4th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to The Definition of Peace
|Previous Chapter||Chapter Three||Next Chapter|
"Reya. I wasn't expecting you," said Cally in surprise when she saw who was standing outside her cabin.
"I'm sorry, is this a bad time?" asked Reya.
"No, it's alright. Come in." Cally stepped aside to let her in.
"I need your advice," said Reya. She seemed anxious about something.
"Does this have to do with Argus?"
Reya smiled wryly, "Am I that transparent?"
"A lucky guess," Cally said teasingly. "Not to mention, he's the only one who could make you this nervous."
"We've been having a rough time of it lately. Because of me," said Reya.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"Not at this moment. I know it's late. I don't want to take up too much of your time."
"Then why did you come?"
"I want to do something for Argus when we get to Pleasure City. But I need your advice. I'm not sure how to go about it."
The door buzzer sounded again. Cally looked towards the door. This time it had to be Avon. He would most likely feel uncomfortable knowing that Reya was there. He had not reacted well to Vila's teasing about the sleeping arrangements earlier in the day. The last thing he would want was an additional person knowing that he slept in her cabin during the night but there was no way to hide it on the ship. You'll have to learn to cope with it, Avon, thought Cally.She wondered what really bothered him about having the others know.
Reya also looked towards the door, "It is a bad time, isn't it? You're expecting Avon?"
Cally smiled wryly, "Is it that obvious?"
"A lucky guess?"
Cally laughed and said, "I don't know which of us has the more difficult challenge."
Reya sighed sadly. "Sometimes I think that I'm the challenge."
Cally touched Reya's arm in support. She said gently, "What happened between you and Sester?"
Reya looked at her sharply. Cally could see that the other woman was uncomfortable that this topic had been brought up. Her other sense registered a strong sense of guilt and fear emanating from her.
"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to," said Cally when Reya didn't respond. "But I'm here if you do." Reya nodded.
The buzzer sounded again several times. Avon's muffled voice came through the door. "Cally, are you alright?"
"I should go," said Reya. "He's getting impatient."
"Sometimes it's good for them to wait." She said in a louder voice, "I'm fine, Avon. Just give me a few moments."
"I'll come back," said Avon through the door.
"He sounds concerned for you," remarked Reya.
"Yes. He does," said Cally. There was a thoughtful look on her face.
"What would we do without complicated men in our lives," said Reya.
"Be bored?" asked Cally.
Reya chuckled. "They aren't boring. Even if they are infuriating at times."
"They are?" asked Cally in a mock serious tone.
They both laughed.
"I have an idea," said Cally.
Avon came down the flight deck steps. Argus was at his station running simulations to test out different capabilities of the ship. Even though Avon hardly made a sound, Argus registered him immediately.
"Couldn't sleep?" asked Argus.
"I came to check on something," said Avon. He went over to his station and looked at various readings on his panel.
Argus continued looking at Avon. "Is there something wrong," Argus asked.
"What do you mean?" asked Avon defensively.
"Is there something wrong with the ship? What else did you think I meant?"
"There's nothing wrong with the ship. There was something I wanted to take a look at."
"Do you often do things without a reason?" asked Argus. His instincts told him that Avon was not telling the whole truth.
"I never do anything without a reason," said Avon. "Just not one that I've told you."
Argus looked at Avon speculatively. "I see."
"What do you see?" asked Avon. There was a tone of challenge in his voice.
"It's about Cally, isn't it?"
Avon immediately said, "You don't know what you're talking about."
"Of course not. Did you two have a fight?" asked Argus.
"I'm not you," Avon said sarcastically.
"I'm sure Vila would find that a relief."
Argus didn't want to press Avon on something which was clearly personal. Not to mention, he found conversing about personal things acutely uncomfortable. The therapy sessions with Avon were highly stressful for both of them.
"Let's discuss some business," suggested Argus.
"What a good idea," said Avon.
"I was thinking about ORAC. How are you getting along with the repairs for it?"
"It's not going to be that simple. Some of the tariel cells were damaged. They aren't normal tariel cells so we won't be able to find an easy replacement for them. They're an advanced form of cell developed by Professor Ensor. I've been working on understanding the changes he made." Avon was in his element when talking about anything technical.
"Is that why ORAC can access other computers so easily?" asked Argus.
"Partially. The other part involves some very sophisticated programming. It gives it the ability to over-ride other logic networks."
"We need ORAC back," said Argus.
"I doubt if Vila would agree with you but we do need ORAC's abilities. There is another concern. With the cells damaged, it may have affected some of the coding."
"Could you reprogram it?" asked Argus.
"I was planning to," said Avon.
"Make it a little less difficult to work with?"
"You mean give it a new personality? Did you have one in mind?"
"Not yours," said Argus. "And definitely not mine."
"Vila's?" suggested Avon.
"Not if we want any work done." They both laughed.
Argus continued, "But seriously. I was going to ask you to make some adjustments to ORAC."
"Such as?" asked Avon.
"I want to make sure that no one can use ORAC except valid members of the crew."
"You mean similar to the access protocols Zen has?"
"ORAC already has command code authorization access built into its basic structure. I could adapt it to fit our purposes." Avon had a thoughtful look on his face.
"You have another idea?" asked Argus.
"Several ideas," said Avon with a smile. It was the smile of a predator contemplating its prey; though it was unclear who the quarry was in this case. "And a little surprise."
Cally and Reya arrived on the flight deck together. The two men turned to look at them.
"Argus. When are we due to arrive at Pleasure City?" asked Reya.
"In the morning," Argus replied.
"Cally and I want to go down together. We have some things to do," said Reya.
"Yes," confirmed Cally. "If you don't mind, we'd like to go down alone."
"But...Reya, I thought we were going down together," said Argus.
"Cally, what is this about?" asked Avon perplexed.
Neither of the men was pleased with this idea.
"As Reya said, we have a few things we need to do," explained Cally. "You'll both find out later."
"Both?" asked Avon suspiciously.
"I'm not sure I like the sounds of this," said Argus apprehensively.
"Neither do I. I think we have a right to know what the two of you are planning," said Avon.
"You'll just have to be patient," said Cally.
"It'll be more fun if we don't tell you," said Reya.
"For whom?" asked Avon.
"You'll just have to trust us," said Cally.
"Do we have a choice?" asked Argus.
"That's up to you," said Reya.
"What is that supposed to mean?" asked Argus.
"You always have a choice," said Cally. She was looking at Avon.
"Do you want a choice?" asked Reya. She was looking at Argus.
Argus realized what she meant. He said sheepishly, "I guess not. I trust you. Just don't make it too embarrassing."
"Would I do that to you?" asked Reya.
"Would you like a list?" asked Argus.
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Reya.
Avon looked the bickering pair and then at Cally. He said to her, "I trust you, Cally. And I would appreciate if I didn't have to start a list."
|Previous Chapter||Chapter Three||Next Chapter|