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Hathno Paige is a sci-fi poet whose previous work has been featured in Planet Magazine. He's held many a day job--including a three year stint as a garbage man--but writing is his first love.


Dark Planet is designed and edited by Lucy A. Snyder. If you spot any errors, or if you have any comments, please contact her at lusnyde@cyberus.ca.

All materials copyright 1996-2001 by their respective creators. No stories, articles, poems or images from this webzine may be posted or published without the written consent of their creator(s).

Love in Zero-G

by Hathno Paige


Kara pressed her head against the massager's firm caresses. Good, too good. Forget working tonight; she was settling in.
She flipped open the chair's control panel and thumbed the 'X'. The massager slipped from her head and melted back into the headrest.
New symbols morphed to life beneath her fingertips. What next? A few ithyphallics went by. Nice, but later. Something like two feet appeared. A foot massage? Perfect. She waited for it to reappear and pressed it.
The chair shuddered and she had just enough time to wonder if two-feet stood for 'stand upâ when she bounced off the spa's padded wall and landed on her ass.
The ship rocked and spun like a baby's cradle on a gyroscope. Where the hell were the stabilizers? She half-slid, half-rolled to the door where she braced herself in the frame.
A rumble and whine from somewhere deep and everything slowed to a stop. The mirror-screen lit up with a soft bong. The ship annunciator -- a dark-skinned woman -- appeared.
"There has been a minor hull breach in the adjoining compartment. Please remain calm and do not attempt to leave this area. More information will follow."
A hull breach now? The most dangerous part of space travel was supposed to be getting off-planet. Mid-flight accidents were just about unheard of.
Just then she remembered what was in the adjoining compartment -- the recreation room. Moments ago she was cursing the jerks in there playing disgusting games with one of the ship's female serving synths. She knew it was built for it -- even had a module that made it like it -- but that did not make it any easier to swallow.
She stepped out of the spa and checked herself over. Nothing broken, maybe a bruised butt. The rest of the room looked fine too, with the exception of some quadminton rackets spilled from a storage locker.
"Hello? Anybody in there?" A man's voice called outside the door to the gym.
That was a relief; at least there was somebody else around.


"I just finished some research there."
Bryn said, "Whereabouts? I was dirtside a few years ago. Grasberg, the copper mine."
She paused. "Mekha."
"The synth colony?"
She nodded.
"I worked with some of those guys. They didn't like biohumans too much."
Should she act surprised?
"What do you study?"
"And you study synths?"
Not again. Biohumans just did not get it, and she was not in the mood to try. She asked about him. He was welding engineer. Dangerous as hell, but he had been to some interesting places and their vagabond lives had a lot in common. He was just telling her about being attacked by the living trees of Hornius when the annunciator interrupted.
"Please be calm, everything is fine and rescue operations are under way. As an additional safety precaution, the ship is going into low-power mode. Please make yourself comfortable."
They looked at each other without saying anything. Why even bother talking about it? There was nothing they could do anyway.
He must have felt the same, just touching her arm and saying, "Well, at least the company's good!"
They went into the gym. Soft blue lights had come on, suffusing the room with what she imagined the trauma-psychs thought was a relaxing feeling. To her it was pure mind manipulation. And adding insult to injury, that damned neo-classical was playing.
She was about to comment, when Bryn bowed deeply and said, "Lady Kara, might I have the pleasure of this dance?" He extended his hand.
To her surprise, she took it.
Away they went, politely avoiding exercise equipment as though it was other couples. Bryn even joked with it sometimes -- "Ah, good to see you Mrs. Croyder. And your husband looks smashing with that third horn."
But lack of dance routines in welding training was sharply apparent, and after the third bruised toe, she reversed their grip. "My lead." He smilingly obliged.
They talked about life, how they had come to their careers. He was interested in her choice of socio-psychology, but she managed to steer him away from the details of her work. And it was nice having someone listen to her for a change! She did all the listening for her research, and the men she met, well, all they were interested in was the unnaturally perfect face and body.
After their second lap around the gym, the annunciator appeared on the giant wall screen.
"As an additional safety precaution, the ship is going into stage two low-power mode. Please take the nearest seat, and attach yourself to it using the orange harness located beneath it. Zero-gravity mode will commence in four minutes."
Not a good sign. She looked at Bryn. He almost frowned, but then his face lit up with a grin.
"Iâll be right back." He ran for the locker room.


He sat her on the bench, then knelt and placed the arch of her bare foot against his upright knee. It was warm. She pushed against it as he slipped a black elastic band over her foot.
"I think you'll like these. They're called 'stickers'."
Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was being alone for too long, but when he switched to her other foot, and she caught herself hoping he might linger there a bit.
"Basically they're cheap gravity boots I use on a lot of jobs. As long as you step gently, theyâll let you walk on just about anything in low-g."
She looked at his body. Fit, the definition of his lithe muscles sharpened by the shadowy light. And his face, so natural looking. Not handsome, but interesting, strong features. And a mouth stuck in a constant smirk. The perfect look for a galactic rogue.
Finished with her, he sat down and put the bands on his own feet.
"Gravity control going off-line in fifteen, fourteen, thirteen...
He stood, bowed, and said, "Lady Kara, might I again have the pleasure of your company for a dance?"
"Of course kind sir," doing her best not to notice her brain pull the line from the file marked 'romance'.
She stood as the countdown reached zero -- and shot up from the floor like a rocket!
"Gently girl! Gently!"
A moment of panicked vertigo as she stared up into the gaping jaws of the infinite forever. Then she remembered the transparent ceiling separating her from the cosmos. She felt a sharp tug on her ankles and looked down to find that Bryn had grabbed her, hooking the bench with his foot and pulling them back to the floor -- laughing.
"Stickers are good, but they're not that good."
She looked up at the transparent ceiling again, a good thirty meters above. The universe was a vast, and lonely place -- even more so for one of the few emancipated synth.
She looked straight into his eyes as her face passed his. So deep, so penetrating! She could not tell their true color, but the blue light played off them in a thousand different shades, making them seem to sparkle.
He put her on the floor and helped her get her robe under control.
He extended his hand. "My lady, it is your lead. But do step gently."


As time went on they moved closer to each other, the gentle collisions of their bare legs becoming increasingly frequent. Finally she laid her head against his chest, rubbing her cheek against him, feeling the warmth, feeling the hairs scrape against her. She felt completely relaxed, and yet there was a delicious tingling tension welling up inside her. She looked up at him, ready for the next step.
He smiled. "Would you like a drink?"
She kissed him lightly on the lips. They were soft and full. She pulled away. Oh, that was going to be nice when it happened. "Are you buying?"
He had stopped them near the water fountain.
"Get ready."
He pressed the button. Water flowed straight up, separating into shimmering globes that raced towards the ceiling. He put her hand into the stream, shattering it, and producing hundreds of silvery-blue spheres.
They danced into the watery wonderland, kissing as they vied for droplets that passed between them.
He stopped by the wall and let go of her hands. "It's time."
She closed her eyes and readied her lips for the tender crush of his own. But it didn't come! Her eyes snapped open.
He was gone.
"Bryn?" a slight note of panic in her voice.
"Right here, my lady, waiting for you."
She looked up and found him on the wall -- maybe three meters up -- standing straight out like he had just walked up it; which, of course, he had.
He extended his hand. She smiled and stepped up the wall.
Hand-in-hand they walked to the gym's transparent ceiling. The scene before them was beautiful, the arms of a dozen galaxies spiralling away above them.
She undid the waist belt of her robe as she stepped onto ceiling. It hung there, suspended, until she pushed it away. Bryn followed suit, and they walked to the ceiling's center where it bowed outward and let them be surrounded by the universe.
Heavenly bodies stretched away in all directions. "It's beautiful."
"Yes she is," he said, looking directly into her eyes.
He leaned over and met her mouth in a deep kiss.


Hands slip to her waist, lifting her. Her legs wrap around him as she slides up his body, feeling his kisses on her chin and neck, then down to her shoulders. She grasps his neck and leans away, letting his mouth move down her. Tongue runs around her breast in ever tightening circles until it reached the aureole, where it flicks across the hard tip.
Nipple sucked into his mouth. She moans and bites her lower lip, pulling him with her legs and feeling her labia wrap around his solid shaft in a wet kiss. A hand moves beneath her, finger slipping inside.
Her head falls back and she looks into the silvery-blue world so far below them. Rapture as he clenches the nipple in his teeth and then a gasp at the fine line between pleasure and pain. Higher she goes, his tongue over her stomach, her belly and down, finally teasing her open, and penetrating her like the tiniest lover.
Legs spread wide, grasping his head, pushing him deeper. Finger caresses her swollen clit, as his tongue teases her anus. So good! Let go and arching until the gym gives way to stars and his hardness bumps against her back. She wants to taste it.
Legs straight out above her, his knees as handles, she spins and focuses attention on him. The ebony shaft a site to behold in the silver starlight -- so smooth, so perfect, like stone touched by Michelangelo.
Licks along the length of it and a sigh from him as the muscles of his thighs snap taut against her. He cups her cheeks in his palms and pulls her toward him. The heat from his mouth ignites her sex and she parts her legs. Enough teasing, she envelopes him with her mouth. He moans, the vibrations of his lips hot on her clit. Her hand strokes, while her mouth sucks him like a big, sweet lollipop.
His tongue moves over her clit in long, firm lashes. Getting harder to concentrate. She cups his balls, tries licking them between gasps.
Uncontrollable moan. She is close now, too close, going to -- then he turns her over and she is looking straight into his eyes, pulling him inside like a wild animal. She cries out as he enters, biting down on his shoulder and tasting blood.
A voice in the background. "Gravity control is -- "
No matter, only thing now is pleasure from the man inside her. But something is different -- they are floating! She watches the stars drift away.
Bodies dancing in open air. Slowly spinning, view switching from stars to gym. Is this how birds make love? Harder to get the rhythm right without an anchor. They drip with sweat from pushing and pulling at each other.
Her knees touch the floor. Landing with her on top, and now she pumps with hard thrusts, grinding her clit against him at the bottom of every stroke.
Hands squeeze her waist as he erupts hot, wet passion inside of her. She arches to receive him, as the cries of her own orgasm echo through the room. A few more strokes and she collapses on him, slick sweat dripping from every pore.


"Good news. The rescue ship Delilah has docked and is restoring ambient pressure to all areas. Please stay calm and do not attempt to leave your compartment. The rescue team will reach you as soon as possible."
Kara opened her eyes. The regular lights were back.
"Oh, reality."
Bryn lay next to her, resting on an elbow, smiling, tracing his fingers over her stomach.
She rolled over, almost out of his reach. He slid over and curled up against her back.
He said, "Theyâll be here soon."
He paused. She did not say anything, just lay there wishing she could suddenly disappear.
"They might have to put us on different ships. We might get separated."
He was actually going to try, wasn't he? She cringed for the blow.
"And I don't even know where you're going."
There was no point playing this game, was there? They had had what they had and that was it. There was no way it could work out. Especially not once he found out.
A grinding sound started from the main door. The rescue team must be trying to open it manually.
He kissed her shoulder.
She untangled herself and stood up. Her robe was hanging on an exercise bike close by. She wrapped it around her shoulders and tightened the belt.
"Look, this was great, but you know and I know, hell, I've got to go." She started for the spa area to gather her gear.
He rolled over on his back and closed his eyes. "Why? Because you're a synth?"
She stopped.
"With a neural network more complex than a human brain and a bio-system so advanced that your skin can bleed and heal?"
He touched his shoulder where she had bitten him.
"How did you know?"
He walked over and kissed her. "I found your hidden data port."
She shook her head. It did not matter that he knew, it did not matter how he felt right now. Biohuman-synth relationships could not last. She had written papers on the subject.
She looked up at the ceiling. The stars were washed out by the lights.
"Câmon, answer my question. Where are you headed next?"
She thought about it. Where was she going? Back to a nondescript cube somewhere to compile the results of her work?
Almost to herself she said, "No place special."
He jumped up and grabbed her hand. "No place special? That's incredible! You're not going to believe this, but that happens to be exactly where I'm going!"
"Really?" she said, still not looking at him. "Maybe we should get together for a drink when we get there."
"Well that's a good idea. But just so we don't miss each other, maybe we should go there together."
"Yes, together."
Then he pointed to his own robe, hanging from a scoreboard high up on the wall. "That is, of course, if you don't mind travelling with a naked synth?"