by Mathieu Roy and Michael Surbrook

The trip to Mega-Tokyo had been totally uneventful. Raven, quickly getting used to this flying business, had spent it her nose buried in her portable terminal, reviewing every last scrap of information given to her by Shiroko-Tsuhi on this operation. Paula had just sat in the next seat, looking bored. She was as uninteresting a flight companion as Shion.

When Sanato had charged Raven and Paula with the task of extracting a defecting executive from his current employers, the black-haired telekinetic had assumed her more experienced colleague would take charge of it. Paula, however, was unable and unwilling to lead a dog by the leash, and her idea of planning was deciding which wall to knock down before smacking the bodyguards. She also had exactly zero contacts in Mega-Tokyo.

Raven had one, but she'd hesitated before calling Nabiki; dealing with the purely profit-motivated fixer reminded her of deals with the devil, where you couldn't ever be entirely sure of how much you really paid until it came back to hit you in the face. But reasoning that Shiroko-Tsuhi was fronting the bill this time, she called up the number on Shion's card. Nabiki had been the ideal fixer, providing for all that she requested and even suggesting other things Raven might want to consider, things Nabiki would of course be happy to provide given appropriate remuneration.

This left open the small matter of the plan. Sanato had said to keep things quiet, but Raven figured that sending two powerful tekes out on a mission meant a certain level of noise was to be expected. No reason to come blasting through the wall, of course. Paula and her gung-ho attitude might be the most delicate part of the operation.

It was high time to come up with a workable plan. Raven looked up from her reading. "Hmm. Looks like our target is diabetic."

The tidbit failed to get Paula's attention. The blond PK looked out the window and didn't comment.

Time for a more direct route then... "We're going to need to change his clothes and stuff when we get there in case they put a tracer on him."

Paula turned to give her an exasperated look.

"It's stuff we need to think about, Paula. That means we need clothes ready for him in some safe place."

Paula sighed. "So I suppose we need to find a 'safe place' and go shopping for clothing?"

"Well we need at least one safe place to bring the guy to at the very least. I admit that making him change might be overkill, a bug scanner would be enough I think." She typed 'bug scanner' on her equipment wish list, a file which was starting to grow bloated. Maybe it would be best to trim some of the most obscure items before passing it on to Nabiki.

"Why don't you just haul him back to Neo York once we have him?" Paula suggested.

Raven nodded. "That works. Just land somewhere in the Zone so we don't wreck the Arc." She chuckled self-mockingly and started deleting items from her list. "I'm just not used to this teleport-across-the-world stuff."

There was a pause as Raven updated her list and Paula returned to the window. Finally Raven broke the silence again. "So how do we get in?"

"Blow out the door," Paula predictably suggested, "or come in through a wall. That usually works for me." She paused and asked, "We are allowed to do that, right?"

"It's not very quiet," Raven objected.

"Why do we have to be quiet about it? It's an extraction!" Paula complained bitterly.

"It's in our instructions, isn't it? Don't make too much noise."


"Of course, we can always go to the door and just kick it in. No need to take the wall with it though."

"That's what I'd do." Paula looked smug.

"That works, then," Raven acquiesced. "We can take a room at the hotel so they let us inside. We need to find out which room he's in."

"Shouldn't be too hard for a genius like you."

"I guess I can just pretend to be a delivery girl," Raven suggested half-jokingly.

Paula gave this little superior smirk Raven had learned to associate with Paula's verbal jabs. "I think you'd make a good call-girl."

Raven almost laughed aloud—Paula was never very effective at throwing insults, but did even worse when trying to get Raven riled up over insults her appearance, when she used to get far, far worse than Paula could ever come up with. Of course, Raven realized Paula was also implying that she had the same morals as a call girl—but as insults went, that was a pretty weak one.

Usually Raven ignored Paula's ribbing but feeling playful, she decided to play along. "You think?" she asked in a serious, faintly flattered tone.

"Oh yeah, with that hair, and some short skirt, and a low-cut blouse, you'd look just like some high-priced fuck-toy."

Raven grinned inwardly. That insult sounded almost like a backhanded compliment. "Okay, but what are we going to pass you as?"

Paula looked confused. "Enh? Pass me? What for?"

"Well, if we're going to sneak me in as a call-girl, what are you going to be?" Raven elaborated, thinking herself clever.

"Your pimp?"

"Female pimps are called madams," Raven pointed out.

"Who cares?" Paula said with a shrug.

Ah well. I suppose it was too much to hope that she'd get the subtle hint that she's not good-looking enough to pass as a call-girl, thought Raven. Out loud she remarked, "Still doesn't solve our problem—how do we get invited in?"

"I kick the door down, remember?" Paula asked in exasperated tones.

Raven pursed her lips. "True, but you need to know which door to kick. I doubt our target's been registered as his own name."

"That's your job then."

Raven rolled her eyes. "I guess I can ask the fixer to ask a decker."

"See?" Paula said with a smirk, "I knew you could figure it out."

"Decker's an extra cost," Raven explained, jotting it down. "But I guess we don't have a choice." She recapitulated. "So we get the name, rent a room in the hotel to get access, and go to his floor, kick the door in... Disable the guards by surprise... Grab our man, I set up the teleport while you defend, and then we leave."

"Works for me. Just make sure you don't screw anything up."

"Should we try to find out how many guards?" Raven suggested.

"Why? I can handle 'em."

Raven rolled her eyes again. "Figures. I'll ask if the decker can find that out too." She thought for a moment. "Should we try to get invited in? Better surprise effect."

"Sure. Just remember to lean over and wiggle your ass a bit, and they'll let your right in."

Hmm. Maybe I should try the vamp approach. It could be fun. "And if they don't bite, then we kick the door in. Works." Yeah, I think I want to try this, see if I can get away with wearing that kind of outfit. Of course, I better be ready for stares. "So here's the plan. We pass ourselves off as a call-girl and pimp." Besides, with the Empress running around, nobody expects PKs to stoop to that kind of disguise. "We try to sleaze our way in. If that doesn't work, we kick in the door. "Either way, we use surprise to disable the guards, grab the target, you defend, and I 'port us all to NY."

"Sounds good to me." Paula nodded. "You sure you can handle it?"

"I think so. I think I'll do the talking though."


"Well, I just didn't think it was the kind of work you liked."

Paula glowered. "Are you trying to say I don't know how to talk to people?"

Um, well, yeah. Raven shook her head, denying her thoughts. "Not exactly. Just didn't figure you to enjoy social engineering."

Paula glared at her partner. "I think I can talk to some thick-headed street sams about selling you off for a night."

I'll bet you'll enjoy it, too. "I'm also the one with the cute ass." Raven smiled briefly at the thought of being pretty enough to make someone jealous. Her smile melted when she remembered it would only make working with Paula more difficult.

"Which means you probably aren't smart enough to talk. I'd do the selling."

"Yeah, you're right," Raven conceded. "If you can do it, it's great. Makes sense you'd be the one talking, they'll expect me to be a dumb bit of flooze."

"And your perfect for the job, trust me," Paula said, smirking.

Raven grinned. "Smart enough to play dumb. A rare skill, really."

Paula didn't respond to that clever comeback, instead looking back out the window. Raven privately grinned in triumph; getting the better of abrasive Paula was quite the guilty pleasure. "Shopping for hooker clothes will be fun I think," she finally said, amused at the thought.

"Have fun. I think I'll get some rest." Suiting actions to words, she sat back in her seat and closed her eyes, ostensibly ignoring Raven.

The black-haired telekinetic returned to her pad and typed in "hooker clothes". She stifled a giggle at the thought. Riposting to Paula's insults with humor had proved gratifying, and she was sure she was going to have a blast trying to find sexy clothes for her new body, now that she had an excuse to do so without seeming... slutty. Of course, Paula would still use that as ammunition, but with her lack of imagination, she seriously needed a handicap.

The suborbital touched down in Mega-Tokyo with about an hour's delay; the airplane had encountered engine problems and the captain had decided to be safe and reduce airspeed.

Paula had spent the last leg of the flight confined in rebarbative mutism, leaving Raven to her own devices. The young PK had elected to search the 'Net for old SF novels and movies. Much to her delight, she'd gotten her mitts on an old flatscreen vid of "Battlefield Earth"—but she was sorely disappointed half an hour into the movie at how bad it was. "2001: A Space Odyssey," a real classic, proved much, much better, and she was still engrossed in the movie when the plane finally landed.

"Are you coming, or have you finally decided to go back to Neo York?" Paula asked Raven sharply, pulling her out of her movie.

Raven replied with a wordless grunt and stood, snapping her notebook computer closed. Paula snorted and led the way to the boarding room, setting a rapid pace. Raven scrambled to follow and store her computer back in its bag.

The next moment she was lying atop Paula in a heap.

Raven quickly looked around, looking for the source of her fall, then she located it—she'd tripped on the threshold of the suborbital's door. With her attention elsewhere it was no wonder she'd missed it. It had been a while since she'd last fell, too. Blushing slightly, she pulled herself up to a kneeling position, freeing Paula from her weight.

"Ceeehrist." Paula swore, as she stood up, "haven't you learned to walk yet?" Adjusting her jacket, she stalked down the boarding ramp, swearing continuously.

Raven and Paula finally reached the unboarding bay. As the gateway into Japan, Narita was one of the busiest airports in the world, and today was no exception to the bustle of unloading, boarding, ticket-trading, customs-traversing, and other activity. Raven was jostled more than once, severely taxing her precarious balance, as she and Paula took their places in the lineup for customs. Raven found herself missing the ten-foot circle Shion kept with the rest of humanity, and after one man bumped her in a particularly suspicious manner, found herself idly musing whether she should use her psychokinesis to create that protective radius.

They finally made it through the gauntlet of customs agents with their light possessions barely checked, and Raven started looking for Nabiki's contact, scanning the crowd for a face matching the rather exotic description the fixer had given her.

It didn't take long to spot the woman. She was Paula's height, with dark skin the color of coffee, that spoke of a mixed racial heritage. Her black hair was thick, and fell past her shoulders, framing an attractive, but expressionless face. Between her dress: a long, knee-length coat, boots, dress shirt and tie; and her stance: hands clasped behind the back, posture ram-rod straight, Raven originally mistook her for a police officer or corporate security guard.

"Miss Clark? Miss Lars?" she asked as the two approached, " I am Katherine Ramis. If you would come with me, there is a car waiting."

Raven bowed to the woman. "Pleased to meet you, Miss Ramis," she said politely. Paula simply grunted a greeting that might have been considered polite in some circles. Raven doubted it.

Katherine shook her head, "Please, no bowing; that's not really necessary." She paused and looked the pair over. "Do you need to get anything? Any more luggage?"

"We're traveling light," Raven explained. "We don't really intend to stay long."

"Then please, if you would follow me."

Raven quickly realized that following Katherine had one distinct advantage to trying to thread her way through Narita airport on her own. Katherine made her way through the crowds in a manner that was fairly direct, and easily avoided the knots of people that were clustered here and there. She also seemed to be fairly unperturbed by the constant jostling, and at one point Raven was fairly sure a careless pedestrian bounced off of Katherine's shoulder with an audible 'oof.'

Raven used the wake left by her contact's passage, keeping her eyes on her so as to not lose her, passing overpriced souvenir shops, ticket booths, and airport cafes with barely a glance. She noticed Katherine's unusual resistance to shoving and pushing, and glanced at Paula to see if she'd had the same thought—but the other PK was only wearing her usual bored expression.

Exiting Narita airport proper, Katherine led the two corporate agents into the parking garage, which in of itself was the size of a large office building. Winding her way down several flights of stairs, Katherine eventually stopped at "the car." It was an Isuzu Warrior, a type of car better known in the late 20th Century as a "Sport Utility Vehicle." Of what use it could possibly be in a city like Mega-Tokyo Raven had no idea, but she decided that Katherine had picked for some reason that made sense to her.

Opening the back, Katherine stowed their small selection of luggage and then helped the two into the back seat.

"Nice." Paula commented as they waited for their contact to get in.

"Very nice," Raven agreed. "Nabiki obviously likes to do things right." She noticed that even the sturdy SUV dipped slightly when Katherine climbed in the driver's seat, and made a mental note that Nabiki liked to play things safe as well as right.

Starting the Warrior, Katherine let it idle for a moment before glancing over her shoulder. "Where to?" she asked.

"I was under the impression Nabiki was going to meet us, or at least arrange a place for us to stay," Raven explained. "Of course, we could always go eat something, I'm starved."

"Dinner," Paula nodded.

"Dinner it is."

Their meal done, Katherine drove the two espers to the accommodations Nabiki had arranged for them. The trip took them to the far suburbs of Mega-Tokyo; a quiet, purely residential area where those who were part of the shrinking middle class could raise their children and make their life in relative peace. For Raven, who'd been exposed both to the bustle of the corporation and the harshness of the combat zone, this quiet are seemed almost idyllic. She even spotted children playing fearlessly on the corner of the street.

Nabiki's "hotel" was in fact a small apartment block in a row of nearly identical buildings; Raven had to admit, the setting and the looks made it perfect for anonymity. As for security, she couldn't tell, but she'd be very surprised if the place didn't have electronic surveillance gear all over the entryway, and maybe even in the room. The fact that the receptionist was a blue-haired Lynx security synthetic drove home the point that the physical side of security hadn't been neglected either.

Katherine exchanged a few words with the Lynx, then left. The synthetic bowed politely to her visitors. "Good day," she said. "My name is Temple, and I'll be your hostess today. Your rooms are ready; please follow me."

Standing in her small hotel room, Raven watched quietly as Temple, prepared her room. Paula had already been shown to her quarters, and had rudely shut the door in Temple's face as soon as she had stepped inside. Raven was more considerate, allowing the tall synthetic to pull the bed from the wall, adjust the covers, and fluff the pillows.

"There," Temple announced, giving the bed a final smoothing. "All done." Standing up, she turned to regard Raven for a moment. "Do you need anything else?"

"No, no," Raven said, shaking her head. "This is fine."

"Did you want to have sex with me tonight?"

Raven blinked, wondering if she had heard the Lynx's question properly. It had been asked in a flat matter-of-fact tone, the same sort of tone she'd expect to hear Temple use when telling someone that checkout was at 9:00 AM, or that fresh towels were in the bath.

"What... what makes you think I would?"

Temple shrugged and smiled. "Many clients ask if that is possible, so now I ask them first in order to save time."

Raven cocked an eyebrow that that. "Huh... You don't mind?"

"Well... if I don't like the client, I don't ask. But I like you Raven, you're nice."

"Thanks," Raven said with a smile. Looking around the room, she noticed the small refrigerator tucked in one corner. "Temple? Would you like a drink?"

There was a pause while Temple seemed lost in thought. Blinking and seeming to wake up, she nodded to the other woman. "Yes, I would like that."

"Let's see what we've got... Beer?" Raven held a can out.

"Thank you."

Settling herself back on the bed, Raven opened her beer and took a long draught. Temple sipped quietly at hers, her ears upright, but quivering slightly.

"Raven, do you want me to stay?"

Raven nodded in return and patted the bed next to her. "Sit down."

With a twitch of her ears and a subtle relaxation of her body, Temple settled herself next to Raven, taking another drink of beer. Raven took the moment to look the Lynx over. Temple was tall, about Paula's height, with long slender legs, a narrow waist and fairly broad shoulders. Her brilliant blue hair framed a pretty, but slightly sad-eyed face, and fell down her back in a waist-length wave. Her long ears pointed straight up, and twitched occasionally. Raven had to resist the urge to scratch behind them, taking a deep gulp of beer instead.

Temple gave Raven a contented smile, with the esper returned shyly.

"Should I undress now?"

Sputtering around a mouthful of beer, Raven coughed and tried not to choke.

"Uh...." Raven stammered, "Look, Temple... I've never... been with a woman before."

"Oh! I am sorry, did I say something wrong?" Temple asked with genuine concern in her voice.

"No, no, not at all..." Raven quickly soothed, "It's just that I'm going to do this slowly... And I like it when it's romantic..." She could feel the blush rising on her face.

There was another moment while Temple seemed lost in thought. To Raven it looked like she was momentarily tuning out the rest of the world. Snapping back with an eyeblink, Temple nodded to Raven. "Oh, I see. Do you want me to adjust the lights and put on some music?"

"Good idea, Temple."

Getting up from the bed, Temple went over to the room's master control panel and typed a few commands into the keypad. As she worked, the blinds slid closed, the lights dimmed, and soothing music issued from a recessed sound system.

Sipping at her beer, Raven tired to relax. The music, a mixture of traditional and modern instruments, was quite nice and combined with the reduced light levels helped set the proper mood.

"So, did you want me to undress? Or did you want me to undress you?"

Raven decided this would be a lot easier if Temple didn't act like she was reading instructions on how to install software.

"Um... Undress me I guess..."

Taking Raven's hands in her own, Temple pulled the other woman off the bed and to her feet. A moment later, the synthetic had removed Raven's blouse, folded it neatly and placed it on a table she'd pulled down from the wall.

"Temple," Raven chuckled.

"Yes?" the Lynx replied, pausing as she worked at undoing Raven's belt buckle.

"You don't need to neatly fold it up you know."

"Well, I didn't want to mess up your things." Temple shrugged and then looked thoughtful. "Hmm.. can you sit down for a moment, I need to take your boots off."

"Don't worry about messing up my things," Raven replied, sitting. "they need to be washed anyway... And besides it breaks the mood."

"Oh, okay then." Temple yanked one boot off and tossed it aside, sending it's mate to join it a moment later. Standing Raven back up, she then finished undoing the belt, pulling Raven's pants down to the floor.

Feeling more than a bit nervous, Raven watched the Lynx work. Temple had shoved her now-discarded clothing to one side, apparently taking Raven's words to heart, and was engaged in unbuttoning the jacket she had on.

Taking a deep breath, Raven leaned forward, steeling herself for the first kiss. She was met half-way by Temple, who had stopped fooling with the clasps on her jacket and was gently returning Raven's kiss. Felling bolder, Raven slid a hand into Temple's slightly coarse hair, cupping the back of the other woman's head.

"Ano... Raven, do you want me to take this off or not?"

Pulling free, Raven nodded nervously. "Here... Let me help..."

Temple had already removed her jacket, however, revealing a a fairly skin-tight one-piece bodysuit. Raven took another deep breath and cautiously unzipped the front of the bodysuit. Underneath the slightly elastic material, the Lynx was nude, with firm round breasts tipped by sizable nipples. The mark, Raven thought, of most female replicants.

Feeling bolder, Raven gave Temple's breasts an experimental caress and was rewarded with a low low murmur of pleasure. She could see the Lynx's ears twitch and an ever-so-slight shudder ran down her frame.

In turn, Temple reached one hand behind Raven and ran it down her spine, searching for the clasp to Raven's bra.

A sudden clinking noise distracted Raven for a moment. Over in the fridge, the various cans and bottles were rattling. Trying to relax, she put a damper on her esper powers. Then, leaning forward slowly, and hesitating at the last moment, she put her mouth over the soft nub of Temple's nipple.

This new and fairly erotic encounter was broken by Temple's undoing Raven's bra and attempting to tug it free. Naturally, the garment became tangled on Raven's arms. Pulling her mouth free with some reluctance, Raven removed her arms from the straps and grinned as Temple tossed the bra across the room.

Bring her hand back to Raven, Temple ran it through the long inky tresses of her hair. "Oh... so smooth..." she whispered.

Raven 's breath caught in her throat. "Thank you..." she whispered in return before slowly returning unassuredly to Temple's nipples

Gently cupping the back of Raven's head with one hand, Temple pushed down encouragingly. "Yes... that's the way."

Raven gave Temple's aureole an experimental lick, hearing Temple gasp in pleasure. She then slowly traced Temple's nipple with her tongue, round and then round again. The center stiffened quickly as Temple's breathing increased and her grip on Raven's hair tightened.

Breaking contact, Raven decided to move to the other nipple and repeat the treatment, feeling a little surprised that she was enjoying herself.

Arching her back to give Raven easier access, Temple cooed encouragingly. Raven kissed the breast around the nipple, then slowly worked her way up to Temple's neck. The Lynx, she discovered, had fairly soft and smooth skin which was unblemished by any unwanted markings. She also noted a distinct lack of body hair, aside from what was on Temple's head and groin.

Running her hand along Temple's body, Raven stroked the other woman from from neck to hip. "Such perfect skin..."

"It was the way I was made." Temple said blushing.

Looking up, Raven gazed into the Lynx's soft blue eyes. "Well, you are very... attractive?"

"Do you think so?" Raven noticed Temple's ears flicker up and down. "I have been told that, but I am not sure."

"Oh, you are." That said, Raven tangled her hands in the Lynx's electric blue hair and pulled her close. Holding Temple tight against her own body, she paused, unsure of what to do next.

Bringing her hands up to cup Raven's face, Temple kissed the other woman softly, before pushing her back to the bed. Temple then tugged off her boots and peeled the rest of her bodysuit away, standing naked amid the tangle of clothing on the floor. Raven let her gaze wander of the synthetic's smoothly muscled body, noting the subtle definition of her stomach and arms. She was glad that the Lynx was taking the initiative at this point.

Stepping forward, Temple placed one hand on Raven's shoulder and pushed her down onto the bed, before laying her on her back and sweeping her long hair out of the way with the other.

"Temple?" Raven asked with a shiver.

"Yes, Raven?"

"You'll... You'll help me?"

This stopped the Lynx, who looked confused by the request. "Help you do what?"

"Well... I've never... been with a woman before..."

"Ohhhh..." Temple nodded, "Yes, I can help you. Just lay back, you are doing fine so far."

Feeling flushed, Raven relaxed, smiling faintly. Temple then settled herself on top of Raven, her head bent over Raven's breasts. Raven shivered at the contact, and pressed Temple's head forward slightly in encouragement of what would come next. Her eyes widened as Temple stroked her tongue across one nipple. The Lynx's tongue was rough and slightly bristly, like a cat's.

"Ooooh..." Raven moaned, "I love that, Temple..."

Encouraged, Temple then licked around Raven's aureole and nipple enthusiastically, crisscrossing the peak of the breast with her tongue. Raven continued to moan in pleasure and arched her back, pressing her breasts forward Temple then took Raven's breast in her mouth, sucking intently on the nipple before trapping it between the sharp points of her teeth and using the tip of her rough tongue to stroke the very end of the now swollen center. Raven simply cooed and shivered, stroking Temple's hair.

There was a moment's respite as Temple pulled her mouth away and then leaned over to kiss Raven's other breast. She slowly worked her lips over the smooth curve, circling the sensitive center.

"Temple..." Raven managed, "How do... how do you know to do all this?" She was breathing shallowly, feeling hot and flushed, and slowly caressed Temple's hair and back.

"Hmmm? What do you mean?" Temple asked, pausing in her ministrations.

"You're so skilled..."

"Ohh..." Temple smiled shyly. "I loaded some skillsofts just in case."

"Oooh... That's convenient." Raven blinked and abruptly realized why Temple periodically seemed to zone out, she was almost certainly reviewing an internal program.

Temple tapped the back of her head. "Just get an implanted computer. No trouble."

"I can't. I'd just reject it," Raven said.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Raven," Temple replied solicitously.

Raven smiled and stroked Temple from neck to hip... without using her hands. "Hey, I get compensations."

Temple nearly jumped out of the bed at the telekinetic touch, then looked left, right, and left again, so rapidly that Raven was reminded of a hunting cat looking for danger. Then she turned back to Raven. "Oh, I see, you are an esper weapon."

"Ano, I did not wish to startle you." Raven almost giggled at how much like the Lynx she just sounded.

"It's all right," said Temple. "Should I get back to your breasts or do you want me to do something else?"

"Actually..." More confident now, Raven bent forward to nuzzle at Temple's neck, enfolding her within her arms and slowly rubbing her back up and down. The Lynx cooed appreciatively and stroked Raven's hair. Raven slowly moved down Temple's chest, kissing and licking softly, until she was almost at her breast. She realized Temple had stopped moving and looked up. The synthetic was staring off into space, consulting her chip again, and Raven asked, "What's it telling you?"

The Lynx blinked. "Raven... Lay down crosswise on the bed, your back." Raven did as she was told, wondering what Temple was planning. The synthetic took Raven's shoulder and guided her until the telekinetic's head was just at the edge of the bed. Then she knelt in front of the bed and leaned over Raven so her head was just above the young woman's breasts. Temple's own chest was at Raven's eye level. "There. Now we can both enjoy this."

Raven smiled. "Clever chip." She then leaned up slightly and lay her mouth on Temple's breast, nibbling on the nipple and licking the tip, drawing an appreciative coo from the Lynx. The synthetic lost no time in returning the favor, enthusiastically suckling at Raven's breast like she was a kitten nursing. Raven broke away to let out a moan then started on Temple's other breast, bringing a hand up to stroke the first one.

Temple didn't let up, even though moments slowly lengthened into minutes. Raven was impressed—the Lynx's leaning position looked a lot more awkward then her own. And yet she looked she would keep at this until the next morning. Raven, though, broke away and asked "What's next?"

Temple stared into space again, before announcing, "Oral sex."

"Uh, sure..." Raven said, feeling anything but. She heard glasses clatter and clamped down on her powers again, watched as Temple crawled forward slowly until her crotch was level with Raven's face.

Raven hesitated, but Temple didn't, stroking her bristly tongue against Raven's outer labia. Raven shivered, moaned, then resolutely bent up to return the favor. Temple's womanhood was slick and musky, but Raven closed her eyes and gave it an experimental lick.

The Lynx cooed, and Raven, emboldened, tried to imitate her as the Lynx slowly moved from outer to inner labia and down into her sex, but the telekinetic didn't have the benefit of Temple's rough tongue and she doubted she was keeping up. Soon broke away to muffle a cry of pleasure.

"Raven, are you all right?" Temple asked.

Urgently, Raven replied, "Don't stop!"

Suddenly the door came open and Paula Lars made her entrance. "Raven! What the hell are you doing!"

Turning beet red in embarrassment, Raven mumbled, "Um... I think you can figure it out." She gently nudged Temple off her. The synth sat up, looking a bit confused.

"May I remind you Raven, we are on a mission?" Paula said. "You can play with your little fuck-toys some other time!"

Raven frowned. "Paula, first, have some respect for Temple. And second, this isn't going to affect the mission one whit."

"Respect? Raven, get a clue, that's a Lynx, it ain't real. And unlike you, I need my sleep, and your little games have been keeping me up!"

"I'm sorry. We should have been more quiet. And Temple's as real as you or I."

Paula tapped her head. "You need to be more quiet, I have a headache."

Raven looked even more embarrassed. "Oh. I'm sorry."

"And she's a product. I could go and get one just like her if I needed to."

Raven rolled her eyes. "So? Ever heard of twins?"

"Yeah, and she's got a couple of hundred of 'em."


Paula shrugged. "Anyway, I'm going to try and get some sleep, so knock this shit off and do the same."

"You do that."

Paula turned and went out the door, slamming it shut. Raven watched her leave, then sighed and lay back on the bed. "I'm sorry, Temple."

"I am sorry, Raven.," repeated the synthetic. "I will go now."

"You don't have to if you don't want to."

"Well... I have caused trouble, and I'm not supposed to do that. Nabiki-san may not be happy with me."

"It's my fault. If I'd put a better clamp on my powers she'd never have noticed."

"I never should have asked you."

Raven sat up and enfolded Temple in her arms. "I'm glad you did."

Temple kissed Raven lightly, then said, "Perhaps we should get some sleep."

Raven nodded.. "Good idea. And, Temple?"


"Thank you."

Temple blushed slightly. Raven laid down, wondering if she was going to get any sleep after this new change in herself. The Lynx tucked the esper in and and tidied the room before leaving. Noting that she wasn't getting dressed first, Raven called, "Uh Temple?"


"Shouldn't you get dressed?"

"There is no need. No one else is here in the hotel right now. And I am only going to my room."

Raven nodded. "Good night Temple."

"Good night Raven."

Left alone, Raven lay in the bed, thinking.

Paula came into the building's small kitchen the next day to find Raven already sitting at the table, slowly picking at her breakfast and looking into her plate as if she could divine the answer to some thorny question by staring at the leaves in her tea. She looked up briefly at Paula when she entered, and looked back down immediately, blushing slightly, embarrassed by what the other woman had seen.

"Well," Paula said with a smirk, "feeling a bit tired are we?"

"Nah, I slept fine," Raven said sullenly, reaching for the cup of soycaf. She knocked it over, and quickly grabbed it telekinetically before it spilled. Her soycaf and the tablecloth were saved, the after effects send her fork spinning to the ground. "Damn it," she said, reasserting her grasp on the cup before releasing her power.

"Yeah, sure." Reaching into the refrigerator, Paula produced a container of soymilk. Pouring herself a glass, she then selected a pair of pastries before setting down across from Raven. "I'd say she sure took a lot out of you. Perhaps you should lay down, take a rest, let me do the scouting today."

Raven glared at Paula. "I told you I'm fine." She took a gulp of her soycaf, then teeked the fork to the sink. Deftly she turned the water on, and rinsed the utensil, before levitating it back to her. She caught it with her free hand and turned the faucet off with all the gentleness she could.

"Aww... is little Raven embarrassed?" Leaning on the table, Paula looked down at the other woman, "Should I leave you and your lover alone today? Maybe you'll get to finish what you started."

"Nah," Raven replied with more venom than she knew she had. "I wouldn't want to make you feel bad about all the things you can't get." She paused for effect, then added, "Like, say, sex."

The table shuddered visibly as Paula tensed. Taking a deep breath, she stood and crossed her arms over her chest. "I least I don't have to resort to fucking synthetics to get any."

Somehow, Paula's failed insult broke Raven's tension somewhat. The black-haired teek ate a bite of cereal to hide her smirk—maybe Paula thought synths were sub-people, but Raven really didn't. Then she rammed the wide-open door. "Can't help it if even a synth won't have you."

Raven's bowl of cereal hit the floor in a spray of milk and soggy grains, followed quickly by her plate, cup and the rest of the table. Pulling her fist out of the splintered ruin of furniture, Paula slapped the wreckage to one side. "Say one more word, and I break you."

Raven glanced at the destroyed table, rearranging her patterns to form a strong shield in case Paula did strike at her, then she looked at Paula and raised an eyebrow, a smug smile on her face. She let a moment pass, then said, "I think Nabiki will not be pleased about this."

"I don't give a shit about what "Nabiki" thinks!" Paula snapped. "Why don't you think about the job you're supposed to be doing?!"

"What a concept," Raven retorted. "Tell you what, I'll do it if you do, instead of trying to needle me!" Not that you've done any thinking so far, that's been up to me.

"Fine! I'm going to see about getting our gear!" With that, Paula stormed out of the room, slamming the door hard enough into the wall to leave a dent.

Raven let her leave and safe face before there was further conflict. In truth, she doubted Paula would find anything useful; Nabiki had said she would contact them when she found the gear and data they needed, and that she might need up to 48 hours. Raven wasn't sure Paula had paid a lot of attention though—the Texan was unsubtle and not particularly clever, and Raven wondered how this mission would have fared without her own pretty minimal organization skills. She shrugged and, lost in thoughts of how Paula's conflict with her might blow up their whole task, she teeked the mess on the ground to the sink.

If nothing else, a discussion with Paula was good for getting her mind off her concerns.

"Ano... Raven-san?" Temple stood in the doorway, her ears flat against her head. "Is... something wrong?"

Raven sighed. "Paula and I had an argument. It turned nasty, we planted jabs at each other, and Paula got mad." She waved at the table for emphasis. "I'm sorry. We're done now and I'll try to keep us both from damaging anything else."

Nodding, Temple stepped inside the kitchen. "I understand. I will have this cleaned up very quickly." Picking up the broken table, the Lynx gave Raven a smile. "I am sorry to have caused any trouble." Pausing only to work the awkward section of wreckage out the door, Temple quickly left.

Raven watched her go, part of her wanting to help but another part, the bigger part, wanting to see as little of the Lynx as possible. Of course, not having Temple under her eyes didn't help the young telekinetic avoid the questions that were churning in her mind since last night. How could the Lynx add like nothing had happened? Was she programmed that way, too used to it, or was it part of the things that little chip she had slotted?

Why is it that experiments almost always brought more questions than answers? Lydia'd say that life is made of questions, but it would help if a few of them were just rhetorical.

And throwing Paula into the mix? Tossing catastrophe in a recipe for disaster. Now Raven's partner would think she had something on her. Hopefully this morning's little argument would convince Paula to let the matter lie, but Raven wouldn't have laid odds on it. She frowned at the cereal, slowly teeking them off the ground. Pissing Paula off would only bring her momentarily relief, but she honestly didn't know how to resolve her differences permanently. "There's always a way," she whispered. Lydia had said that, but Raven honestly wondered now if her Auntie really knew everything. She'd never met Paula.

And Temple... Raven gathered all the cereal in a big ball and violently threw it in the wastebasket. To hell with it all, she thought, I'll figure all of this in due time.

<No, no, no... I don't want to loose!> Katherine Ramis cried in high-pitched sing-song Japanese. Raven, for her part, simply stared in wide-eyed wonder a the sight of the dark-skinned woman. At the moment, Katherine was engaged in an arm wrestling contest with a tall, broad-shouldered and heavily muscled individual, who Raven thought was either some sort of gang member or an enforcer for the Yakuza. The man had Katherine's arm almost to his side of the table, while Katherine herself whined and cried over her impending loss.

"Pathetic," muttered Paula from where she sat next to the black-haired esper. "I thought she was supposed to be some badass solo."

<Hah! Ready to loose, bitch?> The man laughed heavily and leered at Katherine, who responded with a plaintive "nooooo..."

"Something is not right here..." Raven speculated.

Almost as if she was responding to Raven's query, Katherine sat up, all pretenses of weakness gone. Her quivering fist locked solid and leaning on the table she looked her opponent in the eye. "Baaaaakaaaa," she drawled in a much deeper tone of voice. A twist of her shoulder and the man crashed to the floor, his chair spinning off into the depths of the smoky bar room.

"The hell?" was Paula's opinion, while Raven smiled to herself; she knew that Katherine Ramis was much more than she appeared. A moment later, Katherine herself walked over, laughing slightly. "Are you two enjoying yourselves? Is there anywhere else you wish to go?"

"I think they're on to you here," Raven said with a smile and a glance at the defeated gangster and his irritated friends.. She adjusted her miniskirt and added, "we wouldn't want to overstay our welcome. I think we should go somewhere with friendlier people, with good music and a bit to drink. Some sort of show would be nice, too. What do you think, Paula?"

"I like it right here. This is my kinda place." The Texan turned back to the bar and signaled for another beer.

With a shrug Katherine leaned against the bar herself. "I don't know any place like that off-hand, but I can find out. Nabiki says that showing you a good time here in MT is the least she can since your gear seems to be delayed."

Raven sipped at her beer and shrugged. "There's no hurry. We can stay there for a while and go look for some other place later. Walking out trolling for nightclubs can be fun." She looked as another arm-wrestling match was being prepared, and giggled. "I wonder if I should try my hand?" she joked.

"Its harder than it looks," Katherine cautioned.

"Heh, I'll try." Paula hopped off of her barstool and looked over at Raven. "Watch how a pro does it."

"Oh, I'll watch," Raven promised. Oh, for sure I will watch. I think this is going to be fun. I almost wish she loses, see how she'll take it. She stood and found a better vantage point.

Pulling off her jacket and setting aside, Paula then rolled up her sleeves and sat down at the table. Opposite her was a broad-shouldered man with a cyber eyes and several datajacks scattered across his scalp. He stared at the woman sitting across from him and then glanced over at Katherine. "Ready?" he rumbled.

Even waiting for the match to begin Raven almost missed it. With a sudden surge of PK energy, Paula magnified her strength and slammed the man's hand into the table hard enough to rattle bottles and topple a glass. "Hah!" she exclaimed, "You're just too weak!"

With a growl of rage the man stood up rubbing his injured hand. "I'll show you weak..." He nodded to the people flanking him, and there was a chorus of clicks as knives appeared.

A single oily clack cut through all the sound, causing Paula to turn around and the gang of toughs to look over towards the bar.

Raven blinked, and then blinked again. From somewhere inside of her coat Katherine had produced a Remington Earthshaker. And not a dirty battered model like one of the Devil's used to carry, this pistol was clean, well-oiled and looked very well cared for. Katherine was also holding at arm's length and had just cocked the firing hammer with her thumb. Briefly, Raven tried to imagine how strong one would have to be to fire the pistol one-handed, then gave up as Katherine spoke.

<Gentlemen,> she said in accentless Japanese, <I apologize for any problems that have been caused. We will be leaving now... > She switched to English, "Won't we?"

"Yes..." Paula muttered, "We will."

As they left the bar, Raven closed up to Katherine and said, "Thank you. A brawl would have been messy and knowing Paula, very noisy."

Katherine shrugged, "Just doing my job, Miss Clark."

Raven suggested they head for a dance club next. The loud music and neon atmosphere made her giddy, and a few beers helped along that direction. She tried her hand at dancing, and laughed when she narrowly avoided disaster three times. After that she had a bit more trouble finding partners. Paula muttered about the environment, but jumped at the chance to upstage Raven on the dance floor, not that her partner cared. Katherine quietly stayed at the table despite Raven's entreaties.

After a couple hours they left for quieter surroundings. Raven was grinning happily; this was fun, even though considering her companions, she might as well have gone alone. Katherine was acting as their quiet drive; as to Paula, she alternated between grumbling about something, trying to outdo Raven, or drinking more than she should. But with Nabiki being late in fulfilling their requirements, the fixer had felt obligated to make up for it somehow. She seemed very upset by the delay; from her quick explanations, Raven gathered that something about the decker was problematic.

Finally they headed back to the hotel for some sleep. Raven felt a bit relieved not to meet Temple as she staggered to her room. She let herself fall on her bed, exhausted, and slept dreamlessly until the morning.

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