Chapter 1: Sugar City Deluxe
“Time, by all means, is a precious thing. Not only is it the vestibule of all change that has happened, but also what is happening, and what has yet to happen. It is a commodity that is wasted, saved, used and abused. It is the great healer and the bringer of all demise. It is our own and yet, it belongs to no one.
“Time, or what we think of as time, is an illusion. It is our own perception that makes the illusion, for we only perceive time in terms of change, but time is also non-change; we can also see time to be the most troublesome when there is so much of it to kill, or so little of it that we dare not waste a moment.
“It can also be said of time that it is non-linear; instantaneous; that it folds in on itself … and that it barks madly at beavershnits. I ate garnishes and chocolate swerties for lunch…”
Nodding off to the holo-lecture and thereby changing her own perception of it, Princess Veerle drifted in and out of sleep. Though sleep felt good, as the night before she had been off with her sister partying until the dawn at her favorite Magellan discoteque - Sugar City Deluxe, she knew it wasn’t the time or the place to be dozing off. For a grade, she was expected to listen and take notes - even though she was an powerful diplomat, she was weil aware that she was expected to pass certain classes to make the coveted military rank of Captain.
Remembering the lecture, she jolted her head back up, blinking her violet eyes, erratically. They focused, quickly with her adrenaline rush. She gasped for a bit of air and held onto the desk, while seeing her instructor’s hologram staring her sternly in the face.
“Your Highness, sleeping through my lecture is not an option. If you cannot -”
“I’m awake!! I’m awake, Dr. Baker.” she responded to him, simultaneously.
“ - stay awake for the lecture, you will not get the grade - “
“I’m sorry, Doctor. I’ll stay awake - no problem!”
“ - The next interruption I will turn your feed off and you will get a zero - is that understood, Your Highness?”
“Quite,” Veerle replied, annoyed.
“Okay, where were we…?” Dr. Baker continued.
Wearily, Veerle peered over to her sister Myst - who was preparing a stimulant injection to help Veerle focus. Myst was like that - very helpful and thoughtful about the well being of her older sister. Ever since Myst had come into Veerle’s life, she had been a constant companion - one of the only people she trusted, including herself. Myst was loving, sweet, intelligent and warm; and very human, considering she was artificially created by her father. Inside of her was a network of tiny biomecha organs and a supercomputer brain capable of complex equation solving in fractions of seconds. Outside she appeared as a very pretty brunette teen; a definite Solassen family look - her nanoflesh was grown from the remnants of Veerle’s stillborn sister.
Veerle slightly winced as Myst injected the stimulant into her bloodstream. She took a deep breath and continued listening to her professor, though she couldn’t help daydreaming an entertaining thought of the serious Dr. Baker disco dancing while he muttered on about the time vortex, dark matter, and string parallels.
"Mystie, you are taking notes, right?" Veerle asked in a whisper.
"Of course I am," Myst replied with a smug smile.
The two young princesses had studied all this before in their youth. Their father, the Emperor Aren Solassen had prepared them for understanding space-time, the dimensional variants and deviation limits in existence. His majesty was a constant dabbler in the fields of astrophysics, chronomechanics and bioengineering when he was not burdened with the job of ruling the entire planet of Magellan. His castle, the abode of the Solassen dynasty, was newly populated and maintained by countless AI servants of his own design earning him the popular nickname of the Mad Inventor, though it were never said to him in public.
He also created a secret space-time vessel - one of the first of its kind - called The Xaph which Veerle commandeered from him some years ago after he had taught her how to pilot it (a mistake he sorely regretted.) Myst knew how to fly it, as well knowing how to do so in her data files.
The Xaph was a means of freedom for Veerle and Myst; the castle had grown too boring among the automated servants doing all things that could be done. It was a curiosity and a method of escape, used and misused by the two sisters.
As the lecture ended, Dr. Baker addressed the catty princess once again. ”Now, Your Highness, you have three important lectures and several tests that you must pass before the title of Captain goes to you. I know that is the only reason you opted my course, but the requirements are that you pass and attend my lectures without snoring, is that understood?”
"Yes, Doctor," she muttered.
"Had you joined your father’s military for the title, you’d have a much more difficult time making it to Captain. I’m being easy on you, so please be awake for my lectures! That is all for now. I’ll be at my office if you wish to reach me for any reason," he concluded.
"Thanks, Dr. Baker," she said and turned off the lecture feed. "I really hate his mumbling," she said to Myst.
"You’re lucky to have him, Veer," Myst replied. "He’s a well sought after teacher and would be a great colleague if we were ever in a bind."
"Duly noted, Mystie," Veerle responded with a joyful smile, imitating her professor and then letting out a long yawn while saying again, "Duly noted!"
Myst smiled back at her long golden-haired sister whom she admired greatly. Not only was she beautiful, feminine and sensual, but she was courageous in her ways of dealing with authority. Myst found it difficult to reject the requests of others, even if she was supposed to be an autonomous thinker and didn’t need to follow them. Veerle could be bold, defiant, and ready to fight to get her way. It was something that Veerle always had from the beginning of Myst’s memory of consciousness. It fascinated her.
Likewise, Veerle was equally fascinated at Myst’s thinking outside of the box. Myst being AI and having the discomfort and pleasure of being constantly questioned, analyzed, and outwitted, Veerle felt completed by her best friend and sister. She had many times - like today - saved her in the thick of danger, and she would many times again. The two were virtually inseparable.
"Are we going for some more ‘sugar?’" Myst asked, referring to the Disco.
"Later on tonight, maybe. It’s a tad bit early," Veerle replied.
"No prospects will be there as of now,” Veerle said, with a wily smile and sudden piratey brogue. ”But definitely later, me lass.”
Myst giggled as Veerle tickled her, both literally as well as figuratively. Her face brightened. ”I’m hoping for a man! A very masculine man! A cool one.”
To Veerle, Myst’s hope seemed somewhat far-fetched: A great majority of Magellanic inhabitants were Omnihumans, or simply called Omnis. Omnis appeared as normal humans known to Omnis as “Binaries,” but evolutionary change made them live nearly twice as long as their predecessors, and more notably, gave them the gift of both genitalia.
"Why would a cool masculine bloke ever be in a Omni discotheque?" Veerle asked. "Puttering around, avoiding dicky chicks?"
"I don’t know. There isn’t a huge shortage of Binaries here. Maybe there is someone out there, " Myst replied, wistfully.
"Should I leave you to venture by your pretty little self, then, dearest?" Veerle teased.
The thought was intriguing to Myst: To go out and pursue without her sister sounded thrilling to her. Too many dangers, though, she thought. AI still were often treated as sex toys by those less sensitive. That level of trust was hard to suspend.
Still the idea intrigued her. Myst cocked her head and asked, “What if I did?”
"I would have to keep a close distance, of course," Veerle said, dryly - expecting Myst not to even attempt it on her own. She smiled widely. "Do you feel you’re ready for a boogie on your own?"
"I could boogie on my own, yeah," Myst said proudly, while smirking at calling a night of sex.a "boogie."
"You’re not gonna bow out at the last minute, Mystie? Are you sure?" Veerle asked, teasingly.
"Well, I can think autonomously," Myst reasoned. "I’m sure I can ride the boogie alone. Besides, I can always contact you through my neuro telemetry if something goes wrong."
"Oh, I love it when you talk tech with me!" Veerle said, jubilantly jumping up to dance with Myst, who giggled and smiled. "You hot boogie bot! I love you, sis! I’m sure you’re gonna use your feminine wiles to properly boogie down with a gent."
Myst seemed surprised. ”You’re not upset or worried about it?” she asked as her sweet eyes widened, imploring.
Veerle stared back at Myst, assured. “My dearest, dearest sister, I would want nothing more than to have you tell me of your first prospect and how daring and adventurous he was with your lady magnificence. The boogie night will belong to my Mystie-sis,” Veerle replied with all bombast, dancing again with her lovelorn companion.
"So you’re not worried?" Myst said, dancing along.
"Not in the slightest," Veerle chirped back.
It was a lie, of course. Myst could see it, detecting it by her sensors: the slight rise in Veerle’s blood pressure, her eyes accessing her cerebral cortex, her own assured tone breaking - minutely, and the disguised gulp that followed. It made her feel good, though. She was very convinced that Veerle would make it safe for her, if trouble would arise.
© 2013 Timothy Casey. All Rights Reserved.