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Dex

April 25, 2009  Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, The Craft   1 Comment

Had an itch to write sci-fi separate from the YOUR LITTLE SISTER manuscript. So I decided to do some more world-building and see where it took me. Since I have been accused (by more than one person, I should add) of having a fascination with kissing, here’s a sci-fi kiss. We have the return of Major Hackett, and a new character, Dex. After writing this, Dex seems really fascinating. I don’t know why.

I’m digging the expanded Major Hackett though. Big time.

***

Leftenant Landau, the Space Marshal wants to talk to you,” said the Major in a neutral, flat voice. The short, sharp-featured woman looked him up and down, as if was a fresh piece of meat. Considering he was just off an orbiter, he was. He could almost see her mentally smirking through the thin veneer of her professional blankness.

Dex froze in place. He had not been on Space Station Mitachi more than five minutes. It was his first time in space. It was his first time in uniform. Hell, he did not even know where the head is, and he had to pee.

But he wasn’t stupid. He saluted the woman, remembering his training.

Training he received only yesterday.

She saluted back, and then stuck out her hand. “Jill Hackett,” she said, her voice warming up. “I am the Marshal’s attaché and all-around gopher girl.”

Dex took her hand and instead of shaking it, she clasped his wrist and pulled him close. She actually stood on her toes and kissed him on each cheek. He hoped his surprise did not wash across his face.

His cheeks felt warm as if he was blushing, and he realized the warmth was not from embarrassment. She was a wælcyrie! He had heard of them, but never had met one until now. His brain raced with the cultural meaning of having one kiss him. It was a social greeting, but also more. They were marking you with nano riders carried on their lips. No one knew why, or if anyone did, they were not telling. Eventually, his internal nano regulator would neutralize the benign foreign nano tech.

Theoretically, at least. It was some small comfort that if the nano was malignant, his regulator would go into full neutralization mode.

He pushed this from his brain as he realized she was now smiling at him. “This way, Leftenant.”

He followed dutifully. He tried to memorize the route but gave up after five minutes. She was probably following a trail displayed in her contact lens HUD, avoiding crowds and construction in real-time, both of which seemed abundant.

Dex decided being shy was stupid. He may be still wet behind the ears, but he was a commissioned officer, newb status notwithstanding. He was being silly.

“Could we take a detour to the head, Major?”

“Of course. This way.”

Soon they were in a unisex bathroom. He made a beeline for a urinal while she disappeared into a stall.

As they were both peeing, she got chatty.

“I saw you have a combat record, Leftenant. Did you see a lot of action?”

“No ma’am. In the war, my family operated a Whisper Net Repeater in the Northern Territories. We got hit with a drop. That was the extent of my contact with the enemy.”

“I glanced at your file, personal details are sparse. You have sisters, yes?”

“Yes. Four. Three older ones and one younger one.”

She came out from the stall and they washed up next to each other.

“Four! Goodness, Landau, how did you survive? And I guess that’s why you’re not shy with having a conversation with a female while peeing.”

“I learned to hide really well,” he said grinning.

“I bet the younger one has you wrapped around her pinky.”

Dex felt the grin freeze on his face. His mother used to say to him “You be careful, Dex, that sister of yours has you wrapped around her pinky!”

Concern played across Hackett’s face. She reached across and moved his hands away from the faucet, and the water turned off. He had spaced out to the point he did not realize his hands were still under the running water.

Now Dex was embarrassed. He didn’t know much about space stations, but he knew wasting water was rude. It had to be re-filtered.

“I’m sorry, Dex. I did not mean to bring up bad memories.”

Dex sighed. “Not so much bad as—bittersweet. Is it that obvious?” Sometimes he felt he was wearing his grief from losing his parents in the war like a cloak. He dried his hands quickly, still embarrassed.

“No, no. The war has been over for only three years, you’ll spot it yourself here soon enough. We all have the odd thing that reminds us of those who are no longer with us.” Suddenly her eyes grew large and luminous. “Sometimes, the hurt just sneaks up on you and wham; it’s like a punch in the gut.”

A single tear slid down her face.

Dex felt a pang of sympathy so strong, it nearly made him shudder. Almost against his will, he reached down to her pixie-like face and brushed the tear away. Suddenly, arms were around his neck and she kissed him, a desperate kiss of mouth and tongue, and he kissed her back, just as desperately.

The door to the head opened and they suddenly looked at the entering man and woman, Corporals. The two stopped in their tracks and stared, the Major still had her arms around his neck and he realized he had a hand on her shapely butt.

The enlisted quickly recovered and snapped smart salutes. Dex just as quickly separated from Hackett and they returned the salutes.

“Major,” said the man.

“Corporal, at ease.” The Major smoothed out her uniform.

Leftenant,” said the woman. She bit her lip and her eyes were dancing.

“Corporal,” Dex said. Suddenly he felt very foolish. He gave her a nod and left, quickly followed by the Major. As the door closed behind them, Dex did not hear laughter but he was positive that is what was going on.

“This way, Leftenant.” He could swear she was blushing.

As he followed the mysterious woman, no, the wælcyrie, Dex had to remind himself­­­—he wondered what the Space Marshal wanted of him. In the span of three days, he advertised his availability for work, received a commission, took a 12-hour orientation corpse, was deep scanned and re-assigned to Orbital and Space because of his genetic predisposition to neural implant acclimation coupled with high scores in AI interfacing. In moments, he will be meeting with the Commander of Orbital and Space. Tomorrow he will undergo surgery and then tanked for regen therapy for a month to finish growing the cyber tech and then acclimate his body to the implants.

Somehow, in the midst of all of this, he kissed the Space Marshall’s intelligence officer—a genetically engineered soldier from the war times who, technically, was not human.

Dex had to admit to himself that his future, if the present was any indication, was a big unknown to him, very different from his carefully sister-arranged life. This both terrified and elated him. Whatever tomorrow holds, it would not be boring!

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