PART FIVE
THE INTERROGATION OF LEIF

BOOK I

THE ROYAL STAR

       For centuries, humankind acclimated to life in space. The life forms man encountered had been much more varied then man ever imagined before the great migration. Because of the numerous varieties and copious amounts of Chameleon-like parasitic organisms man found, nudity among humans ceased to be a moral issue. To the contrary, proof of ones humanity came in the form of a human's voluntary nakedness in times of question. Clothing was optional when it was not needed for warmth, armor, or seduction. 

       The Cyborgs of the thirty second century of Gaia had also given man something to consider, man's own mortality. With medical advances that could keep humans alive for long after their natural lifespan, many sought to endure the often cumbersome apparatus' in a tradeoff for immortality. Some men and women chose to be a part of that group voluntarily, while others had bodily changes thrust upon them forcibly. A good example of that would be those men and women in the labor camps of Carrogen, a mining colony on Aramedes, in the star cluster of NGC 346, where incarcerated humans would spend months at a time below the surface of the planet digging up piles of Plutonian gold ore for the good of the Kalize Nation.

       Some humans would have nothing to do with the body technology, claiming that their god forbade the atrocity of bodily mutilations, regarding them as blasphemous. Given that most of the changes made to humans were in the realm of vascular and pulmonary endurance, the advances made were generally praised. But some advances were obviously for the sake vanity; skin, that never aged, eyes which could be any color desired, complete body reshaping, and sexual organs which were enhanced to almost indescribable aesthetics. Truly the human race had recreated themselves in their own image. 

       Human societies redeveloped and human cultures all remade their allowances for decency in the name of cultural integration. Virtually every human colony had protocol for identifying and categorizing newcomers from space. If a newcomer looked human, they were scanned for parasites and brought to be interrogated before being accepted into a group. Now, deep within the intergalactic space liner, the Royal Starr, just such an interrogation was taking place. 

~

       Steam filled the room from the open shower door. “Did you lose your family on Gaia? She asked the young man while she stepped from the dimly lit shower stall. Lucky crossed the small confines of her cabin in four steps with only a towel wrapped around her body. She did her best thinking under a hot shower and now she stood in the middle of her cabin alone with the stowaway. 

       The room around her was not much to write home about. The walls were a dark blue with a few wall fixtures and even fewer decorations. She'd grown accustomed to the cold metal decking of her ship, The Ferryman. 

       The boy drew a deep breath before answering. Then his downcast eyes turned to watch her walk by. “I lost everyone I knew.” He spat out the words as though it were her fault that they were dead. 

       She cringed. His eyes softened, rimmed with sadness that threatened to drop at any moment. She sighed, and changed the subject. “I'm sorry I had to chain you to the bunk like that, but you can't be too careful.” She glanced at his bindings.  

       The boy looked down at his hands. His wrists crossed over each other and were tied together and then between his knees to the side rail of the bunk. His ankles had been bound to his wrists from behind, leaving him completely immobilized. 

       The captain mumbled to herself, muttering under her breath but not really at the boy, “I needed some time to think.” Picking up a hair brush, she faced a mirror and away from the boy. She began to brush her hair. A muffled sound briefly roared around them. Lucky looked at her chronometer on her dresser. Right on schedule, she thought to herself. Hopefully, Du Monde is away by now.  

       “What are you going to do with me?” The stowaway asked of her, fumbling on his words. 

       Lucky continued her task, slowly pulling her brush through her long, baby-blue locks. “My men tell me you really are alone. They swept the bay and the ship already. So as long as I don't find any surprises, you may just live to finish this voyage.” She stared at him in the mirror. “You've nothing to fear from me so long as you tell me the truth.” 

       She stopped brushing her hair and turned to face him. His golden hair stood in short haphazard layers, as though cut with a knife. A slight beard betrayed his otherwise youthful appearance and his eyes were aged with grief. Before she'd secured him to the bunk, her guards outside had come in and stripped him, searching for weapons, devices and parasites. The lean sculpted musculature of his body told her clearly he was no mere boy. He was a survivor, and a clever one at that. He'd managed to slip past both the Royal Starr's guards, which was not saying much, but then he slipped past her own crew. 

       “My name is Leif,” he stated. “I was on Gaia when Luna fell.” 

       “Liar!” Lucky rushed at him, dropping her brush and her towel while putting a pistol to his forehead in one heart pounding moment. “Tell me the truth!” 

       Her eyes were wide as she towered over Leif. She shocked him with her reflexes. He shut his eyes tightly, expecting to be killed. 

       “No one survived Gaia! No one.” Lucky flipped off the safety of her pistol, simultaneously starting the primer. An electric whine hissed from the weapon as it charged. Her anger turned, subdued by a sadness Leif could not yet determine. 

       Suddenly, Leif, feeling certain he was about to die, found an inner strength he was unfamiliar with. He opened his eyes and took in the sight that was to be his last. The woman before him had red painted toe nails, slender ankles and a long jagged scar which ran up her left thigh. Except for her head, her body was completely hairless. Her stomach was tight and her hips, slender. Her bare skin smelled of oranges. 

       He also now knew the gun the woman held just inches from his face was a Kalize issued NOC particle canon with a fourteen millimeter bore because “14 MM” was stamped across its muzzle by the manufacturer. The woman's breasts were heaving up and down as she struggled to catch her breath. Drops of water trickled down and over them from her wet hair. 

       As Leif's eyes fell upon her smooth, finely featured face, she prodded him again. “Tell me the truth.” It was little more than a whisper. 

His mouth opened, hesitated and then slowly, he told her, “I didn't escape on my own.” 

       Lucky switched off the charged primer and turned the safety back on, closing her eyes. She looked away and stood up tall. Her arm with the weapon lay at her side as though it were too heavy to bear. She sighed. “Tell me how you escaped. Tell me how you got here.” 

       “I... I was in New Phoenix on Luna. When the alarms sounded, my brother and a friend of mine, Dallas, and I were only half a click from an emergency escape ship.” 

       The captains' demeanor softened. In a moment she'd turned, put the weapon away and had begun to dress, pretending to be only somewhat interested in his tale. In a moment a screen on the wall flickered and the face of Pop's, her right hand man appeared. She looked at Leif. “Just a moment.”  

       “Pops, You have a message for me?” 

       “Yes, Captain. We have eliminated Du Monde as planned. We are following the slipstream into the path of Nemar. We are readying for the jump. I estimate our jump to begin in less than one hour. Do you agree with that plan Captain?” 

       “Aye. Keep me apprised of our schedule. Captain, out.” 

       She set herself down next to the young man; half dressed, pulling her knees up to her chest. Her tank top and underwear, both dark blue, stood in harsh contrast to the soft, light and rosy colors of her flesh. “Now, tell me your tale, boy.” 

© 2008-2017 Mayachrome Press & D. Paul Fonseca

Photo, courtesy of Pixabay.com 

 

First published Wednesday, August 27, 2008. 

Last modified Monday, June 6, 2017

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