Streams of hot water flowed across her body washing away the sins of the night before. The heat and steam of the shower acting as her absolution as she allowed it to erode away her thoughts. She smiled as the fluids swirled at her feet before gurgling down the drain taking with them the last evidence of her crimes. The thought of him still on her mind and his smell was still clear even now as his blood was completely washed away. Perhaps it was time to shed this clone and all its subtle memories for something fresh. Perhaps this time she would have blond hair not the dirty red she had become bored with. The soft chime of temple bells interrupted, someone was paging her. She strode from the shower, wrapped herself in a towel and heading for her office. The shower shut off and began the first of several sanitizing cycles thus ending any links from her back to “him”.
“Good Morning my child!” greeted the old Gallente man as his image came into focus before her.
“Good Morning Sir!” she returned bowing slightly allowing her towel to slip a little knowing it always caused him some discomfort. Yet today his misshapen eyes took on sharp gaze sending an uneasy feeling to her core. She repositioned her towel and crossed her arms across her chest. There was an uneasy pause in time before he spoke.
“Juliette I need you to check on Janice before 21:00 hours. I feel her duties are weighing heavily upon her.” He said softening his gaze and smiling softly before adding. “The company of your guiltless soul is needed to help her release her fears.”
A curt smile formed as Juliette replied “So my “sister” needs to lighten up. Did you ask her to haul your Exotic Dancers again?”
He chuckled softly for a moment if only to be polite. “No, I’ve asked her to fuel Station-1. So please be kind to your sister.” The image snapped shut and he was gone.
“Shit!” cursed Juliette as she turned to her wardrobe. Today she would wear that damn uniform she hated and go prepare Janice to die.
Station-1 quietly reported having 20 days of fuel left to its owners. It then ran a self auto check. Ammunition levels in all turrets were at 98%. All warp scram and web arrays were online and undamaged. Moon extraction cycles were operational and silo capacity was at 50%. The manticore was fueled and loaded in its hanger array. The last dock was 8 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes, and 47 seconds ago. Last hostile contact had been 8 days, 12 hours, 8 minutes, and 15 seconds ago. The aggressing ship, a rifter, was eliminated by array #3. A date was added to the report and Station-1 returned to passive mode as it monitored the 300KM bubble of space it called home. An incoming transmission flickered across the empty control deck indicating the ETA of 22:00 for a refueling craft. With a hiss the stations life support systems prepared for living inhabitants. An old antique bubbled and gurgled as it brewed coffee the way it was made 300 years ago. Then Station-1 returned to passive state and resumed scanning its bubble.
Nine astral units away another machine scanned its surroundings. Yet this machine was not compiled of circuits and power grids like stations-1. It was sinew and blood suspended in an amber fluid deep within the bowels of a Hurricane Battle cruiser. It was posed 15KM from the jump gate flashing and shimmering radiantly as the sensor boosters probed for the next kill. The machine watched and waited for the flash of a gate to fire. It’s persona far colder than any POS.
With her usual long powerful strides Janice arrived outside the entrance to the Prime Cadet. It was an officer’s bar in the upper levels of the station that was frequented with capsuleers with strong moral standards and clean records. Janice came here often during her down time, but today she was not looking forward to her visit. The last time she met Juliette for lunch it involved a seedy nameless tavern in the stations underbelly with lunch ending to the sounds of blaster fire. The fact that Juliette had chosen the ‘Cadet was like a Brutor asking for a napkin. With a sigh she pushed on the door.
“Welcome back Janice!” bubbled the perky hostess “Juliette is waiting for you in room #7 and asked we direct you to her on arrival!”
“Great, thanks!” replied Janice as she brushed past and headed to room #7. “Time to get this over with.” She muttered under her breath.
“Enjoy your lunch captain!” the hostess called after her in a chirpy voice.
As Janice entered room #7 Juliette stood and greeted her with a Caldari officers salute. She was dressed in a Caldari Captains uniform that was neat but only adequately prepared. Janice was uneasy now as she knew Juliette hated to wear uniform and the whole situation smelt all wrong.
“OK! I am really freaked out Juliette. First this bar and now you in uniform saluting me!”Janice barked
“Well Hello to you too Janice.” Juliette replied with a coy smile.”What did you expect dirty coveralls or a skin tight cat suit?”
“Sister if I was wearing a blaster right now, I’d have shot you for an imposter!” Janice looked Juliette right in the eye as said it. Her cold eyes showing no sign she was joking.
“Look! The boss chased me out of the shower this morning and told me to check in on you. Then he told me he is sending you up to refuel station-1” shot back Juliette “Oh and if you want to talk about freaked out, he did not look away when I slipped with my towel today.” Juliette shivered a little as the words left her lips.
“He look at you with that creepy stare?” Janice softened a little with the question.
“Oh yeah! Still feel like I have a hole in me. Christ I need a drink.” Juliette rolled her eyes and made a vomiting motion as she replied. Janice chuckled and gave Juliette a big hug.
“The boss is one creepy old bastard but he pays us well!” Janice smiled as she said it but as she held onto Juliette her gaze turned cold. She tightened her hug on Juliette as a tears fell down her cheeks.
“Sis, your cracking my ribs!” gasped Juliette as she struggled free, and then saw the tears. “Oh shit, stop that sis. We all have to say goodbye to a clone now and then. We are immortal remember.” As she said it she brushed the tears from one of Janice’s cheeks.
“You know this is not a clone Juliette, this is my real body. What about the crew!? They don’t have clones.” Janice looked through Juliette as she said it.
“I lost my real body 5 days after I left POD school. The clone was just like my “real” body but it did not have any of the old scares. No twisted right leg from where I broke it when I was 5. No knife scars from my teen adventures. I have to say I don’t miss that body at all now.” Juliette said softly. “As for the crew they chose to sign up and I am sure each one of them has paid their insurance. Folks don’t come to space to live forever.”
“I think I need that Drink now!” Janice said as she tapped on the menu. She ordered a round of Caldari ale, a strong brewed beverage with a kick like a mule. The sisters spent the next hour or so washing away any fears Janice had. As they parted ways Janice had her uniform unbuttoned and Juliette was missing her jacket and her shirt was unbuttoned to her navel. They sang rowdy Caldari cadet drinking songs down the corridors without a care in the world. The time was 19:00 hours.
The soft whistling of the kettle pulled him away from the screen he was watching. He shuffled across the worn wooden floors to the black stove and lifted the kettle from the flame. He let his gaze shift out the window across the wheat fields as they swayed in the soft breeze. Pouring the hot water over the strong bitter tea leaves nestled in the fine porcelain pot he returned his focus to his screen. Two young Caldari women stumbled from a bar singing rowdy songs.
“Good work my child!” the old man muttered as he poured tea into 3 ornate iron cups. He put a knife to his finger tip making a small cut. He allowed his blood to drip into a small bowel of sugar before wrapping the wound with a clean patch of cotton. He stirred the blood into the sugar until it stained it all a deep crimson. Then he place equal amounts of the blood sugar into each cup of tea ritualistically stirring it in. He placed two of the cups in special shipping containers and placed them in a small orbital launch system. As he sent them on their way, he sipped from the third cup.
The unique taste of the bitter tea combined with the salty sweetness of the blood and sugar sent him back to his childhood. Before him his mother was preparing the blood tea a ritual. I was customary in his culture when family members left for war thus sending them away with a piece of you. His father sat at the table in full battle gear his face painted grey and black. His mother wept silently as she served the tea and took the first sip. He and his father drank next draining the cup. His father rose silently, as was custom, turned and walked out the door. He next saw his father dead and lifeless as his body was burned in a ceremony for the honored dead.
He drifted back to the present with soft tears falling down his face as he finished the cup. At least with this goodbye his family would only loose a body and not the soul as well.
Well this is part 2 of my little fiction writing experiment. If you like it post a comment, if you hate it post a comment. Heck if you read it and don't care either way let me know.