As twins, Aven and Marc were naturally close.
Both had black hair, black eyes, pale skin, and slender builds but Marc was tall at six feet two and Aven several inches shorter. So when Marc returned to their small apartment from visiting his Aether girlfriend she was furious. Aven saw Marc come staggering in. She was shocked seeing him so pale and shaking in her arms. She touched his mind. “That bitch. I’ll call the officials—”
“No … no, don’t. They’ll cancel the mission. Just help me recover.”
She bent her head and connected to his, sharing his pain. She could do little to soothe it, but sharing helped and she grimaced. “Poor Marc.”
She grinned at him as he lay half over her. “You’re supposed to say, ‘Poor Aven.’”
“Actually you got screwed, big time. What was Crisa thinking?”
“She wasn’t. She’s ascending to the first level, she was excited. If the officials are told she’ll be penalized.”
“Marc, that’s no reason not to report her.”
“Then how about I care for her?”
“And you don’t want to be ostracized by her kind.”
“Actually, she promised to reward me later.” He managed a wicked leer.
“Idiot.” Aven stroked his head as his body was now able to heal itself. She went to find something to eat. The kitchen was more a kitchenette, narrow, with cooler, cooker, and open style shelves. The lounge was on the other side of the bench she was now leaning on and their bedrooms at opposite ends of the lounge. Each had their own study and bathroom and just shared the lounge and kitchen. It suited them both.
“The Dead Ringer is ready.”
“I’ve packed my bags already. You get some sleep in my bed, I’ll pack your gear, and we can leave on time. I can pilot on my own out of our system.”
“You’re a gem, Aven. Best sister yet.”
She laughed. “Can you get up?”
As he tried to get up, he held his head and lost balance. Aven managed to get him up and to her room. He slid over the double bed; she pulled the top covers over him. He clutched the bedding, and then her hand before releasing it.
Aven left him and entered his room. Packing took little time, Marc had a fondness for dark pants, dark tops, and jackets. She packed shoes, socks, jocks, and the other normal assortment of crap he liked to take. She even shoved in a picture of Crisa and him at some event. After another quick check she threw in his gamer, his reader, and his musician. That should stop any complaints. She walked out and the lights turned off. Stacking his bags, she went to check on him, feeling his forehead, and then she went to lie down in the lounge, and watched a movie. Sleep came surprisingly fast and she woke to the smell of java. Marc was sitting on the table smiling at her. She fingered the wool blanket on her body.
He said, “What would I do without you?”
And on that next mission he had repaid her with betrayal.
And after Marc had betrayed her, Aven grew bitter. No longer having to live in the Aether buffer zone, they had been given another mission. It was their sixth and this time they would be allowed to live out, and maybe not return. Both were secretly relieved and that suited Aven’s plan perfectly. As they were talking and he closed his eyes, she calmly pulled out her tranquilizer gun and waited. Once unconscious it was a simple—her comms unit beeped.
It was Tartarus. “Gaia is moving to stop us.”
Aven was grim. “Consider Marc wiped. I was going to add a little flourish but I’ll just get the job done.”
Marc’s eyes popped open. “Aven?”
“I’m sorry, Marc. You really shouldn’t have betrayed me.”
Aven shot him.