August 13th, 2007, 08:09 PM
Another erotic sci-fi for TEB. Now, this one is interesting because I chose, as hero, what I hope is a provocative choice.
Prime Suspect (http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?s=yyrgpq9019&P_ID=164) is due for release by TEB on September 24th.
A lonely being in a lonely galaxy…Heron Meed has a number of strikes against it. It is an hermaphrodite in a galaxy of two-gendered beings. And it’s a criminal.
After six years of incarceratin, Heron is trying to start a new life, but that isn't easy when so many avenues are closed to it. It finally finds a refuge of sorts on the Castor Xeni Orbital and a sucrease from its pain in the arms of voluptuous Subah Doisson.
But then various systems on the Orbital start getting sabotaged. With a small engineering population, and Heron the only newcomer to the station, how can the hermaphrodite prove its innocence amid a sea of entrenched prejudice?
August 13th, 2007, 08:19 PM
The story so far: After release from the e'Bultar Detention Centre, Heron Meed tries to find work on the Castor Xeni Orbital. The security administrator of the orbital, however, is firm: find accommodation within sixteen hours or leave. Heron is not having much luck with this deadline...
This is an UNEDITED excerpt!
It shuffled through the names it had stored on the chip. One had begun with the most recent names. Maybe if the order was reversed…? The small screen blinked blue.
To share family quarters. One room plus access to shared facilities. Rent plus outgoings plus percentage of annual habitat tax, pro rata. Contact Subah Doisson, Hydroponics Level D, Junction 12.
It didn’t sound very inviting―the details were sparse at best, and the date-tag was months’ old―and Heron didn’t relish the idea of sharing quarters with a family. Still, it was desperate. If it couldn’t find accommodation within the next few hours, and didn’t have enough money to get off the station, it would be arrested, and that was not a good beginning to a new life.
Heron read through the listing again, memorising the address, then got to its feet.
The Hydroponics section was difficult to find, hidden away from the other areas almost as an afterthought, which it well might have been. As it navigated the increasingly narrowing maze of corridors, Heron thought that Subah Doisson must have provided his or her working address until it suddenly came across an orange-lined door that denoted accommodation quarters. It looked around. A home in the middle of an industrial area? How strange.
Heron rang the buzzer, already half-dispirited. Maybe if it could show K’liven proof of employment, the security chief might give it a reprieve regarding quarters. Heron was prioritising its tentative employment offers when the door slid open.
“Yes, may I help you?”
Heron straightened immediately from where it slouched against the wall.
A woman. As tall as Heron with slightly darker skin, murky green eyes and dark auburn hair. With strong features and a low, husky voice, she couldn’t be called attractive, but there was a striking beauty in her, emphasised by her voluptuous figure.
Heron, deprived of any companionship for six years, felt a flutter in its groin as it regarded her.
“I’m looking for Subah Doisson,” it said.
“I am Subah Doisson.”
Don’t get too excited. There’s probably a he-man lurking somewhere in the background. It restrained the urge to look over her shoulder and into the quarters.
“You have a listing for someone to share your accommodation?”
Heron saw the woman size it up. There was speculation in the gaze but nothing that made its skin crawl, no half-hidden lecherous leer or tight grimace of revulsion.
“That old listing?” Heron’s heart dropped and something must have shown on its face because the woman laughed a little nervously. “I mean, it’s still available, but it’s just that I created it so long ago, I’d almost forgotten. Please,” she said, standing aside and gesturing with her hand, “come in. I’ll show you around.”
It was a modest space with two bedrooms, both with secondary doors opening into a common bathroom. Privately, Heron thought it would be a bit cramped with three adults sharing the quarters but beggars couldn’t be choosers, as the ancient saying went.
Subah Doisson must have misread Heron’s silence because she added apologetically, “I know it’s a long way from the rest of the accommodation wing and you can sometimes hear the water pumping in and out of Hydroponics behind the walls. Because of that, though, it’s not as expensive as some other family quarters–”
“I’ll take it,” Heron cut in.
“You will? I mean, that’s good.” She gave a quick smile and Heron’s heart bumped momentarily in an uneven staccato. “This will be your room,” she indicated the bedroom on the right. “I’m one of the Hydroponics engineers so I work pretty regular hours for the most part. It will be interesting having someone else to share with again.”
That makes two of us.<o>
</o> “What about your husband?” Heron knew family quarters were never allocated to single women, no matter the circumstance. Space stations were the epitome of pragmatism.
“He died two years ago.” Her eyes clouded briefly. “A reactor accident. I thought I would be relocated but these quarters are not very popular and, in the end, I just ended up staying. I’ve been looking for a co-tenant for almost a year now.”
And, Heron thought, she didn’t have a clue how to go about it. She should be full of questions: who are you? Why are you interested in renting here? Do you have a job? Where did you live last? Heron was tempted to force her to throw it out, just to show how undesirables should be dealt with.
Instead, in a calm voice, it asked, “How much is the rent?”
“Five hundred credits a month, plus outgoings. Say, six-fifty for the first month?”
“Sounds fine. I’ll transfer the funds immediately.” There were questions here, Heron could feel it in the air, but K’liven’s heavy threat hung over Heron’s head. It couldn’t afford to harbour any doubts, especially when this was the only accommodation choice it had.
“Have you had anything to eat?” Subah asked, moving to the small galley.
Heron was on the point of saying “yes” until it realised its last meal was eight hours ago. “Ah, no.”
“Then I’ll fix us something.”
Left with nothing to do, Heron stowed its backpack away in the room. There was also a small desk in the room with an attached swing-out chair and the ubiquitous computer. After a quick look around, it bent down and stroked the bed’s smooth amber coverlet. It was thicker than the blankets the detention centre offered, without the patches or holes it was used to. The Republic had technology to travel the stars yet still couldn’t develop material that didn’t tear or wear out. Couldn’t...or wouldn’t.
Six years ago, Heron wouldn’t have looked twice at such furniture trappings. But now, a plain coverlet seemed like the height of luxury.
With a wry smile, Heron walked over to the computer and inserted its chip, authorising a funds transfer to Subah Doisson, once he found her in the station’s directory (Engineer, Hydroponics). The screen chirped acknowledgement and a little over half of its money was instantly gone. It hoped the handful of job opportunities it was offered were legitimate.
When Heron returned to the living room, Subah was ready with something to eat. The food was simple and uncomplicated but tasted wonderful.
“Don’t you want to know who I am?” Heron asked her.
“I know your name is Heron Meed. I was notified of the transfer while I was in the kitchen. It’s a nice name but a bit unusual.”
“I come from the Morhea Sector.”
Subah’s expression was interested but blank. Somehow, it was vitally important to Heron for Subah to understand who―and what―it was.
“I’m what’s called an hermaphrodite,” it persisted. Didn’t she notice what had been so immediately evident to Immigration Officer Fusmic?
Subah nodded. “I know about the Morhea Sector. You forget, I’m a bio-engineer.”
Heron’s eyes narrowed. This seemed too good to be true. “So you don’t have any problems with renting a room to someone like me?”
She looked at it with large green eyes. “Why should I?”
Why should she? What a ridiculous question to ask. The reasons were legion. Because ‘hermys’ were the alleged carriers of terrible venereal diseases. Because they were abominations in the eyes of the Creator. Because they were immoral, oversexed beings bent on taking over the galaxy. Heron had the urge to grab her and shake some sense into her. Better to be rejected now by someone with knowledge, however incorrect it may be, than later, when one had already started on the path of its new life.
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