Chapter Sixty - FireBird & Priam

Fortune

Doug had come out of nowhere, a door in a wall.
Though our friendship counted in hours, I'd trust him.
At least a little.

I reached his coords, entered his yacht with my amulet ready, but it didn't take
ten seconds to realise he was pious. And he, unlike any one else, could really
contact the Sagir.

And he did.

That ship out there, that shuttle connecting to this yacht...I believe with every
atom, Priam will walk through that portal.

Off the entrance corridor, a minor bedroom out of monitor range. I had the door
partially open, stood just within, holding Prima, resonating certain Priam would
enter this corridor.

I heard foot falls, saw them enter, passing me, three ..Priams....?
suddenly an embrace.

Three Priams before me, in the arms of the fourth.


My eye grabs for Doug, I felt I was losing my mind.

The arms around me familiar, but so were those three men...those three Priams.
Three exact copies/clones of Priam.
Three, their backs to me, talking to Doug, in Priam's voice.

Tears, bathing me. Not my tears. His.
This Fourth Priam.

I let myself fall back, through the bedroom door to get away from the image
...three...four identical Priams. Now, just one. Somehow sitting on the deck.
Sitting with this one, Prima between us pushing us apart.

His head buried in my neck, his long arms holding us; I don't know how long
I sat, fading in and out of sanity, trying to unlink from the image in the cabin,
trying to get here, to this room, to this one, to this single Priam, to this moment.

Fighting for balance I wriggle to get air and disjointly; "This is Prima Ann." and
offer the baby to her father. Priam looks at her. More helpless and unknowing
than she, who puts her hands on his damp face.

"Prima, this is Papa."

"Papa." she repeats, smiling.

I stare at him. Stare at 'this' Priam, sitting on the deck, tears rolling down
his face, while a seventh month old baby virtually consoles him.

Then I was crying, holding him and crying as if I never expected to see him
again. But I had. I really had.
But him.
Only him...
not...

Priam speaks that strange language, his voice almost urgent...I stare into his
face, there's cloudiness in his eyes as if he's as confused as I am or if he's
drugged...

"Priam, I don't understand..."

He looks at me, disoriented, suddenly a knock, Doug opens the door.

"We're going to the Sag ship now....I'm going in their shuttle."

I couldn't process.

"Firebird!" He orders. "You have to manage the disconnect,"

For a minute I remain as I am, looking at Doug. He doesn't speak again,
just standing, waiting. Waiting until I stood up, leaving Prima with Priam.

Trying for Sanity

I step into Doug's dirty sani, wash my face, calm myself, Doug is watching me
as if I were liable to have a seizure.

Gaining control, I step hesitantly into the main cabin. The other three Priams
had gone into the airlock. I did not want to see them. Not see them, nor have
them see me.

Doug gave me a steady look, needing to be sure I was functioning before he
entered the portal. He stared into my eyes until I nodded, then walked away.

I waited, the airlock shut. I manually made the disconnect, saw the shuttle move
away, then left the cockpit, back to Doug's messy room.

Priam was sitting on the floor as I left him, Prima holding him. He looks up at me.
His face gleams with tears, and so very softly he says;
"Firebird will you take me with you?"

I stare, confused, the image of three others, exactly like him enter my thoughts
...and I begin to catch a twisting reality...interrupted by Prima getting restive.

"She's hungry," I say, stooping to take her, but she clung to him. I was going to
Doug's galley but pondered; Why were we here? We didn't have to be on Doug's
yacht...

I find Doug's avatar, get it functional, send a message to my A.I. to bring my ship.
I hope Doug realises he had to say something that would be picked up by the Mil
to give me 'official' permission to leave.

My yacht was connecting to the cocoon when Doug's voice;

"Babes, this is going to take a tad longer than I expected.
I'll meet you on Earth...I'll tell the mil to let you pass.."

"Alright," I am grateful for our synchronization.

In a strange way I didn't want to leave him. I understood him. I knew Doug Hooker
as I did not know Priam. I hear Doug speak to the Navy making my departure a
perfectly logical and desired action.

With some trepidation I return to the bedroom; "Come..." I say.

Priam stood, looking at me with the kind of eyes one expects of the condemned
man going to the gallows, but followed. I led to my yacht...no to his yacht.
Once inside, Priam looked around as if it were some magical place.

I couldn't deal with any of this now, I got to the controls and stayed there long
after I needed, trying to find a logic, a base. and the three other Priams would
blur and fade.

Hoping.

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