tagSci-Fi & FantasyAsk Alice Ch. 05

Ask Alice Ch. 05


Part Nine-Planet Side: New Nippon

"Someone is at the door," came a sudden voice startling Alice from her depressing thoughts, it was Britt her adopted suicide phone communicating via the chip planted on her head.

"Is Lucy back?" Alice asked. Now that she knew Lucy wasn't human it scared her being alone with the robot or AI as Lucy preferred to be called. It didn't help that her model, the Dorian Class-X, was deactivated for murdering their owners.

"Say peek and you will know exactly who it is," Britt said.

"Peek," Lucy said. The hotel door went totally transparent. On the other side stood Georgia Kang. From the way Georgia was behaving, the transparency was on Alice's side only. Alice looked for a door nob but didn't see one.

"Open," Alice said to the door.

"Your companion phone is needed to activate the door protocol," a voice said coming from a speaker over the door."

"Since Pansy is out of the job, that would be me," said Britt in her left ear.

"I hate that you can talk to me in this way," Alice complained as she put a finger in her ear and shook it a bit. She didn't like the idea of something implanted in her body, let alone in her head.

"The chip was implanted in your head at age eleven months like all human babies," Britt said.

"Putting a computer chip in a baby's head seems a little dark to me," Alice mumbled.

"The device is half the size of a grain of rice, hardly the monstrous electronic instrumentation you are clearly imagining. Lucy wasn't kidding, you really are deranged."

"I'm not deranged!"

"Should I let your pretty little friend in?"

"Yes," Alice said crisply.

The door went opaque then slid open and Georgia stepped into the room.

"I got us a free ride up and down planet side," Georgia said. "AND a table to the new Kobe Zero Teppanyaki restaurant. Impossible to get into but my obscenely well connected big brother got us the reservations."

Alice needed to put some distance between herself and the space station and she was about to turn Georgia down when Britt said in her ear, "A free ride down solves one of your problems."

"Um ... sounds great," Alice said changing gears.

"Dress for a night out," Georgia said. "After dinner I wanna do the New Fuji club scene."

Georgia looked cute and sexy in a red miniskirt and clinging white, sleeveless top, her boyish short hair stylish and neat. Subtle lights flashed in her black hair like tiny blue stars. Aside from the flashing lights. Georgia would pass for Filipino and would have looked totally normal for a night out in Alice's time of 2014.

"Okay," Alice said. She looked around the nearly bare room unsure where to find her stuff.

Georgia quickly caught her confusion. "Is this your first time in a five star hideaway hotel?" She asked with a hint of disbelief.

Alice shrugged and hoped her ignorance didn't appear too suspicious.

"Just say Alice's closet," Georgia said.

"Alice's closet."

The Waikiki scene outside the window faded away and the lines of a door appeared along with a the outline of a chest of drawers. Alice touched the closet door and stepped back with a start as it slid open. The dresser drawers slid out when she touch them next. Alice dug through the drawers and hastily pulled out some light gray tights, black panties and a matching bra. From the hanging clothes, she selected a black skirt and a clinging black top. On the closet floor she spied a pair of calf high black boots and grabbed them too. Black seemed to be the predominant color for the Alice of this world. It made her wonder if the chick was some kind of futuristic goth. In the top drawer she found a bag of makeup.

Alice looked for the bathroom door but didn't see one. She wasn't shy about dressing in front of Georgia, but according to Lucy, Georgia was a Liner and Alice had no idea what the chick was into. The last thing she wanted was to appear provocative. Mostly, she wasn't into girls and didn't want to put herself in a situation at having to fend off unwanted advances.

You were willing to let the real Pansy Dale kiss you back in 1983, the part of her head in charge of inappropriate thoughts chimed in. That part of her had a name now... Liner.

"Shut up Liner," Alice mumbled.

"What?" Georgia asked.

"Um ... talking to my FTL companion," Alice lied.

"My won't shut up either," Georgia said. "Someday I'm gonna turn the bitch off and never turn her back on again." Georgia rolled her eyes. "Sorry Nadia ... I'm just venting don't be so sensitive."

As Georgia soothed her FTL companion, Alice spun in a small circle with her outfit and bag of makeup clutched to her chest.

"For the Goddess sake you back water planet yokel!" Britt said in her ear. "Just say bath!"

"Bath," Alice said a bit miffed at her adopted phone's tone.

An opening appeared at the back end of the room and Alice headed toward it. The moment the door closed behind her she pulled out her phone and yelled at it, "You don't have to be such an asshole!"

"And you don't have to be such a ditz," he said back, " ... or maybe you do?"

"Fuck you!" Alice said and slammed the phone on the sink.

"Ouch, my back!" Britt said in pain.

"Sorry!" Alice said quickly picked up the phone to sooth it.

"Just fucking with you. Don't feel a thing. In case you haven't notice, I ain't got a back."

Alice sighed, put the phone down but a bit gentler this time. She stripped off her t-shirt, jeans and underwear then put on the black bra and panties. What she thought were gray tights, turned out to be a full body leotard thing. She didn't feel like going back out to select something else so she pulled the leotard over the panties and bra. The bra proved too bulky under the leotard so she took it off. With her A-cup chest, a bra hardly mattered anyway. The panties weren't working either so she pulled off the leotard, shucked the panties then donned the leotard with no underwear at all. She put the black skirt on, sat on the toilet and put on the boots. She looked in the mirror to assess her outfit.

"Refuge from the past goes commando!" Britt said.

"Shut up ... wait, how do you know I got no underwear?"

"I have access to the mirror."

"What do you mean?" Alice asked as she pushed at her hair then fished around in the bag of makeup.

"The mirror is a holo program and I can look out from it to see you."

"Fucking pervert," Alice mumbled.

"Me? The pervert? Lucy told me you fucked a dozen guys in a swimming pool then you let each one jack off all over you."

Alice made a grunting noise, looked in the mirror again and went back to pushing at her hair. Her image flickered, and disappeared, replaced by a handsome dark skinned young man with a crooked smile wearing too much purple.

"Britt," she said flatly.

The young man's smile broadened. "The one and only. Pansy, your companion phone is trying to get through. Do you want to speak to her?"

"No," Alice said. "She's staying behind."

"Companion phones are kind of squirrelly, she's going to freak out."

"Sorry, nothing I can do about that." Alice said feeling bad. It felt so weird feeling sorry about a phone apps feelings. "Can I have the mirror back?" Her image reappeared and she poured out the contents of the makeup bag on the counter. She poked around at the stuff. Nothing seemed overly exotic. For the next five minutes she worked on her face. When done, She looked at herself and sighed in frustration. Most everyone she met had a lot more eye makeup, even the guys. She wanted to blend in but she didn't want to look like a circus clown either.

"You look clueless," Britt said.

"I am clueless," Alice said. She wanted to sweep all the makeup into a trashcan and be done with it.

"Try this," Britt said.

A 3-D holo image of what the Alice Mihara of this world looked like in full make up appeared right along side her real face. "That's a lot of fucking eye makeup," Alice said as pushed passed her drummed in conservative makeup sensibilities and got to work copying the look. A few more minutes later she was done.

"You look marvelous," Britt told her.

"I look like a fucking vampire in all this black." Just as she was about to step out to join Georgia, she stopped and looked at her reflection closer. "I'm is black," she said totally confused. The leotard had been a light gray when she put it on. She lifted the skirt to look at the lower part of the leotard and it was black too. "Are you fucking with the mirror, Britt?"

"Get real, girl, " Britt's said as his image faded in next to her again. "You are wearing the latest in mood suits. This is a good one though, and clearly much more advanced then those clunky old ones from two years ago. The old ones took forever to change colors. This suit seems to have a quicker response mode. It must be on auto and adapting to colors around it. It should be tuned in to your voice commands. Tell it a color."

"Um ... red," Alice said. Her tights quickly faded from black to a bright cadmium red. "Amazing," Alice said rubbing at her shoulder to feel the silky texture of the cloth.

"These suits are very expensive," Britt said. "You must be well off or have a sugar daddy in your back pocket."

"I have no idea," Alice said knowing nothing about the Alice Mihara of this world whose life she had popped into just hours ago. It was too late to change into something less ... science fiction. Hoping the mood-suit would go unnoticed, she gave herself one last look in the mirror then went out to meet Georgia.

"Wow, is that one of those new mood suits?" Georgia asked immediately.

"Fuck," Alice whispered. Her top half and legs were now a rich aquamarine blue, the same as the ocean outside the fake holo windows. "Yeah," Alice said as she checked out her own arms.

"Those cost a shit load I hear," Georgia said. "You must have a hell of job or your parents are rich."

"I'm betting it's a sugar daddy with a big bank account," Britt said in her ear.

"Can we talk about something else?" Alice asked doing her best not to come across as rude but she didn't want to talk about herself, or more specifically, the Alice of THIS world since she knew nothing about the chick.

"Sorry, I know what it's like to be from a rich famous family," Georgia said. "No family talk here on out. Promise."

"I'll change into something less ... exotic," Alice said.

"No, it's real cool. I like it."

In the elevator going up they entertained themselves watching Alice's tights take on some of the aspects of the elevator's interior: shiny mirror chrome, the brass control panel even the color of the overhead lights.

"Can I call some colors?" Georgia asked.

"Guess so," Alice said.

"Orange," Georgia said but nothing happened.

"Tell it to accept outside commands," Britt said.

"Accept outside commands," Alice said.

"Orange," Georgia repeated. Alice's top half and legs turned a beautiful sunset orange. "Cool," Georgia said. "Mauve ... black ... ecru ... hay ... amethyst ... nova yellow." The suit did everyone of the colors she asked. "My hair ... with the blinking lights!"

When the mood suit took on the color and texture of Georgia's black hair and sparkling lights, both women squealed with delight.

"Nude!" Georgia barked.

Hey!" Alice yelled as she stood in the elevator virtually topless in a black skirt and boots.

"Your nipples look so ... real," Georgia said.

Alice looked at her nipples, they were rock hard and bumpy, which was exactly how they felt under the mood suit. Alice glance at her left shoulder, the tiny black mole was exactly where it should be, apparently, the suit could imitate her real skin.

"Wow," Georgia whispered. "I read on the net that these new mood suits are made with Navy special ops camouflage circuitry. The Navy is threatening to sue the inventor or have him arrested for stilling military property." Georgia brushed the palm of her right hand across Alice's simulated bare chest. "Is it imitating your skin?"

"Yes," Alice said a bit shocked at the girl's brazenness.

"No tattoos I see," Georgia asked casually.

The elevator bell dinged at the hotel lobby and the door slid open.

"Black," Alice said quickly and she was all in black again.

The women stepped out into the busy lobby. Georgia acted like nothing had happened. Maybe people in the future were less uptight about physical contact Alice reasoned. Then she thought ... no fucking way, the chick was feeling me up! The women left the hotel lobby and stepped into the bustle of a busy sidewalk. It amazed Alice that most of the pedestrian traffic were robots and machines.

"I need to get some cash. Is there ... um ... an ATM near by?" Alice asked hesitantly, sure that ATM's were a thing of the past and she was just making herself look weird and stupid.

"There's one," Georgia said. "Better run it down before it gets away."

"What?" Alice asked as she chased after Georgia who went hoofing down the lane after a squat boxy looking green and silver machine zooming along on wheels at a good clip.

"Holding unit stop!" Georgia yelled.

The machine she chased came to a slow stop. "I am off duty," came a voice from the boxy thing. It sounded a little put off. "If I am delayed, I may not find a charging stall nearby."

"Sorry," Alice said, feeling guilty.

"Who cares?" Georgia said. "You have a green money tag. My friend needs cash."

The machine's lights blinked off and on for a couple of seconds. Alice couldn't help feeling the thing was giving her the stink eye.

"Well?" Georgia said to Alice sounding a bit exasperated.

"I don't have my ATM card," Alice said lamely.

"Are you from one of those religious groups that deplore technology?" Georgia asked befuddled.

Alice had no idea what to do as she stared lamely at the robot's blinking lights.

"By the Goddess, you really are a from the past!" Britt said in her ear. "Pull me out silly girl!" Alice pulled out her suicide FTL phone. Britt's face filled the screen. "Hold me out facing the little fellow." She held Britt out. Almost instantly, the ATM robot spat out a stack of bills with the number 100 on each. Britt said in her ear, "This AI is a holding unit by profession. A holding unit is like a locker you might find in a bus or train station in your day. This particular unit is moonlighting as an ATM to make a little side cash."

"Why would a robot need money?" Alice mumbled.

"We all got to live," Britt said. "I took out a large sum just in case they lock your accounts. Don't worry, I'll see that no one can trace the transaction to this holding unit."

"Um ... thanks," Alice said to Britt. The holding unit zoomed away without a word.

"That's a lot of cash," Georgia said. "You serious about parting tonight I guess. Come on if we wanna make it down planet for dinner."

The chose zero gravity for the ride down in Space Elevator. This time, the elevator was filled with Navy personnel. Most of them didn't bother using the harness seats and floated around bumping off the walls and each other. Georgia and Alice keep themselves harnessed in their seats to stay out of the way.

Georgia said, "We're gonna be one of them soon."

Alice nodded absently only half listening. Her eyes were glued to a blue robot sitting in a harness seat almost across from them. The AI looked a lot like Marco from the guard station. She could see the gold INI on its chest. She now knew INI stood for Imperial Navy Intelligence. Was this robot Marco from the navy docks or were their hundreds of robots that looked just like him? The robot appeared to be looking at her with its unblinking eyes and it gave her the willies.

"Look! Its Captain Kahakaloha!" Georgia whispered.

Alice took her eyes away from the blue robot to spy the handsome captain floating among a gaggle of other men and women in gold skin-suits just like his. The color gold was clearly reserved reserved for command officers.

"Guess the Miami was called back huh?" Georgia said.

"Guess so," Alice said. Lucy told her the INS Miami had been called back from her emergency rendezvous. Alice assumed it would take DAYS for the big starship's return yet. Shows what I knew about starships, she thought. She looked around for Lieutenant Haiku of the IIW. She thanked the lucky stars the woman wasn't riding down too.

Ten minutes later, the Space Elevator hit ground on New Nippon. Georgia and Alice remained seated to allow the Navy people to file out first, the blue INI robot left with the crowd. As she followed Georgia to elevator checkout, Alice kept looking over her shoulder for the blue AI but didn't see it. All those months on the run in 1983 had made her too paranoid. Then again, the human version of Marco back in 1983 had tracked her down, shoved her into the backseat of a limo and dragged her back to Las Vegas. What was the old saying? Just because you're paranoid DOSEN'T mean no one is out to get you.

They passed through checkout and loaded onto a sleek silver rail train and zoomed to the planet's capital of New Edo. Captain Kahakaloha and Marco the robot were not in her car. Perhaps Navy officers and robots had special cars just to themselves. It was night and the city gleamed ahead. If she hadn't known she was on another planet far from earth, Alice would have sworn that she was headed toward a major city back home.

"New Edo," she whispered. Edo was the original name of Tokyo she recalled, nicked named the floating city.

The train pulled into New Edo and Alice quickly found herself hustling down a street that could have been downtown to any modern city on Earth. Half the lit signs were in Japanese, the other half was split between English and other languages. Most the people around her were speaking Japanese or English. Then she wondered if there were more than humans and robots walking the streets of New Edo.

"Britt," Alice said in a hushed tone. "Are their aliens from other worlds here?"

"We are just a few blocks from the Vulcan embassy," Britt said.

"Vulcans really? Wow!"

"Then we can go visit the Romulans next door and after that the guys with the many arms from Barsoom."

"You fucking with me?"

"Of course I'm," Britt said. "No intelligent life has been discovered on the thousands of planets in the whole of the Know Cluster. The closest has been a whale like creature on planet Pearl which appear to be as smart as earth dolphins. On planet Euro, there is an ape like creature that might beat a chimpanzee at checkers."

Georgia grabbed her arm and they stopped. "We be here!" Georgia said pointing across the street. In Japanese, English and Hindi was an electric sign that said, Kobe Zero Teppanyaki. "Shit in an airlock, Animal rights nuts are here," Georgia said.

A mob of people waving handmade signs marched in front of the restaurant. One sign read Kobe Z serves up mass murder, another read NO KILL written in a red circle with a slash across it.

"No ... no kill?" Alice whispered wondering what that meant.

Britt took her confusion as an invitation to explain. "No kill means that the meats used in a restaurant or sold at a market has been grown in a lab. No whole animal was ever created so in essence it was never alive. There have been rumors floating on the ether that Kobe Zero is using real shrimp in their dishes. No lab has yet created a satisfactory small shellfish without a brain, I am told."

Alice eyed the marching angry people outside the restaurant. She thought of all her visits to fast food restaurants in her time and it made her feel like a criminal ... just another thing illustrating how she SO didn't belong here. "Hope none of these people find their way back to 2014," Alice mumbled.

"I like being your mental tour guide," Britt said. "Gives my life new meaning."

"Glad you're happy," Alice said feeling the opposite.

"Hold me out so I can find the secondary protest," Britt said.

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