Prelude to Venus

A Small Conversation Before Six Below Leaves Mercury.
by Electric Keet

The spaceport was still some distance away. All I could do was roll my eyes while Eekay carried on.

“Three of ’em, seems they’re best mates, all snuggles out there on the beach.” Zie motioned to accompany what sounded like teenage bragging. “I’m mindin’ m’own, spot, but one of ’em recognises me an’ waves on over. Yours Truly doesn’t wanna interrupt an’ words bein’ around for pics all day, but th’ kitten says—”

“Go chase a shark?” Lady suggested. I snickered.

“Exactly! Naw, was somethin’ more like how she had better mem’ries in mind.” The snow-leopard grinned wide. “Fraz th’ Teleia Erota, four can be brill.”

I shook my head. “Right there on the beach?”

Zie sniffed, “S’wrong, Falda-girl? You’ve done it before.”

“That was for a sensie… and the one that finally got me off-world, in fact.” I shrugged. “Sand gets everywhere. I have no idea how you could enjoy it!”

Zie grinned predatorially. “Show you how sometime, luv.”

I sneered at the cat, but Lady interrupted any retort. “How about you an’ Yaz?”

“Actually, we ended up at the same beach later in the day.” The wolverine crossed his legs and smiled. “I know I had a pretty good time.”

Lady tilted her head a little. “I thought you weren’t going unless you had a swimsuit?”

“I decided the flower was enough.” Yaz grinned slightly and motioned to his left ear. “Also, the show we were planning on seeing got cancelled, so I figured I had to get my live entertainment somehow. So, Lady, what did you and Bell get up to on the dark side?”

“We, uh… well, we visited someone Bell knows….” She seemed a little uncertain, though wondered if maybe that was simply my reading too much into it.

Bell merely shrugged. “You know how my parents up and moved to Charon? I met someone via net who was in the same situation, so we got together in person to vent a bit about how that goes. Then her wife cooked up a meal and we chatted about Mercurian culture. It’s not exactly a romp on the beach, but you know, it was a decent time, eh?” He nodded toward Lady, who seemed to concur. “How ’bout you, Ira?”

The orange-tinted raccoon flicked his tail a bit. “I was at the beach with Eekay.” After a moment of pause, zie chuckled, “Ah, but most of my time was spent in the water with Eoe’ea.”

I smiled. “He’s with Element, right? The otter from Neptune?” I couldn’t help wagging a little. Eoe’ea might have been a little out there philosophically, but he was a great conversationalist and more than a little handsome… not unlike a certain wolverine. Really, it was a pity that he was—

Bell teased, “Colluding with the enemy!”

“Not the enemy,” Yaz scolded… then added with a grin, “but definitely our competition. Anyhow, it turns out that Ira here is quite the natural swimmer, which I wouldn’t have expected. If we do swap to the Allilouxia circuit after the Thirteen, zie just might be our candidate for the underwater sections.”

“That’s definitely something to work toward, I think. I had a great time, and he taught me a few… techniques….” Ira’s gaze went to the Mercurian horizon in the direction of the space port.

As I looked at it myself, I had a strange sense of having been there before, even though I was fairly certain I hadn’t. It was a false memory of excitement and nervousness, not unlike what I would feel before every race. Accomplishment. Camaraderie. Pride. Then, I felt as though it was destined to fall apart….

Eekay’s voice shattered the moment. “Oi, Ira! Don’t go into space without us, mate.”

The raccoon startled, then coughed and smiled. “Apologies. I was distracted by a thought. Where was I?”

“Aw, fraz. Look at that.” Lady motioned toward the front of the capsule. The shuttle loomed large. “It’s one of the older ones,” she griped.

“Nothing wrong with it,” Yaz insisted as the two-minute signal chimed. “And hey, we’ll have the best seats on it, so it should still be pleasant enough.”

“They don’t make them like this anymore for a reason. I got stranded in one like this between Uranus and Miranda. Boredom gets completely redefined when the engines short out and take most of the support systems with them, and then you have to wait for a tug in low light and stale air.”

“Then look at the bright side,” the wolverine offered, still in a peak mood from the previous day. “We’ll have the best seats on the drifting hulk.”

  1. Yaz Lenslight’s avatar

    I heard a line once which went like: “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Me? I’m never fully dressed without a a flower. The frightening part is that I’m really starting to like how it looks on me. I can’t tell if it’s because of the squid or because it actually does look good, but I’m trying to convince myself for the sake of my sanity that it doesn’t matter.


    1. Hailbop’s avatar

      Advice to those on the receiving end of neurotech:
      Backup frequently; Hashcheck often.


    2. Channing’s avatar

      Not that I’d actually be up for the “convincing” part, but I think the sand thing would still require a lot of convincing. Ew, sand. Good for walking on, bad for, well, you know.


      1. Eekay’s avatar

        All y’need is motivation and finesse, and Eekay’s got both, spot?