Until now it had been a perfectly normal quiet day. Nothing really interesting had happened.
With difficulty Da'an suppressed his yawn. It became difficult for him to stay upright. How did Humans endure such boredom? Apparently as bad as he did. More than one of the attendants secretly yawned behind their raised hands. The fat man two rows ahead seemed to have fallen asleep on his feet.
The speaker had a really extraordinary talent for prolonging everything unnecessarily. His voice was so flat and expressionless, that the mind automatically switched into idling. The urge to yawn became just irresistible. The man had to have practised long to get so meaningless. Da'an shook those thoughts off and concentrated on his surroundings instead. The view was not that spectacular, but it created a certain diversion. A thunderstorm approached. Lightning flashed. Since they were out in the open, this new-found form of torture would end pretty soon. A small comfort but at least it was something. But he was concerned for the exhibits, which the Taelons had made available to the museum for a while. They wouldn't melt, but some reacted with water, which could lead to strange results.
Da'an found himself back in his audience chamber. What had happened? Just a moment ago he had been bored because of the opening of the exhibition and now he was here. Very curious. Maybe it had all been a dream? Most certainly. There was no other possibility.
Liam strolled into the room in his usual manner; absolutely self-conceited and absolutely convinced that he was right about everything. Nonetheless this special entrance seemed familiar to Da'an. He was absolute sure that Liam would soon ...
“Good morning, Da'an. How are you today?”
The man came to a halt before his Companion and beamed at him. He seemed to have a good day. Well, this wouldn't last long, they had a lot of paperwork to do. Besides there was still the exhibition in the afternoon.
With an inner smile he heard Liam's despaired moan when he saw the mountain of papers on his desk. Other than that this would surely be an absolutely eventless day.
A fit of acute confusion had struck Da'an. Weren't the events of the day familiar to him? Liam's greeting came first then his desperation when facing the pile of papers on his desk. This had been the only highlight of the day. The rest had been filled with a huge pile of paperwork. That was the punishment for not doing those things earlier. But when should he have done that before? He was constantly fleeing from someone or something. And when he wasn't doing that he was having disputes with Zo'or or contriving secret intrigues. A lot of things were lain aside for that.
And afterwards there was still the opening of the exhibition. The highlight of every kind of boredom that he had ever had to endure. He even knew what came next. The thunder and lightning came like the day before, then the light beam struck the time arch. The storm and the lighting, then the lightbeam came out of the time arch. Da'an threw a glance sideways to Zo'or. The younger Taelon appeared to be strangely restless. He constantly turned and looked around, and was causing nervousness with it. Could it be? Maybe he was not the only one who was affected by this phenomenon? But Zo'or of all people? This thought did not exactly cause storms of delight within him.
Zo'or moaned loudly when the tasks on the bridge again went the way he already knew. Why he, why he of all people? What had he done to deserve this? Well he had tried to take over the world and had caused one or two deaths, was proud and arrogant towards everyone...
But that was no reason to torture him anew every morning. Sandoval really was a punishment in himself. By now Zo'or thought hardly about why he had not already ejected him through an air lock ‘by mistake’. Or maybe an accident in Interdimension was the better choice? How about a walk on the moon without a spacesuit? Also it would be nice to strangle him with my own hands. This thought moved the Synod Leader when Sandoval came to him with the same trifle for the fourth time and the third day in a row. It was obvious that he was caught in a time-loop. But how was he going to leave this loop again before loosing his mind.? And how had he got here in the first place? A blurred memory rose in his mind about the Opening of the exhibition three days ago, or better three repetitions of the same day ago. He had been dozing, leaning against Da'an. He remembered a thunderstorm, a lightning bolt striking the time-portal and then reaching them as well. This meant that Da'an could very well be affected too. There was only one way to be sure, he had to ask him.
An elegant gesture with his hand opened the datastream, putting him instantly in touch with Da'an.
At the same time on the mothership and in the North American embassy
Zo'or paced restlessly up and down. Da'an's look followed him constantly, presumably he was already hypnotised. At this time his Protector sat behind a huge pile of documents and uttered a low curse from time to time. No wonder though with this much work to do. When had all this accumulated anyway? Had the man too much free time or something?
Da'an found himself in already familiar circumstances.
Da'an buried his face in his hands. “Not again.”
Embassy, during Liam's greeting
After this ‘pleasant’ reaction to his friendly greeting the frightened Protector vanished behind his pile of papers and decided to come out only when the opening of the museum began. That was really not the way Da'an usually greeted him.
After half an hour the Companion had calmed down a bit and tried to reassure his Protector that this would not happen again. After he had finished his task, while the datastream had activated for at least a dozen times he asked Liam, his Protector, a question.
The Major obeyed and pulled out the next document from the huge pile. He did not see the mischievous spark in his Companion's eyes.
Zo'or sat on the bridge and thought about what he could do today. Da'an had contacted him the day before and had told him about Liam's idea. The Synod Leader didn't know what to think about this. Or better, what he wanted to do. Then Sandoval appeared once again and Zo'or had an idea. He gestured some volunteers over to his throne. Sandoval who eyed this behaviour suspiciously, realised the trap to late.
The Taelon watched with a broad grin how his Protector, protesting loudly, was dragged out. At least for today he would not have to endure this plague anymore. Now, what could he do next?
Since he had all time of the world, so to speak, Da'an decided to let paperwork be paperwork and have the embassy cleansed thoroughly. It was a delight to watch all those Volunteers with broom and scrubber sweep and scrub through the embassy. Watching his Protector especially added to his enjoyment of the embassy sweeping. Since it had no consequences, he had assigned Liam a very special task: cleaning the windows - from the outside. So the poor man was hanging on a thin steel cable and swung every which way with each single gust of wind. To judge from his expression, he was more than ready to really kill Da'an by now.
Naturally none of them arrived at any appointment that day.
At the moment Liam came into Da'an's audience chamber, the Companion greeted him with too much enthusiasm and too much cheerfulness than was normal for him.
“Liam, Zo'or and I wish to undertake a trip to the sea. Please prepare everything necessary.”
Da'an seemed to be too content, when he left the room again to take care of the preparations.
And they would be right. No sooner arrived they had to unload the beach outfit and set it up, or better, to make it usable. So the two spent the next hour trying to figure out how to raise the damn beach wind breakers. Finally Renee took pity with the men and helped them with it. Within five minutes three wind breakers were ready for use. The Major and the Agent looked at each other perplexed, while Renee grinned quietly to herself, because the real fun was still to come when they had to pull down and put the small tents back into the covers. It would be fun to watch this.
Both Taelons had not taken any notice of those things. With enthusiasm they discussed their further plans for the day. It sounded like a lot more work for their working slaves and just as much more fun for Renee. When she had heard of the plans for the day, she had insisted to come along. Until now it had been worth it. Already in the shuttle she could not help but notice the unhappy expressions of the two Protectors and had been occupied with not beginning to laugh into their faces. By now she didn't hold back any more and laughed until tears rolled down her cheeks, when Sandoval, standing on the beach in his designer suit, eyed a flowered shred of fabric, also called bathing shorts, with a deadly glance. It was really a wonder that this thing had not caught fire by now. Liam murmured an apology along the lines that there had not been any others available on such a short notice.
All humans were a little surprised when Da'an and Zo'or first shed their human facade and then their jumpsuits. For the rest of the day no one looked at them directly and Liam's face achieved a constantly red colour, which deepened every time he had to talk to one of them.
Somewhere on the Mothership
“Do you called the meeting of the Synod?”
Everyone had gathered save the Synod Leader and his representative, the North American Companion. Both were late now and slowly nervousness crept into the room, then the light went out.
“I'm blue daba di daba dei, daba di daba dei ...” it sounded through the room in two voices, accompanied by very queer guitar sounds. The other Taelons looked at each other with open mouths and then fainted one by one.
“Okay, Da'an. I am ready. How about you?”
A few minutes later Da'an's shuttle reappeared in the atmosphere of Mars. It flew at high speed over the surface, raising a lot of dust. At last he found his goal, the three flags the Astronauts had left here. He landed and left the shuttle. Luckily he had no need for oxygen. Slowly he walked up to the three flags and watched them. Hmm. ” Eenie, meenie ... oh, it does not matter...” He took the first flag which came into his hand - it was the American one, a really awful design - and went back to the shuttle. He had his proof. Now he just had to take some photos of Venus' backside. When he activated his drive, he saw his child appearing. It was high time if he still wanted to win the race, otherwise he would have to do whatever Zo'or commanded him to do, surely no fun, if he thought about the Synod Leader's humour.
Venus had not been very interesting but to his regret Zo'or had appeared there at the same time as him, which meant a neck to neck race. And so it was.
As they were on the Home Stretch, a fight for every little bit of lead unfolded. The machines ran hot and flames leaked out both drives. But none of them wanted to give up. Still in Interdimension they raced towards the opening of the Shuttle hangar. None throttled their speed. Shortly before the hangar they entered Normal space. Da'an had a lead of a few centimeters. A lead which was enough to help him win the race. With some work he managed to stop the shuttle shortly before it hit the wall. Zo'or had not so much luck. His vehicle ran into it at full speed. The wall would presumably never be the same again. Right now anyway the shuttle stuck in it. Da'an could only see the back end of the shuttle, the rest was presumably in the next room. An assumption, that proved to be true when he heard his child's comment on the situation a moment later.
Several Volunteers came running to the scene to repair the damage and to put out the still burning shuttle drives.
Zo'or entered the North American Embassy in his Protector's company and with a very bad feeling of what was to come. After the race Da'an had declared he would state his demand only on the next day. The result was that Zo'or now visualised the most humiliating and embarrassing scenes. An alarm bell had gone off in his head, when Da'an had not only demanded his, but also his Protector's presence. Was Sandoval to be the witness of the whole thing? How malicious could his parent be? Apparently more malicious than he had thought, because when he arrived at Da'an's room he felt his worst fears confirmed. He had gone to hell and would now receive the punishment for all his sins. The elder Taelon's facial expression revealed it more than clearly. A really malicious smile touched his lips and was accompanied by a merry gleam in his blue eyes. His whole composure and all his gestures brought forth his enjoyment and his anticipation.
Da'an waited until the footsteps of both had died away, then he began to laugh. His self-control failed him completely as he recalled what had just happened. The had looked like two Kindergarten children, who tried out an experience both thought to be absolutely unpleasant. It had been a picture for the gods. Both faces had been distorted in absolute nausea, their noses turned up. Then in the moment of the kiss an expression of astonishment had dawned on both their features.
Zo'or's mood was extremely bad, ever since he had found himself here again. And the fact that Sandoval kept getting in his way didn't help matters. It was kind of fun to pick on him, but actually....
Plagued by such heavy thoughts, Zo'or did not watch where he was going, or who was approaching him this time. It took a few minutes before he looked up and had to pull himself together. Liam was standing in front of him, in an unbelievable outfit. He was dressed as a giant bouquet of flowers. The large, blue-green leaves of artificial roses reached up to his face. He kept trying to push them away, without any significant results. Every time he pushed the leaves away, they snapped back, often hitting his face in the process. Eventually, the young man gave up. Possibly he had decided that the situation was humiliating enough, especially in the face of a loudly laughing Zo'or. The Taelon had finally given up and was holding his sides, laughing. And he wasn't the only one. All the Volunteers on the bridge were laughing and even Sandoval's composure had gone. The older Protector was laughing so hard that tears were running down his face.
“Careful, I'm hitting off now!” Da'an's voice was loud enough to be heard through the next three corridors. Zo'or took cover. Various bungled shots of both Taelons had left the surrounding walls with a few dents as well as knocking out the Volunteer holding the golf bag. Yes, they had decided to try their hand at this, the favourite sports activity of the upper class, golf. By now they had a lot of fun with it, especially since they had decided to include the ID portal. All it had taken was a simple change of the transport parameters and the balls were caught in mid-flight and sent through interdimensional space.
Balvak had decided to take a walk to calm his nerves. He had had a hard and stressful day. Organising a resistance movement wasn't easy when nobody was listening and someone was constantly trying to throw a spanner in the works.
“Now it's my turn.” Enthusiastically, the young Synod Leader swung his golf club. At this moment Major Kincaid and Agent Sandoval appeared, just in time to see the ball being hit, lying straight at the portal and disappearing.
Balvak was still holding his smarting head while he picked himself up from the floor when the second ball hit him. He went down again, this time muttering a rather nasty curse. When he was finally able to see halfway straight, he picked himself up again, constantly looking out for new missiles, and swayed back the way he had come.
Da'an lounged comfortably on his throne. Resting his chin in the palm of his hand, he kept his eyes on the door and silently counted the seconds.
“Good morning, Da'an. How are you today?”
Two hours later he had gathered everything he needed for his mission. Which included Agent Sandoval and Liam dressed as clowns. Humans in costumes were simply too cute, Da'an thought to himself, shaking his head. He also had Zo'or, a fluffy pink rabbit with a red bow, and a really big cake. Now all they had to do was corner their “victim” in his quarters. That should not be too difficult, he would certainly swoop in any minute now. Just as soon as he had been given Zo'or's orders to report to the bridge immediately. T'than usually had a problem following Zo'or's orders. This time he would regret it.
“SURPRISE!!!” two Taelons and two humans yelled at the top of their lungs as soon as the lights came on. In spite of their ridiculous costumes, the two Protectors were obviously having fun. Da'an carried the large cake over, which was now decorated with dozens of burning candles.
T'than's eyes almost popped out of his head as he read that. The shocked expression was replaced by a confused one as the cake was placed in front of him and everyone stared at him expectantly.
Da'an grinned inside as the War Minister tried to blow out the candles like a good little child - try being the operative word here, because he had no success. Every time he did it, the small candles just ignited again. Trick candles. It hadn't been easy to get them at such short notice, but it was worth it for the look on T'than's face alone. He was getting angrier by the second and showing it. Finally he gave up with an angry snarl and threw an accusing look at Zo'or.
Two heavily burdened, masked figures were stalking through the Mothership, careful not to be seen by anybody. Finally they reached their destination and disappeared in one of the many rooms. A short time later, suppressed giggling could be heard.
Dripping wet, Mit'gai entered his lab. He had had a really terrible day. This morning, Da'an had summoned him to the embassy and ordered him to do a totally useless and very time-consuming analysis. Just as he had finished, Agent Sandoval had contacted him with an order from Zo'or. He was to find out how baking soda could be of use to the Taelons. Immediately. Meanwhile he did not doubt that the current Synod Leader had become totally insane. Baking soda, really.....
Every wall and the ceiling had been painted in shrill colours. It was all Mit'gai could do not to suffer a colour shock. To make matters worse, naughty graffiti had been painted on the floor.
Da'an and Zo'or were still cleaning themselves of the remaining paint when they heard Mit'gai's cry. Both shared a broad grin, before they once again reached for the turpentine-soaked rags. They still had a lot to do. Their overalls had to be cleaned as well.
A Volunteer - the same one, by the way, who wanted to transfer to Alaska - was walking down the corridor. In a few minutes his shift was about to begin and he wanted to be at his post on time. As he rounded the next corner, he found himself face to face with a giant spider. Seeing the gigantic beast, turning around and taking off like a bat out of hell took only a fraction of a second.
Agent Sandoval was on his way to the bridge when a very strange apparition popped up in front of him. At first glance it seemed to be a small Tyrannosaur, but the thing was orange. Also, it had large blue eyes, its arms were too long and well-armed with claws (who knows Digimon? *g*). For a moment, the Agent and the dino-thing stared at each other. Then the Agent stepped aside and let the small orange creature pass, watching it disappear around the next corner. Then, his face still expressionless, he turned back in the direction of the bridge. It just made no sense to worry about such things. They just happened.
Meanwhile, a party was in full swing on the hangar deck. Volunteers and Taelons were dancing slowly to the sound of Luau-music. And there among a group of female dancers, wearing only a hula-skirt and flower garlands, was Liam. He was moving rather stiffly, trying to copy the movements of the dancers, who all seemed to be very happy. At the same time he noticed that the hula-skirt was rather draughty. And the flowers were giving him a rash. He tried to scratch himself unobtrusively, all the while asking himself how on earth he had gotten into this situation.
He had been on his way to the bridge to report. Strangely, Zo'or had insisted that he do so in person. On the way there he had first been overrun by a stag and then by a hunting party. If he had not been mistaken, they had been elves. All that had saved him from a bloody end under the horses' hooves had been a quick jump aside. Next he had swallowed sand and something large, hairy, slobbering and stinking had looked down at him with something like astonishment. For a second, Liam had uncomprehendingly returned the look, firmly believing that all this was a bad joke. Maybe he had hit his head against the wall when he jumped. Then he had picked himself up, still looking around in confusion. Desert? Why was he in a desert? And where was it? Certainly not on Earth. Earth didn't have three moons. A little confused he had just stumbled in a random direction, only to almost collide with the ship's wall.
Both Taelons were rolling on the floor, laughing at the pictures that were transmitted to them from the Mothership. It had taken them a lot of time to prepare this prank, but it had been worth every effort. They had reprogrammed every data stream and set up portable interdimensional portals everywhere. Additionally, they has releases a hallucinogenic substance affecting both Taelons and Humans into the air circulation of the ship. It would ensure that everybody had their own personal trip - the trip of a lifetime. Even more so, as you could land on a different planet at every corner. All you had to do to return was take a few steps back, but until that happened, most people got a really good shock or found themselves covered with hideous ‘things’. Da'an and Zo'or had been indiscriminate in the selection of destinations. However, the holograms they had programmed topped everything. Again and again the people fled, screaming.
Zo'or, who by now was doing the same thing as the cat, managed to gasp out “I wish....really.... that were still here tomorrow.... I would... like to torment..... T'than with this... for the rest of his life...”
Day 1 (don't look at me like that, I know what I'm writing)
Da'an had had a long night behind him and hadn't registered the change yet. That changed when Liam came in with a funereal expression on his face and a significantly shorter hairstyle, took one look at the pile of files on his desk and heaved a very deep sigh.
For one moment Da'an just stared at the man, unbelieving, then an inscrutable smile appeared on his face. This promised to be fun.
“Major, is everything alright? You seem to be very depressed this morning.” It took Da'an an extraordinary effort to keep his expression serious.
The Kimera-hybrid threw him a deadly look. The day before he had barely escaped T'than's wrath. After the War Minister had torn off the dress and the wig, he had immediately looked around for a scapegoat.
Da'an was slightly perplexed by the behaviour of his Protector. But when he considered what had happened on the ship yesterday, he was more surprised that the man hadn't called in sick. And he asked himself how a holographic cat, which should by rights be restricted to the Mothership, came to be behind his back. He would have to ask Zo'or, if he was responsible for the animal. But first he had to prevent serious harm to Liam. The man was bad enough healthy, with serious mental problems he would be unbearable.
Thump, thump, thump....
From Da'an's throne, Da'an and Zo'or watched the Major still thumping his head on the table, by now cushioned by a pile of files Da'an had pushed beneath his head. The whole scenario was accompanied by the grimaces of the Chesire Cat, who lounged, head resting on its paws, on a second pile.
“You are absolutely sure you have not programmed this animal?”