Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lost in Transcription by Ann Somerville

Release date: January 30, 2015
Subgenre: Science Fiction

About Lost in Transcription:

Pilot Bancilhon Pax doesn't expect anything but relaxation during some planetary downtime, but news of missing children possibly trafficked for sex can't be ignored. Pax investigates, a decision which turns the pilot's ordered, predictable life upside down, and has strange and unexpected consequences for others connected to Pax in ways no one could ever suspect. 


I headed to the entertainment district. Anywhere that welcomed spacers had a wide selection of places to get frecked up in many senses of the term. I picked the first one that didn't have litter, vomit or bodies on the pavement outside - my minimum requirement for any establishment. Pre-nightfall, the recreation area was bound to be quiet anyway.

Heads turned as I walked in. I'm used to that. Space ports see all kinds of bodies from a galaxy full of wonder, but two-metre tall blue-skinned, hairless humanoids are a rarity no matter where you go. I didn't mind the looks too much, since the attention could occasionally bring benefits, and I was perfectly equipped to handle any problems unwanted interest might cause.

The bartender read my biometric data and with the deftness of practice, mixed me a cocktail designed for my weight and fat-to-muscle ratio. I used the hypospray for the initial hit of relaxer, then got comfortable in one of the padded chairs to sip the rest of the dose at my leisure. Out of habit, I sat near a window, but nothing much was happening on the street. Too early for most people to be out carousing. The lounge was almost empty except for a few spacers, fighting jetlag same as me, and a couple of landlubbers watching the rest of us with unabashed curiosity.

I kept my Glimma turned on and let it feed me snippets of data, translations of the slang words mixed with the Standard people around me used, but I didn't pay close attention to the conversations. The way the dozen or so spacers sat together in twos and threes told me they knew each other and were likely to be crew mates. I was the only one there on my own. No one approached me, unsurprisingly. My resting expression apparently intimidates people, and it takes a while before they get used to me. It takes me a while to relax enough not to tense protectively in a strange environment. I would be here a month. Eventually someone would be enticed by the novelty and make an offer of sex. At least I hoped so.

The relaxer worked smoothly, untensing muscles under strain from the extra gravity and my intense workouts. A touch of mood enhancer drained away the lingering sadness over upsetting Byrd, and a mild synaesthesic made the rather ordinary decor dance with pretty colours. When the bar staff turned up the background music as the place grew busier, the pulse of the music throbbed through my veins. I leaned back and enjoyed being totally and utterly responsible for nothing and no one at all.

The burr of conversation didn't disturb me, though as night fell, the ambient noise level became quite loud. But something at the edge of my hearing demanded attention. I looked around, but the bar crowd hadn't changed in character.

A flash of movement outside. The sounds came from there. Angry voices that I couldn't make out. I strained to see the source, and a second later, it came into view. Two people, one tall and lean, the other short and stocky like a multigenerational heavy gravity resident. Neither wore a uniform. The shorter one, the origin of the anger in the tones I detected, was dark-skinned, wearing weathered, shabby clothes.

I turned up the Glimma's sensitivity, and it told me the taller individual's accent was Aglaoniken, the shorter one's that of a Second Wave colonist. The short one was coming off worst, with the taller one sneering down at the other with the advantage of over half a metre.

The colonist swung wildly at the Aglaoniken, who easily blocked the blow, then shoved back brutally, closing in and adding a fist to the face, sending the Second Waver flying into a solid piece of street furniture.

I leapt to my feet and was out through the doors within seconds. The Aglaoniken had already walked away, utterly unconcerned by what state the Second Waver might be in. No point in pursuit, so I crouched down by the fallen form. Out, and unrousable. *Freck*.

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About Ann Somerville:

Ann Somerville grew up in one of Australia’s prettiest small cities. In 1989, she left Australia with a BA and a burning ambition to see more of the world and its people, and to discover this ‘culture’ thing people kept telling her about. In 2006, she returned home to Southeast Queensland with two more degrees, an English husband, and a staggering case of homesickness, vowing never to leave Australia again.

Ann writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, and most stories feature LGBT characters.


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