Tween Returns
by Brad Patten


Carl walked down the street towards his house. He watched as Shades van pulled away and drove off towards the highway. It was mid afternoon, and Tammy would be home soon. He ducked into the backyard.

The backdoor was locked as usual. He however had planned for this, and dug up the spare key from the flower garden. Walking into the living room, to use the computer, he stopped dead in his tracks. Where there used to be a computer was an empty desk with faint dust outlines, all his notebooks and papers were also gone. Picked up by Stafford's group he guessed.

Carl stepped over to the wall beside the desk, and placed his hand expecting there to be no resistance. His hand contacted the wall. After searching the house, top to bottom it was apparent that Wedge had not left a gateway to the pocket dimension in the house. He sat down on the couch head in his hands wondering what he could do now. He sat up and grabbed the remote. The small microchip inside was simple to manipulate, and he made the TV turn on without touching any of the buttons on the remote. Flipping stations, he caught the end of some new cartoon about Omega. It was cheesy in an animated sort of way. The credits listed the lead writer as some guy named Scott Bennie, but it didn't ring any bells. He turned off the TV.

Carl went into the bathroom, took a quick shower and then went and got a change of clothes. He left the sword and jacket on the couch, and took out the gold disk and left it on the bureau. The device he had acquired from Mindshadow went into his fresh pants. He then decided to fix himself a sandwich. He picked up issue thirty-eight of Red Nova from a stack of comics on Andrew's dresser. The next comic down was a special issue of Surge from the month before.

Carl took the Red Nova comic back to the kitchen table and started to eat his PB&J sandwich. He got back up and grabbed a glass of milk. He finished off the sandwich and continued to read the comic and drink his milk. He was halfway through the comic when Tammy walked in the door.

"Carl!" she said rushing over to him and dropping her large purse by the door, giving him a hug, "It's really you!"

Carl hugged her back. He closed his eyes and breathed in her perfume and the scent of her hair. "I have missed you Tammy, I can't stay long. I just wanted to make sure you and the kids were ok."

She stepped back. "Where have you been and what is all this about you working for the government? I know it something more than you said before, so don't bullshit me about it, I want the truth Carl."

He sighed, "I can't tell you all of it Tammy, not because I don't want to. The basics are that I created some technology that the government wants, remember the big thing in the basement?" he asked.

Tammy nodded, "Yeah but you got rid of it didn't you? I still don't know how you did." A light seemed to flash behind her eyes as if understanding for the first time. "What was it Carl? What did you make?"

"It's not important, what is important is that you and the kids are ok." he said.

"How long can you stay? The kids will want to see you," she said.

"I know, there are some things I need to take care of, after that, I will come home. It may be a few months more."

"There is more that you're not telling me isn't there?" she asked.

He sighed deeply. "Yes, and some I can't tell you, but what I can tell you is that I have made a horrible mistake. But I need to tell you things even if you don't understand."

"What kind of mistakes? We can work it out Carl," she said reaching over and squeezed his hand.

"I will try, but first you need to understand that most of what I created. I hid things, not to keep secrets, but to protect you and the kids"

He spent the next thirty minutes explaining everything that had happened since his accident and what he had done.

******

He walked out the back sliding glass door, waved to Tammy and coated. Through the glass he could tell she was a little upset, but after the talk he knew she understood, or at least he hoped she did. He could see the tears in her eyes through the glass. This may be the last time they spoke. He had told her Jake would show up and keep her safe if the government decided to mess with them. He had also explained that the AI he had created was out there somewhere and may contact her at some point. Hopefully Wedge would contact Tammy. The proof he offered was his nanotech. He felt bad leaving, it was the hardest thing he had ever done. He rose off the ground several feet, waved again and took off into the air. The nanotech wouldn't allow him to cry, but the emotion was still there. He flew as fast and as far as he could. He broke the sound barrier somewhere over Connecticut heading west.

******

It was perhaps a half-hour later that Tween stopped and landed on a large skyscraper in the middle of Philadelphia. Two blocks over was the post office. Tween retrieved a small key from under some weather striping, another contingency plan. Tween then dove off the building and landed in the alley across the street, shifting back to his normal self. No one saw the change, and he continued to the post office.

The key fit into a Post office box that was registered to a Richard Wantmore, an alias that his friend IB2Tap had given him. Inside were identification and papers for not only Richard Wantmore, but also a copy of Carl's own identification. At the bottom of the box was a communicator watch. He picked it up looked it over several times and dropped it back into the box. Locking up, he headed to the bank across the street.

He withdrew the remaining five grand from the account using the ATM. He then headed back to return the key to where he had retrieved it.

He stepped into the alley, and was getting ready to coat and fly up to his hiding spot for the key, when he heard a woman's voice, "Look I am not Shelia, I'm Susan. She's somewhere out west last I heard. It's her you have an issue with not me."

"Well your sister owes us some money and I think its time we sent a message that we expect to be paid," a deep manly voice said.

"Hey boss how bout we break her legs, and mess up her pretty face", another deeper voice intoned.

"So do you have the money? Or do we have to prove a point?" the first voice asked again, somewhat annoyed.

There was a bright flash and an exclamation of surprise from several men, down the alley. After a few seconds a woman ran around the corner at the far end. She was looking behind her and plowed straight into Carl knocking them both to the ground.

"Get off, I don't have your money!" she yelled as she struggled to extricate herself from Carl's arms and legs.

Several shouts from the alleyway and rapid footfalls could be heard.

There was a second white flash that caught Carl full on in the face. Seeing spots he didn't see the two men raise automatic weapons. The thugs opened fire before a sharp dressed man in a gray suit could yell, "I want her alive, she's no use dead!"

Several bullets from the metal storm ripped into him and the girl. His sword hidden under his jacket deflected one of the bullets without imparting any momentum to Carl or suffering any effects. Several more bullets ripped in a diagonal line across his back. The girl however took several hits one in the chest and two in the stomach area, and let loose a muffled scream as she fell.

Carl staggered from the pain, and the impact. The key he was holding fell to the ground. The spray of blood from his and the woman's wounds was covering everything. Instinct took over and the nanotech that infused his body went into overdrive as he fell. The nanotech covered his body and wounds when he hit the ground.

"You idiots! That'll bring the cops for sure", the fourth thug said coming around the corner. There was a cloud of gunsmoke hanging heavily in the air, as a slight misty rain started falling.

It took a few moments for the nanites to repair the damage, his sight was restored as a washed out green lacking any color. Tween looked over the situation three armed thugs and their boss and an unknown woman wounded, possibly dead. Something inside Tween snapped, as if someone had thrown a light switch.

He got a good look at the four greasy haired thugs. These four looked like they meant business. Before he could move however they started arguing.

"Shit boss, I didn't mean to kill her and I have no idea who that guy is," one of the automatic weapon totters said.

They began to back away as the leader waved them back, "Screw it, let's get out of here before the cops show."

Tween's vision cleared as he stood. The thugs had started to turn away when they realized that he had gotten up.

"Oh crap, we got a mutie here!" the second said turning his gun on Tween, the rest of the thugs were surprised as well.

Moving forward and drawing the blade as he went, Tween cut one of the guns in half as he moved next to the first thug. Metal pieces and a bullet fell from the damaged gun, the thug still held. Reversing his stance, he took out the other thug's gun before it could be brought to bear. The leader of the group tried to punch Tween, and was rewarded with a soar hand and shortly after a backhand from Tween that sent him flying into the wall. The boss thug hit with a crunching impact and lay still. The other thug took off running back down the ally.

A police cruiser screeched on the street in front of the ally. Two uniformed officers emerged both with guns drawn behind the cover of the car doors. The officer a large heavy built man not from fat, but muscle stood by the drivers door, his partner was much shorter and grabbed the mike from the inside of the cruiser.

"Drop your weapons", the officer said through the PA system. Several more police cruisers appeared and from the other end of the ally. A white Draughtsman was herding the one thug, who had run, back at gunpoint.

The Draughtsman's armor was skintight and seemed to cover most if not all of the vital areas. It appeared that this was a newer model of draughtsman armor as there were no markings to indicate what division this guy was from, or even if it was a guy at all.

Tween sheathed the blade and turned and dropped down to see if the woman he had collided with was still alive. He checked her pulse, at her neck.

The Draughtsman and several officers approached Tween, "Back away and get down on the ground! NOW!" one of the officers shouted.

Tween looked her over and applied pressure to one of the wounds. "She's been shot at least three times, I let go and she will die, get an ambulance here now."

The Draughtsman hesitated, "Do what he says." The officers rounded up the other thugs and the one who had been thrown into the wall came to, with no permanent damage but a large bump on the back of his head.

The EMT's showed up shortly after and began more in depth medical procedures to stabilize the woman. Once they had taken her away, the draughtsman approached Tween.

"Who are you? What happened here?" The Draughtsman synthesized voice said.

"My name is Tween, and I am not sure. I think those four wanted money from her or her sister", Tweens said in his own enhanced voice.

"You look familiar, who do you work for?" she asked.

"Division 9, technical consultant I have been detained recently I was actually on my way back when all of this went down in front of me." Tween said matter of factly.

"Hummm, Division 9? Just a moment, Tween is it?" the Draughtsman said.

The Draughtsman stood for a moment apparently in conversation with FBI head quarters.

"Your story checks out, I have orders to bring you in." the Draughtsman said.

"I'll go back when I know the condition of the woman, if you don't have any problems with that, that is" Tween said watching the ambulance leave the scene.

"As a matter of fact I do have a problem with that, Mr. Terrance." The Draughtsman said redrawing her pistol. "I have orders to bring you in, they were adamant that you don't wander off. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Personally I prefer the easy way, less paperwork."

Tween seemed deflated. "I want to know the status of that woman ok? Will you find out after you bring me in?" Tween asked.

"I make no promises but it's something I am interested in myself, if I can I will. Now will you be coming along?" The Draughtsman said as a clearly marked FBI truck pulled onto the scene.

The Draughtsman led Tween to the back of the van; a second FBI agent opened the door from inside. "Any problems? He asked the white Draughtsman as Tween entered into the back of the vehicle.

"None, let's get Mr. Terrance to Division 9 head quarters," the Draughtsman said climbing in after Tween.

The four-hour drive was uneventful, and Tween's efforts to lighten the mood, fell on deaf ears. It wasn't until they arrived at the Division nine that Tween was ordered out and taken through the security checks. During the security check Tween found that the draughtsman was actually a woman. She was identified as Agent Jillian and left Tween in a sparse interrogation room. The only furnishings were the table and several chairs.

Tween watched the mirrored glass with his enhanced vision, there were several figures watching him.

"Let's get this over with. You want to know where I have been and how I exited the facility. Where I have been is investigating Jean-Claude Molet. Before you go bothering Dr. Molet, I suggest you reread your March Purgatory incidents." Tween paused for a moment "I .... I .... damit I can not tell you anything. That ..." Tween began to get frustrated. For a moment Tween grabbed hold of the table as if steadying himself. The table began to crack as Tween crushed the sides of the table and collapsed.

A voice came over an intercom, "Mr. Terrance, are you suggesting that you have had contact with Mindshadow?"

>From his prone position all he could do was twitch his head in a nodding gesture as the compulsions, wrecked havoc with his nervous system. After several minutes they subsided. Several medical personnel had entered the room and were checking him over.

A man in a white lab coat stepped around into his view. "Mr. Terrance, can you complete the project?"

Tween steadied himself and used his flight capabilities to stand, "Yes, I think so and I can also add some other technologies to the deal with Section 9. I would like to negotiate if that's possible for this new technology."

Dr Freedman, the man whom had come in and spoke with Tween turned and walked out the open door. "Walk with me Mr. Terrance, perhaps we can make some kind of arrangement."

Tween stepped through the door and followed in step with Dr. Freedman.

"Stafford is busy, and lucky for you I am in charge while he is away." He said heading in the direction of the laboratory. "I know you were stalling when before you disappeared, and we figured that you would come around, when you disappeared we thought you would return as you usually did. When you didn't well let's just say that Mr. Stafford was in some serious hot water. You can remove the nano armor, no one is going to attack you here." He said glancing over at the still armored form of Tween.

The nano-coating flowed away revealing Carl with several bullet holes in his leather jacket. Carl said nothing but continued to follow Dr. Freedman.

"Much better, I like to see who I am talking to." He said stopping and looking at Carl. "The deals we made with you were, your technology and services for as long as we wanted. In exchange you would be given some freedoms as well as our protection. It appears however that we have misplaced our trust in you Mr. Terrance. Now I could send you off to Purgatory Prime and be done with you, however I don't think that would benefit you or us. But I must have something to report to my superiors."

Carl looked at the doctor; his eyes boring into him. "I keep my word if that's what you're getting at. It wasn't my fault that I was detained. I will help you finish the replicator, in addition I will build a transport device once it is completed."

"It's not questions of your word Mr. Terrance, but you're a security risk, one that I am hesitant to allow to continue. Have you been under someone else's control?" he said taking Carl off guard.

Carl collapsed, "I tried to fight, I honestly did. She just took it all, I tried to keep the secret of the division from her, but she was too strong, too powerful. She needs to be stopped, before she..." Another fit of convulsions racked his body. The Nano-coating flowed over him once again.

Dr. Freedman bent over him, "Pull yourself together, we can help you. We need that replicator and with the offer of the other technologies, if you can deliver you might make things much better for the general public."

Tween uncoated again, and slowly stood up with the help of Dr. Freedman, "I will do what I can."

"I know you will, I want you to see something first." He said heading to the elevator and being waved through security. Carl followed silently.

After a short ride in the elevator and checking into a second security desk, the Dr. went down on or the three hallways on the floor. Carl followed, "Where are we going? I don't think I have been here before."

"Actually you have, but you were unconscious at the time. This is the medical floor. You actually helped us out in a way.", He unlocked a door with a keypad and walked in. inside was an observation room looking down into a brightly lit room. "It seems that the woman you encountered is a wanted felon, or at least her twin sister is. She has perhaps three to four days to live. I had her flown here since she is a known meta and the medical facility was not equipped to handle her if she woke up."

Tween looked down into the room, there was the same woman he had collided with hooked up to several machines and monitors.

"What's wrong with her?" Carl asked.

"Internal injuries, the doctors are not sure if she will make it. She lost a lot of blood before getting medical attention. They removed the bullets, but she has an infection, and in her weakened state she may not make it. It also appears that she suffered a head injury," Dr. Freedman said reading from a LCD display.

"Why are you showing me this, to get me to help you with the replicator? I already said I would finish it and give you the rest of the technologies I know about," Carl said.

"Lives are at stake, not just hers. You have the knowledge to make a difference, but for some reason you are dragging your feet. I can't and will not allow you to waste my time or this divisions time," Dr. Freedman said.

"I can understand that, I will finish what I started and do as I agreed. Is there anything you can do for her?" Carl said looking through the glass.

"Not with anything we have here, your nanotechnology could probably save her life, but you said that it is tuned to your body and would need to be reprogrammed," Freedman said.

Carl turned his head towards Freedman, "That's fairly accurate, but if I get the replicator I could make a new batch of nanobots. That is of course if you want the technology."

Freedman nodded as if he understood the choice Carl had made. "Very well you know where your lab is, I expect some results. I have given orders that you have limited access to the facilities here, however your not allowed to leave unless I know about it." With that he turned and left the room.

'This sucks' Carl thought to himself.

'What did you expect? They want your technologies, and when they have it you're just going to be tossed aside. Its not like they need you once the replicator is finished. Oh sure they will let you build anything they can use, but you're stuck here for the duration. Well at least until you can figure out how to power Mindshadow's miniature transport device.'

Carl left the observation room and went to his makeshift lab several floors down. The replicator was still as he had left it over six weeks ago.

Forty hours later, Carl was ready to test out the replicator. He smiled to himself. Mindshadow had shown him how to assemble the device in record time. Now all it needed was a power supply and a database to replicate from.

When he first asked Dr. Freedman for a dozen plutonium rods, Freedman said there was no way he could get the materials he requested. It wasn't until Carl showed him the schematics and walked him through the math, that Freedman understood the need for the radioactive materials.

While he waited for the material to arrive, Carl tapped into the damaged AI in Mindshadow's device. The AI had been damaged in the first jump, now that he had some time, he began to try to repair it. After spending several hours it was becoming obvious that the AI was damaged beyond recovery. The data for the AI itself was unrecoverable; the wormhole and sensor data however was intact.

Carl spent most of the remaining wait time reviewing the woman's records. Freedman didn't seem upset when Carl asked about them. The woman, Susan Oakman as her records indicated had a twin sister Shelia Oakman who called herself Mezmera. Her police record indicated that Susan was pretty much clean cut, her sister however had been pardoned after participating in the Ireland incident and had disappeared after returning to the States. According to the file on her Susan and Shelia were only nineteen.

When the materials finally arrived, almost sixty hours had passed. The techs had brought in complete HAZMAT gear while Carl assembled the fusion cell containers. Carl coated and assembled the devices. The total amount of plutonium was enough to make six power cells. Three were taken away, once Carl confirmed they were operational and it was safe for them to be moved.

Carl hooked up one of the cells, to the replicator. Before he applied power he checked everything over and threw the switch. The device powered up, and Carl checked the diagnostics.

Carl placed several geometric shapes into the replicator. "Ok, beginning alignment sequence." After several test runs the alignment of the device was near perfect.

"Ok it looks like we are in business, now to make a database for you to work with," Carl said connecting his laptop to the device.

The replicator hummed and several glass blocks appeared in the enlarged bay. Carl removed them and placed them into the replicator. "Ok the system is now ready for large scale data storage. I have some basic tools on the laptop to help with some of the replication, but without a working AI it makes this difficult."

Carl spent the next couple of hour making adjustments and letting the techs scan devices with a hand held scanner as well as placing them into the machine. At one point Carl placed Mindshadows device in the machine to be scanned. He copied the replication data to a small glad crystal and pocketed them both.

Carl then replicated a small glass container filled with a silver liquid and a syringe.

Freedman asked, "What is that Carl?"

"R-gen nanobots, type seven four. I think they will help Susan recover from her injuries", Carl said removing the container and syringe.

"Well we can't allow you to just use them, they have to be tested and analyzed first", Freedman said gently taking the syringe and glass container from Carl and handing them to a technician.

"But she will die if she doesn't get some help," Carl said pleading.

"So what, why do you care what happens to her one-way or the other," Freedman asked.

"It is the right thing to do, everyone has a right to exist. Hell this country was founded on those principals," Carl said glaring.

"Finish up your work, if everything checks out with the nanotech, we will replicate another batch and see how she reacts," Freedman said leaving the lab.

Carl brooded; the nanites wouldn't last very long outside a host.

They don't care what you think, they just want your technologies, it's not like they like you. More than likely they wouldn't use the nanotech for anyone's benefit but Division nine. Carl thought.

Carl went to the replicator and began to replicate the rest of the components for the transporter device. If they wouldn't help her, then he would.

Not two hours after Freedman had left Carl finished building the transport device. The device consisted of a console and a large transport pad. Two of the power cells were connected under the console. The raised pad and several dozen replicated micro transport devices, connected in parallel. He tested out the device, and found it in complete working order.

Carl set the transporter for a short hop several floors away, coincidentally to the same room Susan was in. He replicated another set of nanites and syringe and stepped onto the transport pad.

He arrived in the semi-darkened room, the light from the above observation area left a soft blue glow over everything. He put the needle of the syringe into the vial of silver nanite solution and extracted enough to fill the syringe. There was a IV bag that was connected to Susan's arm. He injected the silver solution into the tube. He then repeated this twice more until the vial was empty.

See that wasn't so hard, now was it. Carl thought to himself.

The nanites reacted rather quickly as her eyes fluttered open and her hear rate returned too normal. She opened her eyes and stared at Carl for a few moments.

"What happened, where am I, Who are you?" She asked.

Before Carl could answer the lights came on, and a voice rang out. "Well done Mr. Terrance, your technologies work rather well. It seems that we no longer require your services. As for the young lady well she's a wanted felon and no one will miss her."

Carl stared up into the observation room Dr. Freedman was standing next to a man in a blue three-piece suit. It was the man in the suit who had spoken.

Freedman struggled against several guards who were holding him. "I am sorry Carl, I didn't ..." One of the guards slugged him in the gut and knocked the wind out of him.

"Now Mr. Terrance, It has been nice of you to turn over your technology, I bid you good day." With that, several metal panels covered the windows of the observation area. Another metal panel covered the door.

"Who the hell was that? And where are my clothes?" Susan asked.

See I told you they couldn't be trusted, luckily we planned ahead.

Carl looked at Susan, who was dressed in a medical gurney. "Don't have time to explain at the moment, but we need to get out of here." A hiss of gas could be heard. Carl coated. "It's ok I am getting you out of here." He moved and pulled out the IV needle. The hiss grew louder and Susan looked confused.

"What's going on!" she asked.

"Hold on, I will explain once we are out of danger." Tween said.

At the predetermined time Tween was transported back to the lab several floors away. Moving quickly he reset the transporter and transported Susan to the lab.

"We are not out of the woods yet." Carl opened a small panel in the transporter device and pulled out several devices. He then tossed them into the replicator. He then hit a few buttons and they vanished.

"Clothes..." he said and replicated a pair of pants and shirt for Susan.

"Put these on we have to leave," Tween said hitting several more replicator buttons. Several guards entered the lab. "Freeze! You're under arrest."

"Sorry we were just leaving," Tween said pressing the controls on the transporter.

They opened fire but neither of them were there.

******

Stafford sat at his desk looking at Freedman.

"Everything worked out?" Stafford said.

"He took the bait, like you said they would," Freedman said.

"And the replicator?" Stafford asked.

Freedman grinned, "Right where it's supposed to be, along with the transport device."

******

So the scientist got out? I thought you had things under control?" the figure in shadows said to the man in the suit.

"I did, how was I supposed to know Freedman and that scientist had worked things out in advance? The two devices he build were destroyed or transported somewhere, but Freedman and Stafford don't seem to upset about it," the suit said.

"Well if they don't have the technology then we can continue. Until then keep things under control. I must inform Control of the incident," the shadowed figure said.
 

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