The Outsiders - Part One of Two
An Earth - Final Conflict story by Tina Price
Preview: Boone and Da'an struggle with their growing relationship and the ever increasing sense of isolation from their own kind which it's generating.
Disclaimer: Earth - Final Conflict and all characters therein are the property of the Tribune Entertainment Company.
Authors note: This story occurs sometime after the events which unfold in the episode, "Wrath of Achilles". My other stories, "Striving to Become" and "The Lesser of Two Evils" should be read first. As I do not know the actual name of the Irish Companion, he will appear in this story as Kha'rha, which is actually the phonetic spelling of the Irish word, "cara". It means "friend". When and if the Irish Companion is named in the actual series, his name here will be updated. This story is based upon my own idea of what is actually going on in the EFC universe. I am in no way receiving 'privileged information'. As always, advice, criticism and kudos are always welcomed. Please contact me at the above e-mail address.
By Tina Price
Boone leaned back in his chair and stretched as he
vigorously rubbed his head. Another late night at the office was about to come
to an end, and as he had everyday for the proceeding week, he found himself
utterly at a loss as to what to do with himself. He glanced at his watch. It
was nearly eleven thirty.
Trouble was that he wasn't the least bit sleepy.
Rising from the chair, he made his way out to the balcony. The cold winter air seemed to drive ice splinters into his flesh, raising goose bumps everywhere that his skin was exposed and causing his skrill to complain dully somewhere in the back of his thoughts. With a small grin, he patted it where it lay on the back of his forearm and tried to mentally reassure it that they wouldn't stay outside very long. His skrill was a constant reminder to him that the Taelons were not all-knowing.
Ever since they had both been badly wounded, he had been able to pick up and understand more of the mental gibberish the skrill sometimes spouted. There was no longer any doubt in his mind that it was sentient - far more so than the Taelons had believed.
...Which brought his thoughts back to one particular Taelon, who had been avoiding him recently...
It had all started after the incident with Katya Petrenko, the psychic who had so alarmed the Taelons that Zo'or had had her killed. Yes, Boone himself had interrogated Judson Corr before Sandoval could hide him away and he had learned enough from the killer to have been able to deduce Zo'or's role in the incident. He had quickly filled Da'an in on the whole mess.
The North American Companion had not been pleased to hear of Zo'or's involvement, but neither had he been surprised. Boone knew that he was still concerned that the Synod might have had prior knowledge of the assassination, but short of actually confronting Zo'or or Quo'on, there was no way to put his fears to rest.
Over the course of the following week, Boone had been assigned one task after another by Da'an and had not had any time to speak with the Taelon in any sort of personal way. Then, last week, Doors and Augur had unleashed a virus on the Washington headquarters. They had done it without even having discussed it with him and his own assistant, Ms... Marquette, had been the one to upload it into the Taelon's communication system.
He had been kept out of the loop.
He was still being kept out of the loop, even though his predictions about the possible consequences of the virus had proved accurate.
At least Lili had had a change of heart. Causing her own shuttle's failure and having been stranded in the Appalachians with Da'an had apparently done his opinionated assistant some good. She had apologized to him for her actions and followed up that amazing (and very unexpected) act by admitting that he had also been right about Da'an.
Boone shook his head at the memory. Lili had to have hit her head pretty hard during that landing...
Just then his global beeped.
He flipped it open and was surprised to see that it was Da'an who was paging him. "Da'an...is there a problem?" he asked in a steady voice.
"Ah, Boone, I was not sure that you would still be awake," Da'an replied in his calm tones.
"Look, Da'an, if this is about another assignment, I have to respectfully remind you that I do occasionally require a day to myself..." he began.
"I assure you that it is not," the Taelon answered coolly. "It is only that, as we are both still awake, I felt that we could perhaps continue your lessons in the Taelon language."
Boone was stunned. It had been weeks since the Taelon had deigned to pass any time with him. Why now, in the dead of the night? He surmised that some sort of explanation was forthcoming.
"I think that I would like that," he answered. "However, I have no shuttle available."
"Captain Marquette is just leaving. She has agreed to transport you," Da'an explained. "Since you are scheduled to attend a meeting with me tomorrow morning, you may take your rest here."
"A sleep over?" Boone raised an eyebrow. At Da'an's amused look, he continued. "Have Lili meet me at my place. I need to retrieve a few items."
Da'an nodded before cutting the link.
Boone quickly made his way back through his office. If he was lucky, he'd get home before Lili arrived.
A half hour later Boone and Lili were on the way back to the Taelon embassy in DC. As he sat in the rear shuttle seat, the security chief knew that he had to ask Lili the question he had been suppressing since her arrival.
"What's with the late night visits with Da'an?" he asked. "You used to despise him."
There was silence for a full ten seconds as Lili seemed to struggle with an explanation. "I told you that I was wrong about him," she sighed. "Look, Boone...he saved my life and after that...."
"After that, what?" Boone sat up straighter and listened intently.
"Do you remember what Beckett told me about companions back in Ireland?"
Boone's CVI kicked in, bringing the words Lili referred to, back in their entirety. "She said that Companions were blessed with gifts which make a woman's life enlightening," he quoted.
There followed another long silence as the point slowly sunk in.
"Wait a minute...are you saying that you and Da'an have...?" Boone was at a loss as to how to finish the sentence.
"Uh...sort of..." Lili sighed again. "It's really complicated, Will. I don't even know how to describe our relationship. It seems sexual in some ways, but it isn't. I don't even know if he considers me to be a close friend or something more!"
"Perhaps you could explain how this happened?" Boone found himself intensely curious.
"I..." Lili stopped and looked over her shoulder. "Maybe some other time. We're almost there now. Boone?"
"Don't worry, I won't tell him that you squealed."
"I didn't squeal!" Lili tried to act indignant. "You're the one who asked!"
"Relax. I won't mention this conversation unless he actually asks me point blank if I know. I'm glad for you, Lili. Really. At least you can now see both sides of the equation when Doors is drawing up his plans. One of us has to be devil's advocate around him and we both know that I may no longer get that opportunity."
"Sorry. There's not much I can do about that, but I promise to keep you informed of what he's doing."
A short while later, Boone met with Da'an in the companion's audience chamber. When he entered the room, he found his alien friend standing before the virtual glass windows, admiring the view of the Capitol at night. Without a word, he dropped his overnight bag and moved to stand by Da'an's side.
"Welcome Boone." Da'an did not so much as glance at his implant.
Boone decided to cut to the chase. "Why have you been avoiding me? What is it that troubles you so?" Boone laid a hand upon the Taelon's shoulder and gently turned him to face him. "Da'an...I ask only because I wish to help."
"I know this." Da'an spoke frankly, his gaze holding Boone's. "I fear that I have been avoiding you, however I required time to reach a decision."
"What decision?" Boone hadn't felt this anxious in a long time.
"It has not yet been made." Da'an motioned toward the ledge to his right and together they moved to sit upon it.
"This has something to do with our bond, doesn't it?"
Da'an nodded. "I fear that it has the potential to grow beyond what I originally had anticipated. Your exposure to Katya Petrenko and her insistence on passing her ability on to you has left me with a dilemma which I do find difficult."
"Yes, Boone. I know all that passed between the two of you. I have seen it all through Lili's eyes." Da'an's large, phosphorescent blue eyes gazed gently at him.
"I'm not sure that I..." Boone began.
"I have formed a bond of sorts with Captain Marquette, Boone. When she and I share our emotions, I am able to see much of her past experiences."
Boone literally gawked at him. "You've been spying on me by proxy? Da'an!"
"What I share with Lili is special to me... and it serves a very important purpose. What I have learned from said sharing has been unintentional...but useful. Katya did pass her ability on to you Boone... That, coupled with your other... association, has served to complicate our relationship."
"The Liberation." Boone bowed his head as he said it. The last secret he had kept from Da'an was finally out in the open.
Again Da'an nodded and the two of them sat in silence for a short time.
Feeling the Taelon's eyes upon him, Boone raised his head. Da'an's luminous eyes seemed even larger than usual.
"I am not disappointed, Boone. Far from it. Although you are a part of the liberation, you have apparently never intentionally worked against me. Moreover, you have been directly responsible for having limited much of the damage which the organization... and the Synod would otherwise have caused." Da'an blinked and a small smile touched his mouth. "Lili's memories of these events are quite clear - I do believe that you excel at annoying her."
Boone actually snorted. "Yeah, I have a talent for it."
Da'an's smile faded. "Boone, should you and I continue to strengthen our bond, there is a very real possibility that you would share in the commonality's thoughts. In that case, I fear that your thoughts, your memories, would also be laid open to the commonality." It was Da'an's turn to look downward. "There are many of my people who would not tolerate such a thing...I do not wish to lose you."
The large ex-cop found himself temporarily struck dumb by the companion's sudden honesty. When he spoke, it too was from the heart.
"Da'an...You must know that I cannot quit the resistance. I have done, and will continue to do what I believe to be right - not just for my people, but for yours as well." He rested a hand on his companion's shoulder, causing him to raise his head. "I do not wish to lose the bond which I share with you. Our...association is the one bright spot in my life right now. Now, tell me...what are we to do?"
"Truly, I find myself at a loss..." Da'an gestured with his hands, the fingers of which were moving in a rapid manner, betraying his agitation. "Any time we interact, our bond will exert itself and grow stronger."
"Which means that if we seek to stop the bond's development..." Boone stared at Da'an aghast.
"We must decide our course of action," the pale alien said slowly. "I have three suggestions."
"Go ahead," Boone nodded.
"The bond cannot be completely broken, however it can fade if we are separated for a long while." Da'an stared at his implant. "You could choose to serve a different Companion."
"I won't accept that as a possibility." Boone shook his head. "What's your next idea?"
"I could cut myself off from the commonality. This would ensure that our bond could not prove a threat to the Synod, but it would leave me...vulnerable."
"You would most likely lose your position as North American Companion?"
Da'an nodded. "But I would brave this for your sake."
"NO. This is as unthinkable as having me quit the resistance. We need you right where you are and me right where I am if we are to have a chance at helping our people to get along with each other. What is your last suggestion?"
"That you work for another companion for a while in the hopes of obtaining his support. If we can gain the approval of others of my kind, there is far less chance that the Synod would be able to order your elimination."
"They'd have to tolerate me, eh? Which Companion did you have in mind?"
"Our Companion to Ireland - Kha'rha , has the reputation of being well liked, even by his sole implant."
"Siobhan Beckette." Boone raised an eyebrow. "So I've heard, but how can I be of use to him? Ms... Beckette seems to have things...'well in hand'."
Da'an's eyes widened. "I had not heard of this. No matter, it makes him an even better choice. He has recently asked the Synod for permission to 'borrow' an implant knowledgeable in the area of security for a project he is undertaking... Boone, he is a popular voice in our commonality."
"Then you'll make the arrangements?"
Da'an nodded. The two of them sat silently for a few moments before he spoke again."I did invite you here to further your lessons in the Taelon language..."
"Actually, now that I know what's going on, I'm finally feeling that I'll be able to get some decent rest. I think I'd like to turn in."
"Of course." Da'an stood and gestured towards the ramp which led to the upper chambers. "Please allow me to show you the way."
Fifteen minutes later, Boone found himself sprawled on a comfortable, if narrow, palate in his assigned chamber. His arms crossed up behind his head, he gazed around the room, still amazed by the fact that he was sleeping at the Taelon Embassy - and right next door to Da'an's own personal chamber!
His own chamber was circular in shape, with the usual arched ceiling and organic walls. There was a small window which presented a beautiful view of the Capitol and a skylight which presented him with a breath-taking view of the night sky.
As he stared at the stars above him, he reflected on the problem which was now threatening what could definitely be called the most bizarre friendship of his life. There had to be a way out of this - some way which did not require him to ingratiate himself to other Taelons. The idea of kissing up to a Taelon in the hopes of getting him to tolerate him was ...extremely distasteful. He doubted that it would work. If Taelons were anything at all like humans, the tactic was sure to fail. Nobody respected a boot-licker.
So, why had Da'an suggested this plan? He must have something else in mind - something which necessitated getting rid of Boone for a while. But what?
Perhaps he could figure it out before it was time for him to head for Ireland...
The stars were the last things Boone saw before he drifted off.
Boone dreamed that his mother was trying to get him out of bed and ready for school. It had been her habit to sit on his bed and poke him until he finally gave up and promised to get up.
"OK, ok...I'm up already," he muttered as he batted away the hand that was on his head.
...Something suddenly dawned on him. His Mother had died years ago.
His eyes snapped open. Da'an was seated on the edge of his bed, watching him with some amusement.
"I assume that you will require some time to make yourself presentable before our departure?" his other-worldly host asked.
"Uh...yeah. Thanks." Boone sat up. "Sorry if I slapped your hand away."
Da'an nodded. "Did you dream?"
"I dreamed that you were my mom and that I was back in grade school." Boone chuckled as he had a sudden, absurd vision of Da'an portraying his mother in a play.
Da'an actually looked pleased.
"Do you...dream?" Boone risked the question.
"Not in any way which could be compared to your own experience of dreaming," Da'an responded as he stood up. "We are always aware on some level, however, we do have flashes of insight and a drifting of consciousness which may perhaps be compared to day-dreaming."
"Agent Sandoval and I will await you in my audience chamber," Da'an said, before making his way out of the room.
With both Boone and Da'an
out of town for the day, Lili found herself with a bit more free time than she
normally had. Yeah, she had things to take care of at the office, but she
didn't need to worry about shadowing Will around town...or visiting Da'an.
Lili sat down at Boone's desk and laid her head on her crossed arms. What was she going to do? Here she was, a member of the Liberation, assigned to keep an eye on their number one mole and what did she go and do? She got involved - with a Taelon. The very same Taelon she had kept telling Boone that he was getting too involved with.
Now what? She couldn't help but feel like a trap was closing around her. She truly liked and admired William Boone. She even fantasized about them eventually getting together. Problem was that now she also felt herself strongly drawn to Da'an... even as Boone was.
What kind of bizarre triangle was this? Man and Taelon. Taelon and woman. Woman and man. When Boone was away somewhere with Da'an, she didn't even know which one to be jealous of anymore. If her own relationship with the Companion bothered Boone, he never let on that it did. All she knew, was that the situation was eventually going to lead to problems...BIG problems.
It was almost too much to contemplate. With a sigh, Lili stood up and smoothed out her sleeves. She was basically caught up with her paperwork. Perhaps it was time to attend to her other job...
Less than an hour later, she
waltzed into Liberation H.Q.
Augur and Sahjit Jinnah were at a table in the corner having a heated conversation. They usually did, when they were discussing the best way to set up a new program. She approached them and cleared her throat, instantly drawing Augur's undivided attention.
"Lili. I wasn't expecting to see you so soon," the computer genius grinned.
"Well, while the cat's away, and all that...." she smirked. "What are you two working on?"
"A program for deciphering Eunoia," Sahjit excitedly replied. "Doors wants us to be able to translate it ourselves, rather than relying on Boone."
"And why is that?" Lili looked as perturbed as she felt. "Is Doors planning on giving him the hidey-ho?"
"Lili, we both know that Boone is getting too close to Da'an. There may come a time when we can no longer trust him," Augur explained. "I mean, we don't know exactly what his CVI might do to him. Just because the original motivational imperative has been deactivated, doesn't mean that the implant can't slowly re-engineer itself."
"So, you're saying that Boone trusts Da'an because his CVI is attempting to modify his behavior?" Lili's eyes narrowed. "Who came up with this theory?"
"Jonathan suggested it," Sahjit answered quietly as Augur watched Lili with some concern.
"I suppose that you two never stopped to think that perhaps Boone trusts Da'an because he IS to be trusted? Just because he's a Taelon, doesn't mean that he doesn't want what's right for us, as well as his own people." She waved her finger at the two men. "He and Boone might just prove to be one of our biggest assets - have you ever stopped to think about that?" Without waiting for an answer, Lili turned and stormed off towards Doors' office, leaving the two men to stare at each other in surprise.
"Lili defending Da'an?" Sahjit said in a low tone. "I thought she hated the Taelon."
"So did I, but ever since they crashed together, she seems to have revised her opinion of him." Augur looked troubled. "She won't even tell ME why. All she's said is that she misjudged him - that he risked his own life to save her's."
"Maybe she's right about him," Sahjit responded. "If both she and Boone feel that he can be trusted...I mean, Boone is a very good judge of character and personally, I don't feel that he's being controlled by his implant. Doors could be barking up the wrong tree."
"I don't know..." was all that a very troubled-looking Augur could manage.
"That's quite enough,
Marquette!" Jonathan Doors slammed his hand down on his desk top.
"You seem to be forgetting that I call the shots around here. Just who the
hell do you think you're talking to?"
"You only call the shots because you put up the cash for this operation. That does not mean that you are the best choice as far as leading this organization goes, nor does it mean that you're infallible." Lili stood her ground in front of Doors' desk as the industrialist stood facing her on the other side. "What's the matter? Boone been right too many times? Afraid that someone is going to start thinking that he would be make a better leader than you? Is that why you're trying to force him out?"
"How dare you!" Doors was livid.
"How dare you? How dare you make decisions like this without consulting with anyone else? This is not a dictatorship, is it? Because...if it is, then all I can say is that the Taelons are looking better all the time!"
Doors stared at her, aghast. He seemed to have been struck speechless.
"If you keep Boone out, then I stay "out" as well. Is that clear?" Without waiting for a reply, Lili turned and stalked out of the office, slamming the door behind her and making her way directly toward the exit. She didn't so much as glance at Augur as she passed by him. She knew that every eye was on her - and she really couldn't care less.
As she stepped into the elevator, she saw Augur moving her way.
"Lili! Wait!" he yelled as the doors began to close between them.
"Call me later," she ground out as the doors finished closing.
With an effort, Boone forced
his eyes open. It was past eleven pm. The hum of the shuttle engines and the
gentle rock they produced had been enough to begin lulling him off to sleep. It
had been a long day on just a few hours of sleep and he was glad to be headed
home. His bed had never seemed so inviting...
With a start, Boone sat up straighter. He had been drifting off again. Turning to look at Da'an, he was chagrined to see that the companion was blushing.
"Sorry," he mumbled. "I'm not sure why I feel so tired. I used to be able to go twice as long before the urge to sleep overwhelmed me."
Da'an leaned slightly closer. When he spoke, it was in his own language. "I fear that it is my own fatigue which you feel, Boone, not your own."
It took Boone a moment to translate the phrase, but as understanding washed over him, he nodded. "The bond?" he asked in the same tongue.
"Why have you not rested?" Boone continued, curiosity getting the best of him.
"I have much which I must accomplish. Let us leave it at that." Da'an switched back to english and raised his voice a bit. "We will take you directly home, however, I wish you to be back in my presence by eleven tomorrow morning."
"Not a problem." Boone noticed Sandoval eying him curiously and stared him down before leaning back in his chair and attempting to ignore the sensation of fatigue which washed over him. What was Da'an up to? What was taking up so much of his time that he could not rest? Here, surrounded by Sandoval and his assistant, Lassiter, Boone had no hope of getting Da'an to open up, but tomorrow would be a different story...
Only after the shuttle had
lifted off and he had taken a few steps toward his front door, did Boone notice
Lili waiting patiently for him on the stoop.
"What's wrong?" he asked as he unlocked the door and stood back to let her enter.
Once the door was shut behind them and the lights had been turned on, Lili spoke. "It's Doors," she huffed as she dropped onto the couch. "He's decided to keep you out of the organization for a while."
"I knew it!" Boone's jaw clenched as he flung his overnight bag into a corner. "Let's have it - what's his reasoning?"
"He's trying to convince people that your CVI is slowly gaining control of you, but I think we both know that the real reason behind this is that he feels threatened by you. You've gained a great deal of support in the movement lately and he's afraid that you might take over."
Boone dropped onto the couch next to her and wearily rubbed his face.
"If it's any consolation, I told him that I knew what he was up to." Lili laid a hand on Boone's arm. "I'm not going back until you are."
Boone covered Lili's hand with his own. "I appreciate your support, but we cannot afford to have us both out of the loop. You need to go back and keep an eye on things."
Lili quickly came to her feet and faced him. "Forget it! I am not going to eat my words, Will! Besides...we can probably get the information we need out of Augur and Sanji."
Reaching up to take Lili's hand, Boone guided her back to the couch next to him. "I'm glad that you've begun to see things as I do, Lili, because I'm going to need for you to handle things for a while..."
"I don't understand..."
"I'm needed in Ireland for a while. Da'an's going to fill me in on the assignment, its duration and when I'm leaving, tomorrow."
"Da'an is sending you away? Now I'm really confused." Lili pulled her hand free and smoothed back her hair. "Did you two have an argument or something?"
Boone smirked. "Far from it. I believe that he's trying to protect me from something...or someone. Anyway, I have to go along with it for now - I owe it to him to trust him on this." Boone stood up and headed for the door as Lili followed. "I'll fill you in at the office tomorrow when we get back from DC. In the meantime, keep your ears open and see what you can figure out." He swung the door open. "I'll see you at the office at a quarter to eleven."
Lili nodded and turning, headed for her car. She heard Boone's door close softly behind her.
A half hour later, Lili
exited her apartment's elevator to find Augur patiently waiting outside her
front door. He looked relieved to see her.
"I was beginning to get worried..." he began.
"Augur, how did you get in here?" Lili asked as she unlocked her door. At the wounded look which crossed his face, she snapped, "Never mind! I should have known better than to have asked!" She waved him in ahead of her.
As the lights were snapped on, Augur took in his new surroundings. "Very nice! I believe that we have compatible decorating styles..."
"Why are you here?" She interrupted him, as she made her way into the kitchen.
Augur threw his coat down on a chair before following behind her. "You KNOW why I'm here." He moved close behind her as she poured herself some water. "I care what happens to you..." he whispered near her ear.
Lili put the water down and moved away. "Is there anything I can get you? A Beer? Some wine?"
"No. Nothing like that..." Augur sighed. "Look, can we just sit down and talk?"
She sighed. "Come on." Lili picked up her glass and led the way back to the small living room, where she sat in the armchair.
Augur seated himself on the small couch facing her. "Lili, why the big confrontation with Doors?"
"Oh, for Pete's sake, Augur! You know what he's up to!"
"Yes, I do. So does about eighty percent of the people who work for him. Boone already has a lot of support in the organization. Doors can't keep him out of the loop forever - too many of his best people are all ready pressuring him to bring him back." Augur leaned back on the couch. "But...you know all this, so I ask again - Why the big scene? Why now?"
"It's just not right..." Lili swished her water around in the glass and concentrated on it - anything to keep from actually looking at Augur.
"Lili, why are you suddenly defending Da'an? What is it that happened up on that mountain that made you change your mind about him?"
Lili remained silent.
"I would really like to know why you believe in the Taelon...why you suddenly believe Boone to be correct about his approach to this 'situation'."
"Listen, one day I'll try to explain it to you. I promise, but for right now..." She ran a hand over her forehead as though perplexed. "...everything has changed for me. It's hard to explain. Let's just say that I've seen who Da'an is, and I just wish that more of us were like him. Augur, you have to trust me. You have to help me - and Boone. While we're away, you'll need to be our eyes and ears."
Augur nodded and stood up. "Thank-you for that nice little non-explanation." He retrieved his coat and slipped it on. "Don't worry, I'll keep you informed. Just remember that you owe me the truth - when you're ready, that is."
"Don't worry, you'll get it." Lili opened the door and let him pass by her into the hallway. "Oh, and Augur?"
He looked back at her.
With a nod and a lopsided grin, he gave her a mock salute and moved away.
Boone was out on the office
balcony the next morning when Lili arrived.
"Are you ready to go?" she asked as she moved to stand next to him. The day had started out at cold and frosty, but was already showing a promise of being warm, with the kind of blue, cloudless sky that lingered in your memory for days.
"Whenever you are," the Head of Security and Interspecies Relations answered. "Just do me a favor - when we arrive, try to keep Sandoval busy. I really need to talk to Da'an - alone."
"Consider it done."
Boone." Da'an was at the audience room window, looking out over the
gardens and the shuttle area.
Boone had the distinct impression that the American Companion had been there awaiting his shuttle's arrival. As he approached, he scowled and became concerned.
"You still have not rested." It was both a statement and an accusation.
Da'an glanced briefly at him before returning his gaze to the virtual glass windows. "I have spoken with Kha'rha. He and Siobhan Beckette are expecting you to arrive before this day is over."
"I require you to leave today." Da'an finally turned his gaze toward his implant, shocking Boone with his appearance. His true 'phosphorescent eyes' were clearly visible behind the illusionary human ones.
Reacting without thinking, Boone reached out and grasped both of the Companion's hands. "Da'an, please...tell me why..." the words faded from his mind as he was suddenly overcome with the sickening sensation of a powerful mind trying to invade his most private thoughts. It wasn't Da'an...
It was Zo'or!
Zo'or was trying to break down Da'an's defenses - trying to wrest his secrets from him!
A sudden fury overcame Boone. Without being consciously aware of what he was doing, the implant directed a flurry of pure malice towards the Taelon representative to the United Nations.
Da'an sighed and staggered against him, even as he felt Zo'or's startled - and terrified withdrawal. For now, the assault had ceased and he could clearly feel his Companion's relief.
"It would seem that you are making progress in learning the use of Katya's gift," Da'an quietly commented as he straightened up and moved slightly away from the security chief.
"It was instinctual. I really didn't have to think about it," the implant ground out. "I was just...so angry at Zo'or..."
"And yet, we have often discussed the drawbacks of such anger..."
"Well, let's not discuss it now. I cannot undo what's already been done."
Without letting go of either of Da'an's hands, Boone gently tugged him in the direction of his chair. The Companion moved slowly, as though he might collapse, but he neither protested, nor attempted to free himself from his implant's grip. Once he had seated himself, Boone dropped one of his hands.
"How can the Synod allow Zo'or to do this?" Boone spat, struggling to keep his anger from showing.
"The Synod ignores my predicament. It is the general consensus in cases like this, that the better Taelon will ultimately prevail." Da'an was feeling better and his appearance showed it.
"I cannot believe that they are willing to allow this...assault!"
"Among my people, it would be considered a quarrel, rather than an assault. Yet, this matters not, save that it is the reason why you must go," Da'an met his eyes. "I cannot focus all my attention toward repelling Zo'or when I fear for your safety."
"I understand now." Boone shook his head. "You know, I don't really care whether Zo'or is the Taelon representative to the U.N. or not. He acts more like a human mafia Don than a Taelon and as far as I'm concerned, he really needs to be recalled before he starts the race war to end them all!"
The companion nearly did a double-take. "Let us hope that your prediction never comes to pass," he managed.
Boone let his breath out slowly as he finally reined in his anger. "Are you sure that I should leave? Perhaps it would be best to put up a united front. It worked well enough just now. Zo'or recoiled from me as though he were being confronted by a snake."
"Boone, this is my battle. If I am not capable of facing Zo'or, then I am not fit to hold this seat." Da'an gestured toward his chair. "I am fighting not only for my position as American Companion, but for my very right to remain a member of the commonality." Da'an blinked slowly as he met his friend's eyes, evidently suppressing some strong emotion which Boone was not quite able to 'read'. "Our sudden linkage surprised our adversary and gave you the advantage, however, I fear that such an advantage may only be used once. Whatever you may think of Zo'or, he is still far more powerful than yourself in matters related to the commonality. I have little doubt that he is capable of destroying your mind, should you challenge him on said plane."
The tall red-head nodded. "I see the bigger picture now. The Synod doubts you because of your association with me."
Da'an didn't answer - He didn't have to.
"Why is it that Kha'rha is not being persecuted? He has a close relationship with Siobhan and his protectorate. Why are you being singled out?"
"Kha'rha is much older than myself. He has had the opportunity to forge many strong alliances with powerful and influential Taelons."
"The more I learn about your government, the more I realize how little it differs from my own." Boone looked down. "I too am in a similar situation. The Resistance has declared me persona non-grata because of our association."
Da'an squeezed his hand. "Then, you have little to lose by leaving now."
"I suppose not, but before I go, I suggest that you get some rest." He smiled gently at his friend. "I'll stay with you."
"I thank-you for this respite." With a sigh, Da'an reclined in his chair as an energy stream descended.
Boone continued to hold on to his hand and watched over him as the energy swirled about them both.
Lili sat up straighter when
she saw Boone heading toward her shuttle. She had returned to it forty minutes
ago, having run out of ways to distract Sandoval and had very nearly fallen asleep.
"Boone, if I had known you were going to be gone for nearly two hours, I would have brought along a book," she began.
"Lili, I can't talk right now, but there are a few things you need to know," Boone interrupted her. When he saw that he had her attention, he continued. "Everything can be summed up in one word. -Zo'or-. He's in the process of trying to wrest Da'an's position away from him by uncovering those things which Da'an has kept from the Synod."
"He's assaulting Da'an mentally, trying to break down his defenses and if he can use me against him by commanding me or killing me, he will...Which is why I 'm leaving for Ireland in the next few minutes."
"Without even stopping home for your clothes?" Lili looked confused.
"Da'an wants me to leave directly. There's really no telling what Zo'or is capable of and Da'an would really rather not have me knocked off by his rival while I was packing." Boone put his hands on his hips. "Lili, while I'm gone, keep in touch with Augur. Let me know what you can...when you can."
"Don't worry. I'll keep an eye on Da'an. Maybe even find some way to screw Zo'or over..."
"That's my Lili." Boone saw Sandoval's assistant approaching. "Here comes Lassiter now. Gotta go."
"Buzz me when you get settled in."
Boone nodded and moved off toward the other shuttle.
Siobhan Beckette greeted
Boone as soon as his shuttle touched down outside the Taelon Embassy in Dublin.
"Good to be seeing you again so soon, Commander, " Beckette said as she enthusiastically shook his hand.
"As long as it's just you and me, the name is Will."
"Will, then. Same for you - call me Siobhan." She began leading him towards the embassy entrance. "After we've met with Kha'rha, I'll take you downtown for some clothing and essentials. Da'an informed us that you had no time to pack."
"No I didn't. I'd appreciate the shopping trip."
Neither talked after they entered the Taelon edifice, but rather, made their way purposefully toward the audience chamber at the upper level. Boone noted that the structure was identical to the one in DC, which really wasn't surprising, considering that the Taelons only seemed to be using two basic structural designs. In locations where the weather could get cold, the structure was tall and compact. In tropical areas, they were short and spread out. It all made sense when you remembered that these structures were organic - alive. The more compact embassies were marvels of heat conservation, while the low, sprawling ones were amazing when it came to channeling cooling breezes.
Within a few minutes, the two of them came upon the main audience chamber and waited respectfully near the entrance.
They didn't have to wait long.
"Please enter," came the melodic voice of Kha'rha.
They moved to stand before him and both made the Taelon hand gesture, which was used for either greeting or leave taking.
Kha'rha responded in kind before surprising Boone by rising from his seat and approaching. He stopped directly before the human Security Chief, which afforded Boone the chance to get a good look at him.
The Irish Companion was tall and more masculine in shape than any of the Taelons Boone had yet met. His features, however, bore many of the familiar feminine characteristics which Da'an exhibited. Kha'rha's brow ridge was highly arched over large, luminescent blue eyes. He had pronounced cheekbones, an androgynous jaw line, a small, upturned nose and full, sensuous lips. But more important to Boone, than any of these features, was the look of understanding and warmth which lit the Taelon's false face.
Kha'rha smiled and held out his hand in the human gesture for greeting. "It pleases me to have you here," he said in a voice which was lower pitched than Da'an's.
Boone took the offered hand and shook it. "It pleases me to be of assistance," he replied. He found himself liking Kha'rha already and had to remind himself that he would have to be on his guard to prevent him from discovering that his security consultant was not the 'typical implant'.
The Taelon released Boone's hand and walked slowly around him, sizing him up. "Da'an...and Quo'on himself, have recommended you to me, but this has not been necessary. I have followed your progress as Da'an's favored implant and already know that you are up to the task at hand." Kha'rha stopped before Boone once more. "Siobhan herself has praised your handling of the Ma'el incident and told me of your successful interactions with the locals." Here the Companion smirked. "They are still telling stories of your drinking contest with Tony."
Boone was amused by his new-found notoriety, but decided to get down to business. "May I ask what my current assignment entails?"
Kha'rha turned slightly away. "This day is drawing to a close. I suggest that you allow Siobhan to show you some of the local shops. After you've returned here and been shown your quarters, we shall talk." He turned back toward Boone and put a hand to his chest while holding his left hand, palm up.
Without further adieu, Boone and Siobhan responded in kind and turning on their heels, left the audience room.
Da'an leaned against the
armrests of his chair and composed himself. He was about to receive a visit -
one which he was actually looking forward to now that Boone was safely away. He
didn't have to wait long.
Zo'or entered the audience chamber and approached the seated figure. He wore his customary look of disdain and managed to give the American Companion a superior look, even though Da'an's chair placed him in the superior position.
Da'an merely nodded, acknowledging Zo'or's presence.
"I have need of one of your implants," the U.N. representative stated.
"And why might that be?" Da'an asked calmly.
"My position keeps me busy. I have not the time to search out an appropriate implant of my own."
"...And yet, I have made the time to select and recruit my own implants, despite an equally busy schedule." Da'an stood up and moved to stand before Zo'or. "I understand that Quo'on has dictated that you might take another Companion's implant for your own, should he possess more than one. I knew you would come to me. You may therefore take Sandoval as your own."
"I require Boone." Zo'or actually put his nose higher in the air.
"Him you may not have," Da'an replied firmly. "Nor will you win Quo'on's support in this."
"It would be best for you, if you complied with my request. Already the rest of the Synod looks upon your bond with the human and believes you to be tainted. Before long, they will shun you...and then I will win your seat and both your implants." Zo'or's grin was chilling.
"You do not make a request, but a demand," Da'an spoke softly, but there was a hard look on his face. He glared at his nemesis from the corners of his eyes. "If I failed to honor the bond I myself initiated, then I truly would deserve the Synod's censure."
Zo'or's smirk faded. "Where is Boone?"
"His services have already been requested by Kha'rha. I fear that he will be gone for as long as you may require him." Da'an tilted his head in a taunting way.
The corners of the visiting companion's mouth sagged. "I see...Very well, I will therefore accept Sandoval. Have him meet me in the shuttle area." Without awaiting a response, Zo'or turned and left the room.
Da'an opened a data stream, causing Sandoval's image to appear before him.
Sandoval came to attention. "Da'an?"
"Your presence is required." Without waiting for his implant's reply, Da'an cut the transmission. He slowly moved back toward his chair.
Sandoval actually attempted to protest his re-assignment. "I..."
The Taelon interrupted him. "I believe your re-assignment shall be of short duration," he soothed. "but before you go, I have one more order which I wish to give you. It is imperative that you follow it exactly."
"You are to serve Zo'or as you would serve me, however, if he should command you to do anything which would endanger Commander Boone's life, you are not to actually carry through with your assignment. You are to report to Quo'on secretly and at the first opportunity. You will inform him of the command I have just given you and then you will tell him what it is that Zo'or has ordered you to do. Do you understand this?"
"What will you do if Zo'or gives you contradicting orders?"
"I will honor your orders above his. Da'an...how will you get by without any implants?"
"Lassiter and Marquette shall assume the duties which you and Boone will be unable to perform during this time. Somehow, we shall manage." Da'an nodded and blinked. "You will be missed, Agent Sandoval."
"As will you." Sandoval saluted and made his exit.
Boone finished arranging his
new clothing in a dresser which looked bizarrely out of place in the embassy
room which would be his home during his assignment's duration. The room was on
one of the mid-level floors and although it had no windows, its ceiling glowed
softly, providing the illusion of natural light.
"Are you ready?" Siobhan appeared in the doorway. Her own room was located right next door to Kha'ha's and Boone knew that it would be exactly the same as the one he had last slept in at the DC embassy.
"All set," was his reply as he closed the dresser and straightened up.
After making a few turns and climbing a few curving ramps, they once again stood before the Irish Companion.
"Please allow us some time together," Kha'rha said after exchanging greetings with the implants. With a nod, and a wink at Boone, Siobhan turned and left the room. Both Taelon and man watched as she disappeared through the doorway.
Boone turned to notice Kha'rha's eyes upon him. "She's quite a woman," he commented.
The Taelon smirked. "She is quite a human being," he corrected, to Boone's chagrin. "Come, let us sit by the window."
Once seated, he turned towards Boone and began explaining the circumstances which had led him to ask Da'an for permission to make use of his implant.
"We companions have begun experimenting with an abbreviated form of the CVI which you possess, " he began in a low voice. It allows us to experiment with selective memory."
"Selective memory?" Boone didn't like what he was hearing.
"A means by which we may make use of human talents, freely given, without compromising our security." The companion looked out the window at the glowing lights of Dublin. "We have transported many volunteers to our base and ships on the far side of the moon. There they provide information about the human ability to adapt to working, living and reproducing in Taelon environments. They have been treated well and actual medical experimentation has been kept to a minimum."
"So, if everything is so wonderful, what's the problem?" Boone asked, afraid of the answer he would receive.
"Lately, some of those volunteers returning to earth have been losing all long term memory."
Boone felt chilled. Without any long term memory, humans were unable to remember even the simplest things for more than three minutes...if that. A human with this kind of disability was completely and utterly dependant upon others for his continued existence. His life ended the day his memory was damaged. Such a person had perfect memory of their life up until they were affected. After that, he was doomed to live the same three minutes over and over for the rest of their life.
"Are you telling me that the new CVI's are causing this?"
"We are certain at this point that all the affected humans have had their CVI's tampered with," Kha'rha locked eyes with Boone. "Siobhan feels certain that the Liberation is the source of this tampering. I fear that they are attempting to restore the volunteer's memories so that they may expose our projects. You must put a stop to this before the anger being directed towards us by the victim's families escalates into violence."
"I'll need to know the specifics of the research which was being carried out and how the volunteers were recruited and transported."
"I will put all of my resources at your disposal," Kha'rha replied as he stood up. "You will assume your new duties in the morning. Siobhan will, of course, be assisting you during your investigation. She will be able to fill you in on some of the recent problems as well."
"In the morning, then." Boone stood and made the Taelon leave-taking gesture before heading off toward his room. It looked like he had gotten himself into situation which would provide him with more information about the Taelon's secret agenda."
He would have to contact Lili about this.
End of Part One