There is that moment, right before waking…when the body is still drifting in the warm comfort of simple rest. It is a state of delicious relaxation, peaceful bliss…that is where Delta found herself.

          A warm hand was gently stroking and counting her ribs…she could feel a warm breathe against her neck…the comforting embrace of someone who cared deeply for her…she couldn't help herself, she called out. "Theta?"

          The hand stilled, lying across her side, soft lips pressed against her shoulder. Slowly, she became aware of the surrounding…the hum of the heater, the shifting of ice in the little plastic bucket every hotel provides…the blankets were scratchy and stiff. The neighbors through the wall were already awake and about…as she came fully awake, she felt Theta withdraw. A cool breeze blew over her shoulder from the window that was open again.

          She shivered and rolled over, drawing the blanket tight as Theta grumbled in her head "I still don't like him Delta…"

          "I know" she mentally assured him "But it's either this, or start stealing…and if we steal, they'll find us faster."

          "He just better keep that tongue of his in his head…"

          "I'm not allowed to have guys drool over me Theta?" she asked with mild amusement "One would almost think you were jealous…"

          "…why should I be jealous? He gets to wake up to see you…he gets to feed you, clothe you…save you from the misery…"

          She could sense tears and immediately felt ashamed for her teasing… "You did that Theta…saved me…"

*   *   *   *   * 

          Shepherd awoke with a snort, in his usual, inelegant way, and sat bolt upright when he heard a giggle. The girl was still in the other bed…he had half expected to wake up and realize she was a dream brought on by too much beef and raging hormones…but there she sat, knees tucked up to her chest, looking at him.

          He was at a loss for words, staring at the slim girl with her odd eyes. His flight out was in a few hours…and he had a girl, in his spare night shirt, looking at him. "What am I supposed to do with you?"

          Delta cocked her head to the side, almost like a bird of prey eyeing a mouse. In an odd corner of his mind he noted that her short hair was, in fact, a good thing. It left her slim, sculpted neck free of concealment…he jerked back to reality as he heard a low, menacing mental growl. He glanced at the window guiltily and saw the absence of glass "Can't you guys close the window behind yourselves?" he grumbled.

          The girl was still looking at him, and then she spoke "Just write the letter…"

          "And what are you guys going to do in the meantime eh? You looked starved when you came in last night, you still do now…"

          "We will survive, it is what we do"

          "Okay, enough with the "we" crap. I don't know about the boy, but you need a few decent meals and some clothes…he obviously doesn't or else he'd have poked his nose in when I ordered the steaks. Now, Ms. Delta…what are you going to do?"

*   *   *   *   *

          "Why that…please, let's forget this and go. We can find another way into Rift…if we stay too much longer I'll have to kill him…he was staring at you…"

          "Calm down Theta…he's our best chance. He's just being…male."

          "He wants you to leave me Delta…"

          "That isn't going to happen and both of us know it…now hush, we have to answer him."

*   *   *   *   *

          "What did you have in mind Mr. Shepherd?"

          Shepherd let out the breath he had been holding, she had been silent for so long, those eerie eyes just staring straight through him… "I can get you a plane ticket. You can come home with me and we'll write that letter to my sister. In the meanwhile, you'll stay at my place and eat regular meals and dress decent. Deal?"

*   *   *   *   *

          "Yep, I'm gonna kill him Delta…a quick blow to his throat…"

          "The idea has potential Theta"

          "…what? You would live with him?"

          "We, Theta, I'm sure he'll be a gentleman…and if not, we are perfectly capable of ensuring his silence after he writes the letter."

          "…and he'll think you are alone…that he left me here in New York…he would underestimate us…"


*   *   *   *   *

          "Deal Mr. Shepherd. Theta does not like it much, but he sees the merit in it…he'll be staying here to follow through on a few other leads…"

          Shepherd sighed Okay, I got her away from psycho boy…some clean clothes, maybe rehab, and she'll be a normal kid again…or as normal as telepaths get. And this way she doesn't mess with Rift Technologies…That's my good deed for the day. He rubbed his hands together briskly and stood up "Okay that means we need to get you some decent clothes for the flight…let me take a shower and we'll head out to a clothing store. In the meanwhile, I have a pair of work out shorts in my bag that you can wear under that shirt…"

          "Alright Mr. Shepherd"

          As he stepped into the running water, he was hit by a psychic fist that doubled him over in agony "You will get worse than that if she comes to harm while under your care. Is that clear Mr. Shepherd?"

          He took a few minutes to straighten up before answering "Yeah, crystal you bastard." There was no reply.

*   *   *   *   *

          Getting clothing and a plane ticket was easy when he waved the platinum card in people's faces. They now sat on their flight and Shepherd couldn't help but smile. He was headed home with an odd, but definitely attractive girl…her loser boyfriend druggy who had marched her around was in New York…sure, she had a issues, but perhaps with a decent home and someone who wouldn't try to turn her into a terrorist, well, anything was possible.

*   *   *   *   *

          "I like him less the longer we know him…"

          "Yes, I know what you mean…I hope not everyone on the outside is like this…"

          "Not that I blame him for finding you attractive, but you are taken. Period…he just isn't…honorable."

          "You're the one that said FBI meant sneaky military…"

          "I said sneaky? I change that to slimy…"

          She felt phantom hands running through her hair as she stared out the window "Don't worry Theta…we won't be with him for long. He is just a means to an end"

          "What end though? What are we going to do once this nightmare is over?"

          "How does a little house far out in the woods and a few kids sound?"

          "Beautiful Delta…"

          He held her all the way to Virginia, keeping her far warmer than any blanket. Had anyone looked, they would have seen a phantom image, easily mistaken, of two odd people in the window…one with white hair, the other with black, both smiling.

*   *   *   *   * 

          Back in New York, several men inspected a hotel room. One kicked a set of rags that the maids had yet to pick up and grimaced. "This was her gear all right. Tags will have her ID number on it…she was here."

          "But what was she doing here? I mean, she couldn't have turned prostitute right?"

          "Of course not. It's not in her training. Find out who was in this room last night…"

          "Yes sir"

          Melcove sighed and looked around the room. His little Delta was leading them all a merry chase…she had even been able to overcome their secret weapon against all odds…The whole situation was bad, it had been a week and she had still avoided apprehension…as she was trained to…

          He remembered the day of the break out…it had been a nightmare. Delta was performing in front of several high dignitaries…potential financers. Elhir Bensir had been asking about control methods, he even remembered his response "She is trained to obedience. She has never shown any signs of rebellion. But rest assured, we have a control mechanism. Not implanted of course, that could be controlled by others, but effective none the less. In fact, you could say that our "control" lives because of her…"

          He had toasted the girl as she flawlessly ran through the battle simulation and the financiers had asked to see her personally. She had marched into the room silently, glancing around the room casually. He knew that no matter how casual her glance, she had sized them all up and would recall every detail… "As you can see…Delta has a few unforeseen design flaws…her hair and eyes render her incapable of blending in as well as we had hoped without contacts and dyes. I assure you gentlemen; these flaws have been remedied in the next batch."

          There had been appreciative chuckles and glances…some had fingered the girl shamelessly…and through it all, his little Delta stood calmly, almost smiling. He should have known the smile meant something was up…she never smiled around him…

          The "something" had proved to be a small sphere of nerve gas she had filched from her training run and hidden on her person. She had calmly walked out of the room while everyone present had dropped to their knees, choking.

          The alarms were immediate, the "control" was released…and she had still escaped, out of a tenth story window no less…

          He couldn't help but admire her, she had surpassed every expectation he had when he designed her…but it made it a pain to retrieve her…his personal aide interrupted his reverie with a polite cough. "The guests name was a Mr. Shepherd…the FBI covered his tab."

          He turned away from the room and strode down the hall. "I want information on this Mr. Shepherd. Have it on my desk in an hour. I wonder what she's up to…contacting an FBI agent…" Outside, he lit a cigar and stared up at the grey sky. Deep down inside, he couldn't help but wish her well…she was, after all, his mark on the world…