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FURYBOOK7 video disgust The other tapes


BOOK III. End Game.

- o - o - o -

Rob Cole loved his job, although his friends thought he was utterly mad.
He'd been patrolling the New York sewer network for the last ten years,
and loved and knew every inch of it. Sure, the smell was hard to get
used to, but when he was down here he felt as if he owned his own
subterranean city. He was lord and master of the dark, cavernous world
below. The rumble of subway trains occasionally interrupted the
silence, but that was ok by him. Today he was in a little used section,
near an old industrial park, It had been at least a year since he'd last
been to this place, and he had to confess that this was not one of his
favorite spots. Sure, it had the peace and quiet he liked but somehow
the tall, narrow shaped tunnels did nothing for the eye.

Deciding to make the best of it, he relished in the solitude. Suddenly in
the bright glare of his flashlight he caught a glimpse of something laying
on the bank. His eyes couldn't quite make out the shape so he walked
nearer to it. He'd only walked about ten paces when he saw what it
was. It was the body of man, dressed in a black coverall. The body was
laying face up on the bank with the head and arms above the high water
level of the sewer. Rob ran towards the body to investigate further,
being careful enough with his footing as not to fall in. He shone his
flashlight into the mans face but saw no signs of life. It took all his
strength to drag the body from the sewage, but after a few moments it
was clear. Rob put his hand on the guys neck, no pulse.

Rob was curious as to what killed this guy and scanned his flashlight
down the length of its body. It didn't take long to find five bloody spots
and five holes in the guys chest, he'd clearly been shot multiple times.
'Oh Man' he thought, this was the last thing he wanted, the paperwork
alone would take him weeks. Still, he knew what he had to do, and he
removed his walkie-talkie and called it in. He knew from procedure that
the cops should be here within a half hour.

- o - o - o -

"Now what the fuck are we going to do?" Scott asked. The sense of
depression and failure had got to everyone. Cathline sat in a corner,
gently crying, Matthew was still sitting in front of the TV, and the
Senator and the Vice President were trying to work thru scenario's. For
his part, Scott had no idea of how to visualise thirteen million deaths.
His only thoughts were for Tina, now in hospital and fighting for her
life. Every member of the group was dealing with the shock and loss in
their own individual way.

Matthew was worried for Elizabeth, when the news of the Tel-Aviv
attack broke she had become suicidal. How would she be feeling this
time? Rightly or wrongly she was blaming herself for all those deaths.
Matthew did what he usually did when he was hurting inside, he sought
out those who were hurting more. He stood up, adjusted his slacks and
blouse and went outside to find Elizabeth.

After enquiring a few times, he found her staring out of a window,
looking out into the immaculate gardens. The sun was setting a deep
blood red, as if the sky was being filled with the blood of the fallen.
Standing a few feet behind Elizabeth stood a soldier, hand on pistol.
She may have saved the Vice President's life but she was still a wanted

Elizabeth heard Matthew approach and turned to face him, her eyes
were puffed with tears, and she looked at least twenty years older. She
turned back to face the gardens, as if to say 'I want to be alone'

Matthew ignored this, and put an arm around her slender waist, "Come
on Elizabeth, we need you. It's ok, nobody blames you for this."

Elizabeth spoke for the first time, her voice weak and tired, "I do.
Fourteen million people are dead Matthew. All the pain and suffering I
caused you, Kat, and the others was wasted, all for nothing, nothing at
all. I may as well not have bothered. Please go. Although the Vice
President has said that I won't be arrested as long as I'm with him I'm
going to turn myself in. Thank you for caring but it's ok."

Matthew turned to go but then thought better of it, "Back at the
hospital I promised I would stick with you. That promise still stands.
You're the last hope I have of seeing Kat again, and sorting this out. I
need you Elizabeth."

"If only you'd have said those four words, seven years ago," Elizabeth

"What has past is past. We must move on."

"Fourteen million people Matthew, how can I move on when so many
are dead by my hands. I felt elation when I saved Tina's life. It was as
if I was clawing my way back to normality. Then that changeling
started coming back to life and you know what?"

"What?" Matthew asked.

"I enjoyed killing it as much as I enjoyed saving Tina. As much as part
of me treasures life and will do anything to save it, another takes equal
pleasure in death. I hate that part of me, it's the part of me that tells me
to kill Kat, and all the rest, and make you submit to me. It's always
there, always watching and always waiting for its moment to seize

Matthew shook his head, "I don't believe you. I believe that you're a
good person who did some evil things, but is now fighting the fight of
her life to restore what she took away. Your story isn't about fury, or
revenge, it's about redemption."

Elizabeth turned away from Matthew and whispered, "I thought so too,
but what is there left to redeem? What action can I do to atone for so
many lives lost, so many tears shed, and what deeds can I perform to
wash the blood from my hands?"

Matthew was silent and the spoke, "Finish this. End what you started.
Our goal is clear, we have to stop the war. It's too late for Cairo and
Tel-Aviv, but not Damascus, Jerusalem, or Riyadh. There are more
lives to save, changelings to depose and a coup-de grace to deliver to
the Guild. The final battle will be ours Elizabeth, and we need you to
lead it. You want the world to remember you for something good,
right? Finish this."

Elizabeth's mind snapped back from her mood of despair. Matthew was
right. For too long she been playing Miss goody two shoes. It was
time to hit back, and hit hard. She clenched her fist and said, "You
know what?"


"Finish this right?"

Matthew nodded.

"Deal," Elizabeth said, and walked back to the room. A new purpose in
her stride, it was time to take the initiative, and not stand around saying
'woe is me'. Elizabeth thought back to the decisions she'd made
recently. Although they were the correct ones she couldn't help but
think maybe she was playing a little too nice. Ideas and possibilities
formed in her mind -- if the Guild could bring forward their plans why
couldn't she?

When Matthew and Elizabeth walked back into the room the Vice
President was on the phone, and the others were being as quiet at they
could. Scott put a finger to his full lips as if to say 'shhh'

"Yes Mr President, Emergency cabinet meeting in three hours. I'll be
there. You want me to inform the others?"

The Vice President nodded at the reply down the phone, "Yes Mr
President, I'm fine. Goodbye."

They waited until the Vice President put the phone down before
Elizabeth spoke, "What's going on?"

The Vice President said, "The President's called an emergency meeting
in three hours. He wants to discuss our response to the attack, and how
we move from here. I asked him for the full intelligence briefings
leading up to the attack, and what's happening now, but he states
they've not been confirmed yet. I think he's onto us."

"So now what do we do?" Cathline asked.

The senator was about to speak but Elizabeth interrupted, "We retake
the initiative. While he's got us on the back foot we're always one step
behind. These bastards are starting to piss me off. I'm pissed off at
jumping when they want me to jump, pissed off at always having to
clear up their fucking mess. I realise I've been too soft, too nice and
you know what. It's time this hell bitch bit back!"

The tone of Elizabeth's voice sent a shiver down Matthew's spine. It
was the same tone she'd used during her revenge against them. It was
as though the 'evil Elizabeth' had taken control again. Matthew just
hoped Elizabeth knew who her enemies were, and who her friends were.

"How do we do that?" Scott asked, trying to ignore Elizabeth's tone.

Trying to suppress the anger inside her Elizabeth said, "Mr Vice
President, get this changeling test split into five samples and flown out
to all affected countries. Send them direct to the security services under
the pretence that they're genetic materials taken from an Egyptian agent.
That should ensure they're left alone. Next give the NSA a prod, we
need those disks decrypted ASAP. Get the changeling organ I ripped
outta that changeling to the FBI, and get their top forensics guys onto
it. We need a report in two hours. Senator?"

"Yes," the senator replied.

"I want you to work thru all the scenarios for stopping this war. I've an
idea and I need to know if it'll work. I'm sure the Vice President will
give you access to anything you need. Cathline?"


"Get me a dozen eggs, As many glucose energy bars you can find and
some of your clothes."


Elizabeth shook her head, "I'll explain later, right now we have to
assume that the president will know about us and what we're doing.

"Yes Elizabeth,"

"Wait here. We need you to keep an eye on the news and get the
information from those disks to me."

"Where will you be?"

"You'll know," Elizabeth said cryptically.

"What do you want me to do?" Scott asked.

"I want you to go to Tina. She needs you. Don't worry, we can do
without you for a day or so. Do what you have to do, and then meet
me back at the hotel."

Scott sighed. As much as he wanted to help Elizabeth his thoughts
were increasingly turning to Tina, "Thank you."

Elizabeth performed a mental checklist. Had she forgotten anything?
"Right, go. I want to talk to the Vice President alone."

The Vice President looked surprised, what did Dr Bexley want with
him? Did he trust her enough to be alone with her? He reasoned that if
she'd wanted him dead then she'd had ample opportunity, "Ok, what do
you want?"

Elizabeth waited until the rest of the group had filed out, and sat down
on the sofa. For his part the Vice President remained standing but
moved nearer the door.

Elizabeth lifted an eyebrow and gave the Vice President a stunning
smile, "I want to take your place at the emergency meeting."

"What! I thought you said that your changeling organ was useless."

"I don't think it is anymore. This isn't dye and my brown eyes aren't
contact lenses, Watch."

The Vice President looked on in amazement as Elizabeth's hair turned
blonde and her eyes slowly turned a deep blue, "Why didn't you tell us
this before?"

Elizabeth gave another smile, "Oops, must have slipped my mind.
Yesterday I could only change my hair and eye color and that was it.
I'm now feeling much stronger. Not as much as I did when it was
working 100%, but enough to know I can change forms two or three
times. I won't be able to do a full genetic match, only the outside
appearances, face, body shape etc. It's not much but it's enough. I got
thinking while I was looking out of your window. If my changeling
organ was useless then how come I was still alive? It is as much of a
part of me as my heart or lungs. It holds who I am together. Sure, it
was badly damaged but it has the capability to repair itself, given
enough time and rest."

This conversation was not turning out like the Vice President had
imagined. It looked as though Dr Bexley was asking for him to trust
her in the nations greatest hour of need since 1963. "Why should I trust

Elizabeth gave another smile at the Vice President, "Because I saved
your life. Because I'm the only person who can take on a changeling
head to head and win. Besides, the dying wish of fourteen million
people is in my soul, their cries for vengeance are on my lips and their
blood is on my hands. I need to do this. I started it, and as Matthew
told me, I must finish it."

"What do you plan to do then?"

Elizabeth told him and the Vice President laughed out loud. It had just
the right ring of desperation about it, "Dr Bexley, do you seriously
expect me to go along with that?"

"I don't see what else we can do? I would have thought you'd enjoy the
prospect of being President by the end of today."

"Not like this," the Vice President admitted.

"President Andrews is already dead. Killed by that bastard in the
Whitehouse. You already ARE president, only the country doesn't
know it yet," Elizabeth explained.

The Vice President sighed. Dr Bexley was right. His friend was dead
and that left him in his place. Of course he'd wanted to be president, but
not this way, "You're right. It's time I started acting like one. We'll go
with your plan."

Elizabeth chose her moment carefully, "When this is over I want three

Here it comes the Vice President thought. The price, there's always a
price to pay, "Which are?"

As casually as she could muster Elizabeth said, "I want a full pardon. I
can't live my life as a fugitive, hated and despised by all. I want all
charges against me dropped."

The Vice President had expected something like that, "Now wait a
minute. You haven't just knocked over a drug store and ran away with
a few cigarettes. You're responsible for the murder of eighteen people,
kidnapping, and crimes against humanity. I can't just wash over all that
and let you go."

"Fine, you sort this mess out," Elizabeth stood up and turned to go.

The Vice President knew he was holding a poor hand. Dr Bexley could
just switch forms and vanish, and nobody could ever find her again. She
was asking for armistice so that her name would be cleared, not because
she needed it. He thought for a few moments and then had an idea, "Ok
I'll pardon you on one condition."

"Which is?"

"You're intelligent, work it out. After you've done that, tell me your
decision," The Vice President said.

Elizabeth pretended to be shocked and outraged at the Vice President's
proposal. In reality she'd planned for it. It was a small price to pay for
her freedom, "I agree. But only after you've done the other two things
for me."

"Which are," The Vice President asked cautiously.

Elizabeth smiled. She was enjoying this. The first part of her agenda
was working out just fine, "Second, I want full credit for stopping this.
No 'agents of the US government' crap. I want my role in this made
public. How else is my name going to be clear in the eyes of the

The Vice President didn't have a problem with that, "Done, Next,"

"Ok, lastly, on the disks that the NSA have there must be plans for one
of my DNA systems. I know Hassan built several to manufacture the
changeling organs and DNA warheads. I assume all of those have been
destroyed. I want you to build me a new one."

"What!" the Vice President exclaimed.

"I want you to build me one. How else am I to turn Matthew back,
restore Kat to her normal self, and put right everything I did. I can't use
my changeling organ to do it, so I have to use my machine. It's ok, you
can destroy it afterwards. Besides, if it's done in secret who'll know."

The Vice President's raised his voice, "Now just a second. Cairo has
been obliterated because Egypt supposedly defied the Fury Directive. I
can't take the risk that someone finds out. We're talking about outlawed

Elizabeth had a counter for that one, "Ok fine. I'll just mention to the
press that it was you who refused to let Matthew and Jane Stephens
return to their normal selves. That it was you who condemned Rachel
Martin to wearing her eyepatch, left the cop who saved his life to a life
as a paraplegic, and that it was you who let his best friend rot in a body
that wasn't his own."

The Vice President sighed. What Elizabeth was describing was the end
of his career. Blackmail it may be but it was effective blackmail, "You
really are a hell bitch aren't you?"

Elizabeth gave a nod and flashed a stunning smile, "Yep. Now do I get
my machine or not?"

Elizabeth's tone and manner annoyed the Vice President. She was so
damn arrogant. He sought a way to regain his authority with her and
after a few moments it came to him, "You get your machine. BUT the
very second you've done with it it's destroyed, no questions, and no 'just
one more little thing please'. I'll put trained observers there to watch
your every move. One wrong move and the whole deal's off, the
pardon, the credit, everything. You betray me and I promise I'll hand
you over for dissection and study. Clear?"

Elizabeth was about to say, 'If I betray you there'll be nothing you can
do about it', but instead she decided to play meek and mild. She nodded
slowly, as if giving in. She'd got what she wanted and made out as if
she'd compromised. At the end of all this she'd have her freedom, her
name would be cleared, AND she'd have access to her DNA system
again. The final part of her plan was working out perfectly.

- o - o - o -

The cop's flashlight flickered over the body's grime covered face. The
cop peered down at the face and rubbed away some of the muck. A
flash of recognition ran across his face, "Hey I've seen this guy before."

Rob asked, "Where?"

"On the news. Salman someone. He was supposed to have helped
Rachel Martin escape. I'd guess that his friends caught up with him.
Help me lift him up would you?"

Rob had to admit he hadn't seen that news item, but he bent down and
helped the cop manhandle Kat's body from the sewer. She was put into
a waiting black plastic bodybag and lifted to the surface.

A few minutes later Kat's body was on it's way to the county morgue.
All hurry had now gone from the paramedic crew that had been waiting
to give any assistance that could have been required.

- o - o - o -

Elizabeth ran thru the plan with the Vice President once more. The
more the Vice President thought about it, the more it seemed to have
the hallmark of genius about it. They were interrupted a few moments
later by the rest of the group returning. Cathline was the first in the
room, carrying a bag full of groceries. Matthew and the Senator
followed close behind.

"Here you go, God knows what you want them for," Cathline said
handing the grocery bag to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth took the bag and placed it on a nearby table, "Thanks. Look,
can you get someone to break the eggs and put them into a large glass
or something. I'll take the glucose bars now."

Removing the glucose bars Elizabeth handed the bag to Cathline who
went outside to find someone to prepare the eggs. She returned a few
minutes later to find a tense atmosphere, "What's going on here?" she

Matthew turned to Cathline, as if wanting her to join in, "Elizabeth's lied
to us. Her changeling organ isn't as damaged as she'd led us to believe."

"You Bitch! I trusted you!" Cathline snapped back. With Elizabeth now
able to change forms anything was possible.

Elizabeth tried to placate the now fuming Cathline, "All I said was that I
can change appearance, not actual genetic coding, that's what all those
glucose bars and eggs are for. I'm going to take the Vice President's
place at the meeting this evening. I'll only LOOK like the VP. Inside
I'll still be Rachel Martin."

The senator turned to the Vice President and asked, "You agreed to

The Vice President nodded, "I did. This is the only way to stop the
changeling without a long winded impeachment process. I know it's a
big deal to trust HER, but in this case we have to. Besides, she knows
that if she betrays us then she's dead. I made that clear in our little
conversation we had a few minutes ago."

Elizabeth caught the Vice President's sideways glance and internally
gave a sigh of relief. A potential devastating argument had been
defused. The last thing she needed was to fight down a mutiny, "Look,
before you all ask why didn't I tell you. Well it's easy. I only think this
will work. If doesn't, we're well and truly fucked. I didn't want to tell
you in case it failed. All I ask is that you trust me just a little longer. If
the Vice President of the United States is prepared to put his neck on
the block for me then I'm sure you can."

"Ok, what is you want us to do?" Cathline said. She wasn't sure about
Elizabeth anymore, but so far Elizabeth had tried to do, or had done
everything that was asked of her.

The phone ringing interrupted the conversation. The Vice President
answered it and after a few "Ok do your best." Or "We need it ASAP,
millions of lives depend on it," he put the phone down.

"Who was that?" the senator asked.

"That was the NSA. The encryption on the disks is stronger than they
thought. They've had to scrap all the work their doing, and use up
every bit of computer power they have. They estimate it'll take three
days to decipher it if they're lucky. God knows how the Guild got hold
of it but it's in one of our strongest codes."

"That should make it easier to crack," Matthew commented.

"No. Unless we have the primary or private key it's very, very difficult.
Not even key escrow would help us here as it's a military code and
therefore exempt," the Vice President added.

"So now what do we do?" Cathline asked.

Elizabeth in a matter of fact way added, "Carry on as before. Once the
Vice President here is President he can start the peace process up and
slow things down enough until the disks are decoded."

There was a knock at the door. A maid arrived with a large jug full of
raw eggs.

"Put it on there please, " the Vice President gestured to the table where
the glucose bars still sat.

The maid left the room and Elizabeth walked over to the table and
picked up the jug, "Yumm," she said and downed the whole jug in one.

"Ugghh, I don't believe you just did that," Matthew said in disgust.

"If it saves lives then it's worth it," Elizabeth commented and picked up
several glucose bars.

One by one she ate them and she could feel her body start to glow in the
rush of energy. She was now confident that she could mimic the Vice
President and still have enough left over to deal with the changeling

The phone rang once more and the Vice President answered, "Ok, bring
it over."

After putting the phone down the Vice President turned to the group
and said, "Forensics have completed their report on the changeling
organ. It'll be over in an hour or so."

"That was quick," Elizabeth said.

"It's not a through report but it's enough to confirm what the thing does
and a theory as to how it does it. To my mind it's enough to convince
the cabinet."

- o - o - o -

Scott walked into the Intensive care unit of the hospital and was greeted
by a young doctor, who on seeing Scott's body gave it an appreciative
glance. Scott was getting a little tired of all this male attention, and
only had thoughts for Tina, "Hello I'm Detective Cox's partner. Can
you tell me how she is?"

The doctor paused for a moment, "wait here," and he walked off to find
someone who could help the stunning blonde
A few minutes later the doctor returned with a older man, who once
again gave Scott the once over.

The older doctor said "Miss."

"Harris," Scott replied.

"Oh yes, now I remember. One of the Vice President's staff called
ahead and said you were coming. Please follow me," the older doctor

Scott followed the doctor into a side room and sat down.

The doctor sat down opposite him and started to speak, "This isn't easy
for me to say but I'm not going to lie to you. Detective Cox is gravely
wounded. She would be dead by now if not for some stunning
emergency surgery by doctor.."

Scott knew the doctor was fishing for a name and debated whether to
tell him or not. He decided that caution was required, "I don't know her
name. She was just there at the time," he lied.

"Shame, we can always use a surgeon of that quality here. Anyway
thanks to our mystery doctor Tina will live."

Scott breathed a sigh of relief. He then waited for the inevitable 'but.'
Here it comes.

"BUT, she's still in a coma. The signs are good that she'll come out of
it, but we can't say when. As you may have been told, her spinal cord
was shattered by the bullet's impact. At this present moment in time
there is no way to repair that level of spinal damage. I'm sorry, but as it
stands it is extremely unlikely that Detective Cox will be able move or
feel anything from the arms down. I wish it were better news."

Scott felt tears well up in his eyes. It should have been him that took
the bullet. Tina was so young, she had her whole life in front of her,
"Can I see her?"

"Sure, Follow me."

Scott was taken into a side room where Tina lay. Machine's were
hooked up to her arms, tubes were everywhere, and over Tina's face
was an oxygen mask.

"She's on life support until she's strong enough to breathe on her own.
How much she wants to live is down to her," the older doctor said.

Scott pulled over a chair and sat down. Taking hold of Tina's hand, he
started to cry. The doctor said nothing and walked out of the room.

- o - o - o -

It was late when Kat's body was finally placed on a slab in the morgue.
The duty corner checked his watch. He didn't really have time to do a
thorough job of an autopsy, and the cops had said that there wasn't
really any hurry. Making sure the body was tagged up, he slid the body
into the freezer, and started to scrub down. Whoever it was on the slab
could wait. He had a hot date tonight and didn't want to be late.

- o - o - o -

Near the Israeli-Syrian border a column of tanks and troops rolled
relentlessly towards Israeli soil. These were elements of the Egyptian
7th, 11th, and 12th Mechanized Brigades, and 2nd,3rd and 8th Tank
Brigade, these had been further reinforced by the Syrian 9th armored
division, and the loan of 2 Republican Guard divisions from Iraq. In
spite of the hostility between these nations in recent years they were
united on one goal, the destruction of the aggressor, Israel.

Hundreds of tanks rolled across the flat, featureless desert while
overhead combat aircraft flew Combat Air Patrol(CAP) missions,
protecting the ground forces below. They had been expecting Israel to
mount air strikes against the ground forces, to wear down the will and
number of the invading forces, but so far no Israeli attacks had come. It
was as if Israel had closed the matter after the attack. To the Arab
nations, however, the matter was nowhere near closed.

Although command and control had been difficult to get right it had
been agreed that whoever had the most forces in an area would
command the whole. Of course, there was friction between rival
commanders, but these had to be put aside. Their enemy would be well
trained, well organized, and utterly ruthless. In order to prevail they
would have to be the same.

An Israeli JSTARS aircraft flying deep inside Israeli territory noted the
build up, and passed on the information to central command. As part of
the 'thank you', America had given Israel for staying out of the Gulf war
the new JSTARS(Joint Services Tactical Airborne Radar System)
aircraft could pinpoint movement of ground forces from hundreds of
miles away. Their strength, speed, and projected movements could all
be tracked and information relayed directly to whatever units were best
equipped to deal with the threat. It was as if Israel had a spy in the
camp of every single brigade that was ranged against them. JSTARS
would, in theory allow Israel to put its forces where they were needed
the most. Having the right forces, in the right place, at the right time
would go a long way to make up for the lack of numerical advantage.

At this moment, a squadron of twenty AH-64 Apache gunships were on
standby, their hardpoints loaded with Hellfire Anti-Tank missiles and
rockets. At another airbase, two squadrons of F16's waited, their
payloads pushed to the limit with cluster bombs, fuel-air explosives, and
AGM-64 Maverick missiles. The Lavi squadrons, still buoyant from
their success on the Cairo mission had rearmed, and were ready to
provide air cover for the attack aircraft. The remainder of the Israeli
airforce was in the air, preventing Arab Alliance aircraft from hurting
the waiting strike force. At this moment in time there were a few air to
air skirmishes, each side testing the ability of the other.

When the time was right, JSTARS would direct the strike force in a
devastating mission that, if successful, would rip the heart out of the
main armoured force closing on Israeli borders. Israel's strategy was
simple. Entice the enemy to a point of your choosing, a valley for
example. Then, when the time was right hit them hard and hit them fast.

- o - o - o -

The Vice President looked on in amazement, as Elizabeth's body
seemed to ripple and flow. Matthew had seen Elizabeth change shape a
few times, and in each case it had seemed a fluid transition, as casual as
combing your hair. This was different, Elizabeth's brow was furrowed
with concentration, and beads of sweat formed on her brow. Her body
seemed to shake with the effort but inexorably the changes increased in

After five minutes or so a duplicate copy of the Vice President stood
before them, "Thank God for that," Elizabeth whispered in the Vice
President's voice.

The Vice President shook his head. In his mind he'd believed the whole
changeling story but now, seeing a duplicate of himself standing before
him rammed the point home. "How long can you stay like that?" he

Elizabeth shrugged, "Two or three hours, no more. I'm amazed I
managed to do this much. Now I'll need your pass and a spare suit. I've
only got a half hour to get to the meeting."

- o - o - o -

"Sorry I'm late Gentlemen," Elizabeth said, as she walked into the
meeting room.

"That's ok Jack. We were just waiting for coffee. Hope you're feeling
Ok. I hope I never go thru what you went thru," the president said.

Elizabeth sat down beside the president. This was the most crucial
switch of her life. She had to convince the room that she was the Vice
President, "Yeah, it was a nightmare. I've good reason to think that Dr
Bexley and her cronies were involved in it as well. They came to my
place, tricked their way in, and if it hadn't been for a lucky shot from a
soldier I'd be dead. Anyway the secret service overpowered them and
they're on their way to a holding facility for questioning."

"I didn't hear about that bit," the president queried. He was a little
suspicious of stories he couldn't verify. Still, if all went well, by the end
of this meeting the Vice President would be discredited, and so it
wouldn't matter if he was lying or not. For the sake of the others in the
room he had to play it out, and forget that his cover may have been
blown. After all, the Bexley Demon had no proof, her changeling organ
was destroyed, and her followers weak and powerless. Even the mighty
Salah now lay dead in a New York morgue.

"It'll be on the news tonight, I guess. Down to work." Elizabeth said.

The changeling president cleared his throat, "You all know why you are
here. A little over six hours ago, Israel launched a devastating nuclear
attack on Cairo. This move was sanctioned by the United Nations and
by myself. Egypt's attempt on Jack's life here could not go unpunished,
so I recommended that the UN vote be brought forward. That much is
history. What we are here to discuss are the options facing us in lieu of
the inevitable Arab retaliation and war that will surely follow.

In your folders are satellite photographs of the Arab and Israeli build up.
As you can see, each side is measuring response times, unit numbers and
tactics. Like two boxers squaring up and testing each other out. CIA
intelligence indicates that we have around twelve hours before the real
shooting begins."

The Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) began, "Mr President, I
recommend an immediate increase in status to DEFCON 3. We're not
obliged to do anything once we're there but it sure as hell gives us more

Elizabeth intervened. She wasn't up on global politics but she needed to
continue the pretence, "I'm not sure if that's a good idea. If we go to
DEFCON 3 then Russia, China, hell, everybody will get even more
jumpy. The last thing we want to get sucked into something we don't
want to."

The President nodded, "I agree. Thanks for the input, but let's wait a
while and see what pans out. My biggest concern is the offer of nuclear
assistance from Pakistan. I can only assume they can ship a warhead
out within the next couple of days. We cannot allow that to happen?"

"What do you suggest?" SECDEF queried.

"I think the USS Kittyhawke and Eisenhower are in the Indian Ocean.
We've the Nimitz and Coral Sea in the Gulf. We'll use the F14's on
them to make sure Pakistan stays away. We'll employ a no fly zone
around the whole Middle East if we have to. Pakistan has to be
persuaded to stay out."

There was a stunned silence around the table. What the president had
just described was dangerous at best and suicidal at worst. The way
was wide open for America to get embroiled in a war with Pakistan and
the other Arab nations. Only Elizabeth stayed silent. Her prediction of
changeling instability was coming true. Slowly but surely the
changeling sitting next to her was losing touch with reality. In a room
full of gasoline fumes a match had just been struck. She was tempted to
strike early, but this was too early. She needed more time.

SECDEF was the first to speak, "That's a very dangerous strategy.
What if the war goes on for months? We'll have forces committed to a
no fly zone and there'd be no excuse to pull out. It'd be political

"We could always stay out of it. Stress our neutrality, and wait and see
what pans out," Elizabeth stated. She was enjoying this.

"What about our oil interests? We have to protect those" The Secretary
of State asked.

Elizabeth nodded, "Agreed. But if we stay neutral we win either way.
I'm not saying we let Israel be destroyed, but we don't send in any
troops. Sure, we help out, provide intelligence for example. The
Soviets did a swell job of being neutral without being neutral in the Gulf
War. Why don't we do the same?"

The debate ebbed and flowed as the 'hawks' and 'doves' battled it out.
Elizabeth was careful not to make reference to past meetings and so half
an hour later Elizabeth checked her watch. Only five minutes to go. A
knot formed in her stomach. For the first time since the start of the
Guild war Elizabeth felt nervous. Around her the cabinet were
discussing the topics at hand, unaware of the bombshell she was about
to drop.

Elizabeth checked her watch once more, and then banged her fist on the
oak table a number of times, and the room went quiet. Elizabeth stood
up and stood behind the president. Mustering as much authority as she
could she spoke, "Mr Speaker, members of the cabinet. I regret to
inform you that we have been betrayed at the highest level."

"Sit down, man," the president said, his voice showing signs of unease.

"I will NOT sit down, I will NOT shut up. For too long I have
remained silent and now fourteen million people are dead. I am here on
behalf of the people of Tel-Aviv and Cairo, who no longer have a voice,
whose cries were extinguished by the schemes of one man."

"Jack, what the fuck are you talking about," SECDEF demanded.

Ignoring the question Elizabeth continued, "That man's name was
Hassan," Elizabeth cast a glance at a now very rattled looking president.
She continued, "You have heard by now of the Guild, an ancient order
of Assassins who ruled the Middle East nearly a thousand years ago.
This Hassan was the leader of the Guild, but his power was waning, his
life was in danger. He needed a triumph, an act so stunning in it's scope
and execution that it would restore the Guild to the prominence it
enjoyed so long ago."

The changeling president didn't know what to do. The Vice President
was laying the truth on the line but he didn't have any proof did he? Just
in case, he concentrated on his hand under the table. Slowly it formed
into a sharp bone blade. If it came to it he would strike back and strike

The room was silent apart from Elizabeth's impassioned speech,
"Hassan had obtained the plans for my, sorry Dr Bexley's DNA system,
and had built several examples. He used them to manufacture a DNA
corruption chemical and devised a method of delivery. In studying the
plans for the system he came across a prototype idea of Dr Bexley."

Elizabeth checked her watch, three minutes to go, "This idea was an
organ that could manufacture the DNA altering drug according to the
thought patterns of the owner. I'll call it the changeling organ. Hassan
knew that his plan depended on getting it working, so he sought out Dr
Elizabeth Bexley and forced her to develop it. This she did, and soon
Hassan was producing assassins capable of changing into anyone they
chose. Dr Bexley knew Hassan had to be stopped, and her, and her
allies caused a civil war within the Guild, eventually deposing of Hassan
and his troops. It was Dr Bexley who released the Guild database to
the world and thus would end the Guild's thousand year reign of terror.
She was, however too late to stop the execution of Hassan's plan,
namely the framing of Egypt by planting evidence there, and then the
destruction of Tel-Aviv. Israel's nuclear response was part of that plan,
it would provoke a war that would surely see Israel fall."

One minute to go, "Hassan's aim was that the destruction of Israel and
Egypt would allow him to reassert the Guild control over the Middle
East, just as it had a thousand years ago."

Times up, Elizabeth thought as the doors burst open, and to the
cabinet's amazement another Vice President, followed by some other
people stood in the doorway.

"We have come to place President Andrews under arrest," the Vice
President said, mustering all his outrage at the violation of his

SECDEF stared firstly at Elizabeth and then the Vice President. "On
what charge?" he demanded.

"Genocide," Elizabeth hissed, and she started to concentrate. It was
easier this time she thought as she felt her body melt and reform. In a
matter of seconds Elizabeth in her Rachel Martin body stood before

"Who are you?" The changeling president demanded, his blade hand at
the ready.

Elizabeth mustered all of her hatred, outrage anger and spat, "Who am
I? I am Doctor Elizabeth Anne Bexley, daughter of William and
Margaret Bexley. I am death incarnate, and the last living thing you are
ever, ever going to see."

Just as Elizabeth had intended this provoked the changeling president
into action. The weeks of instability of the changeling organ had
already started to cloud the president's judgement. With a movement
too quick for anyone but Elizabeth to see he lunged his hand upwards
towards Elizabeth's throat.

Elizabeth saw the blow coming and swept the blow aside with a block.
The changeling president had leapt out of his seat and was readying
another assault. Elizabeth had hoped that the secret service would
come to her aid, but in this she was disappointed. At this point in time
the secret service had no idea who were the good guys were and who
were the bad guys. All they knew was that the majority of the Andrews
Administration was in mortal danger, and so they acted accordingly. In
a few seconds reinforcements had arrived and the cabinet were hustled
out of the room, while Elizabeth and the changeling president were
covered at gunpoint.

"Arrest her," the changeling president demanded.

Unsure of their loyalties the secret services moved into grab Elizabeth.
All they knew was that their president had given an order and that order
must be obeyed.

"Wait look at his hand. Since when has the president had a hand like
that?" Elizabeth stated.

"Like what?" the changeling president challenged, and held his now
normal looking hand up to show the suspicious agents.

A feeling of dread slowly sank into Elizabeth. There was no way a
version two changeling should be able to change that quickly. That
meant only one thing, Hassan had stolen and produced a changeling
organ with the same capabilities as hers had. That meant she was in
deep shit. There was no way she could take on this changeling, one on
one and win. A rough arm grabbed Elizabeth and went to pull her
away, but somehow she managed to break free. Her superior reflexes
had already anticipated the agents opening fire at her, and she had
already rolled away in response.

"Leave her alone," a voice boomed from behind the agents. The Vice
President, and the speaker had managed to barge their way back into
the room.

This distracted the agents for a vital second and Elizabeth used that
second well. Maybe she couldn't out change or out fight the president,
but her superior knowledge of biology, and of the changeling organ
itself would even the score. As she leapt towards the president she felt
her arm change into a serrated, double edged blade and in an instant she
had driven it right thru the president's chest, specifically right into her
intended target, his changeling organ.

The president collapsed, blood spurting from a gaping wound in his
chest, and Elizabeth waited for the inevitable bullets that were sure to
follow. They didn't come, somehow the Vice President and Speaker
had put themselves in front of the agents, blocking their shot.

Elizabeth rested for a second or two. It wouldn't take long for the
president's changeling organ to heal. Before she could even plan her
next move the president was on his feet. Elizabeth was amazed and
fearful at the rate in which he'd healed the wound. For their parts the
onlookers were stunned, the president had just recovered from a near
fatal wound in seconds. They saw a blur and Elizabeth clutched her
arm, a large dart was sticking out of it, "Shoot it, Shoot it in the head!"
Elizabeth screamed.

Too late, the changeling president's skull reformed and a new layer of
bone armor covered his skull. Elizabeth felt woozy, the dart had been
poisoned in some way. She concentrated hard and identified the poison
as the venom of the Taipan snake. Within seconds her changeling organ
had manufactured the antidote, and she was feeling better, "Not bad,"
she commented.

By now the agents were convinced as to who the bad guy was. The
Vice President moved out of the way allowing one of them a clear shot
at the president's head. The agent opened fire with two short rounds,
and fully expected the president to drop like a stone. The bullets
impacted on the president's head but did no damage. Elizabeth took the
opportunity to lunge at the president once more, she only had one
chance at this. Her arm changed from blade to flesh once more and her
index finger became solid bone with a serrated edge. The president
blocked her lunge and flung her aside, gashing her right shoulder open
with his blade hand. Elizabeth screamed in pain as she hit the floor.
Elizabeth's arm hung uselessly, that last attack had severed the ligaments
in her shoulder. The arm was useless now, and she lacked the energy
and capability to repair it. She needed everything she had in case the
worst happened.

"For fucks sake kill it!" the Vice President screamed, and the agents
opened fire at the president once more. To their amazement the bullets
had no effect, and the president just turned and gave a wave at them.

Elizabeth stood on the other side of the room bleeding heavily from her
shoulder and breathing hard. This wasn't going to plan by a long way.
Darkness beckoned her, unconsciousness seduced her, and she so
wanted to close her eyes and be done with it. She closed her eyes for a
moment, she had to, her body cried out for it. She opened them and
froze as she felt the president's blade hand against he throat.

"My name is Salman, and I am the last living thing you are ever, ever
going to see," the changeling said with a triumphant smile, and pushed
his blade hand into Elizabeth's throat. Elizabeth gave a stifled scream
and then her body went limp.

Salman stood up and held his bloodied hand blade aloft. He had killed
Dr Bexley! Even Hassan couldn't manage that. Ignoring the hail of
bullets impacting his head and body, he went to walk out of the room.
Suddenly pain wracked his body and he felt very, very weak. He stared
down at his hands and they seemed to go softer, more supple. His
vision blurred and in a few moments it all went black.

The Vice President looked on in amazement as the changeling president
collapsed onto the ground screaming. Its body seemed to melt and
flow, limbs became soft and flaccid, and then the body started to
convulse. In a matter of moments the changeling's body started to
dissolve. A few seconds after that it was reduced to a sticky red fluid.

The Vice President ran over to Elizabeth's limp body and saw the
gaping bloody hole in her throat. Blood was pouring from it and from
her shoulder -- he was amazed that she was even still breathing, "Get
me paramedics NOW!" he shouted.

Elizabeth managed to open her eyes and gave a wink. Her body started
to convulse too and the president was afraid she was about to dissolve
as well. Bloody foam and bile formed in her mouth, Elizabeth was now
breathing hard. The paramedics were there within a minute but on
looking at Elizabeth's convulsing form they could do nothing. They
tried to administer a sedative but somehow Elizabeth managed to knock
it out of their hands. In the middle of a convulsion Elizabeth managed
to rasp, "No, not seda.."

The paramedics were about to give another dose when the Vice
President told them not to. Something told him that Elizabeth knew
what she was doing. Elizabeth had stopped her frantic convulsions by
now and was laying still. The paramedic's looked on in stunned silence
as Elizabeth's gaping throat wound healed itself up in a matter of
moments, and after a long bloody coughing fit Elizabeth managed to sit

"Are, are you all right?" the Vice President asked, still not believing
what he'd just witnessed. Elizabeth was still bleeding heavily from her
shoulder wound, and her right arm still looked all wrong, but amazingly
she was still alive.

"I've had better days," she managed to say before passing out.

- o - o - o -

"Come on miss, it's time to go," the nurse shook Scott awake.

Scott groaned softly and checked his watch, it was nearly eleven pm.
He had fallen asleep by Tina's bedside, he must've been more tired than
he thought. Groggily, he got up, and looked once more at Tina's inert
form. It was hard to believe that this young, vibrant and downright
'pain in the ass' woman would never walk again. Although she'd saved
the life of the Vice President that would come as small comfort in the
struggle ahead. One thing Scott did know, was that if anyone could rise
above this and show that her life was still worth something Tina could
"Any change?"

The nurse shook her head, "Sorry, nothing. You need some sleep, so
does she. You can come back tomorrow."

"Thanks," Scott said, and with a last backwards glance left the ward.
The nurse was right, he did feel tired. He debated whether to go back
to hotel and wait for the others there, or to try and get back to the Vice
President's place. He decided that the hotel was the best option this late
at night, and after hailing a cab was soon back in his hotel room.

Scott undressed and was soon in his bed. The still unfamiliar shapes
and sensations bombarded his senses, and his thoughts once again
turned to home and Rebecca. A thought struck him -- for the first time
since his escape, he was alone. What was it Dr Bexley had said, "Do
what you have to do." When he'd first heard that he'd assumed that it
meant 'go look after Tina' but now he thought about it, it meant
something else as well. Dr Bexley was telling him, 'Its ok, call your
wife, she needs to know'. The thought warmed Scott's heart, and yet he
felt apprehension and even fear at the prospect of doing so. It was
strange. While he was in the company of the group, his change didn't
seem to matter so much. Matthew was there and the Senator, being in
the company of 'transgendered' men made him feel not so out of place.
They were accepted as to who they really were, not what they had
become. As soon as he stepped outside the group he felt vulnerable, as
if everyone in a room would point and shout 'freak!' In one of their
many chats Matthew had told him he felt the same way - sure, the
feeling diminishes over time, but it never really goes away. Matthew
had told him one thing, and that was, if Rebecca loved him then his
transformation wouldn't matter. Scott took a deep breath, picked up
the hotel phone and made the call.

A sleepy voice answered the phone, "Hi, Rebecca Harris."

Scott paused for a few moments and struggled to hold back a tear.
There were times he thought he'd never hear that voice again.

"Hello?" Rebecca's voiced queried.

Scott fought down his apprehension and said, "Rebecca you're not
going to believe this."

Rebecca interrupted "Who is this?"

Scott was losing control of the conversation, something he wasn't
prepared to do, "It's me Scott."

"What kinda sick joke is this. Look, my husband's dead, he disappeared
when Rachel Martin was kidnapped. If you're some sick reporter.."

Scott interrupted, "No I wasn't. Becky, it's me, Scott."

Rebecca remained silent on the phone for a few seconds, unsure of what
to say and do next. She made her mind up and snapped, "Get lost

Scott managed to say, "Baltimore 1985" before Rebecca slammed the
phone down. Scott decided it was too late in the evening to call again.
He would try in the morning when Rebecca would be more awake.

In their apartment Rebecca Harris tried to ignore the phone call but,
something about it disturbed her. She didn't know for SURE that Scott
was dead, only missing. The last thing that had been seen of him was
walking into Rachel Martin's apartment three months ago. Tina and
Rachel Martin had managed to escape so where was Scott? She would
have thought that Tina would have told her some news, but Tina had
remained strangely silent too. She turned to face her's and Scott's
wedding photograph, kissed her finger and placed it on Scott face. As
long as there wasn't a body there was always hope, hope was the only
thing she had.

- o - o - o -

In the hospital morgue John Cole was clearing up the remains of the
day's work. The duty coroner had left for the evening and only the 'on
call' staff remained. The room was quiet and only the swish of the
broom could be heard. John didn't really enjoy sweeping and clearing
up morgues but at least it paid the bills. Today had apparently been a
busy day, a large pile up on the freeway had added a few more
occupants to the freezers, and then a shooting had added a couple more.
John stopped brushing for a moment, and walked over to his bag, flung
onto a nearby table. He fished for his walkman, a reward for an hour's
solid cleaning and clipped it to his belt. He froze when he heard a loud
'clank' coming from one of the freezers.

It was all he could do not to faint as he saw a tall Arabic man, dressed in
the corpse robe standing before him. The man's hair was matted and
unkempt and he looked like a train had just hit him. He spotted John
Cole, rubbed his head and woozily said, "Where am I, What day is it?"

John could hardly speak, afraid of the apparition in front of him. It was
all he could do to say, "County Morgue, Thursday."

A look of horror spread over the guy's face, "Thursday? Oh no!"

John looked in horror as the 'ghost' started to walk towards him. It was
all too much and he felt himself go light headed and crash to the floor.

Kat watched him faint with a sense of amusement. Where had he said
she was, the County Morgue? She lifted up her robe and saw five small
scars in her chest. They could only be one thing, bullet wounds. The
guys in the factory must've heard her inside the pipe and shot her. She
could only assume that she'd slid into the main sewer and been found

But how was it she was still alive? Elizabeth had told her that her
changeling organ could heal one or even two fatal injuries without
harming her, but that five was way beyond its capabilities. She decided
she'd puzzle on that one later. What else was it he'd said. Thursday,
Thursday was bad news. Thursday meant the Fury Directive vote had
already been taken. Ignoring the aches and pains from every part of her
body, Kat resolved to try and meet up with the rest of the group, and
find out what the hell was going on. She glanced down at the still body
of the cleaner and judged he and she were about the same size, give or
take a few inches. It didn't matter anyway -- she only needed the
clothes to get out of the hospital. Working as quickly as she could Kat
changed into the cleaner's coveralls and walked out of the hospital.

She had no money on her, and she didn't want to involve the Guild as
she had no idea if they had staged the hit -- so it was a long walk back
to her apartment. She didn't have any keys either, but fortunately the
night porter recognised her and let her in. She was tempted to put the
TV on and catch up right away but she was so, so tired. It was all she
could do to stagger to her bedroom and collapse into bed. Within a
matter of moments she was fast asleep.

- o - o - o -

Elizabeth's unconscious body was wheeled into the Whitehouse's
infirmary and a team of surgeons instantly set to work stabilising her
condition. The Vice President, now Acting President and the rest of his
cabinet waited inside the meeting room for news.

"I don't believe it. How could we have been taken in so easily,"
SECDEF complained.

"We all were. From what Dr Bexley told me the changelings had a
whole training program all worked out. Until now the world's never
seen anything like it," the Acting President stated.

"So now what do we do?" The speaker of the house asked.

"That's the million dollar question isn't it. We don't have enough proof
to go to the outside world with this yet. But we'll sure as hell give it a
go. You've got the FBI reports on the changeling organs and heard my
account of the testimonies but that isn't enough to convince the Arab
Alliance to stop shooting. The Israeli's will honor a cease-fire, I'm sure
but they will strike back to defend their borders. SECDEF your
analysis," the Acting President stated.

"I think that's correct. We can trust the Brits to believe what we say,
especially since we've shipped the changeling test to them. The French
will too, and maybe even the Russians if we dangle enough economic
aid in front of them, but that's going to take time. We really need those
disks and now. As to what we do next I think the first thing is to inform
the Israelis and Egyptians. They have to know," SECDEF stated.

There was a murmur of agreement from around the table.

The Secretary for Commerce (SECCOM) asked, "What're we going to
tell the nation. A President doesn't just die and nobody know about it."

The Acting President knew what to say to this question. Dr Bexley had
factored this into her plan and briefed him on it. It wouldn't hurt to take
a little credit for it though, "Here's what we're going to do. Firstly we
inform Israel and Egypt of our discovery. Then we tell the world the
truth, that the President is dead. The changelings in charge will know
the full implications of this, and they'll know we're onto them."

SECCOM was puzzled, "And what will that achieve?"

The Acting President smiled, "It will cause the changelings in charge to
be so diverted in all this that they won't notice when we finally slip in
the proof and take them down. They'll be so wrapped up in finding out
what we know, and in saving their own necks that they won't notice us
working behind the scenes to stop the war and then remove them. A
smokescreen if you like."

SECDEF smiled, "Very good. I like it."

The Acting President smiled, "I knew you would."

- o - o - o -

Inside the Whitehouse's infirmary, chief surgeon Dr Beverly Adams was
busily re-attaching Elizabeth's severed ligaments. Elizabeth had lost a
lot of blood, and was now on a ventilator to help her breathe. Although
not in imminent danger, her patient's lifesigns were showing a
potentially fatal series of fluctuations. Sometimes they would be strong
and healthy, the next almost flatline. She'd been told by the Acting
President to treat her patient as if she were a senior member of the
government. She also had to sign several forms that swore her to
silence for next fifty years. Her patient looked, for all intents and
purposes the same as Rachel Martin, but Rachel had recently lost an eye
so it couldn't be her. Before she could dwell on this any longer, a nurse
came into the room clutching a series of X-rays. The nurse looked
visibly shaken and gingerly handed the X-rays to her.

Dr Adams dismissed the nurse and switched on the lightboard. She
scanned the photographs for a few moments, and then breathed,
"Fucking hell, this isn't right."

Her attention was distracted from the strange inhuman X-rays, her
patient had just gone flatline once more.

- o - o - o -

Matthew, Cathline, and the Senator sat in their hotel room. When the
Vice President had left for the Whitehouse, they had been politely asked
to leave. Besides, it was getting late. and all their stuff was back at the
hotel. They sat in Cathline's room drinking expensive coffee and waited
for the phone to ring. The plan was that as soon as the situation
allowed, Elizabeth would call and tell them what was going to happen
next. That had been six hours ago.

"What's keeping her?" Cathline queried.

"These things take time. It's not every day you find out your head of
state was a terrorist. I expect they've been called into account for their
behaviour. Don't worry, they'll phone," the Senator comforted.

"It's not them I'm worried about. It's Kat. She should have called by
now. What if the Guild found out who she really is?" Matthew's voice
sounded worried.

Cathline put her hand on Matthew's, "We can't do anything about Kat.
Elizabeth was right. She can take care of herself, she's dealt with the
Guild for over a year now. I suspect she's had to go off to Libya or
something to get the evidence we need. We've done all we can, now it's
up to Elizabeth and the Vice President."

"Look guys, We need to rest, it's been a hell of day. We'll hear the
phone ring, and if it doesn't we'll face it in the morning. We're useless if
we're too tired to think straight," the Senator commented.

Matthew shrugged, "You're right, let's pick this up in the morning."

- o - o - o -

The Acting President's phone rang just as he was in the middle of
preparing for calling the Israeli Prime Minister. He was told it was a Dr
Adams on the phone.

"Mr President, you wanted to know how your mystery patient was
doing as soon as I knew."

Being addressed, as 'Mr President' seemed strange, almost misplaced,
the Acting President thought. Still, government continues. "How is she

Dr Adams sounded I little irate, "I wish I knew. Next time you send me
a patient make it a human one. I've no idea what this woman is, but her
biology is nothing like I've ever seen. I may as well be doing an Alien
examination for all the good I can do her. My God, that's it isn't it?" the
voice tailed off.

Although the Acting President understood the way Dr Adams felt he
had to exert his authority, "Just treat her as best you can. Let her body
deal with the wounds, you just keep her alive."

Dr Adams felt a little self-conscious. She'd just shot her mouth off to
the Acting President of the United States, but she was annoyed, and that
tended to make her say things she later regretted. She'd been like that
since her Harvard days, and had earned the reputation of being a
straight talking, take it or leave it kinda surgeon. That no-nonsense
attitude had earned her a few enemies, but also a great deal of respect
from her colleagues, "Who is she anyway? I gotta have name to call

"Jane Doe," the Acting President said, and put the phone down.

- o - o - o -

Benjamin Dayan was still awake as dawn broke at 5am. It had been a
long 36 hours since the nuclear attack on Cairo. He still couldn't get
out of his mind the awful and terrible scenes that he'd seen on television.
He'd done that! He felt as though he had betrayed his entire country.
He imagined the woman, who he'd asked in to gauge street level
opinion, in tears at the thought of more lives lost. He'd failed her, the
people of Tel-Aviv and his nation. The Americans, Russians, and
British had all forced him into a corner. To choose either the certain
destruction of his nation, and the people he cared about, or to kill
millions and save his own people. Cairo was dead either way though,
and he couldn't help but think he'd chosen poorly.

The generals were relishing the coming war, and the attack plans were
all set. As soon as the opposing forces were at the ambush point, the
combined might of the Israeli ground and airforces would hit them.
Thanks to the American's JSTAR technology his generals could see
every move their opponents were making and plan for it. For his part
the Prime Minster just wanted an end to it, an end to the bloodshed.
His bedside phone ringing interrupted his thoughts, "Prime Minister
Dayan here."

An American voice was on the other end, the Prime Minister had
expected it to be the president, but this voice was very different. He'd
heard it somewhere before but he couldn't place it, "Who am I talking

"Prime Minister, this is Acting President of the United States Jack
Roberts," the Acting President let that sink in for a few moments.

"Acting President? What happened to President Andrews?"

Here goes, thought the Acting President, "President Andrews is dead.
As Vice President it's my duty to follow in his footsteps."

"I'm sorry. He was great man," the Prime Minister didn't agree with
that statement, but it was the correct thing to say in the circumstances.

The Acting President's voice was sombre, "Prime Minister. It is my sad
duty to inform you, that we have all been deceived. Specifically you
have been tricked into launching the attack on Cairo. Egypt never had
anything to do with the genetic warhead attack on Tel-Aviv."

The Prime Minister remained silent. Tricked? Egypt was innocent after
all. A sick feeling sank into his stomach, "What do you mean tricked?"

Still sombre voiced the Acting President said, "An organization called
the Guild managed to obtain a Bexley DNA system. With it they
manufactured the DNA warheads used on Tel-Aviv, planted one of their
systems in an Egyptian airbase, and developed an organ which allows
the user to change forms into whoever they want. The President
Andrews you've been speaking to was a Guild agent. Further more, we
believe the leaders of Britain, France, Russia, and maybe China are also
Guild infiltrators. This information only came to light today, and one of
my operatives managed to kill the Guild agent before they could

What was the acting US president saying? That his country had been the
victim of an elaborate ploy, that the Guild, and not Egypt had destroyed
Tel-Aviv? He'd heard of the Guild in his Mossad briefings, but nowhere
did it say that they had that kind of capabilities. This opened up a
whole new can of worms, "You have proof of this?"

"We have an FBI report on a changeling organ taken from their backup
agent. and numerous testimonies of those involved in trying to stop this.
We've also managed to come across some information captured from a
Guild stronghold. As soon as the NSA decrypt it we'll be in a better
position to tell the world,"

"That's all you have?" The Prime Minister stated.

The Acting President had expected that reply, "We have the changeling
organ in stasis, you're welcome to send as many experts as you wish to
examine it. All I'm asking for is a little time until we have the whole

The Prime Minister was still in shock. He had ordered the death of
millions for nothing. It had all been a deception, "Why did the Guild do
this? Why kill so many?"

The Acting President's voice became sombre once more, "For power,
influence, and to save their leader's neck. By attacking Tel-Aviv, they
knew you would use a nuclear response on whoever had done it. Egypt
fitted the bill in two ways, firstly, it was an Arab nation and so the other
Arab nations would band together to try and destroy you, and secondly,
Egypt had been the home of the Sultan who'd come close to destroying
the Guild eight hundred years ago. By wiping out Israel, the Guild
would be in a far stronger position to run things in the Middle East,
their position of power restored, their leader would redeem his failure at
the hands of the infamous Dr Bexley."

The Prime Minister was outraged, "Fourteen million dead just to satisfy
some thousand year old grudge. Where is this Guild leader now?"

"Dead, him. and his cronies were taken down in a civil war, organized
by the same Dr Bexley. The rest of the Guild is on the run, their power
broken, and only the four remaining changelings are left," The Acting
President said. There that gave Dr Bexley some of the credit.

"I hope he died well. If all the details check out, what do you want
from me?"

The Acting President read this as saying, 'Fuck, we've killed millions by
mistake, how in hell do we get out of this?'. He said none of this of
course and replied, "I want you to call an immediate cease-fire. Order
your forces to stand down. I'm going to set up a summit in Geneva in
two days, I want you to be there."

The Prime Minister gave a sigh of relief. Maybe there was light at the
end of the tunnel after all, a way out of further bloodshed, and a way for
Israel to redeem its self, "I will be there. But if we stand down, the
Arab Alliance will see that as a sign of weakness, they'll slaughter our
forces on the ground, and we'll be defenceless. I will order a cease-fire
on the condition that no Arab unit crosses over our borders. Should
they do so we will retaliate with maximum force."

The Acting President had expected this, "We have two full carrier
groups in the Gulf, another two in the Med, and another will be there in
three days, add to this our still considerable presence in Europe. Be
assured that if anything violates the cease-fire they will not live to report
back. We will use extreme measures if required. The United States
refuses to allow this situation to escalate any further."

The Prime Minister took the implied threat with good grace. Whoever
broke the cease-fire would have the combined might of four carrier
groups and whatever US forces were stationed in Europe thrown at
them, "We will comply, if and only if, the Arab Alliance agree."

"I will ensure that they do. Good night Prime Minister," the Acting
President said, and there was a click as the phone was put down.

The Prime Minister was in deep thought. How could he have been led
into this trap so easily? Why hadn't his intelligence sources found this
earlier? As far as cease-fires went he was a soft touch. Israel was in
grave danger and a war would prove disastrous.

That went better than expected, the Acting President thought as he
placed the phone down. The next call would be far tougher. Dr Bexley
had offered a way to force their hand, and his advisors agreed that it
was the way most likely to succeed, but also the most dangerous path.
They didn't have the time to 'play nice' as Dr Bexley had called it. The
only phrase that suited what he was about to do was 'gunboat'
diplomacy. The only difference was that the gunboats would be nuclear
powered aircraft carriers. Taking a deep breath, he called the King of
Saudi-Arabia. If anyone was going to be agreeable to a cease-fire it was
him. Not only was he the most open to US suggestions -- he was also
the provider of the majority of the money required for the coming war.

"You Majesty, I wish to talk with you about your proposed retaliation
against Israel,"

"Why are you the Acting President? What has happened to President
Andrews?" the king replied.

"President Andrews is dead. The victim of a cruel and cunning plot to
overthrow Israel, Egypt, and destabilise the entire Middle East. I
believe that your rule would be threatened if this plot is allowed to

"Who has plotted against us?"

Good the Acting President thought. It is 'us' rather than 'we', "An
organization called the Guild. Their leader attacked Tel-Aviv with
Genetic weapons and provoked Israel to strike at an innocent Egypt."

The king remained calm. He had heard of the Guild, it had been
mentioned to him in hushed tones. It was not wise to offend them,
"What proof do you have of this. I was told that President Andrews
forced the vote to go Israel's way. Some of the blood of those killed is
on your hands."

The Acting President knew he must tread carefully, "President Andrews
was assassinated by the Guild some months ago. The Guild had
developed an organ that allowed the user to change into anyone they
wanted. These Guild agents infiltrated our government, and those of
the other permanent UN members. They forced the vote to go the way
in which they wanted. Israel's attack was a terrible mistake. The Guild
agent forced them to attack by threatening to leave them defenceless
against you. The Israeli leader HAD NO CHOICE. We have obtained
one of these' changeling organs' and have preserved it. You may send
whatever experts you wish to examine it. Further proof is on its way
but will not reach us for at least two more days."

The king thought for a few moments. Was this a trick by the Americans
to save Israel, or was there some truth in it, as fantastic as it seemed.
Arab blood had been shed and that blood needed to be avenged. "What
do you suggest?"

"Order your forces to stop and not proceed any further. I have a
promise from Israel that it will not attack so long as you do not cross
their borders. I have set up a summit in Geneva in two days. I have a
solution to all this," the Acting President said. In all fairness, it was Dr
Bexley's solution but it needed the stamp of authority on it.

The kings voice was cold and unfeeling, his threats no longer implied. "I
cannot do that. You offer me no evidence at all except that of some
piece of flesh you have acquired. The people of Cairo demand blood,
the Arab people demand blood, and blood is what they shall have.
Israel has struck out at an innocent nation and must pay the price for its
aggression. I do not care if it was tricked or not, the fact is, is that it
used nuclear weapons on a civilian population. It must pay for its

The Acting President gave a small sigh. He had hoped it would not
come to this but it was inevitable it would. In his sternest and most
sincere voice he said, "In that case your majesty I have to inform you in
three hours I will give the order to target each capital city in your
alliance with a nuclear tipped cruise missile. Should any of your forces
violate Israeli territory or open fire on any Israeli target then these
missiles will, I repeat will be launched. I refuse to stand by while
millions more die because of a mistake. I will not have world war three
start because some terrorist leader decides he wants to take over the
Middle East. It's my fondest hope, and sincerest prayer that I do not
have to order those missiles to fire, but I will if I have to. Don't feel
victimised. I've just made the same threat to Israel."

The king was furious, "You cannot do that. We are a sovereign nation.
We will not standby while we are threatened in this way. If you do this
then your streets will run red with American blood."

"Threaten all you want. You now have two hours fifty eight minutes. I
will hear from you after that time," the Acting President put the phone
down. He'd just played the highest stakes poker game in his life. If the
Arab alliance called his bluff he would be left with no choice but to
carry out his threat.

- o - o - o -

Kat woke up, still aching all over. She checked the bedside clock, it
was 9:30am. She'd been asleep for over ten hours and felt as though
she could sleep for ten more. She lay in bed contemplating what
miracle had allowed her to survive five bullet wounds to the chest. She
knew the changeling organ was the reason but by all accounts it should
have been unable to cope. Maybe that's why she took nearly three days
to recover, the changeling organ was working flat out to repair the
damage. That word triggered off a disturbing memory. What was it
Elizabeth had said, ' I still can turn her back to her original form as long
as she doesn't go getting shot many more times.' Oh shit. She may be
alive, but what were the long-term effects going to be? She'd only put
up with this Salah body because it was temporary. What if, thanks to
being shot she couldn't turn back, or even worse the changeling organ
had started to malfunction. Elizabeth had said something about that
too, 'Once again if it's used too much then there's a major risk of genetic
damage, maybe psychological damage too, all kinds of instabilities. I
just don't know.' Kat felt sick inside. Thanks to Elizabeth she'd beaten
cancer once. What if she had to face it all over again? The memories of
the pain, despair and worry a year, or so ago came flooding back. Kat
took a deep sigh; she'd face that if and when it came to it. There was
nothing she could do about it right now, and only Elizabeth could tell
the true state of affairs. Groggily she swung her legs over the bed and
walked into the lounge area. She fumbled for the tv controls and
switched to CNN world. A reporter was sat at a desk and a computer
graphic of fighter planes swooping into a city shape, seconds later
sixteen concentric circles rippled out from all points of the city. Kat felt
as though she'd been kicked in the gut. She hoped that this didn't mean
what she though it meant. The graphic faded out and was replaced by
another reporter standing in a bleak desert landscape. He was wearing a
camouflage flak jacket, and he was standing behind what looked like a
tank or armored personnel carrier. The reporter then started to speak,
"I'm standing here with the Egyptian 12th Mechanized brigade
somewhere in the Syrian Desert. They've camped down for the day,
and overhead I can hear a continuous roar of fighters patrolling the
skies overhead. I've been speaking to some of the soldiers here, asking
them what the destruction of Cairo means to them."

Kat nearly threw up but restrained herself. She looked back at the tv
screen to see a soldier dressed in camouflage talking to the camera. An
interpreter provided the translation. "My wife and family were in Cairo
when it was hit. I was on manoeuvres near our borders. I heard the
planes fly past and I hoped they were ours. I weeped for hours when I
was told the news. I do not understand why Israel would do this. We
are a peaceful people and have done nothing."

Another soldier replaced the first. Kat didn't need the interpreter but
unconsciously she listened to him all the same, "I was due to go home
on leave this weekend. I hadn't even had chance to see my new born
son born four days ago." The soldier looked resolute but Kat could see
the tears behind the mask of courage. The soldier continued, "Why did
they do this to us? We grieved for those killed in Tel-Aviv, and we
know we have done nothing to deserve this."

The picture flicked back to the reporter who continued, "These men's
stories are repeated a thousand fold across the country. Loved ones
lost, incinerated in that horrible nuclear fire. Satellite sweeps show that
fires are still raging over most of the city, and that very few structures
have survived. Fortunately there has been some rain over Cairo which
has had the effect of damping down some of the smaller fires, and
reducing the extent of the fall out. The main worry is that the
radioactive dust will sink into the ground and pollute the ground water
supply, and even more dangerous than that, is if that the Nile itself has
become dangerously radioactive. If that is the case the entire Nile delta
downstream from Cairo could suffer from the effects radiation
poisoning for years to come. The red Cross has already been flying in
Iodine and other anti-radiation treatments to those areas, although it
will be many days before the radioactivity dies down enough to get aid
closer to the Cairo city limits."

Kat could keep in her grief no longer. An utter sense of failure hit
gripped her stomach and wouldn't let go. Try as she might she couldn't
help but think of those poor soldiers' families, going about their
everyday work until the nuclear fire took them. On reflection they were
the lucky ones. Hundreds of thousands more would be affected by the
toxic fallout and radioactive Nile. They would suffer years of
leukaemia, birth defects, and other forms of cancer. She remembered
her time in Cairo with Matthew before she was taken from it. A
bustling city full of life, of busy markets, street entertainers, and sitting
proud above most of the city the Pyramids and Sphinx, a testament to
4000 years of civilization. All of that was gone wiped away in the blink
of an eye.

All of a sudden a voice over said, "I'm sorry we cut live to the
Whitehouse for an immediate broadcast."

This brought Kat back from her thoughts. The scene changed to a man
sitting behind a long ornate desk in the oval office. Wait a minute, he
isn't President Andrews. That's Vice President Roberts. Kat thought.
She noticed the flags behind him were at half-mast.

The man paused for a second, as if choosing what to say, and then in a
solemn voice started to speak, "My fellow Americans, Ladies, and
Gentlemen I have grave news for you. President Andrews died this
evening during an emergency government meeting. We have not yet
determined the true cause and circumstances of death, only that it was
quick, sudden and painless. As was my constitutional responsibility, and
in the presence of the Cabinet I have been sworn in as President. I
hereby promise you, my fellow Americans, as I have sworn to God in
the oath I took, that I will faithfully uphold the responsibilities and
duties of that high office."

Kat's thoughts raced. The president was dead, replaced by the Vice
President. That meant only one thing. Elizabeth had taken out the
Guild changeling. She listened intently as the president continued, "It is
my sad duty as Vice President to take over his administration and to
lead our country thru this difficult time. Many of you will be aware that
President Andrews served his country for over forty years, having
distinguished himself in Vietnam. He then moved into politics, where he
became governor of Kansas, and then took up his role as that state's
senator. He took office a little over two years ago when President
Gates stood down. I have had the honor to serve with him both in war
and in peace. He was one of the few people I had the privilege to call
'friend' and I will miss him dearly."

The president paused, as if letting the news sink in. Kat noticed his
subtle body language. 'That's not all' she thought.

Kat was correct the President continued, "It was President Andrews
dying wish that the conflict arising over the attacks on Tel-Aviv, and
Cairo be resolved peacefully, and without further bloodshed. I have
spent many hours on the telephone to the Israeli and Arab Alliance
leaders trying to convince them to stand down. After negotiations
broke down I have had no choice but to force them to reconsider a
peaceful alternative. Four hours ago I gave both sides an ultimatum. If
they did not give me the assurance of a cease-fire within three hours, I
would order the targeting of their capital cities with cruise missiles
armed with a twenty kiloton nuclear warhead. If any nation then
attacked the other, I would launch those missiles at their cities. I have
to regretfully inform you that that deadline has now passed. I have no
such assurances from the Arab Alliance, that they will not open fire on
Israeli forces."

Kat took a deep breath. This was it, the world stood on the abyss and
was staring down into darkness. She only prayed that those in charge
would see sense.

The president continued, "I have been forced to take these extreme
measures in order to preserve the stability of the region. It was not a
decision I took quickly or lightly, and it is my sincerest prayer that those
leaders involved will act in the best interests of us all. Be in no doubt
however, that my resolve is steadfast and my heart firm. I ask you all to
follow the example of my predecessor and stand against the darkness,
no matter what form it takes. Therefore, may God go with us in all the
dark places where we must walk. God bless you, and God Bless

Kat's eyes opened wide at the last phrase. Elizabeth, that phrase could
only have come from Elizabeth. But what could it mean? Kat thought
furiously for a minute or so, ignoring the speculation from the news
crew on the TV. "Got it!" she said out loud. That was a message to
her from Elizabeth. It was saying, 'Don't worry I'm here and I've
persuaded the president to believe us. Come and join me wherever you
are, I need you.'

Kat switched the tv off and stood up. She'd grab some breakfast on
the run and there was no time to waste. She had some evidence to
collect, who knows, it could pull the world back from the precipice of

- o - o - o -

Rebecca Harris was still asleep when the phone rang. She gave a wide
yawn and picked it up "Hi, Rebecca Harris here."

A dulcet female voice on the other end said, "Wait, Becky don't hang up
this time."

Rebecca groaned inwardly. Why wouldn't his woman leave her alone?
She was too sleepy to argue, at least she could hear her out and then
have done with it, "Go on."

A strained, emotional voice replied, "Becky, I know I sound different,
nuts I AM different, but you have to believe me. I'm really Scott. I was
captured by the Guild and turned into, well you can hear that bit. I'm
sorry I've not phoned you before, but I've been helping Tina, Rachel
Martin, Matthew Stephens, and the others stop this war. This is the
first chance I've had to call. Becky I love you, I missed you so much.
Please don't hang up."

Rebecca didn't know what to say. The voice WAS different but it was
so like Scott to put others before his own needs. "How do I know it's
you? How could they have done this to you?"

On the other end of the phone Scott read the question for what it was.
Is it really you? Are you really a woman? How can we be together if
you're like that? Rebecca didn't need to voice those feelings. Scott tried
to think of a way to let her know that he still loved her, "Becky, you
must have played out our last meal together over and over again. You'd
brought a new nightdress to try out, and cooked me my favorite. The
last thing you said to me was 'Love You' I turned to you and said. 'Me

There was a sob from the other end of the phone, "Scott is that really

Scott gave a sigh, "I'm afraid it really is. Listen, I'm in Washington.
You have to come here. Don't worry, we can work this thru. My
feelings for you haven't changed, even though my body has."

Rebecca tried to fight back tears, "Can't you come here. I need to see
you for myself."

Scott's voiced dropped in tone, "I'm sorry hun I can't. It's Tina, she's
been badly wounded. I have to stay with her."

Rebecca's heart sank, "Is she ok?"

Scott replied, "Not really. She's out of danger but she's in a coma. She
was shot saving the President. The bullet shattered her spine just below
the shoulder blades. When she comes out of this she'll be paralysed
from the arms down. I feel so, so helpless here. I miss you, please

Rebecca lifted the phone away from her ear. So much to take in, her
husband alive but in a body that was not his own. The ramifications of
that still hadn't sunk in yet. His partner Tina, seriously wounded and
paralysed. She had to see him, even if she hadn't yet worked everything
thru. "Don't worry I'll be there on the next plane."

"Thank you. I'll be there holding your name tag. Don't worry, we
WILL work this out. Remember I love you," A relived Scott breathed
and placed the phone down.

- o - o - o -

Kat stumbled into her apartment, her arms laden with boxes containing several
videocassettes. Just as the Guild agent had promised they'd been
delivered to the locker at JFK airport, and it had been a simple if nerve
wracking task to retrieve them.

Kat sat down on her sofa and put the first video in the player. She
flicked past snippets of conversation from various Guild agents. The
scenes switched from camera to camera. It was all boring stuff, who
was doing what, where they were going next. After two or three hours
of this Kat was getting bored and increasingly irritated. She needed
evidence! Where was it? She began muttering as her impatience

She'd viewed maybe a dozen tapes when suddenly one scene leapt out
of the screen. A tall man with blonde hair was bent over a woman with
long Auburn hair. He was thrusting himself into this woman's anus, a
look of pure vicious pleasure all over his face. The woman's face was
crying out in pain, but still the man pumped himself into her. Kat
grabbed for the pause button just as the woman's head lifted up. A cry
escaped from her mouth as she saw a familiar face, Matthew. Of course
it was Matthew! She'd known it was him since she first saw the scene,
BUT she had so wanted it to be someone else. Who was the blonde
man though? Kat studied him a moment, and the full horror dawned on
her. She was looking at a copy of Matthew, before he'd been turned into
Elizabeth's clone. Only one person could possibly be this fake Matthew,
Elizabeth! It could be no one else! Here it was however, on screen,
and for the entire world to see if they wanted to, Elizabeth's betrayal.

A feeling of pure fury coursed thru Kat's veins. She had been betrayed,
Elizabeth had broken her promise and not only had she fucked her
husband she'd taken his virginity away in one of the most humiliating
ways she could think of. There was no sign of love in that paused still
frame, only raw unleashed aggression. She let the video play on and she
stifled back a tear when she saw Matthew collapse onto the floor.
Elizabeth had, had the sound switched off but she could see Matthew
look up at Elizabeth and scream. Elizabeth stood impassively over him,
her face an emotionless mask. A few seconds later it changed and she
moved in to comfort Matthew, gently tousling his hair and stroking him.
This went on for a few minutes and then they started making love once
more. Kat couldn't bear to watch as Elizabeth then fucked Matthew
time and time again.

Kat ejected the video in disgust. The other tapes would have to wait.
She needed to see Elizabeth NOW. Her head hurt and she felt woozy
and her thoughts became muddied. She shook her head a few times and
the feeling passed. She then felt almost euphoric, and then the feelings
of hate and real betrayal returned. Feelings of anger so powerful she
could hardly contain it coursed thru her veins, and she formulated a
plan. Elizabeth would pay and pay dearly for this. She picked up the
phone and dialled a Washington number.

"This is Salah. I want you to meet me at the Washington Holiday Inn,
in twelve hours. Get two of your best agents and make sure they're
armed with the heaviest calibre weapons you can find. Oh, and make
sure they don't speak any English. I don't want them eavesdropping on
my conversation."

"May I ask the nature of the mission?" the voice asked.

"Assassination," Kat replied bitterly

- o - o - o -

The telephone by Matthew's bed rang and Matthew was jolted awake,

"Miss Stephens. I've been informed that a car is waiting to collect you
and your friends," Matthew assumed the voice must be one of the hotel

"Ok. Tell them we'll be down in a few minutes," Matthew said, and put
the phone down.

Matthew went to wake the Senator but found that both he and Cathline
had been awake for sometime. They were in the middle of a complex
debate as Matthew walked in. The Senator turned to Matthew, his eyes
alight with excitement, "She did it! Elizabeth's taken down the
changeling president. Jack's in charge now. We've just seen his
broadcast. I've gotta say it looks grim though. The Arabs haven't
responded to his request for a cease-fire yet. I suspect that they're
testing to see if he means what he says."

"That would explain the car waiting for us," Matthew said.

"Car?" Cathline queried.

"Yeah reception called. 'Our friends' have sent a car for us. It's waiting
by the front door. Come on, we ought to go and find out what's really
going on."

It took about an hour for the car to make its way thru the early morning
traffic, until all of a sudden the traffic vanished. Although Matthew
wasn't surprised when the car drew up alongside a security checkpoint
outside the Whitehouse, he was a little overawed.

The driver flashed a security card and the car was let thru the armored
gates. Within moments they were inside of an underground car lot, and
met by waiting secret service agents. After a rigorous check and
passing thru innumerable checkpoints they were let into an ornately
decorated waiting room and told to wait.

"Now what?" Cathline asked the Senator.

"We wait here until we're sent for. I'm not familiar with this room, I
never had to wait around. Jack shouldn't be long. I would have
thought Dr Bexley would have met us though."

"Yeah that's what concerns me," Matthew said.

"So I guess we just wait," Cathline said.

"Yep," the senator answered.

- o - o - o -

Three Egyptian F16's took off from a remote airbase, their hardpoints
fully loaded with laser guided bombs and sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
The flight leader, Captain Ashraf Muthammed checked his 'six' and
noticed with satisfaction that his two comrades were in perfect
formation behind him.

He dropped to below 200 feet and increased the throttle. His two
wingmen did the same, and they performed a graceful turn towards
Israeli airspace. Their mission was unusual one but a vital one
nonetheless. Guile as well as brute force would win the coming war.
This mission counted as guile. He checked the GPS transceiver hastily
built in the cockpit -- its accuracy would be critical for this mission.
One false move would lead to certain destruction. It took half an hour
to reach his first waypoint, and checking that his threat displays were
clear he climbed to 600 feet.

In a circling Israeli Boeing AWACS aircraft three blips lit up like lamps
in the darkness. The sophisticated onboard systems quickly judged
height, speed, and even aircraft type. This information was relayed to
the nearest airbase where six of the precious Lavi fighters were
scrambled to intercept. Although forbidden to cross Egyptian airspace
the Lavi's would ensure that the three bandits would never reach their
targets. The AWACS commander was puzzled, these aircraft were
making no attempt to evade, no attempt to use the terrain to mask their
radar signatures, it was almost as though they wanted to be seen.

Captain Muthammed smiled to himself. His airspeed had increased to
nearly Mach one, and he knew that the Israeli's had by now seen their
signature. He checked his weapon systems and ensured that the safety's
on all the missiles were off. He checked his position, he was now less
than five minutes away from the Israeli border. By now his radar
showed six inbound aircraft. Probably those damned Lavi's that had
torn apart much of the Egyptian airforce during those horrific raids. It
didn't matter, soon they would get their revenge.

The lead Lavi pilot received his instructions. As soon as the enemy
aircraft crossed a single metre into Israeli airspace his orders were to
open fire. He armed a pair of AMRAAM missiles and waited for the
enemy to invade.

Captain Muthammed's GPS bleeped. He had less than 20 seconds to
go. He radioed to the other wingmen to ensure they were all on the
same time. Checking his clock once more he began a countdown, out
loud so the others could hear it, "Five, Four Three, Two One BREAK,

He slammed his F16 into a tight turn, and braced himself for the loss of
consciousness that was sure to come from such a turn. His body felt
heavy, as if he'd suddenly become infinitely heavy. In reality his body
now weighed eight times its normal amount, and that forced the blood
away from his head and into his legs. His specially designed G suit
helped alleviate this but it didn't stop him from almost blacking out. At
the last second he straightened out and the agonising weight mercifully
went away. He checked behind him to check that his wingmen had
made it, and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw two other planes had
come into view. Nervously he checked his GPS system, he'd turned
away a scant 15 metres from the Israeli borders.

The Lavi pilot's finger moved away from the fire button as he saw the
Target's retreat at high speed. He had been a matter of moments away
from launching his missiles. If he had have done then the consequences
would have been terrible. He would have fired first and that would have
given the Arab Alliance all the excuse they needed to force America into
its promised cruise missile strike.

Captain Muthammed congratulated his pilots on a job well done. The
Israeli's may have resisted the temptation to fire this time but more of
these style raids were planned throughout the day. At random intervals
a small flight of fighters would take off and fly right up to the Israeli
border before veering away. Sooner or later, an Israeli pilot was going
to make a mistake and when they did America would be forced to
launch its counter strike at any country that initiated combat against the
other. It was, he realised like poking a bee's nest with a stick until the
bees got mad.

- o - o - o -

A small woman, powerdressed in a pastel mauve suit. entered the room
where Matthew, Cathline, and the Senator were waiting. She looked
around for a few moments and then said, "The President will see you

"That God for that, we've been here two hours," Matthew complained.

They were led thru corridors laden with history and memories.
Matthew had seen them on various news items but this was real life.
They were escorted into the oval office where President Jack Roberts
sat in a large blue leather chair. He beckoned for them to sit down and
started to talk, "Thanks for coming guys and thanks for all you've done
so far. You'll no doubt have sussed that since it's me sitting here and
not a changeling, that we managed to kill it. Well Dr Bexley did. Let
me fill you in."

The president then related the details of Elizabeth's epic struggle with
the Guild Changeling.

"Can we see her?" Matthew asked.

The president nodded, "Yeah, she should be awake by now. The
doctors gave up trying to heal her and just let her body get on with it.
I'll get someone to take you there in a few moments."

The senator asked the question that was everybody's lips, "Jack that's
one hell of a risky strategy, holding both sides at gunpoint like that.
Also the other Guild changelings will know that we know about them. I
wouldn't be surprised to see them try and move against you."

The president nodded his agreement, "You don't have to tell me that. It
looks as though the Arab Alliance is trying to provoke Israel into
striking first by flying full armed fighters right up to their borders and
then turning away. They reason, quite correctly that sooner or later
somebody is going to shoot at them. The Israeli's can't afford to pull
back in case these mock attacks turn into a real one."

The senator looked worried, "If they do shoot down an Arab aircraft
would you order the attack?"

The president sighed, "I've no idea. I'm loath to kill millions because of
a single incident, but then where does the line stop? The fighters would
then start turning away just inside Israeli airspace until, before I knew it
they were attacking Israeli targets. I know what they're trying to do,
but we've been painted into a corner. As to the Guild changeling's
they've already started threatening trade wars with us and sanctions
unless we stand-down. They can't move against us militarily, but
they're sure as hell making things as difficult as possible politically."

"As you would them," Matthew commented out loud.

The President nodded his agreement, "Yeah I would. I have however
just got off the phone from the Arab Alliance. They're willing to talk so
long as Israel honors the cease-fire. If you ask me, the only reason why
they're doing it is so that when one of their aircraft is shot down they
can appear all righteous, and they can then pull out of the cease-fire
with a clean conscience. 'We didn't break our word, those Israeli dogs
did'. Still at least they'll be at the negotiating table in Geneva in two

"That at least is something," Cathline remarked.

"I only wish the NSA would hurry up and get those disks decrypted.
We really need what's on those disks," the president commented.

"How are we going to persuade the other countries to depose their
changelings. From your account of Elizabeth's struggle with the
changeling president I'd be surprised if the other countries can take them
out," Matthew asked.

The President nodded, "A valid question. The security services of each
of the countries have been informed. When they come to take them
down they'll be armed with high calibre weapons with armor piecing
rounds. The reason why we couldn't kill the changeling was that the
bullets our agents were using were for soft targets, not armored ones.
You've missed a hell of a lot of work by the CIA and other agencies to
persuade the other governments of the truth. That changeling organ Dr
Bexley cut out of my bodyguard has been prodded and investigated
more times than I care to mention. We've kept this mission purely
within the intelligence community, so as to try and minimize the chances
of any changeling finding out about it. When we give the signal they'll
all be taken out at the same time, a sniper on a roof top, bodyguard
going amok, a close government member, a bomb in a phone, anything.
I've been amazed, and quite worried at the devious ways we have at
killing people. Of course, the real reason will be hidden until after the
summit but then afterwards we'll tell all. For a few days at least a lot of
world leaders are going to be ill or whatever excuse the government

"It must have taken a lot of work to persuade those governments," the
senator commented.

"More than you'll ever realise. But we did it! As I mentioned before,
they sent representatives to examine the changeling organ, saw video
footage of Elizabeth's fight with the Guild changeling, and then
examined X-rays of Elizabeth. We'd flown the changeling organ test
over a while back if you remember, and they persuaded their leaders to
take a random blood test. Of course the changeling's didn't know about
the test so they didn't fight it. As Elizabeth expected, they're too
involved trying to find out how much we know about them, and how to
stop us getting involved in the coming war. That's what the broadcast
to the nation was really all about. It set up a diversion to give us time
to set up a trap for them," the president gave a smile.

Matthew was about to say something but was interrupted by the
president's phone ringing. The president picked it up and after a quick,
"OK," put it down.

"It seems Dr Bexley has nearly woken up. I haven't had chance to thank
her properly. I suspect she'd like to see you too."

- o - o - o -

Elizabeth opened her eyes. Her head hurt like hell and the light in the
room seemed unbearably bright. She tried to move her right arm and
felt the resistance of cloth, a sling no doubt. She made out a white
blurred shape near her bed and deduced it must be a doctor "Where am
I?" she said groggily.

The shape turned to her and said, "Earth."

Elizabeth's vision cleared a little and she saw that she was in some kind
of medical facility. Tubes were inserted into her arms and she noticed
that she was connected to a lot of sophisticated equipment. The
doctors face looked strangely familiar. It'd been at least ten years since
she'd been at Harvard with her. Sure, her face had a few more lines
around it, but Elizabeth was sure she recognised her. What WAS her
name? Beverly somebody. That was it, Beverly Adams. The Earth
comment stuck in Elizabeth's mind, Beverly must've examined her and
thought she was an Alien! A wicked thought crossed Elizabeth's mind,
"Earth! The last thing I remember was bailing out, where's my ship?
What have you done with my ship?"

"I knew it! It's ok, I mean you no harm," Dr Adams said softly.

Before Elizabeth could reply the infirmary door opened and the
president walked in, closely followed by the Senator, Cathline and

"Elizabeth are you ok?" Matthew asked.

"Elizabeth!" Dr Adams exclaimed. Her mind raced, the woman who
just walked in looked a lot like her old college rival, Elizabeth Bexley.
That must mean the woman was Matthew Stephens. Before she had
time to speculate any more the president had started to speak.

Although he'd been keen to preserve security until the operation to take
down the Guild changelings had been set up, the president saw no
reason to withhold the mysterious patients name any longer, "Dr
Adams. I'd like you to meet our very special guest, and a woman this
country owes a great deal to. May I present Dr Elizabeth Bexley. Dr
Bexley meet..."

"Dr Beverley Adams. It's been a while, what ten years?" Elizabeth

"YOU!. What the hell are you doing here?" Dr Adams said

"What still haven't forgiven me for taking Andrew away from you at the
graduates ball? That was a long time ago. A lot has passed since then,
nice work on my arm by the way. My body will heal it in a couple of
days, but it'll be nice to be able to use it until then, thanks."

"My pleasure," Dr Adams said thru gritted teeth.

Ignoring the obvious bad blood between Dr Bexley and Dr Adams
Matthew asked, "How is she?"

Dr Adams shrugged, "I've no idea why you'd want to be concerned with
HER welfare after all she did to you, but I think she'll be fine. Elizabeth
you've obviously messed with your body in ways that'll take me years to
understand let alone treat. Why don't you tell us?"

Elizabeth smiled. It felt good to get one over on her old rival once
more, "I'm fine Matthew. The changeling organ did it's best. I know it's
still working of sorts but not enough to repair my shoulder. I'll have to
put up with this sling until then. Otherwise I'm back to full health. Mr
President how goes our plans?"

The president smiled, "As expected. The traps are baited, and they just
await the triggers. Will you be well enough to fly out to Geneva with

"Good. Cathline, I hope you brought that change of clothes for me, my
old set has blood all over them."

"Dr Adams, would you mind leaving us for a few moments," the
president asked.

"Sure, you obviously don't need me anymore." Dr Adams said crossly
and walked out.

"What's up with her?" Matthew asked.

"A long story. We were long time rivals. When she first turned up at
Harvard she thought she was the best student ever. She comes from a
long line of doctors, and she was fully expecting to be top of every

"Until you came along?" Cathline queried.

"Yeah. No matter how hard she studied, how many hours she worked,
she could never match my scores. I took it as a challenge to try and
beat her as best I could. In some ways she made me work harder. It all
came to a head after graduation. She was at the ball with her fiancee,
Andrew somebody. Anyway he got a little drunk and started to hit on
me. I was a little drunk too, and we started to kiss. Beverly turns up,
catches us in the act and boom, she flies off the handle at me and storms
off. Andrew rushes after her trying to explain everything and that was
the last I heard of her until now."

"She'll get over it," Matthew stated.

"I guess," Elizabeth said

The president looked at Elizabeth in puzzlement, "Dr Bexley, One thing
puzzles me. The changeling President dissolved right after he thought
he killed you. What happened?"

"As soon as I noticed the changeling's hand had changed almost right
away I deduced he must have a near copy of my changeling organ. In
my weakened state I knew I was no match for him physically, so I had
to outthink him. I knew I had only one shot to kill him so when I
stabbed his changeling organ my hand-blade secreted a chemical that
fooled his changeling organ into thinking it was being tampered with.
Each time he used it, it produced more of the 'poison' until, eventually it
reached a critical point and triggered the anti-tamper mechanism. The
most effective poisons are ones the victim doesn't know he has. If the
changeling had noticed that I'd poisoned him he would have produced
an antidote. The changeling thought the stab wound was aimed at
killing him by brute force, so he countered for it, little knowing I'd
poisoned him. Simple really."

"If you say so," Matthew commented. The deviousness and cunning of
Elizabeth never ceased to amaze him.

"Cathline, Would you mind going and getting my clothes. I'm fed up
being all wired up like this. Mr president, I'll meet you in the Oval
office in, say half an hour," Elizabeth asked.

"Ok, I'll send Dr Adams back in and see you soon," the President said
and indicated for the others to leave.

A few seconds later Dr Adams entered the room again and started to
remove the tubes from Elizabeth's arms.

"Ow, that hurt!" Elizabeth complained as Dr Adams sharply removed
the clip from Elizabeth's wrist.

"Sorry," Dr Adams replied unconvincingly.

Elizabeth sighed, "No matter where I go and what I do there's always
someone who's got a grudge against me. I don't know what you're still
pissed at me for. You've done very well for yourself. You deserve it.
You worked a lot harder than I did and now you're reaping the rewards
for it. We all reap what we sow. I'm just trying to put right my
mistakes as best I can. I'm sorry about Andrew, I was young and lonely
-- hell you know my side of it. Why don't we just forget about it?
Thanks for saving me."

"It's my duty, not that you'd know much about that," Dr Adams

"Touche. Look, you've nearly done. I'm sorry we never got on, just a
personality clash I guess. Congratulations on being chief surgeon by the

Before Dr Adams could reply there was a knock and Cathline walked in
with a bag.

"Just leave it on the floor," Elizabeth said, and swung her long perfect
legs off the bed and onto the floor. Elizabeth tried to stand but had to
steady herself on the bed. Just as she was about to fall Cathline rushed
over and helped her stand.

Elizabeth turned to Cathline and said, "Thanks. I guess I must be
weaker than I thought."

Dr Adams looked at Cathline now supporting Elizabeth. If this was the
same Rachel Martin whose husband had been killed at Elizabeth's
bequest then why was she helping her? ,"Rachel, why are you helping

Cathline smiled, "It's all about forgiveness and redemption. It's a very
long story. Whatever you have against Elizabeth, put it behind you."

Dr Adams looked thoughtful, "Elizabeth, just to let you know Andrew
caught up with me, told me how sorry he was, and said that it was all
your fault. I eventually forgave him but it was a long painful road.
We've been married for seven years, and have two wonderful children."

"Then why are you mad at me?" Elizabeth asked.

"Because of you, I know my husband could be led astray, he could be
pulled away from me by a pretty face. Even now I'm not sure if I fully
trust him. You did that, you planted the seeds of mistrust between us,
and it's hovered over us ever since, soured our good times and poisoned
the bad. It was as if he'd had an affair with you and I resent you for

Elizabeth was about to clarify the issue, to prove to Dr Adams that she
was innocent, but thought better of it. For the sake of Dr Adam's
marriage, the truth would have to remain buried for a while longer,
"Sorry is all I can say. The fact that Andrew has stood by you in all this
shows how much he loves you. Look, I haven't got time to sort this out
with you but trust me, He loves you."

Cathline whispered to Elizabeth, "The President's waiting."

Elizabeth wanted out of this conversation. She had enough past to deal
with without bringing more up, "I know. Look, Beverly we all have
regrets and 'should have done's'. I'm sorry we never got on but then you
can't get along with everyone. It's ok Cathline. I can stand now."

Elizabeth teetered her way to the spare set of clothes and in a matter of
moments had put them on. She was about to leave when Beverly held
out her hand, "Good Luck Elizabeth."

Elizabeth shook it firmly, "and you." And escorted by Cathline walked

- o - o - o -

Scott stood nervously at the airport domestic arrivals corridor. He was
dressed in jeans and T-shirt, and he'd tied his long hair back into a
ponytail. The last thing he wanted was to emphasise his womanly
curves and features. The announcement that Rebecca's flight had
landed came out over the loudspeaker, and butterflies formed in Scott's
smooth stomach. He knew he had at least twenty minutes to wait
before Rebecca came out from the tunnel, but it didn't stop him being
nervous. He fiddled with the section of white card that read 'Rebecca
Harris' he was holding and settled down to wait.

He checked his watch, fifteen minutes had dragged by. This meeting
would determine whether his marriage would survive what had been
done to him or if he was destined to live alone. He looked down at the
bumps his breasts made in his T-shirt, what would Rebecca think of
them? Further down he knew there was nothing there but a fleshy
mound, and warm, moist slit. Uncertainty filled his mind once more,
how would she react?

Scott didn't have to wait too long, as five minutes later he noticed
Rebecca pulling her suitcase behind her. She was looking furtively
around her, unsure as for who, or even what sex to look for. The knot
in Scott's stomach grew tighter as Rebecca walked closer. He held his
piece of card higher, aware that it was covering the shapes his breasts

Rebecca Harris looked along the line of people waiting for people on
her flight. She immediately saw that Scott wasn't in the line up and that
worried her. She had hoped that somehow Scott's voice had been
damaged in his kidnapping and that he was all right. The fact that Scott
wasn't standing in the line meant that something was more
fundamentally wrong that a voice injury.

She slowly made her way along the corridor, and out of the corner of
her eye noticed a tall blonde woman wearing tight jeans and T-Shirt.
The woman was holding a piece of white card with the name 'Rebecca
Harris on it'. Suddenly, her head felt light and she felt herself falling.

Scott rushed towards his wife, and caught her just as she was about to
hit the ground. A few people turned to help, but Scott had managed to
walk the still faint Rebecca over to a nearby bench. He quickly
retrieved her luggage, and asked a still concerned passer by if they could
possibly get some coffee.

- o - o - o -

Still supported by Cathline, Elizabeth walked into the Oval office. The
president was sitting at his desk, the others on chairs in the corner. The
president's cabinet was in the room as well, and a fierce debate was
going on.

"What's going on?" Elizabeth asked.

"I've just told my cabinet that I want you to negotiate the peace treaty in
Geneva," The president said.

Elizabeth was amazed, that wasn't in the plan, "What? Hang on a
minute, I'm not qualified for that. Why can't you send someone else? So
if the world blows up the survivors can blame me, is that it?"

The president shook his head, "Not at all. You wanted your name in
lights, here's your chance. Nobody knows the full situation as well as
you do. I've seen and read your eloquent speeches, you have a razor
sharp mind, and an unnatural sense of cunning. I believe that you are
the best person for the job. Sure we'll take the usual set of advisors and
diplomats but I want you to be the spokesperson."

"Fine I'll go. When do we leave?"

"Tomorrow morning, I suggest you go and get some rest. You'll need
it. I've arranged for you to stay in diplomatic quarters here."

Elizabeth raised a surprised eyebrow, it was a real honor to stay over at
the Whitehouse. "Thanks. Look, I need to get some air. I've been
trapped in here for over a day now. I'll go and get our stuff from the
hotel. Besides, I need to see if Kat has turned up yet. I'll meet the rest
of you guys back here in a couple of hours"

The president nodded his agreement and picked up the phone, "Alice,
get Dr Bexley a level one pass and a car to her hotel would you?"

- o - o - o -

The changeling British Prime Minister was worried. The Americans
must know that their president wasn't who they thought he was by now.
They were also interfering with the situation in the Middle East. Did
they know of the Guild plans? What moves, if any had they made
against him and the other Changelings. He realized he was in a difficult
situation -- although he could condemn the American's actions he
couldn't actually DO anything about it. The need to maintain his cover
was paramount and his prime order. He couldn't really talk to the other
changelings either as both he and they always had advisors, recorders
listening in on the conversations. Asking them to leave or shut off the
machines too many times raised suspicions. When he was first trained
he had pointed out that this communication black out was the most
vulnerable part of the plan. Now his fears were being realised. Each
changeling was effectively on his own.

There was a knock at the door and a smartly dressed civil servant
walked in. "Sorry to interrupt you Prime Minister but you have a
change of engagement the day after tomorrow. You've been asked to
open a school in Newcastle, a great PR opportunity. Kissing children
and telling the world that the British education system is the envy of the
world and all that."

"Thank you Sir James. Tell them I'll be there," the Prime Minster said.

Sir James Hacker walked out of the room, his blood had run cold at the
thought of talking to 'the enemy', as he now saw the changeling sitting
in that office. He just hoped MI5 knew what they were doing.

- o - o - o -

Rebecca slowly came around and found herself looking into the blue
eyes of a young woman. The woman was holding her hand and looking
very concerned. A flash of relief flickered across the woman's face as
she realised that her care was awake.

"Rebecca? Are you ok?"

Rebecca still couldn't take it in. Her mind wouldn't think straight, and
all she could manage to say was "Scott?"

The woman nodded, "Yeah, I'm sorry. I never meant for this to

Rebecca felt her world collapse around her, "How'd it happen?" was all
she could think to say.

"Later. I'm booked into a hotel. We'll talk there," Scott said. This was
going about as well as he expected. Rebecca was clearly in a state of
shock. His police training taught him that the next phase would be
denial and then after a lot of soul searching, acceptance. He stood up,
and helped his wife to stand up and after collecting her luggage they
caught a cab to their hotel. During the journey Rebecca said nothing to
Scott, but Scott caught her glancing at his breasts and ass, as if hoping
they weren't real.

- o - o - o -

The car dropped Elizabeth off at her hotel and she asked it to wait, this
wouldn't take long. After catching the elevator to her suite she opened
the door and switched on the light. That's strange, it doesn't work, she
thought. Before she could explain further a rough hand grabbed her and
smashed her head against the wall. Elizabeth tried to fight back but in
her weakened state she could do nothing. Elizabeth doubled up in pain
as a series of blows struck her in the stomach and she almost fell over.
A heavy blow smashed into her chin and it was all she could do not to
collapse onto the floor. She managed to catch a glimpse of her attacker
and saw to her horror that it was Salah, no make that Kat!

Kat slammed Elizabeth's head against the wall, stunning Elizabeth
momentarily. Kat reached into her belt and pulled out a slender Guild
assassin's knife and pressed it right against Elizabeth's exposed throat.

"You bitch!" Kat hissed.

Elizabeth caught of glimpse of the hate in Kat's eyes. In the dimness of
the room she made out another two shapes, standing at opposite sides
of the room.

Kat stared into Elizabeth's face, "Yes that's right. My two friends here
are carrying elephant guns loaded with hollow point bullets. I doubt if
even your fast reactions are quick enough to take both of them out
before one of them gets you. You know what hollow points do don't
you? Imagine a small hand grenade going off inside your skull. That's
what's going to happen in a very few moments. The only sure way to
kill a changeling is to shoot it in the head with a large calibre weapon.
Or at least that's what Matthew told me. Let's find out shall we?"

"Wait, You really want to end it this way?" Elizabeth managed to say.
She ached and hurt all over.

"Why not? I trusted you. You promised! You gave me your word.
You have ten seconds to tell me why I shouldn't ram this blade into your
brain? And then, I'll get my friends over there to blow your head off."

"What are you talking about?" Elizabeth asked as calm as she could

Kat screamed at Elizabeth. A forgotten hatred welled up inside her,
"Four seconds left. You fucked Matthew didn't you? You married him
and then screwed him. More than that, you convinced him that you
hadn't done anything of the sort. I saw it all on tape, the way you arse
fucked him until he cried out in pain, the look of joy on your face as you
stuck it to him. You didn't just fuck him once you did it again, and
again, and again. You knew I was still alive, you knew I loved him, you
knew he still loved me, and yet you still did it. What was it Elizabeth,
your revenge being worked out after all? Did you do this to us out of
spite? My God Matthew's not pregnant is he?"

Elizabeth felt the knife prick her skin. Kat was deadly serious.
Elizabeth knew that one day Kat could find out what really went on
during the 'honeymoon'. Elizabeth wasn't about to share the full reasons
why she'd done that. Kat was right. It was her thirst for revenge, being
proved right, and winning in the end, and of finally being married to
Matthew that had been the prime motive for it. The thought that 'I've
got to give him back to you, but not before I've done with him' was
what she still relished and savoured. Even now it brought a warm
feeling of satisfaction to her. However more and more, in recent weeks
she'd been feeling a little guilty about it and had even considered telling
Kat. More than guilt, there was shame and not a little fear. She'd let
'the other Elizabeth' take control and it'd had started to consume her,
her thoughts starting to invade her mind once more. Most worryingly
of all she had enjoyed doing it. Of course, she couldn't tell Kat all this,
not right now anyway, so she needed an alibi. She'd got one prepared
for this eventuality, a second motive, a nobler one, one that would save
her life. It didn't matter if it was a lie. It was a lie that Kat wanted to
hear, "No, he's not. Kat, you must believe me. It was necessary."

Kat's grip on the knife didn't relax for a moment. Elizabeth could feel a
drop of blood starting to make it's way down her neck. "Explain or die,
bitch!" Kat spat.

Elizabeth thought carefully, what she said, how she said it would
determine how this would go. She had to be utterly convincing, Kat
was no fool "If you or I didn't make it, I wanted to turn Matthew back
regardless. I at least owed him that much. At the time I didn't know if
we'd come out alive or not. The semen ejaculated inside him wasn't full
of sperm it was full of enzymes that would start to break down the fixer
that binds him to that form. Eventually, after a year or so the DNA
contained inside the enzymes would start to rewrite his DNA back to
how it was. To work properly, this semen had to be inserted into the
bloodstream and his ovaries. Hence the anal and vaginal penetration.
Besides, Hassan was watching every move I made. If I'd have shown
any sign of not being distracted he'd have had me killed, you know

Kat's resolve faltered a little. She had been ready to plunge the knife in,
right up to the hilt and damn the consequences, but now she wasn't sure.
Elizabeth's story had a ring of truth about it. After all she was very
adept at planning for all eventualities. However, she was sure that the
looks she'd seen on Elizabeth's face wasn't that of someone achieving a
goal, but of someone in the final throes of ecstasy, "I want to believe
you but you enjoyed it too much."

Elizabeth couldn't help but smile inside. She was nearly there, "Of
course I enjoyed it. It was impossible not to. You screwed Cathline to
let her know you were still alive. I did the same to Matthew for an
equally valid reason. The only difference is, is that you've got the

Another thought struck Kat as she was about to remove the knife, "I
know who it was who set the hit up to kill me, it was you wasn't it? You
knew where I was going, what time I would be there, and you thought
that my changeling organ wouldn't be able to cope with being shot
again. You were wrong, as you can see I'm very much alive. You
wanted me out of the way so you could have Matthew all to yourself.
Cathline was right, you're not to be trusted."

Elizabeth began to look worried, "Shot? You were shot? When? How
many times?"

"What does it matter, you did it. You set me up. Wait a minute, I've
just had a thought. If your changeling organ can produce any biological
substance how come you needed to be injected with Stelazine. Your
body could just manufacture it. Oh shit, the whole Stelazine thing was a
deception. What was that clear liquid I injected you with?" Kat's grip
on the knife tightened once more.

Elizabeth's thoughts whirled. Kat had been shot, several times no
doubt, and her changeling organ must have worked like hell to heal her.
Then it came to her, Elizabeth looked Kat right in the eye and said,
"Water, you injected me with water. I had to make you believe that I
needed Stelazine to keep me sane. If I'd have said, 'It's ok trust me, I
don't need it anymore' you would never have believed, and trusted me.
It's vital that we all work together as team. Kat, you have to listen to
me. Your changeling organ is damaged, it's causing a chemical
imbalance in your bloodstream. That imbalance is causing you to suffer
paranoid delusions. Ask your self if any of this is logical. After I've
done so much to help you why would I kill you? We've been thru so
much together, why should I throw it all away like this? If you kill me
now, the world is fucked, would Kat allow that to happen? Kat please,
we have to get the changeling organ out of you as soon as we can. Sure
these delusions are intermittent at the moment but they'll increase in
frequency and duration. They'll hit you all of a sudden and then go just
as quickly. Kat we have to change you back, your changeling organ's
poisoning you."

Kat's thought's clarified, and it was if a heavy weight had lifted from her.
Elizabeth was right -- sure she was pissed off at Elizabeth but
Elizabeth's story fitted in with what she'd promised to do. She'd been
feeling strange since watching Matthew and Elizabeth on video. Could
those strange feelings be due to a screwed up changeling organ? In spite
of herself she had to admit Elizabeth had a point and pulled the knife
away. "If I find out you've lied to me."

Elizabeth's face remained a mask, "I'd have thought you'd have thanked
me. After this is all over you'll get your husband back. Look, you'll
need to take Stelazine until we can change you back."

Kat's mind cleared, like the early morning mist evaporating in the heat
of the day. She nodded thoughtfully, "I am thankful, but it was a hell of
a shock."

Kat spoke instructions to the two assassins, who after giving Elizabeth a
spine chilling glare dismantled their weapons and walked out of the

Elizabeth smiled, "Sure, now here's what I want you to do."

Elizabeth outlined the remainder of her plan to Kat, relieved that she'd
managed to escape with her life, and relieved that Kat would never
know the full truth. After all, some secrets are best left buried.

After Elizabeth had finished Kat laughed and said, "You've got balls.
You really think it'll work?"

Elizabeth nodded, "Actually, it's you who's got the balls not me. Of
course it will work, as long as you do your bit."

Kat gave a grin. She was going to enjoy this.

- o - o - o -

"So this Guild did this to you," Rebecca said. Her tears were starting to
dry now.

Scott put his hand on Rebecca's and said, "Yeah, I've no idea if it's for
good, but I do know two things. Firstly, that I love you and want you
to stay and secondly, that Dr Bexley will do everything she can to turn
me back. It WILL be hard but I know we can make it."

Rebecca looked at the woman, who was her husband and said exactly
what she felt, "You've had a lot of time to think this over. I know I'm
still in shock about this, but it feels so strange. I look at you and I don't
see my husband, the man I fell in love with. I see a younger sister or a
niece. I look at your breasts, and I can't imagine myself touching them
in the way you used to touch mine. Sure, I still love you but I don't feel
married to you anymore."

Tears started to form in Scott's eyes, "Don't give up so easily. Matthew
and Kat managed it. So can we. I understand how you feel, I know it
won't be the same but we love each other. Look, let's go and see how
Tina is and we'll talk more on this later. You need time to get
accustomed to this. I know I do."

They took a cab to the hospital where they were taken into Tina's room.
Tina was still comatose, unmoving from when Scott had seen her last.

"Can't Dr Bexley do anything for her?" Rebecca asked.

"No idea. It should have been me. She noticed the changeling start to
move and reacted without thinking. I held her, Becky. Her blood was
all over me, and I really thought we'd lost her. She needs us. That's
why Dr Bexley asked me to stay with Tina and not go with her."

Rebecca put her hand on Scott's. It felt strange to think that this dainty
hand now belonged to her husband and, for the moment she ignored the
feelings of unease inside her, "She did it to save a life, no matter the
cost to herself. Her sacrifice might just have saved us all. From what
you've told me Dr Bexley knows what she's doing. She was right Tina
does need us. Look let's go grab a coffee."

"Ok. Becky?"


"I'm so glad to have you back. I'm not sure I could cope if you shunned

"Coffee time," Rebecca said.

- o - o - o -

Elizabeth arrived back at the Whitehouse, and was shown to the guest
rooms. After a bellboy had placed their bags into the room, she sat
down on the bed and stretched out her long legs. She was still so tired,
her shoulder hurt like hell, and the beating she'd had from Kat didn't
help matters either. Before Kat had left for the Guild's Libyan
stronghold Elizabeth had obtained enough Stelazine for a few weeks.
That should keep Kat's violent mood swings away. What she didn't tell
Kat, was that if the changeling organ was malfunctioning that much then
there was a good chance that her genetic makeup was being damaged as
well. What effect that would have on Kat she wouldn't know until she
could examine her. Mathew walking into her room interrupted her train
of thought.

"You look like shit, Elizabeth," Matthew commented.

"That's a nice thing to say to the most beautiful woman in history. I've
got some good news. Kat's alive and well. She was just at the hotel."

Relief and joy washed over Matthew. He'd been sullen and moody since
she'd been reported as missing. The worry had weighed heavily on his
shoulders, "Where is she?"

"This is the bad news. She's had to go to Libya to address the Guild
commanders. Don't worry, it's not dangerous and she'll be back in a
few days. Her mission there is perhaps the most critical part of what I
have planned. Nobody else can, or could do what I've asked her to do.
Just wait a little longer Matthew, that's all I ask."

Matthew grew a little irate, "Not dangerous? The entire Middle East is
about to go 'BOOM' and you send her there. Damn you for asking her."

"If Kat succeeds it won't go BOOM," Elizabeth stated.

- o - o - o -

Scott and Rebecca sat in their hotel room. They had been asked to
leave Tina alone for a few hours. They sat beside each other on silence.
Rebecca was the first to speak, "I want to try something?"

Scott turned to face her, "What?"

Rebecca reached forward and kissed Scott on the lips, Scott moved to
respond but Rebecca had pulled away.

"I'm, I'm sorry," Rebecca said softly.

"Why? I've wanted so much to kiss you, "Scott said.

"I can't do it. I wanted to see if I could but I just can't. It seems wrong
to me somehow, unnatural. Look, I've decided, I want some time away
from this. You've had a lot more time to think about this than I have.
I'll go to my parents, upstate."

"No please, Rebecca. Don't leave me," Tears formed in Scott's eyes.

"I'm not leaving you, I'm just going away to think. If I can't even kiss
you without recoiling, how can I sleep with you? How can we be
together as husband and wife? We might be able to work something out
long term but this whole thing freaks me out."

"No, don't! I need you," Scott pleaded.

Scott's tears broke Rebecca's heart and she steeled herself against the
pain that was sure to follow, "I need you too but I need to think. You
know my parents number. I'll be there if you need me."

"I need you now. There's nothing I can do to persuade you to stay?"

Rebecca turned away and picked up her suitcase. "I know, and this is
the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'm not leaving you Scott, I DO
love you and we WILL work this out. Goodbye."

Scott in tears watched his wife walk out of the room. He slammed his
fist onto the bed and collapsed into the sheets and let his sorrow pour
itself out.

- o - o - o -

The phone by the Elizabeth rang. Elizabeth picked it up and said, "Yes.
Sorry, yes Mr President."

"Dr Bexley, I have just been informed that the NSA have just finished
decrypting the disks you obtained from the Guild stronghold. Don't ask
me what they did to speed things up. I did and the reply I got back said
it was something to do with four-dimensional matrices or other such
Martian. Anyway, they achieved a breakthrough, and did it a lot faster
as a result. As you suspected, the full details of Hassan's plans are
there, names and locations of changelings, the lot. There are also plans
for your DNA system."

Elizabeth clenched her fist in victory, "That's great news sir. How long
before we can use the DNA system?"

"I've told our medical research teams to drop everything and work on it.
Ten days, say two weeks at the outside. I've sent copies of the disks,
without the DNA system schematics on them of course, to all parties
involved. The CIA is putting a report together detailing the whole
thing, and that will go out in the next few hours. With the information
on these disks, and with the evidence already gathered we now have a
watertight case against the Guild changelings and the whole scheme.
These disks gave us the evidence and confirmation the affected
governments wanted. All we need to do is move on the other
changelings and that will start very soon."

"Thank you Mr President, I'll tell the others."

"Goodnight Dr Bexley and thank you."

- o - o - o -

In his position in an old clock tower the sniper watched the British
Prime Minister cut the ribbon across the school gates. He was about to
squeeze the trigger when the town's mayor bent down to shove a child,
a little girl in a pink dress, towards the Prime Minister. This had been
going on for a few minutes now, and each time someone had got in the
way of his clean shot. His orders were precise, only a shot to the head
would kill. The police and security services had 'forgotten' to sweep
this clock tower and he settled down to watch a little longer, the key to
successful sniping was patience. He knew he only had one shot and
time was running out.

The mayor's head got out of the way of the Prime Minister's, and the
little child was now out of harms way. The sniper relaxed his breathing
and squeezed the trigger. His rifle bucked in his hand, and he reloaded
ready for another shot. Thru his laser guided sight, he saw it wasn't
required. The Prime Minister was laying on the ground, the remains of
his head a bloody mass. The child was screaming, blood covering her
new pink dress, and the police around the body were going ape.

After collecting the cartridge and replacing the disturbed dust the sniper
quickly packed up his rifle and climbed down the long set of winding
stairs. In the commotion that followed nobody noticed another
policeman rushing towards the melee.

- o - o - o -

At the same time as the changeling British Prime Minister was killed,
President Guy Forneau of France sat down to his afternoon coffee. The
afternoon editions of the papers were due any time, and he was anxious
to see what effects his threats of sanctions against the US were having.
He was still concerned about the US changeling's demise, but could see
no reason to be too concerned. The last thing he'd heard was that Dr
Bexley's schemes had failed, and that Salah was dead. That left the way
clear for him to take over when all this was done.

He heard footsteps enter the room and glanced up to see his bodyguard
standing over him with the afternoon papers draped over his arms.

"Just put them over there, thank you Bernard," the president said.

"My pleasure," Bernard said, and let the papers fall away to reveal a
silenced pistol.

Before the changeling president could react he heard a 'phttt' and it all
went dark. Bernard of the CRS security service smiled. His shot had
gone clean thru the changeling's forehead and a small trickle of blood
was flowing out over the newly vacuumed carpet. Bernard holstered
his gun and walked away, mission accomplished.

- o - o - o -

President Boris Petcukocov of the Russian federation was late for a
meeting and there was no sign of the car waiting to take him to it. The
phone rang and he picked it up, "Hello?"

In another room Colonel Pavel Ivanov listened to the voice say,

His finger hovered over a small red button on his console. He heard
President Petcukocov say, "Who's there?" and without further thought,
pressed the red button. He heard a small 'crump' sound, and smiled,
mission complete. It was amazing what a few grams of Semtex and a
remote control could achieve. It was so much neater than the American
method of dealing with changelings.

On hearing the explosion, the President's personal bodyguard ran into
the room. Blood was smeared all over the walls and the president was
sprawled into a heap on the floor. The bodyguard nearly threw up as he
saw the left side of the president's head had been completely destroyed
by the blast. He didn't bother calling for the paramedics. There was no

- o - o - o -

Ambassador Han-Chen of the Peoples Republic of China saved his
document and closed his laptop. He was relived that it had managed to
stay working, as he needed to finish his investigation into the Fury
Directive incident. Still, it was complete and on time, even though his
laptop had been at the repairer's all of yesterday.

He placed his laptop in its bag and walked out of the UN building to a
waiting cab. The traffic was light at this time of night and soon Han-
Chen arrived at his apartment. The last thing he was aware of was
somebody standing behind him.

The assassin put away his silenced pistol and inspected the damage, a
clean shot to the head just as instructed. The People's Republic of
China didn't take spies lightly.

- o - o - o -

The next day the news was full of the news that several world leaders
had not been seen for a while, speculation was rife that some had been
assassinated, had been taken ill, or just plain vanished. Elizabeth saw it
for what it was -- the Guild changelings were being taken out, just as
the President had promised.

She had asked that Matthew, Cathline and the Senator would be
allowed to accompany her on Airforce One to the summit at Geneva but
the President had politely refused. Elizabeth's last instructions to them
were to watch and pray for peace. Now as Elizabeth sat in Airforce
One, flying over the Atlantic, she mulled over what she was going to
say. In her mind it was so straightforward, but in practice it would be
very difficult. She checked her watch, she still had another eight hours
to go. She tried to get some rest but in her mind she could hear the
sound of millions of voices screaming her name.

- o - o - o -

Prime Minister Benjamin Dayan sat on his side of the table and glared at
his opposite number on the other side. Both of them had been forced
almost at gunpoint to attend and it showed in their moods. He looked
up to see President Roberts and a stunningly beautiful, impossibly tall
woman walk in. The woman wore a black suit that seemed to
emphasise her every curve and feature, her long blonde hair was tied
back and her blue eyes seemed to penetrate his very soul. He saw the
reason for her height, she was wearing 4 inch heels that must have made
her over 6'6. The woman had clearly dressed to dominate and to
intimidate, and Benjamin had to admit that it worked. The woman's
beauty was simply breathtaking and he managed to tear himself away
from looking her, to glance at those sitting opposite. They were
looking at the woman in exactly the same way.

Elizabeth smiled to herself as she walked in. The effect of the tight suit,
heels and her perfect face was devastating, and she used it to its full
effect. Her entrance was everything she wanted. She wanted to
announce to the room that she was not someone to dick around with
and also not be messed with. The men around the table would give no
quarter and she expected to take none either. After all she was Dr
Elizabeth Anne Bexley, death incarnate, and she meant to show it to
everyone in the room.

President Roberts was the first to speak. He noted with some
satisfaction that his guests attention had not been pulled away from Dr
Bexley, good. He cleared his throat and announced, "Thank you for
coming. We have already taken a great step forward on the road to
peace. I have taken the unusual step of not having a member of my
government speak for me. This woman here, has my full support in
what she is about to tell you. Gentlemen, I hand you over to Doctor
Elizabeth Bexley."

Elizabeth noted the signals of recognition around the table. Good, they
remember and fear me, she thought. Calming herself she took a swig of
water, prepared her notes, and started to talk.

"Thank you for coming. The world needs a peaceful end to this, as do
you all."

"Who are you to tell us what we want?" one of the delegates said.

Unfazed Elizabeth continued, "You will have read the briefs prepared
for you by your intelligence agencies, and by the CIA. I have had the
opportunity to read all of them, and for such diametrically opposed
opinions and motives they do agree with each other. I move that the
plot by the Guild to destroy Israel and Egypt, and to take covert control
of the Middle East by use of genetic weapons, is entered into the record
as an incontrovertible fact."

Elizabeth paused for a few seconds to let the translator catch up. She
noted discussions around each side of the table. Probably wondering if
they agreed with her analysis she thought. She waited a little longer
before saying, "Do we have agreement on that fact?"

The Israeli and Arab Alliance leaders nodded slowly.

Elizabeth nearly smiled but thought better of it, "Good. This agreement
is now noted into the public record. During my flight over here, I
wondered what methods I could use to persuade you to avert the war
you seem so intent on fighting. I thought about an emotional plea on
behalf of the millions of lives this war will cost, I thought about a purely
rational argument based on the false premise that one of you would
emerge victorious, and I will confess that I had several ideas in between.
I am going to do none of them!. I have come up with a third option,
and in this I have the full support of the US President. I'm not used to
being a stateswoman, representing my country in its hour of greatest
need, and if I had the choice I would not be here now."

Elizabeth gave the translator time to catch up, "You will have heard of
my fearsome reputation, of how I killed many innocent people, and
ruined many lives in order to carry out my revenge. You will also know
it was I who developed the technology used by the Guild to destroy so
much. In the matter of the destruction of Tel-Aviv and Cairo I carry
the ultimate blame for those attacks. It was my failure to stop the Guild
that led to the attack on Tel-Aviv, my changeling organs, and my
machines that led to Israel obliterating Cairo in nuclear fire. In the same
way a leader of a nation is responsible for that nation's actions I am to
blame for the deaths of fourteen million people, Arab, Jew, and Gentile.
Words cannot describe the depths of despair I feel in my heart, the
remorse that is in my soul, and the fourteen million screams of my
victims that I hear every time I shut my eyes."

Elizabeth paused once more, giving the translator time to pass on her
speech but also to give herself time to steady herself, "I refuse to allow
any more blood to be spilled because of what I have done, and so to
that end I have come up with a solution. I promise you, you will not
like it all, but you WILL accept it, and it WILL be fair! On my way
over here I thought of a third way to resolve this. I call it my Damocles

After the translator had finished there was uproar at the table. Elizabeth
stood patiently waiting for the shouting to die down. She had ignored it
all and had let it all wash over her. Elizabeth continued, "Let me
introduce you to someone."

Elizabeth gestured to the doorman who then opened the door. In strode
Kat, in a full three-piece Armani suit, and he was flanked by two suited,
but obviously armed henchmen. Elizabeth noted with some satisfaction
that the bodyguards with Kat had the desired effect 'I'm not someone to
fuck with'. Elizabeth continued, "This is Salah. He has taken command
of the Guild from Hassan, who plotted the murder of all those millions
and is now dead, and is in full agreement with me over my solution."

Kat didn't say a word but strode purposely towards Elizabeth and stood
behind her. Elizabeth noted the looks of fear in the eyes of the Arab
Alliance leaders. Elizabeth took a deep breath, and continued her
speech, "I thought that might surprise you. Over the past few months
Salah and I have been working together, firstly to try and stop the
attacks on Tel-Aviv and Cairo, and then on a way to stop the imminent
war between yourselves. I believe we have come up with the ideal

The translator finished and then waited for Elizabeth to continue, "My
solution is this. Your Majesties and leaders of the Arab Alliance, you
will donate as much resources as you can spare to the clearing up and
rebuilding of Tel-Aviv. You will not rest until the job is complete and
the city is safe for people to move back in. The fewer the resources you
give, the longer you will have to donate them. When the rebuilding is
complete you will fully fund the building and running of four new
hospitals inside New Tel-Aviv."

The Israeli Prime Minister started to smile -- he would have the help so
desperately needed to rebuild AND his enemies would do it for him.
Elizabeth spotted his half smile, and before the Arab Alliance could
protest continued, "Prime Minister. Your nation has attacked another
with nuclear weapons and caused unimaginable death and destruction.
You do not get away scot-free. You will give twenty percent of your
gross national product to the decontamination, clearing up and the
provision of food and medical supplies for those people affected by the
effects of the atomic explosion. You will give this aid until the area is
safe to live in once more."

The Israeli Prime Minster shouted at Elizabeth, what she was proposing
was outrageous. "It will bankrupt us! We cannot afford so much, I am
willing to give five percent but no more. I agree with reparations but
the figure you give is FAR too high."

Elizabeth didn't shout back, but replied in a gentle but forceful tone,
"Not good enough, those people living in the Nile region need aid now,
and quickly. Twenty percent is what is required to save those people
and to repair the damage within a reasonable timescale, say around
twenty five years. Surely it's a small price to pay to keep your country
intact and your people safe. A small sacrifice in order to preserve all
you have fought and died for over the years. You will have to cut back
on such things as defense, weapons development, and maybe the odd
nuclear reactor, but your country will be safe. As it's leader that has to
be your prime goal."

"Why should we have to pay to clear up their city? We did not attack it,
we have no blame in this," one of the Arab Alliance leaders pointed out.

"Didn't you? You all knew about the Guild. You let it grow inside your
borders, and allowed its leaders to have dreams of conquest. You could
have stopped it a long time ago, but you liked the prestige it gave you
among your neighbors, used its resources to kill those you despised, and
let it become strong enough to destroy a city. As reparations for these
errors you will clean up Tel-Aviv. Your hands are not bloodless in all
this. As with Israel the alternative is to have your countries destroyed
by further nuclear attacks by Israel. We all know that if things went
badly for them they would use them again. Any war between your two
peoples would mean the end of your two peoples. Regardless of what
your generals may say you know that neither side could win. What I
suggest is fair and just."

Both sets of leaders sat quietly and thought. What this woman was
asking was a great burden for their peoples. BUT there was a sense of
justice about it.

Elizabeth let the translator finish, "It would be all too easy for you to
break whatever agreement we reach here. Governments are more likely
to start a war if they cannot be hurt by it. If a leader knows that his
head is the first to fall in any conflict, then that makes him reluctant to
start it in the first place. While he is safe and sound in his bunker then
he can easily send others out to die for him. This is the final part of my
solution and the reason why Salah is here."

The room went quiet, the respective leaders glanced at the waiting
impassive looking Kat and wondering what Elizabeth was going to say

They didn't have long to wait, "Salah has just returned from a meeting
with the Guild commanders. He has outlined this plan to them, and they
are in full agreement of it. Now listen carefully to this next part.
Should any government break the terms of this treaty or cease-fire then
the Guild will use all of their remaining resources to ensure that the
leader of that government is assassinated as soon as practical. I think
you all know that the Guild cannot be stopped from doing this -- they
are very good at what they do. In case you wondered, this measure also
includes the leaders of any factions that carry out terrorist actions in
violation of this treaty. Of course, there are bound to be a few, it would
be naive to expect anything else. Only give them this message -- if they
disregard this agreement they will soon see how efficient the Guild are."

Elizabeth paused for a few seconds, letting her words sink in, "In case
you're thinking that the Guild will be biased in who and what it does,
Salah here has placed the UN Security Council in charge of Guild
operations. That serves several purposes. Firstly, it prevents any one
person from using the Guild for his or her own ends. Secondly, it
makes any action the Guild takes a legitimate one, free from bias and
national influences. And lastly, it stops Guild fugitives from forming
splinter groups and causing trouble. Salah has told me that the Guild
was aching to move away from what it had become under Hassan, it
wanted to become a legitimate force, protecting those who had no one
to protect them, and acting for those who have no power to act for
themselves. Salah gave them that vision, and this treaty accomplishes it.
All Guild members arrested so far will have a fair and just trial, and they
will pay for whatever crimes they have done. The innocent will resume
their Guild membership under the direction of the UN. I understand
from Salah that this proposal was passed unanimously by all Guild
commanders, and that support for this action is total amongst the Guild
rank and file."

Kat gave Elizabeth an imperceptible nod and Elizabeth responded with a
brief nod. It was going well. By now the translator had caught up and
Elizabeth brought her speech to a close," I have outlined what is to be
done. You now have two choices. You can either agree to our terms,
or you can watch as your cities burn, your people die, and in the end all
that will be left is ashes. War and revenge serve nothing but themselves.
I know to my cost, that once you start down that path turning back is
very difficult. Of course it will be hard to forget what has happened.
No amount of money can compensate for fourteen million lives, no
territory gained can pay back what has been lost. I have never said the
decision would be easy. Only that it is necessary. All I ask is that you
have the wisdom, courage and compassion to put aside your hatred, and
fears, and choose peace."

Elizabeth said nothing more and just sat down. Inwardly she felt as
though she'd done enough but who knew? As each side filtered out to
discuss the proposal Elizabeth felt as if she was on trial, as though the
jury was going out to deliberate it's verdict. She felt a hand on her
shoulder and turned to face Kat.

"You think we've done enough? Kat asked.

Elizabeth looked quickly around. Everyone else had left the table. It
was safe to talk. She shrugged, "I've no idea. That was the toughest
speech of my life, the most radical idea I've ever had. I'm amazed you
pulled your side off at all. Still, you're used to being the heroine aren't
you. I'm just the arch villainess who dies in a tragic way at the end of
the movie."

"Not any more you're not. If we pull this off, I'd be amazed if you're not
nominated for a Nobel Prize. About your scheme, I was surprised. I
thought I'd have a hell of a struggle with the Guild over this. They
were, after all about to lose their independence. To my amazement they
accepted your proposal with very little question, to survive they needed
to change, and the one thing that the Guild is very good at is surviving.
I think a lot of them are looking forward to their newly found status.
You know what I admire most about your plan?"

"Nope," Elizabeth admitted.

Kat smiled, "You let Hassan win. He wanted to return the Guild to its
position of power in the Middle East, to have influence on the nations in
that area. Your solution gives the Guild just that, except that you
turned them into a peace keeping force, a sword of Damocles over the
heads of the warmongers. Witch, that is one of the most stunning bits
of planning I've ever seen."

Elizabeth smiled, "We're not there yet, and it's too soon to tell, but yes
I am feeling a little smug right now. I realised a while back that Hassan
was too good to leave any loose ends in his plan. We could do nothing
against it so long as we were fighting it. As soon as I accepted that the
Guild were going to be where they are now regardless of what I did,
that opened up a whole new range of options. I went with the flow
rather than fighting it. Therefore, instead of trying to stop the Guild I
started trying to help the peace process, just as Hassan's changelings
were supposed to do. Since I was then at the forefront and the
'figurehead' of the peace process I could put in place whatever options
and plans I wanted. I retook the initiative away from the Guild
changelings and did their job for them. That was why they were
inactive and didn't move against us. I was doing just what they wanted
me to do. Of course they didn't know I had you as my 'ace in the hole'.
I wanted to stay behind the scenes but the president insisted that I do

Kat saw where Elizabeth was leading, "You used me to 'de-fang' the
Guild. Make it benign and controllable, not ruling by terror but by
diplomacy. You took the poison out of Hassan's plan and only left the
good parts. I laughed when you told me this before, and I still think it's
wonderfully ironic. The bad guys win after all."

"We always do," Elizabeth smiled knowingly.

Kat said, "Salah would have been proud of us. We achieved his goal,
his dream for him. It's a shame he's not here to see it."

Elizabeth nodded, "Some must fall if all are to be saved. When I started
on this I had no idea it would be so costly. Fourteen million people Kat.
We knew there had to be sacrifices. But fourteen million! Is that too
high a price to pay?"

"Would you have started it at all, the plot against the Guild etc if you
had known?"

Elizabeth's eyes nearly filled with tears "I've no idea. That's a route I
don't want to go down at the moment."

"When this is all over, what are your intentions?" Kat asked.

"Meaning, do I intend to take Matthew away from you, throw you and
Cathline back into a harem, and live out my life in luxury?"

"I didn't say that. I asked what your intentions were."

"My goal's haven't changed from when we were in Libya. My promise
to you still stands. I will not harm you or Matthew, Cathline and the
rest are safe as well. Once you are all changed back, what happens to
me, is up to me and nobody else. I won't lie to you. I have a plan in
mind but it's none of your business. Come on, I need some coffee."

- o - o - o -

Elizabeth took her coffee and walked over to the window of the hotel.
Lake Geneva was spectacular, the snow gently falling all around, and
the tall gabled houses gave the place a Christmas card look. Inside, her
heart was starting to break. She may have saved so many, but she was
still alone. Her sorrow and loneliness made her all the more determined
to carry out her plan. Still, 'Enjoy the now' is what mom had always
said, so she just stood and looked out of the window, and watched the
snow fall.

An indeterminate time later a hand touched her shoulder and she turned
to face Kat, "Come on Witch, they've reached a decision."

A knot formed in Elizabeth's stomach. This was it! She walked back
into the conference room and took her position at the head of the table.

The Israeli Prime Minister was the first to speak, "Ladies and
Gentlemen, the Israeli government has reached a decision. It has been a
tough choice for us but we will abide by the terms laid out so eloquently
by Dr Bexley. We have suffered greatly and endured much, and we will
do so again. BUT, our children will grow up, and grow old, and the
nation of Israel will endure. I have given the order for our forces to
stand down from their war footing."

Elizabeth and Kat nearly cheered out loud but stifled it down. The Arab
Alliance was about to speak.

"I too wish to thank Dr Bexley for her efforts here. There has been
much blood spilled on both sides, some of it justly, some unjustly. We
have no wish to see our peoples destroyed and our lands turned to ash.
We will abide by the proposal and accept Israel's contributions and
reparations. The road ahead will be long and difficult but we will travel
it together or not at all. The combined forces of the Arab Alliance are
withdrawing and no further provocation missions will be flown."

Tears formed in Elizabeth's eyes, She'd done it! She found herself
unable to stand and she could only cry with joy. She found herself
being patted on the back and congratulated. She found her thoughts
wandering to those whose lives had been lost in reaching this point, and
it had a sobering effect. She heard President Roberts stand up and
exclaim, "We will have the treaties drawn up by the end of the day. I
want to thank you all for coming and for the courage you have shown

- o - o - o -

Matthew, Cathline, Scott, and the Senator sat around the tv as the
news broke. Scott had turned up earlier that morning and had asked
what was going on. The team didn't know much but what they did they
told him. It was the news that a new DNA system was being built that
excited Matthew and Scott. For his part the Senator didn't seem that

President Roberts walked up to a plinth surrounded by the usual
plethora of microphones. He leant on the plinth, relaxed his arms and
started to speak, "My fellow Americans, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is
my pleasure to announce that effective immediately there is a cease-fire
between the Israeli and Arab peoples. Both governments have agreed
to a non aggression treaty and reparation terms. I will release the
details once their respective governments have ratified this treaty.
Suffice to say that the threat of war has now receded and all countries
involved can return to the long and difficult task of rebuilding."

"Yes, she did it!" the senator exclaimed.

"Shh listen!" Matthew hissed.

"This whole situation was brought upon the world by the callous and
vicious attack on Tel-Aviv. We have conclusive proof that Egypt was
NOT responsible for that attack. That attack was carried out by a
secret organization known only as the Guild. You will have read in the
papers today that a number of world leaders and diplomats have gone
missing or have not been seen. What I can now tell you is that these
leaders are dead."

There was a murmuring around the room but the president ignored
them, "It is my sad duty to inform you that the leaders of Britain,
France, Russia, and even President Andrews were assassinated and
replaced by duplicates. Their mission was to ensure that Israel attacked
Egypt, and, therefore to rig the UN vote for the Fury Directive. The
tragic death of all the population of Cairo was a horrible, awful mistake
brought upon by these 'changelings'. President Andrews was killed
some time ago, and a changeling had been in his place ever since. One
of the people you will see later confronted it and was almost killed in a
titanic battle with it. I owe my life to her, and to a young detective who
was gravely wounded when she took a bullet meant for me."

"These last few weeks have seen extraordinary events and perhaps the
largest threat to world peace since 1963. In extraordinary times
extraordinary people are needed. There are two extraordinary people
without whose efforts a New World war would now be imminent, and
unstoppable. They have saved the lives of millions and given us New
Hope for the future. Ladies and gentlemen I give you Dr Elizabeth
Bexley, and Salah."

"Look, there's Kat," Matthew said joyfully, as Elizabeth and Kat walked
onto the platform.

"Fucking hell, Liz looks awesome, no wonder they signed up." Cathline

The President continued, "In case you have been wondering, this IS the
very same Dr Bexley whose DNA systems caused so much havoc over
five years ago. What she did then is unimportant. What she has done
now is. It was Dr Bexley's plan that allowed this war to be averted and
it was her and Salah's courage that alerted us to the threat and identity
of these 'changelings'. They had worked behind the scenes for over a
year trying to stop these attacks before they happened. Facing almost
impossible odds, they overthrew the evil Guild hegemony and Salah
took charge. With help from their companions they took it upon
themselves to try and oust the changelings from their positions of
power. Last night, agents from secret services around the world killed
the Guild changelings and thus restored the rightful governments to
those countries."

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the heroine of the hour, Dr Elizabeth

Matthew could hear a round of applause start to grow until people
started to stand around the hall. Neither Kat nor Elizabeth could keep a
dry eye. President Andrews gestured towards Elizabeth and beckoned
her to take the stand. Elizabeth did so and settled the audience down
and tearfully she started to talk, "It is easy to get carried away in the
euphoria of the moment. I must admit to feeling happier than I have
ever been. However, this peace has come at a horrific price. Please
stand with me and give a few moments silence for those who will never
see another sunrise. In these moments of silence let the memories of
their sacrifice stop this ever happening again. Let us remember the
fourteen million souls who will never love and smile and play again. Let
us speak their names to ourselves, so that they may never be forgotten. I
know Matthew, Kat, Cathline, and the others whose help was crucial to
our success are watching. I want you to do this too. Salah and I are
going to speak some names out. To you they will be strangers but to us
dear loved ones."

Elizabeth paused and raised a glass of water in a toast, and broke into

"To absent friends, forever with us and never forgotten," Elizabeth
raised the glass once more and said, "Mom and Dad."

"Salah," Kat said softly, her words barely audible over the microphone

"Vickie Turner and James Richardson, " Matthew replied.

"John Richards and Stephanie Lane," Cathline said in tears

"Marcel," The senator said.

"Tina," Scott said.

The president wiped a tear from his eyes, "President Andrews,"

After a few moments Elizabeth stood down and comforted by Kat
walked behind the stage. The president cleared his throat, "Thank you,
that will be all. My press secretary will hand you out the full reports.
Once you've had time to digest it all I will hold a briefing for questions,
at six pm local time, thank you."

Matthew flicked the tv off. It had been a long day.

- o - o - o -

Rebecca Harris was just about to sit down to one of her mom's famous
pot roasts when the telephone rang. A few seconds later her mom's
voice filtered thru the kitchen telling her that Scott's partner was on the
phone. Rebecca knew what this meant, Scott was on the phone and
wanted to speak to her. Over the last two weeks she'd had a lot of time
to think about their situation, and she had come to a decision, she wasn't
sure Scott was going to like it, but in the end it was only one that made
sense. Sure it would be a big sacrifice, if it came to it. But it would be
worth it. She felt a little guilty about running away from Scott when he
needed her, but this time away had clarified things a great deal. Her
mom walked in and handed her the phone, "Hello,"

"Hello love, it's me Scott."

"I know, what do you want?" Rebecca asked.

Scott sounded hopeful, "They've completed construction of Dr Bexley's
DNA system. She's been at some secret installation for the last few
days checking it over. She's happy that it'll work and she wants us to go
there in three days time. I want you to be there for me. I need you to
come, please."

"Where is it?"

Rebecca listened intently as Scott told her how to get the installation.
Rebecca wanted to get this over and done with so that they could both
move on, so she agreed to visit in three days.

"How's Tina?" Rebecca asked.

"Still in a coma and showing no signs of improvement. Dr Bexley's
asked if Tina could be shipped to the installation as well. I think she
knows a way she can cure her."

"That's great news. Ok, I will see you in three days," Rebecca said and
put the phone down.

- o - o - o -

"NO! Not that way around! You'll invoke the failsafe lockouts,"
Elizabeth shouted at a technician who was bending over her DNA
system. This last week Elizabeth had been pulling eighteen hour shifts
to get the system up and running, and the strain was starting to show.
Still, only a few more hours to go and the system could be booted in
normal mode. If the diagnostics ran ok, then the system was ready.
Elizabeth was disappointed, and a little concerned that the version that
Hassan had got the plans for didn't include the facility to design new
sets of DNA or to manufacture changeling organs, and all the other
stuff she'd managed to develop over the past couple of years. Only the
sequences that had been stored in its memory could be used. Still with a
little help from her changeling organ that limitation should be able to be

"Are we all set?" She called out.

A number of people called out "OK," and Elizabeth flipped the power
breaker down, and then waited a few moments before pushing the 'on'
button. The console lit up and the central VDU screen starting running
various diagnostics. She could relax, it would be several hours before
the system completed its internal checks.

She still had a number of concerns about turning people back to their
original bodies. But she'd find out soon enough. The president was
true to his word, the observers sent to watch what she was up to were
extremely competent and it would be difficult to sneak anything past
them, difficult but not impossible. She gave a contented sigh, only three
more days to go.

- o - o - o -

Matthew lay in Kat's arms. He was feeling all warm and tingly all over
after their love making, and Kat was now dozing. Ever since her
triumphant return from Geneva they had retreated to their Manhattan
apartment and indulged themselves. Matthew was worried that Kat was
still taking Stelazine to stop her mood swings, but Kat assured her that
it was fine, and that when Elizabeth had turned her back she wouldn't
need to take it any more. They hadn't seen Cathline in a few days,
apparently she'd retreated to some log cabin to think things over, and
the others had all gone off to try and get some semblance of normality.
That was what Matthew was trying to do. He and Kat had decided that
if one of them couldn't be turned back then neither would the other one.
As much as they had enjoyed a single sex marriage it wasn't what they
both wanted forever.

Kat had wanted children since before they were married and Matthew
had been a little cautious about the idea. However, he had come to the
decision that he wanted them too, even if he was the one to carry them.
In an ideal world, they decided Kat would be the pregnant one.

Matthew reflected back on his time as a woman. It hadn't been as bad
as he sometimes made out, but he'd rather be himself again. What
would he miss about it? Some of the clothes were wonderful, and the
feeling that every eye in the room was looking at you, that was nice too.
What else? Bubble baths, they would never be the same again. The sex
was great but he missed that feeling of urgency that being a man gave
you. In hindsight he would miss women's things but not enough.

Kat had told him that she hated being a man 'All craggy, knobbly, and
hairy' she'd called it. For the sake of their marriage, she would stay that
way if it came to it. They only had two days to wait, two days out of
five years of hell. It had seemed so long ago that he'd told Elizabeth he
didn't love her. So many days gone and now only two left.

- o - o - o -

An Army helicopter dropped Matthew, Kat and Cathline off at the
remote installation. They were met at the door by a number of soldiers
and escorted inside. They were shown to what looked like a waiting
room and told to wait. There was a wash basin on one side, a tv in a
corner and a vending machine propped up against the wall. Whoever it
was knew the occupants would be in for a long wait.

A few minutes later Elizabeth's head appeared round the door, "Hey, so
glad you could come. I'll be out in a moment."

Elizabeth's moment lasted two hours and Matthew wanted to go in and
investigate the facility. He was prevented from doing so by a surly
looking soldier who told him to sit down.

Elizabeth's head popped around the door once more, "Sorry about this.
Are Scott, Tina, and the Senator here yet? They're first."

"Why can't you do me?" Matthew complained.

"Because that's the way the systems been designed. This is a one shot
deal. The only reason I've been allowed to build it at all is because the
system will wipe itself straight away after I'm done. After we've all left
explosives will blow this place sky high. Trust me it HAS to be done
this way. Only I'm allowed to see inside this room so you can't watch.
Once I'm done here, no more DNA systems EVER." Elizabeth
emphasised the last word.

An hour later Scott, the Senator and another older woman were
escorted in. Kat assumed that this woman was Scott's wife, Rebecca.
This time Elizabeth opened the door and walked in, "Hey, great to see
you, it's been ages."

"Three weeks, have you been locked up in here since you got back?"
Scott asked.

"Just about. You wouldn't know to look at me that I'm a free woman,"
Elizabeth smiled.

"A pardon was the least they could give you for saving their butts,"
Scott commented.

"Only doing my duty SIR," Elizabeth said, and performed a mock

Matthew smiled. It had been too long since he had seen Elizabeth goof
around, "Senator I think you're first to be done," Matthew said.

The Senator paused, looked around the group and said, "I've been
giving this a great deal of thought over the last few weeks. Dr Bexley,
if it's all the same to you I don't want to change back. I've gained thirty
five years of life, I feel fitter and healthier than I have done since before
Vietnam. In my life, I need new challenges. Being female is one of
them, being the first female president of the United States is the second
and more difficult. Oh sure, it may take me twenty years and there may
be a woman in power before me, but it's a job I want to do. I've spoken
with Jack and he's going to support my campaign to get my old job
back. What happens from there on who knows? It's ok, it really is.
Besides, Senator Walter Jameson's dead, Miss Anne Jameson isn't, and I
get a second chance at life."

There was a stunned silence in the room. Elizabeth was the first to
speak, "Senator, I can't fault your logic or your reasons. If it's any
consolation I'll vote for you. Tina next isn't it?"

Elizabeth walked back inside the room and made a call, within a few
moments Tina's still comatose body was wheeled into the room and
Elizabeth shut the door behind her.

Elizabeth remained inside for over an hour until at last the door opened.
Scott was expecting to see Tina walk thru the door as good as new but
Elizabeth's manner shattered his illusions, "Tina will be fine. It'll just
take a while. The damage to her spinal cord was vast and the only way
to cure such damage is a complete DNA rewrite. I've probably told you
before that my DNA drug will only rewrite DNA, not directly heal
wounds. She's still comatose and too weak to undergo this so I've made
it so it'll regenerate slowly, so as not to stress her body. Even when it is
fixed she will have to learn to walk again."

Scott was stunned, "I thought it could fix anything?"

Elizabeth shook her head, "My heavily tailored system could. This is an
older design. Tina will be able to walk again, and be as big a pain in the
butt as she used to, but it'll take a year or so. Even a year is better than

"Can I see her?" Scott asked. He was still bitterly disappointed that
Tina wasn't walking out of here. But, as Elizabeth had said, she will
walk again.

"She's still undergoing some more treatment, you can see her later. In
fact it's your turn," Elizabeth said in a doctor to patient tone of voice.

Scott walked over to Rebecca and gave her a quick hug before going
inside. Kat spotted Rebecca's worried face and went to comfort her,
"It'll be ok."

For Rebecca the wait was agonising. She had no idea what was going
on behind those doors. She was grateful for the comfort that Kat and
the others were giving her. She heard the door open and saw a
despondent looking Elizabeth emerge, "I'm sorry. I can't turn Scott
back. In layman's terms, he has a primitive kind of changeling organ. It
keeps him locked in that form. If I tried to remove it or tamper with it
in any way it would kill him. I'm sorry, I tried my best. I know how
much he means to you. It breaks my heart to give up, but I don't want
to kill him."

Rebecca burst into tears, "Can, can I see him? Does he know."

Elizabeth looked at Rebecca's tearful face, "He's sedated for the
moment. I think he already knew before he turned up, as I think did

Rebecca nodded tearfully, "I hoped it wouldn't be true but in my heart
of hearts, from the way he described it, I knew. Can I speak to you for
a moment, in private."

"Sure. Follow me," Elizabeth said and beckoned Rebecca outside.

It was not going as well as the group had hoped. They sat in silence for
another hour. A noise woke Matthew from his introspective reflections.
The other set of doors opened and a tearful Scott emerged, "Where is
she. Does she know?"

Matthew answered, "Yeah, she knows, she wanted to talk to Elizabeth
about something. She's been gone quite a while. It'll be fine, she still
loves you."

Scott exploded, "Will everyone stop telling me it'll be ok. It will NOT
be Ok. Rebecca's going to leave me, I know it. Fifteen years of
marriage destroyed. Look, just shut up! This is hard enough to cope
with without endless platitudes."

Matthew kept quiet. He knew from bitter experience what it felt like.
When it happened to him he was driven to despair and vengeance. The
best option, he decided was to say nothing and let Scott calm down.
Neither Kat nor Cathline said anything either. They felt exactly the

They heard the doors to the lab open, and Elizabeth walked in.
"How'd you get in there?" Kat asked.

"There's more than one way in. Anyway, Scott, I have someone here to
see you."

Scott looked on in amazement as a duplicate of Salah walked into the
room. The man looked a little confused and shaky on his feet but then
he spotted Scott and broke into a large grin.

"Is that?" Scott trailed off.

The man rushed over and embraced Scott in his strong arms, "Scott.
You know I love you. I couldn't leave you, but I couldn't live with you
like we were. That's what I went away to think about."

"Rebecca?" Scott queried.

The man nodded, "Yeah. We both have changes to get used to, and I
will admit this body feels as strange as anything, but I want this. I
decided that if you couldn't be turned back then I would become a man,
so as we could be together, husband and wife again. Whatever happens
we will face it together. That's what you want isn't it?"

Scott returned the embrace. This is a man, he thought, and felt faintly
uneasy. Then, this is my lovely, loving wife, he thought, and in spite of
himself, he felt tears welling up inside, "More than anything love, more
than anything."

Elizabeth gave a smile, "Come on Matthew. Your turn, if you still want
it that is?"

Matthew was puzzled, "The fixer you gave me, you said this was for

Elizabeth settled into lecture mode, "I can override it, not remove it.
That's how I cured Kat and turned myself back. Fixer version 1 can be
overridden by fixer version 2, and the changeling organ can override
fixer version 2. All I'll do is rewrite your DNA and apply Fixer version
2. The treatment I have developed for you will remove those tattoos's
of yours as well. You DO still want to be you again?"

Matthew cast a glance at the still embracing Scott and Rebecca, "Can
you guarantee to turn Kat back? I don't want this unless you can."

Elizabeth nodded, "I understand. I'm 90% sure I can turn Kat back. Do
you want me to do her next?"

"I don't mind. I thought you had to do people in a certain order?" Kat
asked. She was starting to feel a little nervous.

"I do. But I'll take a blood sample from Matthew, and I can let the
system get on with processing that. It'll speed the whole thing up
anyway. I'll be back in a few moments," Elizabeth said and went into
her laboratory.

Under the watchful eye of an observer Elizabeth hunted around for a
blood tester. She had to explain why she wanted it and eventually she
was allowed to take it. She found having to justify her every move to
her 'shadows' as she called them, very trying and time consuming. She
could understand why it was being done, but it was frustrating. Still for
what she had in mind nobody would notice. She walked out of the lab
and back into the waiting room.

"Right Matthew, hold out your arm," she asked.

Matthew obeyed and Elizabeth pushed the blood tester into Matthew's
arm. It drew a little blood, and she squeezed it into a waiting test tube.
Sealing the test tube up, she pocketed it and gestured for Kat to follow

Kat stood up, blew Matthew a kiss, and followed Elizabeth inside.
Kat was led into a large, brightly lit room full of complex looking
equipment. In the middle of the room was an operating table. Elizabeth
asked her to lay down on the operating table. Elizabeth started to
explain the procedure, not only for Kat's benefit but also for her
'shadows' watching from either side of the room. "Ok, We both know
your changeling organ's locking you into Salah's form, and that before
we started all this I hardwired your original Kat form into it. Originally,
all I would need to do was trigger it and that would be that. But as we
know you've been shot numerous times and that, as a result the
changeling organ has been damaged."

Kat looked worried. This wasn't anything new but Elizabeth was
leading up to something, "I know all this. What are you saying?"

Elizabeth sighed, "I'm saying that I will do my best to turn you back, but
that it may not be possible. I am going to have to perform surgery on
you to get around these complications. Do I have your permission to
try. If this surgery doesn't work then you could be stuck as you are,
turned back into that half-woman, half tiger creature, and there's even a
possibility I will trigger some failsafe and you'll die. I won't lie to you
Kat, what I'm asking you to do is very dangerous."

Kat knew what Elizabeth was saying, 'If you want to play safe stay as
you are'. It wouldn't be the end of the world if she did stay like this but
she would always think 'what might have been'. Kat reached a decision,
"Go ahead. Yeah do it."

"I promise I'll do my best. See you on the gender flipside, " Elizabeth
smiled, reached for the general anaesthetic, and handed it to a waiting
nurse. She now knew for sure that nobody in the room would detect
the little extra present she'd prepared for Kat. She would slip it in
during the surgical procedure and that would be that.

In the waiting room Matthew was pacing about the room. His nerves
were shot and every minute seemed like a thousand years, "What's
keeping her."

"This takes time. Scott and the rest were out for a few hours," Cathline
said, taking hold of Matthew's hand.

Cathline's encouraging words didn't help Matthew much. These few
hours would decide the path of their lives together. As time does, it
passed, and two hours later a worried looking Elizabeth emerged from
her room. She shook her head and said, "Matthew, I'm sorry. There's
nothing I could do, I tried my best."

"YOU BITCH! I knew you'd kill her!" Cathline screamed.

Matthew just stood transfixed to the floor unable to think or move.

Elizabeth gestured for them to calm down, "It's ok. Kat'll be fine. It's
just that I wasn't able to turn her back to her original form."

"What have you done to her?" Matthew managed to say.

Elizabeth tried to placate the situation, "Let me explain. Of all the
people who've been affected by my DNA system, Kat has had the most
exposure to it. If you remember I turned her into a near copy of
Jasmine from Disney's Aladdin. That change was laced with fixer
version 1. Then she was turned into Kat, the tiger creature and the drug
that caused that contained fixer version 2. To cure her of her terminal
cancer I had to install in her with a changeling organ, which overrode all
the fixers. Now I've been able to reverse all but one of the fixed

Matthew's heart sank, "You mean she's now a tiger forever?"

"No. The fixer version 1 is preventing me from turning her back to her
original Kat shape. I tried to find a way around it but I came very close
to killing her several times. Matthew, I'm sorry to say that Kat is locked
into her Jasmine body."

"What! You mean she's a copy of Jasmine from that fucking cartoon!
Does she know?" Matthew swore.

Elizabeth was feeling a little irate at Matthew's ingratitude, "Not yet,
she's still under anaesthetic. Look, back when before she was shot by
me, you were quite happy with her like that, and she had started to get
used to it. Anyway it's not a direct copy, that would be silly. She's a
human version of Jasmine, female again, she's still alive, and any traces
of damage done to her by her changeling organ have gone. To tell you
the truth, I'm amazed I managed to do that much."

Matthew felt a little guilty. Thinking about it, Kat as Jasmine was
mighty sexy, and furthermore the way was now clear for him to get his
masculinity back. "I'm sorry. It was just a shock, that's all. Thank you."

Elizabeth smiled, "It's ok. Under the circumstances it was the best I
could do."

- o - o - o -

Kat's head spun and she had a splitting headache. It as was if a mad
axe-man was beating her over the head again and again. Woozily she
opened her eyes but was forced to close them again as the bright light
only made the headache worse. She decided to rest a while before
trying again.

A few moments later the headache went away and she could think
clearly again. She certainly felt different and that was a good sign.
Gently she opened her eyes, slowly this time so as to get used to the
light. Hardly daring to look she looked down and to her relief saw two
small bulges in the sheets. She reached out to touch them, to make sure
they were real, but before she could get there she stopped dead. Her
arm was a light brown color and it certainly was the same shape as the
one she was expecting. Kat tried to sit up and was aware that she was
sitting on something, her hair. She reached up and grabbed her hair and
looked at it. It was a thick, luscious black. A thought crossed Kat's
mind, and she peered down inside the robe she was wearing.

Her body was female, but it was the wrong female. It was slender and
stunningly beautiful. She realised that her body was exactly the same as
it was when she'd been that Jasmine clone. Kat said nothing. Turning
her into Jasmine had been Elizabeth's little joke when she'd done it the
first time. Now it seemed as though she was stuck like it. Kat decided
that she could do nothing about it. She'd have to keep her hair short
again to avoid all the inevitable genie jokes, but at least she was female
again and that meant Matthew could be himself again.

- o - o - o -

As the doors opened and Kat walked in Matthew ran up to her and
embraced her, "I love you", he whispered.

"I love you too, " Kat said in her new Jasmine voice.

"I'm sorry. I did my best, "Elizabeth apologised.

"It's ok. I'll get used to it, Thanks," Kat said.

"Matthew, your turn," Elizabeth said solemnly.

Matthew stood up. His thoughts went back to those horrible few weeks
in that Cairo hotel so many years ago. Of how, in Elizabeth's fury he'd
been forced on pain of death to take those pills that slowly but surely
robbed him of his manhood. He was now about to get it back again,
and maybe, just maybe they could start to rebuild, "I'm ready, " he told

Kat gave him a final kiss and embrace before he was led inside.

Now it was Kat's turn to wait endlessly, as minute by minute dragged
past. Then about an hour later Kat heard a loud whoop of joy from the
room. She desperately wanted to go inside and see for herself but the
solider inside the doorway steadfastly refused her entry. She didn't have
to wait long as a tall masculine figure with blonde hair threw the doors
open and grabbed her in a bear hug. The man had tears streaming down
his face, "Kat it's me. She did it. I'm me again. I love you."

Kat couldn't keep it in any longer. The years apart, the pain of
separation, the dashed dreams, and fallen hopes started to melt away.
They could begin again. Tearfully she returned Mathew's embrace and
wished the moment would never end.

- o - o - o -

"Oh Cathline, I've done yours in advance," Elizabeth fished inside her
pocket and pulled out a vial of liquid, "Yours is easy, Cathline. This
vial contains a slightly modified Rachel Martin dose, brown eyes rather
than blue. Drink it and your eye will grow back."

Cathline took the vial of liquid from Elizabeth and held it in her hands.
She thought for a few moments before standing up, and walking over to
the wash basin. She paused for a few seconds, as if steeling herself
against a great trial and then poured the contents into the bowl.

"What the hell was that about?" Kat demanded.

Cathline turned to face the group, sighed and said, "Losing an eye has
caused me to see things more clearly than I ever have before. This is
who I am," she pointed to her eye patch and continued, "This is what
defines me. This is me, beauty and pain all in one person. When I look
in the mirror I see my empty eye looking into my empty heart."

Elizabeth gave a rare smile. "Cathline, you have lost much, sacrificed
much, endured even more, but you cling to the memory of your
sacrifices of all the things you have lost or left behind. They drag
behind you like chains of your own making. They can have a terrible
power over you. The power of grief, and lost, and regret. You may
have let go of the people, the places, the things, but you have not let go
of the pain. You have not forgiven yourself."

Cathline queried "For what?"

Elizabeth looked at Cathline right in the eye and said softly, "Being
alive. Cathline, come on. There's no need to be a martyr. I can fix this.
Please let me help."

"No thanks, I'm sure of this. Kat said there was no more Rachel Martin
and she's right. I was never really happy pretending to be all image and
superficial candy. It wasn't me, this is. Now please, it's my decision, I
spent those weeks alone thinking this thru. Let me be."

"I don't understand. Don't be stupid Cathline," Kat said.

"No one will except me. I gave up my revenge for you, Kat. I put aside
my love for you so that you could be with Matthew, and now if I accept
my eye back I would be turning my back on all the pain I've been thru."

Cathline pointed at her eye patch, "This is John's epitaph. This is the
symbol of James's, Vickie's, and Marcel's sacrifice. You were wrong
just then Elizabeth, I have laid them to rest. I finally am free. Kat, this
is the sign that my friendship with you is burned into my heart forever.
The world will look at me and say, she did not give in to all that she
faced, she did not abandon her friends, and yet she still won out in the

"But people will see that anyway?" Matthew argued.

"That may be so. But it's my choice and this makes sense to me,"
Cathline retorted.

"In that case I'll leave the remains of the formula in storage. You can
get at it if you want to, just in case," Elizabeth offered.

"No thanks. I'll be fine," Cathline said softly.

Elizabeth turned to Scott and Rebecca, still embracing tearfully, "Look,
I need to go and see if everything's set back there. The marines have
laid explosives all over this place. Once I give the all clear then 'boom'.
Scott, Senator, Rebecca, your chopper will leave in a few minutes.
Tina's already has been flown out. I think you ought to leaving. Don't
want to miss your flight."

Before Elizabeth turned to go, Scott, Rebecca and the Senator walked
over and gave her a hug, "Thank you. The world owes you more than it
will ever know," the senator said.

Elizabeth nodded, "You know, without you all there's no way I could
have done this. I would be dead by now, along with most of you.
You've given me second and third chances. You've given me my chance
to redeem myself and clear my name. 'Thank you' seems such a poor
phrase for what it means to me, but it's the only one we have."

- o - o - o -

"Time to go," Elizabeth said to the waiting observer.

"Sure?" The observer asked.

Elizabeth replied without hesitation, "Yep. All done. You can detonate
the charges as soon as you like. The sooner we get rid of that damned
thing the better."

The observer nodded his agreement, "Ok, your chopper leaves in about
five minutes. We're off any minute. Seems a shame, there's a lot of
work been put into this place over the last few weeks."

"Is everybody else out yet?" Elizabeth asked.

"Yeah, there's only Matthew, Jane Stephens and Rachel Martin left.
The others left some minutes before."

"Good. Let's go shall we?" without looking back at the DNA system
that had been the cause of such pain, Elizabeth walked back into the
waiting room, and led the others to a waiting helicopter.

As they took off, Elizabeth looked out of the window to see the last
truck retreat from the installation. A few seconds later there was a loud
explosion that blew all of the windows out. A large column of fire rose
into the air, causing the rapidly climbing chopper to shake. The pilot
corrected for it and continued their ascent.

There was a series of loud and violent explosions and the roof of the
installation blew up, sending debris into the air. There was a final
explosion that seemed to engulf the entire area. The smoke cleared for
a few moments and the burning remains of the site could clearly be seen.
The entire installation had been devastated and no trace remained of
what had gone on there.

Matthew took hold of Elizabeth's hand as she watched the burning
wreckage, "How do you feel?" he asked.

"Feel? Empty, drained, and tired," Elizabeth whispered in reply.

The helicopter took them to a local airport where they took a flight
back to New York. A few hours later, they were sitting in Matthew and
Kat's lounge, drinking coffee.

Elizabeth caught Kat making a signal to Matthew, who then nodded in
reply, "What's going on?" she asked.

Kat cleared her throat, "Elizabeth. We want to give you something,
well actually return something to you."

Elizabeth's curiosity was piqued, "What?"

Matthew started to speak, "As part of our compensation settlement for
what you did to us, we obtained your parent's house. We've never been
there, only paid for it's upkeep. As far as we know it's as they left it.
All your stuff is there, family photo's, clothes, everything. We know
how much you miss your mom and Dad and we thought you would like
the chance to go back and say goodbye. It also occurred to us you
haven't got a place to live, so we would like you to have that place."

Elizabeth didn't know what to say. Thank you didn't seem enough. She
decided that she wouldn't wait until afterwards to tell Kat her little
surprise. She owed her, "Thanks. Kat I have a confession to make."

Kat raised an eyebrow, "Which is?"

Elizabeth stated, "You know you always wanted children, Matthew's to
be exact. It was part of your dreams, the thing you would miss the
most when you found out that Matthew was female."

Kat looked suspicious, "Yeah, I've always wanted that. Matthew does

Elizabeth paused for a few moments and then dropped her bombshell,
"Kat, You're pregnant."

"WHAT! HOW?" Kat exclaimed.

"The blood sample I took from Matthew before I turned you back. I
used my DNA system to fertilise one of your eggs and replace the DNA
in it with that of Matthew's."

"But I was genetically you at the time," Matthew said, still stunned.

Elizabeth nodded, "That's right. You're going to have a daughter. An
Elizabeth junior if you like."

"WHAT! You bitch.! How dare you, you impregnate me like this," Kat
felt violated and outraged.

Elizabeth stood and turned to leave, "I did it because you wanted it. At
the time I wasn't certain that I could turn Matthew back. The baby
growing inside you is Matthew's. It came from his body as surely as if it
was his sperm that fertilised it."

Kat was still in shock, "Elizabeth, wait. Are you telling me that, that
you did this to me so that I could be a mom, just as I always wanted.
That you didn't do this out of some notion that if you couldn't have
Matthew you'd make sure your clone did? That if he couldn't love you
as a wife he would love you as a daughter?"

Got it in one, Elizabeth thought. However, the lie was easier to say.
Elizabeth nearly smiled as the final piece of her plan came to fruition.
What she also omitted to tell them was that the baby growing inside Kat
was based entirely on her DNA, not Matthew's. In effect Kat would be
carrying her child, an identical Dr Bexley. Elizabeth resisted a smile, but
managed to look outraged instead. "Don't be stupid. Now do you want
the baby or not?"

Kat thought, "I don't know. I need time to think. I can't just extinguish
a life because of where it came from and how it got there. I do feel as
though you stepped way over the line. If you'd have wanted to do that
for me why didn't you ask me? I might have said yes."

Elizabeth said, "Because we were pushed for time and I wanted you to
have your dreams back. I shattered those dreams for so long. If
Matthew had been left as he was then those few minutes in the DNA
system lab were the only chance you were going to have. The baby girl
growing inside you isn't mine or even me. It's Matthew's. Just because
she's my clone doesn't make her exactly like me. She will know the love
and care of two of the most wonderful people I've ever known. I'm not
going to say I'm sorry because I'm not. I gave you your dreams and
your life back, just as I promised I would."

"It's going to take some getting used to. Elizabeth, I'm still pissed at
you for doing this to me but it's too late now," Kat said circumspectly.

"Hi Dad," Cathline said and slapped Matthew on the back.

For Matthew's part he didn't know whether to hug or hit Elizabeth. Kat
was right. It was too late to do anything about it.

- o - o - o -

Elizabeth had just finished a meal with Matthew, Kat, and Cathline. She
envied them. Although, over the last few weeks, she'd taken a few trips
to her parent's old house, it'd never really felt like home. The piles of
memories heaped upon memories made every trip a painful visit, a
reflection upon what had gone and what might have been. Elizabeth
checked her watch, it was nearly time to go. "I should be getting back."

"Please stay, You can stay over," Kat commented

Elizabeth shook her head, "It's ok. I've got a long drive back to Mom's,
sorry my house and I have a last bit of business I need to attend to
there. Thanks anyway."

"You will come and join us out on our island in a few days won't you?"
Matthew asked.

"We'll see."

She turned to go, but couldn't resist one last look back at Matthew and
Kat now holding hands. A single tear formed in her eye but she quickly
blinked it back. Cathline was walking over to Matthew and Kat and she
pulled them into an affectionate embrace.

Elizabeth turned, the tears starting to flow freely. She was alone once
more. Her friends had their own lives to live and she was clearly not
part of that anymore. Besides, she had killed millions and hurt those
who loved her most. Why should she be happy, she didn't deserve it.
She congratulated herself for not letting her real feelings show. The
others needed to think that she was content and happy even if inside she
wasn't. It was, she decided her penultimate deception. Elizabeth crept
to the door and silently let herself out.

Matthew pulled away from Kat and turned towards where Elizabeth bad
been, wanting to invite her in, "Hey Liz come here, without you there
would be no us," he called out.

"She must have popped out for a moment or two," Kat said.

"It's all right, she'll be back," Cathline said, and pulled away.

Tearfully, Elizabeth ran to her car and sat inside and breathing heavily
started the engine. Inside she felt empty, not angry this time, just
empty, and drained. She'd given her all to help make amends and she
saw in that fateful embrace that her job was done. Being with Matthew
was the hardest part. A part of her still loved him even though he loved

She felt no bitterness at his decision, only sadness and despair. She'd
known that this moment would come, ever since she started to plan this
so long ago. To quote herself 'the train was about the hit the wall'.

She had just the song ready and she pressed the button marked '1' on
her CD autochanger. She started to drive off as the words and music of
a rock ballad filled the car.

'There's a hot hard hurt
Burnin' under her skin
And it pricks her like thorns
And it's needles and pins
And it twists in her body
And I know what it is'

Visions of happier days filled Elizabeth's mind, of her time in the
hospital, helping people, saving lives, and enjoying time with her friends.
Her feelings for Matthew came flooding back, his smile, his laugh, and
his oh so serious side. Sure, sometimes he could be a little dumb but
she loved that about him too. A dangerous thought crossed her mind, a
thought from the darker side of her, and she tried to put it away. She
managed to succeed and it confirmed to her that she was doing the right
thing. It was a reminder that the evil Dr Bexley lurked beneath the
surface, and like Mr Hyde was waiting to emerge and take control
forever. She listened as the song continued.

'And I'm paying in pain
But it's the cost of the high
'Till the weight of the secret
And the weight of the lie
Makes my heart want to burst
Feel the ache as time goes by
Getting better and worse
Getting better and worse
And there's a screw that I tighten
As I dream of the kiss
And it twists and it cuts me
And you know what it is?
It's a fragment of love
From a splintering heart
And it tears her apart, yeah
But not as much as this'

The images of Cairo, still burning days after the attack filled her mind.
She did that. She killed fourteen million people, a figure she couldn't
even visualise. By now she was driving down crowded streets, people
milling about everywhere and going about their day to day humdrum
lives. Elizabeth imagined every one of those people dead or dying, their
imaginary screams invading her mind. Every driver of the cars around
her was seemingly crying out in pain. In her mind's eye she saw a flash
of light and a wall of flame coming towards her, consuming everyone
and everything in it's path. The wall of flame dissolved into a red mist
which drifted around the crowds who then fell to the floor and started
to dissolve.

Images of Matthew slowly turning into her, filled her mind, of Kat
crying into her pillow for her love lost, and Cathline screaming in pain
as the red hot iron entered her eye. Elizabeth blinked back more tears,
and again she saw herself standing over the body of a little girl. The
little girl was slowly breathing and fighting for breath. The girl's
breathing was getting slower and slower until it stopped and the life
seemed to ebb out of her. The end of a long keyboard and guitar rift
brought Elizabeth back to reality.

'So you save up your tears
For the moments alone
'Till the splinters you gather
Leave you glass-hard and numb
And the same sun is shining
On the old and the young
On the saints and the sinners
On the weak and the strong'

"I've caused nothing but pain," Elizabeth whispered to herself. A smile
formed on her face, which then spread into a grin. Her future was now
laid out like the highway in front of her, and like her victims she now
had no choice in her destiny, none at all.

'And there's a burning and freezing
And a cross for a kiss
So she learns to stop dreaming
And you know how it is
With these fragments of love
And this splintering heart
With the fragments
And this splintering heart'

- o - o - o -

The tall woman with long blonde hair and perfect face placed the CD
player on a nearby table. Reaching into her sports bag she pulled out a
faded photograph of a beautiful woman with long auburn hair and
blue/gray eyes standing beside a man. Her arm was around his waist
and her head was resting on his shoulders. The sun was shining in the
picture and it was obvious the couple had just enjoyed a wonderful day
out. The woman had her hand outstretched, showing off a very
expensive engagement ring. Placing the photo beside the CD player she
pulled out a battered, old hardback book and placed that beside the
photograph. She then pulled a rope from her bag and looped it around
the beam on the ceiling. Finally, she pulled out a large double-edged
dagger about two feet long. She weighed it in her hand, watching with
satisfaction as the light glinted off its highly sharpened edges. The
woman tested one of the edges and smiled as it drew a thin line of blood
from her hand. She started the CD playing and got to work.

'Just a Perfect Day
Drank Sangria in the Park
And Later, when it gets dark
We go home'

She tied a knot with thirteen twists to form a noose and then stood on a
chair to secure the rope to the beam. She smiled as the music

'Just A Perfect Day
Feed animals in the Zoo
And Later, a movie too
And then Home

It's Such a Perfect Day
I'm Glad I spent it with you
Such a Perfect Day
You Just keep me hanging on
You Just keep me hanging on'

The last line raised another smile as she heard the last line. Looking
around she found a couple of chairs and moved them into the centre of
the room.

'Just a Perfect Day
Problems all Left Alone
Weekenders on our own
Such Fun

Just a Perfect Day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else
Someone good'

She took a few moments to look out into the garden, now showing
signs of neglect. She thought how wonderful it looked in its time. The
song continued.

'It's Such a Perfect Day
I'm Glad I spent it with you
Such a Perfect Day
You Just keep me hanging on
You Just keep me hanging on'

The tall woman with long blonde hair and perfect face pulled on the
rope hanging from the ceiling. She could hear the birds singing outside
and saw the sun streaming thru the window. She stacked a couple of
chairs together and placed a hastily written note on the bedside table.

Taking one last look outside and gathering up the wedding dress she
wore, she stood on the chairs and slipped her perfect neck thru the
noose the rope had been tied into. She took a deep breath, and placing
the point of the dagger to her left side drove the point in at an upward
angle. Her body twitched as the blade entered her, and her feet kicked
the chairs away. Her body crashed downwards and then started to

The music continued

'You're gonna reap just what you sow.
You're gonna reap just what you sow.
You're gonna reap just what you sow.'

Eventually the batteries on the CD player wore out and the music died
away. The woman was now still, her feet turning as though they were
the points of a compass. Swinging North, Northeast, North,
Northwest, North, and Northeast.

Matthew Stephens was about to board the plane back to his island when
his mobile phone rang. Kat answered and said "Mat it's the police. It's
about Elizabeth."

- o - o - o -

Matthew and Kat drove out to the hospital. A doctor met them at the
door and led them inside. As they walked thru the long, brightly lit
corridors the doctor said, "Terrible shame. I knew her when she
worked here. She was one of the best doctors we ever had."

"Yeah, Listen, are you guys sure it's her?"

"That's what we want you to confirm. We gave Rachel Martin a call as
well but she didn't answer and we left a message, so we sent for you.
It's just here," the doctor gestured to a door on the right.

Matthew walked in and saw a body underneath a white body sheet. The
doctor walked over to the body and pulled the sheet back. The face
was pale and cold, the light in the eyes gone forever; all that remained
was a shadow of the owner's unearthly beauty.

"Where'd you find her?" Kat asked.

"The police found her at the old Bexley mansion. She was dressed in a
wedding dress and found hanging in an upstairs bedroom. The police
presume it used to be hers," the doctor said.

Matthew nodded "It sure looks like her. But is it really her?"

"We've done a preliminary autopsy. She died from a single stab wound
that pieced her heart. We think that her hanging herself as well was just
insurance in case the wound was non-fatal. By the state of her body we
think she died just over a day ago. We noted the presence of an
unknown organ, probably one of those damn changeling things. It's
hard to be sure as the blade nearly severed it in two. We've sent it away
for study just to be sure though. She's got a really strange anatomy,
two hearts, an extra liver and kidney, for example. You might like to
know that blood tests for the changeling chemical have proven positive.
As far as we can tell the body is that of Dr Elizabeth Anne Bexley."

Kat looked over the body laying cold and inert on the table and had a
thought, "I thought that only a shot to the head would kill her? Hanging
wouldn't do it, neither would a stab wound."

Matthew had been thinking the same thing himself, and then he
remembered some speculation from the doctor in Australia, "I know the
changeling organ relied on the brain to operate. If the brain told it to
shutdown and let the person die, it would. I guess that shows us how
much she wanted to end it. Besides, the doctor said that the blade
pierced her changeling organ and then her heart. That would mean that
the changeling organ wouldn't be able to prevent her dying of
asphyxiation because it had been sliced nearly in two."

There was a knock at the door and in walked a tall man in a dark suit.
Another similarly attired man closely followed him. Mathew was
surprised to see President Roberts walk in, followed closely by another
two bodyguards.

"Mr President. This is a surprise," Matthew exclaimed.

"I'm not going to stay long. I just wanted you to know how sorry I am.
I can't believe she did this. I thought she was over it all, ready to start
afresh. I guess I was wrong. We'd done a deal. She'd get a pardon and
access to her DNA system in return for stopping the war. I guess she
felt as though she had nothing else to live for," the president paused to
compose himself.

"I know you have had your problems with her, but in the end she
became a heroine of enormous stature, saving tens of millions of people,
hell maybe the entire world. She also secured for all of humanity the
means for it never to happen again. She is a staggering loss to us all. I
can only regret, we can only regret that her last moments must have
been so terribly lonely and heartbreakingly sad. It's a tragic, tragic
waste of a life. Dr Meier here performed the autopsy. There is no
question that she died of a single, stab wound, but I'm sure he's already
explained that. I have to go now. I really am sorry," the president's
voice tailed off and he made his way past Matthew and Kat and walked
out of the room.

Matthew hung his head and Kat took hold of his arm. "Why did she do
it? I thought she'd gotten over it. If she hadn't have helped us then Kat
wouldn't be here, none of us would. She saved the lives of millions and
stopped a war. Why?"

The doctor said "She left a note addressed to you, this book and a
photograph was on the table, the police have seen it but they gave them
to me to give to you."

Matthew brushed a tear away from his eye "Thanks."

The doctor went to a draw and pulled out a note, a tattered read leather
bound book and a small, framed photograph and handed them to

"What is it?" Kat asked Matthew.

"It's our engagement photograph. She must have carried it everywhere
judging by the state of it. You know what this means?"

"No what?" asked Kat.

"Elizabeth's really dead! No way would she leave this behind, it was her
only link to me."

"What's the book?" Kat asked.

"Hang on I'll have a look," Matthew opened the cover and read, "The
Trachiniae by Sophocles. Hmm, that sounds familiar."

Kat thought for a moment and then mentioned, "We know Elizabeth
was into Greek and Roman Mythology, so it's probably one of the
books she used to come up with all those creepy aliases."

Matthew didn't reply. He was flicking thru the pages of the book. Kat
asked, "What'ya doing?"

"This book, I think I've read it. It was years ago but something's
bugging me about it. You know like you missed something obvious but
can't work out what it is."

Kat left Matthew to it for a few moments and scanned her eyes around
the room. The body on the table looked exactly like Elizabeth but even
now Kat was finding hard to really believe she was dead.

"Oh no!" Matthew breathed.

"What is it?" Kat asked.

"I've found it, the reference I was looking for. You remember one of
Liz's aliases, Deianeria?"

"Vaguely. I think she used it when first talking to the Guild," Kat

"That's right. Well in this book Deianeria is so jealous of a woman
called Iole she poisons Heracles, Hercules if you like. Now that was the
bit we knew about from before. Towards the end of the book Deianeria
is so distraught and horrified by her actions she kills herself," Matthew
could hardly bear himself to say the last phrase.

Matthew paused for a few moments, composing himself and then said,
"Listen to this.

But when she ceased from this, suddenly I beheld her rush into
the chamber of Heracles. From a secret place of espial, I
watched her; and saw her spreading coverings on the couch of
her lord. When she had done this, she sprang thereon, and sat
in the middle of the bed; her tears burst forth in burning
streams, and thus she spake: 'Ah, bridal bed and bridal chamber
mine, farewell now and for ever; never more shall ye receive
me to rest upon this couch.' She said no more, but with a
vehement hand loosed her robe, where the gold-wrought
brooch lay above her breast, baring all her left side and arm.
Then I ran with all my strength, and warned her son of her
intent. But lo, in the space between my going and our return,
she had driven a two-edged sword through her side to the

At that sight, her son uttered a great cry; for he knew, alas,
that in his anger he had driven her to that deed; and he had
learned, too late, from the servants in the house that she had
acted without knowledge, by the prompting of the Centaur.
And now the youth, in his misery, bewailed her with all
passionate lament; he knelt, and showered kisses on her lips; he
threw himself at her side upon the ground, bitterly crying that
he had rashly smitten her with a slander, -- weeping that he
must now live bereaved of both alike, -- of mother and of sire.

Such are the fortunes of this house. Rash indeed, is he who
reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for
tomorrow is not, until today is safely past."

"Oh my God," Kat mouthed.

Matthew nodded, "Yeah, she must have planned this all along. Once
she'd put right her wrongs as best as she could she would take her own
life. Everything else was just slight of hand, distracting us from what
she really wanted to do."

"But why? She's had ample opportunity to kill herself, us too I guess?"

Matthew though for a few seconds, listing and remembering the
moments he'd shared with the now deceased Dr Elizabeth Bexley,
"She's come very close on many occasions. When I left her, when her
parents died, when she was being shot at by the Guild and most recently
her stupid foolhardy change into that creature. That one came closet of

A wave of sorrow washed over Kat and a little guilt. "I guess she felt as
if she deserved to die but not until she'd made amends. Although we
could forgive her, she could never forgive herself. We misjudged her
Matthew, we misjudged her a great deal."

Matthew nodded his agreement, "I guess. I just we'd have known
sooner, maybe we could've stopped her, made her feel cared for rather
than held her at arms length. Too late now."

Kat speculated "I don't think we could've prevented this. She's
obviously had this in mind from the start and if the Guild couldn't stop
her then nobody could. She'd have found a way. It's strange how her
first alias is also her last, as if she's completed the circle or reached her
journey's end. That's so like her, no loose ends. Don't feel any guilt
Matthew, you don't owe her. You put yourself on the line for her even
after what she did to us. Liz knew this, she also knew that we'd live in
fear of her if she was still alive and maybe she would live in fear of
herself, of what she was capable of."

Matthew thought back over the past few weeks, "I think it was her
failure to stop Israel that tipped the balance. She said she wanted to
make amends by saving more lives than she had ruined. Even if she
lived a thousand years there's no way she could directly save fourteen
million lives."

"What does the note say, maybe she explains herself in that?" Kat asked.

"I forgot all about that," Matthew said and started to read the note out
loud to Kat

'My love, my sweet, sweet love. It is with a heavy heart I must
leave you but I have no other escape route. The more I see
you with Kat the more I realise that you are meant to be
together. So long as I am alive I am a reminder to you both of
the evil I caused.

When I was younger, I wanted to save lives, give myself to a
higher purpose. I wanted to be loved and to love and you gave
that to me. You may not have loved me in the right way but
the care you gave to me is the closest I have ever come to true
love. During my fury at you lives were puppets for me to toy
with, performing animals to jump thru hoops for me. When I
recovered I realised what I had done and sought to make
amends. I always comforted myself with the thought that
overall I'd saved more lives than I'd taken. It kept me going.

Fourteen Million lives Matthew. I am responsible for the
deaths of fourteen million people. That's more than Hitler and
Stalin combined. I am no longer a human being, I am a
monster. The weight of my conscience I can no longer bear. I
saw a report on the remains of Cairo and Tel-Aviv the other
day. I see people dying of radiation poisoning and the decades
of suffering to come in those places. I did that. My life was
supposed to bring happiness and life. I trained to be an angel
of mercy, spreading life wherever I go. Instead I have become
death incarnate, a destroying angel, the destroyer of worlds.
Therefore it's to death I must return.

I very much doubt if anyone will mourn my passing but please
take my body and bury it next to my parents. Save a rose for
me Matthew, just like you did for me all those years ago.
Place it on my coffin to remember all the good times we had.

Kat, please keep the baby growing inside you. I trust she will
grow to be a better person than I did. She is my legacy to you,
my second chance at life. Maybe she can live in a world where
the name 'Dr Elizabeth Anne Bexley' is not synonymous with
pain and suffering. You and Matthew love each other with a
depth that is beyond me. How could I ever compete?

Tell Cathline that I am sorry for all her pain and I hope she
meets the 'one' for her.

Time is short and I must do this now.

Farewell my friends. You gave me more chances than I ever
gave you.

Dr Elizabeth Anne Bexley'
Matthew put down the letter and rubbed the tears from his eyes. "I
spent years wanting her gone and now she has I find I miss her."

Kat rubbed away a tear also "She saved me Y'know. If she hadn't done
what she did then I'd be dead by now, we all would."

Kat felt her now slightly swollen stomach and thought about the life
now flourishing inside, "Of course we'll keep the baby -- we owe her
that much. We already know what she'll look like but not how she'll
turn out, that bit's up to us. All that remains is a name. I think we both
know what we should call her."

Matthew nodded "Elizabeth Cathline Stephens."

"Yeah. Come on let's get going we've a funeral to arrange," Kat said
taking Matthew by the hand.

"And a rose to buy," Matthew added.

"Get me one too," Kat said softly, giving Matthew's hand a squeeze.

"Make that three," Cathline said. She'd slipped in while Matthew and
Kat were reading the note.

Kat turned to face Cathline and gave her a smile, squeezing Matthew's
hand she took hold of Cathline's arm and the three of them walked
outside. They had a goodbye to arrange.

Twenty-four years later.

Matthew and Kat were walking hand in hand along the beach.
Matthew's hand was around Kat's waist and her head was resting on his
arm. They heard the sound of a motor launch heading towards them
and they turned to face the sound. A small inflatable boat was slowly
making its way thru the swell and was about to dock at the jetty. Inside
the boat was a young woman with long blonde hair and wonderful
curves. Standing up, steering the boat was a tall man with dark hair.
By the looks of them they'd been at sea for a while.

Matthew called out a greeting to them and the man waved back. Kat
had already started to run to the jetty to investigate. By the time
Matthew had reached the boat it was already tied up and the man was
helping the young woman from the boat.

"I'm so glad that you're in. Could you please help us?" the woman said.

"What's the problem?" Matthew said.

"Sorry. Introductions first. My name is Dr Anne Baxter, this is my
fiancee Mark. We're marine biologists researching the effect of man's
pollution on the reefs around here. We suffered a fire aboard our ship
that knocked out all our radios and damaged the rudder. Can we use
your radio to summon help?"

"Sure. Does anyone need any medical help? We've a doctor here at the
moment I'm sure she'd like to help," Kat asked.

"No the rest of the crew is fine. The ship is about ten miles out from
here so we took the dinghy. Besides, I used to want to be a medical
doctor, did all the training and everything but the ocean holds a greater
calling." Dr Baxter answered.

"You look famished. Why don't you come inside? It's our daughter
Elizabeth's wedding in a couple of days so you'll excuse us if we're a
little busy."

"Hey I recognise you now, from the TV. You were at President
Jameson's swearing in. Now I know who you are. Aren't you Matthew
and Jane Stephens? " Mark said.

"Yeah. We try and keep a low profile nowadays. If you've got time
why don't you stay for some dinner? I'm sure Elizabeth and John won't

Dr Baxter gave Mark a nod and then said "Yeah love to. Just let us call
for help first."

"Agreed, Matthew'll show Mark to the radio. You can walk with me?"
Kat suggested.

"Thanks. Say, for a woman of fifty something you look very good.
Sure hope I look as good when I'm fifty," Dr Baxter said.

"I had some outside help. Say, you and Mark look well suited. How'd
you meet?"

"We met at college. His car had broken down on the campus, I was
driving past and I helped him fix it. We just seemed to hit it off right
away. He's my soul mate. I guess you know all about that?"

Kat smiled. "You bet."

- o - o - o -

"The Radio's just thru there," Matthew pointed to an old looking radio
set that was perched on a nearby table.

"Thanks. I'll only be a few minutes."

"Fine, want me to show you how to use it?"

"Nah, I can still use these old silicon units. She's quite a woman isn't

"Who, Kat?"

"Yeah. She reminds me of my Elizabeth Anne. She doesn't use her first
name much, in case you were wondering, but I like it. And I love her!
Anyway, If she hadn't have been there to help me fix my car I'd have
missed my exam and failed my doctorate. She's irreplaceable!"

Matthew smiled "It wasn't snowing was it?"

"Umm no. Oh yes, I get it. I've read about you and that Dr. Bexley.
We did about you in school, you know! No it wasn't. I'd better make
the call."

"Fine, I've got dinner to get ready. The dining room's down the
corridor and third door on the left," Matthew said, and left the room.

Several minutes later Mark joined Matthew, Dr Baxter, and Kat in the
dining room.

"Hi hun, I've just got off the radio. They say they've sent a ship from
Male to tow our ship back to port for repairs. It should get there in a
few hours," Mark said.

"Great. Come down and sit next to me," Dr Baxter said softly and
patted the seat next to her.

"Ah, young love," a nightingale voice said from behind them.

"Dr Baxter, Mark, I'd like you to meet our daughter, Dr Elizabeth
Stephens. Soon to be Dr Elizabeth Richards," Kat said.

"As if I could forget. All I've been doing for the past month is getting
ready for my wedding. Anyway, nice to meet you. Heard you had
some trouble with your boat," Elizabeth said.

"Yeah all sorted now," Mark said staring at the tall auburn haired
woman with the blue-gray eyes.

Dr Elizabeth Stephens sat down beside Matthew. "Hey dad, where's
that pesky brother of mine? He's always late for dinner."

"Probably still working on his thesis. Go and get him would you dear?"
Kat said to Elizabeth.

"Sure mom," Elizabeth replied and got up and walked out.

"Smart girl and beautiful too. You must be very proud," Dr Baxter

"We are. We're proud of both of them. Elizabeth beat the class record
at Harvard set by the late Dr Bexley by a fraction of a point and John is
looking set to graduate with honors at Yale. All in all we're very

"Changing the subject, I hear they've nearly decontaminated Cairo. It
should be habitable within the next five years or so. Shame about the
pyramids and Sphinx. I always wanted to see them. They must have
been impressive," Mark said.

"I guess. We only saw them in a blur on our honeymoon. We had
other things on our mind at the time. But that was a LONG time ago.
Too long," Matthew commented.

"Almost a lifetime," Dr Baxter said softly.

A tall man with black hair and dark brown eyes walked in "Hi Dad,
what's for dinner?"

"Mark, Dr Baxter I'd like you to meet our son, John," Matthew said

"Pleased to meet you," Mark said and held out his hand.

Shaking it John said, "Pleasure."

"Say, I'd like to write a congratulations note to Elizabeth and her future
husband," Dr Baxter said.

"Sure. I'll go get some paper," Matthew said and went to a nearby
drawer, rummaged around for a bit and came back with a notepad and

Taking the pad and pen Dr Baxter thought for a while and then wrote
on the pad. "I'll keep this until after dinner," she said.

Elizabeth soon joined them and sat down at her place next to Matthew.

After dinner Mark and Dr Baxter bade their farewells. Dr Baxter
handed the note to Kat and then walked off with Mark to their waiting

"What's the note say?" Matthew asked.

Kat scanned it and read out,

'Wishing my sister bride all the best in her upcoming marriage.
May it be fruitful and give you all your hearts desire. You are
very fortunate to have parents who love you and each other as
much as they do.

Dr Anne Baxter (Scylla) and Dr Mark Andrews.'

Kat thought for a moment and said "Nice of them to do that. Oh rats,
they forgot something. Don't worry I'll go."

Kat rushed out of the door and just heard Matthew call "Hey, you
forgot what they forgot!" Ignoring Matthew's call, Kat sprinted down
the steps to the jetty and just made it in time to see Dr Baxter get into
the boat.

"Dr Baxter, wait!" Kat called out.

"What's up?" Dr Baxter called out.

"You left something behind. A wedding present from Matthew and

"Hey thanks," Dr Baxter said, got out of the boat and walked towards

"Hi witch, a little bit different from when we last met on this jetty isn't
it?" Kat said.

"Pardon?" Dr Baxter said, a surprised look on her face.

Kat decided to lay her hunch on the table, "Come on Liz. I've no idea
how you pulled it off but you can drop the pretence. It'll be our secret."

"Sorry Jane. Dr Bexley's been dead for over twenty years. She's not a
part of your life anymore. I suggest you let me get back to Mark and
my crew. It's been a pleasure meeting you."

"Then why all the hints? The Scylla thing? That was the alias you gave
yourself when you were exiled to the ocean as a mermaid. What about
you wanting to be a MD and then changing your mind? If you still had a
changeling organ you could make yourself younger. The deal you did
with the government could've given you a new life and faked the
suicide. What about the sister thing on Elizabeth's note?"

"Jane, Dr Bexley is dead and buried. I suggest you leave her there. The
rest of the world has so why can't you? Missing your Moriarty huh?"

Kat nodded. Was this woman standing before her really her arch
nemesis, Dr Elizabeth Bexley? Kat had to admit she wasn't sure
anymore, "I guess so. I knew the way she operated better than most,
makes me a little paranoid sometimes."

"I understand. She still haunts you both doesn't she?"

"In a way. Part of us believes that she's faked all this and that she's alive
somewhere making a new life for herself."

"What if she is? Would she want your interference? Would you want

"I guess not," Kat admitted.

"Then leave her in her grave and look forward to the years you have
ahead of you."

"You're right of course. Say, do you want to come back in a few days
and be at Elizabeth's wedding."

Dr Baxter thought for a moment and then said "No thanks, I've grown
out of being the uninvited guest. Thanks for the offer though, but I
need to get our ship repaired and operational again. Hope I can drop in

"Anytime," Kat said softly.

Dr Baxter turned to go and walked towards the waiting dinghy.

"Oh Dr Baxter?" Kat called out.

Dr Baxter turned around "Yeah?"

"Thank you," Kat said with a twinkle in her eye.

"My pleasure. See ya later Kitty Kat," Dr Baxter said and gave a single
fingered wave. She then paused for a moment. "You're having a good
life, I can see that. All of the others too who were involved in that Fury
business way back?"

Kat nodded slowly, wondering why she was asking.

"Ever wonder if Dr Bexley was being straight with you? Y'know about
not being able to turn you back as you were? Even your daughter,
Elizabeth looks a lot like her."

"Sometimes I wonder, but that's all in the past now. As you say, life is
good to us. As for Elizabeth, we realized while she was growing up that she
was a direct clone of Dr Bexley. She's much too clever and wilful, to be
anything or anyone else. And yes, she does look just like her, even
though she wears her hair softer. We were as angry as hell when we
found out, but in the end we realized we loved her anyway. You love
people for who they are, not where they came from, or who they may

Dr Baxter gave a smile, "As it should be."

Kat turned and walked away, deep in thought. Maybe she was right
after all, who knew? Dr Baxter certainly wasn't saying. She turned to
watch Dr Baxter getting back into the dinghy.

"All the best 'hell bitch' and I hope it works for you this time," she
whispered to herself.

She then turned back to walk to the house. Besides, Cathline and family
would be arriving tomorrow afternoon. And there was a wedding to

As she reached the top of the steps leading to the house she turned once
more to see the sun setting beneath the horizon. Looking down she saw
the dinghy disappearing into the distance. She smiled to herself and
went inside.

***** END. ******
Notes on Fury Directive.

Music in order of appearance

* Parts from 'The Uninvited Guest' - Marillion 1989

'One' - U2

My heart will go on - Celine-Dion

Forever autumn - Justin Hayward/Jeff Wayne

Splintering Heart - Marillion 1990

Perfect Day - Lou Reed


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