...the door opened and on the other side caught the entire squad off guard, for what was on the other side was not what they were expecting. Granted, not even one of them knew exactly what to expect in the first place. However, the bedroom of a little girl was most defiantly not it. Tyger blinked once and suddenly the room appeared to be totally out of proportion. No, not out of proportion; it was as if the entire room had suddenly become appropriate for someone who was approximately twelve to fifteen feet tall....


Tyger looked over towards his surviving teammates and was almost instantly floored by what he saw. Instead of three grown men and a grown woman, he saw children. He shook his head, hoping to clear the illusions that were having their way with his mind. No, that would not work, nothing worked here. Tentatively he looked at his own hands, and instead of fully developed hands and fingers, he found a pair of thick, fuzzy paws that worked, but they seemed more like mittens than hands. What kind of bat-shit insanity is this?!? He screamed in his mind. This was The Omega Sector, a place of insanity and madness. Then something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. Turning to look, Tyger's irritation melted away as he saw a massive replica of the Blue Steel Special MKII. He did not think; he only reacted. To him, the toy was taller than he was, almost tall enough for it to be his baby. Reason was dispatched and replaced with the pleasure a child would show at seeing a most loved and missed relative....


"Tyger." A familiar voice spoke aloud suddenly. "Tyger, c'mon, we have to go. We can't stay here any longer." Tyger looked over to where the voice came from. No longer was he in a girl's room. Instead, he found himself in infinite blackness. There was no light, and yet he could see his childlike body, the Blue Steel Special MKII, and the figure that was now in his view.

"Nate? Is that you?" Tyger asked, looking around. It sure as hell sounded like Carpenter. However, instead of an X.S.W.A.T. uniform and armor that Tyger was expecting to see when the figure seemed to suddenly manifest into view, he saw an armored figure that was wearing ornate and highly stylized full plate armor, leaning against a thick, heavy sword that was nearly as long as the figure was tall. The armor's surfaces were perfect, seemingly made from a highly polished Platinum or Chromium. The face was not visible, nor were there any eyes behind the tiny slit that made up the visor of the armor. Despite the fact that the armor was so highly polished, Tyger could not see his reflection upon its surface, but it seemed to be reflecting light nonetheless.


"Tyger, we cannot linger here. We have to get going. Let's go." The armored figure spoke with Carpenter's voice, leaving Tyger's question unanswered. As the armored man spoke, one hand left the grip of the sword, extending its gleaming surface towards Tyger.

"No." Tyger said, shaking his head. He was an adult now, or at least that was what the Clade had to assume, because he was no longer looking up to the armored man as a child would. "I left my baby before, I won't leave it again."

"It's just a machine. It can be replaced, rebuilt. You, on the other hand cannot."

"But it's all that I have though." Tyger almost whimpered as he spoke. He was now suddenly aware that the armored behemoth that was the Blue Steel Special was no longer in view. Instead, in his hand, there was a scale model of the Blue Steel Special MKII. An exact replica painstakingly crafted with intense attention to detail. It was almost exactly identical to the one that he had built and had on his desk, however, the one on his desk lacked some of the battle scaring and markings he had placed on the armor before he left for the Omega Sector. This one, however, looked as if it were a miniaturized version of the suit the day that he and the Ninth Squad left HQ and journeyed to the Omega Sector.


"That is not true, and you know it." The armored man replied, closing his offered hand and moving it to grip the sword once more.

"'s mine. It was the only thing that I could ever call mine. It is the most important thing to me..."

"...more important than even me?" Another familiar voice said. Tyger turned suddenly around to the direction of the voice, totally ignoring the armored man, who now seemed to suddenly not exist any longer. The voice belonged to Marcy, and in this case, the voice matched who he was looking at. She was completely nude, but featureless in every way except for her face, her entire frame seemingly bathed in light. Tyger stood there, unaware of anything else, not even the miniaturized Blue Steel Special that was no longer in his grasp as he stood there trying not to gawk.


He never got a chance to answer her. Tyger found himself now sitting upright in his hospital bed, breathing hard, almost panting. What he saw now seemed to be both painfully boring as well as infinitely radiant and busy in comparison to where he had just been.

Tyger raked a shaking hand through his hair, mentally surprised to find that, although he did not sweat like humans did, his fur felt cool to the touch. Almost as if, if he were human, he would be covered in a cold sweat. He clenched both of his hands into fists, trying to stop his shaking and his heart from pounding in his chest. He had had some crazy dreams in the past, some recurring, many not, but this was his first nightmare. At least as far as he could recall at any rate, this was the first time he woke up feeling like this. And the shaking; that was another thing he could not wrap his head around.

Fortunately, he did not have to, not now at any rate. A scant few moments after he found himself sitting upright, he heard that thrice-dammed chiming again. However, he knew now, that it was not a dream this time, and the chime that he heard now was vastly different from what he heard in his dream, which was exactly like the chiming sound he heard in the Van Goren House. Instead of the soft, musical tones that defied any manner of description, his senses were accosted by a soft, forced mechanical tone that came from the door as someone on the other side begged for entrance. He never thought much about the sights, sounds or other violations of his mind, body and senses while he was there then, but oddly enough, he was thinking a lot about it now. Something in his mind seemed to realize that he both envied humans for what they had. And at the very same time, hated them for it. Tyger raked a hand through his hair, barely noticing the continued tones from the door, choosing to ignore them. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts for the time being.

It was then that the door to his room opened unbidden. At first, he thought it was one of the various doctors or nurses, all of whom seemed to have taken a much greater interest in his well-being, constitution and, well, construction. After all, he and the rest of his squad had journeyed into the Omega Sector and defied all of the odds and made it back alive (though, to hear Tyger tell it, he knew that they were going to succeed without a shadow of a doubt).

"Hey there tough guy." Chimed a familiar voice. Marcy's voice.

Tyger was about a second and a half from going on a curse-filled rant about privacy, leaving the infirm in peace or something of that nature. When he realized whom it was had interrupted his thoughts, even, more likely than not, woke him from his sleep, all anger and frustration seeped away from him as if someone pulled the plug on an overflowing bathtub.

Marcy had just barely stepped into the room enough for the door to close behind her when Tyger had leapt out of his bed. She was caught unawares and was rendered speechless upon seeing Tyger move like he did, despite his condition. Her stupefaction only intensified when Tyger wordlessly pulled her into his arms and held her tight. She thought about saying something to him as he held her, but she found herself unable to do so as Tyger did something that few people had ever seen him do. Tyger's hands gripped Marcy's back and shoulders, his fingers curling to take fistfuls of her shirt and hair as he held her tight.

This was not the first time Tyger had done this, but almost invariably, he did it when he was alone, as far away from any living being as possible. Normally, the Clade maintained a strong wall of security and strength, a mask of self-assurance and arrogance. Sometimes though, the wall cracked and shattered, and the mask became unable to be worn. This was one of those times...

...standing there, holding onto Marcy the same way a frightened child would take hold of their mother, Tyger cried.