Just wanted to say thank you to those who commented and sent me messages of condolences and support. Since then I've been able to write with a lot of fervour and I was able to complete yet another chapter that I hope you will all enjoy. So here you go and please keep the comments and reviews coming.
"Razer who was this 'Sean' she spoke of?" this time her voice was meek and she refused once more to look directly at him.
"Wha…uh…he was her life mate. He was her husband. He died some years ago and she felt a similar loss to what I felt when I lost Illana," Razer's voice quivered as he only dared to look down at her through hooded eyes.
"I see. So she bore no ill will; she was not angry at him for leaving her; nor did she display any pain for her loss. Why is that?" again her voice was soft as if she were entering the cage of a wild animal.
"Well, I guess as time passed, her heart healed and she forgave him for leaving her all alone."
"I don't understand how the passing of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years could help ease the pain. Please help me understand this Razer?"
"Why? Why are you so interested in Glory? Please let's not talk ill of the dead Aya when her body has not been laid to rest," and this time Razer's gaze met hers and it was filled with the pain of the loss of his friend.
Aya could tell that her prying was hurting him, but she was desperate for the knowledge she sought and needed answers to the strange feelings that were stirring inside her. So she decided to pursue it a little further.
"I'm sorry Razer. I don't mean to be insensitive. I'm more curious about her circumstances than she herself. So if you could please answer just this one question then I promise I won't push the issue," and as her eyes met his, Razer's heart melted and he resolved to answer.
"Well, because it just dulls after a while. At first you feel like you can't breathe, you can't think, you simply can't function, but then as time passes everything resettles and you can do all of those things once again. Simply put: your heart heals."
This time Aya looked up at him with the same childlike innocence and asked, "But what if you are not organic and are missing a heart. What can you do to heal?"
"But Aya you have a heart…now that is. And you did before…well…before this change. You had a heart and you had a soul otherwise you would not have felt the pain that I so insensitively caused you," and as he said that a tear formed in his right eye, which he quickly wiped with the back his fist before she could notice.
But it was too late. She had noticed and again she felt a strange sensation in her chest: a painful twinge. Then she could swear that she was leaking from her own eyes as she put her hand to her right cheek and felt her own tears! To be sure they were hers she put both hands to her cheeks this time, wiped and hesitantly tasted the salty liquid left on her fingers. Yes there was no doubt about it. She was crying! This was just more proof that she was human now beyond a doubt. Then inexpectantly she giggled to herself.
"What in the world is so funny Aya!" Razer inquired with slight annoyance in his voice.
"Oh…what….oh I'm sorry. It's just…well…here look for yourself," and she raised her chin to show him her damp cheeks and wet palms.
"Aya are you crying?"
"Yes. Yes I guess I am. Isn't that just wonderful!" and she beamed the brightest smile that he had ever seen her two lips make and once again his heart was warmed to the point that he just had to pause to take her all in.
At this point they had reached the ship and when the docking bay doors opened, Razer was torn from his thoughts of Aya and began walking up the ramp to the docking bay. Once on a level plain he gently placed her down on a bench and went to seek Kilowog and Hal. However, before he could reach the exit, Kilowog burst into the room.
"Razer buddy. You lil' red devil! You did it! The Manhunters just stopped. All of a suddin' it was like their batteries all went…well…dead!" and the he picked him up in a big bear hug practically breaking a rib.
"Kilo…Kilo…Kilowog please put ME DOWN!"
"Oh sorry man. I was just so excited that I didn't know what to do with myself. So what happened out there? There was this bright blast of light and then…" but before he could finish his sentence, something moved in the corner of his eye and then he saw her.
"Razer what…no who is that?!" he said while point to Aya.
"Now Kilowog I will answer all of your questions once Hal gets here and we head to the infirmary. Can you contact him for me please?"
"Sorry…huh? What did ya just say?" he stumbled as he looked at Razer confused.
"I said 'can you call Hal please?' " but this time Razer placed his hands on Kilowog's forearms and looked right into his eyes in order to get his complete attention.
"Oh yeah. Sure Red. Just gimme a sec okay," then he turned to look more closely at Aya as he contacted Hal with his ring.
Once he was done he turned back and hooked his arm around Razer's as he forcefully pulled him to the side to ask, "Uh buddy, whose the half-naked chick sittin' in our docking bay?"
But before Razer could open his mouth, Aya piped up instead and very sweetly said, "Hi Kilowog."
"Do I know you?" he asked and with more introspection and a narrowing of his eyes Kilowog recognized her.
"Oh my Grotz! Razer is that…AYA?!" his jaw dropping in the process as he shook his friend by his shoulders.
Razer then carefully removed his hands one by one and in his most monotone voice said, "Yes Kilowog its Aya," and then he rolled his eyes at his density.
Then Kilowog peeked over Razer's shoulder to steal another glance as Aya smiled and waved back at him with her fingers. He quickly returned to face his friend and then asked, "What happened to her Razer? She looks…different. It might be just me but she looks 'softa'."
"That's because she's is 'softer' you dolt! She's organic now man…Jeez!" and Razer raised his arms in complete frustration.
But before he could chastise his companion more, Hal entered the room with a complete look of concern on his face.
"Razer I need a de-briefing immediately and we need to discuss arrangements for Glory's body. I'm so sorry that these happened, but take solace in the fact that those Manhunter bastards are just large heaps of scrap metal at the moment. Now let's…"
"Sorry to interrupt Hal but there is another thing we need ta talk 'bout right now."
And with a look of pure confusion on his face Hal responded, "But what impossibly be more important than…"
Then Razer took his superior by the shoulders and very slowly turned him around to face Aya on the bench.
"What the Fff…"
"HAL! That's Aya!" Razer screamed before Hal's profanity could be completed.
"Aya but how? Why? What happened to her?"
"That's what I want to know. So I need to take her to the infirmary right away and run some scans. Can the other items wait until I get her settled?" Razer asked with a pleading look on his face and when Hal seemed to hesitate he quickly added in a whisper, "Look Hal she's frightened and I don't want a repeat of what happened with the Manhunters so please. Can it wait?"
"Yeah…yes sure. Of course it can. Please go ahead. Kilowog and I will be waiting in the briefing room when you're done," and with a solid smack on Razer's shoulder, Hal motioned for Kilowog to follow him with a tilt of his head and they both turned to exit the room.
When it was just the two of them left, Aya finally spoke up to ask Razer, "They're afraid of me aren't they?"
"No. Of course not. Why would you say that?"
"Because I could see it in their eyes. I remember when I was an AI I could detect heartbeat fluctuations and the most minute eye dilation when I knew someone was lying, or afraid or feeling passion. But now with all of that gone there was something else that gave me the same feeling. I could 'sense' if you will what they felt, and they felt afraid of me," and with that she raised her hands to her face to cover her eyes as she began to weep.
In seconds Razer bridged the gap between them and wrapped his arms around her. Then in a gentle, soothing voice said, "Aya they're not afraid of you. Yes they are afraid, but it's not you, it's what has happened to you. It's the change that they are uncertain of and frankly can you blame them? Remember that the last time you went through a change…well..you tried to kill us. So please Aya please stop crying, cause I can't bear to see you like this," and then he released her just enough so that he could tip her chin up with fingers and look deeply into her eyes.