A New Beginning 
Part 6
JOURNEY TO A WILD PLACE

by
D. DaBinett 

Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13, 14, 15 & 16

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Arriving at the Oasis Jordan simply booked two double rooms, even though Jason had pointed out to him that it might be best if they allowed Vidal and Tony to book their own room when they finally arrived.

'We are no longer fooling anyone by pretending we are not all here together,' he said shortly. 'That being the case, I would also suggest you wait in the other room for Vidal, and send Tony here to me when he arrives.'

'Okay if that's what you want.' He walked to the door and turned back to look across at the Channel suspiciously. He was sitting on the bed, his hands clasped loosely between his knees looking disconsolate. 'You aren't suffering from entran again are you? Because if you are.'

'No I am fine thank you. I would simply appreciate a little time alone.'

'Yes, I can understand that. I'm sorry for what happened tonight. I wish it could have been me who dispatched all three of them and not you.' He said honestly.

'Thank you, I appreciate the thought, but it would hardly have made it any easier. We would still have the blood of three human beings on our hands.'

Jason opened his mouth once again to argue, and then changed his mind what was the point after all? 'I'm going to take a shower, I'll see you later when the others arrive,' he stated, as the door closed quietly behind him.

Having showered Jason pulled on a clean pair of briefs and lay down on the bed. He had not intended to fall sleep, but no sooner had he rested his head on the pillow than his eyes closed from sheer exhaustion. How long he actually slept he had no idea, but it was only the sound of the door quietly opening that brought him awake, his eyes wide open as he sat bolt upright on the bed feeling automatically for his disruptor, he had never been this edgy before.

'You awake Jason?' It was Tony's voice. 'Sorry to disturb you, but we're all in the other room and Vidal wants you to join us.'

'Okay just let me pull on a pair of pants and I'll be right there.'

Jason had never thought he would be so pleased to see Vidal again, as he was at this moment. Indeed he felt like rushing across the room and embracing him, but managed to crush the feeling as he walked quickly across to the bed and sat down beside him. He was aware of the fact that he was grinning like an idiot the whole time, but was unable to stop himself.

'Are you feeling all right Jason?' Vidal demanded suspiciously zlinning his Companion deeply.

'Yes. Just glad to see you I suppose.'

'Oh.' The Channel looked pleasantly surprised, before he went on. 'Jordan was just telling us what happened on your way here. It would appear you both had a lucky escape.'

'Yes we did.' Jason glanced across at Jordan as he spoke, but his face gave away none of his feelings.

'Did you manage to get very far with the Councillors tonight?' Jordan enquired before Jason could beat him to it.

Vidal nodded. 'We did quite well. I think we've sold the idea, at least as far as the Quins and possibly Aubrey Butler are concerned.'

'So what's the next step?' Jason asked, looking across at his partner.

'For the moment we have to leave it to Aubrey Butler to speak to some of the other Committee members about it. I think he intends to speak first to those that he can trust the most, and once he has - hopefully - convinced them. Then he and they can talk to the others and try to convince them too. The Quins of course will play a lesser role, but they can still help by convincing some of the other members of the Council.'

'You're hoping it will snowball aren't you?' Tony murmured.

Vidal smiled at the young Gen. 'Precisely.'

'So what - again - do we do next?' Jason demanded.

Vidal grinned at his Companion, 'You always aim for the jugular my friend.'

'Yes he does,' Jordan agreed, 'However, I have to admit that I too would like to know the answer to that particular question Vidal.'

'Aubrey Butler suggested we go to the second largest Sector on this planet, Sector II. The other Sectors are very small and he believes they will all go along with the majority view.' Vidal replied.

'Did he also tell us who to contact there?' Jordan asked.

'Yes, he gave me the names of two people who he thinks may be receptive to the idea.'

'Did he also tell you how they would finally decide?' Jason demanded, 'I mean, will they take a vote on it or what?'

'From the way Aubrey was talking, the Distect have their own method of voting, possibly by referendum, but to be honest, as long as we get what we want I really don't care how they achieve the end result.' Vidal admitted wryly glancing across at his partner.

'I won't argue with that,' Jason said, 'But how are we going to get to Sector II? As far as I can recall, it's more than a thousand kilometres from here, and they have no transmuters or other forms of transport that I'm aware of.'

'And having been in the jungle once, I don't fancy hiking all the way across there,' Tony said quickly.

'I see no reason why we shouldn't use the shuttle,' Jordan retorted, looking at Vidal for confirmation of his suggestion.

'I was thinking the same thing,' his friend replied, 'we can hide it in the undergrowth, the same as we did when we arrived here.'

Jason nodded his agreement, 'Good idea, when do we go?'

'Jordan?' Vidal looked across at the Sectuib.

'Well, now that our business here is complete, I think we should leave as soon as possible. Would an hour before dawn suit everyone? With luck we might make most of the journey without anyone seeing us.'

'It will also give Jason and Tony a few hours to rest,' Vidal agreed.

'Okay then, if everyone's decided, I'm off to bed.' Jason informed them and stood up, stifling a yawn.

'I'll try not to make too much noise when I come in,' Vidal promised and zlinned his Companion as he walked across the floor, before turning to wish them all good night as the door closed behind him.

Jason had already commandeered which bed he intended to use when he had first entered the room. Now without much ceremony he lay down once more closed his eyes, and willed himself to sleep.

A couple of hours earlier when he had not intended to sleep, he had drifted off anyway. Now that he wanted to sleep, he couldn't. He counted sheep and even tried emptying his mind, but all to no avail.

Then suddenly he sat bolt up right as a cold chillingly familiar wind lifted his chestnut curls away from his damp forehead. Instinctively he looked to see if the window was open, then remembered that there were no windows this deep under ground.

What the shen's going on? He wondered, suddenly annoyed. Then unable to stifle another yawn, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and rubbed his eyes before looking around the dimly lit room. Even as he did so a great feeling of dread and apprehension filled him; and this time the premonition was far clearer than it had ever been before.

He began to shiver almost uncontrollably as he realised with a certainty he could not explain, that one or more of his friends was going to be very badly injured, perhaps even fatally in the near future. Then the strange feeling left him as quickly as it had arrived, and he lay back down on the bed, drawing his knees up to his chest as he pulled the cover around him. Still shaking with reaction, till exhaustion finally forced him to sleep.

Jason woke the moment Vidal touched his shoulder. The Sime was zlinning him, as he observed, 'You look dreadful didn't you sleep well?'

'Not really,' he admitted and wondered whether he should mention his premonition to Vidal. Then immediately decided against it. After all he had no real information that he could give to either Vidal or the others; just the unsubstantiated knowledge that one or more of them would be injured at some time in the future.

How would a warning like that help anyone? Especially when he had no idea what might actually happen, or when it might occur or even where it might occur? In fact, the more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that telling them could only cause more harm than good.

After all both Vidal and Jordan were already worried enough about their Companions, without him making matters worse with a warning that he could not substantiate. Therefore having decided to keep his mouth shut, Jason forced his face into the semblance of a smile, and looked up at the Sime who was still zlinning him with a frown on his face as he asked.

'Are you sure you're all right?'

'Of course I am, stop worrying! Did you manage to get any sleep?'

'Just over an hour, and the bathroom is yours, I've already showered.'

'Okay thanks. Have we time to eat before we leave?'

'Jordan is arranging for us to take some biscuits and fruit with us.'

***

The Sun was just rising as they left Sector VII, and the two Simes zlinned the jungle carefully before they moved forward talking quietly in Simelan, followed closely by Tony, with Jason bringing up the rear.

The two Gens ate the biscuits and most of the fruit as they followed the Channels through the dense undergrowth. But Vidal and Jason would accept nothing more than a small piece of fruit each and no biscuits.

'I'm gagging for a drink.' Jason admitted as he nearly tripped and fell as his foot caught in a creeper.

'Jordan and I had a pot of trin before we left.'

Jason grinned, 'Lucky you. I obviously haven't brought Vidal up the right way, all I got was a frown.'

'Everything all right back there?' Jordan called over his shoulder, and Jason wondered why he bothered to ask, when both Simes were busy zlinning them anyway, and would know at once if there was anything wrong with either Gen.

They found the shuttle this time with no difficulty, and once they were all on board, Jason ran a quick systems check.

'Everything all right Jason?'

He looked up at Vidal and nodded. 'Get everyone settled down, we're on our way.'

Seconds later the shuttle began to rise up into the air and once the craft had broken through the green canopy high above them, and was bathed in the bright early morning Sunlight, he at once changed the direction from vertical to horizontal and began to gather speed.

To avoid detection Jason kept the small vehicle as close to the tops of the trees as possible, as they skimmed quietly above the dense green canopy of the jungle. Glancing behind him he saw that Tony was sitting in his seat with his eyes closed and felt suddenly envious, he really hadn't slept all that well himself.

'Vidal.' Jason touched the appropriate spot on the control panel as he called to the Channel, and then nodded with satisfaction as it drew up a detailed map of the area around them that lead to Sector II.

Both Vidal and Jordan moved to stand behind him

'I want to land the shuttle as close as I possibly can to Sector II, without being so close, that someone might fall over it,' Jason said quietly as they all studied the map.

'There?' Vidal indicated where he meant with a tentacle.

Jordan glanced at where he was pointing. 'If I'm not mistaken isn't there a path running along the side - just there?'

Vidal looked closer, 'Yes it is, you're right.'

Jordan pointed to another clear space. 'What about that? A little further away than we might like, but there's no path or trail anywhere near.'

Vidal nodded his agreement, 'Safe from prying eyes.'

'Okay, that's it then.' Jason set the direction finder as he changed course, banking slightly as the two Simes went and sat down next to Tony.

'ETA fifteen minutes,' Jason called over his shoulder, and even as the words left his mouth the small craft was thrown up into the air, as though a giant hand had grabbed hold of it and simply tossed it carelessly to one side.

Jason yelled for everyone to secure the force field on their seats, as he began to fight to remain in control of the shuttle as the small craft tried just as hard to escape.

Suddenly the shuttle spun around almost a hundred and eighty degrees so that it was facing back the way they had just come. Somehow Jason managed to get it back on course, but not before he had seen a frightening sight through the cabin's rear window.

'Was that an explosion?' Tony demanded as the two Channels asked almost simultaneously -

'What the shen was that?'

'Are we under attack?'

Jason could hear a hint of panic in all three voices as his passengers demanded answers, and he didn't blame them for feeling slightly apprehensive, he was feeling the same himself.

'It's a weather front, I've never seen anything like it before, it came out of nowhere!' He called back.

'That's why it's only a borderline Class M planet, for precisely that reason. The weather is unpredictable,' Jordan shouted, 'No wonder Earth decided not to colonise.'

Tony was craning his neck around to see out of one of the rear windows. 'Oh my God, just look at that!' The two Simes turned to look at where he was pointing.

'Shen!' Vidal said softly, 'I've never seen anything like that before.' The black storm clouds lit only by bolt after bolt of lightning stretched from the tops of the trees vertically upwards as far as the eye could see, and then stretched from horizon to horizon. It was gaining on them, although the winds were already buffeting them hard.

'I can't outrun it,' Jason yelled a warning, 'It's going to hit in fifteen seconds. Brace yourselves back there!'

He quickly raised the shield over the windows of the shuttle, realising that once the storm hit; he would have to rely entirely on the internal view screen.

Then before he expected it, the storm front hit; and the craft spun almost erratically out of control, like a lone leaf in the wind back home. For several seconds Jason fought with the shuttle and the elements outside that were now battering remorselessly on the hull of the suddenly frail craft, till finally he regained a modicum of control.

However, the electricity generated by the storm was playing havoc with the instrumentation inside the vessel, and Jason gave up any hope of keeping the shuttle on course, as he concentrated on merely keeping it in the air and away from the tops of the trees.

The winds of more than hurricane force screamed around them, and even though the shuttle was soundproofed, the fact that they could still hear the storm was proof, if any were needed, of the severity of the weather.

To make matters worse the lightning bolts were constantly hitting the hull sounding like mini explosions as they hit again and again.

Jason had long ago decided that he could not hope to steer the shuttle in these conditions, and had turned the craft so that it was now running in front of the storm and was in fact being pushed along by it.

Then, to his surprise, and perhaps even more quickly than it had first appeared behind them, the storm stopped and an eerie silence descended on the shuttle. For a few seconds Jason sat feeling stunned as he simply stared at the control panel in front of him. The instruments had just as suddenly ceased their erratic oscillations, and everything was once again, at first glance, back to normal.

His hand moved to depress the panel in front of him, and the shield over the windows slid back and they could all see outside once again. The sky was an almost perfect eggshell blue with a few small cotton wool clouds on the horizon, and the Sun if possible, was shining even more brightly than before.

'I'm glad that's over,' Vidal said with feeling, expressing the thoughts of everyone on board.

'I second that.' Tony agreed. 'You're a good pilot Jason.'

'Thanks. But to be honest I thought I'd lost it completely once or twice back there. I've never seen anything like that, let alone attempted to fly through it.'

'At least it's gone for now,' Jordan stated. 'How far off course are we?'

'According to the instruments quite a bit, just let me... hold on something's wrong!' Jason's fingers danced over the control panel as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing.

'What is it, can I help?' Vidal demanded.

'I don't think we're going to make it all the way back to that clearing we picked out. I may have to set her down several kilometres away from there.' He warned, as he studied the small map once more, trying desperately to find a suitable landing site.

Jordan moved over to stand beside him. 'Any luck?'

Jason nodded, 'Yes I believe so. We may still make it to the original place we picked out, but the engine won't last much longer, so if we can't, I'm going to try and bring her down there,' he pointed with one finger, 'all of you keep your fingers and tentacles crossed.'

Jordan touched his shoulder encouragingly before he went and sat down once more, allowing the Gen to concentrate on the tricky task of nursing the crippled shuttle into a safe landing.

Lady Luck for once was riding with them, as Jason managed finally to reach the original landing place they had chosen, but she left them just as suddenly, when it came to landing the craft.

Aware that he was losing all power, he had to try and glide her down into the clearing, while at the same time avoid crash landing into the encroaching jungle. As the shuttle finally touched the hard uneven ground Jason instinctively threw his arm across his face, and knew that his colleagues sitting behind him would be ready for a crash.

The shuttle had been designed for a vertical take off and landing, and the unconventional way that Jason had had to bring the craft down shook it up badly. So badly in fact that it almost screamed back its defiance as it skidded along the ground for what seemed to all the occupants to be an eternity. Yet in actual fact was only a few seconds in duration; and it was finally brought to a halt when it hit the almost impenetrable undergrowth, and the long creeping vines wrapped themselves around the fuselage.

'Well at least we're down, is everyone all right?' Jason asked finally, as he made sure that everything was shut down. The last thing they wanted now was a fire. The silence that had descended on the shuttle was staggering in its very intensity. One moment a cacophony of noise was hitting their eardrums from every corner of the craft, and the next - nothing!

It was Tony who put into words what they were all feeling at that moment. 'I agree with you, we're down, but how do we get her up again?'

'I don't think we do.' Jordan murmured, 'What do you think Jason?'

'Let me have a quick look around first then I'll be able to give you a better idea of what we can do, and what we can't.'

'I've come to the conclusion that Aryanous is not my favourite place,' Tony stated for the benefit of anyone who cared to listen. 'I don't like the people who live here, I don't like the weather, and I don't like their planet!'

'You won't get an argument from me on that score,' Jason said grimly.

'If there's nothing we can do to help, then we'll go outside for a while and leave you to it,' Vidal told his partner.

'When I've had a chance to assess the damage, I'll let you know if you can help.' Jason promised as he turned back to the control panel, leaving Jordan and Vidal to wrestle with the manual control on the door. As the large door finally opened, swinging upwards; all three men clambered out.

As soon as he was alone, Jason set to work. Luckily the small onboard computer was still working, and he quickly had it run a diagnostic analysis on the engine. To his relief he found that the damage was not as bad as he had at first envisaged. In fact by re-routing some of the circuits so that the shuttle could draw power from various other parts of the craft; then they should at least be able to take off and even with luck, gain orbit.

However, an hour had crawled slowly by before Jason moved to stand in the doorway, looking across at his three colleagues who were either sitting or lying on the ground, but Tony was the only one who had his eyes closed.

'Sorry to disturb your siesta,' he called sarcastically, 'But I've got some good news if anyone's interested.'

The two Simes rose athletically to their feet and hurried across to the shuttle to look up at Jason. 'Well?' Vidal demanded.

Jason told them what he had found, and then went on harshly, 'And as we've no other way of getting off this pile of crap, I've got to try and fix it now; no use waiting till we're in a hurry to leave is it?'

'So how long is it going to take?' Jordan queried at once.

'Unfortunately it looks like I'm going to have to do most of the work on my own. I'll only want help in the latter stages.' He said shortly. 'But if all goes well, and I don't encounter anything unexpected or untoward, I reckon I can get the whole job done in six possibly seven hours.'

'We can't sit around here for that length of time,' Vidal stated, and then explained. 'Aubrey Butler was going to get in touch with the two names he gave me, so they'll be expecting to hear from us before nightfall.'

Jordan looked up at the sky as he observed, 'And that's only three hours away now.'

'Exactly.' Vidal looked across at Jason, 'Do you want me to stay and help, or can Tony do it?'

Jason's eyes narrowed slightly as he looked down at his partner. 'I take it you're suggesting that you and Jordan go into Sector II on your own?'

'It would appear to be the only alternative.' The Sime admitted.

'Not to me it isn't Vidal! Look, I don't like to bring this up but both you and Jordan are only a couple of days away from transfer,' Jason said bluntly, and then pointed out. 'Neither of you can go rushing into yet another Distect stronghold, without one of us at your side. Not this time.'

'He's right!' Jordan reluctantly told his friend.

'I know he is.' Vidal conceded, running his tentacles through his black hair with frustration, for he knew that it meant taking Tony with him, and without meaning to disparage the Gen, he really didn't think that he was up to the task at hand. Because from what Aubrey had told him, Sector II harboured more members of the Organisation than Sector VII. Which he readily conceded, was not a happy prospect.

Vidal made his mind up quickly, for he really couldn't see any other way out of the dilemma facing him. 'Okay then, if it's all right with you Jordan, I'll take Tony and leave you here to help Jason.'

For a moment Jason thought that the Sectuib was going to argue the point with Vidal, but then he reluctantly capitulated, and nodded his head. 'Very well, and Jason and I will follow as soon as we've finished up here.'

'Do you want a hand hiding the shuttle before we go?' Tony asked.

'No. As I can't do anything to help Jason, at least not till later; it'll give me something to do while I wait.' Jordan said smiling across at his Companion, like Vidal he too was worried about the young Gen.

Before darkness fell Jordan had covered the shuttle with branches and was back inside the small cabin, the door closed against the many insects and seemed quite partial to Sime skin.

Jason grinned as the Channel sat scratching himself. Watching him out of the corner of his eye, Jason wasn't too sure that the Sime realised what he was doing, as both his hands and tentacles moved in an endless rhythm from his legs to his arms and then to his face and neck, and then started from the beginning again.

'For shen's sake Jordan stop that scratching! You're driving me mad. Go and put something on them if they're irritating you that much.' He snapped, 'I'm sure there weren't this many insects around Sector VII. Tony and I never had any problem, and we slept out in the open if you remember.'

'If you had listened to what Wil told us before we came here, you'd know that they spray the jungle around Sector VII.' Jordan stated as he got up to go and find the shuttle's medical kit.

'But not Sector II? Why not, can't they afford it?'

'I don't know the reason why not,' Jordan retorted angrily, 'and to be truthful, I don't care!'

'All right don't get your tentacles in a twist. When you've finished plastering that stuff all over your body, perhaps you can come and give me a hand or even a tentacle will do,' and he grinned across at the Sime.

Six and a half hours from when he had started, Jason sat back on his heels and looked at the completed job and sighed, he had had to patch just about everything together. 'Well I guess that's it. Now to see if it works; toes fingers and eyes crossed.'

'Just get on with it Jason please!'

'All right calm down. Here goes.'

Minutes later and he was sighing with satisfaction, because as far as he could tell without of course actually taking off in the shuttle, everything appeared to work almost as normal. Jason turned and grinned across at Jordan, 'Well it looks like you can call me Sosu Genius in future.'

'I can think of many things to call you, but "genius" certainly isn't one of them,' the Channel retorted. 'I take it we can go now?'

'Go? Go where? Shen I've been working on this for six-and-a half-hours, and I've had no more than three hours sleep in the last two days. Apart from which I'm starving.' Jason said honestly, 'so at the moment, I'm not going anywhere.'

The Sime sighed and said at once, 'Yes of course you must eat. I'm sorry, I seem to be feeling irritable and I don't really know why.'

Jason moved to get a pack of emergency rations, because he didn't feel in the mood to start preparing food. Then without asking first, he handed a packet marked "Sime" across to the Sectuib.

'Jordan, like I said to Vidal a short while ago, you're both close to transfer; it could be that that's affecting you.'

'Possibly,' Jordan replied and opened his food without any real interest placing it in front of him. 'To be honest, I'm worried about Tony.'

'Yes I don't blame you, so am I. He really isn't cut out for all this is he?'

The Sime shook his head. 'Neither am I.'

'No one is when they first start. I was next to useless and as naïve as Tony when I first went to work for the TIS.' He confessed, as he quickly demolished all the food in his pack, and looked down at Jordan's. 'Do you intend to eat that, or just play with it?'

'You can have it with pleasure.' He placed it in front of the Gen.

'Are you sure?'

'Absolutely, I really don't want it at the moment.' The Sime assured him, and then watched with satisfaction as Jason picked it up and began to eat.

'When I've finished this, we'll go and find the way in to the complex. I just hope your night vision is better than mine.' The Channel ignored the question, and did not bother to point out that as he would be zlinning anyway, he didn't have to bother about night vision or indeed any other sort of vision.

Entering Sector II was much the same as entering Sector VII, and even though they had paid their taxes before, and indeed had left long before they were due again, they still had to pay before they were allowed to proceed any further.

Finally they both emerged into yet another huge inner cavern, and Jordan told him where Vidal and Tony were headed. 'We're to go to a place called the Phoenix and book accommodation for all of us.'

The Phoenix proved to be a middle of the road type boarding house that catered to transients like themselves. They booked two large rooms that were, as far as Jason could tell, both decorated and furnished in exactly the same manner, and were utilitarian in the extreme. Thankfully however they were also clean, and as far as Jason was concerned at that moment the beds also looked reasonably comfortable.

Jordan had his back to him but was zlinning him nonetheless. 'Why don't you lie down for a while? There's very little we can do until the others arrive back.'

The Gen needed no encouragement, as he stretched out on top of the bed with a long sigh and closed his eyes. How long he actually slept, he had no idea but he eventually opened his eyes to find the room in semi darkness. Jordan was sitting, or perhaps it could be better described as lounged in an armchair. His legs were stretched out before him and crossed at the ankles, his hands were behind his head and as far as Jason could tell, his eyes were closed. Therefore he was surprised when the Sime spoke.

'You're awake! I had begun to wonder if you ever intended waking up at all.'

'How long have I been asleep - have the others arrived yet?' Jason bit back a yawn as he stood up and stretched.

'Eight hours, and no they haven't. In fact I'm beginning to feel extremely worried.'

'Eight hours, and they're not here?' Jason moved to stand beside the Sime and stared down at him. 'Something's obviously gone wrong, it must have.'

'Is that a premonition?' Jordan asked with a small grin.

Jason gave a small jump as the Channel spoke, then realised that it was no more than an idle question and meant nothing. 'No, just a gut feeling, and anyway you shouldn't have let me sleep so long.'

'You were exhausted, and there was nothing you could do, except perhaps sit and worry like me, and there seemed little point in both of us being engaged in that exercise.' The Sectuib pointed out logically.

'No I suppose not. So what are we going to do?'

'Do?'

'What's the plan of action?'

The Channel rose to his feet in one elegant movement, Jason knew that if he had been sitting or lying in that position for a number of hours, he would have been as stiff as a board. Jordan however was both loose and supple as he walked across the room to rest one hand against the window frame as he stared out at the fake scene beyond the window.

'I have been considering that very point for hours, and to be honest I have no more idea now, than I did before I sat down.' He turned his dark head and looked across at the Gen. 'What do you suggest?'

'Well they both know where to find us, and they haven't done so, and neither have they sent a message. Yet they both know by now that we'll be worried sick, and knowing Vidal and Tony if there was any way that they could contact us and set out minds at rest, they would have done so. Now that smacks of only one thing to me, someone is physically stopping them!'

Reluctantly the Sime nodded his head. 'Yes I agree, and...?'

'And that being so, and since we know the names of our contacts and where to find them, then I suggest we go there and ask a few questions of our own.'

'That was the first thing I considered doing, but if Vidal and Tony were handed over to the Guard or the Organisation when they arrived there. Then they could be waiting for us to do just that.'

'A trap you mean?'

'Exactly.' Jordan ran his tentacles through his black hair showing his frustration, but in a gesture so reminiscent of Vidal that Jason felt momentarily choked up at the familiar sight. 'I just wish I wasn't so close to transfer, normally I wouldn't even notice that anything was wrong, but at a time like this it impedes my judgement.'

'I'm doing my best to project calm,' Jason murmured. 'But is there anything else I can do?'

The Sime walked across and laid a tentacle on the Gen's arm. 'No, there isn't. It's hard to explain how I feel.'

'You mean it's hard to explain to a Gen, right?'

'Yes. You see, I'm not exactly in need, not in the true sense of the word; and you being here with me now is every bit as good as having Tony standing beside me. But that's not the trouble. Tony is my Companion, and he's in danger - and I feel so shenning helpless.'

Jason placed his hand on the Sime's forearm, feeling the quivering in the tentacle sheaths, coupled with the tension in his muscles. 'Take it easy we'll find him I know we will. I feel the same about Vidal you know, even if at times he is a pain in the ass!'

The Channel managed a brief bark of laughter at the Gen's words, although there was no real amusement in the sound.

'Well one thing we know for sure, standing around in this room isn't going to find them. Give me ten minutes to have a quick shower, and we'll go and look for them.'

The Channel nodded and went to sit down patiently in the chair while he waited.

***

Jason stared at the dark façade of the dwelling. 'It looks as if no one's at home. You're sure this is the correct address?'

'It's the one Vidal gave me.'

Stepping close to the entrance, Jason pressed the small panel for a second time. Again there was no response.

'Well there's definitely no one home; it looks like we'll have to go in and take a look around, see what we can find.'

'Since no one is answering our summons and we don't have a key, I fail to see how we can achieve that.' Jordan replied at once.

Jason merely looked at the Channel in disbelief. 'Wait here while I go up that alleyway along there.' He turned to go, and then turned back. 'Not directly in front of the doorway Jordan. If someone sees you standing there they might just be nosy enough to wonder what you're up to, and we don't want to draw attention to ourselves do we?'

Still shaking his head at Jordan's naiveté Jason moved silently away blending in with the shadows, wishing that he had been able to leave the Sectuib behind at the Phoenix. Although he had to admit, it wasn't because the Channel wasn't up to the task at hand, after all he was a born predator, probably one of the most efficient killers in the Galaxy, and like most Simes was well able to cope with the physical aspects required on their current assignment. No, it was more his general attitude that was causing the problem.

Not that Jason blamed him of course, because like most citizens on Earth Jordan had been brought up to respect law and order, and even in the situation they now found themselves in, the Sectuib found it nigh impossible to put his conventional ideas to one side, and accept matters as they stood, and not as he would like them to be.

During his time in Sector VII before they had arrived here, Jason had noticed that all the dwellings were burrowed either into the sheer rock or were built standing proud of it, with walls made from pieces of rock. However one thing they all had in common was the fact that they all had gaps left at the very top of the walls. Perhaps it was to let air into the dwellings from the air conditioning machines high up in the long tunnels.

Whether this hypothesis was correct or not, he didn't know, but it was the only function he could envisage that they might be used for; because the dwellings were obviously not built to keep out rain, or indeed any of the other elements which were to be found only on the surface of the planet, away from these vast caves.

The rocks that made up the walls of the dwelling, also acted like stepping-stones to someone used to rock climbing and mountaineering on Earth. Therefore Jason quickly scaled the sidewall with little difficulty, and then pushed his way through the gap at the top.

Luckily most of the dwellings were not fitted with elaborate intruder detection devices as they were on Earth. Either the Distect trusted their fellow citizens, which he very much doubted, or they simply didn't have all that much worth stealing, which seemed far more feasible.

Making his way quickly towards the front entrance, he checked for alarms on the way, but found none.

>From the inside he opened the door lock with little difficulty and glanced outside as it swung open. Jordan was not in sight. Shen, he had only meant him to hide in the shadows, not disappear completely, the idiot!

'Jordan?' He called, his voice little more than a whisper, but it brought no response. 'Where the shen are ...ahh!' A hand wrapped itself about his mouth and he was pulled almost roughly inside and the door was closed once more.

Just as quickly the hand was removed and Jason found himself free, he immediately pivoted on his heel his left fist landing in his assailant's stomach while his right moved towards where he expected the face might be, but his fist was caught and held in an iron grip long before he could land the second punch.

'What do you think you're doing?' Jordan gasped, rubbing his stomach as he spoke.

'I didn't know it was you did I? And how did you get in here anyway?' Jason demanded.

'The same way you did. I saw you disappear through the gap at the top of the wall and decided to follow. You forget that I am Sime, Jason. You should have told me what you intended to do, I could have scaled the wall more easily and a lot safer than you.'

Jason snorted, which expressed his feelings on that particular matter far better than mere words could ever have done. 'Well anyway I'm sorry I hit you, are you okay?'

'I'll live.'

'Good. Well now you're here, let's see what we can find. You take the rooms on that side of the corridor, and I'll take these. Yell if you find anything interesting.'

'Perhaps it would be best if we didn't yell.'

'Jordan, if there was anyone within shouting distance of us, don't you think they would be here by now? We haven't exactly been creeping around like mice have we?'

 

 

 

 Read Chapter 14

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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: simegen@simegen.com 







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