**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 was surprised at how quickly her call was answered. She recognized Dom’s voice. “This is Cristina,” she said. “I need to talk to Raven.”
“The Master is expecting your call.”
“Uh, well I’m not sure how? Tell him I need a favor from him, please.”
In the background she could hear Dom walking, and then he knocked on a door and opened it. “Master, Cristina is on the phone.”
“There is something interesting in the symmetry, don’t you think, Dom?”
“As you say, it is interesting, Master.”
“Give me the handset,” he reached out his hand for Dom to deliver it. “Cristina, I wish I could say this is an unexpected surprise, but you wouldn’t understand why it’s not.”
“You’re right, I wouldn’t.”
“You need a favor.”
“I suppose you could have guessed that.”
“You’re right, I could have,” Raven said.
“I thought that maybe you would be able to put Alix and me up for a couple of days. But if it is too great an inconvenience…”
“Consider it already done.” Raven said. “I have more than ample room to accommodate you as well as your boyfriend. I might ask why you are you coming here, but I won’t.”
“As much as I would like to tell you that we are coming to visit with you that would be a lie.”
“Your brother was here, earlier.”
“I was playing with the orb and it showed me what happened at the railcar station.”
Raven sighed. “Perhaps there are things at work that I’m not aware of. Look, you and your boyfriend are welcome here on the condition that you leave me alone unless I initiate the contact and engage the conversation. Dom is more than capable of attending to your every need. He has been with me for more years than I wish to recall. I’m not sure what I would do without him. He can do anything that I would do for a guest.”
“I appreciate your hospitality.”
“It’s an invitation at this point, but also I have committed to it so it is an obligation for me so long as you do not involve me with your brother’s nefarious activities.”
“I won’t. I only want to talk to him.”
“Well, then maybe there’s some modicum of hope left in the world, that the sister can talk the brother into abandoning his ill-conceived plans.”
“I can’t promise anything.”
“Then tell him you are his last hope of reaching his full potential. Maybe he will listen to that. Anyway, you’re welcome to come. You know the way to my place, of course. In Star City there is little need of meeting anyone at the station.”
The call disconnected before Cristina could tap her lobe.
“I’m impressed,” Chase said as all along he was lurking, listening in the background. “I didn’t think you would have any hope.”
“I can be very persuasive when I have to be.”
“I see that. There seems to always be something new about you to marvel at.”
Cristina chuckled. “If I didn’t know better I’d call that a flirt.”
“Julie would kill me.”
“Kill us both, more than likely,” Cristina said.
“Not to mention what I would do,” Alix said as he emerged from the bedroom.
“As sexy as that towel-wrapped look is for you, hon, I think that maybe you should get dressed before you stimulate anyone any further.”
Chase smiled as he looked away while she joined Alix and the two of them walked to the bedroom and closed the door behind them.
“I was being serious,” Alix said.
“You were being a man. I’m okay with that to an extent but there is a boundary that cannot be transgressed when a friend is involved.”
“I know as well as you do that had Chase never met Julie and did not feel the obligation toward her, he would have been all over you.”
“Maybe he fought falling in love throughout the tour. I believe in professional decorum, same as you and the other guys in the band. The more he knew me, the worse it got. Even so, he loves and respects Julie. She became the unassailable barrier. I don’t understand how he has feelings for both of us but he does. The orb tells me the truth. Still, Julie is his first love and the only one he desires.”
“I understand,” Alix said. “When I look at her I see what everyone else does.”
“How could I not be, but it is probably the same thing Chase feels that prevents it from going any further with you. Now, I realize you are my life, Cristina. Without you I’m nothing.”
When the two of them embraced and kissed, they set about wrapping up the details for their imminent departure.
Alix took a couple of deep breaths before he opened the bedroom door. He felt compelled to say some things to Chase, regarding Cristina. Just he didn’t know how to break that thick ice.
“You ready?” Chase asked.
“Look, I have to give you some advice, okay. So, just listen. Cristina is beautiful and talented so she’s always going to gain attention.”
“I get that, Chase. It’s not like I haven’t witnessed that for the past ten years.”
“You can’t be jealous of the attention others give to her. If she’s always devoted to you, that’s your answer.”
“I know I have to get used to the way people look at her. I’m jealous and overly protective of her. Maybe that’s understandable in some ways, But it’s also wrong because I fully trust her. We have a relationship that’s continuing to develop and maybe I’m further along in it than she is at the moment. I know I would give my life to save hers. It’s mostly that I don’t trust anyone else but her.”
Chase nodded, and then offered his hand. “You’re the right one to protect her, then,” he said. “She chose the right one.”
Alix accepted Chase’s handshake, but then Alix pulled him in closer. “You ever intrude or do anything to hurt her, it will be the last thing you ever do.”
Chase nodded, but then smiled, “You have not practiced with the orbs. How do you know what you are capable of doing to defend her?”
Alix turned his back on Chase and walking back toward the room where he was packing. As he did Chase’s hair erupted into flames that Chase immediately slapped with his hands in an attempt to smother the flames as he hurried into the kitchen an, leaning over, poured water from the sink’s faucet directly over his head, dousing the flames.
“You’ve been practicing,” Chase called out to him.
“Just a bit,” Alix replied from the bedroom.
“Next time I would appreciate a bit more warning before you light my hair.”
“I can do that,” Alix said as he arrived and door casing. Cristina looked up. “Mainly, I practice when I’m bored or in the bathroom,” he further explained.
“Do what?” Cristina asked as he entered the room, prompting them both to laugh as he realized how what he said could have been taken out of context.
“Playing with the orb,” he said as he closed the door behind him.
“I was worried you were playing with something else.”
Alix chuckled. “Never whenever I’m with you.”
“You better not. It is mine, you know.”
“Yeah, I sort of got that message loud and clear already.”
“I have never seen you playing with the orb.”
“For some reason it feels silly to me unless I’m all confined and alone. Then I can concentrate.”
Cristina nodded. “Maybe I can understand some of that. I thought it was a silly exercise at first.”
“Well, so did I,” Alix said. “But from playing with it, I have learned a lot about me. I have learned a little about you, Chase and Julie – even Pete but most of it has been about me.”
“Pete is one of us, then.”
“Yeah,” Alix confirmed, adding a nod for emphasis.
“He’ll need an orb then. Maybe we can mention him to Raven.”
“They already suspected his differences. I think he has an orb already,” Alix said.
Cristina glared at him, and then recalled a previous conversation that she had with Chase and wondered if Alix was even within earshot. “You told?”
“I believed that I had to,” Alix said. “It really is important to us, all of us not just you and me.”
Cristina sat back.
“I think you should have told me that you did that. Pete is not only your friend! “
In response, Alix hung his head.
“We have to be one team, one mind,” Cristina said. “We’re all one band, one group. That’s what we have to achieve.”
“I hear you,” Alix said.
“You hear, but are you listening?”
Alix took a step back from her. Then in the palm of his hand there emerged a single flame. He looked into her eyes. Startled, she kept glancing down to the flame. “I have not told you the things I’ve learned,” he said as he folded the flame into oblivion, turning away from her.
“Just let me cool off before you tell me how wrong it is that I’ve not told you. There are things that you don’t know about me, okay?”
“Maybe in time we’ll learn more about each other. It’s just I feel like you sidestepped me. That’s why I’m angry.”
“Let it go for a bit. Whatever you’re doing is provoking an unintended response.”
“Relax. Calm down,” Alix told her, but he was saying it as much to himself. He took several deep breaths. “I have way too much rage pent up inside of me.”
Cristina looked at him and understood the truth in his warning. She took deep breaths and closed her eyes. “I’m calming down.”
“I love you too much.”
Alix nodded as he took several more deep breaths, but also he took a couple of more steps back as he still felt the heat of her rage.