Had to take a break yesterday. The brain went on strike. Still I managed to write thirteen hundred words, but I had to leave Jack in the middle of a battle, his saber poised to strike a really ugly alien. His arm must be getting tired by now.
It’s midmonth and I’m more than halfway there (for NaNo, anyway), but I want to pick the pace back up. Meantime, here’s another undedited excerpt:
I gaped. Iâ€™d assumed that Iâ€™d get a similar experience with Eve as with Phoenix. It looked like she was developing fast but more normally; I remembered Terryâ€™s little Evie doing exactly what Eve was doing. Eve, Evie. Was it a coincidence Iâ€™d chosen such a similar name? They didnâ€™t look the same at all. Evie was dark-haired and had been slender, even as a baby. Eve was light-haired and pudgy. Both of them, though, had beautiful eyes, even if Eveâ€™s were weird-looking.
While I was being amazed, the case on the table had expanded. The two sides had revolved and lay flat. On the left side, a flat screen with a keyboard, on the other side, some kind of communications device that resembled what Neola was using. I felt a twinge thinking of Neola. I knew she was dead, along with my other self, and I knew sheâ€™d used me but I did miss her anyway. I missed her quirky mind, her sense of humour, her guts.
I looked for a switch to turn the screen on but couldnâ€™t find one. More out of no knowing what to do than anything else, I touched the screen; it lit up without even a sputter. I hoped I didnâ€™t have to give more blood to be able to operate it.
It was well and good to have equipment, but I had no idea what to do with it. The screen narrowed to a pinpoint, then lit up again. A gorgeous, bosomy blonde appeared. â€œMr. Meter, Iâ€™m Jacqueline, your avatar.â€
â€œFunny, Winston, very funny.â€
Jacqueline smiled. â€œIâ€™m here to help and guide you through the AGES database and to contact the people you might want to talk to. How can I help?â€
Using the database was going to be easier than I thought. â€œGive me everything you have on a species called Phoenix.â€
â€œOne moment please.â€
It was only one moment, and data blinked onto the screen. Jacqueline, reduced to a small window in the left corner, smiled. â€œDid you want me to read the data to you, Mr. Meter? I can also summarize the salient points.â€
â€œIâ€™ll read some first, see howâ€™s that going for me. If itâ€™s too difficult to understand, Iâ€™ll ask you to interpret.â€
â€œJust say my name, and Iâ€™ll be there.â€
Jacqueline blinked out. I began to read.
The more I read, the more appalled I was. The Phoenix species was not a natural species but a fabricated one. It took on the external appearance of the owner it was attached to but, internally, it stayed the same. I wondered how that would work for my alien friends the Thrittene, who were many and one at the same time.
Initially, the Phoenix had been bred as a pet, or a piece of interesting, renewable furniture. Their intelligence was very low, maybe that of a bird â€“hence the name Phoenix, that the humans who knew about them had given themâ€”plus the fact that they did die and renew themselves every morning. The individuals didnâ€™t die, they wore out. When that happened, they could be given a form of poison that stopped their renewal.
They had been originally fabricated on a small planet in Alpha Centauri â€“the closest galaxy to ours, I knewâ€”but there were now several factories across other galaxies. There were two models: a twenty-four hour and a twelve-hour model, the longer-lasting model being more expensive, of course.
I wondered if whoever was doing this had given me two cheap models or one of each. Would Eve last a whole twenty-four hours, or would she evaporated in eight hours? I glanced at her. Sheâ€™d fallen asleep, her face leaned against her little pudgy hand, her curls longer and darker. Her clothes seemed to be a lot tighter. Cute kid. My heart twinged. Damnit to hell.