Authors: Lisabet Sarai
Tags: #Ménage à Trois/Sci-Fi
A Total-E-Bound Publication
Bodies of Light
©Copyright Lisabet Sarai 2011
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright May 2011
Edited by Lisa Cox
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2011 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers.
This story has been rated
BODIES OF LIGHT
To Chris, for encouraging me to write about new worlds.
She had failed.
Suspension was supposed to be dreamless. Still, frustration and disappointment swirled through her consciousness. Pain nagged her, the ache of goals missed, work left undone. What work? She could not recall. She knew only that it had been critically important.
Layers of confusion swaddled her mind like heavy blankets, smothering any attempt at logic. The incoherence of her thoughts disturbed her further. Images, words and symbols crept into focus then faded before she could decipher their meanings. The need to understand was an itch she could not scratch.
She hung in a dark, foggy void, disembodied and disoriented. Only her emotions had any clarity. She could not banish the certainty that she had been tested and found wanting.
Then came the light.
In the void there was no time. Without transition, light arced through her, golden arrows that pierced and scattered her despair. She had no eyes but somehow she was drenched in rainbow-edged glory. Shimmering waves of aquamarine and cerise danced before her—through her—banishing her darkness. She heard the light as well as saw it, a strange melody that pulsed in rhythm with the glow, tugging at her heart. Irrational joy flooded her.
“Christine.” The voice wound in and out among the chords. It caressed her being, promising comfort and release from care.
“Christine.” A second voice (yet how could she know this, without ears to hear?) whispered in the brief pauses between notes, deeper, darker, a gorgeous contrast with the flaring colours that bathed her thoughts. The new voice spoke of pleasure, of desire and exquisite satisfaction.
“You are not alone,” the first voice murmured.
“We are with you,” the second announced, bold and bright as a trumpet call. At the same time, sensation rippled through her. Invisible hands cupped and massaged her breasts (but she had no body, no breasts…) until sparks flew from the nipples to merge with the spiralling brightness. Fingertips trailed along her non-existent skin, triggering pleasure so intense it frightened her. The silver voice—as she pictured the first—soothed her without words. The bronze voice laughed like ringing bells and coaxed ever more unbearable delight from her insubstantial body. Her soundless moans rose to join the prismatic symphony in which she floated.
The twin voices teased and enticed her, urging her to let go. “We will support you,” they crooned as pleasure suffused her. She stopped trying to understand how she could experience such arousal when she had no limbs, no sex. She
the pleasure, a multi-hued whirl of harmonious vibration in crescendo.
Silver-voice sang her to the top. Bronze-voice held her there, his power shuddering through her, driving out the fear. “Now fly,” said the darker voice and released her.
Pure white energy bloomed from her, rushing outwards. Bliss followed in the wake of the blossoming brilliance. The music swelled to a blinding chorus then thundered into silence.
Darkness descended once more, warm and welcoming, cradling Christine like a beloved child. She reached out mentally for the two voices, but caught only faint echoes of their presence. A twinge of sorrow marred her comfort for a moment, then evaporated. All was well.
Christine slipped deeper into the sweet unconsciousness of suspension, forgetting her doubts and regrets.
* * * *
The alarm buzzed in Christine’s ears like an angry wasp. Electric current crackled along her skin, goading her long-dormant nerves into responsiveness. Her attempt to inhale turned into a racking cough as her body expelled the last traces of fluid from her lungs. Her eyes flickered open. Dim as it was, the blue-tinged light within the suspension pod made her head pound.
Her limbs felt weighted with lead. She tried to wiggle her fingers. They were stiff, as though encrusted with rust. The gel that cradled her gradually warmed. As it did, her joints grew more flexible. Little by little the pod thawed her long-immobile body.
As soon as she could lift her arm, she groped for the release switch. Her movements were clumsy and slow. The curved hatch over her face slid back, exposing her to the cooler air outside. Goosebumps rose on her bare skin. She pulled the tubes from her arms and pushed aside the tangle of cables strapped around her brow. When she struggled to sit up, a wave of dizziness crashed over her. She waited for the vertigo to subside.
The fog in her brain thinned a bit. She remembered where she was—the
, en route to Sirius 2. Had they arrived, then? Listening closely, she heard nothing but her own breathing.
The suspension bay was located near the centre of the ship in order to protect it from possible meteor damage to the hull. There were no viewports. It hardly mattered. Christine was a physicist, not an astronomer or a pilot. Even if she could have seen the stars, she couldn’t have read them. She needed to get to the bridge, to figure out how far they were from their destination and whether it was time to revive the rest of the crew.
She swung her legs out of the coffin-like suspension capsule and took a stab at standing. Her knees buckled when she transferred her weight, leaving her slumped on the rubber-clad floor. Her head swam. When her vision cleared, she tried again. This time she managed to stay upright although she had to lean on the capsule for support.
Christine took a deep breath. She felt the strength returning gradually to her body. Her skin was slimy with residue from the nutrient gel that had nourished her inanimate form during the months—or was it years?—since the ship had departed.
At point-nine lightspeed, the maximum velocity of which the
was capable, the journey to the Sirius cluster should have taken almost thirteen years. Was that long wait really over? It had seemed like the blink of an eye. A kind of rosy haze hung in her mind, a sense of peace and well-being, but she couldn’t remember any details about her time in stasis.
She surveyed the nineteen other capsules arranged around the perimeter of the bay. She seemed to be the only one the ship had awakened. She stumbled over to the closest pod—Ravin Conter, the xenobiologist and her assigned partner—and peered in through the curved glass. She could just make out his rugged features, pale and composed.
Something wasn’t right, though. Her thoughts still disordered by the transition, it took her ten seconds to put her finger on the problem. The capsule should have been lit from within by the same low-intensity blue as her own had been. However, there was no interior illumination. Only the ambient light of the bay made Ravin’s face visible.
“Ravin!” she cried. Her voice woke hollow echoes in the metal-walled chamber. The vital sign indicators on the control panel were blank. She keyed the emergency revival sequence into the controls on the top of the pod. Nothing happened. There was no power running to the capsule. It was dead, and so, it was obvious, was the person within.
She stared at Ravin’s naked form, cradled in blue-green gel and twined in wires and hoses. How could he be dead? What had happened? Christine whirled around to check the next capsule—Amber Stone, ship’s doctor and the closest thing she had to a friend. Like Ravin’s, Amber’s pod was dark and unresponsive.
Fighting down her panic, Christine examined the remaining suspension capsules. All appeared to have malfunctioned. All the occupants lay in darkness within, perfectly-preserved corpses.
“No, no—please, no!” she keened, sinking to her knees in the centre of the room. “Oh, please…” Her eyes burned as tears welled up for the first time in years.
She had not really been close to anyone on the
—she and Ravin had been paired solely on the basis of genetic and psychological compatibility—but she had liked and respected them all. They’d had the courage to volunteer for Earth’s first interstellar mission, to risk their lives for the future of humanity. Hell, they’d fought hard for the opportunity, beating the hundreds of other candidates. They’d endured the two years of gruelling preparation. They’d climbed willingly into the suspension capsules knowing they wouldn’t emerge for years—if ever. Each had left his or her life on Earth behind, well aware that the odds of the mission succeeding were small and that, even if it did succeed, they could never return.
Now they were gone and, with them, all hope of establishing a colony. The mission was a failure—one final failure in the long series that had been her life.
Guilt and grief crashed down upon her. She bent double, her forehead against the floor, sobbing until knives of pain lanced through her chest.
If only she had found the key, the missing variable that would make the equations work, none of this would have happened. Physicists were convinced that faster than light travel was possible. Everyone knew there had to be a way to bend space and create wormholes—science fiction tales had assumed this for generations. Yet nearly a century after men had first landed on the moon, no one had figured out the mathematics to support the widely-held conviction.
Christine had poured twenty years of her life into solving the problem. She had failed along with everyone else. That was why she’d dedicated herself to the
mission. Her lack of insight meant that only the closest stars were plausible targets. Even then, an interstellar crew would need to spend years in stasis before they reached their destination. She was determined to pay the price for her failure. Somehow, signing on to the
had seemed like a way to make amends.
And now what? Her tears trailed off, leaving her throat sore and her eyes prickly. She was on her own, the only survivor of some bizarre accident. Well, she was used to being alone, wasn’t she? She’d always been by herself, ever since her parents had succumbed to the plague. Her grandmother had taken Christine in and had tried to compensate for the loss, but it had already been too late. The solemn six-year-old had decided she’d rather wall herself off from love than risk the pain of losing it again.
Christine’s practical side reasserted itself. Rising on wobbly legs, she surveyed her surroundings in an attempt to evaluate the situation. The ship as a whole clearly had power. A glow-strip along the ceiling illuminated the suspension bay. The fact that she was breathing proved the life support systems were functional, at least in this sector of the ship. She needed to get to the bridge and examine the instruments.
In one of the storage cabinets lining the walls, she found a coverall and magnetic sandals that fit. The ship’s atmosphere was a bit too cool to make nakedness comfortable, while the artificial gravity was no more than half a gee. Her chestnut hair, cropped short before departure, now hung in her eyes and reached halfway down her back. She raked her fingers through the tangles, then tied the heavy mass into a knot at the base of her neck.
She needed to discover how far along the ship had come in its journey and if possible—if the malfunctioning suspension equipment was an isolated fault, rather than a symptom of wider system failure—send a message back to Earth. A transmission wouldn’t arrive for years, of course, but at least the family of the crew members would eventually learn their fate. They’d be heroes—assuming that Earth hadn’t been torn apart in the interim by war or natural disaster. Colonising space had been the planet’s last hope.
And what about her own fate? How long could Christine survive, alone on a ship she didn’t really know how to control, headed into unknown reaches of space?
She palmed the access plate and the hatch hissed open. She could deal with the solitude. She’d had lots of practice. And as for survival, well—while the thought of death filled her with dread, her rational self recognised there was little reason for her to continue living. The mission had failed. She had failed. What was the point?