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 Things We Need to Do: TimeSaga C7 (All 3 Chapters)

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PostSubject: Things We Need to Do: TimeSaga C7 (All 3 Chapters)   June 14th 2017, 4:09 pm

Things We Need to Do
TimeSaga: The Society Story Seven

Chapter One

I will admit that it hurt a little to realize that FER-RON was worth far more than I was. There was some satisfaction in knowing that others considered me a man. While my mostly mechanical body did give me some benefits, I gained the impression that if something happened to me they would just get someone else. FER-RON however was the culmination of a number of people and inventions with many feeling that that what resulted was unique. There were PASSIONs being made according to her design, but they valued FER-RON as something that could not truly be replaced.

Charcoal asked me, "Any problems, Perry?"

"You tell me."

"Listen, FER-RON went and took out the speakers. Hate to say this, big guy, but they would only laugh if I pushed you across that walkway. You tell me."

I felt it best to redirect the question. "You hear Queen Debra backing down?"

"Hell, no. That lady has been dragging us who knows how far across this galaxy, if not universe. Still, the checks are cashing. Sandstorm would push you if I didn't."

"Well, when the queen begins to slow down, that is when you and Sandstorm might need to consider actually trying to push me."

Charcoal laughed, then said, "But, honestly, Perry, if you find a place where you want to stop, I'll stop with you. I am leaving my family way back, and I want to bring them to me. I want a place where they would feel at home though. They love you, Perry. If you were there, they would call it home."

I could not help but speak certain words softly. "I still do not believe there is hope for me."

"Oh, come on, Perry, Hell is not limitless. Sooner or later you will have to admit that you have walked over it. Sooner or later you are going to realize that you are standing on solid ground."

While the words made sense, I still had to shake my head. "I cannot believe that I will ever know. I feel that I have to always act as if Hell is beneath me."

"Let me say that it will come to you. Just trust me on this. One day you will think like that, and just realize that you are wrong. You will realize that you are standing on solid ground."

"Maybe, but then I will fear to move, because I know that Hell is somewhere. It would be my luck to stride right back over it."

"No, Perry, you keep walking. Whatever direction you were going when you realize that, just keep walking. Then, when you are certain that Hell is way far behind you, think about stopping. When you do think about stopping, let me know. Okay?"

Both us must have seen Queen Debra coming to us. Charcoal began undoing the instruments he had connected to my mechanical body. I began going over what weapons and ammo I had on my person. Considering that what we feared actually was not korlocks, I saw Queen Debra walking in a way that indicated she was weighed down with explosive rounds.

She asked, "Any problems?"

It was Charcoal that replied, "None whatsoever."

"Okay." That was all she said to Charcoal with her eyes fixed on me as she said some more. "You and I go over to meet with FER-RON. We have a half hour to do a reconnaissance. I doubt that we will be bored, but hopefully we will not be running out of ammo. What I want are questions for Mary to answer when she comes over."

I replied, "If it is korlocks, we should not run out of ammo."

She did not reply to that. One thing that I actually liked about Queen Debra was her focus on our business. She however was like me in not truly having a circle of friends. Those she was close to were also in this rush through the cosmos. I had the same problem. I simply stood and began walking to the portal we had found, and she quietly moved with me.

We had found what we thought was the ramp those of the Nerisus Federation used to move through the portal. It was built of sturdy material with some strange components underneath. We did not know exactly how it worked, or how to supply power to it to see how it worked, so brought in something we knew would work. After a number of tests, let me say a multitude of tests, FER-RON was allowed to move across the ramp.

The portal was activated, the aluminum bridge was rolled into place, cables were pulled to elongate the span, then Queen Debra almost rushed across. Hoping that the structure would indeed hold my weight, I followed. We had been warned of a strange sensation in crossing. They had seen the objects make odd movements. FER-RON had been built for weightless environments, and almost flew across the final part of her journey. I guess that is what had Queen Debra suddenly jump. When I felt my senses disturbed, I simply closed my eyes and allowed my computerized part of my mind keep up the steady movement of my feet. As I jumped off the aluminum bridge, I heard the lady report back something I did not really want to hear.

"There is no portal on this side."

The voice of someone on the communication network replied, "What's that?"

"Look at the picture I am sending. There is only a large room here. Not only is there no portal, but it looks like there never was a portal."

This time I recognized the voice of Charcoal asking, "What is your assessment, Queen Debra?"

"I have to agree with a reconnaissance, but nothing more. Send Mary as planned, then we will determine exactly how much time to devote to this."

"We really have no other options at this end, Queen Debra."

"Maybe one of the Flags of Freedom will request our presence. Tell those of the prophet that their world is a dead-end, so could end up being the world they want."

After the connection was closed, I simply watched as Debra made another inspection of the room. This time she however walked the perimeter and did not just scan from a central position. I joined her to discuss where we felt electronic consoles had been and other exits from the room had existed. Once our inspection was complete, both of us could not help but agree that a portal had never existed at this location.

I believe that we were both glad to see FER-RON, but her words were not what we expected. "Debra, the speakers have been silenced. It seems that they shorted out after I destroyed one."

Queen Debra replied, "Shorted? FER-RON, the circuitry of the Nerisus Federation should not short out. We have done a lot of things with the electrical lines on Mission. We have just finished an assignment where we needed to go through destroying speaker after speaker because the lines stayed operable."

"I request that you look for yourself."

"Certainly. Perry?"

I found myself looking over my person for something Charcoal might have left on me that could help dismantle a piece of equipment, but seeing nothing I simply replied, "Might not understand, but I can guard your back while you look."

Queen Debra accepted my response, and followed her robot. I looked to see that the ceilings were as high as those I had become used to in the alien structures. The furniture had similar designs, but appeared more as constructions of wood and fabric like those of Earth and not the produced shapes we had encountered. What I heard from Queen Debra also spoke of finding things less alien and more as we humans tended to make things.

"This looks like regular coated wire, FER-RON. This is not the electrical lines like we have been finding."

The robot asked, "Is that meaningful, Debra?"

"I am sure that it is, FER-RON, but I don't know how yet. That is why I am here, though. I am to check out things before Mary comes over."

"My orders were to render any speakers inoperable. Do you have any new orders for me?"

Queen Debra looked to me. I wanted to shrug, but that was one action my mechanical body would not perform. I had instead learned to shake my head, but I really felt it to be a poor response. I would prefer those looking at me not seeing a negative reaction, but a clear statement of uncertainty, indecision, or complete non-concern.

She finally said, "You've been with me enough, FER-RON. You should know to just follow."

"Yes, Debra."

Queen Debra commented about there being light. With the thought process of someone used to dealing with mechanical systems I heard her comment about circuits. I simply looked for trouble. My background as a policeman, then a mercenary had me focus on such matters. Queen Debra however went about making comments about how things about us were built and operating.

She went to a wall to say, "This has been plastered over. On Mission the buildings have a good number of windows. I believe this building did as well at one point in time."

The way she looked at me I thought she was going to order a destruction of the wall, but I was glad to hear a question instead. "FER-RON, did you see any windows?"

"No, Debra. When the circuits shorted after destroying the speaker, I had no other reason to move about."

"Perry, let's find a window."

I guess she trusted my knowledge of buildings to locate a window before FER-RON. It was strange sometimes what our technology around us could not identify. I am sure that FER-RON knew what a window was, but probably no understanding of where they might be found in a building.

We both checked our weapons hearing footsteps coming in our direction. They were not light and quick, but rather heavy even though sounded soft as if not made by thick metal plates like that of my own feet. I obeyed Debra's signal to keep my weapon pointed down, although I moved to a wall to make me less of a target should the one coming be ready for a fight.

I had seen a similar creature like the one that came up some stairs. Those however had been partially insubstantial with no other personality than that of a monster. This one stopped with what I felt was horror showing on a strange face. It said something, then turned to rush away.

"Damn!" Debra exclaimed. "We really could use Mary right now."

I had to ask, "Do you think she would know the language?"

"If anyone would, it would be her. I hate to tell you to shoot, but we might need to."

"You think they are going to shoot?"

"Yes."

That answer troubled me. I quickly thought back over the event. The creature had been large, but I had seen korlocks of that type. I thus accepted that there was a race of beings in the Nerisus Federation of that type of physique. It had spoken, but that in itself did not trouble me either.

I had to ask, "What makes you think we will need to fight?"

"I couldn't understand what was said, but I did make out one word. She said, 'okagaki.' The Nerisus Federation turned themselves into korlocks because of the okagaki. If they think we are okagaki, they might do something stupid once again."

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Last edited by TerishD on June 24th 2017, 11:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Chapter Two   June 19th 2017, 11:49 am

Things We Need to Do
TimeSaga: The Society Story Seven

Chapter Two

I have to confess that I barely considered what Debra said before responding, "Well, I don't fear their kind of stupid. Been a mercenary too long for that."

As I took steps in the direction the person had gone, I expected to hear words calling me back. It thus surprised me to hear the voice of the robot. She did have a nice voice. A little low for a female, but not so low that there was any confusing it with that of a man. The words were stated a little flat without any real emotion, but I did find myself listening when she spoke.

"If there are any speakers, Perry, you will need me to take them out."

"There shouldn't be, FER-RON. I mean, these people would be korlocks if there were."

"There were some. If there are more, I can take them out for you."

I turned to look at Debra. She just smiled at me. I understood in that expression she heard, and was pleased, but not in the manner of making it happen. She was responsible for the way her robot thought, so found real joy in watching FER-RON do certain things without needing to be directly controlled. I turned to look at the robot feeling that if Debra would take on the task of creating a sex-bot, that it would end up being as realistic as the androids being made now.

I said, "These should be very intelligent people, FER-RON. They were moving through the universe centuries before us. Still, something happened causing their civilization to collapse. There are thus a lot of unknowns about them. We need to be cautious."

Debra now spoke, but only to command, "Listen to Perry, FER-RON."

The robot replied, "I know Perry. I will not shoot at Perry. I am also listening to him."

"Okay, Perry. Now, you be cautious."

I probably displayed more of a smirk than a smile as I replied, "Yes, ma'am."

Coming to a stairway, I found myself pleased that the risers were larger than those usually built by humans. My body had been built in a manner that I could manage standard construction designs, but anything smaller could be difficult for my mechanical feet. As I went down the stairs however, I saw what appeared to be a massive metal door ahead of me.

I was about to ask if we should blow it when I noticed a crack. Stepping up, I pushed with a finger just enough to see the metal portal move. While I thought it good that the one who went to warn others did not pause to prevent us from continuing to advance, I thought about what Debra had said. Thinking that I probably should be associated with the verikiy, and not the large humanoid shaped craft of the okagaki, I felt no one who noticed the robot with us would think of either set of aliens.

I said, "The door is open, FER-RON. Check the room beyond, please, although remember to be careful."

Debra spoke from behind us, "If there are hostiles, FER-RON, I would recommend the option of pulling the door shut."

The robot stepped up while saying, "Yes, Perry, Debra."

I felt certain that I heard the sound of weapons being readied as FER-RON pushed out the door, although after looking around the portal she turned back to us to say, "I have not been programmed in speaking other languages."

Debra replied, "Try simply waving, FER-RON."

Even though my body was mechanical, I found myself appreciating the sight of the robot. She had been skillfully designed to be female in appearance. From behind the curves of a lady were very apparent with the long blue hair only helping the association with having a true female in front of me. I looked at her wondering if I could truly improve myself by also getting a body that appeared as if I were still truly human. I however knew that any interaction with me would find me as artificial as this lady. I however could not help but feel that I might find myself appreciating the sight of a more human appearance as I watched the robot move to obey the orders given.

"Do not obey!" Debra ordered.

I had heard something barked, but did not understand. FER-RON also turned back with her face also expressing some confusion. I guess that Debra realized we did not understand her command, as she sheepishly expressed an explanation.

"In designing the code for the PASSIONs, I worked with Clyde and few other military people. That might have been in a strange language, but I clearly recognized the speech pattern commanding FER-RON to come out with her hands up."

As if FER-RON was a fellow mercenary, I commented, "Makes sense with me."

The robot replied, "So what action would you recommend, Perry?"

"I hate to say it, but we need to wait for Mary."

Debra said, "I have to agree. At this point we have no option but to speak through the door, which means we need someone who can manage some speech. I don't know how much Mary knows, but it should certainly be more than us."

A voice that I did not suspect piped up, "Well, she's with me."

I turned to see Roy. He was not someone who I expected to be coming. Looking for Mary, I saw her at a wall in the room.

She said, "I believe that I showed you before that those of the Nerisus Federation put things behind panels."

I believe Debra attempted to not appear so incompetent as she replied, "Might have thought about it while waiting for you to show up."

Roy said, "Yeah, well, all of us felt that even a half hour was just too long for a simple reconnaissance. We also suspected that whatever you found would need Mary."

Debra moved up to the android while asking, "Are you finding anything?"

Mary waved at the screen while giggling, then answered, "They were going to use this to spy on us. There is another camera there," she waved to something up near the ceiling. "Now that they understand we are able to use their system, hopefully we can manage some type of communication."

Suddenly an image appeared on the screen with the rounded head of an alien saying something. Mary paused, then worked at saying something back. At first the sounds came out separate, but then she tried saying them again in a manner that sounded more like actual speech. I think of my head as a very tough object, but the round head of the alien appeared to quake and move before it made a reply.

Mary caught me off guard by replying, "Okagaki. Verikiy." I was glad to see her pat her chest before saying, "Human."

What the alien said that time still made no sense to me. Again Mary stated some sounds before repeating them in a more normal fashion. At the end she made a big breath, then again went through the process of what I believed were finding the right words to say. This time after the alien said something, she turned to us and said the name of each of us.

After the alien said more, Mary turned to us to say, "I believe their language has evolved, but what little I have gained managed enough. They destroyed the portal and any associated technology. Right now they are coming out of a dark age, but the room we entered still troubles them because korlocks will come from it. Those speakers you destroyed, FER-RON, were intended to ward off the korlocks and not transform people into korlocks. As you heard, the people also know of the okagaki and verakiy. My impression is that socially they are in the feudal age with some really advanced science and weaponry. It is best if we leave this world alone."

I had to ask, "You got all that from what he said?"

"No, Perry, but from having access to their network."

Roy asked, "So we just leave?"

I had to ask, "What do they call themselves?" Attempting to make sense of what I heard, I added, "Kakonors?"

Mary smiled as she said, "No, but I believe that is their nationality. These are the Neriprow. The Nerisus Federation was named after them and the Cherisus, which I believe are the really grand tentacled aliens."

"They have fallen from those days."

"I am afraid that they have. What I am sensing here is nothing compared to what I sense in dealing with the technology of those places having portals."

We spoke some more while waiting for the portal to again open. I worked with FER-RON to help the others to the walkway. Maybe what the Nerisus used was able to make a perfect connection enabling an easy route of travel, but our aluminum ramp ended up being about a foot over the floor and over a foot inside the Rothman Tube. As the robot easily jumped to the walkway, I heard Debra say my name in a manner that stated she was worried about me. I was touched, although the bigger concern I had was for her. After warning her to move back, I proved that my legs could power a jump. My motors however were not as delicate and precise as those of FER-RON. I landed in a manner prepared to expend some momentum in running. While I was walking by the time I stepped off the other end of the ramp, if anyone was in front of me they might have been knocked down with everyone worried about them when the portal closed.

While I worked with Debra to allow Mary to explain what was found, people kept having us move to a larger and larger room. I did not remember the places we were brought, but gained the impression that as I focused on the world through the portal others had sought information of the building we had invaded. The room where I saw some cameras set up did appear to have been designed for meetings, so I settled hoping that Mary and I could fully explain things.

As we spoke of the facts we had learned, we heard from others about the worlds they found using the portal on the space station. One appeared to have been completely reclaimed by mother nature. The other showed signs of having been heavily damaged by weapons, then having suffered from a large meteor impact probably within the last century. Neither the Americans nor Japanese wanted either planet, but they both hoped that the places through the portal would not be dead ends either. Those that spoke pleaded to us to put our talents to work on the other places discovered to enable mankind to continue to advance to other worlds.

None of us were against traveling to where we could apply our own methods of observation toward finding any remaining portals. Debra and Mary were speaking of the original portal on Earth, and how we now had the technology to recognize its existence when a group of Irani military came into the room. I saw in the midst of them General Iasaki and the priest I had seen earlier. This time the religious man had on robes of a golden color along with white trim and a hat. I actually felt him to be dressed more as a Catholic bishop than as an Islamic holy man. None of us however felt threatened by the display I expect because they felt as I did that the show was for the cameras and not to really affect the attitude of those of us present in the room.

The priest announced, "We hereby declare that no more advance will occur! Mankind has been greatly blessed. It is our place to recognize the gifts of Allah and work with them in the manner he would prefer."

Debra stood while saying, "It's still out there!"

"What?"

"The horrible thing that transformed those of the Nerisus Federation is still out there. We are not moving to conquer these worlds, or turn them from God, however you see Him as existing however those of the Nerisus Federation saw Him as existing!"

"There is only Allah."

While we did have those of that faith in attendance, we had a much more diverse crowd. It did not surprise me to hear comments challenging those words. As people stood up, I however felt it best to prevent those in attendance from becoming a mob. The military personnel responded when my mechanical form rose, but I was glad to hear Debra speak to the crowd.

"We are not working against Allah, or God, or whoever! I have worked with a number of agencies with connections to a number of religions. In that number I can claim to have worked with the various aliens. We are finding those of the Nerisus Federation. They are oppressed, we are oppressed, by the korlocks. What created the monsters is what we are seeking. Once that threat is done, PLEASE, let us not become the threat! Don't you see what you are doing? You are making yourself as the threat. Can't we be good to each other? Can't we be supportive of each other? Are you saying that is not how Allah wants you to treat others? If that is the case, and you are declaring your faith to be antagonistic to our future being a good one, then I will make it a point to work against you."

The priest replied, "That is what I thought. Men, take Queen Debra into custody."

FER-RON stepped in front of the lady with one arm changing into the large gatlin-like weapon, but I found myself still being considered the threat when General Iasaki said, "Queen Debra, it is well known that your robot will not fire at people."

I smiled hearing the robot speak for herself. "It is in my programming to not allow people to be harmed. You however have stated your intentions. I have the exception of treating those intending to do harm others as monsters. Just as those of the Nerisus Federation became korlocks, it is accepted that humans can become vicious beasts." FER-RON's head turned surely giving the accurate impression she was marking the people around her. "I will be doing nothing more than putting down rabid animals or korlocks."

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PostSubject: Chapter Three   Today at 11:48 am

Things We Need to Do
TimeSaga: The Society Story Seven

Chapter Three

From the back of the room I heard the voice of Debra's brother say, "You're surrounded General Iasaki. I will definitely not speak against the robot my sister helped create, but I am used to dealing with the scum of the human population. FER-RON might have equated you to animals, but I will have my men attack simply as attempting to rid the human race of the impurities that prevent us from becoming the great people we want to become."

The military leader turned to face my brother before saying, "Ah, Major Washington. We have met before."

"In good times and bad times. Sorry, General, but this is one of the bad times."

"While I thought I knew the programming of your sister's robot, I do know the policies of your government. Major Washington, I do not believe you have the authorization to make an attack."

"You just do not realize the extremity of your position, General. I do not have the authorization to have your soldiers succeed with a show of force. We Americans will also have our place out here in the universe. Do not take this personally, General, but I am merely keeping my country as a serious player in the expansion of the human race."

I felt the need to say, "Not that the intent is to keep out the Irani or those who worship Allah. Let me remind everyone that it was due to me being in an Islamic country that my body was able to be claimed by science and reworked to be what it is. I however have no anger for my condition. I am past that. It however might help keep buried emotions soothed to see some carnage done to the Irani military."

Debra whispered to me, "Please, Perry, let's not go there." She then raised her voice to speak to the others. "We have allowed you to have one world. Well, what we did was shrug our shoulders and say that one world was clear for those of the Islamic religion to settle. Becoming isolationists, becoming extremists who do not allow certain liberties or membership into the human race as a part of their culture, will become a rot, a future transformation into korlocks, that should not be tolerated."

It was now the priest that said, "I would speak against your belief and prediction, Queen Debra. I however also must concede that I have overplayed my hand. Stand down, General Iasaki."

The Irani officer replied, "You are not my master."

"Allah should be."

I declared, "And He should want you to stop. He should want you to finally gain some satisfaction to your life. He should want things good for you, and not this endless bickering and longing for war. I am a mercenary. What you are doing is securing my employment, but I would like to retire to a peaceful world one day."

General Iasaki turned to me as he began to say, "As long as there is one infidel "

Quickly silencing him I declared, "YOU CANNOT WIN! Don't you understand? Allah has made that impossible for you. There is not just the Christians, the Jews, the Hindi, all those religions, but now you have the okagaki, the verakiy, and all those of the Nerisus Federation. Eradicate those, and I am sure Allah will make you aware of others. Is that what you want your life to be? Do you want to go to your grave with that much death representing your life?"

Major Washington said, "Come on, General. Both of us have killed people. Don't those memories trouble you? Stand down. Don't pack your quiet moments with even more visions of horror."

The military leader kept his eyes on me even as he replied to my brother, "I was actually hoping to prevent that." There was a moment of silence, then he said, "Queen Debra, I hope that you go to your grave with people, even my people, speaking well of you."

She replied, "I hope I don't have to cry because of your people, General."

"And why is that?"

"The world your emigrants are settling on has a portal to a world where the people are not more advanced than us. They might have such knowledge in their archives, but what I have seen is that they have fallen from the heights of the Nerisus Federation and have not yet climbed back up. You could take your mad rampage to that world."

I saw the military leader look to the religious leader, then General Iasaki turned back to me. "Queen Debra, it was my intent after securing you to go and destroy that portal."

Major Washington said, "And why should we believe that? That world surely has infidels on it."

"Queen Debra, you have created a weapon. While it has been proving itself, let me warn you about the horrors your brother spoke about. There are indeed in my mind the memories of those I had killed. Let me say that I am not only troubled by those I killed personally, but those killed due to my authority. That means you, Queen Debra, face the horrors of future reports of what your PASSIONs are doing. There is another type of horror that you will face as well. Your quiet moments will be filled with thoughts of those you should have killed, but did not. Please, Queen Debra, do not make yourself into one of those people."

Debra told FER-RON to stand down. Debra then moved off the stage and down to the aisle. The soldiers kept their weapons trained upon me even as they stepped aside as she passed. I watched as she walked up to General Iasaki with her hand out. He simply looked at the lady as I heard her tell him that she wanted him to make the same promise.

He glared at Debra, then asked, "How about your brother?"

Major Washington said, "Sure, we can make this a group hug moment."

That was clearly the wrong thing to have said. General Iasaki turned away from Debra, barked an order for his men to return to their stations, then marched out of the auditorium. What I hoped was an attempt to assure that the matter was clearly settled, Debra gave a command to another.

"Clyde, have your men return to their stations."

"I liked that vicious beast speech your robot gave. You actually programmed that?"

I kept myself from smiling even as I heard Debra answer, "I needed her to say something. The usual statement from the military or police did not feel right, so I wrote those lines." I saw enough of Debra's face to recognize a smile as she said, "It was the first time I really got to hear her use it."

"I liked it."

Major Washington then barked for his men to drop back. I believe that he thought of what his sister had said, as I then heard him mention specifically for them to return to their stations. For a moment I wondered if I would hear combat from the two groups of soldiers sounding through the walls, but then let the matter drop as I put my focus on those in the room.

The religious leader had not left with the Irani soldiers, but stood defiant as he said, "I should have known that I could not stand in the way of Yankee imperialism."

Debra replied, "I am glad that I am managing to prevent Islamic imperialism. I however hope that in the end I am recognized for managing to keep us at peace with each other. Really, I want us to be the good aliens."

Just as General Iasaki, the priest did not make any sign of acknowledgement. He simply turned and strode off. I went back to my place on the stage intending to return to our conversation, but saw the others make signs of ending the presentation.

Charcoal came to me to say, "Everyone is wanting to check with their superiors about how to treat all the news and events. I guess you can head back to the Engendered with Queen Debra."

I looked to Mary, who said, "There is no reason to stay on this world."

That was true enough, so I made certain that no other matters remained as I began walking out of the building. Debra became held up by others, but Mary stayed with me saying that she could listen in without having to be present for the conversations. I knew that most of us had an active headset, so accepted what the young lady said. I however found myself focusing on more personal matters as Roy came up beside Mary to walk out of the building with us.

I listened as the girl said, "Roy, you know that I cannot grow up."

He replied, "I don't know. I think there is something wrong with me as well. Something... happened when Al and I were separated. Also, if Al does show up, I am worried about him still having a desire for you. I will admit that I doubt either reason is romantic, but in thinking about you I well, I don't know."

Hoping to give some perspective to the two youngsters, I said, "In any event, neither one of you should work against a friendship. That is what Debra is wanting, and it is a good thing. We should be out here making friends, and we really cannot make friends with others if we cannot even be friends with each other."

"Yeah," Roy exclaimed. "Those are good words, old man. You know, for a mechanical mercenary you are a nice guy."

It hurt, but I did think back on my life. "I was a good man before everything happened. Before when I had a wife, a child, a dog I was a good man."

Mary said, "The history I have found on you says that you were a good man. Do you want me to start calling you Barney?"

"No. For Barney to live again, I would need my wife, my child, my dog to live again as well. It helps that Perry is proving himself to be a good man, but it also helps to have friends like you. My life as Perry is nothing like what Barney had. It helps me deal with the memories of Barney by keeping them separate from my life as Perry."

"I know about keeping memories separate. I am constantly being bombarded by information. From the first I had trouble separating things. My father helped, and, in a way, being treated as I was by the Straw Sapien Corporation helped me focus through all the data. If you want to talk things out about your memories, I can help."

"Thanks, but I work to keep my thoughts on these new memories."

"I can't." I realized that Mary had another reason for the direction of her conversation when she asked, "Perry, could I come to you and speak to you of some of the thoughts in my head?"

"Certainly, Mary. I would not be friend if I refused you. I'm glad to have you as a friend."

She hung on my arm all the way back to the shuttle. She did say some parting words to Roy as we passed the shuttle for the Roland, but came back to me afterward. The lad looked to me, then said something that I found pleasing.

"Wow, lost to the old man. Oh, well. Perry, were you able to work your charms on women that well when you were Barney?"

"No," I answered. "I was glad to have my wife, and sometimes wondered why she stayed with me. Anyway, don't let Mary bother you. She is not telling you to stay away from her. Since you are her age, that is actually a good sign that things might improve."

"I keep wishing that I could contact her mind like I did with Sally. I mean, they are both sisters. Still, Al is my brother, twin brother, and we are nothing alike. Neither one of us are that much like Nick either. Oh, well, I guess that I can hope for the future."

"Yes. That is what I believe everything we are doing is about. We are trying to assure that the human race continues to have the hope of a good future. I am actually finding myself glad that I am still alive."

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market. "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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