| Reunion, Part 5
Journal Entry 144 / 00918
Erwer, Narnya 23, 00918
Ken Shardik turned the corner and stopped, surprised. "Hi. Didn't know
you were still here."
"Yeah." Furry looked up from her book, a tome entitled Memetic
Assumptions In Civil Archeology.
"I thought you were going sailing with Garth and Kiza yesterday."
"I didn't want to."
"You're worried about Nickolai, aren't you?" Ken slowly eased around the
table and, dropping the bag he had slung on his shoulders, sat down in
one of the wicker and wire chairs. "He'll be okay."
"He was right here, Ken. It's no fair that I could hold him for just
two days and then he vanishes again."
"It's just for a week."
"I know. It's just hard to be enthusiastic while he's away."
Ken nodded. "I know."
Furry registered exhaustion in Ken's voice and wondered about it. Ken
opened up his bag and took out a thermos and a sandwich on slabs
of rounded bread and began eating. She finally decided to ask about it.
"If being at war is 'something wrong,' I guess you could say yes."
"What? War? With who?"
"Terra." Ken took a bite of his sandwich and smiled in her direction.
Furry waited for him to swallow, expecting an explanation. Ken finally
gave her one. "They didn't like my press conference yesterday afternoon.
They seem to think that disabling the morphing technology is some sort
of threat to their sovereignty."
"It is," Furry said. "You know it is."
Ken nodded. "But a threat is not an action. Assault is not battery. They
have to understand the difference. Citizenship should be a matter of
declaration, not biology."
Furry put her book down on the table, being sure to fold over a page. "So
we are at war?"
"Not yet," Ken replied. "They're talking about it in economic terms." He
laughed harshly. "As if they could survive without us. No, this will blow
over when they realize they can't. Meanwhile we have to put up with them
screaming and ranting and raving. On the other hand--" He dug into his
bag and pulled out a data display-- "There's an number of people
booking flights out of Terra headed for other planets. I also see those
planet ticketing agencies buying up huge numbers of unspecified outbound
tickets for Terra, no passenger names attached. What does that say?"
Furry recognized the technique; one of her teachers used it on her
often in class. "It means that they're preparing to circumvent a planned
embargo by making connections outworld. Probably the heaviest traffic
is going to come either from Wisdom or llerkin."
"Both," Ken said. "You hit the predictions right on the head from the
data. Congratulations. Anything else, my wise archeologist?"
"The rush is going to tax Pendor's economic system to a large degree, but
that it shouldn't be nearly too bad to justify a diversion of resources
on a grand scale. The AI's will handle the number explicitly." She opened
her eyes. "You've got a huge headache with dealing with the influx. The
Hall is going to have to limit its effectiveness, although I have no
idea what its capabilities are."
"Over a thousand a day."
"It would take a long time to take care of the whole human race."
"121,000 years at that rate," Ken agreed. "I hope we don't get that many."
"I don't think you will."
"I agree with Jofuran, but it's still an ugly number. We'll have to
announce limits on the Hall. Less than three hundred thousand people
can go through it in any year. We'll have to make that clear."
"It won't appease some. They'll complain about resource hoarding." Ken
"This was your decision," Dave said. "Yours and the councils'. We knew
this would happen. In any event, I've ordered John Masters to prepare a
public statement on resource limitations. Between that and the economic
counter-pressure we should get the Terrans to settle down relatively
Furry leaned back in her chair. "It's going to be an interesting century."
"It's already an interesting century," Ken agreed. "You're looking
"Court intrigue was always one of my favorite subjects," she laughed.
"Thank you for letting me in on the view."
"Oh, pshaw." Ken laughed. "This is just the tip of the iceberg. So, tell
me, what plans do you have for you and Nickolai? I know he's studying
in your field because he loves you, but have you two talked? How good
is he at the field?"
"He's pretty good. In the letters we exchanged on the subject, he has
a good idea for it, although he's more interested in bioarcheology then
in the civil stuff I go after."
"Between the two of you, you should make a pretty effective team."
Furry nodded. "I hope so."
As the first flash of approaching night swept over them, voices from
behind them told Furry that Kiza, Skii and Garth had returned from their
sailing trip. "Hi, kids!" Ken shouted. "We're over here!"
The three, like sunburnt musketeers, traipsed around the corner
arm-in-arm. "Well," Ken said, "I see you three are becoming friendlier."
"It's works," Skii said. "Admittedly sometimes sailing with these two
can be an adventure."
"It would have been less of an adventure if our sailmaster here had told
us that five hours of sailing in the driving rain was his idea of fun!"
"Grumbling would not have gotten us home any faster," Skii replied.
"In any event, it's good that you are home tonight. Garth, I have
to tell you something. Terra has demanded that all Terrans currently
on Pendor for the duration of the quote 'current emergency' endquote
return to Terra immediately. It's your call; I can definitely get you
on an outbound vessel for Terra in less than an hour, or you can wait
your remaining twenty-six days and see if the emergency has ended by
then. If it has, we can get you home as just another tourist and nobody
will be the wiser."
"Are a lot of people staying?"
"More then half," Ken nodded. "It seems Terrans are not so interested
in the politics as in making sure they get their money's worth out of
their vacation stay on Pendor."
"Then I think I will stay too." Garth smiled.
"Good!" Ken smiled, seemingly pleased with himself. "Okay, then, well...
we've got dinner cooking downstairs, that was first flash. We're going out
tonight; you said you wanted to see a play performed by Pendorians, well,
The Wizard of Oz is being performed at the Marbletop Ampitheatre North.
Are you game?"
On their return from the theatre, Furry found herself feeling somewhat
lonely. Kiza was treating her just as she had asked her to, as if they
were no longer lovers. That much, apparently, was true. It hurt, too,
to know that while Kiza had eased out of her life with little fanfare,
Nickolai was still somewhere in the Great Hall, actual location or
condition unknown. While there were no documented cases, there were
rumors that the Hall just rejected some people and they 'never came out.'
Thoughts like that had given her nightmares last night when she had slept
alone. She shivered slightly and walked along behind the people she had
come with. Although Skii was trying hard to be all over Garth, she could
see that Garth and Kiza had made up their minds a long time before;
they weren't keeping their hands to themselves very successfully. Any
closer and they might as well have been wearing each other's clothing.
Ahead of them, Ken, Aaden and P'nyssa walked along. Although their
strides propelled them just as fast, there was something serene about
they way they carried themselves, as if they hadn't a care in the world
despite the political pressures Ken had been talking about hours earlier,
conversations that had occupied his every free moment at dinner. P'nyssa
was in the middle, Ken and Aaden with their arms around her. Furry found
herself envying their ease.
She shook her head as she walked, last to board the SDisk. Ken said
"Castle Shardik" and the world blinked, leaving them in the off-white
receiving room of Shardik Castle.
Garth and Kiza walked out first. "Thank you, Ken," Garth was saying. "That
was fascinating. Goodnight, Skii, Furry, P'nyssa, Aaden. See you all in
"Goodnight, Garth," Ken said, waving. "Take care of yourselves."
"Oh, we will." Furry thought it would have been more appropriate if they
had skipped rather then walked as they disappeared out of sight. Skii,
too, made his way to his room, leaving just herself and the three Shardiks
alone as they walked through the Common room.
"Huh?" She looked up, her introspection interrupted by Ken calling
"You okay? You seem a little lost."
She shook her head. "I'm fine. I'm just thinking."
She felt the words forming in the back of her mind and debated letting
them loose. Finally they rushed her mouth, taking the decision away from
her. "Do you three all sleep together?"
Ken's eyes seemed to widen a little in surprise, his eyebrows wiggling.
Then he smiled. "Sometimes."
Ken looked up at P'nyssa and then at Aaden. Both shrugged noncommittally.
"Sure. Why not?"
"Could I... " She couldn't believe these words were coming from her.
"Could I join you? I mean, you've got one of those huge beds, right?"
Ken nodded, smiling patiently. "Rocchodain. Sleeps six comfortably. But...
I thought you didn't want to get involved with a lecherous like me."
"I don't want... that. I just want someone to be next to me. In case I
P'nyssa looked at Furry. "Have you been having a lot?"
Furry nodded. "I'm afraid for Nickolai. I know nothings going to happen
to him, but you hear all those awful rumors about the Great Hall, like
how it sometimes throws people away who aren't appropriate anywhere,
and how it changes people, even if it doesn't look like they change,
and I... I just don't want to be alone."
"I have no objection," Ken said.
"I think I'd like it," P'nyssa added.
"Then it's settled," Aaden said, finishing for the three of them. He
reached down for Furry's hand, and as she reached up to take it, he
swept her up off her feet. "Whoops!"
Furry giggled. "Hey!"
"Sorry, but beautiful women shouldn't pout and be sad," Aaden said.
"I just had to do something. You could have measured the tension in here
by the tone of plucked strings."
"Still can, in some ways," Ken said. "Come on, let's do that bed thing."
Aaden carried her into their house and put her down. She looked around. It
was the same place she had visited two years ago; not much had changed.
"Do you shower before bed?" Ken asked?
Furry shook her head. "Aaden and I usually do. Nyss, would you see to
her needs while we clean up?"
"Sure." Taking that as a cue, Ken and Aaden disappeared down the grav
tube. "Do you need anything, Furry? Bedclothes, toothbrush, anything
"There is some in my room that I'd like to get."
P'nyssa smiled. "Aaden should have let you go and get them before he
carried you in here. Dave?"
"Outside the door, Nyss." P'nyssa found Furry small black bag outside
the door and pulled it inside.
Furry dug through it, finding a nightshirt. "Can I change in here?"
"Sure. Do you want something to drink before bed?"
"Please." P'nyssa poured her a glass of what turned out to be orange
juice as she stripped off her day's clothing and pulled the nightshirt
on. An understated pink that reached down below her knees, it was
trimmed on the edges of the collar with flower motifs in pink and white.
"That's very pretty," P'nyssa said.
"Are you wearing that because you want to remind Ken and me that you're
off-limits, or to remind yourself that you're supposed to be off- limits?"
Surprised at the question, Furry stopped for a few seconds to think about
why she'd chosen to wear the nightshirt; she usually slept naked. She
also had to process that P'nyssa had included herself in the list of
potential seducers. "None of the above, I think."
"Do you wear that regularly?"
Furry shook her head. "No, only when I'm feeling... bad. Insecure." She
smiled wanly. "It makes me feel like I deserve a hug."
P'nyssa smiled and pulled Furry close, hugging her. "You can have a hug
whether you're wearing that or not."
"I know," Furry said, tugging at the trim of the shirt. "This just makes
me feel that way."
"Come," P'nyssa said. "Let's get into bed and wait for the to return."
Furry nodded. Ken and Aaden walked out of the bathroom while they were
crawling into bed and pulling down the covers. "So, did you enjoy
"We just showered, Nyss," Ken said, smiling.
"I'm not in the mood every minute of the day, Nyss, no matter how bad
my reputation is." He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, his hand
straying and covering one unconsciously. "Love you."
"And I love you. So, who sleeps on the outside edge?" Aaden raised one
hand. "I guess I get the other," P'nyssa said. "That puts you and Furry
in the middle."
"Easily done," Ken said. They settled down, and Furry found herself
between Ken and P'nyssa. Ken rolled over close to her. "Furry?" He
She smiled and reached out to hug him. He hugged her back just as warmly.
"Good night, Ken."
The Journal Entries of Kennet R'yal Shardik, et. al., and Related Tales
are Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Elf Mathieu Sternberg. Distribution limited
to electronic media not-for-profit use only. All other rights are reserved
to the author.