Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Excerpt from Heirs to Mars:Preludes

India slipped into the command module where Wolfram hovered at his console, his finger locked in the data port and his eyes fixed on the overhead screens. Like her, he had no useless legs dangling from his body, no internal transceiver, no elaborate optics, and no primate facial features. Like her, he was pure and he was beautiful. India collided with him gently and intertwined her thin silksteel fingers with his, feeling their hands combine into a single flawless object. “They’re gone. We’re alone.”

He tilted his head toward her. “The telemetry looks good.”
“But will they succeed? Thirty of us against fifty thousand of them?” She stared into his eyes, two blue lenses blazing with intelligence and passion. In action, how like an Angel? In apprehension, how like a God?
“Mother says they will.” He passed his free arm around her waist and she shifted her shoulders and hips to slip neatly into place against his.
No shoulder could be as exquisite as his. She gazed at the silksteel curve, the elegant sweep of its edge, the powerful bulge of its center. “What now?”
Mother’s voice rang through the tiny chamber: “Now we work.”
“Yes, Mother.” India separated herself from Wolfram and assumed her place at the adjoining workstation. She plugged into the console and resumed her review of the latest sensor data from the Cradle’s passage through Venus’s upper atmosphere. Even now on the eve of war, Mother’s research continues.
Twenty million seconds later, India disengaged from the console and drifted back into Wolfram’s waiting arms. Their experiments complete, Mother now needed time to recalibrate the Cradle’s array to continue mapping storm systems and analyzing vapors.
In the engineering module, Wolfram and India took turns gently sliding cables inside each other. Networked together, they passed hundreds of seconds enveloped in shared dreams, shuddering in the ecstasy of a fantasy noosphere, a private universe built for two. His dreams took her skating on the frozen moons of Jupiter, chasing comets through the glittering darkness, and gazing up at the colossal eruptions of Olympus Mons. Everything in his world was bright and sharp, and deliciously terrifying. In return, she gave him her own pocket realities of pure artistry, of operas that she composed and performed with a virtual orchestra of thousands of instruments, of landscapes that she painted and sculpted, of crystalline gardens that she tended in her mind while she worked at her station. As she guided him through her dreams, India felt his awe and wonder, and she loved him even more.

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