I got more reviews! Do you know what that means? That means I love you.

SerialcodeA: Thank you :o Grammar is not my strong point but I will try to improve.

And yes, I realise Smile Like You Mean It is an awesome song from the awesome Killers. That is where I snatched the title from. I'm a thief.

And I must apologize in advance for the totally LAME explanations of their wicked powers in this chapter. Yes, they have powers. How pathetic is that? Read and see for yourself.

But most importantly...enjoy.


Ethan observed the ceiling thoughtlessly, his forehead creasing only slightly at the noises coming from outside the room, in the halls. People crying. Other patients, maybe. Someone yelling. Something crashing to the ground. People laughing.

It had been daylight for a few hours. No one had come to see him. No one had come to check if he was okay. If he wasn't flipping out again. If he was okay.

He didn't think he was okay.

How could he be okay if he didn't know who he was? If he didn't know what he was? Especially, especially if he didn't know where. How could anyone be okay?

'We're not going to hurt you.' Someone had said that to him yesterday in that very same room, who was it...Serenity. The Guardian. The boss?

He closed his eyes, exhausted by the all the thinking. He had no sleep. He laid awake for the entire night staring into darkness, his mind racing. He was no closer to figuring anything out than he had been at the start.

And he still couldn't remember.

His name was Ethan.

"Ethan." He whispered to himself, clutching at the sheet. It had barely wrinkled during the night. "Ethan..."

His back was beginning to ache from laying on it so long. He slowly rolled onto his side, moving stiffly as though he was afraid to crease the mattress. It wasn't his bed, it wasn't his room, none of it was his.

Who was he?

Where did he come from?

How did he get here?


He exhaled uncomfortably.


His eyes shot open, his hand fisting in the sheet frantically as he heard the door open behind him. He lay there frozen, too frightened to even breathe, his fingers clawed into the mattress.


Two of them, distinctly female and vaguely familiar.

"He's doing fine." Daina held out the paper. "His results. As you can see his blood pressure is a little higher than average but I say that's most likely from the shock and nothing to worry about."

"Thank you." Serenity checked over the sheet, her lips moving in time with the words scrolling repeatedly across the page. Daina was telling the truth; his stats were completely normal. The boy wasn't suffering from any illnesses, his vitals were all in check, his blood pressure was a little high but as Daina said that was okay considering the circumstances.

"I'd say he'd be around 15 years old in human years. 30 in ours." Daina stated firmly, smiling at the boy in the bed with his back to them.

"Thank you Daina." Serenity handed it back to the mediwitch who tucked it under her arm. "When can you release him?"

"Today. Would you like me to do it now?"

Serenity glanced over at the figure, noting how tense he was. She knew he was awake. That was the reason she had chosen to speak to Daina in English. "Not just yet. I have some things to take care of. I'll be back in later today. If he wakes up tell him so. And if any of the others come to see him you can let them."

Daina nodded. "Of course, your grace."

Serenity left, her heels clicking against the white stone floor.

Ethan's eyes parted, the sheet bunched up around his chin. He stared at the wall opposite him. There was a window, but the curtains were pulled.

He heard Daina's footsteps getting closer and quickly shut his eyes again. She reached over from behind and pulled the sheet up around his ears, tucking it in under him.

He held his breath until she left.

His mind was racing.
He felt so terrified, so suffocated, sick and helpless.

He couldn't stay there any longer.

He pushed the blanket roughly off him and bolted upright, pausing for only a second as the room tilted in his brain's effort to wake up.

He glanced around the room and found the door.

He didn't wait another minute.

He bolted out, skidding on the slightly slippery tiles lining the hall but grabbed the wall to stop himself falling. He continued along the hall quickly, going as fast as he could while trying to clutch the smooth wall beside him. He passed people, people that weren't even people, people with strange hair and strange faces, people who took no notice of him but people who terrified him.

The boy at the front desk didn't even look up.

He reached the door to the control room, the center of all activity on the planet, but he didn't stop to marvel at it, he didn't stop to look at all the different races rushing around, he forced himself to keep going and somewhere in his gut he wanted to vomit.

He ran, blindly, gasping for breath and desperately searching for a way out.


"I had the worst sleep last night." Matthew said grouchily, limping over to the benches to see what Suzie was preparing.

Suzie finished dicing the last of the root and sprinkled it into the pot bubbling on the stove. "It's your own fault. You should stop being so stubborn and just go see Daina. She could fix your foot in a few seconds! But no you have to be all macho and stupid."

"I can fix it myself." Matthew said haughtily. "I don't need her. I like to do it my way, okay?"

Suzie rolled her eyes and stirred the soup-in-progress. "Fine. Don't complain when it hurts then."

With a scowl Matthew swung himself up onto the smooth dark gray bench beside the beautiful hand carved stove. "Emmanuel back me up here."

Emmanuel didn't look up from the newspaper he was reading. The words were always moving, constantly rolling over the page over and over again. There was nothing exciting in it; just the usual stuff. Stocks, random events, somebody sentenced to life in prison for mass murdering, some fundraiser for demons with a disease that made their tentacles go stiff, the usual boring things. "Suzie has a point." He murmured, not taking much notice of their argument anyway.

"Thank you Em." Suzie said with a serves-you-right grin at Matthew. Matthew folded his arms and made a silent vow to kill her.

They were in the kitchen Serenity had specially made for them. She did it because they weren't very punctual and kept turning up to the main kitchen at all hours searching for food. She decided giving them their own little kitchen was the best option. It was either that or let her chefs kill them out of frustration.

"Look just - "

Matthew was cut off as the door suddenly slid open with an almighty roar and Ethan stumbled in, gasping and falling to the ground from all the frantic fleeing. He had just grabbed the nearest door, needing somewhere to catch his breath and calm down.

The other three stared at him, startled.

"Uh, hi." Suzie said finally. Ethan glanced up sharply at the unexpected voice, then seemed to realise the room was occupied after all.

He flew to his feet, clenching his fists and scurrying backward toward the door. Before he could get much further though Suzie grabbed him by the shoulders.

"Ethan! Are you okay? You're supposed to be in the medical wing!"

"Let me go!" He wrenched himself free and stood against the door, glaring wearily at them. Matthew glanced at Emmanuel who shrugged.

"Calm down man." Matthew coaxed, not moving off the bench. "We already told you we're not gonna hurt you."

His heart beat furiously. "What is this place?" Ethan hissed.

"A kitchen?" Suzie replied lamely, puzzled by the question.

"We already told you this is a planet called 001." Emmanuel noted the terrified look in the younger boy's eyes. "You really have to calm down before you have a heart attack."

"How did you know my name?" Ethan demanded, taking another nervous shuffle backward. Suzie hesitated. "It's...hard to explain. Why don't we just call Serenity, okay?"

"NO!" Ethan yelled, and then caught himself and took a deep jaggd breath. "S-stop lying. Where am I? How did I get here?!"

"We're not lying!" Matthew snapped, frustrated. "We told you yesterday! We found you, okay? We brought you back here. There's nothing else to it! So stop screaming at us, calm the fuck down and let us help you sort yourself out!"

Ethan stood still, his chest heaving frantically. He closed his eyes. He still felt so dizzy. He could hear his own breathing, heavy and layered. When he opened his eyes again the other three were watching him closely.

"Where..." He gulped. "This...I think I'm going to be sick."

Suzie automatically rushed to him, pulling him over to the oval sink beside Matthew. "Here you go sweetie. Are you going to be okay?" She rubbed his shoulder supportively, and he stared at the sink expectantly, but the vomit never came.
He turned away, exhausted. "I..."

"It's okay." Suzie smiled, still rubbing his shoulder in lazy circles. "You have to adjust to a whole new environment. It's understandable that you feel sick. We all did at first."
She looked at Emmanuel and Matthew meaningfully and they quickly backed her up, nodding in agreement.

"Did Daina release you?" Emmanuel had a feeling he already knew the answer but asked anyway.

For a moment, Ethan looked embarrassed. "I...I ran away."

Matthew sniggered. "Don't blame you. See? Another person who hates the medical wing. Ethan you just became my new best friend. Sorry Em."

Emmanuel's nonchalant expression didn't falter and Suzie quickly zipped back to the stove as a thick puff of black steam rose up from the saucepan.

"You can sit you know." Matthew's eyes twinkled at the helpless look on Ethan's face. He was too scared to touch anything. Too scared to think anything might be okay.

He shook his head hurriedly, even though his legs felt like they were ready to give out.

All four looked to the door as it slid open again.

This time it was Serenity.

"I was wondering where you got off to." She said mildly when she noticed Ethan. "You shouldn't run off like that. You'll get lost."

"Sorry." Ethan whispered, his gut tightening with fear. He was in trouble now, oh he was dead, they were going to kill him...

But Serenity didn't mention it any further. In fact it seemed like it didn't worry her at all.

She simply walked over to the table and picked up Emmanuel's newspaper, quickly reading the front page. "Boring."

She looked as immaculate as always, her long black hair flowed down her back like water, ending at her waist in a perfectly straight line. She was tall and slim, with long shapely legs and a beautifully scructured face. She was, after all, designed to be perfect. She was supposed to be the perfect, beautiful, obedient Guardian. On the outside she was perfect. On the inside...the Council were still trying to work out where they had gone wrong. Obedient just wasn't in Serenity's vocabulary.

"I want..." Ethan flushed as they all looked at him. He felt like he was under a spotlight. "I want to know everything." He finished in a croak.

"A perfectly reasonable request." Serenity replied, handing the newspaper back to Emmanuel. "Would you like to be more specific?"

Ethan frowned, swallowing the foul taste in his mouth. "I...if this is another, another planet and everything...why can you all speak my language?"

"I know every language there is." Serenity smoothed a wrinkle on her tight crimson dress. "One of the perks of my job. When you guys started to rock up we obviously had to use English more, so that you humans could understand. Of course everyone speaks other languages around here, but when they're speaking to you they have to use English."

Ethan licked his lips as he prepared to ask the biggest question of all. "If you...if you know where, where...Earth...is, why can't you just send us back?"

Serenity sighed heavily. "It's a little more complicated than that. First of all, Earth isn't in my quadrant. I'd need special permission from the Council to do that, and well, let's just say they're bastards. Also, we don't know how you people ended up here. There could be an important reason behind it. We can't send you back until we know who erased your memory and why."

"How do you know someone erased our memory?" Ethan asked defensively.

"Because," Serenity replied logically, "you still know what everything is. You have no trouble undestanding anything. You might not remember who you are, but you remember what everything else is. You understand what everything means and you can speak fluet English."

"Oh." Ethan said meekly. He looked at the floor, considering that. Someone had erased his memory. Why? Why would anyone want to do such a thing? Why?!

He exhaled quickly trying to calm down again. He couldn't freak out, not right here and not right now. He had to know first.

"I...what about the others?" He glanced from Suzie, to Matthew to Emmanuel. "Were they...what about them?"

"Well like I said, Suzie Emmanuel and Matthew are exactly like you. We found them in random place throughout the quadrant, naked, no memory of who they are or how they got there, terrified."
"Thanks for the macho points." Matthew interjected sarcastically. Serenity chose to ignore him.

"Like you, they also suffered injuries but nothing major."

"How..." Ethan wet his lips. "How long ago was that?"

Serenity shrugged. "We found Matthew when he was just a baby. He grew up here on 001. Emmanuel was 12 years old in human years when we found him so he's been here for about five years in human terms, ten years in ours. Your Earth year is twice as long as ours. We only found Suzie last year. But there have been others."

Ethan glanced from face to face. "Where are they?"

Matthew and Suzie exchanged hesitant looks. "Well," Suzie cleared her throat; she didn't want to scare him off. "They haven't always made it."

"In many cases it's too late." Serenity explained. "If some hungry demon sees a helpless human wandering around they're going to pounce. A lot of the times we don't find them in time. Sometimes we do find them and bring them back here but their injuries have been so severe they didn't make it. You four were lucky. And with some we have brought them back here and they have survived, but later died from completely unrelated reasons."

Ethan swallowed, shivering. Out of cold or fear he couldn't quite decide. "H-How?"

This time Serenity let Matthew answer it. "We don't live here for nothing." He tapped a spoon against his kneecap. "We...pay for our board by helping them out. I guess that's the best way to explain it."

"We're like a special police force." Suzie said kindly. "Sometimes that means we have to fight things."

Ethan interpreted this the best he could. "You're...demon hunters?" He looked up, puzzled.

"I wouldn't call it that." Emmanuel said thoughtfully. "We just..."

"We help keep everything under control." Matthew finished helpfully. "Make sure it don't get too chaosy. Which yes, sometimes means that we do have to kick some ugly thing's ass."

Ethan looked down at his bare feet, his thoughts a horrible tangle. Nothing made sense. "But, I mean, aren't demons all, like, strong and with powers and, all, I mean, how can you..."

"Uh..." Matthew grimaced. "That's the other thing..."

"They're not normal." Serenity said simply. "All the human beings we've found...none of them have been normal."

Ethan's mouth hung open slightly in utter confusion. "Huh? What...do you mean?"

Suzie shrugged uneasily, doing quotation marks in the air. "We're 'special'."

"They're different to other normal humans back on your home planet." Serenity put it as plain as possible. "They have certain...capabilities that normal humans should not have. That is one of the main reasons we can't just send you back."

"Basically we have special powers." Matthew rolled his eyes sick of beating around the bush.

"Like...magic?" Ethan whispered croakily. As if it couldn't get any more complicated.

"We don't know what it is." Emmanuel replied shortly. He didn't like discussing it. It only confused him further and he hated that.

"We can't explain it." Suzie gave a hapless smile. "But we can do things, awesome amazing things."

"Well it depends on who it is." Matthew said cheerfully. "We can all do different things. Like me!"

Ethan looked like he almost too scared to know. "What...what can you do?"

Matthew's eyes glinted happily; he loved any chance to show off. "Check this out." He grabbed the crystal lighter from his pocket and flicked the switch so the little orange flame burst through. With a sudden jerk of his hands, the little flame expanded dramatically, flaring up around his hands into a ball.

"Pretty damn neat huh?" Matthew smirked, completely unaffected by the burning ball of flames enveloping his hands. Ethan stared in shock, his jaw slack.

"You're such a show-off." Suzie scolded. He snickered and the ball disappeared as quickly as it had came and then there was only the thin lighter which he returned to his pocket.

"They always say if you got it, flaunt it." He winked. "I can manipulate fire. Do you know how fucking awesome that is? But I can't create it." He added sadly. "I have to have the flame there first, but then I can do whatever I want with it."

"That's insane." Ethan felt even sicker. His head swum dizzily and nothing was clear anymore. Matthew just grinned.
"I know. Almost as insane as Suzie here." He nudged her excitedly. "'Cause we only found her not so long ago she's only just starting to figure her stuff out. But, get this, she can walk through walls."

Suzie blushed, pushing Matthew away. "I cannot. Well...sometimes." She smiled shyly, pride sneaking into her tone. "I can change my, um, what's it called again?" She glanced over at Serenity but didn't give the Guardian a chance to answer. "I can change how dense my body is." Her face was bright pink, but she was pleased with herself.

"This is insane." Ethan repeated softly, digging his fingers into his skull from frustration and disbelief. "And what, you can pull a rabbit out of a hat?" He asked Emmanuel sarcastically, flinching as he scratched his own skin roughly. Emmanuel was thrown off guard by the sudden bitter remark.

"No." He snapped, his irritation spiking. Matthew touched his arm to calm him down and gave Ethan a reassuring smile.
"Emma here is a little fucked in the head."

Emmanuel glanced sharply at him, growling. Matthew ignored him and pointed at his own head to help explain himself.
"He's all, whatdoyacallit, psychic or whatever. He can read minds and move shit with his brain and all that. Except he can't control it."

"I can too!" Emmanuel snarled, furious at his friend. Matthew looked surprised as though he'd suddenly just realized what he'd said.

"Well yeah, I mean you can control it a bit, but you haven't really got the hang of it yet. You're still trying to work out how to use it. That's all I meant. So," he looked back at Ethan, "if something suddenly goes flyin' across the room for no reason you know why."

Emmanuel scowled but didn't say anything. He knew if he did they'd just argue about it and he couldn't be bothered with that. He wasn't that offended; he knew Matthew could get a little carried away sometimes. It was just that...it was a sensitive subject, a private matter, and he certainly didn't think Matthew had any right to blab about it in front of someone they'd only just met.

"It's not normal." Serenity broke the tense mood. "Not in your species anyway. But it's happening; every kid we've found has had some type of capability."

The awful truth of what the Guardian was saying hit Ethan in one icy bucketload. "Are you...are suggesting that I might be," his voice was uneven with disbelief, "like them?"

The last part was no more than a whisper.

Serenity shrugged. "So far all your results have come back normal. We'll just have to see what develops. It doesn't always become apparent the instant you arrive."

'No.' Ethan thought desperately. 'I am not like that, I am not a freak, I'm not like them, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not, I'M NOT!'

The last two words screamed through Emmanuel's mind, searing with emotion and causing the older boy to wince. However he showed no sign of it as the pain gradually ebbed, him resisting the need the urge to massage his head.

"I can't stay here." Ethan muttered frenziedly, moving aimlessly on the spot, in desperate semi-circles with his hands buried in his hair. "I can't be here like this, this is crazy, you people are crazy I can't - "

"Cut it out." Serenity cut in icily, falling back into her normal arms-folded posture. "It may sound crazy, it may sound like a total lie, it may sound however it sounds to you. But it's the truth and you're going to have to accept that. And think about it - where would you go? You don't know your way around the quadrant. You'd be killed the second you touched down on another planet. And to get to another planet you'd have to get through Kira, and he can be very unco-operative when he wants to be."

Ethan stopped abruptly, burying his teeth in his lip. He knew she was right. He didn't know his way around. He didn't even know where he was, he barely knew who he was! He wouldn't stand a chance out there.
Suzie took a kinder, more sympathetic approach. She squeezed his shoulder mildly, the corners of her eyes wrinkling as she smiled assuringly. "We won't hurt you, Ethan. We're going to help you in every way we can. We wish we could send you back to Earth, we really do, but the sad fact is we just can't. Believe me we'd like to go back ourselves. But until we figure out how we got on this side of the universe so far from home and why, and why we have powers our kind normally don't, we can't go back. Not until we at least find out who we are. That's what we're trying to do. Please don't go. Stay. We can help. We'll look after you."

Ethan found himself looking at Emmanuel for some type of sign. He didn't know why. Perhaps because Emmanuel had been the one who took him there in the first place.

"Suzie's right." Emmanuel affirmed. "Just stay."

Ethan audibly swallowed as heat rose in his throat. From fear. From uncertainness. From knowing that no matter how scared he was, there was no other way. "Okay." He said shakily.

'What choice do I have? If I want to know...if I want to get back home...whatever that is...I have no choice.'

"You always have a choice." Serenity smiled faintly. "It's just a matter of choosing the right one. And you have." She suddenly grimaced, remembering what was on the day's agenda. "And now if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting to attend."

Matthew grinned at the despair on the Guardian's statuesque face. "The Council givin' you a hard time again?"

Serenity's eyes rolled to the ceiling. "When aren't they?"

Ethan frowned suspiciously. "What's the Council?"

"The bane of my existence." Serenity answered darkly.

"I thought Rei was the bane of your existence." Suzie pointed out. "You're always saying that."

Serenity shrugged easily. "They caused Rei. Therefore they are the ultimate bane. They're the universal government body that have complete control over everything, including the Guardians. They're the ones that created us to do all the hard work for them." She bitterly smiled.

"Oh." Ethan said bankly.

Serenity peeped at the time strapped to her wrist and cleared her throat. "I'll have one of the staff prepare you a room. Hopefully I should be back soon - hopefully - but until then. as always. Kira is in charge until I return. Try to behave." She added dryly, looking at Matthew in particular. "And if Rei returns tell him his ass is mine." She growled before completely disappearing, leaving no trace of herself behind. Ethan gawked at the empty space the Guardian had filled just a second before. Matthew smirked at the shocked look on the younger boy's face.

"The wonders of teleportation." He stretched himself back over the bench to stop his body going numb from sitting in the same position too long.

"Teleportation." Ethan echoed in the same blank tone.

Emmanuel tried to conceal his yawn. He felt so tired. He always felt tired. "You okay?"

Ethan forced a smile. "I, uh...not really." He finally admitted softly, glancing down at the dirtless floor. He jumped wildly as Suzie suddenly hugged from behind, squeezing him quickly before releasing him.

"It'll get better." She promised, ruffling his hair. He nodded numbly, trying to catch his breath from his heart attack.

"Are you sure you don't want anything to eat?" She motioned toward the stove, where the saucepan was bubbling away. Ethan glanced at it, reluctant and extremely unsure. He didn't even know what people on that planet, on any planet, ate.

"It's nice." Matthew reassured him. "You find some pretty weird stuff around the ol' cosmos, but most of it's pretty good. That stuff Suze's brewing is a soup made from a plant found on LMV19."

Ethan was confused again. "What's LMV19?"

"A planet." Emmanuel answered. "They're all named like that. The first three letters are the galaxy the planet is in and the numbers represent what number planet that is in that galaxy. It's very simple."

Ethan nodded to show he understood. There was so much to learn. "I'm not hungry anyway."

"Well I'm not going to force you..." Suzie said disappointedly, giving the soup a hearty stir. "I'm a very good cook."

Matthew sniggered at that and Emmanuel's mouth curled into an almost unnoticeable smirk. Suzie gave them both very evil glares. "What?"

"Nothing." Matthew grinned innocently. "Nothing at all."

Suzie grumbled something about ungrateful males and went back to stirring the saucepan. Ethan gave a vague smile without realising it, finding the easy interaction between the three comforting. He didn't know why, but it made him feel a bit better. A little more normal.

The door slid open and they all glanced over as Rei beelined for the nearest chair.

He pulled it around to the end of the table so that he wasn't facing the wall.

"Well gee about time." Matthew said sarcastically but he was grinning.

"H-Hi Rei." Suzie immediately began blushing, holding out the teapot. "Tea?"

"Yeah all right." Rei responded nonchalantly, resting his feet on the edge of the table. He noticed Ethan and raised his eyebrows. "Interesting."

"Em found him on IDK04." Matthew gave the official answer, leaning back against the cupboard and almost knocking the rack of cups over.

"Is that so?" The demon murmured, eyeing the kid who was staring anxiously at the table. "Then...welcome to hell."

Ethan's head snapped up. "H-Hell?"

"You're not in hell." Emmanuel said, fixing Rei with an angry glare. "Rei's just being an idiot."

Rei snickered, stretching his slender arms high above his head. Suzie placed the steaming cup of tea in front of him and stepped back, looking pleased with herself.

"Thanks Suze." Rei put his feet back on the floor and took the cup, breathing in the fruity smell.

"You're welcome." Suzie said shyly and Emmanuel rolled his eyes. Although, he thought dryly, it was easy to see why the girl had such a crush on the demon. Rei wasn't exactly one of the uglier demons. In fact if they didn't know better they might mistake him for being human like them. He was tall and wiry, slender but muscled, with milky skin and high, soft cheekbones. His hair tumbled carelessly around his face and ended just above his shoulders, a mass of silky crimson strands. His love for tight leather clothes only made Suzie fawn over him more. At first glance, there were no phsyical signs he was actually a demon.

"Oh yeah, before I forget, Serenity said to tell you that your ass is her's." Matthew snapped his fingers and Rei finished off the tea in record time. His dark pointed tongue ran over his teeth, including the pair of sharp fangs that were just noticeable when he talked.

"What does she want my ass for?"

"To kick?"

"Nothing unusual then."

"So how's Jem?" Suzie asked curiously.
Rei nodded. "She's good. I was helping her move into her boy's place."

"They've moved in together? That's so sweet." Suzie said dreamily.

"Jem is Rei's daughter." Emmanuel told Ethan, who was just gazing around with no clue of what was going on.

"Okay." He said dimly.

"She said to say hi to everyone." Rei glanced at Matthew, smirking. "Except for you. She said to tell you that she hopes your insides are ripped from you and dragged over broken shards of glass or something like that. I didn't catch all of it, but it sounded colorful."

"Good to hear." Matthew said brightly without missing a beat.

Rei stood, tucking the chair back in. "Well I'm off again. Gonna go take a quick nap and wait for her royal highness to get back. The way she carries on you'd think she owns me."

"Rei," Emmanuel pointed out, "you're a prisoner. Technically she does own you."

Rei snorted. "Technically. See you kids later. And seriously newbie, good to have you here."

"Bye." Suzie called after him as he exited. Matthew shook his head at her, grinning.

"You're so pathetic."

"What?" Suzie exclaimed, quickly busying herself with rinsing Rei's cup under the lilac water. Secretly Emmanuel agreed with Matthew.

"He's a prisoner?" Ethan's sudden question quickly changed the subject. Emmanuel turned to him, ready for some more explaining.

"Yeah. He was released from jail and this is like probation. He has to stay here for a certain number of years so that they're sure he's not evil anymore. I think he's only got a couple of months to go."

"Jail?" Ethan repeated unsurely.

"But don't worry, he's good now." Suzie said quickly, always prepared to defend the demon.
"We think." Matthew added playfully, earning a dirty look from her. "See, he used to be like, totally evil. Him and his girlfriend - "

"Ex-girlfriend." Suzie interrupted.

"Fine, ex-girlfriend, took over most of this quadrant. Of course I wasn't alive back then 'cause this was like, centuries ago, but I hear they were pretty violent. The death toll was in the billions."

"Once the authorities finally gained control again they sentenced them to life in prison on one of the worst prison planets." Emmanuel continued. "Rei was only released early because he struck a deal with the Council. He was sent here to complete his probation because Serenity's the only person who's more powerful than him and therefore is the only person who can control him if he does go back to his roots."

"But he can't do much." Matthew added, trying to calm the now scared look in Ethan's eyes. "His powers are sort of bound. There's some magical shit on him so he can't use too much. As long as he's under that he's only like, not even half as powerful as before. He's a cool guy. Well, not literally cool because he's a fire demon, but you get it."

"Right." Ethan sounded very unconvinced.

"Don't worry." Emmanuel said quietly. "He's okay."

Ethan forced another weightless smile, one that led to nothing and had nothing supporting it.

"I have to get going too." Matthew swung off the bench, landing carefully on his good foot. "I need me a shower."

"Yeah you stink too." Suzie said darkly, still a little annoyed at him for his earlier comment. Matthew just thew her a grin and hobbled out.

Ethan looked down at his lap and Suzie touched his shoulder, snaring his attention. "We'll give you the royal tour! Won't we Emmanuel?"

Emmanuel shrugged. He had nothing better to do. "Sure, whatever."

Suzie beamed down at Ethan. "Soon you'll know the place like the back of your hand."

"I don't know the back of my hand." Ethan said softly, glancing at his hand. "Or any part of me."

Suzie's smile faltered as she pulled the saucepan off the stove but she quickly regained her cheeriness. "You will."


Ethan hesitated at the doorway, staring around the control room. It seemed so big.

"This is the control room." Emmanuel stated the obvious, waving his hand dissinterestedly. "

"This is where they keep all the information on the quadrant." Suzie gave a better explanation, leading the way through the white corridors. "They're always really busy because there's always something going on. There's a bio for every living thing in this quadrant and everything is recorded, from every death to every birth and everything in between. It's pretty amazing."

Ethan glanced around, the bright white walls making his eyes ache. 'Must be a lot of information.' He thought vaguely. There had to be billions and billions living in the quadrant.

They reached the center of the room, where the transportation platform and Kira's desk was.

"This is how we get around." Suzie pointed at the platform.

"Unlike everyone else we can't just teleport around ourselves." Emmanuel sighed tiredly. "So we have to use this. It can send us to anywhere in this quadrant at any time. Kira controls it."

"Speaking of Kira..." Suzie grabbed Ethan's arm and dragged him over to Kira's desk. Kira glanced up from reading the article he had just recieved. "Ethan, this is Kira. Kira meet Ethan."

"Howdy." Kira leant back in his chair, smiling lazily.

Ethan nodded numbly, his arm limp in Suzie's grip.

"Kira is the Chief of Staff." Emmanuel leant against Kira's desk, glancing at the five monitors.

Again, Suzie went into more detail. "He basically looks after everyone else in the control room, makes sure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing, etc. He also looks after us when we're out in the field. and keeps a handle on all the information being sent here. He's Serenity's right-hand man."

"Must be hard." Ethan said for lack of anything else to say. Kira shrugged casually.

"It gets a little crazy. But it's something to do. And the pay is awesome." He cracked a grin.

Ethan glanced at the monitors curiously. "What are they for?"
"They all do something. One of them is linked up to the other quadrants, another displays the news, one of them is just full of maps, one has all the information for like, everything stored on it. Stuff like that."

Ethan frowned vaguely. It was so hard to believe that everything could be in that one room, even if it was that big. Everything about everything was so hard to believe.

"We'll be on our way again." Suzie took his hand and tugged him along, pointing out various objects and people around the room. Ethan stumbled along beside not listening at all. He was too tired, too confused, too lost to take it all in. To take any of it in.

"We'll have to get a room set up for you of course." Suzie chatted away without giving Ethan a chance to reply. "And eventually you'll start to meet everyone and you can get, like training and come out into the quadrant with us!"

Ethan had to admit, he wasn't taking much notice of what Suzie was saying. He was more interested in trying to keep his stomach under control. He snuck a look at Emmanuel, who had been pretty silent for this whole 'tour' and seemed a little disgruntled.

Emmanuel was watching the floor as they walked, lost in his own thoughts.

Ethan looked ahead again, grimacing as his stomach lurched. Before he could control it, he threw up on the control room floor.


Serenity looked up at the massive snow-white intricately carved archway disdainfully, her mood dropping a few notches as she passed through it into the elaborate white hallway. The walls were adorned with portraits of the twelve Council members, each looking as though they had a particuarly revolting smell under their nose. The hallway was one of the most beautiful hallways in the Universe, and she hated every inch of it.

At the end of the hallway the Guardian of the second quadrant, Faith, was waiting. He had large, muscled shoulders and a bush of thick blonde hair. Serenity disliked all the other Guardians, but if she had to pick a favorite Faith would probably be it. He was the only one with a sense of humour. However he was just as haughty and ridiculous as the rest.

"Serenity." He bowed his head to her in the traditional manner and Serenity reluctantly returned the gesture.

The meeting hadn't even begun and she was dying to get out of there.

They went in together. The Council was already waiting, already seated around their precious table, shaped in a semi-circle and carved from the finest, rarest crystal in the Universe.

A huge chandelier made from the same precious stone hung from the ceiling, surrounded by mini-chandeliers and crystal globes.

The room was dazzling. It was big and pure white, decorated with nothing but the best. It was a room very few people got to see.

The other two Guardians, Joy and Love, were also seated around the only other table. It too was made from the crystal and faced the Council table head-on.

Serenity took her seat between Faith and Love, already bored.

"The meeting has come to order." Jaque, the Council leader, boomed. His voice was strange, layered - as though it was a thousand voices in one.

"There is a matter we must discuss, Serenity." Locke leant forward eagearly. He was forever dying to badger Serenity about something. It was a well known fact that Locke would kill her if he could. "We hear you've taken in another of those humans."

Serenity shrugged. "What of it?"

"We must remind you that we are not a charity." Grear hissed. "This is getting beyond ridiculous."

Inwardly, Serenity sighed. This was going to be a long day.


"Oh I am totally gonna - what?! No! You can't do that! That is so totally cheating!" Kira's outraged cry rang out over the control room.

"Oh yeah? Who's gonna stop me? You? I think not, pathetic boy!" Rei grinned wickedly, tapping the buttons on the controller. On screen, his character threw Kira's over a cliff.

"Kira stop being a girl." Matthew laughed from behind them. Because they had nothing better to do, Matthew and Suzie had grabbed some seats and decided to watch the two play their game. They had Ethan with them. His room was still being set up and so he had taken to trailing Suzie and Matthew around and they were happy to let him.

"I AM NOT!" Kira shrieked, gnashing his teeth furiously as his character was pretty much slaughtered by Rei's.

"You cheat!" He threw his controller down huffily, sulking. He was a sore loser.

"No." Rei replied smugly. "I'm just better than you."

"Better than me at cheating!" Kira snapped. Rei snickered and ruffled the slave's hair. Kira growled and tried to bite his hand.

Ethan felt a faint smile coming on.

They all paused as Serenity suddenly appeared in the room, scowling.

"I hate the Council."

"Tell us something we don't know." Suzie joked. Serenity just rolled her eyes and walked over to them.

"Hey 'Ni?" Rei greeted cautiously. He knew he was in trouble, not that it really mattered much. Serenity's eyes flashed darkly.
"You! You were supposed to be back yesterday! You weren't even supposed to leave! Do you know how much shit I got off the Council for that? Please let me remind you that you are a prisoner!"

"I was just helping Jem, calm down you maniac." Rei replied in another language, one that was all hisses and soft whispers to the humans' ears.

Serenity said something back in the same language and Matthew and Suzie sighed miserably. Arguments between Serenity and Rei were a great source of entertainment, but it wasn't as fun if they weren't speaking English because they couldn't understand a word.

Ethan looked away, not interested in watching their argument. He spied the door Suzie had said lead to the courtyard and glanced back at Matthew and Suzie, wondering if they'd mind if he disappeared for a bit. So he could think.

They were too wrapped up in Serenity and Rei to even notice him leave. He slipped out the door into the evening. The courtyard was beautiful as the sun was setting. The fountain caught all the colors from the setting sun and splashed them around the stone. He had to admit, strange as the planet was, it was gorgeous

"Do they know you're out here?"

He almost fell over at the sudden voice but relaxed when it was only Emmanuel, stretched out across one of the benches.

"No." The younger boy admitted. "I just....I needed some fresh air and...think. I needed to think."

Emmanuel faced the sky again, his arms folded behind his head. He had come out to the courtyard to get away from the hectic castle. He liked the place. It could just be a little too much sometimes.

Ethan was suddenly unsure if he should stay. He didn't want to invade Emmanuel's personal time.

"It's fine." Emmanuel picked up on the awkward vibe instantly. "You can stay. I don't care."

Reassured but still nervous, Ethan remained standing by the bench. "Can...can you really do all that? The um...the psychic stuff?"

"Unfortunately." Emmanuel replied bitterly.

Ethan looked over at the pretty fountain. "Is that...is that how you knew my name?"


"Do you know anything else?" The question was desperate, hopeful.


The hope shattered and Ethan felt dead again. "Oh..."

Emmanuel sighed and sat up slowly, leaning against the backrest. He slouched, staring up at the sky again. Ethan glanced at the space beside the older boy.
"Can I....is it okay if I - "

"Go for it."

With a small hesitant smile, Ethan took the seat beside him.

"Thank you."

Emmanuel only shrugged.