I went with “I’d like to make you an offer…”
A Sun in Its Womb #5
“The baby,” Aja said, the answer hitting him in the gut. He stared at Knackers as a cold sweat slowly blossomed on his skin. “You want Jordy’s child.”
“We’ve already filed a paternity claim on your behalf.”
“But I didn’t even know she was pregnant!” It still sounded unreal. Contraceptive implants were mandatory for all station personnel. “You manipulative, overreaching assholes—you removed the implants! Mine. You removed mine.”
“The Fer never fully entered estrus until she entered into her relationship with you. The treaty with the Ferract forbids the use of implants of any kind into their larva.”
He’d heard of female ovulation and menstruation, but citizens needed a license to reproduce before implant removal would allow that to happen and he’d never experienced either in his partners. He tried to recall what was involved… something about bleeding. Jordy had never bled.
“Did you tamper with my implant?” That damn physical examination they’d insisted on before his promotion had given them the opportunity.
“No.” Knackers folded his arms across his chest.
Aja grappled with relief. “You mean she… it wasn’t me? Parthenogenesis?” Humans didn’t reproduce asexually… but a Fer might. He felt strange about that. Let down. Had he actually wanted a child? With an alien? With her, he reminded himself, though that didn’t make him feel less like a victim of a hull breach. “But then…”
“They don’t know that.”
“We need to examine the fetus. It’s your right to establish if it’s yours.”
Knackers leaned forward and licked his lips. “I’d like to make you an offer, Mr. Paz.”
STOA offers were seldom issued as polite requests. Aja wasn’t clever, not by a long shot. He knew what he was, and he was stolid and thorough and a stickler for following procedures. He neither challenged superiors nor bucked authority. But he did know how to analyze a situation. STOA needed him to pretend paternity for some reason. Knackers might be lying to him about not being the father—the bastard hadn’t actually said the implants were intact—but Aja was pretty certain by now that Jordy had conceived somehow. Everything else, whether STOA was after the baby or simply wanted to keep Jordy from leaving on the Ferract ship, was open to speculation.
Go with what you know, Aja told himself. He knew there was a Ferract ship tethered to the station he and 1400 other people called home. He knew Jordy celebrated humanity in a way he, a human, never had. He knew that was what he loved most about Jordy. And he knew STOA lied.
“What’s the offer?” he asked.
“You claim paternity. That’s all. You insist the fetus could be yours until we get a chance to examine it. In return—”
“Are you going to hurt it?” Aja held Knackers’ blank stare. “The baby. Are you going to hurt it? Do anything to it?”
“Leave the rest of this business to us. Do you want to know what you get in return for your cooperation?”
Aja slumped. “Sure. Why not?” Hanging around with this asshole was only reminding him why he preferred Fritz, his worker bee’s, company. The best company, though, was Jordy. Damn, what he wouldn’t give right now to hear one of her rolling laughs. He wanted to hold her round curves in his palms while he pushed her down on a bed and kissed her silly. That’s what he really wanted.
“You get to stay here, with her, while raising your little Fer larva. All expenses covered. And priority rejuv status.”
Only citizens above managerial rank got rejuv status at all. Priority was reserved for upper echelon executive levels. Knackers was offering to extend his lifetime three-fold. Aja sat upright, wondering how long a Fer might live. For all he knew, Jordy would die upon giving birth… and then what? He’d be stuck with a baby Fer? That couldn’t happen, if the baby wasn’t his. Jordy would leave once the test proved he wasn’t the father.
She was leaving him. Had known it from the moment the Ferract ship appeared, maybe even before, and she hadn’t said a word. Every moment with her leading to today had been so sweet and rung so true and still… not a word about being pregnant or leaving. I didn’t want it to be this way. Wasn’t that what she’d said?
Aja knew then what the tests would prove. Knackers’ offer wasn’t empty. It was, however, a trap.
“Sure.” Aja nodded and smiled grimly. “What the hell. I’ve always wanted a family.”
* * * *
Jordy met Knackers and two STOA directors at the lock. Aja watched the meeting unfold on vid. They hadn’t let him go down to attend the parley. He was surprised to see no other Fer. But Jordy looked unconcerned. She was wearing a station jumpsuit and looked as normal and cute as ever. She even smiled directly at the lens embedded in Knackers’ STOA button.
Just seeing her again made Aja’s heart leap. He felt so incredibly connected to this woman. She didn’t feel alien to him at all. Maybe that was just a function of her having human DNA and created a shape, a smile, a twinkle of the eye and tilt of the nose that drew him to her across a room… or through the aperture of a lens. I love you, he mouthed and her smile grew wider. So did his.
“To support the claim of paternity, we need for you to submit to a simple test.”
“No invasion of a Fer body is allowed under our treaty,” she pointed out. “That includes a Fer fetus.”
“You mean larva.”
“No. I mean fetus. And there’s no need for a test. The Ferract acknowledge that the conceptus is human and Aja Paz is the father.”
Jordy gave Knackers a glacial grin. “I want the father of my child. Any genetic donor to a Fer is considered as Fer. I suggest you don’t put that statement to the test.”
(to be continued…)
The other Wednesday Briefers also have exciting flash stories or chapters for you to enjoy. In fact, we just welcomed Cia to our group!
Michael Mandrake m/m
Cia Nordwell m/m
MA Church m/m
Elyzabeth VaLey m/f
Julie Lynn Hayes m/m