Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13 , 14 & 15
Entering the imposing stone edifice, the first thing Jason saw was the picture that gave the Gallery its name. He had only seen a hologram of it before, and was therefore unprepared for the impact the real thing had on his senses. It was a charcoal chiaroscuro type drawing, behind glass, supposedly sketched by Hugh Valleroy, and depicted the faces of two Simes, one looking over the shoulder of the other.
One of these men was thought to be the famous Klyd Farris, Sectuib in Zeor. Historians believed that Hugh Valleroy had for a time at least been First Companion to Klyd Farris. Whilst at the same time founding the House of Rior, and leaving a legacy that still survived today - the modern Distect.
The drawing itself had been discovered in a trunk, which had been found in the vaults under one of the older Zeor buildings, when it was being demolished. According to the records, the building that had stood on the site for the past 200 years had replaced a previous one. Indeed, it had been speculated that many Zeor buildings had actually stood on the site over the centuries.
Though whether any of the hypotheses was true, no one could prove. In fact, many experts debunked the whole idea, and the art world was divided into two distinct camps. Each arguing over the authenticity of both the flimsy and faded sketch, and also the identity of the two people it was said to portray.
Personally Jason had always loved the whole concept of the story, and chose to believe that Hugh Valleroy himself had indeed drawn the sketch. He was also quite willing to accept, that the head said to be that of the famous Klyd Farris - and which undeniably had the distinctive features of a Farris - was indeed him. Although his partner had said it could have been pure coincidence, pointing out that he too looked Farris, and yet was not. Jason had had to unwillingly concede the point.
Vidal also tended not to agree with him regarding many aspects of the romantic story, and they had argued the various points on many occasions. The Channel saying that he doubted if the sketch could have survived such a turbulent period in Earth's history, and would in fact have been destroyed long ago. He also suggested that if anything, it was probably far more likely to be a copy of a copy. Indeed, even the scientists were at odds with each other as to its exact age. All the various tests carried out on it so far, being deemed, inconclusive.
Jason sighed as he turned away from the picture. Whatever any of the experts might say, as far as he was concerned, whoever the person was - whether Hugh Valleroy or not - the unknown artist had quite obviously put his very heart and soul into the creation of what was undoubtedly, to Jason at least, a masterpiece.
As he made his way up to the next floor, he recalled that Vidal had once informed him that even today, the Ethics Committee of Zeor were still undecided - because of the Distect connection - whether to label Hugh Valleroy a saint or sinner. He snorted with derision. Only Zeor would consider labelling one of their finest Companions, a sinner!
Of course, after Vidal had told him the real purpose behind places like Rockall, he could not help but feel that Jordan Farris, Sectuib in Zeor was a complete and utter hypocrite anyway - and that also included the whole of his House!
Thankfully it appeared that at least Vidal had now pulled himself out of the melancholy he had been in since his turnover day. Oh he had tried to hide it hard enough, but his partner knew him too well for that.
Jason ran an agitated hand through his thick hair as he stared at an old dark oil painting of an ancient battle, not really seeing it at all. For he hoped that he too would be able to throw off the strange feeling that had haunted him for the last week. The odd presentiment that there would be something not quite right about their transfer this time.
He wanted desperately to talk to Vidal about how he felt, but of course he was the very last person he could speak to about this. He smiled ruefully, for he could just imagine the channel's reaction if he voiced his apprehension about their transfer now, when Vidal had had such a rotten turnover, and it was only just two and a half days to their next transfer.
An hour later he had completed his walk around the upper floor, and made his way towards the glass wall that stretched from floor to ceiling, and looked down onto one of the many City Squares. Shuttles moved rapidly through the air between the tall buildings, whilst below flitters skimmed along the roads.
Then, for the second time that day, he saw Margot and Tomar. They were standing outside a restaurant at the north end of the Square. It was not them, however, that drew his attention. It was the two men who stood just to their left. He had seen the same couple this morning, but at that time of course, they had not really registered in his mind. Now here they were again, and this time he wanted to know who they were, and why they appeared to be following Vidal's sister in law and her son?
Jason wondered fleetingly whether Vidal was still in the meeting, but then dismissed the idea, because even if he was, this was far too important to leave till later. Quickly he pressed Vidal's personal call signal on his chronometer, and seconds later was speaking to his partner.
'Vidal! I'm on the upper floor of the Valleroy Public Art Gallery. I'm looking down onto the street and I can see Margot and Tomar below me. They are at the far end of the square. This is the second time I've seen them today. However, there are two men - both Sime I believe - who are standing a short way from them. I saw the same two men this morning, walking a short distance behind them. I took no notice of the couple then. But now, seeing them a second time? That's too much of a coincidence, don't you think?' He paused.
'Hold on Jason.' Seconds later the Channel spoke again. 'I've just had a word with Jerome. It's all right, they're only bodyguards.'
'Bodyguards? Are you sure?'
'Absolutely - Jerome's fuming, he says they're supposed to be discreet in their surveillance. He's just asked me to thank you for being so vigilant. '
'No problem. I'll be on my way back shortly.'
'Good, we've just wound up this meeting, but unfortunately Father's called another one for tomorrow - family only this time. I'll have to leave you on your own again, sorry about that.'
'Never mind, it can't be helped. See you soon.'
Waiting for Jason to arrive home, Vidal went over the Meeting he had just attended. The question of the Runzi Campaign had not been raised.
However, his father was determined to expand at least two of his major interests into the more far-flung areas of the Galaxy.
All the financial experts and economists seemed to agree with his assessment, that now was the right time to do so. And who was he to argue about it? After all, he had by his own choice, stayed clear of any involvement in the Trent empire for all these years. He also had enough faith in his father's business acumen not to interfere now.
Besides, taking into account the fact that Jordan wanted both Jason and him to help with contacting various elements of the Distect. It might well prove useful to have a legitimate reason for travelling to some of those systems, using the Trent name as a cover.
He sighed and then stretched his arms and tentacles as he zlinned his partner approaching the house. He really would have to find time to have a talk with Jason about Jordan Farris' idea for their next assignment, and stop playing the coward. Although what the Gen would say about it, he dreaded to think. He sighed as he exited the room to intercept his Companion.
Jason nodded vigorously as he listened to his partner, his chestnut curls bouncing in their usual undisciplined manner. 'So, Vicky has been invited to this family powwow along with the other wives tomorrow - that's good, I'm pleased for her and Sheldon.'
'I agree. Although I think Sheldon and my uncle insisted on it.'
'By the way Vidal, on my way back here, I was thinking about what you said. I can understand your brother employing a couple of bodyguards.' He began only to be interrupted by his partner.
'As a matter of act they actually work for my father, and not Jerome. I understand there are about a dozen altogether, they take their orders from Tute, my father's chief of security. I think the idea is that they can be rotated around, making it harder for them to be spotted. I recall I had them following me, when I was still at home.'
'Really? I would have hated that. Surely there were times when you didn't want anyone, especially your parents, to know what you were getting up to?' He said, and then seeing the expression on Vidal's face, smiled broadly. 'No I take that back. Knowing you, I suppose you really weren't bothered.'
'So tell me. Wouldn't it be a lot easier to stick a tracking device under young Tomar's skin so you can keep tabs on him, without having to lumber him with a couple of gorillas?'
'They're Sime - hardly gorillas!'
'I wasn't talking about their size. Anyway that apart, why not a tracker?'
'Have you ever heard of the Demario family?'
Jason shook his head slowly. 'No, can't say that I have. Why, should I have?'
'They have a multitude of business interests. One of the biggest being the D.I.F.' He glanced across at his Companion who still looked none the wiser. 'The Demario Interstella Freight Company? You've heard of it surely?'
'Of course. I imagine everyone has! I just didn't connect the name with the D.I.F. But what's that got to do with anything?'
'The family had a couple of twin girls. I'm going back a good few years now of course. They were both fitted with the type of tracking device you advocate. And I agree, at first sight it would seem a logical device to use. Especially where children, or patients in hospital, who might well wander off and get lost, are concerned. In those circumstances, I'm sure they're just fine.'
'So what have you got against them?'
'Not just me. My father too had reservations about using them. And believe me he looked thoroughly into every method available. But I digress. Leonello Demario, the twins Grandfather and head of the Demario Business at that time, had some sort of trouble with an ex-employee. I don't know all the details. It was my father who told me about it. Anyway, it seems that the employee had been dismissed and threatened to cause trouble.
'Well, men in Leonello's position, much the same as my father, get threats like that all the time, and if they took them all seriously!' Vidal shrugged elegantly using his tentacles to emphasis the point.
'Yeah I can see what you mean. They must have lots of people who hold a grudge of some sort against either them personally or the Company as a whole.'
'Exactly. So, to cut a long story short. The threat was dismissed. A few months later Leonello was going to a Conference on New Europe in the Titan System.'
They reckon it has the most spectacular mountain scenery in the whole.'
'Look, do you want to hear this story or not? Because if you do, shut up, otherwise I intend to go and take a shower.'
'Sorry.' Jason threw up his hands in surrender. 'I won't say another word - promise.'
'All right. Well, the old man decided to take his two Granddaughters with him. He idolised the girls and spent as much time with them as possible.'
'Did they go by freighter? Sorry - sorry, I won't interrupt again.'
'No they didn't go by freighter. The Demario's have their own Interstella Cruiser. Anyway they had hardly cleared the solar system; in fact they hadn't even gone into interstellar drive, when it blew up. All they found was dust. It must be well over fifteen years ago now. Didn't you see it on any of the Newscasts?'
'Can't say that I recall. But shen, what caused it?'
'The investigation team concluded it was the tracking devices inserted under the skin of the two girls. Whoever planned the explosion managed to find a way to use the regular pulses given out by them, to trigger an explosion on board the craft.'
Jason whistled under his breath. 'I can see why your father decided not to opt for them. Can't say I blame him.'
'Well, they are excellent for what they were intended for. To keep tabs on children or patients, but they're definitely not for the children of the wealthy.'
'Was the fellow who made the original threat behind the explosion?'
'As far as I know it was never proved one way or the other, and he was killed himself a few months later, in some sort of flitter accident.'
'That sounds suspicious doesn't it? Do you think the Demario family had anything to do with it?'
Vidal shrugged again. 'Maybe, or perhaps it was just poetic justice. Who knows?'
Jason nodded slowly. 'If one of the Demario family did organise it, I can't say I really blame them.'
'Perhaps not.' The Channel admitted, and then went on. 'Oh and there's something I have to ask you to do for me. Well not for me exactly, and you don't have to do it of course, but if you could, I would be grateful and.'
'Shen it Vidal! Spit it out man!' Jason ordered with a grin. In actual fact he was fully expecting Vidal to ask him not to go to far away from the house tomorrow. Their transfer was only a day and a half away now, and although Vidal usually tried to act as normally as possible, and did not attempt to keep Jason tied to his apron strings - even when he was only hours away from Transfer. This was a totally different situation, and one they had not encountered before.
Indeed the emotional pressures on both of them under Maxwell Trent's roof - ignore them as they might try - were not pleasant. In fact, Jason had already made up his mind to capitulate to his partner's request to stay close, if he should ask it of him. Therefore he was taken aback when he heard the Channel say almost apologetically.
'Would you mind taking Tomar with you tomorrow?'
'Me! Take Tomar? Vidal you've got it all wrong. It's not a matter of whether I will take him - I don't think he would want to go with me, even if you paid him. You've forgotten, I'm a Gen. Now how much lower can anyone go down the social scale than that?' His green eyes twinkled merrily across at his friend, both his eyebrows raised challengingly.
'Well okay, I agree, he won't be very happy about it. But that apart! I think he would still rather go with you, than spend the day with his sisters and half a dozen of their little friends at a children's party.'
'And those are his choices?'
'Those are his choices.'
'Okay, I'm willing. But you ask him - not me.'
Jason walked out to the flitter the next morning. To find Tomar standing beside it and idly kicking the passenger door, his young face giving a good impression of his bad tempered Grandfather!
'Hello there.' Silence. Jason sighed as he walked around to the driver's side of the flitter, and then leaned across it to speak to the boy. 'Tomar, let's get one thing clear shall we? I don't like the idea of you going with me, anymore than you do. I'm taking you as a favour to your Uncle, so if you don't want to go, that's fine by me. There's still time for you to go with your sisters. Make your mind up now. But, if you do decide to go with me, I don't want this sort of attitude all day, is that understood?'
Tomar nodded reluctantly. 'Well? Am I to take it that you do want to go with me?' The fair head nodded again. 'Yes or no young man!?'
'Yes, I suppose so.'
'All right - yes. I guess it's better than going with them. Where are you going anyway?'
'Have you ever visited a gold mine?'
'Very well, climb in, I'll take you to Frihill Township.'
'It sounds dull. I learned about that in school. Our history teacher told us that it was discovered by one of the Householdings years ago.'
'Yes, that's correct. Actually, it was a group of archaeologists from Frihill, together with some Gens from the National Archaeological Society who actually dug the township up, hence the name. No one knows the real name of course; it's far too old. In fact, even our oldest maps show no township ever having been there, or near there. Some people reckon that it could very well date back to the middle or end of the time of Chaos.'
'And they mined gold there?'
'Maybe. The archaeologists seem to think that the actual gold mine didn't come into existence till well after the township was abandoned.'
'Can I dig for gold?'
'I don't think you're allowed to dig for it, but we can have a go at panning for it, if you want. I read in one of the guidebooks that you can take out a Licence just for a day or so, and hire the necessary equipment. We'll have to see. If not, there's lots of other things we can do.'
'Yeah, there may be a pen we can look at.' Jason felt the boy's eyes looking at him, as he waited to see his reaction.
'Yes, I believe there is one. It should prove - interesting.'
Tomar said something in Simelan.
'Sorry, what was that?'
The boy repeated it, but Jason shook his head.
'Don't you speak Simelan?'
'No, I'm afraid not. Where I was brought up we didn't have many Simes, apart from in the Centre of course. Those we did have, spoke excellent English, so there was really no reason for us to learn. I'm just lazy I suppose.' He grinned across at the boy.
'Yes you are. But Grandfather says you can't really expect anything else from a Gen.' His voice was disdainful, as he repeated his Grandfather's words as though reading from a gospel.
Jason ignored him. 'I had to learn a few words and phrases of course, when I became your Uncle's Companion. It was necessary for me to understand the basics. But it still seems a difficult language. I'm surprised you've learned it so well, especially at your age.'
'I was brought up to be bilingual. Until I was eight, Grandfather didn't speak to me in anything but Simelan.'
Jason could well believe it. Especially now that he knew Maxwell Trent's real views regarding Gens. No wonder his Grandfather encouraged Tomar to believe he would be Sime. Perhaps he was hoping that such a belief would influence the outcome? Fingers crossed the old fool was wrong, Jason thought with malicious glee.
'Keep an eye out for the Western Eyeway, we have to turn left at Hacchus. We go straight through Whellon, and Frihill Township is about ten kilometres from there. But I expect it's well signposted.'
Jason stopped the flitter in Whellon and bought them both strawberry ice creams. 'Enjoy while you can Tomar. If you do change over, this is one treat you'll have to give up.' He said with a wry grin.
'I shall eat another kind of ice cream.'
'True. But nothing rivals ripe red strawberries.'
It was just as Jason had started the flitter again, and they were leaving Whellon, that he noticed the grey flitter behind them. As he recalled, it had been there since they had left the ring road around Capital City, but had dropped out of sight for long periods of time since then. The fact that he had stopped the flitter in Whellon and then started up again, had brought the grey flitter to his attention once more.
'It looks like your bodyguards are still with us.'
Tomar chose to twist his head around and look behind through the rear of the flitter, rather than look at the rear view screen in front of them. 'Yes that's them. Grandfather insists on it, so we all have them. I'm used to them now of course. In my position, one has to get used to such things.'
Jason shot a quick glance at the young boy beside him, but could see no conceit on his face. It really was a necessity that he had grown up to accept. But what a way for a child to live! There were a lot of advantages to being wealthy, that was true, and no one with any sense at all would deny it. But there were a lot of disadvantages too! He thought of his own carefree life, growing up on Dunedin, running wild with no worries for his safety. Apart from the obvious ones, created by sea and mountain.
As they entered the flitter park near the township. Tomar began to jump up and down, eager to get out and stretch his legs and see the sights.
An elderly Gen gave them a direction stick, and informed them that the old diggings were to the left of the road. Whilst the Tourist Board had built an exact replica of the township as it would have looked in its heyday, on the opposite side of the road. Straight ahead of them was a hill and to the side of that was the goldmine - and yes, the old man told them, they could indeed pan for gold. Tomar, for the first time, looked exactly like a very excited boy, should look.
Jason suggested that they visit the new township first, so that when they went to the diggings, they would better understand the layout of the place. They could then eat in the café, and spend the rest of the day in or near the goldmine, panning for gold.
Tomar having raised no objection to this suggested plan of campaign, they duly set off.
Jason was surprised to find that many members of the local History Society both Sime and Gen took it in turns to play the parts of various people, who would once have lived and traded in the township. Those walking around were of course Sime. Whilst the local pen, with its green pennant flying above it, had Gens sitting or standing around inside, all looking a trifle bored.
At one point Tomar turned to stare at a Sime, who was walking passed them down the street. He was pulling a tired looking Gen along behind him, by a metal chain attached to a collar. The Gen was dressed only in a dirty tunic.
Jason glanced at the expression of shock on the young face at his side, but thought it best not to pass comment. After all, talking or reading about such goings on, was one thing. Actually seeing it - was something else again. And if that didn't give young Tomar pause for thought, then nothing would!
After seeing the working replica of the historic township, Tomar quite obviously found the actual diggings, more than a little tame. Jason found them fascinating, and vowed to come back one day and have a proper look around, perhaps with Vidal.
Leading the way into the café, Jason ordered a plate of mixed sandwiches, and fresh fruit, together with two tall glasses of ice cold, chocolate and banana flavoured milk.
Afterwards they were able to go underground to view the old gold mine workings. The few remaining gold seams could be viewed through glass panels. He had to explain to Tomar that the glass was there, to stop anyone trying to gouge out a piece of the gold, to take home as a souvenir.
Then, much to Tomar's obvious delight, out in the sunlight once more, they finally panned for gold in the stream that ran down the side of the ancient mine. One of the men in charge came across and quickly showed them the difference between real gold and fools gold. After which, during the next hour or so, the two of them found enough gold dust to almost half fill a small glass phial.
Before they left the township Jason bought them a huge cream cake each, and a glass of iced fruit juice in the café. Which he hoped would stem their hunger, till they had dinner.
'I guess it's about time we made a move.'
'Yes, I'm afraid so. I expect your parents will start to get worried if we don't get you home before dark.'
'No they won't! We aren't on our own are we?'
Jason sighed. 'Of course not. I forgot your bodyguards. But we've got to start back whether they're with us or not, we don't want to miss dinner. Have you finished with that drink? Good. Come on then.'
They exited the café and began to make their way to where Jason had left the flitter.
'Hey there, excuse me!'
They both turned to see who was hailing them. To discover it was a tall blonde haired, well muscled Gen, who was a stranger to them both. Jason raised his eyebrows in query, half expecting the man to ask him for directions, or something equally mundane.
'Are you on your way back to Capital City by any chance?'
'Further on than that.' Tomar piped up before Jason could reply.
'Really? Then I'm in luck. Look my flitter over there has broken down. It's hired, and I need to get back to Capital City as soon as possible. Could I possibly beg a lift?'
If he had not had Tomar with him Jason would not have hesitated, as it was, he was undecided. Then again, as his young charge had pointed out to him earlier, they were not alone, and this fact tipped the scales in the stranger's favour.
'Why not? But we'll have to drop you off at this side of the City, if that's okay?'
'Sounds great to me, thanks.'
'Right, well I'm Jason Devere, and this is Tomar. '
The Gen gave them both a friendly smile. 'Hi there! Conor Lockwood,' he introduced himself before he climbed into the back seat, he had a slight accent, but not being as well up on dialects as Vidal, Jason found he could not place it. However, before he could question him about it further, Tomar started talking, and Jason decided to ask him later.
As he manoeuvred the flitter out onto the open road again, he looked around for Tomar's bodyguards, but could not see them. They were obviously more experienced at their job, than the two he had seen in the City yesterday, and knew when necessary, how to keep out of sight.
He also guessed that all the bodyguards employed by the family would be Sime. After all, knowing how Maxwell Trent felt about Gens, it was not a difficult assumption to make. Which meant, that wherever they were hiding themselves, they would zlin the exact moment that he started to move the flitter, and would no doubt soon fall in behind them.
Tomar, who seemed to have momentarily forgotten that their travelling companion was also a Gen, was telling him all about what he had seen at the Frihill township, and the gold dust they had found there. Proudly showing him the phial.
Glancing in the reverse viewer, Jason saw the familiar grey flitter cruising along, about five hundred meters or so behind them. For the first time he felt a sudden rush of relief at their appearance, not for his own sake, but for Tomar's. Now why was that, he wondered?
Conor suddenly leaned forward, and spoke in his ear. 'I think it's about time we ditched your shadows.'
'Sorry, what did you say?'
'I said I've got a blaster pointed at the back of the boy's head, so do exactly as I say.'
'Now wait just a shenning minute!'
'No. You do exactly as I tell you from now on Devere, or the boy's dead. It's up to you.'
'My bodyguards won't let you do this.' Tomar squeaked, fear evident in his young voice.
'Open your mouth again kid and I'll stick my fist in it - understood?'
Tomar nodded and fell silent, obviously terrified.
'Do you have to scare the boy?'
'Look Devere, just as long as you both do as you're told, no one's going to get harmed, okay?'
Jason nodded his head. What else could he do? It wasn't just his life at stake here; it was Tomar's as well. Shen and shid it to hell why had he agreed to give Lockwood a lift?! Then common sense told him at once, that even if he had refused to do so, their abductor would simply have produced the blaster in the flitter park, and the result would have been exactly the same.
Perhaps worse, because the Gen might have decided that Jason was superfluous to requirements, and blasted him there and then. After all, it seemed fairly obvious that they were after a Trent, and not a Devere!
So he had better keep his mouth shut and his head down, if he wanted to live, and have any chance at all of getting the boy away from Conor Lockwood.
'Okay, listen carefully Devere. Coming up is a left hand corner, as you go around it, directly on your left is a dirt track. Drive straight up it and stop in the bushes. Got that? Right - GO!'
As Jason spun the flitter up the narrow lane and stopped in the bushes, he just caught sight of a flitter, identical to the one he was driving, pulling out onto the main road behind them. With a sinking heart he watched as seconds later, the grey flitter appeared around the corner and without hesitation, followed the decoy. Jason swore silently under his breath with chagrin. He had tried, obviously unsuccessfully, to catch the attention of the two bodyguards, by throwing his field towards their flitter.
If only, Jason thought sadly, the two bodyguards had been Channels like Vidal. Then they might perhaps have zlinned that Jason was no longer in the flitter, and been aware that a switch had been made, but he knew a child's nager was almost impossible to detect at such a distance, especially for renSimes, and so apparently, in this instance, was his.
'By the way Devere, if you had any bright ideas about trying to warn the bodyguards with that "field" of yours. I'm afraid you've wasted your time.' Conor held up a small field dampening device, that Jason had heard about, but had never actually seen in operation. In fact the TIB had said it was still very much in the experimental stage, it seemed they were wrong. Jason wondered how Conor Lockwood had got hold of such a device in the first place? He would have to tell Sam Betjeman at the first opportunity, assuming of course, that he actually lived to do so.
Watching their only hope of salvation disappear into the distance, Jason suddenly felt the weight of responsibility settle like a lead weight on his shoulders. He glanced across at the small boy, who looked suddenly both very vulnerable and very young.
His musing was rudely interrupted as Conor suddenly grabbed hold of Jason's wrist and examined his chronometer. 'I thought so, give me that.' Jason obeyed, realising that his one and only chance of communicating with Vidal or anyone else was now over, as Lockwood threw it out of the window. Why the shen hadn't he thought to use it before? It was too late now!
'Okay settle down both of you. We've got quite a journey ahead of us, and I don't want any heroics. Devere, you keep driving, take us back out onto the main road, and head towards Capital City. Your two Sime bodyguards won't even guess they're following the wrong flitter, not till they reach the ring road around the City. It'll be too late by then.' There was obvious satisfaction in his voice, and Jason bit his lip, in frustration at his inability to do anything to stop this unpleasant affair from continuing further.
Long before they reached the ring road, Conor Lockwood - if that was indeed his real name - told him to turn right. They then followed what appeared to be a farm track till they came to an empty paddock, and he was told to stop.
Jason's heart sank as he saw the large shuttle sitting in the middle of the field. It was not an ordinary runabout, for use between cities or continents. This was a medium sized G-Class shuttle. More than powerful enough, if necessary, to reach the Moon.
Shen it! It would have been difficult enough for them to escape, or for Vidal to find them here on Earth. Even using all the resources available to him both through his family, and the TIB. But on the Moon, or possibly beyond? Who would think to look for them there?
'Jason I'm scared.'
He touched the boy's thin arm in a gesture of comfort. 'Don't worry Tomar. Your Uncle Vidal and I have been in far worse trouble than this.' He whispered back, glad that their captor was now talking to another Gen through the back window, and was not listening to them.
'Tomar, I want you to do whatever they tell you without any argument - is that clear?'
'Because they'll make things very unpleasant for you if you don't. They might even split us up, and we don't want that. Because when I find a way to get us away from them. I don't want to have to start searching for you first. Understood?'
When he found a way for them to escape! What a pack of lies that was. He had no real idea what he should do. After all, he didn't know who these men were, or even what they wanted. Although it seemed fairly obvious that it must be money, knowing whom Tomar was.
Therefore, if it really was the boy that they wanted, where did that leave him? Was he really surplus to requirements? In which case they could dispose of him at any time, or did they perhaps think they would be able to get money for his release too? Jason grinned sourly; they wouldn't stand much of a chance if they applied to his father for anything.
Unless of course they asked the TIB for a ransom, but then again it seemed very unlikely that ordinary criminals would want to involve the TIB in this affair if they could avoid it. Then again, common sense dictated that if this were just an ordinary kidnapping, they wouldn't even know that Jason Devere worked for the TIB, would they?
Unfortunately, he couldn't really take even that for granted. Because as far fetched as it might seem. It could perhaps have something to do with Vidal and the TIB, and not Tomar! Hell, what a shenning mess it all was!
Just how many were involved he wondered? As far as he knew, (so far at least), there was Conor Lockwood, a Gen. Together with the two men in the decoy flitter, who were obviously both Gen, to help mislead the bodyguards. The man talking to their captor through the car window, was also obviously Gen, and another two men standing beside the Shuttle in the field. Hopefully they too would be Gen, and that made six so far. Of course there could be quite a few more people involved, or that might well be the lot.
The trip across the field in the gathering dusk towards the Shuttle had not been easy. Tomar had tripped over the uneven ground, and Conor had made to kick him, telling him not to be so clumsy. Jason had immediately picked the boy up and swung him onto his back to give him a pick-a-back.
'I saw a holoplay about kidnapping once, and when they got the ransom they'd asked for, they murdered the victim. Will they do that to us?' Tomar whispered in his ear. The boy was holding on to his neck so hard, that he was almost choking him.
'Don't press my throat like that, you idiot.' Jason begged with a brief almost choking laugh, and then chided. 'Of course they won't do that to us, that was a holoplay, this is real life.' He mentally crossed his fingers at the out and out lie. 'Still you've only got yourself to blame young man, you shouldn't have watched something like that in the first place. I bet your mother didn't know.'
'No, and I won't watch it again.' He promised fervently, as Jason thought ironically that it was a bit late for him to decide that now. For he had little doubt that Conor Lockwood and his cohorts were more than likely to dispose of them both, once they had served their purpose. And whether they got their ransom money, or whatever else they wanted, or not, would be irrelevant.
After all, no one so far, had bothered to even try and hide their identity. Which from Jason's point of view spoke volumes about their captors' future strategy!
Once inside the Shuttle, they were placed in a small utilitarian room that boasted nothing more than two narrow bunk beds, a small table between them, and a tiny bathroom leading off. Both of them were searched and the contents of their pockets confiscated. Although they did leave Tomar's chronometer on his wrist, probably because it only told the time, and unlike Jason's, could not be used for communication purposes or anything else.
'Where are they taking us?' Tomar whispered nervously.
'I don't know. But if they intend to ask your father for a ransom, they won't want to harm you, will they?' Jason said reassuringly, and with far more certainty than he actually felt.
'I suppose not.' Tomar stood up on the bunk bed and tried to see through the small rectangular window high up on the wall.
'I'm not tall enough.'
'No, it's too high up for either of us to see out. I'll try giving you a hoist up later. It's too dark out there to see much at the moment anyway.'
'I know. So am I. Lie down and brace yourself Tomar, I think we're about to move.'
Jason had heard the unmistakable sounds of the craft being readied to leave the ground. This was followed by a brief period of extreme acceleration. A short time later he was in no doubt at all - they had either entered orbit around the Earth, or were en route to the Moon! If it was the latter, then all that remained was to try and find out on which part of the Moon they were going to land?
Common sense dictated that Conor Lockwood's headquarters, if that were where they were being taken, would not be on the commercial side, where most of the large habitation bubbles were located. No, their destination would probably be on the dark cold side, where most of the larger storage areas and mining facilities were to be found.
Without environmental suits, neither he nor his young charge would be able to escape from their captors. More to the point of course, was the fact that it would probably be one of the last places that Vidal would think to look for them!
Read Chapter 4 Comment to the Author and then READ THE NEXT CHAPTER NOW.
Companion in Zeor is Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Sime~Gen Inc.
A New Beginning is copyright (c) 2000, 2001 by Sime~Gen Inc.
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This Page Was Last Updated by Karen 04/17/03 04:50 PM EST (USA)
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