Journey of Rick Heiden Ch. 37-38

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The Journey of Rick Heiden

All Rights Reserved © 2019, Rick Haydn Horst

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

I couldn’t leave right away. Something had delayed Cadmar, so I decided to keep my strength up by eating in the dining hall. Aiden met me there with some unfortunate news.

He leaned across the mushroom table and spoke in a hushed tone. “Laurel informs me we can’t build the secondary communication system, not in a brief time, and not without many people knowing about it. She says the drone portion is easy, but the nano team would have to create the instructions for the nanos to follow, and it’s more involved than it sounds. Unlike genetic alterations, the nanos would have to build structures, and that sometimes takes jears to design.”

“Oh, damn,” I said. “Does that mean it took jears to write the viral code too?”

“I couldn’t say, but wouldn’t they have written that by themselves? If so, it might take even longer.”

“Like 36 jears?” I asked. “That’s how long book 8 has been missing.”

“I don’t know.”

We sat there in silence while I took a few bites of my apple, and I looked at him with a knowing smile, “Yesterday, you entered the penthouse tired and in need of a shower. I also detected a considerable delay in the releasing of the drone.”

He looked a little sheepish. “Sorry about that.”

“Don’t worry about the delay, it might prove beneficial, depending on the distance of the portal. So, which one of you initiated it?”

He tried to suppress his growing tight-lipped smile. “Laurel wanted…” He shrugged. “…you know.”

“Boundless bliss on the Aiden express?” I said with a little laugh. “Well…after the way Maggie talked you up in Laurel’s presence, one could hardly blame her for wanting a joyride. Don’t think I’m judging you; Maggie made things quite clear. Just don’t let it upset you if she does the same thing one day. And I’ve meant to say, but Cadmar expressed a desire to know what enhancement gave you that kind of energy. He wants it.”

“I’ve already told him how to make it work,” said Aiden. “I told David too when he asked, I hope you don’t mind. He said he would talk to you first, though.”

“Thank goodness he’s going to talk to me first,” I said. “Speaking of enhancements, how tall are you now?”

“Last time I checked, I’m six foot six and a quarter, so about four inches taller.”

“Does the air up there feel as rarefied as you thought?”

“So far.” He smiled and nodded.

“May I know the reason?” I asked.

“Doctors diagnosed me with a severe case of gigantasophobia at four years old. I was playing on the floor at home when my towering uncle tripped and fell on top of me. It snapped my arm. The incident traumatized me, so I couldn’t go anywhere near tall people again. It calmed down as I got older and taller (relative height would do that), but Amaré’s height and size are exceptional. When he saved my life, it stopped. I feel like I’m finalizing my recovery by becoming the thing I feared. I already know the benefits of having height. I could never call myself short, but I look forward to the full seven feet.”

“I knew you had a reasonable explanation somewhere.”

Cadmar, with his handsome features, amazing mechanical eyes, well-groomed strawberry blond hair, and fiery red beard, stepped through the door of the dining hall to collect me. He arrived with a smile, two black jeather backpacks, and a tan canvas bag over his shoulder. He wore a pair of cocoa brown denim pants and an olive-green button-up, over which he wore a handsome-looking, brown jeather pistol harness complete with two pistols. I remembered the gun Magnar gave me, but it never occurred to me to bring anything else.

“Will Cadmar go with you?” Aiden asked the instant he saw him.

“Yeah, what of it?”

“Well, bloody hell am I jealous,” said Aiden. “Did you bring a tent?”

“A tent? We don’t need a tent. We won’t even get out of the ship.”

“Oh, that’s not how Cadmar rolls, Rick,” he whispered.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Aiden. Hello, Cadmar,” I said as he sauntered up to our table, “what’s with the packs? Love the pistol harness; it strikes a vivid masculine image.”

“I’m glad you like it,” he said, “because you should look striking in this one.” He pulled out a double pistol shoulder harness from the canvas bag and handed it to me. I already wore the leg harness Magnar gave me.

“You don’t think this is overdoing it?” I asked, holding it by the straps as one might a brassiere.

“Never joined the Boy Scouts, did you?”

“Naw, they wouldn’t allow them-queer-boys where I grew up,” I said. “This isn’t necessary. We’re going to loop the planet a few times, find the location if possible, and report back.”

“If we find it, we should do what we must to take care of the situation. I see no reason to come back istanbul travesti empty-handed.” He put his hand on my back. “Come along, buddy, we need to get you changed and get out of here.”

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

“Nothing,” he said with a little shrug, “it looks comfortable for hanging about the city all day. When Magnar contacted me, however, he commented how badly you needed kitting out. I know you shop at Svend’s and the cobbler up the street, so I popped over and got what you need, with Svend’s help, of course.” He looked me up and down with a critical eye. “Boy, do you need help. I just saw your ship out there, and by comparison, you’re striking an image that you need to modify pronto.”

“It’s not that bad,” I said, then looked at Aiden. “Is it?”

Aiden nodded a little, “Go on, take him up on it.”

I gave them both an exasperated sigh. “Okay.”

Aiden left to help Maggie with Pearce when Cadmar guided me to the restrooms near the dining hall to change. They had Art Nouveau décor with round doors, decorative tile wall art, mosaic floor tile, and octagonal plumbing fixtures.

Cadmar handed me the canvas bag and leaned against the wall by the bench, watching me while I changed. He considered my “erreur de mode” (fashion error) as inexcusable as a neurosurgeon in an operating room dressed as a sanitation worker, and he wanted me to see the difference in the mirror, which covered one of the walls.

I wouldn’t have chosen Cadmar and Svend’s idea of what I should wear. They made the cuffed, straight-legged trousers of sturdy, charcoal black cloth, but they had no front pockets, and Svend had called on the traditional thirteen-button naval trousers as inspiration. They had a front flap that stretched from hip to hip, fastened by nine oil-rubbed bronze buttons rather than a fly. Cadmar brought a button-up shirt so dark green Svend may as well have colored it black. He also brought comfortable black, lace-up boots, and over all of this, I wore the accompanying double shoulder pistol harness made of jeather.

I stood in front of the full-length mirror. My hair had grown to two inches in length by then and looked a bit spiky. I had trimmed my beard that morning, and it shocked me that I looked that good in clothing picked by someone other than myself.

“Svend made these custom, didn’t he?” I asked. “They fit too well.”

“Yes,” said Cadmar, “when Svend found out I went there to kit you out, he put down everything to help me. I think he likes you.”

I shook my head and smiled. “He didn’t have to do that. He’s a kind man. Thank you, Cadmar.”

He brought out an identical pistol to match the black one Magnar had given me the previous evening and placed them both into the holsters. They hadn’t felt uncomfortable, but I saw no reason for them. Cadmar stood behind me, his hands at my waist. He leaned close to my left ear and whispered. “There, see how you look.” He stared into my eyes in the mirror. “Now, you’re the captain of that ship outside.”

“I love the clothes,” I whispered and turned toward him, “but why do I need two pistols? I consented to Magnar’s, why must I have another one?”

“For protection,” he said. “And two will balance you out.”

I drew one of the pistols from the holster. “What sort of pistols are these? We didn’t have this model on Earth.”

“It’s a newer model, more compact. It works the same, just in black,” he said, collecting our things. “And of course, we’ve locked out the kill setting on both till you have some time with them and demonstrate some proficiency.” He handed me one of the packs and the canvas bag with the clothes I had worn.

He seemed impressed when we climbed into the ship. He looked about while I stowed our gear. We squeezed into the cockpit and buckled ourselves into the restraints. I plugged the tag frequency into the computer to search for the signal, as the teacher showed me. Just before lift-off, I noticed he was sitting on his hands.

“Don’t you trust me?” I asked him.

“I’m not sure what to expect from a ship designed and built by Venn. It looks unbelievable, but is it safe?”

“Don’t worry, Venn’s a bit of a dark horse,” I said.

He shook his head. “I don’t know what that means.”

“Venn’s abilities make him an unexpected winner.”

On the way, I had difficulty locating the optimal line between altitude and speed. I feared we would miss it by flying too high or too fast, but it would take days if we mired ourselves in the thicker atmosphere. I kept well within the range of the device at 15 kilometers altitude. We flew higher than we had from the Philippines to Japan, and the highest Cadmar had ever flown. I increased our speed until we reached mach 10. According to the computer, it would take a little over five hours to circumnavigate the planet once.

The sun shone brightly in the clear weather at that altitude. The ship polarized and filtered the image on the screen, allowing us to view our local star without blinding ourselves.

I noticed the moderated decibel levels inside of the ship and how they caused istanbul travestileri Cadmar’s silence to stand out. He observed me for a while and then stared through the clouds toward the ground for about an hour.

“Are you alright?” I asked.

“I’m just thinking,” he said.

“About what?”

“My future; I have a decision to make.”

“Oh?”

“Tamika’s having a baby.”

“Well, that was quick,” I said. “What did you do, get conception-on-demand?”

He gave me a passive response. “No, my fertility is still controlled.”

“Oh no, I’m sorry, Cadmar.”

I hadn’t known what to say beyond that. I figured I shouldn’t pry into parentage, but I didn’t have to.

“It’s Magnar’s,” he said.

“Magnar, but he’s your brother.”

He looked at me. “I died, remember? They found solace with each other, and regardless of the outcome, I can’t fault them.”

“Neither of them had their fertility controlled?” I asked.

“Tamika wanted to have a baby,” said Cadmar. “I still wanted to wait. Magnar hasn’t had his controlled for decades.”

“Have you talked with her about it?”

“Yes, we both accept our commitment is irreparable.”

“What will you do?”

“I’m not sure what I’ll do once I leave,” he said.

“Don’t you still love Tamika?”

“Of course, but Magnar needs to take responsibility for his child.”

“Couldn’t he do that while you remain with Tamika?”

“Magnar wants it all,” he said, “he always has.”

“I believe that. What does Tamika want?”

“She’s made her choice.”

“I see,” I said. “You’re taking it well.”

“I’ve had help from Rocke.”

We made three passes using One City as the origin. I kept the first pass due east then a line east at 10,000 kilometers north and then another at 10,000 kilometers south to cover as much ground as possible. On our third pass, we had a weak signal. One City still had two hours before sundown, but from our position, we just crossed the terminator to the night side of the planet, and the instant we found the signal, I slowed the ship to a hovering stop. I reduced our altitude, backtracked from our position, and headed toward dusk below. The signal came in loud and clear as we descended. I questioned whether the drone remained in flight, or if it had reached its destination. If it had reached the men at the other portal, why didn’t they destroy it?

“Don’t get too close,” said Cadmar.

“At the moment, I’m getting close enough to tell if it’s still moving.”

Although still quite far off, the closer we came, the more the computer detected no relative motion. The drone had stopped.

If I had come alone, I would have flown home, coming back during the day. However, Cadmar didn’t want to return empty-handed. I landed the ship on the other side of a hill, five miles from the drone’s location on the edge of one of the smaller lakes. I came in low to not alert anyone of our presence. We couldn’t fly or walk into their camp at night, since we didn’t know what to expect, and the ship had no armaments.

At the time, we held a position 2500 kilometers, or almost 1500 miles, southeast of One City. Without the drone, we had little chance of finding the location.

Cadmar and I had flown for many hours, and despite having urinated in our empty water bottles, we relieved ourselves upon landing. Venn built no toiletries into the ship regardless of how far it could travel. I marked that as a significant problem requiring a more convenient solution.

Although One City had yet to see sundown, I had used up my four hours of sleep some time ago. I looked forward to some much-needed rest.

The two packs Cadmar brought, he had filled with identical items like food, water, thermal blankets, a flashlight that attached to a wrist, a folding shovel, an igniter to make fire, and other essential camping gear.

We had our wrist lights on looking about the area.

“We can’t get closer to them until sunrise.” Cadmar panned his light around. “I see brambles growing up the hill, so steer clear of those.”

“The ship’s weather scanners showed a front coming this way when we descended. It’s just rain,” I said, “but we won’t sleep under the stars tonight. I see now why Aiden asked if I brought a tent.”

“Fortunately for you, you’re with me,” he said. “Believe it or not, tents are an item hard to come by in One City. You must have one built. I brought one, so no worries there. You picked a good spot.” He panned his wrist light downward. “We have soft growth to put the tent on. These plants you see at our feet mean that the lake is freshwater, and if I’m not mistaken, there’s a stand of fruit trees over there.”

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” I asked. “You’re keen to camp whenever you get the chance.”

“Oh, sure.” He smiled. “The rowing team and I used to camp on Sitimery Island in our lake, and I’ve camped other locations with scout teams while searching for resources. I’ve never gone on this kind of reconnaissance mission, though.”

Cadmar brought a Jiyūvian version of a tent in his bag. The strange device had travesti istanbul self-inflated to form a triangular tube, eight feet long and four feet wide on each side. We crawled into it together with our booted feet hanging out just to see how we fit. We were shoulder to shoulder.

“It’s a little tight, but I think we can manage it.”

“I didn’t know it would rain,” he said, “and I have just the one tent. I think you should take the tent; I’ll sleep on the ship.”

“Nonsense,” I said, “with your height, you’d never get comfortable in the ship, and the seats don’t recline. We’ll make the tent work.”

“I must warn you,” he said. “I sleep naked.”

I laughed. “I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t, but I’ll consider myself warned. If it concerns you that I’ll see that big thing of yours, that ship sailed at the pool of the Torekkā Maru, and you’ve seen me.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed we have that in common.”

“May I ask you about yours?”

“Sure,” he said.

“Is that natural or enhanced?”

“Enhanced,” he said. “It’s how Tamika liked it.”

“Has anyone ever made comments?”

“You should have heard the comments at the lab where the British held me.”

“I’ve wanted to ask about that. What was your experience like?”

He turned onto his side and propped his head with his hand. “You know you’re the only one to ask me.”

“Really? Not even Rocke?”

He shook his head. “No one else. It’s like they’re either afraid of what I’ll say, or they don’t want to make me relive it by their asking. I want to tell you.”

“Okay.”

“Let’s go get some fruit from those trees, and I’ll tell you of my experience.”

We climbed from the tent, and he started…

“When I awoke, I wasn’t sure where I was. They had me naked, flat on my back, and strapped onto an examination table that would tilt vertical and had a little platform that I could stand on. I ask them the usual questions. Where am I? Why am I here? What do you want from me? That sort of thing. I don’t know how other people would have reacted to the same situation, but I wasn’t afraid. I don’t scare easily. They asked me my name, but I refused to tell them, so the lab tech told me they would just continue to call me what they had been calling me: Pony.”

“That’s terrible.”

“Actually, from their perspective it made sense.”

“Why is that?”

“Be patient, I’ll get to that. They had already taken every sample they could think from me, including a single semen sample. They hadn’t the chance to get more while I was unconscious. It hadn’t taken long for them to realize they would want more of those and of course, we know why. I couldn’t really stop them. I’ve been sexually enhanced pretty well, so getting an erection is never an issue.”

“It’s horrible they did that to you.”

“One might think that it’s humiliating or like they had me where they wanted me, and I was just a powerless victim. Well, that’s not actually the case. You see, they just thought they had me, but really, I had them. I heard they were tasked to get as many of those samples as they could, and they weren’t allowed to try more extreme methods because it might damage the sample, but these people had no idea who they were dealing with.”

When we reached the stand of fruit trees, we used our wrist lights to pan around the trees and they were all the same. The wild fruit hanging down from the limbs I hadn’t seen before.

“What do you know about these?” I asked.

“I’ve never had one,” he said, “but I’ve seen people eat these green before.”

“Perhaps they just couldn’t get them ripe at the time. Maybe, these will be sweeter.”

I plucked one from a lower limb and aimed my light on the beautiful bright red fruit in my hand. They reminded me of a Red Delicious apple with similar textured skin, but the shape reminded me of kiwi fruit, and all its seeds grew on the surface like a strawberry.

I said, “This thing looks positively poisonous.”

Cadmar laughed. “I don’t think we have any poisonous fruit on Jiyū.”

We had eaten all the food we brought, so we picked many of the wild, red, seed-covered things, and carried them back to camp. As we walked back with our bounty, Cadmar continued his story and picked up where he left off.

“When it came time for them to take a sample from me,” he said. “They tilted the table, so I was vertical, and I watched what they were doing. The lab had a guard, and three lab techs, two fellas, and a woman, who only seem to have one job during this process. They complained to me because they couldn’t use their preferred method of getting the samples. They had a machine intended for such a job sitting off to the side. It was useless for me because I was too big for it.

“While the woman took a warm cloth and washed my penis, she spoke to me. She said they had no intention of harming me. That they would be as gentle with me as they could. When she finished cleaning me, she applied some lubricant, giving me an erection. One of the men there pulled out this 30-centimeter-long metallic device with a couple of handles on it. A part of the device they had filled with warm water. It had a hole all the way through it and a sheathe inside it with a vial attached to the bottom. He asked me if I knew what it was, and I shook my head that I didn’t. He said it was a semen collection device intended for use on stallion ponies for animal husbandry.”

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