A New Beginning 
Part 6

D. DaBinett 

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



As they arrived back in their suite in the early hours of the morning, Vidal made a few choice comments about his partner's behaviour in the meeting. Jason had expected it, and for the most part managed with great difficulty and for the sake of peace and harmony, not to retaliate.

'Well if that's all, I'm off to bed. Don't wake me too early.' He said finally.

'I thought you were meeting Tony in the gym?'

'After only two hours sleep, not likely; if the idiot turns up, I can guarantee he'll be on his own.'

The Channel sighed, as Jason grinned across at him. 'You know Vidal I think its back.'

'Back? What is back?' The Channel looked totally confused.

Jason walked to the door and turned to face him again. 'That damn poker you've got stuck up your ass. If you don't remove it, I'll do it for you!' With a brief salute he entered his room and closed the door firmly behind him. Totally unaware of the laughter that suddenly shook his partner's slim body, before he quietly let himself out of their suite and made his way towards Jordan's office.



It was almost Noon when Jason finally emerged from his bedroom, having showered and dressed; thankful that Vidal had taken him at his word, and had not disturbed his beauty sleep. Glancing around the empty sitting room he walked across to Vidal's bedroom and glanced inside, quickly ascertaining that the room was empty and his partner was not there. But he did notice that his bed was crumpled, so he had evidently got some sleep during the past few hours.

Walking across to the sliding glass door that opened onto the small terrace he stood in the warm Sunlight and stared up into the cloudless sky. Zeor HQ was built around a square, and most of the living accommodation faced towards the trees and grass growing in the square, and away from the main thoroughfares. It was too late for breakfast and too early for lunch. He watched a small bird on the ground far below searching for a worm. He stretched his arms and yawned, as he considered whether he wanted to eat alone, or if he should make his way to the dining room.

Of course he could always spend half an hour in the gym before he went to eat. Yes, he decided, he would do just that, and before he could change his mind he quickly let himself out of their suite and hurried along the corridor.

Entering the well-equipped gym he glanced around, noting with satisfaction that he was one of the few people who would be using the facilities at this time of the day. Early morning late afternoon and early evening seemed to be the busiest periods of the day.

Two of the instructors Raymond and Fiona were standing near one of the windows talking quietly. Raymond looked across at him and signalled that he was ready to meet him on the mat. Jason nodded his agreement before he stepped into the shower room and changed into white cotton pants and top, tying a belt loosely around his waist.

Twenty minutes later and the sweat was running down his body as he tossed Raymond yet again, before he straddled the instructor's lithe body holding his shoulders down on the mat.

'Submit,' the instructor said at once, and Jason immediately rolled off him and rose gracefully to his feet.

Raymond silently acknowledged his release. 'Excellent. There's really nothing more I can teach you Sosu Jason.'

'Perhaps not, but I like to keep in practice.'

'Of course.'

'How's Tony coming along?'

Raymond merely shook his head, not bothering to put into words what they both knew.

'As bad as that?'

'I have told him that he would be foolish to risk a hand to hand confrontation. He'll have to rely entirely on a disruptor. Although he still needs more practise in actually drawing it and aiming it accurately, he's still extremely slow.' Raymond shrugged expressively, 'mind you, once he gets around to firing it, he does manage to hit the target on occasion.'

'Shen! He's going to end up dead if he isn't careful.'

'I trust you're wrong, he's well liked in Zeor, and he is the Sectuib's Companion.'

'We'll just have to keep an eye on him I suppose.' Jason said with a sigh.

'And that's how people end up dead.' Raymond said quietly, putting Jason's thoughts into words, and then went on to warn him. 'In a tight situation, you can't afford to take your eyes off the man attacking you, while you watch someone else's back.'

'I learned that lesson years ago. But with any luck we won't get into that type of situation.' Jason said with a wry grin, before he went on cheerfully. 'How about you give me a work out with the knives? I got stabbed the other night, and the fellow really shouldn't have been able to do it - at least - not quite so easily.'

Raymond accepted the change of conversation, and went to fetch the weapons. 'Yes I heard about the confrontation,' the instructor stated as he handed one of the blades to Jason. It was a heavy knife made for fighting, and not for throwing, so the balance was different.

In the last year Jason had learned to use all manner of weapons, some modern and some as old as time itself. Yet all so necessary for an ordinary Gen to become familiar with, especially when he might have to go up against a natural born predator like a Sime. After all, Simes were formidable foes, even before they were combat trained, after which, they were deadly.

Jason was well aware that all the practice in the world did not guarantee his safety when a Sime was involved in the equation, but it at least gave him a "fighting" chance.

For the next few minutes they danced around each other, the knives flashing through the air as they dodged and feinted before attempting to make their strike, only to find that their opponent had once more danced out of the way. Suddenly Jason saw an opening and quickly moved in, fully expecting Raymond to avoid the strike.

'Shen it, I'm sorry Raymond.' Jason tossed the knife away as a trickle of blood ran down the Gen's forearm.

'No point in practising if we aren't prepared to get a flesh wound once in a while. I'll go find a Channel to fix it for me. Don't worry about it; you're good Jason, really good.' The Instructor said sincerely.

'Yes you are.' Jason spun round to find Tony leaning against the wall at one side watching him, his arms folded across his chest.

'Thanks.' He grinned at the young Gen, and then watched Raymond with anxious eyes as he acknowledged Tony.

'Shouldn't you have been using wooden knives or something?'

'I did when I first started out, just while I got used to handling both myself, and a knife. Then you have to graduate on to the real thing. Otherwise you never learn to respect the weapon you're using.' Jason replied.

'Yet those knives are so sharp, you actually wounded Sosu Raymond.' Tony persisted.

'Sosu Jason paid me the compliment of assuming that I was as good if not better than him with a knife. In consequence he did not hold back. The fault was mine.' Raymond called across as he walked towards the door.

Jason smiled. 'He's right. I assumed he was a far better knife fighter than me. He was one of those who taught me after all. I fully expected him to avoid the blade easily. I won't make that mistake again. Although knowing Raymond I expect he'll wear body shielding next time we fight, and he'll probably insist that I do too.'

'Have you been hurt by a knife before?'

'While practising you mean? Yes, often. You have to expect it. I guess I'd be a wealthy man if I had a credit for every time Raymond has taken a hit in his career. Have you had lunch yet?'

Tony shook his head. 'Good, wait while I have a quick shower and get changed, then we'll grab a bite to eat. I'm starved.'

Later Tony glanced down at Jason's tray of food and laughed. 'You worked up quite an appetite I see.'

'I didn't get up till nearly Noon so I haven't had any breakfast. You must have slept in too after last night, or should I say morning?'

'Sleep till Noon? No way. I was up about 7.00 a.m., which is late for me. Jordan would have been fussing around thinking I was ill, if I had stayed in bed later than that.' He confessed, 'and by the way we have a meeting with the Sectuib and Vidal straight after lunch.'

Jason nodded his head, and then took another mouthful of roasted vegetables and couscous with spicy pepper sauce.

'By the way, did you know that Raymond told me yesterday to rely on a disruptor and not bother too much with hand to hand fighting?'

'He mentioned it.'

'What would you do?'

'Look Tony, if you want my advice, for what it's worth; do exactly as Raymond says and rely on a weapon, it could save your life. You'll be carrying the disruptor in a hip or thigh holster whichever you prefer, so during the next few days practise taking it out as quickly as you can, and lining it up. Then keep on doing that every spare minute you get. Don't just wait till you're on the firing range, do it in your bedroom or anywhere, you don't have to fire it. But the speed with which you can get it out and be ready to use it, could save your life, or perhaps one of ours, remember that.'

Jordan and Vidal together with Roy and Wil, were talking quietly in Simelan over a glass of iced fruit juice, when the two Gens entered the room. Both Gens knew they were being zlinned, even though the Simes didn't stop talking.

Jason moved to sit in one of the vacant chairs and then glanced across at the Channels. 'I take it we're here to work out a plan of campaign?'

'Jordan has already done so.' Vidal replied.

'Has he indeed.' Jason made the words a statement as he scrutinised the Channel. 'I trust you've made a better job of it this time, than you did before Sectuib?'

Vidal almost choked on his drink as Jordan said 'Pardon?'

'Well correct me if I'm wrong Jordan, but it was you who arranged the meeting with Felicity Parker wasn't it? The woman who just happened to belong to the Organisation, and not the Distect? And who, incidentally, almost managed to blow the entire Zeor building sky high, and would have succeeded if Tony hadn't had his wits about him.'

Jordan gave a soft laugh. 'Now if I'm not mistaken that was a direct blow to my pride! No don't apologise Vidal, he's quite right. What almost happened to Zeor because of Felicity Parker can be laid fairly and squarely at my door. I admit I got carried away when she made the initial approach. I should have realised that it was far too good an offer to be taken at face value. She should have been investigated further before she was allowed to simply walk into Zeor.'

'She should also have been scanned for weapons, or at the very least hand searched, before she was allowed to cross the threshold of the building.' Jason said grimly.


'Well, at least you've got the grace to realise you did make a mistake. Many men in your position wouldn't.' Jason said with a brief smile. 'So perhaps you can also understand why I'm a little sceptical when I'm blithely informed that the man who made such a mess last time, has worked out a plan of campaign for all of us to follow. Especially when he's had no experience in undercover work; and all without bothering to even consult one of us! I'm afraid it's just not on my friend - not when it's my neck on the line too!

'Now as far as I'm concerned the TIB can give me a direct order because that's what they pay me for. But remember, I'm not a member of Zeor, let alone even a Householder, so you can't! Besides, apropos of what I said before, Vidal and I have worked in the field for quite some time now, and neither you nor Tony have. No offence to you Tony, but that's just plain fact.'

Jordan's eyes rested on Jason momentarily before he nodded. 'Yes I agree, perhaps we can start again? I'll explain the plan I've devised. We can then discuss it, and if you have a better idea you can tell us what it is. Is that satisfactory?'

'Sounds fine to me.'

'Thank heavens for that.' Vidal muttered as Jason smiled across at him, knowing there would be hell to pay later when they were alone, but where their lives were concerned, he was not prepared to compromise. The mere fact that Jordan was Sectuib in Zeor did not mean he was God, nor did it make him infallible, certainly not in Jason's eyes.

Jordan stood up and walked to the far end of the room, and touched the underneath of a large table with one tentacle. The lights immediately dimmed and the empty space above the table began to swirl as it reassembled into a realistic holographic image of a distant Star System.

'As you all know from the brief notes you received yesterday, this is the Zhariot System. There are Distect colonies on at least two of the larger planets in this System, namely the fourth and fifth. The main settlement is on Aryanous with a much smaller one on Damus Two.' He indicated them both. 'They are borderline M-class planets because the weather patterns, though stable for a majority of the time, can throw some nasty surprises when least expected; which is the reason they were originally rejected for colonisation by Earth.

'However, Glory has managed to infiltrate their people onto both planets. For example Roy and Wil have both at various times been part of an active surveillance cell on Aryanous and Damus Two.'

He touched the underneath of the table again, and the Zhariot System dissolved and they found themselves looking at what appeared to be dense jungle, with cleared areas visible at intervals.

'To avoid the patrols and the regular sweeps that Earth makes of these "supposedly" uninhabited planets, the Distect have build their homes below the surface of the planet. Aryanous in particular is well suited to this, because it's honeycombed with caves, some of enormous size. This has made the task of tunnelling and excavating much easier for them, than would at first sight appear to be the case.

'Roy and Wil have given us the address of one of the cells who are situated in Sector VII on Aryanous. This cell will be able to take us in. Now luckily, because of the way they live, the Distect members are quite used to single people and families, even entire settlements on occasion, moving vast distances at a moment's notice. Which is another reason why we're hoping we can encourage them to look favourably on the sanctuary we are offering them on various designated planets; together with regular trading facilities with Earth and her colonies of course, along the lines I discussed with you before.'

'So what happens when we get there? Do we just ask them to take us to their leader?' Jason asked facetiously, with a wide grin.

'If only it were that easy.' Jordan said quietly, taking the question seriously and at face value. 'Unfortunately, because of the splintered nature of Distect life, there is no First Minster, President or World Leader, as we would understand the term. Each settlement has a council who run the local affairs of that particular community.

The members are chosen to fill the various positions from a Rota, usually for a year or so at a time. It appears that no one really wants to do the job, so there's little point in trying to vote someone in. Therefore it has to be more or less compulsory - who would volunteer after all? Not surprising when you consider that they might have to move, on nothing more than a day's notice.'

'The councilors get no remuneration or privileges of any kind for doing the job.' Wil stated. 'So a Rota is the only way to get the job done, and illness is the only excuse for non-acceptance. Of course, without such a system there would be total anarchy.'

Roy agreed and then explained: 'In their turn, the council then draw lots amongst themselves for one of their group to sit on the Area Committee. The Area Committee administers such things as general trade agreements with non-human planets who are willing to deal with them. They also oversee civil defence, and things of that nature. They don't have an organised military. Neither are we sure if they also liaise with the Organisation, or if an entirely different committee handles that.'

'It all sounds very piecemeal doesn't it?' Vidal said, obviously surprised.

'Believe me, it is.'

'It would have made far more sense if they'd set up a system of Households,' Vidal stated, 'from what Roy and Wil told us yesterday, they have no civil police force to keep order. It's got to be a recipe for chaos hasn't it?'

Wil nodded his agreement. 'But if you remember Vidal, I did mention yesterday that the Distect do have what they call, the Guard. They are not in every Sector, but in most. The Guard are a group of people who appear to have no legal status whatsoever, but who can be called in if trouble really gets out of hand. They also pick up strangers who act suspiciously. No one seems to know who pays them, but someone obviously does - perhaps one of the Committees? Then again maybe they get paid on a job by job basis. Shen knows, I don't, nor does anyone else.'

'Personally I think they all work for the Organisation. It would make a strange kind of sense.' Roy said interrupting his friend.

'And as far as Households are concerned there are indeed two or three small Households on Damus Two, run much along the lines of Rior as it used to be, but updated. However, a vast majority of the Distect tend to associate Households with the Tecton, and refuse to have anything to do with the whole idea, no matter how much sense it might make. And as far as general policing is concerned, again each settlement more or less does there own thing. As Wil explained, any problems are usually taken care of between the individuals concerned. No one really wants to call the Guard in over small disputes - which rather speaks for itself doesn't it?'

'You mean they have knock-down drag out fights?' Tony asked.

The Sectuib sighed softly. 'That's exactly what he means!'

Vidal nodded. 'And if I recall what you said yesterday evening Roy, most family units tend to be made up of any number of Simes and Gens who were mated in some way. Either through transfer and sex, or sometimes transfer or sex alone. I believe you also said that occasionally there would be "all out War" between two such extended family units? The hostility and fighting only coming to an end, when all the adults involved on one side are either dead, incapacitated or have capitulated to the other family. Under Distect law that means, that the winners have the dubious task of looking after the members of the family who are left alive after the confrontation is over. Which includes bringing up their children and seeing to their education and welfare.'

Jason laughed harshly, 'What a hell of a responsibility that is, and just for winning, I'd rather lose! Can you imagine how the family members who're left alive would hate your guts? Personally that alone would keep me from fighting with any of them.'

'Which is precisely what has happened, and nowadays there are very few inter-family feuds.' Jordan informed him. 'But don't get me wrong, Roy says that it does still happen on occasion, and the results can be quite catastrophic.'

'So how do we get down to this haven of peace and tranquillity?' Jason asked, looking across at Jordan.

'Vidal is arranging for a freighter to drop by the Zhariot System.'

Vidal agreed then said: 'But the freighter will not continue on its normal route, but will wait for our signal close by.'

'We can use a shuttle to get down onto the planet, the pilot can then return to the freighter till we summon him to return for us.'

'Hold it right there. I'd suggest one change to that plan straight away.' Jason stated, meeting Jordan's eyes challengingly.

'Which is?'

'Why not just land the shuttle on the planet? There are a lot of cleared spaces in the jungle, and we can hide it well enough amongst the undergrowth. That way it'll be close to hand should we have to make a quick exit.' Jason's green eyes met his partner's dark ones in a moment of complete understanding. 'You've got to have actually been in that sort of position, to appreciate exactly what I mean.'

'Jason is a trained pilot Jordan, and what he says makes good sense. If for any reason we have to evade capture, I'd rather have a shuttle close to hand, than be running around trying to hide in the jungle while we wait for help to come from off planet.'

'Well as I've said before, both of you are far better versed in these matters than either Tony or I. So I concede the point.'

Jason sighed with relief; he had half expected an argument about his suggestion. 'I take it we have to approach one or more of these committee members, when we get there?'

'Unfortunately yes, unless a better option opens up to us, there seems little else we can do.' Jordan admitted, as they fell to discussing the finer and more practical points of the assignment that the Sectuib had worked out for them to follow. Many of which details Jason objected to, and on further consideration by all of them, were duly altered or a compromise was reached.

'One final point.' Vidal said, 'I'll arrange for the freighter to be empty so that it can orbit one of the smaller planets, and be within range in case we have to call it in a hurry.'

'I have one last question,' Jason said. 'Communicators, are we taking the usual sort or the latest subcutaneous ones?'

'Neither!' Roy said bluntly. 'The Distect won't allow them. In fact you'll be scanned for them on arrival. If they find anything like that on you, you'll be classified as spies. They have their own communication system that you can use - but everything you say will be monitored, so remember that, and if you take my advice you'll only use it in the direst emergency, if then.'

'Sounds a bit draconian doesn't it?' Jason said with a frown.

'Not really when you look at it from the Distect point of view. Both we and the TIS are not the only ones they have to guard against, there are at least a further twenty that I can think of off hand, mainly from other planets, who are also trying to infiltrate them. So they've got a real siege mentality, and who can blame them under the circumstances?' Roy asked, and Jason conceded the point.


Two hours later Vidal led the way back to their suite in silence. Jason swallowed a tired sigh. The last thing he wanted tonight was another confrontation with his partner about his attitude towards the Sectuib. Unfortunately from the look on the Channel's face, he knew he was going to get just that.

Vidal strode to the centre of the sitting room and stood with his legs apart, his hands on his hips, his tentacles tightly sheathed. And his handsome face looked like a thundercloud.

'Okay so you're pissed! Just say what you've got to say so I can go to bed, I'm exhausted. I think you sometimes forget I'm a Gen.' Jason sighed, 'and for goodness sake don't stand there scowling at me like that, you remind me of my old headmaster. What are you going to do? Give me a detention?'

'I am hardly likely to forget you're a Gen when you're so completely undisciplined; which is brought painfully home to me every single day. However, pushing that aspect to one side, you have managed quite successfully to embarrass me yet again in front of the Sectuib.'

'For shen's sake Vidal, he's not your Sectuib or mine either! The sooner you accept that fact, the better it will be. Hell, he's just a man, and I respect him, 'course I do. But he's only head of Zeor through an accident of birth. It could just as easily have been you or...' he waved a hand in the air as he tried to think of someone. 'Sam Betjeman!'

Vidal gave a snort of derision. 'Did you have to be quite so rude to him?'

'I was blunt, not rude, and Jordan agreed with me. He's clever, I'll give you that, and he can run a big business like Zeor, so he's a good administrator.' Vidal opened his mouth to argue but Jason held up a hand as he went on, 'I don't disparage what I know he is qualified to do. But one thing I also know, he isn't qualified as far as undercover work is concerned. He overstepped the mark tonight. I knew that, and more importantly, so did he!'

'Do you know where the trouble really lies Jason?' Vidal demanded. 'You're simply prejudiced!'

Jason stared at his partner, not hiding the shock he felt at the unfounded accusation. 'Prejudiced? Me? You've got to be joking!'

'No, I'm not.'

'So come on tell me, what was I supposed to do? Just let him take charge simply because it's what he's used to doing? Not because he's qualified to do so?'

'There are more diplomatic ways of making a point.'

'Perhaps. But I'm not made that way, you know that. I can't pussy foot around, if I've got something to say, I come out and say it.' He ran a hand through his unruly chestnut curls as he took another deep breath. 'Okay, perhaps I could have been a bit more tactful. I'll try to be more "mealy-mouthed" in future, if that'll make you feel better, okay?'

Vidal repeated his words. 'I'll try to be more mealy-mouthed in future! See what I mean? Even when you apologise you do so with such bad grace.'

'Why do you pick up my every word? Shen it Vidal I'm too tired to argue about all this tonight, it's so petty and irrelevant.' He walked towards his bedroom door opened it and stood just inside the room with his back to the Sime. His voice dropped down to almost a whisper. 'You know, we haven't argued like this for months. I've come to the conclusion that Householders are not a good influence on our relationship.'

'It's you, not Zeor that is at fault!'

'Really?' Jason shook his head sadly. 'Perhaps you're right. But I think when this assignment is over, you and I are going to have to sit down and decide exactly where we're going, because I can't take much more of this.'

The door closed softly behind him, leaving Vidal alone with his thoughts, which were far from happy.



Once the others had left for the night, and they were alone. Tony made a last pot of trin before he voiced what was on his mind.

'Am I wrong, or are Vidal and Jason going to have words tonight?'

Jordan sighed. 'Unfortunately, I believe you're correct, and I fear it's probably in part, my fault.'

'What do you mean your fault? I don't see how you can say that. Much as I like Jason, he does tend to say what he thinks without much thought to the consequences, and that's nothing to do with you. It's simply the way he is.' Tony paused for a moment and then went on. 'The problem is further exacerbated of course, because Vidal tends to jump well before he's pushed, and he sat there scowling at him all night.'

'Exactly. I knew that too, which is why I should have been more diplomatic. If I had handled it differently, asked for their input, and not simply stated that I had already worked out a plan. To a Gen with Jason's background it must have sounded both arrogant and crass.' Jordan accepted the glass of trin from Tony with a smile of thanks. 'I must have a word with Vidal tomorrow. I don't want him to fall out with his Companion merely because of a perceived slight to me, when the fault was mine.'

The two men sat in silence for several minutes each with their own thoughts. Then Tony placed his glass on the small table beside him and stretched his arms as he flexed his shoulder muscles. Jordan watched him, and then said:

'Do you remember the discussion we had some time ago about Jason being a drifter?' The Gen nodded his head and raised his eyebrows in query. 'Well, whether it's because I'm now aware of what he is, I don't know.' Jordan hesitated his dark eyes studying his Companion as he zlinned him. 'Have you noticed anything unusual, when he's present?'

'I'm aware when he enters a room, if that's what you mean. If you and I are both there that is. Don't ask me to explain the feeling, because I can't, it's a purely Gen thing. But he does tend to try and mesh with your field. At first I thought he was doing it on purpose, and I started to bristle.' Tony managed to look a little embarrassed as he went on. 'Once I realised he did it unconsciously because he is a drifter, and wasn't trying to come between us. I manage to ignore what he does, and I now tend to simply block him out. You must have noticed?'

Jordan nodded his head understandingly. There were often times when he, too, couldn't explain something to his Companion, simply because a Gen could not possibly understand the purely Sime feelings and emotions involved, which had nothing at all to do with his IQ.

Tony stared into space for a moment or two, and then went on. 'He really is totally unaware of what he's doing you know. It's as if when he first enters a room, his field reaches out to locate the most powerful field there, and once he's found it, his own field immediately tries to engage it.'

'Yes. I would not have expressed it in quite the same way, but essentially you are correct. I have been researching the anomaly, and although I have not found anything that fits exactly, there is enough evidence to suggest that not only is it not entirely unique, but the problem lies in the fact that Jason has no idea how he can control it.

'But remember, his teachers didn't know that he was a drifter, so there was no necessity for them to teach him any more than the normal basic controls taught to all Gens.' Jordan jumped to his feet as the problem that he had been trying to solve for some time suddenly fell into place like the pieces of a puzzle. 'It could be why Vidal and Jason are always at each other's throats. More especially, I have to admit, when I am present.'

Tony's attention settled firmly on his Sectuib as he leaned forward, 'Explain.'

'Both Vidal and I are extraordinarily close as far as both our speed and capacity is concerned. Now normally Vidal doesn't have to compete for Jason's attention, simply because he will be the highest order Channel that Jason will come into contact with.

'But then I enter the arena, and my field competes with Vidal's for Jason's attention. Usually I am able to keep him at bay by keeping my attention centred on you, but there are times when we are engrossed in discussions when I relax, and so do you. At these times Jason drifts from Vidal to me, and Vidal is of course aware of what is happening.'

'You're saying he's jealous?'

'No, nothing so tangible as that, it's far more subtle. I think he's still unaware of how serious the problem could become. Jason needs help, but they are both pulling in opposite directions. I have to speak to Vidal again; this can't be allowed to go on. At the moment Vidal's resentful tendencies are directed at Jason. However, if something is not done, and soon, they could easily turn in my direction; in which case he might well become aggressive, whilst ignoring the reason why.'

'You mean he will start to perceive you as a Sime who is trying to steal his Gen?' Tony asked.

'Precisely, and this is something we must sort out before we go on this mission.' Jordan ran his tentacles through his black hair. 'At heart all Simes are still predators, and always will be. We can control, but not fully eliminate our true nature. If we're pushed too near the edge, we are still vicious killers.' He ran his tentacles through his black hair again. 'Things are going to be tough enough for all of us during the next few months, without such base instincts manifesting in any of us.'

'Unfortunately, we only have a few days left. It's just not long enough to teach Jason very much. But at least if we explain the problem to both of them more clearly, Jason might be able to keep his field in check at least for some of the time; and Vidal can make allowances.'

'Yes, perhaps,' Tony conceded slowly as he looked across at his Sectuib, 'but I also know, that it's got to be one of the hardest things for any Gen to learn. How to control his field in this sort of situation! And unfortunately Jason is not the most patient of people.'

'I won't argue with that! I just wish I knew of someone who might help him.' Jordan admitted, 'Someone who can teach him enough in the course of the next few days to make some sort of difference.' Jordan stretched his arms and sheathed his tentacles. 'On this assignment his attention is going to be on other things, and making sure that he doesn't "drift" will be the least of his problems. Shen!'

'At least Vidal will be aware of how bad the problem is, and if all three of us play our part, we should be able to help Jason maintain some sort of control.'

Jordan laughed softly. 'True. But in this respect I fear that Vidal is almost as naïve as his Companion. Remember, for most of his adult life, he has been in a locked transfer relationship with a single Gen. First there was Gavin and then Jason. I know he had to learn control in his teens, a control that most Simes have to live with for the rest of their lives. Luckily for him he doesn't have to do that.'

'Vidal is strong Jordan, perhaps stronger than you realise,' and Tony reminded his Sectuib that he had once given the other Channel transfer.

'True, and I hope you're correct in your diagnosis, for all our sakes. Perhaps I'm being too pessimistic?' The Sime asked.

'It wouldn't be the first time, but tomorrow is your turnover day,' Tony reminded him as he glanced at the chronometer on the wall, 'Make that today.'

'Of course, I should have realised.' Jordan shook his head at his own forgetfulness, he just had so many things to remember lately, and Tony was such a good Companion. 'You know years ago in Great Great-Grandfather's day, if he had a problem with a Gen like Jason, he could turn to any number of people for help and advice. Now there really isn't anyone I can ask, and the time limit - three days - is just too short for me to do adequate research and act on it myself.'

'What about Zapek?'

'He's off world and won't be back till the end of the year.'

Tony clicked his fingers. 'Xander!'

'He's ambrov Imil.' His Sectuib reminded him.

'True, but he's marrying into Zeor next month. And he's one of the few Channels who has actually studied oddities in rare Gens like Jason, I've read a few of the papers he's written on the subject.'

Jordan roared with laughter, 'I don't somehow think Jason would appreciate being called an oddity do you?'

'No, and I'd never dare say that to his face. What about having a word with Xander tonight?'

The Sectuib pressed a button his desk, and asked the clerk who answered the summons to find Xander's location and call him at once.

Tony nodded with satisfaction as he changed the conversation. 'By the way, have you ever seen Jason fight?' The Sime shook his head in negation. 'He's good!' Tony admitted almost wistfully.

The Channel's dark eyebrows rose in query as he met his Companion's eyes. 'Do you think I could take him?'

'You're a Sime, he's a Gen. The final outcome isn't in dispute, but he'd do a lot of damage on the way.' Tony grinned at his Sectuib's expression. 'Don't look so shocked Jordan. I understand he's not only been taught by instructors from Dar, but he practices at least three times a week, and that's not counting the experience he's obtained in the field, which must be extensive by now.'

'You make me feel old. I think we left Rockall and changed our careers just in time. A few more years further down the line, and we'd never have even contemplated going on an expedition like this.'

'True. But what really worries me is the fact that I can't even defend myself, I just hope I don't let everyone down.'

Jordan studied Tony's anxious face as he wrapped his tentacles around the Gen's hands and squeezed reassuringly. 'You won't let anyone down Tony. After all, when you think about it, there's no reason at all why we can't complete this mission without bloodshed, or even a single blow being thrown. Hopefully we'll be dealing with intelligent people who are prepared to listen to a reasonable argument.' His dark eyes gleamed with confidence, for he honestly believed that what he said was true. 'I can't believe that all the Distect are as bad as the Organisation.'

Tony returned the smile, and hoped that what Jordan said with such conviction was indeed correct. Yet there was doubt there too, because for the first time in his young life his Sectuib's words were not as comforting nor did they ring as true, as they had in the past.




 Read Chapter 5

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