Despauna knocked on the door three times. After waiting there outside in the hallway for a few more seconds he was ultimately greeted by the unmistakable sound of the door’s locking mechanisms being undone. When the door opened he, along with Trix, Dustin, Apollo, and their very pint sized companion, was granted the courtesy of looking upon the ever diligent form of the Oracle’s faithful sentry.
“Wingless,” Apollo said, breaking the silence that existed in the hallway between the small throng. “Got a package for the sibyl. You mind telling her we’re out here. It’s getting a little past our bedtime.”
Seraph lowered his head and let his shade covered eyes soak in the image of their traveling companion for a moment before raising his eyes back to the crewmembers of the Nexus. “Of course,” he said. “Right this way. She’s expecting you.” He pulled the door open wider and stepped aside allowing them all to file in one at a time. Once they were all within the confines of the apartment Seraph closed the door and redid the locks before taking his place at the head of the pack and leading them into the living room.
Once there they found the old sage resting comfortably on one of the couches present. Seraph walked over and stood beside the arm of the couch to her left, remaining quietly vigilant as he placed both of his arms behind his back. Despauna and the rest of his crew also remained standing as they looked down at the woman who sat on the other side of the coffee table in front of their legs.
“Well now,” the elderly woman said as she pressed out her cigarette butt in the ashtray on the table. “What ever is this that you’ve brought me?”
Despauna took a quick look down to his left at the child that stood in front of Dustin continuing to be comforted by the pair of hands that were pressed down on the top of his small shoulders. “Actually we were kind of hoping that you would tell us,” he said, turning back to the Oracle.
“He’s definitely not human,” Apollo said, sliding the shades he wore down his nose slightly and leaning forward so that he could get a look at the kid standing on the other side of his Captain.
“I’m afraid that goes without saying,” the Oracle replied. “But unfortunately that gets us neither closer nor further away from the answer to the my previous question.”
Trix looked around at the faces all about in utter confusion. “Wait a minute. This thi…uh person is clearly from your side of the tracks and you’re telling us that you don’t have any idea who he is?”
“Seraph, why don’t you take our little friend into the kitchen and see if you can find him something to eat. I’m sure that after the day he’s had he must be quite famished.” Seraph nodded his compliance and walked around to the other side of the room and extended his hand to the small child. After Dustin assured the tike that everything was alright he was able to gently relinquish him into Seraph’s care. The two disappeared from the room soon enough.
“Alright. This kid is a program,” Trix opened up with under the assumption that they were in the clear to speak freely and candidly now. “We can all agree on that much. Am I right?”
“He is a program. There’s no denying that,” The Oracle said in response to her question.
“So then how come you of all…people don’t know who, or what he is?”
“Simple. Because I’ve never seen him before. There are some things, bits and pieces, about him that I do find familiar, but as a whole his person and his purpose is something that I have no knowledge of.”
“Well if he’s as dangerous as we’ve been lead to believe,” Dustin spoke up, “then I recommend that we slap an I.D. tag on this kid before it’s too late.”
“You do that Dustin. In the mean time I’ll do what I can to see to it that he’s safely watched over.”
“We’ll be in touch,” Despauna said to her.
A yellow cab rolled to a stop in front of the building across the street from him and he stood there and watched as the dark haired young female climbed out and started for the entrance of her building. Everything was happening just as he expected. However, he did realize that if things were to continue to work out in such a fashion then it was going to take some considerable work on his part to see to it that everything remained on it’s current course. Watching her enter the building and head towards the elevator at the other end of the lobby he knew that there was little room for error. But so far…everything was right on schedule. Well…almost.
“You,” a voice spoke up out of the darkness that existed just beyond the back of his suit. He turned to look back over his right shoulder and into the shadowy depths of the alleyway behind him. “What are you doing here?”
“Mr. Anderson,” Smith said to the figure that slowly emerged from the dark blanket that the night had provided him. He turned around to face his oncoming guest. “How are things?”
“You haven’t answered my question,” the stoic figure proclaimed as he continued to move forward at a steady pace that slowed the closer he got to the Agent.
“Nor do I feel the need to make such a compliance. But what I can do is give you a message to take back to those who sent you. Tell them that it’s not over yet.” When Anderson was right on top of him they both stood face to face, neither of them uttering another word to the other. Eventually Smith turned and headed off down the sidewalk to his right. Mr. Anderson examined his back with his eyes for a moment before turning their gaze to the building across the street from where he stood. Finding nothing else of interest to him here, he turned to his right and started off in the opposite direction of Smith.
Concent pulled the plug out of the back of Dustin’s head and he sat up in his chair. He’d been the last crewmember unplugged and after taking a quick look around the ship’s core he quickly spotted Trix preparing to take her leave of this area of the hovercraft and the portion of it’s crew still puttering around it. He climbed out of his chair and made off for the corridor that he saw her disappear through. “What’s the rush?” he called after her.
She stopped and turned her body sideways in the tunnel, watching Dustin continue his march in her direction. “The job doesn’t stop just because we jack out. You know that. The pads on the starboard aft need maintenance. You’re free to lend a helping hand if you want.” She turned and continued on her way with Dustin following at her back.
“I’d be glad to. But uh…in the very short time that I’ve been here it’s been my experience that it’s not only the ship’s upkeep that should continue to concern us. Sometimes it’s the occupants that have a tendency to require the most looking after. Speaking of which…how about that dinner you promised me?”
Trix continued to walk through the arteries of the underbelly of the Nexus with her hands interlocked behind her back. Her lips couldn’t help but produce a smile that she was glad Dustin couldn’t bear witness to from where he stood at her back. “As I recall I never promised you anything. I merely said that it would be something worth considering later.”
“And after much consideration…”
“I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps you should forget about aiding me, return to your quarters, whereabouts you can feel free to give yourself a hand.”
Dustin stopped walking and allowed her to continue to place an ever widening amount of distance between them. “You know, karma can be a bitch when it comes back to bite you in the ass,” he called out after her.
“By comparison I assume you were planning on being considerably more gentler?” Trix rounding the next corner and disappeared from his view.
“Don’t bet on it,” Dustin said before turning and heading back the way he came.
Veronica let herself into her apartment and closed the door behind her, leaning back against it in total exhaustion while turning the lock above the door knob with her left hand. What a night. It seemed that her life was getting more and more stranger with every new night that found her. She inevitably found the strength to peel her body away from the door and start off after her bedroom. Once inside the laptop resting atop the desk across the room beckoned her once more with a single string of letters that manifested themselves on the blank screen mere moments after she’d entered the room. She alternated her glances between the comfortably alluring bed and that infernal stress producing machine just beyond it on top of her desk. She sighed and moved across the room to the chair that awaited her.
“Rough night?” the screen said to her.
“An understatement,” Veronica spoke as she typed.
“Don’t worry. It will all make sense very soon.”
“It damn well better,” she said, this time without typing the words into the keyboard.
“Yo, operator!” Apollo called out from somewhere behind Syntax’s back. He pushed himself back from the monitors that surrounded him and spun his chair around to find the young rebel punching commands into the computer screens behind one of the loading chairs. “What’s the word on that disc that I lifted off your little blue pill pen pal back in Wonderland?”
Syntax brought his chair back up to his station monitors. “Patience, Tweedle Dum. I haven’t even had a chance to look over it yet.”
“Well don’t procrastinate too long. I’d like to know what you almost got me killed over as soon as humanly possible.”
“Is that right, Mr. Not Even Close?” Syntax said smugly as he went back to tapping at his keyboards and screens. “Don’t worry. I’ll try and keep your desperate anxiety in mind.”
The loose, dangling vines of the Weeping Willow trees were clustered together in so heavy a number that they almost managed to completely block out the bright blue sky overhead. Sparse and scattered breaks in the thick foliage that made up the ceiling of the swamp floor allowed a few beams of sunlight to penetrate the greenery and make it’s way through to shed some illumination over the area but not much. Dustin and Trix had no complaints about the dimly lit ambiance as they lay atop the silk lined nest encased in green bamboo stalks that floated at the center of a lily pad covered pool. The whistles, hums, chirps, and tweets that the exotic and hidden wildlife all about produced could be heard emanating from parts unknown but none of it distracted the writhing couple from their very own brand of carnality that remained on display for all of nature to witness. Cocooned in the floating bed of black silk, their intertwined bodies slithered over one another’s until Dustin once again found himself on top of her. Placing a hand down on either side of her, he pushed his upper body up away from hers, removing his suckling lips from her neck and his bare chest from her black satin covered twin mounds. Staring down at the stunning form of his shipmate resting beneath him, he watched as she slowly pried her closed eyelids apart and stretched her lips into a seductive smile. “Can I ask you something?” Dustin said to her.
Trix shut her eyes again and pulled him back down to her, arching her back as she did so that his lips would come down against the upper portion of her right breast. “As long as it’s not to stop,” she said, biting back the corner of her bottom lip as the sensation of his mouth once again coming into contact with her flesh sent a shudder of electricity through her. She pushed the tips of her fingernails into his skin as she forced her fingers down across the gently moist flesh of his back.
“Tell me,” Dustin breathed into her as he trailed kiss after kiss down her body. His lips moved from the top of the satin covered mound, down through the valley between the two of them, and even further down across her abdomen. “What would you say to you and I having dinner later on?”
Trix felt the damp touch of the tip of his tongue stroke across her belly button and both of his hands grip the delicate fabric of her underwear into his fists on the side of each one of her hips. “I’m not sure,” she breathed out throatily as she stroked her fingers through his hair. “Why don’t you ask me afterwards.” Feeling his hand begin to tug at her panties, she hoisted her hips up from the silk bedding and…
“Well, well, well now,” a voice called out from the wilderness and distracted the both of them. Dustin lifted his head up and looked out to the right of the floating bed. “Oh, please, by all means, don’t let me disturb you.”
Dustin let out a sigh of disgust and dropped his head again. “What the hell are you doing in here?”
Trix stepped away from the grassy shoreline and out onto one of the paths composed of large floating stones that lead out to the quaint little love nest nestled out in the center of the pond. “I’d originally come here to make up for my rather rude and scornful refusal of your invitation to dinner.” She stopped on the stone just shy of the floating bamboo platform supporting the large silk nest and stared down at the digital, half nude replica of herself. “But now I can see that I’m more than making up for that slight transgression, wouldn’t you say?” She cut her eyes back over to Dustin.
He hoisted his body up and turned to his once eagerly receptive consort. “Would you mind?” he said to her. Without saying a word to him she pulled her legs into herself and swung them over the side of the bed opposite her twin before standing and moving off across the pond. Dustin wrapped the sheets around his lower body as he moved to have a seat on the side of the bed. “Happy now?”
“I thought I’d confiscated all of your sims,” Trix said as she stepped onto the platform and took a seat on the bed to his left.
“Guess you missed a few,” Dustin replied to her. “Now assuming you didn’t come in here to help indulge me in any of my more illicit revelations you mind tell me what this is all about?”
“I wanted to talk to you about that kid we found tonight.”
“You mean that program? What about him?”
“That’s just it,” Trix said. “He is, in any event, just an exiled program. And whether or not the Oracle has the inside track on him or not there’s still only one likely place that he could have come from.” Trix looked over at Dustin who continued to wear an expression that looked as if he were barely following where this conversation was going.
“You’re talking about the source?” he finally offered up.
“Yes I am. Which means he had to have been ferried through the only conduit known to be in existence that’s running a link from the source directly into the matrix.”
Dustin sat up in his bed in his quarters aboard the Nexus. “The Trainman,” he said.
Trix sat up on the bed right next to him. “And that leaves just one another person in the loop regarding out little orphan mystery boy.”
“Have you talked to Despauna about this?” Dustin asked her as he turned to look her in the eye.
“No. Just wanted to hear how it sounded out loud before I did. Thanks for the ear.” Trix turned and reached back behind her. After punching in a few buttons on Dustin’s personal processing unit she removed the disc that it ejected and stuffed it in her pocket before scooting forward off of his bed.
“Hey!” he cried out, but it was too late. Trix was already in the process of shutting the door behind her as she exited his bedroom. “Thanks for nothing,” Dustin spoke to himself as he collapsed back on his mattress.