A New Beginning 
Part 7
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES

by
D. DaBinett 

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

 

CHAPTER FOUR

Warren stopped talking as Stefan his Security Chief suddenly glanced at the door obviously zlinning someone's approach. Before he could ask who it was, a brief hum sounded and the door opened at once, and Archer looked across at him.

'Sorry to disturb you, I just got back and thought I'd better report in straight away.'

'Of course, come in.' Warren watched as the other Gen entered the room, acknowledging Stefan with a brief nod.

'Everything go to plan?'

Archer sat down in the empty chair at the other side of Warren's desk before he answered. 'No, and there's no easy way to say this either. Rick's dead.'

'Dead? Are you certain?'

'I saw the body.'

Stefan zlinned him deeply before he asked. 'Then how come you've given transfer?'

In a few brief crisp sentences Archer gave his report to his two superiors.

'You say he's a Channel?'

'That's what he said. But even if I'd wanted to question him further, I didn't have time. Not if I wanted to get away in one piece. I did what I could to help him, and left.'

'So you don't know if he got away?'

Archer shook his head emphatically, 'No idea at all.'

'Warren I might be able to help, give me a minute.' Stefan left the room and returned a few minutes later.

'I contacted Hannah, she's just come back off duty at the Complex,' he stated as he moved to sit down again. 'It seems she was late leaving because a prisoner escaped.'

Warren tapped a scribe against his teeth. 'And you're reckoning it was the Channel?'

Stefan frowned. 'I don't see who else it could be.'

'Neither do I, be too much of a coincidence if it wasn't him.' Archer agreed at once, glancing at his Administrator as he spoke.

'I don't suppose you happened to tell him where he could find us?'

The other Gen shook his head firmly. 'No. I'm not a complete fool Warren.'

'I never thought you were. But in this instance.' Warren paused and then went on. 'I wouldn't mind knowing where he came from, and why the Organisation have been holding him prisoner.'

Stefan extended his tentacles and studied them in silence for a moment or two. 'I agree it is quite intriguing. But in the circumstances Archer did the right thing by not breaking the rules.'

'Thanks. I'm glad someone agrees with me. I can imagine what you'd have said if I had gone against procedure Warren. Not counting the fact that if he'd been caught again he might have told them about all of us.' Archer stated. 'And I can just see you trying to explain to the Organisation how one of your people got into the place and out again, not counting giving transfer to one of their prisoners, without ever being detected!'

'Archer I'm not criticising you.' Warren said at once. 'But tell me, how did Rick die?'

'I haven't got a clue, and not being Sime I couldn't zlin him could I?' Archer demanded. 'All I can tell you is that I didn't notice any bruises or wounds on his body, and there was no sign of blood.'

'Unfortunately that's nothing to go by,' Stefan informed them. 'The Organisation still use torture sticks on Simes, and they leave no obvious marks on a person's body.'

'That's true.' Warren agreed with his Security Chief, and then sighed as he suddenly remembered Archer's twin sister. Catching his cousin's eye he knew that he too was thinking about her.

'Tammy's due back shortly isn't she?' Warren nodded silently as Archer continued. 'I'm dreading having to tell her about Rick.'

'Do you want me to do it?'

'No, thanks just the same Warren. When all's said and done she is my sister. It's my place to do it. The trouble is I know who she's going to blame, but even if she'd been here and had gone there instead of me, there was nothing she could have done. He was dead, and with all her abilities she can't bring the dead back to life can she?' The question was sounded both bitter and rhetoric, so neither man made any attempt to answer him.

Warren however studied the lines of strain around the young Gen's eyes and lips. 'Have you eaten?' He asked at last. Archer shook his head. 'Then I suggest you go and eat now, and afterwards lie down for a few hours and rest, you look exhausted.'

'I'll do that.' He walked to the door and then stopped abruptly, his back still to the room. 'But I did the right thing didn't I? I mean, giving him transfer, you'd have done the same wouldn't you?

Warren nodded his agreement, and then realised his friend could not see him for he had still not turned around. 'Yes, you did the right thing Arch.'

'Thanks. Let me know when Tammy gets back won't you?' And the door closed silently behind him.

 

What he had been dreaming about, or indeed what had actually awoken him from the deep sleep he was in Archer had no way of telling. But as he opened his eyes to the bright light of day, it was to find his twin sister standing at the side of his bed staring down at him, her face drained of all colour.

Unlike her Gen twin Tammy was attractive in a very soft female way. Her hair was several shades lighter than Archer's. It hung down her back in waves and curls while her eyes were a dark almost chocolate brown. Her skin on the other hand was almost translucent, the pale blue veins showing clearly through it. The fact that she had been crying was clearly evidenced by the streaks running down her rosy cheeks, although she had obviously tried to wipe most of the tears away with her tentacles.

He knew at once that she had already spoken to Warren, and much as Archer would have liked to tell his sister what had happened to Rick in his own way, he knew she would have dragged the whole story out of the Administrator before she had come along to his room. She was like that.

'Tammy, I'm so sorry.' The words seemed inadequate in the circumstances. Rick Leeman and Tammy were a couple, and had been lovers for some time. Indeed they had intended in the next few months to start a family of their own. Now all her dreams were over, gone as though they had never happened. In such circumstances what words could he use to give his sister comfort, and would she accept comfort from him even if he were able to give it?

'Are you? Sorry I mean?'

'Of course I'm sorry, what do you think I am?' He asked almost angrily.

'Sometimes I'm not sure Archer. Ever since we were children you've resented my abilities.' His sister reminded him.

'Not resented.' Archer said softly as he stared up at her. Then he sighed with resignation as he rolled off the bed and stood up. 'Okay Tammy, this isn't exactly the time I would have chosen for this sort of conversation, but if we're going to discuss it let's do it now and get it over and done with.'

'You mean we try to clear the air?' He nodded his head in agreement. 'We've tried before and it didn't work.'

Archer walked to the window and stood staring down at the edge of the woods far below.

'Perhaps that was my fault,' he said without turning around. 'But you've always been so damn condescending - arrogant - shen I don't know what to call it.'

'Arrogant? Me?' She laughed derisively. 'You're joking right?'

'No I'm not joking Tammy, I only wish I were. Its how I feel, how I've always felt.' He turned away from the tranquil scene outside the window and stared at his sister. 'We're twins Tam, yet we're nothing alike. Oh I don't just mean the fact that I'm male and you're female, that doesn't matter. But you're Sime and I'm Gen.'

'You've always resented that Arch I know that. I've just never understood why.'

'Because everything always came so easily to you Tam, even before you changed over, and afterwards?' He shrugged almost angrily. 'Well I always had to run flat out just to keep up with you. Then later you left me behind in every way possible.'

'But not because I wanted to! I'm Sime Archer, I can't help that, its fate.'

'Intellectually I know that, of course I do, but that isn't the point. If you remember I established six months before you changed over. It was then that my abilities started to manifest themselves.'

Tammy smiled gently, 'yes of course I remember, you were insufferably conceited as I recall.'

'Was I? Well it was the first time I'd had any cause to be, but it didn't last very long did it? Six months and you were a brand new Sime with more talent than I was ever likely to have.'

'But I couldn't alter that Archer. I didn't ask to be Sime, and I certainly didn't ask to have these added abilities either.'

'I know that! Look Tammy I've never said this before, and I've certainly never admitted it to anyone else. When you changed over and I didn't, I was disappointed, yes I was. But I could have lived with that because I had my psychic abilities and that kind of evened things out between us; but then fate smacked me in the face yet again because you developed them too, and of course yours were far better than mine.'

She zlinned him before she spoke but he was shielding from her, it was yet another ability he had developed over the years. 'What do you want me to say? That I'm sorry? Well I am. But I can't do a damn thing about it Arch - I really wish I could.'

'Oh shen don't you think I know that? But just look at us! Whatever you might say now, you have to admit you came rushing in here ready to blame me for what happened. Well didn't you?' His sister nodded her head sadly as she acknowledged the truth of his accusation.

'Do you really think I would have let Rick die if I could have done anything to stop it from happening? He was dead when I found him Tammy.' He met his sister's eyes calmly as he went on. 'He was dead and I had to just leave him there. I couldn't bring him out of that place because I don't have your ability. And stop trying to zlin me Tammy you know how I hate it when you do that.'

Sighing the Sime complied. Her brother had some strange quirks considering he had always lived with Simes. 'Warren said you gave transfer to a prisoner?' She asked changing the conversation.

'Yes, he was a Channel too, and a good one. The state he was in I fully expected to be burned, but I never felt a thing. He was even better than Shirley and that's saying something.'

Tammy grinned broadly, 'what about me?'

'I've only given you transfer once,' he reminded her with an answering grin.

'Your choice not mine.' She said and touched his arm with a tentacle. 'As far as I'm concerned Archer it was more than just memorable. I've never forgotten it you know, and never will.'

'Neither have I.'

'And you've never wanted to do it again?'

'Truthfully? Yes I have, but we mustn't let it happen again Tammy you know that. We're too damn close to take the chance, can you imagine what would have happened to us if we had been tied in that way too? And now? Now for better or worse, we won't have to take that chance.'

'And what does that mean exactly?'

'Look Tam, I think a lot of our troubles lie in the fact that we really are too close. Look what happened to Silas and Daniel, they developed an Orhuen didn't they?'

'And they were twins and Daniel killed Silas, I've heard the story too, it's ancient history now. But that's not likely to happen to us, is it?'

'We don't know Tam, that's the trouble. We both know that the pull is undoubtedly there for something to happen between us. And if there's the slightest change of that, then we both have to fight it, don't we? Can you imagine what it might do to us? Some of the elders say that one or both of us could quite literally go mad.'

'But we don't know that for sure. It's never happened to a Sime and Gen who are twins, not in living memory has it? Besides even the written knowledge isn't there any more because libraries have been lost over the centuries. Besides the elders aren't sure that that would or could happen to us, you know that.'

'What if it did? Would you be willing to accept all the consequences?' He demanded. 'Well would you?'

'But we don't know that anything bad would happen. No one knows. Like I said far too much knowledge has been lost over the course of time. Even rare tomes from the archives have disappeared because Rior has had to make so many moves from place to place and planet to planet.' She closed her eyes momentarily and then went on. 'Shirley did suggest we contact Zeor and ask them about any possible consequences; to see if we could do anything to nullify any of the really bad effects that might arise between us. If anyone is likely to know, it's them.'

'I've thought about that too, and even if Zeor agreed to help us - which I doubt - after all there's been a cold War between us for years now. I don't want that sort of tie between you and I - be truthful Tammy, do you?' He rushed on not waiting for her reply, but answering the question he himself had posed. 'Of course you don't. So there's only one answer to the problem.'

'I don't like the sound of this Archer.'

'I'm going away Tam. Please don't try to talk me out of it - you won't be able to. I've been thinking about it for months if not years and my mind is made up. We're twins, and this makes us closer than most brothers and sisters, deep down we love each other, but it's a destructive kind of love Tammy. We'll only end up hating each other, perhaps even killing each other, who knows? I certainly don't.'

His sister gasped.

'Hard to believe isn't it? But I do mean "kill" Tammy. I can't let that happen to us, and neither can you. Agreed?' He grasped her arms gently careful of the tentacle sheaths under the almost translucent skin, as he whispered desperately. 'Please Tammy I'm asking you to help me.'

She stared at him as she zlinned him deeply, surprised to find that he had completely opened himself up to her. 'You really mean to do this don't you? When do you intend to go?'

'Soon. I have a promise to keep to.a friend, but once that is fulfilled.'

'You don't intend to join the Organisation do you?' Tammy demanded suddenly fearful for her twin. She went hyperconscious as she zlinned him yet again to make sure he was telling her the truth.

' To be honest with you I did consider it a few years back, but we both know what they've now become.' Archer sighed deeply. 'I've decided to go to Earth.'

'That's taking an even bigger chance isn't it?'

'I'll be changing my name, and I've already arranged for false records. Once there I'll soon get work.'

Tammy stepped closer to her brother. 'You'll keep in touch?'

'If I'm able to do so without causing trouble for you or Rior, then yes of course I will.'

'Good. Now who's this friend you have to help? And in what way do you have to help him, or is it her?' She asked quickly.

'It's a him, and that's all I'm telling you so stop fishing because you won't catch anything, not this time. By the way, have you eaten?'

'Don't change the conversation, just tell me about this friend.'

'No. Answer my question, have you eaten?'

She sighed as she gave in, 'you know I haven't. How could I?'

'Neither have I, let's go and eat, we both know we have to, no matter how bad we feel.'

She stopped at the door. 'Even the mundane things like eating together will soon be precious, won't they?'

'Yes. But when you think back over the years, we already have a lot of shared memories. You know that.'

'The trouble is most of them seem to be about arguments or disagreements,' she reminded him with a weak smile.

'Okay so from now on we make a pact. In the short time we've got left, we'll build some good memories between us. Agreed?'

'Since you're going away, it's not going to be a hard promise to keep.' She stated quietly and then asked. 'Can I come and visit you?'

'On Earth? It's a long way from here, but if you do come you'll always be welcome, you know that.'

'I'll come.' She said softly.

'Good.' Archer paused and then said quietly. 'I'll use all Earth's resources and try to get access to Householder libraries to try and see what I can find out about our problem Tam. Not so much for us, but twins run in families.'

'And one day I might have children of my own?'

'And so might I.'

'You'll make a good father.'

'Maybe.' He smiled. 'In time you'll get over Rick. I don't mean you'll forget him, but life goes on and one day there will be others. You have to believe that.'

His sister looked across at him sadly as she nodded her head. 'I know that. But at the moment I find it very hard to sound convincing, even to myself.'

 

Vidal managed to snatch almost two hours sleep before he showered and left the cabin. In the circumstances he felt surprisingly refreshed. Perhaps it was the fact that he was free from captivity?

He had also been pleased to find a map of the immediate area on the wall beside the bed; it had obviously been put there for the benefit of travellers and off world visitors.

Studying the map, it had not taken him long to find that the huge Complex where he had recently been a prisoner was situated at one end of the sprawling City of Oakwood. Vidal had not however seen any Oaks in the vicinity although there were plenty of indigenous trees that looked nothing at all like Oak trees. Neither had he seen any Oak trees from the windows of the cabin. Therefore he guessed that in all probability the founders of the City had simply been nostalgic for Earth when they had named the place.

As far as he could tell Oakwood was split into two distinct areas. Houses and schools were clearly shown to be in one area, and in the other resided the commercial side of the City including warehouses clubs and bars. While at the far end as far away from the Complex as it was possible get and yet still remain within the boundaries of the City conurbation lay another group of buildings, and he was also amazed to see that even on this map these buildings were referred to as the House of Rior.

Looking closer he realised that Rior appeared to consist of at least a dozen large separate buildings all of which were surrounded by dense woods. Similar to what he could see outside the cabin windows.

He also noted with surprise that if the various buildings had been joined together, they would have been even bigger than the Complex. Indeed it was by far the largest structure that purported to belong to Rior itself that he had so far encountered on his many travels. He did not feel strange calling it the House of Rior, even though as far as he was aware such a place in the true sense of the word had ceased to exist generations ago.

Then again if he recalled correctly Roy and Wil had said there were several small Households run along Rior lines on Damus Two. They had not however said that most of these Households had all been built together in one place. Unless of course there were indeed others, that were located elsewhere on the planet.

Of course, it could well be that both Roy and Wil had been wrong when they said that on Damus Two Rior was split into several separate Households, and that they did not appear to co-operate with each other. It was certainly something he would have to discuss with Jordan if he got back home. Quickly he qualified the thought, "when" he got back home. Even now he knew that there was nothing to be gained by being defeatist.

Quickly he turned in the direction of one of the main thoroughfares; glad to see that his way was, for the most part at least, through dense woodland. Because this meant that he could avoid most of the inhabitants that he encountered, by hiding amongst the trees.

Having finally reached the road, he turned to the right, making his way towards Rior. If anyone had asked him why he had decided to go there, it was doubtful if he could have given them a very good reason; except that in the circumstances, he felt it was the right thing to do.

Then again he had to admit that Rior for all its faults, was still to all intents and purposes, a Household; which hopefully meant that he stood more chance of getting help there, than he would anywhere else on the planet.

Then again of course he could be completely wrong; and without realising it he could be walking straight into a trap. After all he had no idea just how close Rior and the Organisation actually were; and for all he knew they could well be working hand in glove with each other. Weren't they both after all part and parcel of the Distect?

The Channel sighed. 'Be honest with yourself Vidal.' He said out loud. 'You don't really have a viable alternative do you? So get on with it.'

Then suddenly annoyed with himself and his totally negative thoughts, Vidal concentrated instead on striding along the side of the road towards his destination, trying his hardest not to think about his dilemma. Things, he decided, were not all that bad. He had after all and against all the odds, escaped from his captors. On top of that, his body was now replete with both selyn and food, and he was rested.

Now, given the unfavourable circumstances he had been faced with only yesterday morning, what more could he possibly ask for?

Before he had left the cabin this morning, he had decided it would be safer for him to make his own way on foot to his destination, and not attempt to either hitch a ride or commandeer a cab. After all such a vehicle could be monitored and his destination easily traced.

He had therefore calculated that walking fairly briskly and stopping perhaps twice for a brief rest; he should with reasonable luck reach Rior in about five hours, sometime during the early afternoon.

He knew that back on Earth all the various Households still offered succour to travellers; usually consisting of food and a bed for the night to anyone who might require it. Much as they had always done in the past. It was one of the many traditions that they still carried on.

Although nowadays he knew that on Earth at least, there were very few travellers who could not afford to stay at a hotel or tavern. But some still stayed at a Household if they were in the vicinity, more for the sheer novelty value than for any genuine economic reason. He could only hope that Rior too still carried on the tradition. If they did not, then he would have to face that hurdle when he came to it.

 

Jason stood outside the Complex and stared up at the dull single storied building. In the harsh light of day it looked intimidating. It was built like a huge cube with nothing at all to soften its walls or shape. Even the windows looked like sightless and soulless eyes staring out almost disapprovingly at the people walking by.

The side entrance where Neil had told him to go, looked even less inviting than the one at the front. To one side a small sign stated: "Vacancies - apply within." Though why anyone would want to apply for work here Jason could not understand. Unless of course they had no alternative, or like him they had an ulterior motive for doing so.

After much argument it had been decided that only Jason would apply for employment. The Channel had not of course favoured the idea, but as Jason had pointed out, he was quite capable of searching the building on his own.

He had also pointed out that if both of them were to apply for a job on the same day, they might well draw unnecessary attention to themselves, and thus double the chance that one or both of them might be caught. Thankfully Neil had supported this contention and Jordan had finally, but with little grace, bowed to the logic of the argument. Albeit not without a multitude of reservations!

Two hours later when Jason left the office he had acquired a temporary position working for the Organisation inside the Complex. Surprisingly it had been a lot easier than he had expected. Perhaps because on Damus Two they had little choice as far as general workers were concerned, or perhaps they considered that working on the computers that kept the Complex functioning was not really all that important, and therefore did not constitute a closer examination of the applicant's credentials; which might well have taken weeks to carry out.

Under normal circumstances he would have been inclined to agree with their strategy, because the Cleaning and Catering Departments were not usually the first port of call for seasoned spies. However, whatever their reason might be, it had on this occasion worked to his advantage; and all he was concerned with now was that he would be starting work on the night shift in a few hours time, and could then begin to search for Vidal.

He was aware of course that the chance of finding his friend alive, were to say the least by now extremely slight, if not nil. For Jason knew that the unpalatable truth was quite irrefutable - if they had not allowed Vidal to take transfer by now, then he was undoubtedly dead.

Jason had but one burning hope. That they might well consider Vidal important enough to keep him alive, at least until they had finished interrogating him. A slim chance it was true, but one he held on to grimly.

Making his way back to the room he and Jordan were sharing he found that Neil had gone home to change his clothes.

'He's taking a chance if Big Daddy's still looking for him.'

Jordan shook his had. 'He doesn't expect to encounter any trouble, at least not during daylight hours. But just in case they're waiting for him he'll enter the premises by a side window. I did offer to go with him, but he declined.'

Jason digested this and then gave him a shortened version of the interview he had attended, explaining that he had informed them that he had recently arrived from Aryanous.

Just as he finished the recital, Neil arrived back.

'No problems?' Jordan asked as he moved to pour two glasses of trin. Neil shook his head and sat down on the end of one of the beds. The young Sime was obviously not in need, but Jordan automatically worked the fields as he always did when both Jason and Neil were present; keeping the ambient calm for all of them.

Jason of course was far from being an untrained Gen, but unlike Tony who never allowed his guard to fall; Jason did tend to forget sometimes that a renSime was present, and where his duty in such circumstances lay.

On top of all that Jordan could not help but still think of Neil as his patient. He might be healthy and living here like a free man, but he was still a renSime who had killed in first need. He had rejected Channel's transfer on Earth, and here on Damus Two he took transfer from any Gen who was willing to oblige. Yet for all that, he was, and would always be - a killer.

'Well let's hope no one followed you back here.' Jason started to say grumpily, then seeing the look on the Channel's face he thought it best to change the topic of conversation as he asked. 'By the way Neil I've been wondering, how did Big Daddy get such a ridiculous name?'

Neil glanced across at him. 'Not because he's even remotely like anyone's father, I can assure you of that.' He looked down at his tentacles before he almost self consciously sheathed them again as he fell silent.

Jordan smiled, 'I think we gathered that much.' He said as he handed round the trin.

The Sime looked up, his face sober. 'As a matter of fact he likes kids - boys or girls - as long as they're young he doesn't much care which sex they are!' Neil informed them bluntly as he blew on the hot tea before taking a cautious sip from the glass. Then he looked up again and stared across at the other two men almost challengingly.

'Are you telling me what I think you are?' Jason demanded, and Neil silently nodded his head. 'Shidoni I should have done more than just rearrange his face last night!'

'You might still get the chance,' Neil said quickly, 'I doubt it's the last we've seen of him or the others either. Speaking of which, I think you should consider moving away from here in the next few hours.'

Jordan frowned slightly. 'We intended to, but why do you think we should?'

'Well Damus Two is not exactly a big planet, and this town, especially if you discount both the Complex and Rior is not large by anyone's standard. So I'm afraid it rather stands to reason that it's not going to take Big Daddy long to find out where you're staying.' Neil pointed out.

'I never thought of that.' Jordan conceded.

'Mind you, not all the Distect members who live here are answerable to the Organisation so they won't just volunteer the information. But most people do have family and friends living in the town, so if they're asked a direct question.' He shrugged expressively.

Jordan stood up to put his glass down on the table. 'I see what you mean. In that case we'd better move now before Jason goes to work.'

'Move where to?' Jason asked at once. 'Not similar to this I hope.'

Jordan glanced down at Neil, 'any ideas?'

'Perhaps. Cassandra, a friend of mine, went to Aryanous a few weeks back. Her parents live there and apparently her mother's ill. She expects to be away for at least three months. She asked me to keep an eye on her place while she's gone.'

'And she won't mind if we stay there?'

Neil glanced at Jason, 'she won't know will she? You'll be long gone by the time she gets back here, and like they say - what the eye doesn't see!'

'I don't like the idea of moving into someone's house when they don't know anything about it.' Jordan murmured.

'Why? It's empty, and you're not going to smash the place up are you?' Neil said frankly, 'besides, if you don't go there where else are you going to go? Hotels taverns and especially places like this, will be among the first places they'll look.'

The Channel sighed, 'you're right, there's no real alternative is there?'

Jason had already put his bag onto the bed and was busy stuffing the few things he had already unpacked back into it. As far as he was concerned he was pleased that he would not have to sleep in this bed ever again. Therefore he was more than willing to accept Neil's suggestion no matter what the circumstances might be; anything to get as far away from the wild life that apparently lived in his bed, as possible.

Neil sat and watched as Jordan too packed his bag, although in his case he was a lot neater than Jason, and in less than thirty minutes all three men were standing outside on the sidewalk.

They quickly hailed a comcab and clambered on board, leaving Neil to state their destination. 'I've asked to be put down a couple of blocks away from her house, just in case we're being followed.' He said softly.

Jordan nodded as he said candidly. 'If I've learned anything in my short career in intelligence, it's never to under-estimate the enemy.'

Jason sat in silence and watched the houses flash passed with unveiled interest. They all seemed to be build more or less the same, the sizes were different of course but little else.

Finally his curiosity got the better of him as he asked. 'Were all these dwellings built at the same time Neil?'

It was however Jordan who answered him. 'If I'm not mistaken they're moulded plastic built on the pod system aren't they Neil?'

The renSime nodded. 'Yes. Most of the settlements built by the Organisation are on similar lines. Especially if they're built on the surface of the planet like here; they're also very cheap and quick to erect.

'They're also extremely well camouflaged. That's so that they blend in with the surroundings. From orbit this place is virtually invisible. Every so often they bring along a few more pods and simply drop them into position and plug them into the facilities that run along underneath them. They started out assembling a few to accommodate their workers, then as the population grew, they expanded.' Neil explained briefly.

'But don't run away with the idea that they're doing all this out of the goodness of their hearts. Believe me they aren't. All it really means is that they have even more of a hold on the community as a whole than they did before. Fall out with the Organisation and you've lost the roof over your head. Not too bad if you're single with no responsibilities like me, you can simply move on. But if you've got a family!' He shrugged as he finished speaking, and all three men fell silent till the comcab drew smoothly to a halt.

'I understood some of the settlements on Damus Two are built underground like they are on Aryanous.' Jordan observed.

Neil nodded his head in agreement. 'Over the other side of the planet.'

Clambering out Jordan and Jason picked up their cases and Neil led the way passed the houses that all looked so very much alike before he said. 'I should have brought a few other things with me when I went home earlier. It would have saved me going back there again.'

'It might be better if you don't go back there.' Jordan suggested. 'Why not buy a few things instead.'

Before he could answer, Jason laughed out loud as he realised they were each walking one behind the other in single file and all in step. Still grinning he sang softly. 'Three blind Simes, see how they run.'

Neil looked back over his shoulder. 'Did you say something?'

'If I'm not mistaken, he's quoting from a very old nursery rhyme,' Jordan replied at once, 'and if my memory serves me correctly, didn't they have their heads chopped off by a gang of Gens? I hope that's not a prophecy Jason?'

Before he could answer Neil came to an abrupt halt, and approached a narrow doorway that had the number 40 emblazoned on the front of it in large letters. Taking out a slim door card, he zipped it through the lock and waved them inside as the door slid silently open.

Vidal was the first to enter murmuring, 'minimum security I see.'

'It's all that the Organisation allow. Remember there's no petty crime here, it's just not worth it. The perpetrators simply disappear, no trial and no sentence. One minute they're there, the next they're history. Poof!'

'I suppose a lot of people would find the idea of no crime quite a plus, regardless of what happens to the criminals.' Jason mused. 'After all it must save a lot of time trouble and expense.'

'I didn't say there's no crime Jason. I said there's no petty crime, and that's just what I meant. Big crime carries on, always has and always will, it's just that here as on all Distect run planets the Organisation have a finger in every off world pie . If anyone tries to keep them out, then it's War; quite literally.'

'You really mean that don't you?' Jordan said, as he zlinned the renSime.

'Yes I do. When you think about it, it's not a bad system from the ordinary citizen's point of view. After all, it's only petty crime like burglaries robberies and muggings, things of that nature that really worry the man in the street. The big crimes are something the average person just hears about or sees on the newscasts. Unless they're very unlucky, it doesn't usually effect the day to day running of their lives. So the Organisation keep them free from petty crime, and in return the citizens leave them free to do what they want to do. It works fine too. Not that they have any choice in the matter of course.'

 

 

 Read Chapter 5

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Companion in Zeor is Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002   by Sime~Gen Inc.   

A New Beginning is copyright 2000, 2001, 2002 by Sime~Gen Inc.  

The Sime~Gen universe was created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and is owned by Sime~Gen Inc. This story and its setting may not be reused without explicit permission of the Corporation.  Email: simegen@simegen.com 







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