Suffocation Novella: Excerpt 4

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PAC Woxidat (Arkelon Class)
Raxuta`Acarol (Pacific Ocean)
4 Yubol (June) 2228 – 0600 Hours

“You got these chocolates in Holy Cross?” Dox popped a truffle into her mouth and read the box cover. “Was this Mama Rogers, part of the investigation?”

“Somewhat,” Sofita said, thankful that Dox had ended her verbal embargo; she’d been silent since Sofita submitted her mission report detailing the termination of the leak at Holy Cross.

Sofita omitted ordering Dox to hack the Cloister Admin Cluster and left out the subsequent visit from CR Banto.

Ornithocheirus Six has just landed, Orny said. Donmat Dox, Sestra has a message to you from her Bakidon, Kirgo Su.

“What’s the message?” Dox asked.

Orny replied, Wake Up Dox!

“Tell Bakidon Su,” Dox ate another chocolate. “To suck my dokk,”

Donmat, that’s not appropriate communications protocol.

“Bakidon Su can file a complaint,” Dox said. “After she sucks my dokk,”

I have relayed your message.

“Are you sure CR Banto’s going to call?” Dox turned to Sofita. “It’s been over twenty-two hours,”

“We’ve another hour before Bakiprime Wex asks Woxy to kick us off her launch deck,”

Pita Wex had been another of Fusada’s friends in Orta, and like many commanding officers between the poles, Wex wasn’t comfortable having secretive divisional officers aboard her Ark.

“Orny,” Sofita said. “Why is Sestra here?”

Ornithocheirus Six is an operative of the Office of Helovx Advocacy. Her mission entails the delivery of civilian laborers to the Woxidat for transport to Aleutian Prime to replace those listed as overdue for liberty.

“Ask Sestra if that marixidoe piloting her has had any real missions other than transporting bizzies between jobs?” Sofita said. “Make sure she relays that question to Bakidon Su, word for word, care of Donmat Dox.”

After a few moments, Orny returned.

Bakidon Su sends a new message, intended for Donmat Dox, but it violates communications protocol.

After her smile faded, Dox turned to Sofita.

“Komad, why did we hack Banto’s system?”

“Banto was an administrator at Nazca Base,” Sofita replied.

Dox was puzzled, “Before she wanted to be a CR?”

“Banto never desired politics,” Sofita said. “Her heritage made the career mandatory. Banto’s the donation of the Fourth Office, Tee Banto. She’s duty-bound to serve in the Chamber because it’s a prerequisite to ascension.”

“Ascension?” Dox asked.

“Someday,” Sofita said. “She’ll ascend to the Tenth Gen Committee.”

Dox turned, “I thought when-”

“—Fusadakul died, the Tenth was nullified?” Sofita asked.

Dox stretched her legs, “Someone at Nazca Base contacted CR Banto about something related to this mission?”

“That’s why we invaded her privacy,” said Sofita.

“If I’d known what I was doing,” said Dox. “I wouldn’t have done it,”

“You were under orders,” Sofita said, “Though I didn’t tell you to gawk at the intimate castis of Banto’s subbie,”

“My lust aside,” Dox turned to face her and delivered a line that Sofita suspected was rehearsed. “Hacking into CR Banto’s system was objectionable,”

Sofita crossed her arms over her chest.

“You Eleventh’s and your idealized rectitude,”

Dox started.

“What’s an helovx gurxhole have to do with it?”

“Rectitude is integrity, honor,” Sofita exclaimed.

“Honor’s important,” Dox said. “It’s what separates us from the helovx.”

“I don’t want to make light of your conviction,” Sofita said. “But only six chromosomes separate us from helovx, and their rectums,”

“We can’t breed with them,” Dox said.

Kul corrected her, “We females can’t breed with them,”

“Femmar is only female!” Dox paused and tempered her tone, “Forgive my disrespect but my generation has no males, so they aren’t part of the everyday vernacular.”

“Did you just say vernacular?” Sofita teased. “That’s a complicated word for a bruiser that doesn’t know a human’s asshole from her honor.”

“That’s right, Komad, belittle how I express myself,” Dox scowled at Sofita, “It makes everything I say completely invalid,”

“Donmat, look at me,” Sofita ordered. “My Gen does have males, as does the Gen before it, as did the Gen before that,”

Dox palmed her head in frustration.

“You tend to forget this, Donmat,” Sofita added. “Peculiar really, since this Division specializes in matters connected to those particulars.”

“As you’re fond of saying, Komad, let’s not pollute the subject,” Dox took a breath, but the tension darkened her scalp. “I didn’t know our males bred with helovx women, until assignment to Femitokon,”

“What else don’t you know?”

“I’m confused about why we’re still on this mission,” Dox said. “The hybrid’s dead.”

“We’re to follow up on his work,”

“We found squat,” Dox said. “What’s so important about this one?”

“Carl Crystal is Zhang’s father,”

“The cult leader from the California’s?” Dox asked.

“No, the male farc from Ramaxia,” Sofita watched Dox flinch. “Caro Cristi was surgically altered to disguise himself as Carl Crystal,”

“They’ve had him in jail for years,” Dox said. “How have they not figured out what he is?”

“Nauist convicts get no medical care,” Sofita said. “They get a room with no view, and they’re fed once a day.”

Dox shook her head, “Why hasn’t he told them what he is?”

“And be cut to pieces?” Sofita said.

“The Committee entertained repatriating Zhang when he requested asylum because they didn’t want him going to the NAU and telling them his daddy was a male farc,” Dox reviewed the situation, then leveled her eyes at Sofita. “I don’t like the word farc, Komad. It’s a slur.”

Sofita took great care not to smile.

“Yes, it is, I won’t repeat it.”

“Thank you,” Dox wasn’t finished with Sofita just yet. “I also don’t like it when you consort with helovx. Orta might be okay with you riding them while investigating if they’re spies, but I’m not.”

“I appreciate your candor,”

“I’ve no place telling you how to carry out a mission, Komad, but if you’re going to engage in future helovx-violations, I don’t want to know about it,” Dox said, and then shook her head in anger. “You’re laughing at me,”

“I’m not amused in any way, Donmat,”

“I can see it in your eyes!” Dox cried.

A knock on Orny’s hull alleviated the tension.

The Donmat got up and tapped the hatch sensor.

When it opened, Eppis Banto pushed passed her. The Hizak’s hair was tied into a tail, and her forty-inch hips were squeezed into a pair of maintenance overalls designed for a narrow Bizak.

“Citizen Banto,” Sofita snatched the fleet badge from Banto’s chest, the one part of her body that didn’t stress the suit’s fabric. “Did you quit politics for a career in engineering?”

The Donmat smiled wide.

“Ornithocheirus,” Banto panted. “Run a calibration on your time monitor,”

Daily recording halted to perform the requested calibration, Engineer Kavu.

“Welcome aboard, Engineer Kavo,” Sofita teased.

“You will not speak of this, to anyone,” Banto growled, struggling to peel off the suit.

Dox brought up her Filmark, and Sofita stepped in to block her; shaking her head, she warned Dox against snapping the freeze.

“I suspected the male Bos to be in Vostulak ISO,” Banto stopped undressing to catch her breath. “One does not enter Vostulak ISO without authorization from the Axyrn Custodial, or the Sernatae Second,”

“You spoke with Gizul?” Sofita asked.

Ixo Gizul was the current Prime of Marixi Administration, and on top of being Sernatae Yir Gizul’s donation, she was also the Sernatae Second.

Gizul’s career path had been synchronous with Sofita’s; armed with an equal intellect, she scored evenly on placement exams and shared a room with Sofita while growing up in Mynu.

Banto frowned at Sofita, “Outside Cloister, no Representative speaks with the Second, Sofita. You know this to be bad form.”

“It’s been a long time for me,” Sofita said, apologetic, while Dox mocked Banto’s seriousness with a perceptive nod.

“I avoided impropriety by encountering Ixo at the Faxutox,” Banto said, finger raised. “I discreetly explained your situation, and Ixo expressed displeasure at having not seen you since the tribunal,”

“I don’t live on the mainland,” Sofita said.

Banto stared at her a moment.

“We returned to her office,” she said. “Where she intended to facilitate your entry into ISO until an embedded proviso blocked our progress.”

Naked, Banto was finally free of the cloying suit.

Dox grabbed one of Sofita’s helovx-made magazines and wrote on it in marker: Banto’s hizbacks are the largest I’ve ever seen.

“Unknown Subject,” Banto added, unaware of Dox’ crude observation. “Isolation level six, room nine, requires clearance from the Primary and or-”

“—First Office, Ryouym,” Sofita sighed.

“The follow-up message states all requests originating from operatives of the Sorority of Defense must be directed to CM Uym,” Banto took the clothes handed to her by Sofita, and upon determining them worth the effort, she began dressing. “The most interesting portion of the clause? No request from citizen PRY100B will be sanctioned, at any time.”

“I got a PRY gen-code,” Dox said. “Is that a Divisional thing?”

Banto stared at Sofita with eyes that demanded an explanation.

“Did you have that code before acquiring division?” Sofita asked.

The Donmat nodded, embarrassed.

“Donmat,” said Sofita. “Prepare Orny for liftoff,”

“Yes, Komad,” Dox turned her back on them.

Fully clothed, Banto stepped to Sofita.

“I attempted to ascertain the origins of your Donmat,” she whispered. “I’m aware that Fusada produced the Subak, but I knew of no-”

“—I’m barred from ISO Secondary?” Sofita interjected.

Banto narrowed her eyes before kneeling to retrieve a duxpak from her discarded uniform.

“Ixo’s involved with an engineer that adjusts the fluid flow controls in ISO’s ballast,” she handed it to Sofita. “Here is a schematic of the facility.”

“You can always count on Gizul,” Sofita said, smiling.

Banto smirked, “Count on her appetite for Bizaki,”

“I hadn’t imagined her the sort to free-ride,” Sofita said.

“Sofita,” Banto softened. “Ixo severed her bond to Kalro after Pridosuv died.”

“She died?” Sofita asked.

“Prido sustained life-altering injuries at Igitat?” said Banto.

Sofita remained haunted by Ergaljakix. The Hizak had been a fellow male-admirer, and the only citizen Sofita had trusted with the identity of Kin Balru. When Kin fell in love with the jovial Jakix, Sofita, in turn, developed feelings for them both.

After Jakix died at Igitat Prime, Kin had been inconsolable.

Don’t let it hurt your brain, ‘Fita.

“Physicians warned Prido to anticipate possible swelling in the spine, but she refused cit’tilgul,” Banto said. “She lived many years beyond the prognosis,”

“I’ll thank Gizul when I return to the mainland,” Sofita said, aware that young Dox pretended to ignore them. “It’s just like Fusa to house a male in ISO,”

“It seems Fusa’s been forced to utilize Ryo’s methods,” Banto said.

Fusa and Ryo’s hiding places dried after I transitioned to the Femitokon’s.

Unsettled by the Shell’s voice, Sofita imagined the spheres out of her body and floating in the sea.

In her mind, she saw each one sink to the ocean floor and disappear in the billowing sand.

Sofita felt Banto’s hand on her shoulder.

“Are you alright?” Banto asked.

Sofita opened her eyes, “Fusada made a sport of killing their males,”

“Jal’s now serving penance for her games,” said Banto.

Sofita tapped Banto’s arm.

“What does that mean?”

“This sustained ignorance of Bos is tiresome,” Banto said. “He was Fusada’s lover-”

“—that’s a lie,” Sofita snapped.

“Yes, I’m deceiving you,” Banto exclaimed. “After endangering my life, departing the mainland, and obtaining this information for you at risk to my career and reputation, I’ve chosen this moment to be deceptive.”

“How did you ascertain her involvement with this male, Bos?” Sofita asked.

“I confronted her, and naturally, Fusada declared me insane,” Banto said. “She claimed him connected to the Shell’s development, and she was too eager in assuring me of his intended termination,”

Sofita felt the Shell scratching inside of her skull.

“I guess you’ve been vindicated,” she said.

Banto stared at her, triumphant.

“When you encounter Bos, will you-”

“—terminate him?” Sofita said. “SOD says he’s already dead.”

“For your state of mind, you’ll terminate him,”

Sofita stepped into Banto, “You think I’d murder Fusa’s males, as therapy?”

“I know you’d terminate Fusa’s males as therapy,” Banto raised a well-manicured finger. “Don’t entertain initiating a physical confrontation, Sofita. I’m equipped to protect myself,”

Sofita grinned, “Learn how to fight in Cloister, CR Banto?”

The Donmat’s shoulders shook with silent laughter.

“I surreptitiously enrolled in one of those anti-sexual assault classes tailored for Subaki. If you force my hand, Sofita, I’ll reciprocate in kind,”

Banto studied her manicure.

“If I damage these hands, it’s going to cost you. This nail-setting is worth two times that tasteless uniform you were so charitably requisitioned.”

Sofita chuckled at Banto’s bravado, but her amusement faded as Banto’s eyes wandered Orny’s control panel.

Finding the magazine, Banto read the handwriting.

Face twisted into a mask of fury, the Hizak struck the unaware Donmat upside the head with it.

“Disrespectful fleet meat!” Banto growled.

END EXCERPT


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