The Committee

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: June 11, 2019

Reads: 51

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 11, 2019

A A A

A A A

1

 

Now

 

 

They glare with eyes locked, as sniper to sniper, smoked topaz versus a scorpion’s robotic ivory.

“I know why you’re truly on this mission,” Ajiba says.

“You exaggerate,” the Russian replies. “Da, we wait for full report.” Potsdam’s astronaut stews; never let them hurt you. And she heads back to the bridge, leaving the woman of the cadaverous eyes to simmer in self-righteousness indignation.

Accusations and insinuations, Fallada chooses to jettison the other’s vile words. Why should she heed them? She’s proud of ship’s life support—despite history. Yet, she scans the readings. It’s prudent practice.

Soon, the Potsdammer will head off to the flipside and enter a cocoon type device, the ship’s Heaven chamber. There she’ll tango, to press lips upon lips . . . and ignore the pain an Assimilation astronaut inflicts.

 

Love’s a challenge aboard a spaceship. Yet, in spite of days of interplanetary isolation and more to come, Fallada will touch him soon, even if he’s on Earth. Alas, forces are coming to tear her apart.

It’s been four years since her storied plunge. That was then, when many lauded the career adventurist, but not all. She fears what she cannot understand, mediocrity.

The career adventurist is slender limbed and well proportioned, a brunette with faint freckles. And Fallada Rune absolutely lusts for him; they’ll approximate passion from ship to Earth via virtual reality. Her man, her Zoltán, sadly, he’s a troubled stubble-chinned Hungarian. What bothers him so?

Now ion rockets drive the Shining Water, it’s halfway to Mars. Earth recedes, the Sun too. A chasm separates; they’re too far apart to touch; only facsimiles can. Both crave it, to relieve a mutual loneliness.

The mission: build infrastructure on the Martian moon of Phobos. As specialist for life support, they’ll need her expertise for the most basic of needs, raw survival. Alas, there’s Ajiba and her toxic spite. But she’ll go ahead and love her man with intention.

As her paramour prepares his terrestrial chamber the Russian Prussian elects to wait for the go signal . . . to see how it will unfold, to be played upon. He’ll be her puppeteer. She hopes he has something especially sensuous in mind; she yearns to feel him, to forget Ajiba’s sting. The ache lingers as venom swelling inside a bruise.

First, da, freshen up. Fallada strips off her skinsuit and places it aside. Thenceforth shower, a downdraft stall designed for microgravity. After the comforting blast of hot air, she dons a mesh suit and exits. Anticipation, she enters the ship’s gym. Perchance, he’ll give her candlelit romance. She hopes.

The celebrated wingsuiter also white knight of do-it-yourself biology, she, who’s lionised by the browbeaten, puts on an electrode cap and earpiece-goggle combo plus flavorist to give the sensation of taste. A semi-naked astronaut descends into a compartment. She sees it as a cradle for touching the living.

Anticipation, she desperately yearns contact. She’ll become a forsaken man’s darling. The biohacker extraordinaire slides in and closes the lid to become encased within a pliable substance stretching around her. It’ll leave an air passage for breathing, this marvel of technology. Eventually, an elastic membrane will mimic ecstasy; she’ll interlock with her beau, she who’s yesteryear’s hero and today’s pariah.

Today, it takes endless seconds for each radio transmission to reach the other, the speed of light. Tomorrow, it’ll be longer yet. The dilemma: make love while physics delays each caress, kiss and whisper. The answer: Perform a tango using the virtual reality of a Heaven chamber. Hers is onboard, his, far, far away.

Finally, the goggles show a blip of green. On Earth, her man had begun—a near two minutes ago. He’ll be her randyman. Now she’ll go wherever he leads her.

They’re in some ‘holiday’ place, it appears familiar though it may be fictitious or some combo thereof.  She hears him recite:

“Fallada, born Vishnevsky, your approach to there is perilous.

Each earthly rotation, your vessel stands exposed.”

Da. This could be Cumae. She smells it, the whiff of Aleppo pine. A Mediterranean zephyr whispers. Grass blades impress against her bare soles. Heaven’s unreality emerges astonishingly authentic; semiconductors spoof the penetration of the Sun’s infrared deep into her bones.

A visual registers via espresso-cup goggles. The beach down below seems nigh right. Her hazel-eyed man places a bouquet of flowers on a table, obviously biohacked, petals sport dynamo colours, they fluctuate, and textures jibe as abstract painting or elaborately coded message by hypothetical extraterrestrial intelligence.

Then he dives further into esoteric innuendo, a warning apparently—he pleads. “Listen, gossip cackles from tongue to tongue as lightning’s surge into living plasm. If only you weren’t there.” He strokes her cheek, “And she’s still on board.”

Poetry’s never her forte. She’d rather pair bond with sober intoxication. Wait. Stop. How Zol know Ajiba hit me hard?

 “Why you always talk about her?” she transmits.

This is what could happen. Her question will fly ship to Earth, he’ll hear it, then he’ll answer and eventually she’ll receive his response.  Instead, Heaven software compensates. It’s tricky but a personality avatar fills in the gaps as one partner sends their intention to the other. Yet people remain thoroughly spooked by the Singularity War fought years ago.

Some heart beats thence, she hears what her system conjures.  “Doomed are we to vanish into dream.” Inside Heaven, she wraps herself into the goop now posing as his torso

And simulation Zol cries into her naked breasts. The tears tickle as they roll down the rounded contours of her lightly-toned nipple-tipped skin; his tears coalesce into blobby drops, as they would under terrestrial gravity. They are raindrops impacting an artisan’s marble but salted instead of fresh; and the marble a more pliant brownish stone and even more stunning.

And then, through the vacuum, his actual words arrive. “Of course, we suffer detachment, but why do you make it so?” He hesitates, then charges forth.  “Listen. She is, um, a dark cauldron . . .  she seeks destruction. No, delete, I’m being paranoid. Chérie, may we reset and start again?”

And they know it, the maybe or maybe not are frequently ineffective. Better to move on, the act of copulation. Never linger. Alas, Heaven is only an elaborate simulation.

“Lady Rune, it’s hopeless, this mission, it sojourns as enigma but at least these are magnificent,” He touches the flowers. “. . . and a la you, I had one of your (Gnome Society) friends hatch them for you.”

He goes on, the poet he plays. “Ah great Rune, storied Calypso muse, don’t be angry with me. You speak as severed soul, is true, please, heed my forlorn call.”

However he won’t tell her this. Kalypt? means to conceal or deceive. Now uproot said word and whammo, bang, reveal the Indo-Iranian ?árma, which in turn is linked to the English helm, as in the steering apparatus of a ship. Aha, grok this, it may be the cause and effect to influence the future.

Speak plainly, his woman wants to say, and then copulate. Alas radio cannot ferry her message soon enough. She pines for him, all her days.

But what she actually says is more blatant. Fallada reaches across the table to hold his hand and squeezes tight, they are lukewarm. Simulation Zol smiles and squeezes back. He winks, but jabbers forth: yap, yappity yap. It’ll take a protracted while for her to experience his true reaction. The sooner he takes her to bed, the better. She transmits, photons fly to Earth.

Her man, he worries. “Answer me this. Why, why must you fly to Mars? And you’ll reply, ‘But Zol, you ask me every day.’ Then, my dear, dear Fahl, you’ll sing an epic amongst the stars. Yes, yes, I get it. You seek adventure always, and, my darling, you’ll say, ‘I’m about vision and action. Besides, I have duty.’ But this is different, I can feel it. Duty be damned.

 “Hence I’ll say it again—one more time. Something about this particular mission doesn’t smell right. Why you? Dineon should have tasked another. You grok, delegate it further down the chain.

“Yes, yes, I understand. The Melissa is new, unproven, and perchance, um, problematic. And you’re the top expert, period. Too much depends on it.

 “But there’s more, I mean, how shall I broach the subject? Dare I raise it again, fock yeah, I’ll do it. Something’s odd about the whole crew selection process. How convenient, this last minute substitution. I don’t like it and neither should you. And of course, you’ll say: ‘My Turul, you always worry.’ ”

Her man never elaborates upon the cryptic Ajiba Dinh, he cannot confront what he knows. The celebrated Fallada Rune, she too refuses, go forth and damn the rest. She’ll always rail against the bureaucracy. There’s a rumour too, a new committee to set loose into the high frontier.

“Hey,” he says, “we’re wasting time when we could be rutting like beasts in heat. Murphy, purposeful love is hard. You’ll agree of course, but I too have . . . um . . . function, and I’m going to share it with you. See, I too care about life amongst the stars.

 “Attendez,” he declares, “I’ve been working on this Inca Roads thing for . . . er, um, . . . since June—”

“Stop!” She transmits her horny plea. Fallada knows where he’s going; his work on decoding the pattern found on the Jingoro asteroid, what may or may not be a message from extraterrestrial intelligence.

Meanwhile, they’re stuck at holding hands when she needs him to take the rangy road to Yoni’s lotus lair. The Russian hungers for the man, not his words.  Hey, hey, shut up, your ETs can wait. Da, do it now, make it a Vesuvius. She craves him colossally, one fiery blast and then spent—maybe eons until the next time.

Helplessly she endures his rant. She hears him expound upon biosmiotic theory. Sim Zol spouts on and on about Polanski’s Amiguity Lemma. His dissertation grates, as does an (astro) nautical ditty. It assaults her as an earworm:

A hundred and ninety nine vodkas on the mac, . . .

Sixty one vodkas on the mac, sixty one vodkas.

Pick one up and pass it around, sixty vodkas on the mac.

. . .

Suddenly, the real Zoltán receives her transmission; self castigates and lobs his answer back through the vacuum. However it’ll take another hundred eight seconds to reach his beloved’s ears.

Meanwhile she hears her simulation partner blather on, his lion gleans it. “And our results are statistically meaningless, it stays fifty-fifty whether the patterns are a message or merely, I say, a natural process. Fig yeah, there could be no message to decode.”

Fallada could scream. Get on with it, gimme carnal euphoria. Finally, his true response arrives—it took long enough.

“Apologies, shame on me for wasting your—our time, yes, of course, I love you and if I say it I will do it, love you I mean.”

This is when worlds collide in a kaleidoscopic high. The scene switches in a surreal fashion akin to a dream; he takes her by the hand and leads her to bed. Da, about time. He’ll do it, find his mojo, as one exploding faster than a blooming mushroom, first hidden deep under, then it’ll burst into daylight. How her chamber’s computer added the details is another matter. She’s now synched more-or-less to his bona fide intentions albeit with a time lag.

Finally, the man covets her as a pearl on fire; his touch is markedly deep so as to overcome the desolate expanse of interplanetary space between them. Nonetheless, the gap seems callous as if nature’s cruel on purpose. To overcome the isolation requires tremendous flight of fancy, perpetually more than true Eros can muster. This is how one takes satisfaction in the faraway approximation of carnal intimacy.

The technology does what it can do best: trick the brain. There be odours, the bouquet, it somehow left the table and joined them in bed as in a dream. They clash, the fruity versus musky. Of course, might ETs use pheromones? His true voice manifests, an ache pining for his disappearing protectress. It’s happened before – the near whiny – regardless, her jongleur retaliates and finds it, his cojones and chutzpah. She’s got a lovely way to make him burn, a rollercoaster lover. What’s real and what’s predicted by Heaven tech? Slo-mo can be utterly confusing.

She places her hand on his navel, ah, ah, oh my, if only . . . he’s decidedly squeamish tackling what she absolutely covets. Alas, the delectable remains fantasy—for now. He goes in gentle, then less subtle, next more blatant, his mojo grows and it rubs there, ah, just right. Tingles bop and she shudders, home-grown opiates in the brain, she pants and clasps him tighter, they ascend, wait, the peak. Zol, you truly do it. How you know? He never told.

The RSRC [Remote Sensory Receptor Capsule] is her cocoon; the empirical world waits outside where another lingers. It’s a problem. Da, enjoy now.

Her Heaven is a Harmony Two model, or more properly a Héxié li?ng. It mimics a randy supercharged bean bag, one that secretes and squirts. The textile can and does autonomously mould for clinging onto the occupant; it’s the ultimate transformer of mood, this spectacle of haptic technology. The tactile fabric pokes and prods in order to impersonate a naked man, her man.

On Earth, his chamber spawns a replica of her, scent, sweat and heat. His beloved’s heart thumps. Fact or fiction, sometimes it’s not wholly so, when an avatar assumes what is to be.

Aboard ship it’s similar, she feels him, an aching Hungarian.

Real Fallada says, “Is mercy, da, Shining Water include RemSex.”

Sim Zol replies. “Yes, I most heartily agree. Tender is your touch when I embrace you.”

His avatar fakes poetry. It seeks seduction; the striking brunette must wait and see if an improvement is forthcoming. It won’t matter much, the norm is what it is and they lie side by side while he assumes a near fetal position, to nestle along her back, tender lips pressing atop the nape of her neck. It’s always so, why should it differ now? At approximately 23:40 hours ship time, she’ll turn around to face him, gaze deeply and they’ll kiss with tongues exploring the other’s mouth. Ergo, disengage and roll back to back, thus each touching the other. They’d drift off to sleep if they could but not until each steps out of their respective chamber. They’ll return to their physical beds within their respective unadulterated worlds. “My amore, my Razzo, is time to leave.”

It’ll be almost two years, desolate impersonal years, until the Russian Prussian returns to Earth to again touch her man in fact. Instead they’ll go on as libidorators, to run simulations akin to dreams. And as the distance between them grows, they’ll switch to massage mail to become as cuddle toy. Yet they refuse to speak of it, why she’s really on this mission.

Faraway, on said planet, she’d greet the open sky, breathe the earthen dampness deep inside a boreal forest, gaze upon the ochre of tall-grass savannah, swim the deep blue of balmy ocean, and brave the waves sloshing upon cliffs with airy lofts, all of them, the places to let loose with wild abandon. She’d wander among the eerie chaos of coral, nature’s cities under the sea. Too, she misses Barcelona, New Nairobi, Tel Aviv and Singapore, for there, she’d hobnob amongst the life-hackers and artistes in their studios, parlours and street fests. There’d be conversation and exhibitions. She’d walk the bustle of markets; a vendor offers her a Scandinavian dandelion. The twenty-second century barnstormer oft sipped a potent dark roast; a barista’s triple espresso. And there are the nooks and crannies where she’d hide from the limelight to savour treasured moments of solitude.

But, in the here and now, the crushing angst of shopping-mall artificiality confines her. The ship’s a sterile world within a shell of high-tech composite. Every day, it’s the same old, superficiality and stifling oversight. There’s much to dwell upon in a disconnected crew of six. Each has an agenda. None offer her the true hand of friendship.

Da, Zol right, should never have gone.

 

Fallada’s calling perseveres, she, who seeks harmony amongst microbial life. She must take care of the Melissa. It’s the ship’s biological life support system. What if? His Lady Rune ought to plumb the worse possible. Extermination? Annihilation? But this is hard to do, case in point, now. There are words spoken by the dame from Assimilation Robotics as toxic dart or poison-tipped tongue of a cobra, the venom directed at her—and Potsdam Kultur. It’s true; astronauts stay vigilant because space is dangerous. But Ajiba’s recent words particularly hurt.

Why? What bring it on? The Melissa is a complicated network of cooperating bacteria; they take in waste and give back food, clean water and air to breathe. In theory, this should work for days and days. It’s more than enough for any mission. The other consortiums stand sceptical. Closed loop biological life support has been elusive until now.

A hobo hackster chooses to sleep; she leaves the issue until her next morning. Soon Ajiba’s almighty day will start.

 


© Copyright 2019 Peter Spasov. All rights reserved.

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