The Pellegrine

Soul Lark

Book IX
The Ambitious Magus

Chapter 4

© The author reserves all rights to this work.


This story is of an adult nature. It is not intended for minors nor for those whose law in their land forbids them to read this material.
This story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental and unintentional.

NB: Words found between asterisks (*) refer to words exchanged in psychic or telepathic communication.

Date: 27 March 2676, Monday

“Are the both of you okay?” asked Mark. He had overheard Heath explaining why he had left the dance hall just before the explosions occurred three nights before.

“What do you mean?” asked Jacques.

“Well, I heard Heath say that he had some problems with his love life …” Mark’s voice trailed off as he realised what he had just did.

Heath made a face. Mark caught it straight away and regretted not thinking before asking the question. Jacques and Heath had helped him to get the flat cleaned up. The Friday before was a busy day for Mark because he was working at his brother’s birthday party. The next day, Saturday, was spent trying to cheer Matthew up because he seemed to be affected by the accident the night before. The following day, Sunday, Matthew was still brooding. He had buried himself in homework. Mark knew that he should have asked Matthew for help to clean the flat but he did not want to disturb his brother. So, he called up his best friends to help him clean up the flat.

“Sorry, I made a mistake …” Mark started saying.

“What problems?” asked Jacques raising his eyebrows. In reality, he knew what Mark was talking about. Heath had to make an excuse as to why he left the dance hall just before the explosions on the night of the party. He was being questioned by a police officer and he had to hide the real reason he was out: to carry out a magi operation.

“No thanks to you, Mark,” sighed Heath. “I’ve got to tell him now whether I like it or not.”

“Like what or not, Heath?” Jacques asked, narrowing his eyes.

Heath had to keep himself from laughing because Jacques was putting up a really good performance. He spoke in the most downcast voice he could muster up. “Well, I wanted to surprise you and bring you to a special place for dinner. I couldn’t think of a place and so I sought Iris’ help. I didn’t want you to find out and so I asked her to meet me outside. You see, I have noticed lately, that our fire has died down somewhat and I wanted somewhere extra romantic to bring you to but just couldn’t think of any …”

“You’d better forgive Heath, Jacques,” remarked Mark. “He’s so considerate towards you.”

“Considerate he is … but I think we’d better talk this at home,” said Jacques with a slight frown.

*You’re enjoying this performance, aren’t you,* Heath shot a thought to Jacques.

*Aren’t you?* Jacques shot back.

*Not when you’re getting the juicier parts and I’ve to stop from smiling with pride because you’re so good in your part.* Jacques could almost hear the smile in Heath’s mental voice.

*Point noted,* Jacques responded. *We need to move on with the plan.* Changing the subject, he asked Mark, “Has the police called you regarding Friday’s fire?”

“A detective called,” Mark replied. “He said that the forensics have found no evidence of arson. He said that the fire department found a large store of stuff in the basement. They found paint, turpentine and thinner in those cans. The owner of the building claimed to have had no knowledge of the stuff. And get this; a large hardware store had been burgled that night. The police are looking for the burglars right now. Probably, the burglars stole the from the hardware shop and needed a place to stash the loot. They must have broken the lock of the basement and stored the stolen stuff there. A short in the fuse box in the basement probably caused a spark and that ignited the paint and all that flamable liquids. The sudden burst of heat caused by all that turpentine and thinner must have caused the explosion. The detective said it was a miracle that the fire it caused didn’t end up causing early asphyxiation. There would have been more serious casualties.”

At that moment, Matthew came out from his room. He had been doing an assignment for his courses in the university.

“Hi Matt,” said Jacques. “I see you’ve decided to come out from your room.”

“Yeah …” Matthew replied weakly.

“What’s the matter, Matt?” Heath asked. “Mark, your brother looks kinda pale …” Heath remarked.

“He does?” Mark looked at his brother. “He was okay just before dinner …”

“I don’t feel that bad. Probably just an upset stomach, nothing serious,” replied Matthew.

Mark took another look at his brother and grew concerned. He realised that his brother did seem under the weather. He had attributed it to the disappointing events of Friday night and did not think of any physical problems. However, looking again, Mark decided that Matthew did look a little sick.

“Why don’t we bring him to see Trevor?” suggested Jacques. Trevor was the ship’s doctor. He had been occupied by another appointment and was not able to attend Matthew’s party. “I’ll call him now.” Jacques picked up his communicator and called up the doctor.

When the call was acknowledged, the smiling face of the ship’s doctor came onto the viewscreen. Jacques greeted, “Good evening, Trevor.”

“Howdy, Jacques!” the doctor returned the greeting. “What can I do for you?”

“Mark’s brother looks a little under the weather. Could you take a look at him?” Jacques asked.

“Of course,” he replied. “Can he move?”

Jacques turned to Matthew who nodded. “Yes, he can,” Jacques replied.

The doctor nodded his head, as if deep in thought. “What are his symptoms?”

“It’s his stomach. Probably took something he shouldn’t have.”

The doctor looked up seriously and said, “In that case, it’ll be better if we meet at my office. I have a more thorough lab there.”

“Will do. We should be there in fifteen minutes,” said Jacques. When the communications ended, he turned to Heath and said, “Heath, you take the controls. We’re going to take Matt to Trevor’s office.”

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

The doctor’s office was just next to the Titan Tours office. Trevor was already waiting for them. Dr. Trevor Jones was the Pellegrine’s Chief Medical Officer. He had specially come down from his home to see Matthew. Mark was very grateful. Whilst they were at the waiting area, Trevor prodded Matthew’s abdomen gently. Then he said he needed to examine Matthew in private. The rest were asked to wait outside.

Once inside, Trevor grinned, “Gave quite a good show, Matthew. You didn’t overact, and Heath and Jacques managed to convince your brother. You know what you need to do, right?”

“Yes,” said Matthew meekly. Jorg had actually gone to Matthew’s room when Jacques and Heath were helping Mark. They kept him occupied whilst Jorg was instructing Matthew what to do.

“Look, Matt, I know you don’t like deceiving your brother but it’s for his own safety. The less he knows about the threat to your life, the better,” remarked Trevor.

“I know. I guess I’m anxious about going to Earth. This matter seems so big and it’s overwhelming me,” said Matthew.

Trevor placed his hand on Matthew’s shoulder to encourage him. “I know. However, if we don’t do anything right now, your safety would be compromised.”

Matthew looked perturbed. “What I’d like to know is: why magi, like Jorg and you, are spending so much time helping me when there may be thousands of others who need help as well.”

Trevor smiled. “Matt, we aren’t the only magi. There are other magi helping many other people all over the solar system. It’s just that you don’t see them helping. We try not to be visible if we can help it.” Then, looking intently at Matthew, the doctor continued, “You may think yourself insignificant but you’re important to many people. To your brother, for example.”

Matthew gave a sigh. “He might’ve made a mistake …”

“We’ll have none of that negative, depressive thinking here,” chided Trevor. “Your brother loves you. Not many elder brothers have that kind of love and care for their younger brothers.”

“I know,” said Matthew indicating that he had come to terms with his situation. He tried to change the subject. “Didn’t anyone see what the magi doing their stuff on Friday night?”

“Fortunately, no one saw the action. Natasha had moved the lot of you into an alley between two buildings that didn’t have many windows looking into it. There was hardly any light, if you remember?”

“Yes, but the noise?” asked Matthew.

“Well, someone almost saw the lot of you but Jorg managed to camouflage the scene just in time. We are quite thorough, as you can see. Sorry, I couldn’t be at the party.”

“It’s okay. You only missed the excitement”

“Actually, I was on duty. I arrived later when Jorg asked for help,” revealed Trevor

Matthew was surprised. He did not remember seeing the doctor. “You were?” he asked.

“I went around seeing to all those who needed medical help.”

“I just hope we can get this trip to Earth over with as soon as possible,” said Matthew with a sigh.

“Me too. It’s about time we went out. I’ll be giving you placebos as medicine. So, continue to look lethargic when we’re out there and let me do the rest.”

Matthew nodded his head.

“I’m afraid it’s not so much what he ate but what has infected him,” said Trevor as he emerged from his consultation room with Matthew. “He’s got the stomach flu. Normally an injection of drugs would get him up in a day, but I believe that a more therapeutic treatment would be to let him have smaller doses with more time to rest and sleep. I believe that Friday night’s activities have worn him out, making him more susceptible to the germ. My scans indicate that he hasn’t been sleeping well too.”

“So he’s going to miss school?” asked Mark.

“Yes. I’m going to send a message to the university to explain my treatment,” continued Trevor. “He isn’t allowed visitors because I’ll be giving him a relaxant so that he can rest and let his own body resistance fight the bug. I’m sure the university will understand.”

“Guess I’ll have to take leave to take care of him, then,” said a concerned Mark.

“It isn’t that serious,” said Trevor. “He’ll just need plenty of fluids and I suggest he gets really soft meals for the first two days. Then he could have more solid stuff after that, if his stomach can take it. I suggest that you ask for extra time for lunch break so that you could go back to prepare his lunch. His condition isn’t life threatening and the last thing he needs is a brother mothering him when he’s supposed to be resting!” Trevor said the last part with a grin, causing Heath and Jacques to chuckle.

“Matt is already nineteen, Mark,” said Jacques. “Give him a break. Keep your communicators on standby so that he can call you anytime if he needs you. You could be back in five minutes you know.”

Mark gave a sheepish grin. “I’m sorry if I over-reacted. I’ll leave him at home and go to work.”

Trevor went behind a counter and came out with a bag of medicine. “Here’s his medication for five days. I’ve taken the liberty of adding six packs of soft meals for the first two days. You just have to add water, heat it up a little and his meal’s ready.”

Mark looked at his brother and teased him, “Even though you aren’t a baby, you’ll still get baby food.”

Matthew smiled weakly whilst the rest of them laughed. Then the four of them went back to Mark’s place.

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

After Matthew had obediently taken his ‘medicine’ and gone to bed, Heath and Jacques stayed behind for a little while to chat with Mark.

“You don’t have to be too worried. If it’d been serious, Trevor would’ve sent him to the hospital,” said Heath.

“I know. He’s my kid brother. He’s had a tough life and I …”

“… want to make things easier for him. We know, we know,” Jacques replied. “Look after yourself as well, Mark. No point for him to be okay when he’s got to look after you later.”

“Hey! I’m not that old! …”

The friendly banter went on. Mark was oblivious to the fact that Jacques and Heath were merely distracting him whilst Jorg and Rocky were getting Matthew out of the house and substituting him with another magus, Vladimir. Matthew was amazed at how Vladimir changed his appearance and voice so as to look and sound like him. Vladimir even had the same slur and sluggishness in his voice like Matthew when he had just woken up.

“Don’t worry, Matthew. Your brother won’t know the difference,” said Vladimir.

“Furthermore, There will always be at least one backup in your room. Rocky will always be here but unseen. We’re also making surveillance outside the house. So don’t you worry about anything,” assured Jorg. “Anyway, we’d be back before Saturday.”

After the switch was made, Jorg informed Heath and transported Matthew to Jacques and Heath’s place.

“We’ve got to go, Jacques. Let’s leave Mark to have his rest. We’ve an early day tomorrow,” said Heath.

“Oh yes! I forgot that you’re going back to Earth with the ship,” said Mark. “I’m sorry for keeping you.”

“No, we chose to stay,” said Jacques. “And, of course, we do have that matter about dinner?”

Heath gave a small groan. Mark felt sorry for Heath. If only he had not slipped and revealed what he had overheard. Perhaps Heath would be spared of the approaching conversation with his life partner. However, Mark felt that the two of them loved each other enough to talk things through.

“Spare him, Jacques,” pleaded Mark. “He’ll need to work when the ship flies tomorrow.”

“I suppose I should,” said Jacques with an air of resignation, “but we need to work on his insecurities, you know. Our fires waning?” Jacques shook his head as he looked at Heath who was trying his best to hold back his laughter.

“Bye! Jacques,” said Mark.

“Good night, Mark,” replied Jacques.

Heath could only manage a quick, “Bye!”

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