Status Quo - Chapter 69

Written by: Paullell

 Lana grins and her grayness fades away, her body lightening back to its pale whiteness and even her hair lightening to a pastel blue as the last of her worry is relieved.  She hadn’t even wanted to admit to herself how worried she was about Daray’s reaction to hearing that Alina was alive and she might want to rush off and find her instead.  Daray’s words make her want to laugh with happiness.  She actually slips off of the counter and directly into Daray’s lap, wrapping her arms and legs around her in an engulfing hug.  


“You took all that news so much better than any of us thought you would, even me.  I’m so sorry for underestimating you.  I love you Mi Tesoro.”  Lana kisses her enthusiastically, giddy with all the relief rushing through her.  After a few moments of passionate kisses she pulls her head back, her hands still stroking along Daray’s neck and shoulders.  “April is right though.  This man sounds a little like Turin, someone so powerful they obviously feel they are above the law we should be very careful as we try and work around what he has done and probably not confront him directly.”  Lana grins and leans in to nuzzle Daray’s nose.  “Let’s call the others back in and finish breakfast, I believe you have plans that I will enjoy for after, si?”




“Was I some kind of animal before?” Daray asks plainly after the kiss, looking Lana in the eyes curiously. “You make it sound like I have a history of rash, impulsive, reactionary behavior…”


As she speaks, the skinsuit softens again, flowing back out of it armored state and into a form-fitting catsuit style. Her tone is playful, but not quite jovial, “I’m not sure I ever want to know what I’ve lost, if you all were so afraid of what I would do…”


She runs her fingers up and down Lana’s back, relishing in the feel of her warm body pressing up against her. To Lana’s thoughts on Xavier however, her mood seems to sour a bit, “I certainly remember Xavier. He is obviously concerned enough about his dealings that he is taking every precaution to protect himself. But I do not remember him as being unreasonable, and certainly not a liar, even if he is somewhat literal in his interpretations. I’ll cut a deal for Alina. Something to get her off the hook. I may have found my soul mate, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to have her over for dinner from time to time, and that certainly will be complicated if my head explodes or something when she comes around…”


She looks up at Lana and presses her lips into a hard line for a moment, then says, “APRIL, send the message, please. Alina is suffering because she believes I need some kind of protection, but I don’t. I have a family now, with you and Lana, and you guys give me all the protection I could ever need.”


-Very well Daray. I will send a request to speak with him.-


“Thank you APRIL.”


-Of course Daray.-


“Oh, and could we maybe, find someone to take care of the broken window?”


-I have already placed a repair order. Technicians should be on site to replace the damaged wall within the hour.-


“See what I mean? You guys take such good care of me,” she grins as she pulls Lana to her again, drawing their mouths together and nibbling at Lana’s lower lip, flicking her tongue over it as she drags her finger tips up and down Lana’s sides and back. “Now, where were we?”




Lana laughs at Daray’s playful behavior.  “Not an animal… just impulsive.  As for where we were.  Hmmm”  Lana raises her voice and calls out to the open doorway.  “I believe we were asking the people who abandoned the room to come back and finish breakfast before the food gets too cold and whatever Melissa has on the stove burns!”  Lana waits until there is actually a sign that they are returning to the room before she climbs off of Daray’s lap and makes her way, grinning, over to her own stool again.




“I guess I can live with impulsive…” Daray smiles, but quickly turns pouty as the situation changes and the doctor shuffles back in toward his plate. At least he has the decency to look uncomfortable though, as Melissa is grinning like the cat that caught the canary as she skips back into the kitchen playfully.


“I took the liberty of emptying the pans before we left,” she grins as she starts her cooking back up again. “You guys are teaching me to stay on my toes, if nothing else…”


Daray looks askance at Lana as she sits down again, then pulls her plate to her and starts back in to her food, “Did I say I liked her? I’m pretty sure that must have been a side-effect of being disembodied… Because suddenly I’m not finding her so amusing…”


“You have to give me some time. I’m an acquired taste,” Melissa sticks her tongue out as she pours some batter into a skillet.


“Well, I’m sorry to be any trouble, but I really must get back home and start sifting through the wreckage of my gear after that man-ape tore through it.” Doctor Yamato says as he finishes the last couple bites on his plate. “Daray, APRIL, I will get in touch with you about a check-up in the near future, and if I find anything about Doctor Ferrin’s materials, I’ll pass it along. Finding that could be instrumental in cleaning out the extra garbage SO stuck in your head.”


He stands up and pats himself down as if making sure he has all of his things on him as he speaks, and in an instant, Daray is up and embracing him, “thank you for everything doctor. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate what you’ve done.” She kisses him on the forehead, requiring her to stand on her tip-toes as even his small height is inches above hers. “Although I may never forgive you for leaving us alone with this ruffian,” she jerks her thumb toward Melissa, who simply chuckles and flips some pancakes in response.


“Yes well, I’m sure the three of you can manage her well enough…”


“Not likely…” Melissa quips with a quirky grin on her face.




Lana is still unused to eating in the quantities that her new body requires.  She has always been a slow, polite eater, but the smells of everything put before her are so delicious her mouth waters almost uncontrollably.  She grins at the banter but does not stop in her eating to add her own comments.  After she has imbibed enough to satiate the small black hole in her stomach she pauses and asks the question that has been forming in her mind.  “You’ve been very patient with us, Melissa.  Daray is back to herself… When would you like to leave to meet my father?  Do we need to make transport arrangements or do you have your own ship?”




As soon as the Doctor finishes his farewells and exits the house, Daray jumps back into her seat and begins wolfing down food as she is starving. Pound for pound, she easily packs away more calories than Lana, but then, she has a lot more practice eating like this, and it seems likely that her own regeneration is a bit more active than Lana’s.


When Lana poses her question, Daray stops abruptly and stares across the counter at Melissa, who is clearing down the stove again while she picks at a small plate of plain eggs.


Melissa stops what she’s doing, offers Daray a hard look, and then turns her attention to Lana and smiles sweetly, “We’ll have to secure a ship. I had one on standby, but when things went a bit long here, I had to turn them loose. His place is out on Titan, which is a solid week’s travel on a good, fast ship. If you know anyone, I’ll pay better than their standard rate. Otherwise I’ll have to check the boards and see what’s available. Are you sure you don’t need to take care of anything else here before we head out?”




Lana shakes her own head, unable to think of anything else specific.  She looks at Daray, her gaze questioning.  “I can’t think of anything else.  The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can settle into my life here with Daray.”  Lana reaches across the counter to give Daray’s arm a reassuring squeeze and offer her a warm smile.  “As much as I don’t relish the idea of yet another space flight, they do seem to pass the time with slightly less random action.  That will hopefully give Daray some time to teach me how to handle my new abilities.  That way when we really go into business I won’t feel so nervous about my ability to keep up with her.” 




“Alright, let me make a couple calls and see what I can find in the way of a boat,” Melissa responds, finishing up her eggs and then moving off toward the office to use the comm.


Daray turns her gaze to Lana, placing her free hand over Lana’s and squeezing it reassuringly, “This is a big step. Are you sure you’re ready to meet your father?”


As if to punctuate her question, a grizzled voice calls out from the other side of the room, “Hi there! I’m Larry from the maintenance company, I’m here to replace this damaged panel. Should take about an hour,” his head is perfectly framed in the hole through the wall as he hovers on some sort of floating scaffold and smiles in at them. 


At the same time, APRIL announces -Daray, Xavier Quinn is calling in on the secure line for you. Where shall I route the transmission?-


Daray waves to the man in the window to go ahead with his work then looks to Lana curiously, “Can you put it up on the terminal in our bedroom please APRIL?” She shifts her grip and squeezes Lana;s hand again, looking her in the eyes. “Do you want to be there for this?”




Lana shakes her head yes and then no.  “Oh God Daray.  I don’t know.  The idea that my father might ever look for me was not something I ever considered.  Parents abandon kids all the time and never look back.  It’s just such a fairy tale.  I can’t help but hope it’s true but I’m really scared to be disappointed.”


Lana bites her lip when Daray asks if she wants to be involved in Xavier’s call.  “It depends, will my presence give him another opportunity to exploit you?  I would like to get a look at the man who has caused so much havoc in your life.. but not to your detriment.”




“Understandable…” she pauses, cocking her head to the side a moment as she thinks for a moment, “come to think of it, I don’t have any memory of my parents… Maybe this memory loss thing wasn’t such a good deal after all…” She frowns a moment as she stands up to move into the bedroom.


“Lana, he’s going to do what he’s going to do. All I can do is try and position myself as best I can to not get tied down again. Honestly, with you there, I might have better odds of staying out of trouble, as long as you don’t hesitate to pipe in when you see something going badly. And that goes for you as well APRIL.”


-Of course Daray. The transmission is waiting in the bedroom.-


Looking over at Lana, Daray smiles at her. “It’s your call. I don’t want to force you into anything, but I could certainly use the moral support.”




Lana hustles to catches up to Daray and slips her hand into Daray’s she give her a gentle squeeze and a cheerful grin.  “I’m always happy to be support for you; morale or otherwise.” After a moment’s thought before they reach the bedroom Lana stops her.  “Quick question.  How professional is this guy?  I’ve gone on an outing or two with clients as eye candy.  One just wanted a pretty girl on his arm; the other used me as a distraction during negotiations to get a better deal.  If you think it might help, I’m happy to play out the second scenario and I can go in as is.  If he’s really professional and you just want the first option, I should put on more than a shirt before he sees me.”  Lana grins to let Daray know that she is perfectly fine with using her body to help nudge the negotiations in whatever direction will help them.




Daray squeezes Lana’s hand in return, then sort of chuckles in response to her offer, “he’s by far the most straight-faced corporate big-wig I’ve ever met. I’m not sure if the man has a pulse, let alone any kind of physical desires. I seriously doubt whether it will make any difference how you are dressed.”


She leads the way into the bedroom and sits down in front of the terminal there. “If you want to change, go ahead, I don’t want to keep him waiting. Just pipe in if you feel you need to say something. Don’t be shy about it.” She smiles up at Lana and waits for her to move, or find a seat before pulling up the call on the terminal.


A holographic image of a man appears above the terminal. It’s a sort of living bust, showing an expensive, silk suit from the middle of his chest up. He has dark hair and steel grey eyes, and his appearance is simple, but immaculate in every detail. He wears a perfectly-trimmed mustache that joins a goatee on his chin, and the look on his face is intelligent, contemplative, and bears signs of near-inexhaustible patience.


“Miss Bowen,” he opens the conversation simply.


“Mister Quinn,” she responds.


“APRIL said you’d like to speak with me about my arrangement with Miss Martin. Normally I wouldn’t even respond to such a request. As you know, our business dealings are highly confidential. However, I understand that you are friends, and that certain details may have made their way to you concerning our arrangement, and how it affects you. As such, you deserve to be brought into the loop on this, at least to some extent.”


-Be careful Daray, he is not a negotiator to be trifled with,- APRIL cautions.


“I know you’ve got me wired to self destruct somehow, and that Alina’s proximity can cause it. I don’t know what deal you’ve made with her to make her agree to such an arrangement, but I want it canceled. What’s the vig on that?” Daray responds levelly.


-Very subtle Daray. Thank you.- APRIL’s tone is actually sarcastic. Possibly a new tone of voice for her.


Xavier blinks a few times, then cants his head slightly as he responds, “Interesting.. I’m not sure how you came across this information, as she is not allowed to communicate with you. You weren’t even supposed to know she is still alive.”


“I’m more than just the super-agent you made me Xavier. I have sources too.”


“Indeed. Well, I must admit that I am still surprised. As to the cost of allowing you two to come back together…”


“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m not trying to get back together with her. I just want her cut loose.”


“She is in the midst of fulfilling her obligation to me. Once she completes her task, she is no longer bound to Solidarity Online in any way, save to remain out of contact with you.”


“Fine. Then what will it cost me to change that last bit?”


“If you aren’t interested in rekindling your relationship, however brief it must have been, why is it important that you and she are able to approach one another?”


“Two reasons. First, I have a family here, and I don’t think she should be excluded from social gatherings and the like. Second, if she’s working for you, then she obviously has something to offer, which means she could be a potential resource for me in my work.” She pauses for a moment, then adds, “plus there is the possibility, however unlikely, that we might pass one another on the street, quite by accident, and both drop dead from your tinkering. Then none of your business gets handled.”


“That is an extremely unlikely scenario Miss Bowen…”


“That’s where I seem to live my life Xavier. Somewhere between unlikely and impossible, with leanings toward the mad.”


He nods curtly, then pauses to consider. “You have no doubt been made aware of your financial status?”


“You mean the deed to the house, the trust fund, the monthly stipend, all that?”


“I do.”


“I have been.”


“This is part of Alina’s gift to you. The house and the initial monetary payment of course, being part of our settlement over your unfortunate situation with the skinsuit.”


Daray simply nods at him.


“I am not particularly excited about the possibility of you two getting together again Miss Bowen. I feel the relationship will have negative consequences concerning your work ethic and methodology. While you are technically a freelance agent, you are bound to give me first consideration on missions and I do not want emotionally compromised agents working for me in the field.”


______________________________________________________________________________Lana had been standing off camera as it were until that last comment, the idea that anyone is supposed to remain an autonomous robot for any job rankles her.  She raises her eyebrow scornfully and proceeds to strut over to the bed behind Daray and in clear site of the viewscreen.  She then proceeds to lounge across the bed on her stomach which causes the shirt to rise, giving an indecent view of her thighs.  She props her head up on her hands as she turns her head to get a look at Xavier.  Her tail swishes with amusement as she chuckles.  “Really?  That’s too bad.  Guess I won’t ever be working for the man then.  I heard the pay was good.”




Xavier raises an eyebrow at Lana’s appearance, but doesn’t give off any other sign that he’s even sen her there, continuing to stare expectantly at Daray, who can’t help but chuckle a little at Lana’s entrance into the conversation.


she let’s things sit for a moment, then speaks up again, “Alright Xavier. I don’t want to dance around the issue here. I want those requirements lifted from Alina’s contract. And I want her told about it. I won’t be doing all this sneaking around with my friends, now that I have a few. This,” she motions over her shoulder toward Lana, “is Lana. She’s working with us now, and she’s very good at what she does.” Not technically a lie, as Lana was, no doubt, very good at her previous occupation, and she has no doubt in her mind that she will be extraordinary at this one.


“So, you found yourself a partner. Am I to make inferences about the extent of your relationship?”


“No need to infer. We’re lovers, more than just sexually. I suppose you could say that I have already been emotionally compromised. We have another operative here with us who is considering joining up. If she does, then we’ll have a whole group of people that can take on your work. Anything from simple smash-and-grabs, or digital hacks all the way up to coordinated operations. We work well together, and we’re wiling to do most anything, except wet-works, as usual.”


He smiles knowingly. “Yes, I saw on the news how well you work together.” His image pans to the side and a screen appears with a recording of the fight in the street playing on it. It shows Daray, then APRIL, knocking Melissa on her back, and then getting launched into the destroyed vehicle by Lana’s body throw. “You did a very nice job of obscuring your face Miss Bowen, I had to employ some of my best to clean it up, although the skinsuit is fairly telling on its own. I assume this is where you tell me some story to justify yourselves in destroying a city street and multiple vehicles, not to mention the damage to soldiers and bystanders, before your new partner hauled you off in shackles.”


Daray just gaped at the image playing out before her eyes, totally unable to respond, mostly due to the fact that she had no recollection of those events having taken place… She tried not to get rankled as she turned to look at Lana with a ‘please, oh god please help me here’ sort of look on her face…

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