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Journal Entry 00164 212 000 Ambassadors



Journal Entry 212 / 00164

Seren, Narquel 01, 00164

September 22, 2048


The shout from the command cabin jolted me awake from yet another short
catnap. The four-day transit time to Terra was trying on my nerves
and stamina; Kangaroos are great trans-atmospheric shuttlecraft, but
they're cramped inside. Information is light, so I had plenty of reading,
music, video, and even writing to keep myself occupied if I so desired.
Consumables such as food are not, and our technology in that field isn't
as advanced as Terra's, so my stomach, and I guessed the stomachs of my
five companions, were not so content.

I wished earnestly that we'd hurry up find a way to make the big ships
as fast as a Kangaroo. Those were the days of luxury, I sighed. It was
a pity they took three months to cross the same distance.

I groaned audibly as I creaked out of my chair, stiff and sore,
and walked forward on velcro slippers to the CC. I grabbed hold of a
support strut and leaned in casually, looking down at our lovely Felinzi
pilot. "What's up?"

She didn't look up from her console as she said, "You said advise you
when we were leaving hyperspace. Ten minutes."

"Mph," I agreed tiredly. I noted the copilot's chair was empty. "Shtamed
taking a nap?"

"Yep," she replied. "Go ahead, have a seat."

I eased myself into the red-upholstered chair and strapped the harness
on, looking over the ever-bewildering array of readouts, displays and
consoles. In the first six years of Pendor's shift to a space-faring
culture, many people had been surprised at the sudden rush of people
anxious to get "out there."

I had not been so surprised. I'm so fully aware of diversity that I was
sure we'd have hundreds of talented starstruck Pendorians anxious to take
their place as crewfen. Pendorians who would understand why I insisted on
having a small crew learn about zero gravity and spaceflight even before
we lived in a place with stars in the sky. What frustrated me was that
my own rise into space was, for me, painfully slow. I had taken classes
in orbital and special mechanics, starship maintenance and so forth,
but I wasn't as quick a learner as many. I had expected more from myself.

I blinked at the controls, forcing myself to think of what I wanted,
reached for the keyboard and dialed a plus-z overhead view of our ship's
predicted path, closing in on a time-tolerant view of the approaching
ex-hyperspace window. Eight minutes to go.

As I watched the clock tick down, a thought that had been nagging me
for the past day finally clicked in my head. "K'meh?"


"Uhm..." I paused to collect my thoughts. "Neither P'nyssa or anyone else
with whom I feel I have a comforting relationship came with me on this
trip. I, uh... well, first of all, I want you to stop calling me 'Sir.'
That 'Kennet' you addressed me with earlier is fine." I swallowed hard,
thinking about how sometimes dealing with people was so very easy, and
then at times like this I couldn't get out a single word. "You and I were
talking rather... comfortably yesterday, and I'd like to ask if you'd
consider sharing my room." I snorted a soft laugh at my own reluctance.
"My bed."

K'meh didn't even blink at the invitation. "I thought you had the
invitation of Dr. Stoneman."

I smiled, checked the clock, and placed my hand over hers. "Dr. Stoneman
and I have every intention of having dinner together. If something
else develops out of that, which I doubt, well... Let me be honest,
K'meh... I don't like to sleep alone."

She laughed freely, tossing her head back. "So," she said loudly,
recovering, "Am I a roommate, or backup?"

I blushed, embarrassed. "Maybe a little bit of both."

She pulled her hand free from under mine, and then laid it atop mine
reassuringly. "I need a roommate, and I can't think of anyone I'd
rather have."

Before I could answer, there was a curious lurch, but it felt as if
it were coming from inside my skull, rather than against the harness,
which seemed to move not at all. K'meh was suddenly busy. "Kanga Two,
Kanga Two."

"This is Kanga Two," the radio announced cleanly. "That you at the helm,

"Affirmative, Segio. How's your compliment?"

"We're fine. Nice scheduling; we came out clean."

"Nice to drive with you, Seg. See you on Terra."

"Right. Stay in touch."

"Will do. Out." She turned her attention to the navigation computer.
"We're an hour out from Luna Insertion Orbit, and it looks like we'll be
coming along the right path so we should be landing at Tycho in slightly
under two hours."

I nodded. "Sorry about the stop at Luna."

She smiled and pointed around herself towards the back. "The scientists
wanted a Luna conference. Besides, everyone wants a past they can touch,"
she finished mysteriously.

I settled back into the chair and looked at her curiously, but decided
not to continue the conversation. Instead, I summoned up the collection
of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe that I'd been reading earlier.
Eventually, I leaned back in my chair and napped.


"Vatare'," the voice said, someone shaking my shoulder. "I'm going to
need the co-pilot's position for landing."

"Eh?" I said, waking quickly. "Oh," I said, smiling, "sure." I creaked
against out of my comfortable seat, handing it back to flight specialist
Shtamed. I drifted back to my equally comfortable passenger chair and
pulled the harness back on there as well. "You have one minute to secure
positions," K'meh announced, "before we detach from the hyperdrive module
for descent to the lunar surface. Please make sure you are all strapped
in securely."

The actual landing took only fifteen minutes more. Although I had put
off thinking about it for the past couple of days, now that we were
actually coming close to Tycho Base my anxiety level was increasing
with every diminishing meter. I tried to relax. It had been, for me,
centuries since I had last spoken to Victoria Stoneman face-to-face. I
looked down at my hands, still perfectly smooth and relatively untouched
by age or effort. I knew Victoria's wouldn't be the same.

The Kanga came to a gentle, perfect touchdown on the lunar terrain.
Although I had always been an avid reader of "science fiction," and had
been a member of a spacefaring race for nearly fifty years, this was my
first visit to Earth's moon, that object that had hung overhead for so
much of my youth.

We were lowered into a receiving bay, and then the entire platform started
to move across the bay, apparently on some sort of giant truck. The
same philosophy that had led to the development of the huge tractor-
carriages that hauled space vehicles out to their launch pads apparently
had been adapted for use on Luna. The truck pulled into a smaller bay,
and airlock doors double-sealed behind us. There was a delay as air was
pumped into the airlock, and then the doors in front opened, leading us
to a pressurized maintenance bay filled with a large collection of uniform
spacecraft, none of which were ever intended for atmospheric flight.

"The outside is apparently safely pressurized," K'meh announce. "At least,
I hope it is... there are humans out there working in shirtsleeves. I'm
going to open both doors on the airlock sequentially." The outside doors
opened first, followed by the inside doors; there was just a slight >pop<
as the pressure outside and in equalized.

"After you, Kennet," said the Uncia medic who had come to Luna to give
his presentation on xenophysiology and space medicine. I nodded and
slowly stepped down the self-extending steps onto to vaguely ellipsoid
landing platform.

A stairway ramp was rolled up to the platform and a tall, aging Caucasian
human with swept, black hair and grey eyes bounded up, followed by a
small party, in the center of which I spied Victoria. He crossed the
platform assuredly and held out his hand. "How do you do? I'm Martin
Scheider, Commander of Moonbase Tycho. Welcome, and welcome to United
States Territory." He held out his hand.

I took it and shook comfortably. "Glad to be here," I said. He smiled in
response, and I thought I would call his smile 'charming.' I wondered
how much of that smile was honest, and how much of it he reserved for
the politicians he had to deal with on a daily basis. Most of it felt
honest, to me.

"I understand that the three Pendrii behind you are here for the
conferences on extra solar exploration, but I am also led to understand
that you personally are here to visit Dr. Victoria Stoneman?"

I coughed politely and said, "Yes; Dr. Stoneman and I have been
corresponding for a number of years, and seeing as I was going to be in
the neighborhood I requested clearance to land and visit."

"I received the information five days ago." I wondered how the information
had been worded. As a request, or orders? He continued. "I would like to
introduce various members of my staff. This is Wilton Marchoff, my deputy
director," I shook hands with her, "Elizabeth Knight, my chief medical
officer, and I believe you already know my head of Physical Sciences,
Victoria Stoneman."

I shook hands with Dr. Knight before bowing deeply to Victoria. "Hello,
Victoria. You're looking wonderful for eighty-two years."

"As are you, Ken." Her smile was dazzling. She held out her hand and
I kissed it; As I had realized earlier, her skin was thin and fragile,
projections of her great age upon her. I felt saddened by her suddenly,
just standing there.

Commander Scheider seemed slightly surprised by the familiarity of the
exchange, but he recovered quickly and said, "Well, let's have your crew
settled into their cabins. I understand that you and your flight crew
will be heading on to Moscow in a few days."

"The day after tomorrow, at 19:00 Greenwich Mean Time," K'meh replied. Is
there a problem with that scheduling?"

"Just give us six hours notification and we'll have a clearance ready
for you," said a broad-shouldered man standing with Commander Scheider's
party. "Does your ship require any particular type of refueling or

"Not that it isn't already getting," Shtamed replied. "It's the
atmospheric insertions that really tear them up, and we have a facility
at New Boeing Field to do that sort of maintenance work."

As we were led into the underground moonbase (a trip which involved a
short hop in a tracked tube), I noticed K'meh glancing about nervously. We
were shown our temporary quarters, and when the doors closed I dropped
my bag and gave her a tight hug. "Feeling claustrophobic?" I asked her.

"A little," she admitted. The quaver in her voice gave away just how big
"a little" was.

"We just spent four days cooped up in a Kangaroo. Compared to that,
this is spacious. It's bigger than the entire cabin!"

She smiled. "Forgive me if I don't trust Terran technology."

"Now, now," I chided. "Nobody has died from a hardware failure in nearly
two decades."

"What about that big blowout four years ago? A window and three successive
bulkheads all failed!"

"You know that was sabotage,"

"And that's supposed to make me feel more comfortable about being in a
Terran facility?" she replied.

"Nobody died from it."

"Two of their security officers were nearly frozen to death and

"They survived, didn't they?"

"They lost fingers and toes."

"They got them back," I said, giving her another squeeze. I decided not
to tell her about Victoria. "Besides, after four days without a shower,
I think we both need one. Maybe two."

She sniffed at herself delicately, wrinkled her nose and said "If I
was as much of a feline as I appear to these humans to be, I'd lick
myself clean."

I laughed at the gesture and said, "Would you like to take one together?"

"That sounds wonderful," she agreed, stepping free of my arms and locating
that bathroom. From within I heard her voice say, "Then again, maybe not.
Have you seen the size of their showerstall?"

I poked my head in and looked. She was right; it would barely hold one
of us, much less two. "On the other hand... take a look at the water

She read them carefully, sighing. "How are we going to do this?"

"We take one together, pooling our ration so that you get as wet as
possible, we turn up the heat lamps in the bathroom, and then we rinse
off the same way."

"Okay, let's try it," she said, shrugging out of her flight uniform.
Inside, she did smell like an unwashed cat, a very unwashed one. I was
quick to grab the showerhead and play the streams all over her body,
turning on the shower massage portion to drive the pressurized water
under her fur. She giggled in places when I did that. Once she was wet
I ran it over myself just as quickly, then turned the water off. "Do
you have soap?"

"In the black bag," she pointed. "It's the brown bottle." I found the
wide, plastic squeeze bottle of soap, splashed some in my hands and
ran then over her torso, starting at her neck and sliding down quickly.
"Smells good," I said. "Is that clove oil?"

"Yep," she replied, purring softly as my hands ran down her chest.
Normally, I tend to think of pilots as being very thin, light people.
K'meh's body could only be described as lush. Her hips were wide, her
breasts were very full, and her shoulders were broad. Her fur was an
almost-white grey liberally polka-dotted with teardrop-shaped spots of
brown streaked with gray, the spots thinning out at her neck and between
her thighs, although they seemed quite dense at the base of her spine. She
was just as tall as I was.

I had a hard time ignoring how alluring she was when I ran my hands under
her breasts to get the soap up against her pelt, and I don't think she
minded too much when I lingered there longer than was necessary. I had
her turn around and gave her back similar treatment, rubbing my hands
in small, tight circles to massage her neck. She purred softly and
leaned her head against the yielding wall of the shower. "Rub harder,"
she purred pleadingly.

I pushed in harder, down around her spine and between her shoulderblades,
trying to ease the pressure of 120 or so hours of flight time. Although
the computers on board had taken much of the effort off her hands, none
of us were completely relaxed-- just sitting makes me tense sometimes. She
purred softly, collapsing against the showerstall wall and letting me hold
her up as I rubbed her. I slowly worked my way down and began caressing
her hips and buttocks; the sounds coming from her muzzle were positively
ecstatic. She moaned softly as my hands pressed into the tight flesh of
her thighs, as much for the massage as for the soap, kneeling down and
working down to her calves and finally her feet. "I'd like to do this
part when we're dry."

"That sounds wonderful," she sighed. "Would you like me to wash you
as well?"

"Please... but be quick. I don't want the soap on you to dry suddenly
and give you a rash."

"It won't be that long," she replied, smiling and trading places with
me, running her soap along my chest with her paws. I suddenly understood
why she had reacted so vocally to my touch; after four days of wearing
the same clothes and sitting in the same position, just to be touched by
another person was sheer bliss, never mind that she was massaging me just
as firmly as I had her. Her hands were just as sure, rubbing my neck,
back, buttocks, thighs. I nearly passed out, it felt that wonderful. I
wanted to sleep, and sleep for real.

When she was finally done, I turned around and grabbed the showerhead.
"In," I ordered. She smiled and got in as I again ran the water over her
head, her chest, teasing at the fur to get the soap out of all of it. When
she was rinsed, I turned the head on myself and rinsed off quickly.
"Whew," I sighed.

"Yeah," she replied. "After that, I feel ready for sleep."

"Computer?" I asked aloud. There was no response. "I thought they had
vocal-control computers on Tycho?"

"Maybe you need to address a terminal or something," she said thoughtfully
as she toweled off. Being furred, she needed more time than I did to
get the water off her.

"I'll go take a look." Without a concern for modesty, I walked into the
main room and found what looked like a keyboard terminal with a condenser
microphone. The wall appeared to be a wide-screen display. I toggled the
'power' bar in the upper-right-hand corner of the keyboard and the screen
came up with a menu. "Computer?" I inquired aloud.

"Listening," came back a flat and unpleasant male voice.

"Where is Doctor Victoria Stoneman?"

"Doctor Stoneman is in her laboratory," the computer replied.

"Can you please connect..." I suddenly realized that I was still naked. I
leaned far out of the chair I was sitting in to grab a long nightshirt
from my bag and slipped it on.

"Repeat, please," the computer responded.

"Can you please connect me to Doctor Stoneman?"

"I am inquiring Doctor Stoneman right now." I cursed under my breath
about stupid computers and computer programmers.

Finally the screen cleared and Victoria peered out at me. "Ken!" she
responded cheerfully, smiling.

"Hi, Vicki," I replied. "You're looking swell."

"You too," she said. "Are we still having dinner tonight?"

"When's 'tonight?'" I asked.

"It's only noon right now. How about eight o'clock?"

I closed my eyes and sighed, thanking a deity at random. I think today's
was Loki. "That would be wonderful. I need to take a nap. Is there
anything you want from me when I show up?"

"Just you," she replied softly. "See you in a few hours."

"Okay," I said. "See you then, Vicki."

K'meh chose right then to walk out; After setting the alarm clock I
turned to watch her walk naked across the room and dig through her bag
for a fur brush.

I stood up and walked behind her, giving her a gentle hug. "Would you
like me to help with that brush?" I asked.

"I sure would," she sighed, sitting down slowly on the edge of the bed.
Then again, in the one-sixth gravity of Luna, everything seemed to happen
in slow motion anyway. I started at the top of her head, dealing with
knots and tangles for the next half hour. She purred anyway under my
gentle touch. It didn't seem quite so hard to concentrate on what I was
doing this time, even though I got a rather solid erection while I was
brushing her breasts and about her vulva. I gave her feet the massage I
had promised, and she did indeed fall asleep during it. I slipped under
the light sheets with her and joined her in complete unconsciousness.


At seven the alarm chime woke me up, making me blink and look up. With a
soft groan I climbed out of bed, careful not to disturb K'meh who chose
to stay solidly asleep. "Smart girl," I whispered softly.

I decided to dress smartly, so I located my Pendor Interstellar Fleet
uniform and pulled it on, carefully buckling the various snaps and frogs
and such, pulling the collar out and adjusting the cufflinks. I examined
myself in the mirror and decided that I looked reasonable after brushing
my hair. I reached for the keyboard and began typing in commands. I asked
for a quick map to Victoria's home, found it, memorized it as best I could
and walked out. K'meh, fortunately, slept through the whole operation.

I had to ask someone for directions anyway.

I approached the doorway with a hint of trepidation and pressed the door
chime. The door opened. Victoria stood before me, looking wonderful in a
simple light-gray monk's robe that folded around her body and was tied
around her hips. She wore the hood up, but lowered it behind her head
as I looked in. "Hi," I said.

"Hello, Ken," she replied softly. "Come in; dinner is still cooking,
so it might be a few minutes before it's ready. Make yourself at home,
look around."

I nodded and stepped through the door, hearing it close behind me. She
smiled and turned back into the kitchen to again pay attention to her
cooking. "I remember your penchant for beef, so I'm cooking steak."

"Real steak?"

"Not really," she replied. "I'm told some people can tell the difference."

"Depends on how different 'different' is."

"It's made by Solid Artificial Photosynthesis."

"I probably won't be able to tell the difference, then," I said, glancing
around her home qua laboratory. There were a variety of instruments
laying about, the most notable was an authentic-looking brass reflective
telescope that peered out a large bay of windows at the stars. To the
left of the windows was a framed copy of her certificate from the Nobel
Committee for Achievement in Mathematics and Physics. There was a drafting
table in one corner, above which a carefully drawn illustration of a
house was taped to the wall; the corners of the drawing were yellowing
with age, and the paper appeared to have cracked in places. Several
tears in the sheet had been repaired with cellophane tape, telling me
this drawing had moved a couple of times, but probably wouldn't survive
moving again. "This house," I said aloud, "You live there once?"

"I was going to," Victoria replied, two plates in her hands. "Come,
I've got dinner ready. Sit down." I took a seat at her dining table
where she indicated. From where we sat, we could look out the windows
at the stars overhead.

"You were going to? What happened?"

"I drew that back when I was young, and poor, and new to Luna. Then the
accident, and... " Her voice trailed off. "I haven't been to Terra since
then, you know."

"I know."

She laughed softly. "It's sad, isn't it?" she said, turning to look at me.
"I have all the money I could ever want, the affection of everyone on
Luna, but I just can't do what I want. I can't go home."

"So, what happened to the house?"

"Oh, it never existed. I was just drawing it freehand to see what I
thought I wanted. It looked about right for New Hampshire, huh? I guess
I could have given the drawing to my daughter, but she never could stand
to live out in the country the way I wanted."

I nodded. Then what she said dawned on me. "You have a daughter? When?"

"About forty years ago," Victoria said calmly. "About two years after the
accident, in fact. I wanted to get that over with, and I decided that
since I was going to be bedridden anyway, that was the perfect time to
have my child."

"That was before the birthright selection, right?" She nodded. "What
did you do with your second birthright?"

"I gave it to her. She's allowed three children. Four, actually."

"Four? She bought a fourth?" I asked.

"I bought it for her. She wanted it, and I haven't got anything better
to do with my money." She laughed softly. "Most of it goes to charity

I nodded, watching her move with a calm majesty I thought I would never
have. "You know, Vicki, you're as beautiful as you ever were."

She smiled back. "You were never a good liar, Ken. When you first knew me
I was the overweight lonely girl with braces and coke-bottle glasses. If
I'm as beautiful now as I was then, I think I'm in trouble."

"You know what I mean," I said. She smiled back at me and said, "Yeah,
I guess I do. You yelled at me, once."

"You pissed me off, once," I replied. "I'm sorry."

"So am I," she said. "Apology accepted," she said.

"I still think you look wonderful."

"Ken," she sighed slowly, "Let's face the face. I'm eighty-two years old.
And unlike you, I am not going to live forever. I'm going to live a
lot longer than my groundside relatives. My family stock was always
long-lived, and good food, a lighter gravity, and--" she spread her
fingers over her chest-- "an artificial heart are all good reasons that
I should live well past a hundred."

"That doesn't mean I don't find you beautiful, Vicki."

She smiled. "Do you really?"

"Yeah. Why shouldn't I? It's not like I find small differences in body
types a disadvantage."

"Yes, I saw your female friend. She's very pretty."

"K'meh?" I asked. "Yes, she is."

"So why do you want me?"

I looked around idly. "Because I came to visit you. K'meh and I are
just newfound fast friends, but she's not you, Vicki. Besides," I smiled
mischievously, "call it an ego thing."

"Ego? How so?"

"I did want to be the one to take your virginity."

She laughed. "You silly kid. You haven't changed one little bit."

"Watch who you're calling 'kid,' youngster," I said, "I'm still a hundred
and twenty-eight years older than you are."

"Really?" she said, looking up. "I didn't realize... where did the other
twenty-eight years come from... or is that how long the set-up took?"

I nodded. "Pendor took four point five million years to set up. Although
I spent most of that time 'in transit,' so to speak, the monitoring and
measuring of progress took twenty one years."

"And the other seven?"

"Building Centaurs."

"All by yourself. Tell me how that happened?"

"How what happened?"

"How you came to build Pendor. What happened? One day, you were there...
the next, you were gone. That hunk of junk you drove was gone."

I sighed quietly and told her the whole story, starting, as the White
Queen once said, at the beginning, and going all the way to the end,
and then stopping. She was silent through the whole thing, sipping from
a glass of wine.

"And that's it?" she asked. "Someone decided you should be God, and that
was that? Suddenly you were?"

"Something like that. I mean, I know someone had to start the process,
but eventually it became a closed loop, me handing Fawn to me, over and
over eternally."

"Too bad we can't go back in time and do something about it."

"Maybe someday somebody will. Until then, we have to live with it. Do
you find what I did... repulsive? I know some people do."

She shook her head. "No, I don't. Predictable, for anyone who knew you,
maybe. You were never into power, really, so much as you were into
satisfaction. I like your solution."

I reached out and touched the back of her hand with mine. "Thank you."

She pulled her hand away from me. "That's not the real one," she said.
"Besides, I'm really too old for that sort of thing."

"To what?" I asked. "Be touched?" I grabbed her other hand and held it
tightly, being careful not to apply too much pressure. "Everyone needs
to be touched, Victoria. You do, I do, everyone does."

"You're reading too much pop psychology, Ken."

"Am I?" I asked softly. "I've raised over a hundred children in my
household, given birth to eleven species. I think I know a few things
about people. Thing one is that all people need to be touched." I was
quiet for a minute. "Victoria... even though you and I never slept
together, I know how physical a creature you were. Remember playing
flag football in the mud in that field behind the theatre?" She nodded,
her smile distant and wistful.

"That was a long time ago." She lifted her right hand and waved it in
front of me. "That was before this. That was before an accident took
away my arm and my leg." She smiled. "It's nothing."

"Nothing? You saved 82 people that day."

"Four people died anyway."

"Still... You're a hero. Don't dismiss that."

"Oh, I don't," she said. "Look at this room. It's hero worship of a sort,
Ken. They can't send me home; I'll die. So they stick me in the most
expensive nursing home in the galaxy. They let this nobel-prize-winning
cripple dote about her laboratory and sometimes they visit her and thank
her for being such an important part of Moonbase Tycho."

I stood up, grabbed my chair and planted it next to her. I sat down
besides her as she looked away. "I'm not going to ignore you or fawn at
you or dote on you."

"No, you're worse, in a way."

"Because I'm twice as old as you are?"

"No," she said firmly. "No, you were always meant to live forever,
Ken. It was obvious from the day we met you. Although I would like to
have seen what you looked like with grey hair."

"I'll dye it the next time I stop by."

"Do that," she said, smiling. I leaned down to kiss her smile, and she
let me. As I backed away again she said, "No, that's not it. It's because
you haven't changed at all. You don't hurt me because of what you are, you
do because of what you were. I remember you, walking around with a squirt
gun, and shooting me as I begged you not to. You remind me of what I had."

I stroked her cheek softly; her skin was wrinkled with age, but the
surface was still smooth. Her eyes were still bright. "I still want you,
Victoria. It isn't age, or beauty, or even ego that makes me want you.
It's simple honestly. I just remember the beautiful black woman who
spent a summer with me, who I held in my arms the night she cried as
her boyfriend left her."

She laughed. "And I used to think you didn't like me because I was black."

"I hardly think race was stopping me from paying attention to you. Look
with what I sleep with nowadays."

She nodded, smiling. "I used to wonder when it began."

"When what began?" I asked curiously.

"When we stop being people and start being machines." She tapped her
chest again, through the monk's robe she wore. "Is it when I get a bridge
for my teeth? Dentures? Contact lenses?" She smiled. "When do you start
thinking of Grandma as a cyborg?"

"What brought this depressing line of thought on?" I asked.

"I was just wondering when I stopped feeling. Did you know, Ken,
that every six months Beth checks to make sure the age spots on this
arm match the ones on my left?" She turned to me. "As much as I want
to give you what you want, as much as I wish the feelings were still
there... they aren't."

I nodded. "Can I still spend the night next to you?"

She looked over at me curiously. "Whatever for?"

"How about for old time's sake?" I asked, smiling. "How about, because
I want to?"

She thought about it quietly. "Very well," she said, smiling. "Maybe
those feelings aren't so dead after all."

"Hopefully not."

"Are you tired?" she asked, surprised. "I am, but I assumed you and your
friend would be getting sleep since you landed."

"I didn't get enough," I said softly. "Your dinner filled me, and I tend
to get tired after a big dinner."

She smiled and nodded, rising. "Come this way, then," she said, leading
me through a small door into a dark room that lit as we entered, the room
behind us darkening and the door closing. Her bed was large enough for
two, I guessed, the same size as the one K'meh and I were sharing. She
turned around and said "You're really determined to do this."

"Dammit, Vicki, this isn't necrophilia and it isn't altruism. I want you.
Is that so hard to get through to you?"

She shook her head and reached into her robe, tugging at a short string
that opened the whole thing to me. Underneath, her skin was still clean,
her breasts hadn't sagged all that much, although they had perhaps lost
some mass. The benefits of living in a low-gravity environment. I smiled.
"Do you still want me?"

"Yes," I replied, smiling. "Why shouldn't I?"

"Because you're so used to youth. All of your children, they all look
so young, strong, pure."

I walked over to her, my jacket and shirt unbuttoned, and pressed my bare
chest to hers in a tight bearhug. "Why should that make a difference at
all? They're that way because I don't want them to die, Vicki, not because
I want them to always be young." I sighed rested my head on her shoulder.
"I don't want you to die, either."

She sighed. "I wasn't meant to live forever." I dropped the subject like a
stone. Every time I had discussed the possibility of her Hallwalking, she
told me to not discuss it. I stepped back and undid my clothing, standing
before her naked as she stood with me. She smiled. "You look wonderful."

"As do you."

"Thanks," she said, taking my hand and leading me to bed. Her hand felt
frail in mine; despite the advantages of the lower gravity, one of the
problems inherent with it was the lack of resistance; there was little
reason for muscles to remain at the strength they have on Earth. She
turned on her side and I cuddled up behind her. I held her close and
together we fell asleep.


With dawn I awoke to find her still lying against me. I was fascinated
by her body, so different from anything I had ever encountered before
or probably would ever again. It wasn't that I was erotically charged by
her pronounced and visible aging, or that I wondered what the experience
she was going through was like, so much as I merely found it so different
that I felt it worth exploring, worth touching. Like her.

She stirred as I ran my hand over her belly, her skin responding to my
touch only slightly. Her hand reached up to touch mine, and her eyes
opened slowly. "Maybe I'm not so old as I thought," she smiled. "I had
a strange dream last night."

"Memories of a man lying next to you?" I asked, smiling.

"No, not even that. Although having you lie next to me proved to me how
much I missed it."

"Enough to get out more often?"

"That remains to be seen," she whispered, squeezing my hand tightly. I
leaned over and kissed her softly, my left hand touching her belly
softly and then sliding down to probe delicately between her legs,
stroking through the thick, almost wiry pubic hair, which I bet if
I looked was a mixed silver and black as the hair on her head. Her
mouth felt warm against mine, warm and wet. Her vulva was just as warm
and just as human. With my fingers and with experience, I parted her
outer labia and slid a finger between them, playing with her lips and
her clitoris. She sighed slightly, a high-pitched "ieee..." sound. She
looked up at me. "I forgot..."

"Forgot what?" I asked softly, stopping for a moment. "Don't tell me
you don't masturbate anymore."

She shook her head. "I thought I was getting to old even for that."

I slid my fingers across the top of her clitoral hood. "Victoria,
you're never to old to play with yourself. Besides," I said smiling,
"You haven't got a heart to fibrillate." She smiled at me and I kissed her
lips again, sliding down her chin and across her breasts briefly. There
was an unfamiliar, musky scent to her that I refused to categorize,
even to myself. The scent was replaced with a much more familiar scent
when I slid between her legs. I kissed the top of her mons and her hands
clutched at mine, my arms stretched out before me over her body.

She moaned again, that high-pitched "Iee!" sound. Her body shuddered
under my tongue as I licked at her cunny, trying (and losing) my
argument with her pubic hair as to where it belonged. She began to
thrust her hips upwards; I had to clamp my hands down on her thighs
to hold her in place. Her voice's pitch climbed higher, reaching for
notes even beyond my hearing. I was wondering how much longer she could
keep this up; her body was curling in response to my every lick, until
she finally answered my question, screaming and pounding the mattress
with her fists. "Okay!" she gasped. "Okay, you've proven your point,
damn you!" I smiled and crawled up the length of her body, touching her
gently as I slid up to lie besides her.

She laughed softly as she wiped her brow of sweat that wasn't there. "I
haven't had a climax like that in nearly two years. How could I forget?"

"I dunno," I said, smiling. She reached down with her real hand, thin
and frail, and wrapped it around my penis. "When I was younger, I used
to play with these things a lot."

"Before or after the accident?"

"Both," she said. "The accident never slowed me down, Ken. I was boffing
male nurses even before I had the borgings fit on."

I laughed. "That sounds like you. You just let age catch up to you?"

"Age and depression," she sighed, her hand slowly stroking my cock. "I
got over the depression," she said, smiling, "But not the age."

I nodded, slowly easing myself over and between legs. She smiled up
at me, her hands reaching up to my shoulders, as I slid my cock into
her. Her eyes closed fast, her mouth open, a soft gasp. "Oh, yes..." she
sighed. I made love to her slowly, stroking deep within her cunny; she
pressed her hips upwards with every stroke. We began to make love with a
little more urgency, pressing up against each other, kissing as we made
love and my climax rose on soft cat feet to explode within me and her,
a tiny explosion of desire and pleasure.

I looked down at her and said, "Victoria, you're still a lovely woman,
inside and out."

She laughed brightly and looked up at me. "You're right," she said. "Even
at eighty-two I should have more lovers, right?"

"Right!" I laughed. "When I was your age I had a dozen lovers."

"I should be thankful I only have you chasing me," she said. "Oh!"

"Are you okay?" I asked. That hadn't sounded like a happy "Oh!"

"Yeah," she smiled. "Don't go acting like I'm some frail old woman just
because I am. My back hurts once in a while, Ken. Part of that's your
fault, you know... It's been a long time since I had sex with someone."

I smiled and leaned over to kiss her. "I missed you sometimes."

"You have memories that go back that far?"

"Remember that biocybernetics is Pendor's premier science. I can remember
anything I want."

"'We can remember it for you wholesale.'"

"Something like that," I said, smiling and recognizing the reference. "We
should get dressed."

"Shouldn't we shower first?"

"What about the water restrictions?" I asked.

"I don't pay attention to those. I guess they figure I'm going senile."

I laughed and shook my head, joining her in the shower. We were efficient,
however, and tried not to waste any water.


"Missed you last night," K'Meh said gently.

"I know. I just needed to..."

She reached out and touched my arm. "You don't need to explain," she
whispered, pulling me close to her. "I understand."

I smiled at her. "I'm glad someone does," I replied. "I'm going to spend
the day at the medical conference. Want to join me?"

She stuck her tongue out. "Doctors. I'm going to go talk to some of the
pilots; see if I can convince one of them to take me up in one of their

"'Shoppers?'" I asked. "What's that?"

"Short Hopper. It's what they call a vehicle that can just make lunar
orbit. They use them for all sorts of things."

"If it can make lunar orbit and back, theoretically it could make it to
Earth. That's no short hop."

"That's what they call them," she replied, smiling and struggling on a new
set of flight overalls. "I'll see you later," she said, kissing my cheek.

"See ya, K'meh," I said as she disappeared out the door. I shook my
head, pulled on a set of clean clothes myself, and then spent the
opening session of the day taking notes. Although I found the medicine
fascinating, especially when the subject of genetics and drift came up,
I was relieved when Commander Scheider invited me for lunch.

As our lunches were served, Scheider started the conversation with "So,
how do you like our moonbase?"

"It's nice," I said. "The food's better than we have on our fast
starships. One of the problems with our starting out with an FTL drive. We
didn't bother to work on life support quite so strongly as you did."

"Yes," Scheider replied. "Your materials technology specialist has been
taking notes almost nonstop since you arrived. I must admit that I find
working with your people fascinating."

"Why is that?"

"The difference in technology and thrust." He smiled, slightly
embarrassed. "As well as the overwhelming evidence of their alien origin.
If I were dealing with you, I'd have trouble remembering that you were
from another planet. I can't forget it with them."

I grinned. "I can understand that. I can walk around unnoticed. Tell me,
have you had any complaints from atmospherics life support regarding
fur in the filters?"

"No," Scheider replied musingly. "Not that I know of. Then again, there
are only five of your people around. Do they shed that much?" he asked.

"Not particularly. I was just making sure they weren't being a nuisance.
After all, ALS tends to be some rather critical, and delicate, machinery."

He nodded as he dug into a rather typical hamburger. The conversation
was typical and light for the rest of the meal; I was surprised that he
completely avoided the subject of Victoria Stoneman.


"Hi," I said, peeking out from the covers as K'meh came tripping in,
light as a feather even in one-sixth gravity. "K'meh?"

"Huh?" she asked. "Oh, you're awake! I had so much fun today. We went
lunar buggy riding. That's insane! It was incredible!" She laughed, and
I laughed along with her. She stripped out of her clothing and snuggled
up against me. "So, Ken, are you going to keep your end of the bargain?"

"What bargain?" I asked. "I said I wanted a roommate, not backup."

"You said 'A little bit of both,'" K'meh murmured. "I think I want a
little bit of the 'up' part," she laughed.

I laughed along with her and turned over to face her. "You're in a brutal
mood tonight."

"Oh, brutal," she said, flinging the covers back and grabbing my
still-flaccid penis in her paw and stroking it slowly. It came to life
pretty quickly under her urging and the moment I was hard she slid down
over it, sliding it deep inside her, cooing loudly. "Yes..."

I grabbed her hips and pressed up deep into her. "Oh, yes," she gasped
against. My body complained at what I was putting it through, and every
thrust threatened to fling us from the bed in the unfamiliar gravity, but
we held together, her tongue hanging out the side of her muzzle as we made
love passionately, holding onto each other until we both climaxed loudly.

She smiled down at me. "We'll have to do that again."

"Some other time." I smiled. "I'm still trying to get some sleep."

She snuggled close and wrapped her arm around my back; I shifted back to
get as much contact between us as I could. I sighed and closed my eyes.
With a pilot's understanding of the need for sleep, K'meh was already out,
and I managed to fall asleep almost as fast.


The Journal Entries of Kennet R'yal Shardik, et. al., and Related Tales
are Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Elf Mathieu Sternberg. Distribution limited
to electronic media not-for-profit use only. All other rights are reserved
to the author.


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