Authors: Stephen B. Pearl
Tags: #9781629290492, #Damnation Books, #military, #science fiction, #Stephen B Pearl, #romance, #erotica, #Genetics, #cyborg, #science fiction, #science, #biotech, #aliens, #war, #spies, #espionage, #slaves, #love, #romance, #duty, #dedication, #life, #death, #battle, #armour, #rifles, #guns, #torture, #salvation, #sacrifice, #biology, #space
“The facility and Bettyâ¦” Richard shrugged.
Janis glared at Richard. “What about my daughter?”
“She was my daughter too. Can't we be honest about her? She was brave, strong willed and a loyal friend, but she was no saint.”
“How can you sayâ?”
“Honey, it's true, and we all know it. Betty would have been freaked by Richard and Ashley. Heck she was ballistic about us.” Zane smiled at Janis, the good side of his face looking like the goofy teenager of years before.
“She had more reason with us, but it doesn't matter. Go on.” Janis still sounded miffed.
“When Ashley was lured to the bio-mind by Tannal we had just decided to announce our engagement.”
“I still don't see why you need Ashley. Couldn't any computer whiz do?”
“Ashley has been part of the
system since the war began. She knows its nature, its âpersonality' for lack of a better term.
systems are not like ours, they are alive. They have a measure of individuality. Her knowledge will determine the viral insertion sectors and how she can neutralize the defensive programs until the virus is firmly entrenched. She is essential; otherwise the hunter seeker programs will just wipe out the one I insert. Ashley is the only human alive who might be able to buy me the time I require.”
“Okay then. What do you want from the resistance?” demanded Janis.
Major Joans stared at the calendar and repeated to himself. “It is March 5th, twenty-thirty-seven.” Over and over. After several minutes he half staggered from the upload room. His head throbbed from spot monitoring Richard's memories as they entered his corresponding biological unit. All Joans wanted was to get away from the voices of the next team as they set up. He recognized Lieutenant, now Major, judging from the marks on her nurses uniform, Malcowits from Richard memories. She'd changed very little over the seven years separating Richard's memory from his present, except that now a few silver strands stood out among the brown on her head. Joans felt his time sense start to slip and looking away from Nurse Malcowits half ran from the room.
“Guess he had a rough session,” remarked a plump woman with short, blond hair as she settled on the interface couch.
“Guess so. Are you ready, Mary?” Nurse Malcowits connected an IV to her charge's arm.
“No, but I'll do it anyway.” Mary sighed.
“At least from what you told me last time, Zane is getting old enough to be interesting.”
“Kate.” The woman on the chair blushed. “Don't forget I only see things from his perspective.”
“So?” Kate checked some readouts on the side of the interface couch.
“I like men. Zane doesn't.”
“Oh.” Kate blushed. “You stumbled across.”
“When he lost his virginity. I have no idea what I'm going to get when I sample the upload. It was just bad luck that I hit that.” Mary pulled off the artificial mole behind her ear and pushed the interface jack into the port in her skull.
“It could give you an interesting perspective.” Kate fidgeted uncomfortably.
“Some perspectives I can live without. I mean, Iâ¦Zane enjoyed it and Betty; it felt good to touch her. I like men, and I didn't like it, but the memory isn't me, and I have no control over it, so I did like it. It's so weird.”
“Personally, I think you should just go with the flow. It's not like you were sleeping with her.”
“That's the problem though, it is. Oh, forget it. Just turn on the machine and let's get this over with, we're behind the other teams already.” Mary closed her eyes and settled on the couch.
“Sure. Mary, you know if you need to talk.”
“Thanks.” Marry nodded. “Now let's check a memory.”
* * * *
Upload monitoring/ Zane Hinkly /Index 16:08/ 12/11/2029
* * * *
Zane traced his left hand along her naked spine. Not a single scar marred the skin in his field of vision.
“You can't be serious?” said the statuesque brunette. She looked at him with huge blue eyes and an engaging little-girl face. The clean, white sheets beneath her made her hair look almost black.
“Your folks aren't due back for another hour,” Zane kissed her and ran his hand over one of her breasts. He lay close enough that they used less than half her double bed.
“I'm, like, so glad they work late.” She kissed him.
“Betty, you are so beautiful.” Zane kissed his way from her lips to her nipples and suckled them as he stroked her inner thigh. Late-afternoon sun filtered in through the room's drawn curtains, casting bars of light and shadow over the young lovers.
He focused his eyes on hers and saw the love there.
“Tell me you love me,” she said.
“I love you,” whispered Zane. He moved to position himself.
Zane sighed and reached for the nightstand drawer. He fumbled out a Smarties box and opening it, extracted a packet from their hidden store. “We were both virgins before,” he complained as he put it on.
“Just a little longer, to be sure. I've started taking the pill.” She bit her lower lip and stared up at him.
Zane slid into her. “I love you, Betty. Oh, Gods.”
There was a perfunctory rap on the door then it opened. “Betty, I finished early today and I was wondering if you'd likeâ. Oh my God! Zane what in Thoth's name do you think you're doing?!” screamed Richard.
“Professor Green!” Zane jumped off Betty, in the process falling off the bed.
“Daddy.” Betty grabbed at her top sheet and pulled it up to cover herself.
“Betty. Iâ¦Iâ¦I should have waited after I knocked. I apologize. Iâ¦Perhaps we should discuss this downstairs before your mother gets home. Zaneâ¦I suggest you join us!”
Richard turned and left the room.
“Am I dead?” asked Zane.
“Like, I don't know.”
* * * *
Upload monitoring/ Zane Hinkly /Index 16:56/ 12/11/2029
* * * *
Zane sat on the couch beside Betty watching Richard pace the floor.
“Professor Green,” he opened but Richard raised a hand commanding silence.
“I noticed you were using a condom. I am pleased that you are behaving in a responsible manner.” Richard's voice was strained.
“Daddy. I love Zane.”
“Poo-bear, I would hope you do. I didn't think I had raised a harlot.”
“Professor Green. I love your daughter. We want to get married.”
“Yes, of course you do. What first-year biology major doesn't want to marry his sixteen-year-old, high-school sweetheart?”
“Betty, Zane. I am trying to be very civilized about this. Zane, right now my instinct is to get a steak knife and give you detailed instruction on the finer points of vivisection.”
“Betty, I'm being honest. You are my daughter, what do you expect from me? You're only sixteen.”
“Lots of girls my age have boyfriends.”
“Yes. When your mother was your age, I was hers. Which is why we had you when I was only nineteen. Drawing a picture for you, Zane?” Richard glared at the younger man.
“Daddy. You didn't want me?” Betty looked stricken.
“I love you. Your mother and I loved you before you were born. Poo-bear, I'd be lying, if I didn't say it was hard, raising you and going to school.”
“What are you going to do?” asked Zane.
Richard sighed. “First off, increase Betty's allowance the price of a box of condoms each week. You two have made a good start, and I intend to see you continue with it. Betty, I want you on the pill, or the implant, or that new nasal spray. I don't care which, but condoms simply are not safe enough. I know from experience.”
“You, you don't mind that Zane and I areâ¦” began Betty with a shocked expression.
“I mind. Believe me, young lady, I mind! I am also a realist, and I was sixteen once. You both think you're all grown up and nothing anyone tells you will make you think otherwise. Zane, I will say this. If you hurt her, I'll make your life hell.”
“I'd never hurt her, sir.” Zane squeezed Betty's hand.
“If you say so. Now both of you. Do not, under any circumstances, tell Janis. Do not let her catch you, and for Gods sake, Betty, lock your door in future. Your mother is not as even tempered as I am.”
“Daddy, you're the best,” said Betty.
“Thanks, Professor Green,” added Zane.
“Just treat her right and keep up with the rubbers. I'm going for a walk. If you intend to finish what you started, do it elsewhere. Janis will be home soon.” Richard left the room.
“Wow, your dad is way cool.” Zane turned on the couch to stare at Betty.
“Yeah, he is, isn't he?” A sad expression crossed Betty's face.
“What?” Zane took both her hands in his.
“I almost wish he'd been all crazy. It's just silly.”
“Yeah.” Zane wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
* * * *
Upload monitoring/ Zane Hinkly /Index 18:05/ 7/1/2030
* * * *
“I can't believe the Greens are breaking up. They always seemed like such a cool couple.” Ashley sat on the edge of Zane's bed in his dorm room.
Zane paced back and forth across his side of the double room. His roommate was gone, leaving the other side of the room in its usual jumble of dirty clothes and unmade bed.
“I know. Betty's taking it hard. She just kept crying. I couldn't make her stop.”
“What did you do?”
“I held her and let her cry.”
“That was the right thing to do, Z-man. Goddess, poor Betty. Poor Doc Green.”
“I helped him carry some stuff out to the truck. He's well; you know what the prof is like, all British and up tight. He started crying.” Zane stopped pacing and faced Ashley. “It was a good thing his brother was there to help him out. I was out of my depth.”
“Wendle came up from LA? Richard must really be taking it hard. They haven't got on since, well you know. Why'd it happen?”
“Janis said she just fell out of love. I mean they did start seeing each other when she was fifteen. She's never dated anyone else, and he's been working a lot lately.”
Ashley went red in the face and she punched the mattress. “That bitch! He's trying to get tenure, earn some patents so he can provide for his family better.”
Zane shrugged. “Janis wants a husband not a suit hung up in the closet.”
“He's doing his best. What does she expect? I bet she has some pretty boy all lined up.”
“Hey, you know Doc's eyes wonder. I've seen him eyeing up the co-eds.” Zane's voice was harsh.
“So he looks. That means he's human!”
“Ash, what are we fighting about?” Zane's expression became puzzled.
She stared at him and he smiled at her. “Damned if I know, little brow, guess it brought up stuff from when mom and dad split.”
“Look, I'm helping Doc move some more furniture later. After we're done, I'll take him out to the bar, be a shoulder. He'll probably open up better to a guy. You know, misery loves company.”
“What about Wendle?”
“Like I said, Doc will open up better to a guy. Wendle doesn't count.”
“Zane! You nasty little homophobe you.” Ashley looked shocked.
“Call âem like I see âem. Besides Wendle went back to LA after we got Richard's stuff into the apartment. He gives me the creeps. I think I caught him staring at my crotch.” Zane pulled the office chair from his desk over and sat facing his sister.
“Welcome to what women go through all the time. Kinda hard to have a conversation with someone who won't look you in the eye, isn't it?”
“Yeah, wellâ¦I don't like it!”
“I'll have to visit Betty and Janis. It will have to be early. Stanley has a gig tonight and wants me along.” Ashley patted Zane's hand. “Try to convince him he's not the only one who ever got dumped.”
* * * *
Upload monitoring/ Zane Hinkly /Index 09:18/ 8/1/2030
* * * *
Zane awoke and stared at the strange ceiling. “Oh, God!” He reached over and found he wasn't alone in the bed. “What?” he gasped then winced as his own voice pounded into his brain.
“Oh my Gods! I couldn't have been that drunk,” said a male, English accented voice from the lump beside him.
“Wendle?” Zane shuffled as far into the corner of the bed as he could.
“Fear not, Zane. In life I was Richard.”
“I was rather hoping you could tell me.”
“Good morning,” called a cheerful voice from the door. Both men winced.
“You are a sadist,” said Richard.
“Do the too big, strong men have itty-bitty hangovers,” said Ashley.
“Ash, how did we get here and why?”
“Oh it just seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Zane scanned the bedroom. A battered dresser, with a small Pagan altar on top of it, stood in the corner. He recognized the bed he was in as the one Betty had had before she remodeled her room. The walls needed a coat of paint.
“The last thing I recall is being at Milligan's and something about being able to balance a table on my chin,” said Richard.
“You two had such a good time last night. Stanley's band just happened to be playing Milligan's. Lucky for you I was there. The bartender called the police before I managed to calm him down. By the way, you owe me two hundred and fifty dollars. I had to cover the damage before the bouncer would let me get you out of there. We barely made it before the cops arrived.” Ashley leaned against the doorframe.
“Thanks Ash.” Zane groaned. “Why are we in bed together?” he added in a small fearful voice.
“Oh well, with the way you were talking during the drive home. âAll women are conniving vampires who suck the life blood out of men then toss them aside'.” Ashley stared at Zane then turned her gaze on Richard. âThe first thing that happens after you say I do is she cuts them off puts them in a jar by the bed and lets you look at them occasionally'.