"Excuse me miss?" Kelly asked, approaching an attractive Asian lady. As he drew close, Kelly noted that she there was an exotic beauty about her. Her facial features were soft and smooth and her clothes were elegantly tasteful. Kelly particularly admired her long chiseled neck and her tight curve-enhancing black dress. This slight garment displayed the woman's small, pert breasts and well rounded body to great advantage.

The lady turned around slowly fixed dark soulful eyes on Kelly. "Yes," she responded, a lilting smile playing across her face, eyes slightly glassy.

"I'm Officer Redmund Collins," Kelly stated, flashing her his police badge. "Would you show me what you have in your purse." Kelly had read the file on Sylvia Ng and knew that she had prior convictions for drug possession and was hoping that she was carrying at the moment. From the look of her dilated eyes she had to be on something, especially since it was night time.

The bogus officer had tailed the young lady from her house and decided to stop her as she made her way into Cafe Balloon, one of Nick Ratorallis' many legitimate business'.

"Um." A worried look crossed Sylvia's slack face but she decided to play her trump card. "Do you know who I am? I'm Nick Ratorallis' girlfriend. He's very well connected. If you give me any trouble, he'll get angry."

"Are you threatening me miss?" Kelly knew exactly who she was. She was his ticket into the mob. "Show me what's in your bag or I'll-"

"Is this man giving you a hard time Sylvia?" One of Nicks men had come from the restaurant to see what was holding her up.

Kelly looked at the intruder, recognising him as Gino Caperotti. Kelly had gained a fair amount of information from the dossier he had stolen on the crime lords organisation. This particular mobster was in his mid thirties, a lightly muscled man with hawkish features and cruel gray eyes. He raked his eyes over Kelly. They were the cold, clear eyes of a killer.

"No, but he is a pig. This is Officer Redmund Collins," Sylvia said, giggling vacuously at her inane joke.

"I have reason to believe that this lady has contraband substances in her possession."

Kelly reached forward and took Sylvia's bag. He opened it, took out a metal case and popped the lid. A pearl handled syringe, a stained silver cooking spoon and, best of all, a foil packet of heroin powder greeted him. "You are under arrest Miss," Kelly stated as he confiscated her purse and slapped handcuffs on her, not even bothering with reading her rights.

"That was a plant. I saw it and so did Sylvia." Gino said, knowing instinctively that something was not quite right. "I want your badge number Officer Collins," Gino said in icy tones. Kelly obliged, holding up his badge again for inspection.

Gino evaluated the situation in a clinical manner. Despite his disgust that Sylvia was obviously using, Gino's face remained impassively bland. He had to protect Nick's girl, no matter his opinion of her, and this cop was making a big enough mess of the bust for him to have Sylvia out in hours.

Meanwhile Kelly sized up the criminal. He disliked Gino immediately and was already imagining ways to make the arrogant thugs life a misery. Having read Gino's meager dossier, Kelly was under the impression that the hood was a small time errand boy for Nick.

Gino was in fact Nick's enforcer, one of the most dangerous figures in the Melbourne underworld. If the body hijacker had known this he would have been more careful, instead he was very flippant. The assassin followed Kelly to his car and watched as Kelly helped Sylvia into the back seat.

"Tell Nick that he can contact me on this number. I think I can arrange a special deal with this. He shouldn't call the police station because we won't be there." Kelly flicked a card with Collins' phone number in Gino's face. Gino did not even flinch, maintaining his implacable facade.

After Kelly left Gino bent down and picked up the card. Gino held the card and read it at a leisurely pace, a sinister grin slowly creeping onto his face. Officer Redmund Collins had just made his way into Gino's bad books. Nobody stayed there for long.

* ** ** *

"Cute hamsters." Sylvia was not sure why this officer had taken her too his home, but she was not worried. Nobody messed with Nick's girl or anything else of Nick's without serious, life altering consequences.

"This one's Redmund," Kelly said pointing at a small male. "He's a ferret, they're all ferrets." Redmund squealed in anger.

"Why would you name a ferret after yourself?" This guy was creepy. Sylvia knew she was not going to jail but she wanted to get away from this mustached creep.

"I didn't." Kelly turned on his laptop. He picked up one of the vials with nanobots. "Do you like any of those Ferrets?" Kelly asked with sinister intent. Redmund kept squeaking and chattering, but instead of Kelly he was chattering at Sylvia. Kelly poured part of the vial into a glass.

"That ones pretty coloured," Sylvia said picking one up, still in the euphoria that her drugs had produced.

"Drink this," Kelly ordered as he forced a glass into Sylvia's hand. She frowned and went to put the glass on the table. Kelly pulled his gun. "I said drink it."

Sylvia looked at Kelly, shrugged her shoulders and drank the liquid. Kelly then picked up the bright orange ferret that Sylvia had admired. "Redmund's going to have a partner. A romance made in heaven," Kelly sang then fed some nanobot solution to the orange ferret. Kelly then drank some solution himself, assessing Sylvia's swaying body. She was fit, attractive and young. 'What the hell,' he thought, 'I hate this body.'

"What are you doing?" Sylvia asked in a stupid voice as Kelly typed away on his laptop.

"This is going to change your life Sylvia," Kelly said as he assigned Sylvia and the ferret a reference on the computer and initiated a three way transfer on his laptop. He frowned when nothing happened, the screen flashing an error message.

"Insufficient nanobots provided to subject Kelly Stubbing," the screen read.

Kelly stood for a moment in confusion. He had ingested as many nanobots as Sylvia and the transfer should be able to continue... on a hunch, Kelly checked to see which referenced bodies were able to be manipulated. He was mildly surprised to note that Sylvia, Ferret B and Zene came up as currently active. It finally dawned on him that Zene had somehow managed to modify the referencing system on the computer, substituting their respective identities in the computer files.

'So that's how she beat me!' Kelly thought, mildly impressed with Zene as he started the transfer. This time he took into account Zene's modifications.

Sylvia's body and the ferret slumped to the ground as the mental translocations took place. Kelly's mind was duplicated into Sylvia's body, Sylvia's mind went into the ferret and the ferrets mind was erased leaving a copy of Kelly still in Collins old body.

* ** ** *

Going through the disorientation of the transfer was horrid. The new woman threw up all over herself and sat shivering for an eternity. When she regained control of herself, she was relieved to be female again. She ran her hands over her body, feeling tingles of electricity where her fingers touched. She had already decided that she liked this body, that she liked being back in the familiar and comfortable feminine form, similar to the one she had been born in.

As she stood she felt a strangeness, a warm glow similar to the one she had after sex or from alcohol. She searched her mind for the cause. She could find none, but a nagging doubt persisted.

The Asian woman looked into the ferret cage and saw two of the four ferrets at the bars chattering madly at her. It was comical. She laughed. Something was important there as well. The orange one in particular.

She stared for a while then it connected. "That's Sylvia and that's Redmund," she said. 'I feel drugged, but there's something more,' she thought, 'It's almost like...' She raised her left hand, looking at it. She then picked up a pen on the table and tried to write with her left hand. The writing came out as an uncoordinated scrawl. She had always been ambidextrous, even in Collins body. Now she was not. A feeling of dread passed through her. 'What else have I lost? Maybe there is a limit to the number of times I can switch my mind! I don't want to be stuck in this junkies mind forever!'

She started to go over her memories and found inexplicable gaps. Things that had always been a part of her mind were gone or partly missing. She also remembered events that she should not have. Images of Nick, herself shooting up with heroin, a pet dog called Kermit. She remembered that she had been studying veterinary science but could only remember vague or uncertain parts of her studies.

"What's wrong?" The male Kelly asked, coming back into the room with a beer and a smoke. He could see that something was bothering his alter ego

"The duplication isn't quite complete. I think it's a little like that stupid film, a copy of a copy never being quite up to scratch. I've lost heaps. I'm sure of it. There's also bits of Sylvia in my mind that shouldn't be there. Memories and stuff. I think this mental transferring thing has a limit and we're pushing the envelope right now. I can't hazard crossing into Nick's body as we intended. Maybe we should dupe you into him. My god the original us is long gone." The Asian Kelly rambled on, unsure if she was Kelly or Sylvia.

Kelly eyed his duplicate carefully, puffing on his cigarette. The whole plan hinged on 'Sylvia'. If she could not carry it out, he was cactus. "Who are you? Kelly or Sylvia?" He asked casually.

The woman paused, feeling foolish for confiding in her double. In a moment of clarity, she knew that her life hinged on her answer, so she chose her words carefully. "I'm Kelly and I want to be rich. That's all that matters. You don't need to kill me to cover your arse. The scheme is not compromised it just needs reworking," the identity challenged woman told her original exactly what he wanted to hear.

She realised that the male Kelly was more like a parent than a twin. He had donated part of his personality, whilst Sylvia had donated the other part. At the moment her mind was a mental schism, two individual yet incomplete personalities coalescing into a single hybrid personality.

"O.K. so what do you think we should do?" He asked, ready to change the plan now that he had decided not to kill his copy immediately. That she had anticipated he might murder her showed that they were not too dissimilar in the way they thought. Kelly anticipated that he would probably have to eliminate her later, she was too much of an uncertainty and might act unpredictably.

"I'll get our foot in the door and convince Nick that he should cooperate with us. Eventually, once we know how Nick's operation works, you'll copy yourself onto him and we'll run the Mafia." This was the plan as the male Kelly had created, but his bastardised copy was unhappy with it, though she was careful not to let her discontent show. "Better yet, you could change your appearance to duplicate his, not losing any of your mind in the process," she said with feigned enthusiasm.

Kelly nodded, stroking his mustache.

The Asian girl needed time to compose herself. She looked down at her clothes and realised that she should clean herself up, a perfect excuse for her to get away from the male Kelly and come to grips with the new person she was becoming. "I'm having a shower, I'll see you in a second," she said. She went to the bathroom and turned on the water, pulling off her soiled clothes. She stepped under the warm torrent. As she lathered up, she went over her newly acquired memories.

As her personality acclimatised, she discovered that the former owner of this body had been very different to her other male persona. Fundamentally Sylvia was dependent upon her significant other, which at the moment was Nick. Kelly had never been reliant upon anyone, merely manipulating people to suite his own goals. The new person tried to come to grips with the two disparate aspects of her mongrel personality

It was strange but the woman felt a strong attraction, an alien desire for someone other than herself. Examination of the disintegrating remnants of Kelly's and Sylvia's identities caused the new girl to realise that she now loved Nick, even though her 'Kelly half' had never met him before. The Asian girl knew instinctively that she had retained a fair portion of Sylvia's core personality. She was quite happy that she had not lost this part of herself as these memories and thought patterns were also an integral part of the emerging individual she was becoming.

Unfortunately her goals and desires were now drastically different to her mental parents. Standing under the shower, she realised that she would be unable to kill Nick, she loved him. No that wasn't it. She liked him too much. This was the crux of her dilemma. She now had a conflict of interest with her sire.

Looking at her new body she realised that it wasn't new. It was her body. Just as it was her mind. A mind which Kelly had polluted by forcing part of himself into. At that moment she hated Kelly with a pathological force. The girl she made a resolution. Toweling herself dry, she walked into the room where her counterpart sat. The unclothed woman strode to the computer and turned it on.

"What are you doing?" her mental father asked, distracted by the sultry beauty of the naked girl.

"I'm just seeing if there are any bugs in the system that might explain the inconsistencies in my mind," she lied, mopping her body languidly with the towel, beguiling her double with glimpses of her naked flesh while she waited for the computer to boot. God she hated him.

The mustached man sat watching the attractive Asian woman, scarcely considering her comment, his mind on more puerile subjects. He realised that he had not had sex as a man yet, Mrs. Palmer and her five daughters being the extent of his experience. His curiosity suddenly piqued, Kelly stood and moved towards the nude lady, deciding that this could be a chance to educate himself. He sauntered up behind her, cupping his hands over her breasts, fondling them, his excitement growing.

The Asian woman moaned in enjoyment, distracted from the computer by the erotic sensations she was receiving, her body abuzz with a strange new energy. Excited, and wanting to get Kelly away from the machine, she stood from her chair and turned to embrace Kelly, kissing him passionately. She pushed him away from the lap top, pressing her breasts against his chest whilst simultaneously trying to undo his shirt buttons. She wanted him.

Meanwhile Kelly ran his hands over her smooth back and down towards her firm buttocks. He kneaded her rump for a moment then lifted her, holding her just under the thighs and carrying her to the couch. She arched her back as he deposited her on the couch, leaning forward and sucking on her large, erect nipples, alternating between one and the other.

She grinned mischievously as she unbuckled his pants, letting his engorged member free of its constraints. Spreading her legs wide she casually inquired, "what are you waiting for?" She was going to make him pay.

Lacking any restraint, Kelly literally rushed forward, gracelessly thrusting into her, causing her to yelp in surprise. The sex was quite frantic on both sides, as Kelly pumped inexpertly but with enthusiasm, trying to maintain a rhythm whilst savoring the new sensations he was experiencing. Meanwhile she squirmed and writhed as she encountered sex for the first time since her conception. He was wonderful.

With her slightly altered perceptions the act was markedly different, as though she were discovering new ways of doing the same old thing. Certain caresses were familiar while others were completely different, fresh and unusual to her new consciousness. In many instances certain points on her body became more rewarding than she could recall as either Sylvia or Kelly. Her clit in particular seemed to be much more sensitive, whilst her nipples were less so. This was too easy.

She could feel Kelly's tempo increasing and she bounced up and down trying to match it, grinding her pelvic bone into his as hard as she could as her legs started to become a little weak and her vagina started to produce greater amounts of lubrication. She moaned as pleasure seemed to knot around her throbbing privates.

Kelly grinned as he felt himself approaching climax, pounding deeply into her hot grasping hole. He let out a grunt as his muscles tightened throughout his body, his penis burning in indescribable pleasure for what seemed like a frozen moment in time. He spasmed for a moment as he lost his male virginity, then collapsed limply upon her. She begged and pleaded for him to keep going, knowing that she was so close to climaxing herself. Kelly was spent and could not keep going, the merest movement providing responses in his penis which bordered on the painful. He rolled off her and sat on the couch with his pants around his ankles, gathering his breath while he grinned at the chattering ferrets.

She looked at him, her face a mask of incredulity, maddened that Kelly had not finished what he started. Irritated, she stood and walked over to the computer continuing with her work with a vengeance.

"How was I?" Kelly asked as she finished with the computer. Kelly blacked out before he even realised what his mental offspring was doing.

She approached him, shaking her head in disgust. "Terrible. I didn't even get to shoot my load," the woman said, pulling the inanimate mans gun from his holster. She shot her oblivious male progenitor in the head, using a pillow to muffle the sound. Blowing the muzzle smoke away, she lazily put the gun down and reached for her purse. Taking out the metal case she methodically prepared herself a hit, a strange sorrow coming over her.

Had she just committed suicide? She had definitely just killed a part of herself. She had just killed someone and it hadn't been her. Just as quickly as it came, her hatred left, replaced by doubt and remorse. The girl started to cry, sobs of shame and denial at what she had just done overcoming her.

What was she becoming? A murderer. A heartless killer. A user. Selfish. Self centred. She felt a wave of self loathing at the new parts of herself she had gained. Or had she gained them? Had she always possessed them.

The grief stopped as suddenly as it had came. She sat for a moment wondering what had come over her. She had only done what was necessary. Why was she so weak? It was the other part of her that had caused the faltering of resolve. The spineless part. The used and wasted, drug dependent part that sought oblivion through the needle. Why had she used the drugs? The girl felt angry for her weakness and became determined to be strong.

The young lady dressed then took Sylvia's mobile from her purse and dialed Nick, watching congealing blood drip from the cadavers skull. Emotionless. "Hello Nick? It's Sylvia," she said in a husky voice.

"No I'm fine darling, just got a frog in my throat."

"Oh him. The police officer just wanted a favour."

"Yes, I know. I'm sorry Nick," she wheedled.

"I've got a surprise planned for you," she said seductively.

"I'll be right over. Love you," she said, hoping that she had not strayed to far from Sylvia's phone manner. In retrospect, the conversation had flowed naturally and her comments had felt appropriate, just as it had seemed befitting when Nick had called her Sylvia.

The woman gathered the essentials. Nanobots, computer, money, ferrets, wine and Sylvia's bag. She wiped down the gun and left it on the table, then departed for Sylvia's home to change her clothes.

* ** ** *

Zene looked at the white fluffy cloth, a small rusty stain on it. She threw it into the toilet and flushed, glad that it was over. That had been one of the most displeasurable aspects of being female. She was glad that Kelly had been on the pill as had made the duration and intensity of her time less difficult, but even so... the last few days had not been something that she wanted to experience on a regular basis.

She understood now that her male instincts on the matter had been right. Better to know as little about the matter as possible. It was something that only half of humanity should have informed opinion of.

* ** ** *

Nick Ratorallis was one of the biggest men in the cities Mafia, an elderly Italian man clearly past his prime as evidenced by his gray peppered hair. Nonetheless he was imminently powerful. Nick's associates had dubbed him the vulture, not just because of his appearance. The name stemmed from the mans actions more than anything else. Nick lived off the decaying flesh of the cities seedy underbelly with an instinctive knack which amazed his contemporaries.

The crime lord possessed a gaunt face, a mass of loose hanging flesh which had started to migrate in sagging waves over his chin towards his neck. Dark avaricious eyes set deep in their sockets, a pronounced Adams apple and his lean frame reinforced the impression that the man was a carrion eater.

The Mafioso sat at his seat of power, in his booth, in his restaurant, overseeing his varied businesses as he enjoyed a Café Latté.

Gino escorted 'Sylvia' past Otto at the entrance, towards Nick's table. Gino's killer gray eyes were impassive as he carried Kelly's computer case and guided the young lady. A woman named Miles also sat at the table with Nick. Miles Norton was an attractive but empty headed women of the night, a tall and stunning bottle blonde with large breasts, long legs and an angelic face.

The Asian woman carried two expensive bottles of 1965 Grange Hermitage. She put the bottles down on the table. "These are for you," she said. Nick's eyes lit up as he recognised the bottles. They were worth in excess of fifteen hundred dollars each, but more importantly, they were hard to come by. "Happy birthday," Sylvia said.

Nick resolved to discipline Sylvia for carrying drugs later, the gift having mollified him for the moment. He was also curious about the police officer, but the wine had to come first.

Signaling for the waiter to open the bottles, Nick sat back and relaxed, hanging an arm over Sylvia's shoulder. The waiter extracted a cork from one bottle and held it up for inspection. It was a deep blood red colour. He poured a small taste into a wine glass in front of Nick.

Lifting the glass, Nick inhaled the bouquet then sipped it, washing it around his mouth for a while, savouring the palate, then swallowed. "Excellent, a magical year," he said, finishing his glass.

The waiter brought fresh glasses for all of the people at the table, filling each. Sylvia watched, taking note of who drank.

"What was the favour that Officer Collins wanted?" Nick inquired playing with his glass of red. Gino watched intensely, sipping the amber liquid. Miles sat quietly while business was being discussed, taking the opportunity to savour the prestigious wine.

"He said he has come into possession of a new technology that he thought would be 'beneficial' to you. I think it he may be right," Sylvia voiced.

"Gino, give a glass of the wine to Otto. After all it's my birthday," Nick said. It was better sometimes to not let Gino know all of his business dealings.

Gino stood gracefully, taking the bottle and walking over to the single bruiser at the door. As he passed an empty table he purloined a wine glass. "Otto. You have to try this red. It's excellent," Gino said.

Otto looked at the bottle and shrugged as Gino filled him a glass.

Nick brought his attention back at Sylvia and motioned her to continue.

'Perfect,' Sylvia thought, 'everyone has had a drink.'

"The technology is semi-legal and he stressed that we keep the information confidential..." Sylvia looked around at the other people still in the restaurant. Sylvia wanted the party to go someplace less public.

"Lets go out back," Nick suggested. He signaled for Gino and Otto to follow them. Miles tagged along as well. The group filed into the back room, Gino having relinquished the laptop to his subordinate, Otto.

The office was more like a lounge, large and open with comfortable couches, a small bar and an urbane desk with a PC mounted incongruously on top. Nick and his men waited patiently for Sylvia to start.

"Collins came into possession of a number of Nanobots and some of the programs to run them. He lacks the ability to manufacture more nanobots and needs us to steal the rest," Sylvia explained, keeping 'Collins' death a secret.

Nick sniffed having lost interest. People that talked about computers all day were fundamentally useless in his opinion. The story sounded like rubbish already. "I'm going to the toilet. Listen to her story Gino. If there is anything useful, tell me."

Gino nodded to Nick.

"Wait, you might want to see this," Sylvia said in her husky voice. Nick ignored her, so Sylvia shrugged and decided to continue. "Otto, can I have that case please?" Otto passed the computer to Sylvia. She flipped the laptop open and turned it on.

"I need a volunteer for a demonstration." Gino indicated Otto who shrugged his shoulders and stepped forward. "And a lady please..." Miles was the only candidate. "Perfect." Sylvia initiated a mental transfer on her small computer. The curvaceous blonde and the heavily muscled hood stood for a while as glassy looks overcame their features, just before their bodies collapsed limply to the floor.

Gino blinked. "What have you done?" he asked, still in control of the situation.

"They're all right." Sylvia looked at Gino and decided to try the other program she had, selecting it and initiating the nanobots to commence their work.

The criminal suddenly wilted. "I don't feel good," Gino muttered, slumping back into a chair.

Gino felt hot and nauseous, wallowing in a confused daze. He held his hand up and watched it in a stupor. The skin crawled and his muscles rippled, as though something were trying to escape from his skin. This was happening all over his body, but was not painful, just uncomfortable, similar to a muscle spasm or a tick. He felt his body compacting and warping as he become swollen and inflated, less muscled as his sinew dissolved, the excess fluids making his skin look disgustingly flabby.

The flesh continued its sinuous movements, the skin cracking and flaking disgustingly, peeling like badly sunburned hide. Gino realised that the underlying pigment had changed slightly and that his swollen skin appeared smoother and softer.

Incredibly itchy, he reached up to his warping scalp and pulled away a handful of hair. His hair was falling off in clumps! He held a fistful of locks in growing horror as he felt his face shifting, the skin stretching and distending, his bones adjusting subtly to a different and foreign shape. His neck lost its muscle tone dramatically, becoming bloated and puffy.

Incoherent, Gino looked down at his body. His chest writhed through his shirt as fat, muscle and liquids snaked from all over his body, transforming his torso, flowing in small gradual waves as his chest inflated and his hips widened. He started to sweat copiously, his clothes plastered to his damp, contorting flesh.

He reached down and felt his testicles being drawn into his body and his manhood shrinking and shriveling. He could actually feel the testicles move inwards, higher and higher inside him. Then in a peculiar burst he felt them change even further.

'What's happening?' Gino wondered in horror at his creeping flesh, his voice sounding as though it had been distorted by a machine.

Then Gino felt an incredible pressure build on his bladder and bowels. He sprinted for the toilet, pushing past Nick washing his hands. Gino made it to the toilet and had his pants down in time for his bowels to empty, locking the door behind him as an afterthought. Then he started to gag and vomited. His body had to expel all the excess mass it was shedding and it seemed to take forever. The smell was terrible.

His penis was now nothing more than a small bud above a growing cavity, the beginnings of a vagina. The shaft of his minuscule penis disappeared into soft foreign folds. The bones of his pelvis made a cracking sound and felt warm as they changed shape, to accommodate the womb which he could feel forming. All of his other bones felt unnatural and ached as well. He could almost imagine internal transformations taking place in his disorientated and feverish state.

He sat on the toilet, shivering uncontrollably, his head resting in his hands as he became less inflated and bulky, his body assuming clearly feminine lines. The need to expel fluids and solid waste passed and Gino realised that someone was pounding on the door. He ignored the noise, focusing on his body.

Squatting in stunned realisation, Gino perceived that all of his clothes were too big. He felt like a kid playing dress up in his parents wardrobe. He undid his damp, rancid shirt and touched one of his breasts, cupping it experimentally. Then he looked down between his legs and confirmed what he already knew. Their was no penis there, just the cavity of a vagina. He wondered what other differences he would notice, with some disquiet.

Feeling between his legs, he panicked as he noticed pubic hair growing at an accelerated rate. Judging by his itching scalp, Gino knew that hair was growing there as well. He needed to see what he looked like, his new circumstances making him feel utterly unnerved.

Gino clamped down on his emotions with an iron will. He was more than just the some of his parts. He was Gino Caperotti, feared throughout the underworld. He held onto this identity, trying to stoically accept the current hardship in his emotionless and callous way.

Gino stood up, cleaned himself off whilst clinically examining his changed countenance in the mirror. He looked like his twenty year old niece. 'This is what I would have looked like if I'd been born a girl,' he thought and he felt the fear surge up again.

He fell back upon his old army training. 'Adapt, improvise, deal with it and win,' he thought to himself, over and over. 'You are a woman but you are still Gino.'

Gino now had medium sized breasts and a softer and more attractive face that was still slightly hawkish. Remaining lean and tall, but more curvaceous around the hips, Gino was now only lightly muscled. Gazing into her eyes, she was glad that they were still a cutting and icy gray, retaining the glint of the ruthless and unprincipled man she had been, unimpeded by morals.

Smoothing her fetid shirt, Gino composed herself, already coping with the situation in her level headed way. She cleaned her clothes as best she could with some toilet paper and opened the door. Nick grabbed her on the shoulder as she exited the toilet. "Who are you?" He asked.

Looking at Nick in irritation, Gino realised that she had lost some height. "I'm Gino. Let me go," she ordered, her voice weak and nasally.

Nick eyed her skeptically, noting that the expensive but squalid clothes she wore were too big and that she stunk. Nick pushed her towards the office angrily. The crime lord did not like unknown people sneaking around and was rather rough with his henchwoman. When Nick returned to the room, he saw the bodies of Miles and Otto groggily trying to sit up. "What's going on?" He asked in confusion.

"Nick?" The body of Miles, the tall blonde asked. She was on the couch, top undone, her magnificent breasts spilling out. Otto was trying to cope with her enforced femininity, which she had been examining closely. "What's going on?"

The body of Otto was picking itself up unsteadily from a pile of vomit. He seemed to be rather surprised, moving effeminately, gasping like a girl as he looked at his hands and touching his chest.

Sylvia was feeling happy. She looked pitiably at Nick as he tried to make sense of the whole room.

"Nick stop Sylvia, shoot her," Gino yelled. "Now before she gets you too."

Sensing that there was something amiss, Nick drew his gun cautiously. Not knowing who the smelly young lady was, Nick ignored her, turning to Otto. "Where's Gino?" The Mafia boss asked.

Deciding to deal with Nick last, Sylvia typed a command into the computer, ordering the nanobots to knock him unconscious. The crime lord fell to the ground as the nanobots shut down his consciousness. She wasn't going to harm him.

Gino's hand crept towards the gun in her holster which now hung loosely from her spare frame.

"You don't want to join him, do you Gina?" Sylvia asked. Gino's hand stopped moving towards the gun, uncertain what was happening to Nick. She looked at Sylvia, daggers in her eyes. Nobody was going to call her Gina. "Throw your gun here, slowly," Sylvia ordered and Gino complied, sliding her gun to Sylvia's feet.

"Who are you?" Gino asked, her voice icy and controlled.

"I'm still pretty much Sylvia, just a little wiser and smarter," Sylvia replied, pleased with the enigma she had created, reaching down to pick up the pistol. She looked at the gun, suddenly concerned. Was she going to kill someone? What was she going to do? What was her other half thinking? These thoughts evaporated just as rapidly as they had sprung into her head. The girl shook her head, regaining control.

Sylvia held Gino's gun and went and picked up Nick's. She then collected the gun from Otto's male body. "Now if you ever want your bodies back you'll have to help me." She decided she liked her new voice. It had an unusual throaty timbre to it.

Gino eyed Sylvia carefully as the Asian lady waved one of the guns menacingly.

"None of this is permanent you know." Sylvia took aim on Miles' male body, firing at the shocked man. A bullet impacted into the Miles' calf, knocking his leg from under him, bones protruding from his twisted limb as he collapsed screaming to the ground. Sylvia then commanded the nanobots to repair Miles' injury. The injury mended itself, the bone disappearing back into his lower leg, the laceration healing into a pinkish scar which slowly vanished.

"See?" She looked around to make sure she had everyone's attention. "None of this is permanent unless I want it to be. So you had better follow my orders," she said in a conceited tone. She had just shot someone! Miles. Miles was her friend! Killing Kelly was pardonable but Miles had never hurt anyone. She felt sorry for Miles, Otto and Gino. They had lost their bodies because of her...

"I'm sorry..." she started to say, then control was reasserted. "Sorry if you don't like the way things are, but if you do as you're told, everything will be fine."

Using the nanobots Sylvia then knocked the three modified people out and revived Nick.

"Nick honey, you'll love what we can do with this technology," Sylvia said as the older man struggled to rouse himself from his enforced sleep.

"What happened?" Nick asked in confusion.

"It's the nanotechnology I was telling you about. It can do almost anything." She pointed at Gino's unconscious form. "That's Gino. Look carefully. I made her into a woman, but I don't think she likes it. And that's Miles and that's Otto." Sylvia said, pointing at the new bodies they resided in. "I switched their minds."

"I don't believe you," Nick scoffed.

"Ask them yourself, but I want to make this clear. We need to work together on this. I can't tell you everything, but the financial gains that you'll get will be unbelievable. Ahh my love, this is going to be fantastic..." Sylvia said, wakening the others.

Nick took a measure of the young Asian woman, suspecting that there something was wrong with her. She even sounded different, more self assured, cocky even. Not the submissive sex tool she was meant to be.

Gino, Miles and Otto stirred, waking.

The Crime lord looked at the young girl that Sylvia claimed was now Gino, quite impressed with her lean hawkish appearance. The comely young girl looked like she would be a challenge. Maybe she was a birthday gift...

"Nick it's me Gino," the woman said, standing.

Nick laughed, a deep generous chuckle. He approached the young lady, placing a familiar hand on her hip. Gino's eyes narrowed dangerously as Nick raised her chin, running a hand over her soft cheek. "Well aren't you a cute little girl Gina? With those killer looks I do believe you could slay me in bed, any time," Nick said condescendingly, not believing for an instance that this was Gino.

"Nick, the concrete foundations of the Crown were a great place to hide Francisco and Domino, weren't they? Remember how Domino screamed like a stuck pig? Watch where you put your hands, 'boss', unless you want to sound like that," Gino whispered acidly. Only Nick and herself knew where those particular bodies were, and neither of them had told a soul, and neither of them ever would.

Pausing in surprise, Nick looked into Gino's implacable icy eyes. Recognition gave way to startled shock, and Nick stepped back, then turned to look at Miles and Otto.

"It's true. I'm really Otto boss," the busty blonde said. The voice was Otto's, several octaves higher, but definitely hers. She looked down at her much thinner and curvaceous body with concern.

Nick could not help but laugh at the thought of his two henchman stuck in female bodies and let out an earthy chuckle.

* ** ** *

"The reading of his will is tomorrow," Zene had settled into Rick's flat quite well.

"That's good." Rick was reading the paper.

"Are you listening?" She threw a pillow from the couch at him, hitting him in the side of the head.

"Watch it," he threatened, mock anger in his voice. Rick picked up the pillow and tossed it back at her.

Zene laughed as she dodged. Rick smiled. It was the first time he could recall her laughing since Zene had become a she.

His reverie was broken as the pillow sailed back and hit him square in the face. "Penny for your thoughts." Zene asked.

"Oh I was just thinking that I prefer you much more this way," Rick said sincerely.

Zene's jaw dropped as her mind worked. She tried to imagine what she had done to prompt a comment like that.

The pillow hit her slack jaw. "Gotcha."

"Hey. Not fair."

"You started it." Rick returned to his paper, turning the page. "What was the name of the officer you thought Kelly had stolen."

"Collins. Why?" She asked, not liking the concerned expression Rick wore.

"You'd better look at this."

Zene moved next to Rick and read the small article. The column stated that junior officer Redmund Collins had been found in his flat, shot through the head with his own gun and that it had definitely been a murder. There were no concrete leads.

"Kelly could be anyone," Zene surmised and looked at Rick. They were standing close but she was not concerned.

"Sorry, " Rick apolagised, noticing their proximity and moving to give her some room, aware that in the past his closeness had caused her anxiety. He still found it difficult to believe that this woman had been and still was his best friend.

"That's O.K., I don't think I'm afraid of you," Zene said, brightening at the realisation.

As she gazed at Rick she felt a tugging of emotions that she did not understand. She was grateful that Rick believed her, was glad that she had a friend she could trust, but underlying that was a profound uncertainty, a tension that was subtlety wistful.

Rick was momentarily stunned. 'My god Zene is looking at me like a coy girl.'

Zene suddenly blushed, knowing she had transmitted her confused emotions and that Rick had received them. "Um. Look about this reading of the will. Are you sure you want to come? It could be dangerous..."

Rick smirked, unconsciously moving towards her again. "That's all right. I think I can handle it. We'll just have to arrive and leave separately for the press. Can't have them guessing that you're staying with me."

Zene could feel chemistry between them and remembered how worried she had been the first time she had hit on a girl as a man. It felt like the same thing. 'What do I do? Do I make the first move? What am I thinking? He's a man and so am I, aren't I? Where could this possibly lead?'

* ** ** *

Otto stood in the small bathroom, examining her new body, unsurprised to discover that her cleavage was surgically enhanced and that she was a bottle blonde, not a natural. Having often admired Miles from afar, Otto had dreamed of getting into her pants, but this went just a little too far. A knock on the door interrupted her musings. She hurriedly covered herself, pulling her shirt closed and opening the door to be confronted by her own face.

"Look I'm sorry to bother you, but we need to talk," Miles began in a gruff masculine voice which he was still not used too.

Otto nodded letting Miles in and closing the door, locking them in. She leaned back against the basin, "so talk," she responded, trying to sound tough, hiding her insecurity. In her attempt to sound relaxed and controlled, she had forgotten to do up her buttons, her ample bosom flashing for a moment before it dawned on her and she did up her top.

"Well, since you now have my body you should probably know that you need to take medication," Miles said, averting his eyes and opening his old purse, "you may find that you suffer from migraines, so take these. I was also on the pill, but..."

Otto finished with her buttons, then looked at the small tablet strip, a startling reminder that her body now had new, imposing potentials. "I probably won't need those. If you don't mind me asking, when is it due?"

"Not for two weeks," Miles replied, instinctively knowing that the man that inhabited his old body was very afraid, perhaps more than he was. "Look, it isn't that bad, or that different," Miles said supportively.

"Maybe not for you, but it is for me. Hell I'm not even sure what's left of me," Otto said.

"Me neither," Miles wanted to say that he had been feeling new urges, but that might have destroyed the woman's grip on her situation.

"I've been looking at..."

"I know."

* ** ** *

Gino lay on the couch in the large office behind the restaurant, brooding. She was the iceman. Trouble slid off her like water off a ducks back. That she should be upset was wrong. She blamed Nick and Sylvia for her current predicament.

She briefly toyed with the idea of killing the stranger that inhabited Sylvia's body outright. It was tempting but she needed more information before she acted, if she ever wanted to get her male body back. She needed to figure out what the deal was with Sylvia and Nick. To do that she had to stay close to them both.

Gino was incensed that Nick had been amused by her transformation. She had respected and admired the boss and he had treated her like dirt, laughing in her face. Gino knew that Nick looked down on woman but it had never bothered until now.

Grinding her teeth in anger, Gino pushed her long hair from her eyes. What really infuriated her was that Nick had groped her. Feeling up a hired woman was one thing, a hired gun something else completely. Gino vowed that Nick would get his comeuppance, one way or another.

'What about Otto and Miles?' Gino wondered. Were they of any use to her and what were their feelings about the change? She hadn't spoken to them, had been unable to approach another woman who had been a man or the man that had once been female. She looked around the room, wondering where they had gone. Gino assumed that they were in the restaurant and decided to check up on them and sound them out.

Soon. Right at the moment she needed to go to the toilet, something which she had deliberately been postponing, unthrilled with the simple action of sitting down to pee.

Just as she was about to open the door, she heard the frantic pounding and gasping of someone having sex. Not someone but two people.

With a dry mouth, Gino cringed inwardly, thoughts of Miles and Otto having intercourse running through her mind. She went back to the couch in the lounge and mulled over the consequences of Otto and Miles' actions as they related to herself. 'If two confirmed heterosexuals would do something like that, would I?' Gino wondered but could not imagine herself sleeping with a man. She fiercely hoped that she was still attracted to women.

Gino watched as Otto, in her new female form, came into the lounge, slightly flushed and quite obviously contented. Miles followed shortly afterwards, a self-satisfied grin on his face.

* ** ** *

Zene awoke, filled with anxiety. Today she was going to the reading of David's will. There was the distinct possibility that Kelly would try something. She was nervous, although for more than just one reason. She had spent the night trying to analyse her reactions to Rick, but to no avail.

She decided that breakfast and a shower were the best things for her. She headed for the kitchen. One of the worst things about this body was that it didn't seem to sleep well. She tired early in the night, but when she tried to sleep anxiety and concern ate at her. Worries seemed to wind her body up like a spring, and she had been worrying a lot lately.

Zene had also become a morning person. Previously she had disdained morning people, those that woke with energy and gusto. In her past life her waking ritual had consisted of standing under a searing hot shower for quarter of an hour just so she felt human enough to face the world. Now she woke at the crack of dawn, unfailingly wide awake, almost to the point of being hyperactive. 'Damn hormones, why can't I snooze in the morning anymore,' she thought as she opened the cupboard and grabbed the cereal.

She thought about the other differences. The cold bothered her. As a man she had loved the winter. Brisk icy days had made her glad to be alive. They had invigorated her. Now she found that the chill air sunk into her extremities. She felt the cold, no matter how much she rugged up.

Eating her breakfast she read the morning paper, still finding that sport interested her. The pies were doing badly this season, but it wasn't over yet... Zene finished the paper and looked at the time. Seven thirty on a Saturday morning was a bit early to be fully awake. She decided that she would treat Rick to breakfast in bed and rummaged through the cupboards for suitable food. Making bacon and eggs on toast, with coffee and juice seemed appropriate on a cold morning.

* ** ** *

Zene trundled backwards into Rick's room, turning around and walking up to his half asleep form. He smiled in appreciation. "Got you breakfast in bed," Zene said as she looked down and noticed that he had a morning glory. She tried her best to ignore it as she placed the tray beside him on the bed.

"Thanks. You shouldn't have gone to all that trouble." Rick stupidly realised that he was at attention and tried to casually rearrange the covers to hide the fact.

Zene acted as though she had not noticed. "Well I am kind of imposing on you." There was a moments silence as she thought what to say. "Anyway I'm having a shower."

"You sure you won't join me. There's plenty here." There was a bit of mocking innuendo in his voice. 'Where did that come from?' he thought

"No, I've eaten already." She backed out and left. Zene made her way to the bathroom her stomach tied up in knots. These knots were quite pleasurable, but they were playing with her mind more than she liked. She stopped in indecision and thought about Rick again, turning around, her feet taking her of their own accord to his room. She opened the door, walked in and sat beside him on the bed.

Seeing that something was bothering her, Rick put the food down on the ground beside his bed and asked, "What's up?"

"Look, I'm having problems..." she started.

"Uh huh?" Rick answered.

Zene threw caution to the wind, moved forward and kissed him.

A torrent of emotions flew through her. The strongest of them all was a burning sexual need. She needed him. She pushed him onto the bed, her small frame pressing against his with a recklessness she had never known before. She needed to be in control, and she moved on top of him aggressively.

Zene undid her top, Rick's hands reaching up and caressing her breasts, fondling and tugging her nipples until they stood at attention. Her skin felt sensitive, the sensation more arousing than she had ever recalled as a man. Zene could also feel him stirring underneath her.

Disentangling Rick's hands from her breasts, Zene held his arms firmly on the bed. She leant forward, bringing her breasts within reach of his eager mouth, teasing him as he tried to suck them, just as girls had done to her in the past.

"Stay there," she said as she reached down and unbuttoned his shirt. Rick reached a hand towards her breasts and she slapped it away. "No, I need to be in control. Stop that or I'll stop." She moved onto his legs then started on to his pyjama pants. She was feeling moist and hot between her legs. 'This is going too slow, I need it in me.' She growled in frustration, grinding her pussy into his knee.

Zene briefly hesitated as his penis sprang free. She looked at it for a moment her eyes wide as Rick struggled out of his pants kicking them off gracelessly. He was big.

'Do I really want that in me?' She held it in her small, delicate hand, rubbing her moist mound on his leg . 'Mmmm, yes I do.'

Zene kneeled and moved clumsily out of her clothes, throwing her shirt and boxers away. She was perspiring, working herself into a frenzy.

"Condom" Rick said, groping at the bedside table drawer. There weren't any there. "Wait, in my wallet." They both made a mad haphazard dash for his pants, thrown messily in the corner the night before, his dick bouncing in time with her breasts. Zene got them first and struggled with the wallet. It seemed to be stuck in the pocket. After an eternity she worked it free. She tore the condom packet viciously with her teethe, then rolled the rubber onto his penis.

Then she was on him. He pounded into her from below while she bounced and rocked, finding a rhythm and the right angle. She came off a number of times, her body coming down on his rigid member. "Sorry are you O.K.?"

"Yes." He replied, slipping back in as quickly as he could. He started to slap her arse as his cock pumped deeply into her. Zene gave little yelps of pleasure, the passion of the moment blinding her to the pain.

Rick then reached down and stimulated her clitoris with his finger, watching in pleasure as her ample breasts bounced and rocked with the flowing motions of her body. An enraptured expression transformed her face.

To Zene, Rick seemed to be everywhere. His hands massaged her breasts, stroked her hips and inner thighs and between her legs. The rhythm started to burn into her mind. She was unaware that she was giving out small animal grunts with every thrust as she started to tingle, becoming moister and moister. It started as a warm glow, large and unfocused around her wet and gushing vagina. With every thrust it became repeatedly intense flashes of pleasure, closer and closer together until it was one long and furious sensual overload. She had to stop, but kept going further into the climax.

Rick grunted. She could feel the warmth of his sperm through the thin membrane of the condom as he ejaculated. She kept rocking, savouring the moment and the afterglow of her first orgasm as a woman, amazed that she had experienced one on the first time she had sex. She lent forward and hugged Rick, then wriggled free of his diminishing member. She used a towel to dry herself, amazed at the size of her blood engorged vagina and clitoris, which was still extremely sensitive to the touch.

"Again." She ordered as she bounced onto the bed with gusto.

"Give me a minute." Rick begged. "You know how it is?" He removed the condom, tying off the end. "If you get pregnant we'll call him Houdini." He threw it into the bin.

Zene laughed, full of life and energy, completely carefree. 'This is quite good actually,' she thought

The second time they were a lot slower and a lot less frantic. It was leisurely, comfortable sex. Zene was not on top, content to have sex on the side in a spooning position.

* ** ** *

Zene lay next to the snoozing form of Rick, trying to rationalise what had happened. She was tired so her thoughts had a rambling nature about them. She discounted her first encounter with Kelly in her contemplation's, the memory too painful to visit. Instead she focused on the last sexual interlude.

'I'm a man in a woman's body. I've slept with a man and enjoyed it,' she thought to herself, feeling decidedly ambiguous about this. She knew that she would never have slept with a man before her change, but having just done it for the second time she felt a little worried. Worried because she had found the experience very pleasurable.

'Should I have enjoyed it?' Zene wondered, scratching her arm. She couldn't deny that the sex had been great. Actually it had probably been much better than any she could recall as a male. She knew that the body she wore was made to enjoy sex, just as her male body had been, but couldn't quite reconcile what she had done with who she was.

Another issue plagued her mind. 'Are sexual preferences a defining point of personality?' She thought about this carefully, remembering how perfect the love-making had felt. She didn't feel any different, still had the same moral values and outlook on life. Her new orientation was difficult to grapple with, mainly because she had never really considered being in this situation before. Deep down she knew that she was the same person, and knew that she would be able to adjust to her change.

'Obviously I'm still me,' she concluded, but a nagging doubt remained. She tried to isolate the dilemma. She didn't know when she would be a man again, or if she would get the opportunity to become male again, but she had always prided herself on making the best of a bad situation. Besides being female wasn't that bad.

Zene ran a hand over her body, pausing on her large breasts and then on her narrow waist, looking at Rick. She decided that she should just live for the moment. Worrying about the past and the future would be worse than useless. It would be counter productive. Live for the moment and the future would take care of itself.

Another thought occurred to her. 'Am I still sexually attracted to women?' She tried to imagine sex with a woman but the whole thing confused her. 'I guess time will tell. One thing is certain, I'm going to be a lot more analytical about sex and sexual innuendo.'

After careful thought Zene realised that her greatest fear was that she may no longer be the Zene she had once been, that she had lost a part of herself.

"Rick?" Zene said to the slumbering man.


"Do me a favour, tell me if any of my actions seem a little out of character, unusual for the male Zene you knew. Any change in mannerisms, actions or speech. Anything that seems out of place," she asked her friend.

"O.K. You just slept with me. I think that was a slight departure from the Zene I knew," Rick mumbled, still half asleep.

Pounding her counterpart in the head with a pillow, Zene stood and left to have a shower.

"Hey I'm not complaining," he called after her.

As she stood under the pouring hot water, her body didn't seem quite so unnatural. It was not just the sexual act that had changed her view of her body but it had been a catalyst of sorts. She had put a lot of emotional baggage out to pasture in the act, redefined herself to some degree and overcome a major mental hurdle. She counted this as her first sexual experience as a female, deciding that the sex with Kelly and the following assault did not qualify. Sexual intercourse had not been unsatisfying this time around.

She looked down at her breasts, the water pounding down on her from above and felt no need to look away. She actually liked them, appreciated their grace and pendulous beauty, the thin arms and delicate hands were a part of her, the curved hips and legs responsive and attractive but, more importantly, natural. Even the nestled bud of her vagina was no longer alien.

The sex had been incredibly different. Being penetrated was not what she had expected. She tried to compare sex as a man and sex as a woman. It was like comparing chalk and cheese. The orgasm had also been a surprise, the sensation a more diffused experience, both in duration of time and in her body. It had been a whole body experience, focused around the node of her vagina. It had also lasted longer but been a lot less focused and intense.

As she toweled off she hummed to herself.

Zene walked up to Rick's drowsing from and patted him on the shoulder. "Thanks," she said.

"Its O.K. Didn't mind it in the least," Rick replied, a smug grin on his sleepy face.

Zene went to her room and dressed. When she returned she looked at the still slumbering form of Rick. and grinned wickedly at the thought of kicking him out of bed. "Come on get up. You have to get ready. Wakey, wakey, hand off snakey." Zene pulled his dooner of, exposing his naked body to the cold air.

Rick shivered, casting an accusing eye at Zene as he groggily climbed of the bed. "Why are all women so cruel?" he muttered darkly.

"It's a secret. You have to become one to find out. Come on, we have the will reading to go to. Get your arse in gear."

"O.K." He replied fuzzily.

* ** ** *

"'I leave to Kelly my collected research and patents, all my material assets and my life insurance.' That's all there is to it really." The executor said. He handed over a small sealed box. "Except it was David's wish that you use his work for the bettering of humanities lot. I hope you know that. You know you're lucky that he had no relatives who could contest the will." The executor was none too subtly referring to Kelly's indiscretions with Zene and the fact that he considered her unworthy of David's assets.

The executor smiled sadly, thinking that the technology was a waste in this girls hands, that David Stubbing had been too blinded by love to see the true person he had married. The executor was both right and wrong. He looked at Rick and frowned. 'Girl didn't even wait for the body to cool.' he thought disdainfully.

"Let's go." Rick said. He could do without this man judging him.

* ** ** *

"Even if Gino lost her boss, I still got good photos. They might help," Otto said to Nick.

Otto and Miles had waited out the front of the legal firm with the press, taking photos of everyone that had entered and left the entire day. Gino had been assigned to following Zene when she left, but with the competition from the media and Zene consciously trying to lose them, Gino had not had much luck.

Sylvia looked at the photos carefully. One of the people who had been at the law firm looked familiar. She paused as she tried to remember his name. Rick. That was his name. Sylvia struggled to place him. She failed. Frustrated at her faulty memory, she cast a scathing glance around the room, at Gino in particular, who had been standing nearby. How could she remember when she only had half of her memories?

Gino walked off , casually. The calm woman worried Sylvia but she dismissed Gino as a mental lightweight, no match for her, forgetting that she was now mentally lacking herself. What she really needed right now was a good hit of heroin.

Sylvia ignored her need and pondered Nick who sat on the other side of the table. She still desperately wanted him but he had been strangely distant from her since the change. Sylvia knew that she could never bring herself to kill the older man as she needed him to much, and was in mental anguish over his aloofness.

Sylvia was fighting a losing battle for control of the situation, both internally and externally. Nick had already commandeered the few remaining nanobots and the computer which housed the programs. She just could not say no to the man, no matter how hard she tried. The weak part of her was too strong in this one area. She was also fighting a bad case of heroin withdrawal, something which the strong part of her had the willpower to enforce. She hated herself for becoming a willing pawn but could do nothing to fight it.

Miles sat down and itched his balls. Otto walked up to him and kissed him on the cheek whilst Gino watched in disgust. Miles and Otto had remained together after their wanton sex in the bathroom, slipping almost naturally into a supportive relationship. Gino was incredulous and concerned that the two heterosexuals had become a couple after an enforced sex change.

Gino imagined sleeping with her former male body and she found the notion repulsive. Gino was male no matter what the outside packaging. She ignored her irritation, aware that it was based on her fear that her masculinity would disappear beneath a submissive female veneer. Instead she concentrated on the pieces of the puzzle which she had acquired.

She watched Sylvia out of the corner of her eye, one piece of the puzzle. Whoever Sylvia had been before remained a mystery. It may have been the dead officer but Gino doubted it. Judging by the mess the person had made of things, she was a rank amateur, both sloppy and stupid. Gino despised such individuals and would take great pleasure in killing 'Sylvia'.

Kelly Stubbing also fit into the picture, another part of the conundrum. Gino assumed that Kelly's husband had invented the Nanobots and it was logical that Kelly now controlled them.

This begged the question how Sylvia had acquired her Nanobots to begin with...

Gino grimaced at the circular nature of her musings. All she needed to do was to get the nanobots and Sylvia had just given Gino the right puzzle piece to get them, just by lingering over a photo of an unknown man.

* ** ** *

"Wow look at this." Zene said. She sat with a lap top on her lap, leaning back on Rick's chest.

Rick sat there a little hesitant, uncertain as to how to best deal with his companion. He regretted sleeping with her, still thinking of her as his best friend, not a female companion. He was not proud of sleeping with her, now that he had thought about it. He didn't know if he had ruined their friendship and was uncertain how to break the news. It was better sooner than later, but...

"What is it?" he asked.

"Amongst other things the Nanobots can change a persons physical age. Hey, want to be younger? This stuff can take you back to almost the state you were in at birth. David's recommended against it though. It says here that extreme cellular regression can create mutations and degradation of cell structure." She stopped, rereading something.

"Whoa. Here's something. David has noted that modification of cells more than once causes complete disintegration of cell structure. He estimated that in most animals it takes about three years for all cells in the body to naturally replace themselves and the body to recover from changes. That means that physical changes can only be carried out once every three years."

"Well that is a major limitation." Rick noted. There was a long pause as Zene continued reading.

"The notes on mental transference are intriguing. David believed that a human would exponentially lose memory with each successive mental transfer, but he never tested any of his theories on humans. He reckoned that one percent was lost in the first exchange..."

"I lost about one percent of my memories and stuff in the first exchange. I didn't even notice. I wonder what I lost?" Worry and concern crept onto her face.

Rick squeezed Zene's shoulder in sympathy.

"You lose fifty five percent after the second exchange. Everything after the third. If Kelly has changed from Collins to someone else then she's only half the person she used to be. Hmf, I'm not keen on transferring my mind if this is true.

"It also says that the missing or lost parts of the mind are made up by the original bodies memories. David likens it to the background noise that you hear on video or audio tapes when you record over them with something new.

"The same percentage lost in the transfer... So I'm partly Kelly..." Zene paused, her worst fears being confirmed. "So I might be a crazed homicidal maniac waiting to explode."

"Most women are," Rick said lightly. Zene tensed. "I don't think you're Kelly." He paused, trying to be encouraging, realizing that his jests were not helping. "Zene, you're in control of your body. Kelly is just a phantom memory to your brain, one percent of you. That's a drop in the ocean. Trust me, you're nothing like Kelly."

Zene nodded. Meanwhile she considered that she may have 'inherited' or retained Kelly's sexual identity whilst losing her own. Sexual preference seemed to be more than one percent of a person, but then again maybe it was not. Then again the change in preference could be caused by her mind adapting to the body it was in.

"My mind has been modified so I can't alter it for three years. That means I could make my body male again, but I couldn't effect my brain." That could make the change almost redundant. She might end up as a woman trapped in a mans body, perhaps worse off than she was now.

"That's great," Rick said trying to sound enthusiastic.

"Yeah I guess it is. But I'm just not sure," Zene said skeptically. 'Am I really a woman or am I a man inside?' Zene wondered. There were to many uncertainties with the whole situation.

Zene decided the issue of her sexuality could wait. "You know we've opened a Pandora's box here. I'm half tempted to destroy all of this stuff or put it in a place where people won't be able to access it for years," Zene commented.

"I think you're right, but do the dangers outweigh the gains? But before we worry about that... Do you want to become a man again?" Rick asked.

"I'm not sure. Well maybe I am. I don't think I do," Zene replied.

"Why?" David prompted.

"What is there for me if I'm a man?" Zene asked. "Still no family and a lot of uncertainty. I know I won't be the old Zene again." Zene realised she was rambling. Rick looked at her waiting for her to explain what she meant.

Zene paused as she collected her thoughts. "The exchange has affected more than just my body. It has affected my mind. The male Zene that I used to be would never have done what I have done. More importantly I am comfortable with what I've done, while I'm positive the male Zene never would have been. Can you understand that?"

Rick nodded.

"From what I understand about the nanobots I can change my body but I can't change my mind. My mind is frozen as is. Being male with the way I think seems wrong. At the moment I'm a woman, inside and out. Even if this change wasn't voluntary, I can deal with it. I might even go so far as to say I'm happy."

Rick mulled this over, not sure if Zene was being honest with herself, but unwilling to gainsay her.

"I know I'm establishing myself as a new person. It isn't easy but I know I'm close to being at peace with myself." Zene looked at Rick, hoping to see understanding. She saw support, which was good enough.

"Even if I could change my mind, I don't want to. I'd lose half of myself. Not a hundredth but half. That's a lot. Besides it wouldn't be me. It would be some machine that had messed with my head, reprogramming my mind. I don't think the machine has the ability to understand how we think, it just copies and moves stuff around. I'd be some cheap imitation me."

"Don't think that you are the reason for my decision either. I can be happy like this, with or without you." Zene smiled at the cliché which popped into her mind. "You never know what you've got till you lose it and I don't want to lose anything more."

Zene wondered if she had made the right decision. She believed she had but she knew that in life there are no certainties, just hopes which may or may not be realised.