“I don’t see why you had to come with me. You just gonna piss me off.”
Blue Kay flew past Zombie Lisa and turned and hovered in front of the scrambling girl child with economic swipes of her arm wings.
“I thought it would be a chance for us to bond. Just us girls.
Lisa made a face, “Don’t fucking make me throw up in zero g bitch!”
Kay laughed in spite of herself.
“Do you always cuss like a history lesson?”
“I’ve heard that word before at some of my dad’s board meetings from immortals. What does it even mean?”
“It means to take two somethings rather larger than your precious perfumed little cunt and asshole and shove said items into those orifices until they pop out your sparkly long lashed eyes.”
Kay’s mouth dropped open and she almost hit a branch.
“That! Was pretty graphic… I’m not sure that’s how dad’s friends were using the word. I’ll be sure to picture that whenever I hear it again. Should make for some entertainment at those stupid meetings.”
Lisa tried not to smile.
“It’s so weird hearing someone use the word ‘dad.’ Nobody I know has real parents. Some kids get raised by adults, but it’s usually some exploitive sort of deal. I guess Elvis is our adult. But he’s great. Just a big charismatic kid, really. I mean we all have skills that he makes use of, but he seems to really care about us. Keeps us from being kidnapped or raped. He was trying to civilize the slums before all this went down.”
Kick didn’t say anything, just kept scanning the jungle with her telescopic eyes. They had only been able to keep Lisa from going after Skum Bunny for fifteen minutes. Her agitation became so extreme at that point they were afraid she would black out and go berserker on them. Kick told the boys to stay there in case he came back. If they all tried to go out in groups, there would be this whole awkward thing where Vince tried to make it look like he didn’t care, but still got to go with her, and Elvis would just casually and effortlessly arrange it so he ended up going with her, and Vince would get all crazy eyed… Besides, she needed to be on this crazy little monster’s good side.
“So… what was it like? Having a dad, and growing up in that freaky VR place? Do you all really call it the weirld? It’s a hard word to say. We call it the flab, cause of how the borges get all fat if they spend too much time there.”
“Yeah. If they can’t afford the therapeutic harnesses, they can get in pretty bad shape. We do call it the weirld, but some people have other names for it. I don’t know. It was a lot like the real world. They have it set so it follows the rules of physics by default, but everyone has their own little apps that break them down at their convenience. So much chaos. That’s why I sort of liked going to my dad’s board meetings. They were simple and calm. Boring. I thought the real world would be like that, boring. But it’s been crazy. If I go back in the weirld now after killing all those PIGS, I’ll probably be put in a program like your Skum Bunny was. Dad put my oldest brother in one before when he wouldn’t stop hacking dad’s sex programs.”
They were moving along the wall, and they had reached a place where the vegetation was thin. Lisa grudgingly allowed Kay to grip her shoulders with her dexterous feet and fly her across to the other side of the clearing.
“You were famous for being a porn star. Did that make your daddy happy?”
Kay chuckled, “Yeah… He didn’t really care about that sort of thing. He was very distant. He’s an immortal. One hundred eighty two years old. He’s seen and done it all. He says that when one of us shows enough responsibility to manage his estate, he’ll take a nap for a hundred years.”
“That’s the second time you said immortal. I always thought that talk of immortals was bullshit. Are you immortal?”
“I don’t think so… Not yet anyway. I could be. If I don’t get myself killed hanging with you guys. Basically these guys have uploaded their brains into computers, but most of them like to start with a computer that is basically an extension of their brain, and then slowly let the meat brain die and the hardware takes over for it as needed until there is nothing left but synthetic material.”
“So… daddy’s a robot?”
“Not exactly. There’s still a lot of organic matter, but it’s manufactured, not biological… I think. They may have already uploaded and saved my consciousness. Like that guy you ripped his head off? He has a whole stack of slug bodies I bet, all cyborg, just waiting for him to die and be re-uploaded. So, like if I die now and my dad backed me up, I wouldn’t remember any of this since it hasn’t been saved. Anyway, I was never aware of my consciousness being saved. But who knows. Ethics is pretty non-existent when dealing with immortals.”
Lisa furrowed her brow and said, “So why do you stay here. If you could live forever, you’re in a lot of danger with us. There’s no way those fuckers are really going to leave us alone. Is it cause yer in luuuuv?”
Kick’s plumage passed a wave of violet outward from her womb.
“Plint! You’re in love.”
“Yeah, no shit. But my ‘little girl crush’ isn’t threatening to tear the kras apart.”
“Well. Tough lepers for you lot. Love is a made up thing anyway. But there’s no way I’m leaving right now. This is way better than the weirld. And, hey, I think that’s our boy.
Lisa looked where Kay was pointing. There was a flash of day glow green against the dark foresty shadows. A moment later Skum Bunny popped out of the brush and moved toward them slowly.
His ‘ears’ were gone. Now his blondish hair was cropped short and stuck out in all directions. If anything he looked even uglier with the new do. Lisa stuck out her lower lip at him.
“Skum you asshole. You can’t run off like that and you cut your rabbit ears off.”
He arrested his movement to stop in front of them. His face was placid and resigned. He took a moment to turn himself so they were all oriented the same.
“Hi Leese,” he reached out and pulled her to him and hugged her very tight.
“Christ on a cracker! Let go of me perv!”
Lisa was mock disgusted, but she gripped him tightly back. He finally let her go and pushed her back to look into her face.
“You’ve been dead to me so long. If anything good came of this it’s that you have a chance to live your life. Who is this?”
He jerked his thumb at Kick Herald.
“Hi. They call me…”
Lisa interrupted her.
“Just some slumming ho bag Vince picked up on his terror spree. She doesn’t matter. What’s wrong with you? You’re acting weird.”
His shoulders slumped. His voice sounded far away and not at all like the bratty punk she knew.
“Zombie Lisa… I saw you die. You were torn apart by robots and it was broadcast on all the walls. I was already in a prison transport being taken to the asteroids for slave labor. The foreman took a quick hating to me and made sure to run the footage of you dying on a loop in the ship’s cabin. That was thirty years ago. I served my time. It was terrible, but then they gave me a chance to join a colony ship. I was still young and had a valuable skill set from the asteroid mining…”
“There are no colony ships, Skumby.”
“Well, they started building them while I was in the belts. Could you please call me Ted. Ted Vermillion is the name I picked when I emigrated. Oh man Lisa, you would have loved it. Wind and flowers and rain and vast fields of grasses…”
His face started screwing up.
“This vents so hard man. I’m forty years old, but I’ve got all these twelve-year old hormones and weaknesses. I met a girl named Fern on the ship… Oh venting manooway…”
Ted buried his head in Lisa’s shoulder and let go and started crying thick tears that floated into the air around them like a halo. Kay was considerate enough to turn away. Lisa ran her fingers through his hair and caressed his back, making soft noises.
A small number of minutes passed with their quiet sounds mingling with the sounds of the bugs, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals of the wilds. The croaks of the glider peepers, a small winged frog, grew louder and louder in their ears. Suddenly, Kay’s head shot up. She cleared her throat.
“Vince just UNO’d me… Uh… Not sure how… They want us back at camp. I let him know we found you Sk… Ted. You have to come with us. You don’t know what’s out here. None of us do. Vince says they have news from out in the station.”