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Aberrant: Ba'alt - Re: Zephraine and Allison

Renata Hodges

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Location: Zephraine and Allison's apartment in Team HQ.

Time: +/- 6 mos after the breaking of the Siege

Data panned down the holographic screen suspended over Zephraine's desk, and though his eyes tracked it and his brain dutifully recorded it, his mind was elsewhere. Chronos had started spreading his wings, playing the game of kings like he had on back on Earth...but he was old school. Zeph saw that now. This 'Jack in the Green' character had acquired near total rulership of this world in a fraction of the time...though admittedly, his influence was limited to that granted by his pet networks and machines.

In a society as tech-dependent as Paril...that was a LOT though.

Chronos' misstep was in assuming that the rich people were in charge. Oh...in a sense they were, sure. But only in the sense that the machines obeyed them. Jack had gone for the real power; the machines themselves. Zephraine rubbed his chin and silently thanked any number of gods that the two super-intellects were on the same side. Making sure they stayed that way was one of his top priorities.

Then there was Eve, the Orbs, the Ban, and Ba-laan. Supposedly their main mission, but shelved for now. They had the advantage again...though much more tenuously. Ba'laan was still unaware of them, still unaware that they possessed the Orbs. But they were in His time now, and His space...and they would have to tread cautiously. The gleeful Ban-breaking days of pre-galactic Earth and the splinter universe were gone. They were small fish in a very big bowl. And one of the other fish in that bowl was a shark.

And finally...Allison. Not exactly a -problem- per se. He was still looking for a mental framework to describe the place she'd taken in his life. Friend? Best Friend? Lover? Wife? There'd been no exchange of vows, no dates, none of the awkward first steps people use to assess each other. He and she had worked together for years. Once the feeling had been acknowledged, there hadn't been any need for outward ceremony. But, Zeph reflected, sometimes ceremonies were nice just to keep things straight. She didn't seem to care at all. In fact, the rapidity with which she'd moved in and gone domestic was a bit of a concern to him. It was too 50's. She cooked, cleaned, lent a sympathetic ear...but he never heard her talk about the things he knew she liked. She never used her abilities...even 'accidental' visions. He suspected she was hiding in the relationship, diving into it as a chance to be normal again. But why? She hadn't expressed insecurity about her powers or her role since before she joined Pax Con. Why now?

The data winked out. A moment later the screen followed suit. Zephraine sighed and ran a hand through his short, curly hair. He needed a vacation. And he and she needed a...a honeymoon? Something like that.

There was a quiet hiss from the study door opening and Zeph had a moment to appreciate how the hairs on the back of his neck -didn't- stiffen, and how a dozen different methods of escape -didn't- suddenly present themselves at the front of his mind. He felt safe here. With her.

"Having fun alone in the dark?" Allison asked with some amusement.

He looked over at her. T shirt, jeans...casual. "Not really," he answered, then grinned. "Feel like having some?" The grin evaporated when the phone light started blinking. He reached over to put it through to voice mail, but Allison's voice stopped him.

"Don't. Take the call."


"Just take it."

Zephraine sighed and picked up. "This is Zeph."

He froze where he was, and nodded. "Yes. No, I assure you, it wasn't by any means.. Well of course. True." Zeph cut his eyes towards Allison, who was smiling her irritating 'I know more than you do' smile. "I'd be more than happy to. Would it be appropriate if I bring someone else? My..." another glance at Allison, "Wife."

Allison silently laughed.

"Right. We'll leave first thing in the morning. Thank you very much. We look forward to it. Good bye." Zephraine hung up and gave Allison an accusing look. "We're packed?"

She nodded, still beaming.

"You had a vision."

Another nod.

"And didn't tell me?"

Allison rolled her eyes playfully and sat on the desk with her legs hanging off the back. "What, and spoil the surprise? If you knew you were getting called away, you'd have obsessed over it and stressed over preparations and all that..."

"...as opposed to not having any time to make preparations?" he asked dryly. Despite everything, he felt a sense of relief. House Carlisle wanted to thank them, officially. Perhaps there would be talk of official relations...subtle, of course. Zeph couldn't risk exposure, and Carlisle wouldn't want anything publicly known to come of their relation either. But it was a beautiful planet; and...

"...you know perfectly well that the others have everything on this world under control. And we can be back here in a day or two if they absolutely can't cope. But with Chronos and Jack here, it's hard to imagine something we could deal with that they couldn't," Allison pointed out. "Besides, you've earned some rest."

Zephraine grinned again as he rose up from behind the desk. "Well, with the packing done, I can only think of one other way to spend the night...and it's not resting." He lunged for Allison's slim form, and she emitted a delighted squeal and darted away down the hall towards the bedroom. He followed just a step behind. Oh, he was faster than she was, but sometimes it was more fun to let her win.

The next morning, the two boarded the group's starship and made for the palace world of House Carlisle.

(Stay tuned for part 2!)

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  • 2 months later...

Location: Regina, House Carlisle's Capitol Palace

Time: +/- 7 mos after the breaking of the Siege

The royal palace of House Carlisle is made from logs.

The thought still brought a chuckle from Allison. It wasn't TRUE, of course. The logs were a facade...a shell of wood over a nanoengineered metal-ceramic composite designed to withstand orbital nuclear bombardment. But that initial jawdropping moment she'd had from the hoversled as the trees had parted to reveal what looked a little like the Taj Mahal made out of Lincoln Logs was still a little funny to recall.

Regina was something like a paradise. An example of how human beings (or rather, humanoid sentients) could use technology to strengthen and blend with the environment rather than dominate, control, and ultimately spoil it. The tools used by Carlisle were no more impressive than those available to the people on Paril. What was different was the philosophy underlying the use of those tools. The difference was breathtaking. Regina built underground, for the most part. Below root levels, shoring up the natural aquifers they found and building around or under them. As a result, Regina cities tended to be a bit labyrinthine...it was expensive and time consuming to build, so most people lived in communal dwellings, a little like apartments. However, they lived anything but a mole-like existance. Wireless technology allowed them to work from almost anywhere, meaning that at any given moment, most of the population was out and about. Rivers and lakes were popular. Other sites of great aesthetic value were as well. Zephraine had called Regina a "camping culture," due to the fact that so many of its people spent so much time away from home, out in a wilderness that hadn't been tamed so much as befriended. For some people, their underground home was little more than a storage locker for possessions too bulky to take with them. Virtual presence and high tech transportation meant that two people could be on opposite sides of the planet and still meet for lunch if they needed to.

Until this fishing trip though, neither she nor Zeph had had much time for exploring. Despite all the courtesies extended...and they were many...House Carlisle was keen on answers, and not all their questions were safe to answer in their entirety. The House Rathien transponders that Zephraine had used to identify their presence in this corner of the galaxy had staved off immediate action; but Lord Oscar Tranes then wished to know more about what Rathien wanted here, and on Paril in particular. At which point Zephraine had explained a bit more, including that their ties with Rathien were tenuous at best, and they operated mostly independently.

And then it was back to square one. Who are you, and what are you doing here?

They'd spent hours in that command center that doubled as a throne room. Lord Oscar, his two advisors Lucia and Dagan, and Allison and Zephraine. Fortunately, Dagan seemed to take a shine to Zeph, and helped smooth things over a bit. This 'vacation,' this fishing trip, had been his idea too. Build trust in informal surroundings. Let business wait a few days while we get to know each other. It was a good idea too, Allison couldn't refute that. It was just hard because more and more she was sure that she needed to be doing something different, and thus not be around Zephraine. There really wasn't much she could add to his negotiating and social skills. This was his element. Where he shined.

She had another path, and it was sitting on the bed now, glowing that soft azure shade. The Orb. Allison had meditated on it, with it, through it...she'd probed it with every sense in her skull. Its complexity and beauty were astonishing, but its secrets remained just that.

With a sigh, she sat on the bed and undid the tail her hair was bound in, letting it fall over her shoulders and back. Maybe some time communing with the planet would help...some time away from her questions and problems. To get a new perspective. Allison closed her eyes and reached out to the 'lifeweb' on Regina...

And that's when she realized she wasn't alone.

(more to come later today!)

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