Over the next few days Jack and Alex made love every evening, and every morning they woke up early enough. Jack would then see him off to work with a promise to keep busy.
As soon as Alex was out of sight Tristan sat down at the computer, a Tomika a few years out of date. That didn't affect its performance too much; the Tomika was a faster and more powerful system than the cheaper Celaran.
Tristan activated the program he has installed and it logged him remotely into Luminex's mainframe. He had thirty minutes to explore it before Alexander swiped his ID card to enter the building. If he was still in when that happened it would warn security that the user was in two places at the same time; this would prevent him from carrying on with his plans.
The first few visits were only for exploration, to learn the layout of their database. Like with all large companied it had been custom built for them, both the hardware and the software. Fortunately with so many users it had to be easy to use. Within three days he had all the information he needed not only to write the program that would let him get in the building, but also those that would let him walk out.
The rest of the day was spent building the programs, even before he knew how Luminex's database was setup he could work on the skeleton for them, the command part that told the program what to do. Once he had the layout he could tell them how to do it.
A few days later the first program was done. To celebrate Tristan make some Alanian stew, it had been years since he'd had the spicy dish. The last time he'd had it was with his father, just before he left his home world.
He used the money chip Alex left for Jack to shop for ingredients. He had to approximate a few of the spices and the meat, but he was confident it would work. Back to the apartment he looked around to make sure there were no traces of the time he spent at Alex's computer. Then he set himself to cooking.
When he heard the door open and close Tristan was throwing the final spices in the pot.
"Something smells good," Alex said from the hallway.
"We're having Alanian stew," Jack replied, wiping his hands with a towel.
Alex stepped into the kitchen, "I don't think I've ever had that."
Jack kisses him tenderly, "I hope not, it's something my father created when I was a child."
"Your father was a cook?"
Jack chuckled, "no, we would go in the forest, only bring with us some spices and pots, and spend days surviving from what we could find and kill."
Alex pulled back in surprise, "you killed?"
"Only animals," Jack said, caressing Alex's cheek with the back of his hand. "My world isn't as advanced as yours; you'd probably consider it savage. The large cities are making progress to catch up to the rest of the universe, but we still have large expanses of wild land. My father believed in being able to survive no matter where you were.'
Alex closed his eyes and pressed against the hand. "Have you talked with him since you left?"
"No, he died before I left."
Alex looked at him, "I'm so sorry," he said as he hugged him.
Jack hugged him back, "thanks." Jack then picked him up and brought him to the bedroom.
"I thought you were working on dinner," Alex commented.
"It has to simmer for an hour before it'll be ready, and unlike steak, it won't burn if we're a little late."
"That was your fault."
Jack didn't deny that as he deposited Alex on the bed.
* * * * *
As Jack had promised, the stew was still quite good even if they got to it an hour latter then planned.
* * * * *
It was the sixth day since Tristan had been infected. Alex decided to take the day off from work so they could spend it together; he wanted to show him the city. They spent the morning walking around the merchant booths in Ilomare square, Alex pointing out his favorite booths, where he could look for exotic items.
When noon came around they stopped at an outdoor restaurant, Alex had wanted to go inside, but Jack had pointed out they spent most of their times inside already, today should be their outdoor day. Alex said he was silly and kissed him, before sitting at a table and lifting his face to the sun. Jack sat facing him, laughing.
Jack saw the man sit down on the other side of the patio, but he didn't pay him any attention, just like he hadn't paid attention to him every time he'd seen him following them over the last three hours. The human was short and stocky; he carried himself like someone used to fighting. Tristan wondered why a Merc was following them. Was he following him, or Alex? As far as he knew Alex wasn't in trouble with anyone, but he needed to be certain.
Jack smiled at Alex after they placed their orders. He took the man's hands in his and brought them to his muzzle to kiss. "Do you mind if I do some shopping on my own after we've eaten?"
Alex squeezed Jack's hands, "why? I can show you where all the best places are."
"I know," jack said, and then hesitated a little, "but I want to get you something special, something I'll find on my own, to surprise you with."
Alex was thoughtful for a moment, "ok, then I'll look for something for you too. That way we can both surprise each other."
Jack had to let go of Alex's hands when their plates was placed before them. While they ate they came up with rules for their individual shopping; they separated the square in two and they had to remain in their section. Jack chose the south side. They would have one hour to find something and the sentimental value of what they found had to be greater than the monetary value.
Alex paid for the meal and stood, "so we're agreed, in one hour we meet back here with our gift."
Jack stood and presented his hand to him, "agreed."
They shook hands and went their separate way.
The Merc didn't even wait for them to be out of the patio before standing and following Tristan. Tristan let him follow while he headed to a specific booth, he'd noticed something earlier and he wanted to double check it.
The square was setup almost like a maze, with booths side by side creating small path with surprising turns or openings. Someone who didn't know the layout could wander around for hours without finding a way out; fortunately he remembered the way Alex had taken.
He wandered toward his destination, making sure the Merc could follow him, and looking for an appropriate alleyway. When he found a deserted one that dead ended a few hundred feet in he turned in it. He noted where everything was before stopping. The Merc was only thirty steps behind him.
Jack turned around once he realized the alley ended and found himself facing a human, holding a gun. He took a step back in surprise and tripped over an old box. He grunted as he fell on his back, lucky not to hit his head on the hard ground. When he looked up the human was only a few steps away, gun still pointed at him.
"Hello Tristan," the human said with a satisfied smile.
"My, my name's Jack," Jack said, his voice quivering.
"I'm sure that guy you're playing believes that," the man said putting his gun in Jack's face.
Jack closed his eyes tight and turned his head. "Please don't shoot me," he begged, "my cred chip's in my pocket, take it, just don't hurt me."
"How much's on it?"
Jack tentatively opened an eye. The man was looking at him, his weapon at his side. "Fif, fifty I think."
He raised an eyebrow, "fifty thousand?"
Jack shook his head, "just fifty."
The human laughed, "you think I'm going to let you go for fifty credits? Come on, get up. Do you have any idea how much the Saratoga is offering to get you back?"
Jack slowly stood, keeping a fearful eye on the human.
The man took a step toward him, "I was expecting more from you. The great Tristan's suppose to be this cold blooded killer, not some scared kid."
Jack swallowed hard, fearfully looking from the gun to the man's face, "I'm not him, I'm Jack." The fear went out of Jack's eyes and Tristan reached for the man's throat with one hand his the wrist of the hand holding the gun with the other. "I'm Tristan," he said calmly.
The human fought to point his gun at Tristan, so he tightened his grip and twisted the wrist, making the man scream and drop the gun.
"How did you find out I was here?" Tristan asked.
"Your face's been broadcasted all over the place. Someone saw you and reported you in." the human answered trying to dislodge Tristan's hand off his throat.
"No, if the Saratoga had done that, Mercs would be fighting each others to get to me. And the Saratoga doesn't want to publicly advertise I have escaped. Someone local contacted you directly."
"So what if someone did."
"I know who it is," Tristan stated. "Humans need to better protect their necks," he said has he started to squeeze the man's neck. The human's eyes grew wide with fear for a moment, and then Tristan grew surprised when the neck didn't was to collapse.
The human smiled at him, "I know," he said before punching him in the stomach with enough strength to lift Tristan off the ground.
Tristan rolled as soon as he fell, moving out of the way form the boot that stumped where his neck had been. He stood and winced from the pain in his stomach; he barely moved in time to avoid being cut. The human's right hand now had two inch long blades coming out of his fingers. He moved deeper in the alley as he avoided more swipes; he couldn't afford to get any kind of wound Jack couldn't explain to Alex. He also couldn't afford to take too long, he had to be back at the restaurant in time.
He waited for his opportunity as he avoided those blades. When it came in quickly moved in, slashed him from belly to throat and then backed out. The wounds weren't deep, but he could see that the line of blood didn't go up past the bottom of the man's chest. Reinforced skin; the chest and throat, but not the wrists, only the vital areas were covered; he also had increased strength.
"You can't keep being a coward, you're going to be running out of room soon," the man taunted him.
As an answer Tristan caught his wrist the next time he swung and twisted it until he heard the bones snap. The man screamed in pain and Tristan buried the blades in his stomach, them turn them upward and pushed. The man's scream stopped as they pierced his heart. He let him fall, making sure not to get any more blood on himself than he already had.
He dragged the human to the back of the alley and heaped garbage and what ever else he could find over him. He would come back to deal with the body during the night. He picked up the human's gun, it was small without any distinguishing marks. Tristan was surprised that he'd never seen anything like it before. He wanted to bring it with him, but he couldn't risk Jack being caught with it, so he hid it with the body.
He wiped most of the blood off his hand and then went to one of the multiple fountains to wash the rest of it off. No one questioned what he was doing since others were also cleaning their hands in it. The little blood that had splattered on his chest was dark enough that it could wait until he was back at Alex's apartment.
Sufficiently cleaned he headed directly for the booth he was interested in. There he picked up the small statue and examined it carefully. It was a foot in height, by the weight it was made from solid stone. There was no mistaking that the being represented was of the same specie as he was, but he was painted a soft brown, marking him as being from the plains. The paint was faded and chipped off in places. He was holding two curved swords the length of its forearm, and he was crouched in a defensive position.
It wasn't a reproduction; if Tristan had cared in any way about his home world he would be outraged that someone had desecrated one of the Temples and stolen this. Instead he paid the price the merchant asked for.