Multiple-Edged

Rhin stared at the open box. "A synthesizer!"

23 poked at the components and commented, "These things can be fun." He glanced over at Rhin, "Can I set it up?" The keyboard was one piece, but there was also the stand to be assembled, the foot controls to be attached, and the amps to be hooked up. Rhin nodded permission and 23 started in. Silently, Michael joined him, showing a familiarity with the process.

Noticing something skewed in the arrangement, Azami looked up from examining her sword. She studied the two men setting up the musical equipment, and then looked from Rhin to Tam. "Is it just me, or is there something strange in the fact that the two unmusical people in the room are setting up the synthesizer?"

Tam gurgled with suppressed amusement, "Are you trying to call me musical?"

Rhin also laughed, "Well, more demonstratively than these two... Are either of you going to comment?" During the slight interchange, 23 and Michael had continued with their work. The only sign that they'd been listening was a grin tugging at the corners of 23's mouth.

23 finished testing the amps, then he turned to face Azami and Tam (Rhin was off to a side, poking through the packaging papers the synth had come with), "In musical terms, I would be known as a 'Roadie' or a 'Gofer'. This is something that I have a lot of fun doing." His grin widened, "It's nice to know I can still surprise you with some things."

"23, you're always surprising us." Tam drawled, her glinting eyes adding lightness to the sarcastic comment.

Not replying to the comment, aside from a roll of the eyes, 23 hooked up the power supplies after Michael stabilized the keyboard on the assembled stand.

"It occurs to me--" Azami halted her comment as Rhin played a few notes. Rhin instantly stopped, and turned to her friend.

"I'm sorry -- what were you saying?"

Azami shook her head, "Never mind." She was sure they would get Michael's explanation out of him later. Actually, 23’s hadn’t been much of an explanation either.

The keyboard continued to pour out a variety of sounds as all the gathered people tried out the range of instruments and combinations the synth could produce. Eventually, it lost the initial appeal for everybody and they went back to opening the other packages.

After the packages had all been opened, each person managed to get absorbed in the ones that interested them the most. For Rhin, that was the synthesizer. She was used to string instruments primarily, but she’d worked with pianos before. And for some of her friends, it was their main instrument. She started off with ‘Chopsticks’, went on to Chopin’s Concerto in D minor, and then played ‘The Rainbow Connection’.

"This is fun," she commented. And proceeded through every song she could remember.

"That’s a nice one," Tamlynn glanced over. "What is it?"

Rhin continued to let her fingers dance over the keys while she answered, "I think it was called ‘Moonlight over You’. We know there are words to it, but Craig would never dish ‘em."

"‘Craig’?" Azami looked up and then over at the other couch where Craig-23 was playing with the puzzle-game. Tamlynn also was startled.

Rhin laughed, "Not 23. Craig was a good friend of mine--"

"And I’m not?" 23 inserted with a grin, not looking up from the screen.

Shooting him a dirty look that was wasted as 23 still didn’t look up, Rhin continued, "-- whose main instrument was the synth. He composed both popular songs and symphonies. I met him nearly 35 years ago at a jam another friend of mine put together. After that first one, we jammed together many a time." On the keyboard, her hands switched tunes, "He wrote this one too -- see if you recognize it."

Azami and Tam instantly did and started singing along. When the song was finished, Tamlynn spoke, "You’re talking about Craig Albion."

Rhin corrected her, "Craig Olbinony."

23, still not looking up, spoke in a firm voice, "Albinoni."

Rhin shook her head, "No, I have an ear for names, it was Olbinony."

"Albinoni. He named himself after a great composer in the 17th century: Tomaso Albinoni."

Frowning, Rhin started to say, "Are you sure?"

She was cut off as Azami sat upright and exclaimed, "‘Named himself’? 23, are you telling us that..."

Tamlynn joined in and the two finished in unison, "he’s your brother???"

23 sighed, "Was one of them, yes."

Rhin stared, "But 23! I’ve met him. I’ve jammed with him. Hell, I even--" she caught that line of thought off abruptly and switched to her conclusion, "He doesn’t look a thing like you! Or talk like you. Well, he is... was... the same general height. But he had red hair. And a blue eye..." Rhin trailed off as the last comparison brought a thought with it.

Finally, 23 put down the game. "Craig-39 was caught in an explosion when we were sixteen years old. He was badly burned over most of his body and had to have extensive surgery. When they were doing the plastic reconstruction, he opted for a different face. And his hair had to be transplanted as well. They couldn’t save his eye and put in a fake one -- the blue was his idea, I think he liked having two different colored ones." He paused in memory, then laughed, "Actually, after that happened to 39, quite a few of my brothers went in for optional surgery and made their own faces."