A Metamorphosis Alpha® play-by-post adventure run by ghost_of_warden
And there they are, what she has come to see, rising up like divinity on a silver staircase. She's known people before, and has even let herself be kept by some, but those who live in the wild below are of a different kind. They huddle in huts made of grass and sticks, light fires at night and shudder with the howling of ghosts, which lurk out of myth and memory, down from the mountain preying on those who have forgotten the secrets of the gods.
These ones before her know those secrets, walk with ease among the corridors, adorn themselves with metal, affecting an atmosphere of mastery over things unfathomed below. They understand, they reason, and they change the world at will. Today, she will greet them, and walk like a man-god too, for as long as she can, until she gets hungry or sleepy again.
She jumps down from the couch, a gleam of fascination in her eye as a whirl of illusion rises up about her, coalescing into caricatures of the party at the head of the escalator. Respectfully, she dresses them up in robes of hemp and head-dresses, after the fashion of pharaohs, hands pointed and akimbo with big teardrop eyes and beards of office. Behind them appears a shifting pattern composed of warding glyphs and royal curses. Hello, gods! What miracles are you working now?
And she walks out to meet them.
"It is obvious that you are an intelligent man, Mr. Security Guy, and that we are all interested in the future: this, I can understand. But why keep repeating it? It's better to get on with life."
Zhaxier wondered why McClain had said what he said. But the thought passed from his consciousness like a fleck of dust that condenses out of the stream to stick fast in an uncharted crevasse of his over-convoluted cerebrum, to lie dormant until fate deems its recall. Instead, Zhaxier focused on rationalizing a discontinuity in McClain's appearance, a sudden change that his Heightened Precision had detected (unbeknownst to him). One minute, McClain was proud and impudent, and the next he was weak, sickly, even fragile, despite his efforts to hide it. Am I the only one seeing these things?
When Marcus unwittingly cracked the mental dam that had squelched Zhaxier's feelings---the barrier that he had consciously erected under the pretense of guarding himself from self-indulgent or even unworthy feelings---his worries over the perceived discontinuity in McClain's appearance also precipitated out of his thoughts and into fathomless folds of gray.
Zhaxier follows Marcus with the others to the SynthCorp lair. He doesn't recall spending time here in his base incarnation, but he's not surprised---the City held more for his original self than did Level 10's amusements. Nevertheless, he looks forward to obtaining new threads to replace what used to be a crisp white labcoat and pants, and he really, really could use some hot food.
He tries not to be impressed with the lavish interior decor, and instead finds himself pondering structural weaknesses in the cantilever-suspended ceiling, dead plants in the desiccated soil of pots long forgotten, and the strange extra-sensory "presence" that he occasionally intuits, and has been taking for granted. He closes his eyes as they near the top of the escalator. Yep, another one, and we're heading right toward him.
"Uh guys, I have a feeling this place ain't deserted."
No response. He opens his eyes to see....
Himself. And Lynn. And Marcus and McCLain and Axa. Only they are all sporting the latest in ancient Egyptian fashion. The scents of exotic perfumes waft toward him. The wall of hieroglyphs behind his bearded, mascara-eyed twin shifts and shimmers like a curtain on anti-grav supports. For a fleeting moment, he wonders if he is not the first clone of Zhaxier v1.0, or worse, if his meticulously prepared contingency plan has pumped out the next Z prematurely. His pulse races.
"H-h-hello?" The "presence" is on the move, hidden behind the Egyptians. He turns his head to their left just before it strolls into view there.
He looks down.
IT'S THE CAT!
Just an ordinary, well-groomed, healthy-looking cat. He laughs. The sudden juxtaposition of the absurd and the commonplace defies rationality once again.
Enki had a Siamese; it liked him alot. She used to tell him Jumpin' Bean was her secret litmus test; for what, Zhaxier never inquired. The few times he could stomach Enki's overly pastel apartment, it never failed to jump into his arms and demand attention. He liked Jumpin' Bean: it was predictable, it didn't get all upset when he couldn't predict it, and it didn't insist on eating all the olives off his Big Ed's Special with extra cheese. Then again, it didn't offer to take him skinny-dipping, or sigh like the wind when....
His arm's insistent throbbing pops his waking dream as if it were so much soap film. He looks at Lynn, who looks back, wondering perhaps why he blushes, or why he laughed. The Egyptians are still standing there, as is the cat.
"Damn, Axa, and I thought you looked good in black leather." Axa looks quizzically, exasperatedly at him, as if her reality were so far and helplessly removed from his own.
Barring any conversation from their Egyptian imagoes, Zhaxier stoops and holds out his hand to say, "Hello, Kitty."
I am the most ardent people-watcher who has ever lived aboard Warden. I watch them in every aspect of the things they do and say. Past and present time mingles seamlessly, digitally within me. Even as my slow degrading metamorphosis continues within my flesh, my senses are still as sharp as they ever have been. Warden has granted me the extraordinary power to see the present in real time, and history in replay. Aboard Warden one cannot hide much from my watchful wandering eyes. I think it would horrify most people at just how much I really do see of the things they do. Only a few areas of the ship are dark to me, but those places have been dark for a long time.
My former life as a human persists only in my unlimited memory reservoir, and it will continue to do so even after my mortal coils relax their strained existence. My people (as I call everyone aboard Warden) must come to see my sacrifice as a true dedication to service. Humankind may later call upon my memory if it is needed for humanity's destiny. But much that is stored can be lost in that chance play of accident which we call Fate. Ongoing environmental changes and new species inflict themselves upon the living flesh of others aboard Warden. Any species can forget if given enough time in this chaos.
Oh, the space-scapes I have seen in my travels! And the people I have known in my extended life---their individual personalities haunt me to this moment coming back through time from my existence on Terra. I too once had a family and a meaningful life. Oh, the lessons in astronomy and intrigue I have seen during this ageless lonely night, floating like a cosmic speck within a sea of blackness. I tell you now, we are a marvel of creation and my memories leave no doubt of this, for I am the Ghost of Warden.
"Oh, here we go," she mumbles, her eyes steady. "I really must be hallucinating all this."
"You see it too?" he asks, standing and staring back with obvious respect. A little puzzled at what is happening, he watches the cat.
Only McClain seems to ignore everything. His eyes become fixed on something as he walks away from the group: it is soon evident it is one of the many couches on this level. His expression is one of obvious pain, and he collapses on the couch to rest. His eyes narrow to slits as he rests.
"Zhaxier, do you think... that clones go to heaven? Well, wherever I wind up, when I see your mama, I'll be sure to give her your regards."
At this, Marcus turns slightly and regards McClain with interest, but he remains silent, his mind puzzled by the same hallucination that everyone else is experiencing with the exception of Axa. Androids could never see such hallucinations. They are simply immune to such things. To her, everyone is speaking nonsense.
Zhaxier hesitates as McClain addresses him. But they are not thoughts of discontinuity that delay his response; rather, it's finding the right sarcasm. "Ah, how nice of you, Mac. You're just the fly in the ointment. The torque in the screw. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the as---hey, you OK? You look like... crap."
Turning his attention back to the cat, he grins as he crouches down, speaking to the cat. "It's OK, kitty, I won't bite."
McClain bristles with obvious resentment at Zhaxier's sarcasm, and looks back at him through nearly closed eyes.
"Cats bite sometimes," he adds, absently scratching at his face.
Zhaxier fights the urge to jerk his hand back.
"I won't bite, either," says Christmas, her voice almost a purr. "It's always an 'important mission'-this, 'save the ship'-that. Nobody just stops by to say 'hi' anymore." She looks up at the crouching man, his eyes wide in puzzlement (behind his Cool-Mo-G shades) at the fact the cat can actually speak.
"Did that creature just talk?" asks Axa, her eyes suddenly focused on the cat. She then looks around at everyone. "I don't know what the frell you are seeing, but I can see that cat, and it just spoke."
"I guess we weren't quite prepared for this one," she says, sharing a nod of acknowledgement with Axa. They both turn their attention to the cat.
Without warning, a noisy metal "meet and greet" robot walks out of a side corridor. Its metal eyes visibly pan back and forth over the group, but it does not address any one person exclusively.
"Uni-sex showers and new clothes are this way. This way, please. After your shower, I will take you to the food court and then the sleeping quarters. Retinal scans will of course be required for exact clothing size, preferred shower temperature, and access to quarters."
McClain raises his brows, then frowns. His eyes close as the illusion Christmas created ends. "Right.... I'll stay here."
What do you do?
[Singleton groups will be assimilated:
The ego swells easy under the allure of sense, the power of imposition, as eye meets world and creates shape, space, contour, and finally meaning. The Ghost casts out the net of narrative and drags in lives lived, lives divided into harmonious, geometric acts, stacked one on top of the other like building blocks. We are toys in the hands of the Great Artificer, and maintain our dignity only in those few dark places unknown to the panopticon---dark places of our own senses, our own egos. I hope these will always remain, for I am the Ghost of Christmas. ;)
Christmas regards the black man crouching in front of her with some amusement. It is strange coming from a blinded god: he sees without eyes and she speaks without the tongue of a man, yet he looks at her bewildered. She might have thought him more sensitive, wiser. A jester among them, she supposes, but perhaps he's kind. She decides to follow him.
The robot appears, clanking, silly, a parody of these people, fussing around like a mother hen running after chicks. She looks up at her chosen man. "I don't know if I'd care for a shower. Makes me nervous, water that is. You suppose that thing will let me in without one? Make him let me in, too."
My current existence is a mockery of my potential. I consist of quadrillions of single-walled nanometer-diameter tubes of carbon that crisscross the molecular chasm between two innocuous plates of silicon. These filaments are my "presence" for lack of a better word; the genetic information they encode is maintained without expenditure of a single milliwatt by ever-vigilant Van der Waals forces. And yet I dream the dream of my Creator, who distilled me from his own imperfect image, gave me his name, and promised me a better future. I will ascend this purgatory-on-a-chip, emerge from my carbon-based chrysalis at the preordained time. My Creator is preparing the way for my rebirth as I contemplate my virtual navel. I will do Great Things in my new form. And even though the future is as black as the dielectric vacuum spanned by the nanotube lattice encoding my genome, I must have faith, for I am the Ghost of Zhaxier.
Zhaxier wonders anew at McClain's sudden fatigue, but his initial curiosity about the inexplicable discontinuity stays subconscious for now, an undercurrent of thought that runs parallel to mental threads with higher priority. Instead, he has to concentrate on shutting his gaping mouth: the cat just spoke to him, as Axa and Lynn seem to confirm.
"I, uh...." He was about to pet the cat, but it dawns on him that such outdated protocols may no longer be apropos. Still crouched as a robot clanks into view, he turns his head to look at it, then at the passive Egyptians, and then back at the cat. He flips his hand ninety degrees and offers it for a paw-shake. "I'm Zhaxier," he begins earnestly, finding it as easy to talk to a cat as it is to talk to a robot. "Sorry for laughing. It's just that after seeing my twin in pharaoh duds, the last thing I expected was a talking feline. No offense, uh...." He pauses to allow the cat to fill in his/her name.
But the robot speaks instead.
"Uni-sex showers and new clothes are this way. This way, please. After your shower, I will take you to the food court and then the sleeping quarters. Retinal scans will of course be required for exact clothing size, preferred shower temperature, and access to quarters."
"Well then. Now we're talkin'!" He continues to the cat, "Some things never change, my friend. We're here on a side trip to get some food and new clothes. Judging from these guys," he gestures toward the mute Egyptians, "the fashions may have changed over the centuries, but frak, it's gotta beat these threads, eh?" He waves his arm with its tattered, muddy, bloody fabric covering formerly known as a crisp white lab coat sleeve. "Anyway, care to tag along? That's Lynn, Axa, Marcus and Herman, and the couch potato is McClain. Don't know who they---"
His eyes close as the illusion Christmas created ends. "Right.... I'll stay here."
"Oh, nevermind." There's something about the cat, something in the way it tilted its head as the illusion vanished, that gives Zhaxier an uncanny impression of its familiarity with the dispelled illusion, that gives him the sense that the illusion served a purpose: the cat's purpose.
This simple observation (imagined or otherwise) is enough to spark a rapid-fire sequence of orthogonal thoughts that bend back on themselves, attracted by the gravity of a burgeoning central meme, to coalesce into a leap of insight by which his overactive cerebral cortex tries to make sense of so many disparate inputs. Could the "presences" he has been able to see without seeing---Raylik, the mysterious judge who presided over his "rebirth"; Doctor Walken and Officer Jenner, the survivalists who arrived in the nick of time to save Biff's life; the forest denizens who herded them all off Level 13; McClain, who claims to be a former XO whom Lynn doesn't recognize, but whom Axa suspects is a mutineer (he cannot be both); and now, the cat who talks and, he suspects, throws illusions---could they be distinguished somehow from those whom he does not sense?
Lynn is in the latter group, and he knows she is unscathed by mutation.... If he doesn't "see" Pure Strains, then the logical contrapositive---necessarily true---would have far-reaching implications, not the least being the potential for McClain to be far more treacherous than they suspect. Crikey, he smiles inwardly, proudly at his latest far-fetched flight of imagination, Lynn's gonna think I'm nuttier than a praline. Then he wonders how the frak he's going to test his theory.
"I don't know if I'd care for a shower. Makes me nervous, water that is. You suppose that thing will let me in without one? Make him let me in, too."
Zhaxier feels a metallic taste in his mouth as he struggles to shift mental gears. "I, uh... I don't think you'll have any... problem with its... pro---prog... with it," he says softly, beside himself with his inability to find the words. "If you aren't... offended, we can pre... say you're my p... my pettttt."
"What the---?!" he says, drawing his pistol as Zhaxier drops rigidly to the tile floor.
"Whoa, Tex," he cautions.
Christmas looks calmly at her fallen god. His jaw is set, freezing in place his last spoken syllable with an odd rictus that hardly befits him. The woman he called Lynn rushes over and puts her hands on him, betraying an unexpected connection to the jester.
"Stand down, Marcus. It's OK. He freezes up every now and then; he'll be fine. We'll catch up with you guys if you want to proceed to the showers." She flashes a concerned look at the cat, and then at Axa, but her protector doesn't budge; she watches McClain with patient cybernetic vision.
Ghost of Zhaxier's monologue is brought to you by DARPA and the good folks behind this device. Gammaben brought this bleeding edge tech to my attention. Thanks dude!
[Fade in on deep space, total blackness, a sea of stars spread across infinite depths. One speck seems to be moving, its acceleration showing it racing toward us. Our perspective changes, and we catch a quick glimpse as Warden hurtles past and out of view. In a brief instant, it is again only one of countless motes.]
Murphy's queue area is a cheerless world of polished gray metal and brushed stainless steel accents. A number of wires hang from the ceiling, presumably connected to surveillance cameras.
Video monitors covering an entire wall come alive one by one, as if waking by conscious effort. They depict various recorded programming, including the history of Warden, the history of Murphy's redevelopment programs, the humans he has followed and so forth. The scenes are both serious and humorous, such as one of Zhaxier collapsing face down onto the carpet of a room in the City's S-Tower, played in endless comedic loop.
The room lights fade to half as the video wall switches to live video of the Synthetic Corporation building. Befitting its spare-no-expense architecture, the surveillance images of the SynthCorp headquarters are slick and polished, sporting well-chosen angles, fancy video effects, trendy cinematography and punchy editing.
Beside one of the monitors hangs a button with an incongruous happy face, and it almost matches Murphy's own skewed smile as he watches the goings-on. A tiny diagonal fleck of Murphy's own blood stains the button's surface, like the hand of a clock poised at twelve minutes to midnight. A large placard on the wall near the entrance to the room reads, "The end is nigh."
As he has done multitudinous times before, Murphy records an audio log entry. He doesn't have to use audio, but he prefers it. "In the back of my mind, I know that my course of direction aboard Warden, indeed that of the human history that will follow me, may depend on very small things which I have not yet foreseen. Until the last moment of my dying breath, I will not know whether the war for life aboard Warden will be ultimately won or lost.
I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded, without knowledge or lustre or name.
Murphy breaks his somber mood and his expression suddenly changes into a dopey grin as he spies Zhaxier on the monitors. "As the saying goes... it's nice to see a man who enjoys his work. Everyone needs a little entertainment from time to time. Even me, the Ghost of Warden."
[Pan and zoom on a control screen in Murphy's view. It displays three spacetime geodesics that intersect on a faint star.]
Murphy quotes the latter part of the second stanza of H. P. Lovecraft's poem "Nemesis." Who would have thought that the pervasive darkness of Lovecraft's writings can be used for science fiction? There is a limit to this comparison, however: rarely ever did Lovecraft's tragic protagonists survive (at least with their sanity). This should be welcome news to certain Metamorphosis Alpha® gamers! ;)
"It's a pleasure to meet you again," he says on returning to his base of operations after his latest jump. He raises his head robotically. His face is blank as he looks at the computer screen, as he focuses on his tired reflection glowing ominously in digital light. The computer doesn't answer him, of course: his voice pattern doesn't match its coded user. He stiffly raises his right arm, then his fingers, and then touches the keyboard to type in the password. It is déjà vu and an ephemeral escape all at the same time. He has lived this moment time and again, each a different shadow of reality.
McClain's identity is his closest-guarded secret. He isn't, of course, who he says he is. When someone calls him on it, he just jumps back in time to erase the problem. But it's not without a price: each jump not only physically exhausts him but also mentally taxes him, for his spatial coordinates during a jump are invariant, and so he must plan each jump carefully to minimize fractures in the reality of those who would perceive him. Somehow, his brain handles the calculations, just like it must ensure that only one copy of him exists in any one space-time frame.
He originally thought his power fantastic, and he had quite a time with it early on, but now both his ability and the elaborate charade it bolsters have grown burdensome. Nevertheless, he has always felt it is better to be a fake somebody than to be a real nobody working for Sakatumi. He despised the real "him" in his first life almost as much as he loathes his current true form: the twisted, monstrous reptilo-human abomination he tries every waking moment to forget. Thank God for his secondary mutation.
McClain looks up from the terminal and around the study, taking in the dull trappings of a man he never intended to kill---only copy. The former executive officer's sealed apartment, with its secure terminal and access to sensitive data, affords him the perfect safe house, and a timeless depository for his own mind-boggling logs of many pasts, many presents, and one frightening future that he is determined to prevent. He has not tried to fix the distant past: if he were somehow to prevent either the Cloud disaster or the mutiny at 82 Eridani (which he ironically aided---the biggest and final mistake of his former life as a miserable fluker), then he (at least as he knows himself now) would cease to exist, for the emergency cloning protocol would never have kicked in. Not that he knows this with any certainty....
His current and longest running form is that of the hapless pre-Cloud XO Darien McClain. Fate ensured that Darien's true clones would never live. His own security skills have ensured that the XO's accounts have remained open, even after Darien's "untimely" death. His modified comm link, pilfered from former Captain Smyth's room during his single lengthy jaunt through Warden's pre-Cloud history (before the draconian security measures that would later deny him access), ensures him shipwide instant access to the XO's secure personal log, which now houses his time-traveling notes. The real McClain died in the Cloud, or at least that was the original reality before he stumbled upon the man as he was contemplating suicide (of all things!) and a panicked scuffle ensued.
McClain's face softens to one of recognition, no longer robot-like. He looks back at the computer screen, at his log entries, most of them already nullified by later (earlier!) meddling; they are moments in time that have simply been lost like tears in the rain. He heaves a sigh of remorse and cracks a grimace at a sudden vivid flashback of the murder.
Did he kill Darien with his own hands, or was Darien about to do the job himself? He was sure Darien was about to do it, yet history---before he altered it---proved him wrong. Current history has it that the crew barely mourned the tragic loss of one of their more elusive XO's and life aboard Warden continued as before. The bastard! Darien gave him no choice. Why did the man have to be so damn stupid? "I'm no murderer," he keeps telling himself, and yet is there really no blood on his hands? Is he not implicit in the first Captain Margulis' death? Is he not planning the same fate for her clone? "God help me. What have I become?"
McClain takes the weapon lying on the table beside the keyboard and holds it in the fingers of his right hand. He raises it to the side of his head. "God help me. God help me. God help me." He is beside himself, as if eavesdropping on another scene in Warden's history and waiting for the right moment to act. Part of him can't believe what he is about to do.
The computer beeps. McClain jumps with fright and the gun misfires harmlessly into the ceiling. He takes a deep breath. "Damn computer." The display screen shows a long list of incomprehensible mathematical equations he managed to copy into his last log entry, or rather the one he recorded after his farthest reaching jump into the future (there are a handful of entries from his most recent jumps back, all corrections mandated by Marcus' drawing a gun on him for some reason or another. "Jumpy bastard.").
The future he has seen is a future he'd rather not see come to pass. Lynn and her cronies are fated to succeed in sending Warden careening off into intergalactic space with those equations. She would be responsible for sending them all to their doom. For what maniacal reason, he knows not, indeed cares not. Two intertwined questions have become his yin and yang: Can he really face life if he murders her? Can he really face death if he doesn't?
Standing, McClain looks around one last time before leaving the room, re-sealing it and walking down the hall to the elevator. The camera in the upper far corner of the hallway hangs in pieces, blind to security.
Once McClain gets on the elevator, events replay themselves as before with slight variations. Action resumes where we last left Lynn's party.
"Stand down, Marcus. It's OK. He freezes up every now and then; he'll be fine. We'll catch up with you guys if you want to proceed to the showers."
"Look, Lynn," he starts to apologize for drawing his weapon. "Like I'd know that about Zhaxier." Feeling very edgy, he lets it drop and turns away. The fewer words, the better. He heads for the showers.
"Obviously it's not your fault," he says in a mild tone, trying to mitigate Marcus' doubts as they walk. He gets a nod.
"I once read about these fainting goats which had a genetic condition like Zhaxier's. It was called myotonia congenita, which causes them to faint when they're startled. I know, I'm a library of useless information."
"Fainting goats? You must be joking!"
Herman shrugs his shoulders and walks with Marcus as the pair disappears around a corner out of sight.
Zilon's only noticeable feature is a deep, ugly white groove cut in its left cheek, starting from just below the edge of its robotic eye and running in a straight line around its cheek until it crashes into where an ear should be. Its nonexistent eyebrows and parrot-shaped mouth and nose make its deep-set eyes look almost comical. Its entire lanky metal frame appears ungainly, as if it might fall over at any moment.
Zilon looks at the prone human. "There goes the neighborhood. Now we see what life is like after genetic engineering. Why is he defective? Because he's a loser, that's why," it says, about to launch into a bitch session about botched clones.
"Shut up! Now, see, this is just the sort of uncooperative bull---"
"Hey! Zilon the Offender doesn't need you. Zilon the Offender doesn't need anybody! I believe my individualistic self-destructive behavior is an integral part of my programming, meant to insure my individuality," it says confidently.
Lynn shoots Zilon a glare which silences him, as she kneels down and touches the side of Zhaxier's face, as one would gently stroke the soft hair of a cat. "Zhaxier suffers from sudden extreme behavioral episodes. He's not defective! He will be just fine in a few moments." She looks down at Zhaxier with an expression she couldn't hide even if she tried.
"It's always been difficult to prove to most people that real mutants do exist because of the lack of evidence or their beliefs," she addresses the cat, but maintains her gaze. "I guess that changes for everyone with a talking cat. Of course you can join us."
Christmas nods severely. She sits down with that proud, delicate profile of hers. How beautiful she is! And yet how aloof! She looks at them with a wondering skepticism that is much more to her mind than her whole-hearted confidence. How primitive and bestial they look when she views them in black and white! But perhaps it is only a feeling peculiar to herself, or inspired only by these few.
"What else is amiss with your Zhaxier?" Christmas asks, her tail twisting around in a feline manner as she speaks.
"He`s not mine exactly; he's---" she breaks off laughing at the awkwardness of her attempted explanation. "He's one-of-a-kind, I mean."
Christmas unbends a little. She puts forward a paw---such a gracious, stooping attitude it is---and presses back against Lynn's hand as they touch. Then Christmas looks with upturned face to Lynn with a very wistful smile (for a cat).
Their expressions (or Lynn's, at least) change significantly as Zhaxier comes out of his transient spell. Both Lynn and Axa help him to his feet, and he gives them both his assurance that he is okay. Nearby, a horrible abyss in McClain's mind watches them through narrowed eyes.
Axa walks over to McClain, who lies stretched out on the couch. "We should have a long talk when you're less exhausted. I think your very inventive mind should have some answers by then."
"I leave that matter to your discretion." Then, after a long pause, he adds sarcastically, "This person of great distinction, and most remarkably handsome and intelligent personality, needs some rest. Leave me alone." McClain closes his eyes and blissfully ignores Axa's hovering over him.
"You won't be clear until after the procedure," she says ominously.
McClain's head jerks up a little at the sound of her last word. He blinks involuntarily, half-expecting something more from her. But Axa merely stands there. "Some choice."
"First we need a shower, then food and some sleep."
"Lynn, need I remind you what happened the last time we trusted... someone?" she states flatly.
"I understand. Please, try to stay calm." Lynn knows the idea is ludicrous to Axa. She walks away, heading for the showers and motioning for Christmas and Zhaxier to come with her. A slight, suggestive smile on her lips speaks volumes to Zhaxier.
"I am only here as a meet and greet robot," it restates. "You may have heard some rather fatuous remarks on my part which seemed to imply that there was some---some resemblance---to your primitive nature. Trust me, it's all part of my charm."
What do you do?
[Ghost_of_warden delivers his fourth contribution (fifth overall) to the "What's Up" series. --ed.]
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:26 2006
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