Books, Editing, Environment, Future, music, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Technology, Uncategorized, Word, Writing

Colonial Authority: Chapter 24 – Clubbin’

**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**

Across the table from her, Cristina’s physical beauty captivated him more than the first time Alix had met her. Her intensity he could feel in the look from her eyes. There was a connection between them, something she offered and willingly he accepted, knowing there could be no secrets between them.

There was nothing left that she could not know. She had but to ask. He’d told her most of it already. He lacked any desire to keep anything from her in the future. What was the point? She could read his mind and he offered it to her anytime her eyes probed. Where ever she delved and whatever she found, when she returned she smiled and the love they shared seemed reinforced.

He was well aware what an act of providence it was, their being together at all. He was completely out of her league. What could someone like her ever see in someone like him? She was the most amazing person he had ever known. She was talented, gifted with a voice that was indisputably one of the key components in the Duae Lunae sound and the band’s popularity.

Though still limited, success did not come overnight. At first there were language barriers. The only languages spoken in New Milan were Italian, Creole, Spanish and English. From the outset the only one in the band who spoke English exclusively was Tim. Cristina and Alix spoke English as a second language. Cristina’s primary language was Italian. She also spoke Spanish. Alix spoke a variant of Creole and English but also could get by conversationally in Spanish and French. Pete knew English as did Keith but they were also fluent in Spanish. Moreover, expect for the band’s ability to communicate in multiple languages, they would have never made it out of the urban subculture of the various ghettos of New Milan. In fact, it was likely the band would have never met one another when all of them except for Cristina were forced to attend the same public school.

Alix waited patiently at their table for Cristina to return from the restroom. He was just beginning to become uneasy about her when she emerged, two people with her, both of them females. She immediately snatched up her purse and obtained a digipen from it and then proceeded to digisign Mods for the two ladies. Then one of them recognized Alix and offered her Mod. “Can I borrow the digipen?” Alix asked Cristina.

“Doesn’t it feel good to be appreciated?” She asked him as she handed it to him.

“What’s your name?”


“Okay, Lynn. You’re one of our fans, right?”

“Yeah, I’m like maybe the biggest fan in the city.”

“Who’s my best friend in the band?”

She paused thoughtfully, but then smiled. “Well now it’s probably Cristina, but it used to be Pete.”

“Well actually they both are still my best friends. It is just Pete isn’t as pretty as Cristina. He tries hard, but even with a shave and a splash of cologne he still has a long way to go,” Alix said with a laugh.

Cristina joined in the mirth as Alix handed Lynn’s Mod back to her.

“I really appreciate this. It’s always an pleasure to meet someone who likes what we do,” Alix said.

After seeing what Alix put her friend Lynn through, Sheryl was a bit tentative about approaching Alix, but figured since he was in the band as well she needed to get her Mod digisigned as well. Alix looked up at her. “You know me right?”


“What instruments do I play?”

It was a trick question and Sheryl realized it. Obviously, in the band Alix only played bass guitar, but as she thought about it she guessed that maybe he played guitar as well.

“He is actually quite good on the guitar,” Cristina said. “He just suffers from an inferiority complex around Keith.”

“Well considering the competition in the band, yeah, I can do bass good enough to get by,” Alix said. “Look, I really appreciate the support. Please keep it up and spread the word. The way things have been going lately we need your support.”

“It’s all a bunch of crap because no one in control of the music industry in this city wants your single to go to number one. The irony is that the measure is based on orders not retail sales,” Lynn said. “I work in a store. I know how many people have bought advance copies. I’ll be very surprised if you guys aren’t number one next week.”

“People are buying air based on a promise,” Cristina said.

“Yeah, well you guys are ‘kewl’ in a huge way,” Lynn said. “That’s why you are a hit here, even if you are not from Andromeda. Your music’s unique. It doesn’t sound like New Milan pop or the commercial crap that’s promoted heavily in the local music community. Your material is cutting edge, trendy stuff like the avant-garde local bands offer.”

“Thank you,” Cristina said with a smile and then hugged first Lynn and then Sheryl.

“We really are fans for life,” Sheryl said.

Alix leaned over and kissed first Lynn and the Sheryl on their cheeks.

“We were just getting ready to leave,” Cristina said. “I mean we’re out on the town in my friend’s coach. We’d like to hit some clubs with live bands.”

“Desperado,” Lynn said. “Overt Expression is playing there. I think you’d like them.”

“I’ve heard of them,” Cristina said. “Let’s go.”

Sheryl looked at Lynn, and then looked to Cristina, “With you?”

“We need to keep abreast of the trends here,” Alix offered.

“Well, yeah, okay,” Lynn said. “I mean, we can show you the way to the club if you want to follow us. It’s on the other side of town.”

When they arrived at the doorstep and docked their coaches, they queued up in line behind ten other people that were waiting to go inside.

“You know none of my friends will ever believe that I was hanging out with you guys.”

“Especially standing in a line to get into a club to see Overt Expression play,” Sheryl said. When she saw the bouncer at the door, she called out, “Karl!”

“Hey babe. Where’s Lynn?”

“Right here,” Lynn waved.

“Come on up,” he said. “I need my hug.”

“What about our friends?”

“We can make room for them too.”

“What about the ten people in line ahead of us?” Cristina asked.

“They have to wait,” Karl said.

“Then we can wait with them,” Cristina said.

“I think Donnie will be pissed if he knows we’re out here,” Lynn said.

“Who are you?” The person directly ahead in line turned to ask her.

“I’m Cristina,” she offered her hand and received a handshake. “And you?”

“Marcia,” she said.

“They’re in a band,” Lynn said.

“Yeah which one?”

“Duae Lunae,” Sheryl revealed.

“No! Really?” She stepped back. “It is you!”

Immediately, the people around them sought framecaps or digisigns from Cristina.

After observing the confusion for a few minutes, Karl waved Sheryl to the front. The two of them talked for a few minutes.

When she returned she explained, “Okay, here is the deal. The four of us can go inside and take four others right now.”

“We’ll wait,” Cristina said.

“His worry is for your safety, Cristina.”

“Maybe he needs to address that with his supervisor. I am sure the club is not close to exceeding the fire code yet. I’ll even bet you could take the next fifty people in line.”

“I don’t know about that.”

“I do,” Cristina said. “Trust me. Tell him everybody in line goes in. Ask Donnie if he has to.”

Sheryl flashed a smile and returned to Karl. After hearing the counter proposal, he waved Cristina to the front of the line. “Are you nuts? I’m trying to keep you safe.”

“I’m safe where I am. Everybody in line is my friend.”

He chuckled. “Here’s the deal: you and your boyfriend with me in a framecap. And I know Donnie will want one too for the wall of fame inside.”

“Everybody in line, then?”

“Yeah, we can do that.”

Lynn and Sheryl separated from them while Cristina and Alix posed for framecaps for Karl and Donnie. Once inside the door, Cristina and Alix attempted to migrate toward the stage, but it was far too congested and so they ended up in the back, sitting on a couple of vacant bar stools as they listened to the band that was playing. After twenty minutes Lynn came to find them.

“Donnie gave us a table up front,” she said.

“Great,” Alix said as he stepped off the stool. Taking Cristina’s hand he followed Lynn as they wended through the crowd. The table wasn’t the best place to view the band, but Alix had observed them playing as he and Cristina approached the dance floor. He could tell they were highly competent musicians. Maybe they were not quite there their lead singer was very good, just as Chase said.

Cristina needed to take a trip to the ladies room. Alix took the opportunity to relieve the growing pressure on his bladder as well. Then they rejoined Lynn and Sheryl at their table.

As Cristina continued her conversation with the two fans she realized they were more than just friends. They were a couple. It was not a surprise for her so much as she wondered why she did not notice earlier. Andromeda had a reputation for being open-minded and tolerant of alternative life styles. As much as Emerald, New London and New Paris might embrace cultural diversity there was no other colony quite like Andromeda. It prided itself in being unique and independent in it’s thinking.

“How long have you been a couple?” Cristina asked.

The query startled Lynn. Sheryl answered, “Two and a half years.”

“How did you know?” Lynn finally asked.

“I see it in your faces, how you look at one another, how you seem to take care of one another. You’re in love.”

Lynn smiled. “We’re a couple but we might entertain a threesome or foursome at times for fun.”

Alix who had been sipping his drink almost choked on it.

“I’ll take that as a no from Alix then,” Sheryl said, and then laughed. “Pity.”

He cleared his throat and then looked up at her. “It was just unexpected,” he offered to her as an apology.

“So, you might be interested, after all?” Lynn asked.

“Never without Cristina,” Alix said.

Cristina looked directly at him, seeming to want a further explanation that was not immediately forthcoming.

Then after a few moments of sitting in Cristina’s glare, he smiled. “I would never turn down the offer out of hand, but I’m totally with Cristina.”

Cristina shook her head at him, and then smiled toward Lynn and Sheryl. “I guess we will decline the offer.”

“It could have been fun,” Lynn said, seeming a little disappointed.

“Alix and I are not all that settled in our relationship, yet. There are still too many surprises ahead of us. We are still learning about one another,” Cristina explained. “Frankly, I am surprised at his response. Maybe after we have discussed the parameters of our relationship we will be more resolute and can better assess different possibilities.”

“You’re both straight,” Sheryl said. “I get that. Guys and gals have completely different perspectives about multiple partners.”

Alix shrugged.

“Well, Alix and I will need to discuss our relationship much further.”

“Understood,” Lynn allowed.

“Regardless, anytime you are in town, the offer is always open,” Sheryl said. “And, of course we can hang out.”

Cristina smiled. “That’s great! I guess we can let you know.”

Alix smiled, but then as he made eye contact with Cristina he could tell she was not really happy with his interest in the two other young women. She was being polite to the fans. She was not in the least attracted to their lifestyle or their offer while at the same time being tolerant.

Immediately, Lynn let out a scream of recognition, hailing a friend who was on the dance floor. She ran out to the floor to say hello and embrace him.

“Her ex,” Sheryl explained. “Oscar and his newest heart throb, Toni.”

“They all seem to be on good terms,” Alix said.

“Well, they’re still friends and she was dating me at the same time as they were still together. He’s been seeing Toni for a couple of months. He’s bisexual too. We all went out together a few times before Lynn broke up with him. It was amicable.”

Lynn brought him and his latest friend over to the table to meet Cristina and Alix. They posed for framecaps and chatted for a few moments before Alix looked at his chronometer. It was not all that late but there were other places he wanted to check out. He was sure he had to broach the subject, but didn’t know how to do it gracefully without offering an invitation to Lynn and Sheryl to join them in going elsewhere. He could tell that Cristina was uneasy about the current situation and probably just wanted to be alone with him. Still, they couldn’t just walk out on Lynn and Sheryl. They were the ones who suggested coming to the club. Maybe now that they were with other friends it was okay.

He recalled a similar uncomfortable situation with fans in Star City. Chase had leaned over toward Cristina, and said just audible enough to be overheard, “I know you have forgotten but…”

At the time Alix didn’t know whether Cristina’s response was rehearsed or spontaneous but it was perfect.

Alix decided to play it the same way

“I haven’t forgotten. We still have time don’t we?” Cristina asked.

“No, we’d better go,” Alix stood and allowed her to say goodnight to the fans and leave that club. The only complication this time was that he and Cristina had been the impetus to come to the club.

“That’s okay. Oscar and Toni are here. We can hang out with them,” Lynn said.

“Yeah, sure,” Oscar said. “It was great meeting you.”

Cristina gathered up her things. “Honestly, I really forgot about the dinner. It’s with our manager and one of his friends.”

“That’s fine,” Lynn said as she reached across the table to shake first Cristina’s then Alix’s hand. Sheryl followed suit.

“It was nice to meet all of you,” Alix said.

“We’ll really have to get together later on or next time you’re in town,” Sheryl said, as she reached into her bag and produced a contact card. “Here,” she offered it to Cristina. “This is how to reach us.”

“Great,” Cristina said as she looked at it. “I’ll send you a note over the global network and you can put me in your address book.”

“That would be great. That way you can let us know when you’re scheduled to appear in Andromeda.”

“We really need to go,” Alix prodded.

“I know, I know,” Cristina said, her eyes sparkling. She locked her arm into the crook of his elbow and allowed him to lead her through the crowd.

Once they were outside, Cristina kissed Alix’s cheek. “That was amazing. I didn’t think you knew that trick.”

“I observe well. I was hoping you’d remember.”

“Where are we going?”

“I was thinking of hitting one of the clubs we’ve played at when we were on tour,” Alix suggested as he summoned the coach from the dock.

“Yeah, that might be fun. I just hope we don’t end up in the same place as any of them.”

“Yeah, that would be awkward,” he said as the coach arrived and the door opened.

“To say the least,” Cristina said as she stepped inside and waited for Alix to slip in at the console.

As they navigated the rather vacant downtown streets, Cristina engaged the subject that bothered her.

“You would have really been okay with a foursome, you, me, Lynn and Sheryl?”

Alix really did not want to answer. She would believe the truth even if he knew how to express it. He did not want her to think he was a total pervert, but he had thought about multiple partners. It was something he had never done, something that he was unlikely to do considering the manifest strangeness of the attributes.

Still the silence extended past a few awkward moments until Alix admitted, “I really don’t know what to say. I mean, I have fantasies about it, but it isn’t like I would ever do it. You know, for some of the same reasons you have I’m sure.”

“I’ve never had fantasies about it,” Cristina stated.

“Their offer took me by surprise, mainly. I’m being honest. I have thought about it. I think a lot of guys do. Obviously, some women do, too. It still doesn’t change who we are or any of that. I’m not going to have multiple partners – unless it is something you want to do. Then yes, I would be okay with it, even if it was uncomfortable at first.”

“And it is only because of our differences from other people.”

“Well that’s a large part of it,” Alix said. “But I don’t want to do anything to hurt you.”

Books, Editing, Environment, Future, music, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Technology, Uncategorized, Word, Writing

Colonial Authority: Chapter 23 – Subterfuge

**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**

Inspector Yates leaned across the table, staring at Julie. “I was warned that you were pretty.”

“Who warned you?”

“That would be telling.”

“Is that why you brought me here, to flatter me?”

Yates leaned back. “No, it’s the report you filed last night. According to the report, two or possibly three men broke into your apartment using grappling hooks and ropes and escaped the same way. And yet they took nothing. You haven’t found anything missing, have you?”

“There was a lot of damage, but nothing we could tell was missing. The biggest thing is I no longer feel safe there.”

“That’s understandable.”

“Have they found anything from the investigation?”

“Can I be frank with you?”

“I would hope you’d not need my permission.”

“We both know who it was that broke into your apartment, don’t we?”

“Chase, my boyfriend was attacked…”

“Yes, I’ve seen the surveillance files from the club and the equipment all around your apartment.”

“Then you have arrested the culprits?”


“No as in not yet or as in never?”

“The surveillance is there to protect the law abiding. Mostly it’s routine. We check the files whenever there is an incident we need to corroborate. We monitor the public areas throughout the city, including your apartment’s hallways and exterior and commercial establishments like the dance club. We are able to solve a lot of mysteries that way.”

“I see,” Julie said.

“Your case is a little different, though. In my line of work, you learn very quickly there is a reason for everything. A few days ago we received a tip from Haven regarding your boyfriend, Chase is his name.”


“It seems that while he was in Haven last week, he met with several members of a subversive group called The Resurrection. Has he discussed any of that with you?”

“He was in Haven for meetings and training. His company is thinking of expanding the office here and promoting him to manage the office.”

“Yes, and he did that while he was there, too. But while he was there, he approached Haven authorities asking about a young man named Paul Scalero. The authorities there detained Chase and questioned him about his relationship with the man. Do you know him?”

“I’ve never met Paul. As I understand it he is Cristina’s Salerno’s brother. At least that is what Chase told me last night.”

“Cristina and her boyfriend Alix are staying with you for a few days.”


“Paul is a members and a suspected leader of The Resurrection. At the time of his detainment, Chase stated that he had never met Paul and yet last Sunday he not only met with Paul, but also spent a good deal of time with him out in the mountains to the south of Haven.”

“Why are you telling me this? I’m not involved with any of that.”

“No you aren’t. Not yet. The reason I’m telling you this is you’re the daughter of a respected civic leader who I knew personally as a friend in school.”

“You knew my dad?”

“We lost touch after school, but we were on the school tennis team together.”

Julie smiled. “He loved playing tennis.”

“Do you play?”

“Of course, but I was never as good as my dad.”

“He was city champion three years running,” Yates said.

Julie nodded. “I saw the trophies. He kept them in a closet. He never bragged about his victories, though.”

“Your dad was a rare individual. Tennis is a sport that allows individuals to perform at their personal best, but it also benefits a team. Your father’s desire was to benefit the team with his play. His personal accomplishments were always secondary. He tried very hard to see our team win the city championship. Really, only he was good enough to win it all. After he took the singles title, we needed to win at least one other title, either the women’s singles, men’s or women’s doubles or mixed doubles. Despite his best effort playing doubles, I was his partner and the weak link. We came close that third year, but I missed returning a ball that 10 times out of 10 I would have returned. We lost service and eventually we lost the match.”

“That must have been hard to take.”

“It was. Even so, your dad never blamed me. He was a class act. I know you miss him more than I do, but he was a good friend and a decent hard working man.”

“I appreciate your kind words, but I’m sure there is a point to all this.”

“So there is. You see – I am doing this as a huge favor to his memory. I can’t sit idly by and see my best friend’s daughter implicated in subversive activities through her associations. I needed to talk to you, alone, off the record. I needed to tell you what is happening around you and give you the opportunity to do what’s right.”

“And that would be what?”

“We need information. We already have a lot of the pieces but we need to connect what we have. That’s where you can be of immense help to us.”

“You want me to spy on Chase?”

“No, no, no. You need to continue doing what you always have done. There cannot appear to be any change. All we want to know is what you personally observe,” he produced a small senscorder device. “You will keep a running log, storing it and then when you come to work you download it into your computer and send the file to me. I will be your contact, your only contact. No one else will know anything about this so that you may actually be able to penetrate some of the defenses of The Resurrection.”

“And if I say no?”

Yates shrugged. “I will be disappointed, but at least I made you the offer. That’s the least I could do for the daughter of a good friend. Eventually, we’ll have the connections we need to break The Resurrection. You will be as guilty as they are if you continue to associate with the people that are in your apartment now.”

“Can I think about it?”

“Sure, but I don’t know what there is to think about. Right is always right. That’s what makes my work pretty damned easy. I’ll tell you what, keep the senscorder. If you decide to work with us, download the file and send it to me from work and that will be your answer.”

Julie gathered up her belongings and also the device. “I assume I’m free to go?”

“Of course. It has been my pleasure to meet you, Julie,” Yates said.

Without further comment, Julie opened the door and exited the room. When she reached the street she glanced at her chronometer and debated whether she wanted to return to the office. She needed to be home by 8 at the latest. She didn’t want to leave Chase alone at the apartment. She promised to relieve Cristina and Alix’s vigil so they could go out.

It was marginal whether she would have enough time. From experience, just entering the office meant dealing with things for an hour that had nothing to do with whatever her personal agenda was. Then, there was the risk of calling her supervisor and begin given something that would required her attentions for at least an hour. She opted to call Kim, her administrative assistant and check in with her, but tell her why she was going home.

“There was an emergency staff meeting called as soon as you left the office.”

“I was at the Colonial Authority office. They called me. My apartment was ransacked last night.”

“I told Mr. Gunther that you went there and that technically you came in to work on your vacation.”

“I’ll bet that went over well.”

“He grumbled. I couldn’t make it out. He always grumbles.”

“I can imagine what he said.”

“Well, things aren’t as smooth as they are when you’re here.”

“It’s because you and I are the only ones that don’t dawdle between meetings while trying to appear busy,” Julie explained.

“Oh, so that’s what we’re doing wrong.”

Julie chuckled. “Look, I have a promise to keep and I don’t dare come there because I’ll get stuck and I’ll be late getting home.”

“I understand, sister. I’ll cover for you as best I can. You’re back tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah, do me a favor. When the meeting notes are posted from whatever they’re discussing forward them to my Global address.”

“You got it.”

“And if anyone asks…”

“You were at the Colonial Authority offices because your apartment was ransacked last night and they called for you to come down.”

“That’s perfect and mostly true,” Julie said. “Thanks,” she added, and then disconnected.

Julie went to where her coach was docked and summoned it to arrive at the curb where she was standing. She had about a half an hour to get home before seven. But she had allowed for eight as the limit for her return. She had to stop and buy some groceries. With two more people in the apartment they were using up basic supplies rapidly.

She also bought soft drinks, beer, snacks and microwaveable popcorn. She selected some steaks because she figured that Alix and Chase would enjoy them. She bought some chicken, fish and some pasta along with garlic bread and Italian sauces as she was considering surprising Cristina.

On the drive home, she considered what Yates told her. It seemed unlikely Cristina and Alix were involved any more than she was. As for Chase, she felt the authorities misconstrued what Chase did in Haven. Surely, they’d figure that out.

When she returned to the apartment Cristina and Alix were ready to leave, they seemed relieved that she was home, having been waiting on her to arrive but lingering as they did not want to leave Chase alone. He was sitting on the couch watching some documentary on world viewer about the early colonial foundations on the planets and moons in Earth’s solar system.

Alix and Cristina helped Julie put away the groceries before they left, apparently before Chase even realized that she was home.

“Was it that interesting?” she asked.

“It was intriguing,” Chase responded. “It was enlightening how the worlds were chosen for terraforming and the processes involved. I have never known the complete process.”

“So this Paul has influenced you that much that now you watch historical documentaries.”

“I don’t know if I would agree with that assessment. The things he told me affected me and made me question a lot of other things.”

“Are you planning on joining his group?”

Chase laughed. “No, not hardly.”

“Good. I’m not sure they’re right.”

“Well, neither and I,” Chase stated. “I’m not in favor of resurrecting something that’s long-since dead, something that I might be inadvertently blamed for killing even if I personally had nothing to do with it.”

Julie smiled as she joined him on the couch. As she settled in beside him she leaned toward him and kissed him passionately.

“What’s that for?”

“Call it a down payment.”

“I’m not sure with my ribs and all…”

“I’ll do all the work. How’s that?”

Chase laughed, “Well, how could I refuse?”

Julie leaned in toward him and lingered with her lips close to his until he kissed her again. “I love you,” she said in response.

He groaned in the effort to stand up, but pulled her up to stand before him. “I think we need to go to bed.”

Julie laughed, “Yeah, I think you’ve got the right idea.”

“I mean we have sometime before Alix and Cristina get back.”

“Not that they would ever intrude.”

“Of course not, it’s just that… well.”

Julie laughed. “Cristina is empathic and maybe even psychic, but she’s at least telepathic.”

“I think so.”

“I know so,” Julie confirmed.

“She told you that?”

“She doesn’t need to.”

He smiled briefly, but then as concern found expression back on his face, he looked at her. “What are we going to do?”

“Call me selfish, but the only moment I care about is the most immediate one. Everything else can wait.”

Chase kissed her, lingering in the passion of the moment. He picked her up, but immediately wincing with pain.

“Are you okay?’

“I’m doing what I have to do,” he said.

“I don’t want you to hurt yourself even worse.”

“I’ll be fine,” he promised as he carried her into their room, gently depositing her on the bed, and then laying down beside her. “I love you, lady,” he said, and then kissed her passionately again. It was the sort of kiss that neither of them wanted to end except that after a while it became increasingly incapable of fully expressing their emotions, especially while still clothed. They paused their kisses and quickly disrobe. Then Chase immediately rejoined what they had been doing before, only this time Chase brought up the bed sheet to cover their nakedness as the apartment’s air conditioning had just clicked on.

It had always been the best whenever Chase came back from a tour or a business trip. Julie always was faithful to him and she trusted that he was always faithful to her. Since returning from his trip to Haven, they had made love twice, one time after another. Last night, of course was different.

Chase lingered in the moment, making it last. It was still early in the evening. They had plenty of time before Alix and Cristina returned home from the clubs. It was good for them to be out by themselves. Maybe they would have a good time dancing together. Andromeda was a fascinating place to be young and out on the town at night.

When finally their efforts achieved climax, Chase forced past the moment to extend ecstasy for a long as he could, but then fell off to the side and laughed a little. Julie rolled over and ran her fingers through the hairs on his chest, even twisting some of them, as she always played with his four nipples. “You really are the one,” she finally said. “I was always looking for you, and when I found you I knew.”

“There can be no one else for me,” Chase said.

“You weren’t attracted to Cristina?”

“She’s attractive,” Chase said. “But I wasn’t attracted. She’s a friend, a close friend I think. We spoke about things that friends discuss. She was always honest and open with me, and I tried to be the same in return.”

“But the subject of me never came up until the end.”

“It never came up because it never needed to. There was a matter of professional decorum and my personal integrity. That served as a barrier. It was at the end of the tour, when our professional relationship was technically over that we even discussed any other sort relationship. That was when I explained to her I was taken.”

“She made a pitch?”

“I perceived it that way. But I immediately told her about you.”

“That’s good,” Julie said. “At least you remembered.”

“Is that what she told you?”

“Yes. Pretty much. I mean she neglected to tell me how attracted she was, but I guess I knew. I’m just glad you didn’t do anything with her.”

“How could I forget about you?”

“Cristina is very pretty.”

“Yeah and she’s funny, witty, insightful, kind, gentle-hearted. There’s a lot about Cristina that’s loveable, endearing and adorable. But I already knew someone with all those same qualities and more. She’s not my type, not after I met you,” he said.

“Who’s prettier?” Julie asked.

Chase started to laugh, then thought better of it. It would be misinterpreted and would only lead to other more serious questions. “There’s no comparison,” he offered, hoping it wouldn’t have to go any further.

“I’m not sure that’s an answer,” Julie called his bluff.

“There are a lot of levels to a relationship.”

“Then you think she’s prettier than me.”

“Julie, you’re asking me to choose between two goddesses. It’s like saying this sunrise if better than that one. There can be no comparison. There should be no competition. I’m totally yours, completely devoted. She has Alix, and he adores her.”

“It’s just that you spent a year with her on tour and you spoke a lot but never once mentioned me.”

“Mostly we spoke about business, the band, the tour, how we were going to add some shows here and there and where we were going to stay. It was logistical stuff. She’s very sharp. She could probably do the organization for the tour all by herself if she had the time. Sometimes she helped me with suggestions. On occasion, she would be in a mood and she would tell me about her childhood, her father, why she started singing. She told me she was always afraid of people when she was young and hid in the closet whenever there were visitors, never afraid of the darkness…”

“And by that you knew that she was one of us.”

Chase nodded, but then he went on. “It surprised me at first. I mean, I was doing my job and suddenly I realized that I have known her all that time and she was the one that I was supposed to direct to Raven.”

“You never suspected Alix?”

“Not really. I mean he was always quiet, lingering in the background. So yeah, in retrospect I see that he fits the profile completely. I guess that maybe Pete, the percussionist is one of us too.”

“We always seem to find one another, don’t we?”

Chase raised his hand and suddenly the orb appeared in his palm.

“You learned that trick, finally.”

“I’ve had it for a year. It would have helped me to hide it out of the way,” Chase said. “Now, I know how.”

Julie brought up her hand and then grasped at the air. Then her orb appeared between her index finger and thumb.

“I’m impressed,” Chase said.

“I’ve been practicing too.”

“What else have you learned?’

She brought the hand that possessed the orb toward Chase’s forehead and then pressed it to the skin. Instantly, what Chase was thinking seemed to become the reality around them.

“This is awkward,” Chase protested.

“There can be no secrets,” Julie said.

“Yeah, well I’m glad I don’t have any, then.”

“Did Paul say anything else that you have not told me?”

“No, not really. I mean this apartment is definitely not the place to discuss him anymore, but he was actively trying to recruit me, actually all of us through me. I just don’t think they are doing the right thing and it concerns me that they’re making the attempt.”

“So you are willing to allow the past to remain as it is.”

“It’s settled. There’s completion. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing, but when it happened we did it out of ignorance. That’s not the best reason, but it’s not really an excuse either. It’s mostly the unvarnished truth.”

“But there has been a cover-up,” Julie said.

“A lot of errors were made. A lot of people were worried about the truth getting out to the public. A lot of people want to do different things as a result. But the truth remains the truth, despite all the subterfuge.”

“So, you’re just going to ignore Paul.”

“I doubt he’ll allow us to ignore him, but if he would that would be fine by me.”

“What do you think he’s going to do about us?”

“I really don’t know. This is very serious. Obviously, some people are very upset. Our apartment was broken into and Alix and I were accosted in a public restroom. I don’t appreciate the threats, but maybe I can understand the basis of the concerns. I can maybe understand what the Colonial Authority was intending all along. If it was not always right, what they did aligns with that overall purpose. What Paul and The Resurrection propose is experimental and hypothetical. It’s radically dangerous. If it achieves the interim goal of bringing one of the creatures back to life, what’s the point?”

“If there was a cover-up, some people want to know the truth.”

“As I see it, exposing everything would severely complicate everything. As a best-case scenario we’ll be faced suddenly with the prospect of sharing this world. In the worse case they may allow us to resurrect all of the ones that we can and bide their time until they can successfully wage war against us.”

“You assume that they are as violent as we are, or at least as mistrustful.”

“I don’t know anything about the sand-morphs, just what Paul told me. I’m not sure his information was all that accurate. It’s based on conjecture, theories and assumptions. That also concerns me greatly. What if the postulates derived from all their research are wrong? We could be resurrecting demons that will haunt our very existence well into the future.”

Julie remained silent, staring up at the ceiling and the swirled patterns that had been applied to it. She had noticed it many times before but had never really studied how in a narrow sense it seemed to be rather random but spread out across the entire ceiling there was a discernable pattern to it.

“What are you thinking?” Chase asked her as he nuzzled closer to her.

“I was thinking about how much simpler our lives would be if it was merely about us – no obligations, no threats, no offers, and no outside suggestions.”

Chase laughed. “The world would never allow that. Maybe if we were isolated on an island somewhere, it would be possible.”

“Let’s find an island then. Let’s run away, just you and me. We’ll never have to want for anything.”

“The world is not ready for that. The atmosphere is not yet that breathable, especially out at sea. Maybe in a few years we could do that. We save up and when the time comes we buy an island and move there.”

Julie rose up and kissed him. “We could start our own colony!”

“There you go,” Chase said.

Julie nodded, but then kissed him again, this time on the cheek as she held him close but gently observing where she hugged so as to not squeeze his bruised ribs.


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Colonial Authority: Chapter 22 – Threatened

**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**

The festive mood of the evening was over. The prevailing spirit of the first real night in town rapidly evaporated once Chase and Alix returned from the restroom, each of them obviously stressed and injured. Chase had obviously sustained some lingering harm that would take some time to heal. Except for a cut and a couple of bruises Alix seemed fine.

Julie and Cristina sat and talked to their boyfriends. Alix asked Cristina to dance, maybe attempting to lighten the mood, but certainly to assuage her concerns and demonstrate that he was fine. They danced for nearly thirty minutes while Chase and Julie lingered at the table, talking.

Obviously, Julie was highly concerned. Chase was still bleeding from a cut on his lip and another on his forehead. Otherwise he seemed to be under control. Chase kept trying to reassure her that it was mere intimidation. It was a warning. As long as he didn’t do anything to draw further suspicion, everything would be fine. “It would be paranoia to think that every agent of the Colonial Authority is after me.”

“It’s only paranoia if you’re not being followed,” Julie countered.

Chase considered her words. Maybe he always had been followed. Perhaps all of them had. Each who possessed the attributes had been under some level of surveillance. The Couriers, whoever they were, knew about them. That concerned Julie. Were they involved?

When Cristina and Alix returned to the table, an instant silence greeted them. It seemed as if Julie and Chase had nothing to say to anyone, even between them as they sat there not wanting to profane the air with what was worrying them that the troubles had come once Cristina and Alix arrived.

It could not be coincidence. Long since she decided there were no coincidences. Each of them learned that single lesson over time. Everything happened for some purpose. Since Cristina and Alix came to visit, the weight of world seemed to be descending upon the four of them. That worried Julie. She wanted to protect Chase. Also she wanted to be a good friend to Cristina and Alix, but she believed the immediate situation was largely their blame. People noticed them. The authorities were obviously paying attention to them.

Alix looked across the table piercing the silence as he asked, “What is Paul doing that provoked so much interest, especially in us? I have personally never met the guy.”

“I met him briefly. Then he called me and we talked for a fairly long time. But I would not even begin to claim that I know him,” Cristina said.

“Before a week ago I could not have told you anything about Paul,” Chase explained. “Cristina met him in Haven the morning after our last gig there. I saw the two of them talking as I was coming over the rise in the bridge on the causeway.”

“I have since learned that he is my twin brother,” Cristina said. “The orbs showed me the truth. I had never met him before that morning on the causeway, at least not that I recall. I never knew that he was my brother until after Raven gave me the damned orb. Since that morning, it seems like my whole life has been turned sideways. I’ve not really been the same old me since.”

Alix looked at her, but then lowered his eyes.

“Some things that have changed are okay with me,” she said for his benefit. “Without the orb, maybe we would have never started talking. It’s just that everything else is topsy-turvy.”

“Did Paul say anything to you about what he is doing?” Alix asked.

“I talked to him briefly. It had nothing to do with anything except I had the distinct feeling that he was flirting with me. I get that sometimes. You must get that too, Julie.”

“Yeah, sometimes. But from your brother?” Julie asked.

“He didn’t realize their relationship until later,” Chase offered.

“Neither did I,” Cristina said. “I thought he was kind of cute, definitely Italian. I admit I was attracted to him in some ways.”

“He’s one of us,” Julie said.

“He has the attributes,” Chase confirmed.

Mo checked on them yet again, ensuring that they didn’t need anything before her shift ended. She said goodbye and thanked them again for taking a picture and sending it to her. Another table hailed her for drinks and hopefully tips as she worked her way back toward the bar and the end of her shift.

“I don’t know. Maybe it is me but that could get to be annoying,” Chase commented. “We know her a bit, now but all the attention…”

“She makes absolute crap for wages and she depends on the tips,” Cristina said. “I know. I was a waitress when I was in college. It sucks. And people like us who are just sitting here, taking up a table and not buying anything really do nothing for her.”

“Yeah, we have been hogging her table all night,” Julie said. “But she checked on us regularly. She’s doing what she’s supposed to do.”

“Exactly,” Cristina said.

“I’ll give her a good tip then,” Chase said.

“It needs to be more than the paltry sum you usually dole out,” Julie said.

“Trust me, I got it. Are you guys ready to go then?”

“Yeah, I think this night played out a long time ago,” Alix said.

As the others walked toward the door Chase walked up behind Maureen and tapped her on the shoulder. “We’re leaving. It was very nice meeting you and thanks again for your support of the band. I just wanted to thank you for your attentive service and if you are ready to receive on your end, I’d like to leave you a tip.”

“Uh, yeah okay, thanks,” she said, mildly surprised and then as she paused and looked down at her payment wand. “Okay, I’m all set to receive.”

Chase executed a payment, and then turned and started to walk away.

“Wait, sir.”

“Chase,” he reminded her as he turned around.

“I think you made a mistake. I mean really, maybe one zero too many.”

“There was no mistake, hon. Enjoy.”

“Thank you. I mean that’s really generous.”

“You work hard,” Chase said as he turned around. Then speaking over his shoulder “Tomorrow, go treat yourself to something special, something you never would do otherwise.”

She smiled, “Mister…Chase, really I appreciate it. I mean, I feel bad like maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention after you stopped ordering drinks.”

“You were fine,” Chase countered as he joined the others at the exit.

“How much did you give her as a tip?” Julie’s brow furrowed as she asked.

“My finger slipped, okay.”

Julie laughed. “Three figure’s worth?”

He nodded. “Hey, it was on the promotional account. It’ll get buried anyway.”

Alix chuckled. “Next time you come in here, she’ll be all over you with service.”

“Yeah, well the only way Chase is coming in here again is with me,” Julie stated emphatically. “I certainly don’t want Ms Mo throwing herself at my hon.”

“I can live with that restriction. I don’t have fond memories of the place.”

Julie flashed an insincere smile while Alix and Cristina observed.

Julie seized the remote for the coach from Chase and retrieved the coach from the docking station. As it pulled up to the curb outside the club, the door opened inviting them to climb inside. Chase waited for Cristina and then Alix to get seated then he waited for Julie to get situated at the console before he climbed in and sat down.

It was a very short distance back to the apartment. Chase was grateful that he didn’t have to walk. His body hurt whenever he drew a deep breath. He thought he might have a bruised or broken rib. His head ached, but mainly he wanted to stretch out and try not to move for a while.

Julie kept looking across the console at him, concerned that he was being brave and not telling her the extent of his injuries. She hoped he would be okay, but she could sense his pain. Still, she knew him too well. He wouldn’t go to a clinic right away. He’d wait for a couple of days, and go only if he wasn’t getting better. She’d already decided that in the morning if he was not his usual self she would insist he seek professional attention.

In the back seat of the coach, Cristina was resting her head on Alix’s shoulder as they talked quietly. They also noticed Chase’s mood. They had been on tour with him for over a year and knew him well. Chase was always positive, always in control of the situation. Now, there was a difference. He seemed apprehensive and frightened.

They arrived at the curb outside of the apartment building and exited. By the time Julie docked the coach at the apartment’s garage Alix and Cristina were already inside and had summoned the elevator. Chase waited behind for Julie and bit back the pain he felt at opening the door as she approached.

“Are you feeling okay?” She asked him quietly as she took his hand and started toward where Alix and Cristina were waiting.

“I feel great for someone who had the kick shit out of him.”

Alix laughed at how Chase turned the phrase in his effort to marginalize the situation and how much pain he was in.

Julie glared at him.


“That’s it isn’t it? Your ego is bruised at least as badly as your ribs,” Julie protested.

“I kind of think the ribs are a little more bruised at the moment,” Chase offered.

“Maybe you can take a hot bath and soak in the tub.”

“Yeah, that’ll help.” He hoped.

When the elevator reached their floor and all exited, Cristina had an unusual sensation, unlike any that she had before. “Uh, wait,” she warned as at first tugged at Alix’s arm. Then, she proclaimed to the others. “There’s something wrong.”

“What?” Julie turned, and then, after seeing the conviction in her eyes, she halted her advance toward the apartment door.

“I don’t know what it is, but something’s not right.”

“The men from the club?” Chase asked.

“I don’t know,” she admitted.

“Do you get these feelings often?” Julie asked.

“Not often, but sometimes. I always pay attention to them.”

“Look, what say you gals stay right here. Let Chase and I be macho and go check it out,” Alix offered.

“With all due respect for your macho, mine was dislocated a little earlier and I think in the process much of my testosterone in reserve spilled out as well,” Chase said. “Look if Cristina feels something, that’s good enough for me. I think we should call building security, just to be on the safe side. Let the people handle it who get paid to do it.”

Julie agreed and had already activated her implanted phone and the holographic projection in her palm to ring building security. A few minutes elapsed while they waited in the hallway outside of the elevators for security to arrive. Then the doors opened and two uniformed men stepped off the elevator as Julie explained to them that Chase had been accosted in a club. Then, she lied that he couldn’t find his remote that operated all the locks and appliances in the apartment, so they were worried that the men who had attacked him might be in the apartment.

Julie handed one of the security officers her remote and they went to the apartment and clicked the door open. Upon opening the door, both officers ran into the apartment with urgency and lingered for what seemed a long time. Finally, one of them emerged and motioned for Julie to come toward him. He spoke directly to her for a bit, and then went back inside the apartment.

“What is it?” Chase asked as Julie returned to the group.

“There was a break-in. They saw two men leaving from the patio. They called the Colonial Authority to send detectives.

“Great, just great!” Chase groaned sarcastically. “They may as well call the guys who broke in.”

Alix corralled Cristina’s shoulders, hugging her as he said, “You probably saved someone a major ass kicking, maybe me.”

“Or me,” Chase said. “Anyway, thanks.”

“I would like to do something special to those bozos that attacked you,” Alix said. “I mean if they had not blindsided us, I think we could have taken them.”

Chase laughed, but then winced. “I’m afraid there is very little fight left in me at the moment.”

When the officers from the Colonial Authority arrived, they took pictures, checked for fingerprints, and interviewed each one of them. It took a couple of hours. Chase sensed it was intended to be a good show. Even if the officers were not aware of the covert operations of their own agents, there would be nothing found, no evidence to point to the perpetrators. It was a necessary exercise perhaps, but the result was expected. With nothing to go on, searching for the culprits was futile.

The break-in was accomplished from the balcony. There were still ropes and grappling hooks hanging down from the railing. It was pretty obvious whoever broke in was professional, another reason why there would be no clues left behind.

The interior of the apartment was ransacked. Obviously, whoever it was looked for something specific. Nothing had been stolen but a lot of things were ruined.

After the officers left, Chase and Julie worked at putting the apartment back together while Cristina and Alix cleaned up the broken dishes and glasses from the kitchen.

It was the wee hours of the morning before the apartment was back to any semblance of order. Chase and Julie sat at the table talking quietly while Cristina and Alix showered. Then while they were getting ready for bed, Julie and Chase showered. Afterwards, Julie applied a stretch bandage to Chase’s ribs before the two of them also retired for the night.

Because of the events of the previous night it was very late in the morning before anyone woke. All night long Chase found it difficult to get comfortable and sleep. By morning, apparently he was worn out enough to pass out. He was still snoring when Julie got up. She was glad she had taken a few days off from work to spend time with Cristina and Alix.

As she checked and listened to her messages, learning she needed to go to the office to get a couple of things wrapped up, things she believed were completed already but someone above her in the corporate food chain changed something at the last moment.

She called her administrative assistant to find out how everything was going. Of course, it was a disaster because she hadn’t been there for a couple of days.

When she showered and got dressed, she went to the kitchen to fix a quick lunch to take with her and toasted a bagel and spread cream cheese over it just to tide her over on the way. By the time she was done, Cristina was also awake.

“I have to go to work,” Julie said apologetically. “I should ask for a raise. They can’t seem to get along without me.”

“How’s Chase?” Cristina asked.

“He had a rough night, getting comfortable and all. You know?”

“I can imagine.”

“He’s sleeping now so maybe he’ll rest all day. How is Alix?”

“Alix wants to go out tonight, but maybe we shouldn’t,” she said.

“You guys can go wherever you want. I don’t think Chase will be going out for a few days. But that shouldn’t hold you back.”

“Maybe someone needs to be here with him, just in case.”

“Yeah,” Julie nodded. “Anyway, I’ll be back around seven or eight. That should give you two time to go out and have some fun. Don’t let last night bother you. I have lived here all my life and that’s the first time that anything like that has ever happened to anyone I’ve been with.”

When Julie left, Cristina made a simple breakfast of some buttered toast and juice. She sat at the table to enjoy it as she checked world viewer to see if anything was going on in the larger world. After she searched the channels for anything interesting, she opted to listen to some music instead. By then Alix was awake and greeted her with a half intelligible, “G’mornin’,” on his way into the kitchen where he rummaged through the cabinets and refrigerator for something to curb his appetite.

“Do you want me to fix something for you?” Cristina offered.

“No, I got it, hon. I’ll have what you’re having. That’s really all I need.”

When he had buttered his toast and poured juice into a glass he joined her at the table. Before taking a seat he kissed her on the cheek. “After last night it seems very calm and quiet,” he said.

“I’ll take calm and quiet,” she responded.

“Yeah, that was kind of nuts. I’ve been thinking about it. What was the purpose?”

“They’re looking for anything about Paul,” Chase revealed his suspicion as he entered the room. “So, where’s Julie?”

“She went to the office.”

“She has the nerve to tell me to take time off.”

“I’m sorry if we woke you,” Alix said.

“I got enough sleep. You know me, a couple of hours and I’m golden.”

“How do the ribs feel?” Cristina asked.

“Sore as hell,” Chase admitted, “But only when I breathe.”

“Why do you think they would be looking here?” Alix asked.

“They want to know where he is. They think I know. Maybe they suspect you two as well.”

“I’m not sure it’s safe to talk here anymore,” Cristina whispered.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Chase said as he walked into the kitchen and poured a glass of cold water from a pitcher obtained from the refrigerator. He popped some tablets of painkiller into his mouth. “I have nothing to hide,” he continued after swallowing. “Yeah, so I’ve met Paul. Cristina met him once, talked to him on the phone. Until last week neither of us ever heard of the guy. We have done absolutely nothing wrong. But to them I guess we’re guilty by mere association.”

“What’s Paul doing that is illegal?” Alix asked.

“Actually nothing he’s doing is illegal, just that it is contrary to the wishes of the Colonial Authority,” Chase explained. “Even within the Colonial Authority there is division over the matters that Paul’s group is dealing with.”

“What group?” Cristina asked.

“The Colonial Authority believes he belongs to something clandestine called The Resurrection. I got that news when they detained and questioned me in Haven.”

“That’s an interesting choice of names. I suppose they are interested in bringing someone back from the dead.” Alix said.

“Not someone, some things.”

“Sand-morphs,” Cristina offered.

“Score!” Chase exclaimed.

“But how?”

“They’re silicon-based life, something the engineers never in their wildest imaginations thought to check for when they were surveying the planet for terraform viability.”

“They killed them all the same,” Cristina protested.

“It was unintentional.”

“Regardless of intention, it is still murder,” Alix sided with Cristina. “It only varies by degree.”

“I think the whole thing is well past the time for accusations, recriminations or finger pointing. It was wrong, but I don’t think anyone knew it was going to happen. It was only after the fact the blame got spread around for enough of the Colonial Authority that they are willing to trample what civil rights we have. The reason no one except for a few people has ever heard of sand-morphs expect for childhood myths is the information about them has been suppressed from the public. Some of their bodies have been preserved. You see, they don’t decay in the same way as we do when we die. Apparently their cell structure maintains integrity for a fairly long time. And that may allow them to be brought back to life.”

“Hence the name of the organization,” Alix said.

“I’m not sure what Paul’s group is really called or what else they’re up to, only they intend to bring at least one of the sand-morphs back to life. It frightens me a good bit.”

“Why?” Alix asked.

“What if sand-morphs are not peaceful, tolerant beings?” Cristina asked.

“What if they are like us in that regard, you mean,” Alix said.

“Exactly,” Chase said. “Right on both counts.”

“We don’t have a great record of tolerating one another let alone sharing a planet with a completely different form of life,” Cristina said.

“I’m not sure we should even be thinking of sharing the world,” Chase said. “Wasn’t it their world?”

“They used to call it Manifest Destiny,” Cristina said. “It was used as a doctrine in 19th Century America to justify taking land from the Native Americans.”

“At least the Americans made an excuse and gave it the semblance of a legal doctrine before stealing their land,” Chase said.

“Very little difference than stealing their gold and silver and forcing them into slavery,” Alix said.

“The colonial period on Earth was rarely about fairness and equity,” Cristina said. “Why should it come as a surprise that we are any different? Is it because we’ve had a few hundred years to perfect our excuses?”

“What the Colonial Authority is doing is trying to pretend it never happened at all and hoping the issue will go away. They have imprisoned and deported people just to keep it quiet. They’ve been effective. Until a couple of weeks ago none of us had any idea that anything like this was possible let alone going on just under the surface of daily life.”

“What if they succeed in resurrecting a sand-morph? What’s the point?” Alix asked.

“One of the things the Colonial Authority has wanted to suppress is how advanced the sand-morphs civilization was. They were intelligent. They had a written language. No only are there are indications they lived in tribes, but also they had something of a government amongst the tribes,” Chase detailed.

“Do you have any idea the sort of impact that would have if it became common knowledge?” Cristina asked.

“For the sake of terraforming a place for us to live, we terminated an entire race and their culture, and a lot of other innocent life as well.”

“Even if The Resurrection succeeds in bringing one back to life, would it remember anything?”

“It’s not for certain. It’s a hope. Maybe the language can be learned from them and something about their history. Some people have done a lot of research already. They have been able to make some educated guesses about their language. It’s how they know they lived in tribes and had a government. But there are a lot of things no one knows about them, maybe they knew things people need to know if we’re to survive.”

“Paul wanted you to join them?” Cristina asked.

“He made a pitch. He wants for all of us to join him,” Chase paused then after clearing his throat and taking a deep breath he continued. “I said, no. Not yet, anyway. I’m not sure I agree with their goals or their methods, but I’m sure he will try to recruit both you and Alix, Julie too – everyone with the attributes. He’s convinced this is what we need to do. He sees it as our commonly shared special purpose.”


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Colonial Authority: Chapter 21 – Outing

**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**

Cristina had been on the phone with this or that party for most of the morning, talking to her contacts and trying to get through to someone at Global Star, even if it was in the wee-hours of morning back in New Milan. When she finally reached someone, an underling of someone that she usually dealt with, he promised her that they were working with the Andromeda authorities that had imposed the embargo. At present they were intransigent on the issue, completely convinced that there were hidden messages in the music.

Cristina volunteered to meet with the local officials as she was already in their city, but the distribution company wanted her to hold off for the time being on any private efforts until they had exhausted all of their efforts and had discussed the legalities of the embargo. Global Star seemed to think it was more about New Milan vs. Andromeda than anything else.

When Alix woke he was elated that he had pancakes and sausage links waiting. He drank coffee and then some juice before plopping down on the couch along side Chase as the two of them engaged in a racing challenge video game on the main world viewer screen.

Julie shook her head as Cristina tapped her earlobe disengaging from her call and came into the kitchen to help her clean up from breakfast. “I’m sorry I have not been much help.”

“No, I completely understand. It’s such bullshit that they have banned sales of your music locally. I’m sure the root of it is our history and I’m personally sorry that it’s affecting you.”

“Global Star seems to think the same thing.”

“It’s all political crap.”

“My real concern is that the bullshit will spread to other cities and all of a sudden we will have a reputation that we don’t deserve and because of it we’ll cease to be a band.”

“Or the publicity will work in your favor, making you even more popular because you’re banned. The bad publicity can be spun to your advantage without allowing for any guilt,” Chase said from the other room.

Julie looked at her, and then lent her the support of a friendly hug. “I’m sure everything will work out. It’s just someone with a wild hair up his or her you-know-where.”

“I know but I feel so impotent here. It’s like whatever I do won’t matter. And they tell me to be patient, because they’re working on it and I know they are. But I know as well as any of them that the longer this goes on, the more harm it can do to our success.”

“Unless someone spins it in a favorable way,” Chase suggested, again from the other room.

“My fear is that after all the hard work we’ve done and the years the band has been performing together our fame will be fleeting, Chase. Regardless the spin, we haven’t established our reputation. Most people think we’re a new band and have only been together for a short while. It’s not fair that some bureaucrats want to take the potential of our fame from us over some stupid rivalry between two cities.”

“Let the guys and gals that are the experts in publicity take charge of it,” Chase countered. “You have the best people in the world working for you. You also have the best legal team to negotiate with all the bureaucrats.”

“We need to go out, do something to take your mind off of it,” Julie suggested. “Leave the boys here playing their game while we go shopping.”

Cristina laughed. “Well, I could use some new shoes. I know that is cliché but I really do need some new shoes. Touring with a bunch of guys for a year, when did I ever have a chance to shop for shoes?”

Julie laughed. “Let’s do it then.”

“I need a shower.”

“You first then,” Julie said.

It was not far from the apartment building to the nearest shopping square. Still, Julie decided to take the floater coach, in case they bought things that would be a burden to carry home.

It was a weekday. The square was not crowded. Almost every shop was busy but not nearly like it would have been on a weekend. The ladies went to five shoe stores before Cristina found a pair that fit perfectly. They were expensive but as she had not bought shoes for over a year. She felt she was over due.

They continued shopping, looking at the latest fashions from Emerald, New Paris, New London and of course Andromeda which in recent years had become associated with trends and fashion for the younger set. Julie and Cristina spend most of the afternoon trying on different dresses and ensembles, not buying but considering. Toward the end of the day they returned to one shop where both of them found a couple of dresses they liked and asked them to be held. They made their purchases and, because of the time, decided to call it a day and return to the coach to drive back to the apartment.

When they arrived Alix and Chase were still dueling with one another in the twenty-fifth round of the simulated racing game.

“We’re back,” Julie announced.

“Welcome home ladies,” Chase said.

“You’re missing it, “Alix directed to Cristina. “I’m killing Chase on points.”

Cristina leaned over the back of the couch and kissed Alix on the cheek.

“So, what did you get?”

“Shoes and a dress,” she replied. “I’ll put them on for you if you like.”

Alix laughed. “That would be like about the only thing I can think of that might end this duel.  It might distract me just enough for Chase to win.”

“Well maybe I should put on my new dress too, then,” Julie said. “Just to be fair.”

“Please, no!” Chase laughed.

“Well if you plan on playing that game all night, we need to interrupt you somehow. Then you guys need to take us out, dancing.”

Chase glanced at Alix and received a smile in response. “Uh, I don’t dance,” he said to Julie.

“You can dance, it’s just you have to be drunk to be brave enough to do it,” Julie corrected.

“What the hell, it will be fun,” Alix said, looking into Cristina’s sparkling eyes. “It will be a chance for you to show us this awesome music community that supposedly exists here.”

“Oh, it exists,” Chase said. “I think you will be mildly surprised at how good our local bands are.”

“But if we are going dancing,” Julie said.

“The clubs with bands can wait for another night,” Chase agreed.

Alix paused the game, saved the status and removed the interface module from his head as he stood and stretched. I probably need a shower.

Chase did likewise. “You can go first,” he permitted.

“Join me,” Cristina invited.

Alix laughed, and then focused on her eyes. “Why would I ever refuse an offer like that?”

When they emerged from the bathroom dressed in towels wrapped around them to conceal their private parts, Chase and Julie took their turn at the shower. Cristina and Alix dressed in the guest room. Then, he went out into the living room while Cristina worked on her makeup in the bedroom.

Once Julie and Chase finished with bathroom, Julie went to her bedroom to fetch her makeup kit to work with it at the bigger mirror of the bathroom. When Chase was dressed, he went into the living room and joined Alix on the couch, taking over the remote to search the news channels.

By the time that she was finished, Cristina ventured into the living room, pausing until both Alix and Chase stood, looking at her and commented on her new dress and shoes. Alix complimented her on how wonderfully the dress accented her perfect figure. Chase returned to the couch sampling the news and entertainment channels, seeking anything about the embargo on Duae Lunae’s music.

“As far as I can tell, nothing has changed,” Chase said to Cristina as she sat down on the couch between him and Alix.

“I’m not sure what I can do. The distributor told me to let them handle it.”

“Then by all means let them handle it. They deal with this sort of crap all the time,” Alix said. “They have the experts working on it, just like Chase says.”

“Why us? Why now? No one else suffers embargos.” Cristina shook her head.

“Maybe this is extreme, but it is their thing not yours,” Chase explained.

“But they’re saying things about me and the band that simply aren’t true. That’s what pisses me off,” Cristina stated.

“It’ll blow over,” Chase promised. “I think it is just the local community is fearful of outsiders penetrating the music scene.”

“But we love Andromeda,” Alix said.

“I know; I know. But the city as a whole doesn’t know how great you are,” Chase replied. “We’ll just have to make sure we debut the next album here and begin your next tour here. Maybe it will even seem like Andromeda is your adopted home, then.”

“That’s a great idea,” Alix said.

“Except our fans in New Milan may take it the wrong way,” Cristina pointed out.

“Maybe we should record some of it here, then,” Alix suggested. “Maybe arrange to record a couple of live tracks in a club. We could feature some local talent as well.”

Chase smiled. “That could work well. Collaborating with some of the more popular bands here that are almost ready to break it huge… We could coordinate a promotional tour.”

Cristina kissed Alix on the cheek.

“What was that for?”

“For listening to me rant and caring about my concerns and coming up with a great idea.”

“How could I not care?” he asked. “It involves me too.”

“It involves all of us,” Chase said.

“You both were so involved in the game earlier that I wasn’t sure.”

“Games are games,” Chase defended them both. “Just because we were involved in the game doesn’t mean we were oblivious to all of that bullshit you were dealing with all morning.”

Cristina kissed Chase on the cheek. “At least you guys appreciated what I was up against and what I was trying to accomplish. I didn’t think you knew.”

“I think it’s a little bit of an over-reaction, and premature at this point,” Chase said. “But, having said that, if I was in your place maybe I would see it the way you do. Still, you really have to give the pros the time they need to work their magic with it.”

Julie finally emerged from her bathroom makeup session. She entered the living room, dressed in semi-formal attire and made up for a night on the town, having put on the special-occasion, pretty-face that Chase had been privy to only a few times, the few times that they had gone out to dinner at a formal restaurant.

“Wow!” Chase said only a fraction of a second before Alix joined in chorus.

“Are we ready to go?” Julie asked.

Alix hopped up, pulling Cristina to her feet by her hand. Chase rocked forward and stood, “Let’s go,” he said.

They took Chase’s floater coach because it was a little bit larger than Julie’s. Even if the club that they were going to was really within walking distance, they wanted to have the luxury of piling into a coach and allowing the auto drive function to guide them home.

When they pulled up at the common facility that served many different businesses in the area, Chase docked the coach and they walked directly to the club and waited for a few minutes at the door while the bouncer scanned their ID implants, and then after a few more minutes he allowed them to post the cover charges on their payment wands and enter.

The club was called ‘Options’, a place that rarely hosted live bands. It catered to people who wanted to dance to the current music of the times. As they entered the club Cristina paused, stunned to hear her own voice, their bands latest hit remixed especially for dancing, playing over the speaker system in the club.

She appraised the mood of people in the club who were dancing to a Duae Lunae’s single. As Alix grabbed her hand and led her in the direction of a table that Julie had spotted that was close to the dance floor.

“This is awesome,” Cristina said as Alix pulled her along behind him. Before they reached the table Julie was holding for them they were already heading for the dance floor. Caught up in the emotions of the moment, they were dancing to their own music.

The dance floor was packed with people having fun. Everyone enjoyed the fruits of something they had worked hard to capture in the studio over a year and a half ago. It was a song that Cristina and Keith collaborated to write. Alix recalled complaining about a couple of transitions, which, for whatever reason, were nearly impossible for him. Now, after having played them nearly every day or night and sometimes twice a day while on tour, he could play the entire song almost without thinking about it.

It was surreal in a special way that both Alix and Cristina enjoyed but did maybe could not fully appreciate. The local authorities had banned the sale of their song whether on single or complete Mod cards. Yet people were excited about it and dancing to the music.

Julie embraced Cristina as the song ended and they started to leave the dance floor. “See, they love your music.”

Alix grabbed Cristina’s wrist. “Stay, we can dance for a bit.”

“Really,” Cristina said with some mild surprise.

“Yeah, this is pretty damned cool.” He indicated the lighted dance floor that even responded to where each foot was placed, with different colors and effects.

Chase pulled Julie toward him, away from Cristina and Alix, seeking privacy for a few moments to kiss her and sit at their table. As the next song began, the foursome met again on the dance floor, continuing to dance to a song from Andromeda’s band, Overt Expression. Julie shouted over the music to tell Cristina that this band was reputed the best in the city. Cristina nodded, but then paid particular attention to the music, its structure and the transitions. After listening for a few minutes while she danced, the song was ending. She decided Overt Expression did things a little differently in shaping their sound, but she liked what she heard. She especially liked the singer’s voice and thought he might be a good candidate for collaboration like Alix suggested, perhaps singing in duet.

Chase had already headed for the table that Julie reserved in passing. It was along a wall, close to the dance floor. First he and then Julie sat down to catch their breaths. He waved to Alix and Cristina who seemed to be searching for the table. As the four of them gathered at the table, a waitress arrived, introduced herself as Maureen, Mo for short and took their drink orders.

“This is a pretty cool place,” Alix said. “I mean how cool was it that they were playing our song when we entered?”

“That was a nice coincidence,” Cristina confirmed.

“You have to be a major act to get played in a dance club like this,” Chase said. “And to have someone remix the song for a dance version…well, that’s at least flattering, I think.”

“It means you’ve arrived in the local scene,” Julie amplified Chases words. “And all this crap about the embargo will only increase your fame.”

“It gives us a bad reputation,” Cristina protested.

“Which is not a bad thing with the counter culture, especially in this city. You know, your Mods are probably the hottest thing in town right now because no one has it and can’t get it because of the ban.”

“Someone will go on the railcar to New Milan or Star City and buy some copies and bring them back here to resell them at a scalped price,” Cristina offered her concerns. “Or worse for us, they’ll bootleg them and black market them.”

Chase nodded his concurrence then added. “But that happens anyway. The true fans that support the band don’t get their music that way. They never have. But in this instance, the embargo will force even the fans to get the music through illegal means. They authorities are taking some kind of strange stand for whatever reason. We need to know why they are doing it, but it really is pretty-much token as far as killing the song. The single and complete Mods have already sold well and will be played in clubs regardless of their efforts. They have to know that. As for the publicity, you couldn’t buy this level of attention.”

The waitress returned with their drinks and lingered for a few moments, seeming to be staring at Cristina. Then she turned away and started to go back to her duties, but abruptly wheeled around, whether from finally recognizing her or gaining the nerve to ask, “You’re her, aren’t you? You’re Cristina!”

Cristina smiled, “Uh, yeah.”

“I knew it! I friggin’ knew it!” Then she looked at Alix, “You’re that guy…the bass player!”

“That would be me.” Alix confessed. He was used to the relative anonymity of the role as well as the instrument he played in the band.

“I heard on the news you were in town,” she said.

She turned around looking for someone to tell, wanting to trumpet her find, but then decided that maybe that was not such a good idea. She turned back. “Look I’ll keep your secret because if I spread the word this club would erupt and chaos will ensue.”

“We appreciate that,” Chase said.

Cristina looked directly into the waitresses eyes, “We are just here to dance and have some fun. We appreciate your discretion.”

Alix leaned toward the waitress and took her hand. In his palm was a promo card with the band’s pictures and global network message addresses. “This is how to reach the band or us individually. Send us a note and direct it to me or Cristina and we’ll respond to you directly.”

She smiled in response. “No one is going to believe this. But it’s pretty cool. I’m such a fan!”

Julie pulled out a framecap from her bag and pointed it at Maureen, “Here, the three of you stand together.”

“Great!” Mo exclaiming, and then looked around to make sure she was not needed.

“I’ll send the picture directly to your Global network address,” Julie said as she captured two images.

“That would be wonderful,” Mo said.

“Here,” Julie offered the plane to her, “Key in your address.” When she had finished, Julie clicked send. “There you are. It should be waiting for you.”

“This is really nice of you, all of you.”

Cristina smiled. “I’ve known four other ladies named Maureen and every one of them was a good person and great friend.”

“I have to get back to tables,” Mo said. “I’ll be right back. Are you okay with the drinks?”

“Yeah, everything is fine,” Chase said.

“You can bring refreshes when you come back,” Alix said.

“You got it.” Mo smiled.

Cristina eyed Alix as the waitress walked away from the table. “You were flirting with her.”

“I was just being friendly with a fan.”

“I know flirting when I see it.”

“You’re jealous?” Alix laughed. “I don’t believe you’re jealous. Like there is anyone that could ever compete with you!”

Cristina looked away.

“I don’t believe it!”

“Come,” Julie said as she stood up and grabbed Cristina’s wrist. “We’ll be right back,” Julie said to Chase and Alix.

“What’s that about?” Alix asked.

“You were coming on a little bit strong to Mo, there.”

“Well, she’s cute. Don’t ya think?”

“Women always seem to be able to tell when a man is flirting. If the girl is cute it is always a very bad thing. That turns it into a threatening situation that you can’t win. And then you sort of denied it while playing incredulous that Cristina would ever think anyone could compete with her. That just compounded the wrongness of what you did.”

“I’m not used to being the focus of attention, I guess. I kind of like it, but I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s just I’ve never been famous. Maybe I’m not now, not yet or whatever.  But I was feeling that, mostly. I’d never think of hurting Cristina.”

“Well, when the girls get back you need to explain that to Cristina,” Chase advised.

“I’m fortunate,” Alix said. “I mean look at me. Who would ever imagine that Cristina would be with me? She’s the star. I’m just someone in the background.”

“You’re both stars.”

“Chase, even the waitress knew Cristina’s name. She called me the bass player. I’m okay with it because I understand it and I’m used to that. At least she got that much right, you know? So, that’s how it is. Cristina is the focus of the audience whenever she sings. I get it. I’m focusing on her when I’m playing. Hell, look at her! Who’s not focused on her? Even you, Chase.”

“It is hard to tear my eyes away from Julie,” Chase confessed. “But when I do Cristina is where they end up.”

“I’m afraid to go to sleep. I fear waking up from this dream I’m living. If I open my eyes will it be just as it was before? Before a few days ago, Cristina hardly acknowledged me except when it was something pertaining to the band and my playing bass. I was content with that much attention. For ten years that was the extent of my relationship with her. But now that there has been something more, how can I ever want to return to how it was?”

Chase sat silent, feeling for Alix’s sentiments. He too was in love with Cristina, but at least he had another love in his life. Julie captured his heart before he met Cristina, and so he was immunized enough to the effect of Cristina’s charm. The attraction he could resist, and he had resisted, to his own amazement.

When Julie and Cristina returned to the table, they were both silent.

“I’m sorry I was flirting,” Alix said. “I’m not used to getting attention like that. Even so she didn’t know my name, so that’s how important I am to her.”

Cristina glanced at Alix, but then looked away.

“Look, I was having fun. That’s all it was. There’s nothing intended by it. She doesn’t begin to compare to you.”

“She’s cute,” Cristina said.

“Yeah, she is,” Alix admitted. “But I’m in love with you.”

Mo returned to the table with refills on their drinks, and set them down on the table and then collected the payment wand transmissions for them. “So, if you don’t mind me asking, where’s everyone else?”

“They are chillin’ in New Milan,” Cristina said. “We are taking a break before heading into the studio to record a new Mod in a few weeks.”

“A new Mod? That’s exciting news!”

“Most of the songs are written. We really just have a couple we need to hammer out the final details on. Everyone’s resting up for that.”

“I can’t wait to hear it. My boyfriend and I are huge fans,” she said. “We were both excited when we heard you were in town.”

“Yeah, well we met a couple at the airport. They were fans too. It’s nice to know we have support here. Apparently she or her boyfriend decided to spread the news that we were in town.”

“I’d never do that. You’re my friends, now.” Mo flashed a smile.

“Not that it is entirely a bad thing,” Chase said. “Considering what all is going on, being in the city is a good thing for the media to focus on and speculate.”

“Maybe it has some people worried,” Julie said.

“Hey, it’s what it is,” Alix said. “I have no problem with people knowing that we’re in town. I just have a problem with the town thinking we have done something in our music that we’ve not.”

“Yeah,” Mo said. “That’s total crap and the direct consequence of local paranoia. The youth scene scares older people. They think that it’s all the result of outside influences, like it carried subversive messages through music and the arts.”

“They think that a New Milan band cannot possibly be popular here unless they are doing something unusual and strange,” Chase offered his analysis. “So someone thinks that maybe they heard something strange in a song and mentions it to someone. Eventually the rumor spreads and the uninformed who have probably never heard the song decides to create an embargo, just in case.”

“There’s nothing hidden in the music,” Cristina stated. “I promise.”

“I know that,” Mo said. “I think most of the people who are into your band know that as well. It’s just a bunch of overly paranoid people stirring up trouble.”

“Thank you for understanding,” Cristina said and she slipped down from her stool and embraced Maureen, lingering for a few moments then as they parted Cristina smiled at her.

“You’re real people and that is friggin’ awesome!” she said as she laughed.

Cristina looked at her. “Of course we’re real people. What else would we be?”

“Well, I don’t know. It’s just I’ve never met anyone famous before.”

“We really appreciate you being a fan,” Alix said. “Even though I don’t think we’re quite as famous as you think.”

When Mo left to tend to other tables, Chase said had to go to the restroom and he excused himself from the table. As he walked he was still thinking about how close Alix came to straining his relationship with Cristina and how he would never want to do that with Julie. He entered the restroom, but immediately sensed something was unusual and inappropriate. Before he could react or take flight, two men seized him. They pressed him up against the cold porcelain tile wall, while a third man pounded a solidly delivered fist into his stomach. Then all three stepped back allowing him to collapse onto the hard tile floor.

“What…the…fuck?” Chase asked while struggling to regain his breath.

“You know what we need. Tell us what you know,” one of the three said. Chase looked up through sweat and tears, but he could not tell which one of his assailants had actually spoken.

“Tell you what?”

“You were with them.”


Two men grabbed him and again pinned him against the wall. “The Resurrection,” the third man said.

Suddenly, Alix entered the restroom. Immediately the third man turned and warned him, “Get out!”

“What’s going on here?”

“It’s none of yer concern.”

“Chase is my friend, so I guess that makes it my concern.”

“Have it your way then,” the third man slugged Alix up the side of his head, sending Alix flying back against a wall of urinals. Alix looked up at his assailant from the floor, rage filling him as he tried to stand up but received a kick in the stomach.

Suddenly, flames erupted from the hair of all three men. Individually they panicked as they attempted to apply water from sinks to douse the fires. In the meanwhile Alix crawled over to Chase and checked to see if he was okay before standing up and facing the three men, who having extinguished their hair now squared off before him. “Gentlemen, this is not over. We’re watching – both of you.”

They hurried out of the door, leaving Alix and Chase alone. “I guess growing up as a street urchin has some benefits, after all. I know how to bluff,” Alix said, and then laughed as he reached down, offering his hand to assist Chase in getting back to his feet.

“Thanks.” Chase stared at Alix. “The flames?”

“Yeah, well…I was playing with the orb the other day and a flame started dancing in the palm of my hand. I had no idea I could ignite hair. I guess it was the heat of battle so to speak. Literally.”

“Well, regardless of how, it came in handy. I’m glad you came along when you did.”

“What was that about?” Alix asked as he assisted Chase to the sinks where Chase washed his hands and splashed some water on his face even as Alix did the same.

“They think I’m involved in something I’m not. Have you ever heard of The Resurrection?”

Alix looked away then looked back. “I assume you mean the covert group.”

“You’ve heard of them.”

“Yeah, they are part of the underground,” Alix said. “You know how it is: music, counter-culture, being young and all that. Somehow a few people you know are interconnected, usually people you grew up with.”

Chase continued to clean up, using a damp towel to blot blood from his slacks and shirt. “You’re involved?”

“Me, no. There’re a couple of guys Pete and I used to hang out with when we were kids. They’re in a clandestine group, but it is not The Resurrection. But their group was approached for a sort of alliance.”

When they emerged from the restroom, Chase paused at a water fountain, and then swished water around inside his mouth and spat out bloody saliva into the drain. He consumed several gulps of water afterwards. Then, after Alix had done the same they both returned to the table.

“What happened to you?” Julie asked as she took a closer look at the bruises and cut on Chase’s face.

“The floor was wet,” Alix said.

“I don’t believe that,” Julie growled.

“Well it was a restroom, you know.”

“And what about you?” Cristina asked Alix.

“Muggers,” Alix admitted. “Three of them, but Chase and I fought them off.”

“No,” Chase said. “That’s not exactly what happened. Alix saved my ass.”

“It’s kind of hard to tell that. He looks almost as bad as you do,” Cristina said as she used a napkin to blot blood from a slight cut on Alix’s forehead.

“Did they take your payment wand?” Julie asked.

“No, I wish it was that simple,” Chase said.

“I think you need to explain,” Julie suggested as she was reaching for her purse to see if she had anything better than a napkin to treat a cut.

“What’s going on?” Cristina asked, first looking at Chase and then Alix.

“This is probably not a good place to discuss this, but I doubt there’s a better place. For all I know they have us under constant surveillance,” Chase prefaced, then paused.

“Who are they?” Cristina asked.

“Agents of The Colonial Authority,” Julie said.

“Yeah,” Chase agreed. “They’ve been following us for sometime now.”

“They can do that?” Alix asked.

“In their warped minds they think they have probable cause. But even if they didn’t, they can do whatever they want and justify it afterwards. We have no rights where they’re concerned. All they have to claim is that it’s a matter of colonial security and the public is threatened,” Julie said.

“And now we’re on their list too,” Alix said.

“It wasn’t like we weren’t already on it,” Cristina said.

Chase nodded. “I didn’t want to speculate, but now I think that the embargo has something to do with this.”

“This is about Paul, isn’t it?”

“It goes well beyond him,” Chase replied to Cristina’s query. “He sends his love, by the way.”

“He knows.”

“Yeah, he knows.”

“How long?”

“Since just after you met him in Haven.”

“You’ve lost me,” Alix protested.

“You know. Paul’s my twin,” Cristina said.


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Colonial Authority: Chapter 20 – Breakfast

**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**

In the morning, Julie was first to awaken which did not really surprise her. Everyone else was exhausted from traveling. What surprised her was that Cristina awakened next. Julie had actually figured she would have a few hours to converse with Chase after he awakened.

She was alone in the kitchen with Cristina who looked beautiful without any makeup. She envied her that gift. Chase frequently assured Julie that she had the same kind of natural beauty, but she did never seemed to see it whenever she looked in the morning mirror.

“If you are hungry I have all sorts of things for breakfast: eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, toast, bagels – I can make waffles, pancakes just about anything you might want,” Julie told her.

Cristina tried to suppress a yawn but failed. “I really want a toasted bagel with cream cheese, if you have it.”

Julie laughed. “I think I can accommodate that.”

“Alix will want pancakes or waffles and sausage,” she warned.

“I can handle that, too,” Julie said.

“I can help, you know.”

“Well, I didn’t want to ask, but yeah, it would be appreciated.”

Cristina smiled. “You know what you and I need to do?”

“What’s that?”

“Just go out together, get drunk and stagger back to the apartment. After that, I sort of think we’ll understand one another a whole lot better.”

Julie laughed. “You might be right.”

“I know I am,” Cristina said.

“The problem is pulling it off when all the guys are around.”

Cristina focused on her. “Let them go out on their own, do the ‘man’ thing, whatever that is.”

Julie laughed.

“I mean, seriously.”

Julie silently acquiesced. “Well, I just don’t like being away from Chase. It was necessary for the tour and these silly meetings he had last week, but when we’re apart I feel like I have lost something important. It’s time we’ll never have again.”

“Chase is very capable of handling things. I know you like to feel indispensable to him in what you can do, but that’s also the source of your enslavement.”

“I’m not Chase’s slave.”

“Maybe not in the classical sense, but he relies on you to do things that he could do.”

“Well, yeah. Of course, he does. We work together, though. It’s a relationship. It’s a partnership. He does all sorts of things for me, too.”

Cristina stepped back both physically and mentally. “I’m sorry. I have no idea where your relationship is with Chase. Maybe I’m out of line. It’s just I’ve seen relationships that are all one-sided and that’s harmful to both people.”

“I love him,” she began. “I think probably he’s the only guy I could ever love. I want to bear his children. That’s a bizarre thing for me to say. I never wanted to have children before meeting him,” Julie revealed.

“I can understand that. I’ve never wanted children either. But lately… I don’t know.”

“What about you and Alix?”

“I feel like I have known him for all my life. We’ve known one another for ten years, but it’s different now. Before a few days ago, he was just like the rest of the band. They sort of made this mutual pact amongst themselves to protect me.”

“Protect you from what?”

“Apparently from them but also others. They always looked out for me on tour, especially whenever we were playing in a club in a rough section of town. You probably know how it is to some extent. You play a small club, where you can touch the crowd. The intimacy of the environment and the consumption of alcohol lead to inflated egos and some bold propositions from the crowd.”

“It’s good they protected you from guys hitting on you.”

“Yeah, it was like having four brothers, really. Sometimes, I would meet a guy after a show and we would sit down and talk and have some drinks together. They were always keeping an eye on us, though. If I didn’t feel safe with the guy they would step in. To their credit, they always let me have a social life if I wanted.”

“Well, that’s good.”

“Yeah, except the guys in the band always kept their distance from me. That sort of bothered me. I could tell that sometimes they felt attracted to me, but they always held back.”

“So what’s different about Alix?”

“Nothing, even after we went out together the first time he was holding back. I think it led to him getting drunk in an effort to deal with what he felt. Maybe he wanted to let go and thought the alcohol would help that, but he didn’t let anything get out of control. It was nice in a way, but in another way it was frustrating. He was waiting for me to initiate something or tell him it was okay. Now, he is my boyfriend and so it has evolved, but getting the relationship to that point was an effort.”

“Do the others know about your relationship?”

“Pete does. Pete is Alix’s best friend. I would suspect that the others know by now, from him if no other source. I can understand completely. The reluctance to have a relationship within a band is nothing new. If the relationship goes sour, usually the cohesion in the band is adversely affected. We have to continue on as a band and be professional, but on a personal level there’s some enmity lingering between two of the band members and that’s not a good thing. I certainly didn’t want to get into the habit of dating the guys in the band. If I had a relationship with one and then we broke up – even if it wasn’t all that serious – and then I had a relationship with another guy, and then another…it is like I’d feel like the band slut or something. That’s definitely not me or how the band wants me to be. I like to have fun just the same as anyone else, but I’m not going to be anything that I’m not.”

Julie continued her preparations for making pancakes while Cristina thawed the sausage links in the microwave. Silence lingered for a few moments until Julie broke it, “The other members of the band, are they like us?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “It is not like that sort of thing comes up in conversation. I didn’t know about Alix until he came over to my apartment to see about me because he was worried that no one in the band had heard from me.”

“No one else checked up on you, just him?”

“Well Pete and Alix were out the night before and Pete mentioned that no one had heard from me. So everyone noticed and I think they were concerned, but I have always been a very private sort of person, especially when we’re home. So maybe it was more about not wanting to disturb me”

“But Alix showed up at your door.”

“Yeah, he was that worried about me,” she smiled. “At first he was worried that I was annoyed, but really I was flattered.”

Julie laughed.

“I think Pete might have the attributes. Alix and Pete have always hung-out together. They practice together, just the two of them. So I would suspect that Pete might have the attributes. But I have not spoken to him since we left tour. Since Alix and I started seeing one another, he spends less time with Pete.”

Chase came into the kitchen, ostensibly for a glass of water, fully intending to go back to bed afterward. Zombie-like, he mechanically leaned over and kissed Julie on the cheek.

“G’morning, hon,” she said. “We’re having sausage links and pancakes for breakfast.”

“Uh hmm,” Chase barely articulated.

“Are you hungry?”

“Uh yeah, a little,” he said, and then cleared his throat.

“Well it’ll be ready in a few minutes. Why don’t you sit down at the table and see what’s happening on world viewer.”

“Uh…okay,” Chase groaned as he took his glass of water with him, and then left the cramped kitchen to the ladies. He ended up at the table where he plopped on a chair and picked up the remote and programmed in a variety of channels to scan, and then brought up the local entertainment channel. “Uh, I was thinking we should go out to a club and show Alix and Cristina the real Andromeda.”

“Yeah,” Julie said. “That would be fun.”

“I’d like that,” Cristina said. “I know Alix will be all about doing it.”

“Good,” he said as he checked what bands were playing where, and then noticed a channel where the latest Duae Lunae Mod cover drew his attention. “Hey check this out,” he rewound the stream-fed drive to the start of the report then hit play.

“There are reports coming from the ministry of commerce that the fourth Duae Lunae Mod card which was released last year has been put under a trade embargo by Andromeda authorities due to unconfirmed reports of hidden messages in a number of the tracks. The New Milan-based band appeared in Andromeda live on several occasions within the last year. Currently they have the number four song on local stream charts. There has been no response from Global Star, the band’s distribution agents, but it seems certain the embargo will adversely affect the sale of single and complete Mod cards for at least the near future.”

“That’s total bullshit,” Cristina erupted indignantly.

“In a related story, two band members of Duae Lunae reportedly have arrived in the city and are staying with friends. Sources say that the band members were seen at the railcar station downtown along with at least one Andromeda resident. It is not known at this time whether the arrival of the two band members is in any way related to the local embargo on their music.”