Wednesday, April 20, 2022

#SFF #AtoZChallenge Mates and Nefarious Plans

(Catching up)

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter

A speculative fiction short story from a dreamer

A continuous #sff story during April. May Rose is the main character (🧑🏽 they/them pronouns).

"It will take a few days for the mates to arrive. Spaceships are far better suited for space than for Earth's toxic atmosphere. Rest assured, they have secondary means of transportation. We should all get cleaned up for dinner, relax for a few hours, and finish our lessons tomorrow." With a wave of the hand, May dismissed the students. 

Jade went quietly to their room. She flopped onto the sofa, put her face in her hands, and cried. 

May sat on the chair across from her. "Our time is so short now. Will you really spend the last of it crying?"

"Our time is short? You are going to give me to one of the mates, aren't you?" Jade accused, knocking the sofa over as she rose to her feet. 

"Crying or fighting, are those the options? I hoped we would enjoy a bubble bath."

"How can you be so casual about this?" Jade kicked the overturned sofa.

May's arms crossed. "I will have to live out my days with only your memory. No one will ever take your place. Either the memory will end with me watching you leave for a life of mating and raising infants, or you being killed. I've tried not to point it out, but we're too near to the end to deny it anymore."

"You have no plan? Can't I get a job here? This place doesn't clean itself. The food doesn't cook itself. Are there robots working behind the scenes? Maybe one can break and I can fill in?"

May pounded on the arm of the chair. "There are some people here. Each has negotiated a deal for survival. None are from another timeline, as you are. None were brought here by mistake like you were. They aren't lying about being someone else."

"What happens if I don't mate? Or if someone figures out that I'm not my sister?"

"Nightingale is already suspicious. If you don't score high enough after tomorrow's lesson, you're to be killed."

Jade fell backward, landing awkwardly against the overturned couch. "What? What if I had chosen the winning male? Or any at all?"

"It might have helped. It might have resulted in your death looking accidental. The one thing I know for sure, it wouldn't have kept you here with me."

"What if we run? Just pack a bag and go?" Jade looked toward the terrace. It was raining out, bringing early darkness.

"You don't know what it's like beyond the gate. That's death."

Jade moved to May, kneeling and pleading. "You survived out there. Together we can make it. It'll give us time. You're always telling me you need more time."

Tears erupted, soaking May's face. "I still need more time. But not out there. You'd suffer and be gone so quick. That isn't a world you know. It isn't one you're suited to survive. Please, please, just come take a bath with me. We'll have dinner. Then we'll come back here and spend our last night together. That is all I can offer."

May and Jade picked at their dinner. The other students devoured their food. May was asked question after question. What would mating for the first time be like? Where would they live? What was life like beyond Budding Manor?

The last question caused a lump to form in May's throat. Deafness shut their ears for a moment, until Opal's pinch.

"Oww. What?"

"I asked why there is no language barrier. Are only those who speak one language being bred?" 

"All humans are implanted with a language facilitator. You all understand each other at the level the last human translator programs were able to function. Communication between overlords and humans is very limited, as they have many languages, most of which the human brain cannot process. Consider ants and bees, for example. Humans are very sound-based."

Opal crossed her arms. "There was sign language for the deaf."

May pushed away from the table. "You want perfect answers? Go get them yourself! The overlords do not share every detail of their plans with me. I'm a low-level employee who is near retirement."

With that, May stormed out of the dining room. While marching through the foyer, there was a pounding at the door. 

"It doesn't hail on this side of the gate," May muttered, opening the door to see what was going on.

Lightning lit the outside. A mate had arrived early.

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter

Shell's man bowed. "Overlord Tardigrade and I are expected, but not so soon. We hoped for a word with the instructor of the manor."

"I am May Rose, the instructor here. Welcome to Budding Manor. Please, won't you both come in out of the rain?"

"Shell, or Overlord Tardigrade as you would call him, has a strong affinity for the rain. Also, his size would make such a kind offer most difficult. Might I enter without him?"

May had never known one of the males to willingly be apart from their overlord. But being here early was just as unheard of, so they dismissed it from their mind. "Yes, of course. Would you like a towel? Perhaps a chance to bathe? Dinner?"

"I would like to dry off; many thanks."

May led him to the washroom and pulled a towel from the rack by the sauna. The man stripped down to the Miyoko Murex seashell that encased his manhood. 

"I'm Natica, by the way. I also answer to Shell's Favored One and Pet of Overlord Tardigrade."

May handed him a robe. The size was too small for his frame, but he made no complaint. 

"It isn't traditional of course, but the one who favored me should also be privy to this conversation."

"Out of the question. You meet face to face in the Bloom Room, under the supervision of the overlords. There is no exception." May pulled out the pocketed device that connected to the manor. Though unmatched in spar fights, May knew it would be best to have other security at the ready if Natica had nefarious plans. 

He bowed. "Of course. I shall tell you, and then you will do with the information what you like."

"Speak. Then I will see you returned to your overlord's side."

"This shell that covers me, it was not as effective as my overlord hoped. It seemed unimportant at the time, as he had never won before. And none from my line were ever favored before. In fact, Shell rarely bothers to enter. Breeding is only for science to him. Other overlords value breeders' status and clout, have an emotional connection to their pets, or enjoy the power of manipulating creation to only carry certain traits among other species. The last of those is near the truth of my overlord, yet leaves much out."

May's neck cracked. "None of this  matters to me or the girls."

"It is hard to articulate. Apologies. Shell has altered me."

"We all saw you run the race fully undressed. Looks like you've got the required equipment for breeding." 

"No doubt that is why I was not killed upon arrival there. However, the overlords are trusted, and no one checked beforehand."

May wondered if this class would leave a forehead wrinkle as, once again, an eyebrow shot up. "Is there no longer anything under your shell? Did you break something during the race?"

"Actually, they died during space travel."

"Died? Who died?" 

Natica looked down. "My sperm. Shell thought by altering my DNA, I would survive space travel. Which I did. But the protective cover he grew for me was not enough to keep me fertile. The Tardigrade race has no such issue. That is why they travel without ships."

#AtoZChallenge 2022 tribute badge

Question: Did you know that tardigrades can survive extreme temperatures, pressures, and even space travel? The overlord character is based on real science! 

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  1. Interesting. I did not know that fact about tardigrades. I don't even think I know what tardigrades are. Hope things are going better for you.

    Janet’s Smiles

  2. I take it your tradigrades aren't microscopic! Interesting factoid. And now more than one will probably die...

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: M

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: N

  3. Ohh, tardigrades! I've known them as water bears before!
    Although I can imagine that overlord isn't a microscopic one. What will happen with Natica now?


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