Pretty Max walked her back to her room, ‘What’s up?’
Zeft, who had followed them, stopped just short at the corner. He had good hearing so he took out his knife and picked casually at his long sharp nails.
She hesitated but trusted this marine, ‘I think I’m a part-time xenophobic.’
‘You’re kidding? You spend the most time with them!’ At her look he gave her a quick squeeze, ‘Ok, tell.’
‘Sometimes I see Zeft or Scalice or Drax as, well, Zeft or Scalice…you get the picture and then sometimes I see them as…alien.’
‘Hate to state the obvious…’
‘Sorry,’ he stopped her and looked down into her eyes. Whenever she called him ‘Max’ it meant she was worried.
‘I mean, how do you see them? Do they seem alien to you…I can’t…’
‘I know what you mean, but I only see them as who they are. But then again, Jorja, I’m not planning to have sex with one of them again.’ He hesitated for a moment, ‘Jorja, I don’t think it’s the only reason. You felt embarrassed about how you reacted when the Marquis came aboard, but I’m pretty sure Zeft doesn’t think less of you.’
There was silence and then a quiet, ‘You’re right. It was after that I couldn’t face Zeft. I find it hard to read orux expressions. And I’m not used to dealing with someone who is almost as old as I am. I forget Zeft has a wealth of experience and knowledge.’
‘And I guess that’s part of the problem. I don’t know what happened to you Jorja, when you were with…them. But I do know that whatever it is that you did, you did it to stay alive and stay sane. If you can’t untwist the evil within you, if you can’t undo the deeds or forgive yourself or talk about it, then I say screw the therapy and just put it in its proper place. A marine learns that early, Jorja. I know the orux follow a similar route. You can’t get rid of it but you can be in command of it.’
Jorja smiled gratefully, ‘You’re right, I keep seeking answers but there are none. I don’t know what to do about my…ur…upchuck reflex that happens though?’
Pretty Max put a finger under her chin, ‘Do what you gotta do and then get on with it. It’s your actions before and after that count. Just…if we get separated…don’t go back with them, Jorja. Remember who you are and where you belong.’
Zeft returned to the lift with some idea of what she was going through and thought, my poor battle rat. The orux knew only too well what it meant to be dominated and the things evil could make you do. Having once been the pawns of war and evil they had been saved by Scalice. Maybe he could do the same for Jorja.
General Scevish put in a call for Maris, ‘You know what to do. She could be a liability and she’s an unknown factor. We’ve gone to a lot of trouble to organize the rescue. This gives us the perfect opportunity. There are too many people giving excuses for her. She gets away with the most implausible behaviour. Tell her what’s in the package. It’ll soften her up for you.’
Maris switched off his monitor and closed his eyes. He had been chosen because he would be the least corrupted by what he found in her mind. Still, he did not relish the task. He cared not for her but what he would experience. His stolen knowledge of the Marquis from Jorja would lift his position in the ranks.
Jorja put in a call for Sal who was due in the next day. She grinned at his dishevelled appearance. ‘Did I just wake you?’
‘If it were anyone else,’ Sal smiled at her screen image with the halo over her head.
Jorja turned off the special effect and hesitated.
Sal picked up on her facial expression, ‘Damn it, Jorja. Mission or man?’
‘Um, both I think, but not man, as such…’
‘One of those new guys you picked up from that planet?’
‘Wish you’d told me earlier, it broke my heart to leave a little beauty unfulfilled at the last way station.’
‘You’ve been out of contact for a long time…sorry,’ except that she wasn’t sorry at all and while he laughed she added, ‘You can always go back there because while I have no contract with the man, the mission starts in the next couple of hours. Put the fuel on my account.’
‘They left you with some credit did they?’
‘Just a bit.’
Jorja could see Sal wanted to tease her more but it would reveal too much to listening ears.
‘Ok Sweets, where are you?’
‘The Rigel Centaurus system. We’re going into orbit around Esan’s moon.’
‘I heard the bastards are there stirring up trouble. It’s a big ruddy planet, why didn’t they just divide it up? Or timeshare it? Idiots. They left themselves wide open to the B’s.’
‘Well you know humans, can’t ever get along. It was made worse that the Aeon’s representative claimed that by the time the Naskins were able to harvest the first crop from the ocean that most of the original Naskins would be dead.’
Sal whistled, ‘That was a low blow.’
‘The Naskin representative then reminded him that they had been managing their time with high efficiency and that the Aeons would do well to follow their example. Before there could be the obvious reply of, ‘We have all the time we need’, the Naskin said that to use a planet merely for recreational purposes was an indication of thoughtless greed.’
‘Gord, Jorja, do they wanna start another Galactic War, wasn’t GWI enough?’
‘Both representatives have been made to stand down and suitable punishments are being considered. It’s kept the peace but it’s too late for those down on the planet. The Marquis saw their opportunity and are now claiming the planet for their own use.’
‘And to avoid further repercussions we’re just handing it over to them. Weak as piss, that’s our League of Galaxies. I must start watching the news again. Let me know when you get back and are safe and sound. I’m still coming to visit. I miss you.’ Before she could respond he added, ‘Still having nightmares?’
‘Yep. Therapy didn’t work but the marines have been giving me plenty of advice. And their marine medic found me some pills which helped with my upchuck.’
He wanted to say more but said instead, ‘Call me when you get back. I want to meet all your new friends.’
‘Will do, try not to interrogate them and…have fun.’