Part 1: Two-syl
“Shoes, shirt, no service,” the sign on the door read.
Good thing I got my holomask fixed.
Phoenix sighed as his frame shimmered for a moment. His head and face stayed the same, but in seconds, his body became that of a naked professional body builder.
This had better be good.
Inside, an elderly receptionist sat behind a clear-neoplasic desk. She was wearing a small headset and nothing else. “May I help you?” she asked, looking up and down his body and flashing a friendly smile. Phoenix estimated her age to be in the sixties, given her perky whitish-bluish hair and the general sag of everything else.
“Uh, yeah, I’m looking for a Miss (2)syl.”
“Hmmm, let me see,” she said, examining a list of names on her terminal. “Well, it says we’ve got we’ve got a two-syl here.”
“Yeah, that’s her. Only, her name’s pronounced (2)syl. The number two there is just an inflection. You don’t actually say two.”
The receptionist just gave him a blank stare for a second. “Uh…right…well, you just go in there, sonny,” she said pointing to a door marked Café, “and I’ll go get Miss two-syl.”
Phoenix seated himself at one of the café tables, surrounded by about a dozen naked people. “So, what will it be?” the rather plump waitress demanded, grabbing a pencil out of her wig.
“I’m actually not all that hungry, right now. I’m just waiting for someone anyway,” he said, all the while thanking Lady Luck that the waitress’s apron marginally hid her rather wide girth.
“Are you sure you don’t want anything? Today’s special is hot dogs.”
“No!” he practically shouted. The waitress shrugged and walked away, revealing her massive backside.
How could anyone eat anything in a place like this, anyway, let alone having food that looks like a—
“Johnson!” (2)syl said, as she burst in the door, completely naked and making no effort to cover herself. “You came.” She smiled.
He coughed. “I’m still going by Phoenix, now, remember?” he asked, offering her a seat at the table.
Well, I’ll be glitched! Blue really is her natural hair color.
“Oh, yeah. Sorry, Phoenix,” she said, sitting down. “Anyway, it’s so great to finally be with my people!” she exclaimed, excitedly, while gesturing towards everyone else in the café.
“The Blue-Hair Nudist Colony is your people?” he asked incredulously.
She nodded her head. “It’s so great here! Everyone is so open!”
“(2)syl!” Phoenix said, impatiently, “I’m not here to hear about your people.”
“I’m sorry, Phoenix. It’s just that…well…I didn’t think you’d actually come.”
“Glitch, yeah, I came! How could I not, after I got this message from you?” Phoenix’s hand disappeared in the hologram for a moment as he got something out of his coat. He produced a small, shiny sphere with a single recessed button in it. He pressed the button. The device played a recording of (2)syl’s voice which said, “Phoenix, come.”
“So, what did you need me for?”
“Phoenix, I…I need to tell you something.” Her countenance suddenly became very sober. “I…I’m pregnant.”
“Yes,” she said, softly.
“Yes, glitch it!”
“What!?” Phoenix gasped, the revelation hitting him like a ton of j’aa. “How can that be?”
“I know. It came as a surprise to me, as well.”
“I don’t understand. I mean, we used protection and everything!”
(2)syl hung her head, not daring to look in his eyes.
“Oh, I see. Maybe we were careful, but maybe you and one of your nudie blue-haired buddies weren’t!”
“No, Phoenix, it wasn’t anyone here,” she said, a tear tracing down her cheek.
Phoenix sat back in his chair, his mind quickly putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
“It was him, wasn’t it?” he said, at last.
(2)syl nodded, slowly.
Phoenix stood up. “I’ll kill him.”
But it was too late, he was already out the door of the café.
“I’m gonna send that glitching brainfried coretrash bangboy j’aa-eating tinwitted g’ekk straight to Eiech!”
“Hope you enjoyed your stay!” the receptionist yelled as he rushed out the main door.
Part 2: Liverd
“Rad…Sh…k” was all that was left of the ancient red plastic. Heaps of mechanical and electronic parts surrounded the small building that had once been part of a larger shopping center.
Why is he hanging out in a dump like this?
Phoenix slowly made his way to the door. Drawing a pistol with one hand, he flung the door with the other. Inside, it was dark. Shelves of ancient equipment took up half of the space. Off to one side a counter stood with additional items behind glass that had somehow managed to survive all this time without breaking.
“Come on out, Aran! I know you’re in here,” he shouted waving both of his pistols around.
A muffled feminine giggle burst out. Then silence. Then footsteps. Finally, the door at the back of the room opened, and the Technomancer stepped out, making an adjustment to his bathrobe.
“Can I help you?”
“You will help me,” Phoenix said waving his guns at Aran.
“Ah. I see. So, what’s this all about?”
“I think you know what this is all about. I just have one question.”
“Hurry up and come back to bed, dear,” came the woman’s voice from behind the door.
“Patience, Kiiz. This is important.”
“And I’m not!?”
“Sheesh,” Aran said under his breath. “Anyway if you’ve got questions, we’ve got ans--.”
“Why? That’s all I want to know before I kill you…why did you do it?”
Aran shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno. I guess chocolate-covered marshmallow burgers seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“Not that!” Phoenix shouted, growing frustrated. “I’m talking about syl, here! You got her pregnant…again!”
“I did?” Aran asked with a looked confused look on his face.
“Yes, you did, Aran.”
“Ah. I think see what is happening here. That must have been a different Aran. Chian-Aran, perhaps? I am Liverd-Aran,” he said as he extended a metal pinky finger and touched it to his pursed lips. “Sorry to disappoint you, Mister Phoenix, but I didn’t get (2)syl pregnant. Besides, it doesn’t matter anyway because this is all a big trap.”
“You heard me correctly, Mister Phoenix…or should I say…Mister…Powers?”
How could he know my real name!?
“I can see by the look on your face that you are surprised that I know who you really are.”
“No,no I’m not,” Phoenix stammered, the British accent suddenly slipping through.
“Oh, I believe you,” Aran said, mockingly, stroking the scar that ran from his right eye all the way down his cheek.
That scar. I’ve seen it somewhere before.
Then it hit him like a Zannathan hitting a hypercurrent.
“You were expecting someone else?”
“I’ll kill you!” Phoenix shouted.
But, before he could pull the trigger, he, himself, was shot in the back.
“I think not, Mister Powers.”
Face down on the floor, lying in a pool of his own blood, Phoenix struggled to see who his attacker was. A shapely woman stood in the doorway wearing a blue pom-pom negligée. Smoke was slowly rising from the gun barrels in her chest.
“(2)syl! A fem-bot?”
She nodded slowly and smiled.
“Yes, Mister Powers, I think not,” Aran said, and burst out in maniacal laughter.
And as Phoenix’s consciousness slowly slipped away from him, all he could do was wonder how he had missed (2)syl’s machine-gun jubblies.
this page and its contents copyright (c) by mike uchida, except for certain characters who most definitely aren't, and if they are, ben and ethan need a piece of the action