Author: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: None of these characters belong to me, I’m not making any profit out of this, blahblahblah.
NOTE: The sequel to 'Spies Like Us' which will hopefully wrap up a few things I wanted to incorporate in the last story and pave the way for some new problems.
"Man has killed man from the beginning of time, and each new frontier has brought new ways and new places to die. Why should the future be different?"
-- Colonel Corazon Santiago, 'Planet: A Survivalist's Guide'
*Datajack Roze's chambers; Data DeCentral; Data Angels*
Datajack Sinder Roze looked at the Talent standing in front of her. They both looked about the same age - mid-twenties. Unfortunately _he_ probably was somewhere in his mid-twenties whereas she had kept a rigid schedule of longevity treatments. Her body was still young, but her mind had already seen over a century. A century she often wanted to forget. The days that she had been a carefree hacker were long over. Her faction was small and with little military might and Roze constantly feared the day when one of the more powerful and aggressive factions would realise that.
Without speaking the Talent handed her an information PADD. Roze briefly skimmed over the contents and gave it back.
"Let our operatives in Sparta Command confirm this." She said.The Talent bowed, turned around and left.
Datajack Roze waited until she was certain the Talent was already out of earshot.
*Gaia's Landing; Gaia's Stepdaughters; 5 days later*
"Your mom looks upset." Brooke said as she followed the departing form of Jane out of their quarters.
"Yeah," Sam said. "I wonder why."
"Maybe it's us." Brooke said.
"Nah, why would she be?"
Brooke snickered. "Well, we're underage, gay, in love and about to be family."
"Yeah?" Sam said. "So?"
"Maybe that bothers her a little."
"Why? We're not blood related or something."
Brooke shook her head smiling. Sam could be so naive sometimes. "Have you ever read the historical datalinks?"
"Not really." Sam admitted. "Why?"
"Well, pretty much from the moment the Catholic Church took over Europe gay people have been persecuted for being 'evil' and 'unnatural'."
"You're kidding." Sam said, amazement clear in her voice and face.
Brooke shook her head. "Afraid not."
"H- How long has that been going on?"
"Pretty much all the way until the launch of the Unity. Probably afterwards too, if they have survived."
Sam shook her head. "Unbelievable."
"The Believers still forbid it. So does the Hive, but that's because any kind of love is forbidden there." Brooke said with disgust in her voice.
"Unbelievable." Sam repeated. "So… that's why you think mom looks a little out of it?"
"Could be." Brooke shrugged. "But it could be something else entirely as well."
*Gaia's Landings school; A few hours later*
During the -still extremely boring- classes Sam had stopped wondering why her mom had seemed so upset. It was probably nothing. And if it was, well, then they would probably be boarding the next needlejet out of here. All in all, Sam wasn't really worried.
That is, until Lily sat down at her table during lunchtime. She seemed very upset as well. Which was odd, since Lily was never really upset. If you don't count the times Mary Cherry opened her mouth, that is.
"What's wrong?" Nicole noticed it too. Shortly after Lily and Nicole had successfully ended their campaign to hook up Sam and Brooke the two groups had more or less grown together. Which had caused quite a lot of commotion under the school populace. There were even rumours that the main reason was because Nicole Julian, the Ice-Queen of the school had a thing for Carmen, who had lately been taking her pilot training very seriously. Sam didn't believe a word of it, of course.
"Nothing." Lily said.
She was a terrible liar. Something was bothering her big-time. Nicole got that very peculiar frown on her face that appeared there every time she started playing around with her PSI talents again.
"Don't even try it Nic." Lily warned. "This is not something you want to know."
Brooke and Sam exchanged glances. It wasn't the kind of loving glances they had been giving each other a lot lately. These glances said: 'I wanna know. How about you?'
*Lady Deirdre's chambers; Gaia's Landing*
Lady Deirdre looked out of her window and over the green mass that surrounded her headquarters. She was too lost in thought to notice its splendour, however. She was uncertain if she had made the right decision. Well, it was too late now. Tomorrow her guests would arrive and that would settle it. If all went well it would make her faction far more powerful, but also a potential target for the others.
Her troops had no desire to fight, nor did she for that matter. And the PSI project hadn't been completed yet. Maybe she should've waited a little longer.
But by that time everything would've changed again. If she had waited that might've meant that this alliance was not going to take place.
The door to her chambers opened and she heard someone stepping inside. Deirdre looked out the window for a while longer, hoping that she wouldn't see it destroyed soon. Then she turned and faced the patiently waiting Talent.
"You called, my Lady?"
"Yes." Deirdre answered. "Their emissary will arrive tomorrow. Make sure the entire base is secure, use nerve staplers if you have to."
The Talent looked shocked. "You can't mean that! The people won't tolerate it. The Council might even retaliate!"
"I know." Deirdre said. "But if the emissary will be harmed in any way we will be at war. And I don't think we could win that."
The Talent nodded. "I understand. But I still won't use nerve staplers."
Deirdre smiled. Still holding on to principles. It was a good sign.
"Very well." She said. "Also, make sure you intercept every probe transmission you can. We've let the others believe that their spies are unnoticed, but I want nothing except standard reports reach their bases, understood?"
"Of course. Is that all?"
Deirdre sighed. "Yes, that's all."
The Talent bowed and left again. Deirdre turned back to her window. The trees looked so peaceful. She wondered how long that peace was going to last.
NOTE: I fear there won't be a lot of Sam/Brooke or indeed anyone else from Popular in this and a few following parts. It has something to do with the setting up of the plot, but I think I should apologise for the inconvenience anyway.
*Sam's room; Gaia's Landing; Gaia's Stepdaughters; The next day*
Sam felt something warm surrounding her and felt a head being put on her shoulder.
"Whatcha doing?" Brooke asked, looking at the monitor.
"Breaking into the school files." Sam answered. "Nothing big, just wanted to stay in practise." She said, as she quickly shut down.She turned around in her chair and faced Brooke.
Sam pulled Brooke down onto her lap. They looked at each for a moment, both thinking that they were lucky to have the other.
"You know…" Brooke started. "School's cancelled and nobody's allowed to leave their quarters."
"Yeah," Sam said. "Why is that?"
"Does it matter?"
Upon seeing Brooke's grin Sam decided that it indeed didn't matter.
*Gaia's Landings control centre*
"When are they gonna arrive?"
"I dunno. Any time now I guess."
"I still don't get it."
"You know… Why the Lady is trying to create an alliance between us and them."
"Well… Domai and Lal _did_ sign a Pact of Brotherhood a few months ago, so it's not like it doesn't happen."
"No, that's different. I got the feeling this is something more."
"Maybe our Lady is in love?"
"This isn't something to be made fun of!"
"What? It could happen."
"Yeah, but not with… not with one of _them_."
"Better change that attitude. If this goes well 'they' are probably gonna be around here a lot."
"That's one mental image I could do without."
"Your console is flickering."
"What? Oh, it's them. They're requesting permission to land."
"Well… what are you waiting for?"
"Oh fine. There. They're inside."
"And then I guess all we can do now is pray."
"Pray for success of the meeting or for its failure?"
"Pray for peace."
*Datajack Roze's chambers; Data DeCentral; Data Angels; six hours later*
"Are you certain this report is genuine?""Positive."Datajack Roze looked over the PADD again. What she had already feared was now confirmed. It was likely to upset the balance of power that was already much too fragile.
"You know what this means, don't you?" It wasn't exactly a question, but more thinking out loud. "If this works they're gonna pose a threat. And I think Yang or maybe Miriam would be more than happy to get rid of that threat. Hell, even Cha Dawn would be eager to fight them and he has reasonable tolerance for the Gaians. If we're lucky they all destroy each other, but if one is victorious…"
"A very serious situation indeed." The Talent said.
Roze glared at him for a moment. This was not the kind of remarks she needed right now. She looked off into the distance, trying to figure out what to do. There had to be a way to prevent all this. She sighed as she made her decision.
"Send a probe team to Gaia's Landing." She said. "Tell them to assassinate at least one of the delegation. Try to go for the emissary, but if he's too well protected go for one of the escorts. And make very sure to make it look like a Gaian hit."
"But… that will mean they will be at war."
"Don't you think I know that!" Roze yelled, losing her patience with this Talent. "I don't want to see the Gaians destroyed if I don't have to. But the fact is that I do have to if we want to survive." Roze took a deep breath and calmed down. "You have your orders. Now go carry them out."
Datajack Roze waited until the doors closed before burying her face in her hands. The Gaians were not the enemy. But now she had ordered their destruction. If she was successful war was going to break out and thousands would die.
And their blood would be on her hands.
Datajack Roze slowly got a hold of herself again. Whatever happened, her faction and her people came first. Even if it meant the death of those who hadn't done anything to deserve their fate.
NOTE: I sometimes wonder why I continue this since my other current stories seem more 'successful', or at least more appreciated. *shrugs* Oh well, I'm gonna continue this anyway since I too would like to know how it ends.
*Sam's room; Gaia's Landing; midnight*
Sam immediately woke up as she heard the door to her room slide open. 'Hearing' might not be right term in this case since the door slid open soundlessly. It was more of an acute sense of awareness to her surroundings. A skill all Angels were trained in. Although she didn't see it, she knew that Brooke was awake as well. She slowly opened her eyes, but since the only illumination in the room came from the moon Nessus she couldn't see anything. After a while her eyes got more used to the darkness and she could see a figure leaning against the door. She needed a few more moments to figure out who it was.
"Sam." The guy leaning against the door said. "Mind if I turn on the lights?"
Sam could hear a slightly muffled yelp behind her. The lights turned on and Sam blinked rapidly a few times to get used to it. Araym was rather tall and a few years older than Sam. He had fiery red hair and cold blue eyes. He never spoke much and had an uncanny fascination for explosions.
"How's Led?" Sam asked.
"She's OK." Araym answered. "Not doing really well on the important stuff, but she never much cared about that anyway."
"Still having dreams of becoming an engineer?"
Araym nodded. "You know, I didn't believe Sky when she told me."
Sam, who was used to the way Araym's mind tended to work knew exactly what he was talking about. "It came as a surprise to us as well. But how did Sky know anyway? Haven't seen her since she brought us here."
"She's seen you though. It's her job."
Brooke made a few more muffled, but slightly more urgent, sounds.
"Wanna get dressed or something?" Araym asked with a smirk on his face.
"I'm pretty happy right where I am." Sam answered smiling. "So, why are you here? Come to sabotage anything?"
Araym snickered. "Something like that." He looked at Sam for a moment. "It was good to see you." He said, with an unusual large amount of emotion in his voice.
"Good to see you too." Sam answered smiling.
"Well, I'll let you get back to sleep." A mischievous glint appeared in Araym's eyes. "Or whatever it is you like to do."
Araym quickly left and Sam found herself trying to get used to the darkness once again. She was rather worried. She didn't know exactly what was going on, but everything inside her screamed that it was something big. And Araym was likely sent here to disrupt it. Whatever was going to happen Sam was positive that there was going to be a lot of trouble. They might even had to leave here. But Sam had friends here, and she wanted to protect them somehow.
"What are we going to do?" Brooke asked, apparently thinking the same thing.
"I wouldn't know."
*McQueen/McPherson quarters; afternoon*
School was still cancelled and, while Sam did enjoy lying in Brooke's arms on the couch, she was rather worried. She watched some 3DVision, but most of all this little voice kept whispering at the back of her head that she was wasting her time. Sam lazily grabbed the remote and turned the 3DV off.
"They can make nice programs." Sam admitted. "But I don't wanna watch them all day."
"I dunno." Brooke said. "I think they're very soothing."
"Maybe. But all this talk of the 'God', the 'Goddess' and of course the reverence of nature drives me a little nuts. They're almost as religious as Miriam."
Brooke chuckled. "Better not say that while there are any Gaians or Believers within earshot."
"Why not? It's the truth, isn't it?"
Brooke laughed. "I love it when you're being so naive."
Sam turned so she could look Brooke in the eye. "I thought you always loved me." She said smiling.
Brooke simply smiled back. The girls were about to share a kiss when then the 3DVision suddenly came back to life. Brooke and Sam groaned simultaneously.
"We give you this broadcast to announce that the security measures instated several days ago are going to be continued." The announcer announced. "However, Lady Deirdre has now officially stated why these measures are necessary." Sam and Brooke immediately started paying more attention. The announcer disappeared from the screen and instead the rose on a field of green of the Gaians and the black arrow of the Spartans appeared. "As we speak Lady Deirdre is in deliberation with a Spartan emissary. While it has not been confirmed as of yet, rumour has it this emissary is Colonel Santiago herself. If the talks are successful it could mean a complete reintegration of our two factions."
And with that the message suddenly ended and the 3DV turned off again. Sam and Brooke stared at it with wide eyes. It took a few moments before they could form any coherent thoughts.
"The Gaians… and the _Spartans_?" Brooke said in disbelief. "The tree-huggers and the militants?"
"Apparently." Sam said, with an equal amount of amazement in her voice.
"But… why? The Gaians don't desire military force and I doubt the Spartans get all teary-eyed over Planet."
"I wouldn't know." Sam said. Her face suddenly got pale. "Araym."
"What about hi… Oh My God." Realisation dawned on Brooke's face. "You think he's gonna sabotage the negotiations?"
"Why else would he be here?"
The two girls were quiet for a moment. And it wasn't the comfortable silence they had hoped to fill the afternoon with.
"We're in deep trouble."
NOTE: Right, this story is starting to get neglected due to the fact that I’m thinking up plots for wildly different stories and because I bought ‘Paper Mario’ a few days back and I LOVE the game. (I have a thing for both Nintendo and RPG’s.)
*The McQueen/McPherson quarters; Gaia’s Landing*
Silence filled the room for several minutes. Both girls were doing the same thing. Thinking. Thinking of how to get out of this mess that was quickly starting to fall on top of them. Packing their bags and leave was simply not an option, both girls had already decided that mentally. But, other than that, they didn’t have a clue.
"Good thing school’s cancelled." Sam said suddenly.
"Think we could hide something like this from Nicole?"
Brooke groaned. "A telepathic Gaian is just not what I need right now."
"Can we tell ‘em? The others I mean." Sam asked.
"What? That we’re Data Angels or that their faction is about to be wiped out? Or both: That we’re the reason they’re gonna be wiped out?"
Sam’s eyes suddenly got wide and Brooke could feel her tense against her. "I just had a horrible thought."
"How many times has Deirdre betrayed anyone?"
"Never." Brooke replied. "I mean, she has pulled some dirty tricks once or twice, but that was when she was at war."
Sam chuckled. "Those ‘dirty tricks’ were nothing compared to what we do on a regular basis."
"True." Brooke admitted. "But I still don’t…" Now it was time for Brooke’s eyes to enlarge. "Oh shit."
"Deirdre would never even try and attempt to sabotage something like this." Sam said, even though she knew Brooke had probably already figured it out. "And if Santiago really _is_ here than she certainly won’t do something like that."
"We on the other hand, would." Brooke added.
Sam nodded. "I have this unpleasant feeling that if something does happen we are gonna take the blame, no matter how evidence remains pointing away from us."
"But what if they make it look like a Spartan hit?" Brooke asked.
Sam shook her head. "I think they have sent some important people here. They wouldn’t risk losing them by attempting anything. And I think Deirdre knows that as well."
"So… either way you look at it we’re screwed."
Sam nodded again. "I think our beloved Datajack has acted a little too soon."
*Just outside Lady Deirdre’s chambers*
Nicole was very, very nervous. And she had every right to be. She was called here along with a few others. She didn’t know why, but she could guess. The Spartan talks was all the base could talk about. And had become public just a few hours ago. Nicole wondered why she was here. She could guess, but for once she hoped she would guess wrong.
The door slid open and a guard entered. He mutely shook his head, indicating that everyone was to go inside.
Nicole went in and briefly surveyed the room. There were four other guards, two Gaian, two Spartan. Lady Deirdre sat behind her desk, looking expectantly in her direction. And across Lady Deirdre sat Santiago. Now Nicole’s nervousness shot up even further. Everyone had heard the rumours about her unpredictable and slightly paranoid personality and Nicole suddenly felt she had been locked inside a room with a ticking time bomb.
"And who might these people be?" Santagio asked.
"They’re telepaths." Deirde answered calmly.
"I don’t believe in fairytales like that." Santiago scoffed.
"I didn’t think you would." Deirdre answered. "Therefor, I’ve let one of them be one of the servants you requested." The Lady of the Gaians handed the Spartan Colonel a PADD.
Santiago read it and became slightly pale. Nicole feared an explosion was about to take place. And in normal circumstances it would. Instead, Santiago simply gave back the PADD, surprising everyone except Deirdre.
"Impressive." Was all she said. "But I want some more proof." She looked over at the small group of psychic teenagers still standing rather awkwardly as close to the door as they could manage. "You," She said, pointing out Nicole. "Tell me what he’s thinking." She said, pointing to one of her guards.
Nicole, after getting over the initial surprise, focused on the guard who suddenly seemed rather uncomfortable. Nicole smiled.
"If I read correctly he is currently… contemplating a possible union between the two of you." Nicole said, in a voice that implied a hell of a lot.
Santiago’s eyebrow shot up, whilst Deirdre managed to suppress a smile. Santiago stood up and faced the guard, seething with rage.
"Is that true!" She demanded.
The guard remained quiet.
"Answer me captain!" Santiago ordered.
‘An honest answer.’ Nicole thought. ‘That’s a surprise.’
"You’re lucky we’re not in Sparta Command right now, captain." Santiago almost spat the word.
The Spartan Colonel stared at the soon-to-be private a little longer, before she sat back down.
"If you will excuse me, Lady." Santiago said through clenched teeth. "I think it be better for both of us if we continued this some other time."
Deirdre merely nodded in assent.
Deirdre waited until the three Spartans had left before turning her attention to Nicole.
"Come forward would you?" She asked. "The rest of you can go."
Nicole almost stumbled forward. Being spoken to by the leader of some other faction meant little to the blonde. But being spoken to personally by the Lady…
"What is your name?" Deirdre asked.
"N-Nicole J-Julian." Nicole managed to keep her stuttering down to a minimum.
"Nicole…" Deirdre mused. "Talent?"
"Y-Yes, my Lady. Still in school though."
"How much do you know about mindworms?" She asked.
"Excuse me?" Nicole said, momentarily forgetting who she was speaking with.
Deirdre smiled. "I think you would make an excellent trainer, don’t you?"
NOTE: Damn plot is getting in the way of mushy Sam/Brooke moments. Sorry about that.
*The recreation commons; Gaia’s Landing*
She didn’t have a good thought-out plan. Not exactly. Not at all, even. She knew that Araym would never be the only one sent. But at least Sam knew Araym and she knew where she could find him. In a bar.
And as Sam entered the bar she could see him perfectly, sitting on a stool, his back turned towards her. She walked over to him and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey Sam." Araym said without looking up.
"We need to talk."
A few minutes later Araym and Sam were walking through one of the corridors that weren’t off-limits for the time being.
"So… how’s it going?" Sam asked.
Araym chuckled. "It went great. I found this little place about three stories above the Spartan quarters that’s only being patrolled about once every half-hour."
Suddenly Sam’s throat went dry, fearing the words that were about to follow.
"I had a clear shot on one of the generals." Araym continued, confirming Sam’s fears. "But then… I got beeped. Strict orders not to do anything."
Sam tried very hard to not show her relief. "So the hit’s off then?" She asked, hoping she sounded casual.
"More or less." Araym said. For some reason Sam didn’t like the sound of that. "The boys back home…" He became quiet when a Worker headed in their direction. He waited until he knew the Gaian was out of earshot before he continued like they had never been interrupted in the first place. "Well, they found out the head lady herself is here, so the whole deal was called off."
"So… what’s going to happen now?"
"I dunno." Araym said. "I’m going home. Don’t know what else is gonna happen, but my bet is we’re gonna frame the Spartans for something at another faction. Just to find out if Deirdre’s willing to push this alliance through when the Spartans are at war." Araym looked at his wrist communicator which also contained a watch and a -currently disabled- tracking device. "I gotta get going. I’m gonna crash in about four hours from now at the border and I don’t wanna be late." He looked at Sam, smiling a little even. "See ya around, kid."
Sam smiled back, even though her mind was currently occupied with a whole lot of other thoughts. "Later."
*The McQueen/McPherson quarters; Gaia’s Landing*
Sam found herself once again lying on the couch in the arms of Brooke. But not even she could take away her unrest. She knew that if they successfully managed to frame the Spartans for something they would drag the Gaians along with them. And somehow, Sam felt that was wrong. Her loyalties lay with the Data Angels, but she had this irrational urge to protect the Gaians. To protect their lovely forests and carefree citizens.
But the action had moved from Gaia’s Landing away to some other base on Planet. And no matter how much she wished it Sam knew there was no way to prevent whatever was going to happen.
*The biology lab; Gaia’s Landing*
Nicole wasn’t often scared. In fact, she prided herself on being able to withstand the terror of a mindworm attack. But now, she was feeling a touch of anxiety. She had been briefed extensively on what to expect and what to do. The Talents had also emphasised the fact that had been very few incidents so far, even though the process was still rather experimental at best.
Somehow Nicole didn’t find that a comforting thought.
"Are you ready?"
Nicole looked up at the speaker, hanging in a corner of the small room. She thought about saying that she wasn’t ready, that she needed more time, more training. But the Lady seemed to think she was capable and Nicole would rather die than to disappoint her. She briefly smiled, Nicole Julian, loyal to no-one but herself. And now she was willing to die for her leader?
"Yeah, I’m ready." Nicole said to the emptiness inside the room.
The door slid open and a small boil of mindworms started to crawl inside.
NOTE: Right, I’m planning a rather huge cross-over fic, but I’m not exactly sure if that’s a good idea if I also want to see the end of other fics. Unfortunately that cross-over is pretty much all I can think of right now and that’s a pretty large hindrance to the progress of those other fics. Oh well, let’s not bother you with my own self-involved lamenting and just get on with the fic.
*The biology lab; Gaia’s Landing; continued*
Nicole froze. Mindworms were, quite literally, the source many nightmares for every human on Planet. Instinctively Nicole looked for any way out, in case it might all go horribly wrong. She found exactly one. The door the boil had come in through. She quickly repressed the sudden urge to panic. Panicking meant death.
It was then that Nicole noticed something out of the ordinary.
The mindworms just sat there, not doing anything.
Nicole reached out to them with her mind. One single mindworm is not sentient, but, somehow, in a boil each individual worm is able to add to some sort collective consciousness, which is almost on the verge of sentience. Nicole noticed that with this boil as well, but there was something missing. During the horrific mindworm attacks Nicole had always been able to sense something larger. Something other than the boil mind. And now that… whatever it was… was lacking.
Nicole decided it something worth pondering over. Later. Much later. She took a deep breath, calmed herself down as much as she could and reached out again. It was a strange experience and nothing could really adequately describe it. You could say the almost-mind of the mindworms flowed through the entire boil and that Nicole now added to that flow. Her mind and the boil’s mind became intertwined and there were a few moments that Nicole didn’t know who she was any more. But for some reason she didn’t find this disturbing. In fact the entire experience was rather pleasant and Nicole would be more than happy to spend quite some time in the flow of near-thought.
But this nagging voice in the back of her head told her that she had a job to do. Nicole focused, tried to make her presence more forcibly known. But boil didn’t like that, they didn’t want an intruder. Images of death and decay suddenly started flooding into Nicole’s mind and she quickly pulled back. The images eased again and Nicole tried again. This time she approached the boil in the same way like the first time. As an… interested visitor. She flowed through their semi-consciousness and tried to raise the suggestion that maybe it could be a good idea to listen to her.
And the boil listened.
*Gaia’s Landing; The next day*
Act casual. That was all that Sam could think of. Well, it was _almost_ all that Sam could think of. The other thing she was thinking of was blonde and walking right next to her. But ‘act casual’ also took up a part of her thoughts. Maybe not a large part, but compared to parts that didn’t include beautiful blonde Goddesses it was a rather large part. There was also a part of her that wondered why school had begun again. If she were to spend some more time thinking about that she knew she wouldn’t like the conclusion, so she tried to not think about it. Which is, in it’s own way, also very difficult.
Sam and Brooke sat down at a table in the school cafeteria, casually greeting and being casually greeted. Everyone pretended nothing big was going on, while everyone knew something big was going. That was slightly more difficult for Sam and Brooke since they knew, or at least suspected, that something a lot bigger was going on.
"So… where’s Carmen?" Sam asked.
"Flight training." Lily answered.
"You know how Carmen has… you know… ‘pilot genes’?"
"Yeah, sure." Sam said. "But my genes say that I could be an excellent surgeon, but you don’t see me cutting people open."
‘Besides, operating on computers is a lot more fun.’ She thought absentmindedly.
At that moment in time Nicole came rushing in and hastily sat down at the table.
"Sorry we’re late." She said. She groaned briefly after that "We mean… I mean, sorry _I_ am late. Sorry I’m late."
Not surprisingly Nicole received quite a few stares.
"Are you OK, Nic?" Brooke asked.
"Both of you?" Lily added.
Nicole briefly glowered at Lily. "We’re fine." She said evenly.
"OK, sure, if the two of you say so." Lily said smirking.
Sam briefly, yet urgently, tugged at Brooke’s sleeve under the table. Acting casual in front of normal people was easy, acting casual in front of a telepath was useless unless it was sincere. Brooke looked over at Sam, who gave her a rather urgent nod away from the table. Brooke looked confused for a moment, then looked over at Nicole, then suddenly darted up.
"We need to go." Brooke said.
"Yeah," Sam said, standing up as well. "We have… an appointment… with the genetics."
"You just said you were already tested." Lily said.
"She is." Brooke quickly said. "But I’m not. So…" Suddenly a thumb appeared, pointing towards the exit. "We’re going now."
As Brooke and Sam left the cafeteria, and walked rather aimlessly through the corridors they could both kick themselves. That had been such an amateuristic, pathetic and downright transparent cover-up. They should get detention for this if they would be back home. At this moment they even considered voluntary grounding. But, as much as they were kicking themselves in the head right now, they were still aware of their surroundings.
And those surroundings included a lot up of sudden screams coming from the cafeteria.
Brooke and Sam briefly looked at each other, turned around and started running back.
NOTE: Yes, I am messing around with what little info ‘Alpha Centauri’ gave me concerning the mindworm trainers. So should there be any puritans (yeah, right) that follow the Book of Planet literally, I hope you aren’t offended. For that vast majority who never even heard of ‘the Book of Planet’, enjoy.
*Gaia’s Landing; Gaia’s Stepdaughters; continued*
The screams quickly died down. Only during a mindworm attack people quickly stop screaming. That’s either because everyone automatically starts meditating or because they’re already dead. But there was something odd. Neither of them felt afraid, neither of them felt that all too familiar feeling of dread.
When they reached the cafeteria again they were met with a rather strange sight. Students lined the walls, everyone with their eyes closed, trying to keep as little thought as possible until the men with the flameguns arrived. But in the centre of the room sat Nicole, looking quite undisturbed. Mindworms crawled randomly over her body, sometimes disappearing under her clothes, sometimes crawling through her hair. Nicole seemed completely at ease with this. Sam and Brooke quietly walked closer, both intrigued. In a disgusted sort of way. The mindworms noticed the two of them and immediately rallied. Nicole simply looked over at them once and suddenly the mindworms withdrew again onto her body.
Sam and Brooke looked at each other, wondering what to do. If they came too close to Nicole chances would be that she read their minds. On the other hand, she did seem rather distracted at the moment and Sam and Brooke really wanted to know what was going on. They walked over and sat down next to Nicole. The mindworms on Nicole’s body seemed to pack together at the side Sam and Brooke were facing.
"They don’t seem to trust us." Brooke said, hoping she sounded casual.
"We don’t know you." Nicole said. "They don’t know you." She corrected herself quickly. "They just want to protect us."
"What are you?" Sam blurted out.
"Difficult question." Nicole said. "Mainly human, we suppose. But also part of the boil. It can be very confusing sometimes."
"Yeah, I bet." Sam muttered.
"How do you do it?" Brooke asked. "Control them I mean."
"Control?" Nicole honestly looked shocked. "We are almost one being. We don’t control or dominate each other."
"OK, sure, my mistake, but they do seem very protective of you."
"Of course we are." Nicole said. "But it is true we are inclined to do as I think is right."
"Well, now I know what the Gaians have to offer the Spartans." Sam muttered. "Wild mindworms are bad enough, but an entire army of them…"
Nicole laughed. "You’re wrong. The alliance isn’t about increasing their might."
"Then what is it about?"
"You’re Angels." Nicole simply said. "We think you’ll figure it out soon enough."
*The Planetary Council room; Data DeCentral; Data Angels*
Datajack Roze walked slowly around the table, closely studying the recorded holograms of each of the Council members. She did that after every meeting, even if it had been a short open declaration of war. During the meeting she would always sit between the holograms of the other leaders, and was unable to see most of their faces clearly. And faces had a lot to tell if you knew how to read them. Currently Roze was listening to a tirade of Cha Dawn about the polluting Morganites. But Roze didn’t look at either Cha Dawn or Morgan. She looked at Domai. The leader of the Drones did not get along well with both the capitalist Morgan and the Planet-worshipping Cha Dawn. He looked rather worried, though he managed to hide it pretty good. The reason was obvious. Although Morgan’s wealth would enable him to quickly buy himself an army it would probably still be helpless against Cha Dawn’s fanatical horde. Roze very carefully made note of Domai’s unease. It was likely she would be able to use it later on. Perhaps if she made a lot of noise in Drone bases closest to the Planet Cult Domai would probably be very inclined to focus his attention there. That would give her operatives at the centre of Drone territory a few very good opportunities.
But spying opportunities on the Drones was not the most important part of the Council meeting. The hologram of Lady Deirdre calmly stood up and announced her alliance to the Spartans. The hologram of Santiago was sitting next to her, seemingly stoic. Roze quickly looked over at Lal, the President of the Council. A smile formed on her face when she saw the look of his face. Lal’s goal was to reunite humanity under the original UN Charter. And now, that first step to reunification was made and he hadn’t been a part of it. It must have been a great shock to him.
Roze rewound the few seconds and now focused on Aki Zeta-5. There was nothing much to see about her. She simply received the news and the AI program in her head calculated what this could mean. She showed no emotion since she was incapable of it.
Morgan seemed rather troubled. Deirdre hated the Morganites and their violation of Planet just as much as Cha Dawn did. He was now probably worried that she would set loose the Spartan military upon him.
Miriam was simply angry. Most of the other factions were rather ambiguous about religion, but the Gaians were one of the few who weren’t. They were openly pagan and Miriam now probably regretted not ‘converting’ these heathens sooner. And now the heathens had an army to force their false faith unto others.
And so Datajack Roze studied each of the faces across the table. Each one of them betraying a little of the plans they were about to make. Roze was about to turn everything off and return to her normal duties when she caught something in the corner of her eye. She quickly pushed a few buttons and rewound a few seconds. The seconds replayed again and a huge grin appeared on her face. She sat down on the nearest chair, disturbing the hologram of Svensgaard and her mind was already working out every way of how she could use this extremely delicate information.
*The Esposito quarters; Gaia’s Landing; two days later*
"You heard me very well. We are going back."
"Back? Back where? I was born here remember?"
"Yes, I remember. And it was a mistake staying here when you did."
"And why would that be?"
"Do you even have to ask? We tried hard to raise you properly, but this… this… repulsive environment has been a very bad influence on you."
"What bad influences? There is nothing wrong with this place."
"EVERYTHING is wrong with place! It’s a cesspool filled with everything we oppose!"
"It’s not! They have much in common with us!"
"How dare you say that! They renounce the existence of our Lord! They are praying to those from Hell! They worship Satan in doing so!"
"They don’t even believe in Hell! Nor in Satan! And besides the Hell was created for Satan to suffer in. Matthew 25:41 ‘Then He shall also say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS."
"Don’t you dare abuse the Scripture to defend these heretics!"
"Mom, you’re missing the point."
"There is no point to miss! These people have seen the truth and they deny it. And now they have the power to enforce their lies. But fine, stay here! Stay and be annihilated just like the rest of them!"
"What are you saying?"
"Our assignment is over. Not because of some sudden whim, but because this place will be nothing but ashes in mere months."
"WE are attacking."
"No, you are attacking. You know, mother, it’s nice to have a telepathic friend. I learned from her that everyone’s thoughts are defined with who they belong to. And I just happen to think like a Gaian."
"I’m not one of you. Never was to begin with. These people don’t hold all the answers, but at least they don’t claim that they do. Unlike you for instance."
"That’s enough! Either you repent this very instant or I never want to see you again."
There were no loud sounds of doors being slammed shut. It was just the soft electronic hum of the door sliding shut as Lily walked away.
NOTE: It's the End. Only it's not. Though I'm not sure if there is going to be another sequel.
*Gaia’s Landing; Gaia’s Stepdaughters*
Lily looked up from her hunched position against the wall of the corridor.
"Hey Spartan." She said with a small smile.
"Don't call me that." Carmen said as she sat down next to her. "What's up?"
Lily sighed. "Fight with the parents."
"You're following military training. Are we any good?"
"Why do you ask?"
Carmen shrugged. "We're OK. It'll be better when the reinforcements arrive, though."
"What reinforcements?" Lily asked.
"Spartans. Santiago is sending some troops over."
Lily wasn't exactly sure whether this news should please her or not. With those troops Gaia's Landing might stand a chance against the Believer assault she knew was coming. But on the other hand, the base would be flooded with Spartans.
A few alarms blared, signalling that everyone should drop what they were doing and either listen or hide.
Carmen and Lily looked up at the speaker at the corner as it started giving information.
"Three hours ago Sister Miriam of the Lord's Believers has sent a message to the Lady." It started.
Lily winced, she knew what was coming. Carmen looked curious, she clearly didn't.
"The communication was brief and the message was simple. We are now at war with the Lord's Believers. Colonel Santiago of the Spartan Federation has already pledged her help and declared war against the Believers. It is possible that Provost Zakharov, who has long been at war with Believers, will agree to a temporary Pact. I repeat…"
Lily and Carmen looked at each other. Their faces said exactly the same thing.
'Trouble is coming. And we're gonna be in the middle of it.'
*The Brood Pit; three hours later*
Nicole looked down at the pits where the newly hatched mindworms were crawling around. To any normal human being here, at the edge of the pits, was dangerous. But the worms paid no attention to her. Mindworms crawled hurriedly over her entire body, displaying the distress the human part wasn't showing. Nicole stood up and turned around from the horrendous sight, that she found quite beautiful. She walked quietly towards the exit, trying not to think what would inevitably be coming. At first becoming a trainer seemed an honour. Chosen by the Lady herself. But now she realised she was also a weapon. A weapon that would certainly be deployed. She could almost feel the heat of the flameguns burning away those small parts of her that didn't belong to her human body. The mindworms noted her distress and tried to send some comforting images to her mind. Nicole denied them. Feeling all warm and fuzzy would not help her in the slightest. She took a deep breath and started heading for the Biology Lab. A certain amount of training suddenly seemed very appropriate.
*The McQueen/McPherson quarters; sunset*
Sam looked out her window, over the green forests outside and wondered how it would look like if they were burning. It was not a pretty image. Every Data Angel in the base had been ordered to return to Angel territory, to be placed elsewhere. Sam would be glad to go home. To see all her friends, to be in an environment where she wasn't feeling out of place.
"Ah, screw it." She said to herself.
Lying to herself wasn't going to help a bit. She liked Gaia's Landing. She liked the Gaians. Sure, she missed Ferret's Lair, but she didn't want to leave. Looking over at the packed suitcases she realised she didn't have much of a choice. Tomorrow they would leave. They wouldn't be noticed too much. Even though Gaia's Landing was the Gaian headquarters there were more bases deeper inside their territory and further away from the Believers. Many people were evacuating. A few spies among them didn't make much of a difference.
Even lost in deep thought Sam could feel the door sliding open and someone walking in. A few seconds later she realised it was Brooke. A few seconds after that Brooke actually made her presence known by slipping her arms around Sam's waist and putting her head on Sam’s shoulder.
"Sort of." Sam sighed. "I don't want to go."
"Me neither." Brooke said.
"Why does everything have to be so complicated?" Sam whined as she turned around and faced the blonde. "Why can't we just worry about simple stuff like, I dunno, school?"
"Life's not simple." Brooke replied. "Especially not here."
"I know." Sam said. "Doesn't mean I have to like it."
Brooke smiled. "How about we don't think about it for a while?"
Sam smiled back. "What did you have in mind?"
Brooke leaned in slightly and kissed her.
Night came, faded and disappeared. Alpha Centauri A rose and the world was forever changed.
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