Index > Earth
Earth Sweet Home
Copyright © 2001 David E. Rutan
Kenderra Jesal flicked the icon in her dispex implant and turned back to the terminal in her bedroom. It would be so much easier if she could interface directly with the primitive Earth computer instead of inputting it into her memchip visually in real-time. She had just finished carefully looking into some of the files of the military establishment and was ready to sleep.
Kenderra turned off the terminal and took the few steps to her bed. She pulled down the sheet, kicked off her slippers and dropped her silk bathrobe. Before climbing in, she reached for the light switch by the door.
She caught sight of herself in the full-length mirror and paused. Although it didn't show in the slightest, Kenderra was sure the food of this world, being greasy and unbalanced, was destroying her body.
True her skin was still supple, her stomach tight and her breasts pert, but somehow it didn't seem healthy to eat bits of animal flesh, vegetable matter and sugar-water. Koplushia's processed algae supplied one with every nutritional need. Why did the Earthers have to make everything so hard?
No sooner had she pulled the satin sheet over her shoulder than the door chime sounded. By the clock it was 10:45 P.M. The chime repeated, so Kenderra rose, covered herself with the silk robe and walked to the door.
"Who is it?" she called while looking through the peephole. She saw it was Spencer and snapped the locks open before he could reply.
"Do you know what time it is?" she said.
"Of course, but they kicked me out of my office."
Kenderra stepped out of the way as Spencer walked into her front room. "I got the information we need."
"Good." Relief swept over her; hopefully soon she would be rid of this wretched world. "Where is it?"
"Edwards Air Force Base."
"A government base? We can't get in there."
Spencer looked astounded, then he smiled. "What kind of spy are you?"
"A tired one, really," she said. "I wasn't prepared well for this backwards culture."
"If we don't act soon, they're going to move your ship to a secure site where we'll never get it."
"But we can't just walk onto an Air Force base."
"If we had credentials we could."
Kenderra shot her eyes skyward. "I can't forge ID's. I told you I had a specific mission in mind. I wasn't given complete training"
"I can though. I need to use your computer."
* * *
Spencer leaned back in the chair before Kenderra's terminal. It was the most comfortable chair he'd been in. "Well, she hasn't changed, that's for sure," he mumbled.
"Talking to yourself Sp'el?" Kenderra came into the room carrying a glass of water. "I thought you'd like something to drink. You've been in here for hours."
Hearing the pet name she'd called him jarred a memory. As she leaned over his shoulder and set the glass on the desk, she said, "I've wanted to tell you for a long time how sorry I am." She began massaging his shoulders.
"I've just about got our ID's set," he said. She was distracting him, but her hands felt good on his neck. "That feels good."
"I know a few other things that would feel good."
Kenderra walked around to face him and let her robe fall off her shoulder. Spencer surprised himself by keeping his composure. He put a hand on the keyboard of the terminal and said simply, "I really need to get this done tonight so we can get your ship tomorrow."
Her face went blank. Slowly she pulled her robe over her shoulder and nodded. "I'll say good night then Sp'el. See you in the morning." Kenderra glided from the room. Spencer heard the couch creek as she most likely chose it as her bed for the night.
It was twelve years before, when he was living on Koplushia. Spaselopedus sat in his favorite gaming parlor in the city of Lod Platt and watched his old friend approach. Groe'mar Ree'torb was a bree'hah, one of the small, centaur-like aliens of the Alliance. He trotted over on four paws and squatted on the opposite side of the gyvyk pedestal before Spaselopedus.
"Megres S.B.," he greeted.
"'Gres," said Spaselopedus. "I've got the board set up. Almost thought you weren't going to make it."
"I apologize, S.B." Groe'mar's thick antennas drooped forward and turned in slightly. His trumpet-like ears made his head resemble an ankh. "I was held up at the school."
"Work, work, work. Is that all you think of?"
"No, S.B. it is not, but I just got a promotion."
The bree'hah straightened and his antennas turned outward. "Yes, you are now playing gyvyk with the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent of the Lod Platt Basics School."
"Great! Are you still allowed to fraternize with a level one Observer like me?"
Groe'mar's antennas crossed. "Of course, S.B. I don't care about your occupational designation."
Spaselopedus sighed and made the first move of the game, a pawn one space forward. "I wish Kenderra felt the same." He cringed inside remembering one of their 'discussions' on the subject a few nights ago.
Groe'mar moved a playing piece on the board. "Maybe you should do as she asks and put in for a promotion."
"She just keeps bugging me--you know? I hate taking tests and I'm happy where I am."
They exchanged a few moves in silence, then Groe'mar said, "You've been level one for two years haven't you?"
Spaselopedus nodded slowly, still trying to concentrate on the board. "I'm level 1.3, besides I like what I'm doing. I think the local guild representative has it in for me anyway."
"Why do you think that?"
Spaselopedus chuckled. "Only because he told me so. He said because I'm a Barinium I have to prove myself to him."
"Why don't you then? Go take the test."
He sighed as he brought his Monocorn into play. "I'm tired of the nonsense. I like the job I've got now."
"But I believe the contemporaries from your Observer class are rising through the ranks."
Spaselopedus sighed again. "Change the subject," he said through gritted teeth.
Groe'mar's antennas drooped forward again as he answered his move. "I think I'll have your Queen-piece in two moves."
Spaselopedus looked up at Groe'mar's single, insectile eye. He moved his reptile to block the attack.
The bree'hah's antennas seemed to droop forward even more as he captured the opposing Man. Spaselopedus tried to recover by moving his Avian, but Groe'mar took his Queen-piece in the next move.
"--Again," Spaselopedus finished. "I don't think I've ever won a game with you, my friend."
"Perhaps next time," said the bree'hah.
"Yea, who knows?" Spaselopedus said, standing to leave. Groe'mar regained his four feet and accompanied him to the door.
"Same time next week?"
Spaselopedus nodded. "Sure thing. I always look forward to it."
Outside on the walking pavement, the pair went separate directions. Spaselopedus walked a short distance to a hover-taxi platform and entered the first one that arrived.
"Destination sir?" said a pleasant disembodied voice.
"Observer's Residential Complex," he said.
The taxi ride lasted about five minutes. When it landed he hopped out and entered the expansive lobby of the complex. The lobby was occupied by the usual number of people. Some were reading, some relaxing, others were talking in groups.
Spaselopedus waved to the receptionist and entered the nearest available elevator. He traveled down a dozen levels and exited near his quarters. The computerized door-monitor recognized him and gave entry automatically.
"Kenderra, I'm home."
There was no reply. "Monitor, where is Kenderra?"
In a gentle female voice, the home monitor said, "She has not returned home tonight. Shall I attempt to locate her?"
"No, I'll do it," he said donning his dispex. He flicked the activation icon and entered the com-code for Kenderra's dispex. There was no answer. Either she left them out of hearing or they were lost.
Spaselopedus went to the vid-com and entered the codes of their mutual friends. No one knew where she was. While it wasn't totally out of the ordinary for him to arrive home first on his gaming night, her absence worried him.
He tried another of their acquaintances, but still no positive information. He wondered where she could be. Spaselopedus was tired and hungry. He grabbed a few food cubes from the kitchenette and sat down on the couch.
"Monitor, locate Kenderra Jesal for me."
"Very good sir."
A few minutes passed as the monitor communicated with any number of locations searching for traces of her. Sure he could easily do it himself, but that's what monitors were for. Besides, it would take him hours what the computer could do in minutes. Finally the monitor announced, "Kenderra Jesal was admitted to the residence of Thollin Menasee at 2.07.43 PM."
"What's she doing there?" said Spaselopedus. Menasee was his Guild Representative, the one that had it in for him.
"Unknown," said the monitor. "Shall I attempt to discover her reason?"
"No," he said, standing up, "but put me through to him."
Spaselopedus went to the vid-com and waited. A moment later a masculine voice said, "Hello?" There was no picture.
"Pilgres," he said, using the proper formal form of greeting. "This is Observer Spaselopedus Barinium. Is there something wrong with your vid?"
"No, what do you want, Barinium?" the last was said disdainfully.
"I, uh, do you know where Kenderra Jesal is?"
"There was a dead silence for a few moments. Spaselopedus guessed the mute was on. "No I don't," said Menasee. There was a pause during which he thought he heard another voice, then, sounding distracted, "Is there anything else?"
"Could you give me a visual?"
Another pause. "No, you caught me at a bad time. Good-bye."
The vid-com returned to the message screen. Spaselopedus had a bad feeling about the communication he'd just made. He captured the discourse from the buffer and put it in the computer.
Activating the application in his dispex, Spaselopedus went to the section where he heard the other voice. He isolated, augmented and enhanced it. Then he put it in a repeating loop and played it back.
"Tell him to go away... Tell him to go away... Tell him to go away...," came from the speaker. "Tell him to go away... Tell him to go away... Tell him to go away... " What was worse it was recognizably Kenderra's voice. "Tell him to go away... Tell him to go away... Tell him to go away..."
Spaselopedus stopped the playback and activated another application in his dispex. Not many people knew what his hobby with computers would allow him to do. He'd discovered a lot of odd things about the com-systems over the years and he was about to exploit one.
He entered Menasee's com-code into the application. Spaselopedus never used the procedure before and hoped it would work. A moment later, his dispex filled with the image of Menasee's residence as seen from the optical pickup on the vid-com.
Spaselopedus heard voices off camera. He could tell it was definitely Menasee's and Kenderra's. She was giggling, then to his astonishment she trotted stark naked across the view, followed my Menasee who was just as sparsely clothed.
"What the hell?" he whispered. As he watched, Menasee playfully caught her and picked her up in his arms. They both laughed as he carried her back into the other room. Spaselopedus broke the connection and threw his dispex against the wall. He stormed out the door and went straight to an elevator.
He came out near Menasee's quarters. He ran down the corridor and found the door. Spaselopedus rang the bell and pounded, yelling, "Kenderra! Get out here and explain yourself!" He heard nothing behind the door, so he pounded and yelled again.
Finally it opened to reveal Menasee. He was a tall man and wore a long robe. "Get out of here Barinium."
There was no way he was going to leave without an explanation. Spaselopedus stood his ground. "Not until I talk to Kenderra."
Menasee's face hardened. "Do you realize I could have you declassified as an Observer?"
"Of course, but it would be messy--especially with you in the middle of a scandal."
He obviously took the implied threat seriously. Menasee closed the door and a moment later she came out, dressed in the short, colorful robe Spencer had given her last year. She looked at him in silence. The circumstances gave her blue eyes a cold gleam.
"What are you doing here?" he whispered.
"I should ask you the very same," she said. "Isn't it obvious?"
Spaselopedus' throat tightened at the thought of what they were doing. The robe only served to remind him. "I mean--we're betrothed to each other. We're getting married next year."
"I changed my mind," she said in her soft, authoritative voice.
"Why," he whispered. He felt his stomach tightening more and more by the minute.
She sighed and glanced down at her feet momentarily. Then she looked him in the eye and said, "Sp'el, you're not going anywhere."
"What do you mean?"
"I didn't want to hurt you. I thought this was the best way." He stood there stunned, staring at her as she continued. "I only paired up with you because of your name. You're a Barinium, but I didn't realize you'd just sit there without ambition."
"But I have ambitions," he said.
"Yes, but it's only to be comfortable--complacent. I want to rise to a higher level and you're holding me back."
Spaselopedus felt his facial muscles tightening up. The last thing he wanted was to break down here--now."
"I'm sorry. I have to go." She went back inside Menasee's quarters and left him alone. In anger he beat on the door and yelled, "You were just using me! I don't need your kind!" He managed to get into the elevator before letting loose. He crumbled to the floor and wept.
Running into his quarters, Spaselopedus fell onto the couch. His body wrung the sobs from him. His chest felt like it was tearing in half. He managed to whisper to himself, "I'm better off alone."