We've Come So Far
by  Patricia
Back to part I
The following day, Maya wandered the paths of the Bio Sphere searching for Connie and Tirzah.  Another
botanist pointed her in their direction and she found them hovering over a plant.

As Maya approached, Tirzah knelt next to the flowering fern and took a small trowel from Connie.  She gently
moved the dirt away from the roots and looked in closely.  Tirzah looked up at Connie.  “They are supposed to
have the dark knobs on them?”

“Yes.”  Connie nodded.  “This type of plant has ta be manually irrigated.”  Tirzah looked confused, so she
continued.  “We don’t have any bugs here ta create the holes and tunnels in the earth that this plant needs ta
grow properly.  Ah, Maya!”

“Hello.”  Maya stepped up closer.  “How did it go today?”  She asked Tirzah.

“Just like home.  There are many plants to learn about.”  Tirzah covered the roots back over.  “It’ll take me some
time to learn them all.”  She stood and handed the trowel back to Connie.

“Aye, but she’s quick, this one.”  Connie winked at her.  “Go and have a bite ta eat and I’ll see ya later.”

Tirzah nodded and she and Maya headed back out.  “I enjoy your garden, Maya.”  She looked around, smiling.

“It’s your garden too now.”  Maya commented.  “After lunch, Annette is going to go over your lessons with you.  
This is your job now, Tirzah, that means that is your garden as much as anyone else’s.”  Maya continued to go
on about the different things to do that evening.

Tirzah never heard them.  She stopped dead in her tracks when she caught a glimpse of Alan Carter and then
hid herself behind a nearby tree.  She peeked out from behind it to see where he would go.

“So what do you want to do?”  Maya suddenly realized that she had been talking to herself.  She looked around
for her companion.  “Tirzah?”


“What are you doing?”  Maya rounded the tree where Tirzah hid.  “What’s the matter?”

“Please stay quiet, Maya!”  She peeked around the tree again, groaning in frustration that he hadn’t moved.  
She grabbed Maya’s arm and pulled her further off the path.  
“This way!”

“What’s got into you?”  Maya pulled her arm away but continued to follow Tirzah.  “What’s this all about?”

Tirzah didn’t answer.  She wound around bushes and trees and flowers at such a pace that Maya almost had
trouble keeping up with her.  They stepped back onto the path breathlessly and Tirzah grabbed Maya’s arm
and pulled her out the door.  She finally slowed to a walk.

Confused and flustered, Maya walked along side of her.  After a moment she took the younger woman’s arm
and stopped her.  “Tirzah, do you mind telling me what that was all about?”

“What that was all about?”

“Yes.  The wild chase through the woods that we just did!  What is going on?”

“I prefer that path over the other.”  Tirzah proceeded down the hall nonchalantly.

“Tirzah, wait.”  Maya stopped her again and drew her up closer to the wall.  She lowered her voice and put her
hand on the other woman’s shoulder.  “You’ve been acting very oddly lately.  Please tell me what’s wrong.  
Perhaps I can help.”

Tirzah looked up at her and opened her mouth to speak.

“Hey, there you are!”  Tony came down the hall and kissed Maya lightly on the forehead as he put his arm
around her shoulders.  “I have a short break and I thought that I’d have a quick bite with you before I have to go
back.”  He looked at both women, who still stood the way he had found them.  “Am I interrupting something?”

Tirzah spoke up first.  “No, Tony.  Maya and I were talking about my work in the garden.”  She walked on toward
the cafeteria.

Tony and Maya fell into step.  “That’s right, I haven’t had a chance to ask you how that’s going?”

“Very good.”  Tirzah stopped and turned to face them.  “Excuse me.  I wish to change before Annette comes to
teach today.”

“Yea, sure.  We’ll see you later.”  Tony waved goodbye as the young woman left.  Maya started to pull away
from him to follow, but Tony held on fast.  “Maya, let her go.”

“Something’s wrong, Tony and I need to find out what it is!”

“But not right now.”  He kept her from leaving him and forced her to keep walking toward the cafeteria.  
“Sometimes you have to back off for a bit to keep a healthy perspective on things!”

Maya finally relented; begrudgingly; and allowed herself to be led away.

             |                |                |

For the next several days, Tirzah managed to avoid Maya and her insistent questions.  She took some time to
go to the Medical Center and show Sanara her new uniform and tell her about her job in their new home.  When
Maya would find a chance to be alone with her, Tirzah was very adept at finding someone to speak with so that
she never had a chance to turn the conversation in the direction of her dreams and feelings.  She also found
that if she discussed Psychon or the upcoming
Opatasale celebration, that Maya wouldn’t even think to ask any
other questions.

A few days before the celebration, Helena stopped Tirzah in the hallway on her way to meet Annette.   “Tirzah!  
Did anyone tell you about the party in the convention hall?”

“No.  When is that?”

“On the 14th.”  Tirzah shook her head so Helena explained.  “On Earth on February 14th we celebrate what’s
known as Valentine’s Day.  We show our love and affection for those closest to us.  This year we’re going to
have a big party.  We’ll have music and Tony will make a big batch of his beer…” Tirzah giggled. “…and we’ll
have fun!  What do you think?  Do you want to come?”

Tirzah smiled at her.  “You still didn’t tell me what day.  I don’t know your calendar yet.”

“Sorry, I forgot.  It’s in four days.  Nothing fancy, just bring yourself.”  Helena gestured.

“Oh.  I’m sorry.  That’s the same day as
Opatasale.  I won’t be able to come, but it sounds like fun.  It sounds
like what we do for
Opatasale.  We celebrate the love that surrounds us in our lives.  I’m truly sorry, Helena.  
Maybe another one.”  Tirzah stepped away from her slowly.  “I have to go now.  Annette waits for me.  See you
later.”  She continued down the hall toward Annette’s quarters.

Later that afternoon Tirzah kicked her shoes into her closet.  She grabbed the picture of her grandparents and
tumbled onto her bed happily.  She’d had a great day!  She spent the morning in the garden with two other
botanists bringing a dying plant back to life and the afternoon was spent wandering the base with Annette
learning to pronounce the Alphan’s words.

She sat up quickly and put the photo back in its place, stripped off her uniform and threw it into the closet on her
way to the bath.  One of the botanists had invited Tirzah to the pool for a “picnic”.  She smiled to herself
remembering Shannen’s explanation of that word.

She hopped in and out of the shower and finished toweling herself on the way to the dresser.  She rummaged
around until she found her swimming suit, threw it on the bed and grabbed the brush for her hair.

The door buzzer sounding caused Tirzah to jump.  She grabbed the towel off the back of the chair, wrapped it
around herself and opened the door.  “Maya!  Come in.”  Tirzah happily waved her inside and shut the door.  “I’
m invited to the pool tonight for a pic-nic and I have to get ready.  So excuse me if I move around while we talk.”  
She continued brushing out her hair as she spoke.

“That’s wonderful.”  Maya tried to speak cheerfully.  “I’m glad you’re meeting new people and making friends.”  
She moved around by the chairs slowly.

Tirzah never noticed Maya serious expression and downcast eyes.  Her frustrated growl immerged from a
dresser drawer.  “Where is that?”

“Where’s what?”  Maya walked to the stand and picked up the picture of her brother.

“I can not find the…the…dress that goes over the swimming suit.”  Tirzah searched another drawer.

Maya traced the people in the photo with her finger.  She took a deep breath as if summoning up her courage.  

“Here it is!”  Tirzah yanked the terrycloth pullover out of a drawer.  “What did you say?”  She threw the pullover
on the bed and stopped to face Maya.

“I need to talk to you about…”

“You know,” Tirzah cut her off nervously, “I’m almost finished with the celebration arrangements.”

“Good.”  Maya set the picture back on the stand.  “I need to talk to you about the celebration.”

“Yes?”  Tirzah grabbed her brush and sat on the edge of the bed.  “I’m very excited!  Will Tony be joining our

“Tirzah.”  Maya sat down on the bed and looked into the other woman’s eyes for a moment.  She drew a deep
breath.  “The day of the
Opatasale celebration…is the same day as the Alphan’s Valentine’s Day dance.”

“Yes.  Helena invited me, but I explained that our celebration is the same day so I can not go.”  Tirzah jumped
up, put her brush on the dresser and grabbed her swimsuit.

“Yes…well that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.  Tony invited me as well and before I realized what day it
was…I accepted.”  Maya watched her reaction closely.

Tirzah paused and then continued dressing.  “How did he feel when you told him?”

“I haven’t talked to him just yet.  I wanted to talk to you first.”

Tirzah shook her head and ran her fingers through her hair.  “I don’t know Tony.  Will he be angry?”  She
stopped and looked up sharply at Maya.  “Does he hit when angry?”

“No!  He would never do that!”  Maya said quickly.  “It’s just that I thought it would be fun to go to the party too.”

“I know.”  Tirzah sympathized.  She took her towel into the bathroom and threw it over the shower door.  “I felt
the same way at first.”

“Really?”  Maya stood enthusiastically.  “So then we can have the
Opatasale celebration here and go to the
dance in the evening!”

Tirzah yanked the pullover over her head.  “What!?”  She took a step toward Maya.  “But the celebration lasts all
day!  The evening celebration is just as important as the morning!”

“I know that.  I was only suggesting that we could combine our evening celebration with theirs.  A sort of, cross-
cultural event.  That way you could experience Earth rituals and…”

“I don’t understand you!  Are you a Psychon or not?  I’ve had enough Alphan culture!  Days and days of it!”  
Tirzah paced the small area gesturing wildly.  
“It’s all I see, all I hear and all that I “experience”!  You tell me
again and again that I can be a Psychon all that I want and then you want to put limitations on it!”

Maya interrupted her.  “Tirzah, you’re being a little over dramatic.  It’s not like that at all.”

Tirzah stopped and faced her with her hands on her hips.
 “Really, Maya?  Really?  Look at you.”  She waved
toward her.  
“I’ve only ever seen you out of that uniform twice since I’ve come to live here.”

“I have to wear it when I’m on duty!”

“That must be all the time, then.  And we hardly ever speak Psychon, why?  Even now, I’m speaking it and you
still speak the Alphan language!  You say that it’s not forbidden here but go around as if you’re afraid of being
Psychon!  Opatasale is one of our most important celebrations and you want to leave in the middle to go to an
Alphan event!  My master took away what was Psychon here.”
 She gestured to her face and body.  “But they
couldn’t take it from here.”
 She poked herself several times in the chest.  “I hate the image in the mirror, but the
image in my heart has never changed!”

“It isn’t like that, Tirzah.”
 She reached out to touch the woman but Tirzah moved back quickly.  “The Alphan’s
were the only family I had until you came here.  I wanted to learn their strange culture and feel like one of them,
not an outsider.  I haven’t given up being Psychon.”
 Maya shrugged.  “I just wanted to have both.  That’s why I
suggested we go to the dance.”

Tirzah shook her head slowly.  “I’ve been forced to compromise for too long.  I won’t wear their uniform when I
don’t have to.  I will not attend their celebrations when they interfere with mine.  I did not give up my heritage for
my master and I will not give it up now.”

Maya became frustrated and took a couple of steps toward Tirzah, causing the younger woman to back up.  “I’
m not asking you to give it up, just to compromise!  You act as if I’ve asked you to change your personality!”

“Haven’t you?”


“Then why do you ask that I give this up?”

“I’m not asking you to give it up!”

“You are!  To compromise means to give something up to the other person!  I’ve been doing that my entire life!  
You didn’t even want to attend the celebration in the first place!”

“That’s not true.”
 Maya took a sympathetic step forward.

“It is.  Until I invited Tony, then you agreed!  Until I invited an Alphan.”

“No, I agreed because you asked me.”

“You hesitated, and only agreed after I had invited him!”
 Tirzah choked back a sob.  “You’re always with him!  
You eat together and play together!  You talk and laugh together.  Do you sleep together too?”
 She saw Maya
blush and, shaking her head, turned away.

“I love him!”  Maya shocked even herself.  
“He’s a good man and I enjoy his company.  We care about each
other and…”

“He’s an Earthling.”
 Tirzah spun back to face her.

Maya’s mouth dropped open and it took her a second to respond.  
“That, is an extremely prejudicial remark
and has nothing to do with my feelings for Tony.”

Tirzah turned around quickly to face her.  “He’s not a Psychon.  One day he’ll turn on you and sacrifice your
feelings for his desires.”
 She brushed away a random tear briskly.

Maya froze and stared at her shrewdly.  “Are you still talking about me and Tony?”

It was Tirzah’s turn to be dumbfounded.  
“The…the facts still remain.”  She stammered.  “If I hadn’t invited Tony,
you wouldn’t have agreed to come to the celebration.”

Maya stepped toward her slowly.  “I’ve told you, that’s not true.  And I don’t think your anger is about Tony or the
celebration, as much as it’s…”

“You don’t have to come to Opatasale."
 Tirzah glared at her and skirted around a chair to avoid her.  " I know
where your heart is now.”

“Tirzah, I don’t think that…”

“Don’t bother!  Go to your Alphan event!  Enjoy yourself!”

Tirzah strode angrily out the door leaving Maya alone in the middle of the room contemplating whether or not to
run after her.  She understood her anger about the celebration, but there was more to it than that.  Maya
stepped into the hall and the door shut behind her.  She wouldn’t be able to sort this one out on her own.  She
headed off toward the travel tube.

Tirzah practically jumped out of the travel tube and ran down the hall to the Bio-Sphere.  When the doors
opened she stood stunned.  She’d never seen so many people in here before.  Just from the door she could
see people walking or sitting with friends.  A jogger startled her as she ran close by.

Tirzah turned and walked back toward the lift.  When the doors opened she stood staring at it until they closed
again.  She felt angry and hurt and a little bit betrayed by Maya’s suggestion to combine the two celebrations,
but the emotion Tirzah was having the most difficulty dealing with was the jealousy she felt about Maya’s
relationship with Tony.  She hit the wall with her fist in frustration.  She couldn’t figure out why she felt jealous of

She pushed the questions out of her mind.  
“She’ll find out!”  She mumbled to herself.

The travel tube doors opened and a happy chatter spilled out with the group that immerged.  Tirzah turned away
quickly and headed down the hall away from them.  Wandering the hall aimlessly, she had a hard time not
thinking about the recent conversation with Maya.

Tirzah stopped at an open door.  The room beyond was dark and the expanse of stars outside the windows
was inviting.  She bit her bottom lip and looked up at the sign above the door.  The word ‘lounge’ was all that
she recognized.  She stepped inside and closed the door.

Tirzah walked to the window and rested her arms on the sill.  She shivered slightly at the cold metal on her skin.  
“She’s forgotten.”  Tirzah whispered and softly banged her fist on the sill.  “She’s been here so long that she’s
forgotten how important it is.  Perhaps she’s been forced to ignore her own holidays because of Tony.”
pushed a piece of lint with her finger.  
“No, Tony doesn’t seem like the type.  But why?”  She pounded her fist
down hard.  
“Why doesn’t she see?  I finally have a chance to celebrate without sneaking around or hiding the
decorations.  She doesn’t know what it’s like to be in the middle of a gathering and have to stifle a laugh or hide
the treats or even to be suddenly dragged away to the leader’s hut.  It’s wrong!”
 She banged her fist on the sill
again.  Her bottom lip started to quiver and her voice rose slightly.  
“You don’t abandon your heritage!  You don’
t forget the importance of the gatherings!  You don’t betray your people because you’re afraid!”
 Tears formed
in her eyes and trickled slowly down her cheeks.  
“You fight with all of your heart to be free, believing that one
day you’ll gather again with your family and celebrate the love and happiness in your life, only to find out that
they won’t be there because they have other priorities!”
 Tirzah sobbed openly and pounded her fist harder and
harder against the sill.

“You keep that up, you’ll break something.”  Alan’s voice drifted out of the shadows.

Tirzah inhaled sharply and squinted into the darkened room.  
“Tutd lasa?”

Alan’s voice smiled.  “Nope.  Still can’t understand.”

Tirzah’s heart skipped a beat and a knot began to form in her stomach.  “I said, who’s there; but I know now.”  
She brushed away her tears quickly as he stepped into the dim light.  “I didn’t know someone was in here.  I’ll
let you be alone.”  She started toward the door.

“Wait!”  Alan moved quickly to block her path.  “Don’t run away again.”

Tirzah took an involuntary step back.  “I’m not running away!”

“Yes, you are.  When you’re upset or nervous, you run.  You run to the Bio-Sphere or to your room.”  He took a
step toward her.  “You’ve got to stop running.”

“I’m not running.”  Her heart began to race at the truth of his words.

“Something’s eating you up inside and if you don’t get it out, it’ll kill you.”

Tirzah looked at him, confused.

Alan ticked each one off on his fingers.  “You’ve been avoiding anyone who wants to talk to you seriously.  You
run whenever you’re up against any difficulties.”  She started to protest but he cut her off.  “You continue to have
nightmares.  Why, this week alone I’ve seen you wandering the halls twice.  Do you ever get any sleep?”

Tirzah became a little more agitated.  She hadn’t realized that anyone else had noticed anything unusual.  “I
sleep.”  She twisted the bottom of the pullover around her fingers causing it to fall off one of her shoulders.  
“How do you know that I don’t talk to people?  I talk to many people, all day.”  She shifted nervously.  “I should be
at a pic-nic with some people now!”  Tirzah tried to sound confident, but failed.  Standing alone with Alan in the
semi-darkness was having a strange effect on her.

“Why aren’t you there, then?”  He replaced the pullover back onto her bare shoulder, lightly brushing her skin.

The touch sent shivers of pleasure throughout her body.   Her mind told her to move away when his hand stayed
to rest there, but she couldn’t move.  She looked up into his eyes searchingly.

Tirzah didn’t know how she did what she did, but when she looked into someone’s eyes, it was as if she could
feel their heart and read their soul.  She was awed by the fact that whenever she looked at Alan, he would lock
his eyes on hers and not become nervous or look away like the others.  Even some Psychons didn’t like it when
she would look at them that way, but this Earthling never flinched.

“Tirzah?”  Alan placed his palm gently on her cheek.

She closed her eyes and involuntarily pressed her face into his hand.  Her mind screamed at her to gain
control, to make him stop, but her body moved of its own accord.  She reached up and pressed his hand even
harder against her cheek.  “We had a fight.”

“You and…” He prompted.

“Maya.”  She whispered as a tear fell onto his hand.  “She wants me to…” Tirzah shook her head slightly.  “It
doesn’t matter.  We fought.”

“It does matter.”  He took her face in both hands and tilted it upward.  “This is what I mean.  Look at me.”  She
opened her eyes and looked into his as he continued.  “This is why you’re having trouble with Maya.  This is why
you can’t sleep properly.”  Alan used his thumbs to wipe her tears away.  “Tell me, Tirzah.  Are the nightmares
about living here on Alpha?”

She tried not to answer, to be strong and confident, but the strain and the changes over the past few months
had worn her thin.  Tirzah shook her head negatively and started to sob quietly.

Alan took a deep breath and held it a moment before continuing.  “That only leaves your home planet.”

Tirzah began to cry openly and, still holding his hand against her cheek, she fell into his chest.  
“Every night!  He’
s always there and sometimes you don’t come and he hurts me more!  He chases and chases!  He never gives
up!  I fight and fight but you don’t come to help me!  Why don’t you come to help me?  I call to you and you’re not
there!  He never gives up!  I’m tired and I can’t fight him off without you!  I need your help!”

Alan gently pulled his hand out from under hers and wrapped his arms securely around her.  He held her while
she continued to rant in Psychon and held her when she stopped but continued to cry.

She cried for a long time and when Alan felt her body start to go limp, he picked her up and cradled her in his
arms.  For a moment he simply stood there.  Her sobs wracked her body and she pressed herself in closer to
his chest.

He turned and walked to the couch.  He tried to lay her down comfortably, but she grabbed the lapels of his
jacket desperately.  Alan ended up on his knees alongside the couch.  “It’s all right, Tirzah, I’m not going
anywhere.  It’s okay…let go.”  He spoke softly.

“No!”  She held on tighter.

Moving the young woman along with him, Alan shifted so that he could sit on the edge of the couch.

Tirzah let go of his jacket and wrapped her arms around his neck, clinging to him for a moment.  She pulled
away slowly rubbing her cheek against his and stopped when their faces were a few inches apart.  She looked
at him intently while her hand explored the back of his neck.  This man, this Alphan man had an odd effect on
her ever since the day they met.  The logical side of her mind begged her to stop and remember that he was
still a man, but her curiosity and desire overpowered it.

Alan shivered slightly as one of her hands moved down his spine and she moved toward him slowly.  He
enjoyed her touch.  He sat quietly, allowing her to make the first move.

When their lips touched, they melted into one another.

Tirzah moved her hand down his back and up again under his jacket.

Their kiss deepened and Alan ran his hand down to the small of her back and pressed her in closer.  She
moved her hands to his shoulders and pulled him into herself.

Alan moved his hand from the small of her back and ran it across her hips and down her bare thigh.  Tirzah
inhaled sharply when she felt skin on skin and wrapped her arms around him even tighter.  She moaned softly
as his hand moved back up to her waist.

Alan pulled up and away from their passionate kiss, trying to clear his head.

With her eyes still closed, Tirzah protested softly.  
“Don’t let go.”  She pulled him back into her and once again
initiated the kiss.  Her hands explored all that they could reach, including his arms and face.

Their kissing became more intense and primitive.  With his help, Tirzah pulled Alan’s jacket off.  He ran a hand
up under her pullover and gently seized one small breast.

Tirzah arched forward to press it harder into his palm.  She pulled away from his lips and kissed his face and
his neck.  She reached up and unzipped his collar, running her fingers across his bare shoulder and neck.

Alan wrapped both arms around her and pulled her up to a sitting position.  He reached up and wound his
fingers into her blond mane, capturing her lips with his again.

Tirzah inhaled slowly and continued to unzip his uniform.  She moved her hand slowly up his arm, across his
shoulder and down his back.  His mind started to race with reasons why this shouldn’t be happening, but couldn’
t concentrate on even one as she ran one hand across his chest.

Alan pulled back away from their kiss and as Tirzah continued to kiss his neck and chest, his voice was thick
with emotion.  “Tirzah.  Wait.”

“No.”  She put her hands behind his head, pulling him back to her and seized his mouth with hers.

He kissed her with the same passion and abandon that she was showing.  He ran his fingers through her hair
and locked them behind her head.

Tirzah reached down with both hands and began to unfasten Alan’s belt.  When he heard it release and felt the
weight of it fall away from his waist he froze a moment.  Her hands reached up under his tunic and she gently
racked her nails across his stomach.

Alan flinched in pleasure, pulling back quickly.  He was suddenly in complete control.  “Tirzah, wait.”


“Yes.”  He grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her away.

She blinked at him several times as if waking from a dream.  “What’s wrong?”

“This.”  Alan stroked her shoulders gently.  “This is wrong.  You were upset; distraught.  It shouldn’t be like this.”

Tirzah stared at him with an innocent confusion.  “You don’t like it?”

Alan exhaled quickly and smiled at her.  “I liked it very much.”  He looked away quickly and whispered.  “Too

“Why is that wrong?”  She inched forward and put her hands on his chest.

“Well, because…”

“You don’t like me?”  Her delicate tone made Alan squirm with desire.

“Yes, but…”

“You’re owed to have me.”  She leaned forward and kissed his Adam’s apple.


She continued to kiss his face and neck as she spoke.  “You saved my life and brought me to safety.  You are
owed to have me.”

Still holding her shoulders, Alan pushed her away briskly.  “Wait.  Let me understand this.  You think you owe
me something for saving your life?”


“No!”  He shook her slightly.  “I don’t want your affection if it comes from some sense of obligation that’s
generated by an act of kindness.”

“Annette hasn’t taught me all those words yet.”  Tirzah tried to kiss him again, but Alan pushed her away and
stood up.

He rezipped his sleeve as he spoke.  “I don’t want you to do this because I saved your life.  If you kiss me, I
want it to be because you like me, not some sense of duty.”  Alan sat back down by her knees.  “Understand?”

Tirzah moved back and tucked herself into the corner of the couch.  “What do you want then?”

“Nothing.”  He inched toward her.  “I just want to be your friend.”  He suddenly chuckled and raised his
eyebrows.  “I also wouldn’t mind if you’d use the path instead of dragging poor Maya through the forest area,
just because I happen to be in the Bio-Sphere.”

Alan smiled as Tirzah’s mouth dropped open.  “I didn’t think you saw me.”

“The trees and bushes aren’t that thick.”  He inched forward and put his hand on hers.  “I like you, Tirzah.  You
fascinate the hell out of me but I don’t want you to kiss me because you think you owe me something.”  He took
her hand in both of his.  “I came to find you that day because I cared that you might be in danger.  Don’t forget!  
If you hadn’t shot my gun at the leader, I could be dead now too.”

“That was an accident!”  She looked at him horrified.  “He would have killed you!  I had to do something!  I didn’t
try and kill him!”

“Tirzah, it’s okay!”  He cut her off, fearing a new outburst of tears.  “That’s what I’m trying to say.  I saved your life
and you saved mine.”  He sat closer as he talked and stared deeply into her eyes.

She enjoyed the warmth that she felt from him.  “I don’t owe you?”  Tirzah reached up slowly and brushed a lock
of his hair away from his forehead.

“No.”  Alan whispered and rubbed her arm slowly and softly.  “We’re square.  Nobody owes nothing.”

Tirzah took her hands away from him and stared down at her lap.  “I need to ask you then.”

“Go ahead.”  He said seriously.

“How many…how many know what happened in the wood that last day?”  She looked up into his eyes and
nearly held her breath.

Alan took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “Helena knows a little.  She asked how I’d been shot and I told her
that you did it by mistake.”  He looked down at her hands twisting nervously in her lap.  “And the Commander
knows a little.  He wanted a reason for my running off after you alone.”  He looked back into her eyes.  “But no
one knows the whole story…unless you told them.”

She bit her lip and shook her head hesitantly.

“The dreams won’t stop until you tell someone everything.  Keeping it inside will only make it worse.”

She looked at him pleadingly.  “But you know and I told you what the dreams were about!”  She gestured
toward the spot where they had stood before.

Alan looked in that direction then back at her with a slight smile on his face.  “You do realize that you said it all
in Psychon.”

“Sorry.”  Tirzah smiled and blushed.  “Perhaps I should teach you.”

“I’d like that.  But I’ll warn you,” he wagged a finger at her.  “I’m a slow student when it comes to languages.”

Tirzah seized his hand and placed it on her cheek.  “I’m teaching Annette.  I’m a patient teacher.”   She moved
her hand up his arm and closed the gap between them.  “I can kiss you?”  She whispered seductively.

Alan cleared his throat and his voice was becoming husky.  “Yes, but only if you…”

Before he could finish she came up quickly and covered his mouth with hers.  They went slowly at first and then
they began to tighten their grip on one another.

Alan broke away first.  “We should get you back.”

“Back where?”

He drew her in and put her head on his shoulder.  “Maya’s gotta be worried sick by now.”

They sat holding each other a moment before Tirzah spoke.  “I spoke badly to her.  I said some things about
Tony that are not forgivable.  I know that I hurt her.”

“Maya is the kindest, most forgiving person I’ve ever met.”  He held her tighter.  “She’ll understand.  I don’t think
you know how really worried she is about you.”

Alan took her shoulders and pushed her up gently.  “You’re her family.  She never knew what happened to her
brother.  She doesn’t want to lose you too.”  He stood up and pulled her to her feet.  “Do you want me to go with

“Yes.  But when we find her, you must leave.  Okay?”

“Agreed.”  He took her hand and led her to the door.  “So, what exactly does
Opatsale mean?”

Tirzah smiled and matched his stride.  “It means ‘love that surrounds life’.”

“That’s very pretty.”

What does Valentines Day mean?”

“Mean?  Well, it’s a day we show affection for the people closest to us.  It’s named after a saint.”


Tirzah’s confused face made Alan laugh.  “You’re probably asking the worse person on this base to explain this
to you!”  He led her down the hall to the travel tube.

Using the computer to track her commlock, Alan and Tirzah found Maya in Helena’s quarters.  True to his word,
as soon as Tirzah had apologized to Maya and was settled, Alan left.

Tirzah looked down at her hands as she spoke.  “I’ve been having dreams.  Bad dreams.  Dreams

“Your planet?”  Helena prompted.

Tirzah nodded.  “Alan said that they won’t stop unless I tell someone what happened.”

“That’s true.”  Maya sat forward in her seat, a concerned look on her face.  “The longer you keep it inside, the
longer these dreams will haunt you.”  She took a hold of the younger woman’s hands.

Tirzah looked up into the other women’s eyes.  “If I say all that happened, will that make them stop?”

Helena leaned forward and rest her elbows on her knees.  “It will be a start and we can work the rest out from

She stared at them a moment, rolling the alternatives around in her mind.  Tirzah slowly sat up straight and
looked directly at Maya.  “If I say all of it, you will dislike me.”

“I could never…”

“You have never heard all of it.”  Tirzah cut her off.  “You have not yet heard everything about the cutting.”  She
gestured to her forehead where the eyepods should be.  “You always stopped me.”

Maya tried not to cringe.  “I admit that it’s hard for me to hear, but I want you to feel free to share any part of your
life.  I want to be your friend as well as your

Tirzah looked back and forth at the two women.  “I’ve told you some things, but if it’s all right, I’ll tell you the
whole story.”  They nodded their agreement.  She started at the beginning by telling them the old stories of the
Psychons first landing on the planet, on that very mountain.  Maya translated when she didn’t know the words in
English.  She told them how the old ones and their children built the village up slowly and adapted and survived
their first year.  “They called it
Auh Etas Amao.”

Maya smiled and nodded.  “We’ve come so far.”

“Very appropriate.”  Helena chimed in.

Tirzah told them how the Psychons grew and prospered on the new planet.  Their children had children,
teaching them the old ways along with the new and their lives went fairly smoothly for many years.  Then, one
day, a small scouting party came in contact with a native hunting party.  Frightened by the obvious differences
between them, the natives simply attacked the Psychons.  “One man died before they escaped the hunters and
returned to the village.  We were more careful after that.  To go too far from the village meant death.”  Tirzah
stood and paced the room.  “They never actually raided the village…at first, but the attacks got closer and

Tirzah explained that the Psychons would send out their people to protect the village.  “On the day of the last
raid, the new Norlou leader sent men to busy our scouts while the rest of them came into the village.”  Tirzah
squat against the wall and yanked her pullover over her knees.  “They sent us higher up the mountain, but they
found us and brought us back.”  She started to cry and Maya rushed to her, helped her off the floor and sat her
back into the chair across from them.

“You said that when you returned to the village, no one put up any kind of a fight, but they fought them off before.  
Why not now?”  Helena prompted.

Tirzah shrugged but never looked up.  She proceeded to tell them about the forced march down the mountain.  
She told them in detail about the death of the children under the torturous conditions of the surgery.

“We found out later that some of the adults that we thought were dead, had been taken prisoner and become
slaves.  But the adults…couldn’t survive the box.”  Tirzah wiped her eyes.

Maya’s voice trembled when she spoke.  “What happens in the box?”

Tirzah looked up onto her eyes.  “It’s dark…so dark.”   She wrapped her arms around herself but never broke
eye contact with Maya.  “It’s set at the edge of the camp and no one’s allowed to go near it.  It’s only big enough
to sit in.  It’s so dark and quiet.”  She and Maya shuddered simultaneously and they both began to cry.  “By the
time we could take them out, they had killed themselves.”

Helena nodded sympathetically and put a hand on her friend’s arm.  “They couldn’t stand the solitude.”

Tirzah continued to tell them of how she grew up in the camp.  Several times the children tried to escape, only
to be dragged back and beaten.  She explained how, at times, Psychons were pitted against younger men and
women to teach the Norlou how to defeat an enemy.  This was the only time a Psychon wasn’t punished for
fighting a native.  Tirzah sat up proudly.  “I was never once defeated during Tieg.”  Then she sat back in the
chair.  “It was this reason that the new leader chose me as his own.”

“His own?”  Helena interrupted.

“I belonged to him, until one was dead.”  She held up her tattooed hand to illustrate.  “That was his right.  He
chose me.”

Maya looked down at her fists and bit both lips.

“Do you want me to stop?”  Tirzah’s voice was unsympathetic; almost cruel.

Maya shook her head but couldn’t stop herself from crying.  “I want to hear it all.”

Tirzah nodded and told them how she had escaped alone the last time.  She had tried to convince the others to
come with her, but even her friend Kara refused.   After fulfilling the leader’s desires, she snuck away from his
hut in the night.  By late morning she had run into Alan and the rest of the Alphans.

“Before we returned to the village, did you know what had happened to your parents?”  Helena asked tentatively.

Tirzah shook her head slowly.  “They enjoyed telling us stories about the raid to torture our minds but I never
believed them…until I saw them dead.  I wanted to believe that they had fought them off and were rebuilding
and planning our rescue.”  Tirzah balled her hands into fists.  “If
Patermakua had been alive, he would have
stopped them!”

“Odysseus was dead by the last raid?”  Maya sat forward in her chair.

“He was killed protecting the village.  They said that if he had not changed and chased them away, the Norlou
would have come and destroyed us that day.  He died shortly after they brought him back to the village.  
Matermakua went soon after.  He was a Maton.”

Helena looked to Maya for a translation.  “A hero.”  She whispered.

“A hero.”  Tirzah repeated, locking eyes with Maya and they both smiled briefly.

“Tirzah, the last night that we were on the planet, why did you leave the village?”  Helena prompted.

She looked at the doctor for a moment.  She knew that she would eventually have to tell them, but this was the
most difficult part to talk about.  “You said that we would be leaving the next day.  I wanted to say my goodbyes
to my
Kuat.”  She looked sheepishly at Maya.  “Alone.”

Maya nodded her understanding.

“Is that as far as you went?”

“On my own, yes.  That’s where he caught me.”  Tirzah started the story slowly.  Neither of the other two women
interrupted her.  She paused several times, cringing at the memory.  She described the rape to them through
tears.  It was easier for her to tell them of Alan’s rescue and their escape.

Tirzah turned an anguished face toward Maya.  “I didn’t mean to kill him!  I didn’t know how to use your
weapons!  He was hurting Alan!”

Maya jumped forward and wrapped her arms around the younger woman.  “It’s all right.  I understand.  It’s
happened to me, you didn’t have a choice.”

Tirzah cried harder and clung desperately to Maya.  “But he won’t stop chasing me and hurting me…and…and
Alan does not always come to help!”

Maya looked up pleadingly at Helena.

“Does he always catch you in the dreams?”  The doctor asked.

Sometimes Alan doesn’t come and he tears at my flesh and beats me harder and harder!  I try and
escape but he’s stronger.  I can’t breathe from the cords around my neck and his hands never stop touching
me!  I scream for Alan, over and over again!”
 Tirzah wept and trembled from head to toe.  She pulled away
from Maya slightly.  
“He doesn’t come to me.  Why won’t he come and save me?”  She threw her head back
down on Maya’s shoulder.

Eventually she stopped crying but no matter how hard she tried, Tirzah could not stop shaking.

“She’s exhausted.”  Helena stood and motioned Maya to the other side of Tirzah.  “We’ll put her in my bed.  She
can rest here as long as she needs to.”  The two women lifted Tirzah out of the chair, helped her walk to the
bed, and lay her in it.  As soon as they covered her, Tirzah was asleep.

“May I stay with her?  If she wakes up, I want to be here… and she should see a familiar face.”

“Of course.”  Helena rested her hand on Maya’s shoulder.  “I’ll let John know what's going on and be back in a
little while to check on her.”

“Thank you, Helena, for everything.”  Maya hugged her friend.  She pulled a chair up to the bed as Helena left.

             |                |                |

She opened her eyes and blinked several times in the dim light.  
“Mother, is that you?”

“It’s all right now.”

“I had a bad dream.”

“I know, but it’s going to be all right.”

The image shimmered and changed and Tirzah blinked again.

“Tirzah?  Are you awake?”  Maya whispered.

“Maya?”  Her voice croaked and she tried to clear it.  “Did I sleep long?”

“Nearly 15 hours.”  Maya leaned forward keeping her voice low.  “Are you hungry?”

Tirzah blinked again and cleared her throat.  “Yes.  I am.”  She looked around the dimly lit room.  “Where’s

“She’s on duty right now, but she’s been in and out to check on you.  She’s the one that brought the food.”  
Maya stood and carried the small table with the food on it back to her chair.

Tirzah sat up slowly.  “I still shake.”

“It’s all right.  It should stop after you’ve had something to eat and drink.”  Maya passed the tray to her.  “Did you
dream?”  She asked slowly.

“Yes.”  She looked up at Maya slowly.

She gave Tirzah a glass of juice.  “You didn’t wake up.  Was it a very bad dream?”

“It wasn’t so bad, and then Alan saved me.”  Tirzah sipped at her drink.

“It’ll be less and less as time goes on.  Helena will make arrangements for you to sit and speak with Dr.
Mathias.”  Maya handed her more food.

“What for?”

“To council you.”

Tirzah shook her head.  “Council?”

“He’ll help you get this all sorted out so that you won’t have any more dreams.”  Maya refilled both of their
“You sit and talk together until you’ve worked out most of your problems where you feel you can
handle them on your own.”

“Will you be there?”

“Do you want me there?”

Tirzah took a bite of her fruit and looked around Helena’s apartment.  She liked the geometric pictures on the
wall; they had a soothing quality about them.  She brought her attention back to Maya.  “Can I think about it
longer or do I answer now?”

“Of course not.  Take your time.”  Maya smiled and reached out to push a stray lock of hair away from Tirzah’s
face.  “We want you to feel comfortable.  Whatever you want to do is okay.”



“I’m sorry for what I said about you and Tony.”

“I know.  You were upset, it’s understandable.”

“What I said was wrong.  I have no right to judge.”

“It’s all right.”

“I was…um…

“Jealous?  I thought that you might be but that wasn’t the time to argue the point.”  Maya took a drink of juice,
never taking her eyes off Tirzah.  “May I ask you a question?”

“Anything.”  She spoke enthusiastically.  She didn’t want any more secrets between them.

“How is it that Alan ended up finding you and bringing you back?”

“He didn’t.”  Tirzah began slowly.  
“I first headed for the Bio-Sphere, but there were so many people in there that
I left and just started walking.  I was so angry.”

“At me.”

Yes, and more.  Angry about Opatasale and the Alphans and…all of it.  I found a lounge that was dark and
 Tirzah smiled, mostly to herself.  “I thought it was empty but Alan was somewhere in the dark.”  She
took a bite of fruit and swallowed it before she continued.  
“He told me that I always run away from you and
from…that’s why the dreams won’t stop.  He said that the more I talk about it, the more they will go away.”

“That is true, you know.  I had horrible dreams after I came here.  I blamed myself for my father’s death for some
time.  But I talked to Helena and Tony and after awhile, they stopped.”

“How long?”

“Not long.”  Maya placed their glasses back on the tray.  “But everyone’s different.  I had one incident to deal
with; your whole life’s been traumatic.”
 She sat back in the chair.  “Did your talk with Alan help?”

Tirzah smiled shyly and looked down at her hands.  “It got me here.”

Maya giggled.  “It certainly did, but why do I get the impression that there’s more?”

Tirzah shifted nervously, and the smile faded slightly.  “I…I…”  Alan’s words popped into her head.  
“I was
 She adjusted the blanket, never looking up.  “He let me cry on him and …”

Maya was trying desperately not to giggle and she couldn’t stop the smile that crept across her face.  “Did he
kiss you?”

“Not exactly.”

Maya waited, but when Tirzah didn’t continue, she sat forward.  “Did you kiss him?”

Tirzah nodded, biting her bottom lip and looking away.

Maya shifted, trying to see her face in the dim light.  “Was it nice?”

Tirzah nodded again and Maya heard a sniffle.  She moved and sat next to the young woman.  “Tirzah?”  Maya
was surprised to see her crying when she turned to face her.  “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t understand!  He’s a man!  An Alphan man!  He seems kind and gentle and I know that sooner or later he’
ll hurt me.  He says that he wants to be my friend, but no man is a friend!  I look in his eyes and see such
kindness.  But, is it real or is he good at hiding deceit?  I don’t know what to feel!”
 She allowed Maya to hold
her as she continued.
 “He tells me that I don’t owe him for my life.  If that’s true, then how do I repay his
 Tirzah’s sobs slowed suddenly and her voice lowered.  “His kisses are gentle, not demanding and
if I say no he doesn’t force himself on me.  When he holds me, my head wants him to stop, but my body tingles
and it moves on its own.”
 She looked up at her desperately.  “What will I do, Maya?  No matter how hard I try,
he’s around every turn.  He sees things that I think I’ve hidden.”

Maya gently tucked Tirzah’s hair behind her shoulders.  “Alan is a kind and gentle man.  The men here on Alpha
are a lot less violent than your masters.  Alan would never harm anyone unless they were hurting someone
else.  The day you met him, he tried not to hurt you, despite what you did to him!”
 Maya smiled at her.  “Be
friends with Alan.  Let him prove his kindness to you.”

“Prove it?”

“It won’t take an effort on his part.  He wears his heart on his sleeve.”
 Maya hugged her a little tighter.  Tirzah
looked at her confused so she explained.  
“It’s an expression that means, what you see is exactly what you get.”

Tirzah smiled at her and pulled away slightly.  “If he’s all you say, why aren’t you with him?”

It was Maya’s turn to blush.  She stood and moved the table back where Helena usually had it.  “Because, I
happened to fall in love with Tony first.”
 She took a deep breath and smartly changed the subject.  “Would you
like to go for a walk in the Bio-Sphere?  It’s getting late, no one will really be there.”

“Can I change first?”  Tirzah slid off the bed and headed for the door.

Maya nodded and picked up the tray.  “I’ll meet you at your quarters after I drop this off.”

             |                |                |

The door buzzer sounded and Tirzah nearly threw her brush on the dresser.  She hit the button excitedly and the
door slid open.  “I’m ready!”

“That’s good to know.”  Alan smiled at her.

Tirzah blushed and took half a step back.  “Oh, Alan.  I thought that you were Maya.  We are going for a walk in
the garden.”

“Well, then I’m sorry I’m not her.”  He said softly.

Tirzah ducked her head and bit her lip.  She felt her face go hot and her body and mind tingled.

“I called Helena and she said that you might be here.  So, I thought I’d check on you and see how you’re doing.”  
Alan leaned on the doorway.

“Wahmal.”  Tirzah looked up at him with a sly smile.

Wahmal.  What does that mean?”  He smiled back.

“The body and mind are well.”

Very nice.”  He nodded.

Tirzah took a deep breath and adjusted a bead on the cuff of her pant set.  “And how are you?”

“Wahmal.”  He tripped over the pronunciation a little.  He shifted and stared to leave.  “Well, I’ll see you around.  
I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Wait!”  Tirzah jumped forward without thinking.  Alan turned to face her with raised eyebrows.  She swallowed
and smoothed her suit.  “The…when…what we…I told Maya.”  She finally blurted out.

“Oh.”  He tried not to smile.  “Did you tell her everything?”

Trizah stood up straight and tall.  “Yes.  Are you angry?”  She held herself proudly.

Alan took a step toward her and saw her stiffen slightly.  “You even told her what happened between us?”

“Yes.”  Her chin got a little higher.

“And you told her the truth?”


He took another step closer and placed a hand on her shoulder.  “Then why would I be angry?”

Tirzah blinked at him and her mouth moved but no sound came out.

Alan chuckled.  “I’ll see you later.”  He bent and gently kissed her cheek.

Tirzah stood in the doorway dumbfounded, watching him walk away.  She stepped back into her quarters and
shut the door.  She sat down on the bed trying to figure out what just happened.

The buzzer sounded again and Tirzah sat looking at it a moment.  It rang again and she nearly jumped up to
answer it.

“Ready?”  Maya stepped into the room.

“Yes.”  Tirzah spoke a little breathlessly.  “Can we stop and get a piece of fruit before we go?”  She guided
Maya out the door.

“Absolutely.”  She put her arm around Tirzah’s shoulders.

The two women spent several hours in the Bio-Sphere.  They walked and talked, sat and talked, and then
walked and talked some more.  Tirzah showed Maya how well the Cassishua plants were doing and Maya
answered some of Tirzah’s questions about their small community.

             |                |                |

The next three days passed fairly uneventfully.  Tirzah prepared for
Opatasale and the Alphan’s geared up for
the Valentine’s Day dance.

On the day of the celebration Tirzah set up the small table she borrowed from Maya, as well as her own, with
food and drinks.  She had also borrowed a few Christmas decorations from her new friends as well as making
her own, making the room look like a cross between an indoor picnic and a disco.  She had twinkling lights, a
small artificial tree, silver garland, a few stuffed animals and a couple of potted plants strategically placed
around the room.   From the ceiling, hung a multi-sided silver Christmas ball that refracted the lights.

Only one thing marred her happiness.  Sanara still wasn’t well enough to leave Medical; even for the
celebration; and Tirzah worried that she didn’t seem to be getting any better.  She had spent a long time next to
her hospital bed that morning to tell her all of her news and share a gift of the 1st crop of Cassishua berries.

She answered the door excitedly.  “Maya!”  She hugged her and ushered her into the room.  “Tony!?”  She
stopped, surprised.

“May I come in?”  Tony flashed his best smile at her.  “I brought the drinks!”  He held up a large container of his

“Yes!  Of course!”  Tirzah stepped aside to let him enter.  “I thought that…uh…welcome.”  She shut the door,
then turned to face them.  “Please, make yourself comfortable.”

As they sat down on the bed the door buzzer sounded again.  Slightly confused, Tirzah stood staring at it a
moment.  She stepped forward slowly and opened the door.

Dressed in casual clothes, John and Helena stood smiling back at the surprised Psychon.  She started to
speak when Alan peeked around the door.  “Can we crash your party?”

“Crash the…?”

“He means, may we invite ourselves to your party?”  Helena spoke up.

Tirzah smiled from ear to ear.  “Oh!  Yes!  Come in!  Come in!”  She stepped aside for them.

Alan stepped back and allowed Annette and Bill Fraser to follow John and Helena.  Each of them carried a
container of food or drink to share.  He shut the door behind himself and waved at Tony.  “The gang’s all here!”

“And I’ve brought the beer!”  Tony retorted.

“Hey, mate.  This is supposed to be a party, not a funeral.”  Alan said jokingly and clapped his friend on the

Tony pretended to laugh.  “Just for that, you don’t get any.”

“After all, someone should be standing by to call Medical.”  Alan feigned fear when Tony jokingly raised his fist
in the air.

Tirzah was beside herself with delight at the company in her room.  “I’m so very glad that you all came today.”  
As was traditional, the host/hostess greeted each of the friends or family with a hug and a kiss and Tirzah
blushed slightly and hesitated when it was Alan’s turn.  She stepped back to face them all, her eyes and smile

Tirzah motioned for the others to sit.  “Welcome to
Opatasale, our celebration of the love that surrounds our
lives.  We start by, one person at a time, telling something…
osalehm?”  She looked at Maya for help.


“Something wonderful about those gathered here.”  Tirzah sat down and gestured to John.  “Since Commander
is leader, he can start it out.”

Koenig smiled at her sense of hierarchy.  “Should I stand?”

“If you’d like.”  Tirzah shrugged.

“Okay.” Koenig sat where he was.  He smiled and looked at each of his friends.  "Something wonderful.”  He
took a deep breath.  “Well, I can’t think of anything more wonderful than those who are gathered here.  We have
been friends, family and advisors to each other since we left Earth.  Each one of you have shown the strong
metal, deep compassion, and kindness, that you’re made of.  I’m honored to be part of your lives.”  The room
fell silent.

“Anyone volunteer to follow that?”  Tony mumbled, causing everyone to laugh.

Tirzah pointed.  “Helena, as Commander’s mate, you should go next.”

Maya’s mouth dropped open at the innocent remark.  Everyone else looked at the ceiling or the floor and tried
not to giggle.

“Alright.”  Helena’s blush deepened as she cleared her throat and tried not to look at John.  “I would like to say
how impressed I am with the sense of community that…well, that everyone on Alpha has shown.”  John took her
hand and gave it a quick kiss.

“Now you, Tony.”  Tirzah nodded at him and smiled.

“I don’t know, John stole my speech.”  Tony gestured at Koenig.  Everyone giggled and Maya nudged him.  
“Well, I will say this.  I don’t know a finer bunch of people than the one’s in this room.”  He put his arm around
Maya as she leaned into him.

Fraser pretended to wipe away a tear.  “That was lovely, mate.”

Tony wagged his finger at him.  “And don’t you forget it.”

When the laughter died down, Tirzah pointed at Maya.  “You should go next, Maya since…”

“I’m next!”  Maya skillfully cut her off.  She took a deep breath and looked at each one of them.  “When you
brought me here to Alpha, I thought that my life was over.  But each one of you has been a member of my family
since then.  You’ve seen me through some rough times and allowed me to share in your lives.  You opened your
lives and hearts and showed me that, although one part of my life was over, another part was just beginning.  
So, thank you, for never making me feel like an alien.”

Everyone was silent for a long moment until a sniffle came from Annette.  “That was truly lovely, Maya.”  Bill
pulled a hanky from his jeans pocket and handed it to his wife.

“Who’s next?”  John; smiling; addressed Tirzah.

She looked back and forth between Alan and Bill.  “Who is more…important?”  Tirzah looked to the
Commander for advice.

Bill Frazer spoke first.  “Alan’s the head of our division, so he should go next.”

Koenig nodded his approval so Tirzah gestured toward Carter.  “Alan’s next then.”

“Okay.”  Alan rubbed his hands together smiling.  He looked at Tirzah.  “These people are some of the most
wonderful that you’ll meet in your life.  When I asked Bill and Annette, and John and Helena, if they wanted to
come here today, not a one of them hesitated.  If you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to help or even a
friend to laugh with, these are the people who will be there.  And the longer you live here, the more friends you’ll
make!”  Alan realized that he was standing.  He sat down slowly and a little nervously.  “So, we’re real glad that
you’ve come to live here.”  He gestured to Bill that he was finished.

Tirzah sat staring at him, her mouth open slightly and a surprised expression on her face.

Maya cleared her throat to get the young woman’s attention.  “Tirzah.”  She said softly.

“Yes.”  She looked at Maya as if startled.  Maya made a face to indicate that Tirzah should continue.  Tirzah
jumped again, smiling at Fraser.  “Oh!  You speak next, Bill.”

Bill sat forward and took Annette’s hand.  “I’m just happy to have friends like all of you.  If you think of Alpha as a
deserted island, then I can’t imagine being stranded with a nicer group of people.”

“Here! Here!”  Tony saluted him.

“Now you, Annette.”  Tirzah said.

“Well.  I appreciate all of you.  We’ve been friends and family now for quite a time and I am also glad and proud
to be a part of your lives.”  Annette took Bill’s hand and looked back at Tirzah.

The young woman stood and moved around her chair.  “I have not been the most…easy person to be around, I
know.”  She gripped the back tightly and looked down at the seat as she spoke.  “But all of you have shown the
patience of true friends.   I…I thank you for saving my life and…”  Tirzah swallowed hard and her voice
wavered.  “I appreciate everything that you all have done…not…not just for me, but for…but for Sanara
and…the others and…and for my
Kuat.”  She struggled to keep control of her emotions.  She couldn’t speak
anymore and quickly brushed a tear away.  Tirzah suddenly stood up straight and smiled at them.  “I do hope
that one day I’ll be able to repay all of your kindness.”  She spread her arms open.  “Now we eat and drink and
jilawan stories!”

“Jilawan?”  Tony asked.

Maya touched his arm.  “Humorous recollections.”

“Anecdotes!”  Annette piped up cheerfully.

“Humiliation!”  Bill chimed in with false glee.

When each of them had a small plate full of food and a glass of their desired drink, Annette clapped her hands
quickly like a camp councilor.  “Who wants to go first?”

John raised his hand, a huge grin on his face.  “I should tell you the story of how Helena and I met for the first

“Oh John, not again.”  Helena made a face and pulled his arm down causing everyone to giggle.

“I don’t think I know that one.”  Bill turned to face them.

“I was in Florida…”

“John!”  Helena gave him a menacing smile.

“Wait!” Tony sat forward.  “I’ve got one!”

They laughed and giggled over each other’s stories until late in the afternoon.  Annette turned on the Enya CD
that she had brought when the games began and they taught Tirzah how to play Earth games and then in turn
she and Maya taught them how to play Psychon games.

Near the end of the evening they all sat on the floor breathing heavily after a Psychon version of Twister.  They
sat where they had collapsed at the final round waiting for their giggles to die down.

Tirzah looked around at their smiling faces.  “It’s so nice.”

“What’s that?”  Helena inquired.

“It’s nice to play the games and enjoy the company without worrying to keep the noise low.”  She smiled at them.

“I’ll bet it is.”  Annette covered Tirzah’s hand with her own.

Tony reached over to one of the side tables and grabbed his glass.  In one gulp, he drank the last of his beer.

Alan stood and took the last piece of fruit from the plate and popped it in his mouth.

“That’s it!”  Tirzah jumped to her feet.  “Thank you very much for coming.”  She spoke cheerfully and sincerely.  “I
truly enjoyed your company.”

“Is it over?”  Tony looked at Maya.  She nodded at him playfully.

“When the last of the food and drink is gone,
Opatasale is at an end.”  Tirzah explained.

Several surprised “oh’s” were heard as everyone else stood up.

“It doesn’t have to end.”  Alan spoke quietly at her elbow.

Tirzah looked up at him.  “But all of the food is gone.”  

“Come with me to the Valentine’s Day Dance.”

The other women piped up immediately.  “Yes.  The Dance.  Let’s all go to the dance.”

Maya stepped in front of Tirzah.  “He’s right.  The evening and celebration doesn’t have to end now.  We could
all go to the dance and continue to enjoy each other’s company.  There will be more food and drink there and
more people to share stories with.  I think that you'll find it a very delightful continuation of our celebration!”

Tirzah began to giggle.  
“Mother’s father was right.  He would tell us stories of his family on Psychon.  He said
that his daughter had inherited his sister’s ability to charm even the open plains beasts to comply with her
 She locked eyes with Maya and a warmth passed between them.

Maya stared back at her, her mouth slightly open as she suddenly saw a picture of her brother; older and with
children sitting around him; smiling and acting out a story.  A smile began to creep across her face.  
“He said
that…about me?”

Tirzah nodded and giggled.  “Now I know that he wasn’t just telling a tale.”

The two women hugged each other until Tony cleared his throat.  “Remember us?”

Maya turned around quickly, leaving one arm around Tirzah’s shoulders, and linked her arm into Tony’s.  “Well,
then.  What is your answer?”

Tirzah looked around the assemblage.  She bit her bottom lip and looked up at Alan.  “There will be many
people that I won’t know.”

Alan nodded.  “That’s true.  There’ll be a lot of wonderful people there that you don’t know.  And there’ll be a few
wonderful people that you do.”  He winked at her and smiled.

The group stepped out of the travel tube to music and laughter spilling out of the Ballroom.  Tirzah slowed her
pace.  Large crowds made her nervous because it was hard for her to keep an eye on everyone.

Maya felt the tug on her arm as the younger woman slowed down.  She gave her shoulder a squeeze and
whispered in her ear.  “I promise, we won’t leave you alone, someone will always be near.”

Crewmen standing outside the room greeted the group cheerfully and happily pointed them towards the

As they entered, one of Tony’s officers yelled to him.  “Hey, Mr. Verdeschi, I thought that you were bringing
more beer!”

“I sent what I had, Tom!  Besides, I brought something better!”  Tony winked and nodded toward Maya.

Tom and his friends laughed and raised their glasses to him.

“Tirzah!”  A young dark-haired man suddenly stepped in front of her.  “I though’ ya were no comin’?”

“Ian.”  Tirzah looked up at the 6 foot 2 Scotsman.   “I didn’t think so either.”  She twisted her fingers and took a
step back.

“Do ya wan ta dance?”

“I…” Her eyes darted around the room.  “There are a lot of people here.”

“Aye.”  He looked around a moment before turning his attention back to her.  “So, do ya wanna take a turn?”

“A turn?  No.”  Tirzah looked up at him with a weary smile.  “I don’t know how.”

“I’ll teach ya!”  Ian grabbed her hand enthusiastically.

“NO!”  She yanked her hand away and took another step back.

“Okay!”  Ian put his hands up in front of him.  “Ma’be later.”  He nodded at the rest of the group and walked away

“He seemed nice.”  Annette leaned in to speak quietly.

“He’s one of the level 3 botanists.”  Tirzah looked back nervously at him as she continued on with the group.  
“He’s very good at his job.”

“But?”  Helena prompted.

“His movements are very fast.”

“How many times has he ‘surprised you' by mistake?”  Alan spoke up from the rear.

“Two times.”  Tirzah said hesitantly.

“Oh, Tirzah.”  Maya moaned in sympathy for the young man.

“I didn’t mean to hurt him!”  She turned anguished eyes on the group.  “But he came out of nowhere and startled

“The poor man.”  Annette took Tirzah’s shoulders and turned her around.  “As long as you didn’t damage
anything vital.”  She said with mocked sincerity.

“I don’t think so.”  Tirzah thought hard.

Annette gave her a quick hug and grabbed her hand.  “Come on!”  She pulled the Psychon onto the open floor
and proceeded to teach her how to dance.

Tirzah enjoyed the party more and more as the night wore on.  Tony finally convinced her to try his home brew
and, although she was polite afterward, she couldn’t help making a face at the bitter taste.  “It has an interesting
taste, Tony.  I don’t think that your grains are properly cultivated.”

Tony’s mouth opened to speak and Maya pulled Tirzah away.  “Let’s go freshen up, shall we?”

When they were far enough out of earshot Tirzah grabbed Maya’s arm.  
“Did I say something wrong?”

“No, but if we didn’t leave, Tony would have you there half the night explaining your statement and in the end he
would have you convinced that ‘with your help, he could make the best beer Alpha has ever tasted’.”

“Oh, I see.”  Tirzah giggled.  “I’d be charmed into a time of servitude and hard labor.”

“Exactly!”  Maya put her arm around her.  “You’re starting to understand the Alphan male.  I’m so proud.”  The
two women giggled as they entered the ladies room.

             |                |                |

Helena shut the door to her office and then leaned on the edge of her desk.  She clasped her hands in front and
smiled at Tirzah.

The young woman fidgeted a little in her chair.  Helena leaned forward slightly.  “So, did you enjoy yourself at
the party the other night?”

“Yes, thank you.  At both of them.”  Tirzah said quietly, using her best manners.  “And did you enjoy yourself?  I
noticed that you and Commander left earlier than we did.”

“Yes, I did.”  Helena moved around her desk and sat in her chair.  “John and I enjoyed both of the parties, thank
you.”  She laced her fingers and lay them on the desk.  “Tell me what you liked the best.”

“The surprise of you and Commander and Alan and the Fraser’s arriving at my celebration.”  Tirzah blushed

“The look on your face was just as memorable.”  Helena smiled sweetly.

“Was it your first
Opatasale?”  Tirzah questioned.

“Not the first official one.”

“Official one?”

“Maya had a small gathering when she first arrived.  I was there…and John.  It was very nice and quiet.”

“Not like mine.”  Tirzah stated.

“No, not like yours.  But then, Maya hadn’t had a chance to really get to know people here before the day

“I understand.”  Tirzah crossed her feet and tucked them under the chair.  She felt nervous, as if she were under
interrogation for some offence.

Helena leaned forward onto her elbows.  “How are your lessons going with Annette?”

“They’re going well.  She is trying to teach me to read your words.”  Tirzah giggled nervously.  “I am a poor
student.  It’s much more difficult than I imagined.”  She looked around the room again.  She was having a hard
time looking directly at Helena.

“Why are you nervous, Tirzah?”

The question surprised her and for a moment she stared at the doctor before looking down at her lap.

“What was that?”  Helena asked to Tirzah’s mumbled response.

“I said that it’s strange.”  

“What’s strange?”

“Talking…to you.”

“Would you feel more comfortable with someone else?  I could ask Bob Mathias to come and…”

“NO!”  Tirzah twisted her fingers.  “Uh.  No, thank you.  I just don’t know what it is you want.”

Helena took a deep breath.  She would be the first one to admit that she wasn’t as qualified as Bob or one of
the other psychologists, but Tirzah remained adamant that she would not talk to any of them.  “I want you to relax
and not be afraid to say anything and everything that you want.”  Helena sat back casually in her chair.  “Tirzah.  
Tell me why you think you’re here.”

Tirzah took a deep shuttering breath.  “Because Maya and Alan said that I need to.”  She readjusted her tunic,
yanking at the collar.

“Are you uncomfortable…?”

“Yes.”  She inhaled sharply and looked up at Helena.  “I mean…my uniform…Maya promised…the collar…”
She stammered.

“It’s alright, Tirzah.”  She stood and came around the desk.  “I know that Psychon’s aren’t…good at sharing
everything.”  Helena said tactfully.  “But you’ve had a very traumatic up-bringing.  Your adolescence was far
from normal…by anyone’s standards.  You’ve also been having a difficult time adjusting to life here on Alpha.  
We just felt that if you talked about your anxiety and fears in a one on one environment, that it would be
therapeutic.”  Helena folded her arms across her chest as if she were cold.


Helena tried not to smile.  “Ther-a-peu-tic.  It’s a relaxing way of helping one with adjusting socially.”

“Oh.”  Tirzah pulled at her collar again.  “How long does it last?”  She tried not to sound rude.

“In each person it’s different.  I’ve known some to take years before they feel secure enough.

Tirzah’s eyes grew wide and she opened her mouth to protest.

“And some only needed weeks or months.”  Helena continued quickly.

“Why so long?”  Tirzah had a slight whine in her voice.

Helena knelt down and placed her hands on top of Tirzah’s.  “Talking about your problems and concerns isn’t a
bad thing, Tirzah.  We’re here to help you and we don’t want anything in return except a happier, healthier you.”  
Helena stood and pulled another chair around.  She sat down facing Tirzah and folded her hands.  “You can tell
me how you feel and what you think and it will all stay confi…stay between me and you.”

Tirzah relaxed slightly.  She placed her hands in her lap and tried not to fidget.  “Alright.  What do you want to

“Why don’t you start by telling me, honestly, how you feel about being here right now.”

They talked for quite a while about all different topics.  When Tirzah finally immerged, Maya was waiting near
the Center doors.

She stood and waited for Tirzah to approach.  “How…how are you?”  Maya took a quick glance at Helena who
nodded reassuringly.  “Are you hungry?  It’s nearly dinner.”  She put her arm around Tirzah’s shoulders and
started to lead her out.

Tirzah nodded and looked back at Helena with a slight wave.

             |                |                |                

Tirzah walked into Sanara’s private room slowly.  The nurse had stopped her on her way in to tell her that her
friend was not herself today.

She knew that, but accepted the information politely before moving on to opposite door.  When the door
whooshed back, Tirzah stood stunned by the pale face and damp hair of her friend in the bed and forced
herself to step forward instead of running away as instinct suggested.

Sanara moved her head and moaned softly as if in pain.  
“Mother.  Mother.”  Her voice was barely audible, but
Tirzah knew that anguish and it cut across her heart like a knife.  Her friend reached out a hand; never opening
her eyes; and spoke to an invisible presence.  
“No…don’t go.  Please stay.”  Her hand dropped back on the
bed hard and she lay so still that Tirzah feared that she may have seen her last breath.

She wasn’t quite sure what to do as she stepped up to the end of the bed.  Tirzah was about to turn and fetch
the nurse when she suddenly heard a sniffle behind her.  She spun around fast to see Maya standing in the
shadows, wiping her eyes.  “Maya?  What…?”

Maya put up a hand to reassure her and stepped into the dim light.  She put her fingers under her eyes and
worked hard to keep the tears from falling.  “I just came to check on her.  Helena said that she was taking a turn
for the worse and I wanted to comfort her if I could.”

“You are so kind,
Ziamakua!”  Tirzah stepped up to hug her quickly and then turned back to her friend in the
“Do you think she’s left us?  She doesn’t move and I’m afraid to touch her.”  Tirzah looked up at Maya.  

The Psychon woman stepped forward and took her nieces hand.  
“Never be afraid of death, Tirzah.  It is a
passing over, out of this shell and becoming something more connected in the universe.  It may be sad for
us…but it’s wonderful and freeing for them.”
 She led the younger woman toward the bed and gently put a hand
on Sanara’s face before she moved down to her neck to check for a pulse as Helena had taught her.  Maya
suddenly smiled and exhaled loudly.  “She’s just sleeping.”  She sat down in the chair as if all of the excitement
had exhausted her.  

Tirzah took her friend’s hand and looked down at her for a moment before turning back to Maya.  Seeing Maya
with a pained expression and a hand on the side of her head, Tirzah’s anxiety grew again.
 “Are you alright,
 When she smiled slightly and nodded, the younger woman continued.  “What happened before I got
here?  Sanara said ‘don’t go’…who was she taking to?”

Maya sighed and rubbed her temple as she looked at the young woman in the bed.  “I transformed for her.  I
asked if there was anything that she wanted or that I could get for her and…she asked for her mother…asked
me to bring her here.”
 Maya sighed again and turned her attention to Tirzah.  “I couldn’t bring myself to say that
she was dead…so I asked her to describe her mother since I’d never met her.  I turned down the lights and
pretended to leave as she fell back to sleep…”

“And you became her mother.”
 Tirzah finished.  Maya nodded and went back to rubbing her head.  “Was it very
strenuous?  Did it cause you pain?”

“Not really, but I stayed in that form too long.”
 Maya thought about standing but, when she shifted in the chair,
her muscles still shook.  
“I couldn’t deny her.  Tirzah…”

The young woman nearly held her breath while Maya found the strength to continue.  “Sanara doesn’t have
much longer.  Helena says that her injuries were too severe for her body, or the doctors, to heal.”
 Maya held out
her hand and Tirzah eagerly took it with her free hand.  
“I’m so sorry, Tirzah.  I know that the doctors have tried
everything in their power to make her well again.”

Tirzah’s body started to shake with silent sobs for her friend and for herself.

A few days later, Sanara passed away.  Tirzah never left her side until the end and, although Sanara’s last
words to her were to not feel responsible, she carried the guilt of her friends deaths inside like a rock.

             |                |                |

Tirzah growled softly.  “We have been over this!”

“And yet you still continue to deny that there’s a problem.”  Helena spoke quietly.

“Because there isn’t one!”   Tirzah turned to face the sofa Helena sat on.  She stepped forward slowly, pleading
with her.  “Why do you want to make a problem?”

“I’m not making one.”  Helena stood when Tirzah turned away again.  “The fact that you’re not yet sleeping
properly, after several weeks of therapy, still concerns me.”

“Well, don’t.”  Her hand sliced the air as if to dismiss Helena.  Tirzah bent her head and picked at the invisible
thread on her sleeve.  “At least I’m sleeping better.”

“Yes, we’re all happy about that, but this last part of the dream is still haunting you.”  Helena stepped up behind
the woman and placed her hands on her shoulders.  “We need to find out why only this part continues to crop up
in your subconscious.”

Helena’s comlock began beeping for attention.  John Koenig’s face appeared on the tiny screen.  “Helena, are
you all right?”

“I’m fine, John.  Why?”

“You’re late for the staff meeting.”

“I’m sorry, I lost track of time.  I’ll be there in a few minutes.”  Helena turned back to Tirzah.  “We’ll pick this up
next time?”

Tirzah nodded cordially, happy to be let off the hook.  In the corridor they went their separate ways.

As was becoming her usual routine, Tirzah arrived at the Rec Center where she had reserved a workout room.  
It was no surprise to find Alan Carter already there and stretching out on the mats.  She kicked off her deck
shoes and walked over to him slowly.

He smiled at her the entire way.  “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming today.”

She knelt down, straddling his outstretched legs and then sat down.  “You were just looking forward to not being
beaten again.”  She leaned forward seductively as she spoke.  “No luck for you because I did come here and
you will be beaten.”

“Well, we’ll just see…” He started to speak when Tirzah grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back onto the
mat.  She moved in quickly and kissed him passionately.

Alan wasted no time in wrapping his arms around her and kissing her right back.  When his hands started to
roam, she pushed away, a wicked smile on her face.  “No, no.  Not in here.  Remember the last time?”

Alan let his arms flop back onto the mat.  He was getting used to the little cat and mouse games that she
played, rationalizing that they gave her some sense of power that she’d never had before.   He raised himself
up on his elbows as she sat back on his legs.  “That was definitely an embarrassing moment.”

“Well!”  Tirzah slapped his bare knees and jumped up onto her feet.   “We should fight now!”

“Wrestle.”  Alan corrected as he stood.

“Wrestle."  She mocked him.  "Are you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

They approached each other slowly and when they were close enough Tirzah grabbed Alan’s upper arms,
trying to push him off balance.  When she stuck out her leg to trip him, Alan twisted and, breaking her grip on
him, put her into a headlock.

“You’re not concentrating.”  He taunted.

Tirzah brought her fist around, punching Alan square in the gut.  He bent over slightly but never let go.  She
stomped down hard on his foot and when he lifted it up off the floor, she kicked his other shin.  She
accomplished in throwing him off balance but he never let her go.  He fell backward onto the mat taking Tirzah
down with him.

Tirzah landed sideways across his stomach knocking any leftover air completely out of him.  She scrambled up
quickly and sat on his stomach, pinning his arms just above the elbows.  “Do you give in?”  She asked,
breathing heavily.  When he didn’t respond quickly, she asked him again.

“With you…sitting on…me, I can’t…hardly…breath…much less…answer!”  Alan didn’t even try to break free.

She eased off, putting more weight on her legs, but never released his arms.  “Do you give in?”

Alan closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  He suddenly bucked straight up and rolled, landing with Tirzah
beneath him.  He used his entire body to pin her and smiled down at her.  “Well, well.  Now this is bad for you,
right?  Do you give in?”

Tirzah struggled for a long time, using every trick she knew, before letting out a heavy sigh.  “Name your price.”

“Uh…” Alan looked around a moment, trying to decide.  “A movie.  Tomorrow night.”

“Oh, no.”  Tirzah whined.  “Not a movie.  I don’t understand them.  Please, pick something else.”

“Nope.”  He smiled wickedly.  “The Alpha Players won’t have anything ready for at least a month, so a movie it

“No, no, no, no, no!”  Tirzah struggled for freedom.

“Come to dinner with me!”  Alan yelled over her.  He moved so that his knees now straddled her abdomen.

Tirzah stopped and looked up at him.  “Instead of the movie?”

“No, before.  I’ll explain a little about the movie and then we’ll go and see it.”

“That’s not fair!”  Tirzah started to struggle again.  “I’ll get free before I’ll let you claim two prizes.”  She brought
her knee up and managed to clip him in the back.

“You’ll have to do better than that.”  Alan taunted.  He inched backward making it impossible for her to move her
legs.  “Do you accept my terms?”

Tirzah only paused her struggles for a second while she spoke through heavy breathing and gritted teeth.  
“What does that mean?”

Alan chuckled at her as he answered.  “It means, do you say yes to my idea of dinner and then a movie?”

She stopped a moment to catch her breath.  Looking off to the side, Tirzah thought hard about his proposal.  “I
don’t thin…” Her voice trailed off when she turned her head back to speak and his face was inches from hers.  
Her breath caught in her throat and her voice was scratchy when she spoke again.  “I don’t think that…” Her
voice as no more than a whisper and she cleared her throat.  “…that I should give two…” She stopped again as
Alan’s lips brushed her cheek close to her mouth.  “I don’t…” Tirzah involuntarily tilted her head when his lips
brushed hers and continued on to the other cheek.

“Do you yield?”  He whispered close to her ear.

She closed her eyes and took a fluttering breath.  “No.”  She whispered and brushed her cheek against his.

Alan brought his face up slowly away from hers and stared into her eyes a moment.  Then, very slowly, he
lowered his head and kissed her ever so gently.

Tirzah inhaled slowly and heavily as she raised her head up off of the mat to apply more pressure.

He gave her some time to enjoy it before raising his head up slowly and breaking the bond.  He then bent his
head so that his lips were once again close to her ear.  “Do you yield?”  He whispered and grabbed her
earlobe softly with his lips.

Tirzah’s eyes fluttered closed and a very soft ‘yes’ escaped her lips.  Alan smiled and brushed his cheek
against hers as he started to pull away.

“With a condition.”  She whispered as they were nose to nose.

“A condition?”  He kissed her softly.  “What condition?”

She kept her eyes on his mouth as she spoke.  “For giving you two prizes, you must agree first.”  She lifted her
head up trying to kiss him again.

Alan pulled up away from her slowly so that she couldn’t quite reach.  “You’re in no position to be asking
anything.  But…” He spoke quickly when she started to protest.  “…since I’m getting two excellent prizes; I

“You have to take me flying.”

Alan smiled happily.  “When?”

“Tonight, after your shift.”

“Well, I don’t know.”  Alan turned serious.

“If it’s all right with Commander.”  Tirzah spoke up quickly.

“Agreed.”  He kissed her quickly to seal the bargain.  He rolled off of her and then stood and reached out a
hand to help her up.  “Our time is almost up.”  Tirzah jumped to her feet and grabbed her towel.

“Are you swimming tonight?”  Alan asked as they headed for the door.

“No.  I promised Maya to have a family dinner tonight in her room.  She’ll expect to hear all about the last few
days since we’ve talked.”

Alan stopped her at the door.  He pulled her into his arms one last time and ran a hand through the loose hairs
near her ears.  “I won fair and square.  You’re mine tomorrow night.”

Tirzah leaned into him and ran her hands up his back under his shirt.  “Next time, I’ll be claiming a prize from
you.”  She kissed his nose, wriggled out of his arms, and jumped out the opening doorway.

             |                |                |

Carter quickly threw on the top to his pajamas and tied it loosely.  He opened the door to his quarters and was
shocked by the tear-stained face that stood before him.  “Tirzah!”  She wrapped her arms around him and
sobbed into his chest.  Bewildered, he pulled her inside and shut the door.  “What happened?  What’s wrong?”

“They don’t stop, Alan.  You said that they would stop.  Helena says there’s more to it…but I don’t know what
she wants!”

Alan wrapped his arms around her and stroked her hair as she wept.  He shushed her quietly like a child and
sat her down on the sofa.  “It’ll all work out.  And I said that the dreams would stop eventually, not immediately.  
There’s a difference.”  He tilted her head up and pushed the strawberry blond locks away from her face.  “Tell
me how the dream went this time.”  He handed her a hanky as she sat back and tried to calm herself.

Tirzah took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “This one was a little different.  I was running through the forest.  I
fell a couple of times and then I ran out into the clearing where we first met, but you weren’t there.  I was
confused and I wandered around for a moment and then it started to…aliud…cloud?  I couldn’t see properly.”  
She wiped her nose and shifted.  She cleared her throat and started softly.  “Then I turned around and he was
there.  I ran away and he chased me through the clouded forest.”  She looked up at him with fresh tears
beginning to form.  “I called to you, but you never appeared.”

“Tirzah.”  Alan inched forward.  “Have you ever thought to stand and fight instead of running away?”

She looked at him sharply with fire in her eyes.  “The last time I fought back, I got four days in the box.  When I
came out, they took me to The Room.”

“I’m sorry…The Room?”

Tirzah looked down and barely spoke above a whisper.  “The Room is where they took away our markings.”

“But you’re safe on Alpha now, and this is only a dream.”  He grabbed her hands.  “He can’t hurt you anymore;
except in here.”  He touched her forehead softly.

“I don’t feel safe in here.”  She jabbed at her forehead.  “How can I, when he continues to chase me.  I only…”
Her voice trailed off and she looked down at her hands again.  Tirzah noticed how small they were compared to
Alan’s and how nicely they fit.

“Only what?”  He prompted.

Tirzah bit her lip and looked up at him as she spoke.  “I only feel safe…here.”  She suddenly took his face in her
hands and kissed him hard.  She didn’t hesitate to plunge her tongue into his mouth and explore the taste of
his.  Her tongue dipped and swirled and played with his until all other thoughts escaped him.  She moved her
hands from his cheeks, to the back of his head, and then slowly ran them down his neck to his shoulders.  She
hesitated for only a moment as she slipped her hands under his pajama top and pushed it down off of him as
she caressed his arms.

She moved her hands slowly back up his arms and pressed her hands down his chest, raking her fingernails
lightly along.  She barely noticed him shutter as she pulled the tie apart and pushed his top off completely.  
Tirzah inched forward and eased her body into his.  She touched every inch of his back and buttocks and
thighs.  Alan held her tightly and never made a move to stop her.

She ran her hand slowly along the inside of his thigh and, as she brushed his groin, Alan broke away from their
kiss, grabbing her wrist.  “Tirzah!”  His voice was thick with emotion.

She didn’t respond as she pushed him back onto the sofa and pulled away from his grip.  She laid herself on
top of him and reinitiated the kiss.  One hand traveled slowly down the length of his torso and thigh, then back
upward between their bodies to stop at their nipples.  Her lips left his and she began kissing him on his face
and neck, moving southward at a painstakingly slow pace.

When she reached the base of his neck, Alan gathered his wits and tried to sit up.  “Tirzah.”  She pushed him
back down gently and he held onto her hands on his chest. “Tirzah, what are you doing?”  He cleared his throat
as she kissed his chest.  He moved his hands to her shoulders, with every intention of pushing her away, until
she shifted again and kissed him even more seductively than before.  He involuntarily closed his eyes and
without thinking, Alan ran his hands up across her shoulders and began to stroke the back of her neck and
smoothed her hair down along her back.

Never letting go, she maneuvered her body so that her hands could explore every inch of his chest, stomach
and abdomen.  When one hand moved across his stomach below his belly button, he moaned softly.

She moved downward again, kissing his neck and chest as her hands roamed over his body, lightly scratching
or tickling as they went.  Both hands found their way to his hips and thighs as she kissed her way down his
torso and her mouth found his belly button.  She was moving her hands slowly up and across his groin when she
felt herself pushed backward.

“Slow down.”  Alan sat up and stared into a pair of glazed eyes.

Tirzah ran her hands down his arms and tried to lean into him again.  He shook her trying to snap her out of her
daze.  “Tirzah, slow down.  I don’t think you really want to do this!”  He shook her again and called her name
when she tried to kiss his hands and arms.

Her innocent face finally locked eyes with him.  “This is where I feel safe.”

“And I’m flattered, but I don’t think that you really want to do this.”  Alan pushed her back further so that she sat
on her feet.  “You were upset.”

“You don’t like it?”  She asked innocently.

“Yes but; like the last time; you’re upset and you’re not thinking clearly.”  He ran a hand through his hair.  “And
neither am I.”  He mumbled.

He looked up to see her silently crying next to him.  She got up slowly from the sofa.  Alan jumped to his feet
and put his hands on her shoulders to stop her.  “Wait!  I didn’t mean to upset you further.  I’ll tell you what…” He
looked around a moment, then gestured for her to stay put.  “Why don’t you stay here tonight and that way you
won’t be alone?”  He ran to the bed and grabbed the blanket and pillow.

Tirzah watched as he put the pillow at one end of the sofa and then threw the blanket over the other end.  He
folded back part of it and, taking a hold of her shoulders, sat her down on the edge of the cushions.

Alan sat down next to her and stretched out sideways behind her.  “Com’ere.”  He pat the leftover space on the

She happily complied and stretched out alongside of him.  He wrapped his arms around her and tucked the
blanket, and her, in snugly.  While he worked with the blanket, Tirzah reached up and ran her fingers through his
hair, resting her hand on the back of his neck.  She pulled his head closer to hers and kissed him slowly.  Alan
held her a little tighter and they enjoyed the moment.  He then pulled away from her and gently pushed her head
down onto his chest.  “Sleep.”  He spoke softly and stroked the back of her head and neck.

             |                |                |

“I don’t understand why!”  Tirzah paced Helena’s quarters, wringing her hands.  Helena and Bob Mathias had
felt that a homier atmosphere would help Tirzah feel more at ease.  It seemed to be working.  They had having
regular therapy session for over 5 months and she appeared to be making great strides.

Helena turned to face her.  “Because that isn’t acceptable here on Alpha.  It’s not how things are done.”

“But…but then he should have asked me!”  Tirzah put out her hands pleadingly.

“The tools are there for everyone to use, Tirzah.  You can’t think of them as personal property.”  Helena stood
and stepped around the sofa.  “Now, because of your…rash reaction, Ian won’t be able to use his wrist or hand
for at least three weeks!”

“Connie gave it to me.”

“To use, Tirzah.  Just to use.”  Helena was having difficulty keeping her tone passive.

Tirzah growled and paced the room again with her arms wrapped around herself.  “Serves him right.”  She
mumbled.  “Following me around.  He moves too fast.  How am I supposed to know what he’s going to do?”  
Tirzah stopped and stared at nothing.  “No, I don’t owe him.  He’s always trying to touch me.  He can’t protect
me better than I can protect myself.”  She continued to rant, her voice getting lower and lower.


Her head spun around to stare at the doctor.  “What?”  She almost yelled back.  Tirzah flinched and pulled away
when Helena placed a hand on her shoulder.

“I called you three times before you answered.”

Tirzah shrugged and looked away.

“What is it about Ian that bothers you?”

She shuddered slightly and sat down in a chair.  Tirzah tucked her feet up and wrapped her arms around her
legs.  “His eyes.”  She mumbled.

Helena sat back down on the sofa next to her.  “What about his eyes, Tirzah?”

She looked directly into the doctor’s eyes and for a split second the lights in the room dimmed and Helena
thought that she saw……Helena blinked rapidly as Tirzah looked away and the room brightened.

“Hunger.”  Tirzah whispered and looked down at her lap.  “Eagerness.  Something…” She hesitated.  “It’s an
excitement…but…different.  It’s not exactly physical.”   She paused again before she looked up at Helena.  “It’
s…it’s…almost like…

Dishom, what is that?”  Helena leaned forward.

“I don’t know your word for it.”  She lay her head on her knees.

“Tirzah.”  Helena started tentatively.  “When you say that you don’t like his eyes, is it that he stares at you
strangely or does he…” She faltered and hoped that the young woman would understand.

Tirzah put her feet down and sat up straight.  She smiled slightly at the doctor.  “How long have I been here?”

“Today?”  Tirzah nodded so Helena answered her.  “Almost 2 hours.”  She watched the young Psychon
carefully.  “Why?”

“I’ve reserved a workout room today and I don’t want to miss my time slot.”  Tirzah stood to look at Helena’s
clock.  She turned to face the doctor.  “I should go now.  I’ll need to have time to change.”  She stood waiting for
Helena’s dismissal.

“Alright.  I’ll check my schedule and make time when you’re available again.”

Tirzah nodded and turned to leave.

“Tirzah.”  Helena stood and moved toward her.  “I also think that you should go to Medical and talk to Ian.”


“To apologize for attacking him.”  Helena’s tone turned motherly.  “He was very confused about why you
atta…grabbed him and broke his hand.

Tirzah sighed heavily.  “If you want.  I’ll go tonight and explain.  May I go now?”

Helena looked at her curiously.  “Yes.  I’ll let you know when our next session will be.”

“Thank you.”  Tirzah bolted out the door.

Tirzah changed for the gym and then threw her hair into a quick braid on the way there.

She opened the door to the workout room reserved for her and was happy to see that Alan was already there
stretching out.  She sat down on the mat floor across from him and began to stretch out her muscles.  “How was
your shift?”

“Uneventful.  And yours?”  Alan hoped that she would give the details of what really happened in the Bio-Sphere.

“One of the botanists had to go to Medical today, but nothing else different happened.”  Tirzah spoke
nonchalantly as she leaned over her legs.

Alan tried to act as if he hadn’t heard the rumors.  “That’s a shame.  What happened to him?”

“He was not in the place he should have been.”  Tirzah rolled onto her side and pulled one knee up.

“Oh.”  Alan stood and touched his hands to the floor.  “What did he damage?”

Tirzah shrugged.  “His hand had to be repaired.  It was his own fault.”

Alan snorted and stopped stretching.  “Why his fault?  What exactly happened?”

Tirzah stood and faced him.  “Did you join me to fight or talk?”  She looked at him expectantly.

“Wrestle.”  Alan corrected.

“The words are different but they mean the same.”  Tirzah stepped back and took a readied stance.  She
gestured for him to do the same.

He smiled and shook his head.  Trying to make her smile, Alan copied her stance and every move that she

Tirzah finally lunged at him.  He caught her upper arms and they each struggled to dominate the other.  Alan
managed to twist her into himself and kick her feet out from under her letting her fall hard on the mat.

Tirzah immediately rolled and stood facing him, at the ready again.  When she thought she had an opening, she
jumped forward again.  

Alan waited until the last second before stepping aside and giving her a small shove.  "So, why don't you want
to tell me what really happened to Ian?"

She caught herself from falling and turned to glare at him.  "How do you know his name?"

He put his hands out and shrugged.  "It's a very small world here."

Angry, Tirzah raced forward and before Alan could react she shifted and rammed her shoulder into his
stomach.  The force toppled them both with Tirzah on top.  She pushed up away from him with the heel of her
hand in his ribs, and quickly raised a knee to put in his gut.

Alan was faster.  He brought his own knee up to block hers and rolled at the same time.  She kept the
momentum going and ended up on top again.

When she shifted to pin him, Alan brought his leg up between them, grabbed her shoulders and flipped her up
over his head.

Moments after she landed, they were both back on their feet circling each other.  "Someone said that you broke
his hand.  Is that true?"

"When did we start talking when we fight?"  Tirzah lunged again and this time, Alan caught her shoulders,
forcing her downward past him.

He had barely moved forward to pin her when Tirzah turned and shoved the flat of her foot into his knee.   When
Alan stopped and grabbed his injury, she scrambled to her feet.  She stepped around him and, with both hands
in a fist, she slammed her hands down onto his back between his shoulder blades.

Alan fell flat on his face and Tirzah jumped down on top of him.  She landed with one knee between his
shoulder blades, the other across his thighs and one hand shoving his head into the mat.

Mumbled exclamations came from the mat as Alan struggled to regain his freedom.  He twisted and managed
to grab her hand to release the pressure on his skull.  This gained, Alan was able to push up from the floor and
buck her off.  She landed on her side and started to rise when he grabbed her hips and flipped her onto her

He straddled her legs and pinned her to the mat by her elbows.  They were both breathing heavily and Alan
smiled down at her, imitating Darth Vader.  “I have you now!”

Tirzah began to struggle again.  She growled and fought so hard that Alan eased his grip for fear of hurting her.  
Thinking that she may be able to free herself, she struggled even harder.

“You’re a little tiger today!”  Alan chuckled.  “Do you yield?”

Tirzah stopped and glared up at him.  He stared back at her just as intensely.  Time stopped for them as they
stared deeply into each other’s eyes.  The room, Alpha, even the moon floating in space ceased to exist at that

Alan suddenly shook his head and blinked hard several times.  This distraction allowed Tirzah to break free
and shove him off of herself.  She used his chest for balance as she stood and raced from the room.  Alan
watched the door close behind her and shook his head again to clear the buzzing in his ears.

Alan walked slowly through the Rec-Center on his way out.  Spotting Tony and Maya on a small couch in the
corner, he turned and approached them.

“Alan.”  Tony greeted his friend.  “Finished with your weekly beating?”  He teased.

“Can I talk to you?”  Alan sat in a chair across from them.

Maya sat up straight from her cuddled position.  “Do you want me to go?”

“No, actually I want to talk to you the most.”

“Do you want me to go?”  Tony asked half seriously.

“No, that’s okay.  I’m just really confused.”  Alan leaned forward to be more intimate.  “I was hoping you could
help me.  Something really...weird just happened in the exercise room.”

Maya and Tony also leaned forward to help create more privacy.  “We saw Tirzah run out of the center, but she
didn’t look upset.”  Maya commented.  “What happened?  Is everything all right?”

Alan sighed loudly.  “I didn’t think there was a problem but…but now…”

“What happened, Alan?”  Maya lowered her voice again.

Alan started hesitantly.  “We worked out like we normally do.”  He shifted nervously.  “We always schedule our
time after her sessions with Helena because she seems to need to blow off steam afterward.”  Alan wrung his
hands a little.  “She was a little bit more aggressive than usual, but I’m used to that.  She has the occasional
aggressive tendencies.”  He chuckled to himself.

“I think we’ve all known that since day one.”  Tony interjected sarcastically.

Maya gave him a sharp look and turned back to Alan.  “What made today different?”

“Something was more instinctive…more animalistic.”  He spoke slowly.  Alan inched forward again, all shyness
or discretion forgotten.  He looked straight into Maya’s eyes.  “You know that when Tirzah looks into your eyes,
she sees a lot more than what color they are, right?”  Maya nodded.  “When we wrestle, the person who ends
up on top asks if the other will yield.  When I pinned Tirzah and queried her, she struggled so violently that I was
afraid she’d hurt herself.  Then she stopped, narrowed her eyes, and looked straight into mine.”  He edged
forward again, barely sitting on the chair.  “I looked right straight back at her, just like I always do, but…”

“What?”  Tony prompted.

Astonishment crossed Maya’s face as Alan continued in a whisper.  “Nothing.  Blackness.  Then, there I was,
standing in a meadow, beautiful and lush.  And I could smell the air and feel the breeze!”  His voice was excited
but he still whispered.  “I turned and looked down over a hill and, Maya, I saw the old Psychon village!  It was
beautiful and clean and I saw people working and talking.”  His expression suddenly saddened.  “Then the
blackness again and a loud buzzing in my ears that took awhile to stop.”

“Are you alright now?”  Maya reached over and took his hand.

“Yea.  I’m fine.”  Alan sat up a little straighter.  “I’m just confused.”

Maya gave a sympathetic smile.  “All Psychons have some type of sensory perception.  We’re very adept at
reading others’ emotions.  Those with the ability to transform can focus on a living organism and…instantly
break down its molecular structure and copy it.”  Both men sat silently fascinated as she continued.  “Tirzah’s
one of the rare Psychons that can actually ‘see’ inside another being.  On Psychon she probably would have
been trained in the hopes that she’d become a healer.  She was being trained by my brother before he died,
but her skills now are mostly instinct.  She doesn’t know how or why the connection happens, only that it does.  I’
ve tried several times since she first came to Alpha to continue her training, but she puts me off every time.”

“So what did she do to Alan?”  Tony gestured toward his friend.

“It sounds like you shared one of her memories.  Since she really doesn’t know what she’s doing, the buzzing
was probably the result of breaking the connection too fast.”  Maya theorized.  “Perhaps when she realized
what was happening, it frightened her too and she broke away.”

Both men nodded slowly.  Maya stood suddenly.  “I’m going to find Tirzah and make sure she’s all right.”  She
gave Tony a quick kiss on the cheek and then left the Center.

Maya rounded the corner heading for Tirzah’s quarters and was surprised to see Helena standing near her
door.  “Is everything all right?”  She called to her friend a slight panic in her voice.

“As far as I know.”  Helena stepped up to meet her.  “I was coming to check on Tirzah and…” Helena hesitated.  
“I wanted to talk to you too.”

“Tirzah first?”  Maya suggested.

The two women stepped up to the door and rang the buzzer.  Tirzah answered wearing her swimming suit and
pullover and brushing out her hair.  She simply stared at the other women.

“May we come in?”  Maya asked politely.

“Yes, of course.”  Tirzah quickly stepped aside and closed the door behind them.

“Can I help?”  Tirzah put her brush back on the dresser.

Helena spoke up first.  “I just came to remind you about Ian.  He’ll be leaving the Medical Center tonight and
won’t be on the light duty roster for a few days.”

Tirzah sat down hard in a chair and put on her deck shoes.  “That’s what I’m going to do.  After, I’m meeting
Shannen at the pool.”  She looked up at the doctor expectantly.

Maya scowled slightly.  “What happened to Ian?”

Helena opened her mouth to explain when Tirzah suddenly stood and sighed heavily.  She smiled at them both.  
“Ian and I had a misunderstanding.  I will go to say I’m sorry and we will be friends again.”  Tirzah moved to the
door.  “We should go.  I don’t want to miss him.”

Maya and Helena complied and once in the hallway, Tirzah said her goodbyes and headed to the Medical

The two women looked after her a moment before Maya linked arms with the doctor and led her to her own
quarters.  “I think it’s my turn for a translation.”

Helena paced Maya’s quarters while she explained what had happened in the Biosphere.  Without breaking
any confidences, Helena also told her some parts of their session that afternoon.  “I told her that she should go
to Medical and apologize to Ian.”  She concluded, sitting down next to Maya.

“She didn’t seem convinced that she had done anything wrong.”  Maya stated.

“And I went over that with her and explained just why it was wrong.”  Helena’s exasperation with the young
woman and a need to draw someone’s help came through in her voice.  “I tried to get her to explain what it is
about the man that she dislikes, but she changed the subject.  I thought, for just a moment, that she would really
explain and…” Helena stood and poured two cups of coffee.

“Is that when she avoided the question?”  Maya tried not to expect an answer.

Helena handed her a cup and sat back down.  “Part of me isn’t sure what happened.”  She shook her head.  
She was unsure at first how to word her explanation so that she didn’t betray a trust.  “I asked Tirzah to explain
her feelings…about something to me.  She looked up into my eyes and just as she started to speak…I felt…it
was like an overwhelming fear…beyond the point of panic…” Helena took a deep breath and held it as she
attempted to form words.

“Did you look directly back into her eyes, Helena?”

“Yes.  Just like this.”  Helena stared into Maya’s eyes to demonstrate.  “And then it was gone….but a bit of fear
still lingered in me.

“Fear of Tirzah?”

“No.”  Helena gazed across the room.  “Just fear.”

Maya took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  She set her cup down on the side table and then sat back to

             |                |                |

Tirzah took a tentative step into the Medical Center.  She still wasn’t comfortable being in one.  It was full of
herbs and knives and instruments of torture as far as she was concerned.

She looked around until she spotted Ian lounging on one of the beds.  She padded softly and quickly to the end
of his bed.

Ian sat up straight.  “Tirzah.”  He looked around nervously to make sure they weren’t alone.  “What’re ya doin’

“Helena said that I am to come and apologize, so here I am.”  She looked around the center as well.  She had
no desire to be alone with this man and she made sure never to look into his eyes.

“Oh.”  Ian adjusted his blue sleeve over the cast.  “Okay.  Go ahead.”

Tirzah looked up at him sharply in astonishment and then quickly looked down at the bed.  “I am sorry that you
are not as fast and strong as you may think.  Perhaps I should not have twisted your hand so hard when you
took my tools.”  She finished with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

Ian looked up at her, slightly disgusted.  “Ya call tha’ an apology?  Sounded like more insults ta me.  I go’
enough ov that in the Sphere.”  Tirzah stood silent.  Ian shook his head at her slowly.  “Yer not sorry at’all are

She focused on his chest as she spoke.  “If you had dropped them when I told you to, you wouldn’t have gotten

“Ha!”  Ian sat forward and held up his cast hand.  “How could I, when ya had my hand so tight in a vise that I
couldn’t even wiggle my fing’rs!”  He sat back and waved at her with his good hand.  “Go ‘way.  Yer not sorry an’
I’m not listenin’ ta any more ov this.”  He lay back down with his good arm behind his head.  “G’bye, Tirzah.”

Tirzah looked around a moment, confused, and then left quietly.  She headed toward the travel tube trying to
figure out why he had been so mad.  She had apologized just like Helena asked.

The tube doors opened and Tirzah shrugged it off to a simple misunderstanding of cultures.  “I think that’s what
Helena called it.”  She mumbled as she stepped inside.

             |                |                |

Tirzah bit her bottom lip as she fumbled with the beeping comlock.  She finally found the right button and turned
the box around so that the person who appeared was right side up.  “Yes?”  She answered nervously.

“Tirzah, is everything all right?”  Helena kept her voice as professional as possible.  “You’re late for our session
today.  I was getting concerned.”

Tirzah’s eyes grew wide.  “Our talk!  I forget!  I’m sorry!  I’ll be there in a minute, okay?”

“That’ll be fine.  I’ll see you soon.”  Helena smiled and broke off communications.  Tirzah jumped down out of
the tree and raced out of the Bio Sphere.  The sessions had been going on for 6 months and she was
beginning to dread her therapy with Dr. Russell, but she had promised Alan and Maya that she would continue
until Helena released her.  She arrived at the doctor’s quarters breathless and quickly pushed the buzzer.

She was smoothing out her uniform tunic when the door opened.  She looked up quickly and stepped inside to
Helena’s invitation.  “Sorry, Helena.  I was thinking and forget to come.”

“Forgot to come.”  Helena corrected.

“Forgot.”  Tirzah whispered and nodded.

“Your English has been slipping a lot lately.  Are you having trouble with the words?”

“No.  Sometimes when I get excited or nervous they come out wrong.”  Tirzah made an obvious effort to speak

Helena motioned her to sit down on the sofa.  “How was your shift today?”

“Tismal.”  Tirzah sat down.

Helena stopped and stared at the young woman.  “What did you say?”

“I said that all is well.”  Tirzah looked up at her.

“Is that what that word means?”  Helena sat on the other end of the sofa.

“What word?”  Tirzah asked innocently.

Helena hesitated a moment before she spoke.  She wasn’t sure if Tirzah was playing with her or not.  “You said

“I did?”  Tirzah was genuinely surprised.  “I didn’t mean to.  It just came out then.”

“Is that what it means, that all is well?”

“Yes.”  Tirzah looked down at her hands trying to hide her confusion.  She looked up quickly and smiled.  “I saw
Ian today!  His hand looks much better.  The wrappings were even off.”

“Yes, his hand is much better.”  Helena allowed her to change the subject.  “He only has to wear a brace on his
wrist if it should bother him.”  She picked up her cup of coffee and took a sip.  “Are you two back on speaking

Tirzah had to think about the question.  “We say hello sometimes.  Is that speaking?”  She shifted nervously and
did not mention that she felt that Ian was still following her.

Helena smiled as she set her cup down.  “It’s a start.  Are you having any other difficulties?”  Tirzah shook her
head.  Helena tucked her foot under her.  “Oh.  I, um, noticed that you haven’t been to very many social events
lately.”  She said carefully.

Tirzah pursed her lips and looked down at her lap.  “Do you watch me?”

“Not exactly.”

“What; exactly?”  Tirzah eyed her without lifting her head.

“I’ve noticed that you aren’t always at some of the smaller…gatherings… and when you do attend, you’ve found
an excuse to leave early.”  Helena took another sip of her coffee and waited.

Tirzah fought to keep her voice calm and even.  “I did not know that my appearance at gatherings was going to
be a topic of our talks.”  She straightened her tunic roughly, never looking at the Doctor.  “Is it now a rule that I
go to gatherings?”


“Then why do you watch?”

“I’m concerned…”  Helena sat forward slightly.

“Because I don’t go to gatherings?”  Tirzah interrupted.  She stood and started to pace the room.  “I was not
told I am watched at all times.”

“Tirzah, that’s not what I meant.  You were socializing well and making friends and lately we haven’t…”

Tirzah spun around to face her.  “Who tells on me?  Who

Helena stood and moved around the sofa.  “No one is watching you.  We’re worried that you’re hiding yourself
away again, closing yourself off from your friends.”  Her voice was forceful and she advanced on the young

Tirzah backed away from her and her eyes began to dart around the room.  “I’m tired.  I work more now.”  Tirzah
continued to move around the furniture even though Helena had stopped.  “I go when I can.  Why do you watch?”

“Tirzah, stop!”  Helena commanded.

She froze and noticed that the doctor was between her and the door.  Tirzah stood up straight with defiance
and fear on her face.  “I’m not slave, right?”

“No, you are not a slave anymore.”  Helena spoke quietly.  “You have friends here and we care about you.”  She
took a step forward and Tirzah stiffened.  “Why are you so afraid and angry today?”

Feeling she had been discovered for some transgression, Tirzah tried to move toward the door nonchalantly.  “I
know I have friends.  I can be Psychon here and I like it.  I am not angry, just don’t like that you watch.”

“And your speech has been getting worse over the last few days.”  Helena pointed out.

Tirzah took a nervous breath.  “It’s all the talk.”  She said accusingly.  “Too much talk on Alpha.”

Helena sighed heavily.  “Tirzah.  I doubt that’s true.  What’s going on that’s causing this speech reduction?”  
Tirzah’s look of confusion pierced Helena’s heart with sympathy.  “Have you had an argument with someone?”

Tirzah shook her head.

“Are you having trouble at work?”

She shook her head again.  Helena started to step forward and Tirzah suddenly felt trapped.

“Is there a problem with Alan?”

Tirzah looked up sharply at the doctor.  “Alan is good and never hurts!  He does not yell or touch when I say
no!”  She inched toward the door.

“I’m not questioning Alan’s honor.”  Helena’s brow furrowed. “I’m just trying to figure out why you’re hostile and
paranoid lately.”

Tirzah stared at the floor a moment, biting her bottom lip.  She knew that she should know those words but she
just couldn’t remember.  Her breathing got faster the longer her memory failed her and she almost started to
cry.  She looked up and took the last few steps to the door.  “I’m late now.”  Tirzah opened the door and dashed

“Tirzah!”  Helena started after her but she was half way down the hall before the doctor crossed the threshold.  
She sighed and let her hands fall heavily at her side.

Helena stepped back inside her room and grabbed her comlock.  Bob Mathias’ face appeared on the screen.  
“Helena.  What can I do for you?”

“Well, if you’re free, I could use a little advise.”

“Sure.  I’ll meet you in my office.”

“Thanks, Bob.”  Helena smiled and, turning it off, placed the comlock on her belt and left her quarters.

             |                |                |

Tirzah avoided as many people as she could on her way to the Recreation Center.  She entered the empty
workout room breathless, sat down in the middle of the mats and began to stretch out.

Alan entered a few minutes later and joined her on the floor.  “How was your shift today?”

“Good.”  She said shortly.

“Hey!”  Alan smiled and looked up at her.  “Guess who I saw today!”  Tirzah shrugged.  “Ian!”  She didn’t
answer, so Alan continued.  “He has his brace off now.”

“Yes.  I know.”  She said curtly.  She stood and pulled one foot up behind her.  “Ready?”

Alan stood and ran his fingers through his hair.  “As I’ll ever be.”

“Teig.”  Tirzah readied herself.

Alan’s smile faded with the use of the Norlou word.  She suddenly ran at him fast before he had prepared
himself and knocked him into the wall.  They hit so hard that Alan stood breathless for a moment.

Before he could regroup, Tirzah brought her elbow up and swung it into his stomach.  When he bent slightly and
grabbed his stomach, Tirzah grabbed his shirtfront and, rolling back onto the floor, flipped him up over her head
and onto his back.

She jumped to her feet and moved around him.  She stepped up alongside of him to pin him when he suddenly
rolled toward her and grabbed both ankles.

Alan pulled her feet out from under her, causing her to fall hard but she kicked and pushed herself back as he
advanced on her.  She rolled and jumped up onto her feet.

Alan advanced quickly and they locked their hands onto each other’s elbows.  They wrestled and circled each
other for supremacy.  Frustrated, Tirzah suddenly broke away and then stepped back in to punch him.

He blocked the blow that would have contacted his chest, grabbing her wrist in the process.  He spun her
around and shoved her between the shoulder blades.

Tirzah stumbled forward a few steps before she caught herself and turned to face him.  She recovered faster
than Alan anticipated and moved forward, pretending to stomp on his foot.  As Alan shied away she spun to the
side and rammed an elbow into his ribs.

Alan clutched at his side as Tirzah came around again to hit him in the face with her fist.  He saw it coming and
ducked out of the way causing the force behind the blow to spin her around.  As soon as her back was to him,
Alan jumped forward and brought his arms up under hers and locked his hands behind her head.  Tirzah
gasped at this vertical pinning.

“You’re a little overly violent today.”  Alan spoke through gritted teeth and heavy breathing.  Tirzah tried pulling
his hands off her neck and ducking out from under his grip.  He made a deep-throated short laugh and she

“You can’t fool me, not all the fights out of ya yet.  I'll have my prize.”  He still held on tightly.

Tirzah tried to break free again.  A breathless, barely audible “please,” escaped her lips.

“Nope.”  Alan tightened his grip and his voice was almost a whisper.  “I caught you fair and square!”

An anguished squeak escaped her and she struggled even harder.  She suddenly reached up and back and
raked her nails hard across Alan’s arms and hands.

He cried out and instantly released her.  She turned quickly and didn’t hesitate as she kicked his kneecap as
hard as possible.   “Tirzah, stop!”  Alan tried to grab her, ignoring the blood that had started to trickle down his
arm.  She looked up at him with a fear and fire in her eyes that Alan hadn’t seen since they had first rescued her.

“Ona rom!”  She yelled at him.

She swung at him again and he caught both her wrists.  “Take it easy!  What’s wrong with you?”

She looked around wildly until she spotted the door.  She broke away from Alan and ran across the room.  
Skidding to a stop and putting her hands up across the panel, she looked desperately for a way to open it.  

"What's gotten into you?"  Alan headed for the door.

She spotted the keypad on the wall beside her and hit at it until the door flew open.  Tirzah took one last look
behind her at Alan’s approaching form and bolted wildly from the room.

Oblivious to the scratches on his arm, Alan stood in the doorway looking down the hall.

Saun passed him on her way out and, seeing his arms, inhaled sharply.  “Alan!  Are you all right?”  She held his
arm gingerly and inspected the skin.  “Come on.”  She pulled him gently out into the hall.  “You need to get to
Medical.”  Alan allowed himself to be guided down the hall.

Tirzah ran down the corridor toward her quarters and skidded to a stop in front of Maya’s door.  She pounded
her fist on the panel as she called out her name.

The door slid back and Tirzah flew into Maya’s unsuspecting arms and clung to her desperately.  “Are you all
right?”  Maya tried to lift the woman’s head off her chest.  “What happened?”

“You have to help me!”  Tirzah sobbed.  “He caught me again!  I managed to escape, but I’m sure that he’s
following me!”
 She raised a tear stained face up at Maya and then looked around the room desperately.  “You
can change.  I’ll find a weapon and we’ll hold him off together!”
 She broke away and wiped the back of her
hand across her face.  She began searching every corner of Maya’s room.

“Who caught you?”  Maya followed her around the room.  “Who’s chasing you?  What happened?”  She
grabbed Tirzah’s elbow and spun her around to face her.  “Tirzah answer me.”

Tirzah opened her mouth to speak when the door buzzer sounded.  Both women stared at the door a moment
before Maya moved to answer it.

Tirzah grabbed her arm and held her back.
 “What if it’s him?  What if he found me?  I can’t go back, Maya.  
Please don’t let him take me back!”
 Her eyes darted form Maya to the door.

The buzzer sounded again and Maya took a hold of Tirzah’s hand.  “Who, Tirzah?   Who’s after you?”

“What did you say?”  Tirzah gave her a confused look.

Maya’s face mirrored hers for a moment.
 “Tirzah, who’s after you?  What’s going on?”

Both women jumped slightly as the door slid open.  Tirzah skirted around behind Maya for protection.

“Helena.”  Maya tried to step toward her but Tirzah held on tightly.  Maya turned her head and hissed behind
“Let go!”

Helena stepped into the room followed by Bob Mathias.  “I’m sorry, but when you didn’t answer, I overrode the
lock.  Are you all right?”

“Yes.  Why?  Shouldn’t I be?”  Maya’s confusion was growing by the minute.

“We weren’t sure.  Bob and I came to find Tirzah and when she wasn’t in her quarter’s, we thought you might
know where to find her.”

“When we heard your voices, we were…concerned, for your safety.”  Bob interjected.

“For my safety?”  Maya glanced back at Tirzah who was attempting to hide behind her.  “What’s happened,
Helena?  Why are you looking for Tirzah?”

“We’re very worried about her, Maya.”  Helena stepped forward.  Maya felt Tirzah flinch.  “I had a very odd
session with her today.  She spoke very erratically and then ran from my quarters before I could stop her.”  She
sighed heavily and glanced at Bob.  “I alerted security to keep an eye on her…”

“Security?”  Maya interrupted.

“For her own safety, Maya.”  Helena said forcefully.  “I went to talk to Bob because, honestly Maya, I’m a little out
of my element now.”  Helena ran her fingers through her bangs and took a deep breath.  “It’s as if she’s
regressing instead of progressing.”

Bob jumped in to help out.  “Tirzah appears to have some suppressed memories that, under therapy, are
dominating her consciousness.  Instead of talking them over with Dr. Russell, she’s trying to re-bury them.  By
doing this she’s calling on old defense mechanisms that she’s built up over her childhood.  I’ll lay odds that if
you ask her,” he pointed to Tirzah, “she’s been having the nightmares again.”

Maya turned to face the younger woman.  “Is that true?  Are you having the dreams again?”

Tirzah’s genuine look of confusion tore through Maya’s heart.  
“Tirzah, are you having the nightmares again?”  
She placed her hands on the woman’s shoulders.

Tirzah’s eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open.  
“How did you know about the dreams?”

“Oh, Tirzah.”  Maya held back her tears.  “What’s happening to you?”  She put her arm around the younger
woman’s shoulder and, drawing her alongside of herself, turned to face the doctors.  “What has she done?”

Helena took a small step toward them.  “She doesn’t understand you, does she, unless you’re speaking
Psychon?”  She looked at Bob.  “Why is it happening so fast?  She wasn’t this bad earlier today.”

“Perhaps the recent events with Ian and then Sanara’s death have pushed her over the edge.”  Bob
contributed.  “The encounter with Alan must have acted like a catalyst.”  

“What happened with Alan?”  Maya’s tone became defensive and protective.

“Maya.”  Helena took another step toward the women causing Tirzah to draw in closer and slightly behind
Maya.  “After our counseling sessions, Tirzah and Alan workout in the Recreation Center.”

“Yes.  I know.”

“Today’s workout turned violent.  She applied some serious scratches on his arms.”

Maya’s nervousness was becoming apparent.  She wanted to protect Tirzah, but this news of her actions was
appalling.  “Is he all right?”  She swallowed hard.

“The wounds are superficial.  He was more worried about Tirzah and what he had done or said to provoke it.”  
Helena fidgeted.  “That’s when we decided to search for her in her quarters.”  Helena placed her hands in front
of her, palms together.  “I’m sorry Maya, but I need to take her to medical.”

Maya backed up, an anguished look on her face.  “Please Helena.  If you're right, in her frame of mind, she’ll
only be more frightened than she is already.  You know how she feels about doctors and medical facilities.”  
She pleaded with her eyes.  “Please, can’t we do this in her quarters; or mine?”

“Everything Bob and I might need is in medical.”  Helena put out a hand and stepped forward again.

Maya and Tirzah both took a step back at her approach.  “What are you going to do?”  Maya started to tuck the
younger woman behind her.

Helena looked at her flatly.  “You can’t protect her from this, Maya.  I doubt that you’ll be of much help to her
either.  She needs to be in the Medical Center where Bob and I can help her jump these barriers and overcome
her problems.”

On the verge of tears, Maya shook her head, but turned to face Tirzah.  
“You have to go with Helena.”

Tirzah shook her head and tried to move away but Maya held onto her arms.  “No!  They’ll torture me.  You don’t
know what it’s like!”  

Maya closed her eyes for a second and a single tear fell slowly down her cheek.  “They want to help you.”

“All doctor’s hurt!”
 Tirzah tried harder to pull away.

“No.  Remember.  Helena helped you.  She fixed your leg!”  She spoke convincingly.

“She’s brought a man.  She’s no friend.”  Tirzah finally succeeded in pulling away.

“Tirzah.”  Maya advanced on her retreat.  “They want to help you.  You’re having trouble separating reality.”

“No!  They’ll cut me again!”  Tirzah began to look for an opening to get out of the room.

“You hurt Alan today!”  Maya’s forceful voice stopped her.

Tirzah turned anguished eyes to Maya.  
“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone!”

“I know.”

“But I didn’t know how to use his weapon!”

Maya started to respond when she realized exactly what Tirzah had just said.  “What did you say?”

Tirzah looked at everyone in the room a moment, then turned back to Maya and spoke in an intense whisper.  
“Do you know what they do to you?  If they take me back, they’ll cut me again and then put me in the box!  Have
you ever been in the box?”
 Tirzah and Maya locked eyes and Maya was suddenly in the Norlou’s medical hut.   
She could hear the screaming child next to her, she smelled the blood and felt the fear that poured off the

Maya shook her head to clear and block these images and then took Tirzah’s hand.  
“No one will put you in the
box.  Try and remember where you are.  No one on Alpha would ever harm you.”

Tirzah pulled her hands away from Maya and backed away from her.  “I won’t go back.  I won’t be a slave
 Tirzah suddenly bolted for the door, plowing between Helena and Bob.

Dr. Mathias caught her easily and tried to hold on to the wildcat he now had in his arms.  She struggled so hard
that, while he was trying to get a better grip, she twisted out of his grasp.

Tirzah stopped at the closed door a moment trying to remember how it opened.  Helena came up behind her, a
sedative at the ready.

The doctor touched her shoulder and was about to apply the drug when Tirzah, startled by the contact, turned
around sharply and jammed her back against the wall.

The door suddenly flew open.  Tirzah shoved Helena out of her way, fled from the room and ran into the security
guard waiting outside the door.  Without missing a beat, Tirzah grabbed him and brought her knee up hard
between his legs before she shoved him aside and ran down the corridor toward the lift.  She hit the buttons on
the wall randomly when she arrived.

She heard the shouts of her pursuers and, looking back the way she’d come, suddenly noticed the travel tube
doors open.

Alan Carter stepped into the hallway to shouting and a flurry of people running past him.  He looked ahead of
them at their target and saw Tirzah suddenly jump into the lift.  The doors closed before the small group could
stop her.

Exasperated, they stopped and stood for a moment to decide what to do.  Helena turned and spotted Alan, the
tube doors still open behind him.  She called to him and gestured to the others to follow.  “Don’t let that go!  We
have to find Tirzah.”

“What’s happened?  Why are you chasing her?”  Alan followed the others back into the tube.

Helena turned to the security officer first.  “Find out where that lift stops and track her as far as possible.”  He
nodded to the doctor and moved to the other side of the tube to contact Tony and the other officers.  Helena
then turned back to Alan.  “Tirzah’s regressing back to her planet-side mentality.  She can’t remember how to
speak English and she thinks that we’re trying to take her back to the Norlous.”

“Does she even know where she is or who we are?”  He sat down next to Helena.

Bob Mathias leaned forward.  “She seems to know Maya.  She sees her as a sort of protector...although now I’
m not so sure she’ll think so after this.”  He reflected.

Maya’s downcast eyes and sorrowful expression made Alan take pity on her.  “Hey, I’m sure we’ll find her.  And
then we’ll get everything straightened out.”

She smiled at him gratefully.

The travel tube stopped and, when they stepped into the hallway, Tony was there to meet them.  “The lift
stopped on level J, but she was no where to be seen by the time my men arrived.”

“We have to find her, Tony.”  Helena said desperately.

“We’re making a base wide search and I have 2 people watching the base’s hall cameras.  We’re bound to find
her soon.”

“What if you don’t?”  Maya spoke up beside him.

“We will.”  Tony said quickly and turned back to Helena.  “As soon as we locate her, we’ll bring her straight to
medical.”  As the others dispersed, Tony detained Maya.  “Maya, a bloodhound could track her down faster
than any of us can.”

“Yes, of course.  We’ll start in the lift.”  They headed off together down the hall.

             |                |                |

Tirzah nearly fell out of the lift when it stopped.  Confusion caused her to stumble several times on her way
down the hall.  She stopped and hid behind a compost when a travel tube full of engineers suddenly opened in
front of her.  As soon as they had moved on, Tirzah moved quickly and jumped into the open tube.

The doors closed and the tube began to move.  She was knocked off her feet by the unexpected jolt and,
crawling to the far corner, she tucked herself into it.  This was the third tube she had ridden in since she'd left

She had been ducking in and out of rooms to avoid people and in and out of so many lifts and travel tubes that
she was even more confused by her surroundings.  She tucked her knees in tighter wishing she could stop and
rest, but she reminded herself again why she was running.

When the tube stopped and the doors opened, she stood and moved carefully toward the open door.  Stepping
out tentatively and stayed close to the wall, she made her way down the corridor.

She had managed to go quite a way undetected when she heard a door in front of her open and three crewmen
began to immerge.  She moved back down the hall the way she had come and when she couldn't find anywhere
to hide, Tirzah hit a panel of buttons on the wall with her palm.  The door slid back just enough to allow her entry
and she slipped inside the darkened room and waited for the them to pass.

             |                |                |

Alan walked past the partially opened door pretending not to notice.  When he felt that they were far enough
away, he feigned forgetfulness and sent the others on without him.  “I’ll just be a minute, Pete.  I’m sure I left it
back in the lab.”  Alan headed back the way he’d come and stopped outside the door Tirzah hid behind.  He
suddenly stepped away from the door and grabbed his comlock to move down the hall and report his finding.

             |                |                |

“She’s been spotted near the eagle hangers.”  Tony called over to Maya’s shimmering form as he clipped his
comlock back onto his belt.

“What is she doing over there?”

Tony shrugged.  “Trying to get away from Alpha is my guess.”  They started for the travel tube.

“But, Tony.” Maya argued as they walked.  “If Helena and Dr. Mathias are right, then she has no idea what an
eagle is anymore.”

Tony hit the button for the tube when they arrived.  “Well, why else would she be down there?”

             |                |                |

As soon as the crewmen had passed, Tirzah relaxed slightly and waited for her eyes to adjust to the dim light.  
She looked around and realized that she wasn’t in a room at all.  She had actually entered another corridor.  
Far in the distance Tirzah saw lights coming from around the corner.

She stood for a moment shivering slightly, trying to decide which way to go.  She glanced at the partially open
door and then slowly made her way down this new corridor.

Tirzah stopped with her belly flat against the cold bare wall and peaked around the corner.  With no one in sight,
she stepped away from the wall and headed off slowly.

Tirzah ignored the fact that she was getting colder.  She noticed that the lights came from small portholes in the
wall and this corridor apparently had no other openings or doorways, which made her a bit more nervous.  She
glanced behind herself to be sure she wasn’t being followed and when she approached another corner Tirzah
slowed her steps and crept along the wall.  Peaking around carefully in case anyone was there, she was
astonished to see that the smooth corridor ended a few feet ahead.

With no one in sight, Tirzah stepped around the corner and headed toward the end of the tiled hall.  She
stopped at the edge and looked down at the rocky surface beyond and then took a couple of tentative steps
forward.  Shivering slightly as her bare feet contacted even colder rock and dirt, Tirzah moved along slowly and
carefully due to the less frequent lighting.

She stopped suddenly and whirled around at the noise that came from behind.  She backed up against the
rock wall and looked around for an escape route.  Her choice was either go back or go forward.

Tirzah stepped away from the wall and walked a little more quickly deeper into the cavern.  She rounded
another corner and came upon a crossroads.  Three separate caverns lay in front of her and Tirzah stopped a
moment trying to decide which to take.  She chose the one on her far right for no particular reason and hurried
into the ever-darkening cave.

After a while Tirzah stopped and stepped close to the wall to rest.  Her hair had come completely out of the
braid, her clothes and skin were filthy, her feet were so cold she could barely feel them and she was having
more difficulty breathing.  The lights were now nonexistent and from here she would have to feel her way along
the rock face.

Tirzah suddenly heard her name called from behind.  She glanced back quickly into the fading light and
increased her pace.  She couldn’t see anything ahead of herself and stumbled over fallen rock several times.

She moved along steadily, each step more confident in her blackened surroundings.  She heard her name
called again and quickened her step to outrun them.  She glanced back over her shoulder for only a moment,
which threw her off balance and caused her to suddenly come into contact with a large rock.  Her feet came out
from under her and she ended up face down on the ground spitting dirt out of her mouth as she pushed herself
up.  Tirzah hadn’t been aware of how bad her hands and feet were cut until she felt the pain of grains of dirt in
each one of them.  She shifted so that she was no longer sitting on her feet but the pain persisted.

She saw a light flash around a corner from behind and then disappear as someone called her name again.  
Tirzah stood and ignored the pain, moving as fast as possible in the opposite direction.

She progressed a few more yards when she realized that the ceiling of the cave was getting lower.  Soon after
that she realized that the opposite wall was a lot closer and a few more feet after this she discovered that her
path came to an abrupt end.

Tirzah’s breathing was haggard and she turned around quickly to see a faint light bobbing toward her.  Her
bottom lip quivered and she swallowed hard as she squat down close to the rock wall.

The light got closer and closer and Tirzah stood, suddenly determined to fight her way to freedom.  She pushed
her hair out of her face, readied herself and waited.  The light stopped a few feet away, illuminating her and her
surroundings but hiding her pursuer.

“Tirzah?”  A male voice spoke.

“I won’t go back!”  She practically spit out.

The light moved down to sit on a nearby rock and Alan took a couple of steps forward.

As soon as she saw him, Tirzah’s face was a flurry of emotion.  She opened her mouth slightly but no sound

“I hope I get this right.”  He mumbled and then took a deep breath and spoke clearly.  
“Tirzah, do you…know
me?  Do you see my face?”
  To Alan, the moment took forever while he waited for Tirzah to respond.   

She narrowed her eyes and lean forward slightly.  
“Tomas?  Is that you?”  She looked around as she took a
tentative step toward Alan.  
“They told me you were dead.”  She shook her head and whispered something else
that Alan didn’t hear and stepped back against the wall.

Alan played along.  Her wounds needed attention and without proper clothing she could freeze down here.  
“Yes.  Tomas.”  He inched forward slowly.  “They were…false.  I left and found a nice place.”  He extended his
hand slowly so that he didn’t frighten her.  
“We’ll go and see…them.”

 Tirzah’s confusion returned and she began to look for an opening to escape.

“Damn!”  Alan cursed under his breath.  
“Yes…the elders.”  He tried desperately to fix his obvious verbal
“They wait in…the garden.”  He rolled his eyes at his own ignorance.  He didn’t know enough Psychon
yet to be playing this game.  
“Yes… you have…trees and flowers and…grass…” Alan glanced behind himself.  
'Where’s Maya?  I could really use her right now.'  He thought as he turned his attention back to Tirzah.

Alan inched forward again and was happy that she didn’t seem afraid of him.  
“Will you go…with me?”

“Go where?”
 Tirzah watched for any possible threat.

“To them…to the elders.”  Alan was now close enough to grab her but he only held out his hand to her.  “Go with
 He encouraged.

Slowly and cautiously Tirzah reached out and placed her hand in his.  He drew her in and put an arm around her
shoulders.  Her skin was so cold Alan quickly took off his jacket and slipped it around her.

Tirzah was putting her arms in when she noticed a light coming from around the corner.  She turned and
stepped back into Alan.  He grabbed her shoulders as she tried to turn and get past him.  
“They’re coming,
Tomas, they’ve found…”
Tirzah froze as she looked up into Alan’s face. Turned so that the light was now
directly on his face, she realized that she had been tricked.  She stepped back and tried to break free of his
grip but Alan now held tightly to her upper arms.

“No!”  She cried out and struggled even harder.

“Tirzah!”  Maya rushed up to the younger woman.  She took her from Alan and turned her around.  Taking a hold
of her face, Maya forced her to look into her eyes.  
“It’s all right now.  Everything is all right.”

“Maya?”  Tirzah put cold dirty hands on top of Maya’s.  “Are you here to help us or are you a slave now too?”  
The two women hugged each other for a moment before Maya steered them back through the catacombs.

Alan grabbed his flashlight and as he passed, Tony clasped him on the shoulder.  “Good job of tracking her.”

Alan looked down with raised eyebrows.  “It wasn’t so hard.  She left a trail that even a blind man could follow,
even without the sensors.”  He caught up with Maya and quickly whispered in her ear.  “Is she okay?”

Maya shrugged and then nodded for Alan to take the lead and light the way.  They arrived in silence at the cave
crossroads and Tirzah began to look around frantically.  She clutched at Maya when she spotted Tony behind
“Mama, where are they taking us?”

Maya looked at her sharply and her steps faltered.  She looked back at Tony but didn’t dare speak for fear of
scaring the other woman.  She turned back and wrapped an arm around Tirzah, drawing her in protectively.  
s all right, dear.  They’re taking us somewhere safe.”
 She swallowed hard.

When they finally arrived at the edge of the metal corridor, Tirzah stopped and stared at the strange man-made
“What place is this?”

“Watch your step.  Everything’s going to be all right.”
 Maya tried to ease her forward but Tirzah resisted.  “It’s all
right, dear.  We have to go through here.  It’s the only way.”

Still clinging to Maya, Tirzah looked at each one of them with terror.  “Who are they, Mama?  Where are they
taking us?”
 She tried to maneuver herself as close to, yet behind, Maya as possible.

“Maya.”  Tony whispered and indicated the corridor in front of them.

Doctor Russell and two security guards hurried toward the two Psychon women.  Tirzah spotted her and anxiety
turned to all out panic and paranoia.  She pulled free of Maya but slammed into Tony who held on tight.  Tirzah
cried out repeatedly as Helena joined Alan and they bore down on her.

Maya reached out and pulled Tirzah away from Tony, wrapping her in her arms.  “Wait!”  Her pleading voice
echoed through the caves.  “Please!  Slow down, she’s disoriented.  She’s frightened and confused.”

“Maya, we have to get her to medical.”  Helena stepped forward and reached out a hand.

Maya shook her head and backed away.  “I know, but…please Helena.”

“Maya.  She needs medical attention.”  Helena scowled and stepped forward again.

“But she’s afraid of you.”

“I’m sorry for that but we need to…”

“She’s confused.”  Maya’s voice rose.

Helena’s voice rose in pitch as well.  “I understand.  All the more reason…”

“She doesn’t know where she is!”

“Well she can’t stay down here!”

“She expects me to protect her!”

“From what?”

“From you!  From all of you!”  Maya pleaded with her friend.  “She thinks she’s a child and that I’m her mother!  
She’s frightened!  She doesn’t know you anymore; any of you!”  Maya had backed herself and Tirzah against
the wall.

Helena looked at each of the men and then took a deep breath and focused on the women.  She lowered her
voice and took a tentative step forward.  “Okay; but look at her, Maya.  She needs to have her wounds cleaned
and cared for.  We can’t do that down here.  Agreed?”

Maya looked down at the woman/child in her embrace.  She closed her eyes tightly for a moment and spoke
meekly.  “We mustn’t frighten her.”

“I have a sedative in my pocket.”  Helena pat the side of her jacket.  “We can do it the same way as the first day
she came here.  You distract her and I’ll administer the drug.”

They waited silently until Maya finally nodded her agreement.  “Get ready, but don’t move until I signal.”

“Right.”  Helena nodded.

Maya pulled Tirzah’s hair away from her face and neck. She bent slightly and whispered in the younger woman’
s ear, blocking Tirzah’s view of the others.  As she began to speak, Maya glanced up at Helena and nodded

The doctor moved in quickly bringing the sedative out and pressing it against the woman’s neck.

Tirzah’s head shot up off of Maya’s shoulder and then just as suddenly she went limp in her arms.  With Helena’
s help, she eased Tirzah down slowly using her own lap as a cushion and cradled her.

Helena motioned for Alan to help her out.  As he began to pull the young woman from her arms, Maya
whispered to her again.  
“Aku pran.”

Alan easily lifted Tirzah into his arms and quickly headed up the corridor toward the upper levels.  Tony and
Helena helped Maya, who was now crying softly, off the ground.  As they followed Alan, Helena leaned into her
friend and spoke softly.  “What did you say to her?”

Maya never looked at the doctor.  “I said, I’m sorry.”

Helena moved off to look after her patient, so Tony pulled Maya in closer and slowed their steps.

When everyone else was thru the door, Tony stopped and turned Maya to face him.  He took her face in his
hands as he whispered.  “I’m so sorry.”

Maya collapsed into him, weeping heavily.  Tony held her tightly as she cried out her pain and sorrow in the
unused corridor.

             |                |                |

“But if she wakes up in here her mind will jump back to the Norlou doctors.”  Maya paced Helena’s office, her
arms wrapped tightly to her chest.

“She should remain here where we can monitor her more easily.”  Bob Mathias argued quietly.  “If anything
should happen, we need the equipment close by.”

“What if we find a way to fool her mind into thinking that she’s safe at home?”  Helena directed her question at
Bob, but Maya was the one to pounce on it.


“In Medical Center?”  Bob queried.

Helena leaned forward and rested her arms on the desk.  “Maya says that her mind is that of her childhood.  I
propose that we put her in the observation room and use room dividers to hide the monitors and windows.  
Then we could decorate it appropriately to a Psychon’s room.”  She motioned to Maya.

Maya moved forward quickly and leaned her hands on the desk.  “That might work.  Could we do that?”

Bob rubbed his chin and nodded.  “Are you suggesting we use hypnotherapy to help her work out her issues
sequentially as they happened?”

Helena nodded and looked at Maya for approval.  “We make her believe she’s home, or at the least in a safe
place.  Convince her that it’s in her own best interest to use this therapy for…her health, let’s say.”

Maya bit her bottom lip.  “We can’t let her wake up until the room is completed or she’ll never believe any of it.”

“That’s not a problem.”  Helena stood and started to lead her friend out.  “Ed will keep her sedated until we
have everything set up and move her.  Go and collect a few things that we can use to make a believable room.”  
They walked past Tirzah’s bed.  “We’ll have everything set up by the time you return.”  

Maya stopped at the door and took one last look at Tirzah’s limp body being cleaned and fused over by Dr.
Spencer and two nurses.  “I won’t be long.”  She turned quickly and strode off down the hall.

             |                |                |

Maya returned with Alan in tow, both of them had their arms loaded with possessions.  “This is perfect!”  Maya
entered between the dividers and placed her things on the bed.

“Ed has had to re-sedate her once already, so we’d better get thing set up.”  Helena took a couple of things
from Alan.

“Just tell us where you want them.”  Alan gestured to Maya.

“Set everything on the bed.”  Maya put her things down and began sorting out items.  “Hang the pictures and set
her trinkets…around.”  She grabbed the picture of her brother and set it on the little side table and as the others
placed the items, Maya spread a handmade quilt that she’d borrowed from Shannen, Tirzah’s friend and co-
worker.  She stepped back for a final inspection as the others finished.  “I think we’re ready.”  Maya said flatly.

Helena nodded.  “Bob, would you help me bring Tirzah in?”

“I’ll do it.”   Alan stepped around the two doctors.  He stood next to the examination table for a moment, staring
at the young Psychon.  The nurses had put clean blue pajamas on her and he noticed that her cuts were already
starting to heal.  Alan gently scooped her up off of the table and cradled her against his chest as he carried her
back into the observation room.

He lay her down carefully on the bed and Maya and Helena drew the sheet and quilt over her.

Helena gestured to the men and then touched Maya’s arm.  “We’ll wait on the other side of the partitions.  She
should only see a Psychon face when she wakes.  It’ll be less traumatic.  Alan, dim the lights, please.”

Maya watched them file out before she turned her attention back to Tirzah.  The observation bed had one end
higher than the other so Tirzah was sitting up more than lying down.  She stared at the young woman for quite
some time before she decided to metamorph.

Maya picked up the picture of her brother and his wife Tona.  She stared at it a moment, then looked down at
Tirzah.  Looking back and forth, Maya finally changed into the woman she hoped looked as much like Tirzah’s
mother as possible.

The true test would soon happen as Tirzah began to stir and wake from her sedated sleep.  Maya stood over
her, barely breathing, waiting and hoping her deception would work.

Tirzah took a few deep breaths before her eyelids attempted to open.  It took several moments before they
would stay open and even then her eyes refused to focus, so she kept blinking.  She looked around trying to
force them to work.  As her eyes fell on Maya, she blinked harder trying more desperately to focus on the figure
before her.

“Who…?”  Tirzah squeaked out.  She licked her lips and cleared her throat, closing her eyes tightly again.

This time as she opened them, her eyes focused on Maya.  
“Mother!”  Tirzah nearly jumped out of bed to reach
“Are we safe?”

“Yes, we’re safe here.”
 Maya/Partyka pushed her back, down onto the bed.  “Stay quiet.”

Tirzah tried to sit up again.  “Are they gone?  Is everyone all right?”

Maya/Partyka glanced behind herself and pursed her lips.  “Yes.  Everyone is all right.  Just relax and rest.”

Tirzah looked around herself.  Her vision was clearing enough that, even in the dim light, she knew that things
weren’t quite right.  
“Where are we, Mother?”

“We’re safe.”
 Maya/Partyka pet Tirzah’s head to comfort her.  Her own mother had done that and it had always
made Maya feel safe and protected.  
“We’re amongst friends.”

“But where are we?”
 Tirzah insisted.

Maya took a deep breath and rested her hand on the woman’s shoulder.
 “You need to trust me; now more than

“I trust you, Mother.”
 Tirzah smiled slightly.  “I’m just confused…and a little scared.”

“That’s alright.”
 Maya took another deep breath before she continued.  “I need you to help me, Tirzah.”

“Help with what?”

Maya faltered a little but smiled at Tirzah.  “You’ve been ill.  We want to help you to get better.”

 Tirzah interrupted.

“Yes, all of us.”  Maya never wavered.  “What’s the last thing that you remember?”

“We…we were being taken into the forest.”
 Tirzah worked hard to recollect.   “Tomas and I managed to get
free and we ran.  They caught us, but we kicked and scratched.  Then we…then we…”

“What happened next?”
 Maya spoke patiently.

Tirzah looked up at her, confused.  
“I woke up here.”  She looked around herself again.  “Where are we?”

“We’re safe, Tirzah.”
 Maya moved in closer and stroked the younger woman’s hair.  “Tirzah.  There’s a woman
here that can help you get better.  She’ll help you be well again.  Can I bring her in?”

She looked up at Maya, nervously.  “Who is she?  Is she Psychon?”

 Maya/Partyka interjected quickly.  “She’s an Earthling.  But she helped us to escape and brought us to

“What’s an Earthling?”
 Tirzah began to fidget and pull at the quilt.

“She looks a little different and she doesn’t speak our language, but she’s a good woman; a healer; who can
help you get well.  Can I bring her in?”

Tirzah nodded slowly.  She felt that if her mother trusted this woman, then she would try to as well.

Maya walked to one of the side panels.  
“Don’t be frightened, she wants to help you.”  “Helena.”

The doctor entered slowly and stood next to Maya.

Tirzah stared at her, confused.  She thought that she looked familiar, but she couldn’t place the face.

“Tirzah, this is Helena.”

Tirzah looked up at Maya as her confusion grew.  The name seemed familiar too, but she didn’t know why.  She
opened her mouth, but Maya spoke first.

“You’ve been ill and she’s here to help you recover.  She’s a healer.”  Maya turned to Helena and spoke
quickly.  “She’s a little frightened, so move slowly.  What do we do first?”

“What are you saying to her?”  Tirzah became a little more agitated.  “How do you know her language?”  She
pulled her knees up and the quilt closer to her chin.  
“Who is she?”

Maya turned back to her quickly.  “Helena’s a friend.  My father taught me many different languages; hers is just
one of them.”
 Maya leaned into the edge of the bed and took Tirzah’s hand.  “She can’t understand us,
remember?  I was asking what I could do to help.  Please try and relax.  We all care about you and we want you
to get better.”

Helena moved to the end of the examination table and picked up a small box with a glass front.  Tirzah watched
her carefully as she placed it on a table and wheeled it slowly towards her.  She looked at Maya, and then
spoke to Tirzah.  Helena flipped a tiny switch on the back of the box and a soft light flashed at regular intervals.  
“Look at the light Tirzah and try to think of calm, silent skies.”  Maya/Partyka translated as she continued.

“Don’t think of anything else.  Relax.  Calm, silent skies.  Allow your body and mind to rest.”

Knowing that Tirzah would never trust a man, Bob Mathias had given Helena a refresher course in
hypnotherapy.  Both doctors now waited to see if it would work.  “Just relax.  Focus on the sky.”

Slowly, very slowly, Tirzah’s eyes drooped and closed.  Maya continued to translate Helena’s quiet words.  
“Continue to relax.  Remember that you are safe, no matter what happens, you’re safe.”  Helena moved closer,
along the side of the bed.  “Can you hear me, Tirzah?”

Tirzah nodded slowly.  

“Can you speak to me in my language?”

“Yes.”  Tirzah scowled momentarily.  “But we mustn’t get caught.  It’s forbidden to speak anything but Norlou.”

Helena smiled.  “We’re safe here.  This is a place where no Norlou can climb to.”  This seemed to pacify the
young woman and Helena continued.  “Tirzah, I want you to tell me a story.  Remember that you are not part of
the story, only the storyteller; alright?”  Tirzah nodded and Helena moved around the bed quickly and whispered
into Maya’s ear.  Maya whispered her reply and Helena moved back to the other side of the bed.  She chose
her words carefully.  “Tell me the story of the last time Tirzah and the other children saw their parents in the
Psychon village.”

Tirzah scowled again.  “That is not a good story.”

“I know.”  Helena said hurriedly.  “But tell it to me anyway.”

Tirzah took a small, almost labored breath.  “We were just playing that day.”

“You’re just the storyteller, Tirzah.  They were playing that day…go on.”  Helena prompted.

“They like the Hide the Object game best.”  Tirzah smiled.  “Jessa’s good at that game.  Kara likes him, but she
told Tirzah never to tell.”  She paused a moment and then spoke almost in a whisper.  “And I never did.”

“What happened to them next?”  Helena asked, to bring her focus back to the story.

Tirzah’s scowl returned.  “The sentries are back early.  They’re shouting.”

“What are they saying?”  Helena prompted.

“Children…they’re coming…hide…weapons…”  Tirzah shook her head slowly.  “Too much noise.  Everyone’s
yelling.  Mothers and Fathers pull and push the children to the hill.  ‘Run up the hill…don’t come down.’  So much
noise.”  Tirzah held the quilt a little tighter.  “It’s quieter now.  A strange quiet.”  She inhaled sharply and
tightened her grip on the quilt.

“What do you see?”  Helena spoke as calmly as possible.

“Norlou.”  Tirzah whispered.  “They’ve found the children.  They’re making them go back.  I don't like this story.”

“Back to the Psychon village?”

“Yes.  Everyone is lined up.”  Again her voice dropped to a whisper.  “The Norlou have captured them.  Psychon’
s are on the ground.  Oh!  There’s blood!”  Tirzah turned her head away from Helena.

“Don’t look at it.”  Helena spoke soothingly.  “Look at the children.  Concentrate on Tirzah and Jessa.  Alright?”

Tirzah nodded and relaxed a little.  “The big Norlou is saying something, but I don’t understand.”

“You’re the storyteller, Tirzah.  You speak Norlou, remember?”

Tirzah appeared to concentrate harder.  “We will always beat you, because we are stronger.  You can chose
now to fight and die, or just stand there like the puny worthless creatures you are and die.  He’s telling his men
to take the children into the wooded area.  Some of the people try and stop them but the Norlou beat them
down.”  Tirzah’s breathing increased slightly and she began to get agitated.

Helena stepped a little closer.  “You’re safe.  What do you see?”

Tirzah let out a small whine.  “Tirzah’s mother and father don’t move.  They don’t try like some of the others.”

Maya’s voice was soft when she spoke.  “Perhaps they didn’t want their daughter’s last memory of them to be
too painful.”

Helena looked up at her friend and wondered if she was thinking of the way she had lost her own father.

“Why don’t they move or help?  Why don’t they try and stop them?”  Tirzah’s small voice brought the Doctor’s
mind back to her patient.

“Where are the children now?”

Tirzah inhaled deeply.  “They’re going deeper into the wooded area.  They’re scared.  Geeta’s crying and Kylie’
s so small.  The Norlou keep pushing them!”  Tirzah’s voice rose a little higher.  “They push the children too hard
and a couple of them fall down.  In the confusion, Tomas and Tirzah escape and run back to the village.  They’re
faster than the Norlou.”  Tirzah began kneading the quilt with her fingers.  A small sob was in her voice when
she continued.  “There are so many Psychons on the ground.  The Norlou are putting some of them on the work

Helena interrupted her.  “Where’s Tirzah’s mother and father?”

“I can’t see them.  Two Norlou are poking sticks at a large creature with big sharp claws.”  Tirzah pointed in the
air as her excitement grew.  “There!  There’s her father coming out from behind the creature!  The Norlou poke
at him too.  Oh, he’s hurt!  The creature is loud and it’s knocked down the two Norlou, but more come and poke
sticks at it.  They’re backing it into Tirzah’s house.  It’s getting smaller; I think it’s hurt.  It’s losing all its fur.  
Stop!  Stop!  Mother!”  Tirzah sat up straight and her eyes flew open.  
“Filthy Norlou!  Let me go!”  Tirzah
struggled as the other two women took a hold of her arms.

Helena reached into her pocket for a sedative until Tirzah suddenly stopped struggling.  The doctor looked up
into eyes that didn’t see.  “What is it, Tirzah?”

“They have them.  They will never see their mothers or fathers again.”  They eased the younger woman back
down onto the bed.

“That’s good, Tirzah.  I want you to relax and sleep now.  Sleep with no dreams, and when you wake up you will
remember what happened to you that day.  Just sleep now.”  Helena motioned Maya, who had already
transformed back, to leave the girl and follow her out.

Everyone moved quietly out of the room.  Helena removed her comlock from her belt and shut the door.  She
turned to face the others and spoke to Bob first.  “She’s sleeping now.  What do you think she’ll do when she
wakes up?

“Did you have to sedate her?”

“No.  She relaxed on her own and fell asleep when I told her to.”  Helena exhaled softly and replaced her
comlock.  “What should we expect next?”

Dr. Mathias placed his hands on his hips.  “For the most part, that will depend on how her mind processes this
new information.”

A pained look crossed Maya’s face.  “What if she doesn’t?  What if she continues to block it out?”  She wrung
her hands nervously.

Bob shook his head.  “That would be the worst case scenario.  I doubt that would be the result.”

Maya looked back at him steadily with raised eyebrows.  “So what do we do if that does happen?”

Dr. Mathias looked down at the floor and then slowly around the small group as he spoke.  “Then our only
course would be to snap her back to reality via a drug induced session.  You force the patient to break down
any and all barriers and deal with the issues they have locked up inside themselves.”

Blank stares met this seemingly harsh explanation.  Bob looked back at Maya.  “Hopefully it won’t be too bad
that we would have to resort to that method.”  In the silence, he cleared his throat and took a nervous step
back.  He directed his next comment to Helena.  “I’ll be in my office if you need anything.  Please, let me know
when she wakes up.”  

As soon as he left the Medical Center, Maya walked back toward the Observation Room.  “I’m going to sit with

Alan and Helena watched her take a chair and walk back behind the panels.  Alan’s voice almost made Helena
jump.  “I have to get back on duty.  Please let me know when she wakes.”  Helena nodded and smiled.  He was
about to walk away when he suddenly turned back.  “Do you want anything or are you…?”

Helena shook her head and put one hand up to stop him.  “I’m fine.  I have a few things to check on before
Tirzah wakes up.”

Alan gave her a tight lipped smile, a meek wave, and then left.

John Koenig greeted the pilot as they passed and headed straight for the Doctor.  “How is she?”

“It’s too soon to tell yet.”  Helena headed for her office.  Koenig followed and, as soon as the door closed, she
turned to him and cried in his arms.

             |                |                |

Alan Carter and Dr. Bob Mathias stood on the outside of the room dividers.  They had listened for almost an
hour while Tirzah cried.

As soon as she had woke up the young woman began screaming for her mother and father.  Helena and Maya
had spent the past 2 hours talking her through her trauma.  She was calmer now and seemed to be herself.  
The only events she couldn’t seem to remember now were the last day that she had hurt Alan and run off into
the catacombs.

Helena took a deep breath and walked to the foot of the bed.  “Tirzah, I think it’s important that we continue this
therapy.  You’ve made tremendous progress already, but I believe that there’s a lot more that you need to deal

“And that’s important?”  Tirzah asked timidly.

Helena smiled back at her.  “Yes.  If you don’t continue I’d be afraid that you would, at sometime, have another
incident that would cause a traumatic breakdown like this one.”

Tirzah looked up at Maya.  “What do you think?”

“I think that you should continue with this therapy until you’re well again.”  Maya said solemnly.

Tirzah nodded.  “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”

“We know that.”  Helena interjected.

Tirzah wiped her tears away.  “If you both think that this will help…then I’ll do it.”  She looked up at Helena.  “How
do we start?”

Helena placed her hand on top of the small box at the foot of the bed.  “I’m going to turn on this light and you just
relax and listen to the sound of my voice.

“Will it hurt?”  Tirzah spoke up quickly.

“No.  It’s completely painless.”  Helena turned on the light.  “I promise.”  The doctor walked back toward the
head of the bed, her voice soft and soothing.

Once again, Tirzah’s eyes eventually closed.  Helena had the young Psychon tell her of the Norlou village.

Tirzah explained, again as the storyteller, about the day they arrived.  She described the buildings and people
in detail.  The description was much sparser than what Maya remembered.

Helena jumped her ahead to the events of her first experience in the Experimental Hut.

Tirzah’s breathing became a little choppier.  “They go in by two’s.  Kara and Tirzah get to go together.  They
stay close to each other and hold hands.  It smells funny.”  Tirzah paused and took a shuttering breath.  “They
have very sharp knives and tables with big straps on them.  They pick up the girls and put them up on the
tables.”  Tirzah began shaking her head slowly.  “They’re so scared.  One of the Norlou is playing with Kara’s
auburn hair as they’re strapped down.  He says that he wants her if she lives.  Tirzah struggles as much as she
can, but it’s hard to move under the bark and vines holding her down.”

Tirzah’s hands kneaded the quilt and her voice turned to a whisper.  “Two big Norlou come toward them with
knives.  They’re so scared they can’t move!  Kara starts screaming but Tirzah can’t see why.”  Tirzah took a
quick deep breath and screamed.  “Oh!  That hurts!  Stop!  
Nama!  Mater!  Wae ni niatsal aku!”

“Tirzah!”  Helena yelled calmly.  Both the Doctor and Maya stood close as another scream echoed around the
room.  “Tirzah, wake up.  You’re safe.”

The young woman screamed again.

On the other side of the divider, Dr. Mathias had to restrain Alan from going to the young woman and remind
him that what was happening, was all in her head.

“Tirzah!”  Helena shook her.

Tirzah’s eyes flew open and she gasped for breath.  She looked frantically around the room and clawed at
Maya’s arm.  “Help me!  Don’t let them hurt me!”

Helena grabbed her shoulders and pulled her back down onto the bed.  “You’re safe, Tirzah.  There are no
Norlou here.”

Tirzah lay back down, but kept a firm hold on Maya’s arm.

Helena wiped the young Psychon’s face with a cloth.  “See, there’s nothing to fear.  You’re safe here.”  She
pulled the quilt up under Tirzah’s chin.   “I want you to rest now.  Sleep if you want, but relax and we’ll do some
more later.”

Helena stepped away from the bed and motioned Maya to follow, but Maya shook her head.  “I’ll sit here with
Tirzah for awhile.”  She quickly wiped a tear from her face.  “She might need me.”

“Alright.” Helena nodded and left.

Maya waited until she heard the Observation Room door close before she spoke.  “No one will hurt you here,
Tirzah.”  She gently pulled the young woman’s hands from her arm and stroked her head slowly.  “No one will
ever hurt you again.”  Tirzah eventually drifted off to sleep.

             |                |                |

The Doctors had given Tirzah a day to rest and recuperate from her sessions.  Now, once again, Maya and
Helena stood next to the bed.

“I want you to tell the story of the day Tirzah became the leader’s personal slave.”  Helena folded her hands
across her stomach.

The young woman started slowly; her voice calm and steady.  “Sometimes they bring them out of their pen to
watch the older ones fight with the Norlou soldiers.  They have to train to hunt and kill so they practice on the
Psychons.  Tomas fights first, but he loses and they put him in the box.”

Tirzah paused.  “It’s Tirzah’s turn.”  The young woman seemed hardly to breathe.  “She’s ready.  She knows
how to do this; she’s been fighting them for so long.”  Tirzah flinched from invisible blows.  “He missed her.  If
she could just get to the stick on the ground she’d have a weapon and then…”  She flinched again.  “Almost
there.  She’s seen this Norlou fall before.  She knows just where to strike.”  Tirzah held her breath and bit her
bottom lip.  “Got it!  She’s got it!”  A broad smile crossed her face.  “He’s down.  I knew it wouldn’t take long.”

There was a long pause and her face became serious.  “Tirzah has to fight another Norlou.  This one’s smaller
but he manages to steal the stick from her.”

She was about to continue when Helena decided to push the story along.  “Does Tirzah win over this man too?”

After a brief pause; Tirzah smiled.  “Yes.  The leader is very angry; he sends another to take the man’s place.”

Helena paced the small area.  “How many men did she beat that day?”

Tirzah scowled.  “Four Norlou are down before Tirzah loses.”

“What happened the last time; with the last man?”  Helena asked.

The scowl never left the young woman’s face.  “The leader stepped into the circle.   Everyone backs up and
makes the circle bigger.  Tirzah’s a little scared.  The stick is gone and he’s bigger than any of the younger
men…and she’s tired.”  She squirmed a little and kneaded the quilt with her hands.

“And does he win the fight?”  Helena stopped at the foot of the bed.

Tirzah’s voice was frightened and gravely.  She gripped the quilt tightly.  “He always wins.”

“What happened next?”  Helena prompted quietly.

Tirzah swallowed hard.  “He’s declared that no one shall harm Tirzah any more without his permission.  She
belongs to him now.”  She whined slightly as she continued.  “Tirzah’s having trouble getting up.  She can’t see
out of one eye and her leg hurts.”  She took a deep breath.  “The leader picks her up from the ground by her
waist and carries her to the other side of the village.  She’s too weak and tired to resist.”  Tirzah paused a

“The leader’s hut is no bigger than the one she shares with the other Psychon women.  He drops her on the
skins he has for a bed.  He takes a drink of something that Tirzah can smell from across the room.  When he
comes back, he kneels down next to her and picks her up by her hair.   He kisses her hard and the taste of his
drink is too much for her stomach.”  Tirzah took a deep breath and swallowed hard.  “She tries to fight back but
he lets go and she falls backward against a hard surface.  Now her head hurts and there’s a buzzing sound.”  

Tirzah began to sob softly and she slowly turned and drew her knees up.  “He’s touching her all over.  His hands
are rough and go up under her clothing.  She’s trying to make him stop but he just keeps laughing at her.”  
Tirzah pulled the quilt down tight around herself.  “He tears the cloth around the laces and strips her dress off.”  
Her voice began to rise in pitch and her breathing was heavier.  “He lays on top of her so she can’t breathe.  He
holds down her hands so that she can’t scratch or hit him and then moves between her legs!  She looks up into
his eyes; they hold evil and disgusting images.  He keeps touching her, even as he enters her body!  She’s
screaming!  She closes her eyes from the pain!  It hurts!  Stop!  Make him stop!”  Tirzah cried, tucking her
knees even tighter into her chest.

“It’s okay Tirzah.  You’re safe now.”  Helena stood beside her, speaking gently.  “He can’t hurt you anymore.  
Take a deep breath.  Relax.”  Helena handed Maya a cloth to wipe Tirzah’s face and then took two more for
each of them.  “You’re safe here and you’ll wake up safe and sound.”  The Doctor continued.

Tears rolled down her face.   Tirzah brought her knees up to her chin and buried her face in the quilt.  It was
another 20 minutes before her sobbing stopped.

             |                |                |

“May I come in?”  Alan peeked his head around the partition.

“Alan.”  Tirzah sat up a little straighter.  “Yes, of course.”  She smiled and straightened her blue pajamas.

Alan stepped back out of view and when he reappeared, he was pushing a small cart.  “A little sustenance for
the two loveliest ladies on Alpha.”

“Alan.”  Maya chided.

Tirzah sat up quickly and tucked up her feet.  “Oh, thank you, Alan.”  She quickly twisted her hair back to keep it
out of her face.  “I’m so hungry.”

Maya looked up at her.  “Why didn’t you say something earlier?  I would have gone to get you something.”

“Because then you would have left.”  Tirzah leaned forward and looked at the tantalizing variety.  Alan handed
her a plate and the young woman proceeded to pile food upon it.

“Slow down.  It’s been a couple of days since you’ve really eaten.”  Maya warned.

“I know!”  Tirzah grabbed a cassisua berry and held it out to Alan.  “Thank you…but they’re not ready.”

Alan took the berry from her and turned it between his fingers.  “I thought you said they were purple when ripe?”

Tirzah stuffed the food she was eating into her cheek and smiled.  “No, I said

“I don’t know
turkwil.”  He looked at Maya for help.

“It should be a bright purple.  These are too dark.”  Maya took the berry from him and placed it back in the
bowl.  “It was a nice thought, Alan.”

Tirzah suddenly looked up at him seriously.  “That wasn’t the last of them, was it?”

“No.”  Alan sat down at the foot of the bed.  “The little bugger’s covered in them.  That new bush you planted just
before…I just brought some to cheer you up.”

Tirzah blushed slightly and looked down at her plate.  “Thank you.  It was a nice thought.”  She looked up at
Maya.  “When will I go back to my room?”

“That will be decided by Helena and Dr. Mathias.  They wanted you here so that they could keep an eye on you.”

“Oh.”  Tirzah lowered her head despondently.  “I guess that’s best, so that I don’t hurt anyone else.”  She looked
up at Alan.  “Are you still injured?”

“Nah.”  Alan lied easily.  “You barely touched me.”

Maya turned her head to hide her smile.

“But they said…”

“I barely noticed it.”  Alan interrupted.

Maya stood up and cleared her throat.  “I’m going to go talk to Helena for a moment.  Would you mind staying
with Tirzah until I return?

“Not at all.”  Alan stood.  “It would be my pleasure.”  He stared directly into Tirzah’s eyes.

As Maya left, Alan sat down in the chair.  There was a moments silence before he spoke again.  “Are you
feeling better?’

Tirzah nodded.  She swallowed her food and turned herself to face him.  “It’s been difficult, but I’m not dreaming
badly anymore.”

Alan smiled.  “You have nice dreams now?”

“Yes. Mostly about my village and my…parents.”  Tirzah looked wistfully down at her plate.  "I miss them still.  I
wish…”  Her voice trailed off.

Alan jumped up, carefully took the plate from her and set it on the cart before he turned back and took her
hands.  “They will always be alive in you as long as you remember them.”

Tirzah smiled slightly.  “I know.”  She took a deep breath.  “Alan.  Do you remember the time you told me that I
didn’t owe you anything?”


“I do owe you.”  She quickly put her fingers to his lips as he started to protest.  “Maya’s told me everything that
happened that day.  You never left me.  You risked your health to find me and care for me after everything I did
to you.  I honor that.”  Tirzah crept forward and looked into his eyes.  “Maya was right.  You are not like other

“A lot of other people care about you.  We’ve all worked together to help you through this.”  Alan ran a finger
across her cheek.

“I know, but you above all others, had a reason to leave me alone.  Instead, you followed me into the caves.  You
had just been badly injured and it could have gotten worse because of me.”  She placed her hand gently on his
arm.  “Maya tells me that Earthlings don’t heal as fast as we do.  So, I honor you and I owe you for all of your

Alan brushed his hand across her cheek, lacing his fingers in her hair.  “Silly sheila.”  He said tenderly.  “You
don’t owe anyone.  You are a special woman and we are more than happy to help; with no expectation of

Tirzah rose up onto her knees.  “But, I will!  I’ll work hard to repay everyone’s kindness to me and my…”

Alan grabbed her face in both of his hands.  “Sometimes you talk too much.”  He pulled her forward and kissed
her fully and deeply.

Tirzah’s hands slipped slowly around his shoulders and tightened around his neck.  Desire filled her as their
kiss became more passionate.  She slipped one hand down his chest and wrapped it around his waist to pull
him closer.

Still holding her face, Alan abruptly pulled away from her.  “Wait.  Why are you kissing me?”

Tirzah’s glazed and confused eyes looked into his.  “You kissed me.”

“Yes, but I want to know what you’re feeling.  Why are you kissing me?”

“I like your kisses.”  A smile crept across the Psychon’s face.  “I want you to always kiss me.”

Alan smiled back.  “That’s better.”  He pulled her back into himself.

After a few more moments, Alan slowly pulled away from their embrace.  “I should go.”

“Why?”  Tirzah grasped his hands as he took a step away from the bed.

        “The most important reason is because you are still not well.  And besides, we’re still in Medical Center
and if we get caught kissing in here…”  Alan drew one finger across his throat as he stepped toward her again
and placed a soft kiss on her lips.  “I’ll come back and visit again soon.”

Tirzah nodded and smiled.  As soon as he had left she flopped back onto the bed and hugged herself.

Maya returned a moment later and stood at the end of the bed.  “Did you and Alan have a nice talk?”

Tirzah nodded slowly.  
“You were right…he’s not like other men.”

                     |                |                |

Tirzah arrived at the door of the workout room breathlessly excited.  It had been nearly 8 weeks since the
incident in the catacombs and she was excited to be back into her old routine.

Tirzah smoothed her white tank top and pulled a stray hair behind her ear before anxiously hitting the button that
opened the door.  

Sadness crossed her face at seeing the room empty.  She’d left several messages for Alan to meet her here
today, since she hadn’t seen him for over a week, and had double checked their work schedules to make sure
that they both had the free time.  Slowly she crossed the threshold and disappointment settled on her heavily.

Just as the door closed, Tirzah was tackled from behind and picked up off the floor.  She was just as suddenly
thrown upward and turned at the same time so that she landed squarely in Alan Carter’s arms.

He smiled broadly.  “Welcome back, my little sheila!”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him hard and long as she slid slowly down his body until her
feet were on the floor.  Tirzah pulled back from the kiss to scold him.  “You know that I don’t like that word.”

He kissed different areas of her face as he spoke.  “You’re right.  I’m terribly…..sorry.  I swear…..it’ll never
happen again.”  He kissed her lightly on the lips and tried to deepen it but Tirzah pulled back.

“Apology will be accepted depending on who wins.”  She smiled.

Alan loosened his grip to think about it.  He nodded once as he let her go and shook her hand to seal the deal.

Tirzah grabbed her towel off the floor and threw it on the bench.  As she turned, Alan was already in an attack
stance.  She stifled a giggle.  “I see you’re ready to wrestle.”  She took her stance.

Alan smiled and motioned for her to make the first move.  “Teig.”

Tirzah laughed aloud and lunged toward her opponent.

Revised  April 2018
The End