— by Ted R. Blasingame, with Steve Carter
Chester Hobbes walked into the library with the morning's paper. Somehow, the paper carrier had gotten it to the Blackthorne estate despite the snow that had covered Oklahoma City and closed down most of the metropolitan area. As he passed through the large oak double doors, he stopped. For the briefest of instants, he thought he had seen Alex, Rojur and Brandon in the room, but now it was empty.
Something strange was always going on with Mr. Delondin around, Hobbes thought to himself. He shook his head and walked to the large desk that dominated the room. He set the paper in its usual place next to the computer terminal and left to attend to other duties.
As he closed the doors behind him, four figures appeared in the middle of the room. All were clad in cloth garments now, instead of the liquid uniforms of the Zephyr. Brandon ran to the window and looked merrily at the snow outside when Alex moved to his desk. Rojur kept his light grip on Sahni's hand as he led her to the window.
Brandon looked up at them and said, "We're back!" He then ran to the desk. "Dad?" he asked, "Can I go outside? We have snow!"
Blackthorne glanced over from his computer monitor and raised an eyebrow. "I thought you wanted to rest up before your tutor gets here for your lessons."
"I haven’t seen snow in months, Dad," Brandon whined.
Blackthorne smiled and nodded. "It isn't likely Carl will be able to make it through the snow to get here, anyway. Go ahead, kiddo. Make sure you dress warm and let Okami out to romp with you."
"Thanks, Dad!" The youth rushed out of the library and Blackthorne heard a squawk of surprise from Hobbes in the front room. When Rojur and Sahni moved to his desk, Alex looked up and smiled. He stood up and offered his hand to the esper.
"Well, Rojur," he said, "It has been... an adventure knowing you." Rojur took his hand and shook it warmly. "I can't claim that things have been dull since you came to Oklahoma."
Rojur laughed. "No, I suppose not. I know this vacation turned out to be more than you wanted, but I hope you will remember us from time to time."
"I'm not likely to bloody well forget this incident, especially after the last week of investigation procedures," Alex replied with a smile as he leaned against his desk with folded arms. "Good luck going back to work for your father."
Rojur glanced around the room briefly before returning his gaze to his friend. "Actually, I've been thinking about that," he said. "After the adventures I've been through and how I've enjoyed the open use of my abilities in recent weeks, I have toyed with the idea of joining the Psion Patrol instead." He put an arm around Sahni's waist and continued. "To my father, and to my time, I've only been away a few months. But to me, having been on the run, as well as the time spent here with you and Brandon, it has been about two or three years since I've done any design work. While I'm sure I could get back into the routine, I think I like the idea of using my talents out and away from an office desk better."
He looked over at Sahni and smiled. "We've discussed the possibility of getting married," he admitted to Alex’ raised eyebrow, "but now with Kehtan's retirement, the Zephyr will be in need of a new captain. Everyone seems to think Sahni is perfect for the assignment, and I agree."
Alex stepped around the desk and approached the couple. Sahni had remained silent since their arrival, but now she moved to Blackthorne and embraced him warmly.
"Take care of yourself, Alex," she said after giving him a quick peck on the cheek. "We'll miss having you around."
"Come back and see us sometime," the millionaire said warmly. "You’ll always be welcome in my house."
Sahni leaned forward and lightly kissed him on the lips this time. "We'll be sure to do that." She pulled away and slipped an arm around Rojur's waist.
"Oh, by the way," Alex said to the esper as he remembered something, "Now that things look like they are patched up between you and your father, what name will you go by? Rojur or Delon?"
The esper looked at Chieko and then back to Alex. "I thought to commemorate my new life, I would stay with Rojur Delondin. Although he didn't really agree, my father understands the need for a new start. Besides, no matter what name I use, he will probably always call me Delon."
Alex stepped back and nodded. "Then I wish both of you luck in your careers."
"Thank you. Good-bye, Alex."
Hobbes walked into the room just in time to see Rojur and some woman disappear. He started, but kept his composure. He studied Alex’ face briefly and wondered where his employer's new lines of stress had come from.
"Hello, Chester," Alex said.
"Would you fix a large breakfast for me?" Blackthorne asked. "I'm rather starved for a good home-cooked meal."
"Sir? We just finished breakfast."
Alex laughed. He had forgotten about the time change. Rojur had them leave from Rona during the morning hours, so their sense of time wouldn't be too far off when they got back to Earth, but they had neglected to eat anything first. "Indulge me, please?" he asked. "I want another round of everything you fixed before."
Hobbes raised his eyebrows but nodded. "Yes, sir."
— NEXT CHAPTER —
Unless otherwise noted, all material © Ted R. Blasingame. All rights reserved.