Kermadec Ridge - Raxito`acarol
9 Bamx 2228 - 1840 Hours
Fusada Kul wasn’t dead an hour before Ryo Uym had demanded an autopsy. The higher-ups in Orta appreciated her suspicions; the scorch residue on the dead marix’s hand didn’t match the blast pattern on her mouth. Forensics found that Fusada had experienced a neurological death that led to heart and lung failure.
Fyla touched the silver chain around her neck.
Being Fusada’s private physician, she’d altered the results to show that the marix’s heart gave out first. Her kerma had figured it out, of course, but assured Fyla that Fusada’s death wouldn’t impede the Femitokon project; Sofita making her twin’s death look like a suicide provided ample blame.
Fyla grasped at the chain and pulled.
The necklace belonged to the bizak whose DNA made Fyla possible. Tavi Ukel had been a phantom curiosity until little Fyla left for the Bizaki Citizenry Center. Once assigned a room in Mynu, she’d used her newfound freedom to surf the interHive and learn all she could of the Ninth Gen, whose DNA flowed through her veins.
She’d come upon a freeze of twenty-year-old Ryo at a citbluz. Naked beneath her robe with hair under a turban, she’d tossed a drink at the image taker, and under her arm was a demur blue-hided bizak, clad in nothing but a seal-restraining collar around her boney hips.
Fyla’s makers had lived the predator and prey lifestyle. Many femmar took pleasure in dominating or being dominated, never crossing the line into outright abuse, but Ryo Uym habitually crossed lines. Tavi came to the scene early, but during her twentieth year, the consummate submissive became enslaved to Ryo Uym. A legal advocate at the time, Ryo had run for the Citizenry seat of Utama, and her rivals flooded the media with images of her sexually mistreating her harem of lovers.
The elder Ukel’s had been aware of Tavi’s proclivities, and never questioned the strange relationship with Opix Uym’s genetic heir. That changed after Ryo put Tavi in the hospital following a vicious beating. Ibaxa Ukel had acquired a Citizenry Restraint order, and Ryo countersued, claiming a third party could not use the law to split up an established social relationship.
Due to the Ukel’s wealth and influence, the case went before the Guardia Committee, with Tavi taking the stand. According to the soft-spoken bizak, Ryo had informed her that they would be patching up. Tavi didn’t want donations and expressed this in a way that dissatisfied Ryo. Multiple rebuttal witnesses then stated that Tavi was willing prey when it came to Ryo, the most notable being Citrix Hol, the zaxir who would give birth to Fyla. Citizen Hol took the stand and asserted Tavi had instigated the beating that day, begging for more after Ryo stopped.
Faced with Line Ukel’s unwillingness to let Tavi retake the stand, the Guardia Committee vacated the Citizenry Restraint order. Ryo took Tavi from the courtroom that day, escorting her out and warning the Ukel’s to mind their own business. A week later, Tavi jumped from Ryo’s high-rise balcony in Utama.
Tavi’s body had been removed from the pavement and taken by Line Ukel before Ryo could claim it. Sadly, they’d endured the Ramxtikon ritual, only to have Ryo ascend to the Committee and seize the ramxkul’s teeth from their estate.
Willful suicide being a sign of mental illness, hive Oligax destroyed Tavi’s patches, but Ryo possessed a wealth of the bizak’s DNA from her erotic room, and from it, procured a makodonic patch. She’d fused their patches and ordered the first donuxi implanted into Citrix.
The zaxir had consented to another implantation after Fyla’s birth, in return for bondship with Ryo. She went missing, of course, right after birthing Orestes. According to Digger Hole rumors, Ryo had held Citrix Hol captive at the Uym estate until Orestes’s birth.
Fyla trusted such rumors, seeing firsthand how Ryo consumed everything she hungered for, including her donations. The hizak’s incestuous appetites had hatched out when Fyla wandered into her private room at age five. Subtle remarks at first, the abuse had escalated to fondling and then full-on intercourse by the time Fyla left for caste training.
Two years after Fyla’s transfer to Mynu, she’d met Tavi Ukel.
Very much alive, the bizak’s pod had faked her death, but years passed before she felt safe enough to approach young Fyla. Two days a week, they would meet in a janitor’s closet at the biosciences building in Mynu. Her mako gave the best advice for defending herself against the Ryo’s of the world: acquire power. Autonomy comes with power.
“Doctor Uym?” Bo Kilvx interrupted Fyla’s stretching. “I didn’t mean to intrude,”
Fyla unfurled. “It’s no trouble.”
Bo ducked out to look in on the Donmat.
The Promad’s gray reticulation over a milieu of dull gold made her look like she was underwater. A handsome marix, she disguised her chiseled physique in a loose uniform, but there was no hiding those thick muscular thighs, crafted from years of squat-thrusting Sword Fighters into their launch chutes.
Fyla disguised her desire with benign indifference; there was more to her feelings for the officer than just her typical penchant for bruisers and their marixtiux. After scouring Oligax’s patch-assigns, she’d traced her blind makodonic patch to a design bin in Toxis and found it joined to the kermadonic patch of Bo Kilvx.
“I’m heading back to the bridge,” Bo announced. “Let me know if anything changes.”
“Will do,” said Fyla, flashing her best smile. She followed the departed Promad’s footsteps and inhaled her lingering scent.
Staring down at the sleeping Dox, she reminded herself that, like Sofita, she too had found her donation and kept her close.
“Can you hear me, Fuzo?” she asked, checking her vitals.
“She remains sedated, Doctor Uym.”
“Thank you, Connie,” she said.
Dox’s dimpled temples had come from Orestes. She searched the marix’s sleeping visage for some sign of Sofita, or even Fusada, but found none. The regal nose and thick bottom lip reminded Fyla of someone she knew, but she just couldn’t place them. House Kul citizens were renowned for their slate gray and ivory white; beneath the water, it made them resemble great white sharks. Dox had inherited these colors, yet they were fused with a patchy black that made Fyla doubt that Crixal Dox had only carried the young marix.
“Doctor Uym,” Komad Atix appeared at her door. “Sorry to intrude like this, but we got a situation on the bridge.”
“What’s going on?” she asked, following her into the corridor.
“Promad ordered Ambassador Das to stay in her cabin,” the muscular Tenth relayed. “Das is up there now giving the Promad a bunch of shit.”
Po Das was a Ninth-Gen diplomat ingrained within the social circle of Tee Banto. She often condescended to those perceived beneath her station, and at Kermadec, she’d likely surrounded herself with undisciplined Fleeters.
As if on cue, the hizak’s voice carried.
“We must return to Ramaxia now!”
The Promad sat with her calm eyes trained on the forward array.
A growing kermatic-wave dominated the main screen, while the surrounding monitors showed various scenes of coastal ruin caused by a donational-wave.
“Ambassador Das,” Fyla extended her hand. “It’s been a few years. How are you?”
“Secondary Uym,” Po took a breath. “Finally, a citizen with some sense.”
Looking to their Promad, the crew saw no response to the insult.
“We must abandon this segment of the ocean,” said Po.
“That sounds reasonable,” Fyla tapped Bo’s shoulder lightly.
A disinterested hum came from Kilvx.
“The Promad refuses to do so,” the hizak pouted.
Fyla took the Ambassador’s arm. “Perhaps her orders are such that she can’t go into detail about why she remains.”
Po jerked free of Fyla and slipped her hands behind her back. “I’ve been briefed with intelligence on this incident, Doctor Uym, that none of you are allowed to know.”
“You should get back to your cabin, Ambassador,” Kilvx warned politely, “so none of us run the risk of finding out what you know.”
The bridge crew sniggered quietly.
“You must be thirsty, Po,” Fyla tried leading her to the exit. “Let’s visit the commissary,”
“You’ll not rush me from the room like a donat,” Po decried.
Bo nodded to the Komadon on watch, who moved to collect Po. Fyla raised a firm hand and came between them, her eyes jovial when facing the Ambassador.
“You’re onboard the Orcinus, Po,” she whispered. “This ship and her crew see Kilvx as their leader. Your disrespect toward her isn’t going over well.”
Po feigned shock. “Are you suggesting they’d harm an ambassador?”
“I’m suggesting you stop telling their Promad what to do,” she looked into the hizak’s eyes. “These are ranking bruisers, and this is their world, not ours.”
Po softened. “We cannot be this close to Tasmania.”
“The Orcinus is the fastest in the fleet,” Fyla assured, keeping Po ahead of her as they entered the narrow corridor. “Connie’s tracked the wave this far, and she’ll have us out of harm’s way before you can blink.”
Ambassador Das seemed content when deposited in her room. “You’ll dine with me later, Secondary Uym?”
“My room is right here,” Fyla pointed to the door down the hall. “You let me know whenever you’re ready.”
After securing the old hizak, Fyla returned to the bridge.
“Welcome back, Secondary Uym,” Bo mocked.
Fyla shrugged. “I’m Second Chair of the Prime Lab,”
“Explains how you occupy my ship whenever it suits you,” the Promad’s smile put her crew at ease.
“Promad, may I call you Bo?” Fyla asked.
The marix stared up at her.
“I think I should be able to call you that by now,” she whispered. “Bo, we need to get clear of here.”
“There’s an operative in the field,”
“I appreciate that.” Fyla noticed Bo ignoring her. “Look at me, please.”
Bo sighed. “Yes, Secondary Uym.”
“Did you just address me dismissively?”
The crew turned from their monitors when Fyla marched off the bridge, and then they all smiled when their concerned Promad followed.
“Uym, wait,” the marix called out.
Fyla turned on her. “You don’t know Sofita,”
“I’d like to think I do.” Bo crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m not leaving her in the path of a tsunami,”
“There’s a reason Fusada couldn’t make the Shell work,” she saw pain flash in the marix’s eyes. “I cared for ‘Foos, too, but she lacked a sense of self-preservation.”
Bo struggled to find the right words. “If a soldier dies on a mission, that’s part of the mission,”
Fyla moved into Bo’s space and whispered. “Sofita will put the mission above all things, but not at the expense of her life. It’s not because she’s hizak. It’s because she knows what her future means to our generation.”
Bo surveyed the corridor before pulling Fyla into her office.
“She’s smarter than a bruise,” Fyla tallied, “but stronger than a brain.”
Bo nodded. “You’re right, Uym, but—”
“-Fyla,” she said. “We agreed on first names.”
“When did we do that?” the marix wondered.
“We must get clear of these waters, Bo,” she insisted. “We run the risk of being monitored by the Māori media covering the wave.”
“I’m aware of this,” Bo closed her office door. “That’s why we’re swimming deep,”
“If seen, we’ll have to explain why,” said Fyla. “World Oceans has enough on their plate right now with this Slavic Empire thing.”
Bo countered, “I can’t just leave Kul behind,”
“Sofita will be fine,”
“We don’t know that—”
Fyla grabbed hold of her firm shoulders. “I know it goes against everything you’ve learned, but please, getting away from here is the smart thing to do right now.”
The Promad’s eyes lingered on Fyla’s hands.
“Why are you touching me, Uym?”
Fyla detached. “I’m trying to get my point across.”
“Your point?” Bo raised an eyebrow, otherwise unmoved.
Fyla cleared her throat.
“Don’t get the wrong idea, Promad.”
“I did for a second,” Bo smirked.
Fyla rolled her eyes and exited the office.
“As if I could ever score a bruiser as icy as you,” she said over her shoulder.
Fyla returned to the hall and noticed that when Bo passed her on the way to the bridge, her eyes performed a discreet inventory.
“Komad Atix,” she heard the marix say. “Take us out of here.”