by Escher - 24th Aug 1999
Artificial twilight. The sound of running water and soft music. Recycled air with a twist of chemicals, carefully selected and blended to give just a hint of springtime.
Khayone lay sprawled over a pile of silk cushions, idly petting a large stuffed toy. The carefully monitored ambiance meant nothing to her. Her pale green eyes glowed softly in the dim light, amplifying and filtering everything she saw.
Mechanical hands made the toy walk over the pillows, a comical spring in it’s step. Reaching the summit, the toy turned and grinned it’s vaguely lupine grin. Khayone smiled back at it.
Diana told her she had a pretty smile, so Khayone did her best to practice whenever she could. She turned for a second to watch Diana beneath the steaming jets of the shower. A screen of vat-grown greenery all but obscured her view, a collection of exotic flora from around the galaxy. Condensation formed on leaves and flowers, glistening like morning dew.
Behind the plants, Diana’s skin was alabaster white against royal blue tiles inlaid with gold and mother of pearl. Like her body, Diana’s bathroom was beautiful, man-made elegance and aesthetic perfection.
Khayone watched the palm frond for a while, swaying softly as the ship simulated a gentle breeze. A sound, like a subdued chime, alerted her to an incoming message. A split second later, a woman’s voice echoed from concealed speakers around the room.
Khayone liked the ship’s voice. It sounded nice, friendly, it’s tones conveyed trust and benevolence. She’d once spent a whole week searching the ship for the owner of that voice, before Diana had explained about the computer. She’d almost cried.
Diana stepped from under the shower and walked slowly to the dryer. Warm jets gusted from all directions as she turned slowly on the spot, running her fingers through her hair.
Whoever was calling would have to wait. Diana Francis hurried for no one.
Khayone took a moment to sit the fluffy toy down, smiling again at it’s twinkling eyes and toothy grin. As Diana quietly walked past her, fastening the tie on a black silk bathrobe, she scrambled to her feet and followed.
- - -
Diana snarled. ‘Dammit!’ Leaning forward in her seat, she read the message again.
+++ Closed Channel Relay: Stn. 14C. FCC Dsg 'Brutus'. +++
Package rigged: Courier down: FCS Glennon lost.
+++ Nav. Coords follow +++
‘Is it bad?’ Khayone’s eyes looked worried, and Diana smiled tightly.
‘Yes dear, it’s bad news. Your brother’s been hurt, and we’ve lost the present we were going to give Doctor Gyran.’
‘Brutus is hurt?’ Khayone frowned slightly, thoughtful for a second. ‘Are we going to go pick him up?’
Diana nodded. ‘I’m going to contact Doctor Gyran now, and have some of his robots there to meet us when we arrive. I want you to make sure your weapons are fully charged.’ she smiled then, her eyes cold and hard. ‘Somebody’s responsible for this.’ She tapped a fingernail on the comscreen. ‘Somebody’s going to pay.’
Khayone tilted her head, eyes wide and innocent. ‘Revenge?’
Diana stood and gently touched her lips to the cyborg’s forehead. ‘Yes, dear.’ she whispered. ‘Revenge.’ Silently, she stalked out of the room.
A smile touched the edges of Khayone’s lips. Revenge was good.