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[Starshield] SM: Dreamwalkers. Ch. 3

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  • Lowell & Linda
    Dreamwalkers Chapter 3 The Nightmare nightïmare (nitïmâr) A creature or evil spirit believed to threaten or oppress persons during sleep. Exert from the
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 2, 2002
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      Dreamwalkers
       

                                            Chapter 3

                                        The Nightmare

          "night•mare (nit•mâr) A creature or evil spirit believed to threaten or oppress persons
          during sleep."

      Exert from the Archaen Book of Dreams and Visions
       
       

          In the observation porthole, located along the starboard side of the silver lined ship, stood the shadow of a man. The man stood silently, patently watching the distant parade of stars that had been the dance of the cosmos for billions of years.

          “Twenty minutes you say?” asked Alain. The Listhani statesman turned away from the viewport to face his assistant chief of security.

           “More or less,” said Menwe Norall, his voice low and cautious. Despite the late hour the security officer’s eyes were sharp and alert. Alian shook his head with incredulous disbelief.

          “Gods... it felt like hours... maybe more!”

          “That’s the Mindplane for you,” called Captain Bainbridge from the other side of the room, “It takes a while to get used to the time differential.”

          The Archaen officer took another long sip from his third cup of coffee. Sitting in his Captain’s jacket at the conference table the Archaen looked tired, as if his present state of energy was being sustained by a single pot of Tru’kesh coffee resting near his elbow. Next to him, at the tables head, sat Lady Syona. The young Princess wore her full diplomatic robes, along with several bandages around her hands and fingers. She, likewise, looked tired, as if the very fabric of her robe was weighing her down. To her left sat Dr. Marson, a thin wiry man in his mid sixties with ash gray hair and piercing green eyes. The expression on his face, like that of the young Dreamer, was somehow both mystical and inward. Standing behind them, as quiet as a shadow itself, stood Luer Pell. The patient eyes of the Imperial ‘Sin-Guardian seemed to miss very little.

          They had been talking for over an hour. Well, listening really, thought Menwe as both Lady Syona and Alain debriefed them on their incredible experience. Finally, a break had been proposed, allowing him time to confer with his Corunal. To his surprise Alain’s course of action had been quickly decided.

          With a tight grin, Norall turned away from his Ambassador, consciously suppressing
      his impatience and anger as he recollected the events leading up to this moment. His eyes strayed towards the view port and the breathtaking view of the Holo Nebula.

          Nearly two cycles ago they had detected Ambassador Chamaitre's coma-like state, a discovery that had placed thier entire ship on full alert. His superior, Sa'laier, Senior Agent of the Screivner, had ordered a sweep of the ship from aft to stern for any possible intruders, while assigning Nornall to guard and report on Alain's condition. No sooner
      had he set up his post when Ambassador Chamaitre inexpliciable woke up. Furthermore, agaisnt his and Sa'laier's objections Alain had insisted on coming over to the Archaen's vessel, stating that the answers they sought could only be found there.

           *Sir, This pleasant chitchat would be nice if we were
           having tea and puff-cakes, but... am I the only one
           here who thinks WE HAVE A MAJOR SECURITY
           CRISIS?!* thought the assistant chief.

          *Menwe...* thought Alain to his protective officer. The Listhani stiffened before realizing the faux pas display of his temper. With a long sigh the officer rubbed a strong, callused hand across his face.

          *I’m... I’m sorry sir... it’s just...it’s not everyday that
          the person you're suppose to protect is attacked in
          his dreams.*

          *I’m alarmed as you are, but this is a unique situation,* began Alain, glancing over Menwe's shoulder to their awaiting host.

          *Sir... again, are you sure this is what you want to do?* thought the assistant chief.

          *Absolutely. And the sooner we tell them the sooner we can
           move on to finding more answers.*

          Norwall frowned and nodded his head. *All right.* Turning around the muscular officer faced their awaiting host.

           “After conferring with Ambassador Chamaitre, and acting as the Assistant
          Chief Security Officer of the Scrivener, it has been decided that no formal
          assault charges will be to be filed against Ambassador Marcello.”

      The look of relief on Bainbridge’s face spoke volumes as he rose to his feet.

           “On behalf of the Archaen Empire, and the diplomatic Corp
           of the H.M.S. Executive, I thank you.”

      Syona stood as well.

           “Regardless, Honor-Norwall, the fault of this situation is mine alone.
           I take full... ”

           “Your Highness...” interrupted Alain. Striding past Menwe on a soft plush carpet
      the Listhani statesman took his seat at the other end of the table. With a single hand he gestured for Syona and Bainbridge to do so as well.

           “There’s no need to explain; we were both there. The purpose
           of this meeting is simply to debrief our officers on exactly what
           occured during our unexpected episode on the Mindplane. As for
           myself the only thing I require now are some simple answers...”

           “Yes! Yes... like why was Ambassador Chamaitre in a coma for
           nearly half a cycle?” fired Norall.

           “Menwe,” said Alain once again looking at his protector with a patient expression.
          “Please... sit down and give our friends a chance to explain.”

           Moments passed before the security officer’s shoulders relaxed. With a long exhaling breath the Listhani officer sat down in a Cirrillian leather chair, one whose dark color matched his mood. Satisfied, Alain turned back to face the Archaen delegation.

           “Oddly enough, my first question is related Menwe’s inquiry.

      Spreading his hands open he said,

           “How did I escape... or should I say... wake up?”

           “I believed it’s because you left the Lighthouse,” said Dr. Marson.

           “Jumped is more like it, but... why? Why couldn’t I leave before?”

           The Dream physician lightly steepled his fingers together and closed his eyes. The hum of the Executive’s engine drive filled the silence of the room.

           “The Mindplane is filled with thousands of indelible places... and things.
           The Lighthouse is only one of them. Think if it as a psychic pocket. A place
           where thought can exist between the conscious and the subconscious.”

      A wrinkled line creased the Listhani’s brow.

           “So... the lighthouse is something akin to being real... and imagined?”

           “Yes. As long as you were confined there you were locked in,” answered the doctor.

           “And the Grinning Man... he’s like this too, isn’t he? Like... some kind of
           psychic knot in the fabric of the plane.”

           “We believe so.”

      Alain pursed his lips and gave the physician another pondering glance.

           “Then... I take it that he’s not dead, nor the Lighthouse destroyed?”

           “Neither can truly be.”

           “Oh great!” exclaimed Menwe, “So the next time Ambassador Alain...
           I, or any other visiting Listhani goes to sleep, we risk being attacked!”

      The doctor’s eyebrows arched in a Dreamer’s frown.

           “Unlikely, Honor-Norall,’ replied the True Dreamer in a matter of fact tone.

           “Oh yeah, why?” fired back the security officer.

           “Because you’re not a child,” said Alain. Menwe threw his charge a confused look.

           “He... it... hunts children, Dreamers in particular,” added Syona, “Even if a
           Listhani child did manage to cross over into the Mindplane, it’s unlikely they
           would encounter him”.

           “Okay, I’m still playing catch up her, so again, Why?” asked Menwe meeting the Princess’s tranquil stare.

           “Because he was summoned,” answered the Dreamer, “Typically, encounters
           with the Grinning Man work the other way around. He haunts children in their
           dreams, somehow... feeding off their fear, skimming it from the Material plane.
           Dream children in particular consciously repress their emotions, making them
           attractive targets.”

           “So in other words they’re like... concentrated fear.”

           “Yes, that’s why he craves them. Honor-Alain is an extraordinary telepath. It was
           only through a unique set of circumstances that he was able to access the Mindplane
           at all.”

           “Unique or not, This thing seemed pretty interested in him” added the security officer, stabbing his finger on the table. “Why did it decide on changing its mode of operation?”

           Alain smiled to himself as he cross his arms over his chest. It was inevitable that his own line of questioning would be usurped by Norall. The art of investigation was deep in his blood.

           “For a host,” said the doctor, “The Grinning Man would be no
           match for a True Dreamer, but a telepath... a telepath could serve
           as a conduit, a bridge form the mental realm to the material, thereby
           allowing the Grinning Man to co-exist in both ”

           “And if he managed to cross over? What then?” asked Menwe. The Archaens exchanged uneasy glances.

           “He would be Evil incarnate. Every loathsome thought, every dark desire of the
          sentient heart pooled into a living form. In order to send him back... we would
          have to kill the body of the one he possessed,” answered the Master ‘Sin-Guardian from the back of the room. Silence followed..

           “Well I for one see that as most unlikely,” said Alain finally seeing a chance to re-enter the conversation. “The opportunity has come and gone, and we’ve escaped victorious. Besides...” With a cunning smile the statesman threw a series of overacted uppercuts.

           “I doubt he’ll show his face after the thrashing we gave him, eh, your Highness?”

      Alain expected his charm to get a laugh, but then he remembered that Dreamers did not.

           “Actually, Honor-Alain, that was another question I wished to ask you.
           How did you...”

           “How did I know you could ignite the Grinning Man?”

      The Listhani shrugged.

           “It just sort of came to me in the heat of the battle.”

      Syona nodded politely, then added,

           “Actually, I was referring to the telescope. How did you know it would
           hurt him?”

           “Hurt?” asked the Ambassador.

           “He’s virtually invulnerable to physical attacks, yet... you crushed his skull
           with one blow.”

      The Listhani paled, as if realizing just how close to death he had actually come.

           “You mean?... Well... when the chair didn’t work it was the closest
           thing at hand. Lucky for us.”

           “Maybe this telescope was another one of those... psychic elements?” suggested Menwe. Syona nodded thoughtfully.

           “A distinct possibility, but... in all of my visits to the Lighthouse... it has
           never been there.”

          Another perplexing pause held the room for several moments before anyone spoke. It was Alain.

           “Dr. Marson... could you offer an explanation?”

           “I’m... afraid I have none,” said the True Dreamer.

           Later, Alain would wonder if it was the doctor’s slight hesitation in his answer, or the bare soupçon of an expression from Lady Syona’s face. With a subtle turn of her pale blue eyes she glanced over to the True Dreamer with a finite judging look. With an ethereal blink the expression was gone. Whichever the case it was enough to arouse the Listhani’s suspicion.

           “Pity,’ answered the Ambassador in a diplomatic tone. “I suppose some
           mysteries will never be solved.”

           “Her Majesty, Empress Cavery, would be the best person to consult on this
           manner,” said Marson, “She is the Supreme True Dreamer of our Empire,”

           “The hour on the White's late at this time,” interjected Bainbridge, “I’d hate to
           disturb her Majesty with a call...”

           “Of course, of course” replied the statesman raising his hands in a halting manner.
          “We can forego this discussion until our official meeting tomorr.. er.. make that
           later this morning.”

           All present in the room knew their sleeping cycles would be considerable less before the start of their next duty shifts. Alain stood followed by Menwe.

           “Ambassador, I would still like to apologize for this incident,” said Syona, also coming to her feet. Alain’s grin was both warm and fatherly.

           “Think nothing of it, your highness. Like a nightmare this was nothing but an
           unpleasant experience.”

           “May I walk you back to the lift?”

           “I’d like that.”

           The two ambassadors filed out of the room closely followed by Pell and Norall. The conference doors parted.

           “Hear! Hear! Her highness! Her highness!” snapped Syona’s retainers as they rigidly came to attention.

           Coming up to Menwe Dr. Marson said, “Mr. Norwall, a quick word if you will,” in a quiet and discreet voice. The Listhani officer paused as he watched Alain leave surrounded by Pell and the six men of the Lady Sy’s retainers. His thoughts on leaving his charge were clearly expressed on his face.

           “Yes, what is it?”

      Marson waited until they were completely alone.

           “I’d liked you to keep an eye on Ambassador Chamaitre.”

           “Keep and eye? Why, is there something wrong?”

           The True Dreamer closed his eyes and for a few moments Menwe actually thought the elderly Archaen had fallen asleep.

          “I have MINDRACED the possibilities, and though the chances
          are remote, Ambassador Chamaitre’s connection to the Mind Plane
          may be... insecure.”

           “Insecure? I don’t think I follow. What do you mean by... insecure?” said the security officer crossing his arms in a tense manner.

          “Traditionally, ones initiation to the Mindplane is done through
          the guidance of a True Dreamer. Lady Syona is only a Dreamer…
          an acolyte if you will. Ambassador Chamaitre’s access to the Mindplane
          through her, and perhaps more so by their traumatic exodus, may have
          created a rupture, a small tear in the ethereal fabric of the realm.”

          “How... big of a rupture?” asked the Listhani with a suspicious look.

          “Not very. As I said the chances are remote, but the Grinning Man could
          possible discover this breach.”

          “Hold on. Are you saying Alain’s still in danger of being possessed?!”

      The True Dreamer opened his eyes.

           “No. No, the rupture would be far too small for that… and inadequate as
           a Mind Gate. However, the Grinning Man could make his presence know
           through it in several… disturbing… horrifying ways.”

      Menwe's brow narrowed.

           “What kind of ways?”

      The True Dreamer shook his head.

           “I don’t know, but…”

           “But that’s why you want me to keep an eye on him?” finished the Security Officer nodding his head with a tight grin.

           “Yes.”

           “All right, doctor, thank you,” said Menwe turning to leave, once again frustrated over the idea defending against a lethal dream. Suddenly, he stopped and reflected back.

           “Actually, doctor, if… something does happen what should I do?”

      The Archaen’s answer was slow in coming, as if he were the bearer of bad news.
       

              _________________________________________________________________
       
       
       

           “Just so you know, I won’t return to sleep tonight, nor visit the Mindplane
           for the duration of your visit,” said Syona.

           The two strolled down the rich red carpet of a lone hallway. Behind them, well out of earshot, Luer Pell and Lady Sy’s retainers kept pace.

          “Really, your Highness, our chance encounter was just that. From
          what we discussed a repeat performance seems very unlikely.”

      Syona lightly inclined her chin as they passed several gilded holo-pics of the White.

           “Nonetheless... I think it’s best.”

           “There’s no need to punish yourself,” said Alain in a comforting voice.

           “I know. My mother will.”

           “Oh?” said the Listhani, suddenly stopping. Two paces away stood the lift doors to the shuttle bay.

          “I’m... sorry.”

           “No need to be. I deserve it.”

          Stopping as well the young Dreamer stared through a near by observation blister. A blanket of stars and darkness filled their view. Alain watched her reflection in the glass as she continued.

          “In the months I’ve been away I’ve felt myself grow as a Dreamer… gaining
          awareness of my potential, and more confidence in my abilities. But... after today…
          I realize now that it was all just an illusion. I still have a lot learn.”

          The shift had been subtle - a simple drop of her diplomatic facade, a relaxing of her shoulders. For the first time since meeting her Alain felt that he was finally seeing the real Syona Sasa'anna Farfel Marcello, sans Princess aristocracy, sans ambassador nobility, leaving only a simple young girl contemplating the pitfalls of adolescents and the shadowy road to maturity.

          “Part of growing up means making mistakes… and learning from them. In my
          youth I’ve made some colossal ones.”

      Syona turned to him with a look far more intelligent than her age.

           “As bad as the one I made today?”

      Alain let out a long controlled breath.

           “Your Highness, I could tell you some stories.”

          Syona raised a single eyebrow in a Dreamer’s smile, and for a brief instance Alain could feel her mind ‘laugh’.

          “I’d like to hear someday.”

      The Listhani pulled a sly grin.

           “Perhaps tomorrow, after our official duties.”

          The young Dreamer nodded again as she looked back to the stars with light blue-gray eyes.

          “Your Highness…” began the ambassador, lowering his voice to a conspirator's tone.
          “Back in the conference room… it may have been my imagination, but it seemed
          like Dr. Marson was holding back something regarding the telescope.”

           “I know,” answered the Dreamer still starring off into space, “He was.”

           “Oh?”

      Alain pursed his lips. Now came the hard part.

           “Your Highness, do you trust this man? This doctor of yours?”

          “I do,” answered Syona immediately. Turning she faced her diplomatic counterpart.
          “Whatever he’s withholding may be a matter of privileged information; knowledge
          he may not have the right to foreclose.”

           “Really?” said Alain, “But… what could be so important about a telescope?”

           “I don’t know, but until I do I will continue to feign my ignorance.”

      Alian suppressed a grin as he tilted his head.

           *Wise and subtle, this one is,* thought the Listhani with growing admiration. Closing his eyes he said,

          “Noxiam So’lesi Vexi. That’s something I learned during
          my brief stay in the SQT. It means… wear your suspicion
          like perfume.”

           “Aye that, Ambassador. I will.”

           “Sir!” called Menwe from the far end of the corridor. The wall of human retainers parted allowing the Listhani officer to pass through at a casual jog.

           “Sorry, I was detained. Dr. Marson prescribed some light sedatives for you
           … in case you have trouble sleeping in the Archaen Q-dex.”
       

          The officer passed over a small bottle of pills. Taking them Alain studied them for a few moments before quickly placing them in the pocket of his robe.

          “Thank you, Menwe. Your Highness, please conduct my gratitude
          to Dr. Marson.”

          “Of course.”

          “Well, I believe this is goodnight,” said Alain, “Your Highness… Master Pell.”

          Meters away the silent ‘Sin-Guardian politely nodded. Turning, both men entered the lift and watched the doors close in the mirrored back wall.

           “Shuttle deck,” said Menwe.

      The elevator descended.

           “Well… this is gonna be one helluva report to write. If it’s all
           right with you, sir, I’d like to post a guard in your room while
           your sleep.”

      The Ambassador said nothing.

           “Sir?…”

           Menwe turned and saw that Alain’s thoughts were elsewhere as he stared deep into the looking glass before him. Behind him, reflected in the mirror, stood the Grinning Man.
       
       

              _________________________________________________________________
       
       
       

      Written with special thanks to and approval by Jeff Blagg
       
       
       
       
       

    • Lev Chterenberg
      Great post I can t wait what will happen next!!!:))) Lev. ************************************************************ *
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 2, 2002
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        Great post I can't wait what will happen next!!!:)))

        Lev.



        ************************************************************
        * *
        * "Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell *
        * And the Lowest Deep a Lower Deep *
        * Still threatening to devour me opens wide, *
        * To which the Hell I suffer seem a Heaven." *
        * *
        * John Milton *
        * Paradise Lost. *
        * *
        ************************************************************


        _________________________________________________________________
        MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos:
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      • Lowell & Linda
        Lev, Thanks. I ve started the beginning of Chapter 4. Chapter 5 will be the conclusion. Lowell
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 3, 2002
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          Lev,

          Thanks. I've started the beginning of Chapter 4. Chapter 5 will be the
          conclusion.

          Lowell
        • Andoria Sunok
          Lowell: Have meant to tell you....enjoying your SM s soooo much! Finally just decided to drop a line and say so....cant wait to read more! Andoria We are all
          Message 4 of 5 , Mar 4, 2002
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            Lowell: 

            Have meant to tell you....enjoying your SM's soooo much!  Finally just decided to drop a line and say so....cant wait to read more!

            Andoria




            "We are all angels but with one wing....to fly we simply must join hands." 
            >From: Lowell & Linda
            >Reply-To: starshield-rpg@yahoogroups.com
            >To: starshield-rpg@yahoogroups.com
            >Subject: [Starshield] SM: Dreamwalkers. Ch. 3
            >Date: Sat, 02 Mar 2002 23:45:32 -0500
            >
            >Dreamwalkers
            >
            >
            > Chapter 3
            >
            > The Nightmare
            >
            > "night�mare (nit�m�r) A creature or evil spirit believed to threaten
            >or oppress persons
            > during sleep."
            >
            >Exert from the Archaen Book of Dreams and Visions
            >
            >
            >
            > In the observation porthole, located along the starboard side of the
            >silver lined ship, stood the shadow of a man. The man stood silently,
            >patently watching the distant parade of stars that had been the dance of
            >the cosmos for billions of years.
            >
            > �Twenty minutes you say?� asked Alain. The Listhani statesman turned
            >away from the viewport to face his assistant chief of security.
            >
            > �More or less,� said Menwe Norall, his voice low and cautious.
            >Despite the late hour the security officer�s eyes were sharp and alert.
            >Alian shook his head with incredulous disbelief.
            >
            > �Gods... it felt like hours... maybe more!�
            >
            > �That�s the Mindplane for you,� called Captain Bainbridge from the
            >other side of the room, �It takes a while to get used to the time
            >differential.�
            >
            > The Archaen officer took another long sip from his third cup of
            >coffee. Sitting in his Captain�s jacket at the conference table the
            >Archaen looked tired, as if his present state of energy was being
            >sustained by a single pot of Tru�kesh coffee resting near his elbow.
            >Next to him, at the tables head, sat Lady Syona. The young Princess wore
            >her full diplomatic robes, along with several bandages around her hands
            >and fingers. She, likewise, looked tired, as if the very fabric of her
            >robe was weighing her down. To her left sat Dr. Marson, a thin wiry man
            >in his mid sixties with ash gray hair and piercing green eyes. The
            >expression on his face, like that of the young Dreamer, was somehow both
            >mystical and inward. Standing behind them, as quiet as a shadow itself,
            >stood Luer Pell. The patient eyes of the Imperial �Sin-Guardian seemed
            >to miss very little.
            >
            > They had been talking for over an hour. Well, listening really,
            >thought Menwe as both Lady Syona and Alain debriefed them on their
            >incredible experience. Finally, a break had been proposed, allowing him
            >time to confer with his Corunal. To his surprise Alain�s course of
            >action had been quickly decided.
            >
            > With a tight grin, Norall turned away from his Ambassador,
            >consciously suppressing
            >his impatience and anger as he recollected the events leading up to this
            >moment. His eyes strayed towards the view port and the breathtaking view
            >of the Holo Nebula.
            >
            > Nearly two cycles ago they had detected Ambassador Chamaitre's
            >coma-like state, a discovery that had placed thier entire ship on full
            >alert. His superior, Sa'laier, Senior Agent of the Screivner, had
            >ordered a sweep of the ship from aft to stern for any possible
            >intruders, while assigning Nornall to guard and report on Alain's
            >condition. No sooner
            >had he set up his post when Ambassador Chamaitre inexpliciable woke up.
            >Furthermore, agaisnt his and Sa'laier's objections Alain had insisted on
            >coming over to the Archaen's vessel, stating that the answers they
            >sought could only be found there.
            >
            > *Sir, This pleasant chitchat would be nice if we were
            > having tea and puff-cakes, but... am I the only one
            > here who thinks WE HAVE A MAJOR SECURITY
            > CRISIS?!* thought the assistant chief.
            >
            > *Menwe...* thought Alain to his protective officer. The Listhani
            >stiffened before realizing the faux pas display of his temper. With a
            >long sigh the officer rubbed a strong, callused hand across his face.
            >
            > *I�m... I�m sorry sir... it�s just...it�s not everyday that
            > the person you're suppose to protect is attacked in
            > his dreams.*
            >
            > *I�m alarmed as you are, but this is a unique situation,* began
            >Alain, glancing over Menwe's shoulder to their awaiting host.
            >
            > *Sir... again, are you sure this is what you want to do?* thought
            >the assistant chief.
            >
            > *Absolutely. And the sooner we tell them the sooner we can
            > move on to finding more answers.*
            >
            > Norwall frowned and nodded his head. *All right.* Turning around the
            >muscular officer faced their awaiting host.
            >
            > �After conferring with Ambassador Chamaitre, and acting as the
            >Assistant
            > Chief Security Officer of the Scrivener, it has been decided that no
            >formal
            > assault charges will be to be filed against Ambassador Marcello.�
            >
            >The look of relief on Bainbridge�s face spoke volumes as he rose to his
            >feet.
            >
            > �On behalf of the Archaen Empire, and the diplomatic Corp
            > of the H.M.S. Executive, I thank you.�
            >
            >Syona stood as well.
            >
            > �Regardless, Honor-Norwall, the fault of this situation is mine
            >alone.
            > I take full... �
            >
            > �Your Highness...� interrupted Alain. Striding past Menwe on a soft
            >plush carpet
            >the Listhani statesman took his seat at the other end of the table. With
            >a single hand he gestured for Syona and Bainbridge to do so as well.
            >
            > �There�s no need to explain; we were both there. The purpose
            > of this meeting is simply to debrief our officers on exactly what
            > occured during our unexpected episode on the Mindplane. As for
            > myself the only thing I require now are some simple answers...�
            >
            > �Yes! Yes... like why was Ambassador Chamaitre in a coma for
            > nearly half a cycle?� fired Norall.
            >
            > �Menwe,� said Alain once again looking at his protector with a
            >patient expression.
            > �Please... sit down and give our friends a chance to explain.�
            >
            > Moments passed before the security officer�s shoulders relaxed.
            >With a long exhaling breath the Listhani officer sat down in a
            >Cirrillian leather chair, one whose dark color matched his mood.
            >Satisfied, Alain turned back to face the Archaen delegation.
            >
            > �Oddly enough, my first question is related Menwe�s inquiry.
            >
            >Spreading his hands open he said,
            >
            > �How did I escape... or should I say... wake up?�
            >
            > �I believed it�s because you left the Lighthouse,� said Dr. Marson.
            >
            > �Jumped is more like it, but... why? Why couldn�t I leave before?�
            >
            > The Dream physician lightly steepled his fingers together and
            >closed his eyes. The hum of the Executive�s engine drive filled the
            >silence of the room.
            >
            > �The Mindplane is filled with thousands of indelible places... and
            >things.
            > The Lighthouse is only one of them. Think if it as a psychic
            >pocket. A place
            > where thought can exist between the conscious and the
            >subconscious.�
            >
            >A wrinkled line creased the Listhani�s brow.
            >
            > �So... the lighthouse is something akin to being real... and
            >imagined?�
            >
            > �Yes. As long as you were confined there you were locked in,�
            >answered the doctor.
            >
            > �And the Grinning Man... he�s like this too, isn�t he? Like... some
            >kind of
            > psychic knot in the fabric of the plane.�
            >
            > �We believe so.�
            >
            >Alain pursed his lips and gave the physician another pondering glance.
            >
            > �Then... I take it that he�s not dead, nor the Lighthouse
            >destroyed?�
            >
            > �Neither can truly be.�
            >
            > �Oh great!� exclaimed Menwe, �So the next time Ambassador Alain...
            > I, or any other visiting Listhani goes to sleep, we risk being
            >attacked!�
            >
            >The doctor�s eyebrows arched in a Dreamer�s frown.
            >
            > �Unlikely, Honor-Norall,� replied the True Dreamer in a matter of
            >fact tone.
            >
            > �Oh yeah, why?� fired back the security officer.
            >
            > �Because you�re not a child,� said Alain. Menwe threw his charge a
            >confused look.
            >
            > �He... it... hunts children, Dreamers in particular,� added Syona,
            >�Even if a
            > Listhani child did manage to cross over into the Mindplane, it�s
            >unlikely they
            > would encounter him�.
            >
            > �Okay, I�m still playing catch up her, so again, Why?� asked Menwe
            >meeting the Princess�s tranquil stare.
            >
            > �Because he was summoned,� answered the Dreamer, �Typically,
            >encounters
            > with the Grinning Man work the other way around. He haunts children
            >in their
            > dreams, somehow... feeding off their fear, skimming it from the
            >Material plane.
            > Dream children in particular consciously repress their emotions,
            >making them
            > attractive targets.�
            >
            > �So in other words they�re like... concentrated fear.�
            >
            > �Yes, that�s why he craves them. Honor-Alain is an extraordinary
            >telepath. It was
            > only through a unique set of circumstances that he was able to
            >access the Mindplane
            > at all.�
            >
            > �Unique or not, This thing seemed pretty interested in him� added
            >the security officer, stabbing his finger on the table. �Why did it
            >decide on changing its mode of operation?�
            >
            > Alain smiled to himself as he cross his arms over his chest. It was
            >inevitable that his own line of questioning would be usurped by Norall.
            >The art of investigation was deep in his blood.
            >
            > �For a host,� said the doctor, �The Grinning Man would be no
            > match for a True Dreamer, but a telepath... a telepath could serve
            > as a conduit, a bridge form the mental realm to the material,
            >thereby
            > allowing the Grinning Man to co-exist in both �
            >
            > �And if he managed to cross over? What then?� asked Menwe. The
            >Archaens exchanged uneasy glances.
            >
            > �He would be Evil incarnate. Every loathsome thought, every dark
            >desire of the
            > sentient heart pooled into a living form. In order to send him
            >back... we would
            > have to kill the body of the one he possessed,� answered the Master
            >�Sin-Guardian from the back of the room. Silence followed..
            >
            > �Well I for one see that as most unlikely,� said Alain finally
            >seeing a chance to re-enter the conversation. �The opportunity has come
            >and gone, and we�ve escaped victorious. Besides...� With a cunning smile
            >the statesman threw a series of overacted uppercuts.
            >
            > �I doubt he�ll show his face after the thrashing we gave him, eh,
            >your Highness?�
            >
            >Alain expected his charm to get a laugh, but then he remembered that
            >Dreamers did not.
            >
            > �Actually, Honor-Alain, that was another question I wished to ask
            >you.
            > How did you...�
            >
            > �How did I know you could ignite the Grinning Man?�
            >
            >The Listhani shrugged.
            >
            > �It just sort of came to me in the heat of the battle.�
            >
            >Syona nodded politely, then added,
            >
            > �Actually, I was referring to the telescope. How did you know it
            >would
            > hurt him?�
            >
            > �Hurt?� asked the Ambassador.
            >
            > �He�s virtually invulnerable to physical attacks, yet... you
            >crushed his skull
            > with one blow.�
            >
            >The Listhani paled, as if realizing just how close to death he had
            >actually come.
            >
            > �You mean?... Well... when the chair didn�t work it was the closest
            >
            > thing at hand. Lucky for us.�
            >
            > �Maybe this telescope was another one of those... psychic
            >elements?� suggested Menwe. Syona nodded thoughtfully.
            >
            > �A distinct possibility, but... in all of my visits to the
            >Lighthouse... it has
            > never been there.�
            >
            > Another perplexing pause held the room for several moments before
            >anyone spoke. It was Alain.
            >
            > �Dr. Marson... could you offer an explanation?�
            >
            > �I�m... afraid I have none,� said the True Dreamer.
            >
            > Later, Alain would wonder if it was the doctor�s slight hesitation
            >in his answer, or the bare soup�on of an expression from Lady Syona�s
            >face. With a subtle turn of her pale blue eyes she glanced over to the
            >True Dreamer with a finite judging look. With an ethereal blink the
            >expression was gone. Whichever the case it was enough to arouse the
            >Listhani�s suspicion.
            >
            > �Pity,� answered the Ambassador in a diplomatic tone. �I suppose
            >some
            > mysteries will never be solved.�
            >
            > �Her Majesty, Empress Cavery, would be the best person to consult
            >on this
            > manner,� said Marson, �She is the Supreme True Dreamer of our
            >Empire,�
            >
            > �The hour on the White's late at this time,� interjected
            >Bainbridge, �I�d hate to
            > disturb her Majesty with a call...�
            >
            > �Of course, of course� replied the statesman raising his hands in a
            >halting manner.
            > �We can forego this discussion until our official meeting tomorr..
            >er.. make that
            > later this morning.�
            >
            > All present in the room knew their sleeping cycles would be
            >considerable less before the start of their next duty shifts. Alain
            >stood followed by Menwe.
            >
            > �Ambassador, I would still like to apologize for this incident,�
            >said Syona, also coming to her feet. Alain�s grin was both warm and
            >fatherly.
            >
            > �Think nothing of it, your highness. Like a nightmare this was
            >nothing but an
            > unpleasant experience.�
            >
            > �May I walk you back to the lift?�
            >
            > �I�d like that.�
            >
            > The two ambassadors filed out of the room closely followed by Pell
            >and Norall. The conference doors parted.
            >
            > �Hear! Hear! Her highness! Her highness!� snapped Syona�s retainers
            >as they rigidly came to attention.
            >
            > Coming up to Menwe Dr. Marson said, �Mr. Norwall, a quick word if
            >you will,� in a quiet and discreet voice. The Listhani officer paused as
            >he watched Alain leave surrounded by Pell and the six men of the Lady
            >Sy�s retainers. His thoughts on leaving his charge were clearly
            >expressed on his face.
            >
            > �Yes, what is it?�
            >
            >Marson waited until they were completely alone.
            >
            > �I�d liked you to keep an eye on Ambassador Chamaitre.�
            >
            > �Keep and eye? Why, is there something wrong?�
            >
            > The True Dreamer closed his eyes and for a few moments Menwe
            >actually thought the elderly Archaen had fallen asleep.
            >
            > �I have MINDRACED the possibilities, and though the chances
            > are remote, Ambassador Chamaitre�s connection to the Mind Plane
            > may be... insecure.�
            >
            > �Insecure? I don�t think I follow. What do you mean by...
            >insecure?� said the security officer crossing his arms in a tense
            >manner.
            >
            > �Traditionally, ones initiation to the Mindplane is done through
            > the guidance of a True Dreamer. Lady Syona is only a Dreamer�
            > an acolyte if you will. Ambassador Chamaitre�s access to the
            >Mindplane
            > through her, and perhaps more so by their traumatic exodus, may have
            >
            > created a rupture, a small tear in the ethereal fabric of the
            >realm.�
            >
            > �How... big of a rupture?� asked the Listhani with a suspicious
            >look.
            >
            > �Not very. As I said the chances are remote, but the Grinning Man
            >could
            > possible discover this breach.�
            >
            > �Hold on. Are you saying Alain�s still in danger of being
            >possessed?!�
            >
            >The True Dreamer opened his eyes.
            >
            > �No. No, the rupture would be far too small for that� and
            >inadequate as
            > a Mind Gate. However, the Grinning Man could make his presence know
            >
            > through it in several� disturbing� horrifying ways.�
            >
            >Menwe's brow narrowed.
            >
            > �What kind of ways?�
            >
            >The True Dreamer shook his head.
            >
            > �I don�t know, but��
            >
            > �But that�s why you want me to keep an eye on him?� finished the
            >Security Officer nodding his head with a tight grin.
            >
            > �Yes.�
            >
            > �All right, doctor, thank you,� said Menwe turning to leave, once
            >again frustrated over the idea defending against a lethal dream.
            >Suddenly, he stopped and reflected back.
            >
            > �Actually, doctor, if� something does happen what should I do?�
            >
            >The Archaen�s answer was slow in coming, as if he were the bearer of bad
            >news.
            >
            >
            >
            >_________________________________________________________________
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > �Just so you know, I won�t return to sleep tonight, nor visit the
            >Mindplane
            > for the duration of your visit,� said Syona.
            >
            > The two strolled down the rich red carpet of a lone hallway. Behind
            >them, well out of earshot, Luer Pell and Lady Sy�s retainers kept pace.
            >
            > �Really, your Highness, our chance encounter was just that. From
            > what we discussed a repeat performance seems very unlikely.�
            >
            >Syona lightly inclined her chin as they passed several gilded holo-pics
            >of the White.
            >
            > �Nonetheless... I think it�s best.�
            >
            > �There�s no need to punish yourself,� said Alain in a comforting
            >voice.
            >
            > �I know. My mother will.�
            >
            > �Oh?� said the Listhani, suddenly stopping. Two paces away stood
            >the lift doors to the shuttle bay.
            >
            > �I�m... sorry.�
            >
            > �No need to be. I deserve it.�
            >
            > Stopping as well the young Dreamer stared through a near by
            >observation blister. A blanket of stars and darkness filled their view.
            >Alain watched her reflection in the glass as she continued.
            >
            > �In the months I�ve been away I�ve felt myself grow as a Dreamer�
            >gaining
            > awareness of my potential, and more confidence in my abilities.
            >But... after today�
            > I realize now that it was all just an illusion. I still have a lot
            >learn.�
            >
            > The shift had been subtle - a simple drop of her diplomatic facade,
            >a relaxing of her shoulders. For the first time since meeting her Alain
            >felt that he was finally seeing the real Syona Sasa'anna Farfel
            >Marcello, sans Princess aristocracy, sans ambassador nobility, leaving
            >only a simple young girl contemplating the pitfalls of adolescents and
            >the shadowy road to maturity.
            >
            > �Part of growing up means making mistakes� and learning from them.
            >In my
            > youth I�ve made some colossal ones.�
            >
            >Syona turned to him with a look far more intelligent than her age.
            >
            > �As bad as the one I made today?�
            >
            >Alain let out a long controlled breath.
            >
            > �Your Highness, I could tell you some stories.�
            >
            > Syona raised a single eyebrow in a Dreamer�s smile, and for a brief
            >instance Alain could feel her mind �laugh�.
            >
            > �I�d like to hear someday.�
            >
            >The Listhani pulled a sly grin.
            >
            > �Perhaps tomorrow, after our official duties.�
            >
            > The young Dreamer nodded again as she looked back to the stars with
            >light blue-gray eyes.
            >
            > �Your Highness�� began the ambassador, lowering his voice to a
            >conspirator's tone.
            > �Back in the conference room� it may have been my imagination, but
            >it seemed
            > like Dr. Marson was holding back something regarding the telescope.�
            >
            > �I know,� answered the Dreamer still starring off into space, �He
            >was.�
            >
            > �Oh?�
            >
            >Alain pursed his lips. Now came the hard part.
            >
            > �Your Highness, do you trust this man? This doctor of yours?�
            >
            > �I do,� answered Syona immediately. Turning she faced her diplomatic
            >counterpart.
            > �Whatever he�s withholding may be a matter of privileged
            >information; knowledge
            > he may not have the right to foreclose.�
            >
            > �Really?� said Alain, �But� what could be so important about a
            >telescope?�
            >
            > �I don�t know, but until I do I will continue to feign my
            >ignorance.�
            >
            >Alian suppressed a grin as he tilted his head.
            >
            > *Wise and subtle, this one is,* thought the Listhani with growing
            >admiration. Closing his eyes he said,
            >
            > �Noxiam So�lesi Vexi. That�s something I learned during
            > my brief stay in the SQT. It means� wear your suspicion
            > like perfume.�
            >
            > �Aye that, Ambassador. I will.�
            >
            > �Sir!� called Menwe from the far end of the corridor. The wall of
            >human retainers parted allowing the Listhani officer to pass through at
            >a casual jog.
            >
            > �Sorry, I was detained. Dr. Marson prescribed some light sedatives
            >for you
            > � in case you have trouble sleeping in the Archaen Q-dex.�
            >
            >
            > The officer passed over a small bottle of pills. Taking them Alain
            >studied them for a few moments before quickly placing them in the pocket
            >of his robe.
            >
            > �Thank you, Menwe. Your Highness, please conduct my gratitude
            > to Dr. Marson.�
            >
            > �Of course.�
            >
            > �Well, I believe this is goodnight,� said Alain, �Your Highness�
            >Master Pell.�
            >
            > Meters away the silent �Sin-Guardian politely nodded. Turning, both
            >men entered the lift and watched the doors close in the mirrored back
            >wall.
            >
            > �Shuttle deck,� said Menwe.
            >
            >The elevator descended.
            >
            > �Well� this is gonna be one helluva report to write. If it�s all
            > right with you, sir, I�d like to post a guard in your room while
            > your sleep.�
            >
            >The Ambassador said nothing.
            >
            > �Sir?��
            >
            > Menwe turned and saw that Alain�s thoughts were elsewhere as he
            >stared deep into the looking glass before him. Behind him, reflected in
            >the mirror, stood the Grinning Man.
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >_________________________________________________________________
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >Written with special thanks to and approval by Jeff Blagg
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >


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          • Richard McKinley
            Great story. I m enjoying it very much. This Grinning Man wouldn t be related to Freddy Krueger, would he? (lol) Take care! ===== May our relationship be a
            Message 5 of 5 , Mar 9, 2002
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              Great story. I'm enjoying it very much. This Grinning Man
              wouldn't be related to Freddy Krueger, would he? (lol)
              Take care!

              =====
              "May our relationship be a Harmonious one. May the Protector watch over you until we meet again."

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