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.
is designed and edited by Lucy A. Snyder.
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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
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
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
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
She paused. "Mekha."
"The synth colony?"
"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
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
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