Chapter Twelve

Dasha stretched out her neck as Zenon landed her pod in the original streets of Los Angeles, and she hopped out as soon as it was safe. She walked into the testing facility and introduced herself to the woman at the counter, who instantly remembered who she was and walked into the back room for a moment. Dasha took a moment to look around before the lady returned and handed her a small envelope. She thanked the woman and walked out to Zenon's pod, hopping inside.

Zenon took off and set a course directly for the space station, and Dasha pulled a chip out of the envelope and examined it closely before putting it in her zap-pad. It took a moment for the chip's content to load, but she had to read the first page of the z-file three times before it registered in her brain.

"Numbar's my father?" she asked.

Zenon felt herself almost lose complete control over her pod, but she managed to wordlessly pull the pod into the loading dock.


Proto Zoa paced slowly across his living room with his zap-pad in hand. "Well, Zee, it looks like we've got another set of problems on our hands," he said, "what with Numbar being Dasha's father and all."

"Yeah, well, here's the thing," Zenon replied. "Numbar's not the best of guys, and he threatened Dasha with death if she didn't get a genuine DNA paternity test done."

"I know all that, but what about what happens now?"

"What do you mean what happens now?"

"I mean, isn't there some law that she has a choice now between her biological father and her adoptive family?"

"Well, she has to know both of them the same for that to even work."

"Did the test mention anything else, do you know?"

"She's mute major."

"I see. Now, Zee, why exactly were you so jealous of me with another girl?"

"Why were you so jealous of me with other guys?"

Proto Zoa stopped his pacing and sighed. "Zee, it's complicated, but cliff-notes version, I like you. A lot. You're the most amazing person I know, and I'm so afraid I'm going to lose you, that you're going to leave me."

"That's rudicrous, Zoa."

"It doesn't matter if it is or not. It's your turn to answer my question."

"I haven't really had a lot of luck with guys, since none of them want to be with me if I don't sleep with them, so if I'm with you, then, you wouldn't want to be with me after a little while and you'd cheat on me."

"I'm sorry, Zee," Proto Zoa whispered. "It's farthest from my mind to hurt you. I care about you too much for that."

"That's what they said."

"But they didn't mean it. I'm sure of it."

"And you do?"

"Zee, I care about you. You're my best friend, and perhaps more than that. I dunno about that just yet. It's just...I love you."


"I-I love you."

Zenon chewed her lip and lowered her gaze, wondering if she should respond. "I love you, too, Zoa," she whispered, "but I need this to mean something, and I dunno if it can."

"How do you mean?"

"I just...dunno if we can be together in any meaningful way."

" there something you need of me?"

"I need it to be real. Don't just say you love me for a week or a month and then decide you don't want to say that to me anymore."

"I don't know if I could do that to you, Zee. All I've wanted since I first met you was to be with you, but I knew I couldn't until you were an adult. I still want to be with you, because I feel like you see beyond my face and my music into something no one else sees."

"Zoa, I miss you, I need you. You're the first person I think of when I need someone."

"It's going to be alright, Zee. I promise."

Zenon felt herself blush, and she smiled a little. "I can feel a storm major coming, since Numbar's still free, so I just might need you soon."

"Zap me when you do, and I'll zap you every day otherwise."



Zenon hung up, lay her zap-pad on her nightstand, and lay back on her bed, closing her eyes. Even when everything else seemed normal, she could feel something rushing through space, charging everything it could reach with a strange energy akin to electricity.

Proto Zoa was right. A storm was coming.