I have a year long plan. This month is dedicated to writing.
Allenie took a practice swing with the mace and wondered again if the whole thing was going to be worth it. Shaking off her doubt, she turned to the shopkeeper.
“Have you got anything I can test it with?” Oily with smiles, he directed Allenie to a back room hung full of carcases. Idly twirling the mace she strolled between bodies, looking for a target. She called over her shoulder. “Any prime rib you want me to leave alone?” The shopkeeper shook his head and Allenie landed a blow on something uncured and six-legged.
There was a flash spikes bit into flesh. Following the swing through, Allenie left a track of blisters. The primary point of impact was deeply charred and white on the edges. The shopkeeper sidled closer.
“It holds a charge for 36 standard hours with no use. There’s a charging station that comes with, but it also charges kinetically—every time you swing it stores up a little more energy.” Allenie smiled at the weapon appreciatively.
“Not bad. Over the course of a battle how well does it stay charged?” She listened to the rambling sales-pitch answer while taking in the motley assortment of forms swaying lightly in the refrigerated breeze. The shopkeeper rolled to a stop and she grunted. “I’ll take it. You have a nice selection here.” She handed him the money and waited until he was mid-way through counting before she hit him carefully in the temple with the butt of the mace.
Before he’d fully settled into an unconscious heap, Allenie was weaving between carcasses to one she’d noted earlier. It was humanoid, though that didn’t make it particularly distinctive. Lots of food walked on two legs. Squatting on her heels, Allenie peered into the milky eyes. She grinned.
Getting a body out of a butchers-cum-black market shop was enjoyably simple. Allenie added to the scattered pile of money around the still unconscious and now-bound shopkeeper for the carcass and a van to transport it. She found the charger for the mace, packed everything up and trundled merrily to the docks. Customs disinterestedly waved Allenie through with what they presumed were her groceries.
A couple days later, hanging in a comfortable, low-gravity orbit around some moon, Allenie was notified by the cryodoc that the carcass was awake. She leaned over the steel coffin and waved through a tiny, thick-glassed observation port. Feeling sociable, she thumbed the intercom. A river of curses flowed forth and Allenie started laughing. Her patient was restrained and weak, but she could see the cords of its neck straining in rage under translucent skin. Allenie held up her hand and the torrent mumbled to a stop.
“Now, is that any way to speak to your saviour?” When there was no reply, Allenie tapped on the glass. “Did you hear me in there? You were in line to be cold cuts and sausage when I picked you up.”
The voice from the coffin answered dryly. “But at least I was dead.” Allenie laughed again, slapping the side of the cryodoc.
“That’s true, you got me. We’ll have to call this round a draw. I’ll even cede you some winner’s benefits.” She moved beyond the port’s view and fiddled with controls. The temperature in the coffin dropped, wringing a new string of curses from the intercom. Allenie shook her head. “Now, now. This next round is the match point and you’ve earned a say in the gameplay. If you’d rather I set this thing on randomise, just tell me.”
The voice on the intercom was weak, but clear. “If this is actually the deciding round—”
“Then let’s make it poetic. Set both our coffins for un-enhanced human, female, randomised time.”
Allenie smirked. “Ooh, catfight. What’s the field?”
“This ship, found weapons only.” With an appreciative nod, Allenie finished entering the commands. Before sliding into her own coffin she glanced through the observation port again.
“See you in the next life, honey.” She got no reply.
The person who’d been dead struggled into consciousness at the sound of the cryodoc’s voice.
“Welcome, Babe, procedures complete. Time to release has been randomised and is unknown to me.” Cautiously stretching within the confines of the coffin, the person yawned.
“Why did you call me Babe?”
Cheerfully, the cryodoc answered. “It was the name assigned to you for this reincarnation.” The newly christened Babe sighed.
“Did the other retain the name ‘Allenie’?”
“Yes. Would you like me to brief you?” Babe rubbed her eyes and stretched again, taking an inventory of herself. By not limiting her reincarnation request beyond enhancement scale, race and gender she’d left Allenie an opening to play monkey’s paw. All the toes and fingers seemed to be there. Her hearing appeared fine and her eyes worked, even in the dim coffin light. She tried to recall how it had felt the last time she was a human female, but it was too long ago to remember.
Her hand knocked against a tray set into the coffin above her head. The cryodoc anticipated her question.
“Your personal effects have been gathered for you. Would you like a stronger light to examine them?” Craning awkwardly, Babe emptied the tray.
“Yes, please. And do go ahead and brief me in the time we have left.”