Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13, 14, 15 & 16
'Unfortunately you won't have time to visit either of those places!' Vidal stated unequivocally to anyone who cared to listen.
'Yes Mother. You'd hardly call our Vidal a barrel of laughs, would you?' Jason asked the others. 'What d'you say Tony? Shall we slip out after dark and play hooky when he's asleep?'
Jordan laughed out loud at the suggestion, and surprisingly so did Vidal, who commented. 'I have no intention of setting a curfew. I realise it would be a complete waste of time if I did.'
'Have to agree with you there.' Jason retorted, 'Hey, it looks like we get off here.' The tunnel opened up into a huge cavern that Jordan estimated was at least 400 metres in diameter, and more than 100 metres high.
Jason whistled under his breath, 'Now that's what I call impressive.'
Looking around they saw a Comcab signaller, and stepping closer to the device, Tony pressed it. Moments later a small vehicle similar to a flitter back on Earth, but which ran along power grids on the ground, pulled up in front of them. It was completely computerised, and they all piled on board together with their bags. Jason sat in front and turned to Jordan who was sitting beside him.
'Got the address?'
'According to Roy, we want Number 644 on level 5.'
'Right you are.' Jason punched the information into the destination grid.
'Who's got 35 credits?' Jordan handed his credit chip across and Jason pushed it into the small opening provided. Seconds later the flitter set off.
'It looks like it's going to cost us a lot of credits before this assignment's over,' Jason observed glancing back at the Sime who was sitting behind Jordan.
'I meant to give you your credit chip before we left the ship.' Vidal informed him. 'Remind me again later.'
'Don't worry, I will.'
'I know Roy said that the majority of the Distect were as technologically advanced as Earth, if not more so in many instances. Circumstances have forced it on them I suppose, but I'm still surprised by all this.' Tony called from the back seat, indicating their surroundings with both hands.
'Jason and I have seen what the Organisation are capable of on many occasions in the past, so it's hardly surprising that the Distect would benefit from their association with them.'
'Then again, I don't suppose everything the Distect get from the Organisation is good.' Tony stated.
'We have to hope not,' Jordan agreed quickly. 'After all, we want the Distect to accept our offer. They are hardly likely to do that if they actually want for nothing.'
'They certainly seem to have everything they could ever require down here,' Tony stated looking around at the shops and bars on the various levels that they were skimming passed.
'Not quite everything,' Jason observed with a slight grimace as the flitter took a right hand turn, and began to climb higher up the caverns towards level five. 'Tell me Tony, would you want to spend most of your waking hours - indeed, most of your life - underground like this? No matter how many recreational facilities they might have? I know I wouldn't!'
Even as he spoke, they moved past areas that opened back into the sheer rock, and had young children playing in them.
Jason pointed towards them. 'There, that makes my point doesn't it? Kids playing under artificial light - no Sunlight and no fresh air, who'd want that for shen's sake?'
Before anyone could answer him, the flitter drew to a smooth halt outside 644. The number was simply painted onto the rock wall.
'How many people live here in Sector VII?' Tony asked curiously as he climbed out of the flitter.
'According to Roy about 165,000 men women and children,' Vidal replied as he handed out the bags.
Jordan was standing in the open doorway introducing himself to Dave who together with his wife Milly, were two of the members of Glory who ran this cell, and were living undercover on Aryanous. They let rooms to travellers, who were just passing through, which enabled them to both gather a lot of information and move around the Sector with impunity.
'Come in everyone,' Dave was a short middle aged Gen who was as wide around as he was tall, and had only a sprinkling of fair hair on his head. 'I was told to expect you. We've no one staying here at the moment.'
'It might be good if you can keep it like that for the duration of our stay,' the Sectuib murmured softly.
'Already taken care of,' the Gen said with a smile.
'Hello there, I'm Milly. Dave, take them into the kitchen I've made a pot of trin, I'll just go and give a hand to bring in the bags,' and a woman as short as Dave, and surprisingly for a renSime almost as well built, bustled towards the door.
Within a few minutes they were all sitting around an island breakfast bar in a bright modern kitchen with glasses of trin in front of them. The only strange thing as far as the visitors from Earth were concerned, was the lack of windows. But a mirror substituted for it. The three Gens sat together all munching on chocolate biscuits, as did Milly.
Vidal sipped his trin and smiled across at the couple. 'Please excuse my curiosity, but I wondered, with you being a renSime if Dave...'
'Gives me transfer?' Milly interrupted and laughed as she reached for another biscuit. 'No. I'm sure you can both tell, we're not compatible in that way. A pity, but it can't be helped, and I would never risk his life by trying. I have several places I can go when I need to. Occasionally someone from one of the other cells obliges me; but if not, then it's not hard to find someone who is more than willing to give transfer on Aryanous.'
'Isn't that dangerous? I'm sure I read somewhere that if someone has transfer from a member of the Distect they can't ever take it from anyone else.' Jason stated.
Milly laughed out loud. 'Well that might happen between the really high order Channels I suppose, I don't really know. Perhaps Jordan knows more about that; but as far as I'm concerned it's nothing but an old wives tale.'
Jordan chose not to reply as he asked, 'and what about you Dave?'
'Well there's no official Tecton Channel here that I can donate to, not like back home. But Frank lives on the other side of the Sector; he runs a cell like we do. He's a Third and is also a member of Glory. Either I go to him and he takes my donation, or he comes here.'
Millie pushed the plate of chocolate biscuits towards the Gens. 'It also gives us a chance to share information without having to rely on the local communication system.'
Dave nodded, 'She's right there. Don't trust any of the public communication systems. They're not safe. Always watch what you say, but don't try to talk in code either, because that will make them even more suspicious.'
Jason grinned. 'We almost had the latest communication implants. The ones that can be facilitated by using chronometers, but Roy and Wil advised against it because of the type of scanner they use here. They said we might be mistaken for spies! Can you imagine that?' And they all laughed.
Dave, still smiling said. 'They were right to warn you though. You had to go through a scanner when you arrived here, so if you'd been wearing such a device, it would have been found and you'd have all been arrested by the Guard. Believe me, you have to be very careful on Aryanous. The Distect are a lot more technologically advanced than we've ever given them credit for back home.'
'And a lot more paranoid!' Vidal said softly.
Milly nodded her agreement and then warned them. 'Back on Earth they always talk about the Distect and the Organisation as if they are two separate entities, with the Distect living a fairly rural existence while the Organisation live a sophisticated one. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ordinary Distect members live a fairly normal life, apart from their transfer habits of course. But never make the mistake of assuming that because they live underground, and are more or less always in hiding, that they're rustic in any way, because they aren't. Look at the technology they employ just to run this place, it's as good as anything you'll find on Earth, and in many ways far better, because it has to be.'
Vidal watched as Jason accepted the last chocolate biscuit. 'I think most of us who have come into contact with the Organisation and the Distect, stopped underestimating them a long time ago.' He observed.
Jordan sat forward, steepling his fingers his tentacles sheathed as he spoke to both Dave and Milly. 'Roy told us there are several Glory cells scattered throughout the various Sectors?'
'Yes. For the safety of everyone here I can't give you too much detail. But in this Sector we have three including our own.' Dave informed them as he stood to remove their glasses and plates.
'Roy also mentioned "ghosts," who also work for Glory?'
Milly glanced across at Dave before she replied. 'Yes. We understand there are several operating in this Sector alone. We have no idea who they are, or where they can be found. They work autonomously.'
Dave moved to stand beside his wife, his arm draped around her shoulders. 'That's how we got to know that the public communication system isn't safe. But we never saw the person who gave us the information, and wouldn't want to either. It's the only way to keep everyone safe.'
Milly reached up and took her husband's hand her tentacles wrapping around his wrist, as her eyes rested on Jordan, and she said simply. 'What we don't know, we can't disclose, no matter what they might do to us.'
Jason stared at the two humans and felt slightly ashamed. He had almost dismissed them as nonentities, simply because they looked so ordinary, like any other married couple back on Earth. They didn't make a great thing out of what they were doing. There was no big fanfare of trumpets, or anything like that. Yet the simple truth was irrefutable; they were risking their lives, every single day.
Jason looked across at the couple from a different perspective, and then thought of Vidal and himself, for he knew that whilst they might charge into a situation like a couple of knights of old, do what they had to do, and gallop out again. People like Dave and Milly, and Roy and Wil, had to stay here and live with the consequences whatever they might be, or wherever they might lead, and he was strangely humbled by the thought.
'Is there no way at all that we can contact these "ghosts" in an emergency?' Jordan pressed quietly, Roy and Wil had already told him no, but he decided to ask again just in case.
'I'm afraid not.' Milly shook her head emphatically, as she got to her feet to escort them to their rooms. 'But you can be sure they're watching, and if they feel they can help, they will.'
Jason grinned as he stated, 'They sound more like guardian angels than ghosts.'
Much later, Jason sat on his bed and looked around him, trying to decide what he found so strange about it. The room was bright, cool and airy. Similar to a hundred rooms he had slept in before, but something was wrong. He glanced up as Vidal walked in.
'Hi, is your room okay?'
The Channel nodded his head as he moved to sit down beside his partner. 'It's fine. Although I have to admit, I don't like not having a window to open.'
'That's it!' Jason jumped to his feet and pointed at the huge picture window on the wall opposite the end of his bed. The rooftops of a City stretched out before him, but he had no idea which City it was or on which planet it was to be found. The dark night sky was broken only by the twinkling of stars, for it was nighttime outside, and the Distect obviously simulated day and night for the convenience of their inhabitants. In much the same way that intergalactic vessels did for their crew and passengers on long voyages.
He was also certain, that if he cared to sit and watch, he would probably see the Sun rise over those same rooftops, as dawn approached outside on the planet's surface, high above the complex.
'There aren't any windows because there's nothing out there to see.' He stated at last. 'We both know that. But this is just so damn realistic.' He walked closer to the wall. 'Vid-screens on Earth flicker when you get this close. I've always assumed that it couldn't be avoided - but this!' He turned to look at Vidal. 'How do they do that? Even standing here, I feel I can just push open the window and lean out. Are they manipulating our senses in some way?'
Vidal shook his head. 'No. The technology being used here is far more advanced than our own. But remember also, that this sort of realism is more of a necessity here, than on Earth.'
'True.' After one last look, Jason touched the side wall and the heavy drapes swept across the window, giving at least an illusion of both privacy and cosiness, from a dark outside world.'
'I've been having a word with Jordan and Tony.' Vidal stated as he leaned back on the bed and clasped his hands behind his head, his dark eyes studying his Companion. 'Dave has suggested that we go to Starless World tonight.'
'Starless World? What's that?'
'A restaurant would you believe, and I'm told they have a fairly unusual floorshow. But of more interest to us is the fact that it happens to be co-owned by at least one of the Council members, and several other Council members patronise the place on a fairly regular basis.'
'And Dave suggests we go there tonight?'
'Yes. Jordan agrees, he says that apart from actually turning up at one of their Council Meetings and blowing our cover completely. It's probably the best way for us to make the initial contact.'
'It sounds okay. But have either you or Jordan considered the fact that we were all targeted for assassination back on Earth by the Organisation? Which means they know exactly who we are, and what we look like. On top of that, assuming they have close contact with one or more members of the Council, which they must, then if the Council don't know all about us already, they soon will.'
'Yes, we've thought of that.'
Jason stared at his friend in bemusement, before he again demanded, 'But have you really thought through exactly what it means? We know the Organisation doesn't want us to put any sort of proposition to any of the Area Committees here, and they obviously have someone in their pay sitting on the local Council who will try and stop us from doing just that. So as I've just said, they know why we are here, even what we look like, and you're suggesting we just walk in this place?' He shook his head slowly before he went on, 'You know, we might just as well have a big sign tattooed on our backsides - kick us here, we sit on our brains!'
Vidal sat up and met his Companion's green eyes, his own filled with amusement. 'I agree with you, put like that it does seem as though we are over confident. But remember, we were all registered on the computer when we arrived. Do you honestly believe the people who work for the Organisation don't already know all about our arrival, and where we're staying?'
Jason sighed. 'I suppose not. In other words we're already out in the open so to speak, so how much further harm can we do to ourselves by simply walking into the lion's den? There is no other way I take it?'
'No, but Jordan did suggest that he and I go there alone, you and Tony staying here as backup. Just in case anything goes drastically wrong, and we're arrested as soon as we show our faces.'
'Like hell, that's just the sort of thing he would come up with.' Jason all but snarled. 'Look, a far better idea would be for you and me to go there first. After all, we do know what we're doing, don't we? Let him and Tony wait here, and if the Sectuib doesn't like it, too bad! I for one have no intention of baby sitting Tony, much as I like him.'
'Calm down.' Vidal bit back a grin, and then said ruefully. 'Don't worry. I nipped the idea in the bud straight away. But just remember, he is Sectuib in Zeor and you and Tony are Gens. Even in today's modern world, his first instinct is to keep you both safe. You can't damn the man for that. He'll learn, just like I had to, give him time. He's new at the game, that's all.'
Jason's handsome face broke into a broad smile. 'You bastard, you did that on purpose didn't you?'
The Channel laughed softly as he acknowledged, 'I have to admit, I sometimes get great pleasure out of pressing your buttons, of which you have many, and watching you throw a fit.'
'Thanks friend! So I take it we're all going to live it up tonight?' He asked, and Vidal nodded as he rose smoothly to his feet.
'Dave has booked us a table for 21.00. You have almost an hour to get ready.' He took a credit chip out of his pocket and handed it to Jason before he walked towards the door.
The Gen looked at it closely before putting it down on a small table. 'What's the limit on this?'
'There isn't one.'
'Vidal!' The Sime turned back his dark eyebrows raised in query. 'I take it we go in armed tonight?'
'Of course, we're in Distect territory now, but remember, it's illegal to hide weapons. They must be on display at all times.' The door closed softly behind him.
They arrived at Starless World to find it was almost full. Millie had informed them that the entertainment did not start till around 23.00, and when Tony had asked her what they could expect by way of entertainment. She had grinned broadly and informed them that as it changed every night she couldn't really say. But he had little doubt that she knew.
They were all surprised to find that the Menu when it arrived was a mixture of both Gen and Sime, and even some alien dishes. A lot of the meals were wholly vegetarian, whilst others were meat or fish, and some were composed of things that none of them had even heard of, let alone tasted, and they therefore steered clear.
The Wine List was extensive, and Jason was not really surprised when Vidal and Jordan after much discussion chose one of the most expensive vintages on the Menu. It apparently came from a planet renowned for its wine making, but one that Jason had never even heard of.
Tony simply opted for fruit juice saying he did not drink alcohol, while Jason decided to try Sinhag from Ussium VI. It was a drink he had heard of years ago when he was in his late teens. A group of space engineers, who were sitting beside him in a bar on Earth, had been talking about wines, and Sinhag was mentioned.
He had remembered the name, simply because he had heard one of them say that the literal translation of Sinhag was "palette of colour," or in other words, a rainbow. He had straight away promised himself that if and when he ever did achieve his ambition, and finally got into space, he would one day try it. This, however, was the first time he had actually seen the wine being offered for sale. Even so, he blanched slightly at the price, but still managed to order a bottle with as much nonchalance as he could muster.
With luck, the department back on Earth who would finally be picking up the tab for this little jaunt, might well overlook his one extravagance amongst everything else. But even if they didn't, well they could send him the bill, and he would simply have to pay up and grin.
The long necked elegant bottle of wine looked very exotic when it arrived, but far from being multi coloured as he had expected, it was colourless, which initially was a great disappointment to him.
However, when the wine waiter brought a very tall slim crystal glass, and poured the liquid into it with great ceremony, it suddenly started to change colour as it was transformed before his eyes; starting with dark blue at the bottom of the glass through pale blue, jade, green, red, orange, a pale lemon and there was an almost iridescent colour on top.
'How does it do that?' Tony demanded in surprise.
'I would imagine they have somehow managed to...'
'Vidal! Don't tell us what the secret is please! I just want to enjoy it, okay?'
The Channel smiled and shrugged. 'Murcurian Sunset is very similar,' he stated sipping his own wine appreciatively, 'but the result is not quite as spectacular as that.'
'What does it taste like?' Tony demanded curiously.
Jason obligingly sipped the liquid. It did not live up to his expectations, and he was disappointed to find that it was rather like drinking scented sugar water.
'Well? What's it like?'
Jason replaced the glass on the table, and glanced across at the other Gen. 'Okay, I suppose.'
'Okay? That stuff cost over 400 credits. It's got to be better than just okay!'
Jason glared across the table, wishing he could get up and stuff his fist into Tony's big mouth. Why couldn't he just keep quiet for shen's sake? 'I said it's okay, right? Try it yourself then you'll know.' He snapped back.
'I don't drink alcohol.'
'Believe me the amount of alcohol in this wine wouldn't hurt a baby. In fact it would probably be just fine for a baby, it's only sugar water after all.' He caught the wine waiter's eye as he hurried past and asked for another tall glass. Picking up the bottle he filled the glass and handed it across to Tony. 'Try it.' He ordered brusquely, and returned to his meal.
'Hey, it's not bad.' Tony stated as he drained the glass.
'Yeah it's not bad,' Jason agreed and filled up both their glasses again. 'I thought you might like it.'
'Take it easy Tony, you're not used to drinking wine.' Jordan advised his Companion softly.
Jason glared across at him. Shen it, the Sectuib was even worse than Vidal, if that were possible, and he suddenly felt sorry for Tony as he stated bluntly, 'it's pretty innocuous stuff Jordan, there's no need to press the panic button yet.'
Tony lifted the glass again and studied the colours. 'It really is all right Jordan, I'll be just fine. You can try it if you like.' He offered the glass to the Channel, but Jordan smiled and shook his head.
'Jason is probably correct, usually the more exotic the drink, the less the effect on the drinker.'
'Does anyone require a dessert?' Vidal asked, glancing around enquiringly at his colleagues. Jordan shook his head as was to be expected, while the two Gens both nodded, which was also to be expected.
Just as Vidal passed them the Dessert Menu the lights dimmed around them and a single blue spotlight started to dance around the audience moving from person to person and table to table, whilst a lone drum throbbed in time to the movement of the light. As quickly as they had started, both the light and drum stopped, and the whole room was plunged into complete and utter darkness.
Somewhere in the room a couple of people screamed, though whether they were genuine members of the audience, or had been planted there for effect, no one could tell. Moments later two spotlights lit up the small stage in the middle of the restaurant, that none of the quartet had noticed before.
Caught as though frozen in aspic at the very apex of the twin lights were two figures, one male and one female. They stood back-to-back, arms straight up above their heads; hands clasped together like a pair of bookends. Both were naked, their bodies dusted only with what appeared to be, gold powder. Suddenly Jason felt a strange tingling run first down his arms and then through the rest of his body, making all the fine hairs on his skin stand on end. A gasp escaped his lips as a deep involuntary shudder ran through him.
'Jason are you all right, what's wrong?' Vidal whispered, zlinning him.
'Didn't you feel that?'
'Feel what?' One tentacle moved to touch the Gen's suddenly cold and moist skin. 'What is it? Jason, what did you feel?'
'I'll tell you later, I think it's gone for now.'
'What has gone?' Jason heard Jordan ask Vidal the question, but whether he answered or not, the Gen could not say, for his own eyes and attention were now transfixed on the couple who were actually rising up into the air in front of them. Jason's eyes moved towards the ceiling, but he could see no wires or any other apparatus. Neither were they wearing anything that could have helped them to levitate. How did they do that?
Music like nothing Jason had ever heard before filled the large room, to his ear it seemed to consist mainly of flutes and bells, while an unknown instrument played a haunting melody. He would have to ask later if any of the others knew what the strange instrument was.
Jason began to shiver uncontrollably, as a cold wind sprang up around him. Perhaps he was sitting in a draught? Rubbing his arms with his hands he glanced around, but there were tables in front and behind theirs, and there were no open doors. Yet as far as he could tell, no one else seemed to feel anything unusual, indeed at a table near them a woman was actually fanning herself. While none of his three colleagues showed any sign of discomfort - perhaps it was only him?
A shocked gasp echoed through the darkness, quickly drawing Jason's eyes back to the couple who moments before had been dancing and twirling several metres up in the air above their heads. He stared in surprise at what he was seeing, and lifting a hand rubbed his eyes, as though by doing so he could see more clearly, or perhaps wipe the illusion away. Surely it was nothing more than a hallucination? After all, what else could it be? He had seen plenty of so called magic acts in his time, but nothing to quite rival this one, it's very simplicity without use of props or apparatus, was what made it unique.
The female now floated as before, unchanged, spinning round and round slowly, while the male was transforming before their eyes. His hair was growing down his back while his hands and feet were becoming long and turning into claws.
Even as he watched the man's features began to change, his nose and mouth extended until a muzzle was projecting out of his face. His legs became bowed, and the genitalia that hung between them was swollen and heavy, no longer belonging to a humanoid.
'Is that for real, or have we been hypnotised?' Tony whispered without taking his eyes from the performance.
'There are many ways the illusion can be done,' Jordan replied softly. 'The most likely would appear to be by skilful use of two transmuters.'
'I agree. In the hands of an expert operator it could be done quite easily,' Vidal murmured in reply.
'How?' Tony demanded, before Jason could do so.
'Well at the appropriate moment, the male dancer would be slowly transmuted out of here, and the creature we can now see would appear in his place. The very slowness of the exercise would give the illusion that the man was actually turning into the beast. It also means the programming would have to be both precise and exact.' Vidal replied.
'I didn't think they had transmuters on Aryanous.'
'You're right, they don't. Certainly not like the ones we use on Earth. The ones they must have installed here, are probably very small, possibly similar to the type used on board some ships. It wouldn't take much to adapt those for use here.'
The Sectuib nodded his head. 'I agree. But then again, we could be looking at someone from Tal'Sha'Vai. I realise they're banned from Earth and her colonies, but this is a Distect world after all.'
Even as he listened to the two Channels discuss the phenomena in subdued voices, while he watched the performance. Jason felt his awareness beginning to slip away. It was as though he was listening from the bottom of a long tunnel. Desperately he fought to remain conscious, but knew he had finally lost the battle as he slid to one side and darkness closed in. He would have landed on the floor, except his partner had been both watching and zlinning him, and he was scooped up the moment he began to topple sideways off his chair. Without a word the Channel carried him outside, with Jordan and Tony following close behind.
'Can I help? Is your friend not feeling well?' The Maitre d' bustled forward, full of concern.
It was Jordan who answered the man, 'A little too much wine,' he smiled. 'Have you somewhere he can rest?'
'Yes of course, this way.' He ushered them into an office. 'Let me know if I can fetch you anything, water perhaps?'
'Can you order a Comcab for us?'
'Certainly. There may be a slight delay, they are usually quite busy at this time of night.' Jordan closed the door on the man.
'He's very obliging,' Tony murmured.
'Probably worried about the bad publicity if we said there was something wrong with the food, and decided to sue.' Vidal murmured cynically, as he and Jordan examined the Gen. Before he instructed. 'Slip outside and pay the bill, Tony.'
Jason finally opened his eyes to find himself lying on a couch in the small office, with the two Simes staring down at him in concern. 'Hey stop fussing, let me sit up.' Vidal slipped an arm around his Companion and helped him up.
'You passed out. How do you feel now?'
'Passed out? You mean I fainted?' He shook his head, and immediately wished he hadn't, for he had the mother and father of all headaches. 'No way, I've never fainted in my life.'
'First time for everything,' Tony informed him as he re-entered the room.
'How are you feeling Tony?'
The Gen stared across at his Sectuib. 'Me? I feel fine, why?'
'I was wondering if it could have been the wine you drank.' Jordan replied at once.
'If it was the wine, wouldn't Tony have felt the effects first?' Vidal asked as Jason rolled to his feet, and then stood up rather shakily. 'After all, he doesn't normally indulge does he?'
'It wasn't the bloody wine!' Jason snapped as he pushed the Sime's hands and tentacles away and took a few steps unaided.
'No? Then what caused it?' Vidal demanded, and then stopped talking as the Maitre d' came back into the room.
'Your Comcab is waiting outside. Is your friend all right now, or does he require help?'
'No thanks, he's fine.' Jordan replied as he glanced across at Vidal who was standing at Jason's side, ready to catch him if he fell.
'Stop crowding me Vidal.' Jason snapped, and then walked as quickly as he could out of the office, putting one foot carefully in front of the other.
Within a short time, or so it seemed to him, they were all back in Dave and Milly's sitting room.
'I can't understand it, I've never felt like that before,' Jason admitted, and now he was out of Starless World, he was indeed feeling fine.
'It had to be the wine.' Vidal said flatly, as though that explained it all.
'It wasn't the shenning wine. I've been drunk before so I do know the difference, and I can assure you I've never felt anything like that - ever.'
'You say you felt cold and clammy, and then there was a wind blowing around you.' Jordan said quietly, 'How do you explain that none of us felt it? If anything, it was exceptionally warm in there.'
'I don't know! I only know what I felt.'
'I've read that some alien drinks can have very strange effects on people.' Dave informed them.
'Yes I know that. It's my fault, I should never have allowed Jason to order it in the first place.'
'You shouldn't have allowed? Did I hear you right Vidal? Because if so you can just hold it right there, before you start all this self-flagellation stuff. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought we had it clear between us? I'm not a child! I make my own decisions, and my own mistakes - right?'
Jordan bit his lip to stop himself from grinning as he watched Vidal squirming in his chair, and for perhaps the first time since he had been introduced to Jason, he truly realised exactly what his friend had to put up with from his Companion, and did not envy him. Jason simply wouldn't give Vidal an inch.
Although he also had to admit that Vidal was not the soul of diplomacy either, at least as far as this particular Gen was concerned. In fact in a lot of ways they were both as bad as each other, and seemed to take an equal delight in rubbing each other up the wrong way. He also knew that they would both deny the assertion vehemently.
'If you're absolutely certain it wasn't the wine Jason, what do you think it was?' Milly asked as Tony worked hard at trying to soothe the ambient that now swirled around them. Milly herself sat closer to Dave sheltering in his field, whilst Jason's nager had begun to drift towards Jordan, but then to his credit he belatedly realised what was happening and pulled it back again.
Moments later he joined Tony in his effort to calm things down, as he said. 'That's the trouble Milly. I haven't got a clue as to what caused it. But for a moment I was really frightened. No, let's be honest. I was scared bloody stiff!' Jason paused. 'It was as if someone had walked over my grave. Know what I mean?'
No one did know what he meant, except Tony, who leaned forward and nodded his head slowly, and then admitted. 'I've never felt it myself, but I have heard other Gens talk about experiencing such a sensation.'
'Explain,' Jordan demanded, starring at his Companion as if he didn't really know him.
'You know the old abandoned digging on Zeor land. The one the archaeologists keep saying they intend to return to one day when they have the time?' Vidal nodded, 'well, some of the younger Gens used to go partying down there, late at night. I did myself till I was assigned to you. Then I never seemed to have the time.'
The Sectuib nodded again. 'Yes, we knew all about that, but it seemed harmless enough, so no one bothered to stop it.'
'Well part of the fun of going down there was due to the fact that some of the Gens said they felt strange things.'
'Strange? In what way strange?'
'I don't really know, but they used more or less the same words as Jason used tonight to try and explain it. I never felt anything myself, but I think it must have been similar to what he experienced.' Tony said quietly.
'I've read that deep emotions are sometimes absorbed into the very fabric of a building or place. Especially if the emotion involved is very strong.' Jordan observed as he ran his tentacles through his black hair.
'Indeed I've heard that some times a person with clairvoyant abilities can actually tune into the psychic phenomena created there, and in some instances feel, smell or even see events that occurred there, perhaps decades or even centuries before.'
'I'm sorry, but I really do think we're allowing ourselves to be side tracked here.' Vidal said as he stood up.
'Perhaps,' Jordan conceded, 'But for the sake of Jason's peace of mind, let us say that he did experience something unusual tonight. Something that none of us felt. What could have caused it? Jason, you said that in the past you've experienced the odd flash of clairvoyance?' He asked.
'Yes I have, but it was very vague. Besides, what I felt tonight was nothing like that at all. In fact I've never felt anything even remotely like it before. If it is psychic, why is it only becoming apparent to me now - why not before?'
'Can I make a suggestion?' Dave asked, and they all looked towards him. 'I heard from one of the other cells that they have a Professor Patel staying with them. He spent some time here on Aryanous before he went to Damus Two, where he's been for the last year. He's expected to leave Aryanous next week for Earth. The reason I think he might be of use in this case, is because I understand he's been studying Preternatural Phenomenon for many years now, not just here, but on other planets too.'
'He may well be able to shed some light. Can you arrange a meeting Dave?' Jordan asked.
'I believe so. I'll contact them first thing in the morning and find out.'
Read Chapter 7
Comment to the Author
Companion in Zeor is Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by Sime~Gen Inc.
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