2 PAC Woxidat (Arkelon Class)
Raxuta`Acarol (Pacific Ocean)
4 Yubol 2228 – 0600 Hours
“You got these chocolates in Holy Cross?” Dox popped a truffle into her mouth and examined the box cover. “Was this Mama Rogers, part of the investigation?”
Since reading Sofita’s detailed mission report about terminating the spy at Port Yukon, the Donmat had been uncharacteristically silent, noting how it lacked her hack in the CAC and the subsequent visit from CR Banto.
Orny’s voice filled the cabin.
“Incoming message from Ornithocheirus Six,”
“Location?” Sofita asked.
“Sestra is beside me on the deck,” Orny replied. “The message is from Bakidon Kirgo Su, and it is for Donmat Dox.”
“What’s the message?” asked the Donmat.
Orny replied in spirit. “Wake Up, Dox!”
Sofita observed her young charge calmly eat another chocolate.
“Tell Bakidon Su,” she said. “To lick my ryd.”
“That violates communications protocol,” Orny declared.
“Bakidon Su can file a complaint,” Dox added. “After she licks my ryd.”
Orny relented. “I have relayed your message.”
Dox turned her chair toward Sofita. “Are you sure CR Banto’s going to call? It’s been over twenty-two hours.”
“Relax, Donmat,” Sofita assured. “We’ve another hour before Bakiprime Wex kicks us off her launch deck.”
Pita Wex, another of Fusada’s old friends from Orta, wasn’t comfortable with secretive divisional officers lounging atop her Ark.
Sofita eyed the ceiling. “Why is Ornithocheirus Six here?”
“Sestra serves the Office of Helovx Advocacy,” the lifeform replied. “Her primary function is delivering monthly replacement laborers to Nazca Ridge.”
“Ask Sestra if that marixidoe piloting her has had any real missions other than transporting bizzies between jobs?” Sofita noted Dox’s smile. “Make sure she relays that question to Bakidon Su, word for word, care of the Donmat.”
After a few moments, Orny returned.
“Bakidon Su’s reply violates communications protocol.”
Dox’s smile faded. “Why’d did we hack Banto’s system?”
“Banto administrated at Nazca Base,” she answered. “Before you ask, no, Banto never desired politics. Being the donation of the Fourth Office, she’s duty-bound to serve in the Chamber.”
“Duty-bound?” Dox kicked back in her chair.
“Chamber service is a prerequisite to ascension.”
Dox sat up. “Ascension?”
“Someday, Banto will ascend to the Committee.”
Dox hesitated. “I thought when—”
“-Fusada Kul dying nullified the Tenth?”
Dox retrieved a glass bottle of water from the floor cooler and, dislodging the rubber cap, emptied it in one swig. “So, someone at Nazca Base contacted CR Banto about something related to this mission?”
“That’s why we invaded her privacy.”
“If I’d known what I was doing,” Dox declared. “I wouldn’t have done it, Komad.”
“You were under orders,” Sofita crushed the empty chocolate box under her boot. “Though, I didn’t tell you to gawk at intimate casti of Banto’s bond partner.”
“My lust aside,” Dox delivered a line that sounded rehearsed. “Hacking into CR Banto’s system is objectionable.”
Sofita chuckled. “You Eleventh’s and your idealized rectitude.”
“What’s an helovx gurxhole have to do with it?”
“Rectitude is integrity,” she grinned. “Honor,”
“Honor’s important, Kul,” Dox nodded and found Sofita’s silence a signal to continue. “It’s what separates us from the helovx.”
“I don’t want to make light of your conviction,” Sofita teased. “But only six chromosomes separate you from an helovx and her rectum.”
“We can’t breed with them,” she argued.
“We females can’t breed with them,” Sofita corrected.
“Femmar are female!” she adjusted her tone. “Forgive my disrespect, Komad, but my gen has no males, so they aren’t part of my everyday vernacular.”
“Did you just say vernacular?” Sofita goaded. “That’s a complicated word for a bruiser that doesn’t know a human’s asshole from her honor.”
“Sure, that’s right, Kul,” she scowled, her head jerking. “Belittle how I express myself.”
“My Gen does have males, as does the Gen before it, as did the Gen before that,” Sofita moved into her angry underling’s line of sight. “You tend to forget this, Dox, and that’s peculiar since this Division specializes in matters connected to those particulars.”
“As you’re fond of saying, Kul, let’s not pollute the subject,” she countered. “I didn’t know our males bred with helovx women until assignment to this division.”
“What else don’t you know?” Sofita asked.
“Why are we still on this mission?” she obliged. “The hybrid’s dead, and we got squat on his work. What’s so important about this guy?”
Sofita decided to come clean.
“Carl Crystal is Zhang’s father.”
Dox’s eyes widened.
“The cult leader from the California’s?”
“No, the male farc from Ramaxia,” she noticed Dox flinch. “Caro surgically altered himself to appear as a human named Crystal.”
“They’ve had him in jail for years,” she wondered. “How do they not know?”
“Nauist convicts get no medical care,” Sofita explained. “They get a room with no view and one meal a day.”
Dox shook her head. “Why hasn’t he told them what he is?”
“And be cut to pieces?” Sofita asked.
“So, the Committee entertained taking Zhang back because they didn’t want him going to the NAU and talking about male femmar,” Dox ruminated before frowning at Sofita. “I don’t like the word farc, Kul. It’s a slur.”
“Yes, it is,” Sofita fought back a smile. “I’ll endeavor never to repeat it,”
“Also,” she added, clearly unfinished. “I don’t like you consorting with helovx. Orta might be okay with you riding them, but I’m not.”
“I appreciate your candor.”
“I got no place telling you how to carry out a mission,” she continued, “but if you’re going to commit future helovx-violations, I don’t want to know about it,” she thrust out her jaw and shook her head in frustration. “You’re laughing at me!”
“I’m not amused in any way, Dox.”
A knock on Orny’s hull alleviated the tension.