Lovers and Other Strangers

By SouthernSlider

Originally posted at the JOC Fanatics Board

CHAPTER ONE

Quinn slowly opened his eyes, raised his head slightly and found himself in a very large room with a multitude of other bodies. They were all on steel slabs with a sheet covering the lower half of their anatomy. No one else stirred. They were all lined up, row after row, seemingly in a catatonic state. "Where am I?" Quinn wondered, "and where are the others?" He raised up to see if there was any sign of Colin and Remmy, assuming Maggie would not be here since all the bodies he could see were male. No Colin or Remmy in the immediate vicinity. Surely they were here somewhere.

As Quinn looked around desperately, he noticed a large rectangular window high up the opposite wall from him. He could vaguely make out two forms in the window but the background of the window was rather dark, and there was no way to gather any details about the forms. God, he hoped they were human!

As Quinn concentrated on the window, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a movement to his left. One of the other bodies began to stir. Then another. Slowly, they all began to awake and look around to see where they were. Quinn started to speak to the guy to his left, but when he opened his mouth nothing came out. No sound at all. "Whatís wrong with me?!", he screamed silently. As his panicked eyes met the other guyís, he saw him move his lips but heard no sound. As Quinn looked around to the others, he saw all of them just as he was - silent, frightened prisoners of someone in the dark window.

 

Starfire Christina looked down at row upon row of male bodies. Finally, a new shipment of hard, warm-blooded men. She had been promoted from Starshine to Starfire three months ago, but with the equipment down and the sliding unit unable to return with new blood until yesterday, she had to delay choosing her two companions until today. A Starfire without her companions - unthinkable! But this shipment was outstanding and it seemed worth the wait. She had already spotted the two she wanted. Both tall, lean and hard, blue-eyed, sandy brown hair - brothers. "How delightful," she thought. "Brothers to satisfy me. A matched set of bookends and I am the book."

"Starfire Christina, have you made your choices?" her friend and colleague asked.

"Yes, Starfire, Alana, I have. Numbers 10 and 79. This has been a long time coming and I am anxious to have them delivered to my quarters"

Starfire Alana looked at her records to the numbers her friend had called out. She looked up at Starfire Christina with a question in her eyes. "You have chosen two of the invaders. Do you think this is wise? Since they werenít chosen by our sliding unit we donít know their background. I admit they are very easy on the eyes, but they could cause you trouble."

"I am willing to take the chance. I have confidence in my newly acquired Starfire skills that I can reprogram their minds with a minimum of effort. Given time, my companions will be at the top of their elite group. All Starfires will be envious of every facet of my companions." Starfire Christina gloats.

Starfire Alana grins. "With that determined look in your eye, I believe you will achieve your desires with these two. Iíll have Stars Marta and Regala bring them around as soon as we have them scanned and banded."

"Thanks, push them through as fast as possible. Iíve waited long enough for this and I am more than ready for these two." Starfire Christina replied. "Give me three days before you check my progress."

"Will do. Good luck." And with that, Starfire Christina left her friend to prepare for the fine specimens of manhood soon to grace her life.

CHAPTER TWO

As Quinn desperately tried to make his vocal cords work, a door opened behind him. He turned and saw two very beautiful women. Tall and willowy, one with brown, one with blonde hair. They were coming his way. He sat up, intent on making words come from his lips, to ask them where he was, how he got there, and where his companions were. The blonde veered to his left, the brunette stopped beside his steel bed. Words stuck in his throat. She put her fingertips gently on his right temple, looked straight into his eyes and said, "You are Quinn Mallory." It was a statement, not a question.

"How did she know?" thought Quinn, just as she clasped a red metal band around his left wrist. Before he could question her with a look, the blonde walked up with Colin in tow. Quinn breathed a sigh of relief at his presence, noticing that Colin also had a red band on his wrist.

"I have #79. His name is Colin Mallory. Is that the other one?" said the blonde.

"Yes, #10. He is Quinn Mallory." the brunette replied. "Hmmmm, brothers."

The blonde grinned as she gave the brothers the once-over. "Boy, Starfire Christina certainly knows how to pick Ďem. I guess we had better hurry with this delivery. I know if they were mine, I would want them home ASAP."

"Star Marta, do you think we will ever achieve Starfire status so we can do more than just deliver these fine specimens?" Star Regala queried.

"Well, I know Iím certainly going to start putting in some extra effort if these two are any indication as to what I could own. Címon. Letís get them home to Mama." Star Marta answered as they guided Quinn and Colin towards the door.

Quinn and Colin had a myriad of thoughts going through their heads, but could not express them. The women put their hands on matching red bands surrounding their own wrists and the boys were compelled to follow them. They seemed to have no control of their bodies. The two found themselves following blindly out the door of the huge room into bright sunshine of a beautiful day. The sky was blue without a cloud around. Tall cylindrical buildings of different heights formed the skyline. The four walked along a sidewalk that criss-crossed with others to different buildings.

After a few minutes of walking, Quinn noticed a tall, dark-skinned man following another beautiful woman. "Remmy!", he screamed in his mind, but alas, no sound. Colin also noticed Remmy but there was no way to get his attention. Remmy never saw them as he followed the woman into one of the buildings. "At least heís alive and appears to be all right." Quinn thought. "The Regency. Iíll remember the name of the building he went into and hopefully be able to get to him before too long. My God! The timer! Where is it? How long till we slide? I never looked when we slid in. Wait, I donít even remember sliding into here. I canít remember anything after entering the vortex from Bikini World. What the hell have we gotten into and how do we ever break out of this Ďspellí or whatever it is, to get control of ourselves again? And whereís Maggie? Hopefully sheís not in our predicament and can help us eventually; I just pray sheís not too late."

While Quinn was lost in thought, the foursome had arrived at their destination, The Grand. The doors opened after one of the women inserted a red card. They entered a posh lobby area with plush carpets beautiful sofas and chairs, expensive-looking accessories all around and a giant waterfall into a pool below, surrounded with greenery. It looked like paradise. They saw no other people as they headed for elevators hidden behind the waterfall area. As they entered the elevator, one of the women pushed a button for the 189th floor. "God, weíre going into space." thought Quinn, "I hope they provide oxygen masks." The elevator zipped upward and stopped in a matter of seconds. The doors opened and there stood the most beautiful woman Quinn had ever seen. Both Quinn and Colin just stood there mesmerized by the sight before them.

CHAPTER THREE

The red card insertion had signalled Starfire Christina that her companions had arrived and were on their way up. She was excited and nervous at the same time, her Starfire demeanour deserting her for a moment. "Get a hold of yourself, Christina. Theyíre just men, not your equals. They are here to serve you and to please you; you are the dominant creature here." She chided herself for slightly slipping back into other earthly ways. All of her Starfire training seemed to be waning. The Grand Starfire would be disappointed if she could see her now.

 

Christina had been brought to this earth because of what she had seen. A multitude of women fell out of a hole that had opened up in the sky. She was stunned. One of the women explained to her that they had come from a parallel earth to hunt men to take back with them. Their earth had no male population. Every last one had been captured and taken from there twenty years ago. They had no explanation why or where they went. The women remaining perfected sliding and mind control techniques and decided to control their own world. Men would never dominate them again. As the other women went on to capture their males, the one stayed with Christina and explained the many facets of her world. Christina would have to come with them. They couldnít risk her telling what she had seen. There was not an argument about it. Christina was alone and was tired of being in a male-dominated world. The adventure and the possibilities seemed very intriguing.

After arriving at Earth Prime (the women had a numbering system for all the worlds they had visited and they called their home Earth Prime), Christina was put in a training program and rose quickly in the ranks; first a Star, then a Starshine, and finally a Starfire. She loved it and was a quick study. At the swearing-in ceremony, the Grand Starfire had told her she was the only one to have risen to Starfire in such a short time. She had surpassed many of the established Starfires in their skills. The Grand Starfire was pleased and knew that Christina would someday take her place.

 

Christina shook her head and gathered her thoughts. She was a Starfire; she had worked extremely hard to become one. Her reward was on its way and she would not jeopardize her new life. She lifted her head, threw her shoulders back and commanded her superior air to come forth. The doors opened, and she let out an audible gasp. There they stood, in nothing more than their thigh-length jockey shorts, leaving nothing to the imagination. They were even more gorgeous than when they were in their catatonic state.

Starfire Christina put her fingers on the red band on her wrist, identical to the ones Quinn and Colin were wearing. They moved forward out of the elevator to stand just inches in front of her. Stars Marta and Regala entered the room, said something to Christina that she never heard, as they put their red wristbands on a nearby table and returned to the elevator. The doors closed and Christina was, at last, alone with her companions.

Quinn had no control over his actions. He knew what he was about to do, but couldnít stop himself. He didnít even want to. His hand came up to her face, his fingers beneath her chin, his thumb gently caressing the plump, waiting lips she possessed. She stared into his eyes and he thought he would melt right there into the floor. His other hand came up behind her neck and he bent slightly, slowly bringing his lips to hers. So soft, so sweet, like golden nectar from the gods. He felt her hands, hot on his arms as they moved up slowly to his shoulders to bring him closer. Quinnís arms came around her waist and their lips parted to taste the honey each had to offer, every nerve of his being exploding inside his body.

The kiss was slow, deliberate, passionate. Her mind was reeling, her knees turning to jello. She had to regain control before Quinn realized he had the upper hand. She forced her mind to clear and let the kiss run its course. Their lips parted, Quinn letting go of her, never knowing what havoc he wreaked within her.

Christina turned to look at Colin and he stepped forward. Quinn moved back, knowing what his brother was going through. How could he deny him the most wonderful moment he was about to experience in his young life. Colin looked at Christina with hazy eyes. The left corner of his mouth turned up just slightly. As he leaned into her, she raised her face to him and felt her mind and body reeling all over again. His kiss was soft, tender, very gentle, as if he were afraid she would break. Nevertheless, it sent spirals of exploding nerve-endings in every part of her body. Two different kisses, same result. Christinaís first experience with her companions had tested her powers to the limit and she almost failed. Colin took her to the brink of disaster, but she recovered just in time to again take control of the situation. As Colin ended the kiss, she gathered her strength for what lay ahead.

CHAPTER FOUR

Maggie sat at the table staring out at the view through the huge picture window in front of her. "God, what a world!" she thought. "Plush quarters, good scenery, great food. I know Iíve got to get going and find the guys, but hey, a girlís got to eat. I canít be expected to do my best detective work on an empty stomach. Besides, if theyíre doing as well as I am, theyíre probably not in too big of a hurry to be found. Wow, I must be losing it. Weíre separated! Thereís got to be a problem. There is ALWAYS a problem! We never slide anywhere free of trouble, no matter how wonderful it looks. And this blue band Iím wearing. They gave me some flimsy excuse for why I have to wear it, but I know thereís got to be more to it."

Starfire Angelique touched the blue band on her wrist and tapped into the invaderís thoughts. "She is concerned for her fellow invaders and plans to go in search of them." Angelique said to Starfire Alana. They had learned in the previous hours that her name was Maggie and that she and the three males with her were sliders. They had been sliding for years without being able to get home. Their sliding methods were very primitive. Alana and Angelique knew they had their hands full.

Maggie was tough and they werenít convinced they could bring her around to their way of life, not like they did Christina. They didnít want to use their mind control to convince Maggie. That was just for men. But this was going to be their biggest challenge. The Grand Starfire had put her trust in them. Next to Christina, Angelique and Alana were the best she had.

But Christina could not be in on this case, for two reasons. Both Maggie and Christina were from other worlds. Would there be any kind of bond? And secondly, Christina had chosen two of Maggieís fellow sliders. If there were any kind of bond, Maggie might get to them. The Grand Starfire would not take kindly to having a problem with any males, however small. Christina would be tested to the hilt with this situation, and Alana hoped she passed. She knew Christina would take over someday if she made it through this trial by fire. And it was Alanaís job to take Maggie out of the picture.

"You know this is going to be a tough one, Angelique." Alana said, showing her concern.

"Yes, not like the other two from different worlds. Christina was made for this earth. She fit right in from the beginning. And Clarissa was so angry at the male species, she dove right into this world, if for nothing else, to get revenge on the males who had wronged her." Angelique replied. "Sometimes, I worry about Clarissa. Her vow to find the men who wronged her is so strong. Iím afraid she will harm them. And you know that is not our philosophy."

 

Maggie finished her meal, grabbed the blue key card from the table and set off to see what she could do to start her search. As she left the building she was met by the two women who had brought her to her quarters. "Hi, guys. I was just off to do a little exploring." she semi-lied. "This place looks great and I wanted to get acquainted with it."

Starfires Alana and Angelique looked at each other, then to Maggie. "Iím afraid thatís impossible at the moment, Maggie. Weíve been instructed to take you to headquarters. Hopefully there, we can give you some details about our world, explain our system of living to you." Starfire Alana spoke up.

Maggie wanted to protest but for some reason she just couldnít bring herself to put up an argument. "How unlike me." she thought, as she noticed the two women had blue bands on their wrists, also, and the one who spoke had her fingers pressed to it. "Those bands werenít there yesterday when they brought me here. Something is going on."

Starfires Alana and Angelique gestured for Maggie to move forward and she did. They headed for the building she had been in yesterday, as the two women engaged her in pleasant conversation. Maggie knew this was not what she wanted to do but she willingly did it anyway. As they came to the building, Maggie saw the one called Angelique pull out a gold card and insert it in the slot next to the door. It opened and as they stepped in another woman approached them on her way out.

"Starfire Clarissa, I thought you were on leave this week. What are you doing here?" Alana said with surprise in her voice.

"I thought I was on leave too, but the Grand Starfire needed to see me. Iíve been put on duty again." said Clarissa, very disdainfully. "Special assignment." And she stormed out the door without waiting for a reply from Alana and Angelique or ever acknowledging Maggie. Before Maggie could comment on the scene, Alana and Angelique turned and walked toward the elevators. Maggie followed blindly, noticing they were touching their blue bands again. Maggie knew she wanted to say something but she never opened her mouth.

CHAPTER FIVE

Christina took a deep breath and guided her companions down the two steps to the sitting area of her quarters. Quinn and Colin sat down on a huge white sofa with bright red pillows. Opposite them was a large picture window looking down on the world below. A matching chair sat to the left of the sofa and a small dining table with four chairs was to the right. Christina sat in the chair, touching her red band as she did. "You may speak now." she said. "I know you have many questions. There is nothing to fear, you will be treated very well."

Quinn spoke first, wondering where all his anxiety had gone. He felt unusually calm. His dominant emotion now was curiosity. "Who are you and where are we?" he asked. "Why could we not speak before?"

"I am Starfire Christina, and you have come to my world through youíre sliding. Your mind and body are controlled by me through these red bands. My species has perfected mind control techniques. With these bands we do not have to touch you to control you."

"Starfire is an unusual name." Colin spoke up.

"It is not a name, Colin. It is my rank. The females here are ranked as Stars, Starshines, and Starfires, depending on their abilities. Starfire is the highest ranking member of society."

"What about your males?" asked Quinn.

"Males are either companions, servers, or workers. You have been chosen as my companions. You will live here with me, provide for my personal needs and in return, you will be rewarded with a very luxurious life." Christina told them.

Quinn and Colin sat calmly listening to Christina as she gave them many details of their immediate future. It seemed wonderful enough, but Quinn had this strange feeling that he wasnít supposed to be satisfied with this existence. After Christina finished, Quinn thought of Remmy and Maggie and asked about them.

"Your male friend, you call Remmy, Iím sure, will be chosen by another Starfire. I saw him when you three were brought into the containment area. He is a fine specimen and will not be contained for long. As for your female traveler, Maggie, she will be indoctrinated into our society, hopefully. She appeared to be a very strong-minded woman and could easily be Starfire material. If she resists, her brain will be erased, and she will live out her days in a zombie-like state, helping Stars with their work." Christina stated all of this very matter-of-factly.

"I guess Maggie is in a lot of trouble." said Colin.

Quinn grinned. Maggie reduced to taking orders from another woman and not being able to do anything about it; that he wanted to see. And they had already seen Remmy. He must be in the same situation he and Colin were in. No sense in worrying about him. This world might not be too bad after all.

Satisfied with the answers about Remmy and Maggie, Quinn looked longingly into Christinaís eyes. "Now that we have some idea of whatís going on, when do we begin our duties as your companions?"

"Now would be a perfect time." she said, as she rose from the chair. She walked up to Colin and touched his temple. He took her face in his hands, kissed her slowly, then turned her toward Quinn and sat down. Quinn looked at Colin with gratitude in his eyes, collected Christina into his arms and headed up the two steps toward the bedroom.

Christina was already burning with desire. Every inch of her skin that touched Quinn was on fire. He came to the door and it slid open. They entered into a large room with the huge king-sized bed on the opposite wall. Christinaís breathing was shallow. How could one man do this to her? Reaching the bed he lowered her feet to the floor and encircled her in his arms. Quinn wanted this woman more than he had ever wanted anything. He hurt for the want of her. She was soft and smelled so sweet. Her lips set him on fire. The movement of her hands across his back sent crackles of electricity all through him. As they continued their exploration of each other with hands and mouths, Christina lay back on the bed and brought Quinn with her. He began to peel off her clothing until she lay there naked and glorious before him. He lowered his mouth to her neck, and began working his way down each inch of her body, going lower and lower until she thought she would scream under his touch. She couldnít breath, feeling she was going to die right here, right now.

Quinn could go on no longer. He felt as if he were going to explode. He removed his clothing and prepared to explore the most exquisite paradise that had ever been created. He took a deep breath and lowered his body toward heaven.

CHAPTER SIX

Clarissa stormed across the compound. Why did she have to be the one to monitor Christinaís progress on the development of her new companions? Alana was her best friend and the next best Starfire behind Christina. This should be her job. "I had plans!" she fumed aloud. Clarissa had received word from one of the sliding units that Kromaggs had been on World 252. She had slipped into headquarters, taken a sliding device and was ready to go to that world and deliver a slow death to those ape-ish bastards that had ruined her life. When she had been rescued and brought here by one of the sliding units, she was ready to end her life. But learning that there was a way to not only end a Kromaggís life but torture it as well, a renewed sense of survival came over her and she vowed to exact her revenge some day.

It had been a while in coming. She welcomed all the challenges and tests they put before her. Her rise toward Starfire started slowly, but as time passed and she inched closer, she became a whirlwind of knowledge. Then her Starfire status became jeopardized for a time when she voiced her plan to bring revenge to her former captors. This world did not like Kromaggs but it wasnít in their philosophy to go out and hunt them down. They would only use their weapon if Kromaggs ever invaded Earth Prime.

Clarissa saw she would get nowhere fast if she continued with her anger so she suppressed it deep inside, using some methods she had been taught here. She did it so well that even they didnít find the anger when they probed her mind during the Starfire trials. "I was so close, and now this stupid monitoring process!" she vented as she clinched the file in her hand. "Why would Christina want companions anyway. Men! Theyíre nothing but trouble.!" Clarissa had turned down the offer of companions as was her due for becoming a Starfire. She could very well live her life without another man entering into it and be very happy - just as soon as she got this assignment over with and headed for World 252.

 

Christina stood on the top step taking in the quiet charisma that emanated from Quinnís brother. "Colin - a quieter, shyer male than Quinn, but nevertheless, just as earthshaking." she thought. She had spent the entire afternoon with Quinn, and had been taken where no woman could have possibly gone before. Quinn was gentle and tender, yet evoked wild and raging emotions within her. How did he do it? She knew Colin would be just as gentle and tender and her soul would be turned just as inside-out as with Quinn, but somehow she also knew it would be like floating lazily down a calm stream as opposed to battling a raging river to survive.

She descended the steps, approaching Colin quietly, and touched his temple to bring him out of the dream state she had put him in earlier. He rose, smiled at her softly and asked, "Did you have a good afternoon?"

"The best," she answered, "and now I am ready for the perfect evening." Colin took her in his arms, kissing her agonizingly slow. As his lips trailed down her face and neck, searing every place they touched, she was transformed into a near-drunken state. No explosions, just a calm, warm feeling as if warm brandy were flowing through her veins.

Colin didnít know how he knew what to do, but he knew that every move he made pleased this woman. He intended to show here he was every bit as good as his brother. He did not feel jealousy toward Quinn but he did have a burning desire to be his equal in everything. Starfire Christina would not soon forget his lovemaking. He touched her as if he were caressing butterfly wings, sending those butterflies through her stomach and below. She stood there as if in a trance, eyes closed, peacefulness blanketing her face. He planted soft kisses on her lips, her face, her neck and she opened her eyes to him to let him know she was in heaven. This was going to be the night of her life. She took his hands and led him up the steps toward the bedroom. Quinn would be sleeping the rest of the night in his room. She and Colin would explore each other for hours, then sleep in each otherís arms till dawn. Heaven just couldnít get any better than this. What had she done to deserve such a fate?

CHAPTER SEVEN

Maggie stirred, then slowly opened her eyes. "Where am I? Oh, yeah. They brought me to see the leader of this society - the Grand Starfire. What a title! And their way of life. What a world!! As much as Iíd love to stay, I canít let the guys live the rest of their lives as, - what did they call them - companions? especially if Quinn is going to belong to another woman. Listen to me. Their lives are being severely altered and I'm getting jealous and possessive. Get a grip, Beckett. Youíve got some planning to do. I canít give myself away here. My life is at stake too. They want me to conform to their lifestyle, learn their ways and work my way up in their ranks. Meanwhile, the boys will live out their lives as love slaves. No, I canít let that happen. Some way Iíve got to go along with these mind-control freaks while working on a plan to get to Quinn, Colin, and Remmy so we can slide away from here. Oh, shit! the timer! Whoís got the timer? We may already be stuck here!" Maggie got up, dressed, and thought feverishly to come up with some plan to find the guys and to get them all off this world.

 

Clarissa punched her red card into the slot next to the doors of The Grand. It was early, but she couldnít sleep and she wanted to get this session over with. If Christina gave her any lip sheíd...sheíd give a failing report on Christina and her two companions. "Nobody had better mess with me today, Iím in a BAD mood!" she growled as she walked across the lobby to the elevators.

 

Christina lay there with her head propped against her arm, her eyes trained on the heavenly sight next to her. His bare chest rose and fell softly with his shallow breathing. How could a man look so innocent and be so tantalizing in bed? His shy charm and gentle manner certainly belied his inner soul. Quinn took her mind, body, and soul beyond other universes, but Colin created an inner peace within her. She was content and happy in his arms. His very touch took away all the demons in her soul and opened her up to a glorious joy. Colin was the one who would make her truly happy.

The bedroom door slid open. "Starfire Christina, Iím sorry to disturb you, but Starfire Clarissa has arrived for the evaluation of your companions. I told her you had not yet risen, but she was adamant that I make you aware of her presence." James said very sheepishly. James was a good servant, always trying to please her, always watching out for her.

Christina was disturbed at the news but she wouldnít take it out on the messenger. "James, tell her I will be with her momentarily. Make her comfortable while she waits." she said calmly.

"Yes, maíam." he answered and backed out of the room, sliding the door closed.

Colin slowly opened his eyes and reached gently for Christinaís arm. He caressed it as he spoke, "Good morning. What is going on?"

"Iím afraid we have company." she said.

"Company?! At this hour! Can you not tell them to come back later. I think we have better things to do than entertain company, especially in the early morning hours. We could entertain each other, for instance." Colin spoke between soft kisses and nibbles to her neck.

"As much as your suggestion excites me, Iím afraid this isnít a social call. Starfire Clarissa is here to check on yours and Quinnís progress as my companions. Albeit, a bit early, but important, nonetheless. We must dress and go to meet her." Christina stated as she started to rise.

Colin was reluctant to let her go. "You could always bring her in here and let her witness, first hand, how I am doing."

She was tempted, at that, but thought better of it. Companion evaluation was nothing to make light of. And besides, something was amiss. Alana was supposed to be the inspector, not Clarissa. And coming at this ungodly hour of 6:00 a.m. was unheard of. What was going on? She had to see for herself. Losing Colin and Quinn was not an option. "Iíll play by every rule, to the letter, to keep these two." she thought aloud.

"What?" asked Colin.

"Nothing, just put on your shorts and come with me." she answered as she put her fingers to the band on her wrist. Colin did as he was told, following in silence.

Christina walked to the sitting area with Colin close behind. She saw Clarissa pacing back and forth in front of the window. "Clarissa," she called, "I understand youíve come to evaluate my companions. Is there a problem? Why isnít Alana doing this?"

Clarissa turned to meet her fellow Starfire. "Sorry, Christina. This was not my idea. The Grand Starfire, herself, put me back on duty from my leave to carry out this assignment." she said, somewhat clipped. She said Alana had other duties with the female invader we intercepted. And sheís made it my job to check on your companions, the male invaders, if I understood correctly."

"Yes," answered Christina. "And itís not a problem. I was just surprised. By all means, letís get this evaluation underway." She brought Colin forward.

"Is this #10 or #79?" asked Clarissa.

"#79. His name is Colin." Christina stated. Clarissa looked at Colin and flinched slightly. She stared at him with a somewhat peculiar look on her face. Christina noticed her slightly strange reaction to Colin and asked if something was wrong.

"Uh, no, no, not at all. For a second he just looked familiar, but thatís impossible. Iím just out of sorts because of my leave postponement. I had very important plans and have been upset at the delay. I guess I must have seen him briefly when the sliding unit brought him to the containment hall. Letís get on with the questions." Clarissa nervously gestured for them to come and sit down.

Clarissa carried out the evaluation with a minimum of fanfare. She stuck strictly to the questions listed and did not offer any other conversation. Christinaís answers met her approval and she could tell by the look on Christinaís face and the sound of her voice, that Colin had done an exceptional job of pleasing her. "He must be one helleva lover for Christina to be so content." she thought, as she wrote her comments. "Iíve not see that look on a Starfireís face since I've been here. Lucky lady, I guess. But still, thereís just something about this guy I canít put my finger on. I hope she knows what sheís doing." Clarissa put the finishing touches on her report of Ď#79 - Coliní and then said, "Okay, that about does it for this one. So far, so good. Where is #10?"

Christina touched the red band and closed her eyes. Within seconds, a door from one of the upper rooms slid open and Quinn appeared at the steps to the living area. He walked down and sat in the chair next to the sofa. Christinaís eyes were on him all the way, admiring his gorgeous body. She turned to Clarissa to tell her his name and stopped short. Clarissaís eyes and mouth were both wide open. "What in the world is going on with her?" thought Christina.

"Quinn?" said Clarissa, "is that really you?"

Quinn looked calmly at the lady sitting next to Christina, "Wade? What are you doing here?"

CHAPTER EIGHT

Quinn blinked. He wasnít sure he saw correctly, nor sure of his feelings. He knew the woman was Wade, but why did he not have more feeling about it? He should. She had been the love of his life. When she was taken by the Kromaggs he wanted to die. But that would not gain her return. He had to stay alive and figure out a way to bring her back to him. He remembered nearly going crazy and finally deciding to detach himself from his feelings for her so he wouldnít go mad. But now seeing her here, he should be ecstatic, grabbing her, surrounding her with his arms and his love. It was as if she were a mere acquaintance and he was inquiring after her health, never really expecting any answer except ĎFine, how are you?í. He wanted to feel his love for her but couldnít seem to conjure it up.

Christina was confused. What had Quinn just called her? She turned to Clarissa, "You know him? Did he just call you Wade? Whatís going on?"

Clarissa stood, her insides roiling. "This canít be happening." she thought. "Just when I resigned myself to living my life without him. Just when I was going to exact my revenge on my kidnappers, and be free of my past life. I wonít let it be true. Iíll just close my eyes and when I open them it will be a stranger - Christinaís new companion - not my Quinn! My Quinn couldnít still be alive. He would have come for me. He wouldnít have let them destroy me. He, he wouldnít...." Clarissaís thoughts were in a whirlwind, but when she opened her eyes, there he was, in all his glory. He knew her but didnít seem to care. She was a distant memory and he had moved on with his life. She screamed in agony, ran for the elevator and was gone before Christina could react.

Quinn stood as Clarissa/Wade fled. "I should go after her - my Wade, alive and away from the Kromaggs." His mind struggled to bring his feelings to the forefront, but he couldnít control much of anything. Christina approached him and put her fingers gently to his temple.

She had to find out what was going on. Quinnís mind would give her all the answers. She could see the pain in his eyes. Little was known by the Starfires of Clarissaís background before being brought here. Only that her past wasnít a pleasant one and that she had a lot of issues to resolve. They didnít delve into her mind to deeply when she arrived for fear of losing her. She was in such a fragile state. Surely he hadnít been the cause of her hurt, anger and resentment. She didnít think him capable of that.

As she probed his mind, he closed his eyes. There it was. Their united past. Friends, not lovers, but only because their relationship had been interrupted by sliding and the Kromaggs. His guilt over losing her and not being able to find her. So many feelings whirling around. She had discovered enough, more than enough to know that these two belonged together. Christina removed her fingers from his temple and he opened his eyes. Oh, the pain. She hurt for him. "You love her." she said.

And with that spoken, one lone tear trickled down his cheek. A barely audible Ďyesí left his lips.

 

Why, oh, why, didnít she kill herself when she had the chance? "I canít go through this. I canít live here knowing heís alive and never came for me. And now heís Christinaís lover. I canít handle this." Clarissa/Wade was running across the compound, oblivious to all the stares she was receiving from those around. She ran to her building, the Ritz, fumbling to find her entry card. Finally, through the tears and anger she retrieved the card from her pocket, inserted it and entered. Ignoring questions from others, she ran to the elevator and went to her quarters. "Iíll leave now, before the other Starfires are alerted. I'm sure Christina will take action." she thought. She went to her bedroom to grab the Kromagg destroyer and the timer. She would be on her way shortly, away from Quinn forever. She would not be coming back. As Wade returned to the living area, her door opened suddenly, Alana and Angelique rushing her and freeing her from the timer and her back pack. She struggled, but was no match for the two of them. They subdued her, put their fingers to her temple and she slumped, unconscious to the floor.

CHAPTER NINE

Christina had gathered her wits quickly after Quinnís admission and alerted Starfires Alana and Angelique of the situation. There was no time for details, but they had to act fast. "Just trust me." she told them. "Get to her immediately. Sheís not herself, literally. You may have to take her down."

After Christina had contacted Alana she turned her attention back to Quinn. She just stood there, observing him. He sat perfectly still, head bowed, staring down - at nothing. He looked so lost, so forlorn. "What a turn of events." she thought. "Yesterday he took me to heaven and back; now I must return him to the one love of his life. I canít keep him here." Christinaís heart was beginning to rule her head. Mind-control techniques had nearly eliminated that concept, but Quinn was getting to her. Quinn loved Wade and felt responsible for the horrible atrocities that had been heaped upon her in the Kromagg breeding camp. Reading his mind gave Christina insight to the person she knew as Clarissa. No wonder she never wanted a companion. Christina knew what she had to do for all concerned.

She went to Quinn, knelt down in front of him and raised his head to look at her. She placed her hands on each side of his face, forcing him to look her in the eyes. "Quinn, I can fix this." she said quietly.

"No, no you canít. Sheís had her life ruined, and all because of me. She hates me and she can never forget whatís happened." he answered, starting to cry.

"Quinn, I...can...fix...this. Clari- er, Wade can be made to forget whatís happened. Remember this is a mind-controlling society. I will go to her and relieve her of all her Kromagg memories. She will never remember any of it." Christina spoke adamantly.

"Can you really do that? Can you take away, permanently, the memory of her past two years? If you could do that I would willingly be your companion for the rest of my life. You would never have any trouble from me. I would do anything to please you." Quinn babbled anxiously.

"No, Quinn. You will not be my companion. You belong with Wade and after I erase her memory I will make that happen. I know now this world is not for me. It was a mistake to come here. You made me realize I want a man to love me because he wants to, not because I have controlled his mind. Iím sorry I have put you through all of this." Christina said, blinking back the tears.

Quinn now took her face in his hands, raking his thumbs across her cheeks to erase some errant tears. "Christina, I donít regret a single second I have spent with you. You are a wonderful woman in every aspect. And if I had not come to be your companion, I might not have ever found Wade. It was meant to be and I will be forever grateful to you. I will never forget what has happened between us." Quinn took her in his arms and held her closely. She placed her head on his chest and let her mind gather strength. She had an enormous task ahead of her and it would take everything she had, but Quinn would be her driving force. She would get it done.

 

Alana and Angelique gathered Clarissa up off the floor and laid her out on the sofa. They wondered what in the world had happened. Christina had let them know she was on her way and to sit tight, so they would find out soon enough. Just then, the elevator doors opened and Christina emerged. "What in the hell is going on, Christina? When we arrived, Clarissa was about to leave."

"And look, she had a timer with her and the Kromagg destroyer in her back pack. How on earth did she get them?"

"What was she going to do?" Angelique and Alana hit her with a barrage of questions.

Christina held up her hand to silence them and walked over to Clarissa/Wade. As she observed the sleeping woman, she orgainzed her plan in her head. First she had to tell Alana and Angelique the whole story. They would be her allies when she confronted the Grand Starfire. Getting a release for Wade and herself from the commitment they had made to this world was going to be difficult enough, but to convince the Grand Starfire to allow Quinn and Colin to leave was going to be the biggest accomplishment she had ever pulled off - if she could pull it off. When the Grand Starfire learned of all the travails in Wadeís life and how Quinn would be a part of releasing her from her misery, she might be willing to settle them on another world, but she would not be too receptive to releasing her prize Starfire, and Christina could think of a lot of reasons why she couldnít argue with her; and there would be a major struggle to get Colin freed. But Quinn would never leave his brother here. That she knew for a certainty. And his other friends! She had forgotten. Maggie and Remmy. Oh gosh, this was getting more difficult by the second. Well, first things first. Right now she had to get into Clarissaís mind and get rid of all the horror she had collected in the last two years of her life. Then she would worry about bringing this whole scenario before the Grand Starfire. She had made a promise to Quinn and she would not let him down.

 

Colin sat watching his brother pace back and forth across the room. Christina had released him from her mind control and Quinn had filled him in on all that had transpired in the last hour. He hoped she could do what she said. He didnít like seeing Quinn in so much pain.

Quinn hadnít talked too much about Wade since they had gotten together. What information he had, he gathered from Remmy and Maggie, mostly Maggie. Remmy was reluctant to talk about too much in Wadeís regard. Both he and Quinn felt so guilty about her fate. But Colin could tell now how much Quinn loved Wade. It had all come to a head right here and Colin wanted, so much, to see the situation resolved for his brotherís sake.

He rose and stepped in front of Quinn as he crossed the room. "Christina will do what she said, Quinn. I have every confidence in her. She is a remarkable woman." Colin said, trying to bolster his brother.

"Yeah, well, I hope youíre right, brother. I hope youíre right." Quinn answered nervously. He tried to step around Colin to continue his pacing, but Colin put a hand on his shoulder and stopped him.

"She will do it." he repeated.

Quinn wanted to believe, but so many things had gone wrong, he just didnít have the confidence that Colin had. He supposed Colin was just trying to keep his mind going in a positive direction. "How can you be so sure of this woman, Colin? Youíve not even known her for twenty-four hours." he said, little exasperated.

"A lot can happen when you spend an evening and an entire night with a woman. She let her Starfire defences down last night and I discovered a wonderful woman. She may have started out controlling my mind, but as the evening progressed, she let herself be completely open to the situation. I was not under her control for very long. She is strong, but sensitive and caring, not unlike your Wade, from what I have been able to gather." Quinn looked at him more intently. Colin continued, "I think I am falling in love with her myself. We talked through much of the night, as well as making love, under my own control, I might add. Every second I lay next to her and every tidbit of information I learned of her, just increased my feelings more and more. And now you tell me she has freed you and she will try to relieve Wade of her horrid memories. She sounds like a wonderful, caring woman to me. You said earlier that she told you she wanted a man to love her because he wanted to and not because he was controlled. Well, I think she has gotten her wish. I want to love her - forever."

CHAPTER TEN

Christina quickly related the events of the last couple of hours to Alana and Angelique. They were stunned at what she told them of Clarissa. Knowing there was more to her past than she had let on, it still didnít prepare them for what they heard. Alana was in agreement with Christina that ridding Clarissa of those awful events was the right thing to do. But she wasnít sure that releasing her from this world, especially with Quinn, would be wise. Christina had not mentioned that she, herself, wanted to be released also, along with the other invaders with Quinn. There would be time for that later. Right now she had to get to the task at hand.

Christina knelt beside the sofa, and put her hands on either side of Wadeís head at her temples. She closed her eyes and commanded all her skills to come forth. Applying more pressure, Christina could feel all the horror in Wadeís mind. Slowly, slowly, it all seemed to slip away. The intense anger and hurt began to leave Wade and pass through Christinaís mind. She tensed and then began to release the horror. In minutes, but what seemed like hours to Christina, only calm and peacefulness remained. Wade opened her eyes. "Where am I?" she asked. "What am I doing here? Where are my friends?"

"All in good time, Wade. Just relax for a few minutes," Christina told her, "and I will explain everything." Wade wanted answers now, but with the weird feeling in her head she thought she had better take this womanís advice. "Rest here and I will return in a few minutes to give you all the details." Christina told her, as she motioned for Alana and Angelique to follow her.

"Christina, you must be out of your mind! The Grand Starfire is NOT going to release you. You must know that. I think something must have happened to you when you took away Clarissaís memory." Alana was beside herself, pacing in front of Christina, waving her arms in the air."

"Alana, please, side with me on this. After spending the last twenty-four hours with those two and seeing how much love a man can have for a woman, I just know this is not the way I want to live my life." Christina was pleading with Alana to understand.

"Christina, if you go to the Grand Starfire with this idea, she will have your brain erased and then you wonít even have a life!" Alana said desperately, trying to bring Christina to her senses.

"Alana, I donít have a life now. I thought I did, but itís all changed. I wasnít brought up this way. Itís not my way of life. I have to try." she said.

Alana made one last stab, "Christina, youíre pushing your luck trying to release Clarissa, much less Quinn. If you put yourself into the equation, youíll be jeopardizing the entire thing." That seemed to hit a cord with Christina. She didnít come back with an argument, but slumped slightly and stood very still. Alana walked up to Christina and put her hands on her shoulders, "Christina, youíre just drained from all the events that have just occurred. Give yourself a little time. Youíll see, you really want to be here. Youíve loved it since the moment you arrived."

Christina looked up at Alana, the corners of her mouth turning up ever so slightly. "Youíre right, Alana. Iím just very, very tired." Christina could see she would get nowhere trying to convince Alana. How on earth would she convince the Grand Starfire? There had to be a solution. In the flurry of the emotional exchange between Christina and Alana, they had not seen Angelique slip out of the room.

 

"Starfire Angelique, this is an outrageous story you have related to me. You say that one of Starfire Christinaís new companions has convinced her to let him leave and take Starfire Clarissa with him? I have a very hard time believing this." The Grand Starfire sat calmly listening to Angelique, but her outward calm belied her inner feelings.

"Grand Starfire, somehow Clarissa and this companion of Christinaís are connected. Christina said that Clarissa is really called Wade and she had some major atrocities inflicted upon her before she came here. But this is not the biggest piece of news I have for you. Christina wants to leave too." Angelique said breathlessly, knowing this would really get the Grand Starfireís attention.

When Angelique had heard Christinaís outpouring back at Clarissaís quarters, she tingled with excitement. This is just what she needed to take Christina off the pedestal the Grand Starfire had placed her on. Angelique quietly slipped out of the room, then out of the apartment. She left the building, beating a quick path to the main headquarters, where she knew the Grand Starfire would be. Now here she was, relating everything she had seen and heard to the Grand Starfire. It was only a matter of time now. The Grand Starfire would have to take action.

Hearing that last statement from Angelique, the Grand Starfire rose from her seat. She had tried to be calm during Angeliqueís newsfest, but this was too much. "Angelique, knowing of your jealousy of Christina, Iím going to ignore your last remark. The rest of it may be true, but you have gone just a bit too far!" The Grand Starfire approached Angelique, stared into her eyes and said, "You will go to your quarters and remain there until I send for you." Angelique was mesmerized by the Grand Starfire and obeyed without question.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

As Christina and Alana finished their heated discussion, they noticed Angelique was not in the room. They looked at each other warily and headed out the door to the sitting area. She was not there. "Wade, did the tall blonde just leave?" asked Christina.

"Uh, no, she left about ten minutes ago. Flew out the door in an awfully big hurry." Wade replied.

"Alana, I want you to go now and find Quinn and Colinís two friends, Rembrandt Brown and Maggie Beckett. Quinn told me he saw Rembrandt following a woman into the Regency when they were brought to me. Iím sure heís been taken by a Starfire that lives there. Maggie should be at the Tanner House. When you acquire them, bring them to my quarters immediately." Christina instructed.

"Christina, what are you up to? First, itís Wade, then Quinn. Next comes you. And now you want others released. Are you trying to wipe out this whole world?" Alana was appalled.

"Alana, you have to trust me. I just want these five off this world. All but Wade slid here accidentally. We didnít bring them here; we shouldnít keep them." Christina explained.

"Five?! Who else?" Alana screamed.

Christina was getting a little irritated. "Colin, of course. You know Quinn wonít leave without his brother. Alana, please, if youíre the kind of friend you say you are to me, you will do this. I will never ask another thing of you."

Alana threw up her arms in exasperation. She knew she couldnít argue. She loved Christina and knew Christina would not waver on this. She was very strong-minded, which is why she had fared so well on this earth. She heaved a sigh, hugged Christina and left without another word.

Christina turned her attention to Wade. "Wade, are you feeling better? I want to take you to your friends now."

"Iím fine. Whatís going on? What was that all about?" Wade questioned her. Christina trivialized the scene to Wade and told her not to worry about it. She and her friends had been split up when they slid here and Christina was just trying to get everyone back together. She rambled on with some other talk that seemed to satisfy Wade and they left for the Grand.

The elevator doors to Christinaís living quarters slid open. Christina and Wade entered to find Quinn and Colin just where she left them. Quinn stood, staring at Wade, not knowing how she would react. He blinked, shaking slightly, wanting to run to her but fearing she would reject him. Suddenly, Wade cried, "Quinn!" and went running to him, arms wide open. She bounded down the two steps to where Quinn stood at the chair and grabbed him almost knocking him down. She felt like she hadnít seen him in years. "But thatís silly," she thought. "I saw him on the last world. Itís just been a couple of days on this world while I was out of it. That bump I got on my head is really doing a number on me."

Quinn returned her bear hug, almost squeezing her to death, tears streaming down his face. He never wanted to let go. He wouldnít let go. He would keep her in his embrace for the rest of his life. Nothing would ever harm her again.

Colin and Christina stood there watching the happy reunion. "Oh, to have such love." Christina thought, looking toward Colin. "Unfortunately, it doesnít come to everyone.", audibly sighing. Colin looked up toward Christina and she flinched. It was the same look he had given her when she had controlled his mind. "Iím losing it. Heís not controlled now. I released him. He could have no feelings for me. I'm just seeing what I want to see, not what really is." she thought, squeezing her eyes shut and shaking her head.

Wade pulled away from Quinn, slightly, but Quinn kept holding on barely letting her move. "Whatís going on? Why the vise grip on me, Quinn? Youíre going to break something." Wade said aloud, but secretly loving the stronghold he had on her.

"I...Iím just glad to see that youíre alright. I was worried." Quinn stammered.

"Well, Iím fine, but I wonít be if you crush me to death." She pulled away, seeing Colin for the first time. She frowned, feeling some familiarity, but knowing she didnít know him. "And whoís this?"

Quinn stepped between them. "Uh, Wade, this is my brother Colin." He didnít know how he was going to explain this. It had all transpired after losing Wade.

"Oh, yeah. I see the resemblance. Youíll have to forgive me Colin, I had a little accident on this slide and Iím not remembering everything too well. Christina told me there would be some memory lapses. Please forgive me for not recognizing you. Christina said we found you right before we slid here." Wade held out her hand to Colin. Quinn looked up to Christina, gratitude in his eyes, silently thanking her for giving a plausible explanation about Colin.

Colin took her hand. "No problem, Wade. I'm very glad to see you again." he said, stretching the truth just a little. "Quinnís been telling me all about you, all wonderful things."

Wade raised an eyebrow, "Oh really. All wonderful, huh. I think maybe Quinn may have hit his head." Christina watched the playful teasing between Quinn and Wade, aching for the same kind of relationship with a man.

Colin stepped aside and came up the steps toward Christina. "I think we should give them some time alone. Besides, I need to talk to you about something." Colin led her toward the bedroom. Christina took his hand and went silently with him, assuming he wanted to ask about the situation of getting them off this world. Quinn and Wade never noticed.

Colin and Christina entered the bedroom and the door slid closed. Christina had gone in first, and she stood there with her back to Colin. She didnít want to look at him; it would hurt too much. He had been so wonderful to her, but it was all her own doing. He probably hated her and just wanted to leave as soon as possible.

He put his hands on her shoulders; she jumped, then he slowly turned her around to face him. "I want to thank you for what youíve done for my brother. He has been so upset by the events that have happened with Wade. I do not know how much longer he could have lived with himself. I think you, literally, saved his life." Colin said with his quiet demeanour.

"I was glad to do it, Colin. I could feel the sorrow in him. No man deserves that kind of pain; and neither did Wade. Sheís been through so much." Christina said, as Colin slowly let his hands slide down her arms, taking her hands in his. She looked down at those hands and then up into Colinís eyes. "Colin, Iím going to do everything in my power to get you, your brother, Wade, and your other friends off this world. It wonít be easy and it might not be quickly, but you have to trust me. I will do it. I am sorry for what youíve been through on this world, most of it my doing. I hope getting you away from here makes up for it just a little." Christina closed her eyes and pressed her lips together trying to stifle the tears. Then she looked back up to Colin and said, "I am so sorry."

He released her hands, taking her face in his hands gently, instead. He lowered his face and ever so slowly placed his lips lightly on hers. Barely brushing them for just a second, he pulled back to look at her and said, "You do realize that at this moment I am not under any mind control. I do this because I want to." And with that, he returned his lips to hers, embracing her and pulling her tightly to him. He never wanted to let go. Christina nearly fainted. There it was again. That warm brandy flowing through her veins, just merely at his touch. She couldnít believe what she heard, what she felt. It couldnít be true.

Finally, after melting her insides completely, Colin let go of her body, but not her heart. He had taken it and her soul captive. It was his permanently, even though he would be leaving her soon. He guided her over to the bed and sat her down. Taking her hands again, he related the story he had told Quinn about his night with her. She was stunned. How could she have lost control and not even realized it? She knew how. Because Colin had a much stronger hold on her. He owned her; body, mind and soul. But she was elated that Colin loved her on his own.

The bedroom door slid open. "Iím sorry to disturb you, Starfire Christina." said James.

"Deja vu." thought Christina.

"But the Grand Starfire has summoned you to headquarters, immediately." he continued.

"Thank you, James. Relay to her that Iím on my way." Christina took a deep breath, looked at Colin and said, "Well, here goes everything. Stay here with Quinn and Wade. Starfire Alana is presently trying to find your friends, Rembrandt and Maggie. She has been instructed to bring them here. When she arrives, tell her where I am." Colin shook his head, then kissed her slowly one more time. "Thatís all the incentive I need." she stated as he released her.

"Christina, just remember one thing." he said. "I do not leave here without you. Quinn and Wade are going to be together. You and I are going to be together, somehow, some way. It does not matter where."

She smiled, caressing his cheek with the back of her fingers. "Weíll be together." Then she was gone.

CHAPTER TWELVE

Alana left the Ritz hurriedly. She knew if Angelique had gone to the Grand Starfire there was no time to lose. She literally ran to the containment area. She pulled her green card out and used it to enter the building, heading straight for the assignment room. "Thank goodness. Star Marta must be on break." she said as she pushed the door open and saw an empty desk. Moving quickly and keeping a sharp eye out, she went straight to the records book lying on the desk. She flipped each page, scrolling down with her finger until she saw it. "There. #121 - Rembrandt Brown - Starfire Eleanor." With that done, she quickly headed out, without incident, and made her way toward the Tanner House.

 

Maggie sat quietly in her room, examining the blue band on her wrist. "I have got to figure something out. Itís been over twenty-four hours and no sign or sound of the others. Yesterday, those two, Alana and Angelique, I believe they said, gave me the low-down about this world, and introduced me to ĎThe Grand Starfireí. How am I ever going to get around these mind-control idiots? This stupid blue band is like an albatross around my neck. They can stop me at any time" While Maggie was lost in thought, she failed to hear her door open.

"Maggie." Alana shouted. Maggie jumped up and turned to see the intruder. "Maggie, we have to go now. Iím here to take you to your friends, but we have no time to waste. There are problems. Iíll explain on the way." Alana said breathlessly.

Maggie came to the door quickly. "Can you get this blue thing off of me?" she asked as she moved.

"Yes, but not now. Just as soon as we get you to your friends." Alana answered and they were swiftly on their way. Alana explained to Maggie that they were going to the Regency to get her friend Rembrandt. She had to do exactly what Alana told her to do, and stay alert. Maggie assured her she could handle the situation, any situation.

 

Rembrandt lay next to Eleanor examining her beautiful bronze skin. Life was good. But he still had this nagging feeling he should be concerned about something instead of so gloriously content. This errant thought brought Quinn, Colin, and Maggie to mind. "I havenít seen them since we got here, but Iím sure theyíre okay." Eleanor started sliding her hand down Remmyís chest, then lower and lower until.... "Damn, woman. Not again?! You are insatiable.!" Remmy teased, as he turned over to kiss her. The door slid open.

"Excuse me, Starfire Eleanor. Starfire Alana is here and needs to see you immediately. I told her you didnít want to be disturbed, but she insisted, quite emphatically. Iím sorry, but...." Roger, Eleanorís servant was trying to explain his intrusion, but he never got a chance to finish.

"Eleanor," Alana burst in. "Iím sorry to disturb you, but I have to take your new companion back to headquarters. You were told, Iím sure, that he was not brought in by our sliding unit, but came here unexpectedly. There are some complications and the Grand Starfire has recalled him and his friends." Alana hoped this lie was not too transparent. "He has to come with me, now!"

"Well, your timing is pretty lousy, but I canít argue with the Grand Starfire. Will I be able to choose a replacement immediately?" Eleanor asked.

"Wait until youíre contacted. I donít know all the details of this recall. It may be that he will be returned to you." Alana lied. She didnít want Eleanor going over to the containment building and alerting anyone about this. Eleanor placed her fingers on Remmyís temple to make him very manageable for Alana. He rose from the bed, slipped on his thigh-length shorts and followed Alana, very passively, out the door.

When Alana reached the lobby, she saw Maggie still seated near the doors where she had left her. "Thank goodness. No incident yet, it appears." As they approached Maggie, she rose, resisting the urge to grab Remmy and hug him. Alana kept walking, with Remmy close behind and motioned for Maggie to follow, saying nothing to her. "Just one more leg of this journey. Please, please, let me get to the Grand with these two without any problems." she said to no one in particular.

They crossed the compound with Alana leading the way. She tried desperately to walk slow and calmly to avoid any stares in their direction. Remmy followed behind with Maggie at his side. Maggie noticed Remmy still had his red band on his wrist and was in a mind-control state. Maybe it was for his own good for now. Thank goodness, Alana had removed her band when they left her building, instead of waiting. She hated the idea of someone having the ability to control her mind.

 

Quinn and Colin sat anxiously waiting, with Wade sitting calmly by Quinnís side. She was oblivious to the danger they were in and he wanted to keep it that way. Christina had done a good job of making Wade feel that everything was fine and not being able to see problems in their situation. The doors slid open. Quinn and Colin jumped up, with Wade just turning around in her seat. Alana rushed in with Maggie and Remmy in tow. "Thank God, youíre still here. Whereís Christina?" she said as she removed Remmyís band from his wrist. He blinked a few times, looking around, seeming just a little lost. Colin came to him and led him to a seat while Quinn explained to Alana what had transpired earlier. Wade rose to hug Remmy as he came down the steps, giving Maggie a cool stare in the process.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Christina had walked swiftly to the main headquarters, but now that she was here she wished she had gone slower. She pulled out her gold card to open the doors and walked in. Taking a deep breath she proceeded to the elevators, pushing the Ďupí button. When the doors opened, she entered and punched Ď100í. "What am I going to say to her? I donít even know what Angelique has said. Thereís no telling how much she embellished the conversation I had with Alana earlier. The Grand Starfire will tolerate no nonsense, and sheíll know if Iím lying. Iíll have to be straight forward and tell the truth. If that doesnít work...God, I donít know. I just hope I can return to my quarters before she exacts any punishment on me." The elevator stopped too soon for Christina. The doors opened and she stepped out very gingerly. The Grand Starfire was standing right there waiting on her.

Standing very erect with her hands clasped behind her back, the Grand Starfire just stared at Christina with a very stony look. "Better not speak first. She doesnít look happy." thought Christina.

"Starfire Christina, I have heard some very disturbing news. I hope you can set the record straight about your new companions." The Grand Starfire spoke quietly but firmly.

Christina swallowed hard and began her explanation. She told the Grand Starfire all about Clarissa first, hoping this would soften the blow. Then she worked her two companions into the mix, leaving out no details about Quinnís love for Wade. Lastly, she added the other two invaders. The Grand Starfire made no moves as Christina went on and on. No emotion of any kind revealed itself. Christina ended her story, praying the Grand Starfire had a heart. Stone silence. Christina didnít move.

"Bring the invaders to me." she finally spoke. "I will give them an audience at 1500 hours." Christina mentally screamed with joy, but showed no outward emotion.

"This is a good sign. At least she hasnít already decided to eliminate me. I might as well go for broke here." she thought. "Grand Starfire, there is one more thing I need to say, if you will allow it." Christina held her breath, mentally begging for a positive response.

"Yes, Christina, what more do you have?" replied the Grand Starfire.

"I want to leave with the invaders. The love that has been demonstrated here is the kind of love I want. I think I have found that love with one of my companions. I have loved this world but I know it is not what I truly long for. I appreciate all you have done for me, but I need the love of this man, this man who loves me unconditionally, and uncontrolled. Once one has found the love that I have, they canít be happy without it. I donít want to even live without it." she said, going out on a limb. This could be her demise. She may have just sealed her fate with that last remark.

"Iíll see all of you at 1500 hours." she repeated and Christina knew she had been dismissed.

 

 

Rembrandt was becoming normal again and was trying to recover from the shock of seeing Wade. Quinn had pulled him and Maggie aside to fill them in on Wadeís appearance and situation. Now all but Colin sat talking to each other to pass the time and keep their minds from worrying too much.

Colin was pacing back and forth. Quinn watched until he was dizzy and decided enough was enough. He left Wade on the sofa and stepped in front of Colin. "I know what youíre going through, brother, but youíre wearing a path in the carpet. How about we go in the kitchen and find something to drink." Quinn said.

"I do not want a drink. I want Christina, here and safe." answered Colin.

"Sheíll be here. Have faith." Quinn replied, just as the elevator doors slid open.

"Christina." Colin yelled. "Thank God you are here." He bounded up the steps and grabbed her, holding her in his arms. Quinn stood back, letting his brother have his moment, but itching to ask her how things went. Alana ran to her, impatiently waiting for Colin to release her.

Christina pulled back slightly, but not being able to fully leave Colinís embrace. "Okay, everyone, I know you have questions. Just give me a moment with Colin and Iíll explain everything." She went back totally in his arms and closed her eyes. Quinn and Alana took their cue and returned to the sitting area.

Colin held her tightly, but spoke softly. "I was so worried. After you left, I had regrets that I did not go with you. My heart has been pounding wildly with fear."

"Iím okay." she replied. "The Grand Starfire wants an audience with all of us at 1500 hours. Thatís a good sign. The fact that Iím standing here with you now is a good sign." They still held each other closely, afraid to let go.

Quinn was getting impatient. He called out, "Okay, guys. Your momentís up. We need answers here."

Christina pulled back, "Heís right. I shouldnít keep them in suspense."

They walked down the steps and stood in front of the window, still not able to completely release each other. Colin held her hand and had his other arm around her shoulders. Christina took a deep breath, squeezed his hand and spoke. "The Grand Starfire will see us at 1500 hours. I canít tell you what she feels about this situation, but I took it as a good sign. We have about an hour to plan our words for her. They had better be good; she will brook no nonsense. I have requested that she release the four of you because you were not brought here by us; you came accidentally. I also asked for the release of Wade and I from our commitment, because we have a much stronger commitment now." She looked at Colin, smiling and he leaned over to plant a light kiss on her lips. Quinn looked at Wade and realized that last comment from Christina had no effect on her. Christina had done some more job on Wadeís mind so that no talk related to Clarissa would mean anything to her. Thank goodness. His respect for Christina kept increasing.

Maggie jumped up, arms akimbo. "Well, I suggest we form an alternate plan, in case this ĎGrand Starfireí person doesnít see things our way. Maybe we shouldnít even go to her. With a good plan we can get out of here without her permission."

Christina was appalled. "You donít understand. If we donít show up at the appointed time, there will be hell to pay. You seem tough, Maggie, but not tough enough to come up against this lady. If sheís disobeyed, thereís not a place in any universe that you could hide from her." Christina was almost livid. If this little gung-ho bitch messed things up, she, personally, would fry her brain and put her on the nastiest detail this world had to offer.

Quinn spoke up, "Weíll do things Christinaís way. She knows best on this world." Maggie sat down, arms crossed, fuming. Wade mumbled something under her breath that no one could understand, and smiled.

They cussed and discussed alternate plans, but Christina knew it was hopeless. There was only one way to have a happy ending - the Grand Starfire had to agree. And the more time passed, the more Christina started having doubts. She looked at the clock on the opposite wall and heaved a sigh. She took Colinís hand and rose, "We have to go now. The Grand Starfire wonít tolerate tardiness. And we donít want to do anything to irritate her."

They all stood. Quinn took Christinaís free hand and squeezed it. "This will work out. I know it.", then took Wadeís arm and started up the steps. Maggie and Remmy followed, with Maggie still smouldering.

Alana walked up to Christina and Colin. "Iím going with you."

"No, Alana. You have no part in this. Stay out of it and stay safe." Christina argued.

"Iím up to my ears in this problem, Christina. And youíre my best friend. I will speak on your behalf and thatís all there is to it." Alana replied, very adamantly, walking off and giving Christina no chance to argue further.

Colin turned Christina toward him and kissed her feverishly. He did not care that they had an audience. Christina lost all conscious reality. Her mind seemed to float out of her body. His embrace was strong, yet soft. His lips burning her to her very soul. She would not be separated from this man. The Grand Starfire be damned.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The group of seven left the building, Christina and Colin leading the way. Alana walked with Remmy and Maggie, Quinn and Wade were bringing up the rear. They walked across the compound and reached their destination in a matter of minutes. Christina pulled a gold card from her pocket, inserted it into the slot and the doors opened. They entered single-file and made their way to the elevators. No one said a word as they entered. Christina pushed Ď100í. Silence all the way up; Quinn and Colin grasping the hands of Wade and Christina, respectively.

The doors opened to a large room with a woman in a bright red robe standing with her back to the group. Christina stepped out first with Colin in tow. The others followed. She cleared her throat and said, "You wished to see us Grand Starfire." No answer. Everyone looked at each other, but said nothing. Christina stepped foward, worriedly. "Oh, no." she thought. Alana came around from the back of the group to stand by her side. Colin stayed close behind her, his hand on her shoulder.

"Grand Starfire, I have brought my companions, along with their friends and Starfire Clarissa, as you know, is really Wade, an old friend of our most recent invaders. They are Quinn Mallory, his brother, Colin, and their friends Rembrandt Brown, and Maggie Beckett." Christina felt giving a name to each individual might help. She noticed the Grand Starfire stiffen considerably at her introduction of the group, then she looked at Alana, with questioning eyes. Alana could only shrug.

The Grand Starfire grabbed at the back of the chair to her right, gripping it tightly, as if she were about to collapse. Slowly, she turned to face the group. "My God!" uttered Quinn. All heads turned to look at him. Quinn stood there, mouth open, just staring as if he had seen a ghost.

"Quinn, what is wrong?" Colin asked. Quinn didnít respond. He just stared at the woman in front of him. "Quinn?" Colin repeated.

Quinn released Wadeís hand and took one step forward. "Mother, is that you?" he asked. There was a collective gasp, then Christina turned back to look at the Grand Starfire. Her face was pale and she was visibly shaking. Quinn moved forward another couple of steps, so that he stood out in front of the rest. "Mother?" he almost whispered. Colin stepped out from behind Christina and went to stand beside Quinn, looking first at his brother and then slowly turning toward the woman Quinn had called ĎMotherí. He noticed then that she looked vaguely familiar. There was whispering behind them.

"You are my sons?" she questioned, almost inaudibly. "My husband and I sent our sons away from this world over twenty years ago. We were never able to find them when it was safe for them to return."

"I know. The parents you placed me with hid me when you returned," Quinn said, "and told you I had died."

"My parents died when I was young." Colin followed.

"Whereís our dad?" asked Quinn.

"We need to talk privately. Excuse me." Their mother stepped around them toward the group of astonished onlookers. "Starfires Christina and Alana, make these people comfortable here in my office for a few minutes. My sons and I will be in my private quarters." Christina and Alana could only nod, eyes wide with surprise. The Grand Starfire turned and stepped between Quinn and Colin, placing her hands at their backs and guided them toward a door to their left.

As the door closed, the group turned and looked at each other again. Christina finally found her voice and told the others to be seated. She motioned toward a group setting of plush chairs and large sofa with tables and decorative items all around. "This is beyond belief, Alana. The Grand Starfire is their mother? It canít be true!" Christina said.

"But if it is, your worries are over. She wonít keep them here as companions; and she wouldnít deny them the loves of their lives." Alana suggested.

"I hope youíre right." Christina whispered in return. Maggie, Remmy, and Wade sat, having their own discussion of disbelief at this turn of events.

 

 

Quinn and Colin sat opposite their mother on the edge of the sofa, their elbows propped, identically, on their knees, listening intently to their motherís words. "Your father and all other males of this earth disappeared very mysteriously twenty years ago, not long after our search for you proved futile. We have never discovered why or where they may be. They just disappeared. Over the next few years, myself and a team of female scientists worked to improve sliding. We visited other worlds and learned the mind-control techniques we use today."

"But why male domination, Mom, why?" Quinn interrupted.

"Survival, Quinn. We werenít physically strong enough to ward off any male invaders. We had to learn to dominate their minds, then we could dominate their physical aggression." she explained, then turned the conversation to the matter that brought them to her. "You have grown into fine-looking young men and your minds are strong. Strong enough to defeat the mind control of my best Starfire."

"It was not hard, Mother. Love can do miraculous things. It has taken very little time for Christina and I to realize we belong together." Colin spoke in his quiet demeanour. She smiled, leaning over to squeeze his hand.

"I can understand, son. Time and circumstances have not diminished the memory of your father and I falling in love." she said, then turning to Quinn, continued. "I understand thereís quite a story between you and Wade."

Quinn took a deep breath and went into great detail about the history behind him, Wade, and sliding. He talked incessantly, hardly stopping for a breath. His mother never interrupted, sensing his need to say all of it aloud. He finally came to an end, speaking of the present circumstances, not realizing the tears streaming down his face. His mother rose, as did he, and she embraced him in her arms, neither ever wanting to let go. Minutes later, she turned to Colin with the same long embrace. Colin and his mother joined Quinn in shedding tears; now tears of joy.

After what seemed like days to Christina and the rest, but was really only a little over an hour, the door to the Grand Starfireís quarters opened. Out stepped Quinn, Colin, and the Grand Starfire, in that order. The group had been discussing this new development at length, almost talking over each other; now they stood abruptly when they heard the door. Christina stared at the trio of faces, but could find no visible signs of how the conversation went. She was the first to find her feet and raced toward them into Colinís embrace. All traces of protocol in the presence of the Grand Starfire had forsaken her. Wade was on her heels, running to Quinnís waiting arms. Remmy and Maggie followed suit, leaving Alana to stand alone.

Quinn and Colin loosened their embraces just slightly and Quinn spoke first. "Guys, it looks like Colin and I are finally home, albeit not exactly the way we left it so many years ago."

"Uh, Q-ball, weíre not...." Remmy started, with panic in his eyes.

"Donít worry, Remmy, weíre not staying. Mom knows a world almost identical to the one you and I are used to. Thatís where Colin and I want to take Wade and Christina - just as soon as Mom marries us." Quinn grinned, looking at Wade. Christina grabbed Colin around the neck, almost choking him to death.

Remmy slapped Quinn on the back. "Thatís great, Q-ball, just great." he said, with a slightly worried look.

Maggie forced a smile, and said, "Congratulations."

Quinn then continued, "We want you guys to come too. If you find you donít like it, you can explore other worlds. And you can come and go at will, not sliding randomly and uncontrolled like weíve been doing. Mom has perfected sliding to a tee. She can set each one of us up with our own timer. We can live like we want to and go on adventures when it suits us." The idea appealed to all concerned and they ended this audience to the Grand Starfire with a group hug. Alana finally decided to intrude and grabbed Christina, hugging her hard, with tears streaming down her cheeks.

 

 

The double wedding was glorious. The brides were beautiful, the grooms were handsome, and the mother of the grooms was beaming. Alana was Christinaís maid of honor and Wade asked Maggie to stand with her. She was so happy, she just couldnít be cruel enough to leave Maggie out. Remmy stood up for both Quinn and Colin and the mother of the grooms performed the ceremony. All Starfires were in attendance, except Starfire Angelique. She had been demoted to serve as a gopher for some Star.

When the Grand Starfire ended the ceremony with "and now, you may kiss your bride.", Quinn and Colin wasted no time in taking Wade and Christina in their arms. Lips met lips and the melting began. Wade and Christina were taken into ecstasy once more, the on-lookers almost seeing the electricity sparking from the couples. And Christina could feel the warm brandy flowing, yet again, into her veins. The tender, yet passionate, kisses were just a glimpse of what was going to happen when they left.

THE END

 


Alternate Earth 117
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