so
much to tell you, so much to explain, and yet the most critical part is yet
to come. We need to get to my place in New York ASAP. Elizabeth
will be bringing the proof we need and more importantly Matthew's
with her."

A flicker of anger grew over Cathline's face, "Elizabeth as in Dr
Elizabeth 'I'll ruin you life forever' Bexley? The same Elizabeth who got
me, Tina, Marcel, and Scott kidnapped, the same Dr 'hell bitch' Bexley
whose DNA technology just killed half a million people?"

Kat nodded softly, "That Elizabeth."

"I missed you, but if you're now in league with HER then I'll have to ask
you to leave," Cathline said, her voice full of veiled menace.

Kat took a deep breath. She understood exactly what Cathline felt but
for the moment Cathline would have to trust her, "Look, I'll go into this
when everyone's back. You need to hear both sides of the story to fully
understand. Cathline, We, I need you. Elizabeth has just effectively
killed the Guild now we need to stop Israel making the biggest mistake
in its history. Cathline I need you."

"If it was anybody else but you asking I'd scream right now. I'll go with
you to New York and hear you out. That's as far as I can go. I don't
know what's gotten into you I really don't I'll assume it's all that
testosterone whizzing around inside you."

"Cathline, thanks. Be ready at 8am tomorrow, we leave then."

Cathline's face grew angry once more, "Hey I'm not one of your Guild
buddies, who you can order around. I'll go when I'm ready to go."

"I've no idea what you are holding against me Cathline, but deal with it.
I suspect it's to do with Elizabeth and myself. If that's the case
remember the saying, 'keep your friends close but your enemies closer'.
Cathline, I still care for you and you are still like a sister to me. Now
please get some rest, I'll see you in the morning." Out of force of habit
Kat gave a single fingered salute and left the room.

Cathline was troubled. Kat had changed a great deal in the last year.
Sure Kat was still compassionate underneath, but there was an element
of ruthlessness about her. Kat hadn't said anything about the Guild
members she'd sent to their deaths in that bitter and bloody battle. What
hold did Elizabeth have over Kat to make her so agreeable to working
with her?

Cathline had no easy answers -- only that she wasn't sure she liked, and
more worryingly wasn't sure she trusted the new Kat either. What was
it Kat had said, 'keep your friends close and your enemies closer'. That
Cathline decided was the best approach to take.

- o - o - o -

"Can I stay with her?" Matthew asked Doctor Gates.

"Fine with me, if that's fine by them," he said nodding towards Jill and

"We still haven't fully corroborated your story. But what we've seen
here is good enough. Just don't go anywhere," Shane ordered.

"Don't worry. I'll be here," Matthew replied.

The changeling organ and Elizabeth's anatomy fascinated Dr Gates. So
he asked "Mind if I stay and ask you some more questions?"

Matthew replied "Sure," he was just as curious to find out Elizabeth's
inner workings as Dr Gates was.

"We'll set up two officers outside, just to be safe. They're there to make
sure she doesn't get out," Jill said, gesturing to Elizabeth's still form.

"Whatever you say officer, but she's not going anywhere for a while,"
Dr Gates responded.

"Ok. Look we've gotta go. We'll catch up with you in a few hours,"
Shane said and walked out, followed soon afterwards by Jill.

When they'd left Matthew pulled over a nearby stool and sat down
beside Elizabeth. He took her cold, almost lifeless hand in his and sat
there willing her to pull thru. Without her, he would never see Kat
again and hope against hope never be turned back into himself again.

Dr Gates walked over to Matthew and queried, "I thought you two
were mortal enemies?"

Matthew shook his head, "We were. Then we realised that we'd both
done stupid things. She's making up for what's she done. I just hope
she lives to be able to do it."

Dr Gates walked over to the X-Ray's again, "She really is remarkable. I
didn't want to tell the cops this as I'm not sure about it myself, but if you
ask me she's regenerating herself."

Matthew looked puzzled, "How?"

Dr Gates settled into his lecture mode, he reserved for pre-med
students. "From what you tell me this changeling organ produces the
DNA altering drug based on what the brain tells it. It can replicate
anything biological anywhere. You also said each change uses up a lot
of energy, I think that's an understatement. Unless her body is much
more efficient than ours is, which it could well be, each full body change
burns the equivalent amount of calories as a fifteen mile run. I think
she's run out of energy, and she's in this comatose state until she gets
enough to wake up again. Like a battery on charge if you like."

"So she put herself into this coma?"

"I believe so. She's got all these extra failsafe organs to take over if the
main ones fail, she's keeping exactly the right things going to keep her
alive and she's a brilliant doctor. You mentioned something about
healing bullet wounds?"

Matthew raised his eyebrows, "Yeah it was amazing, she took a bullet
to the chest and it didn't even slow her down."

Still in his lecture tone of voice Dr Gates replied, "I'm not surprised.
Her backup organs would kick in long enough for the main ones to
regenerate. Only a major head trauma, massive internal injury or her
own choice could kill her."

Matthew was staggered, "So Elizabeth is very hard to kill. What could
kill her?"

Dr Gates nodded, "I dunno, a large calibre cannon shell to the head,
decapitation, or anything that would cause instant death in
microseconds. I'd love to write a paper on her but others wouldn't
believe me. I'm only speculating here but as long as she could think
'repair' and send the signal down to the changeling organ she'd be ok.
The rest of her body would take over and she'd be back to normal. Her
body wouldn't wear out, grow old or maybe even die of natural causes
unless she willed it."

Matthew thought for a few moments, "That's what's worried me -- in
the past, when under great stress Elizabeth has shown suicidal
tendencies. For example, when I jilted her, and when her parents died
she tried to take her own life. She's since said she was better but I'm
not so sure. When we were being shot at she initially showed no sign of
wanting to take cover. She just stood there waiting to be hit, as if
wanting to die."

Dr Gates voiced his thoughts out loud, "Hmm, if that's the case then she
may want to die after all. If that was the case she could simply tell the
changeling organ not to repair the injuries and just to let her die
naturally. I suspect inside her right now part of her wants to die, and be
at peace and the other wants to live and complete whatever tasks she
had in mind. You know her best, which way do you think she'll

Matthew shrugged his shoulders "If it were seven years ago I'd say she'd
want to live. But now after she's suffered so much and caused so much
suffering to so many I'm not sure. Maybe the world would be a better
place with no Dr Elizabeth Bexley."

"Every time in history needs its boogy man," Dr Gates replied.

"I guess. Would you mind if I had some time to myself?" Matthew

"No not at all. I've some more tissue samples to run anyway. See ya"
Dr Gates said, and promptly left the room.

Matthew looked at Elizabeth's lifeless body. Inside her, a battle was
going on, no less fierce than the one she'd just faced, and just as
important. Matthew couldn't help but feel compassion for his once
mortal enemy, she'd suffered so much because of him and he so much
because of her. He squeezed her hand softly and whispered sweet
nothings in her ear. Maybe it really was time to forgive and forget.

- o - o - o -

Kat lay awake in her hotel room. Tina had left her, at her request and
so she was alone once more. Cathline's attitude puzzled her, why was
she so hostile towards her? Sure she didn't expect a hero's welcome, but
she was reacting as if she'd just seen her worst enemy. Still, Kat
speculated, shock can do strange things to a person. She allowed her
thoughts to wander back to the task in hand. She was worried,
Elizabeth should have called by now, and any delay could be disastrous.
Already swords were being unsheathed all across the Middle East, and
surely a catastrophic war must only be days away. Kat's one source of
hope was that, so far Elizabeth had come thru every time, only where
the hell was she? and where was Matthew?

Still, Kat had left the Guild on the verge of collapse. She'd ordered the
Guild to destroy all the evidence of any battle and move to secret
strongholds on the pretence that the forces of law and order would soon
be upon them. Of course if all went well about a hundred million people
would know about these secret strongholds. She'd told her second in
command, Kismet that she would be going off to oversee the rebuilding
of the Guild. Kismet was a very capable man but not imaginative in the
slightest. Under his leadership the Guild would surely fail. The Guild no
longer worried Kat -- Cathline and Elizabeth did however. Much
depended on Elizabeth, where the hell was she?

- o - o - o -

Back at the police station Jill was reading the reports from the units
they'd sent to investigate Matthew's claims. Whoever had been there
had done a good job at covering up whatever had been there. When the
units had arrived they found a mansion with what could be a secret
facility underneath. The only thing was, that the entrance to this secret
facility was embedded under several feet of freshly poured concrete. If
whoever had been there had thought to do this then, the actual complex
would be destroyed by now, and very little would be left to corroborate
anything. They had found a small speck of blood on the floor of the
entrance hall. This was being analysed at the moment but it could be
from anyone or anything.

What Jill couldn't believe was the speed in which this whole operation
had been covered up. Whoever had been based there was good, very
good, and all traces and leads to them would surely be gone. Having Dr
Bexley in custody was certainly a good thing and both her and Shane
were bound to get commendations for finally snaring the elusive and
lethal American doctor. Still deep in thought she failed to hear Shane
walking up to her desk. Shane rat-tatted a knock on her desk and Jill
looked up, "What's up," she asked.

"Only the biggest bust in history," he said casually.

Jill's curiosity was aroused, "How so?"

"You remember this Guild that Matthew Stephens was going on

"Yeah, seemed a little far fetched if you ask me," Jill said sceptically.

Jill could hear the enthusiasm in Shane voice, "They're real. Someone
just dumped what looks like their entire operation onto the Internet.
Names, bases, financial stuff, a list of crimes the whole lot. The Guild
had thousands of agents across the globe and their scope of operations
is mind boggling."

"What of our Dr Bexley, is she mentioned at all?" Jill said getting back
to matters in hand.

"No idea. There's tons of it to go thru, all I can say is that I wouldn't
want to be a Guild member in a few months time. This is equivalent of
exposing the entire Mafia."

Jill gave a low whistle of amazement, It wasn't everyday an international
crime syndicate was blown wide open.

- o - o - o -

Matthew was shattered. The silence of the room was disturbing but the
only sound was the beep, beep of the life support equipment. It was, he
decided a good sound. It proved that Elizabeth was still alive and that
there was hope for her recovery. In spite of his shyness he felt as
though he had to let out his feelings towards her. It was, he reasoned
the best time to do it, when she was lying helpless and unable to strike

"Elizabeth," he started and then paused, feeling a little self-conscious
about taking to himself.

Of course there was no reply from the comatose woman on the bed, so
Matthew continued, "So much has happened since we spent any real
time alone. I think the last time we did was the day before we were due
to get married. I find myself needing to tell you what I think and how I
feel. Whenever we've met it's always been you and how you feel, you
never gave me the chance to explain. True, I never gave you the time
right after I left you, but I was so confused."

Matthew paused, thinking what to say next, "When you saved my life so
long ago I reached out and grasped onto the hand that had saved me.
You were everything I wasn't -- rich, beautiful and brilliant. I felt as
though I was the luckiest man alive. I had a fiancée who had everything
and who treated me like a king. But I was never in love with you, it
was the idea of being in love with someone like you I was attracted to.
You knew my background, a simple country boy who left his hometown
to find a better life in the city. I never had a rich dad, a place of honor
at Harvard or a cushy job earning mega-bucks. It wasn't your fault I
didn't love you Elizabeth, it never was; it was mine."

Matthew felt a tear form in his blue-gray eye and wiped it away with his
slender feminine hand. Then he gathered his thoughts, and he
continued, "You will make somebody a wonderful wife, I know it. I felt
trapped Liz, I really did. Your dad would've offered me a job, you'd
have had millions and we'd never have to struggle again. That isn't me
and I think you realise that. I wanted my marriage to be a struggle. So
that when we came out winning I'd really have felt as though we'd
grown and worked it out together. Being married to you would be like
a permanent holiday, no need to work, no need to save, and no need to
grow in our relationship."

Matthew looked down at his breasts and traced his finger around his
nipple, "You could say I've had a struggle already, and life without Kat
is the toughest struggle I've ever had to face. I could cope with having
tits and being a woman as long as she was there. This last year has been
hell and I'm just glad Cathline was there for me. Sorry I digress, where
was I? Oh yes, Please understand I could've been happy with you, I
really could but how would we grow together, how would we have that
spark that's needed to keep a relationship alive. The answer is we
wouldn't. I had to leave you, I had no choice. What would've happened
when children came along huh?"

Elizabeth of course didn't reply back. Matthew was in full flow now.
The weight of seven years of pain was starting to lift, "I don't need to
answer that do I. Our marriage would've been a sham, an act for the
world to see. I don't want that and I thought too much of you to put
you thru that kinda pain. As I saw you walk down the aisle towards
me, I saw my whole life stretch before me. It was like a highway that
had already been built and mapped out and I already knew every pot
hole, yellow line and junction. The only way to avoid this was not to
get on in the first place."

Matthew wiped another tear away, somehow the chance of losing
Elizabeth had focused his thoughts, "My love, my life, Kat was torn
away from me and I know the pain that causes me. I now understand
what pain I must have caused you. I can't say anything else but 'sorry'.
I was naive and selfish and I am truly sorry."

Matthew gave Elizabeth's hand another squeeze and continued pouring
his heart out, "I only realised at the last possible moment, what else
could I do?"

Matthew's auburn hair brushed over his face and he flicked it back into
place, "I've hated every second of being a woman. Sure some of the sex
Kat and I had was fun, but everytime I look down I see my failure and
your fury. People have said to me 'get over it, get a life' but after a
while the physical aspect wasn't the problem. You did this to me. You
did this to me to ruin my only chance of happiness and you tried to
destroy everything I held dear. That's what I think of when I see myself
naked in the mirror, that's the first thing that runs thru my mind when I
feel the sway of my hips or the bounce of my breasts. The fact that you
tried to destroy me utterly and that I failed to stop you being hurt. I
tried to do the right thing Elizabeth I really did. I hope you make it
because I'm not sure if I can spend the rest of my life paying for one

"You say you saved Kat, and I've no idea if that's true or not. I hope
you did because I need her more than ever, and you're the only person
who can help us. I think I believe that you want to help, and I'm glad
you didn't take advantage of me when we were pretending to be
married. I think if you had taken advantage of my 'conditioning', I'd
know that I couldn't trust you. I remember you sleeping on the floor,
while I had the bed and that means a lot to me. My fidelity to Kat was
one of the most precious things I had. I know she fucked Cathline
before I got her back but her motives were right, she wanted to see if
she could live as my lesbian 'wife'. If she'd have found out she hated it
with me I'd have been devastated."

Matthew fell silent, just listening to the beep of the life support machine.
After gathering his thoughts once more he continued, "I'm glad that you
see that Kat and I were right together. It may seem like all roses and
flowers but she could be a right royal pain in the butt when she wanted
to be. BUT I loved that, the fact each day was different. Now all I see
is the empty road of loneliness stretching before me."

Matthew paused and gathered his random thoughts into some kind of
order, "What you did to me, to Kat, to Cathline and all the others was
pure evil, and I've no other words to describe it. You say you've
changed and that you're sorry and I did believe you. But thinking about
it like this I'm not so sure. When you ripped thru the Guild's elite
forces, tearing bodies limb from limb, I could see signs of your evil
returning. However, it was the cool, casual way you disposed of
Hassan that really struck fear into my heart. You killed him without a
thought or concern, as if he was some bug for you to swat rather than a
living human being."

Matthew continued, "You seem to have forgotten about your revenge
on us and transferred it to something else. You say that you've changed
and that human life is precious to you. Before your assault on the Guild
I believed that, but now it seems as if you're two people again. One is
the loving, caring Elizabeth who saved me from an icy grave and who's
trying to save the lives of millions, and the other is the murderous
monster of the last few years. You are yin and yang, good and evil in
the same person. Your Rachel Martin body will be etched into my mind
as the personification of all that is beautiful and kind about you, and that
four armed killing creature you became will haunt my nightmares as
your evil let loose on the world."

Matthew sat silent for a moment, listening to the hum of the machinery
and then down at Elizabeth's comatose body, "The right thing do to
would be to disconnect this machine and let you die. The risk of your
evil side destroying lives again would be too great."

Matthew stood up and walked to the power socket and the wall. He
bent down and took hold of the plug. Just one simple pull and it'd all be
over. Just a quick flick of the wrist and the 'hell bitch' would be gone.
Unable to keep himself quiet Matthew spoke out loud once more, "For
once I'm going to do the wrong thing. We still need you. Millions of
people in Egypt and the Middle East still need you. We need your evil,
your darker side to stop a greater evil being unleashed on the world.
You've spent the last two years trying to come to terms with what
you've become, and in some ways your fury has transformed you as well
as me. Who knew it would come to this? I'm sure you didn't when you
first planned your revenge on me. All I wanted was to live a quiet life
and be happy. Was that so much to ask? I guess you wanted the same
things, maybe you still want them."

Matthew fingered the plug once more and then turning his head back to
Elizabeth he walked away. Part of him wanted to end it right here, to
finish what he should have done in that airport so many years ago, and
the other felt an enormous sense of relief as he effectively put aside his
last chance of revenge, "It's over, Elizabeth. I've given up my chance to
kill you, besides, who made me judge, jury and executioner?"

Matthew sat down on the stool and took hold of Elizabeth's hand once
more, "I guess the same battle is going on inside you right now, to die
or to live. Your good side is telling you to live as lives depend on you,
and your evil side is telling you to die because you deserve to. Or
maybe it's the other way around, your evil side wants you to live
because only then can you get the justice you feel you deserve, and your
good side is telling you to die so that you can't cause anymore harm to
anyone else. I'm not sure which way round it is but I do know it's a
decision only you can make."

Matthew looked at Elizabeth's unearthly beautiful face, hoping to see a
sign of life but there was none. He then looked down at his hand
holding hers and continued to speak out loud, "I've rambled on a bit I
know, and much of it won't make much sense but it's how I feel and
matters of the heart are seldom orderly. I do still care for you, you
know. We share more than just bodies don't we? We had a great time
together didn't we? Gurney races in the hospital, food fights, dancing in
fountains, and the day I proposed to you was magical wasn't it? I've just
thought of another reason for you to live. You need to see that not all
love is unrequited. You need to be loved and to see that love is far, far
stronger than hate. Having friends around you that care for you is the
start of that. I'd have hoped you'd have seen that in Kat, and I after all
you did to us but it wasn't you who learned that lesson, it was us. So
Dr Elizabeth Anne Bexley you'd better get used to having me around
cus I'm here for the duration."

Matthew looked up at Elizabeth's face and nearly fell of the chair in
shock. Two bright blue eyes looked back at him and a weak, faint voice
just said, "Thank you."

- o - o - o -

"Wake up sleepy head, time to go," Kat gently shook Cathline awake.

"Waaa, Go away, I was having a wonderful dream," Cathline

Kat smiled, "You never were good at mornings were you? Look, you
get your stuff and I'll get a doctor so you can discharge yourself."

Cathline sat up, her eyes still bleary from her nights sleep, "What if I
don't want to go with you?"

Kat's face showed concern, "The doctor said you're ok."

Cathline averted her eyes from Kat's face, "What if I don't want to go?
What if I want to rest here before getting back to being Rachel Martin?"

Kat sat down on a nearby chair and turned towards Cathline, "That's
your choice but I'd have thought you'd have wanted to see this right
thru to the end. After all the pain we've gone thru these past few years
I'd have thought you at least would want to know how it all ends."

Cathline interrupted, "I'll read the book or watch the movie or

Kat smiled again, "There won't be a book if you're not around to write
it. I hate to remind you but there IS no more Rachel Martin. Not in the
modelling sense anyway. How many agencies will be interested in you
now that you've lost an eye? It doesn't matter to me, it doesn't matter to
your friends but it will matter to those money grabbing bastards who
think that looks are everything."

Cathline couldn't believe her ears. This wasn't like Kat at all, she was
always sensitive and caring. She'd never have mentioned her missing
eye like that, "Where's the real Kat? What's your real name and why are
you pretending to be her?"

Kat knew she'd hit a nerve. Which was precisely what she'd intended to
do. She had to find out why Cathline was acting so frosty towards her.
Now she at least had a clue, "I have always been me. You don't spend a
year pretending to be a Guild member, or working with the 'hell bitch'
without picking up a few traits from them. The old Kat died when she
went into Hassan's palace over a year ago. How I am now is what I've
become after a year's worth of plotting, manipulating, and now killing
people. I hope someday the old, the real Kat will come back but until
she does then I have to unlearn what I've become and go back to what I
was. I just hope my friends learn to accept what I've become and I hope
that Matthew still loves me when I get back to him."

Cathline stared at the man sitting in front of her and said, "That's the
most 'Kat' thing you've said since you've got here."

Kat grinned, "So you'll come?"

"I'll come," Cathline said softly.

Kat smiled, "Excellent. Tina's downstairs in the car waiting for us. I'll
see you in reception once you've discharged yourself."



Cathline was about to broach another subject but decided against it. It'd
have to wait until she saw Elizabeth again, "Nothing. I'll see you down

- o - o - o -

The plane touched down at JFK and the senator and Scott breezed thru
customs. The new ID's the Guild had prepared for them had worked
perfectly which, the senator commented didn't say much for US airport
security. It was also good of the Guild to provide them with a change
of clothes, although as yet they had no idea what they were. They
walked towards the baggage collection area and waited, staring at each
suitcase and holdall trundle pass.

"So what next?" the senator asked Scott.

"Home I guess. I'm not looking forward to telling Rebecca," Scott

"You can't go home yet, remember. That Guild guy told us we had to
go this Manhattan apartment. If we go there and get turned back then
there's no need to tell Rebecca anything. It'll all be sorted out."

Scott thought for a moment, "I suppose."

"Besides, what harm will it do? You want to get your own back on Dr
Bexley don't you? What if your partner's there?" the senator

"I suppose I can be like this for a while longer," Scott said, gesturing to
his shapely body.

"Wait a sec, there's our stuff," the senator pointed.

Scott nodded, "I'll go."

A few minutes later Scott and the Senator had hailed a cab and were on
their way to Manhattan. Eventually they reached the door and using the
key the Guild agent had given them, they went inside.

- o - o - o -

Cathline, ignoring the complaints from the doctors, signed her release
form, and walked over to where Kat and Tina stood. By the looks of it
she walked into what looked like a major discussion.

"I thought Detective Wilson told us not to leave town," Tina was telling

"I know but there's no time to mess around here. Can't you vouch for
us or something?" Kat asked.

Tina shook her head, "No, I'm implicated. We have to stay here,
otherwise there'll be hell to pay. We do this by the book or not at all."

"Can I help?" Cathline interrupted?

Kat turned to face Cathline, "Tina here wants us to hang around here
until the cops sort out our stories. I would normally agree with her but
there's no time to waste. Each hour we delay brings the risk of Israel
striking back. We're trying to work out a plan that'll stop us getting
arrested as soon as we leave town."

Cathline smiled, "So I could have stayed in bed after all?"

Kat gave Cathline an amused look, "That's not helping. Wait a sec, why
don't we put ourselves under NYPD jurisdiction. That's where we need
to go, and surely Tina's buddies will cut us some slack won't they?"

Tina thought for a few moments, "I think that'll work. Yeah, it will do
but we'll need to be escorted onto the plane and off again. I think
Detective Wilson will agree. I would."

Cathline quipped, "Besides, it gets us out of her hair."

Tina nodded, she'd thought the same thing. "I'll go make the call."

Cathline's face took on a worried look, "Last time we all tried to meet
up Liz blew the fucking place up."

Kat nodded, "I did think of that too, but she's different now. Besides,
we're going to my place."

Cathline glared, "If I end up splattered all over Manhattan harbor, I'll
come back and haunt you."

"I think Liz will too, as she'll be there as well. Besides, if she wanted us
dead she's had enough chances. My agents tell me she behaved herself
with Matthew and didn't try anything on with him. So I still trust her."

Cathline couldn't think of anything else to say and so she walked over
the call box where Tina was trying to convince Detective Wilson of
their plan. A few minutes later Tina said, "Thank you," and hung up.

"And?" Cathline answered.

"We have to leave right away. A squad car will pick us up and see us
off onto the plane. We'll be met at the other end, and we'll be taken to
Kat's place. If we need to go anywhere else we need to let them know
where, when and how long for."

"So we're on parole?"

"If you like. If you weren't Rachel Martin then we'd have had no

Cathline nodded, "Let's go tell Kat."

Twenty minutes later a squad car took them to the airport and they
were escorted onto a flight bound for New York.

- o - o - o -

Matthew recovered from his initial shock and said, "Thank you for

Elizabeth was still weak, her face drawn and pale. She managed to say
in a weak, quiet tone, "For being here."

Matthew was about to reply when Elizabeth's eyes closed once more
and she resumed her almost comatose state once more. Matthew let go
of her hand, and ran over to the emergency button and gave it a hard
whack with his hand. Within a minute Dr Gates and two nurses came
rushing in.

"What's up? Dr Gates said breathlessly.

"She woke up, only for a few seconds but then she went like this again."

Dr Gates turned to the nurses and indicated for them to check the now
unconscious Elizabeth. While they were doing this he turned back to
Matthew and asked, "Did she say anything?"

"Only that she thanked me for staying with her. Is she going to be ok?"

The doctor looked at the results of the nurse's inspections and thought
for a few moments, "I think so. She's still very weak and needs a lot of
rest, but I think there's light at the end of tunnel now. Looks as though
she wanted to live after all and that you tipped the balance."

Matthew reflected back on how close he'd come to killing her and now
it seemed he'd been responsible for saving her. Still, he reasoned only
Elizabeth could answer the doctor's question accurately. Instead of
questioning the doctor he just asked, "How long before she wakes?"

Dr Gates thought for a few moments and then answered, "No idea.
You'd better stay here and let me know if and when she wakes up

Matthew nodded his agreement and Dr Gates left the room, followed
shortly afterwards by the two nurses. Matthew took hold of Elizabeth's
hand once more and started to talk once more, "Well, it looks as though
you want to live after all, good. I wonder if it was your good or evil
side that pulled you thru. I don't think it was me."

Much to Matthew's surprise Elizabeth said nothing so Matthew waited,
just listening to the beep beep of the machines and the gentle hum of the
air conditioning. After a few minutes he continued once more, "It
doesn't matter does it? I just wish.."

Matthew's monologue was interrupted by a weak, faint voice saying,
"Thank God for that! I thought they'd never leave."

Matthew's gaze turned to Elizabeth's face, and two blue eyes stared
back at him. Matthew was about to run and get Dr Gates once more
but Elizabeth gently shook her head.

"No, not yet. I have to say a few things," Elizabeth started to say.

"Shhh not yet, they can wait," Matthew said softly.

"No. I take it the police know about me?" Elizabeth's weak voice
whispered back.

Matthew nodded.

"Thought so. As soon as I'm well enough they'll deport me under lock
and key and that will be that."

Matthew looked thoughtful, "I suppose."

"We can't let that happen. If I'm arrested then millions are doomed!
We have to get out of here."

Matthew shook his head, "But you're nowhere near strong enough,
maybe in a week or so, but you've been at death's door for nearly a

Elizabeth let out a sigh, "I'll be ok. Look, I need to get out here,
otherwise I'll be on my way to death row."

Matthew looked concerned. Elizabeth looked in no state to go
anywhere. He could see that her arms were thinner than they had been
and the curved form under the sheets was too skinny even for ultra
model standards, "You're not going anywhere. We'll have our chance
when we get back, you need to rest and recover. Besides, once you've
recovered you can use that changeling organ of yours. If it can
penetrate into heavily defended Guild installations I'm sure it can cope
with anything the NYPD have to offer."

Elizabeth coughed a little and shook her head, "The changeling organ is
useless now. I worked it too hard and too fast for too long. Don't ask
me how I know, I just do. Maybe in time it'll repair itself but who
knows? Still at least I'm in my Rachel Martin form and not that

Matthew nodded his head. Elizabeth was vulnerable now and
furthermore unable to change form anymore, "How can you be sure?
Maybe you're wrong?"

Elizabeth shook her head and bitterly replied, "I just know, OK."

Matthew took a deep breath, "Now what? You're the genius,

Elizabeth thought for a few moments and then replied, "It'd be easier for
me to get out on my own. Leave my escape to me -- I have a few ideas.
Just wait outside the delivery entrance at 4am this morning. If I'm not
out by 5:30 go without me."

Matthew wasn't too happy about being cut out, "I want to help! I'm in
this all the way now."

Mustering as much strength as she could, Elizabeth sat up and said,
"You are helping. Just that I can't do it with you around. I know how
hospitals work, remember and this one will be no different. Just be

Matthew shrugged, "Ok. Who shall I look for?"

"Me, silly. Now sit down beside me. I need to rest some more."

Matthew obeyed and shuffled his chair closer to Elizabeth's bed.
Matthew was curious as to how Elizabeth was going to escape from a
guarded room, as Rachel Martin and with no changeling organ to help
her. Still, he decided, knowing Elizabeth, he didn't want to. Instead
Matthew said, "What did it feel like, lying between life and death? Did
you have any 'spiritual' experiences? See God? Or get a glimpse of

Elizabeth smiled, "Maybe hell's where I'll end up, probably as one of
Lucifer's bitches, but no, nothing like that. I just felt myself floating
towards a tunnel of light. It seemed so inviting and peaceful I just
wanted to drift away. I'd heard of similar things when people were near
death, and I knew that entering the tunnel would mean I would die but
it just didn't matter anymore. I was just about to go inside when I heard
your voice. It was seemed to be coming from outside of me so I paused
and listened."

"What did it say?"

Elizabeth turned her face towards Matthew, "It said

'You were everything I wasn't, rich, beautiful, and brilliant. I
felt as though I was the luckiest man alive. I had a fiancée who
had everything and who treated me like a king.'"

Matthew was about to interrupt when Elizabeth continued, "I didn't
hear the rest but that was enough to bring me back from the brink. The
tunnel was still there, enticing me, enchanting me and seducing me but
somehow I wanted to know more. I've no idea how much time passed
and then I heard your voice saying

'I now understand what pain I must have caused you. I can't
say anything else but sorry. I was naive and selfish and I am
truly sorry.'.

That was like Mozart to my ears the tunnel no longer seemed so
enticing but part of me wanted to go there still. Oblivion is what I
deserved, I was alone, hated, and despised. Death is what I deserve for
all I have done. I started my drift towards the tunnel once more but
then you said

'I do still care for you, you know. We share more than just
bodies don't we? We had a great time together didn't we?
Gurney races in the hospital, food fights, dancing in fountains,
and the day I proposed to you was magical wasn't it? I've just
thought of another reason for you to live. You need to see
that not all love is unrequited. You need to be loved and to see
that love is stronger than hate. Having friends around you that
care for you is the start of that. I'd have hoped you'd have seen
that in Kat and me, after all you did to us, but it wasn't you
who learned that lesson, it was us. So Dr Elizabeth Anne
Bexley you'd better get used to having me around cus I'm here
for the duration.'

Matthew was stunned. Elizabeth had heard parts of his ramblings and
they had helped her pull thru. The only worrying thing was that she'd
only heard parts of what he'd said, "Elizabeth, I can explain.," he

"You don't have to. I know you love Kat and I accept that, but it was
the memories you brought back and your commitment to me as a friend
that convinced me to come back. The tunnel held no power over me
once I saw I had something to live for."

Matthew knew the answer but wanted to hear it from Elizabeth, "Which

A tear formed in Elizabeth's blue eyes, "Friends, Matthew, friends. If
my once mortal enemy is prepared to stand by me until the end because
he cares about me then I must be worth something. You must see
something in me that makes you want to stick by me. I've no idea what
it is because if it was left up to me I'd have walked thru that tunnel, and
now I'd be dead. Matthew I wanted to die, but you pulled me back."

"I must be honest I don't know what it is either, maybe I've a little more
faith in you than you have. Anyway you'd better rest now. Do you
want me to get Dr Gates now?"

Elizabeth shook her head, "No. Besides you were wrong about one

Matthew cocked an eyebrow, "and that is?"

Fresh tears formed in Elizabeth's eyes and she took a deep breath. After
pausing for a second she said softly, "All love is Unrequited, Matthew.
All of it."

Matthew wanted to respond but Elizabeth had closed her eyes once

- o - o - o -

Acting Prime Minister Benjamin Dayan paced about his make shift
office. Since the destruction of Tel-Aviv, the Israeli government and its
infrastructure was on the verge of collapse. Only a few members of the
Knesset had been out of town when the attack happened, and they were
still in shock and bitterly divided. Of the other areas of the government
Mossad had been the worst hit with much of its higher command still in

Benjamin walked over to his window and stared at the courtyard below.
Already the demonstrators were starting to gather once more, and soon
he would have to give the order to disperse them. The public, his public
were crying out for blood and soon he would have to decide whether to
give it to them. His country was starting to tear itself apart as the
factions within started to make their presence known. These
demonstrations were only the start, soon those who'd lost family and
friends in that horrific attack would cease their mourning and turn their
anger on those who'd performed it. If he was to show any weakness
civil war would surely follow as each splinter group tried to exert
control over the already fragmented government.

Benjamin stared at a group of demonstrators, who'd managed to find an
Egyptian flag. They waved it in the air before one of them reached
inside his jacket, lifted out a lighter and set it alight. The sight of the
burning flag drew a crowd, which then started to chant even louder. A
single, solitary woman, about 30 years old caught his eye. She was
holding aloft a large sign with the phrase 'A voice is heard In Ramah,
Mourning and great weeping. Rachel weeping for her children and
refusing to be comforted because they are no more.'

Benjamin couldn't help but stare at this single, solitary woman alone in
the crowd, her pain summing up the grief of an entire nation, her tear
stained face showing the tears everyone felt inside. She was, a symbol
of Israel's pain. There was no anger in her face, only loss and tears.
Benjamin took a deep breath and turned from the window, the quote
from the book of Jeremiah still echoing around his mind. He walked
over to his desk and sat down. He and his fellow Knesset members
faced an agonising choice. Do they retaliate and kill an unimaginable
number of people? Or rebuild and hope they could avert a civil war or
invasion by those who thought Israel had become weak. In a way he
was glad that he had insisted the UN vote on it, it allowed others to take
the decision for him, and he took solace in that. His thoughts drifted
back to the distraught woman with the placard and he pressed buzzer on
his desk.

A burley man walked in the room, the bulge from his gun ruining the cut
of his Italian suit, "Yes Prime Minister?"

Benjamin stood up and walked to the window once more. The crowd
had grown larger and the burning flag was now only a smouldering rag.
His eyes sought the woman out in the crown and he pointed her out to
the burley man. "Ask her to join me."

"But sir."

Benjamin turned to the man and said, "It'll be ok. Please fetch her."

The man nodded and walked out of the room. Benjamin stood riveted
to the spot, staring at the sea of people below. He could feel the hate
brewing down there, anger and confusion too. Why me? why us? and
why now? were the questions everybody wanted to know.
Unfortunately he had no answers and even his own heart was confused.
He watched his bodyguard escort the woman thru the crowd and back
into the building. Walking away from the window, he wondered why
he'd asked her to come up? Maybe it was the desire to talk to someone
other than the self-serving politicians, the war hungry generals or just
someone who'd been directly affected by the catastrophe. Benjamin sat
down at his desk again and picked up his pen. He wanted to create a
good impression when she came in.

There was a knock at the door and the man walked in, followed by the
woman. Benjamin stood up and offered the woman a seat, "Please sit

The woman was a little overawed, sat down without making any
comment. Benjamin's bodyguard stood behind her, his hand inside his
jacket ready to pull his firearm should the need arise.

Benjamin relaxed back on his chair and started to speak, "I guess you
are wondering why I asked you here."

The woman just sat there staring at him, and said nothing in reply.

"It's ok, you're not in any trouble. I saw you down there, and my heart
reached out to you as I saw your sign. I want to hear your story, to get
the mood of those whose lives I will affect."

The woman breathed a sigh of relief and started to talk, "My name is
Rachel Rogoff. I lived in Tel-Aviv with my husband and four children."
Rachel paused and fought back some tears. "I was away from town
when they struck. I lived, they didn't. Can I go now."

Benjamin sighed and softly replied, "Tell me about them, what were
their names? What did your husband do?"

Rachel swallowed down a sob and looked away from Benjamin, "My
husband was called Joel and we had two girls, Rebekah and Elizabeth,
and two boys David and Daniel. My husband worked in the central
bank and I worked as a secretary for a real estate company."

"Were they good kids?"

New tears formed in Rachel's eyes, "They were great kids."

Benjamin asked, "What happened?"

"I was out of town with my boss, and Joel would have been at the bank.
Our children would have been at kindergarten or with the sitter. In my
hurry I forgot to kiss my little Elizabeth goodbye, now I'll never have a
chance to again. Why are you asking me this?" More tears streamed
down Rachel's face.

"Because I have some important things to decide in the next few days.
Do we go to war? Or do we just rebuild and carry on. Do I give the
order to kill millions more or do we roll over and accept this? Before I
do this I need to know more than just numbers on a page or reports
from my experts, I need to know personal stories of the people who's
lives this will affect."

Rachel's eyes grew angry, "You want to pass the responsibility onto

"Not at all. It's my responsibility, and mine alone. What would you

"I'm only a secretary, what do I know?"

"You know how things are in the real world, you've lost all that is dear
to you, and you care enough to come here and demonstrate. Now what
would you do?"

"I wouldn't strike back. Too many have died already. Let us mourn our
dead, we need to rebuild not kill more people."

"I wish it were that simple. If we do not strike back then the world will
see us as weak. Our enemies will attack us and kill who knows how
many more. If we stay our hand then it gives others the power to use
these horrific weapons against each other. If we hit back and hard then
others will think twice about using them."

Rachel thought for a few moments, pondering her reply. In the end she
simply said, "That is all if's and maybe's . If you use nuclear weapons
then millions WILL die. If you do this, in Egypt thousands of ordinary
people like me will be wailing for loved ones lost. The only way to
break this circle is not to enter it."

Benjamin nodded his head and adjusted his glasses, "Thank you"

Rachel stood up and was about to leave when she turned and asked,
"What are you going to do?"

Benjamin replied simply "Wait and see," and reached for the phone.

- o - o - o -

The sun rose in a glorious blaze of red, gold, and yellow. The pollution
from the urban Washington sprawl creating infinite patterns of color and
patterns. Such beauty went unnoticed by the occupant of the Oval
office who stood, staring out of the window at the hubbub of late
twentieth century life. The vapor trails of an airliner cut two white
ribbons across the sky and were now starting to pass away.

The changeling president walked away from the window and back to his
desk. The events of the past few days had troubled him greatly, and
now he was confused about what to do. He had read the CIA reports
on the exposing of all the Guild's operations and had initially expected
to be arrested at any time, but time passed and he assumed that his
cover was safe. Brief phone calls and messages to his colleagues in
Britain, Russia, France and China had shown their cover was also
secure and the operation was still on track. He could only assume that
the parties that had effectively destroyed the Guild were unaware of his
mission or had no way of stopping it even if they were. His confusion
was whether to abort the mission and hide until the witchhunt had
subsided or to continue even though Hassan and Osman were dead.
Hassan's last orders were to carry on regardless and not to try and make
contact with any other Guild members. But if there was no longer any
Guild left then what was the point, better to rebuild quietly and slowly
than to go out in a blaze of glory.

A buzzer sounding on his private switchboard interrupted his thoughts
and he reached over and answered it, "Yes Jane."

"The Israeli Prime Minister for you Mr President."

"Ok put him thru. Oh ,and have the crisis team meet me here in ten

The president heard the phone beep a few times and then answered,
"Yes prime minister."

The Israeli Prime Minister's accented English voiced sounded serious
but calm, "I'm sorry to interrupt your business but I thought you ought
to know that we have reconsidered our request to invoke the Fury
Directive. We are going to withdraw our request to the UN and try and
rebuild our shattered country."

The president took a deep breath. This was IT! This moment would
decide the fate of the whole Guild plan. Now the Guild was almost
certainly doomed there seemed little point in carrying on. However it
seemed very likely that a small remnant of the Guild would survive and
the completion of this plan would massively aid its recovery. HE could
be responsible for the Guilds continued survival, a hero in Guild history.

"Mr President?" the voice queried from the phone.

"Wait, Prime Minister I am considering my response," the president

In fact the president had already met with his cabinet and teams of
advisors in case Israel decided to withdraw from the Fury Directive.
He'd seen aerial photographs of Tel-Aviv and been told that the cost of
reconstruction would be in the billions of dollars. At first he was
puzzled by this huge amount of money, as the buildings had been left
intact. But he was told that there were a lot of people using stoves, gas
stations, driving cars or trains, and just basically living. When the
people were killed these would still continue to run and cause fires and
explosions, which with no fire department to resolve would go
unchecked. Besides, nobody knew how long the DNA warhead would
remain active. At the moment the only people allowed into Tel-Aviv
wore full Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) suits. The clear up
operation would be huge.

The president remembered the heated meeting he'd had on this subject.
He'd managed to argue successfully (and just avoided having to issue an
executive order) that there were larger issues than just one city in one
country. He could hear the impatient breathing of the Prime Minister on
the phone, so summoning up his most authoritative voice replied, "I
hear what you have said Prime Minister, but I must insist that you
invoke the Fury Directive."

"WHAT! How dare you order me around like some puppet state? I told
you out of common courtesy and you treat me like this," the voice
roared from the other end.

"I meant no disrespect Prime Minister, but please listen to me. There is
a larger issue here than just Tel-Aviv. What we do know will set the
precedent for the future. If we do not act firmly and according to our
treaties then the whole world is open to this kind of horrific attack. My
first duty is to the citizens of the United States as is yours to Israel.
How would it look if we just held up our hands and said 'hey, it's ok',
wipe out our cities we'll just scurry back and rebuild."

The Prime Minister was about to respond when the president continued,
"I'll tell you. It would look as though we didn't care, we'd be safe and
the world would be held hostage to genetic weapons just as it was to
nuclear ones. I refuse to let that happen. I have met with my cabinet
and we are in agreement when we say, that if you do not invoke the
Fury Directive then we will be forced to do it ourselves. The money
that was going to be used to help rebuild your country would have to be
spent on providing defenses for our cities. The weapons we would have
given you to help fight off invasion would have to be diverted

There was a stunned silence from the other end of the phone. The
Israeli Prime Minister couldn't believe what he was hearing. The
president of the United States was effectively blackmailing him into
launching a nuclear attack. He now faced an agonising choice once
more, launch the attack or have Israel face financial ruin. The president
said that the USA would do it anyway, so those people would still be
dead, only that their deaths wouldn't be on his hands. He then had a
flash of inspiration, "My country and your country have had good
relations for years. I would hate to have to go elsewhere for our trade,"
he answered down the phone.

The president had expected that one however, and ignored the veiled
threat, "Why don't you go and think about it, rather than make rash
threats that you cannot keep. Good day Prime Minister."

Benjamin slammed the phone down in anger. He refused to be bullied
by the US and reached across to his phone and pressed the buzzer, "Get
me the British Prime Minister."

Two hours later Benjamin slammed the phone down once more. The
British had taken the same view as the Americans, as had the French
and the Germans. In desperation he asked for the Russian President.

A thickly accented voice answered the phone, "Yes Prime Minister"

"Mr president. We have decided not to invoke the Fury Directive,"

Before he could go any further the deep voice of Boris Petcukocov
boomed down the phone, "I am sorry to hear that. I would ask you to
reconsider your decision. If it's help you are after then I am sorry, we
can hardly afford to keep our own people let alone give support to
another's. If you decide to invoke the directive we will support you.
Good day Prime Minister"

There was a buzz as Boris Petcukocov put the phone down. Benjamin
could hardly believe his ears. Every leader of a world power had
refused him aid or help unless he continued to push for an attack on
Egypt. It was a helpless situation. No smaller country would dare to
offend one of the big five by lending Israel money, for fear of crippling
trade embargoes. The same went for the world banks.

If he didn't attack, America would, and then the Arabs would strike
back at Israel. If he did attack the response would be the same. The
only difference being that if America was the force behind the attack his
country would not get the money and more importantly arms that it
needed to survive. Israel had been using American military technology
for years, and although in later years it had developed it's own, a
significant amount was still American in origin. In the coming war
Israel would need every bullet, tank and aircraft it could get it's hands
on, and should America refuse to help then Israel would certainly be
destroyed. He if did nothing and allowed America to attack a disastrous
civil war and invasion would surely follow.

So there then was the dilemma, he was trapped into killing millions to
save his country. There was no way around it, and no way to avoid it.
The only thing he could do was stall for time and hope someone could
find a way out. He guessed he had about a week before he was forced
to order the attack. Benjamin stood up from his desk and walked to the
window. The crowds had swelled and the demonstration was in full
swing. His eyes sought out a certain sign, but the sheer number of
people hid it from view or at least he thought so until he caught a
glimpse of it being thrust high in the air, seemingly in triumph.
Benjamin turned away from the window, sat down and held his head in
his hands. "I'm sorry Rachel, I did my best but I have no choice, no
choice at all."

- o - o - o -

Matthew sat in his rented car with the engine idling. His lights were off
and he was sitting low in the seat. It was now 5am and so far there was
no sign of Elizabeth. She was now an hour late.

Matthew's anxiety rose when he heard multiple police sirens rush past
but they soon faded into the distance. Matthew took a deep breath and
settled down to wait once more.

- o - o - o -

"I never thought I'd see this place again," Kat commented as she took
the elevator to her Manhattan apartment.

"Me neither. Matthew visited here a few times when you were away.
He never slept overnight though. This place has too many ghosts, or so
he said," Cathline replied.

Kat nodded, "I know, Tina, is it alright if we stay here? We don't need
to check in every hour or something?"

Tina shook her head, "This isn't parole, but just make sure you don't
leave me behind or run off."

Kat smiled, "Ever one to be in the thick of it huh."

"Guess so. Say, this place looks pretty exclusive," Tina commented,
noting the mahogany door and guilt handles.

"It is. Anyway where'd I put that key," Kat fumbled in her pockets and
eventually brought out a set of shiny keys.

Cathline looked at Kat suspiciously. "Kat, How come you managed to
get your old set of keys back? What about the money we used to get

Kat gave Cathline a knowing look, "Hey, I'm the head of the Guild now,
work it out. Anyway, I'm getting fed up with waiting out here. I'm
going inside."

Kat gently turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open, tried to
peer into the gloomy darkness of the room, but in the end gave up and
fumbled for the light switch and flicked it on.

Tina poked her head around the door and called out, "Anyone here?"

Cathline jumped as she heard a faint reply coming from one of the
bedrooms. They were not alone.

- o - o - o -

The clock in the dashboard of Matthew's car read 05:50. Elizabeth was
nearly two hours late. This concerned Matthew, Elizabeth was never
late. Something must have happened to her but he'd seen no outward
sign of the police. He struggled to resist the temptation to go inside and
look for her, but in the end decided against it. His flight left in a little
over two hours and there was no time to wait for her. Besides, the
tickets, and the car the Guild had supplied him with were for this flight
only and as yet he had no access to his money, so he was stuck in
Australia if he decided to stay.

Matthew sighed and started the engine. As he drove off he repeatedly
glanced into his door mirror, hoping that he would see the door open
and Elizabeth would come running out. However once he drove out of
the car lot it was very clear that Elizabeth would not be coming and that
he was once again on his own.

The route to the airport was fortunately clear of traffic as the main rush
hour had yet to start, and Matthew parked his car in the long stay area.
Elizabeth had told him to leave it where a Guild member could come
and dispose of it. Matthew popped open the trunk and pulled out his
bag, and walked towards the departure lounge. After checking in and
buying a newspaper he sat down on a large plastic bench and proceeded
to wait.

Matthew was once again half expecting Elizabeth to waltz up to him
and apologise for being late but she did not appear. She could, he
reasoned, have been lying about the changeling organ and could even be
amongst the passengers, but there was something about her manner that
made him doubt that.

So deep in thought was he that he nearly missed the last call for his
flight, and after a long sprint to the boarding gate managed to get on
board. Matthew stowed his hand luggage in the space above his head
and settled down to get some well earned rest.

- o - o - o -

"Who's that?" A nervous feminine sounding voice called from out from
one of the bedrooms.

Tina was the first to reply, "Detective Tina Cox, Who's that?"

"Oh Tina, thank God. It's me, Scott," the voice replied.

Images of Scott lying on the table slowing being feminized flashed thru
Tina's mind. Feelings of shame and betrayal soon followed and Tina
found herself unable to reply.

"Tina?" Scott queried.

"It's ok. Listen, who else is with you?" Kat asked.

Scott's voice sounded suspicious once more, "Who's asking? Tina you

Tina managed to overcome her shame for a moment, "It's ok Scott, he's
with me. Now please come out we need to talk."

"Ok," the voice replied.

A few seconds later a tall woman with long blonde hair walked into the
room. She was wearing a pair of faded jeans and a plain white T-Shirt.
From the unladylike way she walked in Tina could see that something
was wrong. She carried herself all wrong, strode instead of taking
smaller steps, and the way her hair was brushed back over her ears
spoiled a perfectly stunning face. Tina's jaw almost dropped to the floor
but she quickly recovered and asked, "Scott?"

The woman nodded softly and then ran over to Tina and gave her a
large hug. Tina could feel the fleshy firmness of the other woman's
breasts pressing against her own and inwardly she hung her head in
shame once more.

The woman known as 'Detective Scott Harris' noticed none of this, and
only whispered, "Thank God. I thought you'd been killed or worse."

Not thinking, Tina blurted out, "They got you worse."

Scott pulled away as if struck, "I know. They won't even let me go see
Rebecca. If I do, then they won't turn me back or do they'll do
something even worse. I hate this, Tina. I hate the way I look, the way
I feel, and the way I know Rebecca will react when she sees me like

Cathline had overheard the last section of the conversation and she
whirled to face Kat "This was your idea wasn't it?" she hissed and
stormed off into the corridor, slamming the door behind her.

Bemused at Cathline's outburst Kat decided that formalities were in
order and sat down on a nearby leather chair. Summoning up her most
persuasive tone she turned her head to face Scott and said, "Scott,
please take a seat and let me explain as much as I can."

"I'd like to hear too," Another female voice sounded from another

"Ahh, Senator Jameson I presume. Please come in," Kat requested.
Actually it sounded more like an order, a fact that went unnoticed by

The woman walked in and Kat cast a curious eye over her. She was in
her mid thirties, black hair in a ponytail and bright brown eyes. Like
Scott she was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. The woman walked, no
strode to where Scott was now sitting, and sat down cross-legged
beside him.

Scott nodded towards the door that Cathline had stormed out of and
asked, "Did I miss something?"

Kat nodded, "You could say that. She blames me for her and your
current situation. She, as you might say, only sees the small picture and
an inaccurate one at that. I'm afraid I can't tell all the details until
Elizabeth gets here but I'll fill in what I can."

Senator Jameson stared at Kat in a mixture of suspicion and fear. Kat's
manner reminded him so much of one the Guild's high command,
arrogant, aloof, and very much in charge. He wondered how Scott's
partner and Rachel Martin had gotten involved with this Guild leader
and what hold he had over them. His political training had got him used
to forming an opinion about people, labelling and then probing their
weaknesses. He decided to play it cool, "And you are?"

Kat's answer however shattered the senator's categorisation of this
Guild commander, "My name is Jane Stephens, but to my friends I'm

Scott's eyes widened, "You're Matthew's wife, umm husband? You
were killed! Your funeral was all over the news a year ago. How?

Kat shook her head, "Sorry, how and why are questions I won't answer
at the moment. What I can say is that Scott, it was my idea and my
command that keeps you from seeing Rebecca. I know how painful it
must be for you, but all I ask is for you to stay away for a little longer."

"You Bastard!" Scott swore at Kat and lunged towards her.

Kat neatly moved to one side and quicker than Scott could react had
him in a neck hold, "I'm not doing this for my own enjoyment, or your
punishment. I'm doing it to try and save millions," she hissed.

Scott managed to say, "What do you mean?"

The senator interrupted, "He means the Fury Directive. You mean to
stop Israel bombing Egypt?"

Kat released Scott who fell to the floor gasping for breath and nodded,
"Yeah. This whole thing was set up to take down the Guild. We've
done that part but we've really got out work cut out for us now."

Kat heard a door open behind and whirled around, "Cathline you're
back, great. Take a seat."

Cathline glared at Kat and silently sat down on the floor, her face red
with anger and betrayal. Tina saw her reaction and asked Kat, "You
want to sort this out first?"

Kat blinked back a tear -- she hated upsetting her friends, "Cathline, I
promise you I'll explain everything when Liz gets here. I can't do it
until then. You have to hear her side of the story or you'll never agree
to help us. Cathline I need your help more than ever, please stay."

Cathline's one good eye continued to glare at Kat but her manner was
conciliatory, "Ok Jane I'll stay. If only to hear you out."

Kat started to explain, "Good, Now let me try and tell you where were
are, and where we're going."

Kat scanned the room, and noted with satisfaction that the others were
paying attention. She then started to speak, "I take it you all know
about Hassan's attack on Tel-Aviv, and his deception in framing Egypt
for it? We, that is Elizabeth and I tried to stop it. We failed."

Kat let that sentence sink in, half a million people killed because of one
mistake "Elizabeth's brilliant plan of exposing the entire Guild and
simultaneously getting rid of it's leadership has meant the Guild is dying.
It'll take a while but it's inevitable. Her plan also had the brilliant side
effect of putting me in charge of it and thus I can ensure it's rapid
demise, while using it's remaining resources to stop the attack."

Scott gave a low whistle -- he was impressed at Elizabeth's deviousness,
"So all that fighting in Libya that was 'your side' versus 'the bad guys'."

Kat nodded, "Yep, but that's getting close to a question I won't answer
yet so I'll move on. As I'm sure you're also aware Israel is on the verge
of launching a nuclear attack on Egypt, an incident that will no doubt
start an almost unstoppable Middle East conflict. This MUST not

Cathline butted in, "So, mighty Guild leader, why did Hassan want to
start a war in the Middle East? What'd he get out of it?"

Kat ignored Cathline's sarcasm and went on to answer the question,
"We've no idea. A war would make it very difficult for Hassan to
operate. We can only assume he would make a killing selling advanced
American weapons to the Arab countries, and thus be in a much
stronger position when it all blew over. The answer to that question is
hopefully on the disks which Elizabeth is bringing back with her."

"I have a another question?" Cathline asked.

"Yes?" Kat enquired.

"You keep mentioning Liz and the Guild but you've never once said
you're looking forward to seeing Matthew again. What's going on
Jane? You used to miss him after only a day apart. Now it seems as
though you can live without him for good. Or was that the deal? You
wanted to get rid of Matthew, Liz wanted him, so you let her have

Kat said nothing and glared at Cathline. Cathline didn't understand, she
could never understand what had gone on in that Guild stronghold. All
Kat did was stand up and walk out of the room.

Tina turned to Cathline and spat back, "You were outta line there. Go
after her and say sorry."

Cathline shook her head, "No I'm right. Look I knew her WAY before
any of you guys, and I'm telling you that ain't Kat or if it is her mind has
been screwed with big time."

"That may be, but she still cares for you. Please cut her some slack,"
Tina replied.

Their argument was cut short by a short series of sobs from Scott and
Tina turned her attention to the crying woman on the sofa. She walked
over to Scott and put an arm around him.

Scott sniffled for a few moments and said softly to Tina, "Why'd she do
it? Why'd she let this happen to me and why won't she let me see my
Rebecca again. Tina I'm so trapped. I'm used to being in control but
this is way out of my league."

Tina thought for a few moments and pulled Scott close, "I don't know, I
was hoping she'd tell us. I've only been with Kat for a few hours but I
do know she has a good heart."

Scott buried his face into Tina shoulders and started to cry once more,
the pain, fear, and shock of the past few weeks was gradually starting to
work their way out.

The senator had caught very little of what was going on and was deep in
thought when a worrying thought crossed his mind, "They don't know
how to stop it."

Cathline caught the remark and asked "Who? Liz and Jane?"

The senator nodded, "Yeah. That's why Kat wants us here. That's the
real reason why she's waiting for Dr Bexley. They don't know how to
prevent the attack, they never planned for this."

Cathline whispered, "Oh shit!"

The senator caught himself fiddling with his pony tail once more and
then guiltily swished it back behind his head, "Succinct and accurate.
We're here to help them work out what to do next. Kat hasn't said so
yet, but I bet that's what she's thinking. All this bickering amongst
ourselves is screwing things up even more and the clock is ticking."

Scott lifted his head up. The Senator's musings had brought him out
from his self pitying mood, "So that's what Kat was talking about when
she said that Cathline wasn't seeing the big picture. Kat knows that
millions of lives depend on her and especially Dr Bexley."

Unnoticed by them Kat slipped back into the room and stood by the
door, just listening.

Tina added, "I don't think any of us are doing particularly well at the
moment. Cathline here is ready to rip Kat's head off, I'm feeling as
guilty as hell about what happened to Scott, Scott's in shock, the
senator's trying to take control of an almost uncontrollable situation,
and it's clear to me that it's Dr Bexley who's got some kinda hold over
Kat. Not a good situation to be in."

Kat interrupted, "I think you about summed it up there, Tina."

The rest of the group whirled around and guiltily looked at Kat.

Kat strode over to where she had been sitting and sat down once more.
Gathering her thoughts she started to speak, "We're not a good lesson
in group dynamics are we. It'll only get worse when Elizabeth turns up ,
as most of us here have a desire to see her dead. Yes Tina, you're right
Elizabeth does have a hold over me. But that's part of the stuff I can't
talk about. All I ask is that you put up with her and put your thoughts
of revenge to one side. I need her, we need her, and millions need her."

Cathline butted in, "It's Matthew, isn't it. She's got Matthew and she
won't let him go unless you co-operate. I KNEW it."

Kat shook her head, "Cathline that's not it at all. I trust Liz with
Matthew, she won't harm him, she won't betray our marriage, and they
are coming. I've not let myself get too excited about it as I need to keep
focused but, be sure of one thing. I STILL love him more than anything
or anyone else. That has never wavered. Now where was I?"

"You were about to tell us you don't have a clue on how to stop Israel's
attack?" the senator asked.

"Yes we do, we need to get proof of the Guild's deception to the UN
and to our government," Kat retorted.

"I hate to say this but that may be harder than you expect?" the Senator

"Why?" Tina asked.

"He's talking about the changelings. We've no idea where they've gone
or who they are, but we can deal with them, Elizabeth knows how.
Now if you don't mind I'm bushed and we could all do with some rest."
Kat suggested. She was feeling beat, and undoubtedly she wasn't the
only one.

- o - o - o -

Matthew walked into the arrivals lounge at JFK at 02:30am Eastern
Standard Time. He only had his hand luggage with him and the Guild
had thoughtfully given him his passport back so immigrations was
straightforward enough.

As he clutched his bag close to him, he could feel the disks containing
the proof required to stop the impending attack. The only thing against
them now was the fact the information was heavily encrypted, and only
the government had the necessary resources to read it. Elizabeth
suspected the encrypted files contained much more than just details of
the Egyptian deception. She thought they contained locations, and
motives of the Guild created changelings as well.

Matthew still felt sorrowful that Elizabeth hadn't made it. They sure
needed her, even if her changeling organ was damaged, maybe
permanently. She had a lot of information that meant a lot to Matthew.
She knew where Kat was, if she was alive, she knew how to turn him
back, and she also knew the intimate details of the Guild. On the way
over he'd listened to the news, expecting to hear of her capture at any
moment, but there had been none. His heart had soared when he saw
pictures of Cathline walking out of a hospital. Although it looked as
though she'd been injured she was otherwise unharmed. Walking with
her was a tall, Arabic man with a well toned muscular body. The
reporter had called him 'Salah' and apparently he was responsible for
Cathline's rescue. Matthew wondered if it was the same Salah that had
sent Elizabeth the note, and was the driving force behind the Guild civil
war. Walking behind Salah and Cathline was a smaller woman. The
reporter had called her Detective Tina Cox, and she had been held
captive with Cathline. The rest of the news contained extended
coverage of the ongoing crisis and speculation that the US had said that
it would hit Egypt hard if Israel did not.

As Matthew hailed a cab he felt himself drift off to sleep, it had been a
long flight, and he suddenly realised, as often happens, that exhaustion
had crept up on him. His next memory was of the cab driver shaking
him awake, "You're there miss. That'll be 20 dollars."

Sleepily rummaging in his purse Matthew pulled out a fifty and told the
driver to keep the change. He walked nonchalantly passed the night
porter and caught the private elevator to his condo. Memories of
happier times came flooding back to him, flashbacks to when Kat was
alive and then of Cathline just holding him and stroking his hair as he
cried for his dead wife. The words of that song came flooding back to

'Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away.'

The elevator stopped at Matthew's floor and he walked out into the
brightly lit corridor. He slowed down as he reached his door. By now
he could almost hear the music of the song out loud, as if the band was
playing for him and him alone.

A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes
As if to hide a lonely tear
My life will be Forever Autumn
'cause you're not here
'cause you're not here
'cause you're not here'

Matthew managed to find his key and softly unlocked the door.

- o - o - o -

Kat's eyes flicked open at the sound of the door being unlocked. A year
of living on the edge of discovery had made her a light sleeper, and her
fear rose at the sound of someone walking into the house. She crept
past the sleeping forms of Cathline and Scott, and ducked down behind
the bedroom door as she saw the lights in the living room flick on. Her
fear turned to joy as she heard a voice call out, "Hello, anyone there?"

She wanted to rush out and hug the figure that had just walked in but
she felt herself unable to move. A year of pain, A year of fear, and a
year of loss weighed heavy on her mind. She had fought long and hard
to suppress the feelings that now welled up inside her. Out of necessity
she'd pushed down her feelings for Matthew for so long, and now she
knew he was standing there she was apprehensive of seeing him again.

She felt her heart beat beneath her chest, just in the same way it'd done
when he proposed to her, the same way, when he'd married her, and
when she'd seen him walk into that office at TGEN after his escape from
the police. This time was different. He thought she was dead, he
thought her throat had been slit in the desert over a year ago and he
didn't know what Elizabeth had done to her. Still, they'd coped in the
past and they'd cope now. She felt her eyes wet with tears, and she
stifled down a cry. From her hidden position she could see Matthew
walking towards the kitchen. He'd put on a little weight, and his hair
was as wild and unkempt as ever. She saw him look furtively around as
if he'd heard a movement.

Kat held her breath but Matthew had turned back, and was filling the
kettle. He put it on the stove to boil and walked back into the living
room. He flopped down on the sofa, and laid back, unwinding from a
long trip. Kat saw her chance and crept out of the bedroom. She'd
thought long and hard about what to say should this moment ever come
but she changed her mind about what she wanted to say. She gathered
herself against the barrage of questions that were sure to come, and she
simply said, "Fancy a race?"

Matthew shot up and whirled around, "Salah isn't it? What the hell are
you doing in my house?"

No longer able to contain herself any longer Kat said, "Mat, it's me."

Matthew's eyebrow lifted in puzzlement, "Me?"

"Never mind come here," Kat said, and ran and gave Matthew a large
embrace. "I missed you, You'll never know how much I missed you,"
Kat whispered.

Matthew felt tears against his face, and pushed himself away from Kat's
embrace, "Who are you?" he demanded.

"Matthew it's me, Kat. I know you don't recognise me, but it's true.
Please come here and let me hug you. I've waited a lifetime for this,

Matthew said nothing. His mind and body were in shock. It had to be a
trick, a cruel joke played on him by Elizabeth or somebody. He backed
away from Kat and nearer the phone.

Kat saw the suspicion in his face and said, "Remember our first time
together. We'd tried at Cathline's house, but we were both too tired and
too overcome. Our first time was in Liz's house, our house. I said
'Hello My love'."

Matthew whispered back, "and I said, 'I never dreamed our first time
would be like this.'"

Kat nodded, "Then I replied 'Me neither, still at last we have chance to
be alone. Matthew I don't care if you're a woman or not, I want you'."

Matthew sank to his knees and started to cry, "Kat, Kat I missed you, I
missed you more than life itself. Please let it be you because I couldn't
cope if it weren't."

Tears streaming down her face Kat walked over to Matthews sobbing
form, and pulled him close, "I've always been me and I'm not going
anywhere. I love you."

Matthew lifted his head up and looked at Kat's manly, unshaven face, "I
saw you killed, Why, how are you like this?"

Kat wrapped her strong arms around Matthew's waist and pulled his
head towards her shoulder, "Shh later. Let's not ruin the moment.
We're together again and that's what matters."

Matthew pushed Kat away and stood up. His mind was whirling with
possibilities and emotion. This man in front of him, he knew about their
first time together as husband and wife but that could have been
tortured from Kat before she was released. Part of him wanted to
believe it was her, and yet he was afraid to start hoping again. He was
afraid of the hurt that would rise up and tear his heart apart once more
and afraid of what this Salah was planning. He thought back and
remembered a moment, a special moment that only Kat would know. It
hurt him to remember it, and it brought back bitter and painful
memories but it was the only way. Not looking at Kat, Matthew said,
"You remember when you were ill? I think it was a few weeks before
we flew out to Libya?"

"I remember. I was in pain most of the time and only had a few weeks
to live," Kat replied gently.

Matthew fought back the tears, the vivid memory of that painful
moment flashed into his mind, and brought with it a years worth of loss,
"You'd got up in the middle of the night. I'd missed you and followed

Kat nodded, "I'd just been violently sick. The cancer that was eating
away at me was causing me to vomit blood and bile. I'd missed the
bowl and it was all over the floor. I was so ashamed and fearful that
you'd seen me that way I turned to walk away. I changed my mind and
simply said 'So now you know."

Matthew said nothing, and could control his tears no longer. He rushed
to where Kat was now standing and embraced her. The bottled up
feelings of a year of pain and despair babbled out, "It's you! She saved
you, she saved you! My God you're alive! I missed you! Kat my love,
my heart, my soul, I missed you and I love you! I never stopped, even
when I knew you were gone I never stopped loving you."

A tearful Kat returned his embrace, "I know. I missed you too, my
moon and my stars. I've had to do some terrible things Matthew. I had
to push down my feelings of loss for our sakes, for everyone's sake and
now I'm finding it hard to speak."

"Then don't, just hold me," Matthew whispered.

Kat did so and wished the moment would never end.

Matthew was the first to pull away, "I've so many questions I don't
know where to start."

"You and everyone else. Liz should be with you, where is she?" Kat

Still sniffling Matthew asked, "How much do you know?"

Kat thought for a moment, "Before they went into hiding my Guild
contacts told me that Elizabeth was gravely wounded and that you had
flown to the hospital with her. They also said that she regained
consciousness and was planning to leave with you."

"She was. She told me to meet her at a certain time and not to wait if
she didn't turn up. I waited until the last possible moment before my
flight was due to leave but she wasn't there."

Kat's face suddenly looked worried, "Was she arrested? Maybe she
switched forms and flew back with you?"

Matthew shrugged, "Dunno I don't think she was arrested, it'd be on the
news by now. She couldn't switch forms -- her final assault on the
Guild nearly killed her and damaged her changeling organ beyond

Kat's worried face turned ashen gray, "Oh no."

Now it was Matthew's turn, "What?"

Kat sighed, "With no changeling organ we're reliant on ourselves to
fight the changelings. Liz was confident she could beat one of them
with her improved version. Now if we have to face one we'll probably
lose. You've seen what they can do?"

Memories of Elizabeth slashing her way past the Guild elite filled
Matthew's mind, "Oh fuck!"

Kat nodded, "Now, they can't match what Liz could do and they can't
shift forms that many times, but they can repair almost fatal injuries.
They are certainly better fighters than Liz and that makes them deadly."

Matthew heard a sound from behind Kat and he peered past Kat's broad
shoulder to see a sleepy looking Cathline emerging from the doorway.
"Cath, thank God your safe!"

A broad smile erupted from Cathline's face and she ran and gave
Matthew a large hug, "You too old friend. Bet you're glad you
escaped from the hell bitch huh. This's made my week."

Kat gave a small cough, as if to say 'excuse me I'm here now'.

Cathline ignored the cough and a stream of questions came rushing out,
"How, why and where?"

Kat raised her voice, "Hey guys, one question at a time. Mat, you must
be shattered and it's still the middle of the night. Cathline, go to bed.
Mat and I will see you in the morning."

Cathline felt a little hurt at Kat's attitude but she took the hint. Besides,
even if she was unsure of Kat's mental state she owed it to Matthew not
to spoil this moment for him, "You want me to clear out a room for you

Matthew had never had feelings towards men before so as he looked at
Kat's strong body and imagined running his fingers over its firm muscles
he found it disquieting. But it was Kat after all, and she'd given so
much up for him. He found he enjoyed the warm feelings growing
inside of him and he could almost feel Kat's hands on his breasts and of
her touching him HERE and THERE. Strange how he seemed to recall
doing that to someone else. He tossed the thought aside, it was
probably just a memory from a film or something.

Kat looked at Matthew and said, "You look exhausted, we've plenty of
time for this later."

Matthew shook his head, "Not a chance. Cathline, there's no need to
clear anyone out. We'll go to a hotel, the honeymoon suite."

Cathline smiled, "You want me to write a 'just married sign for you'?"

Matthew smiled, "After five years? I don't think so."

Kat put her arm around Matthew's slender waist -- not believing it was
really him she was holding close. Matthew rested his head on Kat's arm
and thought the same. Matthew beckoned for Cathline to come closer
and with his other hand pulled her beside him, the emotions of the
moment overwhelming his ability to speak. For a few moments the
three friends shared a moment of reunion. For her part Cathline was
very uneasy about this being close to Kat. She couldn't forget her
misgivings, but she put them aside. This was Matthew's moment again
and she owed it to him not to spoil it.

Cathline was the first to let go and pull away, "You two had better get a
move on or you won't be able to find a room."

Kat smiled, "Don't worry, we will. See you at seven."

Matthew turned and whispered something to Kat who then smiled,
"Make that eight."

As Matthew and Kat turned and walked out of the room Cathline said
to herself, "I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they do find a room."
A memory from long ago of her and John's honeymoon came flooding
back, and she couldn't help but feel the pain of loneliness once more.
Sure her love for John had never been as deep as Kat's for Matthew but
she had loved him. Cathline didn't understand, she was supposed to be
the most beautiful woman alive and yet she was alone.

Cathline got up and walked to the window. Peering thru the curtains
she saw the hustle and bustle of a city that never slept. Lurid neon
colors stretched out towards the horizon, and the soft, white glow of a
thousand streetlamps created a halo, which permeated the dark night
sky. The flashing red-green light of an airliner caught her eye and she
followed it past the window until it could no longer be seen.

Somewhere out there, Matthew and Kat were find a place to
consummate their marriage, a celebration of love lost and then found. It
was a thought that brought a fresh tear to Cathline's good eye. Her
feelings of joy were tinged with sadness. The images of John's final
moments came to her mind, of a traumatised, desperate Matthew taking
aim and then firing. In spite of the rumors and gossip Cathline had
never had another relationship since John's death. She and Matthew had
kissed once but then she'd pulled away, afraid of spoiling a friendship,
and she'd speculated she was afraid to feel once more. They'd never
spoken of it since.

Why was she alone? That question had preyed on her mind for a while
now. Did men see her as an unattainable wonder, as if no one could
ever match or deserve to own somebody of such unearthly beauty?
Before she'd become Rachel Martin she'd read that many of the world's
top models found it hard to get partners. That any potential partner felt
intimidated and inadequate. She'd always doubted that theory, until

But now her beauty was scarred, once again her eye had been burned
from its socket, and she was faced with the prospect of never regaining
it again. Her shoulder would forever bear the scar of Osman's knife
wound. Kat was right, Rachel Martin's career was over. In some ways
she'd be glad to get back to Cathline Richards once more, and leave the
world of stardom behind. Maybe then she'd find someone, someone to
love her, someone to pick her up in his arms and just hold her, someone
to cry on, someone to laugh with, and someone who understood the
pain she felt inside. She felt a pang of jealousy over Matthew and Kat.
Their souls had been reunited when all had seemed lost forever.
Cathline switched the light off, plunging the room into darkness once
more, and pulled over a chair and sat on it. She sat there just watching
the city go on living beneath her.

Out there somewhere someone was meeting their someone for the first
time, out there someone was proposing to their soul mate, out there
love was being lost and found. Cathline felt so empty inside, even her
best friend had seemingly betrayed her. Kat who'd stood firm against
Elizabeth's evil was now an accomplice in it. Was she the only one who
saw Elizabeth as evil incarnate? She was sure Elizabeth had been behind
the Guild attack on Tel-Aviv, she was sure that Elizabeth had done
something to Kat during her captivity, she was sure that Matthew too
had not emerged unscathed from Elizabeth's evil. Elizabeth was like a
black widow in a web of deception, of plans within plans, ulterior
motives within ulterior motives and she, Cathline was the only one who
could see things for what they really were. But hanging over their
heads was the ever present threat of Israel's attack. Kat was right about
that at least, that had to take precedence over any personal feelings.

Cathline relaxed back on the chair and continued to watch the world go
by. For the moment she was willing to be a spectator and she found it
strangely relaxing. Soon, in spite of herself she was fast asleep.

Some hours later Cathline awoke. She was still sitting down on the
armchair and her neck hurt like hell. The sun was starting to rise above
the Manhattan skyline and the cloudy sky was tinged with orange of the
new day. "Ohh Man," Cathline exclaimed feeling her aching limbs.

"Uncomfortable isn't it?" A voice behind her said.

Cathline's first reaction was puzzlement, the voice sounded exactly like
hers. Her second thought was how? By the time her third thought
entered her head the voice said, "Sleeping in armchairs. Very bad for
the back Y'know. I'd see a doctor."

Cathline shot up out of the armchair and whirled around to face the
mystery voice. Her eyes widened as she saw an exact duplicate of
herself standing in front of her. Sure this doppelganger looked thinner,
more haggard, and was carrying a small bag but none the less it was
Rachel Martin. Cathline was still a little sleepy from her interrupted
nights sleep and the thoughts wouldn't come straight.

"Mind if I take a seat, lover?" the voice asked softly.

That last comment jolted Cathline's thoughts into focus "Hell Bitch!"
She spat.

"I used to be called that, now it's just Elizabeth," Elizabeth provoked
and gently placed her bag on a nearby table.

With a loud scream of rage Cathline pounced at Elizabeth who,
anticipating the move neatly side-stepped and caught Cathline round the
throat. Gasping Cathline swore, "Go on kill me, that's what you came
here for wasn't it?"

"Cathline, all I have to do is twist and I snap your neck. At best you'll
die, at worst you'll be paralysed from the neck down. Is that what you
want? Is that what you crave?"

Cathline managed to find her voice and spat, "Let me go, Bastard."

"Not bastard, Orphan," Elizabeth said softly and released Cathline from
her grip.

Tina heard the commotion outside of her bedroom and crept to the
door. She spotted what looked like two Rachel Martin's fighting. One
of them had, had the other in a tight grip around the neck. It wasn't
until they broke apart that Tina saw that one of them was Cathline.
There was only one other person who could possibly be the other
Rachel Martin, Dr Bexley.

Preparing herself against the worst Tina steeled herself and stepped out
from behind the doorway, "Let her go," she demanded.

"She's not my prisoner. Look, where's Kat, I need to talk to her?"
Elizabeth asked.

"Safe," Cathline spat back.

Tina started edging towards the phone, hoping that Elizabeth didn't
notice her movements. She was going to call for backup sooner this
time and not trust in her own abilities. The last time she'd relied on
herself Dr Bexley had wiped the floor with them.

Elizabeth sighed, she knew this was going to be difficult but it was
necessary. She turned towards Cathline and asked, "Tell me. If I was
out to get you how come Kat's still alive and showing no signs of the
cancer that was killing her? How come Matthew's free? How come I've
come here of my own accord when I knew you were here?"

Cathline stayed silent, she had no easy answers. All she said was,
"Elizabeth, you're nothing but devious. I wouldn't put it past you to try
and fool us and then pounce."

Still conciliatory, Elizabeth said, "True but why not let Kat die, she's
about the only one who could ever think at my level. With her out of
the way my revenge would be much easier to take. Excuse me,"
Elizabeth suddenly rushed towards the phone and with a hefty shove
pushed Tina out of the way.

"Tina, please don't do that. I'm not here to hurt you," Elizabeth added
and disconnected the phone from the wall.

Tina was stunned. Holy shit Elizabeth was FAST! She'd never seen
anyone move that quickly before. Dusting herself down she stood up
and waited for Elizabeth to make the next move, a dangerous strategy
she decided but the only one she could see open to her.

Cathline too was amazed at the speed in which Elizabeth had moved, "I
can't fight you Elizabeth. I'd have no chance but know this, I will see
you dead."

Elizabeth acknowledged, "I'm sure you will. When one is as consumed
by hate as you are, then my death is your only release. I feel lonely too
Cathline, more than you can imagine. I'm an outcast, a monster. I'm no
longer human, demonised in the eyes of the world. More than that the
blood of Tel-Aviv is on my hands. I fully realise I'm on borrowed time
but what I aim to do is make this time count."

Cathline sneered back, "Tel-Aviv, that was your doing, bastard."

Cathline was taken aback as she saw pain flick across Elizabeth's face.
She'd hit a nerve and she didn't hesitate to turn the knife, "Before you
say Orphan I'll correct you. I knew about your mom and Dad, there's
no way in hell a monster, yes that what you are, could come from those
good people. If they were alive today they would vow never to see you
again, they would demand that you be sent straight to hell where you
belong. As for your loneliness, whose fault's that? You altered your
body to the inhuman creature you are now, and it's your fault the world
has made you one of the demons of our time. If you're alone it's
because you made it so."

To Cathline's shock and amazement Elizabeth didn't strike back, she
turned her eyes away from Cathline, slowly sank to the floor and started
to cry. Cathline stood above her, like the victor in some contest, and
looked down as the once proud and invincible Dr Elizabeth Bexley held
her hands in her face and sobbed uncontrollable sobs.

Cathline looked down impassively at the still crying Elizabeth, "You're
pathetic. Those crocodile tears won't wash with me. I loved you, I
know I've told you before, but I really did love you. I've only slept with
two other people other than John, you and Kat. That should've told you
how much you meant to me. I wasn't going to leave you, abandon you
or hurt you."

Elizabeth's tear stained face looked up at Cathline, "I know that now. I
can see that now, but you must remember I was ill at the time. I didn't
know what I was doing or thinking. Every time someone was going to
come close I had to strike back before they hurt me. I can't justify what
I did Cathline, and I'm not going to try, but believe me I wanted to love
you. I was just so screwed up inside."

"Heard it before Liz," Cathline snapped back.

"You don't give an inch do you. Is your heart so cold that it has no
room for forgiveness?"

"Before you came back, maybe it did but not now, not after all you've
done. You got me thrown back into prison where Osman burned out
my eye, AGAIN. You altered Kat so she's on your side, got Scott and
the Senator transformed. Allowed Marcel to die and as icing on the
cake killed half a million people."

Fresh tears formed in Elizabeth's now bloodshot eyes, "I tried to stop it
Cathline, I really did. I was so close, so, so close. In my dreams I hear
thousands of people screaming my name."

"Your victims?" Cathline queried.

Elizabeth said nothing and only nodded.

Cathline turned to walk away and then had a better idea. She walked
closer to Elizabeth and then launched a vicious kick to her head.
Elizabeth knew it was coming but chose to stay still. It connected with
a sickening thud, and Elizabeth put a hand to her jaw. She pulled the
hand away and felt the warm trickle of blood from her nose and mouth.
Cathline then performed a low kick, followed up by a rapid series of
sweeps and finally a powerful kick to Elizabeth's chin. Cathline was
about to kick once more but Tina pulled her away, "Not like this
Cathline, not like this." Elizabeth just sat there, unmoving as if
expecting and indeed wanting more blows. Blood poured from her nose
and mouth and was seeping onto the floor in front of her.

The one sided fight was interrupted by the sound of giggling from the
hallway, Matthew and Kat had returned. A few seconds later Kat and
Matthew walked in arm in arm and Kat's face dropped as she saw a
bloodied Elizabeth and Tina holding Cathline in an arm lock.

"For God's sake Cathline, I told you to drop it. Didn't you learn
anything from before? We need Liz alive and intact," Kat hissed.

Cathline stared at Kat in fury, the adrenaline still pumping from her
attack on Elizabeth. For her part, Elizabeth groggily stood up, wiped
some fresh blood from her nose, and turned to Kat, "Thanks, but I had
it coming," she whispered, her nose still streaming blood.

Kat gave a small 'welcome back' smile at Elizabeth and said "Hi Witch,
glad you made it."

Matthew interrupted, "How did you escape. I waited right until the last
moment for you but you never showed?"

Elizabeth waved a finger as if to say "Just a moment" and then walked
off into the kitchen. She returned a few moments later holding a clutch
of tissue paper and an ice cube. She quickly placed it over her bleeding
nose and held it there.

"Dad's bedder," Elizabeth said softly thru the tissue.

Kat gave a small sigh and sat down on the sofa, "Right, let's get down
to business. We've wasted enough time as it is. Tina, wake Scott and
the Senator up for us. I'm amazed they've stayed asleep with what's
been going on here."

Tina released Cathline who sulked off to a chair, furthest away from
where Kat was sitting. In a telling gesture Elizabeth sat down next to
Kat, and continued to mop her nose. For Matthew's part this was the
final proof that Elizabeth had lost her changeling abilities. If she could
repair a bullet wound then a bloody nose would be child's play.
Matthew, unwilling to be apart from Kat at all sat down on her lap, and
for her part Kat put a strong arm around Matthew's slender waist.

They waited in silence for a few moments, each lost in their own
thoughts until a sleepy looking Scott and Senator Jameson walked in.

Matthew was the first to speak "So now we're all together will you
please tell us what the hell is going on. Kat's still saying nothing, I left
you in intensive care and about to be arrested, and to cap it all off it
looks as though we've just about started World War Three."

Kat responded with a simple, "That about sums it up."

Cathline couldn't wait any longer, "I don't get it, You didn't need us,
Liz. The Guild did it. We were just pawns in your chess game. I know
Kat she'd never go along with this," Cathline spat.

Elizabeth noticed that her nose had stopped bleeding and expertly threw
the tissue into a nearby trash can, "Listen. One thing at a time, it isn't
over yet. If we fail to stop Israel invoking the Fury Directive then
millions of innocent people will die. Let me explain."

"You'd better," Cathline demanded.

"I knew from the symptoms I was showing that I had terminal cancer.
If nothing was done I would be dead in a few months. Fortunately for
me, the Guild captured me and tortured me until I would do as they
wanted. Yes I did fix the DNA system, as I needed it to try and cure
myself both of the cancer and of being a mermaid. The Guild saw the
plans for my changeling organ and demanded that I develop it.
Matthew, everything I told you was the truth."

"If you say so," Cathline replied.

Ignoring Cathline's barbed comment, Elizabeth continued "As Hassan's
confidence in me grew, he gave me greater responsibility. I knew that
the changeling organs and DNA tech in the hands of the Guild were a
horrific combination. Half a million people are dead because of me and
MY error. I should have catered for them moving the schedule
forward, but to produce THAT many warheads in so short a time wasn't

"You fucked up big time didn't you?" Matthew said.

Elizabeth nodded slowly, "I'll take the points one at a time. Firstly I did
need you. You made sure Salah's forces did as they were supposed to,
and I needed to show you I was making amends. If I'd have shown up
and proclaimed how I'd conquered the Guild, then you wouldn't have
believed me. You'd have hated me still. You realise that the Guild had
you marked for assassination. Sure, you were low on their list but
they'd have got round to you sooner or later. Besides, how can I turn
you all back if you're scattered around the world."

"That still doesn't excuse what you did to us," Cathline shouted.

"It doesn't. I was walking a delicate tightrope. Hassan thought I was
still in love with Matthew and hungry for revenge against you. Because
he thought he had me contained and labelled he ignored me, and so
allowed me the freedom I needed to work against him. Salah, or should
I say Kat here was my master stroke."

"That's not like Kat. She'd never go along with you," Cathline stated
once more.

Kat looked squarely at Cathline, "You're right. I didn't at first. Liz
persuaded Hassan to turn me over to her for experimentation. Liz took
more blood samples than I care to think about. In the end she found a
cure for the cancer that was killing us. The cure was the changeling
organ. It could fight any cancer and so could cure me. A little while
after that we discovered the Guild was planning to use DNA technology
as a weapon of terror. We didn't know what at the time, only that they
had to be stopped,"

"So why in hell didn't you tell me? I mourned for you every minute of
every day," Matthew sobbed.

"Look, this is getting us nowhere. Ok, I'll start from the very beginning.
Then Kat'l fill in her bits OK?" Elizabeth said, trying to placate an irate

"Go ahead," Matthew said.

Elizabeth fidgeted around for a few seconds, trying to get comfortable.
She started to speak.

"It began just before the final confrontation between Kat and myself. I
had installed a security lock out into my DNA system that would
prevent its use. I also made sure that any copy of the system would
contain corruption routines that would render it useless. That was my
failsafe to ensure the Guild didn't get their hands on it. Even in that
state of mind I wasn't stupid enough to let the Guild have DNA
technology. Sure I'd used them as my hired guns but I guessed they
were much more than just a bunch of thugs. I wasn't to know that the
Guild would use my corruption routines to produce genetic warheads."

"After I had been transformed, I went thru the usual feelings of denial,
anger and finally acceptance. So it remained until two years ago when
Hassan and his Guild agents woke me in my cave, and took me back to
his stronghold. This suited me just fine as it gave me my only chance at
freeing myself of being a mermaid, and of curing the cancer that was
starting to eat into me. As I said to Matthew on my island, I found out
that I had been insane and that, within my genes was a tendency
towards sociopathic schizophrenia. Once I had access to a proper
laboratory I was able to treat the madness, and then, as though scales
had fallen from my eyes I saw the enormity of what I had done, "
Elizabeth paused for a few moments, letting it all sink in before

"The Guild wanted me to fix their copy of the machine, which I was
happy to do, as it would help me too. It wasn't until they demanded
that I work on a changeling organ that I knew they were planning
something big. I initially refused, firstly giving technical reasons why it
couldn't be done, and then other reasons, well excuses really.
Unfortunately, they saw thru it and began to torture me. They put fresh
water into my tank, which made my scales itch and fall out. It was like
swimming in acid. I endured this for three weeks until I finally gave in.
It took me nearly eight months to produce a working version of sorts.
The Guild were ecstatic and demanded that I try it out on someone.
One of their leaders, Salah, volunteered, and it was from him that I
learned that he was planning to overthrow Hassan. He wasn't happy
that the Guild were becoming more like terrorists than honorable
assassins. He thought that Hassan was turning the Guild into something
dishonorable and evil. His vision of the Guild, was as it really was all
those years ago, an organization that kept the peace and only killed
those who deserved it."

Tina interrupted, "Some difference. Hey we only kill the people we are
supposed to kill so therefore we're the good guys."

Elizabeth nodded her agreement and resumed her explanation.

"I agree with you, Tina. However, Salah was unable to think of a way
to achieve his aims. He admitted to himself that he was not the right
person to create this change. So much did he believe in his ideal that his
own life didn't matter. He also knew that the Guild was planning
something big, using my DNA technology as some kinda weapon. He
was unable to find out anymore, and so he took a chance and confided
in me," Elizabeth then glanced across at Kat who took up the story.

"You remember I was taken from our camp in the dessert and driven
away?", Kat asked.

Matthew nodded, "How could I forget? It was one of the last times I
saw you."

Kat smiled softly, so much had passed since then, "Yeah, I was taken by
Hassan's guards to meet him. He sat behind his desk, proud and aloof,
and asked me what I wanted. Elizabeth was there too, in her tank and
seemingly spitting her hate of me from every pore. Anyway Hassan and
Elizabeth agreed to consider my request and I was taken and locked

Elizabeth interrupted, "Hassan wanted to keep her locked away for
good, he wanted to mate her with his pet tiger, although that may have
been Osman's idea. I persuaded him against that idea, suggesting that
she be used as a guinea pig for my DNA experiments instead. Hassan
agreed and Kat was turned over to my care."

Kat resumed, "I wanted desperately to get back to you and Cathline, but
I was sedated for much of the time. Elizabeth took a blood a sample
and then I was taken back down to my cell to recover. I put up one
helluva fight I can tell you but it was no good, they won every time."

Elizabeth again joined in, "Initially I was going to use Kat's DNA to
cure myself and her too, time permitting. I then had a stroke of genius.
I knew a way to take down the Guild, cure Kat and myself. And put to
rights a lot of the harm that I had done. It would be very difficult; I
would have to balance the well being of those I cared about with
keeping the Guild happy. Every day I lived on a knife-edge, and at any
moment my plans could be exposed, therefore killing myself and
everyone I sought to protect. Anyway later that evening I had a
meeting with Salah. He was having doubts about how to achieve his
objectives, he could see no way that he could do it. I outlined what I
had planned and he agreed, with one proviso."

Cathline asked, "Which was?"

"That he should take Kat's place. He saw that Kat was a more
formidable ally than he could ever be. He wanted to potentially give his
life so that my plan could succeed. For him, it was the only way, for me
it allowed me demonstrate to my 'arch enemy' that I really was serious
about making up. I turned the original Salah into a copy of Kat, and it
was Salah's throat that was slit in the desert, not Kat's. He was the first
casualty of my war against the Guild."

Matthew was dumbstruck for a few seconds. It hadn't been Kat that
was killed or a dog as Elizabeth claimed. It had been a Guild agent who
had nobly given up his life so that his dream could be fulfilled. Matthew
turned to Kat and said, "I bet you didn't go along with this right away."

Kat nodded, "The conversation went something like this.

"Ok Hell bitch, when are you going to let me out? Matthew
and Cathline are waiting for me and they'll raise hell to get me
out. If you're not going to cure me then let me go."

"You're much too useful. Look, you want me to cure you of
your cancer right?" Elizabeth said.

"Yep," I replied. That was the reason why I was here after all.

"This cure isn't going to take 5 minutes, I need you here so
that I can run tests on you."

"I thought you could come back with me. Cathline'l help," I

"You really think that Hassan will let you do that, even IF I
wanted to go? I'm a prisoner here too y'know. Maybe not
locked away as you are, but this body is more effective than
any cell," Elizabeth said, swishing her tail around in the water
to emphasise the point.

"Hassan owes me," I said in retort.

Elizabeth shook her head, amazed at Kat's naivety "Hassan
owes no one. Look, your only way out of here is to help me,
and your only chance of a cure is to stay here. You're just as
trapped as I am."

I could see a kind of twisted logic in this. Deep down I knew
that Hassan would never let Elizabeth go. I also suspected that
he wouldn't let me go either. "What guarantee do I have that
you won't turn me into a slug or something?"

"A good question. You don't! However, you can either trust
me, or help me voluntarily or I get the Guild to drug you and
you help me anyway. If you choose the second option I'll
make sure that you stay in that rather fetching tiger woman
body for the rest of your life. If you choose to help me I'll cure
you of the cancer and when I turn myself back into a normal
woman I'll do the same to you. Think about it. One path you
stay as you are, probably producing kittens for that tiger of
Hassan's for the rest of your life, or another path is to work
with me and be your old self again," Elizabeth stated.

I took a deep breath. I really had no choice, yes I was used to
being a tiger woman but I'd rather be me again, even me as
Jasmine. Once again Elizabeth's inevitable logic gave me no
choice at all. I decided to push my luck, "What about
Matthew? He'll still be a woman won't he? We'd still be the
lesbian married couple we were before. I want him turned
back too."

Elizabeth smiled, "You're not really in a position to bargain are
you? I'm not out to get you both anymore. Yes you really do
have no choice but I have to do this until I've have earned your
trust. As a gesture of good faith I'll turn Matthew back as
well, if I get the chance. Agreed?"

I nodded, "Agreed. I'll help you in return for turning me and
Matthew back to how we were."

I walked over to Elizabeth and we shook on it, Kat paused for
a while to let it all sink in.

Cathline turned and glared at Elizabeth, "So Jane had no choice, typical
kind of stunt you'd pull."

"I guess. But there was no other choice. I had to have her help. I
admit I manipulated her into it but once she stepped thru those gates she
was effectively the Guild's prisoner. Hey, I saved her life, twice I might
add and you still treat me as though I'm the bad guy in all this,"
Elizabeth said, starting to get annoyed.

Kat interjected, "Come on guys, give her a break. She saved my butt --
if she hadn't done that I'd be dead, or a mother to a litter of tigers.
Anyway on with the story, Liz."

Elizabeth sighed and took a deep breath.

"After Kat had agreed to help me I needed to inform her of my plans.
The Guild thought they monitored everything I said and did in my
laboratory but unknown to them, and with Salah's help I had arranged
for 'friendly' guards to be on duty when I needed to discuss sensitive
issues. My revealing my plans to Kat was such a time."

"Kat, Meet Salah," I said.

Kat looked on in amazement as an exact double of her walked
into the room. Salah was identical right down to the irregular
stripes on her arms. The copy was perfect.

"What, who!" Kat exclaimed.

"This is, or rather was Salah. He has agreed to take your
place, while you work here. He is prepared to lay down his life
in order that Hassan is removed from power," I said soberly.

"Why?" Kat asked.

"So that Matthew and Cathline go away, and thus allow me to
correct the mistakes I have made."

"But won't he be missed?"

"Not for a while. He's been seconded to me for a while. We
have about two weeks before he'll be missed. Besides, I have a
replacement in mind."

"I could see the look on Kat's face at all this, it was a look of horror and
inevitability. She knew she was helpless to prevent this and I tried to
put her mind at ease."

"Hey it's not easy doing this to people. You want to know
WHY I'm doing all this, besides making amends?"

"You mentioned taking out the Guild. Why you want to
puzzles me," Kat answered.

"Because they have my DNA system and they plan to use it.
They made me develop my changeling organ and I'm sure they
plan to use it in something so big and horrible that it'd turn
your stomach. Salah here was due to receive the changeling
organ in the next few days but I'm unsure of its stability. Kat,
you think I'm scary. I'm an amateur compared to these guys.
Hassan's lost so much face and honor in the Guild he's
desperate to do anything to get it back. He's like a lion with
hyenas snapping at his heels," I explained.

Kat twitched her whiskers in thought, So you're doing this on
the basis of what the Guild COULD do, rather than what they
are planning to do."

"Look they're not going to keep this bottled up, they're going
to use it and when they do people, a lot of people will die,
probably very painfully. I have to prevent that at any cost."

"So what do you plan?" Kat asked.

"I guess you know about how the Guild are organized? The
multiple redundancy built into their structure makes it very
difficult to take them out. The only way to do it is to do it all
at once."

Kat thought for a few seconds "I see, but to do that you need a
lot of accomplices who will act all at once. Further more you'll
need people you can trust."

I'll give Kat her due. She's very quick to catch on, "Exactly.
We need to work on multiple fronts.."

Kat interrupted, "What's all this 'we' stuff?"

I sighed, "The only way we are going to escape is to take
down the Guild. The only way I am going to be able to turn
you and Matthew back is to take down the Guild. The only
way we are all going to be able to live thru the next few years
without getting our throats slit is to take down the Guild, and
finally the only way we are going to prevent innocent people
getting killed is to take down the Guild. Is THAT enough
reasons why it should be we?"

I noticed that look of resignation I'd first seen in Kat when
she'd agreed to help me. She really had no choice.

"Ok, I'll help but I feel as though I've made a deal with the

I smiled, "No, just one of his 'hell bitches'."

That raised a smile from Kat and the tension in the atmosphere
eased a little.

I continued, "As I said we need to approach this
from multiple fronts. Firstly, I need to make sure Hassan is
fooled into thinking that I'm still a 'hell bitch' and so gives me
the room I need to co-ordinate things. Secondly, I need to
make sure that Matthew and Cathline are protected. Next, I
need to start to gather our forces, who will rise up and stop the
Guild, then I need to ensure there are enough trustworthy
people at all the Guild 'roots' to make sure that it all goes
smoothly. Within all this I need to find out exactly what the
Guild is planning to do and when. And, last but by no means
least make sure that forces loyal to Hassan know nothing about

Kat smiled, "Is THAT all. I thought it was going to be hard."

"That my dear, Kitty Kat is why I need you."

"Hey, I'm hardly inconspicuous am I?"

"You remember that double I said I had in mind?"

Kat's face dropped in shock "NO WAY. No way, no way, no

"I need someone to take Salah's place. Look when I'm done
here I'll turn you back. You will need to recruit as many
people as you can in order to help us."

Kat complained bitterly, "Why can't YOU do it, Why not use

"Two very good questions with two easy answers. Firstly, do
you have the knowledge required to re-design the changeling
organ, do you know how to get around the fixer that binds us.
Yes you're very intelligent but you're not a biochemist. Salah
isn't up to the job. He's managed to get a friendly set of guards
working the surveillance equipment here and that's about it.
He's in too deep to be able to think his way out and he knows
it. Your Arabic is very good, better than mine is, and you
learn fast. Plus you're more charismatic than both Salah and
me, people naturally find themselves being drawn to you.
Besides, it's part of the deal, this counts as helping me."

Kat's face grew angry, "You bitch, that's blackmail."

I nodded in agreement, "Yes it is. Until you trust me it's the
only way I can get things done the way they should be done.
Listen, this is my ONLY chance of putting things right and
OUR only chance of getting outta here. It's also the only way
we're going to stop the Guild killing hundreds, maybe
thousands of people."

Kat sighed, she knew she had no other choice. To refuse was
to condemn not only herself and her friends but also innocent
lives to Guild tyranny, "I agree. But I don't like it."

"Objection noted. Now we have three days in which you have
to learn what Salah knows. I can cover up some of it saying
that the changeling organ has disrupted his memories, but
that'll only go so far."

"So that's how you ended up as Salah," Scott answered.

Kat nodded, "Liz had worked on a cure for the Fixer version two that
held us in our bodies. The cure was a changeling organ. It could
manufacture the chemicals required to override the fixer and thus allow
the body to change. She'd made the discovery a month or so before, but
she wanted to perfect the changeling organ for herself before using it. It
didn't matter for me, I'd only spend a year or so as Salah. Elizabeth on
the other hand needed firstly, to keep on Hassan's good side and
secondly, needed the changeling organ to infiltrate and take down the
Guild itself."

Elizabeth continued, "Not going over too much again but we needed the
edge that the advanced changeling organ gave us. Anyway I installed
the changeling organ in Kat and waited for her to change. Overriding
the fixer worked in cell samples but this was the first time I'd tested it
for real."

Kat joined in "It was very strange. My breasts shrunk back into my
chest and my hips filled out. At the same time my fur and tail was re-
absorbed into my body and it became more muscular. I remember that
my head hurt like hell and then I started to hurt down THERE. I fell to
the ground in pain and I awoke nearly a day later as the exact copy of

Elizabeth added, "The process was painful and long winded but at least
Kat was back to a human form."

Tina looked quizzical for a few moments and then asked "Didn't Hassan
notice all this? You mentioned you'd bribed the guards but surely Salah
was missed? You said that Hassan wanted to keep Kat a prisoner."

Elizabeth nodded, "When I turned Salah into a copy of Kat I told
Hassan I was testing the changeling organ. That covered me for having
two Kat's around. Then after the week was up I told Hassan to let
Salah/Kat go as I'd finished with her. I also said it'd give Matthew more
pain if she was let go and then killed in front of him. I wanted Hassan
to believe that I still wanted revenge on Matthew and Kat. Therefore,
to Hassan the Kat that was left was Salah."

Matthew thought it thru for a few moments and then asked "Then

Kat took up the story.

"It was very strange being a man, and it took a while to get
used to it. To tell the truth I've never really got used to having
a dick dangling around. Anyway, before Salah was released
we went thru the entire set of Guild protocols, his contacts etc.
Now I couldn't hope to learn all of it but I did a good enough

Although I was in Salah's body there was a great deal of
instability in it which meant that one day I woke up and had my
old tail back or had a pussy instead of a dick. Elizabeth said it
was the fixer trying to exert control over my new body. It
took another two months to work out all the bugs. By that
time my body had undergone so much stress that it wasn't safe
for me to turn into anything for over six months."

Elizabeth joined in.

"At first I was cautious of working with Kat, after all she was
my 'enemy'. I still had moments of insanity but thanks to my
Stelazine and some hard hitting words from Kat they got less
and less. She really is a remarkable woman, Matthew. I've
never known anyone quite like her."

Cathline looked at Elizabeth suspiciously, "So after three months you
were best buddies then?"

Kat shook her head, "Not at all. We had made a mutual pact, a cease-
fire if you like. I needed her to turn Matthew and me back, and she
needed me to help her escape and undo all the wrong she's done. We're
friends now but we'll never be best friends. I respect her now and she
respects me and my marriage to Matthew."

Elizabeth continued, ignoring the harsh looks from Cathline,
"Kat's glossed over a hell of a lot of complex genetic work that we did
in those three months. As soon as Kat was better she had to go off and
be Salah. Her mission was to persuade enough Guild members that
Hassan was not to be trusted, and should have stepped down as soon as
he was dishonored. This task was to take many months and was fraught
with danger. Fortunately, lots of Guild members were feeling that way
anyway and only needed a leader to rally around. Kat was that leader. I
was then faced with having to perfect the changeling organ alone and
ensuring Hassan believed in my loyalty."

Kat interrupted,
"It was one hell of a job and progress was slow. I knew from my
briefings that Hassan was up to no good but had no idea what. It wasn't
until a few months ago that Hassan took me into his confidence and told
me what he planned to do with his genetic warheads. I was about to
warn Elizabeth when one of my informants told me that I was being
watched day and night. To tell Elizabeth any earlier than I did would
have wrecked the entire plan, and killed us both. At the time of 'my'
funeral I was in America and watched the whole thing on TV. Cathline
you said the most wonderful things about me."

Cathline looked away, "I meant every word of it. Jane you've changed."

Kat didn't notice the use of her real name and simply asked, "How so?"

Cathline turned to face her friend once more, "You've become colder
and more ruthless. You're more like Dr Bexley than SHE is," and
Cathline nodded towards Elizabeth.

Kat noticed the atmosphere turn decidedly frosty so she decided to
resolve the hostility between her and Cathline, "Look, why don't the rest
of you go take a walk or something. Cathline and I need to work this
out before this gets any worse. She's been sitting here spitting venom at
Elizabeth and I all day."

"I thought she was like that all the time," Tina quipped.

Kat turned and glared at Tina as if to say 'Back off.'

"Come on guys, I need some air anyway, let's take a walk," Matthew
said and got up.

"Yeah we can pick this up anytime," Scott offered.

One by one the room emptied leaving Kat and Cathline alone. Kat took
a deep breath, she knew her friend was hurting but all she said was,
"Come on let it out. Lay into me like you used to, I'll say I'm sorry and
then it'll be right again."

Cathline shock her head softly, "Not this time Jane. Not this time."

Kat's face showed the pain she was feeling inside, "Jane? Since when
has it ever been Jane? Come on, tell me what's bugging you. It wasn't
that stunt in the dungeon was it?"

"It's been Jane since you got back. You said your friends could call you
'Kat', I'm not sure I'm that anymore. No, I understand WHY you would
do that. The way you touched me HERE and THERE was to let me
know that it was really you in there. We made love just the way I
showed you to, nobody else would know that. You gave me hope in a
hopeless situation. No, it's the other stuff that hurts me. Liz may have
made you physically human again but she's also made you LESS human.
You want to know what I really admired about you?"

Kat turned away. Cathline's words had wounded her deeply. Kat was
about to try and speak when Cathline continued, "I most admired you
because you were the 'Anti-Liz'. You stood for everything she didn't,
forgiveness over revenge, love over hate and honesty over deception.
You had the most integrity of any person I have ever known."

Kat bowed her head, "Had?"

"Yes had. When you did the things you did, you became Dr Bexley in
deed if not in body. You manipulated people, allowed people you cared
about to be hurt, and sent people to their deaths. That's what I meant
when I said you're more like the hell bitch than she is."

Inside Kat was hurting, one of her best friends had turned on her. She
felt a little betrayed and anger swelled up inside her. "You've no idea
what it was like, no idea at all. Look, I saw the Guild termination
orders for us. They were going to kill us. I saved you. By allowing
you to fall into Osman's hands I saved you. As long as you were useful
to Osman you needed to be kept alive. Cathline, you must believe me
when I say we, that is Elizabeth and I saved you."

"What from, Jane? What from? It didn't stop him burning out my eye
again, didn't stop him turning Marcel and Scott into Harem girls. That
final change was your idea wasn't it? I'd have expected that kind of stunt
from the hell bitch but never you Jane, never you. From what I can
make out Liz never even knew it was going on. But YOU did, didn't
you? YOU could have stopped it. YOU know what that kind of change
does to a person, you saw Matthew go thru it every day he was with
you. Hell, you know what it does to a 'wife' as well. What do think the
future has in store for Scott and Rebecca huh? They've been married for
fifteen years, what do you think will happen when he gets back, huh?"

Kat's voiced softened, at last we were coming to the crux of the matter.
Cathline rightly so felt rejected and betrayed. "Look Cathline. I did
everything I could to reduce the amount of pain you went thru. Ever
wonder why you weren't raped when you were in Osman's dungeon?
Ever wondered why you and Tina weren't punished for all that plotting
you did when you were down there? How come Scott, Senator Jameson
and Marcel never got screwed in Libya? I did that. I stuck my neck out
for you as far as I could. I couldn't just go up to Osman and say 'let
them go' could I? It'd blow the whole thing sky high. Besides, the safest
place was where you were. Ever wondered why you were kept in that
room when all hell broke loose? Easy, because I knew that if you were
let loose, you'd end up with your throat slit, and laying in a pool of

Cathline glared at Kat, "I told you I understand all that, JANE. You
still haven't answered why you went around being Bexley MK2. You
betrayed me big time and I don't forgive or forget easily. You could
have at least got word to Matthew that you were still alive. He nearly
pined himself away that year you were gone. You not being there
destroyed him more than any sex change ever did. I had to pick up the
pieces you left. A note is all that it would have taken Jane, just a single
note or even a single sentence."

Kat's face dropped. The wounds Cathline was reopening told on her
face and expressions, "Elizabeth wanted me to. She said it was an
acceptable risk. I refused."

"SEE, SEE!" Cathline spat with venom.

Kat sighed, "If you'd let me finish I'll explain. You know what Matthew
would have done if he had known. He'd have either gone and tried to
find me or waited for me to come every minute of every day."

Cathline admitted, "Yes he would have."

Kat continued, "That's right he would have. The result of the first
action would have been that he and anyone else involved would have
ended up dead. As for the second, well it was highly likely that
Elizabeth and I would end up dead for our troubles. If that were the
case he'd have waited every minute of every day for me to turn up.
He'd have waited for the rest of his life for me. He'd have never have
moved on because in his heart I was alive. I couldn't do that to him. If I
died, then I'd want him to try and find someone else. I was kinda
hoping it would be you."

Cathline looked away, shamed, "You're right. He would have waited
forever. As to getting together with Matthew, well we came close once
but I pulled away. Our friendship meant too much to ruin it. Besides
Ka, Jane, that doesn't excuse what you did to Scott and Marcel."

Kat sighed, "Elizabeth and I were caught on the horns of a dilemma. I
could allow horrible things to happen to those we loved but then they
emerge alive, or try and keep them safe with the certainty we would fail,
and you all would die. I don't know how many times I need to keep
drumming this point in. I hope it hits home soon because I'm getting
fed up of explaining it."

Cathline glared at Kat. She'd still not grasped what Cathline was on
about. Cathline screamed at Kat, "I'M FUCKING WELL TALKING

Kat looked shocked, "What the hell are you talking about?"

Cathline's face was red with anger, "You know what I'm talking about.
Osman and some lackey came in and hypnotised Tina and I. We went
into the room where Scott and Marcel were being transformed, and we
fucked them until they were turned into women. Osman told us it had
been all your idea."

The penny dropped. No wonder Cathline was furious at her. "It wasn't
like that at all. I suggested a threesome, me you and Tina to Osman.
He liked the idea and slapped me on the back. A guy thing, I think. He
was suspicious of me when I first turned up and I needed something to
gain his trust. No, that idea probably came from Osman."

"But, But he said," Cathline stuttered.

"He was probably jealous that we'd had such a good time before. He
said that to put you off me. We needed Scott and Marcel in Libya to
help rescue Senator Jameson. Osman was already set on turning them
into women for Hassan's Harem. A kind of return favor for you and
Tina I think. Elizabeth is pretty sure she can turn Scott back anyway.
We need the senator to help try and stop Israel launching that attack.
On the face of it the risk was worth it."

"Try telling that to Rachel when Scott comes home asking to borrow
her panties. Try telling that to Marcel's family as their son's body is
flown back from Libya. No Jane, the risk wasn't worth it was it?"

Kat had to admit Cathline had a point "In personal terms, no it wasn't.
But if it saves the lives of millions then were those sacrifices empty? No,
of course they weren't. Do we think of Vickie and James/Jane's deaths
when the lab blew up as empty, I don't."

"That was different. They made a choice. What choice did Scott and
Marcel have?"

Kat shook her head, "None at all. I promised myself I'd never bring this
up but I have to. What chance did Stephanie Lane have when you
injected her with the cat transformation drug? Did she choose her fate?
You were so seized with hate you didn't stop to think about what you
were doing. Marcel's death was tragic but Scott tells me he died
protecting the senator. How is that different from Vickie giving her life
for us? Scott can be turned back so where's the damage there. Besides
he offered to protect you, it goes with the job."

Cathline breathed out a deep breath, "I feel guilty about Stephanie Lane.
You're quite right she had no choice or chance. Marcel's death wasn't in
vain but as for Scott how can you say it goes with the job!"

"Look, if Scott wants to lay into me for his current situation then fine,
that's between him and me. It's none of your concern. If Scott's happy
then what business is it of ours?"

"I haven't talked to Scott about it. He's been asking Matthew and Tina
lots of questions though."

"Of course he has. I would. Now I've answered all your 'charges'
against me. Now tell me would you have done any different?" Kat

Cathline thought long and hard. The troubling thing was, was that it
was so logical. There was no room for sentiment, only grim inevitable
logic. Cathline still, thinking and stalling for time said, "It was a typical
Bexley Plan wasn't it?"

Kat nodded in agreement, "When she set those wheels in motion none
of us had any choice. That's the bitch of it, she did what was necessary,
not what's always right. You're right Cathline, I have changed. I am
more like Elizabeth. There's a side of me now I don't much like either.
I've killed a man and helped organize a battle that has claimed the lives
of thousands of people. By my actions I've hurt those I loved the most
and that I find hard to forget. I just pray that you'll never see the
ruthless side to me again. I'm not asking that you understand or forget,
just that you forgive."

Cathline thought some more. Kat was right. Kat didn't like doing those
things anymore than anyone else. Knowing all the details helped and
Kat was right there too. She would have done the same if she were in
Kat's place. Cathline saw the look of deep pain on Kat's face and
realised that she'd wounded her more than she'd realised. Even when
she'd been spitting nails at Kat, Kat'd never lost it, Never resorted to
name-calling and never been anything but honest and open. This then
was the real Kat, the compassionate, wise and courageous woman
who'd gone thru so much for so long. Cathline felt ashamed and felt her
face blush. Cathline managed to look up into Kat's face and said, "Kat,
I'm sorry. I'd have done the same. You haven't changed, it's me that's
changed. I meant every word I said about you at the funeral and I mean
them even more now. Friends?"

Kat moved over and gave Cathline a large smile "I missed you Cathline.
I missed your insight, your humor and your drive. Don't let's fight like
this again, please."

"Deal, I missed you too," was Cathline's tearful reply and she ran to
where Kat was sitting and gave her a warm 'welcome back' embrace.

- o - o - o -

Scott ran ahead to try and catch up with Matthew. Eventually he
caught him up and drew alongside him. "I don't think I'll ever get used
to these," he said nodding down to his ample chest.

Matthew raised an eyebrow "Know how you feel. Looking at myself in
the mirror still turns me on. Not as often as it used to but it's still

Scott nodded thoughtfully "I know what you mean. Sometimes I just
want to shove my hand down there and have a real good Y'know."

"Fondle?" Matthew queried.

Scott thought for a moment and then replied, "That's a good a word as
any. I'm afraid to. Sure I've washed it but that's different. What if I
like it?"

"I went thru that too. But this was inflicted on me, the same as you I
guess, but the difference was that it was designed to ruin me."

Scott's voice showed a sign of annoyance, "And this wasn't?"

Matthew shrugged his shoulders, "Doesn't matter. The results the
same. I've no idea if Liz can turn you back or not. All I will say is that
you have a wife who loves you and friends that will stand by you, and
that together you will get thru it. Tina for one, she'd take a bullet for

Scott rubbed his thigh thoughtfully, "One good thing has come out of
this. I got shot in the leg a few years back. The bullet shattered part of
my hip and I was damn lucky to be able to walk, let alone go back on
duty. I used to be in pain a lot of the time, never told anyone about it. I
guess I was afraid they'd retire me or dump me behind a desk. Anyway
I'm pain free and I've lost 20 years in age so it's not that bad. If only
they'd made me a man."

Matthew was intrigued, "Who shot you, some punk? I can understand
how you feel. One of the largest fears I had was whether Kat would
still love me. Once I knew she did it made things a lot easier. Well until
all this happened anyway."

"Actually Tina shot me, I'll tell you the story sometime. I'm still trying
to get to grips with me, the new me, let alone worrying about Rebecca,
and yet she's the one who I know will hurt the most. I read Cathline's
book a while ago, and besides the whole you and Dr Bexley conflict, the
thing that keeps coming back to me was the fact that Monica Abbey
couldn't cope with her husband now being a woman. She left him all
alone after years of marriage. I don't want that to happen. I love
Rebecca too much."

Matthew took hold of Scott's dainty hand and turned to face him,
"Don't worry, if she loves you as much as you say she does, she'll

Scott didn't reply but whirled around as Elizabeth caught up with them.

Elizabeth's face was showing a serious, penitent look, "Scott I, I never
said sorry to you back there, You too Mat."

Matthew kept quiet. This was Scott's moment.

Scott flicked his hair back over his shoulder and replied, "I think I
understand why you did what you did. You needed us in Libya to help
rescue the senator. And keep us from being killed by Hassan. You
didn't have the power to prevent what happened to us, only stop us
from being murdered. If you stuck your neck out too far it'd blow your
cover. That's the trouble. I don't feel angry with you for allowing it to
happen -- you had no choice. I feel angry that I've not been allowed to
see Rebecca and that you still haven't told me if you can or will turn me

Elizabeth considered her reply, "The truth is Scott, that I don't know if I
CAN turn you back. If it's in my power to do it I will, but I'm being
realistic until I examine all of you, Mat included. I just don't know.
With the Guild I had enormous resources, now all I have is the DNA
machine in Libya and maybe the one that was brought over here. As a
backup I had hoped to be able to manufacture the antidotes by using my
changeling organ but that looks unlikely now. Like it or not the best
chance you have of getting back to normal is to help me stop this
attack. That goes for the senator too."

Scott was used to having to give bad news to civilians but not so used
to being on the receiving end. He recognised Dr Bexley's tone, it was
the same tone a doctor uses when giving a patient some grim diagnosis.
Strangely, he respected Dr Bexley for doing it that way. After all he'd
read about her she seemed so normal, just another professional doing
her job. If she'd have made an impassioned plea for forgiveness and
offered to move hell and earth to try and fix it he wouldn't have believed
her. She was, he decided an expert at looking into a person's soul and
knowing exactly how to deal with them. It was a skill she'd used as a
doctor and had honed to perfection when scheming her intricate and
vicious revenge on those who had scorned her. Scott was just glad she
appeared to be on his side. Scott of course said none of this and turned
to Elizabeth and simply said, "Just do your best ok?"

Elizabeth nodded, "Deal."

Matthew by this time had caught up with the senator who had walked
on ahead. The senator had stopped by a clothing store and was staring
in at the display in the store window. Matthew noticed what he was
doing and moved alongside him. "See anything you like?"

The senator turned to face Matthew and gestured to the window.
"Dunno. I've had more time than Scott to get used to it, but I still don't
know if I can live like this or not. I was just wondering whether I need
to start taking an interest in such things, or if it could be viewed as an
interesting diversion. That's how I see it at the moment. I'm as curious
as hell about what it feels like to be a woman and in some ways each
day is a new adventure."

Matthew shrugged. "That's a healthy way of looking at it I guess. I've
never seen it as a diversion. I was too busy trying to stay alive or sane
to worry about such things. What will you do if you can't be turned
back? You haven't mentioned your wife in all this."

"I've a confession to make. My marriage is a sham, a show. We never
really loved each other. I married her because I needed a pretty face on
my arm to further my political career and she wanted the money and
status that being a senator's wife ensued. I never thought I'd ever be a
pretty face. I haven't thought about if I can be turned back or not. I've
been trying to get my head around this whole Israel thing. When we get
back we need to have a council of war on this. We need to get moving
on this but until we know where we are, then it's best to stay still. Doing
the wrong thing is worse than doing nothing. Besides, all of us are
bushed and hungry."

Matthew nodded thoughtfully. That explained a lot about the senator's
behaviour. He was behaving almost too rationally and that worried
Matthew. Sooner or later how he felt had to come out. Matthew was
going to mention this but changed his mind. "I think that was the
general idea. Kat felt it important to try and heal some of the rifts and
grudges between all of us before we moved on. She reasoned that we
can't act individually, only as a team with all of us putting our thoughts

The senator thought for a moment, "So I was right. They don't know
how to stop it."

Matthew defended Kat's and Elizabeth's stance. "That's not entirely true.
Elizabeth has an overall plan but she needs to refine it, That's where we
come in."

"Fine. I'll see what happens when we get back. Do you think that little
blue number of there would suit me?" the senator pointed to a blue lycra
dress in the far corner of the shop.

Matthew shrugged, "Dunno, never took much interest myself. I figured
that if I so much as showed a bit of interest in adapting then Liz would
be winning. It's a moot point though. She wins either way."

The senator raised an eyebrow, "How so? When she turns you back
she's admitted it was all a mistake."

"That's one way of looking at it. When Liz does turn me back, she still
wins. I owe her and Kat owes her. Instead of calling it quits as we did
after we defeated her, we end up owing her for putting things back the
way they should be. Sounds screwy I know but it's the way I feel."

"I take your point. Say we ought to be getting back, we're by no means
outta this yet."

Matthew nodded, "Agreed. I'll go round up the others."

- o - o - o -

The changeling posing as President Andrews was worried. The papers
had pictures of Rachel Martin, a female cop and Salah walking from a
hospital. Further inside another story mentioned that Dr Bexley had
escaped from Australia and was thought to be on her way back to the
US. Hassan had forbidden any contact with any elements of the Guild
while still undercover and so, unfortunately it was difficult to gather
accurate intelligence on Guild matters. Part of him was pleased that the
much vaunted CIA and FBI knew so little about Guild affairs, but this
now worked as a double-edged sword. The release of the majority of
the Guild database onto the net a few days before came as a shock to all
the intelligence agencies and more so to him. It represented the death
of all that he had known and held dear, and a betrayal of values.

He had to give credit to the parties responsible for releasing the
database. His security advisors had been telling him about 'information
warfare' only the other day and now, in a cruel twist persons unknown
had launched a devastating and almost certainly fatal attack on the
Guild, and had used the weapons of the 21st century to do so. He
regretted his inability to communicate with the other changelings but
because of the constant risk of discovery and the critical timing of the
plan, that was now impossible. So he thought on what to do next.

Logically Dr Bexley, Salah and maybe the others would be a potential
threat to the plan but what could they do? He was surrounded by some
of the most complex and sophisticated security yet developed and as
long as he didn't make an error then his cover was secure. The nature
of the media and the rapid rate in which news was now relayed made it
very difficult to eliminate Rachel Martin, the freak Matthew Stephens
and the woman detective. Although their deaths could be blamed on Dr
Bexley he couldn't take that chance. All it would take is one slip and
the media would be snooping around like a shot. Recent history with a
previous president had shown that a determined individual and
bloodthirsty media could bring a government to its knees. Dr Bexley
was nowhere to be found and that only left Salah.

Salah was a perfect target. He was still unknown to the world, not in
any Guild databases yet released to the world, and more importantly the
traitor who had destroyed a thousand years of Guild history. By killing
Salah he would ensure that Hassan's values and plans would live on, and
would vastly increase any chance the Guild had of survival. By right
and tradition the one who killed the leader of the Guild took their place.
If he did so, then he would be the one to lead. From his position of
power, even the world would not be beyond his reach. The feeling of
power and of destiny made the changeling president smile. A president
has ways of making people disappear, ways that could never be traced,
and ways that were almost as certain as slitting the throat himself. The
changeling president picked up the phone and made a call.

- o - o - o -

Matthew was the first thru the door, it was his house after all. He
smiled as he saw Kat and Cathline chatting. That meant they'd managed
to patch up whatever had been eating at them, good.

"Glad to see you're both friends again," Matthew smiled.

Kat's face dropped a little, "Matthew I'm sorry but I'm leaving you. I've
realised that I love Cathline and now I'm like this we can be together.
I'm sorry to drop this on you like this, but it's better you know now
rather than later."

Matthew stared, not believing what he had just heard.

Cathline's face broke into a broad grin, "Gotcha!"

Kat gave a laugh "You should've seen your face. I'm sorry Mat it was
HER idea."

Matthew walked solemnly over to the sofa, a tear in his eye. "I thought
you meant it. I know how much Cathline loves you and the thought of
losing you again almost breaks my heart."

Kat wasn't falling for this and playing along she turned to Cathline and
whispered, "Shall we play along?"

Cathline was about to answer when a large sofa cushion struck the back
of Kat's head and bounced onto hers. They whirled round to see where
the surprise attack had come from only to see a grinning Matthew.

"Gotcha," Matthew replied. The smile was still all over his face.

"What's so funny?" Elizabeth asked as she walked into the room.

Cathline's face became serious and she gave Elizabeth a glare.

By now the others had walked into the lounge and were in the process
of sitting down. Kat stood up and offered drinks to the gathering now
seated around her. "I think we'd better finish off what we started a
while ago and outline what we're going to do next. BUT don't start
without me."

A few minutes later Kat returned with an assortment of coffees, teas ,
and a glass of milk for herself. After she'd served them all out she sat
down beside Matthew and waited.

Cathline was the first to speak. "Ok. I guess I go first. My story starts
when I visited Matthew and Kat on their island."

Over the next hour or so each member of the party related their
experiences to the others. Slowly, after all the trials and tribulations
they had suffered the group was starting to bond.

Matthew was the last to speak and just after he'd finished Kat
interrupted the general ebb and flow of small talk.

"Liz. I'd like to publicly thank you for not taking advantage of Matthew
during your 'marriage' to Matthew. When you told me how you
planned to keep Matthew safe when the Guild war started and deceive
Hassan into thinking you still wanted him I hit the roof. You managed
to persuade me it was the only way, by keeping him close to you, and
I'd like to say that one act has convinced me that you mean what you

Cathline was a little puzzled. "Umm excuse me. I can see a flaw in
Kat's reasoning."

"What?" Kat asked.

"If I've got this right then Kat is legally dead."

Kat thought for a moment, "Yeah, Agghhh. I'm dead,"

Cathline smiled at Kat's dropping down dead impression but continued
her analysis, "That means your marriage to Matthew is annulled. You
two aren't legally married anymore."

"Hey," Matthew protested.

Kat said nothing, she'd thought of this before Cathline had voiced it but
now decided to let her have her say.

Continuing on Cathline said, "BUT Matthew and Elizabeth got married
in Australia, and since Matthew and Kat aren't married anymore
Matthew's marriage to Elizabeth is legal. Matthew, in the eyes of the
law is now married to Dr Elizabeth Bexley."

"WHAT!" Matthew exclaimed.

Now it was Elizabeth's turn, "You are quite correct. My marriage to
Matthew had to be legal otherwise Hassan would've seen thru the
deception. Besides, I got what I wanted all along. Honey I'm home."

Matthew grew furious at this. Elizabeth had tricked and forced him to
marry her and now he was stuck with her, until the divorce came thru
that was. "Darling, I want a divorce," he snarled at Elizabeth.

"Unnecessary, what Cathline hasn't yet got to is the fact that Kat is very
much alive and thus my marriage to Matthew was never legally binding.
When I turn Kat back, the world will know the true state of affairs, that
she is indeed still married to Matthew. Clear?"

It took a little fathoming out but Cathline could see Elizabeth's logic,
even Matthew had calmed down. Cathline then had a very worrying
thought, a thought so devious that Elizabeth must've considered it.
"What if Kat were to have an 'accident' when changing back? No one
could prove otherwise and you'd still end up with Matthew. HAH got
you there Hell Bitch. I knew you had a devious scheme in mind."

Now it was Kat's turn to be worried. Sure, she trusted Elizabeth but did
she trust her enough to let her try and turn her back?

Elizabeth gave a wry grin, "You're right Cathline and it's almost a
perfect scheme. Unfortunately it fails the 'Bexley' test in three ways.
Firstly, the only way it would work was if I turned into Matthew again
and stayed that way. Secondly, Matthew would have to want to
pretend to be me and thirdly, I'm no longer interested in marrying
Matthew. I can't turn into anything anymore. That bloody nose you
gave me should prove that, and there's no way Matthew would play

Kat was now a little suspicious and voiced an objection, "But you have
or had a very strong grip on Matthew's subconscious? You could
condition him again. You did it with a word last time."

Elizabeth shrugged. Kat ganging up on her was the last thing she
wanted, "True, but such a drastic identity change can't be performed by
a mere failsafe. It took days of careful conditioning by the Guild, not to
mention the use of my changeling organ. There's no chance I could get
away with any of that now. You all know about it, I would have to kill
or dispose of you all and I'm sure that one of you would have a
deadman's mailbox already setup that would tell all in the event of a
suspicious death or long term disappearance. So you can all relax.
Besides, I've kept every promise I've made. I promised to cure Kat of
her cancer, which I've done. I promised to get Matthew and you all out
of the Guilds clutches, which I've done. And I promised that I will try
my utmost to return you all to your proper forms. I don't see what else
I can do?"

Much to her chagrin Cathline was forced to agree with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had kept every promise and darned if she could see a way that
Elizabeth could take advantage of the situation. Cathline didn't want to
be in the same room as Elizabeth but circumstances dictated she had to.
After all, somebody had to keep an eye on her. One thing still bugged
Cathline though, "If you don't have use of your changeling organ how
come you were so fast in tackling Tina? I've seen Guild agents move,
and they are unbelievably quick but you were faster?"

Elizabeth was getting a little tired explaining everything, but she
persevered. At least she and Cathline were talking now rather than
trading insults, "The last time I used my changeling organ, after killing
Hassan I turned back to my 'default' body. I've enhanced and improved
a lot of things from your standard Rachel Martin form. Improved hand-
eye co-ordination, vision, reaction times in the hundredths of a second
and not to mention backup spinal cords, vital organs and last but not
least improved muscle strength. You might call it Rachel Martin
version two."

Now it was Matthew's turn to question Elizabeth, "So that explains how
you recovered so quickly in the hospital. Say, you never told us how
you got out."

Elizabeth gave a smile, "I'm tempted to keep that a secret but I won't. I
waited until 4am before climbing out of my bed. It took me a few
moments to turn off all the audible alarms on the life support machine
and disconnect myself from all the drips. I was a little shaky on my feet
for a few moments longer but thanks to my enhanced recovery ability I
was soon as steady as a rock. Using the bed I climbed up to an air-
conditioning vent and removed it. After kicking the bed away and
replacing the vent I crawled thru the air-conditioning system until I
reached the laundry room. That time of night there would be few
people around and who notices strange sounds coming from the

Matthew could see where this was leading, "But why didn't you join

"I'm coming onto that. Anyway, I dropped down into the laundry room
and picked out a cleaner's uniform that was about the right size and just
got into that. I waited until around 6am and when the other cleaners
came in pretended I'd got in early to make up my hours. Nobody
questioned me as I walked out of the hospital and straight into a cab. I
managed to get a false passport and some money from a nearby Guild
stronghold, and a few hours later I was on a plane. I don't think the
alarm was raised until much later. The doctors and police must've
assumed that because the guards on the door didn't see anything and I
was virtually comatose I wasn't going anywhere. By that time I was on
a plane and on my way here. Now Matthew, as to why I didn't wait,
that's easy. The authorities would assume that if I were to escape, I
would come with you. They no doubt noticed you waiting for me and
followed you to the airport. When you boarded the plane alone they
assumed that I was still in hospital and that you'd given up. They
probably left right after you boarded. After I landed I picked up a small
parcel that a friendly Guild agent had placed for me in a locker at the
airport and I then came right here."

Tina gave a slow clap of admiration, "You're good, Bexley, very good."

Elizabeth smiled and gave a mock bow, "The best. It was the only way
I could think of getting out. With a changeling organ in working order
my options would've been far greater but alas that was not to be.
Anyway let's move onto stopping the Fury Directive."

The senator had been fascinated by the stories and now saw his chance
to contribute once more. He was feeling a little left out. He had
assumed that he would be the natural choice to lead the fight but Dr
Bexley seemed to have that role all wrapped up. As far as he could see
it the role of second in command was still vacant, and he needed to feel
in charge again. To this end he spoke up, "Dr Bexley what do you
know of Hassan's plans for the changeling organs?"

"Not much. The only thing I know is that they are a much less
advanced version than mine, but more advanced than Kat's. They can
maybe only change forms a few times before they fail. The tolerance to
new forms and sizes is much less than mine, so there's no way they
could pull some of the stuff I used to. Small things like creating
injection talons etc are possible but again they put a strain on them and
the host body. The healing of bullet wounds etc is limited too.
Anything that wouldn't normally be immediately fatal can be healed, as
Kat's story corroborates. Once again, if it's used too much then there's a
major risk of genetic damage. Maybe even psychological damage too,
all kinds of instabilities. I just don't know," Elizabeth explained in her
best lecture voice.

Matthew looked worried, "So Kat."

Elizabeth shook her head, "No Kat should be fine. She's locked into
Salah's body. She has one of the very first prototypes. I still can turn
her back to her original form as long as she doesn't go getting shot
many more times. Kat's is version 1 if you like, the ones Hassan created
are version 2, and mine is version 3. Version 2 has one serious defect

Scott asked, "Which is?"

"They gradually poison the body they're installed in. They need to
produce more and more of the changeling drug to instigate a change.
Too much affects the brain causing megalomania, paranoia and
eventually neural shutdown. With each change performed the person
equipped with the organ drops further and further into madness. If the
organ isn't removed in the long term the changeling will die. Hassan
obviously regarded his changelings as short-term weapons. The driver
that took me to Hassan's stronghold told me that there was a whole
changeling training program, and that there were certainly more than
one changeling running around."

"If they can become anyone, and I suspect the training that Hassan gave
each one was so that they could easily pass as their target then we have
no way of telling real from changeling," Tina stated.

The senator inwardly groaned. Things were looking bleak.

Elizabeth got up and walked over to the bag she'd placed on the table.
She rummaged around for a few seconds and then pulled out a bottle of
yellow liquid, "I had to smuggle this out from under Hassan's nose but
it's one of our 'aces'. It's a test for the presence of a changeling organ.
Every changeling organ, be it version 1,2, or 3 produces a small amount
of a complex series proteins and enzymes. It's this series of proteins
and enzymes that keeps the body from random genetic changes. An
intelligent fixer if you like. Anyway, you simply put a drop of this in a
test tube, add a drop of blood, and it'll turn green if it detects the
changeling organ protein in the bloodstream. The solution stays red if
you're clean. If we can fathom out who the changelings are likely to be,
and get them to submit to this blood test we'll be able to deal with

The senator burst out laughing and then abruptly stopped as the others
stared at him.

"What!" Matthew demanded.

"Sorry, I remembered that just then I'd underestimated Dr Bexley too.
Dr Bexley, that's brilliant, there I was thinking that you'd screwed up in
creating an undetectable disguise and then being unable to control it."

"One more thing", Elizabeth said," I want us all to take this test. It's the
only way we can be sure that we've not been infiltrated. I'm wise to that
one, as I'm sure you all are. Now I know about Kat, maybe Scott but
the rest of you should be clean, that includes me. My changeling organ
is ruined so I shouldn't have any residual proteins left."

Cathline raised an eyebrow. Elizabeth was taking no chances, good.
"I'll go first."

"Fine," Elizabeth said and walked over to her bag again and pulled out a
clean test tube, a thin tube and an eyedropper.

"All it needs is a small drop. Nurse Matthew, come and help me with
the test. You press it on a thumb and just push the button, " Elizabeth
said handing Matthew the tube.

Cathline stretched out her hand and gingerly Matthew pressed the tube
on Cathline's thumb. He gave a quick press and the tube gave a small

"OW!" Cathline exclaimed.

Elizabeth took Cathline's hand and squeezed the drop of blood into the
tube. She then took the eyedropper and after pulling a drop of yellow
liquid into it dropped it into the test tube. Cathline looked on anxiously.

"Hey relax, you big wuss," Kat said.

After a few seconds Elizabeth pronounced, "She's clean, see the blood's
still red."

"Me next," Tina volunteered.

"Fine," Elizabeth stated, and walked over to the sink and gave the test
tube a through rinse.

Matthew and Elizabeth once again repeated the procedure, and after a
few seconds pronounced Tina clean.

"It does work, this test of yours?" the senator asked with a smile.

Elizabeth nodded, "I'm doing the certain positives last. That way I can't
contaminate the other samples by accident. Anyway you're next."

The senator looked at the still red sample, "Phew."

Elizabeth nodded, "Good that means there's no changeling organ to get
in the way of potentially turning you back."

"I guess it's me next?" Matthew asked

"Yep, no ones exempt. Nurse Kat, you can do Matthew."

With a mean smile Kat took the tube from Matthew and placed it on his
hand. She pressed the button twice in quick succession.

"OW! hey what was that for?" Matthew complained.

Kat gave a grin, "I didn't think the first one went in."

Elizabeth couldn't help but give out a loud laugh, which was soon
followed by Cathline and the others. It broke an atmosphere that had
become very tense.

"That really hurt," Matthew said as Elizabeth squeezed a drop of his
blood into the test tube.

After dropping in the liquid and waiting Elizabeth pronounced Matthew
clean. Kat took hold of Matthew's hand and said, "Kiss it better," and
she did so.

Elizabeth gave a smile. 'Kiss it better' had obviously been Kat's plan all
along, "Now it's Scott's turn. Cathline, it's your turn to be nurse, and
Scott it's you next."

Cathline did as Matthew had done and Elizabeth shook the test tube.
Tina's face went white as she saw the solution slowly turn green.

"What!" Scott exclaimed.

"Calm down everyone I suspected this. The method Osman used to
turn Scott into a woman had to have a changeling organ at its heart.
Don't worry it'll take me a while to get round it but you should be ok."

Scott breathed a sigh of relief at Elizabeth's assurances. That had been
a close call. In the mean time Elizabeth had moved onto Kat who had
simply shrugged and put her hand out.

A few minutes later the solution turned a green color.

"Good, as I suspected," Elizabeth stated.

Tina was a little suspicious of Scott's result, "Scott. Do you remember
what was strange about Carolyn Dawson?"

Scott thought for a few moments, "Yeah, she was the woman the
mailman kidnapped and raped. She thought she was David Hawkins for
a few days. Strange case as I seem to remember. I think the doctor's
put it down to post traumatic stress syndrome. I remember reading her
and the guy who helped rescue her, umm David Hawkins I think, got
married sometime later."

Hearing this caused Matthew to raise an eyebrow. He made a mental
note to ask Tina or Scott about it later. For her part Tina was satisfied
that Scott was who he claimed to be.

"Oh well someone else had better do me," Elizabeth stated and handed
the now clean test tube and bottle to Kat.

Cathline was tempted to ram the tube in hard on Elizabeth's thumb but
thought better of it. After Elizabeth and Kat's lengthy explanation she'd
decided to cut her some slack. She simply pressed the button and
allowed Kat to squeeze a drop of Elizabeth's blood into the test tube.

Kat slowly shook the tube, and after a few seconds stared at the result.
Cathline couldn't quite see, and she moved her head to get a better look.
To the group's horror the liquid in the test tube had turned dark green.

- o - o - o -

The sun rose over the city of Tel-Aviv, its orange yellow glow cast
multi-colored shadows over the deserted city. On the outskirts of the
town hundreds of soldiers, scientists and officials gathered around
armored vehicles and ambulances. The air was eerily quiet with only a
few birds and the quiet throb of generators to break the silence. The
dark cloud of smoke that had covered the city for the past few days and
had started to lift and now the skyline could easily be seen once more.

The fires that had raged thru the city had burned themselves out, leaving
only a husk of this once mighty capital. Hundreds of fire fighters had
risked all to try and control the blazes and working under a NBC suit
was strenuous at the best of times. Several fire fighters had to be
treated for heat exhaustion and now, the fire crews could only work at
night. The scientists were still unsure of how long the biological agent
used would remain lethal. Much discussion was raised on how to
determine this and eventually the 'Noah' test was developed.

The 'lucky' soldier to be chosen for this duty was Sergeant Isaac Stern.
He'd been in the army since his national service and had abandoned his
plans for afterwards when he found he loved the military life. As he
suited up and his 'buddy' checked for rips he was more than a little
apprehensive. He'd seen the reports of how this agent acted. It was
almost instant and 100% lethal. Some scientist had explained to them
how it worked, something about rewriting of the victims DNA into
random patterns. He wasn't paying too much attention at the time, and
now his time had come he regretted thinking too much about the almost
certain conflict with the Arab bastards who'd done this, and not how
this weapon actually worked.

His 'buddy' gave him the all clear and he checked the air hoses one more
time. They were done as securely as he could manage, so if the first
part of the Noah test failed at least he'd have a chance to escape. His
superior officer, a captain fresh out of the academy gestured to a beat
up jeep and then shook his hand.

"Bet you're glad it's me that going aren't you?" he whispered to himself
as the captain walked off. He walked up to the jeep and checked the
rear seat. There nestled gently between the seats were two small plastic
boxes. One he'd been told contained two pigeons and the other a small
cat. These were phase one and two of the Noah test, and he was phase

- o - o - o -

"You fucking liar," Cathline spat at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth just stood there, looking at the test tube in disbelief, "I don't
understand, my changeling organ is ruined. How can I still give a
positive result?"

"Unless you lied to us," Tina joined in.

Kat was confused, "Hang on a sec. If Liz knew that her changeling
organ would still be working and therefore test positive then why did
she suggest the test? Liz, what if your organ was heavily damaged, not
enough to stop the protein production but enough to stop it working?"

Elizabeth looked thoughtful, "That possibility had occurred to me.
When I was escaping from hospital I tried to change something small,
like my hair color but that didn't work. Maybe it's gradually recovering
and this is the first stage. Cathline, Kat has a point about me knowing
about the test results."

"Unless you knew you could pull the 'I didn't think it was working' trick
on us and therefore double bluff us," Cathline replied sharply. Just as
she was starting to think that maybe there was something in Elizabeth
claims of reform this comes up.

Elizabeth was getting a little tired of these guessing games, "Look
Cathline, you can second guess me and yourself all the time you'll only
end up going in circles. I've promised to help as much as I can, and I
standby that oath. To me, that promise is as sure as the one I took
when I became a doctor."

"Fat lot of good the Hippocratic oath did us," Cathline snapped

"Point taken," Elizabeth said softly. She was getting frustrated at the
same old resentment and mistrust going round and round again and

"I believe her," the senator said.

Cathline turned to face him, her good eye showing signs of contempt.

Speaking in his most persuasive tone the senator added, "To me it
makes sense. How could Dr Bexley possibly know for sure what the
state of her changeling organ was, other than that it didn't work
anymore? Let's get on with the matter in hand, namely stopping the
attack. That's why we're all here and like it or not we need each other."

Like it or not Cathline had to agree with the senator's logic, "So what
do you suggest?"

"I'll carry on my explanations and the rest of you can fill in the gaps. I'm
sure together we can work it out," Elizabeth suggested in a conciliatory

Matthew asked, "So Kat has version 1 of the changeling organ and you
think the Guild had version 2. You also stated that there were several
changelings, and that they'd undergone some kinda training program.
I've a question. Just who would they replace?"

The senator, eager to tell all started to answer Matthew's question, "I
think I can help there. I know from my experience that my secretary
was a changeling. How else could I end up in her body? I also know
her objective was to replace me. I thought about this when I was in
Libya and then, replacing me didn't make sense. That was until I heard
about my supposed death a month or so ago."

"And?" Cathline queried.

"I was very good friends with the president and the Vice President. We
all knew each other from Nam, and we kept in touch most days. Quite
often I played golf with Bob, sorry President Andrews at his private
course. There would be minimal security and occasionally he liked to
dismiss the bodyguards so that we could be alone and just chat, like in
the old days. I think he wanted to keep some normality and get away
from the power and pressure of office."

"My God!" Tina exclaimed.

The senator nodded, "Knowing what I now know about the changeling
organs, the Guild, and all the other stuff, the changeling's target is
obvious. They got me to get to the president. My duplicate would only
have to be me for a few days and then, he'd have the ideal chance. I
don't get to see my wife that much so she'd be none the wiser. The fact
that I 'died' playing golf would indicate the Guild was successful at
replacing President Andrews."

"And with Hassan and the Guild gone the fake president is on his own.
He would have been instructed not to break cover and to continue the
mission no matter what," Kat added.

"But what's his mission?" Scott asked.

Elizabeth had been analysing all this and formed her conclusion, "If I
were Hassan I would ensure that my intended victim had no choice on
their course of action. The changeling president could put a hell of lot
of pressure on Israel to retaliate. We've heard rumors of this happening,
of Israel being reluctant to strike back hard and the US putting pressure
on them to do so. SHIT!"

Now it was the senator's turn to query, "Why SHIT? SHIT from you
sounds bad."

Elizabeth nodded. Shit was an understatement, "I was putting myself in
Hassan's place, and I figured that just doing this to America wouldn't be
enough. To really be certain you'd have to do it to a whole load of
nations. For example Russia could veto the Fury Directive and thus
prevent Israel's attack. Remember Israel has stated that it will not
attack without a UN mandate. A UN Veto is the biggest risk to
Hassan's plan, he'd have had to cover it."

"But you can't replace every world leader. One would be bound to fail
and blow the whole thing wide open," Matthew added.

The senator stopped fiddling with his hair and shook his head, "Oh no
you wouldn't. You'd just do the five permanent members, the US,
Russia, Britain, France and China. With those nations pulling the
strings the other members would have to fall in line. Sure a few Arab
nations would vote no but as for the rest. They'd either abstain or vote
yes. It's a brilliant plan on Hassan's part. Who's going to be looking out
for changelings, and from what I've seen it only takes a few minutes to
change forms. You could do it from anyone, the maid, the secretary,
the wife or even a best friend. If you worked out the chain well enough
you could work your way up and nobody would know. The Guild are
very good, they've had hundreds of years of practice in assassination
and other stuff. To them it's just another operation."

Kat nodded, "That fits. Yeah, the Guild would be able to work it out.
They'd have had the contacts and the resources. I think we can take it
as read that the five permanent UN members are effectively under Guild
control. We can't take the chance to assume otherwise."

Elizabeth suddenly let out a sob, which caused the other to turn sharply
to face her. Already her face was tearful and her hands were over her
face and she was letting out slow, tearful breaths.

"What's up, witch?" Kat asked.

Elizabeth sniffled and said. "No they're not under Guild control. They're
under their own control. I killed the Guild too early. When Hassan was
in charge he could have recalled them at any time, stopped their mission
and prevented the attack. Now with Hassan gone and the changelings
still loyal to Hassan's purposes, nobody and nothing can stop them.
They're like a runaway train with no brakes and nobody to stop it. I've
just condemned over thirteen million people to death. I'd thought I'd
done so well but I've screwed up. I'm sorry, I wanted to save lives but
all I've done is kill millions. I can't cope anymore."

Elizabeth started to cry once more and went to stand up but Kat held
her back, "You don't know that! We still have your disks with the proof
we need. The Guild still has a lot of resources and we're using them to
track down more proof. We can beat them, we have to, and we have no
other choice. How can it be your fault? You didn't send the changelings
out, you didn't pull the trigger that wiped out Tel-Aviv and you didn't
order those attacks."

Elizabeth brushed Kat's arm away, "Cathline, who killed your husband
John? Kat who's fault was it that took away your dreams?"

Cathline looked right at Elizabeth, the glimmerings of hatred in he eye,
"You killed him. Matthew pulled the trigger, but he was there as your
Judas goat. You led him to his death."

Kat gave a sad sigh, "You destroyed my dreams. I want to be a mother,
have kids, and have a normal life with Matthew. When I was younger I
dreamed of my wedding day, pretended to be a princess marrying my
handsome prince. I have no choice but to admit that you took those
dreams away from me."

Elizabeth nodded her agreement, that was the answers she'd been
looking for, "I agree with you. It is my fault. In the same way as John's
death and Matthew's transformation was my fault, this is also my fault.
If there were no DNA system there'd be no DNA warhead and therefore
no attack. No changeling organs, and no Guild plot to kill Egypt, and
so it sounds most of the Middle East. I didn't pull the trigger or order
the attack but the responsibility is mine and mine alone. If only I'd
stayed in my cave! I was happy there. The ocean holds such wonders
and such beauty and I so much wanted to stay. It was the only place
where I could be me, where the pain went away and I felt at peace with

Matthew put his hand on Elizabeth's, "If you'd have stayed you'd be
dead by now, so would Kat. You saved her Liz. Time will tell if we
win or lose this one but you cannot change that. You saved the life of
the one I love, and the one you blamed for taking me away from you.
That at least redeems you in my eyes."

Elizabeth returned the gesture and replied, "Thank you, Mat. That
means a lot to me. But even your assurances don't absolve me of my
blame in all this. I'm trying to look on the bright side here but it'll take a
miracle to do anything about it. Kat, any news on how the Guild are
doing trying to find the proof we need?"

"I haven't checked in yet, in fact I was going to do that after lunch. I
left instructions for them to start looking before I left," Kat replied.

"So we weren't just wasting our time, sitting around chatting?" the
senator commented.

Kat shook her head, "You think we'd limit our chances by just using us?
The Guild can dig around for us, but it's up to us to get the proof to the
authorities. All we need to do is go and get what the remains of the
Guild have found for us."

"But if the president is a changeling how the hell do we get them to take
any notice? Besides, why can't the Guild give it to them?" Cathline

Elizabeth nodded towards the senator, "That's where the senator and
the Vice President come in. The Guild's name is dirt right now, their
credibility is zero. It'd be like the Nazi's saying 'we got rid of Hitler, it
was all his fault, and furthermore we're on your side now'. Who'd
believe them and who'd trust them? We can use the Guild's resources
but the last bit, the most crucial bit is up to us."

"I figured you'd say that," the senator added.

Scott was more than a little concerned, this plan seemed to be made up
as they went along. Maybe the senator was right, Kat and Elizabeth
didn't know how to stop the attack, "Who's going to believe that this
woman is now Senator Walter Jameson? DNA tests are out of the
window, and there's a body in the ground that can easily be identified as
Senator Jameson. Nobody's going to believe a word the senator says."

"Jack, sorry Vice President Roberts will. I have his private 'hot-line'
telephone number. It's a top secret line that only a few people in the
world know. It's used for vital and ultra-secret phone calls where no
record is to be taken and it bypasses all the usual safeguards against
crank calls. When Kennedy brokered the deal with Kruschev back in
1963 it was this line that was really used and not the mythical 'hot line'.
If I call him on this line then he'll have to take me seriously. Nobody
outside of the inner cabinet knows the number."

"How come you know it?" Tina asked.

The senator winked at Tina, "He gave it to me so we could talk freely.
To tell you the truth we used it to arrange golf games, dinner parties
and the like without me having to go thru several layers of red tape once
or twice a week. I guess it was an abuse of power and I doubt it's ever
been used that way before but it was our way of bucking the system a
little. The NSA hated me using it but they couldn't stop me."

"It's obvious. Senator call him up right now," Cathline asked.

Elizabeth butted in before the senator could reply, "Not without proof
he doesn't. In spite of past history you can't impeach a president on the
say so of a single senator and the Vice President. You need firm, rock
solid proof. My changeling test is that proof BUT we also need firm
proof that the Guild was behind the attack on Tel-Aviv. Kat, I think
you should go and check in with the Guild. They'll be wondering where
their glorious leader is, and maybe a few of them are thinking that you're
weak and powerless."

Kat nodded. She'd been putting off seeing the Guild again for as long as
she could but now she realised the time had come. "Ok I'll go after
lunch. Mat why don't you order Pizza."

"Do you HAVE to go?" Matthew asked, already knowing the answer.

"Yeah. Lunch first, save the world later," Kat added with a smile.

Elizabeth had finished running thru the multitudes of possible scenarios
for the next stage, and deciding on the best possible one she said,
"Scott, myself, Matthew, and the Senator will go to Washington and
start to get things ready for talking to the Vice President. Tina, Kat and
Cathline have to stay here for a while. Firstly, Kat has to find out what
the Guild have found out and secondly, they still need to check in with
the NYPD for a couple more days. The last thing we need is for them
to break curfew and get arrested."

Matthew interrupted, "I want to stay with Kat. You don't need me."

Elizabeth nodded, "Yes I do. For two reasons, firstly, the disks are
your responsibility and secondly, you're the best known example of
what my DNA drug can do, you are a vital part of our proof. If I carry
the disks and I get arrested then we're fucked, Scott and the senator will
need to travel together and you need to take the trip alone. That way
we minimize the risk of one or all of us being arrested."

Now it was Cathline's turn to be worried, "Arrested?"

Elizabeth nodded, "By now the president will know that Kat, myself,
and you are back in the country. It's possible that he will see Kat (as
Salah) and me as a threat. I would. Now Kat has the Guild to look
after her, as to some extent so do I, but I wouldn't rule out us being
detained until it's too late."

"That's why it's best if we split up and go separately, less chance of all
of us being picked up?" Tina offered.

"Yep. Tina, would you mind popping down the drugstore and getting
me an eyepatch and some brunette hair dye," Elizabeth asked.

Tina replied, "Why? Oh I get it, the eyepatch is in case you have to pass
for Cathline, and the hair dye is so you're not immediately noticed.
Although it's pretty hard not to notice your face and figure even with
the different hair color."

Elizabeth nodded, Tina caught on quick, "Normally I would switch
forms to a plain Jane and that would be that. Now I have to resort to
other methods."

Tina nodded her agreement and taking her purse with her left the room.
She agreed with Elizabeth's choice, she was the least conspicuous of the
group, and besides she needed some air.

"Mat, now what about that Pizza," Kat commented with a smile.

"I thought it was me that was always eating junk, " Matthew said and
walked over to the phone. After rummaging around the floor for a few
moments he plugged it back in and made a call to his and Kat's favorite
Pizza place.

The senator had been quiet throughout all this. He was still analyzing
and thinking thru permutations. As indeed Elizabeth had a few
moments before, "I still can't work out what the Guild get out of this?"
he announced.

Now it was Elizabeth's turn to finish the senator's analysis. For her, this
was second nature. She had got used to waiting for people to catch up
on her thoughts and conclusions. Her fellow students at Harvard had
called her arrogant and closed minded but this was often far from the
case. All that was happening was that she had worked thru the problem
and formulated the best, and the most correct approach to the problem
way before most of her classmates had even got beyond first base. This
was a similar situation now, "Until we see the data on that disk we
won't know for sure. If it were me I'd use the changelings to ensure I
got what I wanted. Now from the way events are unfolding I would say
that the destruction of Israel is part of Hassan's plans. An Israeli attack
on Egypt would provoke a devastating war and if Israel's allies such as
the US then abandon it then the Arab nations would surely be

"But if the Guild controlled the five most powerful nations on earth then
why be so limited in scope, why not control the entire world?" Matthew

Elizabeth was glad it was Matthew who had voiced this scenario. Too
often Matthew had played second fiddle to Kat and indeed herself.
Elizabeth replied, "A good question and one I've been giving some
thought to. The answer it turns out is quite easy. Firstly, as I've already
mentioned, the version 2 changeling organ starts to break down after a
few months. Unless it is removed the subject will die. Even if that were
not the case, four out the five countries are democracies. The Guild
couldn't hope to infiltrate all political parties or even rig the elections.
Within four or five years their world-wide powerbase would be gone
and the Guild would be back to square one. The changelings we're
facing are short term weapons, there for one task only. Now I've a
good idea what it is, and it does seem to fit in, but again this is only my

"Kat said something about selling hi-tech weapons to the Arab nations,"
Cathline offered.

Elizabeth continued, "That was our initial guess but I think that's too
limited. What is it Hassan wanted the most?"

"His honor back. His defeat by you hurt his credibility hard. There's no
way I could have got the support I did if he hadn't have failed," Kat

"Agreed. Now as some of you know the Guild of assassins ruled
Mesopotamia from 1090AD to 1270AD. Their sphere of influence
spread much wider than this, and most of the Middle East was under
their rule. They were eventually defeated by the Mamluk Sultan and by
the Mongols. It follows that Hassan's only way to win back his honor
would be to equal or exceed the empire that his ancestors once did.
Kat, I'm sure you can vouch for the hatred the Guild have of this
Mamluk Sultan."

Kat nodded, "Yeah, almost every act the Guild ever carried out was to
avenge their defeat by him."

"Where did this Mamluk Sultan come from?" Elizabeth asked Kat

Kat thought for a moment, trying to remember her Guild history. A few
seconds later she had it, "Egypt."

"Holy shit!" Scott breathed. The penny had just dropped.

Elizabeth gave a sigh, it was exasperating watching the others play
catch up but at the same time she felt a warm glow of satisfaction.
Despite all that had happened, her failure to stop the attack, the
destruction of her changeling organ, and her failure to see what the
consequences of killing the Guild were, she could still outthink and out
plan most people. The sigh turned to a nod, "That's right. By
destroying Cairo Hassan avenges once and for all the defeat at the hand
of the Mamluk Sultan. By wiping Israel out he earns the respect and
admiration of his Arab neighbors. After these deeds are accomplished it
would be a simple matter to influence the decisions of over half the
Arab world. He didn't want overt power, that's not the way the Guild
works. They prefer to be behind the scenes, pulling the invisible puppet
strings. If you are in the public eye you can soon get yours plucked

The senator saw where Elizabeth was leading, "Who controls the
Middle East controls the oil, who controls the oil controls the global
economy. Fucking hell."

Matthew gave a short laugh, "Sounds like something out of Dune,"
Matthew then went serious. It was no laughing matter.

Elizabeth continued her theory, "Exactly. Hassan never did want to rule
the world. He was much too smart for that. What he would have been
able to do was ensure that the Arab nations became more than just
trumped up oil wells. I suspect he would insist that his puppet Arab
nations be given more power at the UN, the rights to reduce or increase
oil quotas. By putting the Guild back on top in the Middle East he
ensures that his honor is restored, his enemies are crushed, and
furthermore he makes a killing out of playing the stock markets. He
would also be in a position to wage economic warfare on his enemies."

"Apart from ensuring the attack, I don't see where the changeling's
come in?" Scott asked.

Kat answered before Elizabeth could speak, "I do. By using the
changelings Hassan ensures that the Middle East war doesn't get out of
hand. When you want to burn a field you ensure that you dig deep,
wide trenches around it. That way the fire doesn't get out of control or
spread to areas you want to keep. Not even Hassan was stupid enough
to start a war and not have a way of stopping it," Kat heard a short sob
and turned to Elizabeth who was holding her head in her hands.

"Dr Bexley it isn't your fault. We can still stop this, " the senator

Elizabeth looked up, her tearful blue eyes fixing upon the senator, "We
have to stop it. Kat's analogy of a bush fire is right on. Once the fire is
lit and with no Guild to stop it there's no telling what could happen. I
read that Pakistan was offering to ship nuclear warheads to Egypt, and
it follows that if Pakistan gets involved so would India. With the
changeling world leaders getting more and more unpredictable and
neurotic by the week then it's entirely conceivable that it could escalate
into a third world war."

Elizabeth suddenly let out a loud laugh that reverberated around the
room, "I never thought my revenge against Matthew would lead to the
end of the world. I bet God's laughing his head off. Twenty thousand
years of civilisation destroyed by one woman's thirst for vengeance. Oh
Lizzy you've really done it now haven't you."

The rest of the group stared at Elizabeth, who was now cradling her
head in her hands and crying. Elizabeth was oblivious to all around her,
caught up in her own private world.

"Oh fuck," Cathline breathed. She was concerned that Elizabeth had
suffered some kind of breakdown.

"I've seen her like this before," Kat added.

"When?" Scott asked.

"When we were in the Guild stronghold. She had neglected to take her
Stelazine for a number of days. She was in a race against time to finish
the changeling organ, and it looked as though all her plans were going
to turn to dust. Her last chance of redemption was ebbing away with
each passing hour. It was in these moments of madness that she made
the most remarkable progress and leaps in reasoning. They say that
there's a fine line between genius and insanity. I think that somehow her
insanity moves her to another plane of reasoning and ability. It's a fact
that Mozart and Van Gogh did some of their greatest works during
periods of madness. I think Elizabeth's the same. It would have taken
teams of biochemists years to do what she did in weeks."

Cathline turned to Elizabeth who was still sobbing to herself, "She's
extremely dangerous. I think we should turn her in." Cathline then got
up and walked over to the phone.

"Are you saying that she did this on purpose?" Scott asked Kat.

"It would seem so. That would explain how she sussed the Guild plans
and motives so quickly. Now if I'm right, she would have brought some
Stelazine along so that she could get treatment fast. It'd take a while to
act but from what I saw it needs only a few hours for it to subside. She
was back to normal within a day or so."

Elizabeth looked up, her eyes wide and staring, "I'm ok now. My
medicine's in my bag. Please believe me when I tell you it had to be this
way, it was the only way I could reach my full potential, the only way I
could stop the coming war. A shame really. It'd make a wonderful
show. Matthew, my one true love, please trust me again. Be with me
again, forget about Kat, I love you."

There was a loud crack and Elizabeth slumped to the floor. Cathline
stood over her holding the remains of the telephone, "I don't know
about you, but I'd sooner trust an angry rattlesnake."

"Right! Scott, pass me Elizabeth's bag. We'll give her, her medicine
now. Cathline tie her up in case she comes round," Kat ordered. She
didn't agree with Cathline's prompt action but it was logical and too late
to complain. The sooner Elizabeth was back to normal the better and
safer for all of them.

While Cathline tied Elizabeth's hands and feet with belts taken from
Matthew's wardrobe Kat rummaged around in Elizabeth's bag.
Eventually she found a small case and opened it up. Inside was a
hypodermic, a small bottle full of a clear liquid and a hand written note.

"What's the note say?" the senator asked.

Kat read it out loud,
'If you are reading this note, then it's clear I have pushed things
too far. I have not taken my treatment for sometime now as
we, I, need the edge that my madness gives me. In this grave
situation we need every card we can, even a wildcard such as
this. If I have caused any harm while in this state please
forgive me.

If Kat is with you I'm sure she's related how this affected me
last time and the quantum leaps in gene sequencing and
splicing I accomplished during this time. It seems as though I
can only accomplish what needs to be done thru my insanity.
It seems a small price to pay for saving so many.

Please inject me with 10cc of the enclosed drug and look after
me until I recover.

Dr Elizabeth Anne Bexley PHd'

"So she did do it on purpose?" Scott breathed.

"It looks that way. Helluva risk though," Kat answered.

Placing the hypodermic into the bottle Kat drew 10cc of the liquid and
ensured that there were no air bubbles trapped inside. She moved over
to the unconscious Elizabeth and rolled the sleeve on Elizabeth's blouse.
Carefully she plunged the needle into Elizabeth's arm and injected the
drug, "Now we wait I guess."

A few seconds later there was a knock at the door, "Pizza for Mr and
Mrs Stephens," A voice called out.

"I'll get it," Kat offered and walked over to the door.

She opened to door to see a smallish man standing in front of her and
judging from the tinny clash of music coming from his headphones was
clearly more interested in listening to his Walkman than delivering
Pizza. Kat cleared her throat and the guy quickly noticed she was
standing there.

"Sorry, " he muttered and handed Kat the Pizza.

"S'ok," Kat replied, handed the guy his money and closed the door.

- o - o - o -

After handing over the Pizza, the delivery guy rode the elevator down
to the foyer. He removed his headphones and spoke into the left
earpeice, "Watcher to control, watcher to control. Do you read me

A voice crackled thru the right speaker, "Control to Watcher. Report,

"Target acquired. As suspected he's in there with Rachel Martin, the
detective, and some others. What are your orders."

"Return to base. We'll take it from here. Good Job! Control out."

The man code named 'watcher' placed the headphones back on his head
and walked over to his moped and drove off.

- o - o - o -

As she got out of her car, Tina saw the Pizza delivery guy fiddle with
his headphones for a few seconds, and then drive away. That must
mean Lunch. Man, was she hungry! A few minutes later Scott let her
inside the apartment. She saw Elizabeth's unconscious body sprawled
out on the floor, her arms and legs were bound, and her head was
placed on a cushion. Whatever had gone on here was trouble, and now
Tina was glad she'd dropped by the station to get her firearm back,
"What the hell went on here?" Tina demanded.

Matthew gestured at Elizabeth's limp body, "From what we can work
out Elizabeth knew we needed everything she had in order to try and
stop the attack. She deliberately drove herself to insanity in the hope
that she could work out the Guild's plans and motives. I think she
succeeded but it came at a terrible price,"

"Is she?" Tina asked.

"No. I've given her, her medicine, and she should be coming around
soon. I don't know if any of us will ever think of her in the same way
again. If anyone doubted her commitment to her redemption I think it's
been proven," Kat said, glancing at Cathline who looked furtively away.

"So now what?" Tina asked.

"Pizza?" Kat offered, showing Tina the box on the table.

"Why not? Make sure you save some for Dr Bexley." Tina replied.

- o - o - o -

Sergeant Isaac Stern was baking hot inside his NBC suit. Although the
heat of the day had passed it was still stifling inside, and every breath
was an effort. He'd long since got over the eerie and disturbing scenes
of empty streets and the deathly quiet that made the sound of his
breathing as loud as thunder. He was glad that the attack hadn't left any
bodies; that would have been worse. However, here and there, in dark
places small pools of pinkish fluid could still be seen, and round stains
where the liquid had evaporated created a leopard spot pattern on the
sidewalks. It was hard to believe that all that remained of the people of
Tel-Aviv was these ink blot stains, empty sets of clothes and a few
puddles on the floor.

The air was still full of soot, although it had rapidly cleared in places
and now all that remained was the few burnt out husks of buildings.
Several times he had to ram his way thru roads blocked with crashed
cars or the shattered remains of a house or office. This was, he decided
a place of the dead and the living had no right to be here. It was a
peculiar sight, it was as if all the people had vanished in the blink of an
eye. Now rotting meals lay on empty tables, flies buzzing and circling
around them.

He drove further into the city and the piles of clothes and stains grew
more frequent. Shopping malls were dark and empty, the power long
since flicked off. The mirror surfaces of modern high rise buildings
reflected the sun in a myriad of colors, and yet he knew inside, there
would be the 'nothing' remains of the workers who had just arrived for
their days work. He had been told the timing of the attack was minute
perfect, the exact moment when the entire city would be on the move,
and therefore cause the maximum amount of carnage.

He checked the GPS display on his dashboard and its metre perfect
reading told him this was the place. He brought his jeep to a stop and
climbed clumsily out. He peered into the back of the jeep, and was
relieved to see the pigeons and the cat was still alive. The biological
agent that was still in the air had not yet affected them. He pulled out
the cage and opened it. In a flash the pigeons had escaped, and flew
skywards, and landed on a nearby streetlight. He waited for a number
of minutes, the only sound being his soft breathing, before deciding that
the atmosphere was ok. He then picked up the cage containing a small
tabby cat, and looked around. Eventually he spotted a pool of the
pinkish liquid, and he placed the cage down on it. The pinkish liquid
began to seep into the cage and the cat took umbrage at this and hissed
at him. A few seconds later, the cat licked the pink goo off its paws and
sat back down again. He waited intently, looking at the cat's every
move and breath, until after 10 minutes he decided that the liquid was
harmless. Just to make sure he released the cat and watched it shoot off
into the distance.

He knew what had to come next, but that didn't stop him being nervous.
All the tests pointed to the city being safe, but this was the acid test. He
tried to pull his thoughts away from himself, and think of the whole
country that was waiting on the results of these tests. To serve God
and country, that is why he had signed up and now came the crunch.
He silently said a prayer and undid his protective hood. The air tasted
sweet and clean, like the air on top of a high mountain. He had
expected the pungent smell of death and decay, but this tasted so good.
He took a deep, long breath and relaxed, the city was safe. He walked
around to the front of the jeep but found his vision becoming blurry, a
sudden pain in his chest caused him to stumble. Why couldn't he see
any more? He suddenly felt so weak and powerless and in matter of
moments it all faded to black.

- o - o - o -

Elizabeth had been out cold for about an hour when Matthew spotted
the first signs of her recovery. They had debated long and hard what to
do when she did come around, and they had decided that the best option
was for Tina to cover Dr Bexley, with her standard issue .38 from a safe
distance, and the others would stand opposite her and wait. Matthew
alerted the group and they quickly moved into position.

Elizabeth went to sit up but found herself unable to. She had been tied
up, "Hey what's going on?" she complained groggily.

Matthew was the first to speak, "You idiot! We trusted you until you
had that little episode a while ago."

"What episode? What the hell are you talking about? The last thing I
remember was I was talking about the Guild motives, and then it all
went black."

"You started ranting, just like you did back in the Guild stronghold,"
Kat replied.

"Oh shit! I've been without my drug for three days, I was afraid
something like that would happen. Did I hurt anyone?"

"No, we're ok. Your note said you did it on purpose," The senator

"That's a relief. Yeah, I did it on purpose. I knew we needed every
advantage we could possibly get and from past experience I knew that
Stelazine clouded my judgement and thinking. The stakes are way too
high to worry about one person. I'm just glad you guys were here. I
take it you've given me my dose?"

Cathline eyed Elizabeth as though she was a Cobra about to strike, "Kat
did it. You expect us to believe you're all ok thank you, and that we
should go and trust you now. How do we know that you're not going
to pull anything? Before I hit you, you were ranting about how you still
love Matthew and that he should be with you. Now excuse me, but that
sounds to me like the 'hell bitch' of old."

"I do still love Matthew, and a part of me wants him to be with me,"
Elizabeth started.

"TOLD YOU, Tina.." Cathline shouted.

Elizabeth heard the click of a pistol being cocked behind her, "Wait. I'm
not done yet. Cathline, you still love Kat right."

"Yes, AND?" Cathline demanded.

"And part of you wants to be with her?"

Cathline thought for a moment and then admitted, "Yeah I guess. But
that doesn't.'"

"My turn to interrupt. You were going to say that even though you still
love Kat, and a small part of you wants to be with her, that doesn't
mean to say you'll dispose of Matthew and have her for yourself,"
Elizabeth stated.

"Exactly," Cathline snapped.

Elizabeth looked earnestly at Cathline, "I feel precisely the same way.
Getting to know Kat over the past year, and knowing how much she
and Matthew and are in love has shown me, more powerfully than I can
describe that they are meant to be together. You must believe me, that
I can no more betray their love than my parent's memory. Cathline, if
you're allowed to love someone, and yet be content with watching them
love another then why can't I? You know what your largest fear is
Cathline, it's not being alone or left out, it's becoming me."

Cathline didn't say a word. Elizabeth had a point and she knew it. Kat,
satisfied that Elizabeth was back to normal walked over to her and
undid the belts binding her legs and arms

"Thanks, Kat. Now, please can we get on with the work in hand?
Judging from that Pizza box lying over there you've had lunch. Kat you
need to get to the Guild, we've been sitting here stuffing our faces and
now we need to move. We all know where we are supposed to be, we'll
meet up in two days."

"How do we know we HAVE two days?" Tina asked.

Elizabeth answered, "We don't, but you've seen the news as I have. The
Austrian government has come up with a proposal, and there's still a lot
of debate going on. In spite of the pressure the five permanent members
seem to be putting on Israel there's still due process to attend to."

"You didn't answer Tina's question," Scott replied.

"I didn't, but put it like this, the Guild have Israel like a pig on a stick.
I'm sure the senator will agree with me, when I say that I believe that
the Israeli PM is looking for a way out. But because he's encircled from
every side by Guild changelings he's trapped. He wants time and room
to manoeuvre. You just have to look at the press releases and
speculation to see that he's stalling for time. Since when has Israel ever
needed UN approval to do anything? They didn't when they bombed
that nuclear reactor in Iraq a few years back. Israel normally doesn't
give a stuff about world opinion when the security of its people are at
stake. It'll only strike when all options are exhausted or the Guild
changelings finally decide to put Israel out of its misery."

The senator nodded, his long black hair swishing as he did so, "I agree
with Dr Bexley. We certainly have at least four days left, that's more
than enough time. But we need to move."

Kat stood up and brushed herself down, "Ok. I'll go. I'll see you in
Washington in two days, With the proof we need."

Matthew stood up and walked over to her, tears welling up in his eyes,
"I've lost you once, please not again."

Kat gave Matthew a long tearful embrace, "I'm coming back, what's two
more days when we have a lifetime ahead of us? My love, I'll see you

Kat let Matthew go, and she slowly embraced each one of the group in
turn. She was about to leave, when she turned to Elizabeth and said,
"Look after him, Witch."

"I will. I owe my life to him. Remember that old Egyptian blessing I
told you about?"

"Yeah, thanks, "With a single fingered salute Kat walked out of the

"Egyptian Blessing?" Matthew queried.

Elizabeth brushed back a tear. She hated sending Kat out again but her
mission was the most critical. "I used it the first time Kat went off to be
Salah. Translated it goes 'May God go with you in all the dark places
where you must walk'."

There was silence as each person thought of Kat going back to the
deadly world of the Guild, the words of Elizabeth's blessing echoing
around their minds.

Elizabeth broke the silence and took on a matter of fact, almost military
tone of voice, "Right Scott, Senator Jameson, you'll take the next flight
to Washington. Book yourself into the Holiday inn nearest the airport,
and wait for me there. I'm going to go to LA as Rachel Martin, and
then travel to Washington from there. Cathline, Tina lay low until I call
you. Then travel to be with us, Matthew, you'll take the next flight to
Boston, and then onto Washington as well. You'll book into the same
hotel as Scott and the Senator. Now Kat knows she only has two days
to get back to Washington. If she doesn't, we go without her. We
stand little chance of success if she fails but we have to try."

- o - o - o -

"Watcher to control, watcher to Control."

"Control here, report."

"Target has left the building. Am following."

"Affirmative. Do not engage, follow and report where he ends up. Our
orders are to wait and strike when he least suspects it."

"Agreed. Handing over to Pursuit."

"Pursuit you ready over?"

A female voice sounded over the radio, "Pursuit here. I will report
when target has settled."

In all the traffic Kat didn't notice a blue sedan pull away from the other
side of the road, and drive off, her mind was busily focused on hailing a

This time of day finding cabs was relatively easy and within a matter of
minutes she had hired one, and told the driver the address she wanted to
go to. Normally, she would have had a Guild driver take her but with
the Guild now exposed she couldn't take the risk that the driver was
some government agent. Besides, the place she was going to was a
non-Guild owned disused factory. Nobody outside of a few select
Guild agents knew of its importance, and it was for one time use only.

A few cars back a large black Chrysler station wagon took position and
started to follow the Taxi that Kat was in.

- o - o - o -

"How do I look?" Elizabeth asked Cathline.

Cathline looked at Elizabeth from top to bottom. Elizabeth had spent
quite a bit of time getting her hair just right and adjusting the eye patch
to the position that Cathline wore it. Here and there Cathline could see
subtle differences. Elizabeth's body was thinner and less muscular,
probably due to the extreme amounts of energy that she'd required of it,
and the fact that her body was still recovering from her fight with the
Guild. However to all but the most ardent Rachel Martin fan Elizabeth
would pass as her, "Just like me."

Elizabeth nodded, "Good. This will keep me out of harms way until I
get to LA. What's up Matthew?"

Matthew looked worried, "I can't help thinking of Kat. I ought to be
concentrating on doing my bit, but all I can think of is her."

"I understand. But she can take care of herself. She did more
dangerous things in the year she was organizing the Guild war than this.
All she's going to do is to gather what information the Guild have and
bring it back. She's in charge now, the Guild do what she says."

"I suppose," Matthew wondered. He felt tempted to ask more about
what Kat had been up to in their year away but thought better of it.
When it was all over, then he'd ask.

Scott suggested, "I suggest we all book our flights as soon as we can."

Elizabeth nodded, "Agreed. Once we know when our flights leave we
can take some well earned rest. Some of us have been on the go for
over 18 hours, and we need our sleep. Scott why don't you book the
flights for yourself and the senator, from the phone in the foyer?
Matthew and I can use his.

All the phone calls took nearly an hour to complete. The Senator and
Scott would be the first to fly out in a little over two hours, Elizabeth as
Rachel Martin would use her full VIP status, and leave in style, four
hours later and then finally Matthew would leave at 22:00 that evening.
As planned Tina and Cathline would follow as soon as the NYPD
allowed, and Kat would then catch up when she had proof.

- o - o - o -

The taxi drew up beside a deserted industrial complex. The site was
littered with burnt out cars, abandoned machinery and everywhere was a
general air of decay. It looked as though this site hadn't been used in
over twenty years. From the nature of the building Kat was aiming for
it was probably some kinda of chemical plant. Pipes ran out from all
over the building and merged into a central point before plunging deep
underground. Three aluminium flues sprang out of the middle of the
factory giving it a haphazard look.

Kat paid the driver a healthy tip and he drove off. Kat checked her
watch, it was almost two pm. She furtively glanced around to make
sure she hadn't been followed, before setting off towards the factory. It
took a few minutes for her to complete the walk and soon she was at
the entranceway. Before she could open the door it was opened for her
by a burly Guild agent, who then gave a single fingered salute and
beckoned her inside.

From several hundred metres away the occupants of a black Chrysler
noted where Kat had walked into.

"Do we go in now?" the less experienced agent asked his superior.

"No, we wait until he drops his guard, say in a couple of hours and then
we call for the strike team. They go in, take him out, and then get out

"What about the others?"

"If they get in the way we'll eliminate them too. If they decide to run,
then we'll let them. Without the boss they're nothing. Fancy some

Kat was escorted up several flights of slippery, filthy steps. Inside the
factory was dark, the power long since being turned off. Drips and
bangs from leaking air-conditioning pipes occasionally rang out, making
Kat inwardly jump. Outside she appeared calm and collected. The
impassive, all powerful Guild leader.

She was shown to a large room and left alone. Her escort had silently
slipped away. Kat took a step forwards and was suddenly grabbed from
behind, her arm pinned behind her back. Unable to move she felt a knife
being pressed to her throat and in her ear an Arabic voice hissed,

- o - o - o -

Only Cathline and Elizabeth were still awake, the others had elected to
get some rest before setting out. Elizabeth didn't feel tired, and she
needed to stay awake and prepare. Cathline didn't trust Elizabeth
enough to fall asleep, with her in the room and unguarded so she sat at
the opposite side of the room glaring at her identical twin.

Elizabeth was getting well and truly fed up with Cathline's hot and cold
hostility. Kat had told her that the best way to deal with Cathline was
sit her down, let her get whatever it was off her chest, and then quietly
point out the truth. Honesty and integrity were the things that Cathline
respected the most. Elizabeth had to admit that in Cathline's eyes, she
had neither. Elizabeth sighed inwardly. She'd tried the approach Kat
had used, she'd tried letting Cathline vent her anger on her, and she'd
tried everything in between. A thought occurred to her, a quip she'd
made before Kat had left. It was worth a try, "I know what your
problem is with me, Cathline."

Cathline said nothing in response. She didn't want to rise to Elizabeth's
baiting anymore. The sooner she was away from her the better.

"Ok fine, you don't want to talk to me, that's ok by me. Every time we
seem to have one of our little chats one of us loses it. Your problem
with me isn't what I did to you, it's who you are."

Cathline looked up and glared at Elizabeth.

"You've described Kat as the 'Anti-Liz. Standing for everything I
supposedly don't, honesty, compassion, and integrity. If I'm Liz and
Kat is the 'Anti Liz', then you are the nearly Liz."

"I'm nothing like you," Cathline snapped back.

"Yes you are. It wasn't only me who conspired to turn John into a copy
of Kat. It wasn't only John who had an affair when they were married.
You helped me. You slept with me while still married to John. I'm
sorry to tell some home truths, and maybe Matthew and Kat have
skirted around the issue, but your hands aren't spotless either.
Whatever you say you're closer to how I am than how Kat is, and that's
your greatest fear. I know what it's like. To lie there, awake in the
middle of the night thinking over what might have been. If only I'd
given Matthew more space, if only I'd let him go when I should have.
My world is full of ifs and maybe's, and everyday it eats away at me a
little bit more. You're not the only one to lose someone close. I lost
Matthew, lost my parents, and now I've lost whatever chance I had at
leading a normal life. I'm learning to let Matthew go. Sure it's hard, but
I'm doing it the only way I can."

"Bully for you," Cathline replied. Elizabeth's words stung her deeply.
How could she know, how could she really understand?

Ignoring Cathline's barbed comment Elizabeth continued, "You know, I
thought the hardest part of my setting things right would be all the DNA
work that was required to put Matthew, Kat, and the others right again.
Now I'm not so sure. If I fix your eye what will good will it do? You
will still despise me, still not trust me, and rejoice when I'm gone. The
only way I can redeem myself to you is by earning your forgiveness.
Kat told me how you gave up all thoughts of going after me, but she
also said that you never really forgave me. That brings me back to your
greatest fear. You can see within yourself the seeds of revenge growing
again, and you know what it can do to a person. It's not only me you
despise, it's yourself, and it's not only me you've not forgiven, it's you.
Until you forgive yourself for what you did to John, then you can never
forgive me."

Cathline gave a slow, methodical clap, "You get that from that Harvard
psychology class you went to?"

Elizabeth smiled, "I guess so. I only got 98% in my finals. It let me
down from my final score. Never did understand how, and why people
did things, well from the textbook anyway. You have to admit I've got
a point. My little farewell scene with Kat shook you too didn't it? I saw
the look on your face. You thought how the hell could SHE give Kat
such an apt send-off? How come SHE could show such affection to her
mortal enemy?"

Cathline couldn't resist opening up a little. So much of what Elizabeth
had noticed in her was right on, "I suppose I do hate myself for what
I've done. I let my hurt over what John did to me get to me. That was
the main reason why I agreed to let us teach him a lesson, and thinking
about it may, be one of the reasons why I came onto you so strong in
the first place. Yeah, sure I was surprised at your little farewell, but I
know Kat, she will trust anyone, she's of the opinion that anyone
deserves a second chance, even you."

Elizabeth was curious, "One of the reasons?"

Cathline nodded, "That, and you were so damn hot in those days.
This," Cathline gestured to her body, "is so, so perfect it's unnatural.
Nobody could ever be born like this. Part of me did love you. When
you opened up to me it was a like a treasure I'd never found before, an
undiscovered jewel seen for the first time. If I started off with you to
spite John it ended with me loving you."

Now it was Elizabeth's turn to backtrack. "I knew you loved me, deep
down I knew it, but I was so messed up inside I took every little knock
back as a personal insult. In the end I hated you for the happiness you
had. I wanted to torture you bit by bit, like pulling the legs one by one
off a spider, and watching it squirm. Like you, I don't give myself to
just anyone, only the people I love. I saw what we had as my last
chance of stopping the Fury and what did I do? I turned it around and
used it for my own evil."

"You're right. I do partly blame myself for what happened. Unlike you
I take responsibility for my actions."

Elizabeth interrupted, "Wait a sec, what the hell do you think I'm doing

"When it's too late and the damage is done," Cathline commented.

Elizabeth didn't comment on that remark, she didn't need to "You've
known for a long time what you've got to do. You have to let John and
Kat go. They've become part of you, a comfort that you use to quiet
yourself in those moments of darkness and pain. John is dead -- as
tragic as that is it's a fact. Kat is married. She will never be able to be
with you in the way you want. Until you let them go you will tied to the
past and unable to move from it. Your feelings of anger, betrayal and
resentment will eat away at you until you lose what you value most
about yourself, and furthermore you will become me in thought if not

Cathline sat back on her chair and let Elizabeth's words flow into her.
Elizabeth was right. She did live in the past. Events that happened over
five years ago ate at her soul, fuelled her pain, and had turned her heart
to unfeeling stone. Cathline felt a tear on her cheek, and she refused to
wipe it away. So what if Elizabeth saw it.

"I had to let Matthew go, I had to have time to mourn the death of my
parents. Forget about DNA sequencing. Letting Matthew live his own
life, and realizing that mom and Dad's deaths were just horrific
accidents was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, it was like letting
my entire life go. All the hours, days, weeks and months of planning I'd
put in were now for nothing. For so long, they were what defined me.
I'm pleading with you Cathline, deal with this before it's too late. Part
of me wants you back. As I've said before, you were my final chance to
stop all of this and I blew it. Sometimes I've wanted to hold you, like I
used to hold you. You comforted me, and made me feel loved again. I
know we can never have what we used to, but at least let us put an end
to this feud. If you said you'd take me back I'd be there."

Strangely, Cathline's first thought wasn't horror at the thought. She
remembered the good times she and Elizabeth had, had together. If it
were anyone else asking then she would jump at the chance. The
chance to love and be loved again was more appealing than the
cancerous growth of being alone; "If you'd have said that five years ago
I would have come. Too much has happened since for me to forget."

"But is there room to forgive?" Elizabeth queried.

"Maybe. If you follow thru with your promises then I'll forgive you."

"Forgiveness shouldn't be conditional .You either forgive me or you
don't. I want you to let go for you not for me."

Much to Elizabeth's surprise Cathline stood up and walked over to her.
She suddenly embraced Elizabeth and gave her a peck on the cheek.
Elizabeth wanted, no, needed more but then Cathline pulled away.

Cathline turned to face Elizabeth and said "If you'd said ok to my
proposal, then I would have known that you were only saying those
things to serve yourself. What you said was right. Forgiveness isn't
conditional but trust is. You will need to earn my trust all over again.
There's a whole load of stuff I need to sort out for myself, and you've
given me some more. Thank you for caring. Being with Kat has rubbed
off on you."

Cathline remained silent. There was nothing more that could be said on
the subject. Elizabeth had pierced into her soul and exposed her fears.
Unwilling to show more, Cathline changed the subject, "Ok Liz, now
you tell me something. You never start something without knowing
how you want it to end. You must have an ending in mind, what is it?"

Elizabeth looked furtively around and said, "I'm going to kill Kat on the
operating table and run off with Matthew. You will be powerless to
stop me because you'll be dead. Killed by my newly repaired changeling

Cathline's eyes widened in horror. A feeling of dread overcame her, she
wanted to scream but no sound came out.

Elizabeth smiled and said, "Gotcha."

Cathline didn't know what to say. Was this Elizabeth's idea of a joke or
a more serious conversation? "WHAT!"

Elizabeth smiled, "Fooled you. Don't ever play jokes like you and Kat
did on Matthew again. He's vulnerable at the moment, how you reacted
just then was how he initially reacted when you pulled the 'I'm running
off with Kat' stunt back there. I have an ending in mind, and it's one I
promise will suit everyone. How would you end things?"

Cathline thought for a few minutes while Elizabeth looked impassively
on, "I wouldn't kill you because, as you rightly say, that would make me
as bad as you. If I toss you into a pit and walk away, and leave you to
rot I'm just as bad, and yet if you go scott free and unpunished then
where's the justice in that. I liked the mermaid solution. You were still
alive but out of our lives. Justice was served, you were being punished
but not so much as to destroy you."

"So you want me to go into exile is that it? Never hear from me again,"
Elizabeth asked.

"I guess so. The trouble is, is that we'd fear you coming back when it
suited you."

Elizabeth lowered her voice, "Deal. When this is over I promise you
won't hear from me again."

Cathline looked Elizabeth in the eye and said, "I'll have to take your
word on that. Yeah if you leave, and I never see you again, then I'll be
happy. John's soul will be at peace and I can then move on."

- o - o - o -

The knife pressed against Kat's throat pressed a little harder. Kat
slowed her breathing down so that she wouldn't inadvertently cut her
throat on the knife.

"Well Traitor, any last words before you die," the voiced said

"I'm not going to beg for my life. It wasn't me who betrayed you it was
Hassan," Kat whispered.

The still unseen Guild agent didn't release his grip, "So you say. It was
your pet whore, Dr Bexley who was in the communications room wasn't
it. She sent our entire records to the world. She was under your
command, and so you betrayed us."

Kat thought quickly. She and Elizabeth had prepared for such an
eventuality, but now it was here, she was having trouble clearing her
mind. She closed her eyes, and settled herself in the way the Guild had
taught her. She didn't move a muscle other than her mouth when she
said, "I knew you would accuse us of this crime. Have you checked the
records of the computer?"

"We did not need to, only Dr Bexley, and her bitch wife were in there."

"Check the records. You will see that the last communication before
the disaster was Hassan calling into the room. The logs will show that
he used his personal, private key to unlock the database, and then when
communications were restored the database was sent to the world. I
think Hassan reasoned that if he couldn't rule the Guild, then no one
should. I'm not the betrayer. He is."

Kat's attacker thought for a few moments. Hassan would, could do
such a thing. Although he'd never met Salah before he had heard about
his trustworthiness and integrity "If you are lying he warned."

Kat breathed, "If I were lying why would I come here? Now tell me
how goes my request?"

Much to her relief the knife was pulled away, and her arm was released.
Her attacker moved around so that he faced her. He was a tall man,
almost as tall as Kat, and even after pinning Kat's arm behind her, his
sharp Italian suit didn't even have a crease. The man gave Kat a single
fingered salute and waited.

Kat returned the salute and said, "It's ok. You will not be punished.
You have shown by your actions that you are still loyal to us. Now
what have you learned?"

The man offered Kat a seat and sat down on it. Kat waited while the
man went off and returned some minutes later.

"Is there only the two of you? What happened to all the rest?" Kat was
concerned that the Guild seemed to have fewer resources than she'd
hoped. Furthermore she now had little protection against anyone who
wanted to move against her.

The Guild agent nodded, "Most of us have left the country. Those few
that remain lay hidden in secret places awaiting the pogrom to fade.
Our agents have come under attack from almost every security service
in the world. I'm just glad Israel is paralysed, I did not look forward to
having to deal with Mossad."

"I see. Now what of the mission I told you about?"

The Guild agent walked closer to Kat and sat down at her feet, "We
heard that Hassan made a video recording of the DNA warhead test.
We have located the videotape, but unfortunately it doesn't contain
anything that points to him. The only point to note is that the accents of
the villagers can be traced to only to that part of Libya. We tried to
locate the driver of the tanker, but apparently he was killed by Dr
Bexley during the final assault on Hassan's stronghold."

Kat had mixed emotions. They were SO close to finding the proof they
needed, but a featureless videotape of a nameless place was not it.
"Anything else?"

"I am puzzled as to why you want this so badly. My loyalty is utmost
but I do not see why we should concentrate all out efforts into this one
thing when all around the world our agents are being hunted down,"
The threat was veiled in the agents voice but Kat noticed it and took

Kat thought carefully, every word she was about to speak was critical.
One wrong move and she would die. "This is our only chance to
survive. We will not hide and cower in fear of the pogrom that is being
raged against us. By proving to the world that the Guild are honorable,
and are not terrorists as Hassan made them we can then earn the respect
of the world. The Guild was laid bare and naked by Hassan's treachery,
and that cannot be changed. We may as well show the world what the
Guild should be like. What we can do, is sit down at the table of our
enemies and turn them towards our side. Why can't we use our
resources for helping the needy, disposing of evil and protecting the
innocent. For too long, we have become proud and inward looking, for
nearly a thousand years the Guild has looked only to itself. It is time we
looked outwards, towards the future."

The Guild agent thought. It was a bold vision, of the Guild acting on
the side of righteousness. No more hiding in the shadows and skulking
around like criminals. Salah's vision for the Guild was courageous and
different. He could see the praise of the world heaped upon it when it
was revealed that the Guild, and the Guild alone had dealt with the
terror of genetic weapons. "I am sorry to have doubted you."

Kat breathed an inward sigh of relief, "That is ok. What else did you

"We removed a box of videotapes from our Australian stronghold.
They are on their way here. We hope that a more detailed version of
the weapons test is among them. Also in them are records of
conversations, and actions that were recorded there, there may be some
clue as to Hassan's plans in them. From our American associates we
have obtained a satellite photograph of the village that we think was
used in the test. That too is being sent to you, we dare not send it by
mail so it will be hand delivered. Both packages will reach you by the
end of tomorrow. Where will you be staying?"

Kat's hopes lifted a little. It seemed as though there were lots of puzzle
pieces but no picture to work from. Kat gave the Guild agent the
address of a locker at JFK airport. She would need several hours to
wade thru the mass of puzzle pieces and decide which she could use and
which were useless. It would be cutting it very fine indeed.

The Guild agent committed it to memory and continued, "Hassan's files
remain heavily encrypted and even our best efforts to decode them have
been thwarted. We think that all the details have been stored in there,
Hassan was very efficient at covering his tracks."

"As he should be. What of the Warhead production facility and of the
remaining DNA systems?"

The Guild agent's face dropped, "Destroyed. As soon as it looked as
though we were going to win, agents loyal to Hassan set off fuel-air
explosives, and incinerated the entire installation. We have gone thru
the remains and found nothing that points to a genetic warhead factory.
The tankers used in the attack were purchased from all over the region,
and over a time span of a year, so there is no way they can be traced

Kat shrugged, "It seems as though Hassan's reputation for thoroughness
was well earned. What of the changeling training facility?"

"Dismantled, and all records removed. Once again this was done some
time ago."

Kat knew where this was leading, dead end. She needed information
desperately and time was fast running out!" You have been most
helpful. Now go and organize the shipping of those videotapes and
other records. Use every means, every resource and every last bit of
money to find the proof we need. Our survival depends on it, depends
on you, and depends on all of us."

The Guild agent stood up and gave Kat a single fingered salute and
walked off, his mission objectives now clear and his loyalty re-

- o - o - o -

From the outside of the factory, the watchers saw the Guild agent leave
by a side door. They were not interested in small fry, and now as it was
getting dark the optimum time for a strike approached. They watched
him jump into a battered Chevy truck and drive away. They waited a
few minutes and then the leader called for the hit team.

The hit team had been sitting outside in a blacked out van for sometime.
They wore full body armor, had special image intensifying helmets,
which allows them to see clearly in the darkness of the factory, and they
also carried specially silenced Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine guns.
All of them had been trained in counter terrorism techniques, and
storming a building such as this was second nature. They were the most
highly trained troops that their nation could provide.

- o - o - o -

The target of the hit team sat on her chair, drinking a cup of dark, rich
coffee. Her sole companion, the guard at the door had just walked
downstairs for a spot security check. Kat was bored and just wanted to
leave but she had to wait until the other agent returned. She decided to
have a walk around the factory, it passed the time and besides she was
curious and she needed to think.

It seemed as though Hassan had all the bases covered. All evidence of
the manufacture of the warheads had been destroyed. As had the
changeling training facility. The only witness to the Guild usage of the
DNA warhead was dead. and all that remained was a few minutes of
video footage. She was amazed that the Guild had found so much so
quickly as it was. They must have had to wade thru hundreds if not
thousands of documents to find what they did. Kat wanted to be able to
filter through the crap herself so she could be sure it contained the
information they wanted. She had debated about sending it all onto
Elizabeth, but it wasn't safe to do so, she didn't want it to be intercepted
on the way there.

She'd walked up several flights of stairs and had reached what looked
like the main processing center. Conveyor belts ran out from each side
of the room and ended up in a series of large, sealed silos. Coming out
of each silo was a large rusted pipe, which then plunged into the floor,
and led who knows where.

Kat had reached the room where she'd first met the Guild agent when
suddenly she heard a series of gunshots echo thru the empty corridors.
Instinct took over and she flattened herself against the wall. She patted
her pocket, and regretted not taking the slender Guild assassin knife
with her. Whether she'd be willing to use it would be a different matter.
She froze as someone walked into the room. Kat was about to grab the
mystery person in an arm lock, when she saw it was the Guild agent
who'd been left behind to guard her. By the looks of him he was

"Are you alright?" Kat whispered.

The Guild agent nodded, "There were seven of them, I got three before
I had to flee. Quick this way."

Her heart pounding, Kat followed the Guild agent thru several dark
corridors. At every step she expected to be gunned down where she
stood. For his part, her guardian kept watch, listening for any tell tale
signs of movement.

The strike team had fallen back to the main entranceway. The speed
and ferocity of the terrorist guarding the door had shocked them, and
now three of them lay dead on floor, their throats slit. Still at least the
guard had been wounded, and was now trapped on a higher floor. The
strike team commander adjusted his image intensifier, and gave the
signal to move out. The plan was to slowly drive them into a corner
before finishing the job. The commander debated whether to wait until
reinforcements could arrive from the van outside, but decided not to
wait in case they escaped. He gave a quick finger signal, checked the
radio link between his remaining team members, and carefully climbed
the stairs once more.

Kat was shown to the main processing area, and the guard pointed to a
large section of pipe. Part of the pipe had been removed and replaced
by a metal grill.

"Get in, this leads to the sewer system You can crawl to safety thru
there." The guard gestured to the pipe.

Kat grimaced, she'd have to crawl thru several metres of sewage and
waste just to get out. Still it beat being shot. She was about to ask the
guard what he was going to do, but then she knew. He was going to
hold them off while she escaped. The guard unclipped the metal grill
and Kat slowly crawled into the damp and stinking pipe. Kat heard the
grill being clipped back into place, and she started to slowly crawl
downhill towards the sewer. The smell was almost overwhelming and
she didn't want to know what kinds of stuff she was crawling into. She
nearly didn't fit in the pipe and her movement was restricted by the fact
she had to be quiet.

The strike team commander took point and his remaining team fanned
out into the processing area. There was no sign of the guard or their
target. It was possible they had fled further on, but tactically this was
the best place to make a stand. There were numerous places in where
they could hide and pick them off one by one. He scanned the room but
couldn't see anyone.

Suddenly from his far left there was a noise and a blood-curdling scream
which was stifled short. He whirled around, ready to open fire but all
that remained was empty space, and the body of one of his comrades.
Suddenly the room echoed to the sound of automatic weapons and
sparks flew as bullets ricocheted around the room.

Kat was about to slide down into the downward sloping sewage pipe
when she heard gunfire. She froze, hardly daring to breathe and waited
for one side to win.

The guard was pleased, he'd managed to obtain a weapon from the
fallen soldier and was now hiding underneath one of the conveyor belts.
He'd spotted what looked like the commander, and he waited. If the
commander fell then the others would be more easily taken.

The commander looked around the room. The greenish glow of the
image intensified light gave the room a ghostly, otherworldly feel. If he
were on the run and trapped in this room where would he go?

His gaze fixed upon a conveyor belt. Yes, that would provide a good
hiding place. Plenty of cover, a good arc of fire, and a handy retreat if
required. He caught sight of a glint of metal underneath.
"So there you are," he breathed to himself.

He risked radioing his second in command and notified him of the
suspected position. They quickly formulated a plan, a risky one, but the
best in the given situation He then casually walked over a catwalk,
allowing the guard a clean field of fire at him.

The guard was elated, his enemy had made a tactical blunder. He raised
his weapon and prepared to open fire. Suddenly there was a noise
above him, and his last thought was that he'd been outmanoeuvred.

"Got him," the second in command radioed to his commander and he
jumped of the conveyor belt. While the guard had been drawing a bead
on the commander he'd managed to leap onto the belt and shoot thru
the rubber belt and into the enemy below.

The remains of the strike team reformed and searched the room. The
target must be somewhere. After a few minutes of fruitless searching,
they were almost ready to move on. Then the commander had an idea,
he'd been looking at the way the pipes were laid out. He gestured for
all but one of his team to remain still, and listen. The other he got to
call out, "Sector is secure move out."

Kat heard the muffled order and decided to risk moving a little more.
She was getting cramped from waiting in her prone position and the
stench was making her ill. She decided to move a fraction of an inch
but miscalculated and her foot gently scraped alongside the side of the

The commander froze, and pointed to the section of pipe where the
sound had come from. His team surrounded the area of the pipe, and
with the phut hiss of silenced gunfire, they all riddled the area with
bullets. A loud, deep scream cried out from inside the pipe, and then
died off. Sewage poured out the holes and then trickled away. The
commander took out a flashlight and looked at their handiwork. A thin
red liquid seeped out of several holes and it was sticky to the touch,

"We got him," the commander stated.

"Are we going to confirm that?" his second asked.

The commander shook his head. "Unless we cut the pipe open we ain't
gonna get him outta there. He's been hit at least five times, and even if
he is alive all that shit in there will cause massive infection to those
wounds. The main sewers are at least a quarter mile away, and there's
no way he can get there. These pipes are flushed every so often, so he'll
just get flushed right out. We've done our job, let's go home."

- o - o - o -

The changeling president was about to sit down to dinner when the
phone rang.

"Mr President?" the voice asked.

"What it is?"

"This is Major Jackson of the strike team you sent for. We can confirm
that the terrorist called Salah has been taken out just as you wished."

The president felt elated. His worst enemy was dead. That left him as
the most powerful figure in the Guild, "Excellent. You have his body to

"Sorry Mr President. Salah was inside of a long pipe when we got him.
He must've been hit at least five times, and the pipe was thick with
waste and shit. He ain't getting out of there."

"Nonetheless I want to see a body." the changeling president was
concerned. No body, no sure kill.

"The pipes were flushed out about half hour after we left. Salah's body's
been washed out into the main sewer system. The sewage there is at
least ten feet deep, and the tunnels run for miles. Trust me, Mr
President, with those bullet wounds he'd have no chance of living. Even
if he did somehow survive the gunshots his body would be massively
infected by now. He's either dead or dying a slow painful death."

The changeling president relaxed and gave a nod, "Thank you Major,
that will be all."

"Pleasure, Out," the major said and put the phone down.

The changeling president gave a deep, contented sigh and went back to
his Pork Saltimbocca.

- o - o - o -

As soon as Elizabeth walked out of the departure lounge of LAX
airport, photographers crowded in and besieged her. Apparently the
newly maimed Rachel Martin was a big a news item as ever.

"Rachel, how did you escape?" One called out to her.

A small man dressed in scruffy jeans pushed his way thru the crowd and
called, "Rachel, What are you going to do now?"

Another reporter shoved a micro cassette recorder into her face, "Did
you see Dr Bexley? Did she do this to you?"

Elizabeth was tempted to respond in someway, but thought better of it.
She managed to push past the crowds, and after a brief chase spotted a
waiting limousine. It hadn't taken long to organize one, and the hire
Company had fallen over themselves to help out Rachel Martin. As
Elizabeth was shown inside, a last question was thrown at her by a
persistent reporter, "Rachel, are you worried about reports of Dr
Bexley's freedom?"

Her chauffeur closed the door behind her, and Elizabeth got inside the
driver's section. His voice sounded over the interior speakers, "Where
to, Miss Martin."

"Just drive me around for an hour or so. Drop me off at this hotel, and
then take me back here," Elizabeth replied. Her connecting flight to
Washington left in about three hours and she needed to catch it.
Resisting the temptation to sample the Moet in the cooler she stretched
out her long, perfect legs, and decided to catch up on some more rest.
For what was to come she'd need it.

- o - o - o -

Scott and the senator threw their bags onto the floor and flopped onto
their beds. The flight over had been exhausting, and neither of them had
gotten much rest. Their limbs ached and their minds couldn't focus on
anything but sleep. Although only three days had passed since their
release from the Guild, it seemed as though it had been three minutes.
Interrupted sleep, the strangeness of their bodies, and then having to try
and get their minds around a threat so horrific it turned the stomach had
all played their part in their current state of exhaustion.

As soon as Scott's head hit the pillow he fell asleep, dreaming of happier
days with Rebecca, and hoping that more would follow. The Senator
on the other hand took longer to fall asleep. His mind playing out
scenarios, ifs and maybe's. His task was, perhaps one of the more
difficult the group faced. To try and convince the government that their
commander in chief had been assassinated and a double put in his place.
In theory, his plan should work, but a lot of it depended on how Kat did
back in New York. If she drew a blank then his plan would fail. It was
as simple as that. The disks that Matthew carried were also vital, and it
was prudent of Dr Bexley to insist they be delivered after contact with
the Vice President or 'Jack' had been established. It would be all too
easy for them to be lost or destroyed unless Jack took a personal hand
in it.

He guessed that Dr Bexley's changeling test would also be a critical part
of the proof, but getting a president to submit to a blood test on the
whim of a senator, especially a transgendered senator, would be an
almost impossible task. He tried to clear his mind of the worry that
pressed in. He looked over at the shapely form of the sleeping Scott.
The shape his breasts could be seen under the thin blanket, and he
wondered if Scott was really dealing with the effects of his
transformation. His thoughts turned to himself. Was he really dealing
with them, or had his sense of higher duty kicked in and was overriding
his feelings? He ran his hand down his smooth leg and relished the
sensation. He shook his head, and felt his pony tail swish against the
back of his neck, and he resisted the temptation to go look at himself in
the mirror again. He was too tired to think any further, so he lay down
beside the still sleeping Scott, closed his eyes, and was soon drifting off
into much needed sleep.

- o - o - o -

Matthew sat in first class and was treating himself to another portion of
ice cream. He'd made the connecting flight to Boston, and was now on
his way to Washington. Over the last few days it seemed as though he'd
spent most of his time on aircraft, and rushing from place to place.
Inside he felt free again, his love was alive, and she still loved him. He
whispered a silent prayer to whatever God was listening at the time, and
prayed that Kat would be safe, and that the Egyptian blessing Elizabeth
had given Kat would hold true. He had managed to have a brief rest on
the flight to Boston, but his body cried out for more. The line from
Tennyson's Ulysses, that he'd told Kat when they'd flown out to
Elizabeth's Island came to his mind. Things were very different but just
the same, and the line was as apt now as it was then. How did it go
'Though we are not now that strength which in
old days moved Earth and Heaven, that which
we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic
hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong
in will; to strive, to seek, to find. And not to
yield' .
Matthew gave a wry smile, strange how fate twists and turns. The last
time he'd thought of that section he'd been on his way to fight Elizabeth,
now he was flying to help her.

- o - o - o -

The limousine stopped outside of a cheap motel on the outskirts of
Torrance and waited outside. Elizabeth collected her hand luggage
from the trunk and went inside.

Sprawled over the desk was an overweight and balding man. A
cigarette hung from his mouth and he was so engrossed in the sports
pages of the local rag that he didn't even look up when Elizabeth asked
him for a room. He merely pointed to the guest book, grunted 30
dollars a night and after giving some monosyllabic directions dumped a
room key on the desk.

Elizabeth shrugged and picked up the key. It was room number 36,
which apparently was across the hall and third on the right. The state of
the room didn't matter, Elizabeth only needed it for the privacy. It
didn't take long to walk to the room and walk inside.

It was just as well Elizabeth didn't need the room for the night as the
beds sagged in the middle, the walls looked a little fragile, and by the
state of the carpets Elizabeth thought that maybe someone had lit a fire
in here. None of that mattered to her, as she reached inside her bag and
took out a bottle of dye. She was relieved that there was at least hot
running water, and a towel. After filling the sink with tepid water she
dunked her head into the sink and made sure it was thoroughly wet.

Elizabeth looked on the side of the bottle and rechecked the
instructions. That girl on the front has nice brown eyes, she thought
casually. Carefully she opened the bottle of dye, and was about to apply
it to her head when she noticed that her eyes had turned brown instead
of their usual deep blue. A thought struck her and she checked her new
eye color with that of the girl on the front of the bottle. She rechecked
again, they matched, right down to the little flecks of green around the
pupils. If her eyes could change color because she thought of them,
then it must mean that her changeling organ was gradually healing. She
closed her eyes and concentrated. She imagined herself with long, dark
hair, just like the girl on the bottle. The tell tale pins and needles told
her something was happening, and a few seconds later she opened her
eyes and stared in the mirror. To her surprise and relief she now was a

Elizabeth tried another experiment. She closed her eyes and imagined
herself wearing the bottle girl's face. No matter how hard she tried she
couldn't change faces. She tried to grow a dart shooting talon from her
arm, but once again that didn't work either. Apparently hair and eyes
were the limit at the moment BUT it did bode well for the future.
Given another day or do it should be possible to change form once
more. However, it would be some while before she regained its full use
and abilities. She debated whether to tell anyone about her newly
regained abilities, but that would destroy the trust she'd worked so hard
to gain, and besides, she'd need to keep it a secret for what she had in
mind for Matthew and Kat. She threw the bottle of dye away, and dried
her new hair with the towel. After throwing thirty dollars and the keys
on the desk, she walked out of the motel and got into the limousine
once more.

It took another hour to get back to the airport but as a brunette, brown
eyed Rachel Martin she was almost anonymous in the crowds. Sure
people ogled, and the odd wolf whistle came from the odd over sexed
male, but nobody recognised her as Rachel Martin, which was after all
the point of the exercise. She boarded the flight to Washington with
minimal fuss and was soon fast asleep.

- o - o - o -

Cathline and Tina had just got back from the police station. Tina's
captain had been reluctant to rescind the check-in order, but after some
serious sucking up to him by Tina he had agreed. They could fly out the
next day and as far as the Captain was concerned Tina could stay in
Washington for good, if either Cathline or whoever did anything illegal.

"Let's check the news. I need to see what's going on," Tina

"Fine, I'm bushed though, I won't be paying much attention," Cathline

Tina walked over to the tv and switched channels until CNN 24 came
up. Luckily they were just in time for the main broadcast. A young
reporter who reminded Cathline of Stephanie Lane sat behind a desk,
shuffled some papers and started to speak.

"Good evening. You're watching CNN 24. The main headlines tonight.
A date for the vote on the Fury Directive has been set. After a closed
meeting of the UN this morning sources have revealed that the vote will
occur in two days. Israel has re-stated that it will not attack before it
has UN approval, and that it continued to welcome any plans that could
resolve the situation peacefully.

In the meantime several divisions of Syrian, Egyptian, Iran, Jordan,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Quatar infantry and armor has begun to
move towards the Egypt-Israel borders. Defence experts estimate that
some 5000 armored vehicles, and nearly two million troops are
expected arrive there in the next week or so. For it's part Israel has
mobilised all it's reserves, and put all armed forces on full alert. It has
not ruled out a pre-emptive strike, if the nation's sovereignty is
endangered. We hand over to our defense advisor, Jack Clancy to talk
us thru these latest developments."

The camera panned to a middle aged man with large rimmed glasses. In
spite of his non military air he spoke with authority, "The speed of the
Arab build up has surprised most defense analysts. Egypt clearly has a
lot of friends. In spite of the large numbers of troops, and hardware
arranged against it, Israel has a number of advantages. Firstly, its
equipment is better maintained and more modern, secondly, its troops
are used to fighting as a coherent unit whereas this hastily formed
alliance has had little experience of joint operations. However, this is
partially negated by the fact that most of Israel's command and control
centers were knocked out during the attack on Tel-Aviv. Finally, Israel
is fighting on home soil which, by our calculations, equates to the Arab
nations needing at least a four to one ratio of attackers versus defenders
in order to obtain victory.

In spite of all this Israel will clearly be fighting for its very existence,
and current projections indicate that unless several of Israel's allies, the
US, for example, get involved then it is doubtful that it will prevail.
Current analysis of Israeli tactics indicates that they will use the nuclear
option before allowing a significant portion of their country to fall. If
that happens, then it is certain that the Arab nations will respond in kind
using weapons borrowed from Pakistan. Which in turn would provoke
India into launching a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan."

Jack Clancy paused, letting it all seep in and then continued, "Should
that occur then it would be difficult to keep other nations out, China,
Korea, and Japan. Even Europe, Russia, and the US could find
themselves being sucked in. With the prize of most of the world's oil at
stake few nations would be able to resist joining in. In short, we are
closer to world war three than at any time since 1963."

"Fucking hell," Cathline breathed.

"Shh," Tina whispered.

The camera had panned back to the reporter, "President Andrews issued
a statement today, stressing that we all should remain calm, and that
panic buying and hoarding was not an acceptable option. He restated
America's neutrality, and promised that it would not get involved unless
forced into doing so."

"You realise now he's mentioned panic buying etc, then it'll only
increase the chances of it happening," Tina commented.

Cathline was too tired to comment.

The reporter continued, "In other news. Rachel Martin arrived in LA
today looking much improved after her traumatic kidnap ordeal.
Strangely there seems to be no sign of the man, known only as Salah
who was so instrumental in her rescue. Rachel pushed passed the lines
of reporters, and was hustled away by Limousine to an unknown

"At least SHE got there," Tina commented to no one in particular.

The stress and flat out pace of the day had got to Tina too, and after
switching the tv off she walked into her bedroom and fell asleep.

- o - o - o -

There was a knock at the door of the president's private chambers. The
changeling president swung his legs off the large leather sofa, and tidied
himself up. He left the visitor waiting for a few seconds before calling
out, "Enter."

A burley man with close cropped hair, and sharp gray suit walked into
the room. The man looked around and after closing the door behind
him gave the president a single fingered salute.

The president returned the salute and gestured for the man to sit down
next to him. The man did so and turned to face the president.

"Welcome my brother. It has been a while since we talked. This is the
first chance we've had to be truly alone," the president said.

The man nodded, "Indeed it is. We haven't spoken since I helped in the
take-over of president Andrews, back on that golf course. It is strange
wearing this body. Still, at least my job as part of the secret service
bodyguard unit is close enough to my old role, unlike yours."

The president felt a great deal of relief. It was good to have a fellow
Guild infiltrator and changeling to talk to. For the last few weeks he'd
been on his own, unable to release any of the tension building up in both
his mind and body. The mission was reaching a critical moment, the
UN vote was now only some forty hours away, and the next day and a
half would be make or break. It didn't pay to be reckless in these crucial
times, so he'd decided to slightly alter the mission profile. After all,
when he was head of the Guild then it wouldn't matter that he'd deviated
from Hassan's plan, "Your mission was to provide backup in case I
failed. I am changing that mission. I have removed the only obstacle to
our victory, and so your old mission is no longer required."

The man looked worried, "But."

The changeling president smiled, "Don't worry. You have done very
well. I have pulled you off of backup security detail, and promoted you
to the Vice President's personal bodyguard. Your mission is to ensure
that he does not interfere with what we have planned, if he does then
kill him. So far he does not suspect a thing but I want to, how do the
Americans say, cover all the bases. When I am Guild leader you will be
my second, I promise you."

The man smiled, "Thank you Mr President. What about Salah?"

The president gave a satisfied smile, "One of the useful things about
being president is that you can remove people without leaving any trace.
I had a secret service strike force take him out yesterday. Salah is dead,
a shame really as I read Rachel Martin was getting quite attached to
him. I promise you, after our mission is complete then we will take his

The man stood up, "Very well. I obey. We will talk when it is done."

The president gave a single fingered salute once more and walked to a
phone, sitting on a nearby table, "Alice get me the Vice President."

The president heard the door shut in front of him and gave a smile.
He'd just closed Hassan's only loophole.

A sleep voice answered the phone, "Yes Mr President."

"Hi, Jack. I'm just letting you know I've assigned a new guy to be your
bodyguard. I think you'll like him, he's called Mike Clarke. He was
with me when Walter died, he's a good man."

The Vice President gave a yawn, "Ok fine, you're the boss. Send him

The president smiled, "He's already on his way. Goodnight."

There was a click as the Vice President put the phone down, and the
changeling president went back to lounging on the sofa, so far so good.
Tomorrow would see the Israeli rejection of the Austrian initiative and
the final round of canvassing, threats and blackmail of the smaller UN
members. The power of all the big five pulling the strings was awesome
to behold. All it needed was a majority, and no vetos by the big five. A
straw poll so far gave them 73% of the UN vote and naturally no vetos.

- o - o - o -

The bright rays of morning sunshine broke thru the thin curtains of
Scott and the Senator's hotel room. Its two occupants were too tired to
respond to the suns gentle rays, and continued to sleep for another hour.
However, they were woken up by the sound of several people entering
the room. They both breathed a sigh of relief when they saw it was
Matthew, Elizabeth, Cathline, and Tina. Their look of relief turned to
worry when they saw the worried faces of the new arrivals.

"What's up?" Scott asked.

"Kat hasn't been here has she?" Matthew asked, his face almost in tears.

Scott swallowed, something had obviously gone very wrong, "I wish it
were better news, but no I haven't seen her."

Matthew said nothing and grabbed hold of Cathline, and pulled her into
a distressed hug. For her part Elizabeth walked to the bed, and sat
down on it to think. Tina spoke up, "She didn't show at the rendezvous
point. We've been scouring the airports and city for her. I even got the
local cops to check the video footage of passenger arrivals at the
airport. She hasn't landed here."

"Maybe she's held up?" Scott suggested.

"No, she would've called," Elizabeth spoke for the first time.

"What's with the eyes?" Scott commented, noticing Elizabeth's brown
eyes for the first time.

"Contact lenses, blue didn't go with the hair. Are you sure Kat hasn't
left a message? She was always most punctual," Elizabeth said.

"We didn't hear anything," Scott replied softly.

Seeing the worry and fear flick across Matthew's face, Cathline put a
hand on his and said, "It'll be ok. I know Kat, she can take care of

Matthew gave a resigned nod. He preferred it when he didn't know
what Kat was up to.

The senator spoke for the first time, "This is bad, very bad. With no
proof how can we go to Jack now?"

Elizabeth looked at the senator with her new brown eyes, "We have to,
We're out of time. The UN votes tomorrow, and I can't risk waiting
any longer. My timing on this had to be perfect, move too soon and we
risk exposing the whole operation, and move too slowly."

She didn't need to finish the sentence, an air of depression sank into the
room. Tina was the first to speak again, "Can't we wait a few more
hours? Maybe Kat's onto something and can't call us for fear of alerting
the Guild?"

Elizabeth shrugged, "Maybe, but she knew the timescales. We have to
move now. It appears that the best option now is to try and get the
Vice President to delay the vote. That should give Kat enough time to
get here."

Elizabeth picked up the hotel phone and handed it to the Senator,
"Senator, make the call."

The Senator was reluctant to say the least. This last phase seemed so
rushed. They must have more time. He checked the clock beside the
bed, it was nearly 10:30. So much had gone on in so little time, and as
much as he wanted to try and find fault with Elizabeth's plan he couldn't.
She'd moved as fast as she dare, and in some cases he could see where
she'd pushed too hard, but it came down to this, they were out of time.
The senator took the phone and dialled.

The phone was picked up on the second ring, "Yes," the Vice
President's voice sounded over the phone.

"Jack, now listen carefully to what I have to say."

"Who is this? How did you get this number?" the Vice President

The senator knew he only had one shot at this, "Viet Cong bunker 167,
grid reference 163829, April 4th 1969."

There was a pause on the phone, "How did you find out about that?
Listen miss, you are dealing with the wrong person here. I suggest you
get off this phone before I have you arrested."

The senator kept his cool, only three people knew what had really
happened in bunker 167, himself, Jack, and the president. To affirm
that fact the senator said, "Bob and I were helping a load of villagers
evacuate before Charlie showed up. We were going door to door,
when we came under heavy machine gun fire from a hidden bunker on
the outskirts of the village. We'd been set up all along.

The villagers ran back into their homes, leaving us pinned down and
nowhere to run. You managed to get thru on the radio, and call in an
air-strike. You'd miscalculated the co-ordinates, and when the air-strike
came they Napalm'd the whole village by mistake. Men, women, and
children were burned alive in their huts. Sure the bunker was taken out
too, but at what cost. We never told anyone what really happened, and
you still feel the guilt over what happened all those years ago."

There was a stunned silence on the phone, and the Senator could almost
feel Jack's pain as he relived that terrible day again. "Who is this?" The
Vice President demanded.

"Believe it or not, it's me, Walter. I don't have time to explain, but must
see you at your place. It's about the destruction of Tel-Aviv. There'll
be six of us. If you want to atone for all those deaths in 'Nam now is
your chance. So what do you say?"

Another long pause. The Vice President had no idea how this lady
knew about bunker 167, or why she claimed to be Senator Walter
Jameson, but he did know he needed to find out. If this got out his
career could be ruined, "Ok meet me in one hour. I'll tell the guards to
let the six of you in."

The senator slowly put the phone down, "We're in."

Elizabeth hissed a triumphant "Yes,"

The mood of doom lifted, at last something was going their way.

It took about 20 minutes to call a cab, and check out, and about another
30 minutes to drive across town to the Vice President's private
residence. As the cab drew up, and dropped them off outside of the
massive, armored gates Tina gave a slow whistle, "Nice place."

The Senator walked across to the speakerphone on the gate, pressed the
buzzer and called into the speaker, "Tell the Vice President that his
guests from bunker 167 are here."

When the gates didn't open the senator shrugged his shoulders and went
to try again. As he was reaching down he heard a metallic clang and the
gates slowly swung open.

"We go in I guess," Matthew commented.

Before they could step a foot inside the gates ten armed bodyguards
appeared from almost nowhere, and escorted them up the seemingly
endless driveway to the front door. Scott noticed that one of them
seemed to be in contact with the troops inside the house at all times. A
few minutes later they were let inside, and after being frisked, searched
and scanned told to wait. Tina's .38 raised a few eyebrows, but her
badge allayed most of the fears. She was still asked to check it at the
desk though. They walked into a large, ornate lobby, but before they
could sit down on the plush chairs, the Vice President appeared before
them. A very large burly man in a gray suit stood beside him and eyed
them with the greatest of suspicion.

Matthew gave the Vice President the once over. He was sure that he
looked taller on TV, younger too. But at least they were here.

"Now Miss would you mind telling me what this is all about?" the Vice
President demanded.

"Not here. Let's go to your private rooms and talk. I don't want
anyone else to hear this," the senator asked.

"Ok, I'll only take my personal bodyguard. But since I recognise
Matthew Stephens and Rachel Martin here I take a risk. Who's the

"I'll tell you when we go inside," the senator said firmly.

More secret service agents led them to a set of double doors and they
were let inside. The room was much as the senator had remembered it,
wooden floors, antique furniture and the old battered writing desk given
to Jack as a wedding present. A large screen tv sat in the corner of the
room. The Senator heard the door close behind him and the Vice
President walked in, flanked by his bodyguard.

The Senator stood up and said, "Mr Vice President, I would like you to
meet Matthew Stephens, Rachel Martin, Detective's Tina Cox, and
Scott Harris."

The Vice President pointed to Elizabeth, "Who's she?"

The Senator relutantly replied, "That is Dr Elizabeth Anne Bexley."

Instantly the bodyguard had drawn his revolver, and had it pointed right
at Elizabeth's head.

"It's ok, she's with me," Matthew said, trying to calm the situation.

That comment raised an eyebrow from the Vice President, "Ok, will
someone tell me what in hell this all about. Ok, Mike you can put that
away now."

The bodyguard holstered his revolver, but moved to the corner of the
room where he could cover everyone.

It took two hours to tell the story from the start, each of them filling in
the details as they remembered them.

"I'm sorry, but this is all supposition. As much as I'd like to believe that
you're Walter, I have no proof. Thank you for telling me such an
interesting tale. This, this changeling organ is too outrageous even for
Dr Bexley's abilities. As for your excuse that she can't use it anymore,
isn't that convenient."

The Senator gave an exasperated sigh, "For once in your life Jack add
the pieces together. How did I know the private phone number? What
about bunker 167? Matthew here is living proof that DNA can be
altered For God's sake put it all together.

The Vice President thought hard. Sure, the story was fantastic but it
had the ring of truth behind it. Some of the president's more recent
decisions had struck him as being a little odd, and even out of character.
He'd put them down to the pressure of the current crisis, but even then
that couldn't account for the some of the erratic, domineering, and
sometimes even dangerous choices the president had made. Maybe the
story was tru,e but truth demands proof, "Look I want to believe all
this, but you must give me something."

Elizabeth had remained quiet all this time, thinking of what could
convince. Then she remembered, "Get me to a an X-ray machine. My
anatomy is, shall we say unique. If that shows what I know it shows,
then would you believe us?"

The Vice President thought for a moment and then replied, "We have a
small infirmary in the west wing. It's supposed to give immediate
assistance in any emergency. It's got a lower power X-ray machine ,
and there is always medical staff present, with a doctor on standby if
needed. We'll go there."

Elizabeth nodded, "Good, that'll do just fine. Lead on."

An armed escort led the party thru a long series of corridors until they
reached a set of double doors. They were opened for them, and they
walked inside.

Elizabeth was impressed with the facilities before her. Although the
room was small, about operating theatre size she reckoned it contained
virtually every piece of equipment required to treat anything from a
burst appendix to gunshot wounds. A complete operating theatre sat on
one side complete with lights, table, and a wide variety of life support
and monitoring equipment. A nurse sat in the corner of the room, and
she jumped to attention when she saw the Vice President walk in.

"At ease," the Vice President stated.

The nurse relaxed, and waited for further instructions.

Turning to the Elizabeth the Vice President asked, "Now what it is you

Elizabeth gave a winning smile at the nurse and said, "Ok. I want an
abdominal scan. High resolution, but on lower power. We're looking
for organs, not cracked bones. Take five exposures from different
angles. Oh, and I don't want everyone ogling me. So if that's ok with
the rest of you, wait outside."

All heads turned to the Vice President, "Sure why not."

They all filed out, left the medical facility and waited outside. The
changeling bodyguard was by now extremely worried. If the Bexley
demon proved her story to the Vice President that could very well blow
everything wide open. He fingered the .45 in his jacket pocket, and
debated whether to end it here. He decided it was too risky, there were
too many troops and too little options. If he opened fire now and took
the Bexley demon and the Vice President with him then it would only
strengthen their case against them. Even if the Vice President believed
them, where was the proof that would stand up in a law court? The
bodyguard did nothing except stand behind the Vice President, and
watched every move and gesture around him.

It seemed hours before they were let back in again. Elizabeth was just
finishing buttoning up her blouse, and the nurse was just pinning some
X-rays on the lightboard on the wall. Elizabeth heard them walk in and
turned to face them, "All done. You can go look if you like."

The Vice President glanced at the nurse. Something had obviously
shaken her, as she was trying not to look at the woman who called
herself Dr Bexley. Ignoring this the Vice President said, "Well, what
have we?"

The nurse gave a short sigh and switched on the lightboard, "Sir, I'm
not a doctor," she started,

The Vice President knew she was going to say this, first rule of the
medical world. Cover thy butt, "We haven't time to call him in. You're
best shot nurse, if you please,"

"This is an X-ray of this woman's abdomen, These gray areas here and
here appear to be another set of organs, heart, liver, even a lung. I've
no idea what this large blob is just here. Its where her appendix should
be. Best guess a second pancreas,"

"Or a changeling organ," the Vice President whispered to himself.

"I'm sorry sir but that's as good as I can do. All I can say is this
woman's anatomy is nothing like I've seen in any textbooks. If I was
designing a body for maximum survivability that's what I'd do."

The Vice President gave a resigned nod. The story was true, the
fucking story was true! But what to do next? A few X rays wasn't
going to prove anything, and if President Andrews had been taken over
as they were suggesting then the consequences would be disastrous. He
felt elated that his friend, Senator Jameson was alive even though now a
woman. Affairs of state came first, and therefore it was entirely in
keeping that his next question was, "Ok I believe you. But these X-rays
only prove that Dr Bexley here has altered her body,"

Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief, turned to the nurse and said, "I left a
small bottle of yellow liquid and blood tester in my bag at the front
door. Please can you get them for me?"

"What're they for?" The president asked. He wasn't about to give Dr
Bexley any of her toys to play with. Her cunning was legendary.

"They are part of the proof. Inside that bottle is a chemical that will test
for the presence of a changeling organ. If we can get the president to
submit to a blood test then we'll know for sure."

"How do we know you won't rig the results?" the Vice President asked.

"Because I'll do the test on someone you trust, and then on me. That
way you'll have a positive result with me and a negative with them."

The Vice President looked at the nurse and gave a nod. The nurse
opened the door and went off to fetch Elizabeth's bag.

The group waited in silence until the nurses return. Tina noticed that
the Vice President's bodyguard was getting a little edgy. Years of being
on the street had taught her to spot signs of tension. She put it down to
his nervousness at his charge being around someone as inherently
dangerous as Dr Bexley was. Still, a presidential bodyguard wasn't
supposed to show anything. Something wasn't right, Tina thought and
she tensed herself for action.

For his part the Vice President's mind was in a whirl. How could their
security have been so lax? How could they have been duped? What
about the other countries that had been taken over? How could the US
prove to them that their leaders were in fact genetically engineered
terrorists. Still the answers to those questions would have to wait.
First things first. He glanced at Senator Jameson. The Senator's hands
were folded over his chest and he could see how they'd pressed his
breasts up against his chest. He had a cute ass too.

Elizabeth was relieved. It looked as though they didn't need Kat's proof
just yet after all. She just hoped that Kat was all right. She could tell
Matthew was worried and torn up inside, his face was showing the
worry lines that hers used to. Cathline was trying to remain at peace,
but Elizabeth could tell from her hair twiddling that she felt the same
tension as Matthew did. The nurse entering the room with her bag
interrupted her thoughts, and brought her back to reality. The nurse
handed the bag to her, and she took out the bottle and the blood tester.
Elizabeth looked at the Vice President and said, "Ok You choose who
we test on. All I'm going to do is prick a finger and put a drop of blood
in a test tube. If the solution turns green then the person is a
changeling. If it stays red then your clear."

"Nurse. I want you to perform the blood test. It seems straightforward

"Fine," Elizabeth said, a little hurt that she still wasn't entirely trusted.
She handed the bottle to the nurse, "Now don't use too much. It's got
to last."

"Mike, do the honors for me," the Vice President said, turning to the

The bodyguard froze for a second. To refuse would be dangerous, to
submit to the test even more so, "Sir, what if I'm affected? Who would
protect you?"

"The nurse needs to perform the test, and I can't take that risk myself.
Submit to the test, that's an order."

"Sir?" The bodyguard protested.

"You heard me soldier," the Vice President said sternly.

The bodyguard had an idea, it was dangerous and risky, but if it came
off then the danger to the Guild would be over once and for all. He
stepped forward and held out his hand. The nurse walked over to him
and jabbed his finger with the blood tester. She squeezed a drop of
blood into a test tube and gave it a shake.

Almost straight away the solution went green, and the bodyguard had
drawn his pistol. Tina, already on full alert threw herself at the Vice
President, and a shot reverberated around the room.

The bodyguard had swung his aim and was about to shoot Elizabeth,
but Elizabeth was faster. With a loud shriek she drop-kicked the
bodyguard, sending him and his gun sprawling across the floor. In an
instant he was standing up, the kick that would have broken a man's
neck had only stunned him. Still disorientated he moved into to finish
the job he'd started.

Within a matter of seconds the room was full of soldiers, pointing their
guns at everyone in the room. Scott rushed over to see if the Vice
President was ok, and was alarmed to see a dark bloodstain across his
chest. The Vice President's eyes were open and he looked unharmed.
A wave of horrific realisation flooded over Scott and he turned his
attention turned to Tina, who was lying on the floor. Globs of blood
were swelling out of a large wound in her back, "Oh no," Scott

By now, the Vice President had recovered enough to stand up and was
instantly surrounded by soldiers, "Arr, Arrest him," he managed to say
pointing at the bodyguard. The soldiers trained their weapons on the
bodyguard and gestured for him to put his hands up.

The bodyguard, knowing all was lost, suddenly stooped low, and in a
movement too quick to follow had pulled a throwing knife from his
sock, and had hurled it at the Vice President. The last thing he saw was
that Bexley demon casually reach out and pluck it out of mid air. There
was a loud crackle of gunfire, and the changeling bodyguard lay still.

Elizabeth slowed down enough to watch the bodyguard crumple to the
floor, blood flowing from multiple chest wounds. Catching the knife
had taken all of her enhanced speed and dexterity, BUT it had saved the
Vice President's life. She turned to the nurse and called, "Quick help
me get Tina onto the table. I'll need O2, morphine Oh nuts you know.
Now get to it."

They all helped to lift the still bleeding Tina onto the operating table
while Elizabeth scrubbed down.

"We have a doctor on call," the Vice President said and turned to a
nearby soldier ordered, "Go get him NOW!"

Elizabeth shook her head, "No time, if we don't stabilise her now she'll
die. As much as you all want to help, let me do this!"

"At least let me help," Scott pleaded.

"Get the FUCK out, all of you, every second I waste talking to you
narrows Tina's chances. GO!" Elizabeth shouted.

The others almost rushed out of the room.

Elizabeth cut away Tina's clothes, while the nurse hooked up the
ventilator and monitors. Within moments the fast but weak bleep of
Tina's heartbeat was heard from the monitor. Turning to the nurse
Elizabeth said, "I think she's got internal bleeding, but we'll need to be
sure. Ok let's see what we've got."

Elizabeth looked down at Tina's back. There was a half inch hole right
between her shoulder blades that was still bleeding slowly. She gently
rolled Tina over, making sure her back remained straight, but saw no
signs of an exit wound. Lifting Tina's right arm up she saw a bloody
hole. It looked as though the bullet had ricocheted off the shoulder
blade and gone out from under the arm. At least it hadn't penetrated the
chest cavity.

Elizabeth's first priority was to stabilise Tina's vital signs, and she
trusted the ventilator to supplement Tina's oxygen requirements and
keep her heart going, "Right, get me that portable X-ray again. Let's
see what we've got."

The nurse handed Elizabeth the portable X-ray and Elizabeth
reconfigured it into scan mode. That allowed it to be used in real time,
a feature, which dispensed with the wasteful photographic processing or
Digital techniques. Elizabeth ran the X-ray machine around Tina's back
and didn't like what she saw. Tina's spinal cord and vertebrae had been
shattered by the bullet's impact, fragments of bone threatened to
increase the damage, and the presence of a lot of gray fluid meant she
was bleeding internally.

Elizabeth sighed, this was going to be delicate work.

Outside, they waited. The Vice President was still in shock. His own
bodyguard had been a changeling. If that detective hadn't been on the
ball then he'd be dead. He realised that he owed her his life, Dr Bexley
too. Since the president assigned the bodyguard to him only the day
before, that only served to strengthen the accusation. "I don't believe it,
he was one of us," he uttered.

"Logical really," Cathline said

"Yeah, You wouldn't send just one changeling in you'd send two. That
way one could back the other up if the need arose. Hey, if we dissect
that guy's body in there it's the best proof in the world," the Senator

"I know," the Vice President said. The events of the past few minutes
were rushing over and over in his mind.

"I wonder how Tina's doing?" Scott asked.

The thoughts of the group turned back to Tina's desperate fight for life.

Inside the infirmary things were going as well as Elizabeth expected.
She'd run out of blood plasma and synthetic blood, and after a frantic
battle had managed to stop the internal bleeding. That still left several
fragments of bone to deal with and as good as this facility was it didn't
have the equipment to deal with such severe spinal injuries, "Nurse. I
think I've done as much as I can. Get a chopper at let's get her to a
proper hospital."

The nurse was experienced enough to realise that this was the only
option. She was also skilled enough to realise that this woman who
called herself Dr Bexley was an exceptional surgeon and had probably
saved the woman called Tina's life.

Scott's face brightened when he saw the nurses head come around the
door, "How is," he started.

"Dr Bexley's done as much as she could. Get us a chopper right away,"
The nurse said and went back inside.

"Is that good or bad?" Scott whispered, not daring to breathe.

"Dunno, Good I guess," Matthew said.

"We should go back to the lounge. Leave Dr Bexley and the nurse to
it," the senator suggested.

In spite of Scott's objections a few of the troops escorted them back to
the room.

As the nurse went back inside the room she caught movement from the
corner of her eye. The body of the changeling had just twitched and the
eyes were opening. The nurse gave a short gasp, which had the effect
of making Elizabeth snap her head round.

Elizabeth spotted what the nurse had seen and whispered, "Fucking hell
I'd forgotten about that."

The changeling was slowly coming round, the multiple bullet wounds
healing with every passing second. Elizabeth scanned the floor until she
spotted the gun that the changeling had dropped. She stopped what she
was doing and casually walked over to it and picked it up.

The nurse looked on in horror as Elizabeth walked over to the
recovering changeling put the gun inside its mouth and squeezed the
trigger. There was a loud CRACK and the top half of the changeling's
head was blown right away, spreading parts of brain all over the wall.
Elizabeth then threw the gun across the floor and then said, "No time to
explain now. Get me a kidney bowl and a large scalpel. Hurry we don't
have much time."

The nurse was staggered by Elizabeth's change. One moment she'd
been fighting to save a life, the next she'd taken one as casually as one
swats a fly.

"Hurry!" Elizabeth called.

Fear welled up inside the nurse and she almost ran across the room, and
picked up a fresh scalpel and a clean kidney bowl and handed them to

By now soldiers had run into the room to see what the noise was, and
they stood and watched as Elizabeth literally hacked her way inside the
dead changelings chest. She worked frantically, and a few moments
later pulled out a limp bloody organ. She plopped it into the kidney
bowl and ordered the nurse to put it in ice. The soldiers watched on in
amazement as the changeling's body started to dissolve. In a matter of
moments a puddle of pink sticky liquid was all over the floor.

Still not speaking, and acting as if nothing had happened Elizabeth
scrubbed down again and returned to work on keeping Tina alive until
help arrived. Her only comment was to shoo the soldiers out of the

The helicopter arrived five minutes later and with the help of the
medical staff in it a still unconscious Tina was wheeled into the waiting
helicopter. Elizabeth waited until the chopper had lifted off before
returning to the medical room to clean up.

"Thank you nurse, Your performance was exemplary," Elizabeth said
and gave the nurse a smile.

By now the nurse was terrified of this woman standing before her. This
woman's ability to save and kill in equal measure was disturbing at best
and evil at worst. The nurse thanked her, made her excuses and rushed
out the room.

Elizabeth wiped the last of Tina's blood off her hands, pulled the latex
gloves off, and breathed out. It had felt good to save a life again. It
was feeling she'd missed since she'd saved Kat nearly a year ago.

Escorted by troops Elizabeth was taken to the room where the rest were
sitting and waiting. At the sight of Elizabeth, Scott stood up and asked
softly, "How is she?"

Elizabeth sat down and started to talk, "I'm not going to lie. I've
managed to stabilise her condition. All the signs show that she'll pull

Scott breathed a sigh of relief.

"However her spinal cord was badly damaged, severed in a few places.
If she does pull thru it's doubtful she have any feeling or movement
below the arms. She's still comatose, and I doubt if we'll see any change
in that for a few weeks at least. She's lost a lot of blood, which hasn't
helped matters but the generics I gave her made the difference. It's
down to the surgeons at the hospital now. I didn't have the tools or
expertise to do anymore, I'm sorry."

Scott walked over to Elizabeth, looked into her eyes and said, "You did
your best, Thank you, " The thought of Tina paralysed from the arms
down was horrific.

In the mean time one of the soldiers had been talking to the Vice
President. After a short conversation the Vice President turned to
Elizabeth and asked, "Do you mind telling me what that stunt with the
changeling was you pulled back there?"

Elizabeth shook her head, "You hadn't killed him. A changeling can
recover from bullet wounds. Unlike me, these versions take a while and
it requires a lot of energy to do it. As soon as I saw the changeling start
to come round I knew what I had to do. Only a bullet thru the skull can
stop the regeneration process. I hacked out the changeling organ before
it was dissolved, along with the rest of the body. Another sign of
Hassan's thoroughness, he didn't want any traces left should a
changeling be killed. I'd anticipated that and got it out just in time. We
now have a changeling organ for analysis. Matthew give the Vice
President the disks you were carrying."

"They're back with the guards," Matthew stated.

"Disks?" the Vice President queried.

"Not all of the Guild database was dumped onto the net. These disks
contain all the information about the Guild changeling's and everything
else. The only thing is, is that's is encrypted," Elizabeth explained.

"Right I'll get them off to the NSA right away, Private?"

The solider standing next to the Vice President snapped to attention.

"Deliver those disks to the NSA headquarters right away. I'll phone
ahead and get them to drop everything."

"One last thing, "Elizabeth stated.

"Which is," Matthew asked.

"For God's sake don't let the president know."

- o - o - o -

The telephone next to the president rang and the president answered it
on the second ring, "yes."

"I think you should know that there's been an attempt on the Vice
Presidents life," the voice said down the phone.

"Is he all right, What happened?" The president demanded.

"I'm not sure, I'm only a private but I knew you had to know. For some
reason no ones making any fuss about it, it's as though the Vice
President wants nobody, even you to know about it. I know my duty sir
and I had to say,"

"Thank you solider, you've done well. Now what happened?"

"I'm not sure, but what I do know is that a group of people turned up
and asked to see the Vice President. I know one of them was supposed
to be that Dr Bexley. They talked for a while before going off to the
medical center. The Vice President's bodyguard tried to kill him but
was gunned down. One of the party, a detective I think was shot and
maybe killed. I dunno, I think they flew her out. Anyway when I heard
a single gunshot and rushed back in only to see that Bexley woman
cutting something out of the bodyguard, the bodyguard then kinda
melted away. Sorry if this seems fantastic but it's true."

The changeling president swore to himself, "Thank you soldier. You
country is proud of you," and put the phone down.

If the Bexley demon had managed to salvage the changeling organ from
his fallen comrade then things were looking dire. Armed with this the
trail lead right back to him, whatever proof Salah, before his death had
managed to dig up would only strengthen the case against him. His
grand vision was falling apart at the seams but maybe there was still a
way to save it.

He picked up the phone and dialled the number of the US ambassador
to the UN.

A soft Texan voice answered the phone, "Yes Mr President."

"I want the vote brought forward to one hour's time," The president

"That is highly irregular, not to say very difficult to arrange. They vote
tomorrow, anyway what's the rush."

"It's within my rights as a permanent member of the UN. This is top
secret but there's been an attempt on the Vice President's life. He's OK,
but the assassin's body dissolved in the same way as those that tried to
kill the Brit PM the other month. Egypt is getting desperate,"

The ambassador was shocked, an assassination attempt! "Yes Mr
President but Israel will need to second it, as will another permanent

"You leave that to me, You know how to vote."

"Yes Mr President," with that the ambassador put the phone down.

Now, what was next? the president thought. A quick call to Russia and
Britain should suffice. With those on board A quick vote looked

Ten minutes later and the seconds of Russia and Britain secure he called
the Israeli Prime minister.

It took a few moments to get thru and then a voice answered, "Yes Mr

"I don't have much time, so I'll make this brief. Egypt has just tried to
assassinate my Vice President. I want you to get the vote brought
forward to one hour from now."

The Israeli PM was lost for words, "But."

"The United States will not tolerate such terrorist actions against it. If
you do not bring this forward, then we will leave you to rot in the face
of your enemies," the changeling president almost shouted down the

"Why can't we wait until tomorrow?" the Israeli PM almost bleated

"Because we want to send an immediate message, this will not be
tolerated by any party or government. You would do the same if it
were you."

The Israeli PM had to agree he had no choice, "I will see to it."

"One more thing," the president said, as if mentioning some minor point.

"Which is?"

"If you get the approval, it would be better for you if the attack
proceeded right away. I'd hate Egypt to get wind of your plans for the
coming attack and invasion," the president let the threat hang for a

"It would be prudent to strike back right away," the Israeli PM
conceded. His dreams for a peaceful resolution shattered in this brief
phone call.

"I'm glad we see eye to eye on this matter, thank you," the president
said and put the phone down.

The president made another phone call and asked for a large brandy, his
nerves were strained as it was, and this would help calm them.

The phone rang about ten minutes later -- the vote was on. Procedure
dictated that he contact the Vice President and the cabinet, and inform
them of the change in plan but that could wait, a mix up in
communications would be the excuse.

An hour later it was all over. The Egyptian ambassador held his head in
his hands as the vote overwhelmingly for the invocation of the Fury
Directive was passed ten votes for, two no, and three abstentions. He
couldn't understand how it could happen, right up until the last moment
he was sure that common sense would prevail, but now it seemed as
though all was lost. His only hope was that Egypt could stave off the
Israeli attack.

- o - o - o -

The Israeli F16-C 'Wild Weasels' swept in low and slow over the
Egyptian border. All at once the US made Hawk surface to air missile
(SAM) system illuminated them on its targeting radar. Smiling, one of
the pilots armed his HARM anti-radar missile. Flicking a switch from
safe to live he launched. His plane gained a little altitude as the missile
was launched, and he saw the smoke trail shoot up almost vertically. A
few seconds later the radar was silenced. Air opposition should be lax,
as diversionary raids were under way from multiple directions, only one
was real, this one. The Egyptian airforce would be under assault,
stretched in all directions, and pushed to the limit. Thanks to numerous
deals with the Americans, and experience from other wars the Israeli
airforce was one of the best equipped and trained in the world. Now,
that training would come into play.

- o - o - o -

His wingmen penetrated deeper into Egyptian airspace, taking out a
further three hawk SAM sites. By now the Egyptian airforce had been
alerted and radar showed eight inbound F16's. The pilot radioed his
wingmen and they dived lower still. Looking down at his Radar he saw
ten inbound planes from the rear. The radar indicated that they were
the 'cavalry', the new Lavi or 'Young Lion' air superiority fighters. The
pilot smiled to himself. The world had been told that the Lavi had been
cancelled back in 1987, and up until this mission the very existence of
Lavi was a closely guarded secret. Now the secret was out and soon
those Egyptian dogs would find out how good Lavi and the long range
AMRAAM air to air missile really was.

His threat light lit up again, another SAM site come online. Diving low
again his co-pilot or 'RIO' released another HARM missile, another kill.

His plane shook as three Lavi fighters screamed past at well over Mach
one. The radar showed the incoming F16's had gained height and
position. Suddenly, there was a warning beep and before he could react
his plane shook as though it had been tossed aside by a giant. He
fought to maintain control. Looking over his right shoulder, he saw that
a large hole had been blasted in his right wing, probably from a
shoulder-launched missile. "EJECT, EJECT, EJECT" he called to his
RIO and he pulled the eject handle.

One Lavi pilot had noticed the pilots eject from the F16, but he was too
busy concentrating to recall much more detail. He closed to within
40Km of the enemy F16's and armed two AMRAAM missiles. He
waited a further 20 seconds to ensure a good lock and then launched.
Over his right shoulder he saw two further streaks as his wingman fired
a further two. Banking away into a high G turn he lost altitude, and
switched weapons to the latest generation Sidewinder short-range
missile. Checking his Radar he saw three of the enemy F16's had been
destroyed. By now the F16's were less than 15Km away. The whole
engagement had lasted less than thirty seconds.

His threat warning bleeped and he immediately released two flares and a
chaff cartridge. He put the aircraft into a tight turn, his body
complaining at the increase in G. He noted with satisfaction that the
missile that had been fired at him had lost its lock and he got on with the
job in hand. He finally saw the F16 that had fired at him. The two
aircraft performed an elaborate aerial ballet, as both pilots sought to
gain the advantage. Then the F16 made a mistake, it lost too much
energy in a turn, allowing the Lavi to open up with its cannon. The
pilot saw with satisfaction the shells strike the centre of the fuselage and
the F16 veered out of control. Checking over his shoulder he saw that
his wingman was still with him, good.

His friend or foe system showed that there were now only three
remaining F16's, and not a single Lavi had been lost in combat so far.
The large Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft circling just inside Israeli
airspace sent a tactical update to all pilots. The eight F15's were closing
fast and low. His commander called for him and his wingman to hold
back and escort the F15's on their bombing run while the rest of the
Lavi's engaged the remaining F16's.

A few minutes later he was joined by the F15's. Their hard points
loaded down with sidewinders, AMRAAMS and two ugly looking
bombs. The Lavi pilot noticed the lack of any guidance systems and
only a small set of fins protruded from the rear of each bomb. His heart
sank as he realised that only one kind of bomb requires this little
guidance. Of course he knew what the mission was but the reality of
what they were about to do hit home when he saw those bombs
mounted and ready to drop. Still, duty was duty, and the Egyptians had
to pay for what they had done to Tel-Aviv and his family. There was no
time to ponder, a further five enemy F16's were inbound, Egypt's last
ditch attempt to stop Israel's terrible revenge.

Five of the F15's fired two AMRAAM's each, and then pointed their
noses almost vertical, their twin Pratt and Whitney engines powering
them upwards, going ballistic the Americans called it. The Lavi's
couldn't keep up of course, but then they didn't need to it was their job
to protect the precious payloads of the F15's.

Four signals blinked out on the radar, leaving only one F16 remaining.
The F15's had by now reached an altitude of 65,000 feet, and were
punching thru the gap in the Egyptian air defenses that the 'Wild
Weasels' had created. They were now only 15 minutes away from their
target. The last blip blinked out, the other AMRAAM must have hit
after all. He put the Lavi into a steep climb to rejoin the F15's now
rapidly closing in. He tried to focus on the job in hand but in his minds
eye he could almost hear the air-raid sirens starting to sound, and see
the panic that was about to hit the city of Cairo. Now the F15's were
only 10 minutes away and he remembered when he was a child, learning
about Egypt. He could see his teacher reciting 'Cairo is the capital of
Egypt. It is famous for the Pyramids and Sphinx, which were built over
4000 years ago. The population of Cairo is thirteen and a half million
people. Many of which live in poorly built housing.'

The figure thirteen and a half million people stuck in his mind. He was
part of a mission that would kill thirteen and a half million people. His
mind flicked back to the scenes around Tel-Aviv after the genetic
warheads had hit. He'd lost his family in that attack, the children had
been at school and his wife shopping. The thought of their bodies
dissolving into nothingness took his mind off thirteen and a half million
people. They'd shown no compunction about killing half a million
Israeli's, neither would he show any mercy towards them. By now the
drop was only 5 minutes away and he could see Cairo ahead, a busy
modern metropolis.

The F15's broke formation and split up to cover the cities from all
angles. Modern theory of nuclear weapon deployment stated that
multiple smaller warheads spread over a large area did more damage
than a single multiple megaton warhead. He formed up on the wing of
the lead F15. His radio crackled into life. It was the pilot of the F15.
"Gideon one to base, Gideon one to base. Confirm weapons
deployment. I repeat confirm weapons deployment."

There was a short pause and then the reply. "Joshua, I repeat Joshua.
Confirm weapons deployment."

"Affirmative. Payload deployment in 30 seconds."

'Gideon one' ignored the small arms fire erupting from the city below, he
was travelling too high and fast for it to be effective. A series of calls
came over the Radio "Gideon one, weapons deployment in 10, 9, 8, 7,
6, 5,4,3,2 1. Release. I confirm payload released."

"Gideon Two, payload gone."

"Gideon Three payload away."

"Gideon Four payload away."

"Gideon Five payload away."

"Gideon Six payload away"

"Gideon Seven payload gone."

"Gideon Eight payload gone. May God have mercy on us."

The Lavi pilot engaged full afterburners and followed the F15 into a
steep climb, noticing that the rest of the F15's had already reached their
maximum ceiling. A few seconds later there were multiple flashes, each
as bright as the sun and he tried not to think of those on the ground.

- o - o - o -

Still sitting the Vice President's lounge, Elizabeth sat in front of the TV.
Dumbstruck as the news broke, "My God, my God. All those people.
What have I done?" she sobbed.

Matthew sat next to her, his arm around her, trying to comfort her.
"We failed. Fucking hell we failed," he stopped and listened to the tv
news reports.

"We repeat. Today Israeli F15's launched a nuclear counter-strike
against the Egyptian capital Cairo. Up to sixteen, twenty kiloton
devices were dropped on the city."

After the detonation a massive pulse of electromagnetic energy killed
most electrical and electronic systems. Details of casualties and damage
are not available at this time. We know from Satellite images that Cairo
is under a thick cloud of fall out, fires still rage throughout most of the
city and," the newsreader paused with tears in her eyes.

"I'm sorry. It's the thought that all of the city's thirteen and half million
people have been wiped out. The city it's self is gone, thousands of
years of culture and civilisation wiped out in that horrible nuclear fire."

Elizabeth wailed in anguish "Fourteen million people, Matthew. I have
the blood of fourteen million people on my hands. I truly have become
death incarnate. Oh Matthew, why couldn't I have failed in the smaller
things. Now it's gone all gone. All those lives wasted, all that pain I
caused, it was for nothing, nothing at all."

The reporter continued "The provisional Israeli government issued a
statement saying that the Fury Directive had been implemented, and that
vengeance was satisfied for the horrific attack on Tel-Aviv some nine
days before. We now pass over to Professor David Wayne of the
Institute Of Strategic Studies. Professor, distasteful as it seems, please
tell us what the effects of such a raid would be."

The camera panned to a gray haired man with a military look about him.
He put his hands together, gathering his thoughts and then said, "I
hoped to God I never would see this day in my lifetime, but it's here. If
I seem dispassionate its because I have to be objective, inside I am as
distraught as the rest of you.

Some of you may be aware that the multi-megaton devices of the cold
war era are no longer widely used. The effects of treaties and new
thinking have put paid to them. The modern nuclear device is a smaller
affair, maybe 600 kilotons maximum."

"Professor can you quantify the damage the bombs that were dropped
on Cairo would do?" the reporter asked.

"I'll try. One way of measuring blast is by using PSI or Pounds per
Square Inch in excess of the normal atmospheric pressure. So a one
PSI blast on a normal window of say 34" by 64" would bit hit with
nearly 2000 pounds of force. Similarly, a 3PSI blast would hit the
window with 6000 pounds of force. A while ago an analyst called
Glasstone likened the effect to stomping on an empty cardboard box.
Walls collapse, windows shatter, and ceilings fall in. A single 20 kiloton
weapon would produce around 8 square miles of 3 PSI destruction.
Eight such devices would produce 64 square miles of 3PSI devastation.
The sixteen that were dropped today would produce over 128 Square
miles of 3PSI damage. That's about the same level as a single megaton

The reporter sat stunned for a moment. She managed to say "My God."

The professor took a deep breath and continued. "That's not all. The
expansion of gasses causes a blast wave to form. The front of this wall
behaves like a wall of super compressed air, which can travel at over
780mph. This wall envelops structures to give the whole building a
catastrophic jolt. It's not just a single foot that's stomping on the box
it's the top and sides that are being kicked in. We've discussed the
structures, but what really matter are the people."

Elizabeth screamed again "I killed them, I killed them all," Matthew
tried to console her, but she was too distressed. Elizabeth just sat there
rocking back and forth letting out small sobs, her head in her hands.

The professor continued "Fifty percent of the energy from a nuclear
blast is distributed in blast forces. Thirty five percent is released in the
form of heat. At Hiroshima, the ground below the blast, ground zero if
you like, attained temperatures of around 4000 degrees centigrade.
Such temperatures could easily be reached as far away as 3 miles.
Remember such heat will cause anything to burn, gasoline dumps, gas
stations, natural gas pipelines, anything. Combined with the blast waves
I mentioned above this would cause the effect known as firestorms.
Apart from uncontrollable blazes, firestorms have been known to cause
walls of fire moving at almost supersonic speed, incinerating everything
in their path."

The professor paused to let it sink in, and then resumed "This is all from
a single device. We had sixteen such devices dropped in a surrounding
pattern, leaving no place for the survivors to run. Walls of fire, and
pressures measured in the tonnes per square inch coming in from every
direction. With the high level of slum housing in Cairo, I think we will
find few survivors. In my opinion the symbol for the atomic era should
not be the mushroom cloud but the firestorm."

The reporter swallowed hard and asked, "Can you sum up what
conditions are like on the ground?"

"I'll try. Imagine temperatures above the boiling point of water,
hurricane force winds at street level and the air poisoned with toxic and
radioactive gasses. We understand that firestorms and massive fires
have broken out all over the city, there would be no place to run and no
place to hide. I very much doubt if the resources exist to extinguish the
fires, since any survivors would be too shocked or injured to mount
much of a rescue attempt. Water mains would be shattered and
emergency services all but eliminated. To all intents and purposes the
city is burning it's self to death with no hope of rescue."

Elizabeth slowly stood up, brushed away Matthews attempt to comfort
her, and walked out of the room while the interview continued.

- o - o - o -



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