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              "I watched you die."
              Trevor watched Claire matter of factly as he said that.
              They were sitting in Claire Allen's office inside the city ship, stars passing outside a large viewing portal. Claire was seated, wearing a blue top and black skirt, her legs crossed gracefully before her. She continued to take notes on a small computer screen interface she held in her hand as it recorded and and transcribed all the e conversation for her to read or view later. She used a small stylus with a blue glowing tip to add her own unsaid comments, noting facts that seemed important, the information flashing on the screen and merging with the file.
              Claire continued casually as if she wasn't writing anything, even though the padd and stylus were in plain view.
              "Interesting. Do you often have visions of stranger's deaths?"
              He shook his head. "No. You're not getting it. I mean this, not your lack of sex. I'm saying I was there. With you. Specifically. By the water. Where you died."
              Claire smiled, but it was obvious that she didn't believe him. "Of course..."
              "It's true..."
              She continued to take notes. "Well, as you can see, I'm very much alive."
              His eyes were slowly admiring her legs.
              She shifted slightly and tried to ignore the tingling she felt when he looked at her, concentrating instead on her work. "So... by extension, that means I'm not actually dead."
              "Not anymore."
              Claire still took notes on her pad, words and images shifting on her pad silently. "And why do you believe you watched me die, considering we've never met. And that I'm living."
              "Because we did meet... And I was there. Watching. As you died in my arms. You know, for a therapist you really need help with your listening skills."
              She shook her head. "No, what I meant was--"
              Trevor moved his hands towards her in a rolling motion, interrupting. "ACTIVE listening. Make yourself a part of the conversation--"
              "Well, I was try--"
              "Active, say it with me. Low, breathy-sexy. Ready? Aaactive--"
              "If you just would let me finish one senten--"
              "Active. Act. React. Apt."
              "Interrupting someone isn't isn't part of active listening." she said curtly.
              "Oh..." he blinked. "I always though it meant that I was the one who was active."
              "Ok this getting us nowhere. Let's continue shall we. On another subject..." She stopped to write notes, looking down at her screen. But she paused her stylus when she saw he was intently watching her face. At least he wasn't ogling her legs for the moment.
              Squinting, Trevor still examined her with a tiny smile. "See... I didn't catch it at first when I landed on the ship. But now that I look at you... You're Claire Allen."
              Claire gave him a patronizing look. "Yes, it says so on the door display when you walked in. That big thing over there."
              Trevor wasn't listening. "And since you are Claire Allen... I watched you die. "
              "Riiight."
              "Is this confusing.? Because I could use smaller words. "
              Trevor exaggerated a small space in mid air with his hands, struggling to contract it with a grimace, enjoying his performance, enjoying it a little too much.
              "Umm..." Claire tried to stop him as he grew louder and more animated., waving her stylus forward, feeling she was quickly losing control of the session. "Umm... Ok. I... I don't see how..."
              "Oh yeah... that's.. that's it. That's... yes. Yes!"
              "Okay Trevor could you not--"
              Stopping his loud groans, Trevor finally finished contracting his imaginary mid air words, looking at her as he spoke in a simpler cave man voice.
              "Me. You. See..." He pointed to his own eyes as if she were a child. The in an offhand manner he motioned to her. "Dead."
              "Yes, I understand the concept, Trevor." She said, exasperated.
              'See, I don't think that you do--"
              "But I don't see how you can believe--" Claire ran over his words, and they both began to talk over each other.
              "--because obviously my words aren't that hard to understand--" he continued.
              "--that I am truly and in any conceivable way dead, when--" Claire took notes, ignoring him.
              "--I mean, words are simple. Most people know words. I even used the small ones--"
              "--when clearly I'm not!" She finished loudly, stopping him, the room going quiet for a moment.
              "I'll say." Trevor said appreciatively. He was admiring her legs again.
              She shifted in her seat. "Please stop admiring me, Trevor."
              He ignored her, looking up with a knowing glint.
              "So. Still have the mark?"
              She blinked. "The what?"
              "The little birthmark. Small. Cute. Right above your--"
              He began to motion, but then her eyes widened with embarrassment.
              "Have you been spying on me?"
              "No, just arrived on ship. But we could try it later if you would like. I could put on a mask and an EVA suit. Float outside your shower portal... We could play the classic "Naughty Alien". Or "Naughty ALLEN" in this case. Maybe I can bring some wine and blindfolds to your cabin. Do you want to dress up? Or should we just start with heavy breathing and holographic oils."
              Claire stopped him, her voice firm. "I'll ask you to refrain from those types of innuendoes."
              "When?"
              "Now."
              "Okay." Trevor blinked in surprise. "Deja vu... All you need now is a disapproving pout--"
              Growing impatient at his antics, Claire looked at him.
              Trevor nodded. "Wow... You're good."
              "And you're clearly delusional. More than I thought."
              "Oh really..." Intrigued, he leaned forward. "So how often have you... been thinking about me?"
              "Far more than I'd like too."
              "I know. That look but don't touch thing you doctor's have can be a pain in the ass, can't it?"
              "Yes it ca--..." She stopped herself, replying simply. "I'm not doing this."
              He smiled. "Great! So I can go! Amazing session, doctor. Short and sweet. Right to the point. So your quarters around 6? Maybe 9?" Trevor began to rise out of his chair to leave, but she stopped him, still writing her notes.
              "Please sit down, Trevor."
              He paused, deciding.
              She didn't look up from her notes as she spoke. "Security can be hear in 30 seconds."
              "Fine." He settled back into his chair. "So why am I here?"
              She gave him a long look. "Is... that an existential question?"
              "No, why am I forced to have these sessions?"
              "Because the Captain ordered that you be evaluated."
              "Your FATHER. The captain."
              "Hmm... you're quick. You're here because you've been ordered to, by the head of this ship. Because you landed here unexpectedly claiming to be Cupid. And because of a multitude of other reasons that are becoming more painfully self evident by the second. So. Instead of simply reinforcing my already low opinion of you, lets get back on the topic we started discussing." Her information pad flashed, the screen shifting and sliding back to an earlier conversation track that had been dropped. She didn't realize that her skirt had slid back an inch as well when she moved. Trevor admired the view but said nothing. Her voice was suddenly tinged with knowing disbelief. "So you claim you saw me die, despite the fact that I'm sitting right in front of you. So when was that exactly? A few hours ago? Or.... Tuesday?"
              He shook his head, fully aware he was being talked down to. "No. It was many hundred years ago."
              "Oh... of course."
              He shrugged. "You asked."
              "So. Some sort of past life." She continued to take notes on her pad.
              He laughed. "You really are quick too. Shame your body's not as quick as your--"
              "--wit. Yeah I get it. Yadda yadda, big pointless come on, excetera. So, we've all lived before?"
              "Well, I haven't. I never died. I'm immortal. Been playing for all the innings. But all the rest of you guys, yeah. Don't really know how it works. Never went to the meetings on Olympus. The Committee for the Subset of Human Reincarnation it was called. Believe me. I heard it's even more boring than it sounds."
              Claire nodded, fascinated that he didn't seem to want to face death. She spoke softly, almost to herself. "Hmm, immortal. As a result of being Cupid, the god of love."
              Trevor rubbed his hands appreciatively. "Yes! Exactly! Insert another big pointless come on here. Finally some understanding. You're making excellent progress doctor. We may have just experienced a breakthrough."
              Claire ignored him, almost lost in her own thoughts. "So how does this immortality that you crave fit in with--" she checked her notes, "with these hundred beads as you call them?"
              Trevor winced at her response, leaning back. "Oh so close. The patient's regressed again. Oh well. You'll do better next time, Claire. Breakthroughs are overrated anyway. They just leave you with a mess to clean up and a new wall to crack."
              Claire looked at him. "Just answer the question. Why did you see me die?"
              "Well.. you and I... were one of them. The beads,"
              "Wait, we were beads?"
              "One bead."
              "We were beads?"
              "Not literally beads."
              "Oh."
              "One of the beads... was for us. We were together. A couple."
              "A couple. Interesting."
              "Yeah. You. Me. You're the love of my life. And since I'm immortal, that's saying something."
              Blinking, Claire looked at him, not necessarily surprised, but not necessarily believing it either. She tried to ignore the tingle his words sent through her, staying the therapist. "Please. Go on."
              Trevor seemed quieter. "Well... when you were here. When you were alive... I didn't want to leave."
              "You didn't want to back home to Olympus?"
              "No. I didn't want to go. And if I got a hundred beads, then I would... go. So I stopped at 99. Stayed with you. Then... after you died... I really wasn't into love anymore. And it stayed that way for centuries. But there was this one time about a hundred years ago, when I actually tried to go back. Get bead 100. Almost made it too, but the planet blew up. Took it as a sign."
              She nodded, not believing. "Convenient. No surviving records to discount your claims."
              "You think it was convenient for me that the entire earth went kabloosh?"
              "It wasn't a kabloosh."
              "It was a KABLOOSH. I was there. Very impressive."
              Claire pushed on. "So... why did you come to our ship now?"
              He seemed uncomfortable, sidestepping the question. "Because I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you."
              "You're who?"
              Trevor shook his head. "No one remembers the classics anymore."
              With a sigh, Claire went back to her notes, the screen flashing as he stylus entered new information on the screen, stars still passing through the portal beyond. It was going to be a long session.


              Trevor walked away from Claire's office, feeling relieved to be free from her questions. Suddenly a group of women stopped him in one of the crowded street wide pathways of the massive ship.
              "You're really him, aren't you? You really are the one."
              A pretty yet introverted young woman watched Trevor with awe as he stopped before her. She was flanked perfectly by four equally pretty and shy women in an exact V formation. All of them watched him with shocked adulation, as if they were seeing an angel.
              Trevor smiled at all the female attention. "Hi there. I don't believe you've had the pleasure of our company. My name's Trevor Hale. Cupid, god of love."
              "We... we know." Tears were welling happily up in the woman's eyes, her voice wavering as she spoke. "You really are him,... aren't you?"
              "Yes I am," Trevor spoke more carefully, her reaction feeling strange. "Umm, have we... have you and I... Because I know I leave an impression after, but this is..."
              "Cupid the god of Love!" she continued enthusiastically. "Here in the flesh at last! With us!"
              They all clapped happily in the busy passageway, crowds walking by in either direction.
              Trevor rolled his eyes, losing his interest in their unadulterated adoration as memories of Faith danced in his head. "Great. Your one of THOSE."
              "We've been waiting for your return our entire life."
              "Uh-huh. Shouldn't you guys be somewhere else? Oh wait... my mistake. That's was supposed to be me." He started to leave.
              She stopped him, moving sideways and touching his arm as behind her the V formation shifted and remained intact with remarkable precision. "No! Don't go! You don't understand. We've seen all the holos of you. Studied your life, your body. Poured our naked souls over all the sacred writings we could find before your first death and res--"
              "Wait, wait a second." Trevor interrupted her. "First death? There was no first death. Look at how toned this body is. Nice, huh? You know what I mean. See, I'm immortal. Who wrote about me before my 'first' death?"
              She sighed slowly, proudly. The women in the V shape behind her sighed as well. Trevor blinked at them, surprised by his reaction to that. As he looked at them more carefully, he realized they were all kind of cute. The leader continued with relish, explaining.
              "We are followers of the new true religion. One based on love, understanding, and hooking up. Naked, reverent followers of you, Cupid, in the gospels according to Frechette. Only two of his sacred texts about you survived the planetary apocalypse! DISCOVERING CUPID by Dr. Ian Frechette, and HOW I MADE A FORTUNE OFF THE GOD OF LOVE: A BUSINESS PRIMER by Sir Ian Frechette. 19.95/24.99 Canadian." she recited proudly.
              "THAT guy!?" Trevor shook his head angrily. "That lousy little--"
              Stopping himself, he decided to let it go. "So how many of you are in this 'religion'."
              She looked down. "Well... only seven. But we have a song. And sometimes pie. On sacred Thursdays."
              Trevor's eyes widened in disbelief. "You... you have a song?"
              "Yes!" she smiled happily. "We're extremely overdressed right now but, would you like to hear it?"
              "Well, I don't--"
              Before he could dissuade them any further, she turned towards the V formation and they instantly started singing loudly in perfect, well rehearsed acapella that echoed down the crowded passageway of the ship.


              It's time for Cupid... in Space
              Yes he is Cupid... in Space
              He's going to save the human race.
              Because he is Cupid... in Space!



              Trevor looked around, embarrassed by their boisterous recital towards him. "Oh please don't do that again."
              The leader turned back to him, pleased. As she moved her light brown hair flowed across her shoulders. He noticed she had a tiny bit of soft, smooth belly showing at the waist of form fitting dress. They all did. Giving them another look, he realized they were all more attractive than he had originally thought. Swallowing, he was suddenly more intrigued.
              "So.. what sort of things do you girls, umm... do."
              "We meet every Thursday, and study the art of love."
              "Ohh--" THAT got his attention, taking a playful step closer, "--really."
              "We do everything together. everything." They nodded in unison, which was kind of creepy, but he could live with it. "We call ourselves CUPIES."
              Trevor paused. "Cupies?"
              "Cupies."
              He shook his head. "No. Not Cupies."
              "No, actually it is Cupies." she corrected him.
              "Not Cupies. Try 'Cupidians'."
              She thought about it, before nodding. "No, we prefer Cupies. But we would love for you to come over and teach us the advanced forms of love."
              Trevor caught his breath, smiling. "Sure. I'm always more than willing to provided some, personal instruction. Believe me, I'm a really good teacher. And... you say you do everything together? All at the same time?"
              Another creepy nod.
              The leader continued. "And maybe after you could tell us more about your first blessed disciple, Faith. We loved reading her prophecies about you. She must truly have been in your grace to receive a gift like that."
              He couldn't believe what he was hearing.
              "Faith? Faith?!! She was a nut! She tried to kill me for gods sake!"
              The V formation gasped in unison. "Blasphemer!"
              With a huff, Trevor had heard enough, giving up and walking away, losing himself in the crowd.
              The woman turned and faced the others behind her, concern on her pretty face. "He's testing us.... right? Yes. He must be testing us..."


              "Well?"
              Captain Allen looked her expectantly from the bridge of his ship. Claire was before him, the two of them standing in the shadows of the darkened bridge in front of the massive floor to ceiling portal where she had first seen Trevor's ship, the stars speeding silently past. Behind and beneath them consoles glowed softly all around, but the two of them were alone up on the command walkway, outlined against the fiery distant points of light passing by outside. Everyone else on the bridge crew was a discreet distance away. Claire lowered her voice to talk privately to her father. she tried to put it politely.
              "He's nuts, dad. Trevor's already concocted some bizarre story that he and I shared some sort of past life together. Probably just integrating. Adjusting the new circumstances he's found himself in into a pre-existing psychosis."
              The Captain looked down for a moment, concerned. His eyes returned to her with a steely, hard look. "Should we wipe him? Is he dangerous?"
              Claire tried to calm his fears. "No, it's nothing like that. He does honestly believe he's Cupid. I have no doubt of that. But there's no real harm in it. He yearns for immortality, but don't we all? He wants somehow to have control over the affairs of the heart, but that's also not an uncommon wish. But for him, it manifests in the Cupid persona. I'm still doing some research on his file history, but I believe these are all signs that point to him losing someone very important to him, at some point in his past. I haven't discovered the exact traumatic event yet, but I will. Beyond that, Trevor's just an ordinary delusional man. He still functions well, interacts with society in basically normal ways. Says something about society, I suppose. But otherwise I really wouldn't consider him a threat to himself or to anyone else."
              Pacing slightly, her father remained suspicious. "Still... something doesn't feel right here, Claire bear. The way Mr. Hale showed up, miraculously out of nowhere, right when we needed him. And right when we were losing. A little too convenient. I'd like to keep him under watch until--"
              Claire laughed softly and put a hand on her father's arm, reassuring him. "That's really not necessary, Dad. Believe me. Trevor Hale may be an oddity, but there's nothing nefarious about him."


              Trevor was walking down a large quiet hallway of the massive city ship, completely alone and surrounded by metal walls and high ceilings that looked worn and industrial. he took several steps forward, eyes ahead. And then in the middle of the wide walkway he paused. After a moment, he awkwardly stretched his arms, yawning in a clearly exaggerated manner. Trevor did a fast suspicious scan of his surroundings, his head turning quickly to see if he was truly alone. Then in one long, exaggerated step, he moved next to a computer screen glowing in the wall beside him. With one last surreptitious look around, he finally spoke to the screen.
              "Computer, access internal ships core and security, protected processor and AI files."
              "ACCESS DENIED." the computer said simply.
              Then the screen turned immediately red as the ships AI continued. "WARNING. Attempted access to system and security core by unauthorized personnel is a felony punishable by immediate and bloody termin--"
              Not concerned, Trevor pulled a slim looking scan card smoothly from his pocket and casually waved it through the air before the screen's sensor.
              "ACCESS GRANTED. System AI core and security available." The screen switched to green. With a smile, Trevor watched as various protected systems came up, his cipher card working perfectly. After a moment, he pulled out a small personal computer pad, checking its display.
              "Not time yet... Computer shut down access and erase all records of this interaction."
              "Done." The computer screen went dark.
              Trevor nodded, slipping the slim card and computer pad into his pocket, before casually walking away.



TO BE CONTINUED...