Chapter 28 - A Meeting with Fate
"Oh, hello One." Naomi said, looking up from her computer as One closed the door behind him, "I didn't expect to see you today. How did your meeting with Miss Myssohn go?"
"Not good. I think I can forget about any help from Teria." He sat down on one of the many chairs situated around her desk. "You might as well just keep the ring; I'm just going to reseal the memories in it anyway."
"I'm afraid that's out of the question."
"There's no reason for me to remember any of that now, Mom. Whatever Teria and I had, it's gone now." One let out a sigh. "I'd rather have no memories than bad memories."
"You don't understand;" Naomi held up the ring. "I can't reseal or release the memories in an empty artifact."
Startled, One said, "What? What are you talking about?"
"There are no memories in this ring. There never were. It may have the signature of a memory seal, but there are no memories inside."
"Are you saying I imagined the horrible, agonizing pain? What about the memories that did come back?"
"I'm not saying what you experienced wasn't real. I am, however, saying that someone put a pretty convincing memory seal on this ring. If I had to guess, I'd imagine that they switched out the real ring for a fake."
One plopped down on his armchair, feeling dazed. "Why would anyone do that? It's not like anyone else could use them."
"I don't know," Naomi replied, handing him the ring, "but if I were you, I'd ask Luck about it."
"Why Luck?" asked One, "What does she have to do with this?"
"Only two people came into contact with you from the moment you appeared on your floor in pain to when you gave me the ring: Atraius and Luck."
One considered this for a moment. "I don't see Atraius doing that."
"Neither do I." Naomi leaned forward and squinted at her screen. "Let's see ... aha! Luck's in the mall right now."
One started toward the nearest door, but Naomi stopped him."The hedge maze has been floating around my floor a lately; probably better to just take the elevator."
With a quick nod, he hurried over to the elevator and hopped inside as the doors opened. There were numbered buttons, but One wasn't familiar with the way Naomi ordered the floors. Fortunately, it seemed that Naomi could control it from her desk; the elevator began moving shortly after the doors slid shut.
He couldn't for the life of him understand why Luck would do such a thing. She didn't know the ring held memories of Teria, after all. Luck had her quirks ... all Dreamers did, after all ... still, he never would've thought she'd do such a thing. Of course, One had never seen her hit someone either. As strange as it was seeing her fighting, he couldn't help but feel happy; she had stood up for him. Usually it was One who did that sort of thing. It felt … nice.
His musings were cut short as the elevator opened near the food court of the floor known as 'The Mall'. Although considered one floor, the Mall was really a combination of Fate, Luck, and Karma's respective floors. The first floor was for Karma, and contained mostly clothing shops, bookstores, and the occasional sporting goods business. The second floor belonged to Fate, and housed mostly electronics and entertainment stores. The third and final floor was essentially Luck's, and contained mostly novelty and specialty shops, as well as the food courts.
Much as Two gave access to his floor to his drinking buddies, the Destiny sisters allow certain norms (usually friends from past assignments) access to the mall, which is why One was joined by throngs of shoppers as he stepped out of the elevator into the food court.
The tantalizing scents of burgers on the grill and pizzas baking in ovens made One's stomach rumble. He put a hand on his belly, trying to remember the last time he had eaten something. As much as he would have liked to have a nice cheeseburger with a side of bacon-cheddar wedges, One had work to do. With a sigh and a longing glance at the restaurants, he headed toward the nearest mall directory.
The directories in the mall were the pretty much the same as the ones in normal malls, with one addition: everyone in the mall is displayed as a blip, except for Dreamers who each appear as an icon. One's finger passed by his icon, an oak tree on a floating island. It was near the food court, which of course is where he was.
Luck's symbol always puzzled One, as it seemed very similar to his own. Her symbol was a tree with beautiful red and gold leaves, but rather than being on a hill, it was growing in the center of a lake. After a few moments of searching, One spotted Luck's symbol near the fountain on the second story of the mall. Forgetting for the moment that he was in the Elsewhere, One tried to teleport himself to the center of the mall.
It took One a few seconds to realize where he had appeared. It only took the lady who was in the dressing room two. One dashed out of the store as quickly as he could, not stopping until the woman's screams could not be heard over the usual din of the Mall.
Falling down against the cool side of a nearby fountain, One let his head fall into his hands.
"So Narrator Number One is a peeping tom. I always knew hanging around Two would rub off eventually."
One sat bolt upright. "I'm not a-"
Fate was standing over him, a bemused look on her face. "Teleport problems, One?"
"Yeah, I've been moving around a lot lately. Forgot where I was."
She made a clucking noise with her tongue. "Still can't teleport in the Elsewhere? How long have you been living here again?"
One scowled at her as he stood up. "I've had a rough day."
"Yeah, right. You want rough, be a girl for a month. I guarantee you'll have a new perspective on how rough things can be."
One knew better than to take the bait, though he could just imagine Two's response. They walked over to a small dip in the floor, where a large elm tree grew in the light shining down from an overhead window. Sitting down in chairs set beneath the tree, they watched the passing crowds in silence for a few moments.
"Lotsa pre-Devastation Earthlings running around today." She commented, leaning back against her seat, "Must be getting close to Christmas."
"Must be." One said, his spirits lifting slightly.
Thinking about Christmas brought memories of the last holiday season he had spent in the Elsewhere. The details of the celebration itself were a bit fuzzy; he remembered some drinking, some dancing, and waking up some time later beneath the Christmas tree in the Lobby, Luck snoring in his arms and wearing his shirt.
"Have you seen Luck?" He asked Fate, "The directory said she was around here."
"Oh, she was." Fate told him, "She talking to me, as a matter of fact … that is, until she saw you bolt out of that shop. Then she disappeared."
"She's on to me." One muttered.
Fate raised an eyebrow at this. "Something I should be aware of?"
"Luck took a ring with some of my memories in it." said One, a little embarrassed, "I was going to have them reintegrated, but there's really no point now. Still, I'd kinda like to know why she took it and switched it with a perfect replica in the first place."
"Just what memories were in it, anyway?"
"I used to have a relationship with a tigreth named Teria Myssohn. For some reason, I stored all the memories of her in a ring she gave me."
"Uh-huh. I'm guessing you ran into her again."
One snorted. "You could say that. She's one of Mikaen's inner circle." Seeing her blank expression, he added, "Mikaen's the focus of the assignment I'm doing at the moment."
"Ah," she said, nodding, "so you wanted to use your relationship to Teria to help with the assignment."
"Not like that," said One, a bit miffed at her condescending tone, "I really thought we could be friends."
"One, One, One." said Fate, shaking her head, "Ever the optimist. Tigreth don't do the whole 'just friends' thing, at least not easily. Were you bonded?"
"I honestly don't know; she was taking anti-bond medication, but I can't feel anything from her. I know we were close."
"Well, the bond medication has other uses. How close were you?"
"She asked me to be her first."
Fate whistled. "Sounds pretty close to me. Were you planning on rekindling your relationship?"
"I don't know. I was close to her, but Luck ..." One fell silent, feeling extremely awkward. Luck was her sister, after all.
Fate held up a hand, saying, "It's okay. You don't have to say anymore. I remember where we found you that Christmas morning. She still has that shirt, you know. She thinks Karma and I don't know, but every now and then I catch her trying it on."
His face red, One said, "I suppose it doesn't matter anyway. Teria hates me for forgetting her, and I can't say I blame her."
Fate sighed. "Do you want my advice, One? Be patient. No one likes to be forgotten, whatever the reason. Teria might have chased you before, but that doesn't mean she'll do it again." Shrugging, she added, "She might just hit you."
"Gee, and here I thought I was the optimist."
Chuckling, Fate said, "Yeah, well just keep in mind that no matter how tough Teria may act, deep down, she's just as fragile as the rest of us sapient beings … and don't you dare tell Two I said that."
One chuckled. "It stays between us."
Smiling, Fate continued, "It might take some time, but she'll come around. And hey, maybe you two can be good friends. Just keep in mind that if you do hook up with Luck, I'll kick your ass if I ever catch you cheating on her."
Thinking back to the fight between Luck and Teria, One replied, "Oh, I think Luck would take care of that herself."
Fate snorted, grinning nonetheless. "Tell you what; I'll go talk to Luck about the ring. Why don't you go try to talk with Teria again in the meantime? I bet my rune it'll will work out better this time."
As they both stood up from the fountain side bench, One said, "I'll do that. Thanks, Fate. Give Two a good kick for me next time you see him, okay?"
She scoffed as she headed for the escalator, "I've got more than enough reason to kick that jerk."