Security monitor log:
10183658 local time
Sun-Mars L5 Emergency Notification activated.
begin station sensor scan: …
…sensor scan complete:
searching for relevant camera footage….
There was a rumour all throughout the palace that the Chevalier D’Argent was secretly a woman.
The Lavender Menace stood silhouetted against the city, hands on their hips, chest thrust out to show off the improbably deep V-neck.
“Citizen! How may I be of assistance?”
“Only four crates, correct?”
Eryn nodded, then held up the small duffel he had clutched tight in his hands. “And this.”
The customs agent nodded and made a note of it. He had a severe face with bushy brown beard and eyebrows, both of which sprouted several small, downy blue feathers at intervals. Eryn had considered that kind of combination, which would have been both sufficient to the Reserve’s criteria and cheaper, but in the end, he’d decided that he couldn’t have been happy with that kind of halfway. The post-transition therapist had said it was a good sign that he was adjusting to a lack of body hair so quickly. Eryn didn’t miss so much as a follicle of it.
Eris Manzana started to unravel around the edges as soon as she hit the door to her house. I watched, fascinated, as the wig came off, then the falsies. I trailed after her and helped with zippers, seeing Harper start to emerge out of the sequins.
“It’s like a reverse magical girl transformation,” I laughed as he tackled his makeup. He had laid out an arsenal of bottles and makeup wipes before he’d ever left the house, the arrangement meticulous. The way he went about destroying it, not so much.
There wasn’t a whole lot you could complain about with a period of general galactic peace. Unless you were someone like Carmine Centauri, who’d spent most of your adult life either training for or being directly involved in a period of general galactic war, and then you were just pretty well out of luck.
Which is why Cen actually took the holovid message from Steele, which turned out to be about a job, which turned out to be a job she couldn’t pass up in her current underemployed state of affairs.
Which was how, stars preserve her, she ended up on a tin bucket of a mining shuttle with two of her exes for a twelfth-cycle straight.
The house of Dr. Dido Fell—a name so clangingly theatrical that it has to be a pseudonym, but all her diplomas say the same thing—is a modern thing of wood and glass, set high on a hill on the Massachusetts coast; while the road that leads to it is paved, few cars drive there. The inside is always very clean, and so are the windows, no matter how fierce the storms get. Every room looks out over the forest surrounding the grounds, and it’s possible to see the Atlantic itself from the eastmost set; the house itself is a tiny bastion of civilization amid acres of green. It’s often so still that the sound of the ocean makes it through the trees like a distant, rolling hiss.
I have an expensive coffee habit.
It’s not that I can’t make it at home, or that I think the coffee at that cafe is the best coffee in the world. See, it’s the barista. I have developed a burning crush on this barista, who is the hottest person I have ever laid eyes on.