Galena reacted to the unexpected question. "Well, of course I am. What a question to ask." Her mouth opened in shock as she realized that she had just been revealed. An ironic and appreciative smile appeared on her face. “Very clever, Cally.” There was no sweet empty-headedness now, only sharp, cold intelligence.
“I thought so. You’re Auron,” said Cally.
“How did you know?” asked Galena.
“I didn’t, until now. I can’t identify how you did it. How you shielded yourself so well that I couldn’t sense you; but it was too good. Only someone who was Auron or had detailed knowledge of how our psi abilities worked, would be able to put up a block that complete.”
“Ah. The perfection was too perfect. I should have known better but I wasn't expecting a fellow Auron,” remarked Galena wryly.
“What are you up to? Why are you causing these problems on the ship? We're the ones who rescued you,” said Cally.
“I’m only trying to survive. Like you are,” said Galena. “There aren’t many of us left, as you well know. I’m trying to carry on the best way that I can in a universe that didn’t care that our whole planet was wiped out. We have no advantages except what we make for ourselves.”
“You never cared about Auron or our people,” accused Cally. “You've always only been concerned about yourself. Otherwise you wouldn’t have tried to take our technology and our psi abilities and try to use it for profit.”
“So you know who I am?” There was a sly, calculating look in Galena's eyes. She was still the same beautiful woman, but she had taken on a dangerous edge.
“Not precisely. But it had to be one of you,” said Cally. “Where’s your partner?”
“Oh, we parted company years ago. A difference of opinion.”
“Which one of you was responsible for the mind interceptor?” asked Cally with narrowed eyes.
“That was Lorne. I told her it was a bad idea. Those people were idealistic and treacherous; a hazardous combination, it was bound to go wrong. At least she was smart enough to get them to pay up front.”
“Then you’re Vanora."
"Yes and that means we're sisters," she said with a warm smile.
Cally did not feel the same warmth. This woman was from the same sibling group as she was, but from different aging clusters. That was why they had never met before. Vanora was ten years older than Cally.
"What did you do to your face?" asked Cally. Being from the same sibling group they should have looked similar. Galena only slightly resembled her.
"Something very expensive. Facial reconstruction on the cellular level can do wonders for a person’s confidence,” said Galena/Vanora.
“You still haven`t answered my question. Why have you been targeting the men on this ship? What is your motivation,” asked Cally.
“I told you, I’m only trying to survive. And have a little fun.”
“You call causing fights on the ship, as having fun?”
“Of course, it’s fun, Cally. The silly men falling all over themselves; it’s highly amusing. You should actually be thanking me. You and Reya.”
“Why would we be thanking you?” asked Cally suspiciously.
“I’ve shown that your men love you very much. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to resist my charms and focused themselves on you. I wasn't expecting that.”
“We didn’t need you to prove it to us. We already knew,” said Cally.
“But isn’t it better to have proof?” asked Galena engagingly.
“Love is about trust, not proof,” said Cally.
“You were always a romantic, sister,” said Galena with a disapproving shake of her head. “Well, now you have both. You know…if Franton were here, he would be putting all of us through the geno-scanners. To find out why so many of our sibling group ended up turning against our own people.”
“I didn’t turn against our people,” said Cally. “I just didn’t agree with their neutrality and isolation policy. I knew it would hurt us in the long run.”
“And you were right. It left Auron helpless and we all became easy targets.”
“I wish I had been wrong,” said Cally sadly.
“At least we’re still alive and both of us can take care of ourselves,” said Galena. “Are you going to tell the others about me?”
“I have to. I will not keep this a secret from them. But if you tell us the truth, I will help you,” said Cally.
“Somehow I knew you were going to say that.” Galena/Vanora rolled her eyes.
At that moment, the door slid open and Reya came back into the cabin.
“It’s time for some truth,” said Reya.
As Argus approached the medical bay, he wondered if Sester was really there or if he had managed to get around the security measures Avon had devised to prevent him from removing the tracer bracelet. He didn’t know how technically proficient Sester was. Finding the psychostrategist incapacitated on the ground because he had run foul of one of Avon’s security measures would not be something that Argus would mind.
He entered the open door and didn’t see Sester. There was a snarl on his face as Argus immediately hit the comm button, “Zen…”
“You were looking for me?” The psychostrategist stepped out from behind one of the medical supply cabinets.
Argus stopped. “You’re here…”
“Yes. It appears that way,” said Sester with a bemused look on his face.
Argus said with displeasure, “You’re still here.”
“You say that as if it has some significance,” said Sester, still with amusement. “Did you expect me to be somewhere else?” The amusement turned into a smile, “Or were you hoping not to find me here?”
Argus snarled at him and said, “There’s a situation on the ship. The men on this ship appear to be affected by something that makes them obsessed with Galena. Fights have been breaking out all over the ship.”
“And you came to check up on me? I’m touched,” said Sester with just a hint of sarcasm.
Argus glared at Sester, everything the man said and did aggravated him. He was certain that it was deliberate though Sester was much too clever to ever be overt about it. Argus remembered he had promised Reya that he wouldn’t hurt Sester unless the man presented an active threat; although he doubted if his definition of what constituted an active threat from Sester was the same as hers.
Argus expelled a sharp breath of frustration and said, “I’m very tempted to lock you back up in your cabin.”
“Until this crisis is over? Or until you decide to let me out again?” asked Sester.
“Keep provoking me and you’ll find out,” said Argus with a scowl.
Sester smiled and said pleasantly, “I don’t think I’ll do that.”
“You think you’re clever, don’t you?” said Argus.
“I don’t think I am,” said Sester, enjoying this game. He asked, “You said that all of the men are affected by what is going on? Does that include you?”
Just being in the same room with Sester, grated on Argus’s nerves. He replied, “Both Avon and I are able to redirect whatever is happening onto someone else.”
“Ah.” Sester could guess who. He also realized why Argus was there and why he seemed even more out-of-sorts than normal around him. “You want to know if I’ve redirected mine as well.”
“I know you have,” stressed Argus.
Sester's lips parted in a wry smile. Games of words were no longer enough. He wanted something more; he needed it.
"I can hardly deny that since you’ve caught me doing inventory. For Reya,” he said sardonically. Sester's words were surprising even himself. He was being deliberately aggressive, something he had never intended; he had planned a much more devious approach, something Argus would not have been able to fight. But for some reason, Sester had a need to assert his challenge.