Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13, 14, 15 & 16
Jordan dutifully followed Neil as the Sime lead the way into the Silent Oasis. Neil had explained that it was a Bar normally frequented by students and other youngsters. He had expected to find it a trifle boisterous, but it was the loud thumping of music that surprised him most. He had heard nothing like it on Earth. The instruments used were foreign to him, and as the cacophony of sound hit his ears, it actually seemed to hurt his eardrums.
Jordan zlinned the room and at the same time allowed his eyes to sweep passed the long bar to the small dais at one end, where a mixed group of Simes and Gens were doing their best, or so it seemed to him, to drown out every conversation in the room. This also meant that the many patrons who were crowded cheek by jowl in the place, shouted even louder in order to make themselves heard. This of course only added to the dreadful disharmony of sound that steadily got worse as he got further inside.
At first glance Jordan had assumed that the bar itself consisted of one long mirror, but as he zlinned it he discovered it was a type of polished metal which to all intents and purposes appeared to give an even clearer image than an ordinary mirror would have done. Perhaps a mirror would have been damaged too easily he thought, as he dutifully followed the Sime who was pushing his way across the room, showing scant regard for anyone who happened to be in his way.
'Hi there Sylvie, sorry I'm late.'
The small Gen who had long straight hair coloured several shades of pink hanging down her back, glanced up at him and nodded her hello. As she did so the group of Gens who were sitting around the large table pushed up to make room for Neil to sit down. The fact that they were all Gen and there were no Simes amongst them surprised Jordan, but he held his tongue as the girl Neil had called Sylvie demanded suspiciously, 'who's he?'
'A friend,' Neil leaned close to her ear and said something else, whatever it was it seemed to satisfy her, for she nodded her head at the other Gens and they all moved up yet again so that Jordan too could sit down.
As soon as they were both seated, Jordan began to zlin the group, first as a whole and then individually, as he had agreed to do, leaving Neil to talk.
Without asking either of them if they wanted a drink a young male Gen placed two glasses in front of them and filled them with porstan from a large jug in the middle of the table. The two Simes duly murmured their thanks, as Sylvie who appeared to be their spokesperson asked Neil, 'so what's gone wrong? Your message said there's been a delay. I thought everything was set to go?'
'Nothings gone wrong, but there has been a slight hitch. We've got to delay departure by about seventy two hours.'
'It's nothing to worry about Sylvie. The vessel is still available to us, but the pilot has to get another permit before he can leave. It's nothing more than bureaucracy I assure you. I have his word for that and I believe him.'
Neil said smoothly.
The skinny Gen sitting opposite them gave a sudden bray of laughter as he said, 'One of the benefits of being Sime, you'd know if he was lying. It's unfortunate that we can't do the same isn't it?'
Jordan did not bother to point out to the young Gen that if the pilot were even a third class Channel, he might well be able to fool Neil, who after all was only an ordinary renSime.
'Are you calling me a liar Brin?' Neil demanded to know.
'No he's not.' Sylvie said at once. 'Apologise Brin.'
The young Gen sitting tight lipped merely scowled across the table at them.
'That's really not necessary Sylvie. I'm sure Brin understands that when I say there's nothing to worry about, I mean it.' Neil said soothingly, the lies tripping easily off his tongue. Jordan sitting beside him was suddenly thankful that apart from Neil and himself, there were indeed no other Simes at the table.
The thin Gen gave another burst of nervous laughter as he said, 'I still say it's a pity none of us can zlin you.'
'Shut up Brin!' Sylvie ordered brusquely as she turned to Neil. 'By the way you'd better know that there's going to be eleven of us now and not ten, will that be a problem?' She tossed her long pink hair casually back over her shoulder, as she spoke, and Jordan decided she was a very pretty girl.
Neil looked down the table at a handsome male Gen whose chestnut coloured hair was almost but not quite the same shade as Jason's, and which hung down his back in a thick but loose braid. 'Glad to see you Jay, you've decided to come with us then?'
Jay Lynn nodded as his dark eyes stared down the table at the two Simes almost as if he could zlin them, which of course was impossible. Yet nonetheless Jordan moved uncomfortably in his seat, as the Gen said. 'I'll admit I'd feel safer on my own, but you've got the transport, so I'm being practical.'
Deciding he had heard enough, the Channel tuned out the rest of the conversation as he concentrated on the job at hand.
Individually Jordan could zlin nothing really unusual about the various Gens sitting beside him, although there was "something" that he could not put a tentacle on. Then again there was Jay Lynn, and Jordan really could not make up his mind about him.
As he narrowed his attention down, he decided that there was definitely something - more unusual - about him; and he wished he could be alone with the young Gen while he zlinned him, and perhaps even lay tentacles on him. But of course that was impossible.
Concentrating harder he tried to cut out all the extraneous vibes that were swirling not only around their group, but in the room as a whole, as he made Jay Lynn the centre of his complete and undivided attention.
To his surprise his tentacles began to feel almost like they were vibrating, as they sometimes did in an electrical storm back on Earth. Yet the feeling was far more intense than that.
Slowly he expanded his area of awareness until he was again zlinning the whole group sitting around the table. Then he stopped. His eyes remained tightly closed as he endeavoured to assimilate what had just happened to him. It was not an easy task, for he had not felt the unexpected power simply through his tentacles, but also his skin. Goosebumps had marched up and down his arms as wave upon wave of energy - and he could not think of any other word to use which would better describe the feeling - raced towards him, and then finally engulfed him, before it dissipated as if it had never been.
What the shen was it!? What was happening here? The questions remained unanswered as his mind moved on. Were the Gens aware of what was happening?
Almost angrily he froze the multitude of questions that were flying around in his brain as yet another astounding idea hit him. Was this unknown power coming directly from these young Gens, and if so, what did it mean? No, it was totally incredible - wasn't it? However, on the other hand, if it was not totally impossible but perhaps, possible. Then wasn't that just what Zeor had wanted to find out?
Of course it might also explain why there were no Simes in the Group. After all, the normal pressures on a Sime's body were already manifold, which meant that Mother Nature would have a very hard job indeed if she tried to increase that pressure, by turning an ordinary Sime, into a shape-shifter.
'More Porstan?' Brin the skinny Gen was bellowing the question into his face as he pulled himself back to the present, and it looked like it was not the first time he had been asked.
'Sorry about that, no thanks.' He smiled innocently across at the Gen as he picked up his half full glass.
Neil was still talking to Sylvie, or perhaps yelling at her might be a more apt description. 'right then, that's all arranged. Now if you've no more questions we'll be off.' She screamed something back at him, and Neil immediately stood up. 'Are you ready to go Jordan?' He mouthed the words at the Channel, who nodded his head quickly.
The peace as he stepped outside the bar hit Jordan like a physical blow, and both men stood for a brief moment allowing their senses to return to normal.
'You did call it the Silent Oasis didn't you?'
Neil merely pointed to the sign about the door before he said. 'They accepted the delay better than I thought they would.' Then without waiting for Jordan to reply he turned left and began to quicken his pace, as he asked. 'Did you find what you were looking for?'
Jordan nodded as he said honestly, 'I think I found more questions than answers. But tell me, why are we going this way? Surely we should have turned right when we came out?'
'This is the quickest way to my place, I told you I have to pick up a few things.'
'I thought we agreed that you'd buy everything you required, because it's too dangerous to go back there, at least for the time being.'
'I have to get several things I just can't buy on Damus Two, not without causing suspicion anyway. Look if you keep watch outside I shall be in and out in minutes.' He promised.
Jordan could tell from the tone of the Sime's voice that his mind was made up, and it was not worth falling out with him about it, so he capitulated gracefully. Unlike Jason who would no doubt have argued forcefully for ever and a day, if he had thought the Sime was wrong and he was right.
Arriving at Neil's home Jordan zlinned both up and down the road outside the building as the other Sime disappeared inside.
True to his word less than five minutes had passed before he came out again, this time carrying a massive bag which he hoisted onto his shoulder.
'Are you sure you've got everything you want?' Jordan asked almost sarcastically, as he studied the huge bag before they turned and walked back the way they had come.
'I got more than I bargained for.'
'What does that mean exactly? Was there someone waiting inside for you?'
'No, but someone had left a message, it's meant for both of us I guess.'
Jordan zlinned him as they strode along the street. 'Indeed? So come on tell me, what does it say and who's it from?'
'There's no easy way to tell you this Jordan - Big Daddy's got Jason.'
'Shen! How? Were they waiting for him at Cassandra's?'
'I doubt it. As far as I know they know nothing at all about her place. I can only assume that they picked Jason up before he ever got there.'
'So what do they want?'
Neil sighed. 'Me. It seems they're prepared to let Jason go free if I hand myself over to them.'
'Tell me exactly what they said.' Jordan ordered.
'It was Big Daddy himself, he just said - "We have your Gen associate staying with us. Come along to where Two Paths Meet before 7.00 tonight, tell us what we want to know, and you can take him away with you."
'Two Paths Meet, have you any idea what he means by that?'
Neil nodded. 'It's a Club where Simes and Gens go to find transfer partners with a bit more,' he rubbed the tips of two tentacles together as he tried to think of an appropriate word, 'you know.'
'I have no idea what you're talking about.' Jordan confessed staring across at the renSime, an open question on his handsome face.
'No I don't suppose you do. I didn't, not till I left Earth and joined the Distect. I'll try to explain. Some Simes and Gens crave more than just an ordinary straight forward transfer. On Earth the Tecton would no doubt call them perverts, in the Distect of course it's accepted, and places like Two Paths Meet cater for them.' He paused as though gathering his thoughts together, before he went on. 'To be blunt Jordan, part of the fun is derived from the Gens taunting and provoking the Simes - till one of them attacks a Gen in kill mode.'
'Shidoni I've never heard of such a thing,' Jordan whispered, shocked despite himself.
'Don't knock it till you've tried it.'
The Channel turned to stare down at the young renSime, not able to hide the horror on his face. 'Are you telling me?'
Neil interrupted him. 'When I first joined the Distect after leaving Rockall, then yes, I admit it, I went slightly mad. Can you imagine what it was like? The freedom to take transfer at any time with anyone who was willing to co-operate, and believe me I have yet to meet an unattached Distect Gen who is not willing, it's truly heady stuff. And yes, I did frequent places like Two Paths Meet. Most young Simes do till they settle down to raise a family, some never settle down of course. I guess it can become almost like a drug. Which I suppose, is why I stopped.' Neil sighed before he went on.
'One night I went along to such a club, I'd been there many times before. A friend of mine Karl brought his Gen girlfriend along, he loved her, really loved her. She started carrying on with another Sime - you can guess what happened - they had transfer right in front of him.' Neil paused.
'Karl went crazy and broke the other Sime's neck and then.he knew she'd just given transfer Jordan, knew there wasn't much selyn left, but he just attacked her anyway - and killed her!' Neil closed his eyes and shuddered before he went on, 'I haven't willingly gone inside such a place from that day to this. I suppose you can say it brought me to my senses.'
The two men walked in silence as the Channel absorbed what he had just been told.
'I'm not proud of what I did Jordan.' The young Sime said at last, breaking the uneasy silence. 'But neither will I lie about it. Even if it makes you despise me.'
'Neil I have no intention of despising you.' Jordan said at last. 'Although to be truthful I've never been in such a situation. So how does anyone know how they'll react until they are?'
The young Sime laughed softly as they arrived at number 40, and he lead the way inside. 'Thanks for the comforting words Jordan, but you and I both know that come what may, you would never ever do what I did, right? No, don't answer that.' Neil dropped the bag he was carrying down onto the floor in the hallway and walked into the main room. 'I had to tell you what Two Paths Meet is like. I couldn't have you walking into the place cold, without any idea of what goes on there.'
Jordan smiled, 'I appreciate that. But do you really think they'll just let all three of us walk out again?'
'Once I've told them what they want to know, I don't see why not.' Neil replied, but there was no conviction in his voice.
'And that's the trouble isn't it? You can't just tell them what they want to know. I mean we're talking here about eleven young Gens. We can't put that many lives at risk, not even to save Jason; and he wouldn't thank us if we did. ' Jordan said as he walked across the room to make a pot of trin, neither Sime really wanted it, but it gave him something to do to occupy his hands and tentacles.
'So come on Sectuib, what do you suggest we do, lie to them?'
Jordan ran his tentacles through his black hair before he said, 'if we could be sure there would only be Gens present when we meet Big Daddy I might say yes. But we both know that that won't happen,' he spooned tea leaves into the pot as he finished speaking.
'I agree, and then again we have to remember that Jason may not even be on the premises.' Neil reminded him.
'That's true, but you can insist on seeing him first, to make sure he's still alive and in one piece, before you tell them anything.'
Neil grimaced as he asked, 'and then what?'
Jordan poured the trin and handed a glass to his colleague before he said, 'I don't know.'
'Thanks,' Neil accepted the trin before he went on. 'Well I do have one idea, and it's in my bag. Wait here.' He walked into the hall and retrieved his bag from the floor where he had dropped it. 'What say we use this?'
The Channel stared at the small silver canister that Neil held out to him, and which was small enough to fit easily into the palm of his hand. After a moment or so he took it from the Sime's tentacles and read the label. 'I was right - PL2! Where the shen did you get hold of this? It's been banned for decades!'
'Only on Earth and her colonies, it's readily available on most Distect worlds. Well perhaps not "readily available", but if you approach the right people and grease the right tentacles, you can get hold of it easily enough.'
Neil assured him.
'I'll take your word for it, but tell me what use is it going to be? If we release it in a confined space we'd only get caught up in it too, and if that happened I shudder to think what the final result would be.'
'I agree, but not if we're wearing these.' Neil tossed the small nasal attachments onto the table. 'They fit inside the nose so they won't be seen, and we can put them in before we go into the place. What do you think?'
'An honest reply? I think you're crazy, that's what I think.' Jordan said at once.
'Have you got a better idea?'
The Channel sighed loudly, 'not at the moment. But let me think about it.'
'We don't have time for that Jordan. They said before 7.00 tonight, and that's less than an hour away,' the renSime reminded him, 'and we've still got to get there.'
'All right, so tell me the rest of the plan,' Jordan ordered, 'what do you suggest we do when we arrive there?'
'Well for starters, we don't arrive together. I think we both have to go in alone. No, hear me out Jordan before you start disagreeing with me. Look, I admit I don't know any more about what's going to happen when we get there than you do, but I'm speculating that they won't want to transact business in the main rooms. I'll have to go into a back room for that.' He fell silent for a moment and then went on.
'I've been to Two Paths Meet before. I transacted a little business there, so I have a good idea which rooms they'll use. As soon as I can I'll ask to see Jason, and hopefully if he's at the club they'll bring him into the room for me to see. But prior to this Jordan, you'll have to go into the club first.'
'And what if they're not keeping him at the Club, or they say you can only see him on a visi-link?' Jordan demanded to know.
'Well if that happens we're stuffed, and I won't know what to do. Look Jordan I'm only certain about one thing. From the second we enter the club everything is out of our hands and in the lap of the Gods. So just keep your tentacles crossed that all goes reasonably well.' Neil gave a humourless laugh.
'Now I hate to point out the number of flaws in your plan Neil, but first and foremost they've seen me before; and not to put too fine a point on it, they know exactly what I look like.'
'Not by the time I've finished with you they won't! And remember they won't be expecting you, only me. Now shut up please, we don't have much time.'
Jordan spread his hands and tentacles wide as he fell silent.
Neil gave a loud sigh as he said. 'Right then, now let's make sure you've got it straight. You go in first and watch for me to arrive. You then take note of where I go and if possible, follow me. If you can't do that, well just do the best you can. Allow some time for them to bring Jason through to me. We'll just have to play that part by ear. I can't carry any sort of transmitter with me because they'll find it. I've dealt with Big Daddy before, and others like him.' Neil paused and studied the Channel for several seconds before he went on.
'And that's when we shall require a distraction, so that we can make our escape, and hopefully get out in the confusion. Just remember that all you have to do is pull this tag right here on the canister, then place it on a table or drop it on the floor. The gas is colourless and odourless and it makes no sound when it comes out. In less than ten seconds it will cover the whole room and everyone will start to.'
'Hold it right there! That's what worries me about this whole scheme Neil. The Gens will be screaming with fear and the Simes will start to attack them and I can't allow that to happen. I'm sorry, but I just can't!'
'Jordan under normal circumstances I'd agree with you, but these simply aren't normal circumstances! Believe me when I say that all the people in this Club, both Sime and Gen are there for one purpose and one purpose only - because at some point during the evening they will go into kill mode, and attack the Gen of their choice, and the Gen's appear to love the danger that that entails.' Neil grasped the Channel by the shoulders with his tentacles. 'All you'll be doing is hurrying things along a bit, nothing more. They'll probably thank you for it afterwards. And try to remember Jordan that it's going to happen anyway even without the PL2. But this way all of us, including Jason, will get a chance to get out of there alive, and we don't have to betray the kids to do it. Well come on, are you up for it or not?' Neil stared across at the Channel a question mark written large on his face.
'I don't like it, I really do not like it!'
'I know that! But from what you and Jason have told me, you're not here as the Sectuib in Zeor are you? You're here undercover to find out if your friend Vidal is still alive and if he is, to get him away from here.' He paused and looked at the Channel speculatively. 'Now correct me if I'm wrong but you're more than a little interested in the kids, and what they might be capable of too. Am I right?'
Jordan remained silent as the young Sime went remorselessly on.
'This isn't Earth. It's my world you're on now Jordan and this is a Distect planet. So let's be clear about one thing; if you want to succeed in your mission to find Vidal. Not counting whatever else you're involved with. Then you really have to play the game by my rules. Distect rules. If you don't want to do that, then stay here and I'll go in alone and take the canister with me. It'll be a bit more difficult doing it on my own, but if there's no other way.'
Jordan zlinned him before he said, 'you're telling me that you'll still go and try and rescue Jason, with or without me? Why?'
'I don't know why, except that maybe I like him. Besides he wouldn't be in this mess at all if Big Daddy didn't want to get hold of me.' Neil said, 'and I guess that makes me feel obligated.'
Jordan unsheathed his tentacles and stared down at them for several moments in silence before he sheathed them again, and Neil demanded. 'Well, are you with me or not? Make your mind up now because we don't have much time, and I can't waste any more of it trying to convince you not to let your ethics get in the way of what you know has to be done.'
Jordan could think of no viable alternative to the plan that Neil had put forward. If he was on Earth he would never have contemplated doing such a thing, but as the young Sime had pointed out so forcefully to him, he was not on Earth. He was in fact on a Distect planet, and he was here undercover. On top of that he had chosen to do this. No one had forced him into it. Shen what a mess it all was!
Hadn't Vidal once told him that there might come a time when he was under cover like this that he would have to put aside what he had always deemed normal and proper behaviour, and act in a way that was totally outside the rules as far as Zeor, or even the Tecton were concerned? It seemed that that time had now arrived, and for better or worse he had to make a decision.
Besides which he thought hopefully, once he was actually there in the Club, an alternative course of action might just present itself.
'Time's up Jordan I can't wait any longer. Are you in or not?'
The Sectuib felt a wave of reluctance sweep over him, as he said quietly. 'Since as you say there's no choice, and I can think of no alternative then yes reluctantly - I agree.'
Strangely even as the words left his mouth Jordan felt nothing. Always before whenever he had made a final decision regarding something he was not all that sure about; a weight was lifted from his shoulders. Not this time. He was committed. He had finally crossed the rubicon, that invisible line that Vidal had warned him about on so many occasions - and all he felt was emptiness.
Jason regained consciousness slowly. The first thing he felt that made him aware that he was still very much alive - was pain. He felt pain in his stomach, pain in his hip, and pain all across his face. Somewhere off to one side he could hear voices, so he kept his eyes tightly shut; which was not a hard thing to do since his left eye appeared to be shut anyway. Vaguely he remembered the huge Gen fist that had hit him so hard in the face.
Realising he was now breathing quite quickly, he tried to slow it down. The last thing he wanted at this moment was for his captors to realise he was awake, for he had no idea where he was or why he was here. The only thing he knew for certain was that Big Daddy had knocked him unconscious, and for the moment he had no wish to be hit again.
'You're awake then?' Jason took a deep breath as the words penetrated his skull and a tentacle lifted his right eyelid. He should have known there would be at least one Sime close by, who would know the second he regained consciousness. Looking up through his long eyelashes he recognised one of the Simes he had first seen standing behind Big Daddy at Hellsgate.
'Would you believe me if I said no?' He asked, as he rolled over to find that his arms were fastened tightly behind his back. Unfortunately the sudden movement also made him feel violently sick. Then just as he accepted the unsavoury fact, he suddenly heaved the contents of his stomach onto the floor at the feet of his tormentor; who with Sime swiftness danced adroitly out of the way, a veritable stream of expletives leaving his lips as he did so.
'Prune! Fetch some water in here and clean up this mess.' The Sime yelled the order at the top of his voice which made Jason jump with surprise and simultaneously started his head thumping with one of the worst headaches he could ever remember experiencing.
'Shen it to hell, do you have to shout like that?' Struggling hard Jason finally managed to sit up with his legs stretched out before him. It was then that he realised that one of his ankles was shackled to the wall. Wordlessly he leaned his head against the cold stone and tried to ease the pain, but without success.
Another Sime who he also remembered from the previous night arrived on the scene with a bucket of water and a mop, and began cleaning up.
Jason couldn't help grinning, although it was really more of a grimace as he asked, 'did he just call you Prune?'
'It's my name - what of it?'
Jason seeing the look on Prune's face decided it was not the right time to make smart-ass remarks about prune faces and a shrivelled up fruit back on Earth. 'Nothing, nothing at all,' he said quickly. 'After all, if it doesn't bother you, why should I worry about it?'
'What the shen's that supposed to mean?'
'Shut up Prune and get on with it, before we all start to puke.'
'He's trying to make a fool of me Des.'
Jason opened his mouth to say, you're managing that all by yourself without any help from me; when Des said angrily. 'Prune, just ignore the bastard! Can't you see he's trying to get a rise out of you?'
Jason moved his body to try and get more comfortable, which was difficult because he could hardly move far with one leg manacled, as he asked.
'Would one of you mind telling me what you want and why I'm here?' He looked around the room, 'wherever here is exactly?'
The Sime called Des stared at him in silence for a moment or two and then said, 'you're only here because we want Neil Heyer.'
'As I said before, where is here exactly?'
'You wouldn't know if I told you. Now shut your mouth and don't force me to shut it for you.'
Jason fell silent. The last thing he wanted right now was another smack in the mouth. He had not yet seen himself in a mirror but he had little doubt that the bruises on his face, and more especially around his eye, would put even a rainbow to shame.
'I have to use the bathroom.'
Des stared down at him, and Jason could almost feel the waves of animosity sweeping over him. For a moment he thought the Sime would deny his request, but then he turned towards Prune. 'Better take him there yourself, unless you want to clean up another mess. Just don't let him out of your sight.'
'Why the shen do I have to take him?' Prune asked angrily.
'Because I said so, or do you want to argue about it?'
Muttering under his breath Prune knelt down beside Jason and removed the shackle in one swift movement. Jason stared down at it in surprise. He had not seen the Sime use any type of key in the lock, yet the shackle had fallen apart as soon as it was touched. 'Hey, that was a good trick.'
'I wouldn't bother to try it yourself, not unless you can grow a few tentacles.' Des informed him with a brief grunt, as Prune bent and grabbed him unceremoniously under the arms and yanked him to his feet. The sudden movement from horizontal to vertical made Jason's head swim.
'Wait up!' He stood for several seconds swallowing his saliva as he fought against the waves of nausea that once more wracked his body.
'You going to throw up again?'
'I don't know.' Jason gasped truthfully, but even as the words left his lips he was suddenly airborne as Prune grabbed hold of him and augmenting carried him into the bathroom, before dropping him back to his feet.
'Then do it here!' The Sime snarled as he moved to stand beside the door, 'and make sure you don't do it on the floor, or you'll wipe it up. I've no intention of cleaning up after you again.'
Thankfully the nausea subsided as Jason used the facilities. Then having rinsed his mouth and washed his face, he stared at himself in the mirror above the basin. His face looked lop-sided, one side of it was normal but the other was swollen out of all recognition, and as he had envisaged the colour of the bruises ranged from yellow to brown and vermillion through to a deep purple. Charming.
Glancing back over his shoulder at the Sime he observed, 'he made a good job of it. Very colourful, he's quite an artist.'
Prune sneered, 'you can say that again.'
'Did he kick me too by any chance?' Jason rubbed both his stomach and his hip as the Sime nodded his head.
'Thought so; look Prune I'm starved, is there any chance of getting something to eat?'
'Gens are just like cows, they always want to eat.' Prune muttered, 'take my advice, and don't push your luck. Des is not in the best of moods.'
'He had a row with the boss this morning.'
'With Big Daddy? What was it about?'
'None of your shenning business!'
'Just interested Prune, nothing more,' Jason said soothingly, before he went on in as friendly a tone as he could muster. 'Is that why he's taking it out on you?' The Sime didn't reply, but the look on his face said it all. Jason decided to push his luck, after all he had always worked on the adage that if there was a rift in your opponents ranks - you try to make it wider!
'So Big Daddy's in charge and Des doesn't like it, am I right? So tell me Prune, who pulls Daddy's strings? Someone must. He hasn't got the brain to work on his own.'
Prune unsheathed his tentacles and stared down at them and then opened his mouth to speak.
'How much longer you going to be in there Prune? You fallen asleep or what!?'
Damn it! Jason swallowed back his ire, for he had little doubt that before the interruption Prune was about to tell him who came next in the pecking order.
'Coming Des!' Prune shouted back, then glanced across at him. 'You finished?'
Jason nodded, and immediately wished that he hadn't, as the thumping inside his skull began again, albeit this time to a much lesser degree. Prune threw open the door and waved him out and reluctantly Jason obeyed the unspoken command.
The other Sime looked up as they came back into the room and sneered. 'About time! Had me wondering if pretty boy was coming across for you Prune. Never know your luck eh!' He laughed at his own joke.
Prune blushed scarlet as he bent down to refasten the shackle around Jason's ankle, muttering. 'Shut your mouth Des!'
The other Sime laughed again, and was still laughing as they both left the room.
Manacled once more, Jason managed to manoeuvre his body so that he was more or less sitting up and leaning sideways against the wall. Time passed slowly, especially since he was left entirely alone with nothing but the empty room and the bare walls and floor to stare at. On top of that he was by now very hungry. In fact at that moment, even plain bread would have been a veritable feast.
Unfortunately most of the people he had seen so far were Sime; which obviously meant that as they ate so little themselves, feeding a prisoner would not be very high up on their list of priorities.
On the other hand of course Big Daddy or any other Gen who might be wandering around the place; if they thought about him at all which seemed extremely unlikely. Probably wouldn't care whether he was fed or not.
Another hour crept slowly by. As someone had removed his chronometer Jason had no way of telling what the actual time was. Except by watching the shadow cast by the small single window high up on one wall, as it crept slowly but inexorably across the floor of what he had now come to think of as, his cell.
He also had no idea how long he had been here, since he had been unconscious before his arrival. The darkness grew heavier but no one had come to turn on a light. Once or twice he heard footsteps approaching, but they had simply walked on passed the door and had not entered. At this moment in time even Big Daddy's ugly visage would have been a welcome distraction.
An extra loud rumble in the silence made him once again aware of his empty stomach. Not that he had really forgotten it of course, but now he also knew what it meant to be "sick with hunger", as waves of nausea engulfed him.
Some time later, and he wasn't sure exactly how much later, he thought he could hear music. It was however very far away, and he began to wonder if he was just imagining it.
Suddenly the door opened and Prune came into the room carrying a small tray. As soon as he stepped across the threshold it was illuminated by light, and Jason guessed that there must be a sensor near the door that activated when anyone came in. It was a pity it hadn't sensed him sitting here on the floor. Perhaps there was a reason for that?
'Food.' Prune stated the obvious before he placed the tray on the floor beside him, and immediately turned to leave. Jason wondered if he had been told not to speak to him.
'Thanks. I appreciate it. And by the way, is that music I can hear or am I going crazy?'
'The club's open.'
The Sime walked to the door and then turned and stared across at him, 'like Des said before, you wouldn't know if we told you.'
Read Chapter 7
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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.
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