Susan O'Fearna

"I Can't believe this! Two whole months and the only cases have been fat, pimpled wives wanting to know if their over-paid hubby is having an affair while they're busy watching the soaps," Lomar Jerana, private investigator, cried.

Years before, Jerana had attended an academy run by ex-policemen and ex-servicemen to train security personnel and policemen. At her graduation she'd been informed that no police force in the country would hire a person suspected by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Intimidation) to be, or at least to have been, a terrorist and assassin. She couldn't exactly explain to this source of bad news that she had only been following tradition, or that she had been a terrible assassin. So she had apprenticed to a private investigator and, after three years of legwork, gone freelance.

Investing her earnings according to the advice of her telepathic friends, the rock-like cristels, had eliminated the need to continue her occupation as a PI, but she kept on, to alleviate the boredom. She was still bored.

Dorry, what am I going to do. If I don't do something I'm going to go nuts!

You can find Mr. Henson. Remember, Mrs. Henson told you the kind of woman he likes: tall, fit, naturally slender, blonde; I cannot handle silver-eyed, use the contact lenses. If you are going to accept these cases where the wife wants to test her husband's faithfulness, you should at least do the job. According to his wife, he tends to loiter the premises of--"

--Yes I know. He hangs out at a nostalgia club. A nostalgia club!! I mean I love the fifties, but if he's old enough to fondly remember that era, I'm leaving. I will just have to refund Mrs. Henson's money. His picture was too blurry to tell his age, but he really doesn't look that old. OK you talked me into it, let's go.

And so, grabbing her wallet, shoving it into her back pocket, and her camera case, checking it for film, she left her office. In the parking lot, she got into her 1967 Ford Mustang; her pride and joy. After that bang-up ten months ago, she'd had it repainted that metallic green she so admired. She'd also had a 'Jesus bar' installed (something passengers could hold onto and scream 'Jesus' when her driving scared the hell out of them). To go with the new exterior she'd had the interior reupholstered in black suede and re-carpeted in dark gray. The ceiling was the same color as the new exterior. Between the bucket seats was her CUD case.

A friend had once told her that anyone who could put Tempest, Kenny G, Aerosmith, Metallic, Clowned and Credence in the same case as Bach and Mozart had to be Chihuahuas. That same worthy had held forth that reading horror, science fiction, fantasy, historical, classics, and romance novels, short stories and poetry was further proof of this sentiment.

At the Jukebox, the '50's nostalgia club, Mr. Henson was just one of twenty inside. The area was spacious and squared off. In the West corner, Art Deco was all the rage; silver and turquoise lacquer. In the East corner were Norman busts, pillars and backless loungers. In the South corner disco ruled; pillows, fringe and a strange purple haze were present. The North corner, though, was pure '50's; pink and black-leathered patrons were gathered around gingham covered tables.

Running in an X across the room into each corner was a marble-topped bar with an actual chrome-fixtured soda fountain. Lomar doubted that sodas and malts were being served from the kegs under the bar; she suspected more potent potables. Neat, though. The huge neon-lit jukebox in the center of the room (located at the apex of the x) was obviously the namesake of the establishment. The music was not only transition rock (so called because the decade began the true transformation from easier music to rock-n-roll, which will never die), but later classic rock and earlier jazz and blues, early country (the only good country) and even disco (gods forfend). Billie Halliday was playing as she entered. Lomar felt that the Fonz would have been perfectly comfortable here, nonetheless.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

It took all of two days to prove, at least to herself, that Mr. Henson liked to look, but wasn't going to be picked up by anyone.

Mrs. Henson paid the fee of $300 and went away happy. Lomar was happy too; she'd found a decent hang-out in the Jukebox.

Later that evening, after sunset but before full dark, while both the cristels were aware, she and her friends had a conference; ordered earlier that day that they needed to talk, all three of them, she waited.

Okay what do you two rocks want? Lomar asked good- naturedly of her two best friends.

"We need to shard, reproduce"

Wow, stereo effect!

Silly! In the past bonded pairs have had their host place them in a lightless place, barely touching. For nineteen days, we separate. On the twentieth day, we shard. Before we begin, you need to choose a recipient for our 'offspring' that we approve of. A custom of hosts is to have the 'parent host' construct the box and pendant for the new shards, in exchange for gifts from the new host. For the sharding, we will need a quartzite mass, about 15 pounds. As 'fuel'. Any questions?

I need to do my job again, huh? Another box, another pendant, and a person? You must both approve of the person I choose and I get to trade your offspring for gifts? Anything else?

The fifteen pounds of quartzite.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"How did you hear of my little hobby, Miss Jerana?"

"I am a private investigator, Miss Amani. I find out what I want to know. What I wanted was a neo-pagan carver who collects fantasy art and is an expert in Native American anthropology, specializing in folklore and mythology. You fit the bill."

The carver, a waifish, honey-blonde had the perfect coloration and nose to fit the mythical elvish playbills. A petite 5'1", 97 pounds, Losin Amani was an unusual looking youngster. (Lomar, at 40, thought all 20-year olds were children, but refused to act like a fuddy-duddy.) With long straight honey-blonde hair and green eyes, Losin was almost pretty. Her light, clear complexion made her eyes seem to glow with a life of their own. Her facial structure was mixed; thin lips, high brow and pronounced cheekbones could have left her looking Germanic, but her nose, small and upturned, was pixie-ish.

She is the recipient, from Dorry, who rarely interrupted conversation.

What!? How do you mean 'she is the recipient.' I thought I was supposed to choose the recipient.

She is a healer. Untrained, probably completely inexperienced. A natural psi-empath. She is to be the recipient. Besides, you were just thinking the same thing.

This is a not-for-profit, amateur effort and does not intend to infringe upon the rights of Anne McCaffrey's trademark to Pern or other copyrights thereof, which I might not be aware of.

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