The Sex Workers of Planet San Taurus by Robot Earl
by Robert Wildwood
“The Sex Workers of San Tuarus”
a queer sci-fi smut story
by Robot Earl
“Are you excited?”
Mayga turned to her companion, a beautiful young woman with jet black hair and brilliant green eyes.
“I am. I always get caught up in the plans, the logistics. I forget emotion.” Mayga smiled at her, “I will miss you Qxevi, I’m not excited about that.”
Qxevi smiled, “What’s a month. Nothing. For you it will be over in a minute. The rest of us back here on boring old Earth, well.”
“You know I would write every day if I could.”
“No such thing as interstellar post yet. What can ya do?” Mayga wrapped her arms around Qxevi and they squeezed each other a long time, warmth spreading between them.
“Last call for boarding… Last call…” a voice resonated thru the spaceport.
“This is it..” Mayga said, “Take care of yourself.”
“Don’t make too much money.” Qxevi said, and they parted.
Mayga walked up the ramp and down the tube towards the ship, not looking back, confident. There would be time enuf for long sighs and tears aboard ship on the two day flight thru the magnetic fold.
Mayga took her seat in the comfortable cabin of The Rhemora, third in a line of advanced vessels engineered with the help of the alien race from what people on Earth call the solar system hdx 1771, able to fluidly join the magnetic forces of suns and planets at the reconnection points where the soar wind meets with planetary magnetic fields, creating a fold in space time, enabling interstellar travel.
“Coronal mass ejection confirmed.” the announcer said, “Lift off in three minutes. Rendezvous with the aurora event in 32 minutes. Intersection with the interstellar fold event in one hour. Please fasten your seat belts and relax. Follow the instructions of the ship’s stewards for your safety. Please de-activate all electronic and magnetic devices. Thank you, and enjoy your passage on The Remora.”
Mayga looked out the window of the ship at the brightly lit spaceport. Somewhere behind one of these windows Qxevi watched.. Mayga smiled. It was good to be alive. Travel was amazing, and for the first time into interstellar space, to hdx 1771. If only she had known that as an adult she would be experiencing this, she never would have been sad for all those years of youth, wondering what would ever become of an apparently cursed life.
Spaceflight was amazing and terrifying, the height of being alive. To enter the time space folding event was the next step, a technology completely alien. Total faith.
A man sat in the seat next to her, “Excuse me, do you have phone service now? I’ve been trying to call my mother but this thing wont work.”
Mayga laughed, “The coronal mass ejection, which will open the magnetic fold for us, is of such a power that all geosynchronous satellites are frazzled out right now. Any phone on the sunny side of the planet is down! I suggest you turn it off, sit down, and relax.”
“But, dammit.” the man pocketed his phone while looking furtively about, “Nothing to be done I guess.”
“That’s right.” Mayga said, “It’s all in the captain’s hands now. Don’t worry. The Taurians designed this ship, they have been doing this for Millennia. For them it’s just like riding a bicycle. Nothing.”
The man’s face went blank, “I’ve never ridden a bicycle.”
Mayga shrugged, “Something to look forward to when you get back…”
A video appeared on the back of the seat in front of her, describing the method the Remora would be use to navigate interstellar space, “A flux rope forms when the solar wind encounters the magnetic field of Earth, a magnetic plasma tornado in space, which wraps around the planet’s magnetosphere and plays out along the tail which extends the length of hundreds of earths behind the night side of the planet, reconnecting at a point with the earth’s magnetic field and causing an event known as the fold.” Mayga hit the mute button and stared out the window as the Remora lurched off the launch pad. The space port diminished into a small dot below them. Mayga looked around the cabin, and at the man next to her, nervously looking around, the others each with their own vocalized or silent intense thots. Qxevi was a long way away now. These people were to be her companions to hdx 1771, the solar system containing 2 earth style planets. Mayga felt strangely vulnerable, uncharacteristically sensitive. Leaving the planet seemed so final. The Taurians had amazing artists tho, and that is why she was going. This one mission could make her independently wealthy, able to retire even from the work world. Everything would be alright. This was a good thing. The red and green shimmering of the aurora around the north pole shone now in all the portholes and a faint rumbling shook the Remora.
“A minor turbulence is normal upon entering and assimilating to the magnetosphere. Remain seated.” the voice assured. The cabin lights dimmed and the aurora shone more spectacularly, the passengers exclaimed at the sight.
After some time the aurora began to dim and the ship revved up, Plasma reversal approaching, the ship will accelerate to the fold point and then you will be able to stand and move about. Please wait for the signal from the stewards.”
The Remora accelerated perceptibly and then was still. A steward stood at the fore of the cabin and clapped, “You can now unlock your seat belts and move about. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.”
Mayga looked out the port.
Standing with a cocktail in hand Mayga stared out the wide port of the lounge into the darkness. A figure stepped up next to her, a man of average stature with darker skin than hers, and brown hair. Strangely, he wore dark sunglasses.
Mayga smiled at him humorously, “Too bright for you?”
The man turned his head and also smiled, “It’s too fast. The sight makes me agitated to view without these shields.” he looked back out the part, “Would you like to see a false color, real time vision of the fold event?”
Mayga considered, “Alright.”
The man held his hand up and a hologram screen formed from his fingertips. A cyborg, Mayga realized. Suddenly the space in front of her was no longer simple darkness but a rushing star map with accompanying sound increasing like an engine reaching overload or critical mass, she stared straight at the vision with watering eyes, the Remora hurtling down a magnetic tunnel, folding into another time and space.
“God, make it stop!” Mayga put her hands in front of her eyes, “Stop!”
The noise ceased. Mayga opened her eyes to the darkness outside the port again.
“Terrifying, isn’t it.” the man said, “My filter is broken it seems, so I use this external device to shield myself. I have been getting a lot of comments. Hopefully I can have it fixed immediately at the shops on San Taurus.”
“Going back to San Taurus.”
“I miss my people.” he smiled, “I was curious to see Earth. I’ve been away a long time.” he stared out thru his tech glasses.
“My name is Mayga.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Boullia.”
Boullia smiled, “I love Earth custom. So different and strange to me. I am excited to meet someone on this flight, to share the return trip with. It’s a bit of time. Are you alone?”
Mayga almost blushed, then laughed at herself, “Yes. Just me and a folder full of artist profiles to investigate on San Taurus.”
Boullia only smiled.
“Why are you out here? I mean, really, just to see what Earth was like?”
“No. Like everyone on Earth, I want to be loved.”
“Isn’t that why we do everything we do? Why has any human ever done anything? To be accepted and loved by that entity you most want to be accepted and loved by, whatever that is. Your mother, your father, a lover, a hero, a fiction, god! all kinds of fantasy could he served. And when is enuf? Have you done enuf for that one, can you relax and be happy? You can be done with the whole quest right this moment, as I stand facing you. Retire, relax, smile. Allow your seemingly ultimate journey to gather dust, like war heads locked in the armory. What is the point.”
“What is the point?”
“Exactly.” Boullia nodded.
Mayga laughed and sighed, “And I thot I came on this trip to make money. “
“The fun of philosophy ends where hunger begins. There’s always the basic physicalities, right? Food has cost money on Earth for thousands of years, it’s not easy to hunt and forage anymore, in the cities or in space. Ha! You have to pay to play.”
Mayga looked at the Taurian, “I’m hungry. Always happens when I drink now. One or two drinks and I’ve gotta eat. You don’t need to eat with the cyber body on, right?”
“Wanna watch me eat?”
They strode of to the restaurant deck.
The Remora came out of the magnetic fold on the night side of San Taurus, the planet dark before them as it eclipsed the sun of solar system hdx 1771.
“Are you excited Boullia?”
Boullia was smiling out the port at his home planet, “I am. There’s nothing like a lone journey thru strange lands to make you appreciate home. San Taurus, with all our problems, this planet is my home.”
“You’re wealthy tho, if you can travel, am I right? The problems must affect you less being privileged as you are.”
“We all live in the same atmosphere, no amount of wealth can fix our environmental problem. The volcanic eruptions can’t be stopped. The pollution could be stopped, but we, like humans, seem to value our individual curiosity and comfort more than the preservation of our world. It’s beyond prevention now, which is why you are here. We need help from the cosmos. And so I am here speaking to you.”
“Contact with San Taurus is the most intense thing Earth has ever collectively experienced. The culture shock, the immigration, the leap in technology. Earth is still trying to catch it’s breath. I never thot I would see anything like it. It’s an amazing time to be alive.”
“Your trade with the artists on San Taurus will be of great help. People of Earth will find compassion for us thru this sharing, the final culmination of an eon of artistic endeavors leading to this, a reaching out to the cosmos. How wi11 it be received, love or hate? Earth is not the only one holding it’s breath.”
“I thot Taurian’s didn’t breathe.”
“Boullia.” a woman sat down next to them at the bar facing out on the port, “Min costag raka.”
Boullia leaned toward the woman, “Min co stag raka vu ta.”
He motioned towards the woman, “This is my friend Ahleeta from San Taurus.”
“Hello, my name is Mayga.”
“Good to meet you..'” Ab1eeta said, flashing her long eye lashes, blinking blue eyes in a mesmerizing way, Mayga was momentarily transfixed.
“You like women.” Ahleeta asked.
“Ah. Yes, it’s true.”
“You have beautiful eyes, I admit.”
“I chose the female form, it offered more opportunities, I thot, and my experience on Earth proved that true.” she smiled and ordered a drink from the steward.” Sexuality of humans is fascinating. The two forms fascinates San Taurians. We have only one sexual form.”
“I envy the San Taurian physiology, to be able to consciously decide when to reproduce, making overpopulation a non issue.”
“Overpopulation is not a problem on San Taurus.”
“We envy the orgasm.” Boullia said, “Our reproduction process does not include such sensations. We are fascinated by orgasm.”
“In my time on Earth I saw many orgasms by many people. I return to San Taurus with much wealth, but also with sadness. I never shared the experience of orgasm with anyone.”
“Our scientists are very busy researching this. Next to efforts to halt the atmospheric catastrophe that looms, bringing the orgasm to our race is next of importance.”
“Ahleeta blew air out of her mouth, “They would finish with the destruction of San Taurus if they could achieve an orgasm by it. Money and technology cannot do everything. Maybe we can accept our physiology as it is, for now, and not obsess over it so recklessly.”
“I disagree. I think it will all work out.”
“That’s the thinking of the privileged.” Ahleeta whispered into Mayga’s ear after he turned away for a moment to greet another passenger, “Boullia has never worked a day in his life. Mayga felt herself becoming warm, flushing from Ahleeta’s breath on her ear. Her long eyelashes flashed at Ahleeta’ s eyes and she couldn’t help smiling back. Her golden cheek eclipsing the dark planet outside the port, Mayga could hardly remember they were arriving in the alien system.
“Come on, let’s dance.” Ahleeta put her hand on Mayga’s arm and she slid off the seat to follow, pulled by her gravity. Three Taurians were at the controls of musical machines, evoking entrancing beats and surging melodies, all of them singing at once, then switching off singly to solo. Other Taurian’s worked at orbs of light, adding various gasses and elements to evoke different lighting effects in correlation to the music. Mayga and Ahleeta danced as the planet loomed larger in the port, staring into each other’s eyes, touching thighs and holding hands on waists.”
“So. Are you the top in your sexual adventures? I mean, I imagine that since you don’t feel orgasms that there would be little point in having someone pleasure you.”
“That’s assuming my lover knows I am San Taurian. I have let humans pleasure me, and simulated the pleasure response. Orgasm isn’t everything. Some people don’t have orgasms, I have learned, and some people are not sexual. When someone attempts to pleasure me, I do feel something, not what humans feel. More cerebral perhaps. We are complex beings.” Ahleeta said over the music, whispering in Mayga’ s ear again. Mayga thot she would like to keep this conversation going so that Ahleeta would continue blowing hot breath across the cold ocean of her skin.
“I enjoy all types of sexual experiences, and my joy isn’t physical sensation so much, it is the contact with you that I like, the mental and emotional connection, it is extra-physical.”
Mayga was aroused and could feel the heat emanating from her sexual center. She also felt strangely intimidated. An alien cyborg, how did that work? What if the body short circuited. She shook her head and laughed. It was far more exciting than not. The fear added extra thrill.
“I usually am the first one to make a pass.” Mayga said, “But once the connection is made, and we’re fucking, I like to bottom. I’ve thot about it. Every day, every hour, I am on top. I think I just like my erotic world to be reversed.”
Ahleeta smiled, “There are as many sexualities as there are sexual beings, I think. I admit I prefer to be the one in control, watching the physical pleasure brought forth by my movements is fascinating to me, you see me smiling.”
“Will you come back to my cabin with me?” Mayga asked.
Mayga lay naked in her bed, tied down to the four corners of it with her own shirt, bra, panties pants, and socks. The knot work was impressive on it’s own, Ahleeta was swift and talented. Ahleeta lay fully clothed next to her, robotic finger buzzing faster than the eye could follow on Mayga’s throbbing clit. She stopped and kneeled on the bed, slapping Mayga’s tit then grabbing it roughly and rolling the nipple with pulses of robotic buzzing. Ahleeta removed her exotic belt and folded it in half, slapping gently on Mayga’s thighs, sliding it up her torso to her face, then slapped her thighs again, harder, wrenching her tit with her free hand, she thrashed Mayga’s thighs until she was quivering. Ahleeta put the belt down and straddled Mayga, rubbing her wet cunt on Mayga’s belly while kissing her. Mayga forgot anything about a robot body, Ahleeta seemed to be a superhuman. Ahleeta crawled up and planted her crotch on Mayga’s face, Mayga licked with long strokes, then sucked in Ahleeta’s clit gently between her lips, the tip of her tongue circling it feverishly. Ahleeta’s clit began throbbing, growing larger, impossibly large! It extended into Mayga’ s mouth until she was moving back and forth on Ahleeta’s long clit. Ahleeta thrust in and out while moaning. She pulled herself away and slid down between Mayga’s thighs, “Do you want it?”
Mayga pleaded yes. Ahleeta slid her bulging clit slowly
in and moved like she had on the dance floor, dancing on her curve, cradling her head on Mayga’ s neck, kissing the smooth curved skin there gently, then nibbling, biting. Mayga strained against her clothes that held her arms and legs firm to the bed, every nerve in her body awakened, tensed and spread, Ahleeta’s clit began to vibrate perfectly against Mayga’s clit. Ahleeta whispered in a strange alien language that made her mind tingle, and Mayga came in this resonating perfection that left her breathing hard and floating above the bed, beyond the bounds of her restrained body.
“Fuck.” Mayga said, “That was too much. How can I ever go back now?”
Ahleeta laughed, laying down next to Mayga, moving her hand from her thighs up to her neck and thru Mayga’ s hair.
The Remora dropped like a meteor thru the atmosphere of San Taurus, Mayga could see nothing outside the port holes but the superheated atmosphere around the descending ship.
“It’s only natural to be terrified of free fall.” Boullia had seated himself next to her in the observation cabin.
Mayga frowned. The tourist. An alien tourist. A little full of himself. What was the difference between them, he used his privilege to experience the culture of another planet, she was using her privilege to visit another planet and trade with artists there, for money and goods they desperately wanted, and to take that art back to Earth to share with the world, spreading friendship between the planets. This was the discussion she had with all her financiers, backers, donators, and grant makers. She had been talking this talk for so long and now that it finally was happening she felt a momentary twinge of doubt, was she no different than Boullia, a tourist? A glorified tourist. She looked at him. No. They weren’t the same. He had never lacked the basics in all his life. Only learned and thot about it, as a philosopher does, but never felt it, never lived that suffering. He was born out of wealth, and had no appreciation for it. One of those beings most able to help but least likely to do anything. Selfish.
“We’ve spoken of my journey to San Taurus. I haven’t yet asked you what you think of my goals.”
“Admirable. I wish you all the best.” Boullia smiled.
“Perhaps you could extend a donation?”
“I do have something I could contribute.” Boullia said,-“Just this advice. Beware of Ahleeta. She associates with a group of San Taurians who will do nothing but take your money and give you trash in return. Not to be trusted.”
Mayga frowned and turned to look out the window at the bright light caused by the friction of the ship against the wounded atmosphere of San Taurus.
The spaceport was only a smoothed area in the middle of a desert. After the ship landed on a circular pad the passengers disembarked thru a tube into a large domed complex. Here they boarded a train that ran to the San Taurian population center. An hour later the red desert gave way to short grasses, then lumpy succulent things armored in some thick skin. Mayga felt the gravity of this slightly y larger than Earth planet pulling her down into the seat, she felt groggy and overwhelmed. The pills dispensed by the steward of The Remora were not entirely effective, and apparently took some time to realize their cumulative effect. Adaptation was not instant. One day on San Taurus lasted 32 Earth hours. The worst lag ever experienced by humans. She looked forward to meeting with Ahleeta later, who had promised to help her out with the assimilation process. With Ahleeta, that sounded exciting.
Boullia was revealing himself to be an asshole. Mayga could see no basis for the continued line of disparaging comments he offered about Ahleeta, and Mayga hoped he would disappear back to the rich desert oasis that he came from.
The countryside turned green abruptly. Clumps of grasses turned into savannah, then scrub brush, strange looking trees, their green crowns extending all the way to the ground and no competitors nearby, as tho they had chosen to space them selves apart to avoid problems. Then, rising beyond the dome trees were huge domes of a different material, hundreds of feet high, translucent, reflecting the light of hdx 1771 in glittering sparkles. The domes seemed to be made out of crystal growth. Mayga made a note to check around and look for artisans who might work with this amazing substance.
This was Friendship City, erected as a joint Human/Taurian project, much like the Olympic villages were made back on earth, with lofty good intentions of spreading love and world peace but riddled with corruption and exploitation. Looking thru the transparent side of the dome as the train rapidly approached, Mayga could see the buildings inside, and on the side of one nearest the train tracks, a massive billboard for an Earth based fast-food corporate chow down chain. Mayga felt a little ill. The unsustainable program of global capitalism had found a way to survive: by spreading to another globe. It couldn’t possibly happen that way, could it’? San Taurians had their own system and wouldn’t want that disturbed. Except that they needed help from the cosmos. So there were compromises. Like Earth needed help. Maybe they figured they could get what they wanted by baring each others neck to the friendly interstellar race. Maybe they were right. Here I am, Mayga thot, a potential exploiter with good intentions. Like the Taurian reproductive physiology, can I use my intentions to change my reality and the reality of others?
The train entered the dome and slowed to a stop inside a tube, Mayga felt her ears pressurize as a door closed on the outside world, she opened her mouth and faked a yawn to pop the pressure, and stood to exit as the doors slid open.
“Welcome to Friendship City.” a pre-recorded voice said, “Another beautiful sunny day on San Taurus. First class passengers please report to the ticket stand at the end of the ramp for assistance with your accommodations…”
Mayga headed off into the city, eager to move beyond the tourist enclave. She had studied the maps of the city before on Earth, but in person and from ground level now it didn’t make as much sense. At last she found the planet suit shop, and acquired a well fitted spacesuit for walking outside the domes of Friendship City. The atmosphere of the planet was not entirely breathable by humans. The tight fitting stretch suit was also very revealing. The San Taurian working in the shop recommended she not wear clothing over the suit. “Already the only skin I can see is you face, why hide anymore? You don’t want to appear prudish, do you? San Taurians are very curious. Prudish people annoy them terribly.
Mayga walked out of the shop with her transparent bubble helmet under one arm, heading for the surface transport docks. There was now 20 hours left in the San Taurian 32 hour day, she would spend it exploring the closest village.
Strolling purposefully down the boardwalk, lounges and bars on either side, Mayga heard a familiar voice ca11 out, her blond hair flashed as she turned to see who it was.
“Ahleeta.” Mayga stepped off the boardwalk and into the porch of a shady lounge, surrounded by leafy plants, a mixture of San Taurian and Earth fauna. Mayga put her arms around Ahleeta and then they sat on a bench made of some strange wood.
“You’re going out already? You just got here.”
“Gotta get my feet wet sometime. No sense wasting time. I’ve wasted time before, I don’t much like it.”
“But you are on San Taurus now, and what you call wasting time is actually the way things are done here, by spending a few hours with me, you will make the rest of your day go much smoother.”
“We will have a few drinks, and I will loosen my tongue and tell you all you want to know about the artisans of the nearby villages. If you don’t know who to ask for, you will spend all day with curious San Taurians who will pretend to be artists just to satisfy their insatiable curiosity. You would come back empty handed and fall asleep on your hotel bed crying. Relax here with me and I will tell you stories. Let me grease the wheels, as you say on Earth.”
Mayga sat her bubble helmet on the table, “Well then, what are you recommending I drink here?”
Three drinks later Mayga held her head in her hands staring at the holographic map of the villages near Friendship City while Ahleeta went to the special recycling chamber in the rear of the lounge to vent fluids.
“You look overwhelmed.” Ahleeta said.
“This is much more complicated than I expected. Thank god I ran into you.”
“I will go with you. Do you agree?”
“You will? Don’t you have things to do, your family and friends must be curious to hear of your travels.”
“Yes. And I am curious too, so I will go with you. It’s good you stayed for drinks. This is the San Taurian way.”
Mayga and Ahleeta bounced along in the six wheeled land cruiser heading across the desert for the next oasis, Neftil Bibit Akal.
“As I said, you. will be surprised to see such the difference in living conditions from San Taurians in Friend ship City and the San Taurians in Neftil Bibit Akal. You must know the story of the San Taurian class who developed Psychic powers and dominated those without the power. After many uprisings and violence using the psychic powers for exploitation is illegal.”
“I know the story.” Mayga said.
“What people on Earth don’t hear about is how it still goes on, these two economic classes do not exist by choice of the poor, they are not poor because they are lazy. They are exploited, subtly, by the psychic class. It is almost impossible to prove the manipulations. Occasionally someone is arrested, prosecuted, punished for psychic crime, it’s just to placate us, to make them believe the system is working.”
“That’s disheartening, to think that our new planetary neighbors are just as exploitative as people of Earth.”
“We were not always this way. Two hundred years ago things began to change on San Taurus, starting with the return of ships from journeys to Earth. They brought back samples of everything, and from that a few of us were inspired to recreate these fascinating alien ways. And so, a mode of hyper exploitation began. We learned it from you.”
“San Taurians really are too curious for their own good.”
Ahleeta smiled and leaned over to kiss Mayga on the lips. Her hand moved and touched Mayga on her stomach causing muscles to twitch thru the space suit. Ahleeta’s hand buzzed slightly, warming her thru the spacesuit.
“You like doing new things.” Ahleeta said, “Have you ever experienced orgasm on a San Taurian land cruiser?”
Mayga looked about the cabin, the seats on the other side of the isle were empty, and the high backed seats afforded some privacy. Ahleeta’s hand slid down to Mayga’s crotch and opened the aperture there for body functions.
“What if someone sees us?”
Ahleeta smiled, “If they are San Taurian, they will be curious. If they are human, they will act like nothing’s happening.”
Ahleeta’s fingers entered Mayga who was hot to the idea already, the electricity between them seemed ever present. Ahleeta’s fingers moved, buzzed, vibrated, expanded and pulsed.
“We designed these suits for just this.” Ahleeta smiled and put her lips on Mayga’s again. Mayga sank down into the gravity of San Taurus and began breathing faster, her eyes closed.
Neftil Bibit Akal surrounded them as Mayga lay relaxed in the land cruiser chair looking out the port hole, tall trees and lush under growth, San Taurians walked thru the area, their spindly bodies and dark purple skin matching the green of the oasis. Many of them apparently tending to the Gibbet trees, which produced vast fruits for their sustenance. The village housing was made of hardened mud shaped fluidly into round structures that sprawled under the gibbet trees organically. Protruding from many of these domes of clay were antennae, dishes, communications devices, wrapped in flowering vines bearing furry fruit. The land cruiser stopped and they exited the thing, Mayga donning her bubble helmet and activating her Earth simulation suit, which made the gravity feel less extreme too.
“The suit is amazing.” Mayga said thru the microphone.
Ahleeta looked Mayga up and down, winked at her.
They strolled into Neftil Bibit Akal. There were San Taurians in cyborg human form, some in their natural state, and a few humans. The cyborg San Taurians spoke the language fluently and wore the head gear traditional to the planet, a wrap of some wide, flat plant that had been custom wrapped, then dried in that shape, a lighter shade than their dark skin color, it was like a cap of snow on a mountain. The naked San Taurians wore nothing but the hat.
“There is no shame in being naked. I have read about this. It’s shocking from my perspective.”
“Clothing is shocking to us.” Ahleeta said, “Except for the hats. Hats we understand, we feel hats.”
Ahleeta introduced Mayga to her friend Ta’phi, a crafter who made the traditional Taurian hat.
“See the lines, the veins of the Shishi plant, in a spiral they turn down and down, like our galaxy, which you call the Milky Way. This form is often seen in the universe. While out walking in the rain, water falls and on the hat and spirals down the outside slowly, collects in the upraised brim, and there you have a drink of water. In our tradition, one takes off the hat and offers it to someone passing on the trail, they drink, and then offer you their hat. We share. Water is essential to life here, as it is on Earth. Without water, the fire would dry us into empty husks.” the San Taurian’ s cracked old skin moved like magic as they told story, Mayga could hear the skin moving in the quiet shop. At the end of the story, Ta’phi took off their hat and offered it to Mayga, “It has been seven days since rain.” he said, looking down into the dry brim, and put the hat back on smiling, “We will be grateful when it rains again!”
Ahleeta helped arrange a payment for a box of hats. The problem came in fitting them to the heads of the hat wearer, since each was traditionally custom made.
“These people you will be giving the hats to, they must come to me, and I will fit their head. This is how it is done.” Ta’phi said while holding his three fingered hands in front of his belly.
“But these people live on Earth! The cost of traveling to San Taurus for a hat fitting would be prohibitive.”
Ta’phi smiled, “Send your friends from Earth to my shop. I will welcome them as friends.”
In the end they agreed to fit a dozen hats to Mayga’s head, “You must be a very wealthy person to buy twelve hats.” Ta’phi said.
“I represent many people of Earth. Many of us have the exact same head.”
Ta’phi smiled, “I understand. This is not the traditional way, but things are changing. Look at this hat.” Ta’phi opened a wooden cabinet and pulled out a hat shaped in the traditional style, but instead of the natural oiled tone it was covered in silver sparkling glitter.”
“My god!” Mayga said, “That’s really something. I’ll take two in that style.”
“The glitter was imported from Earth.” Ta’phi said, “Come back tomorrow and I will fit the hats. The day after that the hats will be cured and ready for you to wear.”
“Thank you Ta’phi.” Mayga put out her hand to shake Ta’phi’s, Ta’phi took her hand awkwardly and squeezed, then let out a high pitched squeal.
“The hand snake is a new thing to San Taurians. It seems to be very ticklish for most of us in our natural form.”
“Oh, I tickled you?”
Ahleeta laughed loudly and from the belly.
They walked away from Ta’phi’s shop, “You know, Ta’phi works at the factory as well. Servicing the ships that go to Earth. It is not possible to subsist in the old ways anymore, not since the industrial surge and the psychic war. To have the things that satisfy the San Taurian curiosity, they need more income. The only true joy I see Ta’phi experience is in making the hats, a pure thing. But Ta’phi would not be happy only making hats, not while knowing there is a whole universe out there, and wanting to experience it.
“Then there is the division. Ta’phi could make hats and live here in a tiny hut, while all around everyone dances in luxury. Outside influences have changed us. So there is now tax to live this close to Friendship City, it is expensive, it has been gentrified as you say on Earth, to live here. So Ta’phi splits time between work and art. Almost everyone you meet will have the same story. They will not speak much of the time they spend working for wages. It is tedious to them, doing the same thing every day, for what? Wage slavery is a new thing to San Taurians also. But, we are adaptable just like humans, or else we would not exist, eh? But we are suspicious. The psychic class- normal San Taurians are always wondering if they are being manipulated, but being paranoid and hateful is not the San Taurian way, so we go about working in this situation, like it’s normal now, the work-every-day world. So different from our past. We adapt and hope for a better day, so we allow our hands to be tickled by humans, maybe this will lead to a better future? San Taurians don’t know everything. We have wrecked our atmosphere, like Earth, and now we must pay for that. Caught in our strange curious desires, we build more and destroy as we build, travel far between stars and get stuck in petty disputes. It seems a universal law, like gravity.”
Mayga and Ahleeta wandered the village all day, conversing with artists an making deals. Several crates of merchandise sat on the loading platform as they reclined in the café at the land cruiser station, eating fried Gibbet plant with spicy Earthen lentils, coconut sour cream sauce, and pickled Ki Chi fish.
Mayga stared out as hdx 1771 set, turning the sky orange, then red.
“I had such idealistic visions about this project. Now I sit looking at this stack of crates and I feel just like a tourist lugging home bags full of shopping purchases. I have all these stories to tell, to make people understand what it is to be San Taurian. Still I feel just like a tourist, and I wonder if I am. Is it just a fantasy? Am I doing good ? Be honest Ahleeta.”
“San Taurians need your wealth. You have already helped them by paying good prices for their works. It doesn’t matter what your motives are. What you do beyond this is where you may rise above. I believe in you. I think you are doing a good thing. Your heart is good. Universal love. You feel it. Don’t question that. If you stop believing just because everything seems hopeless, then you become just a tourist.”
Mayga awoke in the hotel room in Friendship City, the morning sun light of hdx l771 shone thru the round port hole of the clay walled building, built in the traditional San Taurian Way. The door buzzer sounded as she lay there contemplating everything.
“Mayga? Can we have a moment with you?”
Mayga frowned. What was this? She glanced from the bed to the stack of crates filled with San Taurian crafts, had she violated some customs regulation? Shit. The regulations were extensive and she had studied them thoroughly. There was nothing illegal.
“Just a minute.” she said, and slid out of bed, pushed the screen on the hall monitor. Boullia’s face glared on the screen, dressed more traditionally San Taurian now, with two uniformed officials at his side.
Fuck, Mayga thot, this looked a lot like legal trouble. She looked at the stack of merchandise again, well there was nothing that could be flushed down the toilet. She opened the door after wrapping a hotel robe around her body.
“Forgive the intrusion. I hope we haven’t startled you. This is Veitaro Songala and Veitaro Cayesse. They are investigating a serious crime committed at the spaceport which occurred last night. You may have heard about it?”
“No, I haven’t watched the news since I’ve been here.”
“Interesting. Well, let me update you. In the depths of last night someone managed to enter the Remora, set charges, and escape the ship before the explosion. The Remora is destroyed.”
Boullia studied her face, then turned and looked out the window over the vista of Friendship City, the golden morning light sending rays thru the smooth walled clay city.
“We never had to deal with this violence before. Your culture has warped us. The assimilations have been insidious, like virus. We have reason to suspect a San Taurian was behind this. I must now ask you where Ahleeta has gone. You were seen with her last night.”
“What, you’ve been sending spies to watch me?”
“The Veitaro have eyes everywhere. It is a different world now, one we are not accustomed to. The more information the better we can deal with these vicious assaults. Some would say the motive behind this is to sever our links with Earth and stop the dilution of San Taurian culture. So at first the philosophy would seem to be in line with our policing actions of stopping this madness, but the door will not be closed. We are not fools. Earth knows how to find us and we know how to find Earth. There is no going back. This violence is going to be short lived because we will crush it with every means available. Now you will tell me where Ahleeta is.” Boullia bore down upon her with his eyes, she felt frozen in his gaze, a cold flash swept her skin as her voice said, “Ahleeta is in my bed.” Boullia dashed for the bedroom door followed by the two Veitaros, Mayga returned to herself and gasped, she had betrayed her! But it wasn’t her voice. Boullia’s words and voice had come out of her own throat, stealing her thots. This is it, Mayga thot, I might end up rotting in a San Taurian rehabilitation camp. She ran into the bedroom with balled fists, prepared to knock the skinny head off a San Taurian cop. Boullia and the two Veitaros stood looking out the open window of the bedroom, Ahleeta was nowhere to be seen. Mayga went to the window.
A body lay in the middle of the street three stories down, wearing the dress Ahleeta had worn last night, the dress Mayga had last seen laying on her bedroom floor. Her throat constricted and no sound came out.
“Let’s go.” Boullia commanded and the three dashed from the room.
Mayga stared out the window at the body, a crowd was gathering, several San Taurians bent down to examine it.
“Mayga!” a hoarse whisper came to her ears and she whirled around, Ahleeta climbed naked out of a crate that had held one of the Xexle Midsummer Mannequins in it.
“Ahleeta!” Mayga exclaimed as quietly as her emotions would allow, “You’re a genius!”
“I have to go to the roof and hijack a shuttle pod. Take this capsule of root powder and snort it all, the effect will be to make your mind impervious to the psychic manipulations for several hours. I will contact you as soon as I can.” Ahleeta dashed out of the hotel room door completely naked. Mayga watched her go, outstretched palm holding the yellow capsule. Mayga’s body demanded she follow. Somewhere in the universe a star went supernova and sent it’s plasma shockwave out for the neighbors to see before she reached the decision to run after this alien in a robot body no matter what the consequences. She gripped the capsule in a fist and followed, discarding the bathrobe to accelerate her speed, barely keeping an eye on Ahleeta as she dove thru doors, ran up stairs, and across the pod platform on the roof. Mayga wondered if she could hear the footsteps behind her, wondered if she thot they were not Mayga’s but the Veitaros. Ahleeta leapt into an open pod transport and sent the timid Earth tourists flying out of the passenger area. The San Taurian pilot followed with a little more resistance, tumbling to the surface of the roof, his traditional ShiShi plant hat rolling across the roof with him.
Mayga dove into the passenger door as the pod lifted off the roof. Ahleeta turned around with a fist and fire in her eyes but froze with a hard look that contained everything. Ahleeta looked back to the controls as they rose into the air. Mayga climbed up and sat next to her in the cockpit. Ahleeta looked at Mayga as they soared into the purple clouds.
“Great. Now they will want me for kidnapping too!” she laughed wildly, “But if you go back, they will use their abilities, and know you willingly came with me. That was a wild decision.”
Mayga smiled, “I got friends back home. People that love me. They’ll come here and find me.” Mayga shrugged, “I would like you to meet them.” she looked out the window of the transport pod at the beautiful planet below, then back to Ahleeta’s face.
“So. Where are we going?”