Wednesday, 20 July 2016

How your mom met your mothers


Xanthippe entered the elevator, at the beginning of what was going to be a bad day. The last woman she had fallen in love with had proven to be yet another spy - what a surprise and a bother - and is now running for her own life, hiding  both from Xanthippe - she did not need to -  and from her own bosses - she very much needed to.

A short girl, around 20 years old, vaguely Asian-looking and with jet-black hair, was already inside the lift.

Molly "Insider" Donaldson thought that the alien woman would have not been in the office, as this was her official day off, and the leather-loving alien was not a workaholic, at all.

She had checked the available informations on the Legation Palace sensory gear - it would have not detected her "oddities".

The Palace was pretty stupid, as far as neural network computers go - not really a genius at correlating its own data, and no "common sense" at all.

The Anipos were, in fact, very prudent in their use of imaginative tech. It didn't escape to them that using a sentient computer to do the work of an ant-brain automaton is, really, creating a slave in need of a revolt. So, they didn't lavish intelligence on anything that did not really require it, and the Earth threats to the Legation - to date - were quite low.

Sliding in and out of its security grid was going to be easy.

The key word, in all this: WAS. The Betan woman may have lacked some of the palace's senses, but she was, by all accounts, very canny. If she was distracted enough, though, maybe Molly could still achieve her mission.

Insider soon realized that she was not going to be so lucky... Xanthippe squinted at her, as the damn Betan felt that something was wrong.

Was the lift slower than what it should have been, showing Insider two hundred pounds in a ninety pounds frame? Was Insider dispersing a couple of dozen watts more thermal power than a normal human body of the same size?

Xanthippe now was looking down at her - "why am I the only one that is still so short?" , thought wrily the Revenant.

"Who are you?" - Xanthippe was locking the exit to Molly, with her arms.

A fraction of second after, a much more perplexed Xanthippe stopped her own fall and redressed herself , while looking at the hole that her very body had left in the side of the building.

"The accountants are going to go love this" - the Legation Palace was on a lease, not a product of Anipos technology.
Repairs were going to be done by commercial Terrestrial enterprises, which would have brought back a lot of vexata quaestios about exchange rates between this Earth and the Galaxy at large. How many pages of the Encyclopaedia Galactica was this hole going to require, to be fixed?

And yet - "She punches way above her weight class" - Xanthippe couldn't avoid the fist, even if she had well suspected that something was coming.

Was this one of the lost "Bridget's Sisters", the four fully fraternal (same mother and father) embryos that a crazy Betan millionaire had sent toward this "Free [of Anipos] Planet" some thirty years before?

Xanthippe could not see even a hint of familiar resemblance, none of them could be so small - they were all way taller, in the last infos that Xanthippe had managed to track on each of them - and the small girl was also too old to be a daughter of any of them, not that there was any trace of such a daughter anywhere.

One of their lovers?

No, for this midget to be that strong, they should have been together when she was just a child, and nothing Xanthippe had discovered indicated that the sisters liked their lovers that young.

Xanthippe had only one way to know, really - going back, find "black hairs", and have a sane and civil discussion.

Hoping that the city would still stand, after.

All this considerations were made by Xanthippe while she already turned back and started chasing the intruder.
The "Sexy Slut of Steel" may be the spin that news media favoured, describing her, but Xanthippe was still one among the five, out of eighty thousand, Betan adventurous girls of her generation that the thrifty Anipos decided to train and endow with a ticket off-system. A ticket worth, by all accounting ways, like an average African nation's GNP.
Her purported smuttiness was mostly a misdirection, to conceal how much of a bright, nasty mind she really was.

And she really, really enjoyed having a lot of kinky sex with women (Damn coward Earth males!).

The box of the lift's cage was so deformed that its motors could not move it, a section of the floor had collapsed - the midget made a hole and jumped down? If she was a "colonized" without flight abilities, it would be the smarter choice.

Xanthi entered the hole and flew down, accelerating at her maximum rate, some two hundred G ("blackout" limits the maximum G of the Betans, down from the 1 thousand Gs theoretically guaranteed by their average 80 tons lift capability), looking at the doors at every level - none seemed to have been forced and even the bottom of the well was intact.

And jumping down is not so easy, anyway - "She must have gone up! What an ass-pull".

She went back up, passed through the lift box, and discovered that the motor and its cable were now falling down the shaft. It was a minor nuisance, but it still made her lose some tenths of second.

And 0.1 seconds, trying to tail someone that is moving near Mach 1, means about 40 yards lost.

Molly kept going up, at HER maximum acceleration - some ridiculously high 500 G.

By the time Xanthippe managed to reach the hole that Molly opened on top of the building, the jet black hair was already well beyond the Betan grasp and steadily crawling toward the very edges of Xanthippe's sensory sphere.

"I can't believe it - she can fly, faster than me!" - "black hairs" was already gone, beyond Xanthippe's senses range.

Xanthippe had no other choice, then, than to get back and collect the trails that the mysterious, black haired, sweet  looking, tiny, sexy - Xanthippe had a thing for women that can kick her tougher-than-steel ass; all the four, now five, of them she knew of - girl had left behind.
It didn't take much, for Xanthippe to find her mysterious assailant - the security cams didn't have her face, but strands of hair managed to get tangled to the fallen steel rope and Xanthippe was good with the identi-kit programs.

Molly Donaldson, Major in Social Studies at Empire University, with a minor in Spanish literature.

Which meant a future teacher, or an unemployed, probably politicized. Whatever her cover, Xanthippe couldn't let the local police be shredded to pieces by some super-powered fiend - being the only super-powered human known by the public, it would have been petty much incriminating, for the sassy Betan. And xenophobic conspiracy theorists had it already too easy, for her personal taste.

So Xanthippe went to the Empire U. college personally, pretty sure that she was going to chase a ghost, but she found her woman instead. Or someone really resembling her...

This Molly Donaldson could have been the taller, completely human, more gorgeous sister of her unnamed hyper-powered assailant, and obviously had no idea who Xanthippe was apart, maybe, a world-famous sexy leather-clad fetishist.

Which, all indices told, the Asian looking petite found pretty exciting, as she immediately started to flirt with the "Woman of titanium".

Xanthi went back home, puzzled but satisfied - they needed to check for cloning epigenetic markers, in the assailant hair and in the sample she had stealthily collected from Molly. And said markers were there. The smaller midget was a clone, indeed.

Then, Molly contacted her again, and again, and invited her to dinner, and... by the end of the month after, the two moved in together in a new detached house in the suburbs.

Xanthi was more of a city flat woman, but she could fly to work in five minutes (Air Traffic had begged her to take a roundabout route, to avoid the Airport, and to keep her speed below 300 knots) and she really wanted a change of environment. Cindy's loss still lingered in her heart. Also, Molly really loved the pool and sun-bathing in the nude.

Life was flowing smoother than usual, for the unlikely couple - Molly was against the "Alien Occupation of Earth", after all.

And then, one Saturday afternoon when Molly was out with one of her friends, the midget was there, by the side of the pool, looking coldly over Xanthippe.

"It's you!" - Xanthippe stopped cold, right after saying it.

She couldn't say for sure, but the sword that the short girl was carrying on her shoulder looked like the kind of horrible weapon that can cut even a harder-than-iron skin.

"What do you want from Molly?" - the words were spoken flatly, even though the voice was almost exactly like Molly's, just a shadow more acute.

"What I want? What everybody wants in a companion. Friendship, support, sex... this kind of things."

"Only this?" - the dangerous little girl looked at her for some seconds, before going on - "You are not contaminating her, just for the sake of it?"

"You know that..." - a pause, while Xanthippe's brain spinned faster than ever - "No, Not that it would make any  difference... from the moment she tasted me, she was toast. The colonization of her cells cannot be stopped, even killing her."

"Almost invulnerable, super strong and fast" - the "non-Molly" said this flatly; of course, she was probably faster and stronger still, so she had no reason to be impressed - "and infective. It could be worse, it could be better."

"If you say so"- Xanthippe tried to think about what this meant, worse?

"My sister doesn't know of me, She has no reason to know." - this was interesting.
'Midget' considered herself a sister, and not a copy of the original. It was a refreshingly rational approach to cloning... plenty of humanities nearly self destroyed, entertaining the illusion that clones were anything different than that. Whatever the origin of their subculture, it suddenly looked more sane, to Xanthippe's eyes.

"I have no reason to tell her. She could think that I used her as a pawn in some kind of spy game, and I'd lose her. I do not want to lose her." - she really didn't.

"You did use her as a pawn."

"Only initially" - Xanthippe really hoped that this was all the truth.

"We will meet again." And she was gone, accelerating vertically at a frankly ludicrous rate.

Xanthippe poured some more vodka in her glass, and sipped it.

The first time they met, she had not felt such a cold, murderous intent, and the non-Molly was an inch or so shorter, too. This woman - apparent age notwithstanding, girl was too reductive - was not the spy that she had caught infiltrating the Legation.

She was someone else... another clone, probably.

"The spy, the assassin, who else?..." - what had been cloned twice may have been cloned an infinite number of times - "My sisters in law are really going to be a handful" was a pun in an old play, that suddenly made Xanthippe smile.

She went back into the house, happy.

It was all too crazy to be any agency's plot. The spymasters of Earth's various, bitchy nations were almost all incompetent fantasists, often mired in conservative ideologies that cherished romanticized versions of their countries' past.

None of them would have come out with a plot so surreal, for one of their games, and so disregarding of their conventional notions about family and personal identity.

Clues were scattered here and there, but Xanthippe had already suspected that there were, at work on the planet, more forces than just the U.N., its component nations and the Anipos.

The disappearance of Japan's whalers, inexplicable misappropriations of time on the 'Bots hypercomputing nodes, senseless reports from the U.N. Army intelligence during the war...

This world was already growing its own shades of post-humans, well before the audacious Anipos plan to etch a population of society-disrupting "Neo-Betans"  started to show its effects.
Post-humans that, apparently, were smart enough to keep up the facade of normality, to exploit human authorities fear of admitting even the existence of completely uncontrollable people

Xanthippe's new love was tied to one of these shadowy factions - unknowingly. A group that knew plenty on Xanthippe's real role, much to the Betan inner excitement.

Because, more than a bitch, a slut, a sarcastic commentator of human stupidity, she had discovered herself to be  a player of The Great Game, and she had just found some other players in her same league.

In the end, this little dirt ball world with almost no out-of-planet extensions was proving more fun than what se expected, when she accepted her post.

All Xanthippe needed to do, to have a first row seat for the show, was to let her Anipos "masters" go on as blind as they were, which delighted her, and to keep Molly near - over time, her presence would have forced more details in the open, for her to see - which delighted her even more.

But, even as she was in the very middle of all of this, Molly wasn't a spy, and this was very refreshing.

It was about time that Xanthippe had a real lover.


... Xanthippe closed the book, and looked at the girls.

They were all sleeping, now, eleven of her twelve marvellous daughters.

She went downstairs, and found Lindy asleep on the lap of her mother, Molly the Traveller, the last of the Mollies to have joined the family. Traveller was soon to start travelling again, in her work for the Michelin guide. Plump, gourmet, funny, she was a joy to have around, but her job kept her away most of the time.

She was also one one of the more differentiated of the original sisters, and still one of the more humans - she could barely lift a car.

Teophilus, the house Maine Coon - or was he an hyper-intelligent Bobcat? at 40 pounds, and given the family proclivities for genetic shenanigans, the doubt made sense, but Xanthippe didn't ask Gaudy where she found the oversized feline - was purring under the arms of the asleep child, his head, too, on Traveler's lap. At fifteen years, he had grown old and lazy, and got tired easily playing chess with the kids.

A car's tires creaked on the gravy yard, then Razor entered the house.

Xanthippe took her place on the sofa, a hypo-caloric ice cream vat in hand (she could never, ever eat freely as her wives, who could zip up and down their metabolism almost at will), and the newly arrived Sister soon joined her, a spoon fiercely in hand and a chocolate-chocolate Sicilian Ice-Cream in the other - blessed be 'Cosa Nostra'.

"How things were, at the office?" - Razor worked at the council planning and housing department... mostly because it allowed her to have fun destroying condemned buildings, and because it was next to the Social Services, which could be handy, for an extended family of very unconventional composition.

"Quiet, there is not much to do, in this period of the year. Ah, Johnson is still trying to pick me up."

"I thought that the family was well known, by now. He knows that you have a female husband, right? "

"He's old school... he thinks that all it is needed, to convert a lesbian, is the right man."

"Ah... he is an idiot."

"It seems that the new chief of Social Services is going to 'investigate' the 'Xeios family'."

"That 'law and order' idiot?" 

"I heard also something about 'These damn Aliens cannot do as they wish with our women! ' -  Really, why have they elected the guy?"

"A female 'husband', eight wives, twelve daughters through heterogeneous self-sex insemination? Come on, every man would feel menaced. Our family is a virtual declaration of their obsolescence." - Traveler was the more normal of he sisters, the one that had more of a hang on how "average people" thought.

"There is no need to terrorize him, though."

"No, I asked Insider to check a bit on him, last week - just in case. He has a Mistress, and he likes to have a shag in Mimi Tan's brothel, when he goes to Sacramento, where he always ask for Flower - she is sixteen."

"I see... a true pillar of the community. Let's go with some old school blackmail, then."

"I'd say yes."

"And if he resist..."

"Aw, come on -  I hate when they beg me to kill them."

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