Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13 , 14 & 15
‘You know this lady Vidal?’
‘Yes, I’m afraid I do. What are you doing here Shay?’
‘Would you believe - looking for you?’
‘I didn’t think you would, but is the idea very far fetched?’ She laughed softly as her gaze moved up and down his body, before looking into his dark eyes. Her tongue moving to moisten her lips, the invitation obvious even to Tony, as well as to both Simes, for the ambient was laden with sexual overtones. ‘Now Jason is a very - sensual man. But you Vidal.’ A husky growl came from the back of her throat.
Jordan coughed briefly, biting back a grin. ‘If I may interrupt?’
‘Be my guest.’ Vidal worked hard to keep his embarrassment from becoming obvious to the two other men. More so because his mind was racing at Shay’s innuendo. How did she know what sort of a man Jason was - unless? No! Surely he had to be wrong?
Vidal pulled his attention back to the present, as Jordan demanded answers from Shay. After a few minutes of more lies, she suddenly laughed. ‘What the hell does it matter anyway? Vidal, If I tell everything, can I leave?’
Jordan shook his head. ‘Sorry. Just tell us what you are doing here first, and then, if you have done nothing illegal.’ He shrugged, and waited. Both Simes knew the exact moment that she decided that there was nothing to be gained by denying why she was here any longer, and began to talk.
As Vidal had guessed she was a reporter, and had been sent to see what she could find out about the possibility of there being a Sime pen on Rockall. In order to get here, she had slipped off the Montrose and into the water as the boat crossed from Tay to Fife via Rockall.
She was apparently, an expert diver, and had been wearing full diving gear. She had also taken Oscar into her confidence, so that when her absence was noticed, he could explain to Niall and James as well as the others, and no one would think she had fallen overboard. Luck had played a big part in getting her here safely.
She had then gone on to admit that the other four, Oscar and his wife Dot, Tom and Andy, were indeed doing exactly what they had intimated. They were looking for suitable sites and locations for a Holoplay, and they knew nothing at all about Shay’s other reason for being on the trip.
As her narration came to a close, she looked at each man in turn. ‘So, where is the damn pen located?’
‘I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there isn’t one. You’ve risked your life for nothing.’ Jordan said quietly, glad that she was a Gen and couldn’t read the blatant lie in his field.
Vidal too had made his decision. When he had actually done so, he had no idea, but he had come to the conclusion that as Jordan and Bren were doing their best to finally put an end to this unsavoury episode in Sime history. The least he could do was to help them, by also denying that such places existed. After all, no good now would come from admitting to their existence.
‘This is an isolation clinic, nothing more. I can prove this by taking you on a guided tour. However, if I were to do so you, like all the others living here, would not be able to leave this facility for fear of infection.’ Jordan warned her.
‘But you are Sectuib in Zeor, and you leave here all the time. I’ve seen you on the newscasts.’ Shay pointed out at once.
‘True, but I am Sime. As are the vast majority of my staff. The diseases that we nurse here are mainly contracted only by Gens, and as such do not affect us.’ Jordan said quietly, and Vidal wondered how his friend could lie so smoothly. ‘Do you still wish to see around the clinic?’
‘Of course not, what do you take me for? A damn fool? Spend years in a place like this?’ She shivered with horror. ‘Vidal, have you any idea what the authorities will do to me?’ She pleaded.
Jordan replied before Vidal could do so, his voice neutral. ‘Your action in attempting to break into a restricted facility of this nature will in all likelihood be considered to be totally irrational, as indeed it is. Therefore, to ensure that others do not try to follow your foolhardy example, the authorities may well send you for rehabilitation on Mars.’
‘But they can’t do that! I’m a reporter dammit.’ For the first time she began to look frightened, as it was brought home to her exactly what she had done.
‘That does not justify what you did Shay.’ Vidal informed her, trying to read his friend’s field to see if he meant what he said, but without success.
For a moment she bit her lip as she stared at each of the three men in turn. Then obviously deciding that Jordan was the one who could do the most to help her situation, she turned her attention to him. ‘Instead of turning me over to the authorities - Jordan - that is your name isn’t it? Couldn’t we come to some arrangement, just between you and me?’
‘Vidal. Tell me that I am reading this young woman incorrectly.’ Jordan begged turning to his friend in surprise.
‘I can’t do that, sorry.’ Vidal couldn’t help smiling at the shock in his friend’s nager.
‘Is she actually offering me, what I think she is?’ He demanded quietly.
Vidal could only nod his head in reply; even he was surprised at how she could move her attention from one man to another without a second's hesitation.
Shay put out her hand, and to the shock of all the men present, she laid it on the Sectuib’s chest. ‘Of course I’m offering myself Jordan. I prefer to do business with the top man every time, and I guarantee I won't shortchange you either. You’ll vouch for me wont you Vidal?’
The Sectuib’s expressive lips were now twitching with open amusement, as Vidal squirmed under the slightly shocked gaze of both Tony and himself.
‘Shay you’re wasting your time, Jordan is married to a very beautiful lady. You’ll make no sale there believe me.’ Vidal informed her quickly, but did not bother to remind her that it was foolhardy in the extreme to touch any Sime without permission.
She sighed. ‘Pity, you’re quite a man Sectuib, all that power is quite an aphrodisiac you know. Still, it was worth a try. I don’t suppose you can get me out of this hellhole Vidal?’
Before he could draw breath to answer her, the door opened and another renSime stood there.
‘Sectuib. I am sorry to interrupt, but we have apprehended another Gen.’
‘You’ve what? Just what the shen is going on here? Is someone playing a joke or what?’ Jordan demanded as he glared across at the renSime.
‘Apologies Sectuib, I assure you it’s no joke. I was simply asked to tell you that.’
Jordan waved a tentacle by way of apology, as he interrupted him. ‘It’s all right Wyat. Forget I said that. I’ll be along shortly.’ He promised, as the renSime quickly withdrew. Then he turned back to Shay.
‘This is not a hotel. But we will try to make you as comfortable as possible. However, you will have to be restricted to this room, for obvious reasons. Disobey me, and you will never leave here.’ Jordan warned her. ‘You will find a bathroom behind that door there, and your meals will be brought to you. I shall be informing the appropriate authorities, and an escort will be sent to take you to Capital City, where charges will be laid.’
The three men took their leave. Outside the room Jordan stopped, and looked at his friend. ‘You and that - she cat? He shook his head in wonderment his dark eyes twinkling, ‘you never cease to amaze me Vidal. It seems that still water, really does run deep! Come; let us see who our new visitor is. I don’t suppose you happen to know who it might be?’
‘No, I haven’t a clue.’ Vidal confessed bluntly, as he fell into step beside Tony, and they both followed the Sectuib down the corridor.
They stopped outside another room and Vidal turned to his Companion. ‘By the way Tony, don’t you dare mention to Sabrina, that that female propositioned me,’ he warned.
‘What’s it worth?’ Tony demanded straight-faced.
‘A box of your favourite chocolates?’
‘You drive a hard bargain.’ Jordan smiled, and turned to straight arm the door, and they all three walked in.
‘Jason!’ ‘Vidal?’ Both men spoke at once.
‘Am I to take it that this Gen is your Companion Vidal?’
‘I’m afraid so.’ Vidal made the introductions quickly, and then demanded to know what his partner thought he was shenning well playing at? Jason began to explain, and Vidal to interrupt him as always.
A few minutes later, Jordan held up a hand, tentacles extended, calling for silence. It then took the Sectuib only a few minutes, first to explain to Jason that both Ian and Morgan were safe. Second that Vidal was there at his request on a friendly visit only, and third to find out from the Gen how and why he had come to Rockall in such an unorthodox manner?
Once again Vidal was amazed at how quickly Jordan was able to untangle such a complex mess, and make sense of everything. He then shook his head as he admitted ruefully to himself that things always managed to get into such chaos, where his Companion was concerned.
One other complication he knew still had to be resolved between them. For whilst Vidal was almost certain that his partner had, like himself, enjoyed Shay’s time and attention. The dilemma lay, in whether Jason also knew? If he did, how then did he feel about the situation?
Vidal of course had had many women in the past, and on most occasions he had not had any deep feelings for the woman concerned. It was simply one of the things that being a Channel entailed. A certain amount of sex was quite simply necessary, for good health and wellbeing. Therefore like all Channels, he had had to accept from changeover that it was essential to have a short sexual interlude from time to time. Which meant that the time spent with Shay, pleasant as it had been, had meant no more to him than any other. But, would his Companion look at it in that manner?
Of course there was also the fact, (that Jason would doubtless overlook), that Shay had invited him to her bed first! Jason had apparently been second. That being the case, then surely if explanations were due at all, his partner should be the one to explain himself, not the other way around? Even more to the point - why should either of them have to explain their actions to the other anyway? Shay being the type of woman that she undoubtedly was?
Equally, if blame was to be apportioned at all, then surely Shay was the one responsible? Then again, Shay was a free woman, able to enjoy as many sexual partners as she wished, and that being so, why shouldn’t they just be grateful that she had chosen both of them, and leave it at that? Vidal sighed, because knowing his Gen he just knew he would not leave it like that. So this was likely to become yet another complication, that he could well do without. Why were Gens so complicated?
When Jordan had finished questioning Jason, he had glanced across at Vidal, and a silent message had passed between them. He would leave Vidal to explain to his Companion as much as he chose about Rockall, Phobos, and the assignment that the Sectuib in Zeor wanted them both to become involved in.
Having been reunited with Ian and Morgan the two men had been escorted to the Shuttle pad by both Jordan and Tony. During the short trip back to the mainland and then across to Dunedin on the ferry, Vidal had been wrestling with the question of how much he should tell Jason about Rockall? Although from the glances he was receiving from his partner, it was obvious that he had other things on his mind, but to his chagrin had to keep silent about, simply because they were not alone.
‘Why did Hajene Jordan treat Morgan like an adult and me like a child?’ Ian demanded suddenly, he had obviously been thinking hard about it.
‘Because Morgan is now a Sime.’ Vidal replied automatically.
‘He’s the same age as me. Holy hell, just ‘cause he’s got tentacles doesna make him an adult.’
‘I agree it shouldn’t, and it doesn’t seem right Ian, but that’s the way things are,’ his brother interrupted with a sigh. ‘If you want to make it any different, then when you’re old enough you’ll have to go into politics, and see if you can change the law.’ And God help us if you do, he said under his breath.
‘Maybe I can be Morgan’s donor, like you are Vidal's.’
‘No, you can’t do that Ian. Morgan is a renSime, not a Channel. You must have been taught about the difference between the various Simes?’ Vidal asked, as he glanced at the two friends and then zlinned them both. They were a good match. In the Distect, it would be allowed.
‘When I become a politician, I’m gonna change the law on that too.’ Ian stated emphatically.
Vidal laughed harshly, ‘you’d have to change things in the Tecton first, and I doubt you’ll get much joy there young man.’
For the rest of the journey Vidal found himself answering a spate of questions from the two youngsters, and defending a system and a way of life, that he had suddenly decided, he did not altogether agree with.
Much later that night after they had arrived back on Dunedin, and the two friends had been reunited with their families. Vidal decided to go for a long walk. A cowardly action he knew, but he really could not face the possibility of a long drawn out argument with his partner just yet.
He also had to decide whether to tell Jason anything at all, about the Tecton’s other activities on Spooky Island. It wasn’t exactly necessary for him to do so. But Jason was more than just a working partner and there should always be complete honesty between a Channel and his Companion. The reasons for this were manifold, but perhaps the most important of all was quite simple. What if his Companion found out about it, just before they were due for transfer?
He remembered his first teacher, who had drummed it into his class again and again. Do not let a lie, even one told by default, come between you and your regular Donor or Companion. The truth must always be told, no matter how painful the telling of it might be to them both. He would never have envisaged something like this.
Standing on the very edge of the cliff, Vidal stared out across the silver Moonlit sea to where he could see Rockall. A shudder ran through him at what it represented. Yet equally, by some strange dichotomy, as he made up his mind that he would indeed tell his partner all, he also felt at peace with himself.
‘I never thought you were a coward Vidal.’ The words coming from almost right behind him made him jump with surprise.
‘You’ve obviously learned your lessons well.’ Vidal said softly. ‘I didn’t sense your approach at all.’ He did not bother to say that he had been deep in thought, as he turned around slowly. ‘And why am I a coward?’
‘Not wanting to face me, creeping out of the house like that.’
‘Would you rather I had disturbed the entire house, by stamping around and slamming the door?’
‘Why did you do it Vidal? And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.’
‘I had no intention of doing so. Shay and I were both free agents, she offered, I accepted.’ He shrugged his shoulders.
‘But you knew I was interested in her. And as far as I’m concerned, one friend doesn’t do that to another. I wouldn’t have done it to you.’
‘Would you not? Well, when she asked me, as far as I was aware, she hadn’t slept with you. Am I correct in that assumption?’ Jason nodded. ‘That being the case, what did you expect me to do? Refuse her offer, on the off chance that she might then ask you?’
‘No of course not. But you must have made it obvious to her that you were interested.’
‘I knew she wasn’t Sime and therefore couldn’t read fields, so I really can’t say whether she was aware of my interest or not. I certainly didn’t wear a placard saying, "I would like to have sex with you".’ He glanced across at his Companion, who stood a few feet away from him, radiating a seductive golden glow. ‘And that’s all it was Jason, sex - pure and simple. It could never have been anything else.’
‘Yes, she certainly turned out to be quite a bitch.’ Jason confessed wryly.
‘So what pray are we arguing about?’
‘The fact that you went off with a woman, you knew I was interested in.’
‘True. But the important point is - she asked me! I had no idea that she would then ask you afterwards. How could I? And If I had known? Well, how can I answer that?’ Vidal turned to watch the silver Moon disappear behind a bank of clouds. ‘Do you intend to let a woman of Shay’s calibre come between us?’
‘Hardly. She’s not worth it. But one day there might be a woman who I could really care for. I have to know I can trust you.’
Vidal smiled wryly, as he pointed out gently. ‘If this hypothetical woman does come along, and she is worth anything at all. Then she would hardly be interested in me, would she?’
‘No, I guess not. Besides, I’m not really interested in a long term relationship.’ Jason sighed. ‘To be honest Vidal, she compared the two of us you know - and I came off second best - I suppose I was hurt.’
Vidal gave a snort of laughter, and saw the Gen bridle at the sound.
‘Relax Jason. Did she by any chance say that she had often wondered about the difference in stamina between a Sime lover and a Gen?’
‘Yes, almost word for word.’
‘Exactly. She said the same to me. Apparently in Shay’s estimation her past lovers, who I assume had all been Gen, or perhaps alien, who knows? Performed better than I.’ Vidal gave a deep laugh. ‘As a matter of fact she even tried to proposition the Sectuib in Zeor in front of both me, and his Companion!’
‘Shen - what a bitch!’
‘Agreed.’ One tentacle moved to touch the Gen’s hand. ‘Pax?’
‘Yes.’ Jason pointed towards the islands. ‘Rockall still looks Spooky doesn’t it?’
‘Yes, and with good cause.’
‘Oh? Why is that?’
Vidal glanced around until he saw a large flat rock jutting out of the cliff face towards the sea. ‘Come let us sit over there. I have something to tell you, and I don’t want you to interrupt me. I also want your promise that you will not breathe one word of what I am about to tell you to anyone.’
‘Okay, if you insist. But it sounds ominous. ’ They both moved towards the rock, and then sat in silence for several minutes. ‘So, what is it that you want to tell me?’
For the next twenty minutes or so Vidal spoke quietly and succinctly, telling his partner all that he knew about Rockall and the other similar institutions. He went on to say what his own reaction to these places was, and what Jordan Farris, Sectuib in Zeor and Bren intended to do on Phobos, to try and rectify matters.
He decided not to mention Jordan’s other idea about the Distect. What he had now told his Companion was more than enough for him to assimilate and cope with at this time, without anything else. As his voice died away silence fell once more, broken only by the occasional cry of a seagull.
Vidal’s dark eyes stared out across the sea towards the islands, as he waited patiently for his partner’s reaction, deliberately not zlinning him. As the silence grew longer and longer however, he threw a glance in the Gen’s direction, and then surreptitiously zlinned his field. Surprised when he came up against the nageric equivalent, of a brick wall. When had Jason learned to hide his emotions like that? Even Jordan’s Companion, Tony ambrov Zeor, would have been hard pressed to emulate the effect.
‘Do you have any questions Jason?’ He asked at last.
‘Hundreds - and none.’ His green eyes, filled with contempt, turned to meet Vidal’s dark ones. ‘What do you expect me to say? That I understand? Because I don’t! Shen it, do you honestly expect me to keep quiet about this?’
‘Yes I do. Think. What good would it do to say anything about it now?’
‘I don’t suppose it would do any good at all. Except that Gens have a right to know.’
‘Do they? And what do you think that will achieve? Can you imagine the hatred it would stir up, and the fear? Ordinary donors would stop donating, and the renSimes would also start to be afraid, as they too wondered how long it would be before the channels could not meet their need.
‘We are really only partly civilised Jason, underneath this thin veneer that we show to the world, we are still predators - and killers.’ His hand moved to grasp his Companion’s fingers, his tentacles wrapping around their joined hands to bind them together. ‘Jason, what we have you and I, is no longer unique. Gens and Simes are learning to live closer to each other with every day that passes. I am staying here, a Sime in the midst of your family both accepted and welcomed. Are you prepared to throw all that away?
‘For if you breathe one word of this to the outside world, that is exactly what you will be doing.’
‘You bastard! You know this is tough enough for me, without trying to place all that guilt on my shoulders too.’
‘I have no desire to place any guilt on your shoulders, but you have to understand the end result of any precipitate action on your part.’
‘Then why the shen did you tell me?’ He cried, his voice anguished.
‘I had no choice. You are my Companion. We could not carry on with such a secret between us.’ Vidal sighed. ‘There are many unpleasant things that we try to shield a child from finding out about, until he or she is old enough to understand and cope. But you are an adult Jason, living in an adult world, it would not be right for me to try and shield you from the truth. How would you have felt if you had found out about Rockall, and I had not told you about it first?’
‘I couldn’t have felt any worse, that’s for sure!’
‘No? I beg to differ. Believe me you would have felt even more betrayed than you do now.’
‘I can’t stop you from doing whatever your conscience tells you, you should do. But I do ask you to consider the consequences first.’ Vidal begged softly.
‘Oh, there’s no need for me to think about it at all. At least not as far as telling the outside world is concerned. I have no intention of telling anyone. I promised you that after all, didn’t I?’ Jason said bitterly. ‘And you’re right, I couldn’t live with the consequences if I did. But I don’t condone it either Vidal. And let me tell you, I just hope I don’t meet the Sectuib in Zeor ever again, because if I do, I’ll make damn sure he knows exactly what I think of him and his shenning Tecton!’
Vidal gave a sigh of relief that the Gen did not intend to go racing off to inform the media, and through them all Gens living both on and off world about what had been happening behind their backs.
Also he was grateful that he had a few months during their next assignment, to work on Jason’s understandable animosity towards the Sectuib in Zeor, before the Gen found himself actually working alongside him!
Jason had to be made to understand that someone had had to carry out the unpleasant duty of running establishments like Rockall. Unfortunately for Jordan, history had decreed that the task had fallen onto his shoulders. He certainly had not asked for it, nor had he desired it. But when presented with it, he had known that he could not refuse it either.
‘There’s one other thing Vidal.’
The Channel turned to look at him his eyebrows raised in query.
‘You and I. Try to understand how I feel. I don’t know if I can continue in this partnership. I have to have time to think.’ He confessed softly.
‘Of course. I simply ask that you don’t make your decision too quickly. We are matchmates, but luckily for you we are not locked in a dependency. However, make no mistake, if you should decide not to continue our association, then it will be as hard for you to simply walk away, as it will be for me. One other thing Jason. Even if you decide not to continue being my Companion. You are still a TN1, and that cannot be changed. Remember also, you might leave me, but you will no longer be able to leave the system.’
‘Yes, I know.’
The Sime got to his feet in one fluid motion. ‘I am returning to the house. I suggest we carry on as normal for the sake of your family, and when you have made your decision, you can tell me.’
‘Right.’ He watched as Vidal disappeared down the cliff path.
‘Shen it, why did this have to happen now when they were getting on better than ever? Even Shay had not really come between them. She was a cold-hearted bitch, and it was not really her that had bothered him. It was just the principle that she had represented nothing more. But this new revelation? Just how many more shocks did Vidal have in store for him?’
Jason shivered as his eyes scanned the restless sea; the waves now topped with white foam as the tide turned. There was definitely another storm brewing, he had lived on the islands long enough to read the signs.
He was stiff from sitting in the one position. Though how many hours he had been here now, he neither knew nor cared. A fine rain had begun to fall some time back, and the islands were now obscured by the mist that was rolling ominously towards the land.
He also knew it must be almost dawn, for he could see the first of the fishing boats putting out to sea, ploughing through the waves towards the mist-shrouded islands. The simple light on board winking on and off as the small craft rose and fell with the swell of the tide, till all he could see was the foaming wake of the boat in the grey light of predawn.
‘The litany began to play again through his tired brain. Why had Vidal bothered to tell him at all? Surely ignorance, at least on this occasion, was bliss?’
The plaintive cry of another seagull broke into his thoughts, forcing his attention back to his surroundings, and the constant drizzle that had become a steady downpour and had soaked through his clothes, and plastered his hair to his head.
The horizon was lightening, and he knew that somewhere out there the Sun was rising out of the dark water, but it was still hidden from his view by the sea fog that was now quickly creeping onto the land.
Suddenly his mind took a different turn as he recalled various incidents, that had happened on the assignments he and Vidal had carried out together. The number of times the channel had risked his life for him, and the times he had done the same. Did he regret having done so? No, of course not.
Besides that, hadn’t Vidal said when he had dropped his bombshell that he too was disgusted, and did not condone what the Tecton had been doing on behalf of all Simes? And how could Vidal have possibly changed anything without telling everything, and by doing so, risked a possible civil war between Simes and Gens?
Did he want that to happen? No, of course not! Yet Vidal had been carrying this burden of knowledge like an albatross around his shoulders, for years.
Today Vidal had shared that burden with his Companion, and what had he done? He had blamed him for simply knowing about it, and for not doing anything about it. But what could he have done? The answer came straight back - nothing, nothing at all! Shen it all, he was going round and round in circles, only to come back to the same conclusion.
After all, it was not as if he could just pack his things and walk away from the whole mess. He was still a TN1, and in his heart he knew he would still have to present himself to the Tecton every month for the rest of his life whether he stayed here or not.
His mind made up; he used both hands to push the soaking wet hair back from his face, as he scrambled to his feet to begin the slow walk back home. He would have to apologise to his partner, for in the cold light of day Jason knew, that he could really do no less.
Sighing, he realised just how hungry he now was, and pushing all other unpleasant thoughts to one side for the time being at least, he began to hurry. Glad when he saw the familiar outline of his parents' house appear in the distance. His eyes raked over the front of the building till he saw his partner standing silhouetted against his bedroom window. Jason hesitated momentarily, and then raised an arm in salute. A moment later the Channel waved back and then disappeared from view, and Jason guessed he would have gone to open the door for him.
A deep sigh of relief escaped Jason’s lips as he thought of making his peace with him. Yet at the same time he sent up a silent prayer, that at least he would not have to see Jordan Farris, the Sectuib in Zeor, ever again!
Jason quickened his pace. As the words of a former tutor came unbidden into his mind, "this above all, to thine own self be true". He had never been really sure what the words meant, or indeed where they had actually come from. Even the teacher had not known that, saying only, that the text was ancient. But now somehow, they seemed exactly right.
Read Part 1 or Part 2 or Part 3--Comment to the Author and then read A New Beginning Part 5 in Companion In Zeor #15
Companion in Zeor is Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Sime~Gen Inc.
A New Beginning is copyright © 2000, 2001 by Sime~Gen Inc.
The Sime~Gen universe was created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and is owned by Sime~Gen Inc. This story and its setting may not be reused without explicit permission of the Corporation. Email: email@example.com
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