4th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to The Definition of Peace
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Vila, Ture and Allren were animated in their enthusiasm as they gathered around the main viewscreen. Avon, Cally, Argus and Reya were standing behind them. Filling the screen was a view of the recreational satellite known as Pleasure City. It was an impressive facility. Moving lights provided a never-ending show of colours across its surface.
They were all currently being entertained by an enormous holographic light show projected out into space. Large images of scantily clad women danced around the orbiting space vehicles in welcome. Over the ship's comm was the latest in musical sensations, the Pirates of Vandor providing the background atmosphere.
"Wow! They don't spare any expense," said an impressed Allren.
"This is interesting," said Avon.
"If you like that sort of thing," said Cally with a critical eye.
"This is going to be good. I can't wait to get down there," expressed Vila, rubbing his hands.
"You would," said Cally.
"I don't believe it. That's incredible holographic technology," said Ture. "Those women look real. They can't be though, can they? Look at the way they're built. That can't be natural, can it?"
"I'd love to go down and find out," said Vila. His eyes were wide.
"Very impressive," said Argus.
"Is it?" asked Reya.
Argus coughed. "I mean the technology is impressive. Of course." From behind he put his arms around Reya's shoulders and hugged her.
"I'm kidding. You can't help being impressed," said Reya as she leaned back into him. She added, "By the technology."
"I agree. The technology is impressive," said Avon.
"You're all blind," said Vila. He waved his hands expansively towards the screen, "You can't look at that and tell me that all you see is technology."
"And what do you see, Vila?" asked Cally.
"I see..." Vila stopped. He realized he was in serious danger of putting his foot in his mouth. "Lots of interesting technology," he concluded.
"That's very diplomatically put," said Avon.
"When can we go down to take a closer look at all of this fascinating technology?" asked Allren.
They all turned towards Argus expectantly and with an air of curiosity; as if they were watching some additional entertainment. It was rare to see their commander relaxed enough to assume an unprofessional position on the flight deck; both commanders.
For a moment Argus was somewhat puzzled by the mixture of looks, then he realized that Reya was nestled comfortably in his arms. He let go of her quickly and said, "There's no time like the present. Take what you need from the stores." Argus looked at Vila, "Within reason."
"I'm always reasonable," said Vila. He sounded infinitely reasonable and was continuing to observe both of them with interest. Even though Argus was no longer holding Reya, he had not moved away from her.
Argus stared at Vila dubiously, "Cally will supervise the stores. She's more reasonable than you are."
"That depends on your definition of reasonable," said Vila.
"That's why Cally is going to supervise," said Argus. "Pace yourselves. We'll be here for three days. Try to leave everything in a condition where they'll want us back." Argus looked at Vila again. Allren also looked at Ture.
"I'm so misunderstood," said Vila, rolling his eyes. Ture was pretending not to notice his partner's pointed stare.
"Define misunderstood," quipped Avon.
"Hmm," said Reya, looking at the screen. They all followed her gaze.
Following the lines of scantily clad holo-women were now lines of barely clad muscular specimens of masculinity.
Cally also seemed to be studying the screen intently. "You're right about the interesting technology, Vila."
"Reya?" asked Argus.
"They're nowhere as beautiful as you are," Reya said to him reassuringly, patting him on the chest. He seemed to be blushing.
He whispered, "What did I say about embarrassing me?"
"You can add it to your list?"
"You know I was kidding about that, right?"
They all looked at the two of them with amusement. The expression on Avon's face indicated he was very glad he didn't have to start a list yet.
"I could stay here for a couple of months," said Vila as one of the young women fed him a delicious treat. "Oh. It's chocolate!" There was a big grin on his face as he savoured it. Real chocolate, not that artificial candy stuff which passed for it, was a rare commodity. Vila had 'accidentally' come across some once many years ago. He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly as another woman came up behind him and began giving him a massage.
"So this is what real chocolate tastes like!" said Ture as one of the women by his arm fed him one of the treats as well.
"This must be costing us a bundle," said Allren. "Are we sure we can afford all of this?"
"Everything in this reception area is free of charge." A tall statuesque woman in a flowing light green gown came over to them when she heard Allren's concern. "It is our way of welcoming visitors to Pleasure City." When she moved, the gown seemed to change between partially transparent and fully opaque. Vila blinked his eyes as he tried to focus.
"I like the way you welcome visitors," said Vila with contentment as one of the women at his elbow fed him another chocolate and then a sip of champagne. The two tastes seemed to complement each other perfectly.
"And outside the reception area?" asked Allren.
"Who cares? I'm staying here," said Vila.
The woman who had spoken to them smiled. "You are free to enjoy the welcome for another hour, Federation Standard time, and then we have to prepare for the next group of visitors. My name is Serella, I am your assigned hostess while you are here in Pleasure City. It is my job to make your stay here as enjoyable as possible. You can ask for me at any time."
"Our own personal hostess? I can get to like this," said Vila.
"Just what does a personal hostess do?" asked Allren.
Serella replied, "It is my task to introduce you to all the offerings of Pleasure City and arrange anything to your heart's content."
"Anything?" asked Allren. He was very interested in their hostess. "Does that include you?" Serella was a beautiful woman and in dressed in a gown that was designed to accentuate that beauty.
Serella's smile also heightened her beauty. "I am your hostess only."
"That's a shame," said Allren. He had stopped paying attention to the two women by his elbows.
"If you wish, I can arrange for someone who looks exactly like me to attend to you," she offered.
"I prefer the real person," said Allren. There was warm sincerity in his voice.
Vila and Ture looked at each other and then at Allren. This was going to prove to be an even more interesting trip then they had hoped for. With Allren possibly busy, their possibilities were unlimited.
Serella led them to a standing screen and activated it.
"This is a list of the services which are available at this facility. As you can see it is fairly extensive and customization is encouraged. There is very little we cannot do," she told them. "The only limitation is your imagination."
"I already know what I want," said Vila. "Lots of wine, women and song."
"We do have several packages which will meet your needs," said Serella. She touched the screen in several places. "Ranging from the most basic to the ultra-deluxe."
"What's in the ultra-deluxe package?" asked Vila with enthusiasm.
"You are experiencing part of the ultra-deluxe package now," said Serella.
Vila had a big grin on his face and was about to answer but Allren interjected.
"How much does this package cost?" he asked with concern.
"Well, that's not too bad," said Vila. "Quality like this doesn't come cheap."
"Per standard hour," added Serella.
Vila nearly choked on the chocolate that was currently in his mouth.
"I think my friends and I need time to look over your catalogue of services," said Allren.
"Of course. Please take your time. In the meantime, I can offer you one of our guest suites so that you can browse the catalogue in comfort."
Argus didn't have to ask which two he was referring to. He sighed. "Why is it that now they're working together, I feel that we're outnumbered?"
"Yes. It does seem that way, doesn't it? They appear to defy all mathematical rules or logic," said Avon.
"I think they like it that way," said Argus. "What does your logical mind tell you we should do?"
"You're expecting logic to solve the illogical?" asked Avon.
"Don't let Cally hear you say that. I don’t think they like being called illogical."
"Is that from experience?" asked Avon with light sarcasm.
"Painful," replied Argus wryly.
"Well, I'm glad we have your wealth of mistakes to learn from."
"I don't think I'm finished making them yet."
"Far from it, by the looks of it," said Avon.
"I'm sure you'll be making a few of your own with Cally," retorted Argus.
"I had a few ideas about the modifications you want to make to ORAC," said Avon, changing the subject.
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|Perceptions Story Index|
Writer: Oh god. Allren has fallen for the hostess at Pleasure City?
Argus: I'm afraid so.
Writer: Well do something! You're the leader! I can't have all the men hooked up. Don't you guys have anything better to do?
Argus: Apparently not. Besides, what's wrong with it?
Writer: I'm not having it! I refuse to make this into a soap opera!
Argus: We're just having a bit of fun. It's not as if you've been giving us any in the last few stories.
Writer: I should have known. You're getting back at me for pairing up Reya and Sester in the last story.
Argus: I would not be that petty.
Writer: You don't fool me, Argus. You've gotten them all in on it. You're trying to drive me crazy.
Avon (comes in): Is our brave commander giving you trouble?
Writer: Where did you come from?
Avon: Trying to avoid Servalan. She is somewhat obsessive. And her vindictiveness knows no bounds especially since you have me sleeping in Cally's cabin now. Thank you, by the way. I prefer sleeping without fear that I might not wake up in the morning.
Writer: Oh. You're welcome.
Argus: I see that you don't seem to have any problems pairing up Avon with any number of women.
Writer: He is Avon.
Avon (says smugly): Of course.
Argus: Humphh! (Stalks out)
Avon (with a smirk) He doesn't appear satisfied.
Writer: Would you be?
Avon: About these plans that Cally and Reya have in store for us...
Writer: I'm not telling you what they are, yet.
Avon: A hint perhaps?
Writer: You will have to wait.
Avon: I don't like unsolved mysteries.
Writer: I remember. But this one will have to remain unsolved for a bit longer