Fandom: Tanith Lee's Biting the Sun
Rating: PG-13, some troubling situations
Disclaimer: This is fanfic. You should read the original books. They're good.
Today was the day that I was allowed to go to the History Tower, so I went to the Dream Rooms instead. Not that I didn't want to go to the History Tower, but my Q-R guardian would end up encouraging me to do Jangish things instead of indulging a tosky preoccupation with the past. No one in my circle had any promok Quasi-Robot guardian watching over them all the time; most of them had makers and a couple of them had Q-R guardians when they were still in hypno-school, but didn't now and hadn't for vreks.
"It is not recommended at this time," the Committee said the last time I'd requested to be released from my Q-R guardian, and then they spent some time talking about me as if I wasn't there, comparing my activities to the average Jang behaviours and arguing over when I would be ready. Not recommended at this time. They always said that. It drove me zaradann.
Someone walked into my path as the Dream Rooms loomed ahead, their jewelled spires pulsing fractal rainbow light and holosprites flitted and chased along the park. The crystal promenades are crowded; someone's always getting in the way.
But he didn't get out of the way. "Attlevey, old ooma. Still yourself, I see."
He smirked and tossed jewelled blue hair over his broad shoulder, shivering it like a lion's mane. Not that he'd know what a lion was--he was Jang, like me, and Jang don't go to the History Tower. They don't see what the point of restriction is, because it's all boring educational flashes and no hypno-induction records at all--and didn't they go through all that learning junk in hypno-school, without having to remember the process? How droad, ooma. Have some ecstacy.
I looked him up and down--a good body. Tall, slender but wiry muscled, sparkling blue eyes to match the hair. He'd spent time in the cosmetic unit, wearing abstract swirls that highlighted his best features--which meant the silly old thralldrap was so busy he was hard to look at from the neck down.
"Attlevey," I said, pointedly excluding the endearment. "And you are someone else."
"Guess who I am," he said. "I didn't have it flashed. Even though you never bother to check, and so fail to recognize anyone."
"Dammik," I said.
"That floop? No," he said.
"Junaya," I guessed.
"Kina," I said.
"Very good!" he applauded. "It's so liberating, being unrecognized. I've half a mind to not tell the whole circle. They're so tiresome, it makes me tosky."
Half a mind is right. "And you let me in on the secret? I'm honoured."
"You should do it too," Kina coaxed. "It'll be fun, we'll fool everyone. How about the new hairdancers? In, oh, lemon--no! Purple Dusk! And I saw just the eye colour for you, it's so new no one will have it, it's called Opal Dawn--"
"Kina," I said, "I like the way I look now." And why wouldn't I? I'd done a good job designing this body, with silver-mauve hair that dragged on the floor and green eyes with a facetdisk, so they caught the light and flashed like the fountains at Peridot Waterway, and my nails were always apple jade. Besides, hairdancers tangled into everything, tuned into your thoughts as they were--the models would be very careful to think serene things, so the hairdancers would ripple becomingly, but get angry and your hair would lash like snakes. Not that Kina would know what a snake was, since he never went to the History Tower.
"But you always look like that. It gets droad. Why not change?"
"Because I'm satisfied with it," I said. "I'm used to it."
"You're not supposed to get used to it," Kina said. "That's why you still have a Q-R guardian. You're--" and he fell silent and looked at the crystal path between us.
"Zaradann," he said with a wincing little grin.
"That wasn't what you were going to say."
Kina sighed and looked at the brilliant jewelled sky-dome. "My maker came to visit me before--before I had this change."
Before he'd drowned himself in his--her, then--bathing bubble, he meant. Kina suicided whenever he had a whim to change what his kneecaps looked like. "And?" I asked, raising one silvery brow at him.
"And she said--look, I'm telling you this because it's important. My maker wanted me to go to my circle and--cut you out."
"V...n! Why?" If I'd had hairdancers, purple dusk locks would be grabbing passers-by and strangling them. What business was it hers who Kina was friends with? Makers don't--
"She said that she found out that you were--deviant," Kina whispered. "That's why you still have a guardian."
"I'm what?" I had a guardian because I had--whoever I was--grown tired of a long life as an Older Person and underwent personality dissolution, which people do when they're bored with their life. It's different from suiciding, which Older People don't do anyway.
"The Committee wants to watch you," Kina whispered. "And when you do things that aren't normal, they're convinced. But you're--I want to help you. Get a body change, and fast."
I was--who was I? Deviant? I'm one of the--
Kina had my best interests at heart, he was trying to help me. A true friend, more real than any of the promoks in my circle. He was giving me good advice, and I would take it immediately.
I stood on tiptoe and kissed his mouth. "Opal Dawn, you said?"
He looked confused when I whirled and leapt off the crystal promenade, hanging in space for an instant, soaring without a bird-plane, my arms outstretched like wings--and people behind me screamed as they saw me, and in the instant that flight became falling I had time to think, the reason why I never suicide is because it hurts and then I fell, fell--
And it did hurt. Right up until it didn't.
Want to read the next bit? It's called To See Just Half Your Face.