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“Something funny?” Faralyn asked quizzically, noting the strange look in her eyes.

“Yes.” Beatrice said, composing herself, “It came to me quite suddenly, why are we in flight? We are not even sure who the pursuers are, nor anything of their intent.” She could fancy a peculiar glint in Tomas’ eyes but he did not answer.

“They are past.” Faralyn said, and she noticed a sudden glint in his green eyes.

“Are they the Seigneur’s men?” She insisted.

“No.” Faralyn answered, but Beatrice detected a slight hesitancy in his voice and saw the shadow that passed his face for the briefest second. She narrowed her eyes.

“But you know who they are now?”

“Yes.”

“So tell me.” Truly, he is speaking like a sullen child, thought Beatrice to herself. He is not going to tell her anything at this rate. Cunning to the point of honesty, she would never know if he was telling the truth. It had been thus the first time. Who are those people who follow them? There are so many questions now, more than she expected.

“Not here.” He said, looking at all the people around them. They had been moving around the room whilst they talked, whispering as any other couple around them, sipping their drinks. They are entering the illustration part of the exhibit.

“Of course it has to be here.” She said without looking at him; her eyes locked on the prints of Middle Earth series.

“But you don’t know them.”

“Where then?” Beatrice turned sharply to look at him, suppressing some desperate questions.

“Do you trust me?” He asked, that glint showing more than ever.

“Of course not.” Beatrice replied, though bewildered.

“That’s what I thought. Nor I you.”

Where is he going with this, Beatrice wondered. This randomness is truly extremely out of character for the Tomas Deper she remembered, though it does bear a terrible resemblance to Faralyn.

“I will answer you in time, I’ll not break my word, for it will benefit both of us.” He chuckled softly to himself, greatly unnerving her. “But I need to figure a few things out first, there are still questionable small details, I think wanted to go somewhere where I can think, alone.” He added, “I will meet you inside Dymocks in four hours.” He glanced at his watch, “It is six o’clock right now.” Taking another glass out of the silver server that just passed them; he downed it in one draught. And without another word, Faralyn walked out the door which the footman had respectively opened for him, bowing deeply as he walked past.

Beatrice did not follow him as he left and walked across the road, instead her gaze fell and froze upon the footman. She paused, sighed and walked over. The man smiled and offered her an arm as they moved across the polished floor toward the end entrance.

“Aren’t you glad?” That familiar voice asked, already regaining its formal exactness. The vivid blue eyes smiled at her in a most disconcerting manner, like a naughty yet proud child who had just committed some prank that he would like to boast about.

“What did you give him?” She asked.

“Silver nitrate in his cocktail.” He said happily. Beatrice exhaled contempt.

“Humph. And I am a pebble.”

“That is what I should give him. Actually it was my secret concoction, lots of oxidizing agents. But aren’t you glad?”

“Unfortunately, yes.” Beatrice sighed again as her companion threw his uniform jacket into the rubbish can and pushed open the door. They went out into the waning evening sun. Beatrice briefly closed her eyes as they adjusted to the final burst of brilliance of the day of the beaming brightness, the ozone layer was still not fixed, though this part of the world still possessed the best air other than Antarctica. Beatrice took a deep breath and was momentarily content.

“But you have the worst timing ever, Adair. Things were starting to get interesting.”

“Really? How? I am all ears.” He said. Beatrice looked at him wearily out of the corner of her eye, why this sudden buoyancy? This is getting ridiculous. Her mind was torn, should she stay here talk with the un-summoned Adair or follow Faralyn? There are enough questions for both.

They walked in peace for a while, Adair unusually spirited, pointing and jabbering all the differences fifty years had brought to this small city in the Southern Hemisphere. To her surprise, Beatrice found herself laughing and talking with him like of old. This brought back so many memories, this place, to them, was like a snapshot from the past came alive from so many dreams and neither referred to why they left.

The new skyline saddened them both and the new sky tower casino somehow became an infinite source of joke to them. Faralyn was forgotten, and so were the people who followed them. A couple of kilometers and cold milkshakes later, footsore and happy, they were at the bank between North Shore and the city, the opposite side from where they were this morning.

The night was getting cool already, and being so near the sea has not helped matters but this only added realism to a beautiful memory. The leaned side by side on the cyan fences, except now there are no angry ladies or hackneyed crowds. There are still boats sailing smoothly on the seas but most of them are already docked. There was an unblemished view of the sleeping volcano that remained unchanged. They stood there for while, allowing the same scenes to play across there minds before turning back.

“Tell me this first. How did you get out?” She asked, curiosity returning now that she’s free from outside worries.

But the Interlocutor suddenly lost all his jubilancy and fell silent beside her.

“I saw the news update.” She continued gently.

“Unneeded cold water, Beatrice, then why did you ask?” A new bitterness in his voice took her by surprise.

However, she continued in a sterner tone, somewhat regretting the question. “To hear from your perspective.”

“Fine Beatrice,” Adair’s voice was hard now, “Since I will tell you anyways, if not now, then sometimes soon. Your esoteric ward Krenin came to me, black mailing me with a method that no doubt you taught him. Him being the first non-soldier being I have seen in for a long while, I complied with his wishes both out of my sympathy for him and my respect for you. How can I resist? It had been so long. I urged, almost begged him to stay but he heeded me not, another painful reminder of you.” He looked at her, blue eyes flashing and turning dark. Nick’s hand gesticulated in that almost oratorical manner of his, fingers together, thumb slightly apart going up and down according to the rhythm of his voice, it was waving slightly erratically now, that chopping motion more evident than ever.

“You still did not answer my question.” She said calmly.

“After he left, without telling me the one thing I wanted to know, your secret. I decided to follow him. I have long ago devised a way out, but there had never been any motivations before. When I finally felt it, I simply left, with or without consent from various ministers, kings, dons, generals. Am I not free and powerful?”

“Hmmm…” Beatrice pondered a while. “Twelve people?”

Adair looked at her, and it seemed, for the first time, right in the eye, and she recognized and remembered him, and his inevitable transformation.

He replied slowly, as if with a great effort, “Twelve in the Parthenon. There are twelve months in a year. Six Swiss and six Portuguese, six pomegranate seeds.” There was a distant sound in his voice that blended eerily well with the old Tudor styled buildings shaded with night they are walking by.

“Why?” She asked, even though the answer immediately came to mind: freedom from fate as declared by the Gods, from time by the Sun, from death from Hades and from life from Demeter. He answered as she thought.

“I am tired of being kept, childish delusions and illusions failed me. I want the living world, Beatrice, I want raw emotions, I want to see them in myself. It had been so long already, I grew up so desperately in need of inspirations and still became conventional.”

“That’s only to your eyes. What did you use?” Beatrice’s voice whispered. There was a vague feeling of déjà vu.

“This.” He brandished a silver knife from his belt in front of her, small and lethal looking, “and I had ways.” She did not even know he carried weapons on his person, not that it mattered much. At five inches long, it was legal.

“Underneath?” She asked, having surveyed the land with him before they decided to make it their “base”, so to speak.

Nick Adair nodded and smirked.

Beatrice felt like strangling the man. She could do it. It goes against the very reason she wanted to do it, but she could. She was glad when he changed the subject.

“Let’s move onto more pressing topics. Why did Faralyn Grevin, or as you said and I agree, Tomas Deper, bring you here? Is this another trick of his?”

“Andromeda’s Court thinks that I know a way to realize Jasunros’ schemes. Which is absolutely untrue and quite a ridiculous idea to begin with, What do we know of his plot so far, Adair, does he tell you much?”

“I had nothing to do with him ever since he took several things out of my house like a vulgar thief.” Adair’s contempt was evident.

“Really? What were they?”

“Pieces of your friend Faralyn. I did not dare to tell you.” He said nonchalantly though Beatrice could feel Adair’s eyes on her, searching for something, perhaps a glimpse of her secret that Krenin had the audacity of suggesting to him? She had gathered that much at least. Why were the plural pieces of Faralyn in his house in the first place?

“Why would he do this? So this has been in development for a long time. But why Tomas Deper?” Deciding to ignore the facts and keep it for future reference. She had plans of her own to continue.

“He didn’t, nobody knew except you and I. I would venture to say coincidence play into this.”

“We all know what Jasunros wanted, he wants to rule, he wants power, not simply power of lording over others which he can do easily, but the power to do as he like without any restraints, neither conscience nor thought, he wants to test himself, the eternal egoist he is.” Beatrice said.

“And he thought I can help him. That’s where Tomas Deper comes in, of course, Jasunros never told me that his new helper was Tomas Deper, I was suspicious when he mentioned Faralyn Grevin but my memory, as usual, remained too mottled for immediate use. Our partnership broke off soon after that.” Adair said, serious again. His eyes, Beatrice observed, went back to that cool sea color as had his voice.

“What do we do now?” Beatrice asked herself but he heard her.

“You dragged me into this. You should know.” Adair’s voice, cold as silk, brushed her ears..

“There were people following us even from San Francisco where the court convened. I thought it was the Gremlin bunch, still tracking my “illegal” operations on the human brain, and thought they can at last find the evidence they need for my arrest, then I thought it might be Jasunros’ people. Either way, Faralyn knows who they are. He was about to tell me when your chemistry experiment rudely interrupted.”

“It was not an experiment, “ Adair acted indignant, “I can control it quite well. Do you realize something my old friend? Though I am no longer in my house, I still have the influence necessary for almost anything, especially in this little island nation. Certainly you do not suppose that I came alone. I still have those people under my command, I could ask them to remove your anxieties.”

For the third time since she saw him, she sighed again. “Those people” were once part of Adair’s private army; he was almost a fanatical strategist at one point in his life and cultivated countless wonderful academies to train people for him, under the name of the Atlantician government, since his family practically owned the Atlantic since the beginning of the century. He merely solidified their rule. Beatrice could not believe she actually supported him in this. They had both been so young, thirty years or so.

After the army grew too worrisome for effective collective management from an island, he decided to scatter them, and make them part of her, and his, already elaborate spy network, known to the masses as “Share Intl. Corp”. He retained a small number for his private affairs and gave them the affectionate name of “Escort” since the guards around him were jointly called “Sentinel”.

The army consisted mostly disciplined military men of global citizenship, accustomed with a strict hierarchal system. They were educated, kept and fed in private palace-like barracks on different continents, ready to execute the Interlocutor’s command.

She wondered if Seigneur Jasunros also have such an army under the name of Andromeda’s Court, after all, he was an historian, and no court could exist without protection especially if he does have some infantile notion of power. It seemed more than likely that they people who followed her this morning were soldiers. Beatrice could remember their steps, ordered, rhythmical, marching beats. Their postures were unusually proud and defiant, drawing glances from the crowd and evidently unused to secretiveness, unlike the mercenary or spies the Gremlins would have employed. Faralyn could have been lying.

Great, Adair has some of his “escort” with him, and now offers their services. For the third time since she saw him, she sighed. However, she would not be the one to judge and their performance were successful to some extents, Nick Adair did not get the chance to ask her questions.

“Let’s take the bus and go.” Was all she said, well- aware of Adair’s disappointed face.

The bus sign was about one block from the bookstore, she waved goodbye to Adair, not worrying about him, he was a man of means after all.

Strange, she saw a hospital android waiting where Faralyn and she was supposed to meet.

“Beatrice Ambery?”

“Yes.”

“Excuse me, but Faralyn Grevin of the City Claret Citizen ID#43G9**** attempted suicide, he requested for Beatrice Ambery. He is currently in the City Hospital. Please follow me.” The android’s monotonous voice was extremely soothing. Beatrice, unsurprised by this news, followed it into a waiting car and soon found herself shooting along the high-rise mag-tubes toward St. Lawrence’s Hospital.

As soon as she arrived, a cross-looking old nurse with a sweet voice informed her that the patient was asleep and could not suffer any disturbances, more precisely; she would not allow him.

“I’ll see him in the morning then.” Beatrice yawned, irritating the yellow eyes woman, truly too tired to think anymore. Its nearly 11:00pm and she still suffered from jet-lag.

The nurse led her to a bedroom with a well-quipped bathroom and after giving her the keys and detailing the hospital protocol, left.

Wrought with exhaustion, Beatrice lied down on the bed, closed her eyes and entered into that darkness.


------
The conscious shape reality.


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The following comments are for "Familiar Strangers Part V(revised): The Eyes"
by Furius





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