Suffocation Novella: Excerpt 3

Port Yukon Beach
Holy Cross – North American Union
Yubol (June) 2, 2228 – 1700 Hours

In the decades following the Eros Impact, the Yukon-Koyukuk valley became a coastline as the Bering Sea moved inland over the Yukon River.

As Alaska evolved into a lukewarm paradise, her future inhabitants faced life-threatening hardships in the former United States.

African-American’s fleeing the pogroms of Appalachia found violence in the white-dominated settlements of the Midlands.

Men of color were murdered on sight, while the women and children lived as nomads in fear of their lives.

Hoping to settle safely in western-coastal Canada, thousands of refugees came together and with their children migrated across the post-volcanic desolation of the northwest.

At the Utah Bay, they fashioned rafts from debris and set sail for the Pacific Ocean. It was many weeks before they entered the mighty Pacific, but a storm kept them making landfall.

After a harrowing journey, the refugees came upon an unrecognizable Alaskan coast. Washed up in the flooded town of Bethel, the survivors trekked inland to higher ground and lived as nomads until they learned the rhythm of the Yukon tide.

When the youngest generation came of age, scouts hiked the interior and found the sunken ruins of towns reclaimed by thawed permafrost.

In these buried cities were hospitals, retail outlets, and libraries; but the most significant find was a factory store stocked with treated lumber.

Months after finding the means to build a settlement, scouts came upon an abandoned oil well. Making the well operational, a city on stilts was erected around it; its builders named it, Holy Cross.

A floating jetty was set up downriver, and the residents traded crude oil with anyone able to sail in and out on the Yukon tide.

Unbeknownst to the matriarchy at Holy Cross, the far southern Texan Territories had ratified a constitution with the Midlands, and Appalachia; their first order of business was the acquisition of the oil in Alaska.

The Nauists decided against using their two pre-impact warships and three submarines. Hoping to keep the oil well intact, they engaged Holy Cross with boots on the ground. The siege lasted only two days, with the Nauists withdrawing after the local women threatened to ignite the oil.

Eager to quell future ambitions, the matriarchy at Holy Cross allowed the Nauists cheap access to their oil, in return for municipal autonomy. The Nauists were so desperate for the oil that they signed the treaty without appreciating its fine print.

Immediately following the treaties ratification, Holy Cross salvaged a sizable load of permafrost buried masonry and with it constructed a thick fortification around their city.

Access was restricted to only those people of color born in Holy Cross. No white persons or persons of mixed race could enter, and all business conducted between residents and non-residents was to take place at Port Yukon.

The Nauists endured this segregation for the same reason they’d attacked Holy Cross in the first place; a steady supply of diesel from Australia remained unreliable due to unpredictable oceanic storms.

After Ramaxia restored the gulf-stream in the Atlantic, a stable weather pattern developed throughout the globe.

In time, stronger winters in the northern polar region gave rise to thicker ice formations, and aquifers throughout the Yukon-Koyukuk began to freeze.

As fresh water supplies dwindled, some of the leaders at Holy Cross considered acquiescing to the Nauists demand that Holy Cross become an endorsed city, while senior members of the matriarchy refused to acknowledge the offer.

The polar nation of Ramaxia had built a massive dam on the thawed island at Greenland, and openly granted helovx-nations access to the fresh water in its bay. The wealthier denizens of Holy Cross proposed sending an envoy to them.

In the summer of 2175, fourteen women in a longship traversed the icy shallows of the Beaufort Sea, and sailing south on the David Strait, came within sight of the rocky shore outside Greenland Base.

Armed with blackberry wine, the diplomats received a warm welcome from the brutes on patrol; their skin color and one’s mastery of the French language led the guards to mistake them for the southern Brasiliaras.

Despite the initial misconception, a trade relationship was established, and Holy Cross would go on to represent the North American Union at Ramaxia’s submerged seafloor embassy, Base Thirteen.

Immediately following the Perth Incident, Holy Cross expelled all Nauists oil collectors from Port Yukon, hours before the NAU chose to protect the last of Australia’s people with the full force of its navy.

This preemptive act of civil authority in 2184 went on to preserve Holy Cross’ relationship with Ramaxia, and its newly ascended Ninth Ramaxian Gen.

In retaliation for remaining tied to Ramaxia, the Nauist government financed a migration campaign designed to socially burden Holy Cross.

Posters and radio spots throughout continental population centers touted Alaska as a haven for wealthy unmarried women.

Soon, the Yukon-Koyukuk valley was overrun with transient men looking for wealthy wives. Holy Cross authorities killed many of the men outright, while romantic exiles lucky enough to survive sought refuge on the beach at Yukon.

Realizing that many of these men were unable to leave, concerned leaders ordered the building of shelters, but lack of regulation saw these shelters taken over by resourceful former residents of Holy Cross.

The most ambitious of these exiles continue to reap a sizable profit by offering desperate men to members of Ramaxia’s transient polar fleet.

Fuzo closed the information screen with a tap.

A Toxis Class had surfaced two miles out, ushering in a cadre of gold-hungry whores upon the shore. Fuzo placed her arms protectively about the sides of her bivel, aggravated by Kul’s lack of concern over using the laptop out in the open.

Koxtax in hand after a good steam, Kul had ordered Fuzo out of the Ornith, to finish cleaning herself before her planned prowling for some locals.

Kul’s helovx-violations were no surprise given her collection of pornography. Sex with helovx males ranked up there with riding surface animals, and most of Kul’s material featured muscular helovx men engaging in penetrative sex.

“Dox?” a voice brought her Fuzo’s head up.

Rising from her seat she set upon the pink-hided Marix with a smile on her face.

“Wog!” she clasped arms with her old friend.

After Fuzo’s collection from the caste-center in Pikalit, Vekwog was the first eight-year-old face to greet her in Orta.

They spent the next five years enduring the verbal and physical intimidation of their superiors until age fourteen when Fuzo and the gray-striped Wog transitioned to different Broods.

Fuzo asked, “Who’s floating you?”

“I’m in the propulsion room, of the Orcinus,” Wog glanced the waterline, “Connie’s closer to land this time out,”

“Water’s cooler here, there’s more krill in shallows,” Fuzo returned to her seat, envious; she yearned to be on a fleet lifeform, sailing in the northern polar waters of the Ramaxic’acarol, like her donational mentor, Bam Yuxi.

“Connie eats a ton of it,” Wog rolled her eyes and sat in an empty chair. “You were always going on about Toxis Class lifeforms, so when my number came up, I chose Fleet,”

Requesting fleet service now was out of the question; Final-Trial victors who declined divisional recruitment got snapped back to the surface-scout corps, where prior high-performance standings meant nothing.

“What brings you to Yukon?” Fuzo asked.

“We got called to the AWI to meet up with the Goruym,” Wog said. “We had to collect some Doris woman leaving the Hotel,”

“I was on Gory,” said Fuzo. “Did you see her Striker Bay?”

“I’m not a Donmat,” Wog shook her head. “Liberty is the only time I get to leave the belly of the beast.”

Fuzo nodded, apologetic.

“Our Promad said this Doris was born in Holy Cross,” when Wog frowned, the light gray streak between her eyes went dark. “We stayed shallow the whole trip, so her precious head wouldn’t explode.”

“Their heads aren’t the only ones that can’t handle pressure,” Fuzo laughed, “Remember our first-year, in Orta?”

Toob housing sat just beneath the surface ice, and the roof over their habitation unit had been transparent; those first days excited at seeing the sky soon gave way to constant sinus headaches.

“My nose bled for weeks,” Wog griped. “When did you get used to it?”

“By the end of that first polar night,” said Fuzo. “Your Promad is Kilvx, right? What’s she like?”

“Typical Silent-Gen. She doesn’t say anything until she has to,” Wog waved over a portly man whose skin was the color of dark brown sand. “I’ve only seen her twice in the five months I’ve been on board.”

The man stood before them, his fleshy hips exposed when the wind blew up his sarong and whipped it against his big hairless belly.

“Get me an ale,” Wog snapped and turning to Fuzo, she asked, “You want anything, Donmat?”

“No, and call me Dox,” Fuzo said. “Have you come ashore before?”

“It’s our first time,” said Wog. “I love it because it’s not like the Trisect ports. Promad Kilvx doesn’t like Yukon,”

“I appreciate her trepidation,” Fuzo said; most helovx ports that dealt with femmar typically banned males.

“Trepida-what?” Wog teased. “You sound like a hizzah, Dox,”

Fuzo laughed heartily.

“You see that shack, there?” Wog pointed to a windowless wooden shanty with filthy bearskins tacked onto the roof. “It’s got a stage where two men, sometimes four, fuck and suck.”

“That’s disgusting,” Fuzo said.

“Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying helovx men are better than bellies,” Wog defended herself. “They can’t work a gash like a breeder can, but what men do to each other? It’s fucking ice-cold!”

“These men are sex-workers, not all men act like this,” Fuzo said, and when Wog didn’t thank the man after he set down her drink, Fuzo did. “Thank you, uh-”

“—Andre,” he said, smiling.

“Thank you, Andre,” Fuzo glared at Wog after the man departed. “If you treated a bizzy waitress like that, she’d spit in your next drink,”

“Men aren’t bizzies,” said Wog.

Fuzo said, “They aren’t breeders, either,”

“That’s true,” Wog said. “There aren’t two kinds of them.”

“There are two kinds of breeders?” Fuzo said.

Wog nodded, “You give subbies your patch and bellies your gash,”

“Oh, come on Wog!” Fuzo cried. “That’s so Ninth-Gen,”

Her awareness of rape culture came from meeting the author of the most infamous gol on the subject. Fuzo encountered the lovely Subak on Orta Attack night in Toxis and listened over some ale as rattled on about the unfair dynamics of being a Subak.

Impressed by Fuzo, the subbie agreed to accompany her to a nearby gaztenx, but afterward, when she insisted they group up with some friends waiting for her at a nearby Square Garden, Fuzo had declined.

“Something wrong, Dox?” Wog asked,

Fuzo shook her head.

After mistakenly opening-up to the Subak about her preference for one on one encounters, Fuzo emerged from the washroom later to find the braided citizen gone, and an Orta Sexual Counseling card left on the erotic couch.

“Dox,” Wog pointed to a poorly lit wall behind the commissary. “There’s a stage in there with a thin canal of water around it. You toss a gold coin into the water, shout out what you want the boys to do, and they will do it!”

“Watching is a hizzah’s wet spot,” said Fuzo. “I’m more hands-on,”

“You know it, Dox!” Wog slapped the table. “I hate it when brainer’s come to the shows. I can’t see over their big hair, and I choke on their stinky cologne.”

“Brainers need love too Wog,” Fuzo said.

“I love me some backswell but not if it’s attached to a hizzah,” Wog’s smile faded. “It’s good you made division after they tried to kick you out.”

“No one tried to kick me out,” Fuzo said.

Wox cocked her head, “You got questioned-”

“And evidence supported what I said!” Fuzo snapped.

Wog nodded at Fuzo’s lapel, “What division did you get?”

“Femitokon,” said Fuzo.

Spooked, Wog asked, “You ever see Kul down there?”

“Kul’s my Prime,” Fuzo said, smiling.

Wog’s eyes widened, “They’re punishing you-”

“—Punishing me, for what?” Fuzo demanded.

“Being knocked out, most of the Trial,” Wog said.

Fuzo declared, “I was on my feet when time ran out!”

“Dox, you ever see a male?” Wog asked.

Fuzo shook her head, “There’s none left, Wog.”

“What about the death cave?” Wog asked.

Fuzo planned to answer, but then Wog jumped up.

“Kul’s coming,” she gasped. “I got to slide,”

“You can stick around, Wog,” Fuzo said.

“You on the Ice Flow?” Wog seemed determined to get away before Kul got close enough to warrant a salute.

“My shard is Doxasaur,” Fuzo called as Wog briskly exited.

Opening her bivel, Fuzo sensed Kul take the seat vacated by Wog,

“Komad, I thought you had plans,” she said, feigning surprise.

“You’re not drinking?” Kul asked.

“I don’t like helovx liquor or beer,” Fuzo turned the bivel toward her. “I ran the scans of the paper-scraps through Orny’s casti-cleaner.”

Kul studied the images on the screen.

When the Filmark in Fuzo’s pocket pinged, she brought it out, tapped the screen, and saw a flow-stone from Wog.

Hey @doxasaur, don’t ride Kul off, she’ll end you!

Fuzo used a single thumb to reply.

That shit they say about Kul isn’t true @wogomod

When Fuzo set the handheld face down onto the table, Kul snatched it up.

Kul set her dead eyes on Fuzo.

“What do they say about me?”

“May I have my Filmark back, please, Komad?” Fuzo asked.

“Donmat,” Kul didn’t give it back. “Why do you have your Filmark on shore at an helovx port?”

“You said the biv wasn’t a problem,” Fuzo said.

Kul explained, “An Orta assigned bivel shuts down when touched by helovx hands,”

“I’ll return it to Orny, Komad,” Fuzo held out her hand.

When Kul slapped the Filmark into her palm, Fuzo caught a whiff of something familiar. Subaki attended digicast halls in groups, and Fuzo was often lucky enough to be sitting within smelling distance of the bubbly beauties.

“Are you wearing Subglacial Rose?” Fuzo asked.

Kul said, “What did you get from the scraps?”

“One of them has a five-year-old coffee stain on it,” Fuzo said. “There’s an ink-written note under the stain,”

“Color Code Green,” Kul read the screen, “Abandon South Atlantic.”

“It’s in Nauist English,” Fuzo said. “Is that why we’re here?”

“How did you ascertain the English is North American?” Kul asked, “The Aotearoan’s speak English, as do the northern Eurislam on the Trisect,”

“The word color doesn’t have a U in it,” Fuzo said. “North American’s don’t put the letter U where it doesn’t belong.”

“I’m impressed,” said Kul.

“The largest piece of scrap was a print-out with an IP address originating in the northern polar region,” Fuzo said.

“Bumo’s lone relay station is in the Arctic,” Kul waved over a white-haired waiter with pale skin and light blue eyes.

The chubby man’s joviality faded upon closer inspection.

“Are you afraid of my uniform?” Kul asked.

“I’ve never seen one like yours,” the man’s smile displayed perfect white teeth amidst his neatly trimmed goatee.

Kul pushed her chair out and playfully slapped her thigh. Excited, he sat down on Kul’s knee and allowed her to wrap an arm around his thick middle.

Kul spoke to him as if he were a donat.

“I’m a Komad, and that’s a Donmat,”

“I see her rank all the time,” he said, smiling at Fuzo.

“It’s good to know I’m a frequent fixture,” Fuzo said.

Kul demanded, “Spell fixture, brooder,”

The Komad was tolerable when she behaved like a real bruise.

“What’s good here to drink?” Kul asked while groping his flabby chest.

Thrilled by her attention, he boasted the rum punch was amaze-balls because the fruit was fresh.

“I want a rum punch, but I want you to make it,” Kul tapped his nose with her finger and pushed him to his feet.

The man jumped up, visibly giddy, and as he charged off, he suddenly remembered his job. Turning to Fuzo, he said, “Did you want anything, Donmat?”

“No, thank you,” Fuzo said.

Kul watched him skip over the sand.

“Information regarding the marriage license?”

“It’s got to be fake. I tracked down the name of the woman by her Communal Party number. I got a birth certificate.” Fuzo said and glanced up to find Kul aiming another of her long and silent stares. “Communal Party of Jungwa keeps a written record of all births. They issue these certificates to parents for identi-”

“—I know what a helovx birth certificate is,”

“Permission to speak freely?” Fuzo asked.

“You speak freely with every breath, Donmat,”

“Why do you do that, Komad?” Fuzo demanded, “You look at me sometimes like you’ve no idea what I’m saying. At least that’s what I think when you stare at me like that and-”

“—you believe the certificate’s a forgery?”

“Her birth information originated ten years ago,” Fuzo said.

“I tried to access her office at Bumo,”

“This Vai Zhang is real?” Fuzo looked up at her. “The bio attached to her CPJ identification says she’s married to Pym Zhang.”

“A married scientist that is ten years old,” Kul pushed air out her nose and sat back in her chair. “With adult fingerprints, and a locked office at Bumo Corp,”

“I made sure there were no retrieval errors, and checked up on the thirty other Vai Zhang’s I found in Shenyang’s Defense Force database,” Fuzo said. “This Vai’s the only one connected to Bumo.”

When the white-haired waiter returned with the Komad’s drink, Fuzo frowned at the red concoction.

“There’s not one shred of pulp in there,” she said. “It’s pure colored sugar, Komad.”

Eyeing a dark-skinned man that passed by, the waiter said, “Colored sugar never hurt anyone, Donmat.”

“Objectification is a form of racism,” Fuzo snapped.

Kul took her drink from his tray.

“She can’t spell objectification,”

“We do have real fruit sometimes,” the man said with a smile. “There’s a hypnotronic farm two miles from here.”

Fuzo stared up at him, “Hydroponic?”

“What did I say?” he asked.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Kul. “She can’t spell hydroponic either,”

Smirking, Fuzo sat back and folded her arms over her chest.

“What’s your name?” Kul asked the man.

“Mikhail,” he hugged the tray to his chest.

“Are you from Yukon?” Kul asked.

“My family’s been here forever,” he replied.

“Were they States, or Canadian?” Fuzo asked.

“One of the countries that used to be here? Before you all…” Mikhail’s voice trailed off before coming back with less confidence, “Before the world ended,”

Kul shifted her eyes to the ocean and held up a small gold coin, “Would you like to walk away now, Mikhail?”

“Yes, please,” he said, stepping away.

“Come back here, Mikhail,” Kul’s voice became firm. “Now take the coin you earned,”

“I wasn’t trying to insult you,” he whispered.

“You’ll insult me,” Kul said. “If you don’t take the coin.”

The man’s shaking hand took the coin.

“Wait for me at the bar, Mikhail,” Kul said, and no longer giddy, the man darted off.

“May I speak freely?” Fuzo asked.

Kul sucked on the straw in her drink, without answering.

“Does it make you feel good,” said Fuzo, “Scaring him like that?”

Kul set her glass down.

“It’s not a judgment call, Komad,” Fuzo said. “I’m asking because when I was at Bumo, I got a rush scaring those guards,”

Kul asked, “Does being physically superior to them, excite you?”

“My feelings are irrelevant, Komad,” Fuzo said. “I know that they know, I’m stronger. Any posturing on my part to reaffirm makes me the weaker one,”

“You want to like them, don’t you?” Kul said.

“Helovx frustrate me, so much,” said Fuzo. “They still blame us for something nature did to this planet, two hundred years ago.”

“As a third-year Brood,” Kul set her empty glass down. “You received basic interface typing instruction?”

“I took advanced interface keyboarding, Komad.” Fuzo said, and when Kul lifted an impressed eyebrow, she added, “And I can spell keyboarding,”

END EXCERPT


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