“‘The flowers that bloom in the Spring, Tra, La!’ Have everything to do with the case.”
Prison cells on Amalgam were, for assorted humanoid species, a Ten
Distance Unit Cube that accommodated the bare minimum necessary for
existence. And monitors for all activity.
Shayde had chosen a
rubber ball for diversionary occupational therapy and sat with her back
pressed against one wall. She was currently engaged in throwing it
against the floor so it would ricochet off the wall and return to her
And judging by the twitch in the cell guard’s door, she’d been at it since early shift-change.
drawn her long, pale hair into a braid that went from her forelock to
her nape, and then wound on to finally end in a knot of hair that rested
on her chest.
“Ey up,” she said by way of greeting. Ta-bomp, catch. “Ye here tae keep me sane, aye?”
personally believed that was a lost cause. “I’m here to escort you to
your work assignment. Even pre-assessment, you can be valuable.”
Ta-bomp, catch. She put the ball down. “Physical, unskilled labour is it then? Doubt ye got many rocks fer me tae crack…”
“No, it’s recycling.“
Lovely.” She picked herself up and dusted imaginary dust off her
unflattering grey jumpsuit. Then offered her wrists to the shield wall.
“Ye like tae cuff me in t’ front or the back?”
already have your DR locator bracelets. Escape attempts are futile.” He
entered the code that opened the wall a door’s width. “Follow me,
“Jus’ like that?”
“I could be violent,” she said, falling into step beside him.
know you aren’t. You’ve been elevated from the status of study animal
to that of a small child. In order to be trusted with yourself, you must
exhibit civil behaviours.”
“Aye, and then I pay me debt back, I understand it… but I dinnae ken what ye do wi’ the violent ones.”
Rael escorted her into a Veet. Dialled up their destination and watched
her breathing exercises. “Society is geared towards ensuring that
violent outbursts rarely, if ever, become necessary.”
“…at fookain last…” Shayde murmured.
decided to ignore that. The veet piped a tinny version of Jennifer
Juniper through the speakers. Just atonally enough to be irritating, but
no more than that. He would have to have another little conversation
with Eliza about being her experimental subject.
Shayde was jiggling. “So. Ye got a girlfriend?”
He glared at her. “No.”
She picked up things fast, it seemed. “No.”
A pause. Her gaze was taking in his entire form as a smile began to form. “Want one?”
What was it with everyone who crossed his path coming on to him? “I
don’t understand why all you biologicals are obsessed with coupling.”
“Basic instinct, isn’t it? The flowers tha’ bloom in the spring, trala… all that nonse.”
He folded his arms in a defensive barrier between himself and this
twist in their conversation. “My biological particulars are a company
Shayde’s bio-luminescent eyes were built for boggling.
They opened white and flared like a distant star in a startled white
before fading back to a sort of purplish gold. “Ye don’t want closeness?
No’ even a hug?”
“Hugs lead to other things. I prefer not to begin.”
“An’ yer no’ lonely?”
was a precipitous moment that could either lead to hostility or
closeness. And Rael was uncertain of which he desired. Fortunately, he
was saved by the saccharine song of the arrival alert. The doors opened
into the massive Station Recycling Centre and Shayde breathed in like
she’d been underwater.
“Time for work,” said Rael, glad of the escape.
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