0-2
09-19-05
I guess I always rate my stuff pg-13. Currently being typed from a written story. Experiment 0-2 is a secluded test subject. Brennan works for the syndicate. He is assigned to 0-2, and finds out why.

0-2 A/N: Hello everyone! Here's one of my long overdue stories. This one is my favorite, so even though there's not much here I'm posting it! Many updates to my website; I've moved most of my art to DeviantArt, a link included in my website. You can also find my personal blog there when I have my dead moments. Wow, I've been gone a long time. I'm so sorry! ;_; Here's my newest story, 0-2. And believe it or not, it has a plot! *collective gasp* Enjoy!

Chapter 1 Darkness

In the farthest, coldest room of the Cage, a set of surly amber eyes opened into the selfsame darkness they had been cloaked in for the last five years, punctuated by breif flashes of light that blinded in comparison, and were too breif to adjust. Experiment 0-2 had been obtained from her natural habitat at the age of seven, but had long since discarded any life for her under the sun as a hopeless dream. She had long since disregarded the empty excuses they provided to keep her there.
The early years of her confinement were not too bad. She had been allowed to wander the building, although no one had taken any intrest in befriending her. However, wandering the complex outside the cage meant library could remember every word of every book she read, every scrap of information she could gather from conversations, and every detail of the compound layout.
Strange, the human mind. Directly after she had done them a great service, when they realized their experiment was by far much more intelligent and quicker than they in her natural state, they became afraid. She was shunned away to her cell, chained, and told that if she gave them enough useful information, they would let her go. There, she concentrated incredibly hard on her information, coming up with the laws that existed from her given information, and weaving them together in a lattice of theories and formulas. All of these she fed to the scientists. All credit was given to some scientist or the other, to the syndicate in whole. Her name and intelligence information were wiped from the database, all appearance and habitat data also disregarded. Eventually in the darkness she could not remember how tall she was, her name, or the color of her hair or the shade of her skin, and her mind became bent on earning her freedom once again. If not the freedom of seeing the skies, then at least the mere semblance of it.
There were footsteps in the hall outside. Not the steps of hard work shoes or dress shoes, not even the tapping of heels. Footsteps were never good news for her, these past five years. They were rare, though. But these were the tread of sneakers, a slight squeaking on the linoleum, unaccompanied by the trundling metal clatter of a lab cart. It made no sense to her. Maybe it was someone new? She didn't dare hope. There was a slight humming in the far corner of the room, and a tiny warmth almost intangible but like an iron on her freezing skin. Why would they waste heat and light on someone who really didn't exist? She turned her head towards the humming, her quick mind immediately identifying it as a surveillance camera, the heat on her skin proving her claim.

A/N: Short, I know. Don't worry! There's another chapter. :P I forgot to mention. ALL REVIEW RESPONSES WILL BE POSTED AT THE END OF CHAPTERS OF THIS STORY, AFTER MY AUTHORS NOTE. This will also be posted in my user profile and on my homepage blog.

A/N: The update I've made contains one VERY minor but VERY important change. If you've already read this, no need to read again. Just know that the name 'Lilith' has been changed to 'Iris'.

Chapter 2 Discovery

Brennan carefully walked into the Cage complex, shutting the door behind him. The dim fluorescent lighting lit upon a bumpy linoleum floor, glinting dully off of cage after cage as he passed by. The first thousand or so creatures were small or unimportant enough to be given only roomy but nonetheless small cages, and most of them already showed signs of experimentation. As he walked, they stared at him with gleaming, overly intelligent, crafty eyes, or else with dead, empty stares produced by malfunctioned experiments. The aisle he walked down, the farthest to the right, contained a vast array of creatures, some so warped it was impossible to tell their origional species or shape. A group of lemurs and raccoons stared at him, their unnerving eyes like green or blue human eyes, glinting coldly and calculating him as he walked past. Next, a group of chipmunks, with clumps of hair missing, who crouched against the bottom of the cage, quivering at his presence. Then more eyes. Some red, some yellow, bloodshot, blue, glowing, human, reptilian, or coal black. Limbs that were missing and replaced with strange stumps, some whose hair was growing long like pins, or had an almost rotted appearance. Nervously avoiding their gazes, he quickened his pace, rapidly making it to the area of smaller rooms, the quarters getting larger as he progressed, for unstable or large experiments. Here there was a strange monkey, there was what appeared to be a Tasmanian Tiger.
Finally the rooms ended, and he faced a white walled cul de sac, with only two more doors in it. One was heavily guarded by a tangle of locks, with an experiment number plaque that said '0-2', and both had a panel of switches and buttons next to it under a plastic guard. Unlike the other rooms, these had no windows. He approached the barred one first, cautiously flipping up the guard, he peered at his options. There was a switch labeled 'light', a large red one labeled 'shock' next to a dimmer gauge and a voltage meter, 'restrain', 'speak', 'listen', and a keyhole labeled 'locks'. A plain white switch next to a small screen, labeled 'camera' caught his eye. Hoping no harm would come of it, he quickly flicked it on, looking at the screen. The humming of the camera came through, then the camera switched to infrared and he got visual. Her image even creepier in the greenish light of infrared, the experiment was sitting in the far corner of the room, amidst a veritable spiderweb of chains. Her hair hid her face, until she, apparently somehow hearing or sensing the camera, turned to face it. Her eyes glinted in the light of the infrared, staring right at the device as if she could see the person watching her. Brennan, perturbed, quickly turned it off. She had looked human by all appearances, but he had seen something behind her, even though he couldn't quite make out the shape. It had moved behind her, but it was too far for the infrared to illuminate very well.
He quickly checked her status sheet. She was fed once a day, by appearances, and was talked to monthly. The light was not to be turned on, and she had been here for five years already. Next to the line marked 'name' was typed '0-2', her experiment number, and on a post-it someone had jokingly written 'Iris'.
'Iris...' He thought pensively. The nickname was a strange one to give an experiment. How had she earned it?
Turning, he left the room of experiment 0-2 and walked across the thin hall to the other room. Flicking on a second camera, which had a 'angle' button next to it, he looked in. The door bore no decoration, except a large red sign that said, 'NO ENTRY. ROOM PERMANENTLY SEALED. OBSERVATION FOR AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.' The door was welded shut. The screen lit up, and the light switch, apparently automatic, flipped up as well, the dramatic lighting immediately pouring down, lighting a round floor of white stone, surrounded on two sides by low bleachers. A large metal band ringed the edges, and the rest of the floor was concrete. The well lit slab of granite somewhat resembled some kind of stage, and, switching to another camera, he noticed that the room was set directly against the side of the cage complex, one wall composed of the huge, closely spaced metal bars, that could be charged with electricity should the need arise. The ceiling was too high to see, though the bright spotlights mounted at the top didn't have trouble illuminating the floor at that distance. The third camera angle was on the other side of the room, and he could see the door he presumably stood behind through it. It showed a few low buildings, and very strong but scratched up cages.
A shrill beeping caused him to involuntarily twitch, switching off the camera and lights and dropping the plastic guard with a loud 'clank'. Wincing, he calmed his thudding heart while shakily pushing his watch alarm off. It was pretty late- he should get going. With that in mind, he quickly walked out of the complex, through the double doors set between the cage bars themselves, and the second set of doors (for extra security) in the tiled wall leading to the rest of the syndicate.

A/N: Awkward ending, but that's as much as I've written. Well, not really. I have it on a lot of post-its but I really wanna post it now. Anywho...yeah. Expect another update really soon! Art for 0-2 is in the works, and will be posted on deviantart, keyword '02'. Thanks all! Please please review! *kitty eyes*

A/N: The update I've made contains one VERY minor but VERY important change. If you've already read this, no need to read again. Just know that the name 'Lilith' has been changed to 'Iris'.

Chapter 2 Discovery

Brennan carefully walked into the Cage complex, shutting the door behind him. The dim fluorescent lighting lit upon a bumpy linoleum floor, glinting dully off of cage after cage as he passed by. The first thousand or so creatures were small or unimportant enough to be given only roomy but nonetheless small cages, and most of them already showed signs of experimentation. As he walked, they stared at him with gleaming, overly intelligent, crafty eyes, or else with dead, empty stares produced by malfunctioned experiments. The aisle he walked down, the farthest to the right, contained a vast array of creatures, some so warped it was impossible to tell their origional species or shape. A group of lemurs and raccoons stared at him, their unnerving eyes like green or blue human eyes, glinting coldly and calculating him as he walked past. Next, a group of chipmunks, with clumps of hair missing, who crouched against the bottom of the cage, quivering at his presence. Then more eyes. Some red, some yellow, bloodshot, blue, glowing, human, reptilian, or coal black. Limbs that were missing and replaced with strange stumps, some whose hair was growing long like pins, or had an almost rotted appearance. Nervously avoiding their gazes, he quickened his pace, rapidly making it to the area of smaller rooms, the quarters getting larger as he progressed, for unstable or large experiments. Here there was a strange monkey, there was what appeared to be a Tasmanian Tiger.
Finally the rooms ended, and he faced a white walled cul de sac, with only two more doors in it. One was heavily guarded by a tangle of locks, with an experiment number plaque that said '0-2', and both had a panel of switches and buttons next to it under a plastic guard. Unlike the other rooms, these had no windows. He approached the barred one first, cautiously flipping up the guard, he peered at his options. There was a switch labeled 'light', a large red one labeled 'shock' next to a dimmer gauge and a voltage meter, 'restrain', 'speak', 'listen', and a keyhole labeled 'locks'. A plain white switch next to a small screen, labeled 'camera' caught his eye. Hoping no harm would come of it, he quickly flicked it on, looking at the screen. The humming of the camera came through, then the camera switched to infrared and he got visual. Her image even creepier in the greenish light of infrared, the experiment was sitting in the far corner of the room, amidst a veritable spiderweb of chains. Her hair hid her face, until she, apparently somehow hearing or sensing the camera, turned to face it. Her eyes glinted in the light of the infrared, staring right at the device as if she could see the person watching her. Brennan, perturbed, quickly turned it off. She had looked human by all appearances, but he had seen something behind her, even though he couldn't quite make out the shape. It had moved behind her, but it was too far for the infrared to illuminate very well.
He quickly checked her status sheet. She was fed once a day, by appearances, and was talked to monthly. The light was not to be turned on, and she had been here for five years already. Next to the line marked 'name' was typed '0-2', her experiment number, and on a post-it someone had jokingly written 'Iris'.
'Iris...' He thought pensively. The nickname was a strange one to give an experiment. How had she earned it?
Turning, he left the room of experiment 0-2 and walked across the thin hall to the other room. Flicking on a second camera, which had a 'angle' button next to it, he looked in. The door bore no decoration, except a large red sign that said, 'NO ENTRY. ROOM PERMANENTLY SEALED. OBSERVATION FOR AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.' The door was welded shut. The screen lit up, and the light switch, apparently automatic, flipped up as well, the dramatic lighting immediately pouring down, lighting a round floor of white stone, surrounded on two sides by low bleachers. A large metal band ringed the edges, and the rest of the floor was concrete. The well lit slab of granite somewhat resembled some kind of stage, and, switching to another camera, he noticed that the room was set directly against the side of the cage complex, one wall composed of the huge, closely spaced metal bars, that could be charged with electricity should the need arise. The ceiling was too high to see, though the bright spotlights mounted at the top didn't have trouble illuminating the floor at that distance. The third camera angle was on the other side of the room, and he could see the door he presumably stood behind through it. It showed a few low buildings, and very strong but scratched up cages.
A shrill beeping caused him to involuntarily twitch, switching off the camera and lights and dropping the plastic guard with a loud 'clank'. Wincing, he calmed his thudding heart while shakily pushing his watch alarm off. It was pretty late- he should get going. With that in mind, he quickly walked out of the complex, through the double doors set between the cage bars themselves, and the second set of doors (for extra security) in the tiled wall leading to the rest of the syndicate.

A/N: Awkward ending, but that's as much as I've written. Well, not really. I have it on a lot of post-its but I really wanna post it now. Anywho...yeah. Expect another update really soon! Art for 0-2 is in the works, and will be posted on deviantart, keyword '02'. Thanks all! Please please review! *kitty eyes*

A/N: Here it is, third chapter! Wow, I feel really productive (if slow)... _ FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DIDN'T CATCH THE UPDATE ON CHAPTER 2, 'LILITH' HAS BEEN CHANGED TO 'IRIS' Please take note of this as it would create some confusion later on.

Chapter 3 A Twisted Sense of Humor

Brennan must've fallen asleep that night poring over his books, because in the morning he awoke to the loud blaring of his phone, painfully unsticking his face from the laminated binder sheet about one of his assignment's dna chains he'd been poring over that night. Quickly crossing the room, he picked up the phone next to his bed, sitting down and stretching his sore back. "Hello?" He asked gingerly, picking up. He winced, wishing he'd tested out his morning voice first.
"Good morning Brennan." Said a crisp, curt voice, slightly scratchy through the connection. "I appologize for the earliness of my call. I would like you to report to my office as soon as possible."
"Boss Smith? Uh, okay." He said shakily. He checked the clock. 3:20am. The work day hadn't even started and he was already in trouble.
He was ready in five minutes. He left his room, making sure to put on his identification card, and taking Willy William's keys (his access to the cage) to return to him. Navigating his way through the 'living area' of the main compound, he veered to the right at it's edge and entered a complex of cubicles and small offices where the 'thinker' employees worked during the workday. The scientist's lab rooms and the special rooms where experiments could be put into all kinds of tests and fake environments were to the left, and at the far end of that lab area was the heavily guarded cage complex, filled with cages and rooms for the live experiments.
His boss's actual name was Stephen Wolsmith, but he had taken the liberty of nicknaming himself 'Boss Smith' and wouldn't let anyone call him by his real title, insisting that it made him sound old. His office was at the end, a large comfortable room with oak panelling that smelled faintly of peppermint. Light came from a window overlooking the lab, which sometimes had a brown curtain to cover it when he was working by lamplight. Although his brown hair held strands of grey, he was only a paltry 30 years of age, worn down by the nature of his work. His face bore light sprinklings of wrinkles, many laugh lines apparent when he smiled, which was quite often, thanks to his wry humor. He was a good guy, and all the 'underlings', as he called them, listened to him.
"Ah, good morning Bren. Come on in." He said, opening the door upon his knock. He motioned for him to sit down as he sat down himself.
"Good morning sir." Brennan replied tiredly.
"I appologize for the earliness of my summons, but I assure you it's good news." He said, smiling kindly. "Let's get right to the point. A new group of scientists who currently don't have any assignments and meet the right specifications is being chosen. We have four of five. We'd like to invite you to join the group as the DNA specialist, operating on one of our old, unfinished experiments. We have already contacted the university, and they give their full consent, and you will get extra credits for participating, should you decide to do so. Due to the- uncommon use of such young people as you on experimental teams, we are offering you a short contract to start, then a long-term one if you decide you want to work for us, also depending on your performance. I have all faith in your skills, and I'm sure you're qualified for the job. Interested?"
"Very." Brennan replied, surprised at the offer. A job at a top government syndicate for an intern like him was not something one came upon every day.
"Great." Boss Smith said, his grin widening. He handed him an envelope marked 'CONFIDENTIAL', and a form on top of it. "Please sign, then I'll breif you." He said, offering him a pen. Once Brennan was done with that, he took the form back and sighned the slot for his name with a flourish. "All right, all set. Now I suppose you will want some information on your team and your assignment before you go meet them." He said, sitting back a bit. "Like I said before, the team consists of the four best available scientists, and you. You will handle the DNA information part of it, and the rest will handle physical data, intelligence data, diet and behavior, and one will be compiling all the information, with all your help. You're going to be meeting them at 6 hours. Your experiment will be allowed full access to the facilities, including the main compound, due to temporary construction on her room. The dilemma stands of not having a free place for her right now, given the arrival of a lot of new experiments coming in tomorrow. However, due to her unthreatening nature, we are willing to give her one of the rooms in the compound living area, as long as she is under constant surveillance. The starting term for the experiment will be six weeks, and will be extended if any interesting data is unearthed. The unusual nature of her DNA will mean that all books and networks will be made available, and extra references will be collected from other scientists and laboratories to help you. The specifics of your research are all in the envelope. I suggest you return to your quarters before meeting your team, and go over the data before you go meet them."
"Okay." Brennan said, getting up and walking to the door. "Good bye sir."
"Have a good day Bren." Boss Smith said, casually filing his papers as Ben left.
Once he was seated comfortably next to his laptop and computer, Brennan quickly opened the envelope, containing a thick set of packets, one containing all kinds of analyses made by other scientists on similar cases as his, and one containing information on his assignment, as well as several blank pages for notes. A set of four discs was also included, containing cataloged versions of all the information, and some. He also noticed that his computer's library and contact list was vastly expanded. Plugging in his laptop, he started transferring the new information, also plugging into the network. First he brought up information on his team. As his boss had said, they were all the best scientists available, specializing in several fields. He read over the names, feeling slight trepidations about the next six weeks. Could he really keep up with this group? Several were people he'd been around before, all of them scientists he'd had debates with during the breaks and had grown familiar with, except one. He'd never seen of him, despite his extended shadowing in the laboratories. The one in charge of intelligence data, George. His picture showed a dark haired, black eyed man, impossible to analyze by appearances. Maybe it was just because he didn't know him, he rationalized, putting the description away. He'd be meeting him soon anyways. He knew that the other three were friendly, easygoing guys, so he wasn't that worried. He then pulled out the next item in the envelope, the packet of basic information on their experiment, and his breath caught in his throat.
INFORMATION ON EXPERIMENT 0-2
CLASSIFIED MATERIAL FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
Date of modification: July 26, 2005
Name: Experiment 0-2
Gender: Female
Age: Unknown
Species: Unknown humanoid
Collected: March 1, 1997
Collection Data: Harvested from remote colony, on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park. Investigation for more samples currently being conducted.
Intelligence: Unknown
Tests conducted to date: None
Quarters: Size A6 Electric shock cage with ventillation and water tap.
Special Environment Specifications: None
Hair Color: Black-grey
Eye Color: Orange/yellow
Eyesight: 20/20 Able to see well in the dark, experiences slight temporary disorientation after exposure to overly bright light.
Height: 5'5"
Skin Tone: Caucasian
A picture was clipped to the packet, one infrared, and one color with all kinds of little pointers on it, pointing to various parts of her anatomy, an x-ray picture right next to it.
Experiment 0-2 was a petit humanoid female of medium height, staring blankly slightly to the left of the camera. She was fairly ordinary looking young woman, her skin pale but slightly tanned. She looked to be in her early twenties. Aside from her human appearance, though, she wore a pair of large wings, patterned grey, orange-brown and white, like some kind of bird's. He resolved to look up the specifics on that later.
He glanced at the clock. Ten minutes until the meeting. He quickly read over some of the data pertaining to the experiment's DNA, to find nothing specific at all; in other words, useless, confused information. It looked like he was on his own on this one. The individual scientist reports were no better; all of them seemed stumped by the nature of the experiment's unique composition. He breifly wondered if he was in above his head.
'Knock knock.' Brennan was mildly startled by someone knocking at his door. He checked the clock. There were still five minutes until the meeting. Who would want him at this hour? He quickly crossed the room and, unexpectedly, found himself face to face with a sour looking woman just above his age, with black-brown hair and hazel eyes. "Good morning Brennan." She said casually.
"Good morning Erica. What brings you here?" He asked his co-worker.
"I'm here to give you a heads-up." She said, leaning against the doorway and yawning. "Due to- circumstances, I'm replacing that glum looking guy, George. I just got off assignment and of course I'm more adept to the job than he is. I already got the packet. Wanna go to the meeting spot with me?"
"Sure. Why don't you come in while I get my info together." Brennan said, hurrying over to his desk.
Erica came in and shut the door behind her, looking around, then nodding as if in approval. "Well it's nice to know that some of the guys keep their quarters clean for a change." She said. "Congratulations on your first job. They gave you quite a doozy for a newbie huh?"
"You could easily say that." Brennan said, shutting his laptop and loading it into his breifcase.
"You won't be needing all of that." Erica said. "It's just a meeting. And anyways, we're treating you to something special for a congradulatory gift. The four of us."
"What do you mean?" He asked confusedly, looking up from his packing.

She grinned. "A chance to see our favorite experiment in action of course." She said. "It's a secret though, so you have to swear not to tell anyone. Only a few of us know it, and of course you're our great buddy so we decided to let you in."
"Uh... thanks." He said awkwardly. "Shall we then?"
"Sure." She smoothed out her black business clothes and her pinstriped top before opening the door and lightly walking out. As they made their way into the Cage complex, she foraged around in her duffel. Fishing out a security card and a set of keys on a chain, she handed them to him. "Sorry, I forgot that the boss wanted me to give these to you. Your security card and the keys allowing you access to most zones. You can always ask him for the keys to any restricted places. The chain is so you don't lose it." She said, handing it over.
"Thanks." He replied, putting it into his bag. She got them into the Cage with her card and quickly walked through the rows of animals. "Jeff has your lab coat." She said, turning corners and walking through hallways. Brennan noticed that she seemed to be avoiding the rooms with other experiments in them. They hailed several early groups as they walked by.
As they entered the long hallway containing their assignment, they were hailed by three of their comerades, who looked up as they came in.
"Hey there Bren. Congrats!" Jeff called, waving at them as they approached. Tom looked up and shut off the camera, grinning.
"Wow fancy you having to deal with Erica in the morning." He joked, flinching a little as she walked past.
"I already had my coffee, and unlike you, he keeps his room clean enough to not instill an instant migraine." Erica said stiffly, pulling out a neatly folded lab coat.
"Heh. Women. We guys gotta stick together, right bud?" Tom said, waving off her comment.
"Hey guys, break it up. Here comes Bernard." Jeff said.
"Hey, Bernard, what held you up?" Tom asked.
"Had to get the keys to the lesser colosseum." Bernard said. "You know how Jaques loves to keep them from us between events."
"Mind you, I'm only coming to analyze our experiment. I do not find entertainment in such pointless 'experiments'." Erica said, clearly showing her distain for the whole situation.
"It's true then?" Tom asked eagerly. "Whoa, it's been awhile. Iris is making her final battle before she becomes an active case."
"Uh, what's going on?" Brennan asked, feeling completely left in the dark.
"It's a surprise. Erica, did you get him to swear not to tell?" Bernard asked.
"More or less." Erica replied cooly.
"Well then if miss ice lady is ready to go we should head to the bleachers." Tom suggested, scooping the keys from Bernard.

A/N: Wow, I've been reading the reviews and you guys are very effective ^_^ I'm working pretty hard. Dark Raven: I FOUND YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! *huggle* Spoonvonstup: Don't lose that hyperness you have ^_~ By the way, did I forget to mention how he got in? Ah shoot T_T;;; woops. I must've forgotten to write in that part. I'll add it ^_^ Mei-Mei: Oh, it's scifi? Lol I wasn't sure what to put it under. Thanks for the encouragement! *huggle* Tk.T: AH! IT'S TKT! Lol, so glad you've dropped by. I loooooove tk's stories. If you're reading this, definitely give uoy a try! Long, but totally worth it. Oh, tk, a tip. Review last rung- I really think duchess would love your stories ^_~ *huggles* thanks for dropping in! I'm sorry, I've been reading but forgetting to review again ;_; please forgive meeeeee SilverStarlight86: Thanks for reviewing 'Greed', 'autumn forest', 'spring forest', 'winter forest', and 'owl's hunt'! *gives out four cookies* Elbereth141: Veggies! eee! Thanks so much for reviewing 'ebbing tides' and 'spring forest'! *two cookies* Sarah DeLane: Lol yes, I plan to... or I could be realllly mean and not tell you... ^_~ nah, don't worry about it. You'll find out next chapter (already halfway done). Thanks a ton! I know, I was a bit unsure about the configuration myself... But I have a layout in mind now- I hope this chapter helped. jussanothergull: thanks for reviewing 'Play Time'! Glad you liked it! Elbereth141: I promise to review you more ^_^ Glad you liked 'forgotten' and 'gilded book'. I had this whole bitter stage after I went camping about how nature's being ravaged into nothing and stuff... yeah... wow, very not me- I'm going to do more poems soon. Thanks for agreeing to alert me! I can totally understand if it becomes a hassle- I hate my author alert ;_; *giving out cookies* looking forward to beta-ing you! ^_~ (iambic pentameter is a poem style, the type shakespeare uses, including ten lines per stanza and ten syllables per line. I don't know why I bother :P) Mercury Angel II: Thanks so much! thanks mercury! *huggle* welcome home (so to speak) from taiwan!

A/N: This is for you, Tk.T! salutes

Chapter 4
Untitled

"Miss ice lady? That's redundant." Erica huffed, frowning angrily at Tom. "Now, shall we stand here bickering all day or will Bernard kindly hurry up and unlock the arena before more of our scientists come and think something's up?"

"I'm on it." Bernard said. He walked to the end of the dead end and rasied an eyebrow at them. "Hey, you guys coming or what? Or have you forgotten how to get in?"

"Stop it Bernard, we're coming." Brian replied, pushing Brennan along to the end of the hall. Brennan raised a critical eyebrow, eyeing the blank white wall suspiciously. He moved towards it, looking around in confusion.

Tom chuckled. "Move over Bren, you're standing on the door."

Brennan quickly scrambled to the side, blushing lightly in embarrassment. Bernard grinned and moved over to where Brennan had been standing, flipping up a cover cunningly disguised as a power outlet. He noted that the cover was inscribed with 'this outlet is not grounded,' as most of the lab equipment was too valuable to be plugged into an ungrounded outlet and the plug would mostly be ignored. Instead of an outlet, however, Bernard had uncovered a large knob, like a door knob, with a keyhole in it. Into this he inserted the key, turning it to the left, jiggling it, and turning it more. He then grabbed the knob and pulled, lifting a large, wide trapdoor in the floor, leading into a dusty, slightly grimy hallway accessible by a metal ladder. From what they could see of it, as the lights down below were not turned on, the tunnel was identical to the rest of the halls in the syndicate, albeit a little dirtier.

"Wh- what is this?" Brennan asked confusedly.

"Let's get down there quick. Shall you go first or shall I?" Bernard asked, bending into a mock bow.

"I'll lead the way, since little rookie looks too stunned to move." Brian joked, crouching down and carefully lowering himself down the metal ladder. It squeaked and groaned as he went down.

"Ehh, you sure this is safe?" Erica asked nervously.

"Aw, it's not that far to fall. Who's next?" Tom replied cheerfully.

"You are." Erica said angrily, pushing him forwards.

"Aw, I'm touched." Tom said cheekily, grinning as he walked down the ladder. "See? Not that bad. Now, does the lady need help coming down the stairs?"

"Don't taunt me." Erica said sharply. She let herself down. "Let Brennan go next. It would be a pity if the ladder fell after all of us got down here and I'd be stuck with you."

"Such daunting words only strengthen the affection I have for you." Tom replied dramatically, grabbing her shoulder.

She swatted him away. "Shut up. Who'd fall for a hopeless guy like you?"

"You're just playing hard to get."

"All right lovebirds, spot him. He's coming down." Bernard interrupted.

Ignoring Erica's indignant protests and walking just below the ladder, Tom grinned and looked up, hands on hips.

"Bren, if you go any slower murphy's law will strike here and now."

"What's that mean?" Brennan asked, hopping off at the bottom.

"He's just trying to sound smart." Erica said dismissively.

Tom winced. "Ouch. You know Erica, I want to see if you can go one day without injuring my poor abused heart."

"You try going one day without doing something stupid and I'll consider it."

Brennan reached the bottom, eagerly hopping off the end of the ladder and very relieved to have his feet on solid ground. He wasn't usually afraid of heights, but climbing down a rusted, creaking ladder into a dingy, underused hallway was not his idea of a good time.

Bernard came down quickly, and they were just closing the door when a frantic shout came from above.

"Keep the door closed!"

"Is that the geezer?" Tom asked loudly, climbing halfway up the ladder and poking his head out. A booted foot landed on his head and he quickly ducked down, swinging perilously from one hand on the ladder a moment before steadying himself. "Hey, watch it old man!"

A disheveled head quickly followed the boot as its owner started climbing down the ladder, ignoring Tom, who hung precariously from the sidebar. The ladder groaned loudly, on the verge of snapping under his extra weight. Tom let go and fell over when his feet hit the ground, wallowing on the dusty floor in a passible imitation of Jeremiah cast into the dungeon (A/N: I do not own Jeremiah. oo; (Bloody disclaimers)) "Oh me! My poor weak limbs have brokeneth!"

"Stop making a fool of yourself Tom. Join a theatre troop or something." Erica said haughtily, starting down the hallway.

"Oh my dear belle is walking away! Away..." His voice trailed off and he did his best dying imitation before springing up and following everyone as they walked away.

"Do you have my keys youngster?" Wily William asked in his usual loud, screechy voice. Brennan flushed and digged around in his pockets, coming up with the key and handing it to the old man.

"Thanks, they were a big help." He offered the white-haired scientist a small smile. The very image of a mad scientist, rumors had it that William was only in his sixties. He looked like he'd been around since the neolithic. His fuzzy, grey-shot hair looked like he'd plugged himself into a socket daily, and he wore a pair of old, slightly foggy pince-nez. Under his lab coat, he sported a large plaid button up shirt- unbuttoned and showing the white t-shirt proudly displaying the company logo, a pair of curving golden lines, embroidered into the shirt, with smaller arcs coming off of its base before it hooked over in graceful 's' shapes facing away from each other. It gave the weird impression of a pair of skeletal wings and was superimposed over a crimson circle. (A/N: I'll stop it with the Author's notes after this one. This logo is actually the one that I have behind all of my character sketches (and drawn on the inside of my assignment book cover under a black rose... like you really care ) so if you want to know what it looks like go to my homepage, click on the 'Artwork' link, then scroll down and choose any of my characters' names (Arya, Cysne, Asme, or Iris, though on Cysne you can't see it as well)) His image practically screamed nerd. The old man was on the receiving end of many jokes around the syndicate, and he didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, he encouraged them.

"Ehh don't thank me youngster. Is this your first tournament?" Without waiting for an answer he started patting Brennan on the back, walking easily with everyone else and continued. "You're in for a big treat. Big treat. I remember the first time I saw a fight..."

"Fight?" Brennan asked, nervousness kicking in. He'd never been one for brawls, and the tussles he'd witnessed at the University had never had any appeal to him. He started wondering what kind of 'tournament' was getting his coworkers so riled up.

"It's magnificent. Magnificent. Don't worry kid." William replied, nodding his old head assuringly. His pouffy white hair bobbed with the action.

"Hey Willy, don't go spoiling the surprise." Bernard scolded, grinning as he linked arms with the old scientist.

"Lucky though. Very lucky. Isn't this the last fight for 0-2?" Willy William replied eagerly.

Bernard laughed in good humor, taking the bait and returning the gossip. "That's the idea." He replied. "After that last incident, we gave her one more go and then when the syndicate decided to keep her, we took the chance, but it's likely we can't risk this again." Brennan cocked his head in interest, though he didn't interrupt for fear of Bernard clamping up on him before he let any other interesting information slip. 0-2? Surely they didn't mean their project did they? He remembered her over bright eyes staring at at the security camera when he'd visited earlier and shivered.

"Oh? Well who's the lucky contender?" Erica asked, joining the conversation.

Bernard smirked. "That jerk Jacques is putting forward a pretty good opponent. I only allowed it because he's been such a cocky-" He glanced quickly at Brennan. "-idiot lately. You heard about he explosion in the chemistry rooms right?" Erica shook her head. "That man has a huge chip on his shoulder and I don't know why the syndicate keeps him around." Brennan scowled. He was all of twenty, for heaven's sake! Only the youngest by five years, and they still treated him like he was ten years younger.

"Tell me about it. Him and his three evil friends." Bernard replied.

"So, who is going up against our lovely 0-2?" William pressed.

Bernard laughed. "Cool it old man. You'll find out quick enough." He winked. "It promises to be interesting though. Only fitting for Iris' final tournament."

"0-2 is our test assignment, right?" Brennan asked, his anxieties mounting.

The other scientists briefly looked at each other. "Well yes, but she also has a virtually unbeatable record in the ring." Brian said. "Erica's gonna be picking up some info on her physique as we're watching, and after this we're going to take some blood samples- a few of the documents salvaged from the wreck said something about changing blood compositions. Creepy really."

"A wreck?" Brennan asked in interest. The hallway seemed to go on forever. Bernard was carrying an electric lantern. They passed a heavy set of metal doors, welded shut like the ones he'd seen above ground, the sign on the front scratched and slightly chipped and the tiny reinforced glass window caulked tightly around the edges. He longed to go look inside to see why such high security was necessary, but limited himself to following the group.

"Yeah. You weren't told? Of course we're not the first ones to do an investigation into this case, but 0-2 is one heck of an enigma. Somebody like her shouldn't be able to exist, scientifically speaking. Research was cut off on her case after some issues popped up. The history of that should be in your files. But since then there was an accidental fire that burnt up all of the information on her and nearly took out the whole records vault. The freak who did that was immediately hustled out, but now we have to start practically from scratch. Was quite a while ago so computer logs were rare, but little scraps of information were salvaged from files from this one scientist's computer. Not much to go on." Finishing his tale, Tom scratched his chin thoughtfully.

Tk.T: Yay! Glad you likes! YAY! Tk.T Likes my story! Cool! I'll check up my formatting. I love your stories... dang, I need to finish Uoy. :P This chapter is for you!
Ancamna: Thanks! I love your constructive reviews! Love ya Ancamna! hugs gives out cookiesEagle Seance: Ehehe thanks, I hope this chapter clears a few things up. I really didn't have a plot in mind when I wrote the first chapter, and I'm sorry if I confused you... Thanks for reviewing!
Mei-Mei the SciFi Junkie: Still love your name I hope this chappie helps a little...
Spoonvonstup: Love ya spoonie! I'll ask you about DNA later, I confess I know almost nothing, but I thought this would be a great way to make it look like I'm studying for Physics (it's not like my parents know what physics is about anyways :P). Whee! Thanks for reviewing!
EclipseMystic: Wow! I've had this chappie rotting on my HD for a while now- I never realized I didn't post it until now. Thanks for making me look! :D

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