The newest addresses seemed easy enough to remember, 101A and B, 102A and B..., a couple doors down were some normal human folks. Neighbors who didn't much make noise and didn't much comment on the noise around them. A two story apartment stuck at the outskirts of a suburb in Illinois that no one really much liked. It was a run down place but not decrepit, there were no holes in the walls and the termite problem had been eliminated the year before.

The group of Trippers that rented four apartments in this rundown locale got more than their share of odd looks from people when they were seen all together. They endeavored to not be seen that way, but the neighbors in 104 couldn't help but notice it anyway. There were no people living upstairs or between 102 and 104, it would be a while before those apartments were filled. There were no jobs around, little rent money, and frankly this apartment strip was nicer than two dozen other places scattered along the roadside.

The money that several of the post-teen Trippers got from their humble jobs was more than welcome to the owners of the building, and so any complaints were probably going to be ignored.

It would be hard to explain, otherwise. This batch of people who obviously had to have some familial connection - though not always to everyone in their group. There were the trio of freckled-skin brothers, a young asian-looking girl and her overly-skinny friend, a hoodlum remnant with gang tattoos who was always fawning over that pretty pale-skinned girl with the big red birthmarks. There were the two black kids, a well rounded girl and her extremely buff guy, a lone semi-Italian looking young gent, the pampas-haired jumpy girl, and the twin blond brothers.

A large group with few working adults to afford four apartments. Yet, somehow, they would manage.

Several of them had lived together before, but this was the first time that the entire group resided in the same place. Not everyone got along, of course.

There were David and Drake, for instance. They were constantly at each other's throats. Everyone mistrusted Dave's brother-clone Dane, except for Rita, Tracy and Buck. The brothers Andrew, Alex and Anthony kept pestering the next-younger pair of Diva and Carolyne. And while everyone loved and respected Angela, they could hardly see what she saw in the ex-addict gang member Ramon.

But for the moment, things were calm. Dave and Drake worked different schedules, meaning that one of them would usually be asleep while the other was at work. Their schedules overlapped just enough for Drake to pester Dave before leaving, and for Dave to annoy Drake before he hit the sack. Rita was particularly amused by that whole cycle of life. Usually because she and Dave shared their bed and Rita got more sleep than her blond partner.

On this particular morning, however, Dave and Rita had other plans than sleep. It was the wee hours - when all but a couple of their group were well into their rest at home. They were neither sleepy, nor anywhere near the apartments.


5:17 AM Polygen Illinois Facility

The Polygen facility in Illinois wasn't all that far from their apartment, but more than distant enough that the pair of Triptych knew they would not be pursued even if they were caught. Dave had some 'business' to attend to at the facility. Rita came along because Dave knew his back would be safest if the volitile woman were guarding it. She'd guard him with her life, if need be. She had done it before, fiercely. Even more fiercely than Dave had guarded his own cloned brother Dane's.

This early in the morning, there were no guards patrolling the halls of Polygen Illinois. Only monitor cameras were on, and those were being watched somewhere in the mid west by a group of half-asleep idiots that Dave had more than once told not to mess with him.

The building was huge, flat, sprawling. But Dave knew his way around it well enough - most of their buildings were laid out the same. They saved on architectural design fees that way. Subtle differences meant nothing - all the hallways were clearly marked.

The hall that Rita and Dave walked down a few minutes before had been labeled 'Authorized Personnel Only' by a big sign on the wall. Dave took that to mean "free entry to me". They had entered an unmarked office room, and shut the door carefully behind them. There were no cameras in this room, oddly enough, and Dave took advantage of that fact.

Four large filing cabinets lined the walls and two long desks framed the others. Otherwise the room was featureless, it didn't even have chairs to sit at those desks - Rita wondered why. She and David took filing cabinets to task. Dave had explained to her earlier what they were looking for, and Rita dreaded what she'd find in these files.

Rita was hardly human when they walked into the room, and she shifted her hands into the dangerous claws that she could use to pry open or finesse the locks on the filing cabinets. Her keen falcon's eyes could tell that the lock mechanism wasn't going to give in easily. She concentrated on getting one open, and dug through the files locating folder after folder.

Then, as Dave was working, she heard a strange noise. The slight hum of a machine. Her long ears tilted toward it, and she vaguely turned her head to see Dave operating a shredder over a trash can. Angrily, Rita turned. Clawed hands on furry hips, she said, "David."

He grunted, but did not look up. Rita's green eyes narrowed.

"David." He finally turned to look at her. "Just how important were those papers? You just shredded?" Rita paused, and then added, "And don't give me that 'I've got a beak on and can't talk' crap."

With his golden fur framed by yellow-sunlit feathers and his blond hair, and a tan-colored beak he favored when he didn't want to speak. His pale blue eyes shone a bit, as he said, "... squawk." If he had lips, they would have curled into a smirk.

Rita fluffed out, all her pale slightly spotted-ivory fur bristling with anger. Every part of her seemed to sharpen. "Look, you!" She snarled loudly, "you can't be the only one of us to know everything!" She swooped down close to him, as he knelt next to the shredder. He backed up accordingly, slightly surprised, and as always impressed by her quick shifting. Her muzzle had gone from it's typical 'horse-nose' to a shorter, fiercer catlike one with sharp teeth.

While she was busy fuming at him, Dave noticed that the top drawer of the filing cabinet she'd just unlocked had started to slide shut. It finished it's motion with a certain kind of metallic "shunk!" noise. Rita's long ears again swiveled around angrily to focus on it, and once she realized what it was...

"Dammit! David!" She growled, turning on the cabinet and putting her long sharp claws over the edge of the drawer's lip - ready to pull it off with brute force if need be. "I just broke into this cabinet, and now I've gotta-"

"Chill, Rita," came David's calmly bemused voice, he'd stood up and held another piece of important paperwork over the shredder. With his other hand, long golden fingers produced a pair of black floppy-discs. "I've got these. We can go now." Rita noticed that her partner's beak had been replaced with a furry half-morphed muzzle. And yes, the edges of that muzzle's lips were grinning.

Her own fierce fanged mouth moved back into a horsey-smirk, and she pushed shut the drawer the rest of the way. Her tail angrily swatted Dave's side, but he only grunted another laugh. Turning, they went to the door and turned out the lights of the office. Once the door was open, Dave carefully looked up and down the hall, holding his hand to bar the door if Rita wanted to bolt out. She was like that, impulsive. He was overly careful - there were never guards this late.

Rita followed him as he rushed out of the room, and saw his half-beak turn whole again, but this time she could see the bright laughter over his blue eyes. She glanced to her left, where the big "Authorized Personnel Only" sign had been slashed quickly by his thick claws.

They scurried down the half-lit hall, neither of them needing to sharpen their vision much. They both had a strong line of predatory feline in their Triptych blood, and both had a sharp-eyed bird as well. The dim hallway posed no threat, and they turned another corner. Rita was completely lost, so she followed Dave's tail.

"I'm glad you know your way around here," she muttered as they reached the Polygen lobby.

After a bit of a pause, and the final yards of pulse-racing escape had been cleared, David replied, "I'm not."

The glass doors they'd already broken into on the way in, were hardly locked when they reached them again on the way out. Barely upon exiting, both Rita and Dave grew their large flight wings, his a collection of deep brown and rich golden feathers, hers a sharp edged slate and white mix. Rita jumped into the air first, she was a much faster flier and had sharper turning ability than Dave - or anyone else they'd met as Trippers. Her Lanner Falcon shape seemed to be ideally suited to that flight. And Rita relished the open chill of the night air.

Dave was a little more restrained - as he always was - when he took to the air. He made sure that there were no feathers or fur left behind when they flew up, checking with his sharp eagle-eyes. He knew how little it took to create a clone.

There were no alarms going off - their raid was wildly successful so far as they could tell. David knew that somewhere people knew they were in the building that night. But if they were able to alert Faust or not, he didn't even care. Right now, all he wanted to do was watch Rita as she soared beside him, bright white fur against the velvet black sky.

Below them, a single office window in the Polygen building grew light - and neither of them could hear the sound of photos of them perpetrating their dirty work being printed out.