Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Private War, Part IV

The following is the fourth part of an ill-conceived story arc chronicling Rolinthor's and the Applied Physics Institute's pathetic misadventures in the Derelik region. Read Part I here, II here, and III here, and check back soon(TM)* for the next episode (you know, if you're empire mining, and you're really, really bored).

The afterlife wasn't at all like the Amarr said it would be.

As Roland Prideaux climbed the ladder of consciousness back to a state more befitting an advanced hominid, his eyes slowly focused on a face. The face belonged not to an angel but to his wife, Xanthippe.

Prime's "Ex", as he liked to call her, was a Sebiestor woman on the verge of crossing that fuzzy boundary into "peasant" country. But perhaps this requires some explanation: Everyone knows, of course, that Sebiestor are graceful and lithe, if a bit on the gaunt and pale side, and that they have a sensual attitude to match their looks. This is why many men throughout the cluster desire to take them for wives. But for those that do, one morning, when the woman reaches somewhen north of 35 years old (and, mind you, only after she's been married off), these husbands wake up to find that they're wedded not to a wild, tribal sex goddess but to a peasant woman with round face, plump figure and child-bearing hips.

In the looks department, Xanthippe was still years from crossing the peasant line, but in mindset she had crossed it long ago, or so Prime thought to himself, somewhat bitterly, as the clone vat emptied itself of pseudo-amniotic fluid and he stepped, dripping with slime, onto the cold linoleum of his family flat. Once he had coughed up the last of the fluid from his lungs, he grabbed the robe Xanthippe was holding out to him--how is it that she makes the simplest gesture seem like a reproach? he thought--and covered himself with it.

"I'm sorry, love, I'm not here for one of my regular visits," Prime said.

"'Regular'?" she said. "I'm sure I don't know what that word even means anymore. You haven't been making 'regular' visits for more than a month, since you and that Rolinthor fellow went off into w-space with that Amber-woman, to do who knows what."

"'Who knows what'? You know exactly what, Ex: making ISK. For us. For our future together." Prime stood up straight, arched his back, and adjusted his robe, gestures intended to restore his capsuleer dignity. His bathrobe trailing behind him, he walked like King Rouvenour himself to the shower.

"But we have enough already love," Ex cooed at him as she watched the blurred form of his body through the frosted glass of the shower door. She peeled off a layer of clothes alluringly. Prime thought for a moment that she looked like an impossibly graceful impressionist painting. The sight only made him feel worse about what he knew he had to do. He bowed his head under the stream of hot water.

"It's not money, love," Prime said softly, his voice halting. "I can't leave Rol right now. I think he needs me."

Prime watched the impressionist painting lose focus, diminish, and disappear just ahead of the sound of the bathroom door closing. He put even odds on Ex still being in the house by the time he got out of the shower.