"Let machinery fake my place, who has time to chase. Digital is where it is. Love can always be replaced. Welcome to my consciousness. Welcome to our race. Everything is never quite enough."
Everything (is never quite enough) – Diop, Wasis
Memories, space, the heartbeat of space...
"Tell me your name."
Blackness and no sound but that heartbeat...
"What are you doing here?"
"Visiting my intended."
The chill of space ... I don't remember...
"Heero, what is your task?"
"Crèche technician... "
Liar that's what he was...
"Do you trust me yet?"
I can't remember... am I dead... ?
"Be with me when I die Heero."
"I wouldn't be any where else."
Maybe... I am dead...
"Duo... Duo... something strange is happening."
"I know... don't stop... please... "
Heero... is he alive?
"Crystal... blue crystal... "
"Do you remember the Klishana expedition?"
I remember something...
"Duo... I've lied to you... "
"You lied... *you* are a complete lie... "
I am alive... but where am I?
"Quiet, don't draw attention."
And if I'm alive...
"What was that for?"
"For being you."
Then so is he...
"Now *this* is interesting."
"What? Oh, the wings? I know, what do you suppose they're made of?"
"Not sure, looks like crystal."
"Oh come on, blue crystal?"
"I'm only saying that's what it looks like, besides... I can't identify the major element in it. Can you?"
"Hmm, no, it's different from anything we've captured before. What about the other one?"
"Fliogan, normal by the looks of him, though... there's something odd about his eye sockets."
"Mhm, he seems to have that same crystal imbedded behind the Steelshift within his eyes."
"Now that *is* interesting."
"Where do you suppose they came from?"
"This deep in space? Who knows, they must have been desperate though."
"I have to admit, it's a first for us."
"Ah well, let's stick them in our guest chambers, we can ask later what they were doing in mid-space with no ship."
"I bet it's quite the story."
"Hm?" I rolled over, burying my face against warm skin. That in itself was enough to bring me fully awake, shooting upwards and promptly banging my head against something hard.
"Duo? Are you alright?"
It took a few moments for the white lights shimmering across my vision to subside. Tentatively I held a hand to my head, glaring at Heero where he lay beside me. "No, where in creation are we?"
"I noticed that, but... where?"
He shifted, sitting up and glancing around. "I don't know, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough."
"I can't believe we're alive... Creos! Where's 138?" We both looked around the room, no Youlins in sight. " Do you think it made it?"
"I don't know."
"Heero?" I slid off the bunk, walking a brief circuit around the bare room.
"Why did you lie so much to me? Why couldn't you have just told me the truth from the beginning?" I watched as his face contorted briefly, and then he shrugged.
"I did what I had to."
"Did what you had to... "
He stood, walking closer to me and smiling slightly. His hand on my arm was a warm weight in the chilled room. I stared at it. "So, what *did* you have to do Heero?"
The corners of his mouth quirked and without warning my fist swung at that smirk, wiping it off in an instant. It didn't knock him down, but a swift kick to his kneecap did that for me. I followed him to the floor, straddling him and pounding my fists into face, feeling something I hadn't felt in what seemed like years, peace.
"Just had to Heero! Just had to lie! Just had to be a piece of shinalp! Lying hunk of... " My fist met his cheek with a satisfying crack just as he managed to curl a hand around my wrist, stopping the next blow from landing.
"Yes! I did what I had to you little fool! I made sure they kept you alive!"
In an instant, our positions were reversed and I found myself staring up into a face filled with anger. I wondered for a moment if my own face looked as furious. I growled and kicked up with a knee, trying hit him for all I was worth. The knee didn't connect, though my elbow slamming into his ribs did, the breath rushing out of him as he collapsed onto me.
"I did what I had to... to keep you alive Duo... "
"But you lied afterwards... you lied when you didn't have to... "
The breath sighed out of him in a long exhalation. I took the opportunity to ram my free hand against his throat, rolling him over and beginning to pound down on his face again. I started laughing, I don't know why. For some reason, the sight of the bloody cuts on his face, the lies that never stopped tumbling from his mouth. It felt so incredibly good to get back at him for it all.
"You lied too often Heero! You lied to me too many times!" I was flailing at his face with loose fists, nearly empty of coherent thought. "Don't do it again! Don't lie anymore!"
I was so concentrated on pummeling him into the floor; the whispered words that fell from his mouth were barely audible over the roar of blood in my ears.
"I didn't want to lie... "
My fists stopped abruptly, hands falling limply on either side of his head. We sat, looking at each other, the breath heaving between us.
"I didn't know how to stop... I... just didn't know how to stop it... I'm sorry Duo... "
Blood trickled from a gash on his forehead; I watched its progress down the bridge of his nose. "Don't lie to me anymore Heero, not if you want me to... "
"Love you... "
"Do you love me?"
I hung my head, noting what a mess my hair was, lank strands of it dangling around us. "You know, funny thing about that." I smiled for a moment, a brief flicker. "I don't know how to stop... "
His lips curled slightly, one of them cracked and bleeding. "I won't lie to you anymore, alright?"
"Although, there is one more thing... "
He lifted his head from the floor; mouth mere inches away from my own. Then the feather light touch of his lips was on me, the taste of blood mingling with the flavor of him. I could have cared less about the blood, the instant our mouths met I remembered, there were other things besides lies that came from his mouth.
"Well, well, well, this *is* a pretty scene." A voice said from the doorway.
I jerked upwards, whirling to face the figure that stood there. "Who are you?"
"Who are *you*?" He said, leaning on the doorframe nonchalantly, crossing one long leg over the other. The picture of security and confidence. His hair was held back in a loose clasp, long and white-blond, ice blue eyes peering at us with amusement.
"Duo Maxwell. Where are we?"
"Just full of questions, aren't you Duo?"
"Yes, and I'd like some answers."
He turned away, one hand held out behind him as he gestured vaguely. "Are you hungry?" he asked in a mild voice, glancing over his shoulder at us.
Heero and I exchanged looks, separating from each other and standing up. Now that I thought about it, I was starving. We'd been floating in space for years it seemed, though in reality I was still unsure of how much time had actually passed.
"Why don't you come with me, and I'll introduce you to my partner in crime." The blond man said, slipping out the door.
Without a word, we followed him, and I noticed for the first time what he was wearing. It was an odd outfit, which says a lot considering I was used to seeing many forms of dress. His legs were covered in skintight black cloth that ended at the upper curve of his rear, from the front they had been just as low slung, showing off a tight abdomen that spoke volumes about his health. Though what was odd, was the strange covering he had on over his chest and back. It was lumpy and baggy, too large and yet too tight, and it looked, bizarre. That was the only way to describe it, it was as if the strange item of clothing had been very poorly made, and in a hurry.
The hallway we walked down looked like any other ship, though I did note that most doors remained closed, and there was no one else about. Presently we entered one of those closed doors, and I found myself gasping in awe.
The room wasn't very large, but that did not matter, it was the view. The energy shield that covered the stars was barely visible, and for a moment it felt as if I'd stepped into space, so vivid was the impression of being outside. Then my eyes fell to the small table bolted in front of the view, and I laughed, running over to pick up the tiny creature that sat across from another strange man.
"138! You are alive!" I yelled, carefully holding the small animal and bringing it up to my face to examine it. There didn't seem to be any harm done, as I discovered when a claw poked my nose.
"I am alive, yes. There was no need to worry Mr. Maxwell." 138 said dryly, before wiggling in my grasp.
I set it down and glanced at the man sitting across the table, promptly falling back as he met my eyes. "Creos!"
"Well no, but I'm sure he wasn't real anyway." The man said softly, a smirk turning the corner of his mouth.
He looked normal enough, his hair was a light ginger in color, eyes a perfect blue, but from his oddly split eyebrows I knew what he was. A true alien, a different species entirely.
"You're a Raskuda!" I yelped, backing away from the table and up against Heero.
"Yes, but there's no need to get all upset, I won't bite... much." He said with a leer, standing up and showing just what made him so different from the human species.
The Raskuda were one of the first truly alien species that were found upon exploration of the stars. Their culture was not much different from that of the humans, and though their bodies were similar, there were vast differences between the two.
It wasn't just the tail, or the extra arms, it was the way their legs were formed, it was... the genitalia. I tried not to stare, since it was the first time I'd ever met one of them. But his legs kept drawing back my attention, their oddity intriguing.
It wasn't that they were deformed, nor that they were long and actually quite attractive, it wasn't his legs at all really. It was his feet, and the fact that he had more than one at the end of each leg.
The world the Raskuda came from was not much different from ancient Earth; pictures showed that it was a world of mostly rock and water, the average creature living on it somewhat normal in appearance. The primary intellegence though, had four arms, split eyebrows, and two sets of genitalia, as well as two sets of feet and a tail. From what they'd told us, it had happened after a major war had occurred, pollution deforming and reforming their entire species into what they were now. What they had been, was disturbingly close to humanoid, before that war.
In a way, what had happened to their species was a warning for humanity. War was not the way to end a conflict; it was the way to end a race. The Raskuda had been lucky, they'd survived, though the penalty for their actions were deformations and low birth rates.
"Had enough of a look now?" The Raskuda muttered, sitting back down and crossing his legs.
"Sorry, it's just that I've never seen one of you in real life before... "
"Yes well, we're not exactly common now are we?" One of those oddly split eyebrows waggled, and I smiled at him.
"No, you're not. Now, can we get down to business?" The tall blond said testily, sitting down beside the Raskuda and glancing at us.
"Mr. Yuy and Mr. Maxwell, these are our hosts, Mr. Khushrenada," 138 gestured at the Raskuda, "And Mr. Peacecrafto," he said pointing at the tall blond with one sharp little claw.
"Peacecrafto? You're not by any chance related to The Peacraftos, are you?" I asked curiously.
"Ugh, don't mention them, please. I'm pretending I'm specifically *not* related to them, bunch of whiny, peace loving, power grubbing... " He continued to grumble in a low voice, glaring out the view port.
"I see, well, thank you for the rescue. Where are we right now?"
"The Kline Universe, System Wuchada, currently orbiting near... what are we orbiting again?"
"Alcktes Prime." Mr. Khushrenada said, rolling his eyes at me.
"Alcktes? But that's almost... " Heero elbowed me in the side, stepping up and speaking.
"Where are you headed, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Headed? Ha! Don't make me laugh Fliogan. We don't head anywhere. We explore, pilfer, rob, steal, and expand."
"What?" Heero and I said at the same time.
"Why we're space pirates my good man." The Raskuda said with a grin.
Transpod: A dimensional traveling device. The transpod will transport human mass within any area that contains another transpod. The time taken for each journey will always be exactly 10 nanoseconds, as time is folded as well as matter to create no ripple within the dimensions.
Slosta: A drink created from organic matter grown on Jilad, the Slosta is filled with nutrients that heighten awareness and energize.
CR chips: Two microchips implanted behind the ears, the connectors that allow a direct linkage to the VR modules.
Shinalp: A form of cursing, Shinalp is somewhat akin to saying "shit" or "ah shit"
Kajacrap: The Kaja is a life form located on the planet Neskin, a large beast known to produce huge amounts of feces. The phrase kajacrap is akin to saying "Bullshit"
Fliogan Warriors: The Fliogan is a race that attaches metallic wings to their young while they are still being formed within the incubators. The wings are partially organic, fusing with the young so as to become part of their bodies. This warrior race is known to be extremely high tech, and very vicious, most normal humans will not go near them, as they are known to kill without reason. Very little is known of the Fliogan or their ways.
Feed Tubes: Connectors that feed information and nutrients to any life form connected to any long-term device.
Lavablue 6: The planet on which the society of Fliogan reside at this time.
Levels: Technological knowledge is rated by level; most societies only have an average of 30 levels. The common level of most humans is 5, techmaster levels tend to be higher and in the upper ranges.
Steelshift: 1 of over a million different charted elements, Steelshift is partially organic, allowing it to be integrated with human DNA, testing is still in experimental stages, most distinguished users of this element are the Fliogan.
Slipshot Diskwings: A style of wing known to be common among the Fliogan, Slipshot defines the integration of movable parts, Diskwing is the style of the small circular patterns of metal that form the wings of Fliogan.
Contract: A contract is a more binding way to say, "Promise or swear?"
Optilenses: Cyber optic lenses, which can be used during a VR program only.
Creos: The original form of the name Christ has changed with the passage of time, modern form of the word when used as a curse is Creos.
Orstras: A plant matter grown in dark caves on the planet of Trinition, considered a delicacy on most planets, the plant is dark purple with small white bells that can be plucked and cooked. The taste is said to be sweet and delicate.
Realtime Call: The difference between a realtime call and a regular call is in the distance, all realtime calls infer off planet residence of the caller, communications run at high speeds, face to face talking is still difficult between planets.
What is your task: This is the way most people will ask what your job is, what career you're in.
Crèche Technician: Most people are born to the incubators and raised in crèches, the technicians help care for the many children being raised in such places.
Grower: The still forming body of a child within the incubator, a delicate time that must be carefully overseen to prevent accidents. A grower is usually designated as a child in a womb-like state. Between –1 to –9 months, or the time a child would be inside of a mother's body.
Youlin: I manmade mammalian life form, these animals are specifically created to improve the technology behind cloning. Most tests are performed with a small VR module; with which the creatures are filled with the only knowledge they know, as the Youlin is created with a blank slate for a mind.
A Set: A group of Growers that have reached maturity.
Trance state: Every few months of a citizen's life is recorded during REM cycles, the consciousness is stored within a neural processor called a memory chip. Occasionally when one wishes to know another, an exchange of such chips may occur.
Wetwiring: circuitry and modifications that can be installed within the human body without harming it.
The System: There are 3 levels of the system. The first is that which take cares of the minor systems such as basic maintenance, the second level controls techmaster training, medical facilities, and knowledge. The final level of the system controls all other functions between worlds, each detail is observed, and stored within it.
Klishana: A crystal found during an expedition of exploration, it is not only organic, but sentient as well.