11th Sun: Chapter 29: Solace

“Do you feel guilty?” Dr. Jordan is having a fruit smoothy for her breakfast. I’m dinning on ashes and cold pizza.

“No.” Of all the feeling I feel, guilt is not one.

“Why not?”

I know she’s trying to be helpful so I do my best to explain, “If it was another gun runner Tinoct would have been in the same place, doing the same things.” Getting the same shot. “I don’t supply people who have the odds with them, or I wouldn’t have a job. He was a revolutionary. Not the first to die, not the last, not even the middle.”

“Could you have saved him?”

“No,” of that I’m certain. He was standing thirty feet away on the truck. He was trying to get to cover.”

“I see,” I think she’s on vacation. She’s sitting outside, and wearing a bikini. “Do you want to talk more about it?”

I shrug, “No? What is there to talk about?”

“You’re a woman, 11.” She’s dropped the ‘fors.’ For now. For the moment. “There’s always something to talk about.”

I’ve heard of this. I’ll try. “It’s not the first drop that’s got hot. He’s not the first I’ve seen die.”

“But…?”

“But it hurts this time.”

She leans back in her beach towel, “You know what I think? I think you’re letting yourself feel.”

“I’m not comfortable with that.” Because you’re right.

“Because I’m right?”

I sigh, “Because of what it means if you’re right. That means I’ve never felt before. I don’t like what that says about me.”

“Would the implication have bothered you before?”

“No,” Easy answer. And that’s worse.

“Tell me about him.”

“Nice guy. Smart, good body, good English. First time I’ve fisted someone, always wanted to try that one. I think he made me like him. I kind of hate him for that.”

She lets that slide without making me dig deeper, “What happened to him?”

“I talked to Chinta, they tried to claim the body, but he doesn’t have any family on the continent. Right now his remains are evidence in a morgue locker somewhere. They’ll probably never release him.”

“I imagine you have a lot to process.”

I still want to cry, but nothing is coming out, “Whatever I did, I think it was the right thing to do.”

#

A month goes by. Big Bertha spirals around the Iron Triangle and approaches from above the galactic plane, avoiding buoys and patrols.

I clean Lullabelle, and the other weapons. I take Magdalena apart and replace her rails. The felt the abrasion of a slug moving at twice the speed of sound, not great on unalloyed silver. I check them for tarnish. Silver is a better conductor than gold, as long as it’s untarnished. Then I vacuum pack her to keep the oxidation off the rails, and put her away.

I go dark for a week again crossing the Anduin/Amari border, and then slip into the Triangle at one of the branches, like a thief in the night, who is a gun runner. in space. There are six or seven ships within a light year, and if they notice me pop up on their systems, they’ll assume I came in on one branch or another. Easy.

There’s some chatter over hyper band; nothing that interests me. I get on anyway, learn some ship names, tell stories about the things I just (haven’t) did, build myself a record.

I turn on the news in the rec hall, every once in awhile. There isn’t much on Chinochkan in English. The TV translator works poorly on their local news, but I can gather that nothing much has changed down there.

I finish Pride and Predjudice, again, pick up one of the twenty translated Chokhan works of literature. I think the nuance is lost on me. Most of the book is about the endearing love of two males. When their woman is mentioned at all, it’s because she’s getting pregnant, pregnant, or getting un-pregnant.

I don’t masturbate for a long time, and worry that something inside me is broken. One night a thought leads me to Comakh, and the way he filled my asshole, and how good it hurt. A damn breaks, I pull out my toys, and get back on a semi-regular schedule.

I very gradually come back to myself. I’m feeling feelings that I don’t like, but I’ve managed to make them my feelings, instead of the feelings happening to a stranger. I’m me again. In fact, I think I’m more me than I ever have been before.

#

Big Bertha is hungry. Fuel slug is at 10%, that’s by design. Fancy calculations got me to the Triangle just when I’d have to gas up. I need some nice un-forged records on my way back to Earth SOI. Someone might check back to my last stop, but they won’t go further without some real motivation.

Route 66 is legit as fuck. Named after a group of ‘ye olde’ gas stations on Earth. The company went under Eons ago, and some company took the rights for a space station on a central hub of one of the largest shipping lane in the galaxy. One solid piece, mostly. Big enough to accommodate real freighters, several hundred people in and out a day. High class synth-brothels, legitimate stores, tedious bars, and franchised McDonald’s. All licensed and regulated and taxed, like good intergalactic corporations.

And boring.

I hate it.

Part of the station is a place for tired truckers, wanting a water shower, and some decent food. Those parts cater to the lowest common denominator of trucking, and offer discount videos, cheap porn, cheaper alcohol, and cheapest women. No truck stop waitress will have sex with you for money. But some whores serve as their day job.

Up one level they cater to middle class vacationers, traveling business types, and families on road trips. Chain bars, restaurants, and strip clubs, with strippers who just strip. With integrity. Or as much integrity as you can get as a stripper. There are department stores, and toys to shut your kids up with, and souvenir shops with clever slogans on t-shirts.

And at the top there’s catering for people at the top. The life I could have lived if I didn’t loathe it so much. Corporate douche-nozzles. Business pricks. And trust fund party junkies. People who have earned their money the hard way, by being born to rich families. They do stupid stuff and other people born to rich families give them more money for doing in. Every goddamn one of them thinks they work hard, and deserve to treat the rest of us like dog-shit.

You might have noticed that I look down on them, hardcore.

I miss Ci and Lia, who just seemed to get it. The people who come here don’t get anything. Just paper people, with the depth of a bird bath. Blow on their lives and they flutter away.

And locked enroute a light year away, I stand in front of the mirror and wonder what I can wear to make all those pussies quake in their shoes.



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