In The Name of Lynch

-Chapter 04 Meeting of the Minds-

"She looks a little like Jenny," Cat 9 told Max as they watched Ai dance with Jack. "Something about her face."

"Your eyes, though," Max replied. "I think you should introduce yourself."

"It'll be very weird for her to know that she has a father who is a perpetual teenager," Cat 9 said, slowly shaking his head in mild amusement.

"True. True. But at least you'll be able to sympathize with your grandkids when they're that age."

"A sixteen year old grandfather," Cat 9 chuckled.

"And great-grandfather. And great-great-grandfather, and great..." Max intoned.

"And on and on..." Cat 9 cut him off. "I think..."

"Mrs. Murray," the bartender called out over the music. The traditional dances were over now and the guests were simply enjoying themselves on the dance floor.

Jack and Ai were dancing together at this point, so they worked their way over to the bar.

"Sorry to interrupt such a nice dance, ma'am," the bartender apologized, "but you have a phone call from a lady who insists upon speaking to you."

"I'd better see who it is," Ai told Jack. As she took the handset, a woman appeared on the screen above the bar.

Several of the guests stopped dancing and looked at her. Some wondered who she was, others understood the significance of the call.

"Mrs. Ai Murray," the woman said, simply, "it is time for you to understand who you really are and where you come from. Come to Research & Development. Max Headroom will guide you."

"I will not come without my husband," Ai said, sternly.

"He is more than welcome to accompany you," the woman agreed. "As the children this will one day affect will be his also."

Quietly, Ai and Jack stepped into the hallway. The door to the cafeteria had just clicked shut behind them when the doors to one of the lifts slid open. Stepping inside, Jack automatically reached out for the buttons.

"No need," Max's voice said from the speakers. "I'll do it."

Ai looked at her husband as the lift began to ascend. It slowed at the twelfth floor, but did not stop until a moment later.

"Level 13!" Max called out cheerfully. "Men's Wear, Women's fashions, kitchen accessories and frozen teenagers."

In the Research & Development department at the end of the hall, Jenny heard Max and smirked, despite the butterflies in her stomach. At the age of forty-one, she was going to finally see the girl who had left a hole in her heart so many years ago.

Ai and Jack were soon at the door to the lab. It slid open to grant them access and they walked past the threshold.

A small crib stood in the corner, looking a bit out of place in a network television research lab.

Ai walked over to it, running her hand over the smooth antique wooden frame.

"You once slept in that crib," Jenny said, stepping up behind her. "For the first five weeks of your life that was your bed."

"What happened?" Ai asked, "And who is Cat 9?"

"I'll answer the last question first," Jenny told her, "with an introduction. Ai Murray," she said, directing the new bride's attention to the cryotube near the main computer, "this is Bryce Lynch."

"I knew I was adopted when I was little," Ai said. "The fact that I don't look Japanese was a dead giveaway. I always had fantasies about what if I met my parents one day. I was raised well, and love those who brought me up. But I guess all those who know about their adoptions are naturally curious about their birth parents. I must admit, however, that I never expected the one who sired me to be so young."

"Sired," Cat 9 huffed from above the cryotube. "And I've just gone from Network 23's head of Research and Development to a stud on a horse farm."

"I did not mean to offend," Ai apologized quickly. "However, you must admit there is more to being a farm than just leaving behind a little sperm."

"I have never left behind a little sperm!" Cat 9 said, sounding scandalized.

"You were created at Ovu-Vat from a DNA samples taken from Bryce and myself," Jenny explained. "You and your siblings were grown in an artificial womb called a Gro-Bag. They were outlawed five years after you were born."

"Siblings?" Ai asked.

"Six fetuses were created. Four survived. You, who are the only child whose DNA I carry, twin boys who carry the DNA of Theora Stephens, then Jones, and a girl who is the daughter of two fathers, Bryce Lynch and Edison Carter."

"And the two that did not survive?"

"A son of Theora who was stillborn, and your twin sister. In truth your survival was nothing short of miraculous. Had the flaw in your gro-bag been found ten minutes later, neither of you would've lived."

"Where can I find them?" Ai asked, turning to Cat 9. "You're linked to the system. You must know!"

"I don't have as many details as you might think," Cat 9 told her. "I can tell you where they were taken, but what their names became or where they are exactly... that I don't know."

"Tell us what you do know," Jack said, after a silent few minutes.

"My daughter within whose veins runs the blood of Edison Carter is somewhere in Scotland. Those of Theora's lineage are in Tasmania and New Zealand. More than that, I do not know."

"Well, that leaves me only seventy five million people to comb through. Should be a breeze."

"Don't give up," Jack told her. "It's just a matter of locating the paperwork."

"Trouble is," Jenny told them, "the paperwork was done by hand rather than machine. We didn't want Network 66 to trace any of you."

"Network 66?" Ai inquired.

"They wanted to create a Baby Geniuses show about a year before you were born. They'd had a few children they'd taken from Ovu-Vat and Grossberg had even gone as far as pulling Bryce away from his job here at Network 23."

"They wanted me to host the show," Cat 9 explained. "As Bryce, I mean."

"They also, though they didn't tell him, wormed in a little additional clause in the contract he was to sign that would've given them genetic rights."

"What?" Cat 9 asked.

"Essentially, it would've given them permission to take a sperm sample by any means necessary and..."

"A contract for molestation?" Ai scrunched up her face at this. "Disgusting. I can see why you all went to so much pains to hide us from the creep. "And Bryce never caught on?"

"Looks to me like even his AI is having trouble with the concept," Jenny half-smiled. "Bryce was very brilliant with computers, but as he spent so much time with them and so little of it with people, he wasn't always so brilliant when it came to human sneakiness."

"One might take that as a compliment as it suggests that he himself had no deception in his heart," Ai decided.

Cat 9 smiled at his daughter's favorable statement. "Thank you, my child."

"You're perpetually sixteen and you're calling me that?" Ai laughed.

"Perhaps it is time for you both to return to your guests," Jenny suggested. "They must be wondering where you are by now."

"It was good to meet you both," Ai told her, smiling sadly. "I want you both to think of yourselves as a part of my life from this moment on. And mother..."

Jenny raised an eyebrow.

"... you're coming with us. You belong there, too."

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