The Gennie on the Ship
Maybe the planet once had some uplifting name, but we called it Smudge.
It hung in the middle of trading lanes, orbiting a dying star, a life span of a million years (give or take a millennium). It was a place where pollution of every form was dandy and if there were laws they were broken.
There was only one island with no factories, no mining or industry, no toxic waste;
if you're an Earther, imagine the Pacific Ocean, Cuba isolated in the middle, and
you'll get a working understanding of the geography.
Everywhere; water can't drink, (if there is water), air can't breath, but on that
island, well, you'll cough and your face may break out in bumps, but you can
spend a day or so. After all you've hopped down to buy or sell, as the only way
to get something cheaper is to steal it.
That's enough information.
I'm a Spucker, Space Trucker, go and come. Stop, load/unload, not fussy about who or what.
And that's enough information.
Anyway, on this trip we had a small crew. We'd picked up a Superboy from a
spacestation and didn't ask him why he was willing to do dog's body work.
What's the big story?
One of our loaders didn't muster, we needed a strong body, up stepped Superboy.
Maybe Ganny was right, maybe Superboy had knocked out Bink to take his job.
Maybe Nick was right, and Superboy had his own problems, but we needed a
body, and Superboy offered his.
Yeah, I don't like Superboys, no one does. No one liked genetically perfect big
guys who make us all look that much more puny and ugly and imperfect.
I always figured genetics should be a throw of the dice, not a cut and paste lab creation.
If you don't know I'm describing a Eugenic, you're out of space.
Anyway, this Eugenic had a name, (if it was English, which it wasn't it'd be like JohnPeterPaulDavid (his father is Peter, his grandfather is Paul, his g.grand
is David, and that means his g.g.grand is John).
As it's not English his name is NalDriGarMiach, (and I'm only guessing where the breaks are).
He stepped up outside of the DeadCow Lounge on Station 435, Captain Voche
says okay, leads him in, shows him his bunk, and that ends the entire socialisation
Occasionally he'll be smirking in the galley, his long hair shiny and flashing,
the fems of the crew giving him a look, and he making it clear he'd rather stick
his wood in acid than into them.
I don't need to talk to anyone except the computers. I'm the geek,
quite happy to be away from wetware. I guess that's why Superboy
took to lounging around my space.
I had nothing to say to Superboy, nothing he had to say to me.
I gave him as much attention as I do a working monitor, which is none.
I liked him because he didn't make conversation. He didn't ask me what
I was doing, didn't ask how long it would be to Smudge, didn't criticise
the conditions of my working area, didn't make any sound at all.
Although he must weigh three hundred pounds, he walked light, so I didn't
hear when he came in or when he left. Because he breathed soft I wasn't
annoyed with snorts or pants or puffs.
And because he was Superboy, he bathed three or four times a day,
so I didn't smell him either.
I liked him because he being there meant Ganny wouldn't come to yammer
about her sex life or lack thereof. Nick wouldn't stop by to borrow anything,
and the rest of the crew took one look at Superboy and backed off.
If a Superboy kills you all he has to prove is that you made an attempt on his life.
Since he's got the best genes, he must be preserved. I didn't expect Superboy to
kill me, but others, some of whom had disgusting personal habits, might.
It's an uneventful flight, we dock on Smudge, begin off loading.
Well, not we, (including me) Superboy and Nick and the other lottabody folk.
Superboy was powerful. I watched him heft heavy stuff, muscles rippling, taking
it like exercise, not work.
Nick, Frack, Jubi, couldn't keep up with him. Anyway, I had business to deal on
Smudge, so after a minute of watch, I was down and out.
Part Two - Losing and Finding Superboy
Stuff you can't get anywhere else you can buy on Smudge, (and stuff you can't sell anywhere else, you can sell on Smudge).
I'm the first off, do what I do then back in a few hours later for my pay. You don't get paid until the cargo is off, not much is missing. It's always a portion of time before you and your coin collide.
As Smudge is where it's easy to get rid of cargo, as the 'law' gives a thirty minute leeway; if the buyer doesn't on with the cash in thirty minutes, you are free to dispose of it as you see fit.
That's the sweet of Smudge.
A lot of transactions don't concern legal tender, so most Spuckers have already completed their transactions before they've been paid.
Anyway, we're getting our pay, except Superboy. Since he's 'my friend', I'm deputised to find him. His stuff is still in his cabin, so he hasn't jumped. Fonna
saw him leave the ship, so he's got to be on Smudge. Somewhere.
More than five hours on Smudge will cost heavy rent. We have to find Superboy or leave without him. I am not feeling good about this.
I could understand Superboy taking a gander at how the genetically crummy live. He'd see trashy bazaars and ugly folks.
Smudge looks like Year Naught in Babylon. It's dirty, always crowded, noisy. Superboy is not going to squander his genetic endowment on whores, he is not going to pollute his body with intoxicants or the semi-edible junk that abounds.
If this was a cultured world where he could hear a symphony, or a garden world where he could see flowers as perfect as he is, or a sports world where he could engage in physical activities, it'd make sense. But he's Superboy.
The air is filthy, the ground is filthy, Smudge is filthy.
Every disease must live on Smudge.
Something is wrong.
It's not going to be easy to find Superboy, unless, we're willing to pay for information.
Now this is a sensitive operation. If the current swarm of worthless folk on Smudge know there's a value on Superboy's life, they'll jack the price.
We had a number of small emeralds that had, somehow, not made it to the purchaser a few trips back. As it wasn't legal to bring things from the mining asteroid of Ivak to anywhere, (due to the embargo) the fact the contraband was a few stones short wasn't going to upset anyone.
So we start.
I come out of the ship, see the usual filthy layabout, ask him if he saw Superboy. No. I show him a small Emerald and he gives pretty good directions.
We go to Ahmet's Bazaar.
We're pushing and jostling through the stinking teaming streets, every third person trying to sell us something, every second after that trying to rob us, and the more I'm thinking; this does not look like Superboy's choice of a way to spend his vacation.
We get to Ahmet's. There's lots of artifacts, (most fake) and maybe Superboy wanted something interesting to decorate his room back home.
Ahmet never saw him, not even when shown an emerald.
Okay. We started at Pier One, a klic that way. Somewhere between there and here, on these crowded streets with their disease laden and filthy people, (as well as spacers, criminals, and others) we lost Superboy.
I don't know if there are walls here, or just millions of bodies pushing back and forth, passing leantos, tents, knock board shops. I shimmy up a flagpole, despite the shouts, just to get an overlook of the crowd.
I mean this is lots of people, and they're moving and making noise, yet....yet I see, somewhere ahead, a person looking ...
I have the scene in my mind, frozen in fluidity, if that makes sense...
A wave of people, all dirty, for one thing you know, when you land on Smudge you get a cloak, brown or grey, or faded black, and cover yourself entirely. You don't stroll showing off your new boots, or necklace, the richest man in the Universe would look no different, (probably worse) than a beggar who makes his money standing on a corner hoping someone will ask him a question.
Everyone is in shades of brown, grey, faded black, once red, covered head to foot, flowing at quick pace and there is one person, standing by that...doorway? open garage? loading dock?
I don't know. Standing, looking up and down and then...
I feel that person looking at me.
I slide down, a few minor assaults for my trouble, and begin pushing through the crowd, going to the person I'd seen. My shipmates, who've been watching me as if I'd climbed the mast to shout 'land ho!' are helping me fight through the crowd.
When we get to where we're going I don't see anyone but an opening. It's dark, it's cluttered with garbage, but I move on, and there on the floor, naked, unconscious or dead, is Superboy.
We get him into his clothes, try to carry him, someone finds a cart, (of course it's an emerald to rent) and we're taking him out of the warehouse, or whatever the dark, dirty damp and stink is, when Captain Voche appears, mentions we should make him look like provisions not to attract attention.
It costs another emerald to get empty boxes, cover him, and push the cart to the ship as if it is only a bunch of toilet paper.
We get up the ramp, push him to Sick Bay, someone asking how I knew where he was. I don't usually answer anyway, so it's no biggie.
Anyway, Superboy's in Sickbay, we get off Smudge.
Part Three - Pete The Geek
If I haven't explained it well, someone's raped Superboy.
Going over the image on the street on Smudge...that person, in front of the warehouse...
I let a day pass before I wander to Sick Bay. We don't actually have a doctor.
We have this guy, he's about a hundred and twelve who drinks. The only
reason he's on this ship is because we can't find anyone else.
I think he used to be a real doctor but lost his license about fifty years ago,
give or take a decade.
There's no one in Sick Bay but Superboy.
He is lying on the ledge, a sheet over his lower body. He's really beautiful. Perfect.
He looks cold to me, I find a blanket to cover him, he opens his eyes, scared.
Scared and ready to do me bodily harm, if he had the strength.
"You're safe." I say.
Out of somewhere, comes Doc.
"Oh, he's up. Boy, damnedest thing I've ever seen.Drained him to the last drop, boy..."
"Fifteen year old bottle of Scotch..." I toss, pushing Doc out of the area, getting him
into the corridor; I say; "You want him kill himself? Go tell him he'll be alright or I pour
that Scotch into the pissatorium!"
This is the longest speech I've ever given.
He babbles crap, goes back in, I follow, he's rambling,
"You'll be just fine. Little rest, and good as new!" unconvincing.
I lead Doc to the most confused area of the ship. After ten minutes, when I'm sure he couldn't find his way out with a trail of bread crumbs, I make it back to Sick Bay.
Superboy is lying there, tears rolling down his face. They add to the shine of his perfect complexion. I grab a bottle of water, walk over to him, incline the ledge so he can sit, hand it to him.
He takes the bottle, drinks.
"Why'd you go to Smudge?" I ask, hopping on the other ledge.
I don't expect an immediate response. I sit and look. I'm not staring at Superboy exactly, just let my eye roll over him every few seconds.
Eventually he goes;
"Did you see them? Can you identify them?" in a very deep voice with a slight accent.
"No. I've heard stories..."
"Tell me!" he demands.
I take a breath, wet my lips, grab a bottle of water, drink. I'm not used to talking.
My fingers are actually typing on my thighs, to give you a clue of my communication skills.
"Set of Su...Eugenics...inhabit a planet...radiation."
There's connecting clauses or words I'm supposed to put in, but getting the idea out is how I do it.
"Males sterile, search for Sup...Eugenics..essence...sell...buy...fems okay."
He understands. He's Superboy. Big Brain to match Big Body.
"I..have..to get...it back!" he chokes out.
That's pretty impossible. Whoever milked him has gotten his Superboy sperm, divided it, packed it, and has probably sold it within the hour of taking.
"Why'd you go?" I ask.
He made a slight no with his head, locked me out. Having done enough talking for the month, I left him. Got back to my squat, connected myself to the computers.
Eventually I take sleep, wake, decide it was time for a shower.
Time to change my clothes.
I do this periodically.I don't mind my smell until it gets so high it makes my eyes water.
Keeps people away from me as a bonus.
Into the sani, off my shirt, my other shirt, my bra, my pants, my panty, and my shoes, everything down the incinerator hole.
I take down my hair, and into the shower.
Layers of dirt, turning the tank bottom into a swamp.
Feels so good to shower after a really long time. I went on until I rinsed clean.
Then covered myself with a lotion which would cut my odor, at least for a week.
I put on a brand new bra, blouse, over shirt, panty and pants I'd gotten on Smudge for
less than half what a pair of crummy shoes cost somewhere else. Socks, new trackers
which had that high jumping feel, I was braiding my long red hair when Superboy walked in.
He looked around the room as if searching for someone, then at me.
"You're an fem!" he exclaims.
"Don't tell anyone," I droll, turning back to the mirror.
He comes to stand right behind me, so I can see his reflection.
He's enormous and ten levels better looking.
I get the braids done, twist them around my head, pull on a cap. The cap is orange and
black, the shirt and pants are black, the undershirt is orange, the trackers are orange
This was what the correctly dressed Nuba supporter would wear at the World Cup, two
years ago. Smudge gets all the didn't sold from every where and every time.
"I didn't know you were...female..." he is saying, as if it were something like being a murderer.
I try to move around him to my seat.
"I was exposed to you..." he growled.
I had to really take him in. He loomed there, his muscles bulging from his vest, his slacks
so tight he couldn't be accused of false advertising, and that face, that chiseled perfection, framed by long gleaming hair, the kind of hair women spend hours and thousands of dollars trying to imitate.
"Thanks for the exposure." I flick, considering it less important than an untied shoelace.
Guess he didn't expect my unimpressed style. He didn't move when I passed, continued
up the stairs, into my seat, and started working.
I could feel his eyes on me, weighing.
Am a straight?
Would it be better or worse if I weren't?
As I could multi-task, I could do my search while considering Superboy's dilemma.
"Monitor two." I point, not turning, feeding the data concerning the planet, 'Steel', they
named it. Guess that's a Superboy kind of name.
Rumours, gossip, mag blurbs, audio/vids; my favourite is a blurb which calls it female domination.
Superboys are sterile, Supergirls can transmit their perfect genes. Footnote; sterile/infertile Supers are wiped. Unsubstantiated reports of Eugenic males captured, raped, often dying to provide sperm.
I don't know how long it took Superboy to digest, and organise, but at some point he was coming up my steps. I gave him a stare;
"No further," I bark. "My domain. Want anything, call for it where you are."
He had one foot on stair two, which was encroaching. He looked at me with this expression,
for he could probably lift me up with one or two fingers, but he didn't move. Then the beeper sounded, I was wanted on Main deck.
"Soon" I bark, switch off, cause they love to repeat themselves and say urgent in ten
Even if the ship was going to blow up, there was no way I could do anything without my
toolsuit, and no power would get me into the toolsuit without an insulation body stocking.
I got up, Superboy moves aside so I can pass. I didn't touch him,. I find a new stocking, my toolsuit, went into the sani. Off new pants, off new shirt, off new trackers, on stocking, on toolsuit. Then a meander to pick up any tools that should be in the toolsuit but hadn't been replaced.
I gave him a wave as I left to save the day.
When I was a little kid, I disconnected a power source.
My parents went nuts, and seeing their panic, I felt I'd committed murder.
Never realising what I'd done, they called experts. I saw them tinkering, trying.
For hours they worked trying to fix something that wasn't broken. Accidentally one
dropped something and noticed the disconnect.
That was my first step into 'technology' as well as my realisation people don't know squat.
I used to take my toys apart, then moved to appliances around the house, terrifying
my parents who assume world's end if the dust cover was removed.
I banged through schooling, going behind what was in front, learning btw, eventually,
becoming a certified geek, too weird for basic weirdness.
No one took a twenty two year old female seriously, not when she was little and cute.
No matter how well I did on hands on, I failed the personal interview. I didn't know what
answers, they wanted or when they wanted them, and found it difficult to listen to
people who weren't saying anything.
Spuckers aren't picky. No one wants the job. Like the drunken doctor or our drummed
out Captain, (the best of the bargain).
Instead of being Petre, I'd be Peter.
K & G Space Trucking was a crap company other crap companies hire because no one
asks questions because no one has the brain capacity or integrity to do that.
Just as Superboy could be taken on board, so could Pete. I'd been here five years,
and no one, besides Superboy, knew I wasn't a Pete.
I didn't bathe often, set sleep time to match the usual awake time, kept my area filthy
with obstacles every few feet, so outside of Superboy, every one who tried to come in
had either fallen, busted a shin, broke a leg, and other such joys.
I spend my days when I'm not fixing what's broke, communicating with sentient life forms
I didn't have to see.
Anyway, the crew of this ship didn't know how things worked, or what they did.
When something didn't do what it was supposed to, they didn't have the basic
understanding to do a check. They called me.
So I answer the emergency, get to dig around in the guts of a piece of crap for a
few hours, then get something to eat, back to my place.
This is why the converse I was having with Superboy was truncated, and I got back
to my kotch late, tired, and took a shower before hitting my bunk.
It wasn't until whenever I woke up, and took another I realised I was attracted to Superboy.
We are talking about a Superboy, someone more handsome the handsomest normal,
stronger, smarter...not even a sub average man would look at me once, much less twice.
The only reason Superboy lurked was because he thought I was Pete the Geek and
wouldn't annoy him. He stayed away from Ganny and other fems because he knew
they'd rape him if they had half a chance.
Now that he knew I was a fem, sex was in the game.
I went for breakfast, the ship quiet, everyone sleeping or doing something, so I had
the galley to myself.
I ate, drank, used the toilet, back in my squat as the Captain clued we were connecting
to Space Port 32.
Planets are one thing, Ports are another.
Nothing on a Port for me.
The guys buy whores and get drunk, the fems find guys to get them drunk,
Ports are like Ships only bigger.
I stayed where I was.
In Port I could vent my section safely. I locked it down, went out, and while waiting for pressure to rebuild build, lounged in the lounge.
Been lounging maybe an hour when Superboy pops in. Comes real close so if I thought he wasn't perfect, he'd prove me wrong.
"I want you to do something for me," he says in a bedroom voice.
I slide off the sofa, away from him. He's leaning like posing for an underwear ad.
"Don't game me. You want a favour, ask, I'll tell you cost. I don't take kind, only cash."
He's crushed now, is Superboy.
What he think?
He'd dazzle me?
Get me all weak knee, drooling;
"Oh anything, ask me anything, I'm here to serve you?"
"Sorry," he mutters in his usual voice. I think he blushes a little, he should.
"What?" I say.
He fixes position, sits on the sofa, hands clasped between his knees. It's really hard for him to ask a favour. After all, as a Superboy everyone should race to do his bidding.
"Ahmet has a key that belongs to me. He's been paid. I ask when you return to Smudge you collect it for me."
I look at him taking up enough sofa for three of me.
"Why?" his eyes fireballs.
"They saw me." I answer.
He's about to get up. The lounge has one door. I move, he's faster. He blocks the door.
In lunge position, hands out as if he'll grab me, hunched so his face is only eight or nine inches above mine he barks; "Who?"
When you're a Spucker you lose fear pretty early. Everything on a ship can kill you. From the water to the air to a dust mote. People are the least of your worries. Looking at Superboy. I laugh. It was like he was posing for a publicity blurb, told; "Do Menacing."
"Why are you laughing?" he growls, as I make my way to the polluter, take a bottle of stout.
"Why are you laughing!" he repeats, his eyes wild, ready to go for his weapon to deal with the threat of me.
I point at him with a finger and the Guinness; "...Nothing I want." If he hadn't good hearing he wouldn't have heard. I know he's heard.
I turn up the music, nothing he has to say I need to hear. If he wants to block the door, well, each to his own. He shuts the sounds, moves towards me. Considering his size, my position, my eyes are on his holy of holies. He notices, moves. Portrait of a Superboy feeling, well, impotent.
"Talk to me!" he sort of, well, begs.
I open an eye, he looks agitated. I'll have to explain the situation to him, and verbal communication is not my strong suit.
"On the flag pole..."
"What?" he emphasizes.
"What are you talking about? What flagpole?"
He's smart enough to rewind to Smudge, catch there's a flag to identify Ahmet's, and that it hangs off a pole I have climbed.
I can actually see him processing the data. He meets my eyes, nods, we're on the same page.
"Saw this fem, standing, this way, that way, then at me. Direct at me. Come down the flagpole, move to the fem. Ten minutes through the crowd. Gone. Inside. You. Alone," and because I'm wicked, "naked."
Oh he blushes, he shrinks, he looks everywhere but at me. It's kind of charming. I really like looking at him. He's lived all his life as Superboy, now here he is, alone with me, called upon to find a charming gene or at least a bargaining one, and so far on the back foot he's falling on his ass.
"Can't go to Ahmet," I droll, count to five, "if price is right, I can get someone to."
"I don't trust someone.." he flings.
"You Trust Me?" I gawk.
He nods as if it's evident.
I wouldn't trust me, though. I'm a world class flake.
I sit up, put out my hand, "What you got?"
He's got his pay packet which means nothing to me.
"What do you want?" he asks, fear in his face.
I really feel powerful.
I like this feeling.
I'm going sit here and just wallow in it.
While I'm wallowing I ask myself, what do I want?
What do all geeks want? Information.
"Why do you want the key?" I start.
His rolls his lips together shakes his head. I've got all the time in the world. I move around on the sofa, put up my feet, take up my Guinness.
While I'm sitting, I just notice, for the first, in five years, that the walls are lavender, the sofas are purple and there's steel and glass and a few touches of white. I figured the room grey or blue. Hmmm, haven't been looking.
Purple...lavender....what's the effect?
Don't know. Don't think I like the colours. If I have to be in these purple colours, I can't be wearing orange and black. White, yeah, white would look okay. Pink would be fine, light blue....
"Alright," he says, taking a breath, sitting on a purple chair, trying to move it closer, but it's bolted, so he sits beside me on the sofa, fortunately on another cushion, else I'd be
I move away, my knees up, like a wall, my hands on my knees holding the stout.
"Without the key I can't go home."
That's all he's going to say.
He's kind of choked it out, and I'm still waiting for the punch line.
I was hoping the key had something to do with treasure on another world, or some magic cabinet with elixirs, or...something.
It's silent in the lounge. Superboy and me, the only two people on this whole Space Truck.
In one piece of my mind I'm seeing myself taking the packet from him, going for the key...in another piece of my mind...
Maybe it's because I've bathed so often, I washed away my protective dirt. Maybe, skipping a few pages ahead, it's because I'm a virgin.
But the plan is there. It is right there like a zipped file.
I sip my drink, ask; "What do they do to sterile Superboys?" as if unimportant.
It hits him like a tsunami. I don't have to look, I feel his reaction. He is so vulnerable, adding two and two, getting the obvious four, hoping the two was really a three.
I know what they do, I've read about Steel. Sterile Superboys and infertile Supergirls are a waste of resources and killed. The point of Super society is to create this Master Race of
Superiors, who must, by genetic decree, remove inferiors from creation to prevent pollution.
If he's sterile, he's not a Superboy anymore, and key or no key, there is no home for him.
It's been over a minute, he hasn't said a word. I look at him, and he is really scared. And he looks at me. He looks at me, and wants to ask me something. I can see it. And I am not particularly sensitive, intuitive or empathic.
I've read horror stories of normals who become involved with Superboys or girls. It's close to necrophilia. It's loving someone who can't love back. Who can't feel. Who isn't there.
No one will ever love me. I wouldn't love me if I wasn't me. Love doesn't matter. It's going to be an experience. Like surfing a big wave, surviving a volcano, making it back home with a half an engine and leaking environment.
That's what makes it so right.