Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13, 14, 15 & 16
It was in the third room that Jason found a computerised filling system. The only similar one he had seen before had been on Earth when he had been working for the TIS, which was before he had even met Vidal.
Jason knew at once that it was not an easy system to crack, the encrypted security codes were designed to thwart people like him, which was why the TIS had used it. Slowly the minutes ticked away unseen as he worked on gaining entry to the files he wanted, and to the information he knew would be hidden inside its memory.
'Have you found something?' Jordan's voice at the door made him jump and broke his concentration.
'I'm not sure, but if I can get into this system, there may be something of interest.' Jason retorted, 'have you had any luck?'
'Nothing, except there are four glasses on the table in the kitchen, they had all been used. Three of them had had trin in them, and one had been used for fruit juice.'
'You're thinking that might have been Tony?'
The Channel nodded his head, and then realised that the Gen could not see him for he was concentrating hard on the computer, so he said, 'I am clutching at straws perhaps, but if given a choice Tony does prefer fruit juice to any other sort of drink, even trin. At least it tells us that in all probability they have been here at some time during the last nine hours.'
'Yes I suppose it does,' Jason said at once, hearing the call for reassurance in his friend's voice. Then looking up into the handsome face that was now staring over his shoulder he suggested, 'why don't you go and search the other rooms on this side. The ones I haven't got around to yet?' He was hoping to get the Sime would take the hint, and leave him alone for a while.
Thankfully Jordan quickly agreed to the suggestion and left the room, and Jason got back to work.
Less than ten minutes later he sat back with a look of triumph on his face, as he called, 'Jordan! Success - we're in!'
Once Jordan returned from searching the other rooms, he set to work sifting through all the files that they both thought might be of use to them, and began taking down all the relevant names and addresses. While Jason down loaded everything into Jordan's mini recorder, for he had no doubt that there were vast amounts of sensitive information that would prove of immense value, once they had returned to Earth.
'I think we've been here long enough,' Jordan said at last. 'We don't want to push our luck too far.'
'Just give me thirty seconds to finish up here, and I'll be right with you.' Jason promised, and then went on to explain. 'If possible we don't want them to realise anyone's been messing around with it; otherwise they'll notify everyone and change the information, and what we've got here will be totally useless.'
'Perhaps we should leave via the roof ?' Jordan suddenly suggested, as Jason stood up and replaced everything on the surface of the desk exactly as he had originally found it.
'No, I don't see why we should have to do that; you can zlin through the door can't you?'
'Okay that's good enough for me, let's leave the civilised way.'
They returned to the Phoenix to find that their two friends had not arrived, neither was there a message from either of them.
Once again in their room, Jordan immediately pushed one of the beds to one side and removed one of the flat rocks that made up the floor. Quickly he removed enough sand and rubble from underneath it to allow his small recorder to be buried inside the hole before he replaced the rock; it only remained then for the bed to be placed back in its original position.
While the Sime was doing this Jason was looking carefully at the information Jordan had gleaned from the files.
Having cleaned up the mess on the floor, Jordan came and sat down on the other bed beside Jason. 'Have you found anything of relevance?'
'Perhaps, one name keeps coming up again and again in relation to the Gen who Vidal and Tony went to meet. It's Zachary Aikenson.'
'I've never heard the name before, is he Sime or Gen?'
'It doesn't say.' Jason retorted, 'but there is one useful bit of information about him, his permanent home is on Damus Two. He's only visiting here, and the address listed for him, is the second one that Vidal got from Aubrey Butler.'
Jordan nodded. 'But that wasn't the name he gave us. As I recall it was Rayna Masters'
'Yes, Butler said that Rayna was a female renSime and that she lived there. He never mentioned that this Zachary Aitkenson is also staying there. Of course he may not have known that.' Jason mused.
'A possibility I suppose.'
'Now as far as the place we visited tonight is concerned.' Jason began.
'I take it you mean the place you burgled tonight?'
'We burgled!' Jason corrected him. 'Now according to what Butler said, a renSime called Sol Perry lives there. Yet I have a completely different address listed here for him.'
'I suggest we pay a visit on Sol Perry's other address and see if he's there.'
'I agree, but I also think we should call on Rayna Masters. One of them must know what has happened to Vidal and Tony.'
'True, but we can only visit one place at a time.'
'We could if we split up. We aren't joined at the hip after all,' Jason pointed out.
Jordan sighed and again raked his tentacles through his hair, and Jason could see his growing agitation.
'I take it you don't agree?'
'At any other time I would, but not now. I'm sorry Jason but with Tony missing, and transfer so close, I really don't think that I can face you not being here either.' He confessed softly.
'Shen it, at times I'm a complete fool. I'm sorry Jordan I never gave a thought to that. Of course we can't split up! I'm so used to working with Vidal, and even when he's approaching need he doesn't seem to worry whether I'm there or not.'
Jordan smiled grimly. 'Knowing Vidal he might very well play the tough man and not show or admit how he really feels, but believe me deep inside he will feel exactly as I do.'
Jason stared at him in genuine surprise. 'You're telling me he's only play-acting? You've got to be wrong, surely?'
'No, I'm not.' Jordan said emphatically. 'What ever else Vidal has trained himself to become or might pretend to be, he is still a Sime and a Channel and he cannot change that!'
'But he's a First that must make a difference?'
'I too am a First.'
Jason nodded. 'Yes I know you are, but Vidal doesn't seem to have your sensitivity.'
Jordan laughed out loud the sound strangely harsh in the small room. 'Believe me Jason, Vidal has just as much sensitivity as I do. If he says he doesn't need you close when he's approaching transfer, then he's lying not only to you but to himself. In time, if he isn't very careful, he could well find himself suffering from a psychotic illness. Unfortunately some of the higher order Channels are very susceptible to such disorders in later life, especially if they carry on like Vidal is trying to do.'
The Gen had gone quite pale as he absorbed the full implications of what the Sectuib was telling him.
'I'll have to speak to Vidal about this,' he observed and then looked into the Sime's dark eyes his own full of worry. 'Do you mind being there when I tackle him about it?'
'Of course, in fact I insist. He's my friend too and the last thing I want is to see him under the care of Zeor!' He paused and then went on. 'Unfortunately my House has to treat and nurse those who are unlucky enough to suffer from that form of dementia.'
'Shen it, now you're really worrying me!'
'It wasn't my intention to do that. I assure you he has no symptoms whatsoever at this present moment in time. I simply feel that prevention is always better than cure.'
'I agree with you there.' Jason said with feeling. 'Anyway let's get going, I think I need to find him as soon as possible, and I do mean "need"!'
The Channel nodded his understanding of how the Gen felt, and then said, 'As we started out by calling on Sol Perry, shall we continue with him, and if that lead proves to be cold, we can then turn our attention to Rayna Masters?'
The second address for Sol Perry that they had discovered listed in the computer, turned out to be more than half way across the Sector.
The Gen who answered the door was attractive and in her late twenties. She looked surprised to find them standing there.
Jordan didn't waste time, and immediately said that they wished to see Sol Perry and that they had already called at his other address, and he wasn't there.
It was quite obvious to both men that she had no idea what to say to them, or if indeed she should tell them anything at all.
Jordan could zlin the hesitancy in her, and quickly pressed her harder. 'We've come across from Sector VII. Aubrey Butler sent us.'
The name seemed to work like magic. 'Wait here, I may know where he is.' The door closed in their faces, leaving them both standing outside.
'She knew all the time.' Jason said at once.
'Yes of course she did. But I reckon that Sol Perry didn't think we would follow him here, or that we might find this address, so he gave her no instructions.'
Jason grinned. 'He's in for a big surprise.'
The door opened again and she pushed a small piece of paper into the Sime's hand. 'If he's not there, then I don't know where he is, so don't you bother coming back here.' The door closed with a loud click as the internal lock was activated.
'Such lovely manners and so hospitable these Distect,' Jason said with open sarcasm, and then looked over Jordan's shoulder as he unfolded the paper and they both read it.
'I saw that place on the map when we were looking for Perry's other address. It's down near the main entrance if I'm not mistaken. We'll get a Comcab down there, its not far but it will be quicker than walking.'
Sector II was much smaller than Sector VII in every way possible, although if they had seen this complex first, Jason had little doubt that they would both have thought it massive.
They alighted from the Comcab and looked around for the number she had written down. To their surprise it turned out to be a type of warehouse.
'I can't see any lights inside the place, can you zlin any signs of life or anything like that?'
'Nothing at all.'
Stepping close to the massive doors Jason looked for some means of alerting whoever might still be in the place that they were outside. He could see no bell panel or buzzer, so he drew his disruptor.
'Jason stop! You can't just shoot the lock!' The Sime said in a shocked voice.
'Calm down, I've no intention of doing any such thing.' Jason said with a grin, and turning the weapon so that he was holding the handle in his hand, he began to bang on the door using the disruptor as a hammer.
No one came, and as the final bang died away, and apart from the thrum of the air conditioning units, silence fell once more.
Then suddenly a Comcab raced by, and seconds later a group of females made up of both Gens and Simes walked towards them. Jason and Jordan immediately stepped into the shadows while the chattering women hurried on by, till their footsteps grew faint in the distance. However, neither man moved until the area around them was once again empty.
Jason grinned, 'This place is silent as a graveyard, and then a circus goes by.'
'We'll have to move quickly before someone else comes along and sees us. Some people are more curious than others.' Jordan warned him.
'Yes, and it also looks like we'll have to find some other way in,' Jason said at once and set off around the back of the warehouse, closely followed by Jordan.
As before they found no great difficulty in getting into the place, finally resorting to scaling the walls, and once inside they began a quick search of the small office where they found nothing of interest. The huge bays that housed all the import and export goods also proved to be of little interest to them.
'I bet a lot of this is contraband,' Jason murmured, looking around.
'Quite probably,' Jordan approached a number of large containers, and zlinned each one carefully.
'Can you zlin inside those things?'
'Not completely, but if there was anything "unusual" in them, I should be able to tell.'
Jason looked at him in surprise. 'You don't think they might be inside one of these do you?'
Jordan shrugged. 'It's a possibility, nothing more.'
'Okay, well just in case - zlin away!' And Jason walked away to look around the other boxes and cartons some full and others empty that were piled around on the floor in the various bays.
Jason began banging on each box and container that looked big enough to accommodate a couple of humans, in the hope that someone inside might just bang back, but without success.
Suddenly Jordan called out to him, and instead of returning the way he had come, Jason saw a quicker route back to the Sime between several small metal containers. Pushing himself through the gap between two of them, he felt something soft under his foot and looked down into the darkness. He was standing with his foot on... he jumped back quickly, shen it was a body!
At once he wondered why Jordan hadn't zlinned it before now, and then immediately knew the answer to his own question. Of course it was wedged between all these metal containers, and Simes could not zlin through all this metal.
'JORDAN COME HERE - NOW!' He couldn't quite keep the panic out of his voice.
He heard the rush of feet as the Sime came towards him, obviously augmenting.
'There's a body on the floor between these metal containers, perhaps you can zlin if it's alive or dead before we move it.' He said as the Channel arrived behind him.
Stepping back he allowed the Sime to squeeze passed him as he zlinned where Jason had been standing moments before.
Jason heard the gasp, and then froze as the Sime said in a strangled voice, 'It's Tony he's alive but only just! Work your way around to the other side and support his head, we shall have to move him with care.'
Within a short space of time they had their friend stretched out on the floor under one of the few lights in the place, and Jordan was zlinning and examining him using both fingers and tentacles.
As far as Jason could tell, Tony's clothing was soaked with his own blood, his face was ashen and covered in bruises, and as far as his breathing was concerned, it was so shallow as to be almost non-existent.
'How is he? Will he live?' Jason whispered, almost too afraid to hear the answer.
'As I said before, he is alive - but barely. As to whether he will live, I don't know.' Jordan's voice sounded calm, almost cold in its very intensity, and only the Gen knew the effort it was costing him not to scream out loud at the shocking state that his Companion was in.
'Bastards, they've used him as a punch bag.'
'Yes, and that is the least of it. Can you open those doors Jason? We can't take him out the way we came in.'
'I'll open them.' Jason promised grimly, and as he walked away he heard Jordan talking softly to Tony in the darkness behind him, even though the Channel knew full well that his Companion could not hear him.
In no time he was back having opened the locked doors, for like most locks, they were designed to keep people out, not in.
'Stay with Tony for a moment Jason, I won't be long.'
'Where are you going?'
'To zlin between all those other metal containers,' the Sectuib said bluntly.
'But - oh God, you think Vidal might be in there, don't you?' His heart began to beat at the mere thought of his partner lying in his own blood as Tony had been.
'It's a possibility, nothing more. They may well have taken him with them,' Jordan said softly, 'But I would not like to think that I had left him here alone, to die.'
After what seemed like hours, but in actual fact was no more than minutes, the Channel was back.
'Vidal isn't here. I don't know whether we should be glad or sorry about that.' He stated, and then went on. 'I will carry Tony. You can close the doors behind us and call a Comcab.'
'Where are we going to take him, to hospital?'
The Sime shook his head as he picked the Gen gently up into his arms. 'You've forgotten where we are Jason, there is no hospital here, as we would understand the term. I will tend him myself.'
'Yes of course, sorry, I wasn't thinking.' Damn it he was starting to babble, and that was no good at all, he wanted a clear head at this moment, not blind panic.
Moving swiftly ahead of the Sime, he opened the doors wide and then closed them again securing them as best he could. Then he ran to the nearest Comcab signaller, and sighed with relief when one appeared within seconds.
No one was around when they carried their friend into the Phoenix and laid him on the nearest bed in their room. Jason helped undress him; his fingers numb with shock.
Jordan spared him a glance and then said brusquely, 'Go and make yourself a glass of trin and sit down before you fall down. I have enough to contend with here, without you collapsing on me, too.'
Jason pulled himself together, the Sectuib was right, he couldn't afford the luxury of falling apart, not at a time like this. 'I'll be fine now, don't worry. Is there anything else I can do?'
'Fetch some water and wash the blood off, while I assess the extent of his injuries.' He said and then ordered, 'Jason, come here, move closer to me.'
Jason immediately obeyed the order but asked, 'Why?' as he did so.
'He's bleeding internally, I wasn't certain before, but it has got a lot worse in the last few minutes, and I need your support.'
Jason sat in silence feeling cold with fear, not for himself alone, but because with Tony's battered body lying between them, it had suddenly been brought home to him that the danger they all faced was very real. More than that, Vidal was somewhere out there right now facing it on his own, and perhaps worse, was the fact that there was nothing either he or Jordan could do to help him.
'If I get my hands on the bastards who did this, I'll kill them!' At that moment he really meant it when he used the word "kill" in that context, but he was unaware that he had spoken the words aloud.
Jason's joints were already beginning to feel stiff from sitting in the one position on the floor beside the bed for such a long time, when Jordan suddenly gave a deep sigh, and sat back his eyes closed.
After a few seconds he spoke sadly, his eyes still closed. 'Revenge will help no one Jason, and it will do nothing more than lower us down to their level.'
'Don't you think I know that?' Jason retorted anger in his voice. 'I just feel so bloody helpless, and more than that I can't help wondering what they're doing to Vidal. Shen, it just doesn't bear thinking about!'
After a few moments of utter silence the Sectuib nodded slowly, 'I agree, it doesn't.' Then without another word he turned his attention back to his Companion, and began to work once more on his external injuries.
The minutes once more ticked slowly by until Jason had no idea how much time had actually gone by, and didn't really care, as he sat beside Jordan and watched as his hands and tentacles moved from one wound to another.
The Channel's low voice suddenly broke the silence. 'He's lost a great deal of blood, I have helped as much as I can as far as that is concerned, but he could go into shock at any moment, and although I can repair his body, I can do little for his mind.'
'From the look of him he's going to remain unconscious for some time yet, and as we've got to move him, perhaps that's a good thing.' Jason observed.
'I am more worried that he may slip from being unconscious into a coma, he has been kicked in the head several times.' The Sime admitted. 'We must get him back to the freighter as soon as we possibly can.'
'Well if my repairs to the shuttle hold together, there's no reason we shouldn't get into orbit and make rendezvous with the freighter, providing you can contact her before we take off.' Jason said at once.
'Right, well give me another ten minutes and hopefully the "repairs" that I have done to Tony's internal injuries will also hold, and we can safely move him.' The Channel said and then instructed. 'Move the other bed to one side Jason and retrieve my recorder, we must take it with us.'
It seemed that Lady Luck was once again smiling on them, as they reached the exit tunnel without being seen. Once inside the tunnel itself Jason moved in front, allowing the Sime who was carrying Tony to follow on behind.
They had decided that Jason should distract the duty Guard while Jordan slipped past with Tony. The computer would register them automatically as they did so of course, but they did not want the Guard to see them as he or she might well report the fact. For as they both knew, they could trust no one.
Their luck still held as it turned out that the Guard was a middle aged Gen. Drawing close Jason played the part of a drunk to the hilt, full of the usual bonhomie and cheerful friendliness of a man who has taken enough alcohol to be happy, but not enough to turn nasty as so many did.
Once he saw that Jordan had slipped safely passed the checkpoint he took his leave of the man, breaking into song and singing at the top of his voice. The Guard's final words echoed behind him. 'There's a fine if you pee in the tunnel!'
On their way back through the jungle Jason offered to carry Tony for a while, but Jordan refused. 'Thank you for asking, but no. You have stumbled twice already, and the last thing he wants at the moment is to hit the ground with you on top of him.'
Jason opened his mouth to reply to the slanderous remark, and then closed it again. The Sectuib was right, he really could not guarantee that he wouldn't trip up before they reached their destination.
Once they arrived back at the shuttle they made Tony as comfortable as they could although he was still unconscious, and they could do little about that.
Then while Jordan went to contact the freighter and arrange a rendezvous, Jason carried out a last minute systems check and hoped desperately that the repairs he had been forced to carry out would hold up under the stresses and strains of the craft both taking off from the planet's surface and also achieving orbit.
Jordan stayed at his Companion's side until orbit had been achieved and then came to stand beside Jason one hand resting on the back of his seat as he stared down at the view screen. 'Any sign of the freighter yet?'
'No, we still have a twenty minute wait,' he reminded the Sime, realising that it was a measure of Jordan's worry about Tony that he had forgotten. 'How is he doing?'
'Not good. He's still unconscious, but not yet in a coma.'
'Jordan, I don't like to bring this subject up, but have you given any thought to what you're going to do if he doesn't recover enough to give you transfer this time?' He asked almost diffidently, his eyes sliding sideways to look up at the Sime, as he tried to judge his reaction to the question.
'Tony was not only beaten and kicked, he was also stripped!'
'How do you know that?'
The Sectuib looked momentarily taken aback by the question. 'Because I zlinned him.'
'You can't read his mind by zlinning,' Jason said at once and then went on, 'Or are you like that Ercy Farris you mentioned?'
'Jason please, stop right there! What are you talking about?'
'You said Tony was stripped, but when we found him he had all his clothes on, so how do you know they removed them?'
Jordan gave a bark of laughter that was totally without humour. 'Jason, Tony has been stripped of his selyn, and because like you he is a 4+ and was nearing his full capacity.' He stopped a moment and then went on in a voice that was all the more poignant and bitter, because he spoke without emotion. 'He was attacked by more than one Sime, and they did not expect him to live. As far as they were concerned, he was already dead.'
'Shit! I never even thought that something like that could have happened,' he admitted, 'What shall we do?'
'When I called the freighter I asked the Captain if there was anyone on board who could serve me, of course he said no. It was a forlorn hope at best.'
'I suppose the freighter carries selyn supplies for emergencies like this, most ships do.'
'Yes of course.'
'So? Can't you use that?'
'I could - yes.'
'Okay Jordan spit it out. You don't want to use it do you?'
'No.' The Sime sighed. 'And I'm not trying to be awkward Jason.'
'But - there has to be a "but" - right?'
The Channel nodded his head slowly, 'But I have used it once before.'
'And it was not exactly successful.'
'In what way was it not. Shen it Jordan - just tell me!'
'I was in my late teens, and was on a Star Cruiser. It was agreed beforehand that I should use the canned selyn while away from Earth. My Father felt that it was important that I at least have the experience of using it, after all it can save a Sime's life in an emergency.'
'Yes, like now.' The Channel conceded. 'Luckily for me, I also had a Companion with me.'
'It made you ill?'
'Extremely. I had an allergic reaction so bad that I nearly died.'
'FROM THE SELYN?'
'No of course not - from the container!'
'But no one else has ever complained of that have they? At least I guess Vidal would have said something if they had.'
Jordan sighed deeply. 'Years ago my ancestors suffered from allergies of every kind, many were life threatening. In fact Farrises were notorious for it, even some types of soap were too dangerous for us to use.'
'Why? What caused it?'
'My Grandfather studied the phenomenon for years, as far as he was able from the records available, and came to the conclusion that the unhealthy life style forced on Channels by the Tecton at that time, which included inadequate transfers for the higher order Channels most of the time, due to the lack of suitable donors, were the main cause. In recent times these allergic reactions have disappeared, which more or less proves his theory I suppose.
'Therefore when my Father seized the opportunity for me to use the canned selyn on my trip, no thought was given to even the possibility that it could be harmful to me.' Jordan unsheathed his tentacles and studied them for several moments before he shuddered and then went on. 'Believe me, I should not like to endure that experience again.'
'What happened, did you come up in hives or something?'
'...or something. I could not breathe - literally - I was choking slowly to death -- and almost did.'
'Shen!' The Gen stared at the Sectuib, 'But your reaction must have been reported to the authorities, in which case they would have changed the container -- surely?'
It was Jordan's turn to be shocked at the Gen's naiveté, and he shook his head as he stated. 'You obviously know nothing about the world of commerce Jason, you will have to ask Vidal to enlighten you. Can you really imagine a multi-billion credit company changing its containers for one man? Even the Sectuib is Zeor doesn't warrant that kind of attention; a few centuries ago maybe, but not today!'
'So I guess canned selyn is out.'
'Why be sorry, it's not your fault is it?'
'No it isn't. But I am sorry nonetheless.'
.'I don't understand Jordan, have I missed something here?'
The Channel looked down into the Gen's eyes and then said quietly, 'It would appear that I have no one else to turn to - but you.'
Jason stared back at him, suddenly feeling as if he had been punched in the stomach, 'But what about Vidal?'
Jordan was silent for more than a minute, and Jason began to wonder if he intended to answer the question at all, when he said, 'We have to face the fact that he might already be dead. When you look at what they have done to Tony, would they do less to Vidal?'
Jason felt too shocked to answer, and he found himself forcing back tears, as he finally shook his head in negation, and then spoke the words that he simply did not wish to say. 'No, I suppose not.'
The rendezvous with the freighter went without a hitch, and Jordan took his Companion straight to the medical bay, grateful for the help that the Gen Doctor immediately offered in setting up a blood transfusion, and discussing the very real possibility of brain damage.
Rather than sit alone in the quarters they had been allocated, with nothing to do but think black thoughts. Jason asked the Captain if he could help the engineering crew, who were doing a complete overhaul of the shuttle that was now sitting in one of the huge storage bays.
He knew that he would have to make a decision soon as to whether he gave transfer to Jordan. But then, what choice did he really have? If he said no, and gambled on the fact that Vidal might still be alive, where did that leave Jordan? Yet if by some miracle they did find Vidal still alive? Well at least as far as he knew, Vidal didn't suffer from allergies and could make use of the canned selyn. Damn he was going round and round in circles! On top of that his head was throbbing with one of the worst headaches he had ever endured.
As his headache steadily got worse Jason began to accept the fact that he had to go to the Medical Bay and ask the staff there for something that he could take to get rid of it. The trouble was he would also see Jordan there, who would no doubt expect an answer to his question, and at this moment Jason simply did not have one to give him.
Just as he had made up his mind to go down to the Medical Department, he received a call asking him to go there straight away.
He sighed, knowing that the decision as to whether he should go or not, had now been taken out of his hands; then as he hurried down there he began to wonder if Tony had perhaps taken a turn for the worse or if he was - he cut the thought off at once, because it was not a word he wanted to use. Tony quite simply, had to live!
Jordan looked around as Jason entered the hygienic room, and used a tentacle to wave him across to where he was standing. 'Tony has just regained consciousness - I thought you would like to know.'
Jason stepped closer to the bed and looked down into the familiar eyes that although swollen and bruised were now open and looking up at him.
'Hi, how are you feeling?' He asked automatically, and immediately wanted to bite his tongue the moment the stupid question left his mouth. After all he could see exactly how he was feeling, his face was still covered in bruises like his body, and he was obviously feeling bloody awful!
'I'm okay.' Came the whispered reply, then using all his remaining strength Tony suddenly touched his hand. 'Jason - Vidal.'
Jason immediately leaned close to his fellow Gen. 'What about Vidal, Tony?'
'They beat him up... like me.'
'I really don't think he should be talking just yet.' The Gen Doctor began.
'Please Doctor, this is important, just a few minutes no longer.' Jason begged.
Jordan interrupted him, 'I am zlinning him Doctor, he is able to answer a few more questions. But if I see he is tiring too much, I will stop him at once.'
The Doctor nodded, 'Very well,' he said grudgingly.
'Thank you.' Jason looked down at him again. 'Tony do you know where Vidal is? Where they might have taken him?'
'They said - Damus Two.'
'They've taken him to Damus Two? What for? If they wanted him dead surely they would have left him with Tony,' Jason said looking up at Jordan.
'What?' Jordan bent closer to his Companion. 'What about attrition Tony?'
'He said - kill Vidal - by attrition, send warning to other Tecton spies.'
'Who said that Tony, do you know?
'You mean Zachary Aitkenson?'
'Yes. You must get to Damus - find Vidal.'
'All right Tony rest now, the Doctor will look after you,' Jordan said quickly. 'Try not to worry any more. Jason and I will go after Vidal, we'll do our best to find him. Sleep now.' He touched the Gen's forehead gently, and then turned to the Doctor as his eyes closed. 'He'll sleep for about an hour, no longer.'
'Good. I don't believe there is any great likelihood now that he will fall into a coma, but to be on the safe side, I shall wake him every hour for the next twenty four.' The Doctor promised.
Jason had walked across to the door to allow Jordan and the Doctor a little privacy, and to obtain something for his headache from the ship's medical supplies. Moments later the Channel joined him ready to leave.
'Take good care of him.' Jason murmured and the Doctor smiled across at him, and nodded his head in agreement.
'I'm glad he regained consciousness before we had to go back and look for Vidal.' Jordan said, 'to leave him like that, would have been a hard decision to make.'
'Yes it would. It seems we've both had to make difficult decisions today.'
The Channel looked across at him keenly, but did not zlin him this time.
'Yes, and it wasn't easy.'
'I'm sure it wasn't.'
'You don't intend to ask me right out whether it's yes or no, do you?'
'I'm sure you'll tell me when you're ready to do so.'
'Well the answer's yes. I have to find Vidal, and to do that I require your help and you can't help me very much if you're feeling lousy because of an inadequate transfer.'
'Thank you.' Jordan said, and then went on. 'There is another alternative. It's not one that I relish, but I have to explain it to you, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't do so and you then found out later that I had a choice.'
'The Captain is a low Second, he has suggested that I take transfer from him, then take donations from some of the Gens in his crew, which coupled with an internal shunt from my secondary to my primary systems should top me up with all the selyn that I need.'
'It sounds easy, but there's more to it - right?'
'It's a very poor substitute for the real thing. However, I should gain enough selyn to keep me alive, especially as I have always had good transfers and am therefore in excellent health, both mentally and physically. The Captain of course is being very brave, because he is quite literally, trusting me with his life.'
'How come?' Jason demanded, a slight frown touching his face.
'He's only a Second and I am a First and a 4+. He trusts me to stop drawing from him before he is badly burned.'
'You mean you could kill him?'
'The chance is slight, but if anything went drastically wrong, then yes I could quite easily - if unintentionally - kill him.' The Sime admitted honestly.
'I see, as you said - a brave man.'
'Okay lecture over, let's go and get this over and done with. We have to find Vidal, and much as I like being away from the Distect we have to go back, and this time to Damus Two.'
'You're still willing to go ahead with the transfer?' The Channel asked.
'If the Captain can risk his life, I can't very well do anything less can I?'
Returning to their quarters, Jordan went to take a shower. He had not had the time before because he had not left Tony's side. But Jason had, so he went to speak to the Captain about altering course to take them to the other Distect planet, Damus Two.
They could of course have undertaken the short journey in the shuttle, but the freighter would prove more comfortable, get them there quicker and with much less chance of detection. The vessel would not enter orbit around the planet, but the shuttle would leave the safety of the cargo bay and make its way down to the smaller planet when they arrived there.
Jason was also hoping that during the course of the short journey to Damus Two he would at least have time to catch up on a few hours sleep, that his body by now was screaming out for.
'If I take transfer now, I shall be six hours early. If we wait till we arrive close to Damus Two, I will only be two hours early.' Jordan suddenly stated as he came out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist, while he dried his hair with another.
Jason was too tired to argue and immediately agreed to the suggestion. 'Okay it's up to you, if that's what you want to do.'
'It is; thank you.'
'You're welcome. By the way it's nice having a water shower isn't it? I fully expected it to be sonic.'
'Yes so did I. By the way, have you eaten?' Jason nodded. 'Then why don't you sleep while you have the chance?'
'I intend to try, whether I'll succeed is another matter.'
'If you require any help with sleeping?' The Channel said at once, much as he would have offered help to Tony, who would have had no qualms about accepting.
'No I'm fine thanks.' Jason said at once.
Jordan, remembering what Vidal had told him about his Companion's reluctance to accept help of that kind, did not argue with him.
Minutes later Jason settled down to sleep, safe in the knowledge that the freighter did not have to enter hyperspace for the short journey to Damus Two, and therefore his secret was safe.
Four hours later Jason woke to find a steaming glass of trin being pushed into his hand by the Sectuib. 'Thanks, it smells great.'
'I have ordered breakfast for you. I thought in the circumstances it was best for you to eat it here, afterwards we can take transfer, and then leave.'
'Great.' He took a sip of the hot liquid. 'Er... what have you ordered exactly?' It had taken him many months to educate Vidal as to what he liked to eat in a morning. As he knew to his cost, a Sime's idea of a good breakfast, was not one that he would choose.
However, the food when it arrived was both well cooked and hot, and consisted of a cheese omelette, nut bread, yoghurt with cereal and fresh fruit. Not exactly what he would have ordered himself, but a lot better than Vidal's first efforts on his behalf had been.
Knowing that the Sime would not eat anything before transfer, Jason placed a slice of nut bread and an apple to one side for Jordan to eat afterwards.
While he himself ate his breakfast, Jordan helped himself to Jason's pillows and went and lay on his bed with all the pillows behind his head, and they discussed what they expected to find on Damus Two, and how they intended to proceed.
Having finished eating, Jason went to clean his teeth and then returned to sit down on the side of the bed next to Jordan. He was of course aware that the Sime was hyperconscious, for Jason knew that his field was already enticing the Channel. Without a word he slid his hands under Jordan's forearms, and his fingers closed carefully around his wrists.
Jason also knew that he had to push all his unhappy thoughts about Tony and Vidal firmly to one side, for he was aware that if he did not do so, then he could well spoil the transfer for the Channel completely. It took more than a little effort to achieve this, but somehow he managed it.
Moments later Jordan's tentacles lashed around Jason's arms, his laterals quivering sensitively in the Gen's field. Yet it was Jason who finally leaned forward and placed his cool lips firmly against the Sime's. Surprised as always at how hot and dry they were, although he already knew that a Sime's body temperature was much higher than his own.
'The Kiss of Death' as his ancestors had called this act had no sexual content whatsoever. Indeed Vidal had once told him of two women he knew, one Sime and one Gen who were not only transfer partners, but were also lovers. Yet they had informed him that even they lost all sexual feelings for each other, both immediately before and during transfer.
As Jordan began his draw and selyn passed from one to the other, as Jason relaxed completely and gave himself over entirely to the new experience; and he knew that every transfer whether with Vidal or in this instance with Jordan again, was still an entirely new and totally different experience.
Jordan meanwhile had also relaxed as he concentrated on the glittering selyn that now danced before his eyes and would soon pass from Jason to himself. He was also secure in the knowledge that as with Tony he could draw as quickly and as deeply as he wished from Jason, and yet would not harm him in any way.
As the sparkling energy rushed into his system, he felt every nerve begin to sing with relief and satisfaction, and knew instinctively that Jason was with him every step of the way. Slowly his draw eased off and as the last dynopter trickled into his body he relaxed feeling as one with the Gen whose body touched his own.
Only as they both finally opened their eyes and they broke connection with each other did the nightmare about Tony and Vidal, and what they still had to do on Damus Two, crash once more into both their minds.
'Are you all right?' Jordan asked.
Jason smiled almost sadly, 'Of course I am. I just wish I didn't feel so shenning guilty.'
Jordan zlinned him deeply, 'You're still feeling bad about Vidal.' It was a statement and not a question.
'What do you think? I feel like I've let him down - and I have.'
'You haven't.' The Sime said with a certainty that Jason certainly did not feel himself, and he knew he had to confess.
'Jordan there's something you still don't know, something I should have mentioned ages ago.' Jason took a deep breath and then went on, 'Before we left for Sector II, I had another one of those damn useless premonitions.' Then seeing Jordan begin to open his mouth to speak, Jason rushed on before he could do so. 'Just as before there was nothing specific. But I knew that two of us would be hurt or injured and one of us might be hurt fatally. I know I should have said something about it but...' he faltered to a halt.
'Why? What use would telling us have been, except possibly to make us all so careful of each other, that we wouldn't have achieved anything at all?' He laid a tentacle on the Gen's arm by way of comfort. 'You just said that you knew nothing specific - right?'
'That being the case, what is all this soul searching going to achieve?' Jordan demanded, 'Except perhaps to give you a guilt complex a kilometre wide.'
The Gen looked into the Sime's concerned eyes. 'You're right of course, it doesn't achieve anything does it?'
'No. So stop blaming yourself,' the Channel stated, and Jason, with a heavy heart, gave him a grim smile.
'Is that an order, Sectuib?'
'Yes it is,' Jordan rolled off the bed and stood stretching his arms and tentacles. 'And now if you're ready, I suggest we start looking for Vidal.'
'I second that,' Jason said with feeling.
'Good, because whether we actually find Vidal or not, in the end we still have a mission to complete. It's what Vidal would have wanted after all - agreed?' And he held out his hand to Jason in the Gen manner, to formally seal their pact.
For a brief moment Jason looked into eyes that reminded him so much of his partner, and then reached out finally to shake the Sectuib's hand. 'Agreed,' he said quietly.
To be continued in Part Seven
Comment to the Author
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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