Dragons in the Labs.

The woman standing in the meeting room surprised the lab personnel.  All but one person, because he had heard of them before.  "You requested a meeting?" Horatio Caine asked, sitting down at the head of the table.  "What can DragonTech do for the Miami-Dade PD?"

"We can do many things for you, Lieutenant.  Mostly right now we want to talk about a cooperative exchange.  We would like for you to test some of our assorted crap in storage.  Including some new scanners and things."

"Crap?" he asked dryly.

"The programmer in charge of the stored stuff calls everything crap, that's his word for anything we can't use at this moment in time."  She smiled and moved closer, handing over a portfolio file from her briefcase.  "We have this in storage.  Some of it is frankly not ready to be released to normal human beings.  Some of it is.  You'd be helping us figure out why two things may not work well in the field.  We have full confidence most things will but two of the programs complain when they're jostled more than in the back of your hummers."

"In return?"

"We're moving one of the design offices down here."  He blinked at her.  "As you know we've had some problems with government interference.  They're jealous to put it nicely."  He nodded, he had heard that.  "In return we'd like a personal commitment from your lab staff to handle it if something happens again.  As you know, we have a research lab down here and their defense systems have fried more than one agent who tried to break in.  We don't want to go through the hassle of dealing with them anymore.  You're a reasonable man and can easily scare them where mere women with guns apparently don't."

"What toys are you offering us?" the young Cuban man next to Horatio asked.

"We are offering a trial of a new algorithm to scan substances in the field.  Including a hand-held model.  We are offering a new ballistics formula because someone seems to have perfected a combat-ready laser weapon.  We also are offering free run at the programs we have stored, including our artificial intelligence systems."  They all stared at her.  "At DragonTech we believe in pushing forward technology but we've been hampered by jealous assholes in the government who believe that they can steal what's not theirs just because it's better than theirs."  She smiled sweetly.  "They don't like to take the word 'no' or 'pay for it or die' from us.  They've broken into our medical research lab numerous times and gotten the hell blown out of themselves."  One of the guys smirked at her.  "The one presently down here has an electrocution and a gas-based system. As your boss knows; you've removed about four bodies in the last five years when they were trying to get to things we were working on."

"Germ warfare?" the other guy asked.  He was kind of scruffy and wore a wrinkled t- shirt.  "Or something better?"

"Mostly drug research. We do have someone who is doing germ research to kill germ warfare samples efficiently in a hospital setting."  That got a small nod of thanks.  "Then again, one of our people came up with that Blue Acid problem you guys have a few years back.  It was meant to be an anesthesia and it worked very well when diluted properly.   The FBI agent who took it didn't dilute it when he let it get out and didn't steal the directions to dilute it when he gave it to someone on the streets.  Then someone figured out how to work new, weaker batches about two years ago."  That got a mass shudder.  "It really was a better anesthesia, especially for severe trauma or field cases where you absolutely can't get them to a hospital before you have to do things.  Pity they stole it but the next time they came back for a batch they ended up electrocuted.  We do take our privacy very seriously and quite a few of my researchers are paranoid.  Including our head archival person.  He never comes out of the lab.  He has an apartment next to his lab actually."

Horatio nodded.  "Who would be our liaison?"

"Me or if you want my little sister is in the programming division and can make on-site corrections if needed.  We'd like to quit storing so much stuff at White Knight and in our basement.  It's really not safe and I'd hate to see them get hold of it when it could do some actual good for other labs."

"Who else is in on the testing?" Calleigh Duquesne asked.  She was a petite blonde woman who was giving her a very intense look.

"We're planning on approaching one other lab but we're not sure who yet.  There's a few choices right now."  She zipped back up her briefcase.  "Look that over.  My card's on the back cover as long as our new adhesive worked.  It's a new trial and just now out of testing."  That got a smile.  "We're still actively creating and we're running out of room.  If you guys can use some of it we'll give you a discounted rate if you want to continue to use some of it.  If not, we'll take your notes to formulate a marketing plan.  You do have a reputation for being the highest tech lab in the country and the most willing to experiment with new technology.  You guys have down the right responses when something craps out in the middle of a test, and screaming at it doesn't help," she told the Cuban, smiling guy.  "That route has been tested.  One of our less computer savvy people actually did test the efficacy of yelling and hitting computer equipment.  Even got it printed in a small journal."  Horatio smiled at that.  "That's all you need to know.  Let me know within a week or so, or if you have a recommendation for the other lab I'm all ears.  Okay?"

"We'll gladly discuss this, Miss Disher."

"Thank you, Lieutenant.  We do like dealing with you.  If it wasn't for owning the land in LA county, we'd be down here adding a bunch of hackers to your city."  She smiled when he did and left.

"I thought Speed was blunt," Eric joked, leaning back.

"I've run into DragonTech before," Speed admitted.  "They do good work.  They're the ones who did the baseline program in the hummers."  Horatio nodded.  "Plus I think they did the one in the morgue, right?"

"Originally." Horatio flipped it open, looking at the list.  "They really do want to yard sale some things.  They've got a list here of over a hundred things they want to get tested."  He passed it down.  "I will tell you this now. They are serious about their privacy and being paranoid.  They have stopped people from testifying in court about their programs and machines."  That got a mass nod.  "However, it is a good trade off for Miami.  The lab could use some of them."

"What's this teaching program listed?" Eric asked.

"They have created an artificial intelligence program, Eric," Horatio said smugly.  "It's fully automated, fully responsive, and fully able to teach any subject it can be programmed for.  Down to what we do.  Down to cooking classes.  Down to languages and engineering."  He looked at the stunned looks.  "I saw a demonstration a few years back.  They bragged it had areas to input an actual teacher to add later classes and specialist knowledge, plus it has networking ability so students can chat in a secure environment while they work on group projects. Their test subjects were in New York, Russia, and somewhere in Middle Africa, I don't remember where.  They were doing a complicated engineering project and had been using the system for four years.  They were ten and doing college level classes because it's self-paced."  That got some appreciative looks from everyone.  He crossed his legs.  "I'm more concerned with what they can give us for the lab.  The education system would be nice to have around now and then.  They've also let some departments 'raise' baby artificial intelligences.  They program them to learn and then let them grow as they experience and figure out the world around them."

"So it starts out a toddler computer and moves up?" Speed asked.

Horatio nodded.  "It's fascinating and well beyond what most people would understand.  What about the lab equipment?"

"Can we trick out one lab and try it?" Speed asked. "Maybe moving to one of the hummers and that hand-held system she mentioned?"

"We can but you must be aware of the issues coming.  Including that they will sue us if we so much as breathe about these systems until they're ready."  That got a mass nod.  "Then get back to me in three days with a wish list."   He stood up.  "Go back to work and let me know if we consider this an acceptable trade-off."

"Are you going to throw Mac a bone?" Speed asked.

"I'm considering it but they had some problems a few years back when the NYPD stuck up for the feds that got electrocuted.  Which is why that lab moved down here."  He headed back to his office, considering the offer.  He almost wanted to brag but he knew he'd have it removed if he did.


Horatio stood up when the woman walked into his office.  "Miss Disher, you're early."

"That's because we ran into a slight problem."  She put down the files.  "They were found stalking one of my lab people.  Our security teams took them in to hold them but had to let them go because the officers who responded said that stalking her and taking her picture was legal."  Horatio shook his head.  "Nor did I think so, but that is what we have on them and she's been moved to the Chicago office."  He smiled at that.  "Also, I'm going to tell you something in strictest confidence because a problem might arise.  Mom's coming down."

"Your mother is who?"

"Lady Catherine Delacroix."

"Headmistress of La Mer Academy," he said, looking interested.  "I did not realize you were that connected."  She grinned at that.  "If something should happen, call me personally."  She nodded her thanks.  "We're gathering a wish list at the moment."  Eric peeked in.  "You're the last one with the wish list."

"I saw her come in and nagged the others until I got them."  He handed them over to Horatio who read then looked at him.  "You know Speed's a bigger geek than the rest of us combined.  Of course he wanted to try the educational system, H."

"Point."  He handed them over. "They wanted to try these."

She looked at them and smiled. "That's perfectly reasonable, Horatio."  She looked at him.  "Do you have any of our people here?"

"I think there's an officer in the Translator Corps that was trained at one of the Sisterhood's schools," he admitted.  "If you had one locally I would've tried to get my nephew in."  She smiled at that.  "Thank you, Eric."  He nodded and left.  "Sorry."

"He's young and excitable.  They all are at that age.  I have two of my own who're about as old."

"You don't look my age," he teased.

She smiled. "Trade secret."  He grinned back.  "Anyway.  Mom's coming in next week.  We don't want to think about having an issue but, well...."

"I know.  Now that I do know that you're connected that way I would also like to know about subscription rates to White Knight."

"Totally different branch of the family, Lieutenant."

"Yes, but they ignore me."

"They don't like your department or the NYPD much."

"I know someone up there I trust.  A few very good officers.  Including in the labs.  I also know someone out in Las Vegas' labs."

"As do I.  One of ours is out there," she promised with a small smile.  "Name?"

"Taylor.  Mac Taylor.  Head of the felony lab in Manhattan.  Former Marine.  Works with a few good people and I do believe he mentioned a case at St. George's last year."

"I heard."  She smiled at him and nodded.  "I'll approach both of them.  Thank you for the recommendation and I'll get with my people and my little sister.  She's breaking up with her spouse so getting her out of the LA labs means she can avoid the bastard.  Having her here is better for us all."

"That's fine.  On-site tech support is always welcome.  I can even have her noted as a tech support specialist for a new trial lab so she doesn't have to go through a lot of paperwork."

"Bless you, Horatio."  She winked and walked out with the lists.

He leaned back, liking this a lot.  He decided to call up there.  "Mac Taylor please."  He put him on speaker.  "Mac, Horatio."

"New case?" he asked, sounding happy to hear from him.

"No, but I just got an amazing offer to test some new equipment and you're going to get one soon too possibly.  I thought I should give you a head's up."

"Really?  Anything good?"

"Hand-held substance scanners, Mac."

"Hmm.  Star Trek."

Horatio chuckled.  "I've heard that in the last few days.  Miss Disher came down to us."

"I know that name."

"They do try to break into her labs."

"I heard.  I wasn't a CSI then.  Barely not.  I started three weeks later I think."  You could hear him shifting.  "You sure?"

"I offered your name to her since she is looking for trial labs, Mac.  I let my people create a wish list for her.  They're trying to update what needs to stay in storage for a bit longer."

"I'd crawl for some of their stuff," he admitted.  "Maybe even over broken glass.  Don, broken glass."  Horatio snickered at that.  "I'm out on a scene.  If she shows up, have her come directly to me."

"That's what I told her."

"Good.  I look forward to meeting her.  Thank you, Horatio."

"Always happy to spread goodies around, Mac."  He hung up and leaned back, looking pleased with himself.  There had been rumors of the scanners for years now, but if they worked....  Well, that would be wonderful for the lab.


Speed frowned when someone knocked on his door, getting up to answer it.  "Um, hi," he said, blinking at the young woman standing there.  "Do I know you?"  He didn't know many teal spiky haired, punk band t-shirt wearing people without piercings, but she was.

"My sister Amanda sent me.  I'm Tiff, your new on-site tech support."

"Uh-huh.  Oh, the lab thing."  He let her inside.  "So why come to me?"

"Because you wanted the educational system, dufus."  He frowned at her and she grinned.  "Sorry, I'm born and bred from LA.  I could've been more mean or take it home with me."

"No, that's okay.  How big is it?"

"Laptop."  He smirked.  "It is.  We've kinda updated hard drives too."  She set it onto the table for him and opened it, logging on.  "We'll set you up an account so you can tell her what you already know.  That way you don't have to go back through kindergarten and those years again."

"Thanks.  Didn't really like back then.  Clay always made me itch."  She smiled and got into the program.  "Put it as Speed. That's what everyone calls me."

"She'll make at least one remark on your parents choosing that name."

"I'm sure she will."

"Okay."  She input that for his name and then settled in to let him fill in his educational background and what he did for a living.  The teacher came up with ten different programs he could work on and a few advanced classes he probably should take.

"Are they accredited?"

"Fully through Yale for the chemistry credits.  Some of them are watched over by one of the siblings going to Cambridge and one's in Oxford but that's a history program.  So if you need continuing education or something, you can do that this way."  He smiled at that and logged on.  "The controls are pretty simple.  Standard ball mouse for clicking.  Type in answers.  We do have a speech recognition component if you wanted to do that but it's going to take time to get used to your voice.  The deeper the voice the longer it takes usually.  The same with higher pitched voices."  He nodded at that.  "She's pretty friendly and some kid got in to hack her recently on his system so she'd flirt.  So if you do get anything like that tell me so I can spank the brat this time.   Mom said I could."  He chuckled.  "Also, not spill proof in the least.  Don't block the vents, and the harddrive can occasionally run a bit warm.  If that happens put it in front of a fan and it'll fix it within seconds.  We didn't have room for a new vent but it only happens about forty percent of the time."  He nodded at that.  "So, happy learning and remember to get some sleep.  We've had kids who've gone through years of education within months in their favorite subjects and then been six grades behind in their other stuff."  That got a real laugh.  "Don't forget to go to work either.  We've had a few of those too."  She patted him on the shoulder.  "Let me out?"

"Thank you."

"Welcome.  I'll be in the lab the day after tomorrow.  I'm finding a spot to squat tonight and tomorrow."

"I'll let H know."

"Is that the Lieutenant's name?"


"Ah.  Easier to yell across a field.  Understood.  Thank you and let me know if you have issues."  He let her out and she bounced down to her car, which blared heavy metal on the way out.

"Good speakers for a Corolla," he said, locking his door and going back to the educational program.  He plugged the machine in so it wasn't using the battery and then got to work on the 'how do I do things' section.  And that was what it was called.  Someone had labeled things with practical names instead of fancy or supposedly useful ones.  He smiled at the 'raise a hand' option to ask a question during a lecture.  He wrote them down and got to work on his first class, which he needed for continuing education.  He also turned up the speakers.

"Hello, Speed.  Is that really your name?"

He typed in it was his nickname but everyone used it instead of his first one.

"Very well then.  Please type in your real name so official records can be kept by the colleges, dear."

He smirked and did that.

"Very good, Speed.  All right, I see you've picked Advanced Biochemistry by Professor Wallendorf.  He is the one who uploaded the information, slides, and notes.  He'll be the one checking over your final exam to make sure you pass it.  Did you read the 'how do I do things section'?"  He typed a y and she smiled.  "Good enough.  Faster as well.  Then let's get started."  A blackboard appeared and the teacher went from a grandmotherly looking woman to a smaller woman in front of the blackboard.  "Let's do a bit of review, make sure you don't need to take the prerequisite class."  She 'turned' to the blackboard and 'wrote' a chemical formula on it.  "Can you tell me what this is?"  He hit the key to enlarge it and typed in the proper name.  "Very good.  I'll keep you as enlarged on the blackboard for a bit since we're working on that."  She wrote out another one. "What's this?"  He frowned and typed in components.  "Do you know the proper name of the solution?"

He typed in a no.  "Hmm.  Your records indicate you're a criminalist.  Do you often use chemical notation or solution names?"  He typed in a longer explanation since it said he could do that.  "Interesting.  Then we can accept you doing it by component names since that's how you do it at work."  She wrote down another one.  "Do you know this one?"  He grinned and typed that in.  "Ah, must've seen it repeatedly.  A cleaning solution like pine- sol must be common."  Speed paused her and got some more tea, then came back and got back to work on her.   It was a great program!  He did three classes worth before bed that night and fell into bed one happy guy.  He could get whole degrees this way!  Plus he could tailor any group projects or single projects he had to what he was working on in the lab.  It was making him one happy boy who needed to blow off some steam.

Because some geeks did get off on education.


Horatio watched Speed wander in the next morning. "Speed?" he called from his doorway.  "Did you not sleep?"

He walked up there.  "I did sleep, but Tiff brought over the new educational system for me last night, H."  He grinned.  "I'm three classes into my continuing ed and it'll come from Yale."

"Three classes?"

"Yup.  She goes through each lecture, you take a small test at the end, then you move on if you want.  I've got it paused in the center of a fourth lesson.  It's good!  Very good!  The teacher takes in typed comments and answers well.  The information is relevant.  She remembers what your doing and how you're doing it.  She nagged this morning because I had her paused for six hours, told me next time to turn her off."  That got a small smile.  "I can even work toward a new Ph. D. with this, H.  I'm damn impressed already.  Even if the other stuff doesn't work."

"I'll pop around to see it tonight, Speed.  For now, go get some coffee and finish waking up before I tell Alexx."  He grinned and headed to do that.  Eric came in bouncing so apparently he'd had a good date last night.  He and Speed ended up in the same lab and Speed was apparently telling him about the educational system.  "I wonder if it's addictive."  He sat down to make notes.  He was keeping careful notes on what was going on in their trial systems.  He did put in a notation about wondering if it was addictive so he could come back to it later.  Because Speed had the same sort of content look Eric did at the moment.


Mac Taylor looked at the woman who walked into his office.  "Miss Disher.  Horatio said you might be calling," he said, standing up to shake her hand.  "What can I do for you?"

She smiled.  "Well, you could be willing test subjects for our nefarious plans," she offered with a slight smile.

"If we can test out the hand-held scanners that've been rumors for years I can gladly play test subject."  She tipped her head at that.  "Are you all right?"

She sighed and sat across from him.  "A bit of personal angst but I was told to stay over here and keep doing things for now.  My mother's missing."

"I'm sorry.  Is she local?"

"La Mer."  He sat up at that and she smiled.  "I am one of Lady Catherine's many daughters.  You've also met two of my brothers and not realized."

"I remember meeting Philip as a witness to a crime and recognized him.  He looks a lot like your mother.  Can I help in any way?"

"No, the family is working on it, Mr. Taylor.  For right now they're right, I'm needed to run DragonTech and not get in the way.  We have a few people who we've trained over the years who can handle it better than I can.  The reason I'm here today offering you a lab monkey spot, we're cleaning out the storage closets so we can fill them with new stuff you guys shouldn't have yet."  He smiled at that.  She dug out a portfolio.  "We've got these in storage.  We do have a programmer up here and they can easily do anything that way for support, or we can have someone out of the Chicago labs come out to help for more major things.  Most of them do have no bugs but haven't been tested in the field, just in lab settings."

"Which is perfectly understandable."  He looked through it then at her.  "You've got the educational system up?"

She smiled and nodded.  "Tim Speedle has one of the laptops down in Miami.  My sister Tiff is down there as their onsite support."

"Is she the one with the wild hair?" he asked.  She nodded.  "Thought I remembered her when I saw Philip."  He got back to work looking over the list.  Then he looked at her.  "Can you do a tester lab?"  She nodded, smiling slightly.  "How much would we have to beg?"

"Complete confidentiality.  You know how we are.  That and none of the bastards who helped them get away with breaking into our labs helps."

"Well, I can almost guarantee that.  One's son is one of our finest homicide detectives.  He's not judgmental like his father can be however."  He leaned on the portfolio.  "You should meet with Don first."

"I probably should," she agreed. "Plus the other lab staff you want to know."  He smiled and handed over a list.  "Thank you.  I'll do backgrounds tonight."  He tipped his head at that.  "Can I meet this one?"  Mac paged him and two guys came their way.  "Well, he's adorable," she said dryly, making them both smile.  "I was talking about the teddy human next to you, sweetie.  My niece has one that looks just like him."  The other guy smirked at her.  "She does."  She stood up.  "I'm Amanda Disher, head of DragonTech."

"Don Flack Junior," he said, shaking her hand.  "Danny, scram for a few?"

"Sure."  He walked off again.  He gave Mac a look and got an 'it's okay' nod so he went to look at something for a few minutes.

"My dad's an ass.  They broke in and it's wrong."

"It is, but they keep trying."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because there's someone in the government who believes it should be theirs because we're using a lab in the US.  Though they have tried in the labs in other countries as well.  Some of it's jealousy, some of it's avarice, and some of it's plain, old fashioned stupidity.  They're the ones who stole the Blue Acid formula from us and released it onto the streets."  Don shuddered.  "It was meant to be a kick-ass anesthetic.  It still is, especially in field and combat settings."

He nodded at that.  "I can see where they might want to do that but they can buy it."

"We're not going to sell things to people who might harm others with it, Detective.  That's what really pisses them off."

"So they break in and take it instead.  I guess that happens but it still sucks you got blamed for having security.  I know there's a few who've got explosive anti-theft devices in the city."

"I know one that'll destroy a city block," she agreed, smiling slightly.  "Our minor gas and electrocution systems are nothing compared to that."  He nodded at that.  "At this moment...."  Her cell went off so she looked at it and answered.  "Anything yet, Philip?"  She frowned.  "Need me?"  She nodded once.  "Janice is in LA at the main lab and Tiff's in Miami.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "Sorry, my mother's presently missing."

"I'm sorry.  Can we help?"

"Not at the moment.  They think they know where she is but the more military and special agent oriented ones are going after her."  He cracked a smile at that.  "Come in, talk to us.  We're pulling some stuff out of storage to see if the modern lab is ready for it yet."  He walked in after her, closing the door behind him.  "They found her, now it's a matter of getting to her."

"From what I've heard, anyone at St. Bastian's could help," Mac pointed out gently.  "I know a few who I can call."

She looked at him.  "That's fairly impertinent."


"No, it's a good idea but the kids are doing it.  It's a long-term enemy of mom's.  Wants her for his own.   One of the stepfathers is going to help them kick his ass."  That got a smile.   "You'd like Daddy Mal."  She looked at Don again.  "He's asked that we trick out a test lab for him.  That would mean absolute confidentiality."

"I can handle that.  Most of the time I get information that I wait for like words from God's lips."  She smiled at that. "I usually only help in ballistics."

"There's two ballistics oriented projects and Miami cooed over them so you'd have to test with them."  Mac nodded that would be fine.  "They've got the only two weapons down there."

"That's fine, I can barge in on Horatio and beg to help," Mac assured her.  She shivered and he saw...something under her skin but he ignored mentioning it for now.  That wasn't tactful.  It would lose them the goodies.  "Do the backgrounds and let us know.  Whenever you're ready I can clean out one of the older labs."  She smiled at that.  "If they work then we'll figure out how much I've got to beg to keep them."

"That's perfectly reasonable."  She looked at the list of names then at him.  "You have Sheldon?"  He smiled and nodded.  "He did two years with us in high school."  That got a small smile.  "It'll be fine, Mac.  When would be a good time to bring things in if you do pass the backgrounds?"

"Anytime this week.  I can hand off cases for a day."  He rested his hands on the table.  "You will be finding that one of us does have family who are doing... evil things to society.  It is not him."

"I recognized Danny Messer," she admitted.  "He questioned Philip and my brother called him a bouncy ball of energy."  She smiled.  "As long as it's not him."

"No, it's not him," Mac assured her.

"Then I don't have a problem as long as he doesn't tell anyone."

"He didn't tell us about his family until we were forced to find out.  The guy can keep a secret," Don promised.

"Good.  I like that."  She stood up.  "Let me do those."  He handed over a card.  "I'll call you tomorrow with the good news, Mac.  You two be safe."  She walked out, heading out to her car.  She found Sheldon against it.  "Sheldon."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "I haven't seen you since you graduated."

He grinned. "I thought I saw you.  Why are you here?"

"Tricking out a test lab."

He moaned.  "I love you.  I have since school when you let me play with the virtual body program you designed."

She punched him on the arm.  "If that were true, I wouldn't have divorced two shitbags already."  He gave her a sheepish look.  "You only like the goodie quotient."

"Well, yeah.  Is it true someone got your educational system up?"  She smirked and nodded.  "Can I test it?"

"If you want."

"I *so* want."

"Then it's yours as long as everyone passes the background."  He looked hesitant at that.  "As long as it's not him personally it's fine," she promised.  He nodded and accepted that, earning a smile.  "Good boy.  Now, go be brilliant and I'll see you in a few days with goodies.  You can even help Mac and I set up, all right?"

"Sure.  Call sometime."

"I'll be in and out of the city so we'll have dinner," she said with a wink, sliding into her car and heading off while he watched and waved.

Sheldon turned to find Mac watching him.  "I spent two years at Sistema in their science program."

Mac smiled.  "It's supposed to be a good school.  We hardly ever get calls from there.  I hope we all pass."

"You warned her....."  He nodded.  "She said it might not matter."

"I hope not.  If so we'd have to quarantine them from it."  Sheldon looked at him.  "I know you and Stella will pass, Sheldon.  Don will.  I will.  I'm sure Danny probably will by what she said.  I have no idea if Lindsey will or not.  I didn't do a deep background on her and they go by different criteria than we do."

"If not then we'll deal, Mac."  He walked up the stairs to stand next to him.  "We'll keep her out of those meetings and out of the labs."  He walked inside, going to talk to Danny.  "Hey, got ten?"

"Sure."  He looked at the lab he was in then nodded him inside so Sheldon came in and shut the door.  "What's up?  I recognized her from somewhere."

"I want to school with her.  That was Amanda Disher, head of DragonTech."  Danny moaned at that, sitting down.  "She wants to do field tests with some of the stuff in storage," he said quietly.

"But to do that we've got to have massive background checks and things," he agreed.  "I nearly applied there until I heard that."

Sheldon nodded.  "She did say that as long as it wasn't *you* you'd be okay most likely."  Danny perked up at that.  "If not, Mac's talking about quarantining whoever doesn't pass from the test lab and the equipment."

"Which I totally agree with.  Things like that you've got to be careful and make sure you've got anonymity.  If I don't pass I'll know it wasn't me, it was my old man and them."  That got a smile.  "I'm not mad, Doc.  It happens when you're me."

"I didn't want no one to explain it to you, Danny.  I know that stuff keeps biting you now and then."

"Yeah and it infects then I get another nibble...."  He shrugged.  "It happens when you've got family like mine.  I'm not mad."

"She thinks you'll still pass.  Mac said the rest of us should.  The only one who he's not sure about is Lindsey."

"Monroe?  What'd she do?"

"Not a clue, that's what he doesn't know."  He smiled.  "If you do pass, there's a great educational system we might get to play with too."

"Really?" he asked, perking up.  "How good?"

"Very good.   Even if you don't get passed for the tester lab I'll see if you can play with it with me."

"How do you know her?"

"I did two years at Sistema with her."  That got a smirk.  "Their science track."

"I didn't figure you'd be an artist, Doc."

"I took a few classes but all my stuff is flat and boring," he agreed.  "It did cut down my time in pre-med however.  Advances classes are wonderful.  So, we're good?"

"We're good."

"Thanks, Danny."

"Not an issue, Doc.  Thanks for letting me know."

"Of course I did."  He winked and walked out, heading back to work.

Danny smiled and turned around to finish what he was doing as well.  Don leaned in.  "Give me five to wrap this up."

"Sure," he agreed, coming in to look over his shoulder.  "Fluid?"

"Semen with funny stuff."


"Yeah, well, not the grossest thing," he pointed out.  Don walked out shuddering and he smiled, finishing up his analysis.  Then he resealed the sample and took off his gloves and coat.  He put everything back where it should be and handed Stella the analysis since it was on her case, then he went to find Don.  "I'm done."

"Wash your hands?"

"I was wearing gloves."

"Even the thought.... go wash."  Danny rolled his eyes but went to do that.  "Thank you!"  He walked out with him once he was done, heading out for lunch.  "So, Doc told you?"  Danny nodded.  "You gonna be okay?"

"I'll be fine, Don.  I expect things like this.  I almost applied there out of college.  They wanted a harder background check and I didn't think I'd pass it then.  If it has to happen I'll take my quarantining from it with grace so we get new goodies to help us capture more folks."

"Thanks."  He gave him a nudge and a grin.  "Hawkes apparently knew her."

"He said he did two years at Sistema."

"Wow.  I didn't think he was that artistic."

"They've got a science track.  I thought about it but my father thought it was for fairies.  I pointed out none of the students had wings and got my ass kicked for it."  Don nudged him again and gave him a small grin. "Yeah, I know.  Not worth it at that price."  He held open the door of the shop they were going to.  "After you since you're wearing pink."

"No, I insist, beauty before age."

"I'm not that much older, Flack."  He walked in, shaking his head.  Don snickered behind him. "I'm too hungry to argue this time.  Missed breakfast because I had an early call out."

"That's what happens when you're not a normal cop," Don teased.

"Yeah, yeah, but I get air conditioning all summer long," he taunted.

"I know, I come down to soak up the lab's AC every summer.  I don't care if you guys do give me strange looks for standing in the corner by the elevator."  The shopkeeper looked at him.  "Two.  Eating here for a change."  That got a nod and their food was fixed. They were often enough that their regular orders were known.  Don paid and let Danny pick out the table by the window.  "Think we can get Mac to coo 'toys' at the new machines again?" he teased before taking a bite.  Danny choked and Don smirked.  "He did."

"I remember," he gasped, sipping his water.  Then he kicked him under the table. "You timed that."

"I know.  I'm a bad boy," he agreed happily, eating another bite.

Danny went back to eating, shaking his head.  "I think it's better that Stella got it on tape for blackmail," Danny said, making Don choke with laughter.

"Boys, please don't make me clean up a mess," the shopkeeper called.

"Sorry, Mr. Halliwell," Danny called.  "Just playing around."  He went back to eating, Don doing the same, smirking at him.  "She did."

"I'm sure she's seen it before so she was ready."  Danny nodded.  Stella walked in. "On lunch too?"

"Running orders so Mac pays for mine.  Who was that woman earlier?"  Don motioned her over and kissed her on the cheek.  "What was that for?"

Danny smiled.  "That was Miss Disher," he said very quietly.  "With DragonTech."  She moaned.  "So, video camera?"

"I'll get it on digital this time," she agreed happily, going to pick up the orders.  She paid and took the change back, heading back to the lab.

"One way to test out the new camera," Danny said happily.  Don nodded that he agreed.


Horatio looked down as a young woman in cutoffs and a t-shirt walked in with two men pulling trolleys behind her.  He coughed and looked down.  "You are?"

"I am Tiff the Wonderful," she said with smirk.  "Come see your new toys, Lieutenant."

He walked down the stairs, coming to help her clear a lab and set it up.  "Is this everything?"

She snorted. "Hell no, man!  When I bring goodies, I bring real goodies.  This is just the small stuff.  The bigger stuff will be in tonight so we're not in your way while we set up.  We'll have it operational for you by tomorrow."  He smiled.  "Excuse the clothes but someone broke in and stole most of mine and I haven't quite killed my soon-to-be-ex yet."

"I know it happens and you'll be crawling around some.  Just stay in here if we get the Chief, the Mayor, or press attention."

"Gladly.  We like working behind the scenes."  She smiled at his smirk at that.  "So, Sis said to tell you they found Mom and they're going in as a strike team.  Why?"

"I asked to make sure she was all right."

"That's cool.   Your rep says you give a damn.  That's why we came down here."  She smiled at Speed.  "How's it going?"

"Six lessons into my first class.  I like her. When I asked a question she couldn't answer she admitted it and sent it to the professor, who sent me an email.  I definitely like Teacher."

"She's one of my favorite time wasters too.  Especially the cooking classes."  He grinned at that.  "They're in there under Miscellaneous Knowledge.   Like the step-by-step how to draw anime and manga class is."  He snorted and came in to help them.  "This is just the tiny stuff."

"It happens.  When's the bigger machines coming?"

"Tonight, studly."

"Try Speed, Tiff.  I don't hit on coworkers."

"Pity."  He smirked at her.  "The other one free?"

"Very.  Or maybe I should say a lot in Eric's case."

She giggled.  "I meant the honey in ballistics."

"She's straight," Horatio told her.  "It has been asked before however."  He had to smile at her enthusiastic shrug.

"A girl's gotta try."  She got to work on the smaller things, unpacking and setting up.  "Ah!" she said, swatting Horatio's hand.  "I have to calibrate that thing.  That is one thing we have noticed.  It has to be calibrated every week or it slips out, or when it's gotten seriously wet or jarred, like falling down a mountain jarred, or when it gets fully uncharged.  That's a tweak we're working on."  They both nodded at that.  "Now, where should I set up the three main machines coming in tonight?  And the laptop?"

"Move stuff," Speed told her.  "We don't care as long as we can get in here to work."

She smiled at him. "I love an easy man."

"No, that's Eric," he joked back.

"Ahhhh.  Maybe....  Nah, playboys ruin my temper now and then.  I'm divorcing one."  She got back to work, gauging the space.  She called her guys.  "Give me the dimension of the three machines again?"  She nodded at that.  "Okay.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "You lucky men, you'll have two labs.  They won't all fit in here with a table."  That got a smile and a nod from Speed.  "We included an extra goody.  Sis said so."  She got to work moving the table and helping them move out the old equipment so they had room.  By the time they were done she was sweaty and limp feeling.  "Damn I hate moving day."  The guys smiled and Speed got her some water. "Thanks, Studly."  She sipped and looked around.  Then she sent out another call.  "We're clear to bring in lab one's stuff.  Those two, yeah.  And the computer.  Thank you."  She hung up.  "Okay, they're bringing that so we can figure out where the other two are going."

"How big are they?" Speed asked.

"It's a new super processor."  Horatio moaned at that.  "Amanda said you'd like that.  Natalie coos over your picture so she made her bring it.  So you've got that and a nice, shiny, new electron microscope with AV capabilities built in to film what you catch."  Horatio led her to an unused storage room and she nodded.  "It'll fit."  He smiled at that.  "The processor?"

"The corner of AV," he said, showing her that way.  He saw the tech's appreciative look.  "Do not, Mr. Cooper.  This is Tiff, she's from DragonTech and our on-site support person for the new test equipment.  We're putting the new processor in here."

"Sure," he agreed, pointing at an open spot.  "How about there?  Or will any wires get in the way?"

"Wireless, cutie, and no, that's bigger than I need.  I can sit it under a table if we need to."  Horatio looked at her.  "Studly didn't tell you we've been working on upgrading harddrives again?"  He shook his head and she beamed, nodding.  "We have.  Teacher's on a laptop, Horatio."  He let out a small whimper.  "Speaking of, Sis wanted you to look at someone.  He's done all his Chem classes with us and wants to join down here.  She wanted his credentials verified before anything else."  She pulled a thumbnail drive out of her pocket.  "That's Ryan.  He's a sweetie but he's a bit forceful.  He did all his through Teacher, he was a guinea pig actually, and she wanted you to look it over."

"Is he an officer?"  She nodded.  "Interesting.  Has he applied?"

"She wanted to make sure that's what he would need.  He's nearly done and if he needs more classes she wanted to insert them now.  So if you've got a recommendation of what he should take, go ahead and write her so she can put on a 'Lieutenant Caine recommends these classes as well' into his file in Teacher."

"I'll do that."  They went back to help Speed shift in the new equipment.  It was all compact, shiny, and looked futuristic.  "Does the metal conduct electricity?"

"Nope.  Not fully metal and what is got grounded long ago.  We use that one in the metal forging lab," she admitted, pointing at one.  He smiled at that.  "Literally until we upgraded last year.  We'll use it for our stuff but if we don't think mundanes are ready we'll hide it.  That's part of what you guys are doing."  She looked when the guys came back.  "All of it?"  They nodded.  She took the three smaller boxes, putting them onto a table.  "Okay, Lieutenant, show him where the electron microscope goes and then the processor.  If it needs to, we can move it as long as we can get the three plugs necessary."  He nodded, going to do that while she sorted out what was going where and hooked up all the machines.  Speed came over to put down a power strip, making her smile.  "Never can be too careful," she agreed.  She started up the first machine, went to the second and finished hooking it up as well. Then she found the laptop and put it onto the table, opening it and plugging in the wireless antenna.  She adjusted it for both the machines until it locked in.  "It'll stay locked in anywhere in the room," she told him.  Speed nodded, coming over.  "Okay.  Let's get with the real goodies."  She started to unpack the smaller stuff from earlier.  Each one got calibrated, Speed following along after watching the first one.  "We'll give lessons on it tomorrow."

"These do sample testing?"

"These do sample testing."  She pulled out the calibration kits and put down two samples.  Both on tape strips.  "They work better on flat surfaces or else you'll get a reading from the bottle as well."  He nodded, they could do slides instead of bottles.  She hit the right buttons.  "Blue, green, green, y, 3 because it's a flat sample but that's got a good menu, and then the blue one again.  Blue is clear/start."   He nodded, doing that with his.  It came up as a type of sand.  He looked at hers, then at his.  "Did you get the other one?"  She handed him the pink filter glasses.  "Do it again."  He went through it and this time saw where the beam was so he pointed it at the right sample, getting a smile.  It came up right that time.  "Excellent.  Now, to print, you push this button," she said, doing that for the laptop.  The printer in the corner spit out the chemical composition and correct name of it.  The machine behind them whirred down.  She looked at him.  "We don't have it for full fluids yet.  We're working on that and you guys'll probably get that first if you don't piss off Amanda or Natalie."  He grinned and went to look, nodding at the style.  "We formatted the printout like most lab equipment does."

"That works for us," he agreed, coming back.  He went through the menus.  "Medical?"

"Different software, same scanner.  Don't get into that it'll screw it up for weeks."

"Where's the back button?"

"Pull the battery."  He did that and then put it back in, watching as it rebooted.  The laptop showed it rebooting the software and that it was charged.  She got him into another screen.  "That'll show you what's wrong, what's charged, and where they are.  Because those suckers are worth more than all your hummers and your lab and the worth of the bodies in the lab on the open market combined.  Each."  He nodded at that.  She looked.  "Of course, no charging plugs," she moaned, using her PDA to write the guys at the lab a nasty note.  One came in with the next shipment.  "Thanks."  The workers left again.  "Sorry."

"It happens," he agreed. "That's why they're called test models."  She smiled at that and showed him how to plug them in to recharge, just like you do a Motorolla cellphone.   Horatio came back. "Come see."  He did the test strips again, letting Horatio have the filter glasses so he could see where the beam was.  Horatio smiled at that and how it printed out with a push of the button.  "That is going to be a great help.  Can it go into the field?"

"As long as you've got a laptop or other equipment loaded with the wireless software.  Since I'm loading it into one of the hummers you should be able to.  We've never taken them out of the labs."

"Hey, I'll gladly work second on a body to check it against what Eric's doing or however."  Horatio smiled at that.  "That would be a fair test, right?"

"It would."  He looked at the other screen.  "Where's the other one it's listing?"

"With the processing unit."  They went that way so they could look at it.  It was indeed a small box under a table.  It was already plugged in too, making her smile. "Thanks, Cutie."  She plugged in the wireless antenna plug then set it up on the wall, fairly high up, letting that cord run up to it.  The machine beeped so she moved it.  It beeped again so she sighed and hit 'restart'.  It beeped a few times then she went back to where she wanted it.  She ended up on top of the table, with Cooper bracing her like a true gentleman, and hitching it  up there.  "There, that's better."  She smiled and he helped her down. "Thank you.  The other scanner?"  He pointed.  She smiled and calibrated it on the go, heading back to the other lab.  "Here we go.   Now, let's run the processor test."  She got into a screen on the laptop and typed quickly, her short nails tapping on the soft keys.  She heard the shrill noise then a happy sounding beep.  "There, that's done.  Tell him no more."

"That was calibrating it, Cooper," Speed called.  "No more of those."

"Thanks.  I'm going to need to move a monitor, I've got wobbles from the antenna."

"Sorry," she called.  "We can move it."

He walked in.  "Will it affect film?"

"It shouldn't be radiating."  She frowned at him. "If so, I can move it to ballistics or somewhere less computered."  He smiled and they went to do that, making Calleigh smile. "Sorry, new processor was giving him the wobbles."

"I feel that way when I see new guns too," she told Cooper.

"Not that sort but you're right, I did have those in the new lab."  She went to look.  "So, this teacher program?"

"Ask Speed.  He's got one."  She fixed the antenna onto the window this time and it went very well.  She went back to calibrate it again, letting the squeal and then the happy beep happen.  "All good.  Go check anything electronic in there, Calleigh?"

"Sure."  She went to check on her two machines then came back.  "They're just fine," she said happily.  "When do we get the ballistics sample?"

"In a few days but under the strictest security.  Also, the guys in New York that got approved wanted to see it in action.  You mind?"

"I play very well with others and I share," she agreed.

"Cool.  We'll set it up at the labs so it doesn't get into the open."  That got a smile.  "Okay, looks like this is set up.  Let me go do the electron microscope with AV capabilities.  You'll like this toy.  I spent two weeks doing samples of fibers and skin to see the little things wiggling in them."  She led Calleigh that way so she could look at the other new toy.  "It's like the EDAX machine only can test a smaller sample, can get to a smaller microscopic level and can capture it on film for later use in trial."  That got a smile so she plucked a few of her hairs to show her once it was on and calibrated.  Calleigh moaned, moving closer to see.  "Like I said, much smaller levels."  Horatio came in to see.  "That's hair at the normal level we work on."  She adjusted it using the keypad to go up in magnification and then back toward normal sight levels.  "The only two drawbacks are: you can't use glass or anything with glass in it and you can't use anything that would deflect the laser for the same reasons."

"So no fiberglass," Calleigh said.  "What happens if there's some on the material we're searching?"

"You'll get a shrill double beep and it'll start blinking glass at you.  At that point, take out the sample, turn it off, turn it back on and let it warm back up.  This is another laser application."  She nodded, accepting that.  "Takes it about ten minutes when you have to do that.  This and the scanners will talk to each other but you can't have them in the same room or the scanner farts and dies for a few days until you reload things."

"Sure," she agreed, going back to it.  "Wow.  You dyed your hair?"

"I did many times over the years," she agreed dryly. "I've been many pretty colors and my mother just sighs and said it doesn't make me blend in any better."  Speed and Eric both snickered at that.  "She does. Mom did not like the scarlet or the purple any at all.  She's going to make me dye the teal soon, probably back to a natural color."

"According to this, this sample has been green, blue, turquoise, and red.  Revlon red."  Calleigh looked at her, watching her think back.  "Did it get all of them?"  She nodded.  "It's got a readout in the screen beside the sample."

"Virtual," she agreed, letting the others see it.  "Cutie, it bothering your lab?"  He went to look and came back shaking his head.  "Make sure the ones around it aren't bothered?"

"Anyone getting wobbling monitors or anything?" Cooper shouted.  "Tell us now, people!"

The DNA tech leaned out.  "I've got a funny reading but I think it's the sample so I'm running it again."

"Any glass?" Speed asked.  She shook her head.  "Bring a sample here, not on glass."

"I've got plastic slides.  Is that all right?"  He looked at Tiff, who nodded so he did.  "Be right there."  She came out a minute later with a slide and Calleigh pulled out the hair samples, letting her see.  "Wow," Valera moaned.  "This is nice."  She looked at the reading and let Tiff adjust the depth of scanning for her.  "Ooh, that's what I was getting before but it's a semen sample."

Horatio looked.  "That means he's been in the water, Valera.  He's got a microbial infection from some tainted water in one of the bays.  Eric?"  He came over to look then nodded, getting her a map.  "Let's test the scanners on it as well."  The sample was removed and the machine turned off.  Horatio ran the scanner over it, looking at the computer.  It was slower this time but it eventually came up with a reading.  "The radiation?"

"Leftover from the last scanner."  She showed him how to cancel that out.  "Do it again."  He nodded and did it again, watching it come up faster.  "Same microbes.  Is it an algae?"

"It is," he agreed.  Eric came in to look at that one, grinning at it.  He printed it and handed it to Eric.  "Training?"

"Starting tomorrow, Lieutenant."

He smiled.  "You can use mine and the others' names."

"But it's so fun," she teased.  "Should I call you H like Speed did?"

"Up to you, Tiff."  She beamed and hugged him then bounced out.  "Are you done for the day?"

"Yup, I'm going back to the research lab.  My number's on the back of the laptop if you need me for anything.  For tonight, let it settle in and then I'll teach you guys how to play with everything tomorrow. That way you don't break something."  That got nods.  She turned at the elevator. "Then I'll wire one of the hummers once this is settled in."  She skipped onto the elevator car, looking at the man standing there looking shocked.  She purred. "Aren't you handsome."  He fled and she giggled all the way out.

He pointed at the elevator.  "Suspect?" Frank asked.

"No," Horatio said, shaking his head, smiling some.  "On-site support tech for the test equipment we've got."

"No wonder she's wearing slutty shorts," he said, frowning some.  Horatio laughed at that.  "What?"

"Frank, that young lady has four Ph. D.'s.  She's allowed to be quirky and call Cooper Cutie all she wants."

"Not like I mind," Cooper agreed happily.  "I have something for you, Frank."  That got a smile.  "I have a video camera with not only a suspect but a face in that case you were nagging me about.  Bossman?  Shall we?"

"Lead on, Cooper."  He shooed everyone out of the lab and closed the door, looking at the pouting faces.  "Wait until she's done the training, people."  He walked off smiling.

Calleigh leaned closer to Speed.  "We should gather some of his shed hair to make sure it's his natural color," she joked.

Speed looked at her. "It is."

"How do you know?"

"Decontam shower once.  It is."  He walked off smirking grandly, going back to work on his present case.  Since Valera had found that, Eric could tell him which waterways were infected with that algae and he'd be a happy camper with a suspect.

"Why don't I ever get the good decontamination shower partners?"

"Hey!" Eric complained.

She looked at him.  "Don't even try."

He grinned.  "I'm not that smutty."

"Eric, she asked if you were free and we told her you often were," Speed called.  "Now get in here and point out infected waterways."

"Yes, Master," he called, following him shaking his head.  "What sort of toys did you get besides the educational system?"

"Just that.  It's a great thing.  I'm doing continuing ed at night with my feet up, in jammies, and listening to music."

Eric shook his head.  "It's easier to go to seminars."

"I've got a world renown physicist teaching mine with credits from Yale.  Three lessons a night."  Eric looked at him, pouting slightly.  "You can come see and play maybe."

"Thanks, Speed."  He got out the map and pointed at the ones they knew were infected this time.  "Help any?"

"It does," he agreed happily.  "We had two mention they'd been diving in that waterway."  He tapped one of them. "Skindiving."  He went to find them and talk to them, plus take more samples to see who was infected.


Amanda strolled into Mac's lab, making him quit scowling at the reports in front of him. "Bad time?  I can come back, sweetie."

"No, bad evidence," he sighed, leaning back.  "Is it happy news?"

"For all but one person."


"Miss Monroe."  She handed it over. "She's part of a group that's seriously against my mother and the Sisterhood."

He looked at the report then at her.  "I had no idea."

"It's not your fault.  It could've been teenage stupidity, but I can't allow that near the machines."

"We can quarantine her.  She's on vacation for a few days getting settled."

"That's fine," she agreed.  "However, just don't let her near them."  He nodded.  "Not even what they do, Mr. Taylor."

"Agreed.  We'll quarantine her.  I'll talk to her today."  That got a smile.  "How soon can we get the new machines?"

"Let's see what sort of space you've got."  He got up and walked up there with him, looking at the oldest labs on the third floor.  "Do you use these?"

"Two on the end.  If we put it up here we can quarantine it easier."

"I do have one question.  I know Miami has the mobile crime labs.  Do you have anything like that?"  He shook his head. "Then we'll have to implement a laptop for the scanners for you when we get that far.  That way you can take them into the field."  He smiled.  "Do you have your wish list?"

"I'm not picky."  She smiled at him.  "Whatever you want us to test, Miss Disher."

"Amanda, Mr. Taylor."

"Mac, please."

"Of course."  They toured the rest of the floor and she nodded.  "We can use two or three of them to do this and still leave you accessory work spaces."  He smiled at that and led her back downstairs to his office, where Stella was waiting.  "Ah, there's the bright one."  She smiled and kissed her on the cheek.  "Do you want some new toys too?"

"That's Mac's thing but I wouldn't mind."

"Good.  Come in."  She led them into the office and went over what each machine did and did not do so they could make the decisions.  Mac wrote out the list and she smiled, sending it back to her people in the labs.  They got back all but one was available.  "Hmm, they sent the electron to Miami.  Sorry, Mac."

"Not a problem.  They got first pick anyway."

"There's multiple copies of each and if I find one in the labs I'll send it over.  Right now we're also upgrading some of our personal equipment with higher things."  That got smiles from them.  "We may not let it into the open but we will definitely use it ourselves in the lab."  Someone knocked and she looked then nodded Danny inside.  "Don't worry, you cleared."

"Just making sure.  Are we totally clear?"

"Lindsey didn't."

"Okay, I can agree not to tell her anything," Danny promised.  That got a smile.  "Where are we putting it?"

"The third floor," Mac told them both.  "It'll be easier to quarantine her that way."  That got nods.  "Okay, anything we should know right now?"

"Do we only want one teaching system?  Sheldon asked so sweetly," she offered with a grin.  "I don't like to refuse my old biology tutor anything."

"I wouldn't mind," Danny offered with a shy grin.  "I can share with Doc if you've only got the one."

"I like you.  You're sweeter than my last two boys."  She pinched him on the cheek.  He blushed a bit.  "Awww.  Of course you can have one too, Danny.  I'm all for sucking up as much education as one can stand. I've done a good bit of that myself while pregnant."  He nodded at that.  "Okay, we'll move stuff in this weekend, Mac?"

"That would be great.  It's usually a lighter time for us and we can keep Lindsey out of the way on field cases."  She nodded, bundling things back up.  "Thank you."  He shook her hand.

"Not a problem, sweetie.  How else do we see what flaws happen outside our carefully controlled labs?  Or how to market it to other labs when you're done with them?"  He smiled at that.  "You'd get a heavily reduced rate, I promise."  He nodded and walked her out.  "You'll talk with her?"

"Today," he agreed.  She smiled and shook his hand then got into her car and headed off.  He called Lindsey.  "Come in for a few please?  Because I need to see you about something.  No it can't wait."  He hung up and went back to his office, letting those two babble about the machines until Lindsey got there.  They cleared out and he waved her inside.  "Lindsey."  She smiled at him.  "You belonged to an anti-religious organization that puts out paranoid conspiracy theories?"  She raised an eyebrow.  "We're getting some new testing equipment and they did a deeper background check.  Because of that we're going to have to keep you away from their products."

"That was a long time ago, Mac."

"If I don't we don't get the test models."

She pouted.  "Sorry."

"That's all right.  We'll have to initiate a quarantine of information and the labs around you.  Not quite a Chinese wall but close enough.  Since everything's going on the third floor you're not going to be allowed up there while the machines are in residence."

"Who's giving them to us?"

"That's classified," he told her.  She sighed and nodded.  "I'm sorry but these sort of agreements are very strict and if we don't follow them we can be held liable as the lab and individually.  They also usually put monetary fines into the contracts.  These are the same companies that get technological espionage as well.  So we won't be letting you up there or disclosing anything about them to you.  You can't touch their machines in the field.  Nothing.  Do you understand?"  She nodded.  "Thank you.  Since they're coming to put them in this weekend, you'll be first on call for scenes."  She nodded at that as well, pressing her lips together.  "For future reference are you still part of the group?"

She hesitated.  "Not really.  I'm on their mailing list.  It was something I got into in college."

"We all have those decisions that haunt us, Lindsey.  You're not going to be shunned but   you will be kept out of the testing.  As time goes on and as they see you're not like that group they may calm down and let you help with minor parts."  She nodded.  "Thank you for understanding."

"I know these things happen.  It just seems silly.  I'm on a mailing list so I can't test new machines?"

He smiled.  "It can be.  I've had one back out because I had military service.  They were afraid I'd tell my commanding officers and they'd try to confiscate it.  It does happen.  If you can I would cut ties with that group, it would help you in this case."

"If I can," she agreed.  "Anything else?"  He shook his head.  "Am I the only one quarantined?"   Mac nodded.  "Not even Danny?"

"Danny's done nothing wrong, Lindsey," he said patiently.  "He wouldn't be banned for having a bad shooting."  She nodded and left.  He stopped the tape and put it into his drawer.  Then he went to look up that group online.  He'd only heard about them at a conference.  One of the other CSIs out of Salt Lake City talking about how they had tried to raid a school and shoot the teachers. They didn't seem like a group Lindsey would be associated with.


Danny looked up from his drink that night.  "Miss Disher," he said, making room for her at his small table.  "What brings you here?"

"I came to talk to you," she admitted, sitting down to look at him.  "Rumor has it you almost applied to us?"

"As a research chemist," he agreed.  He took a sip of his beer.  "I didn't think you'd like my family history."

"It depends on which part of the lab, Danny."  He grinned slightly at that.  "Are you still looking?"

"Some days," he admitted.  "Mac can drive you insane."

"I'm sure he can," she agreed with a small smile. "If you need to apply, do so."  He nodded at that.  "We do have many fine research labs and you do have experience we want.  I also have your teaching system in the car."  He beamed at that.  "Give you a ride home?"

"Sure.  It's my only one so far."

She nodded and let him pay his tab, then brought him out to her car, where Sheldon was waiting.  "I'm doing them both at the same time."

"Sure," he agreed.  He got into the back.  "Hey, Doc."

"Hey, Danny.  Who didn't pass?"


"Awww, crap," Sheldon muttered.  "She'll nag and pry for weeks."

"Mac set down some rules," Danny assured him.

"He did," she agreed, driving them off.  "Which would be a better place to start the tutorials?"

"My pad's closer," Danny offered. "Sheldon can almost walk home from my place."

"I can," he agreed.  She smiled at that, patting him on the knee.  "I know, not where anyone expected me to end up."

"Not hardly," she agreed. "Especially not after you trained with the family."

"I got burnt out," he admitted quietly.

"It does happen, Sheldon."  She stroked his knee.  "Don't worry, you're happy.  You don't have to justify being happy to me."  He smiled at that.  "Before you ask, Danny, he's my former biology tutor from school."

"Doc said he went to Sistema."

"He did.  He got excellent grades and some advanced classes out of the way.  It got him out of his undergrad faster."  That got a grin.

"It's a good school.  I wanted to go but my father complained."

"That also happens in the real world," she admitted, smiling at him as they parked in front of his place.  He gave her a look.  "It was part of the background check."  She got out and got two boxes, following Danny up to his place.  "You'll be happy to know there is another criminalist who is also testing it for us.  You guys can work with him on projects and things if you need to."  She got them set up on Danny's couch, showing them how to log in, put in their educational background, and all those good things.  Then she got them into the 'how do I do stuff' section.  She patted them both on the head.  "There you go, boys.  Have fun, let me know if you have any problems."

"Sure," Sheldon said absently, going over the choices.  "Hey, you've got the non-lab medical classes."

"Of course we do, silly.  Our med groups in the family need continuing ed too," she teased.  Danny grinned at her.  "Behave with that.  It's not waterproof by any means.  Don't jar it.  Also, if you piss the teacher off, she will let you know.  Oh, if she ever shows up in a sequined gown again, let us know.  One of the hackers in one of the academies we work with has been hacking into the main stored program to change her for his little boy fantasies."  She let herself out, locking the door behind herself.

Danny went back to it, then looked at Sheldon.  "Academies?"

"Her mother's big in the Sisterhood.  That's an offshoot of the Catholic church and they've got schools all over the world," he replied, sounding distracted.  "I need to take these."

"Then do it, Doc.  Gives you something to do at night."

Sheldon beamed at him.  "Very true."  He got to work on the first one, typing in a response to her question.

Danny grinned and picked his first class, going through it.  He started with something easy, that way he had time to get used to it.  After five hours of classes, the teacher started to nag about him going to take a break, so he shut her down for the night and went to bed, not caring that Sheldon was ignoring his teacher's pointed hints and was still on his couch.


Horatio walked into their second week of having new things in the lab, finding Speed growling at something in the test lab.  "What happened?"

"Someone blew the laptop," he said, looking at him.  "Not sure who since the door was locked when I left at ten last night."

"Okay.  Did you dust it for prints?"  Speed smirked and went to get some powder and a brush while he went to wake Tiff up and let her know.  Theoretically the scanners and machines could work without the laptop.  They had independent systems and controls, so they'd have to see.  "Tiff, it's Horatio Caine.  Sometime between when Speedle went home last night and when he got in this morning, the laptop in the tester lab blew."  He smiled at her swearing.  "Please."  He raised an eyebrow.  "Oh, a hearing for the divorce?" he guessed.  He nodded.  "That's understandable.  You or someone else if you can," he assured her.  "As soon as you can get someone here please."  He smiled.  "Good luck, Tiff."  He chuckled at her assurance that he wasn't getting her patents.  "Good girl.  I'll see you when you get back."  He hung up and went to tell Speed.  "She's back in LA for a hearing on her divorce."

Speed held up two fingerprints.  "One's mine, I've already compared.  "The other isn't and I'm not sure who it was."

"I'll have fingerprints check," he agreed, taking it that way for him.  He walked in.  "Someone blew the laptop in the tester lab," he noted.  "We're sure one's Speed's."  He handed over both lift tapes and she smiled.  "Thank you."

"Welcome.  You might check with Cooper.  I know he's repositioned a camera to go right into that lab, just in case."  She got to work running them through the PD system while he went to see Cooper.

"Already heard Speed ranting, boss, I'm going through the tapes at the moment.  Speed was still here at ten and I'm moving toward eleven."  He paused it.  "He left at ten-forty- six."  He moved forward, seeing someone peeking in then breaking in.  He ran it back so he could catch their face.  "I know her."

"As do I," Horatio agreed.  "Anyone else?"  Cooper ran it forward when she scurried out and then she and her shift supervisor came in.  "Interesting.  Thank you, Cooper."  He went to call them.  They should still be up.  "It's Horatio.  Please come in and bring Elizabeth," he ordered.  "Yes, that was an order."  He hung up and settled in to pull out the contracts.  The night shift supervisor came in already huffy.  "She asked *my* team to try out the new equipment. As you know, those agreements are often very sensitive."  She opened her mouth and he glared, standing back up.  "Your team was not cleared, not trained, and now you've broken some of it.  That means they can hold *you* *personally* liable for the damage and the repair costs."

"Why weren't we informed?"

"Because she didn't trust you to not blab," Speed said from behind her.  "Elizabeth is where?  It was her fingerprints on the laptop, H."

"She should be on her way in, Speed.  Go make sure of it."  He nodded, going to do that.  He glared at his nighttime counterpart.  "You are in very deep and I will not have you touching their equipment again.  Am I clear?  I'm not going to ruin the reputation of this lab or have us sued because you couldn't *ask* before you went to look."

"They can't work," she sneered.

"Actually they work better than some of the things we have now, even without the laptop."  She went pale.  "Now, you are to stay out of those labs unless the gifting company clears your team.  You can write a letter for the on-site tech support person and she can pass it on for you.  Until such a time, you are going to be held liable if they try to charge the lab."

"The Chief will never stand for this," she said coldly.

Horatio called him.  "It's Horatio and Gretchen.  We need a moment, are you clear?"  He smiled and put him on speaker.  "Sir, we're both here.  There was an incident with the new testing equipment last night.  Gretchen and Elizabeth both went into the tester lab and broke the laptop interface."

"We were never trained on it," she complained, glaring at Horatio.  "It's our lab too, Chief."

The older man on the speaker sighed.  "Gretchen, they didn't clear your team because your biases are very well known.  They did not want you anywhere near their equipment.  If it wasn't for Horatio we wouldn't have this testing agreement at all, and therefore we wouldn't get others later on.  How broken?"

"They fried the laptop interface," Horatio admitted.  "We can work without it but it's easier with it.  The things she showed you all have very small screens until you print."

"Understood.  Gretchen, stay out of it.  It was given to Horatio's shift.  If you wanted something like that to happen after this one is done, or if we have more room, then you can go out and talk to some companies as well.  I heard that such honors only increase a lab's standings and honor.  Now, you and Elizabeth can both be held liable if something serious happens.  That is written into the contracts.  The same as if Horatio's crew breaks something they can be."  She slumped.  "I want you to leave it alone.  All the new toys, Gretchen.  Am I clear?"

"Yes, Chief," she gritted out.  "I'll keep Elizabeth in line."

"Thank you.  If you can find someone to give us more testing equipment, go right ahead.  That would be your shift's benefit and Horatio would have to *ask* you if he needed to use it.  The same as you can ask him to run samples through for your team."

"Yes, sir, understood."  She stomped off.

"Thank you," Horatio said quietly.  "Our on-site support person is out for a hearing on her divorce but we're working around it."

"Not a problem.  Are they going to charge us?"

"Not as far as I know.  I'll talk to Tiff when she gets back."  He heard music and looked down at the labs.  "I think her temporary replacement is here, Chief.  Thank you."  He hung up and walked down there.  He tapped her on the shoulder, letting her take her very loud headphones off her ears.  "Tiff sent you?"

"She did. I'm Amber, I'm from the computer research division.  What happened?"

"People who weren't supposed to touch it came in and fooled around last night."

"I gotta love nosy people, there's so many of them in the family," she admitted, smiling at him.  She let him unlock the lab and let her inside.  "Oooh, you poor baby," she cooed, petting the laptop.  She pulled over a stool so she could sit and get into the program.  "She erased it," she said finally.

"I've already told the Chief they were in here.  Could that have been accidental?"


"Can I have a report of what she would've had to do?"

"I can do that, hottie."  She grinned at him.  "You guys have an educational system, right?"  He nodded.  "You can link that in for now.  It's a side function for the lab classes."  He smiled and went to call Speed.  She looked around the lab.  "Ooooh, full of hotties here," she whimpered.  "I'm gonna like helping Tiff."  She got back to work, smiling when someone brought her a bottle of water.  "Thank you, honey."

"Welcome," Cooper said.  "What happened?"

"Whoever erased it on purpose."  She winked at him.  "You're more than worthy to hover and watch my brilliance."  He blushed but sat down to watch what she was doing.  "Which field is yours?"

"AV.  I'm Cooper."  She shook his hand.  "You're a lot different than Tiff.  She calls me cutie."

"Well, you are, but Tiff's older than I am.  I'm Amber.  I'm out of the computer research division."  She winked and got back to work.  Someone brought in another laptop and put it onto the table.  "Cool.  Let's set this up."  She unplugged the wireless antenna, hooking it onto the new one.  Then the other two cords, including the power cord.  She set it in motion and it beeped pleasingly.  "There you go, sweetie.  Plus you can play on Teacher at work. I know I have."  He grinned at that.  "This is also how you do all the lab classes."

"That's pretty cool."  He logged in and it came up with both programs running.  He logged off Teacher for now and got back to work making sure everything was calibrated correctly.  She smiled at him and got the other computer out of his way, taking it to AV to work in there.  She found the processor unit and hit the button on top.  "That forces an update for any new software," she told him, walking him back to his lab.  "We usually do it every week just in case."  Then she sat down to reload it from in there so the laptop would work again.  Because she did like being in here. The lab felt warmer than the one she worked in back at the research center.

Cooper continued to stare in awe.  She was good!  She was pretty!  She was every hacker's dream, a pretty, cute, and talented girl who could challenge them.