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Sex Life of the Gods, The

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<h2 title="Chapter Twelve"><SPAN name="p105" id="p105"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>105<span class="ns">]<br /></span></span>CHAPTER TWELVE</h2> <p>In the heavy silence that followed, the two men stared at one another. Lors regarded his friend with matter-of-fact calmness, but Narvi’s mouth was open in astonishment. The situation wasn’t covered in the manual.</p> <p>“Love,” Narvi choked finally. “With an alien? You must be joking.”</p> <p>“I’m serious.”</p> <p>“That blow on the head must have been solid as a rock.”</p> <p>Thesa just stared, without speaking.</p> <p>“Beth is a wonderful woman and I’m in love with her. If the blow on the head did that ... well then, I’m glad the ship cracked up.”</p> <p>“But, Lors! She’s an alien! It’s like a farmer, falling in love with his stock! It’s crazy! You couldn’t live on this planet the rest of your life, and she couldn’t live with you!”</p> <p>Lors shrugged.</p> <p>“What about Jela,” Narvi demanded swiftly.</p> <p>He didn’t answer him. Memories of the blond woman with the trim ankles, the slim waist and the large breasts floated back to him; memories of the many evenings they’d shared walking along the sand under the stars. He sat there fingering the thoughts as they rolled past, without feeling anything. He was aware, finally, that Narvi was speaking to him.</p> <p>“... know how you feel, Lors, but forget it. You could never work anything out. Go on back to Jela and forget about this alien. It doesn’t matter how wonderful she is; probably nothing short of killing her husband would gain her for you.”</p> <p><SPAN name="p106" id="p106"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>106<span class="ns">]<br /></span></span>Lors smiled thinly. “We can do that, too.” He paused and looked thoughtful for a moment “What did Imry do with Danson?”</p> <p>“Nothing. He lives better than most spacers. Since we are minus prisons on starships, Imry installed him in your quarters, under guard, of course. Commander Zark hasn’t been able to figure out what to do with him, yet. That’s what he wants to talk to you about.”</p> <p>“Have you a scout ship here?” Lors asked.</p> <p>“Certainly. We use them to make reports. The Terrans would pick up the radio waves otherwise.”</p> <p>“How about a uniform?”</p> <p>“You can borrow one of Thesa’s. You’d never get into one of mine.”</p> <p>“Fine. As soon as I’m properly attired, we’ll go see Zark.” Grinning at Narvi, Lors followed Thesa into the bedroom for the uniform.</p> <p class="tb">&nbsp;</p> <p>Later, dressed in the uniform of a Firstspacer, Lors checked himself in the mirror of the bedroom making certain that he was properly dressed. Trousers bloused neatly into the black, half boots<!-- TN: no hyphen in original -->, the yellow stripes perfectly aligned, the cuffs of the tunic fastened at his wrists and throat, the emblems of the 8th. Terran Command on the collar, the patch of rank on his left shoulder sleeve. Yes, he was all set. Precise.</p> <p>He grinned at Thesa. “Feels good,” he said.</p> <p>The sandy haired spacer handed him the black leather belt containing the auto-pistol and the cartridge belt. He buckled it on, feeling the familiar weight drag at his right hip.</p> <p>“Okay?” Thesa asked.</p> <p><SPAN name="p107" id="p107"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>107<span class="ns">]<br /></span></span>Lors nodded. “Thanks for the loan,” he said and went out to where Narvi, already dressed, awaited him.</p> <p>“How’s your head?” Narvi asked.</p> <p>“Fine.”</p> <p>“Let’s go, then.”</p> <p>They walked, wordlessly, out to the barn. The blond snapped on a small light near the scout ship and Lors went up close to examine it.</p> <p>“Climb in,” Narvi invited. “I have to scan the area and make sure no one will see the take-off.”</p> <p>Lors leaped to the cockpit and opened the plastic-dome; he dropped lithely into the seat, his feet moving automatically to the rudder pedals, his hands impatiently fingering the controls. So much was coming back. So many remembrances with each second of time. He was <em>not</em> Nicholas Howard Danson, and he had never been! He was Firstspacer Lors of the 8th. Terran Command, and he felt his heart thrill to the knowledge of who he was and where he was. It was slow, this strange process of regaining his mind, but it was coming along. He would soon be whole again, no longer some freak caught in the vortex between two worlds.</p> <p>“Ready?” Narvi asked, slipping into the seat beside him and pulling the cockpit shield into place.</p> <p>“Ready. Where’s the starship?”</p> <p>“Bearing 204.5, off-planet. We’ll be there in no time.”</p> <p>The barn door swung open as Narvi started the scout ship and they moved out into the night, hovering a foot off the barn floor until they were outside.</p> <p>Narvi conned the ship, working the <SPAN name="p108" id="p108"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>108<span class="ns">] </span></span>verti-control expertly and the little craft whistled upward at a gentle speed. The radar screen before them disclosed no aircraft in the area. Narvi grinned at Lors and shoved the speed control forward, working the elevators with his other hand and the scout ship streaked into the night sky.</p> <p>Home.</p> <p>Lors, watching the screen, saw the oblong shape of the mother ship blurp into view and called out its position to his friend. At once, Narvi altered the course, whipping the scout ship onto a collision bearing. When they were close enough, they used their signal and heard it answered.</p> <p>The ship slipped in easily as the port opened in the starship’s side. Narvi guided the craft in with tender hands and settled it gently on the floor. A positioner hooked a line to the ship and pulled it quickly into the repair bins. A light winked in the wall. The area was again pressurized.</p> <p>They climbed out and dropped to the floor as a crew of repair men went to work on the ship. Narvi slapped Lors on the arm.</p> <p>“I’m going below for a drink. Join Me?”</p> <p>Lors shook his head. “No, thanks. I might be down a bit later, but right now I’d best talk to the Commander.”</p> <p>“Right. Just don’t tell him that you’re thinking of jilting his only daughter for an alien, or he’ll turn four different shades of purple.”</p> <p>Lors grinned and watched the big blond stride away to the elevator that would take him down to the bar on the first level. Then he walked off in the opposite direction, heading toward the <SPAN name="p109" id="p109"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>109<span class="ns">] </span></span>forward end of the ship where he would find his “future” father-in-law, Commander Zark. Spacers, in the gleaming halls, saluted him in the traditional manner - a hand clasped to the hip that held their holstered auto-pistol - and it was a good feeling. He had almost forgotten.</p> <p>The Commander’s guards stopped him outside the door, but when he explained who he was and what he wanted, they nodded in unison. One of them pressed a button which opened the door to the vestibule outside the Commander’s office.</p> <p>Lors stepped inside and the door hummed shut behind him. The vestibule was little more than a box-like room, containing a small visi-screen. He pressed the small, black button at the base of the dark screen and kept his finger on it while the lines waved.</p> <p>“Firstspacer Lors to see the Commander,” he said, as the rotund face of his future father-in-law waved and blurred into focus.</p> <p>“Come in, Lors! Come in!” Zark’s voice was a bellow of pleasure.</p> <p>The heavy door swung open and Lors stepped into the room to click his heels and slap his right hand against the black holster before the Commander’s desk.</p> <p>“Firstspacer Lors reporting, sir,” he said, as Zark got up from the chair and came toward him.</p> <p>“Lors, Lors, my son! How are you?”</p> <p>They grabbed each other by the shoulders and laughed like children. Lors, despite his love for Beth Danson and the trouble that was undoubtedly coming up, was happy as a Terran child at Christmas to see the older man.</p> <p>“Lors! Let me look at you! It’s been eons since Thista! Jela’s fair dying to get her hands on you <SPAN name="p110" id="p110"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>110<span class="ns">] </span></span>again.” He winked at Lors. “And I imagine you are, too.”</p> <p>“She’s here?” A ray of panic touched him and he hoped that it didn’t show.</p> <p>“Not that I know of, unless a ship came in. The last I heard, she was waiting for a ship to take her off the base on Mars. She swears she’ll get you this time, or she’s going back home to find an old mushshell gatherer.”</p> <p>Lors laughed with Zark, who released him to pull a flask of wine from his desk. As he poured two tumblers of the milk-white wine, he winked at the young spacer.</p> <p>“From the home planet,” he grinned. “Mallowine. I’ll wager you haven’t tasted it in a long time.”</p> <p>“Not since Thista,” Lors assured him, accepting the tumbler. He held up the glass for a toast. “To you, sir, and your daughter. May she be saved from marrying a mushshell gatherer.”</p> <p>Commander Zark chuckled and they drank, the soft, mellow taste of the wine lingering fondly in their mouths long after the drink had found its way into their stomachs.</p> <p>“Now then, Lors. Tell me what that fool of an Imry did to you.”</p> <p>He told the Commander everything, watching the older man nod his head from time to time, the stubby fingers of his hands forming a pyramid before his lips as he slumped in his chair. Lors left nothing out, except his love for Beth Danson. He couldn’t bring himself to tell about that. When he had finished, Commander Zark’s eyes were hot with angry indignation.</p> <p>“I’ll see that Imry cannot get a command on a planet with a pure ammonia atmosphere for this <SPAN name="p111" id="p111"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>111<span class="ns">] </span></span>trick! I’ll see him tortured by Thistians!” The old man stopped his tirade as quickly as he had begun it. “You know what this means, Lors?”</p> <p>“I’m afraid to guess.”</p> <p>“The wrecked scout ship can be covered up easily enough because of the Terran politics; they always arrange it so that one branch of government has no idea of what the other branches are doing. We’ll have some of our men in Washington mumble in their beards about experimental aircraft until everyone is taken from the scene except our people. Then we’ll have the ship taken somewhere, ostensibly to be studied, and they’ll all forget it.</p> <p>“But these Terrans are another matter. If they can get their people to listen to them, we’re in trouble...”</p> <p>“Perhaps,” Lors said softly, “if they were believed, it would speed up our relations with the Terran governments.”</p> <p>Zark shook his grey head. “No. They aren’t ready yet. They’re still in such a fluctuating state that half the population believes in witchcraft and superstition, while the other half understands science and looks toward the future.</p> <p>“Besides, Lors, others have tried those same tactics and were not believed. To tell the truth, I’m not quite sure <em>what</em> to do.”</p> <p>“We could continue the bluff.”</p> <p>The Commander’s<!-- TN: original reads 'Commanders's' --> brows lifted. “You mean you continue as our agent down there?”</p> <p>“Yes, sir. The way it worked out, with the crash, it merely supported the story I was to tell Danson’s wife. I really did have temporary amnesia. No one knows anything, except about the ship. Brice found Danson’s watch at the crash <SPAN name="p112" id="p112"></SPAN><span class="pagenum"><span class="ns">[p</span>112<span class="ns">] </span></span>site, but we could work a little mental trick on him and make him forget everything he knows, couldn’t we?”</p> <p>“It would be risky. You never know if that process will work until it is tried. As much as I hate the thought, it would be best to kill both of them and send you back to the Terran woman. After we had tried to bluff out Imry’s plan for a month, or so, we could arrange an accident for you in which it would appear that you were dead - perhaps utilizing the real Danson for the accident. Does the woman suspect anything?”</p> <p>“I don’t think so,” Lors told him. “She seems too happy in having me back, at the moment.”</p> <p>Zark smiled at him and clamped a hand to his shoulder. “You’re tired, my boy. Get some rest and we’ll talk about this thing later. You can use Firstspacer Thesa’s quarters. Danson is in yours.”</p> <p>“And Brice?”</p> <p>“Unconscious. In the hospital. The shock of what took place down there has him recalling every old wives’ tale about witches that he has ever heard.”</p> <p>“All right, sir,” Lors said smiling. “I’ll get to my quarters, then. Thank you.”</p> <p>“I’ll send Jela to you, if she comes in.”</p> <p>“Thank you,” Lors said, but felt shaken at the thought.</p> </div> <div class="chapter">
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