B.O.S.S. — Replid Nation, Part 1

Apologies again for the late update.  For now, the posts will likely be on Mondays during the holidays.  However, here’s an NEW B.O.S.S. story for the blog.  — Enjoy

eyeI entered my usual haunt on the fifteenth of February, twenty-one-fifty-eight looking to restock my nicotine supply.  I needed every edge I could get with the case.     It was a convenience store just down the street from my office.  My nicotine supply had run dry and from the looks of it, the compressor of my vaporizer kicked the bucket.

I didn’t know then, but would fit the events of the day quite well.

Hadie, The beautiful young woman behind the front counter noticed me when I came in.  “Hey, Max.  The usual?”

I waved back at her without looking.  “Yeah, have it ready for me, I’m grabbing a drink from the back.”

Believe me.  It’s tough not to look.  People say it’s cuz of the pheromones, but any idiot could see the appeal.  I grab a soda out of the cooler along with a ‘Protein compound Max!’.  I wouldn’t drink the crap for all the credits in the sector.

I made my way to the counter, putting the two bottles atop it.  Hadie turned around and placed a fresh box of nico-canisters alongside them.  She wore her ‘hair’ up today, gathering it into a neat black ponytail.

“Looks nice,” I said, pushing the protein bottle to her.  “This one’s for you.”

She “Aww, you shouldn’t have.  You even got my favorite flavor.  A few ways to thank you come to mind.”

I was tempted, but that hadn’t been the reason I gave her the gift.  Today, I needed information.  It didn’t stop me from staring a bit too long.

Hadie and I had some mutual interest in each other, but that was common these days thanks to two magic words: Biological Incompatibility.  Like any Replid, Hadie looked human at a glance with full red lips, and nicely formed cheekbones, but she and the other one and a half million immigrants into the great US of A were something much different.

She slipped a hand forward and I cupped mine over it.  Her cool touch warmed seconds after making contact with her.

“Thanks, Max, the manager is a real cheapskate.  He keeps this place so cold.”

I popped open my soda, smiling behind a sip.  “You could always complain to the Homeland Interactions department, they even have Lizards with the feds these days.”

I flinched at my own words.  “Sorry.  It just sort of slipped out.”

“It’s fine.”  She waved it off.  “You humans make a bigger deal about racial slurs more than we do.  Besides, you used it as a common identifier, not so much an insult.  Right?”

“Yeah, I guess,” I said.  Speaking truthfully, though, my apprehension with Replids certainly inspired me to keep Hadie at arms-length.

“But what does worry me, is that I see you every day, sometimes twice a day and you still haven’t invited me over?”

It’s not you.  It’s me, I thought.  “To be fair, I haven’t invited anyone over for months, lady.  Work eats up most of my time… and speaking of work…”

Hadie stood up straighter, scowling at me.  “Oh, so that’s what this is about?”

There was no use hiding it.  “Well, the incident happened in your apartment block and you and your neighbors might be in danger.  Extremists are everywhere and I’d be sad if something bad happened to you.”

That much was true at least.  Hadie was the nicest Lizard I knew, probably the best looking one too.

“Fine, but I’m not talking about it at work.  I don’t want my pay docked for slacking off.  Ask me over drinks tonight?”

I forced a smile.  “It’s a date.”

She pushed the biometric reader towards me, and with a quick scan, I was one hundred and forty creds poorer.

“Looking forward to it.  We can order out, maybe watch a movie… have some dessert?”

“We’ll see.”  I slipped my nico-cans in my duster’s pocket.  “See you at twenty-two-hundred.”

I finished off my drink and tossed it into the trash before I stepped back onto the street.  At fourteen-hundred hours most of the population was inside.  After all, being outside in daylight was risky business—especially for non-acclimated people like myself.

I pulled my duster’s collar higher up around my cheeks, meeting the underside of my fedora’s brim.  A few couples hung out on the sidewalks, mixed couples of humans and replids.  So much of the population took the benefits in stride, low-grade mutation they called it.

For those of you reading this in a less crazy time, I’ll bring you up to speed.  That Biological Incompatibility is a bit misleading.   Not only can humans and replids have hanky panky with no risk of children, they help each other mutually.  Bacteria, viruses, sexually transmitted diseases and other abnormal cells stopped hurting humans after exposure to the opposite race.

Not only was the sex fun, but it also acted as a sort of vaccine.  By now, eighty percent of the population embraced this arrangement in some form or fashion.  The population stabilized, with fewer people bothering to have children—on account casual sex between humans has all but gone extinct.

Sounds crazy huh?   I’d agree.  But the thing is, replids are good looking by default.  They have low body fat, excrete pheromones that act as aphrodisiacs while in heat and visually they look just like us.  Seriously, you need a microscope to tell the difference.  Instead of hair, they had breathing fibers.

Use your imagination.  The similarities don’t stop there.  So in short, replids effectively are humans with odd hair and eye colors.  Culturally, they don’t judge people based on traits humans consider ‘ugly’, and they take an extremely casual view of ‘spending time’ with humans.

So, over the past on hundred years, humans and replids formed a symbiotic relationship that sprung us into a golden age.  The people around me reflected as much, it might have been the happiest age in human history.

I settled in front of an electronics store, loading a nico-cartridge into my vaporizer.  All of the monitors flipped to the same news broadcast, despite each tuned to different channels.  That’s saying something, considering Chicago’s media circuits were up to five thousand channels by that point.

Oh, and that’s when I realized my damn vaporizer was dead.  Remember that?

None of that really mattered because of three words plastered over twenty screens.  ‘Crossbred child born.’

I stood there gaping, unable to process the words as I read them repeatedly.  I mouthed the words as if speaking them aloud would turn it into fiction.

I’d like to hope whoever reads this story looks back on this mess and laughs like we worried over nothing.  However, from what I’ve seen.  This birth sparked a war.  It twisted this once brilliant beacon of hope into a twisting pit of sorrow.

 

 

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