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On The Lady's Side

The organic blast door closed shut with an eerie whistle, sealing the external platform behind the two women, one of which wore a white-and-blue Starmoth Initiative suit and the other a simple coral-like voidsuit. One of them was indubitably human, though her skin was the colour of a deep ocean. The other had a less firm grip on reality, or perhaps it was the other way around; when she walked on the dust-covered floor, the small particles falling from the decaying structure of the Sequence ruins seemed to remain undisturbed as if she had been a proverbial holographic projection. Heavy thumps echoed from beyond the blast door.

"Talasea, how much time do we have?" asked the coral-wearing woman.

"I am not sure, but I would say not much, sadly. These organic doors are strong, but they can't hold that thing we're trailing behind -- even if it was just a shambler, I would not bet on the door. They can't interface with these ruins anymore but they can just, you know...punch through."

Another heavy thump echoed in response.

"No word from the Al-Andalus?"

"No." Talasea checked the q-aug on her palm again. "Last communication was the one we received in the atrium. I've got an automated shuttle coming down, but it will be too late. I, well..." The irenian took a glance at her laser stylus, a trusty tool, but even at its highest power settings, no more than a flashlight against a Sequence combat organism. "I guess I'll have to start talking with the monsters."

Another thump. The organic door was about to give way, artificial muscles strained to their very limits, stretching like rotting roots under a powerful wind.

"You, alone?"

"How come you're still there? Fly away, you beautiful lady. Go away, Kalisa. You don't want to see me crushed to death by a Sequence lifeform. You haven't seen the Algorab tapes. I have. It's not very pretty."

The coral-wearing woman looked up, towards the wide, blade-blue sky of the fractured Sequence world, with derelict bio-arcologies reaching towards the twin stars in the shape of skeleton trees. Down below, there was nothing but five thousand meters of cold emptiness.

"You've always had such a detached attitude towards death, Tali."

"That's typically Irenian, I guess. We choose hedonism, so we don't have to worry about anything when it all ends. Or that's just scientific curiosity. Now go."

A final thump. Two muscles broke, spreading dark artificial blood on the cobblestones.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"You can literally cross the entire galaxy in the blink of an eye and you are telling me right here, right now, that you don't want to be going anywhere?"

"What can I say? I think I like you. And there are things...I have always wanted to say."

The door finally gave way, splattering in a shower of dark fluid and shattered organic particles, spread into the wind as soon as they found themselves freed from the shackles of artificial muscles. The Jeweller followed immediately in the wake of the destruction it had inflicted on the door, a swirling cloud of transbiological particles that evocated images of self-aware baroque paintings to Talasea. The Jeweller spread its tentacles to mirror the two suns above, then moved towards the two women, poised for the kill -- or perhaps, if their biological material was deemed adequate, absorption into its complex transbiology, that had been starved of new inputs for so long.

Kalisa winked, then stepped forward, calmly, gently. It lasted only a second or two, perhaps three at most. The Jeweller froze in time, then extended a tentacle towards Kalisa. The white-haired woman poked it with a smile, and Talasea assumed they spent the following second exchanging information. Then the Sequence lifeform quickly folded its tentacle and slithered away through the remains of the door with a quickness that felt almost like a fear reflex. Kalisa dusted her shoulder, where the lifeform had left a bit of golden dust, then turned towards Talasea again.

"Well, that was interesting."

"What did you say to each other? Ok, I am rephrasing my question...what part of a dialogue between a Lady That Wanders and a Sequencer can my puny brain understand? Couldn't you tell it to just...stay for a while, if it wasn't determined to kill us?"

"Oh, I am afraid it was very much determined to murder both of us. We are, after all, trespassing on its domain. To say that I talked to it would be a bit of an overstatement. I just, well, told it who and what I was."

"And it slithered away, just like this?"


"Bedding you was a terrible mistake."

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