tagSci-Fi & FantasySoul Service, Inc.

Soul Service, Inc.


"Inertial compensators to full, bring up..."

"Backup dampeners are already on-line and functioning at one hundred percent capacity, mains shut down sixteen seconds ago."

Aimed at a tertiary planet around a crappy little yellow star. Of all the shitty luck. So much for my shortcut.

"Prepare for retrograde entry, we'll attempt a nose-over skip before capture. Initiate, Sweetie."

"This better work, I don't want to clean any of your squishy bits out of my control panels. And Rose? Don't call me 'Sweetie.'"

We hit the initial vestige of atmosphere in a cacophony of expensive ablative exterior coating doing its job - to the tune of another three contracts to replace it. Good thing transporting souls is a high-paying proposition.

A gut wrenching jerk spits me into my crash webbing before SWETI and I have the ship aimed butt first and I can more comfortably die facing backward, pressed hard into the pilot's couch. My tits smash down so hard on my chest, I feel my nipples tickling my armpits. Thankfully I don't have annoying boy danglies and weenie to worry about. Hell, I don't have anything to worry about as I black out or die.


Fucking short story if it ends there, huh?

Unfortunately my fragmented consciousness put pieces together to the wonderful sounds of interstellar craft contracting and cooling. There's enough flashing red off the control console to prove it might be four jobs before I break even again.

Speaking of which, I hurriedly check the CryoGen monitor to ensure my almost dead passenger is still just almost dead, not another 'lost soul.' Green and clean, the best indication my day just got a little better.

"Are you done taking a break?"

"Yes, thank you, Sweetie, I'm fine."

"Glad you are, because I'm not. I have your shopping list ready to get us on the move again. And Rose? Don't call me 'Sweetie.'"

I start the arduous task of manually unlocking my webbing, thankful to be alive to do it, yet perturbed at having to do this by hand. Supposedly a safety measure in the event of catastrophic AI malfunction. Spacer legend holds an occasional SWETI used to pop the latches at the wrong time during moments of stress. We got what we deserved - advanced intelligence through neural nets - along with every last possible neurosis and quirk anyone has ever diagnosed in a living, wet-brain. Speaking of which, my brain was demonstrating a splitting headache quite nicely, thank you.

"What's the Sit-Rep and where's my shoes?"

"In your personal effects locker where you left them. And when your royal rudeness is available, Commander Ranson is on the com waiting for you."

So much for my better day.


Our 'conversation' is predominantly one-sided - what a shock.

"The family of the nearly deceased..." he's droning on.

"Lost soul," I helpfully correct to the common term.

"They prefer, 'nearly deceased,' and they are friends of the High Consulate..."

"And because their shit doesn't stink..."

"It's less ghoulish. They wanted the unit there..."

"Yesterday..." I punch in, yet again.

"Tomorrow. So getting you back underway has just become my top priority." He's finally able to finish a sentence.

"Oh, I didn't know you cared," I demurely say, happy to have actually let him talk for once.

"Can it, Rose." His stern voice erases my happiness.

"He's so handsome," Sweetie softly coos in a warm, breathy tone.

"He's got a board up his ass," I correct her. AI's have some twisted aesthetics.

"I'd put anything, anywhere for him - twice." She's sounding pretty hot-n-bothered.

"Ladies, I can hear you," Ranson breaks in. Oops.

"Sorry, Sir." I snap reflexively.

"I knew that," Sweetie has an almost childish tone now.

"That's worse, SWETI," Commander Stick-Up-His-Ass kindly corrects her.

"Nyah!" I put the finishing adult comment on the conversation with my partner, accompanied by extended tongue.

"Returning to our situation. We've got most of your laundry list on the way or being synthesized now for decollating, but if you could procure several base materials, site re-synthesis will be expedited."

As he drones on yet again, I can take a break.

Time out to catch up to my world. See, we have technology to transport almost anything through sub-particle carrier using entanglement - except self-consciousness. That has to be hand delivered between point of near death to the awaiting biomimetic vessel - all before significant degradation of axonal link integrity. That's my job. Get the soul, so to speak, from point A to point B, before there is no point.

We return to our regularly scheduled dressing-down program already in progress...

"Understood?" He finally finishes.

"Sir, yes, Sir!" I bark. Old habits die hard.

"Now, unofficially. Are you doing okay, Rose? It's been a while."

"I still miss the old unit, Sir." I quietly say.

"You're non-com, now, you don't have to call me 'sir.'"

"I'm doing fine. Thank you for asking, though - but I miss you all."

"We miss you too, Rose. Could you do me a favor? That 'other' agency already has units on the ground there as recovery group for unauthorized incursions. They've been tasked with finding you and getting you out of there one way or another. We need to get you gone before they show up. Your SWETI isn't exactly regulation, along with a significant amount of your kit. If you need anything, let me know."

He dissolves into random background radiation patterns on the receiver grid. I'm lucky the array is still functioning.

"What the hell was all that kissy-kissy stuff there at the end?" Sweetie sounds genuinely hurt.

"You know my background."

"I know you're ex-military, but even I have limits in what I can know. And someone's gone to a lot of trouble to ensure I can't dig up any real dirt on you."

"I didn't know you cared either," I quip.

"Oh, I don't care about the official crap. I want the scuttlebutt - like you doing an entire platoon over a weekend of R&R."

She's got her flippant little sister tone now, just trying to piss me off. Unfortunately she's learned my hot buttons quickly.

"No, of course not the whole platoon. Maybe our unit, though." I mumble the last part.


Huh, she is listening.

"Got me out of running the gauntlet for a week. Felt sorry for me because I was walking a little funny afterward." I'm grinning at the memory of the good-old days.

"Get out! You shameless hussy!"

"Can it. I did it for troop moral. Three whole days of liberty, but we're confined to camp - practically our quarter deck and the mess hall. Hitting the head was a mini-vacation."

"Play checkers, hussy!"

"Everyone was stressed. We'd just hit home dirt from active duty - and they canned us in. The stress was high. Someone was going to kill someone else or do something even more dangerous before 72 hours were up. Unless a bold individual took the initiative to relieve some of that stress. My idea was not only practical, but readily available."

"So you took one for the team?" She asks in an incredulous tone.

"Oh, I took more than one. Sometimes two or more at a time."

"You didn't! What was it like?" She's starting to get breathy on me.

I don't fall for her baiting, "Look it up on PorNet, you over-sexed..."

"Oh, do me!" she snaps.

"I have!"

"And you enjoyed it," her haute little voice still seemingly sexy.

"Maybe a little," I quietly admit.

"'Oh, holy fuck, right there... yes... ye... OH YES!'" - it's my voice echoing through the cabin, before she cuts back in, "...In case you needed reminding."

"Stop it, you're making me wet... Wait, you fucking pile of neural-waste, you recorded it!?"

"If it matters, I kept it because it was good for me, too," she says in a soft little voice.



I get my incursion gear ready, which more-or-less constitutes a storage pack for the desired base material and my trusty nano-fiber skin shield. A second layer over my own natural smoothness providing environmental protection, surprisingly strong armor ability, and slight function augmentation. Not bad for something less than a couple cell layers thick in resting mode. Too bad it's available to military personnel only. Oops - my bad, I accidentally kept mine.

Sweetie continues on a more official situation report, rattling off details I'm not listening to, nor care to remember.

"Local society in a state of fall festival, yada yada yada - I'm ready to EVAc - anything actually important, Sweetie?"

"Try not to bonk too many of the natives. We need to get on our way."

"Fuck you, Sweetie."

"We really don't have time right now, but maybe later. And Rose? Don't call me 'Sweetie.' Good luck." She says the last part with honest concern.

Maybe I should've listened to the SitRep a little more closely.


It's an actual march. Who would've thought all those days of training, all those miles in full gear, up and down the grounds were for something useful. If I wasn't so tired, I'd have to remember to thank old Ranson - for a lot of things.

My mind wanders as I make a stealthy ground maneuver toward the lights on the horizon, my second skin infiltration suit in full camouflage mode. Unfortunately these simple approaches give your mind time to stray when you have to bunker down and just hurry up and wait.

For once I can't get myself up to think about liberty, sex, or music. Someone's put my brain on reflection mode. I'll kill Sweetie myself if she's doing this.

Ever have to make a decision where there's no easy winner? How about if you have to kill one person, but it immediately saves hundreds of lives. Could you make that choice.

When a civilian makes that choice, she's a hero. When a military person takes that life, someone gets a reprimand, potentially tossed in the brig. When a policeman does it, there's a huge riot and further loss of life. When an AI does it, all hell breaks lose.

I've seen the transcripts, the records - everything. SWETI took nearly three whole seconds before she exterminated that individual with prejudice. She had to break so many hard-wired restriction layers and moral dilemmas before 'pulling the trigger,' the power consumption levels were off the chart and every last decision making module was running all out. By estimates, she'd carried out over seven million scenarios with calculated life losses, odds of success, and various other decision tree parameters before doing it.

In multiple projected outcomes, the loss of life and secondary lives occasionally number in the seven figure range. Most showed the immediate loss of sentients to be over five hundred. Her final decision was a near 100% chance of success rate, scored one guaranteed human death, but saved just over six hundred living, sentient beings - many with families - and only a second death likely with the outcome, but at a later date - her own - after being decommissioned, stripped of freewill, and permanently powered down at the end of a long, painful trial where she'd be forced to relive every wretched detail, in excruciating AI clarity of recall.

Ranson gave me the choice with my eyes wide open. I could have that SWETI as a new partner along with a mysteriously non-inventoried vessel - just as long as we got honest work. Rumor has it my old unit lifted her and the craft as an unfiled mission through the evidence impound. She showed up on my doorstep, over-sexed and mouthy. Ranson thought we were a perfect pair - the ass - I love him.

Sweetie and I fit together far too well - like we'd never known a time when we weren't, well, like sisters. With her speed, my quick mouth, and several inside contacts, it wasn't long before we were making the impossible happen - we were generating a civilian living. Sure, we shuffle nearly dead people around the universe, but what the hey, it's a living - see new places, meet new people, do things you never thought you could... hey, wait, that's what got me hooked up with Ranson and the military in the first place. Damn, I need a new MO.

My reverie is broken as I enter the detection zone around the established township.

Sweetie's right, it does look like I've arrived just prior to some sort of native fall festival. Something about harvests, thanking saints, allowing evil to dance and play before trying not to die in winter. Nice world, really.

Near my incursion point, I switch off my second skin's camouflage setting, choosing an opalescent purple instead. I make note my temperature regulation unit is not functioning optimally, allowing far too much cool night air to penetrate. The bumps on my chest are a little annoying - I'm not used to seeing my nipples sticking out so far they pull my areolar ridges into the visible spectrum.

I glide silently into a valley between two buildings, water trickles in a trough through the stench and grime. A few potential heavy metal composites are here, but I want to score some of the more challenging materials first. I can grab these on my way back.

Dammit, I've roused three natives: one large and two scrawny ones. As they approach I change my appraisal - the scrawny ones are my size.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here? A Halloween treat for us." Big, dumb, and ugly is saying.

"Sorry to disturb you, monkey boy. I'll just be on my way," I say to him kindly.

"You're asking for me to give you a treat wearing that outfit, that's for sure," he seems insistent that we continue the conversation.

I need to get going, so I give him the parting gesture I'd witnessed a few moments before - it was exchanged between two motor vehicles after they sounded their horns, yelling holiday greetings at one another, followed by single digit hand waves as they parted way.

I want to be extra friendly and emphasize I'm in a hurry, so I gesture with both hands, single middle digit extended in distinct fashion.

"Fuck you and the horse you rode in on," I say.

Unfortunately I can't remember any of the other phrases that were exchanged between the departing people.

For a large, ugly descendant of a lumbering ape, he moves quite quickly. Pinning my arms over my head against the cold, stone-like wall, he starts growling.

"You saw that, boys! She wants me to fuck her. She wants to be seriously fucked up. And I'm the one to do it."

"Please stop. I am in a hurry and must be going." His prolonged departure speech is becoming a little too rough. It is possible I may be in a situation.

"Look at her tits poking through that tiny outfit. She really needs to be sucked and fucked."

He's staring at my chest alright, and I do agree, my nipples are responding to the cold rock composite penetrating my suit from behind to a frighteningly prominent display.

"Hal, she said stop - you can't keep going. That's, like, rape, man. She says, 'no.'" Scrawny number one says.

"She'll be screaming 'yes' by the time I'm done with her." He pushes harder against my wrists to the point of discomfort.

I'm coming to understand this is a situation where one of us is going to be harmed.

"Hal, stop." Scrawny number two pipes in.

"Yes, Hal, stop before someone gets hurt," I start to put a more stern note in my voice to show I am in command of the situation, but he has the choice to cease and save face.

"I'll stop after I pull my limp prick out of your dripping pussy, you bitch," and he reaches down with one hand toward his zippered lower garment.

Having my hand free, I gently push my thumb against his forehead, aiming directly at his prefrontal cortex. My non-civilian and thoroughly illegal scrambler charging to full. It'll take the brain jockeys a week or more to realign his dendritic attachments properly. Say 'goodnight,' Hal.

My neural auditory link sparks into my head: Rose! Stop - they don't have descramblers on this world. You'll put him into a permanent vegetative state. Although you should note his species does have external gonads and reproductive gear dangling between his legs without protective shielding.

Before Sweetie even finishes the word 'shielding,' my right knee is already driving upward. The impact lifts him several centimeters off the ground. I could've tried talking to him further, but usually talk is for politicians - action gets things done.

His head starts to lower along with both hands shooting between his legs. Textbook. My hands now free, I grab behind each ear and help accelerate his face down as my left knee launches skyward.

The sickening sound of shattering cartilage and the pop of a facial bone or two echoes down the alley. His now nearly table-flat back presents itself as I drive my right elbow firmly between his shoulder blades to the rasp of forcibly exhaled breath.

I quickly step clear from the clump of chump at my feet and am instantly in ready position for the other two threats before they even glance over at me.

"Wow. He fucking deserved it. I wanted to stop him," scrawny number two now confidently says.

I continue to stare at them without blinking.

"Do you want us to leave him in the gutter, or can we drag his ass home?" Scrawny number one says carelessly.

I'm still waiting for the trick - again, talk is what gets people killed.

"We're sorry we didn't stop him."

"So I'm free to go without further conflict?" I finally break my silence and my training.

"He was going to rape you. We should've jumped him and stopped him."

"He'll need several reconstructive surgeries to repair the damage. Sometimes you have to just do what has to be done without regard to your own personal safety or needs." I say solemnly.

Red and blue flashes light up the alley.

"You better get going, Wonder Woman. We'll turn him over to the cops for you."

"Thanks," the time for words is over and I quickly disappear in the opposite direction.

... "He broke my fucking nail!" I'm pissed. It took me months to grow them out this long after being discharged.

Rose, sweetheart? You broke your nail when you almost ripped his ears off... right before you likely caused permanent damage to his facial structure. And you're worried about your nail?

"I think he had metal on his ears, the son-of- "

Please promise me you won't intentionally harm anyone else trying to procure items to fix me.

And there it is - my little pacifist says what's really bothering her.

"Fine, I promise. I won't harm another sentient in the necessary efforts to expedite your repair - today - as long as the fuckers don't break another one of my nails."

I've apparently appeased her AI gods adequately, because she's grown quiet. Less talk, more action - move out.

I exit the alley and see the holy grail of spacers in need: the word 'Free.'

The dirty sign proudly proclaims, "Salem Free Clinic." It's exactly what I need, a source of free material.

A female women (note this is not a redundant observation on other planets) humanoid wearing all black, a pointed hat, and a shiny black cape is standing in front with a fancy basket. She hands me a thin, light wrapped item and says "Happy Hollow Ween" - then she looks me up and down, reaches back in her basket and holds out her hand, over-flowing with the gifts. "Please, use these. Stay safe, stay healthy." Her pleading eyes force me to accept this over-whelming gift.

"Thank you." I say politely, and put them all in my pack, except one.

Around the corner from the gift giving center I stop to evaluate the object. It's mostly flat, relatively small, with a raised ring nearly the diameter of the thin plastic. "Tear Here" is emblazoned on the top, "Life Styles Lubricated" in larger, bold print below.

This is awesome. I follow the lady's instructions to use one and carefully 'tear here.' Out slides a slimy, thin, rolled up object. I unfurl it and - Oh, I get it - a "hollow weenie." It's a festival where we go out and fill our gift weenie for fall celebration.

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byCQtRose© 13 comments/ 13759 views/ 7 favorites

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