by Michael Surbrook and David Kuijt

Takeda looked out over the amber sky of Mega-Tokyo. Far away, across the bay, he could see the tip of the Genom arcology poking out above the other arcologies and skyscrapers like the tallest mountain in a range seen from a great distance.

He turned away. The last time he'd been in M-T was with Shion, in the hotel just a kilometer or so from Genom Arc. This hotel was nice, but it wasn't the luxury accommodations Shion favored. Nabiki had arranged it according to Takeda's wishes, and he had valued convenient access to the rail hub and the airport over luxury. And his memories of Shion were disturbed enough already.

Standing in the hall outside of Takeda's room, Temple felt extremely nervous. Although she knew that Takeda accepted her as a person, she still felt a bit uncomfortable. It wasn't like she was in her medical center after all. After fussing with her hair for a few moments, Temple finally took a deep breath and slid her cyberdeck into the crook of her arm. She rapped lightly on the door.

Takeda opened the door. When he saw Temple he smiled. "Temple? What's up? Come in, come in."

"Hello, Takeda-san," Temple said with a bow, "can I talk to you?"

"Certainly," he smiled. "My time is at your disposal."

"Takeda-san?" Temple asked, her mouth dry, "I have an idea on how to get inside the research center." She paused hopefully, waiting for Takeda give her some form of encouragement.

Takeda's eyebrows shot up, and his face turned serious. "Please, go on." He sat down, waving Temple into the seat opposite.

"Well..." Dropping the cyberdeck onto a table, Temple rolled the screen out and snapped a datacable home into the port on the side of her skull. She tapped several keys and then turned to look at Taeda, "I looked over the files Marta-san gave you and found a way for you to get the team inside the building."

Takeda nodded for her to continue.

"It is very simple really, all we do is substitute me for one of the on-site Lynxes. Or, have me sent in as a new Lynx. That way, I can access the system from the inside and let everyone in." Temple set back, smiling slightly at Takeda, "Simple, ne?"

Takeda frowned. "Wouldn't they notice?"

"No..." Temple said in a sad tone, "I don't think so. Who ever notices a Lynx?"

Takeda frowned again in sympathy. "What about security? Don't they have ID checks, on Lynx as well as ...," for a moment he seemed to fumble for the right word, before continuing, "... other people?"

"Yes," Temple nodded, "which is why it might be best to have me sent in as a new employee. That way we can manufacture the needed identity. I think that Noriko-san's ESWAT connections should be able to handle that."

Takeda nodded thoughtfully. "Maybe, maybe. It sounds pretty risky, though. You'll be out on a limb, with no way for us to get to you if things go wrong. What if it doesn't work?"

Temple glanced down at her lap, ears flat, before looking over at Takeda, "I think it will work... I have done something like this before."

Takeda straightened up. "I'm sorry if you don't want to talk about this, Temple," he said compassionately, "but I need to know about it to decide whether we should use your plan or not. Can you tell me a little more about what you did before, and what worked, and why?"

Temple looked away from Takeda for a moment, glancing about the room before settling on staring out the window. Her ears went up for a moment, and then slowly settled back down. Finally, she began speaking in a low voice. "I was sent to a electronics company in the California to work as a medical assistant. While there, I used my computer access to upload a number of programs designed to cause extensive computer problems for the company after a set amount of time passed."

Temple gave a Takeda a wry smile before continuing, "Because I came in with a number of other Lynxes and my identification had been established long in advance no one suspected anything. Everything worked as planned."

Takeda nodded, although he still seemed doubtful. "I'm concerned that Genom's security may be far more advanced than that of your electronics company. You won't have any way out, if they discover you."

Temple's ears went down. "Well... I know. That's the risk I'll have to take."

She then looked up, eyes hopeful, "But it was a good idea, right?"

Takeda nodded, looking off into the distance. "It's a very good idea, Temple. Best thing I've heard yet, although I'll have some trouble selling it to Jagger."

Temple shrugged, "He'll either say no because he doesn't think a synthetic is smart enough to think for itself, or yes because he'd rather see someone expendable take the risk."

Takeda shook his head in rueful agreement. "I keep hoping to find a way to reach him, somehow. But even marriage to Kitten hasn't seemed to change him. If anything, he's acting tougher to prove that it hasn't changed him."

Temple blinked in surprise. "Jagger-san is married?"

Takeda nodded, thinking about something else. "Very recently, I think." He came back to the subject. "Can we insert you as one of a batch of Lynxes, as you did in California? That would seem to be the best way."

"Yes," Temple gave a slight nod, "that is what I thought work best."

"How long do you think it would take to set up your alternative identity properly?"

"I don't know Takeda-san. It depends on what Noriko-san can do." Running her fingers over the keys of her cyberdeck, she pointed at the screen. "I will need to have a manufacturing datacard, property card, medical evaluation..." She trailed off slowly, "If Noriko-san and I can work together, a few days. Then we have to see when the next shipment is."

"Get on it right away, Temple. If it works, time is critical, and if we find a better plan, we can just abandon the substitution plan."

"Okay." Temple stood to leave, gathering cables and tucking her deck under one arm. "Oh, Takeda? Marta-san asked me if I wanted to go out with her tonight to see the town... Do you think I should say yes?"

Takeda frowned. "It's up to you, Temple. Just remember, Marta can be very pushy. If you want to do something, that's fine, but don't let her push you into anything just because it's what Marta wants to do."

"Well..." Temple said slowly, "I'd like to go, since I've never been to Mega-Tokyo before... But, you're right, Takeda, Marta-san seems to be very forceful about getting things her way."

She paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. "I think she asked because she wants to have sex with me," Temple said in a surprisingly matter-of-fact tone.

Takeda smiled. "I wouldn't be surprised, Temple." Something occurred to him and he frowned. "Temple, Marta has a bad temper. If Marta gets mad, please try to control your ... combat response, okay? If both of you got into a fight, somebody might get really hurt."

Temple gave Takeda a quizzical glance before responding, "Okay... Takeda-san. I will try."

Takeda frowned deeper. "Probably nothing will happen. But remember what I said, okay?"

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