Published as a part of A Companion In Zeor #13, 14, 15 & 16
Jordan arrived at Two Paths Meet, ten minutes before Neil was due to arrive. As he entered the surprisingly discreet entrance to the club, he caught a glimpse of himself in one of the many mirrors that made the vestibule look even bigger than it was.
Jordan shuddered. What on Earth had possessed him to let Neil talk him into wearing this ridiculous wig, which not only gave him a fringe hanging down over his forehead, but a mass of dark brown curls resting on his shoulders?
There was only one thing on which both he and Neil could agree. No one, not even his closest and most intimate friend, would ever recognise him. The young Sime had laughed out loud as he reminded him, 'and isn't that the entire purpose of the exercise Jordan?' He had reluctantly agreed, though it was not of great comfort to him.
Stepping through the inner door he found himself standing on a raised area some three steps above the main room, where he could look out over the crush of human bodies just below him.
To the left a small group that included two shiltpron players was playing a medley of tunes none of which he recognised; while waiters moved adroitly among the noisy customers carrying trays of drinks.
Discreetly zlinning the crowd Jordan was not really surprised to find that the tension level amongst both the Gens and the Simes was extremely high; which he decided was not really surprising when you considered the type of entertainment that was to be laid on for them later in the evening. Entertainment that according to Neil, would include a great deal of customer participation.
Jordan knew that under normal circumstances nothing, not even pain of death, would have induced him to enter a place like this. Yet here he was, not only in the middle of what his friends back on Earth would call disparagingly "a Distect orgy;" but if he actually did as Neil had requested, then it would be he, the Sectuib in Zeor who would actually start a feeding frenzy among the hundred or more Simes and Gens who were present tonight. Would he ever live down the shame? Somehow he doubted it. Because even if no one else ever came to hear about it, and he had no reason to think that they would; he knew that he himself would always remember, and would wonder if with a little more time, he might have come up with a better plan? But then wasn't that the crux of the whole matter? Time. There had simply been no more time!
Still projecting renSime Jordan tried without success, to make his way through the heaving mass of humanity to the other side of the room. He could see the rear exit door that Neil had told him to approach.
But unfortunately for Jordan no one appeared to have a fixed partner, but just moved from person to person; with every Sime or Gen interpreting the music to suit themselves.
Suddenly he saw a woman who reminded him somewhat of his wife. Although he could not lay a tentacle on what it might be exactly. Perhaps it was the hair? Perhaps it was something else? Perhaps it was just that the memory of his wife invoked the hope that she would never find out about this particular escapade.
He would of course give her a highly censored account of his exploits on his return, but they would undoubtedly be far from the truth, more of course by omission than outright lie. He was therefore extremely grateful that he didn't talk in his sleep, or at least he hoped he didn't!
In his unending journey from the front to the back of the club, Jordan found himself dancing with two Simes and three Gens, one of whom was male. To have refused to dance with any of them would simply have drawn unnecessary attention to himself.
Arriving finally at his destination and glad that he was still in one piece, he looked back towards the entrance. Glad for once that his slightly above average height afforded him a distinct advantage in this type of situation.
Even as he stood there looking out at the sea of humanity, Neil appeared through the door, and without hesitation began to push his way unceremoniously through the crowd. Unlike Jordan, the renSime was not of course bothered about who might be watching him. After all he had an appointment to keep at the rear of the club.
Seconds later Neil strode past Jordan to disappear through the rear door without so much as a glance in his direction. The Channel wished that he, too, could act so nonchalantly.
Edging closer to the door, Jordan was disappointed to find that he could neither see nor zlin through it. Even this close the insulation it afforded was excellent; which meant that in all probability Llhandros, which was a material that was extremely difficult to obtain even on Earth, had been used in its construction. It also confirmed what Neil had told him, that the rooms at the back of the club were being used for clandestine meetings, both business and personal.
Jordan's hand moved to retrieve the tiny canister from his pocket as the moment when he had to use it drew close. Immediately he began to fight yet another silent battle with his conscience. Perhaps before using it, he should just step inside the door, and see if he could zlin what was happening in the various rooms? It would only take a couple of seconds for him to do so, and they had not really formulated any firm plan had they?
It did not take the Sectuib long to convince himself about this argument, and before he could change his mind yet again, he straight armed the door and walked through the opening allowing it to close almost silently behind him.
A long carpeted corridor stretched out before him with an exit door at the far end. On the right of the hallway were three doors with two more on the left.
Quickly taking his bearings, Jordan began to move silently forward listening and zlinning at the first door he came to. Almost straight away he realised that he was not alone.
Spinning around he found himself facing a bald headed Sime who demanded brusquely, 'you looking for someone friend?'
'Wrong door; invited guests only in here.' He stepped back to pull open the inner door and usher Jordan back out into the club. Immediately the Channel moved to thwart him, but his opponent moved even faster and to his utter astonishment Jordan found himself on his back staring at the small blaster that was aimed at a spot almost directly between his eyes.
'Get up.' Jordan instantly obeyed, and moments later the Sime pushed open the door he had been trying so hard to zlin through, and pushed Jordan roughly inside; knocking him to the floor as he did so, causing the despised wig to fall off and roll away.
'What's the meaning of this Bailey?'
'Sorry for the interruption boss, this one was trying to zlin through the door.'
'Neil you naughty boy! I do believe it's your friend from the other night. I didn't realise he was so interested in our business. Perhaps you should have brought him with you?' The sarcastic words fairly dripped from the Gen's mouth.
Jordan bit back a sigh of frustration. He didn't have to zlin, he'd know that voice anywhere. Neil was also present, as was Jason and two Guards each armed with blasters, both of whom were Gen.
Jordan glanced towards where Big Daddy was sitting, a Sime guard at his side. The Sectuib then met Neil's eyes and knew that the renSime was furious with him. Which was hardly surprising when one considered that he had not carried out the plan - albeit in Jordan's opinion, the bad plan - that they had agreed upon. He would have to apologise profusely to Neil later, if indeed there was a later.
'Now I really wasn't expecting extra company. Of course that means we have no more chairs, so we can't offer you a seat, I'm so sorry, but you'll just have to remain where you are, on the floor.' The huge Gen smiled widely as he made the comment, before turning away from him.
'Now where were we Neil? Ah yes, you were about to tell me the location and time of your next meeting with the group of young people that I'm interested in. Am I right?'
'No. I just told you. I don't know what the shen you're talking about.'
For a man of his size Big Daddy moved surprisingly fast, and a small weapon that looked nothing like anything that Jordan had ever seen before, appeared in his huge hand. Almost simultaneously he fired it at Neil.
Only the scream that left Neil's throat, and the blood dripping down onto his shoulder, showed that he had had part of his ear removed.
'Bailey. I don't want blood messing up the carpet, take care of it.' Big Daddy ordered at once.
Immediately the Sime who had brought Jordan into the room rushed to fetch a towel, handing it to Neil without a word.
'Good. Now I suggest you fetch another one Bailey. I have a feeling our friend will require a little more persuasion before he tells us what we want to know. Or are you perhaps more sensible than you look?'
'I can't tell you what I don't know.'
'Can you not? Well now, that's a pity isn't it?' Big Daddy leaned towards Neil, which considering his size was not an easy thing for him to do. 'Let me tell you the scenario that I envisage will happen if you don't co-operate with me. Just so there is no misunderstanding between us. First, I'll take care of the other ear. Then we'll start on the fingers. Bailey's very good with fingers. Aren't you Bailey?'
'You bastard!' It was Jason who broke his silence for the first time.
'Open your mouth again pretty boy and I'll have Janus close it for you, permanently.' The massive body was still quivering with anger as he turned his attention back to Neil. 'Now, if I can't persuade you to be sensible. Then as a last resort I'll have to ask Glen here to help.' He smiled up at the Sime guard standing beside him. 'Glen's speciality is tentacles. I won't tell you what he does to them because it would spoil the surprise. But I assure you he's very, very inventive. Now, shall we start again?'
From his place on the floor Jordan was still chastising himself for allowing them to catch him in the first place. Let alone landing up in this ridiculous position, where he was forced to watch while that grotesque caricature of a man tortured the young Sime he had come to think of as a friend.
Perhaps worse than that, was the undeniable fact that if he had done as he had agreed, and had used the PL2; then Jason and Neil might have had a chance to get away, and none of this would be happening.
Big Daddy was still talking as Jordan zlinned him closely. The Sectuib was left in little doubt that he would certainly carry out every one of the threats he had made. Indeed it was also quite clear that he would get great pleasure out of doing so.
Shifting his attention back to Neil he was surprised to realise the young Sime was just about to topple from his chair. The wound to his ear was undoubtedly very painful, but surely it was not enough to make him faint. Neither was the blood loss sufficient either. Something was undoubtedly going on, but what?
Even while Jordan was still considering this question, Neil fell from his seat landing right on top of him. The Channel made no attempt to move as he endeavoured to break the Sime's fall. This meant of course that the upper part of Neil's body landed across his chest, and the Sectuib gasped as the breath was forcibly knocked out of him.
For a few seconds chaos reined as the two Gen guards Ross and Janus both rushed to lift the Sime back onto his seat. Not from any sense of compassion for their prisoner, but simply because Big Daddy was screaming at the top of his considerably loud voice that the little runt was trying to escape. While he was also yelling abuse at everyone within range for allowing it to happen in the first place! Together with a graphic description of what he would do to all of them if they didn't put the Sime bastard back on his chair.
Neil began to cough dragging Jordan's attention away from Big Daddy and back to him. Immediately the Channel realised that Neil was attempting to send him a tentacle message, using a system normally employed by young teenage Simes behind their Gen teacher's back. He was also fairly sure that no one else in the room apart from perhaps Bailey or Glen, would be able to interpret it, and somehow neither of the renSimes looked all that bright.
Zlinning the room Jordan discovered that Bailey had retreated away from his boss to the relative safety of the door from where, because of the Gen's bulky frame, it was impossible for him to see Neil.
It was however many years since Jordan had even seen this particular tentacle technique used, let alone tried it himself, so he was unsure if he had read it correctly. For as far as he was able to tell, it seemed that Neil was warning him to be ready for something to happen? Be ready for what?
Even as Jordan was trying to decide exactly what the Sime had in mind. Neil suddenly slammed the container of PL2 - that he had apparently procured from Jordan, whilst lying on top of him - down onto the floor.
Immediately all shen broke loose as all the Gens including Jason who was not wearing a nose filter, began to scream with absolute terror.
Simultaneously Bailey flipped over into kill mode and attacked Jason, who was already carrying more selyn than any of the other Gens in the room. Even in his terror or maybe because of it, as Bailey grabbed hold of Jason in transfer position and touched lips, the young Gen shenned him. The Sime collapsed to the floor and Jason rushed to escape from the room.
Neil of course had been expecting the furore and nimbly intercepted Glen who immediately tried to get a tentacle to tentacle hold on him. Neil's chair fell away as the two men crashed to the floor kicking and biting as they rolled across the floor towards Jordan.
By now Big Daddy sweating with fear, had heaved himself out of the chair into which he was firmly wedged, and had managed to get to the door where he was desperately trying to make good his escape, pushing Jason roughly to one side as he did so.
The other Gen guards Ross and Janus were also fighting both Big Daddy and each other as they too attempted to get past him, terror in waves coming off all of them.
Jordan had little doubt that if he had not had the filter inside his nostrils, he would have found it very difficult indeed not to have joined in the frenzy. It was indeed a very sobering thought.
Automatically the Sectuib pulled the two snarling Simes apart and took Glen in transfer position. In seconds it was over, and the Sime was swearing and cursing about dirty Channels as he scrabbled on the floor for his disruptor. With equally quick presence of mind, Neil grabbed a glass water jug off the table and smashed it down on top of the Sime's head. Thankfully Glen sank silently to the floor and remained there
Immediately both Jordan and Neil turned to grab hold of Jason who had just managed to climb and claw his way over Big Daddy's massive frame, and was finally making good his escape.
Seeing that two Simes were attacking him, Jason began to scream even louder, and Jordan gave thanks for the insulation that protected these rooms from the main part of the Club, as they pulled him unceremoniously back into the room.
The other Gens had now made good their own escape through the rear exit at the end of the long corridor, leaving the door open behind them.
Neil managed to stop Jason from following them by wrapping his tentacles and fingers around the Gen's arms, and holding him back by sheer strength alone, while the Gen kicked again and again at his shins. Jordan too joined in the attempt to stop him from breaking loose, without actually hurting him; which was by far the most difficult part of the entire exercise.
Jason had by now screamed himself hoarse, but was still fighting like a wild thing crazy with fear. His eyes were bulging out of their sockets, and spittle was running down his chin.
'Shen if he doesn't stop this now, he's going to drop dead,' Neil gasped.
Jordan was forced to agree, and could only thank the Gods that he had not used the container in the Club! Even the thought of what could have happened if he had done so, made him feel cold.
Somehow the Sectuib managed at last to manoeuvre himself in front of the Gen and grabbing hold of Jason's shoulders he yelled at Neil to let him go. As the Sime complied with his request, Jason fell forward against Jordan who whispered, 'I'm sorry Jason.' Just as his fist connected with the point of the Gen's chin and he collapsed into Jordan's arms.
'Let's get the shen out of here!' With Jason hanging head down over his shoulder, Jordan augmented his way along the corridor with Neil like a shadow close behind him.
They quickly commandeered a comcab and bundled Jason inside. Once they were under way Jordan glanced across at Neil and said softly. 'You surprised me back there.'
'In what way?'
'I know that we were both safe from the effects of the PL2, but when all shen broke lose like that, I fully expected you to get sucked into it.' The Sectuib said honestly.
'Why?' The young Gen sounded genuinely surprised.
'Neil you're renSime, and you're junct.'
'Shen it Jordan, have you any idea how arrogant you sound? You know if this Vidal that I've heard so much about is anything at all like you, then I really do sympathise with Jason.' He shook his head before he went on.
'I may be an ordinary Sime, but that doesn't mean I'm not an individual. You know Sectuib that's the trouble with both you and all your people from Zeor. You think that if someone isn't a Channel, then they have no control at all. Let me tell you a few home truths Jordan. Just as control can vary between one Channel and another, then it's exactly the same with renSimes.' Neil bit his lip with frustration before he continued. 'And while we're about, lets look at Channels. You have first second and third class Channels don't you?'
Jordan nodded mutely. He would like to have explained that Channels really were very different one from the other. But for the moment he also wanted to hear what the young Sime had to say. After all a fresh look at the situation from a junct's point of view, was a wholly new concept.
'So what about the less fortunate people, the ordinary every day renSimes like me? Do you bother to look for differences in us? No of course you don't! You just lump us altogether as one entity. Well for your information Sectuib we aren't all the same. We never have been and we never will be. You just don't give us credit for those differences. On top of that you look for the lowest common denominator and expect all of us to fit snugly into it.
'Oh I realise that according to your reckoning I'm not important because I'm a junct, and I agree with you, I am. But living here, I don't have to kill in order to live. In fact taking transfer from a Gen actually increases my control between transfers; and on top of that I can live a normal life.'
'Neil I never meant - I was trying to compliment you on your restraint.'
'Were you? I'd never have guessed.' Neil said sarcastically, and Jordan thought it best for the time being at least, to say no more; but the Sime's outburst had given him food for thought.
Silence once again fell, and during the remainder of the short journey back to Cassandra's house, neither man said anything further. Each feeling far too traumatised after the events of the evening, to engage in further conversation.
Jason did not regain consciousness even when they arrived back in the house. Jordan put it down to exhaustion no doubt brought about by his reaction to the PL2.
In fact Jordan had time to tend Neil's ear, which thankfully was not quite as bad as it had at first appeared, before Jason made any movement at all.
It was while Neil was brewing a pot of trin that the Gen's eyes and mouth finally opened almost simultaneously, but the only sound that came out of his lips was a weird mewling sound. While his eyes rolled up into their sockets, leaving only the whites showing.
The two Simes stood beside him wondering what they could do to help as Jason began to crawl around on the floor desperately trying to hide under various pieces of furniture.
Jordan attempted to put his arms around him, which only served to make matters worse.
'Find something we can use to fasten him down.' Jordan ordered quickly. 'He's going to injure himself if we let him carry on like this.'
Neil dashed from the room and returned with some of Cassandra's expensive silk underwear. 'Here use this. It won't cut into his skin like rope might.'
The Channel nodded as he lifted Jason onto a couch and tied him in position.
Finally Jordan straightened up and sighed as he looked across at Neil. 'I was going to apologise for not using the PL2 in the Club. But having seen the results, I'm glad I didn't.'
Neil grimaced as he said almost reluctantly, 'I agree. I'm glad you didn't too. I never dreamed it would be that bad.' He shook his head. 'I read about the effects of course, but all the words in the world don't prepare you for the real thing do they?'
Jordan bent to touch Jason's cold clammy skin, then peeled back his eyelid with a tentacle frowning slightly.
'What's up? Isn't he getting any better?' Neil asked tentatively. 'It's only supposed to last about forty-five minutes. The effects should be wearing off now.'
'You're forgetting something.' Jordan replied. 'The canister contained enough PL2 to affect a hundred or more people in a large room. You discharged the canister in a room no bigger than this one, with only seven people present.'
'Shen!' The Sime walked across to the window and stood looking out blindly at the dark sky outside. 'That never even occurred to me.' He said honestly. 'Will he be all right?'
'Like you, I've only ever read about the general effects of the drug. I've no idea at all what an overdose can do.' Jordan admitted as he looked down at Jason and then across at Neil. 'Surely there must be an antidote?'
'Well if there is I've never heard of it,' the Sime said at once. 'The sort of people who use PL2 wouldn't be looking to buy an antidote, I can assure you of that.'
'I agree.' Jordan said, and then went on slowly. 'As you've probably already guessed, we've got a vessel in orbit. There's a Gen doctor on board and I must contact him.'
'Do you think he'll be able to help?' The young Sime asked hopefully.
'Perhaps, after all nowadays most ships, even freighters that are capable of inter-galactic travel, carry an extensive range of drugs. Because they really don't know what they might encounter do they? So I'm hoping that the doctor may just have something that will help.
'I'll get them to send a shuttle down to pick him up. In any event he'll stand a far better chance up there than he will down here with us.'
It was quickly decided that Neil would take Jason to the small field where the freighter's shuttle would land. Neil knew the layout of the place and could get in and out without being detected or having to register Jason's departure. Jordan had wanted to go himself, but had finally admitted the undeniable logic of the Sime's argument and had capitulated.
An hour or so later Neil, carrying Jason, met up with the freighter's shuttle. Once the Gen was stowed safely on board, he immediately hurried back to where Jordan was waiting for him.
'Any problems?' Jordan asked, and was relieved when the Sime shook his head.
'While you were gone I've been giving some thought as to how we should proceed from here.' Jordan informed him as they both turned to leave.
The Channel smiled indulgently at the good-looking young Sime. 'And in view of the fact that that grotesque lump of humanity.'
'Surely you aren't referring to Big Daddy?'
'Afraid so. Now in view of the fact that he seems determined to get hold of our Gens. I think we should arrange for them to go to Argo… er… Peridot, as quickly as possible.'
'I've been saying that all along. It's you that wanted to delay things.' Neil pointed out.
'I know. But you must agree that the situation has changed drastically. But I'd still like to have a few words with one of them before they go, just to satisfy my curiosity if nothing else.' The Channel stated.
'Any one in particular, or doesn't it matter?'
'Well yes, it does matter. If possible I'd prefer it to be Jay Lynn. There's something about that young man. I can't lay a tentacle on what it is but…' he paused thoughtfully, 'have you zlinned anything unusual about him?'
Neil shook his head. 'No, I can't say that I have. In what way do you mean exactly?'
Jordan sighed, 'I can't explain it. Perhaps when I've seen him again I'll understand it more. Can you arrange it?'
'No reason why not. It'll take me a while to get in touch with him. How about you go back to the house and I'll come back there when it's all arranged?' Neil suggested, and then went on quickly. 'I'd take you with me, but some of the places I'm going to go to - well let's say that your presence might well give rise to some awkward questions.'
The Channel gave a mock sigh. 'Are you trying to tell me that my face might be recognised?'
Neil grinned. 'You've got it! Look to be honest with you, most of the kids in the group come from Rior. On top of that many of the places I have to visit in order to get a message to Jay Lynn, are frequented by spies and informers, most working on behalf of the Organisation; and that's not counting the members of Rior who are quite happy to associate with them, and sell them bits of information. Now I don't have to tell you that someone with your face walking in amongst that lot, could give rise to a great deal of unhealthy attention.' He hesitated and then went on. 'Of course you could wear another wig and...'
'All right you've convinced me. I'll stay at home like a good boy and play with my tentacles.'
Neil laughed softly. 'You do that, and I'll be as quick as I can.' Moments later they split up.
Read Chapter 9
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