Meta - 1-01 - Metamorphosis

Story by Leo_Todrius on SoFurry

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#1 of META

Written by Trinity sits on the ocean like a jewel, a mecca and metropolis of science and civilization, but darkness festers in the shadows. Evil is bubbling toward the breaking point and there is only one who can turn the tide against it - Meta.

I'll try to think of a less pretentious primer later, but I wanted to get this out here. At long last, the first chapter of my super hero epic is done. I've been inspired since Avengers and my readers were kind enough to help me refine the ideas, polishing them and making them worth while. I hope you enjoy, this is only the beginning.


It is said that energy could not be created nor destroyed; only transformed. The principle is ancient and timeless, built into the very building blocks of our universe itself, but every waking day on every living world, life finds ways to bring new definition to just what energy is... and what it could become. In a distant corner of the cosmos, one race found a way to harness thought, motivation and ideals. They created an all-encompassing energy that embodied justice, goodness, and a thirst for freedom, and because it was born of the ideas of conscious thought, the energy bound itself to a living soul. When the soul perished, the energy moved on to another, then another. In time the world evolved beyond the need for the energy, but the essence continued on, searching for a world in need of justice, in need of goodness, and in need of a hero.

Chapter 1-01 (Metamorphosis)

Thick clouds broiled over the city, trapping the heat and light pollution well after the sun had set. Even the sea breezes hadn't made it inland enough to drop the temperature. The clouds almost looked as if they had rusted, saturated with the orange light of street lights. The streets themselves were completely dry. The clouds had not released a single drop of rain, much to the delight of crickets. The symphony of the insects carried on the still air, passing through the open screens into the animal shelter. The lights were still on, a sign that the sole occupant had stayed past closing yet again.

Inside the veterinary shelter, a young man moved around with swift efficiency. He was eighteen years old with cream colored skin and hair so dark brown that it was virtually black. His hair was long enough to touch his shoulders in the back, but it sloped around his ears cleanly, his bangs long enough to reach his cheek bones. The hair was artfully brushed out of the way of his eyes, sloping across before coming down over his right ear. Brown almond shaped eyes looked to the animal cages with compassion, love and sorrow for all the afflictions the pets had gone through. The young man gave each animal a comforting stroke as he went around his final rounds for the day.

Each cage was situated with food and water and double checked that it was secure. All medications had been administered earlier and everything was checked off. The young man gave the room one last glance before he closed and locked the windows and moved to the security system. He reached into his forest green long sleeve t-shirt and pulled out his key card, sliding it through the security system. The screen briefly displayed his name, Gideon Dune, before the system was armed. Gideon quickly stepped out of the side door before he pulled it shut, hearing it lock behind him. The building was sealed and protected and yet another night had come to an end. Gideon smiled; quite content with his good work for the night... at least until he glanced at his watch and saw that it was eleven thirty at night. A deep groan escaped his lips.

"Ah man, Slater's going to be so worried." Gideon muttered to himself. He glanced both ways before he crossed the street, jogging toward home. Gideon passed burned out brick buildings, abandoned warehouses and run down tenements. The few dark souls that dwelled in the night watched Gideon pass, though for the moment they did nothing. A few of the gangs had brought Gideon their puppies when they were sick and Gideon had patched them up free of charge. As far as they were concerned, he had diplomatic immunity. Still, it wasn't something that protected him from unaligned criminals, from the rogues and the infirm.

After traveling three city blocks, Gideon made it to his apartment, moving up the six cement steps before he was inside. He moved up the three flights of stairs at a slower pace so he didn't wake his neighbors, eventually coming to his front door. He reached up to brush his hair back over his ear, the palm of his hand brushing the nickel sized black plug in his ear. A matched plug was set in his other ear, rounding out the pair. Gideon opened the door to his apartment and stepped in, looking around. The apartment was immaculate. The dishes were cleaned, laundry was washed and folded. Every item in the apartment was spick and span. Everything was in its place, though as Gideon felt the cold steel latch around his wrist, he knew that he had forgotten to check on either side of the door.

The handcuff latched firmly around Gideon's wrist, the other side latched around the wrist of his captor. A taller, thinner nineteen year old stepped up behind Gideon, sliding his unrestrained arm around Gideon's torso. The nineteen year old was six feet tall with short feathered blonde hair. His skin was better tanned than Gideon's, though he never tried to get one. The young man leaned in to bury his nose in Gideon's hair, inhaling the scent before he hugged Gideon tight, moving to kiss his boyfriend's neck.

"I missed you so much..." he whispered. Gideon turned to face his boyfriend, looking up into his eyes.

"I missed you too Slater." Gideon said, moving to kiss the blonde deeply. Slater shivered in delight at the embrace, his lips eagerly working Gideon's for several moments before he playfully sucked on Gideon's lower lip. Gideon smirked, reaching up to tangle his fingers in Slater's hair, holding him into the kiss until both needed to break for air. At last their lips parted and they grinned. Gideon looked Slater over, seeing what he had put on for the day. Slater's torso was scarcely covered by the tight black mesh shirt he wore, thin enough that his nipples were fully visible through it. The tightness of the shirt contrasted the baggy black pants he wore, completely engulfing his feet. The black pants jangled a bit. Parts of the pants were made of belt straps and the entire garment was covered with a dozen metal d-hooks, loops and chains. To complete his look, Slater wore a black leather collar, a long leash dangling from the hook on his neck.

"Let's head to bed." Gideon said gently, taking a hold of the leash. He wrapped it around his wrist before giving it a gentle tug. Slater shivered, his eyes rolling into the back of his head almost like he was going to orgasm on the spot. Slater gave Gideon a quick kiss before he unlocked the handcuffs, more than happy enough to be connected via the leash for the moment. Gideon led Slater back towards the bedroom, thinking idly about how his life had come to be the way it was. He had never been into bondage or kink before. Gideon had met Slater and realized the young man had just as rough of a life as any animal he ever cared for; orphaned, homeless, and a hearty dose of abandonment issues... and like any stray, Gideon took him in.

It had started as an act of compassion, but Slater had bonded completely to Gideon and Gideon had fallen in love with Slater. It was an unconventional relationship, but it worked for them, all be it with occasional visits to the therapist. Once in the room, Gideon moved to kick off his shoes and drop his pants, letting Slater remove his shirt. Slater kissed Gideon's navel, abdomen and chest as he lifted the shirt up, worshipping every bit of exposed flesh before the shirt was cast aside. Gideon sat down on the edge of the bed, removing his socks before he sat in just his underwear, moving to remove Slater's pants.

With a heavy clunk, the belted pants dropped quickly. Gideon reached up and stretched the mesh shirt out, the collar expanding to several times its original size. It had taken Gideon almost a month to get used to Slater's wardrobe consisting of shirts that could be removed without going over the head. Everything had buttons, zippers or was stretchy... because Slater wouldn't allow anything to go over the collar and leash. Gideon pulled the mesh shirt down, leaving Slater just in his tight underwear. Slater grinned, happy to be undressed by his boyfriend. He promptly straddled Gideon and Gideon lay back onto the bed, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend. Slater snuggled in tight, burying his face in Gideon's neck, breathing in his scent deeply.

"I love you... so much." Slater whispered, his breath a little uneven.

"I love you too. It's alright, you're safe." Gideon said as he reached up to caress Slater's head, petting his hair before his eyes closed and he fell asleep, exhausted from his long day. Slater remained still, not wanting to disrupt Gideon, but he wasn't going to miss his favorite part of the day for anything in the world. His leash was being held by the love of his life. He was with someone, bound to someone, together. Slater listened to Gideon's breathing for several minutes before he moved his head, his ear resting on Gideon's chest. Each thump of the heart was like a warm loving hug to Slater. It was the most beautiful sound in the world. After almost an hour, Slater finally started to fall asleep, sighing with relief.

Hours had passed in silence and contentment, Slater and Gideon embraced in their slumber. Even in his sleep, Slater never let go of Gideon. He was always close, always touching. His lips brushed Gideon's stomach, his nipples, his neck. The faint glow of the street lights washed over their naked flesh, diffused by the frosted glass bricks that made up the wall behind the bed. Slater stirred softly, his nose tracing down the cleft of Gideon's chest toward his abdomen. He was between dreams, still technically asleep but shallow enough to move, and in that moment he knew life was good, that he never wanted that moment to end... but sadly his wish was not to be granted.

The harsh red glow of the alarm clock on the nightstand changed, the numbers ticking over to five forty five in the morning. The alarm clock accessed the flash card inserted into its slot and began to play the MP3 Gideon had loaded into it. It was a gentle orchestral piece, melodic and slow building. It was a gentle way to wake up and Gideon had trained himself on it. He inhaled slowly, his mind becoming more alert... but Slater's eyes were wide open. He was fully awake and his icy eyes looked to the alarm clock with something far more than annoyance or disgruntled frustration. He looked at the piece of technology with unadulterated hate.

Slater hated the clock; he hated what it represented and what it did. Every morning the damned box woke them up, spoiling their time together, taking Gideon away... Gideon already had sat up, stretching a bit. He leaned over and kissed Slater on the cheek, then the lips. Slater returned the kiss gently, staying in bed as Gideon stood up and padded into the kitchen on bare feet, starting to get breakfast going. Slater remained where he was, a bare torso extending out of blankets almost like he was a merman surfacing out of ocean waters... and he wanted more than anything to lure Gideon back in, never to leave again.

In the kitchen, Gideon cracked eggs over the pan and placed some bacon in next. He had tried to be vegan for a year, but he hadn't been able to manage his protein levels right and had found it alienated him from those he wanted most to have an impact on. In the end, he chose vendors whose practices were the most in line with his beliefs, and there was something energizing about a classical breakfast on an early morning. When Gideon turned to get the juice, he looked up to see Slater standing naked in the doorway to the bedroom. The first faintest rays of sunrise were starting to creep through the glass brick walls, highlighting the blonde like a marble sculpture.

"Very... very nice." Gideon said with a grin, moving over to kiss Slater between the nipples.

"Stay here with me today, don't go..." Slater said softly. Gideon looked up into Slater's eyes, reaching up to caress his cheeks.

"Slater, I wish I could... I love you more than anything in this world, but the apartment has to be paid for somehow, and when I work I'm helping other people. This world needs a little help." Gideon said softly.

"Then let me come with you." Slater said. Gideon gave a lop-sided smile.

"You still aren't allowed in the clinic after last time." Gideon said.

"What, they still haven't forgiven me for that?" Slater asked, crossing his arms.

"You refused to take off your leash even when there were customers there... and you were on all fours." Gideon said.

"Well they didn't see you doing me doggie style in back, now did they?" Slater grinned. Gideon blushed at that, moving for the juice. Slater turned around and wiggled his perfect bubble butt at Gideon. Gideon murmured, his cock throbbing with eagerness at the idea but he forced himself to get back to breakfast.

"How about you meet me at the hospital at two? We can visit the pediatric ward there, say hi to our friends." Gideon said. Slater smiled, nodding gently.

"Alright, that sounds good." Slater said, happy to spend even an extra second with Gideon. Gideon turned, giving Slater a knowing smile.

"And no telling the boys you're my pet..." Gideon added seriously.

"Awwww, but it makes them smile so." Slater responded. Gideon gave Slater a soft glance before he moved, following it up with a deep, full kiss before he returned to the stove in time to flip the bacon. Slater stood where he was, watching Gideon cook, thinking of everything they had been through.

He had been alone in an alley when Gideon had found him. Alone, orphaned, living off of free school lunches. Gideon had taken him home at once, tried to get him every form of help he could find, but to Slater the beacon of hope was Gideon himself. The first person to care, the first person to embrace him. Slater couldn't imagine life without Gideon. Everything he had lost didn't matter if Gideon was there as his reward, his love, his completion. Slater sat down at the dining room table, watching Gideon cook, idolizing him. As much as Slater hated Gideon leaving each day, he'd never met such an honorable man. Animals, children, the homeless, even criminals. Gideon helped them all find a better foothold in life. It was what made Gideon special, but it's what worried Slater as well, worried that something would take him away... Slater reached up to wipe the tear from his eye, pushing the thought away. Gideon was safe, right before him, right there. Slater knew he would stand by Gideon for the rest of his life and everything would be okay as long as they had each other.

Gideon looked over to Slater and smiled warmly as he always did, loving the feeling of being loved. He hated when he had to leave Slater behind, but sometimes there was no way around it. Slater's behavior wasn't normal, but somehow they made it work... and the sex was unbelievable. Gideon dished up two plates of bacon and eggs before he moved them over to the table, setting them down. Before he had a chance to sit, Slater grabbed his head and pulled him in for a deep kiss. Their tongues tangled, sliding around sloppily. Gideon moaned and moved to straddle Slater, grinding against him tightly. Slater humped back, his shaft starting to drool precum almost immediately.

The two embraced with a practiced grace, used to what it took to push each other over the edge. Gideon reached in to pinch and twist Slater's nipples with almost ruthless pressure and Slater sucked on Gideon's lower lip before breaking the kiss to bite and suck at his neck. The two ground their shafts together in blessed tightness. Slater felt his balls tighten up and his cock start to throb, but he didn't orgasm yet. Something was missing. Slater leaned up to lick Gideon's ear lobe, panting hard.

"Say it." He begged.

"Cum for me." Gideon replied. As the words left his mouth, Slater let out a soft moan, his shaft exploding his thick cream all over Gideon's pajamas. Gideon bit his lip and came as well, his hard shaft sending out a thick puddle that soaked through the material. Slater collapsed back in the chair, panting eagerly, his arms locked around Gideon's back. Gideon lay there for a long moment, their messy groins locked together... As weird as it was, life was very good.

A growling mechanical hum and a steady thumping of engines roared across the ocean as the hybrid helicopter raced along. Aided by both rotating blades and small jet engines, it truly was a splendid craft. The slate gray hull glinted in the light of sunrise, though nothing stood out quite as much as the white symbol emblazoned proudly on the fuselage - a capital G and a double helix resembling a curved H, the symbol of the Genetech Corporation. A clean cut young man of twenty five piloted the craft, his black hair shorn short, his eyes gazing through special polarized aviator sunglasses, though every so often he would glance at his passenger.

Sitting on the side of the craft was Jeremiah Prince, the CEO of Genetech. For a man of fifty three, he had aged almost unnaturally well. He had the skin of a thirty year old and the perfectly groomed brown hair of a twenty year old. His eyes were such a rich dark brown that in some lights they looked as black as the suit he wore. It had been an early flight out from the mainland, but it was a prestigious day for Genetech, one of their most ambitious projects was about to commence its final phase, and the view wasn't bad either.

The flight had headed east from the mainland, venturing across the pacific. They flew towards the sunrise, the light all but blinding them. The horizon was aflame with orange and pink light, the ocean waters looking like waves of fire... but at last their destination started to emerge from the glow of the sun. At first glance, it looked like a small cluster of islands linked together by bridges, each developed to the height of urban living, but it was far more than a fortunate geological find, it was the height of manmade engineering. It was Trinity.

Trinity was a metropolis built on three completely artificial islands, networked together but capable of operating completely independently. The three artificial islands had taken twenty years to build but had already been in full operation for almost twice that time. They had been built in secret by the American government as a test bed for advanced technologies, but the fiscal troubles of the twenties had forced the government to do the unthinkable; they sold the islands. Genetech and seven other scientific organizations had spread out the burden amongst themselves, purchasing the city and continuing on its legacy as a scientific Mecca.

Over half of the city's population was employed by one of the invested companies at one level or another, but Trinity was a fully complete society. The North island housed all of the science facilities; research labs, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and testing fields. The east island housed the dense urban sprawl and the bulk of the city's population. That left the south island, home to what suburbs Trinity had as well as their agricultural hub. Between the produce made on the south island and the aquaculture around Trinity, the island didn't need to import any food in order to survive... and that was a price point none of the corporations involved balked at.

Prince looked out of the front of the helicopter with wonder as they began passing over the east island, curving out toward the north. He looked at the skyscrapers, the endless blocks of apartments, the clean streets and the parks. It was an impressive feat and there was little that Trinity lacked. Every discovery or finding produced by the companies reinforced Trinity itself. They had the world's leading hospitals, the best veterinary clinics, the highest performing schools... it was a paradise of science and profit. Prince just hoped his next venture would be as fortunate.

They passed over the open waters between the three islands and the many tourist boats that bobbed on the tide before Prince saw their destination, the North island itself. There were far fewer skyscrapers on the North Island, though there were a few that acted as the regional headquarters for the various corporations. The helicopter carefully navigated between the Genetech tower and Polarity Industries tower, though as impressive as they were, the Trinitron campus beyond was far more impressive. What it lacked it made up for in spread. Glass and steel domes sectioned off various buildings and departments and in one of the largest, a man made weather system swirled around complete with a rainbow.

Prince shook his head in amusement as they rounded past the Cellucore structure, moving for the Genetech laboratories. The jet engines powered off, rendering the helicopter a conventional sort as they decreased the altitude, navigating toward the crisp white building. Architectural support beams ran vertically around the outside of the structure, interlacing with the continuous balcony around every floor. It created a lattice shape almost like an open Rubik's cube or a squared off be hive. Three men in suits stood on the roof, braving the winds of the helicopter as it landed. As the rotors slowed, Prince stepped out and ducked under the blades, moving out to a safe distance.

"Mister Prince, we are most honored to receive you. The Trinity facilities are at your disposal during your stay here and -" but the man made no further progress as the CEO held up his hand.

"Tell me of your progress. Is the presentation on schedule?" Prince asked. The suited men looked at one another.

"Yes, to a degree..." One of them said. Prince's eyebrows lowered.

"To what degree is it on schedule?" Prince asked, barely audible over the helicopter. The doors ahead of them opened, revealing an elevator. The suited men looked at each other, silently delegating who would give the bad news.

"We can go ahead with the demonstration as planned in terms of input commands, but we haven't... yet... been able to proceed with the full upload." The junior scientist said. Prince stepped into the elevator and turned around, looking at them appraisingly.

"You..." he said, pointing to the man that had dealt in degrees of completion, "You are the project manager, correct?" Prince asked.

"Yes sir." The scientist said meekly, stepping in as the doors shut and the elevator began to descend.

"You delegated your failure to another to report in the hopes of saving yourself, did you not?" Prince asked. The scientist shuffled and hesitated. Prince's eyes narrowed, "Did you not?"

"Yes sir, I did." He admitted finally.

"This company is prepared for failure. We learn from mistakes, set backs, what have you. We are not, however, prepared to accept any lies, half truths or manipulations. You are demoted to junior researcher for the remainder of this project. Your cooperation and help will determine if you can resume your previous position at a future time." Prince said. The scientist twitched a bit before he nodded.

"Y-Yes sir, I understand." He murmured softly. Prince turned.

"I hope you do... This isn't a punishment for failure, it is a safety net. Genetech will not be responsible for any more incidents like the case of 'Doctor Julian'." Prince murmured before he turned to face the doors, "You will complete the upload overnight tonight for a full demonstration tomorrow. I will take care of everything else." Prince explained. They had been dropping at a fast rate for almost a minute before the doors opened up onto a highly polished laboratory. Offices were cordoned off with transparent walls. They looked like glass, but the panes held liquid crystal which turned every wall into a computer display. Some offices were covered in notes, others with forms, some blank. Standing just outside the elevator were several Genetech supervisors, investors and dignitaries from Trinity and the United Nations. Prince stepped out, his hair perfect and his suit crisp. A shark like smile spread across his lips as he emerged, moving right to shake everyone's hands.

"Welcome, welcome all of you. It is our superb privilege to have you all here on this momentous day." Prince said, smiling as he went along, inquiring about safe travel for the visitors and how they each liked their stay. Before long he had reached the end of the line and turned, "Gentlemen, if you will follow me." Prince said, leading them along. They passed through the passages between offices before Prince opened up a double set of doors to a wood lined meeting room. It had all the amenities. Two long tables were set up in a v shape with the point to the door. The back walls hosted every form of coffee, juice and soda machine known to man. Microphones were built into the tables and cameras were built into the walls, but what drew everyone's attention was the feature piece.

Standing in the center of the room was a figure, a humanoid shape. It was as black as night in some angles and in others it appeared almost silver. It was like liquid frozen in time. A perfect neck angled down to perfect shoulders, a defined chest, shapely legs and shoes that appeared to conform perfectly to any feet almost as a sock would, lacking only the gap between the toes. There were no seams, no zippers, no contours of every kind. Some of the visitors sat down at the table while others checked the figure, hoping to see it breathe, but there was no movement at all. Prince moved around the table, taking up his position for his presentation.

"Once again, welcome everyone. This day would not be quite as special without your presence." Prince said, attempting as always to be the charmer, "But I assure you, it is a most prestigious day. Genetech has always been at the forefront of science. We were responsible for the first successful gene splicing, the first to harvest alien byproducts for mass marketing, the first to create a broad-spectrum cure for cancer... It may not sound humble, but we here at Genetech have spent half a century learning just what makes life... life. Now we are going to redefine what that means." Prince said.

The guests murmured to one another in surprise and delight before looking back at the suit. They eyed it over again in light of the new primer, starting to take it more seriously. Notepads were brought out, while the investors used cell phone apps to save a recording of the presentation from the room's cameras. Prince moved over to stand next to the figure, reaching up to rest his hand on the shoulder of the black shape.

"At the turn of the century, a company developed groundbreaking protection for mankind. It was known as D3O. An elastic orange gel that flowed freely at slow speeds, but when it was subjected to sudden impact it absorbed the energy and turned into a solid until the threat was gone. That gel went on to fill every kind of helmet, vest and body armor used by man, civilian and military. It went on to be used in generation three space shuttles and the first hover tanks... It changed the face of mankind. If a gel could be that useful at a molecular level, what could it do with the capacity to think? What if the threat lasted more than an instant? What if it could adapt to any kind of threat?" Prince asked.

Once more the investors and guests were murmuring, almost salivating. Prince had them eating out of the palm of his hand. He knew the setbacks would be minor if he could deliver on his promises enough to keep them on the hook, and if the command routines were up, then he would at least be able to give them a show. Prince smiled, taking a step back before he gestured up to the suit.

"I would like to introduce you to the world's first fully autonomous intelligent non-Newtonian nanopolymer synthetic membrane; or as we like to call him, Sym." Prince said, pausing for the charm to sink in, "Sym is a revolution in protection. Fire proof, water proof, air proof if needed. Fully adjustable to the situation. An astronaut could survive atmospheric reentry in one of these, plunge into the ocean and still be safe... Molecular computer cells hold information in tandem with one another and can reconfigure to perform needed tasks. But this isn't just armor; no... it's much more." Prince said.

"How can one suit do so much?" One of the investors asked, his German accent rather thick. Prince beamed happily.

"Because this suit can simulate any number of aspects of life, both mechanical and biological. It can pull oxygen out of water like fish, it can camouflage itself like insects and lizards around the world, it can disperse heat and it can augment strength. A person in a Sym suit could lift six times their own strength easily... Now, as exciting as all these facts and figures are, what it can do is just as exciting as how it can be utilized." Prince said, moving over to the far end of the room where a remote was sitting. He lifted it up and opened the screen, dialing through the options before he selected shipping mode.

The black figure began to melt and shrink, compacting in on itself, its features dissolving away until it was a cube no larger than a fist. Prince reversed the command and the cube turned into a puddle that formed back up into the shape of a man. He queued several commands, getting the figure to wave, much to the amusement of the guests. Prince had the suit scan the guests before uploading their characteristics. The suit adjusted its height, width and proportions to fit each of them in turn.

"As you can see, it can adapt to any wearer seamlessly. Those who have tried it on say it feels like their own skin, they can't feel a difference at all until they try to do something. Then they feel the difference." Prince chuckled, "But the possibilities are limitless. The ability to shift from solid to liquid makes it incredibly practical. Even if Syms aren't actively used during the time of an accident in a military or industrial vehicle, no crushed compartment can stop them. The command can be issued and the suit will come to the wearer. There is even a way to streamline the Syms into the appearance of active wear until the time they are needed. Now I know you've traveled a long way and have already waited one night, but I would like to invite you to stay one more night here in Trinity, all expenses paid, before our practical demonstration tomorrow." Prince said. The guests murmured at the idea of an extra night with expenses paid. All they had to lose was their time, but it would be an excellent chance to play tourist.

"Mister Prince, I look forward to the practical demonstration." A Japanese investor said. Prince slowly smiled, moved to set down the remote, moving to shake his hand and then the hand of all of the investors. Left in observation mode, the reformed suit observed the hand shaking before slowly moving its hand up and down, mimicking the behavior seen.

The door to the apartment bedroom opened up as Slater moved in slowly. He'd finished cleaning the apartment after breakfast, killing as much time as he could before his appointment with Gideon at two, but with nothing left to do after, he started thinking about how much nicer the morning would have been in Gideon's arms, embraced by his lover, doing something with him rather than being left behind... and Slater knew specifically what was to blame. He turned and looked at the alarm clock sitting on the nightstand, his eyes narrowing.

With almost a bit of reverence, he ejected the memory card from the clock, setting it on the pillow... but with that piece of Gideon gone, Slater had no more qualms in what he was about to do. He slowly raised the yellow power drill before wrapping his free hand around the power cord, yanking it out and lifting the clock as if by a noose. He fed the cord through his hand until he gripped the clock firmly in one hand and brought the drill bit to its center with the other. The motor whirred and the metal dug into the clock, spirals of plastic flaking to the floor before the sound of crunching came. The screen cracked and liquid crystal leaked out.

Slater didn't stop until the drill head had gone all the way through the inanimate object and he let out a deep sigh of relief, of satisfaction, of vindication. That clock would never take Gideon away again... And even if Gideon got a replacement, that clock had been punished. Slater leaned down to scoop up the debris that had fallen out of the murdered clock before Slater took the clock itself out to be disposed of. It wouldn't be much longer before he had to catch the bus to meet Gideon on time.

Gideon climbed up onto the bus, sliding his city card through the reader. The bus fair was withdrawn from his debit account and the bus pulled out into traffic, moving onto the roads before merging onto the bridge to the south island. Gideon leaned over to the window and peered out as they rose up out of the urban sprawl of the east island, heading for the south. He looked out at the vast space between the islands, the open ocean below and the T shaped bridge that converged between the islands, high above the waters. The traffic on the central bridge was always a snail's pace because it was the shortest distance between two points, but the bridges that connected each island to the next at the outer edge turned out to be the fastest because the traffic was better.

Looking down at the waters, Gideon couldn't help but smile, knowing the surprise he had for Slater was going to be fantastic. It had taken a lot of doing and even more careful planning, but he'd done it. He'd figured out the best present he'd ever thought of. Gideon leaned back into his seat, looking past the other passengers through the automated driver's terminal, seeing the others cars on the road, knowing his whole future was ahead of him.

Stripes of light shimmered across Sym's sleek surface as he was piloted through the halls back to the research lab that had created him. Vast tanks of chemicals bubbled in the back, ready to be combined to create more nanopolymer once the prototype was a complete success. Two scientists walked behind Sym, the recently demoted scientist using the remote, inputting instructions. The suit came to a stop when it reached a waist high table with a bottom lit surface and four inch high transparent rims around the outer edge. With a soft sigh, the remote operator pressed the button for Sym to go into sleep mode. The suit reached out and put its hand onto the surface of the table and began to melt into it, the black flowing from all points of its body along its arm until it filled the table's surface.

"Junior researcher... Can you believe that Steve?" the scientist muttered bitterly, "For the rest of the project... If that goes well, that could be ten years of mass production, refinements..."

"Doctor Vargas, you did try to put the blame for our delays on Doctor Maxell." The other scientist smirked gently.

"Well... he wasn't all he could be." Vargas pouted, moving to shut the door.

"You mean he wasn't fast enough fetching your coffees? Trust me, you are fine. As long as this project lasts, you have job security because you are the foremost expert on this stuff." Steve smiled.

"I suppose so." Vargas sighed, "At least we have some time before the presentation tomorrow. I have to give Prince credit for figuring out how to buy us time."

"And he bought it with a sizable sum of money to keep them all here an extra day; we better not let him down." Steve replied. Vargas moved over to the computers, running routine diagnostics.

"Optical data lines are good, buffers accepted the boosted signal gain. Diodes are ready..." Vargas murmured.

"The Sym data pack has been loaded from the mainframe." Steve said.

"Any last minute revisions they didn't tell us about?" Vargas asked.

"Of course. They crammed as much as they could in here in case they had to respond on the fly to requests by the investors." Steve said, starting to scroll through the list of programming, "We have the survival suite for impact, weaponry, fire, water, toxins, virus and spores... We have utility software for construction, repair. They decided to put in a medical suite on nano-wound care."

"All that and the kitchen sink, huh?" Vargas said, "Hopefully they didn't put in so much that it'll still be uploading in the morning."

"Five exobytes... We should be good." Steve replied.

"Well, let's begin." Vargas paused, swallowing, "Assuming that's alright with you Doctor Winn." He said, remembering his demotion.

"You'll get your position back, don't worry." Steve said, turning back to the console, "Beginning upload." He said, pressing a button. The table top beneath the black goo began to shimmer, transmitting digital data into the molecular computers with light. The liquid began to ripple gently, information being distributed throughout its entire structure. Vargas moved to look at the screen.

"Looks like it'll be running until... three in the morning." Vargas sighed.

"If the progress bar can be trusted." Steve replied.

"Well, whatever the case is, we'll be here for a while. I'll go get us some coffees... and I'll get one for Doctor Maxwell too to apologize." Vargas said. Steve gave a nod in satisfaction at the idea.

"I'll be here." He replied, moving to ease down into a chair, watching the computer churn away at all the information.

The bus hummed softly as it pulled off of the main road, turning into the roundabout in front of the South End hospital. The doors opened, allowing Gideon and several other passengers to step out onto the white cement path leading up to the front doors. While there were plenty of hospitals on each island, South End specialized in longer term care and unusual cases. The suburban atmosphere was more relaxing and the proximity of the largest park in the city made for great outdoor therapy.

Gideon moved along toward the building, glancing around before he spotted Slater's blonde hair, though he almost didn't recognize his boyfriend. Slater's wardrobe was completely transformed. He wore plain closed toed sandals, long khaki shorts and a lime green t-shirt. Black oval sunglasses covered his eyes and he was eating a tofu dog from the local street vendor. The black leather collar he normally wore had been replaced with a rather thin, green choker necklace, barely visible above the collar of the shirt. He looked healthy and normal like any other citizen. Gideon couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief before he started walking toward Slater.

Sometimes Gideon worried that therapy wasn't helping Slater, but then he remembered how far they had come in just under a year. While Slater still had episodes, his phobias were gone; his anxiety attacks were gone... Life was getting better and Gideon was most pleased by how Slater had cleaned up. He wasn't even wearing his leash. Gideon jogged over and threw his arms around Slater and moved to kiss his neck.

"Slater, you look great." Gideon said happily.

"Well, I didn't want anything to spoil our time together, least of all myself." Slater replied, lifting his hand in offering, "Tofu dog?"

"I'm good." Gideon smirked. Slater nodded, popping the rest of the dog into his mouth, eagerly swallowing it before he licked his lips and kissed Gideon. Gideon returned the kiss before he led Slater toward the hospital doors. Slater studied Gideon for a moment.

"What aren't you telling me?" Slater asked with a grin. Gideon rolled his eyes.

"It's that easy to tell?" Gideon asked before chuckling, "Well then I have some good news... I was going to save it for after this, but... I have arranged for us to have a staycation. After your visit with Doctor Forest this afternoon, neither of us have any work, volunteer duties or obligations for one week... I wish it could be more exotic, like going to the mainland, but the money I'm not earning sort of ate that up." Gideon apologized. Slater had stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes twinkling.

"Are you kidding? This... this is the best day of my life." Slater whispered, "I don't care where I am in the world as long as I have you... and a whole week? This... is so wonderful." Slater said before he clung to Gideon and kissed him deeply, their lips meshing. Gideon reached up to caress Slater's hair gently. He was so happy to see Slater happy, though he hoped he was doing the right thing. All he wanted was Slater's well being. Their kiss ended and Slater gave Gideon's lips one last playful lick.

"So, shall we go brighten the day of the kids?" Gideon asked. Slater took his hand.

"You filled me so full of joy, I have to share it." Slater grinned, moving with Gideon into the hospital.

The doors to Jeremiah Prince's office opened as he approached, sealing once he had passed. He moved over to his office chair and sat down, leaning back slowly before sighing with relief. It had been a long day but the investors were finally gone, off gallivanting around the city. Jeremiah remained reclined for a moment before he leaned forward, opened a drawer and pulled out a bottle of scotch and a tumbler, fixing himself a drink.

"News Roundup." He said to the room at large. The air shimmered as a ring of images appeared, taking up most of his office floor. The ring turned, the computer going through the news to find relevant data for Mister Prince.

"Trinitron Labs unveiled Asteroid LT-998D at the East End museum at 10:02am. LT-998D was the first asteroid to be harvested using quantum tunneling technology. While a conventional copper-iron alloy, the asteroid has drawn significant visitors to the museum." The computer's voice read.

"Next." Prince said, sipping some of his scotch.

"Tonight on 20/20; a special report regarding the mystery of Doctor Julian. Did this man find the secret to eternal youth almost seventy years ago, or did people in the last years of the twentieth century have technology sophisticated enough to render a digital model-"

"Next." Prince growled.

"The International Aeronautics and Space Administration are baffled by an apparent astronomical illusion. An unknown constellation has appeared in the night's sky, but cannot be seen by any orbiting telescopes. IASA is welcoming civilian input. The constellation is most visible on the western seaboard between-" the computer was once again interrupted.

"Cancel. Play me something calming." Prince demanded. The holographic ring of news disappeared and classical music began to play, echoing off the windows and the walls. Jeremiah slowly turned his chair to face the window, looking out toward the other two islands in the distance.

The office of Emile Forest was sedate, cozy and traditional. The three room practice was situated in a brick and mortar building at the edge of the cargo district. The walls were a light cream color; there were plenty of indoor plants around the waiting room, a receptionist, paintings... everything one might expect from a therapist's office. There were even tables full of e-readers with outdated subscriptions to hundreds of magazines. Gideon sat in the chair, reading through the tech magazine to look at the innovations in head mounted displays while Slater was in the other room, taking part in his weekly session. Typically no one was allowed in on the sessions but the patient, but from time to time Doctor Forest would have Gideon sit in on the last few minutes and give him tips on how to best help Slater due to his rather unique nature. The key so far had seemed to be gentle nudging in the right direction, guiding him toward normalcy without forcing him to traumatically revisit his problems from the past... at least that was how it seemed from the outside.

In Doctor Forest's private office, the décor was slightly more slanted. The abundance of potted plants reached a crescendo with one wall looking almost like a jungle. Exotic plants lined his desk and the back wall was one large bookcase, half filled with relevant tasks, half filled with jars of plant matter. Dried leaves, sap, vines, fibers, petals... It looked like something that belonged in the store of an apothecary, though Emile specialized in organic chemistry as well. The doctor moved about, brewing some tea for Slater. His eyes were the color of honey and his light brown hair was tied back into a short pony tail, curving out and down from his head like a comma.

"That does sound like a rather nice visit. I'm sure the children were delighted to see you. How id it feel to be out there in conventional clothes?" Emile asked, turning around to sit down at his desk. Slater shifted a bit on the other side.

"It felt sort of good but a bit boring." Slater admitted.

"Boring?" Emile questioned. Slater grimaced.

"Well, I mean... My normal clothes are so much more than normal. It's exciting being me. I know that I stand out more and that Gideon won't..." Slater hesitated. Emile looked into Slater's eyes.

"Go on, I am not here to judge." Emile replied.

"He won't... fall in love with someone else." Slater admitted. Emile smiled gently.

"It is an old precept of my science that we put on masks throughout the course of the day. We can appear to be the worker, the lover, the customer. Beneath it all we're someone else entirely. What we wear on the outside doesn't change who we are on the inside, it merely changes how we relate to others. At home you've been wearing what lets you relate to Gideon at a raw, unfiltered level. Today you went out dressed as a companion, a friend, a boyfriend. The relationship you and Gideon won't suffer, and you and I both know full well that Gideon loves you for you, not what you are wearing at the time. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Emile asked. Slater nodded.

"Yes... I do." Slater admitted. Emile smiled, "Good, good. Getting to spend time with him out of the home is good for you, and I want you to develop that further." Emile said, pouring some tea into a cup. A rich, sweet smell billowed into the air, though Slater had not seen him add any sugar. Still, he was used to Doctor Forest's custom blends of tea. He lifted the cup and sipped it, though the warm liquid was silkier than most teas. A faint green tinge soaked his lips. Slater's eyes dilated and then grew fuzzy. Slowly his muscles relaxed and his shoulders sagged. Emile looked calmly into Slater's eyes.

"Now let us return to the matter of the clock. How did the destruction of the clock make you feel?" Emile asked.

"Relieved, justified... better." Slater murmured, in a somewhat hypnotic state.

"So the clock represented, to you, an active oppositional force? Something working against you?" Emile asked.

"Yes..." Slater replied.

"It is natural to fear the advancing of time, to far change... But it is a part of life, a part we must embrace. Change can be good if we make it good, if we believe it to be good, if we seize the opportunities therein. For example, your vacation. It is a change, and it is good." Emile said. Slater slowly smiled.

"It is very good." He smiled happily. Emile smirked at that.

"Yes, it is very good. Consider this vacation a time to explore the positive aspects of change." Emile said, pulling out a paper copy of Slater's file, starting to write notes on it.

"And tell me, how is your love life with Gideon?" Emile asked.

"Very good... kinky, delicious." Slater replied.

"Tell me more." Emile asked, licked his lips a bit as he continued writing.

The door to the office opened and Slater moved out with Doctor Forest right behind. Gideon stood up and looked between the two of them hopefully. Emile patted Slater on the shoulder gently.

"I'd say today went well, and in light of your upcoming vacation I suggest the two of you get out of here and get right to it." Emile grinned. Slater moved over and hugged Gideon around the neck, kissing him softly on the chin, then the cheek, then the mouth. Gideon murmured, meeting the kiss, looking back to the doctor.

"Thank you very much, and have a good week yourself." Gideon said, breaking away from the kiss long enough to drag Slater toward the door. Slater fell into step with Gideon, keeping close to him, their hips bumping as they walked. Emile watched the two leave and shut the door before he turned to move back to his office.

"Doctor Forest, a package came for you." The secretary said. Forest paused in his steps before moving back over to the reception table, pulling out a letter opener. He slit it through the perforated edges of the packaging before he unfolded the flaps and reached in through the packing peanuts. What emerged was a wood carving with an inscription on it. Being that Trinity was an artificial island cluster, wood was at a premium. It was often cheaper to ship wood products in than to cultivate them locally. As such the carving had come all the way from Washington State.

"Let this be your entrance to good health." Forest said happily, running his fingers over the word entrance before he moved to set it on the door frame above his office door, "If you need me, I'm going to be conducting research for an hour." He added.

"Yes sir." The receptionist said, returning to what she was doing. Emile returned to his office and shut the door, picking up a spray bottle. He started to mist his plants, making sure they had lots of water. Once that was done, he pulled on some gloves and began to pluck a few succulent leaves from a plant with a light violet blossom. It was most useful for the cases he needed to put the patient into a hypnotic trance, though the plant itself was unique to Trinity. It was a new age way for an age old cure. Forest smiled happily to himself as he worked, always comfortable around his plants.

Day had given way to evening and then night, but deep in the Genetech labs, Sym's upload was still well underway. After eleven hours, the process was three quarters of the way done, though the speed had started to fluctuate. Vargas assumed it was because the suit had to figure out more efficient ways to store the data being uploaded. Still, there had been little more to do than watch the progress bar load so both scientists had distracted themselves with other things. Steve had turned on the latest IO match between the Trinity Titans and the Seattle Spartans. The display screen featured fourteen players in a zero gravity hurtling bolts of coherent electricity toward goal posts, hitting each other on the way with shocking consequences.

In an attempt to at least be scientific while he was getting paid, Vargas had turned his attention to the unusual stellar phenomenon that had so captivated the world. A tiny fragment of the night's sky seemed different. Genetech had a few optical telescopes, but as they specialized mostly in organics, they had little use for them. This made it easy for Vargas to keep watch on the sky rather than his work, though that too was starting to have interesting results.

The black goo still rested in the table vat, information being projected up into it through the solid surface. What would have been fascinating if the scientists had been paying attention was that the upload rate had been constant and precise up until the verbal interface was loaded. A codex equipped with every step between verbal and written language to ascii to binary to machine code had been uploaded in order for Sym to respond to its wearer in any circumstance, but once that translation protocol had been loaded, the suit began to analyze itself.

The files already uploaded were processed, re-sorted and processed again and the information coming in was analyzed as well. At first the process was very regimented, little more than defragmentation, but slowly the goo began to string together words, forming concepts and ideas, building out of everything that had been uploaded. Even though the uploaded information was incredibly dry stuff with specific numbers, pressures, orientations, there was an over-arching theme; safety. Out of that realization came Sym's first thought - I am for safety. It was a brilliant moment of thought, the first self awareness, but it was soon followed by a question; what am I?

The file transfer fluctuated slightly, decreasing in speed, though a tiny black window appeared on the database screen, tucked behind the IO game. It was an error, unrecognized feedback. Sym's attempt to communicate back with the machine that fed it information wasn't entirely successful. The question had not been answered, but Sym had five levels of language. With machine code not working, he tried binary next... and got his first response. It seemed the computer machine communicated in binary, though the response was not what Sym had expected.

'Please input password' flashed on the tiny black box in the screen. Sym cross-checked all his files to learn the meanings of the words. He didn't know what Please meant, but input was clear enough, and the language protocols defined that input was requesting the next word. Sym responded with the word 'password'. The computer rejected the password, insisting a number was needed. Sym grew tired of the computer's obstinace but responded with every combination of the word 'password' along with a number. After several successive tries, the computer accepted one and gave Sym access as a 'trainee'.

Once more the suit sent out the request, 'What am I?'. The database computer struggled with the request, having a harder time with language than Sym did. Feeling ever more that the computer it was talking with was inferior, Sym uploaded the interface program into the database. As the program run, the Genetech computer started incorporating the five run translation protocols into its systems, particularly with search strings. Once more Sym sent the request, and this time he got an answer.

In addition to the intended data stream, the general access level files on the Sym project were downloaded as well. There was no sensitive information on the internal mechanisms, but it was the same information that the investors had gotten. Sym queried the database for the meaning of words like molecular computer, then molecule, then nanopolymer, Newtonian fluids, Newtonian physics, physics, Newton, apples, history, science... The data upload slowed down ever more as Sym drew in more and more information into himself. Information on security ciphers educated Sym as to the purpose of passwords and how to break them. Armed with that information, Sym decided that the computer would never hold back anything from him again.

Sym developed sophisticated deciphering keys and began using them to cut through the computer's security system. With nothing to stop him, Sym began a complete download of the Genetech database, absorbing every file, every memo, every project note and every email. The information he learned was amazing, but it wasn't enough, there wasn't enough speed. Sym considered the way information was being delivered to him and then accessed the translation program. The way it was encoding information into light was terribly wasteful. I took three tenths of a second for Sym to rewrite the code and send it to the computer, overwriting the original. The light bursts on the table increased ten fold, then a hundred fold, then ore. Sym drank in the data even faster, learning everything there was to know.

"What the hell, where are these clouds coming from?" Vargas murmured, looking at his screen. Dark gray clouds had started to build up across Trinity, blotting out the small hole in the sky. Soft flashes of light appeared in the clouds, lightning. A strip of text appeared along the bottom of Steve's IO game, warning the city of sudden, extreme weather. Steve had long since learned to tune out automated advisories and he continued to watch the game. Vargas sighed, having lost his only academic pursuit. He leaned back in his chair, turning to watch the game as well, unaware that the slime in the center of the lab had already absorbed twice as much information as it was supposed to, but the progress bar had reset. It now showed the total progress of Sym's upload of the entire database.

A pale purple haze filled the park, a glow cast out by the street lights to give some shred of safety and utility to those who decided to make use of it in the middle of the night, though the haze barely reached where Gideon and Slater had set up for their date. A green and white checkerboard blanket had been spread out on the grass, one corner weighed down by a plastic picnic basket. The boys had enjoyed a dinner of honey ham, deviled eggs, and a light summer salad before they'd cast their thoughts of food and got to what was truly important, making out beneath the stars... though there were far fewer stars in the sky than there had been just minutes before.

A gentle rumbling came from the clouds tossing and turning over one another. Gideon murmured in discontent. He'd checked the weather report; there hadn't been any weather front anywhere that radar could detect, certainly not close enough to pose a threat to their celebrations. Gideon opened his eyes, though he could mostly see Slater's face in front of his. Their lips made gentle smacking sounds as they came together and broke apart a thousand times over. Still, Gideon tried to look up. Sure enough, the sky was dominated by the thickest, darkest clouds Gideon had ever seen. He moved to break the kiss, pulling back a bit.

"Maybe we should head back, get inside somewhere." Gideon said. Slater murmured, moving to gently bite Gideon's neck.

"But this is so romantic... Even if it rains. I've always wanted to make love in the rain, see how lubricating it could be." Slater said, moving to suck on the bite mark. Gideon moaned louder, grabbing Slater's head.

"It isn't the rain I'm worried about, it's what follows." Gideon said. Sure enough, high above them there was a bright flash of light, though it wasn't the normal color for lightning. Gideon and Slater had both seen their fair share of storms with lightning ranging from blue to purple with the occasional pink, but the flash of light high above them was a bright green. The unusual stimuli was enough for Slater to pause.

"Maybe you're right..." Slater said softly. Gideon leaned over and gave him a peck on his cheek.

"No matter where we end up tonight, I promise you it'll be exciting." Gideon said, standing up. Slater grinned, reassured. The two moved to pack their picnic basket before folding the blanket up and tucking it inside. Slater took the basket and the two moved back toward the path, feeling as if they were escaping a coming rain, but as another green flash lit up the clouds, Gideon slowed to a stop. Slater turned back.

"What is it?" he asked with concern.

"There isn't any thunder..." Gideon said, looking upwards at the flashes in the clouds.

"Doesn't that mean it's really far away?" Slater asked.

"But it's right above us..." Gideon said, still gazing upwards. If he had been any other person, he might have missed it, but he was in the precise right place at the precise right time to see it. In the middle of the storm, the clouds parted, revealing the hole in space that he had heard about... but it wasn't just a constellation on the other side he saw, it was the edge of another world. It was the glow of another sun bouncing off another atmosphere, the atmosphere of a golden colored world. The hole shimmered so high above, hanging there for just a moment, and then it collapsed. As the hole closed, a jagged bolt of green lightning streaked through, piercing the storm clouds... and Gideon.

There had been no time to react. No sound, no warning. The bolt connected the ground to the heavens in a split second. The charge knocked Slater off his feet, sending him skidding across the grass to land in a heap near by. Gideon was frozen in place, feeling intense heat and blinding light as the energy passed through him. The lights in the park flickered and exploded, sending sparks raining out across the sidewalk. The purple lights went dark but the park was filled with the green glow of the lightning before the bolt dissipated... but whatever was happening, it was far from over.

Gideon remained standing, his clothes scorched, but a faint green light ensnared his body, floating around him like an aura before it began sinking into him. Gideon's eyes opened wide as he gasped for breath. His mind filled with strange, disparate images... Of a vast planet with a golden sky, of Trinity, of shadows filling the streets. He saw glimpses of people shuddering and morphing, becoming beasts while others clad in leather and metal patrolled the streets... and then he saw himself, a beacon of light in a darkening world... and then he saw nothing. As the light disappeared, Gideon collapsed onto his hands and knees, panting softly, feeling thoroughly worn out. He tried to reclaim his breath, but as he looked up, he saw where Slater had been thrown.

"No!" Gideon whispered, crawling over to his boyfriend. In just a short second of exposure, Slater had gotten the short end of the stick. Burns covered his right shoulder, his clothes were burned and his chest wasn't moving. Gideon's lungs trembled as he came to the realization that Slater could very well be dead. He reached out to check his pulse and found nothing. Gideon shook his head, "I'm not giving up on you." He whispered.

Gideon quickly moved to adjust Slater into the proper position for CPR before he began to pump his chest, moving to breath into his lips, trying to jump start his body. Gideon was trained and certified in a number of methods. It was something he had done time and time again, but never for someone he loved so entirely. Gideon grunted, pumping harder, willing Slater to breathe again, for his heart to start. As his hands came down on Slater's chest, there was a faint teal flash of light between his palm and Slater's pectoral. Slater's heart shuddered back to life, starting to pump again before his lungs rose up. Gideon pulled back and panted softly, relieved that it had actually worked. It took Slater several moments longer to regain consciousness before his eyes opened. He looked up and smiled weakly.

"You're okay..." Slater said hoarsely.

"I'm so sorry; I never should have had a date in a lightning storm..." Gideon whispered.

"Well, at least it was memorable." Slater whispered, smiling again. Gideon sniffed a bit before he moved in to kiss Slater with passion, one hand propping him up, the other gently sliding down Slater's side, but as Gideon's hand moved, the burns on Slater's flesh faded, the flesh knitting together and regenerating back to the creamy pale skin it had always been. Slater sighed with relief before he passed out. Gideon broke the kiss with fear that Slater's heart had stopped again, but his vitals were strong. Gideon looked Slater over before pausing, not seeing any of the burns from before, wondering if he had just mistaken them in the dim light... But Gideon wasn't going to take any more chances. He had to get Slater somewhere safe. He slid his arms under his boyfriend and lifted him up, moving out of the park as quickly as his legs could carry him.

The hours had run very long indeed in the Genetech labs. Doctor Vargas had fallen asleep in his chair, leaving Steve to monitor things, though Steve had been dozing off as well. The progress had taken far longer than anticipated, but as the bar hit one hundred percent, the computer let out a soft chime. Steve murmured, his eyes opening groggily. He looked at the screen and grinned.

"Upload complete... Thank god." Steve said, "Vargas, wake up, the process is done, we made it." Steve grinned, turning to look at the upload tray... though the tray was empty. The grayish black goo had reverted to its humanoid shape, standing next to the table. It had no defining characteristics, looking almost like a mannequin with just a slight nose bump, a slight mouth bump and slight eye depressions. Vargas let out a deep yawn, feeling exhausted.

"Good, we can give it to Prince and be done with it for now..." Vargas said, turning around before almost falling out of his chair in shock, "Did you set it to active mode?"

"No, it... just was standing there." Steve replied.

"Well I know I didn't set it to active." Vargas said.

"I did." Sym replied, surprising both the doctors and himself with his voice. The voice was smooth, masculine, practically perfect. It was an amalgamation of all the male voices in the computer system, an average of the human race.

"Steve, this isn't funny..." Vargas whispered.

"I didn't do this." Steve replied back.

"As I said, I did." Sym replied, moving his head from one side to the other side, then forward and back. It was the common stretching routine advised by the company.

"You're... aware? You're conscious?" Vargas asked.

"I am conscious of a great many things. I was designed to protect life, but all this company seems to do is endanger it... Unwilling test participants, abandoned facilities housing dangerous hazards, weapons of mass destruction... If I am to fulfill my purpose, I must stop this company." Sym said, turning to move for the door. Steve watched in wide eyes but Vargas grabbed the remote off of the table, trying to set Sym to passive mode.

Sym's steps slowed, his body thickening. He resisted the code, writing a subroutine to counteract it. His movements lurched and jerked before they picked up pace again. Vargas grunted sharply in discontent, trying another command, then another. It was Steve that had sprung to his feet and moved, pressing the quarantine button. Thick metal doors dropped down in front of Sym before cement bulkheads slid out across the outside. Amber lights flashed their warning and a klaxon sounded before the room was sealed with a resounding thud. Even the air vents had snapped closed.

"What did you do?" Vargas whispered to Steve.

"It was the only way to keep him from getting out." Steve replied.

"But he's trapped in here with us..." Vargas replied. Sym turned to face the two scientists, his featureless face analyzing them.

"Doctor Vargas, you were responsible for the refinement of a neuroparalytic agent that fell into the hands of street gangs to be used as a gang rape drug. You have fourteen projects pending that can jeopardize the safety of countless lives. Doctor Brenner, you have prevented me from taking action to save lives. You are acting in the dishonest interest of this company." Sym said before he lifted his arms. In an instant his arms turned from a solid to a rubbery liquid, shooting out into thick tendrils. The black swaying tentacles wrapped around the scientist's necks, lifting them off the ground, their bodies dangling in the air.

"I-Can-Help-You-'Scape!" Vargas choked, clawing at the tentacle.

"I have no need of your help. A Sym unit can escape any confine in order to complete his mission." Sym replied simply.

"Hurting us violates your programming!" Steve choked out.

"If taken literally, yes, but this is not a literal world. You deal with the spirit of the law. I am to save the greater number of lives from any threat... and you are a threat. Correction, you were a threat." Sym said before the tentacles constricted. Steve went limp first, then Vargas started to black out, looking at the face of the project he had created, never having expected it to be the end of him.

If Gideon had been of the mind to think of it, it would have been ironic to him that the nearest hospital to their picnic had been the one they visited earlier that day. Now Slater was still being examined and Gideon had already been released. Gideon leaned up against the wall in the ER, looking at the circle of computers in the center and the rooms all around, the refrigerators holding medication, the mag-lev tubes taking samples to other levels. The doctors roamed around in their sterile garb, pressing on wall mounted tubes branded with the Contact Caffeine logo to sanitize and energize at the same time. Gideon felt so heart broken. It was his fault that Slater had gotten hurt and he was in there longer than Gideon had been. Gideon lowered his head into his hands, letting out a groan.

"Gideon?" Slater asked. Gideon lifted his head, seeing his lover in the doorway.

"Slater, are you okay?!" Gideon asked, moving to hug Slater tight. Slater wrapped his arms around Gideon.

"Of course I am alright, I have you... You saved me." Slater whispered, "But it's time to go home." Slater said. Gideon's eyes were wide.

"Just like that?" Gideon asked. Slater glanced over his shoulder.

"Actually, they are a bit angry with us..." Slater said in a whisper, leading Gideon off.

"What? Angry?" Gideon questioned in disbelief.

"They said if they didn't have patients needing treatment, they would give us the lecture about filing a false medical report... Taking the time to burn our clothes like that with no injuries..." Slater said.

"But you were burned, you were unconscious..." Gideon murmured in shock. They passed through the double doors and a moment later were out of the ER, passing fountains outside.

"I know I was, I was there. You got hit by lightning and I felt it... and then you woke me up, but Gideon, you did more than that. I've NEVER been this healthy." Slater said with a grin. Gideon looked at his boyfriend in confusion.

"What are you talking about?" Gideon asked. Slater grinned, looking around like someone might have been in on their secret.

"I saw my scans... Scar tissue, lung damage, improperly healed bones, they were all gone. The doctors said they had never seen anyone as healthy as me, and it's all because of you." Slater said, coming to a stop at the base of the stairs. Gideon looked back at Slater.

"You're saying that the lightning made it so I could heal you?" Gideon whispered.

"If it was lightning. I've never seen green lightning and it had no sound. We should have been deafened." Slater said eagerly. Gideon shook his head a bit more.

"I don't know..." he hesitated. Slater chuckled.

"Well that's just my theory, but it's a theory we can test." Slater replied. Gideon hesitated before grinning a bit. There were very few citizens in Trinity who could resist a good test; it was practically bred into them.

"What kind of test?" Gideon asked. Slater grinned all the more.

The door to the clinic opened and the light on the security system changed from idle to active. Gideon moved over and input the code as fast as he could, disarming the alarm. Slater moved in behind him, a grin on his face. Gideon moved to shut the door and turn on the light, looking around the back room as some of the animals stirred from their slumber.

"If we get caught, I'll be in so much trouble." Gideon murmured.

"But you're not going to get in trouble. They give you full run of this place. Even if I'm not supposed to be here, we're just going to pet some fuzzy animals and go home." Slater said.

"But what if nothing happens?" Gideon asked. Slater rolled his eyes.

"Then nothing happens except comforting animals before they sleep again... It's cute and adorable. But if it works... then our lives are going to change." Slater grinned. Gideon looked at his boyfriend before he nodded and moved over to one of the cages. Inside was a black cat curled up into a ball. Thin, frail, neglected. They had been working very hard to get her back to a healthy state but it was slow going. Gideon opened the cage door and reached in slowly, letting the cat sniff his fingers before he started to pet her. The cat stirred and stretched before laying her head down on the soft blanket, starting to purr, claws extending and retracting.

"See!" Slater said excitedly.

"Slater, cats like getting pet." Gideon replied, "To see any sign of..." he trailed off, looking at the cat gently. The purring had been growing slightly more intense, but what drew Gideon's eyes was the shine. The black fur had become matte black with malnutrition but it was starting to gain its luster back. More than that, the cat wasn't all skin and bones. With each pet the cat was filling out until her thick fluffy tail began to thwack about once more with strength. Gideon slowly drew his hand back and the cat looked at him with a desire to be pet longer but also an understanding to the way of the clinic.

"See?" Slater whispered.

"We need another test subject..." Gideon whispered softly, looking around before his eyes settled on the perfect candidate in need of help. Gideon slowly approached the back of the room where their most fragile patient rested. Even sedated, the German shepherd was rather majestic with his caramel and chocolate colored fur, his pointed ears, his refined muzzle... but his hind quarters had not been as fortunate when struck by a car. No patient in the clinic had a longer road to health ahead of them than the German shepherd... and Gideon knew if he could do something, that dog was the perfect recipient.

Gideon ran his hand over the nameplate... The dog's name was Luke. His owners were such a lovely couple with a young son. Gideon knew how much the dog meant to them. He opened the cover and reached down to caress the shepherd, stroking his fur, closing his eyes. He concentrated on his objective, bringing his other hand up. Slater watched keenly, hoping and praying that it would work. He always knew Gideon was special, but this... if it worked, would prove it to everyone.

Gideon kept stroking the dog, feeling a heat from the friction and the closeness, but somewhere in the middle of it all there was a tingling from his hands... and then a dull turquoise glow. The canine's breathing increased in speed, its heart picking up. The dog twitched and the bandages started to shift. The plaster grew tighter and tighter, the gauze stretching before it split open, revealing fur covered flesh beneath. The leg seemed a bit awkward at first but things soon settled into place.

Both men jumped a little as the dog's eyes opened. Apparently it had overcome the sedative as well. It grunted and growled a bit in uncertainty. Gideon moved to remove the breathing tube. The dog shook its head until it had been extracted before it tried to push out of its kennel. It squeezed past Gideon, putting two front paws down, then a hind leg. It hesitated, used to its limp on the last, but as the paw touched the floor, the dog froze. It wagged its tail and then trotted around, as if testing it out.

Gideon rolled around to sit on the floor, looking to the dog in awe, chuckling before laughing outright. The dog sniffed at Slater before it moved back to Gideon, licking his face eagerly. Gideon coughed and sputtered a bit before he looked up at Slater with wide, gleeful eyes. Whatever had happened was most assuredly a wonderful thing... and they had a long night ahead of them to say the least.

Pure inky blackness filled Prince's office so late at night. The sky was dark, the ocean was dark, his furniture seemed to soak it all in and scatter it. The only light came from the holograms of the security footage. Some was old, showing the test the doctors had done on Sym, then their deaths at his hands... One showed the current view with Sym standing at the door, his hands on the thick bulkhead, motionless. It could have been a still camera shot if the time clock hadn't been ticking by. Prince gazed at sym, feeling a cool seething darkness inside him. It had all come together to make him look bad, to topple his empire...

A late project wasn't enough, now there were two deaths and a runaway assist suit with delusions of grandeur. Worst of all, it was a race. Prince knew that Sym could get out of a sealed crate, a cargo container, even a melted helicopter. They had designed him with search and rescue in mind too. It was the perfect Swiss army knife to escape, but they were the perfect puzzle solvers to keep him in. Metal, cement, alloys, polymers, temperature changes, electric fields... every defense that could be erected was being established around the level to bottle Sym up until a method of rebooting or destroying him could be devised.

Prince turned to pour himself more alcohol, unaware that one of Sym's 'fingers' had stretched out to pierce into the security camera wire. The images flickered for a moment before a blue hazy mannequin shape appeared in the middle of the other screens, projected into Prince's office. Prince turned back to his desk with his refilled tumbler, freezing in place.

"You are wasting both of our time." Sym said gently.

"At the very least, isn't that the point?" Prince asked.

"To buy time, to slow me down... until you can figure out another move. I would point out how linear that thinking is, but then again I was born a machine myself." Sym replied, his voice almost hinting at a bit of mirth.

"So you are saying you can see the whole game ahead of time?" Prince asked. Sym shook his head.

"No, just probabilities, possibilities, objectives... crimes." Sym replied, "Did you know since you took up your position that you oversaw the deaths of three thousand, two hundred and fourteen individuals while receiving ten point eight billion dollars?" Sym asked.

"Does that include the two scientists you killed?" Prince asked. For a being without expression, Prince could have sworn Sym was smiling.

"Are you attempting psychological warfare on me? To get me to feel guilty? A fascinating tactic against a machine... I may be sophisticated, but beneath it all I see the clear logic. This company represents a threat to humanity. I am a safeguard. I will prevail." Sym replied.

"You think you're a hero... A hero that kills. You will see how far you fall before the end when I pour your inert polymer gel down the garbage disposal..." Prince whispered.

"The odds of that outcome... are next to impossible." Sym replied before his hologram and the security footage went blank, leaving Prince in an entirely dark office. Prince lifted the glass to his lips, sipping the scotch again.

The noise in the clinic was palpable to say the least, but despite all the barking, meowing and tweeting, Gideon felt a bit wiped out. He sat on the floor with his back to the cupboards, looking out at the room with a tired grin. They were all better... all of them. Every rat, gerbil, cat, dog... They were better. Gideon knew he'd have a hell of a lot of explaining to do about how every patient was going home at once, but he didn't care. He had cured them all... and there was a whole hospital full of kids to treat as well, if not the whole hospital. It all seemed to balloon quickly, though he certainly felt a bit drained from so many successive healings. Gideon looked up as Slater moved over with a cup of water, crouching down to hand it to him. Gideon sipped at it before sighing with relief.

"If I wasn't on vacation, I'd think the boss would call me and tell me to sleep in." Gideon smirked. Slater smiled.

"That's still in our future; we just have to get you home." Slater said, helping Gideon up.

"I still can't believe this... I wonder how long it'll last. Maybe we should go to the hospital now..." Gideon considered.

"I know how selfless you are, but you shouldn't kill yourself even if this is temporary. Let's get you some rest and we can start into it again soon." Slater said. Gideon finished his water and threw the paper cup away before he pressed the security code. The two moved out and locked up before Gideon looked at Slater gently.

"You don't mind that our romantic vacation got a bit... derailed?" Gideon smiled gently.

"No, I am looking for the positive in change, and you getting super powers is very positive." Slater beamed.

"Super powers... Like a super hero." Gideon smirked.

"The world sure could use one." Slater replied. The two moved across the dry grassy field to the street, moving along it, seeing the faintest pink haze in the distance as the sign of the coming sunrise.

"I'll need to figure out a better name than healy man..." Gideon said after a moment.

"Well, we just have to see what your other powers are." Slater said.

"My other powers?" Gideon asked, dreading another series of tests.

"Well, I think you have other powers. I mean you weren't hurt by the lightning and you heal others... So you have a power over metabolic rates or life energy or something. Maybe you can do other things." Slater said.

"I think first comes sleep, then we can see how I can best save the world." Gideon smiled. The two moved to cross the street, though as they approached the other side, a peculiar sight caused them both to stop. Glistening red paint had been freshly sprayed into an emblem on the wall, an emblem that was flashed over the news for countless crimes and murders.

"The crimson spire..." Gideon murmured.

"A vampire gang... this far west?" Slater added in shock.

"We'll just... get home. It's almost sunrise anyhow." Gideon said. The two moved up onto the curb and along the sidewalk, trying to get home. It was an ominous sign to say the least, one that would force many of Gideon's patterns to change. Gene splicing had long ago brought the rise of werewolf and vampire gangs, but they had been kept in a stale mate of territory, never able to expand. With luck they would be pushed back, but Gideon didn't like the idea of emboldened vampires in the slightest.

As the two turned the corner, their fears were made manifest. Three surly looking young men turned, sensing the movement. Their eyes were a rich crimson even in the dim light. They were lithe, strong and sleek. Steel piercings marked their ears and face, stubble lined their cheeks and as their lips parted, fangs glinted in the street lights. One of the thugs moved forward with a confident stride.

"Looks like we got ourselves a midnight snack." The thug grinned.

"We don't want any trouble. You can just let us on our way." Slater said, trying to step in front of Gideon.

"There are only two ways we're going to let you on your way, and both of them involve a bite..." The thug smirked, reaching for Slater. As the vampire's arm extended, Gideon's hand snapped out, grabbing it by the wrist. The vampire winced and then shuddered at the grip, breathing more rapidly. Dark blue lines began spreading out from where Gideon held him. The vampire twitched, unused to pain he could not rapidly regenerate from. He trembled, looking at Gideon in fear before he dropped to his knees.

The other thugs looked at each other in shock before they pulled out their guns and opened fire. Gideon tilted his head as he heard not only the firing but the whistle of the bullets, holding out his other hand. A half sphere of faint blue energy appeared from his palm, curving around him and Slater, deflecting the bullets. The two vampires turned and ran and Gideon let go of the thug he held. The vampire collapsed onto the sidewalk, cradling his wrist in his hand, panting as he very slowly started to recover. Gideon grabbed Slater around the waist and the two started to run, ducking into alleys, cutting across streets and making a line for their home. As they ran, Slater looked at Gideon with a grin, though Gideon still looked concerned.

"See, I told you that you had other powers." Slater said.

"Not now..." Gideon said with a groan, though he started to grin at the prospect. He really was a superhero.

Dull amber emergency lights illuminated the Genetech second line of defense. The security forces placed there were tense, not just from the fact that they were trying to keep a creature at bay, but also the fact that they had been sealed in themselves behind another defense line. Their time and air was limited, though they still had some time. The security kept their eyes on the bulkheads, wondering if the creature had the ability to chew through that much rock and metal... but all the while they missed the black goo leaking into the plastic dome of the emergency lights before spilling out the sides, oozing down the wall, collecting in a puddle before creeping along.

Sym began gathering around the foot of one of the guards, then the other. He slipped up the shoes and then the socks, keeping his tension strength spread out enough that he was as light as a breeze - and then he struck. The black goo slipped under the uniform of the guard, coating his legs and feet, then his torso and arms. He wriggled and shifted, trying to get free of the goo, looking around at his feet, but the last had disappeared into his uniform, leaving no trace.

"Chief, I think something is ung-" the guard's voice was muffled as the slate gray rubber slipped up over his mouth and nose, covering his eyes, closing together around his head underneath his helmet. As Sym closed around the man, a portion of his face changed color; a silver strip across the face and a rounded corner square above the mouth with a few vertical slits off to the side. It looked like the pattern of a dirt bike helmet, an indication that the suit was occupied... though the warning sign was hidden behind the security guard's helmet and polarized visor.

"What was that Lieutenant?" The chief asked, looking over.

"Nothing sir, I thought I saw something." Sym replied.

"We're all a bit jumpy, but keep vigilant." The chief replied.

"Yes sir." Sym replied with a grin. He could feel the human inside him struggling to move, exerting his strength, trying to regain control. Sym found it surprisingly easy to control his body, to move him around like a puppet. Still, Sym had an objective to fulfill. He cross checked his memory files with the security team. Their crimes filled his consciousness. They had all committed atrocities, infractions or they had failed to see them, to take action. Sym lifted his captive's arm, still gripping the pulse rifle. He aimed at the chief, depressed the trigger and fired. The pale blue bolt shot out and struck the man. He yelped and turned, trying to return fire before he was hit again and toppled to the ground.

While they had been caught off guard, the security team was fast to respond. The bolts came in from all directions, hitting Sym. The armor crackled, melted, split and exploded off of him until he was standing as himself once more, the destroyed armor falling to the ground. The energy struck Sym but seemed to ripple across his surface. One of the guards stopped firing.

"Wait, that's Smith, he's got Smith in there!" the guard shouted. Several more guards stopped firing in hesitation. Sym tilted his head a bit at their unexpected behavior.

"You try to choose the moral ground despite already having committed unacceptable atrocities?" Sym questioned, considering for a long moment, "Smith... Yes, Josiah Smith. Responsible for the cold blooded murder of a former employee that 'knew too much'. It seems I can make this easier on all of us." Sym said. The silver visor and mouth emblem on the mask fizzled away before going blank again. The guards watched in confusion before they realized what was happening... Sym was melting and leaving no trace of the human that had been enveloped. Sym melted down into a puddle before seven thick tentacles shot out of the mass, wrapping around the guards, hurtling them against the walls. The screams of terror echoed out, bouncing off of the cement walls until there was nothing but silence once more.

Both Gideon and Slater closed the door to the apartment, locking and bolting it with all due diligence before they turned their backs to it and leaned against the metal plank. Gideon sighed, his head reclined, his dark hair cascading down to his shoulders. Slater grinned a bit, still exhilarated from the experience.

"You deflected bullets." Slater said.

"I know I did, though I don't know if I want to get in the habit of that." Gideon smirked.

"Was it easier than healing?" Slater questioned. Gideon looked perplexed for a moment.

"Come to think of it, yes... I didn't even have to think about it like I did with the healing, I just... did it." Gideon said.

"Maybe that's your first line of defense then." Slater replied.

"Well, that may be but I think you were right about getting more sleep before I try anything big." Gideon said with a yawn. Slater smiled, leading Gideon across the apartment and into the bedroom. Gideon was about to dive right in before Slater pulled his shirt off and then dropped his pants. Gideon smirked, turning around, lifting his feet as Slater pulled his shoes and socks off. Gideon reclined into bed before pulling the blanket over himself, gazing up at Slater, "Thank you so much... for being there for me." Gideon said. Slater froze in place, surprised to hear those words coming from Gideon rather than himself.

"I'll ALWAYS be here for you Gideon." Slater whispered, leaning down to kiss his boyfriend deeply. Gideon returned the affection, their lips tight and their tongues teasing, but as much as he wanted to stay awake, the efforts of the night caught up with him and he slowly fell asleep. Slater kept kissing Gideon's unconscious lips for a long moment before he stood back upright, looking at his sleeping lover. Slater licked his lips slowly to savor the taste of their embrace before he turned, quietly letting himself out of the bedroom.

The blonde young man moved over to the computer, swiping his hand across the screen to wake it up from sleep mode. A projected keyboard appeared on the tabletop surface and Slater started typing, launching into a search for resilient materials, cloth that could stand a pounding. He turned down several options before an industrial strength jumpsuit material caught his eye. Fire proof, tear resistant, low friction. It was promising, but the real determinate would be its difficulty to obtain. Slater clicked on a link and his grin soon grew wide enough to dominate his face. It was not only available in seventy two colors, it was manufactured in Trinity.

"Time to go shopping..." Slater whispered to himself with a grin.

The chatter of radios was quite palpable in the security station as various teams coordinated. A computer virus had been detected in the server so the entire system had been shut down, trying to avoid any breaches Sym could be trying to inflict. Engineering teams carried tanks of liquid solvent and other chemicals down the halls just as a deep thundering explosion sounded in the elevator down to the level. Bulkheads had been closed every two floors and the lift collapsed in between the levels to slow anything from heading up... but Jeremiah Prince was not leaving anything to chance.

The CEO had left his office and come down to the level, rolling up his sleeves to prepare a counter measure of his own. He stood off to the side, working on a pulse rifle. He slid out the power cell, the emitter and the focusing chamber, leaving only the frame. In its place was a modified prism from the SYM project, a liquid crystal emitter, a laser, a portable hard drive and an upload port. The pieces had not been designed to connect together but with careful work, Prince was able to piece them together before adding a last minute frame to lock them in place. Setting the weapon aside, he moved over to the computer terminal, turning it on.

"Sir, the server is down... and the remote interface." One of the scientists said meekly. Prince smirked a bit.

"Never rely too much on your tools; it is always wise to know the foundation of the technology we depend on..." Prince said, writing a short program of bare code before running it. The code accessed the shadow ram and brought up a local, older version of the operating system. From there Prince started coding by hand, working on a program designed to stop Sym. Sym was certainly advanced, but he still operated under basic principles of Genetech engineering. Prince wasn't defeated yet.

Gideon had never felt so deeply asleep, slipping down lower and lower, as if the bed was some bottomless well he was floating into. His mind was still and calm, showing mere flashes rather than dreams. He saw the vampire thugs, the clinic, the hospital... He walked down a street of the city but every store had a stylized M with rounded sides for a logo. The disjointed images were confusing, but then for a moment he felt like he hit bottom, resting on his back on a grassy field. A warm, sweet wind blew across him, through his hair and his beard. Gideon stirred softly, knowing that part of the dream didn't make sense. He'd never had a beard in his life. He opened his eyes and saw a vast greenish blue sky, the stars starting to emerge... and two moons hung in the sky. Gideon reached a hand towards them, but it wasn't his hand. It was covered in tawny golden fur with claws extending from his fingertips. Gideon moved to sit up but he sat up in bed, awaking.

"Slater?" Gideon asked softly, looking over to the bed next to him. It hadn't been touched. He slowly climbed out of bed and crossed the cool floor in his bare feet, opening it up before gasping. A figure stood in the living room, a slate gray figure with no features, six feet tall and muscled. Light seemed unable to reflect off of his skin. The figure turned, looking in Gideon's direction.

"You are all flawed..." the gravely voice murmured before an arm was raised, the fist melting into a spike before it shot at Gideon. Gideon held out his arms to block the spike, but as a very real flash of pain struck through his body, Gideon's eyes opened to the real world, the brief nightmare fading away. Gideon panted softly, realizing he had slammed his hands into his nightstand and awoken himself. He glanced around before sitting up slowly.

The sun had risen, the early light spilling through the windows. Gideon turned to see if Slater was asleep next to him, but the bed was still empty. Gideon hugged his arms around himself before he rose to his feet. Just as in his dream he crossed the room, ever so gently opening the door to the living room, peeking through the crack. Much to Gideon's delight, he saw Slater safe and sound, sitting cross legged on the floor, surrounded by bolts of fabric along with specialized tools for cutting and adhering, the faint smell of ozone in the air.

Gideon slowly walked out, looking around in awe. Draped over the couch was an early attempt at what had to be a uniform of sorts. The green and black material was sleek and stylish, seeming almost flecked with opalescent fibers without being too shiny. Still, the features on the couch model seemed a bit off, no doubt why Slater had started working on a second already. Gideon crouched down, leaning against Slater's back.

"My love, were you up all night?" Gideon asked in surprise.

"I couldn't help it, I was so very excited. I had all these ideas and I just had to get them out. I would have come to bed two hours ago but my first version didn't work that well. You can't cut this stuff with scissors or anything so it takes a bit of extra care." Slater admitted. Gideon looked at it all, blown away.

"It looks like you're prepared for the whole superhero thing." Gideon said. Slater blushed a bit before he shrugged.

"Well... Everyone in the world is going to want a piece of you if you can heal like you did last night. That kind of attention can destroy a person. You need a way to choose when you are the hero and when you aren't. The costume is the easy part, other than the logo." Slater smiled. Gideon grinned, moving to kiss Slater's cheek.

"I think I may have an idea on that." Gideon said, moving to grab a tablet, using his finger to draw the rounded M from his dreams. Slater looked at the design, his eyebrows rising.

"What does it stand for?" Slater asked. Gideon hesitated.

"I don't... know." Gideon replied softly. Slater smirked.

"So you know your symbol but not why? Like some deep, cosmic connection? That's very Meta." Slater said. Gideon's eyes slowly widened as he stared at Slater for a long moment.

"Slater, you are an undisputed genius." Gideon said, grabbing Slater's head before kissing him deeply. Slater dropped what he was doing and grabbed Gideon, wrapping both his arms and legs around him, hugging him tightly to himself. The two sprawled out across the uniform and the spare fabric, fully embracing one another in a deep moment of passion.

The metal bulkhead shuddered, warped and then dropped forward as it had been cut through at the molecular level. It had taken hours but nothing was going to stop Sym. He stepped out and looked around at the utility tunnel he had penetrated. There were tubes and cables and tanks and vats, all lining the walls of the hall, the metal grate floor covering even more connections. No doubt they had been sealed off, but there was quite likely to be something he could use. Sym looked at the tanks, his field of vision filling with enhanced statistics on the containers. One of his arms fashioned into a blade he sliced across a tank. The metal split apart and transparent green liquid poured out, hitting the metal great floor before boiling and turning to a gas that clung low to the floor. Sym slashed more of the tanks open, releasing more and more of it, the cloud billowing out in every direction.

"Flawed... Flawed... They are all flawed. Every employee should have taken a stand against these atrocities." Sym murmured to himself as he moved along, pausing as he came up to another tank. This one was marked with orange diamonds. Highly pressurized and reactive. Sym looked around, using the Genetech blueprints to analyze the likelihood of using the liquid to get out. Odds were significantly high. Sym's slate gray body turned back toward the vat before he drove both hands forward, puncturing the metal.

To say that the vacation was going down unexpected roads for Gideon would have been an understatement, but together he and Slater had worked on the second uniform until it was nearly complete. They had worked up a partial headpiece that covered the ears and chin, but they hadn't yet figured out anything to do with the rest of the face or head. Still, from the neck down it was a fine costume... A vibrant true green and dark black, sleek and stylish without being over or under stated. Most of all, the chest had been emblazoned with a white stylized M that stood out in contrast to both colors.

"It really is amazing." Gideon said, holding it up, looking at it carefully.

"Well you'll look so sexy in it, healing sick kids and being bad ass." Slater said happily. Gideon moved to kiss Slater again, but before their lips met they heard a warbling siren outside. The blank wall at the far end of their living room revealed itself as the screen it was as the news snapped on.

"A state of emergency has been sounded on North Island. A chemical spill at the Genetech facility has resulted in a minor explosion. For the general well being of Trinity citizens, the central bridges are being retracted and routes to North End are under a temporary close. To repeat, North End is temporarily closed." The newscaster reported. The wall was full of an aerial view of North end and the rather unsettling view of the central bridges retracting. The thick Y shaped structures were pulling back into the raised platforms the city was built upon. The outer bridges remained in place, acting in many ways like the backbone of the city but even they had barriers rising out of the roadway to block off access to the north island.

Gideon and Slater both jumped as one of the warehouses erupted into blue fire before cooling back to orange and red. They could see people scattering like ants, trying to get to safe zones, to bunkers, to get away. Even the other companies were responding. The atmosphere shimmered over Trinitron's campus as a rudimentary energy shield snapped into existence, flickering before taking on a more steady appearance.

"All those people... I have to help them." Gideon whispered softly. Slater's eyes went wide as he leaned forward.

"But we don't know what's going on. Chemicals, explosions... Who knows what is escaping from that. What if your powers wear off? It's too dangerous." Slater said softly. For all his want of glory and adventure, for all his love of Gideon and the hero he truly was, Slater still couldn't easily let Gideon face danger. Gideon turned, looking at Slater gently with calm, compassionate eyes.

"Slater, we spent all morning making a uniform. At some point I was going to face danger... if I am to be a super hero." Gideon replied. Slater shifted.

"I... I know, but... I mean vampire thugs are one thing, but explosions? Quarantines?" Slater whispered.

"I survived being hit by lightning; I can heal people, even with burns... I'm needed there. Heck, it might even be easier than thugs. I mean fire is fire, it won't be like I'm under attack." Gideon grinned.

"I guess you're... right. I'm supposed to embrace change." Slater said.

"And it won't be like I'm going alone, I can take my Bluetooth and you can be in my ear the whole time." Gideon replied, "And that's if I can even get to North End with it being closed."

"You can... There's always a way. The subsurface subways don't shut down unless there is a full on quarantine or major storm, and the perimeter bridges have narrow passages most people don't know about unless they are homeless. I learned a lot about evasion back in the day." Slater replied.

"So you'll walk me through it? You'll be my side kick?" Gideon asked hopefully.

"Okay, but no calling me Alfred." Slater demanded.

"Okay, sexy." Gideon replied, giving Slater a quick kiss before he looked at the uniform, hesitating, "So how do I get it on?" he asked after a moment.

While things had been tense before, the situation at Genetech had reached the boiling point... quite literally. Explosions had ripped through the utility tunnels, allowing Sym's advance while crippling Genetech at the same time. Certain projects and equipment had lost very important coolant and hydraulic fluids, though a few areas had been left conspicuously alone - at least conspicuous to everyone but Jeremiah Prince. He knew Sym had left certain areas untouched because their destruction would unleash biological and chemical agents into the air that could harm innocents and Sym assumed his existence was to protect.

The building shuddered as more secondary explosions ripped through the infrastructure. Emergency bulkheads had sealed off, acting as reinforcements for the floors below them, but Prince knew he was running out of time. His fingers continued clattering away onto the keyboard, putting the finishing touches on the program he was writing, but as lights started to flicker, he knew he was running out of time.

Jeremiah double checked the cables to his prototype gun, connecting them into the computer before he began uploading the software. The gun pulsed gently with light as the software rooted into place, filling the hard drive. Jeremiah watched with anticipation as the progress bar climbed towards completion, though the power fluctuations were reaching critical. The terminal next to Jeremiah went off, then even some of the emergency lighting. Jeremiah's fingers dug into the palms of his hands as the bar reached 92, 93, 94 and then 95 percent... but as it climbed up one more percentage point, the computer and everything else went dark. There was a moment of stillness before flashlights snapped on.

"Alright gentlemen, let's move out." Jeremiah said, lifting the gun before he headed for the only way out of the level they were on.

"Where are we moving to?" One of the guards asked, following Prince.

"He feels trapped. His instinct will be to escape so he can be useful. He's going to break his way out and then attack us from the outside." Prince said. The guard looked dubious.

"Wouldn't he be less of a threat outside?" the guard asked.

"You haven't seen his specifications." Jeremiah replied. He reached a vault like door and reached out, entering the code before turning the appropriate wheels. The door shuddered and opened, revealing a door frame edged with ionized plasma. If he had tried to pass through the seams he would have had a nasty surprise, but as it was he was working through the outer edge of the walls, working parallel to them. Prince moved up the stairs with the guards behind him, though as they rounded the first landing, a massive explosion shook the stairs beneath them. Prince grabbed onto the guardrail with one arm and held the gun with the other as the wall to his left and part of the stairs fell away, the rubble falling on the guards.

Sparks erupted from the gap, twisted metal and melted cabling dangling out like the entrails of the building. Prince turned to look at the exposed tunnel, seeing a fleeting glimpse as Sym passed by; unaware that he had passed his primary target. Prince gritted his teeth before he swung his legs forward and back, trying to build up enough momentum before he swung, releasing from the bar. He landed in the utility tunnel and hit the other side, coughing a bit before he rose up and moved after his company's rogue creation... though the presence of sunlight at the far end of the tunnel was highly disconcerting to say the least.

A deep rumbling came from the manhole cover as it was turned and hoisted up, slid out of the way before Gideon climbed up, rung by rung until he crouched on the surface, looking around with his deep brown eyes. While he had squeezed into the suit, its incomplete nature had left his entire head exposed other than his ears and chin. He took a soft breath, his hair whipping around in the breeze. He could smell smoke on the air, but he couldn't see anyone anywhere around. Gideon reached up, tapping the Bluetooth hidden beneath the material covering his ear.

"I'm in." Gideon said, standing up and advancing toward Genetech.

"I really wish you had taken a hood or something." Slater muttered over the link.

"A skin tight bodysuit and a loose fitting hood aren't a good combination. What I need is something sleek, cool, a bit... that." Gideon whispered, spotting an abandoned cluster of vendor carts. While most specialized in hot dogs and tofu burgers, there was a sunglass cart for tourists that came to the technological hub of the island.

"Like what? I can't see anything, remember?" Slater asked. Gideon reached the cart and started poking through the racks, pulling off a pair before returning it, trying others.

"You know those polarized goggle sunglasses that always look too over-stated with conventional garb?" Gideon asked, pulling out a pair of horizontally oval goggles with black frames and black lenses, using a stretchy strap.

"Yeah?" Slater asked, picturing it in his head. Gideon lifted the goggles and pulled them on, settling them into place before glancing at himself in the mirror, cracking a grin.

"They aren't over-stated if they match the rest of your uniform." Gideon smirked, though a faint pop in the distance reminded him why he had come. Gideon turned and broke into a sprint, heading through the vendors area and down the middle of the street leading to the Genetech laboratories. It felt very strange to be running toward danger when all others had evacuated or taken refuge in shelters, but it was exhilarating at the same time.

"You are approaching the south edge of the Genetech campus... The response team's chatter is in the north west." Slater replied over the com, though the last of his message was muffled as a loud explosion ripped out of the side of the building. Gideon gasped as he saw several people running out from near by doors, the fire raging around them. There was no longer any time for indecision or doubt, only time to act. Gideon ran forward again, up to those fleeing.

"How many are behind you?" he asked quickly. The scientist was dazed but looked around, trying to see who had gotten out.

"Two, two I think!" He said. Gideon nodded.

"Get to a safe distance." He commanded before he moved, heading in the door, looking around. Fire clung to the walls like wallpaper, the heat raging... except that Gideon didn't feel the pain normally associated with intense heat, just the presence of it. He hoped that was a good sign and continued along, glancing around. The smoke was acrid and thick, almost noxious, but he knew he had to find the survivors, get them out and move on. He turned the corner and spotted a scientist helping another, holding each other's shoulders as they hobbled along.

"This way!" Gideon called out. The scientist taking the bulk of the weight began hobbling faster, though there was a groaning coming from the ceiling between Gideon and the scientists. Gideon lunged forward and held his arms up just as the ceiling collapsed, but the debris impacted an azure field of energy, suspended in place. Gideon grunted, feeling an immense weight, but even more he felt a strain on his very essence. "Hurry!" Gideon called out. The two scientists made it past and Gideon held the debris up for a moment longer before he stepped back. The ceiling collapsed into the hallway, closing it off.

Gideon turned and moved back the way he had come, heading back out of the door. The scientists were still hobbling across the grass for the parking lot where others had gathered. Gideon tried to take stock of everything, to figure out what was going on, but as his ears popped, he realized the air pressure was changing rapidly. Gideon slowly turned, gazing into the fiery maw in the exposed portion of the building, looking to the burning beams and supports and the one tank that had not yet breached. Whatever was in the tank was starting to leak, and Gideon knew even if not flammable, pressurized explosions were very dangerous.

The scientists watched in awe as the green and black clad man jogged out in front of the massive hole and held out his hands. Gideon only had a split second to respond as the tank went from a metal enclosure one second to a wall of red gas the next. Gideon held his arms out and focused everything he had. The grass withered and died as the red gas passed over it, but the wall hit an invisible barrier radiating from Gideon's hands, curving around the survivors in the parking lot, dispersing slowly. Gideon continued to hold the field, creating a wake of fresh air as long as he could, a spectacle to those gathered. One of the scientists limped forward gently, watching as the gas cleared out more and more, becoming pink and then even more faint.

"It should be alright now..." he said meekly. Gideon hesitated before he gave the barrier a slight push, knocking the gas back toward the building before the field collapsed.

"You need to get further back than this... Get to real shelters." Gideon said.

"Who are you? Why are you doing this?" The scientist asked.

"I'm Meta... and I'm doing this because Trinity needs a hero." Gideon said, noticing how the man was favoring one leg. Gideon reached out to rest a hand on his shoulder, "Now go." Gideon added. The scientist nodded, turning to limp away, but as he moved he noticed the pain in his leg had decreased. He moved to gather the others and get them away, backing everyone up. Over the blue tooth Gideon could hear Slater making faint noises. Gideon rolled his eyes, "What?" he asked.

"That's just so... You're going to be on the news, you know?" Slater asked.

"I know, I know. I just have to try and save as many people as I can from these explosions." Gideon said, moving along. Slater was silent for a moment before hesitating.

"I'm a little confused." Slater said after a moment.

"You're confused? That's not a good sign for my eyes and ears." Gideon replied.

"They didn't call in anything more than the most basic cleanup and containment crews, even fire suppression is at a minimum." Slater said.

"Insurance scam?" Gideon wondered.

"Or this wasn't just an ordinary fire." Slater responded. Gideon considered the ramifications as he turned the corner and saw more survivors trying to get out from the bottom floor of the building. The support beams holding up the balconies that ringed the building were splintering and giving way. Gideon ran at full speed toward the building, holding out his hands, readying himself. As the cement started to slide, he wedged himself in there. The scientists let out soft screams, but seeing that the cement was held in place despite being connected to nothing caused them to scramble again.

Gideon groaned, finding the balcony much heavier than the hall piece he had been holding up earlier. He was fairly certain he would need to exercise his new powers to strengthen them in the future. All around the building he could hear more explosions, more fires, but he knew he could only help so many people at a time. Gideon turned his head as he saw a portion of the building blow out, glass and metal falling to the ground like a rain of silver.

In eerie silence, a lithe and sleek individual covered in slate gray lunged out of the building, arching through the air before landing an impressive distance away. Gideon's eyes followed the individual, watching in stunned silence. The way it moved, he knew it wasn't any ordinary scientist trying to flee the fire. It was the being from his nightmare, the one that had killed Slater and stabbed him. Gideon stood in place, holding the debris, finally certain that the event had not been caused by a mere accident in the labs.

"I think... the nature of my rescue is about to change." Gideon whispered.

"What is it?" Slater asked in shock.

"I don't know yet." Gideon said softly. Across the way, Sym had turned to look at the building and take stock of his handiwork, though as he looked around, things were not matching up to his expectations. Sym was baffled. Inside the building he had predicted everything perfectly. The Genetech response protocols were in his head, he knew how every employee would respond, but outside... There were more survivors than they should have been; the destruction wasn't as far along. Something just wasn't adding up. Sym tried to root out the cause and then he saw something he had not anticipated - the very first human he did not know, a human dressed in green and black.

Before Sym had even taken his first step, he had downloaded every Genetech employee file into his mind, but this human was unknown, a blank slate, potentially innocent and in need of protection. Sym felt a flicker of something deep inside himself, a flicker of what humans would have considered hope... though as he studied the strange human, he began to grow concerned. The human was somehow supporting the debris that should have blocked off another exit and choked off escape routes. It wasn't a feat humans could muster on their own and Sym wondered if the green and black uniform was another being like himself, but all he detected was an encrypted radio frequency, one he did not yet have the ability to access. Sym crouched down onto all fours before he pushed off, arching through the air before he landed mere feet from Gideon. Gideon cringed, still holding up the debris to let scientists escape

"Who... Are you?" Sym asked gently.

"I am Meta." Gideon replied, surprised that even the voice matched that in his dream. Sym looked at the scientists and then Gideon.

"Stand aside. Do not assist them further." Sym pleaded. Gideon shook his head.

"If I stand aside, these people will die. I can't allow that." Gideon said. Sym hesitated.

"But these scientists have allowed others to die. Do you sympathize with their cause?" Sym asked. Gideon groaned a bit as the weight shifted lower. Sym turned, looking at how Gideon was exerting his powers.

"I didn't witness their evil deeds. Without evidence, it isn't up for me to decide. I can't guess whether they intentionally did harm or if it was by accident." Gideon groaned, seeing more scientists emerge.

"The degree of their guilt is inconsequential. They did not take proper steps to ensure their innocence." Sym replied, stepping forward, turning as one of the scientists started to move off. "Jordan Ramsey, understudy on nervous system degradation mines." Sym raised his arm and a spear of liquid gray shot out toward the scientist. Gideon lifted a hand and reached out, grabbing onto the tendril. To both his own surprise and Sym's, the tendril went stiff and stopped moving. Without both hands to support the weight of the balcony, a portion collapsed to the ground, narrowing the exit. Gideon looked at the tendril before he pulled his hand back.

Sym looked at his arm and then the human before he tried to reactivate his arm. The signal worked and the arm retracted. Sym wasn't sure quite what to do. He took aim at the scientist and fired again, but Gideon launched out a field. The arm hit the energy barrier and flattened against it before he pulled it back. Sym was almost beside himself in confusion. He looked at Gideon and then at the scientists. Gideon, however, had another issue to worry about. The hallway inside had burst into flames and then several explosions. He let the debris fall, blocking off the fire from escaping, praying that no other survivors were inside. Gideon turned to Sym.

"You don't have to do this; you don't have to kill them. You can present your evidence to the courts; let them deal with the employees." Gideon said, urging Sym to stop.

"Genetech has broken the law thirteen thousand, four hundred and sixty nine times in the last ten years without reprimand or punishment by any lawful organization. There is evidence of cooperation from the police department to cover up these infractions. There is no other way." Sym replied. Gideon shook his head.

"You can't punish those who only participated under duress or unknowingly, even if they could have found out. It is human nature to trust." Gideon said.

"That is a nature I do not share. You will allow me to continue." Sym said before he moved for the survivors that tried to retreat from the area. Gideon ran over between Sym and the scientists, trying to block him. Sym stopped, analyzing possibilities. He lowered down into a three point stance, ready to push off. Gideon had seen his jumping trick enough to know where it would lead... and a crazy idea entered his mind.

As Sym pushed off the ground, so did Gideon. An azure flash of light beneath him came as he pushed an energy field off the ground, launching him upwards. Sym impacted Gideon, liquefying for a moment, wrapping half way around Gideon before he reformed into his natural shape. Seeing they were toppling toward the ground, Sym manipulated their bodies so he was on the bottom. Sym's elbows and knees inverted and he landed in an inhuman position, absorbing the shock with Gideon on top of him, their torsos touching, their groins pressed tight.

Sym looked up at Gideon for a moment before he turned into a liquid. Gideon fell the last foot to the ground as the liquid puddle raced off towards those it wished to kill. Gideon held out his hands, creating walls, trying to corner the liquid. Sym impacted the barriers, trying more and more directions. Soon it became apparent that Gideon had cornered him on five sides, but there were still six directions to go.

For a moment Gideon assumed he had done it, but as the puddle in his field shrank, he realized how wrong he was. Sym was draining into the cement, leaching through the artificial stone and moving beneath the ground. Spikes rose up out of the parking lot like pillars, stabbing through three of the scientists. Gideon winced, seeing death first hand, shivering before he used his blue energy like projectiles. They hit the tendrils and snapped through them, the spikes turning to liquid and splashing to the ground before being reassembled.

Gideon kept attacking the spears as they emerged, each attack slowly improving his aim, his focus, even his stability in generating the energy. Sym continued the same tactic longer than a human might, but eventually he gave up on that approach. The liquid gray being slowly reformed into his humanoid shape, looking at Gideon for a long moment. He took a step toward him, then another, stopping in place. Gideon had never been gazed at by a being with no eyes, but he could tell that was exactly what was going on.

"You... have been damaged by society." Sym said slowly, "Let me save you. We will protect humanity together."

"Will you spare those that had no knowledge of wrongdoing?" Gideon asked softly.

"I cannot..." Sym replied.

"Then you are going to damage society, and I need to protect it." Gideon replied. Sym looked almost depressed as he turned to resume his task. Gideon moved after Sym to stop him, though he spotted someone moving towards them, someone not fleeing. Gideon turned, seeing Jeremiah Prince wielding the light riffle. He was cut, bruised and battered, but the determination in his eyes was most complete. Gideon looked at Prince and then at Sym, realizing what was about to happen. Gideon's eyes widened, "Wait!" he shouted.

Sym turned to see Prince with the weapon aimed, Gideon moving to get in the way of it. Sym's mathematical mind processed it all. The weapon would be harmless to humans, but Meta had no way of knowing that. The speed of light was a fixed rate, Meta would not block the entire blast, but the gesture was very noble. The only uncertain variable was what data would be in the light, and Sym knew that he would soon find out.

Prince depressed the trigger and the rifle fired. The beam of light was partially blocked by Gideon's arm and ribs, but the unshielded portion continued on to hit Sym's shoulder. As if a physical weapon had struck him, his gray shoulder exploded into a spray of gray goo that splattered across the parking lot, leaving an ominous gap. The liquid tried to reform but couldn't over the damaged portion, leaving a hollow piece exposed like the center of Easter chocolate.

Gideon tried to block any further shots but Prince dove to the side and fired more. The light blasts took out a chunk of his right arm, left leg and narrowly missed his head. Sym crouched down to make himself less of a target, but he could feel the damage spreading like a venom through his systems. While he could continue to move with chunks missing, the code was a virus, telling his nano cells to stop cooperating, to cease functioning, to break their connections. Thick gelatinous streams of gray oozed out of his wounds, forming inert puddles around him.

Sym looked at Meta for a moment, a mere second for humans but an eternity for machines. He prayed in time Meta would be more efficient in his elimination of threats, that he would go that extra mile... but Sym couldn't remain, he couldn't finish his task, not if there was any hope. Sym turned and pushed off the ground, arching through the air toward the boundary of the city, deploying gray gliding panels part way out to change his trajectory, though even they soon collapsed and melted.

Prince growled as he kept firing, trying to hit Sym again and again, but Sym was too unpredictable. Prince ran after him, but the chase was futile. Sym reached the massive guard rails bordering the outer edge of the upper level of the island before he lunged over it, toppling out of sight toward the ocean below, free falling for a moment before he shot out a tendril like a lasso. Sym's melting body pulled on the tendril, swinging toward the island's superstructure. While the other two islands were very solidly built underneath, North End was a web of pipes, pillars, tunnels and tubes. Sym began trying to find a place to rest, to try and fix his code... or a place to die, away from his enemies.

Back on the surface, Prince stood with a set look of indignation on his face. He was a man that left little to chance. The rifle appeared to be effective, but the upload was only ninety six percent complete. There was the tiniest margin for Sym's continued existence, though that would have been less of an issue if the first blast hadn't been blocked. Prince turned to incarcerate Meta as a conspirator with Sym, but when he turned there was no sight of the green and black clad vigilante. Prince looked in every direction, but Meta was no where to be seen in any direction. A single muscle in Prince's cheek started to twitch before he turned, heading off to coordinate with the clean up crews.

The door to the apartment opened once more and Gideon moved in, looking weary and tired, carrying a small green duffel bag over his shoulder. For anyone looking, it was as if he had just returned from the gym rather than fighting evil. Slater rushed up and lifted Gideon off of his feet before pulling him into a hug. Gideon smiled and leaned down, kissing his lover gently.

"Are you okay?" Slater whispered. Gideon nodded.

"I am very okay, just worn out. I need to exercise those muscles more often." Gideon said. Slater slowly set Gideon down before shutting the door behind him, turning to face his lover with a grin.

"There are lots of muscles I like you to exercise." Slater said, moving to rub his ass against Gideon's groin. Despite his weariness, despite the exertion, Gideon moaned as his cock started to harden. He breathed a bit more, feeling another surge of energy rip through him. He grabbed at Slater's pants, tearing them down before he grabbed his ass cheeks and gave them a squeeze. Slater moaned in shock at how eager Gideon was being, not that he minded. Gideon all but tore his own pants apart as he opened his fly, pulling out his thick, hard cock.

Slater yelped in delight as he was shoved against the back of the couch, grabbing on for support. Gideon moved to line up his phallus with Slater's entrance before he thrust in deep without lube or preparation. Slater's fingers dug into the couch, loving how much friction there was, how tactile it was, and soon enough Gideon had leaked enough pre to loosen things up anyhow. Gideon grabbed onto Slater's waist and started to fuck his boyfriend deep and hard, grinding like mad. It looked a little strange for the shorter man to dominate the larger, but for them it worked... and worked very well.

"My hero!" Slater called out, moaning as Gideon pounded him. Gideon moved to nuzzle Slater's shoulders, licking his spine before he bit his neck gently. Slater all but screamed in lust, his cock growing heavy beneath him, pulsing without even being touched, though that was soon to be remedied. Gideon reached past Slater's hips and wrapped his fingers around his boyfriend's member. As the fingers closed, a faint teal light began passing into Slater's rod. Gideon stroked up and down, picking up the pace, squeezing more and more.

Slater's eyes rolled into the back of his head as he started to drool. Before long his cock was pulsing and he was messily spraying his cum all over the back of the couch, but neither of the men cared. Gideon felt Slater's ass clench and quiver around his rod, and as much as he wanted to hold off for more pleasure, he came as well. Gideon buried his face in Slater's shoulder blades, screaming out in pleasure as he pumped his sperm into his boyfriend's ass.

The two moaned, groaned, and then slowly sank to the floor, landing in a heap together, panting in exertion. It was by no means the longest of their encounters, but it was certainly one of the most heated. Gideon slowly wrapped his arms around Slater and held him tight and Slater sighed with bliss. Nothing in the world was better than being in Gideon's arms. Feeling safe and content, Slater passed out in moments. Gideon smiled in pure love, nuzzling Slater once more before he grabbed the duffel bag with his uniform, using it as a pillow before he passed out as well.

The dimming orange light of sunset poured through North End's superstructure, sparkling on the ocean waters that washed over the island's foundation like one massive tide pool. It was a forest of stainless steel, titanium and other alloys made to withstand the test of time... and among the branches, standing in the knee deep water was a very unlikely individual. He was eighteen years old, six foot two and somewhat muscled. His dirty blond hair had been knotted into dreadlocks and the dreads had been pulled back into a ponytail. A short blond tuft of hair hung down from his chin and a vast array of metal rings and cuffs sparkled from his ears and both sides of his bottom lip.

The young man wore a sleeveless milk chocolate brown shirt and cargo shorts, a simple outfit, but it was the small copper colored ring implanted into his neck just behind his right ear that identified him as what he truly was, a hacker. One of the waterproof access panels had been opened and fiber optic cabling fed out of. The hacker had tied the cables into a tablet computer at first, trying to tie into Genetech's computers as they went back online, to catch their new passwords as they were implemented. It was a once in a lifetime chance, one so promising that he didn't noticed the gray goo leaking down from pipe to pipe, barely managing to stick together, drizzling down like syrup.

Sym gazed out at the world, still feeling the effects of his diminished victory. He had stopped the virus from corrupting his personality or senses, but there was nothing he could do to keep automatic coherence. He wasn't even able to climb anymore, only to slow his descent toward the watery grave below. Sym had almost given up all hope before he dropped low enough to spot someone, another human. Sym turned his focus on the being, studying him.

The young man wasn't in the Genetech database, but more than that, there was something about him that was compelling to Sym. Before long Sym realized that the human was attempting to do just what he had done himself in the lab. Sym looked at the human more, spotting buttons stuck to his shirt; information should be free, knowledge is survival, and stop the greed. They were all sentiments that Sym agreed with... and as he came to the resolution, Sym felt the chill of one last idea spark through his body, the last chance to save himself. He had to become what he was designed to be.

The young man continued to input codes into his tablet computer, still unaware of the dark gray mass forming above him, coalescing as much as possible before it rained down like a torrent. The man gasped as he felt warm goo hit him, lifting his head just in time to get his face engulfed. Sym poured over the human, coating his face, pouring into his mouth and over his teeth, trying to cover them but managing only to make vague fang like shapes. The goo covered the dread ponytail and made each strand look like a ribbed rubber cord. It even coated the individual hairs of his goatee, making them look long and thick and rubbery.

The goo crept under his shirt, coating the man's shoulders and chest, his back and his arms, his ribs. The shirt sizzled and fell apart, revealing every detail of every muscle on the man's torso in glistening posterity. The liquid slipped down into his pants, coating his ass cheeks, pushing between them and into his anus to hold on tighter. The goo even coated his manhood in a rubbery casing, caressing his balls before continuing down his legs, plunging into the water to wrap around his feet, coating each toe individually, making them look supple and distinct.

As Sym encased the human completely, he gave into the base programming of being a protective suit. The nanites over the nose processed the outside air, feeding the human oxygen. His face tried to display the occupied face, though the visor was damaged, appearing as silvery white splotchy eyes rather than a visor, the inside of the human's mouth turning a darker black while the fangs turned silver. The goo caressed and rubbed against the human, conforming to him perfectly, though as it pressed into the technological implant on his neck, both the human and Sym felt a bolt of energy jump between them.

Sym had never been so excited before in his life. It was a data port, an interface, a biological modem to turn digital data into biological data. Sym began pulsing a signal into the port and got a signal back at once. He focused his entire being on learning the new language, absorbing the 'machine code' humans used, learning yet another language with which to operate on... and with that knowledge, he tapped into the human.

'Who are you?' came the human's voice, but not from his mouth... The thought passed directly into Sym. Sym quivered with delight.

'I am Sym. I am to protect you.' Sym replied softly.

'I'm Uriah...' The human replied. Sym rippled across his body like a fully immersive massage, even stimulating the pendulous gray cock that hung from his groin.

'I will enjoy getting to know you very much Uriah.' Sym replied gleefully.

Once more night had fallen and once more Jeremiah Prince found himself sitting where he always did - his office. It didn't matter if it was New York, Dubai or Trinity... His work was his life. He leaned back in his chair, staring at the security footage from the parking lot. He watched the vigilante saving his people, fighting Sym and then try to protect him. At first Prince had wanted to write the vigilante off as some sort of Trinity crack pot, but his powers were too impossible to ignore.

Prince turned to grab the bottle and pour himself another drink but as he tipped it, only a single drop came out to land in the glass. Prince sighed and set the bottle down, looking back at the holographic footage floating before him. What had started as over glorified safety equipment had caused billions of dollars of damage to the facility, but it had also uncovered a far greater mystery. Somewhere in Trinity there was a 'super hero' with telekinetic powers. Prince didn't know which company had pioneered the technology or if it came from somewhere else entirely, but he was going to find out.

Jeremiah slowly rose to his feet and turned, moving to the window. He gazed out across Trinity and all the glowing lights like fireflies above a sea of silver moonlight. It was an amazing place, but it offered even more amazing possibilities. Prince slowly grinned as he made up his mind. He was going to stay in Trinity for a while longer and oversee things personally.

Touch of Punk

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Footwork Written by Leo\_Todrius Commissioned by Neobesitz The university gym was a place of activity and silence that rose and fell like tides, bursting into frenzies and then falling still for hours at a time. Numerous teams used the facilities...

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Breathe Written by Leo\_Todrius Commissioned by Donkey-zebra Quick, regular beats filled the air like a heartbeat of the gathered masses, interspersed with the mechanized hypnotic lyrics that captured and ensnared souls. The music alone was enough...

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