Orphic Phantasia

4: Just Like Old Times

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Chris shrugged. “No doubt it’s something to do with local politics like everything else today. Speaking of which, we ought to report in with Mr al-Hakim. We still have to deal with his brother’s trial, though I can’t imagine the forest will have anything as interesting as this.”

He almost sounded proud of the surveillance station and its invasive eyes. Emily hid her true feelings behind a fake smile as the two young men took their leave—Leira could get away with a scowl, but Emily Fomalhaut was a kind, decent girl. She was everybody’s friend.

“One of these days I’m gonna rip that eejit’s balls off,” said Leira, without specifying her intended victim.

Kaori, meanwhile, was trying to figure out the map controls. “I’ve found Joel!” she cried. “Aw, look, the boys have made a new friend.”

“Oh gods,” said Leira, “it’s that feckin’ Whittlesey. Good thing this don’t have any audio or I’d be smashing it in with a pipe.”

“Can we get audio?” asked Kaori. “Emz? I want to hear what Joel is saying when he thinks I’m not listening!”

Emily looked to Leira, who shook her head. “Let me have a look,” she said, stepping up to the console. Pulling an audio feed to go alongside the projected image was as simple as swiping a few options. “Maybe if I do this, and then this—”

Kaori whined as the golden light vanished.

Emily faked a guilty smile. “I think I broke it,” she lied.


Sohrabarak al-Hakim had a smile that could melt a normal woman’s heart. Emily, however, was not what anyone would call ‘normal’, while Leira reacted about as well to flirtatious male behaviour as she did to the offer of drugs. Kaori, on the other hand, was eager to please and quick to take charge of the situation.

“We discovered a surveillance station of dubious nature,” she explained when the Theatre lecturer and Seelie Commander asked for their conclusions. “It would appear from the extensive damage caused that somebody did not approve of the facility’s existence. However, the ruins we discovered were, in fact, a masquerade. We suspect they were used by the occupants as a diversion while they took root in the true control centre buried further underground.”

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Sohrabarak means ‘illustrious lightning’.