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EMISSARY TO THE SUN WORLD
November 27, 2006
"The crew of the Dreadnought Apollo and Marine Platoon A welcomes you, Ambassador Ponti. As a sign of our mutual friendship, I present you with my credentials," Ambassador Samuel "Spanner" Templeton handed the diplomatic pouch to Ambassador Ponti who, in turn, passed it off to his aid. The exchange of colors and introduction of the staff took the better part of an hour. Fred Smith personified the oily and obsequious politician. Ambassador Ponti and his staff followed Captain Randall to their quarters aboard the Dreadnought. Ambassador Templeton, Fred White and the Marine platoon crowded into the Epsilon Orionis shuttle with crates of office equipment. The shuttle lifted effortlessly off the deck and left the Dreadnought.
On the flight, The Cultural Liaison from Orionis, Kirk Brownlee, a young looking metalloid with a bright smile over metal teeth, explained the uniqueness of the atmospheric system on the shuttle. The Metalloids could live in vacuum. Spanner introduced Lieutenant Cody Buck and Platoon A, his embassy staff. In turn, Lieutenant Buck spoke to his Platoon.
"Gentlemen, new embassies on strange planets are always difficult undertakings. I trust you will do your best to make this endeavor a success." He didn't expect a reply but sixty voices barked, "Sir, Yes, Sir," back at him. Kirk Brownlee insisted on the human custom of shaking hands with each marine. The Marines grabbed and fondled his metal body.
"Ambassador, Mister White, Lieutenant Buck and you fine marines. I am your liaison, consultant and advisor concerning Epsilon Orionis. I am at your disposal 24 and 7 as they say," Kirk Brownlee announced. The Marines again responded with a loud, "Sir, Yes, Sir." Lieutenant Buck rolled his eyes.
"They are gung-ho, Ambassador," Kirk said quietly. Spanner looked surprise.
"You have a human face, a Terran name and you know colloquial English?" Spanner asked. The metalloid's face took on a bashful and embarrassed look.
"The latest fad on Epsilon Orionis right now is everything Terran. All our younger metalloids, I guess you would call them teenagers, are imitating humans. The High Council thought that since I would be working so close to you, that I should really look and act more like you. I've been studying your spacefaring culture. It's kind of fun acting like a youngster again," Kirk Brownlee explained. Spanner's expression lit up with fun.
"Teenagers, Epsilon Orionis has teenagers? You have my sympathy. I thought that teenagers and their fads were phenomenon unique to Earth. There are ancient writings that describe children rebelling against their parents. We have something in common with each other…" he barely paused before returning the conversation to diplomatic matters.
"Before we arrive at the Embassy on Alpha, let me ask you a question. Your world is so bright, so bathed in energy, how are we going to move around? There are those who suggest we stay in the Embassy but I find that that is a drawback to good relations. Personally, I find the lack of contact with the local culture unacceptable."
"Well, let me be frank, Ambassador. We have our own xenophobic advisors. However, contact outside the Embassy will be limited to short-term visits in metal suits to protect your bodies against vacuum, radiation, and the shear intensity of energy that exists in our environment. If you wanted someone to stay outside longer than a few hours, you should seriously consider converting his body to living metal. That's the only way that you could have direct interaction with our world. I am guessing that you have a similar conversion process to return your bodies to flesh and blood when the assignments are finished. If you don't, then the conversion would be permanent," explained Kirk. Every human head turned towards Ambassador Spanner to hear the answer. Spanner didn't miss a beat.
"I have to consult with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Atherton before I commit to any conversions. I'm almost certain that we might be allowed to convert a few guards, however, the Secretary is not known for speedy decisions,"
"If there is any doubt, I would suggest you stick with the metal suits," Kirk said in noncommittal tones.
"I'm told that we have to wear suits to get to the Embassy, don't we? If so, then the Marines should start getting into them," Ambassador Templeton said. Kirk directed the Marines to cabinets containing what looked like suits of armor. He instructed the Marines that they should pack their dress uniforms in several open trunks. The Marines made fast work of undressing and starting to fit the bulky metal suits over their bodies. The suits fit tight against the Marine's bodies. Kirk and the metalloid crew worked to make sure the men were properly suited. Ambassador Templeton got into his suit last. That gave him a chance to talk to Kirk the Metalloid privately.
"Call me Spanner when we're alone. These suits are terrible. Getting in and out of these suits several times a day for some of my guards is going to be ridiculous," Spanner said.
"That was my thought too, Ambassador, uh, Spanner," Kirk answered. He did that cute face and almost blush again.
"Now I have to tell you something in confidence. Can I trust you're not here to report everything that happens inside the Embassy back to your superiors?" Spanner asked.
"That would violate the Embassy protocols. I would never betray your trust," Kirk answered.
"Neither Terra Prime nor any other planet but yours has the ability to transmute matter. The blending of most races depends on DNA mutability. As much as you can make your bodies look human, we don't know how to reciprocate," Spanner explained.
"That means conversion to living metal is a one-way trip," Kirk sad.
"Sometimes ambassadors take on alien forms to learn about the other races. The Department of Foreign Affairs frowns on it. The Earth-First Movement views going native as race betrayal and compromising the genetic heritage of earthmen. I don't agree. I'm willing to volunteer all of the Marines in my retinue for conversion if I can get permission. Does that bother you in any way?" Spanner waited for Kirk to answer.
"Not at all, I was hoping at least one of your embassy staff would accept complete conversion to a metal body. I'm delighted with your decision. I would be honored to sponsor you. When can we start?"
"When, that's a good question. I'm not sure. It could be tomorrow or it could be years. You should be ready to move as fast as we can after I get it approval," Ambassador Spanner shrugged. Kirk shook his head affirmatively. They understood each other. Kirk lifted the helmet to put on Spanner's head.
"Now I have a difficult cultural question to ask of you," Kirk paused and waited for Spanner to show his approval to ask such a question.
"We don't have the equivalent of two sexes on Epsilon Orionis. We only have one sex that is roughly equivalent to your male. Why are there no females on your spaceships?"
"Simple, our faster-than-light drive damages the female reproductive equipment, consequently, we only send men into outerspace," Spanner said.
"I'll take that into account in our dealings. Thank you," Kirk said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs diplomatic handbook instructs all diplomats, especially ambassadors, to "never assume that an alien culture understands" when you discuss Terran culture. It goes on to say, "Assumptions are usually mistaken" and the results can be "startling and quite unexpected." What an understatement.
The exterior of the new embassy reflected a dazzling array of vibrations and energy beams. They docked at the nearest of two docking ports. A second cargo ship docked on the other. With the help of a half-dozen, eager and youthful metalloids, the Marines unloaded the embassy equipment. Methodically, the Marines opened the crates and began to set up the offices, residences and barracks. Several of the Marines stayed encased in their metal suits all day while others worked naked, half-dressed and some, partially encased in metal. At the end of the first day, they just flopped onto beds wearing whatever they had on and slept. Kirk and his metal buddies noticed the exemplary level of effort that the Marines put into their work. On the second day, the Marines showered, ate quick meals and went back to setting up the embassy. Kirk admired their dedication. The metalloids also learned about cursing, vulgarity, tattoos, piercings, sweat, soap, weightlifting and sex – both solo and between men. The Embassy seemed to exist in a state of constant chaos as they Marines worked to get it in order.
Over the course of several days, Kirk watched as draft copies of twenty-four hour schedules, metal suit chafing and injury reports, completion reports, to do lists, and all sorts of other procedural and routine matters appeared, disappeared, got corrected, reappeared, got trashed, revised, finished, updated and presented for the next day's work. He watched the chaos of setting up the embassy seamlessly settle into the routine of four shifts that provided total coverage with slack for the sickness, injury and relaxation. The Marines ability to adapt on the fly and form teams with impromptu leaders impressed him. He quickly learned that what appeared to be chaos was in reality a quick and efficient method to achieve a goal. Kirk learned all he could about human behavior and sexuality by helping the Marines.
At the beginning of the second week, Ambassador Templeton held a rotating celebration for the staff. He knew everyone on the staff by first and last name, rank, duties, military history and current assignment. After that, Kirk brought around a dizzying array of dignitaries from Epsilon Orionis. Spanner's ability to memorize the names and personal details of the dignitaries impressed Kirk. He couldn't remember half of the Marines and he'd been working with them.
Ambassador Spanner, as they called him inside the embassy, found traveling outside of the Embassy for the humans difficult and time consuming. The suits made them look like metal blimps and only protected against the high levels of radiation for roughly ninety minutes. After that, the humans started to suffer radiation sickness. The Marines set up a complicated duty schedule to prevent overexposure. They also created a sperm bank for posterity and those with the most guard duty began encasing their testicles in balls of lead under their jockstraps. One day when he was alone with the ambassador, Kirk brought up the subject of the sperm bank.
"Tell me, what is this emission that they consider valuable enough to store so elaborately when most days they simply wash it down with the shower water," Kirk asked. Spanner nearly swallowed his tongue. His coffee spilt on his desk. He explained human sexuality and described human sexual organs as briefly as he could. Crap, he's worse than a teenage boy having a masturbation crisis, thought Spanner.
Later that day, one of the Marines reported that he overhead Kirk explaining the two human sexes to his metalloid buddies. The following day, the six metalloids that seemed to be Kirk's staff, showed up sporting metal cocks and balls. Spanner issued a directive declaring the discussions of sexual matters "sensitive" and reportable.
He asked Kirk about the six metalloids and learned that these six were like his nephews or cousins. They all shared the same father but not the same co-creators. Epsilon Orionis did not have two sexes, only one sex. Kirk explained that most of the younger metalloids wanted the embassy to succeed and desired relations with the Terran Confederation. He compared them to graduate students conducting internships. At the end of the appropriate time, they would go out and teach the rest of the Metalloids about off-world culture.
At the end of the first month, at least a dozen Marines requested conversion to metal bodies. Spanner sent his third request to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs without results. Impatient, the four Marines adopted Kirk's young cousins and taught them drinking, whoring, poker, and any other bad habit they could think of. They discovered that certain energy levels acted just like alcohol on the Metalloids. Secretly, the metalloids considered it an honor to participate in any antics the Marines could think up. One day, they playfully terrorized the embassy while Spanner entertained some visiting scientists from Earth. Lieutenant Buck confined the Marines to quarters and Spanner banished the young metalloids for two weeks.
Spanner renewed his request for human conversions but received no reply. He knew why but he pretended to wait.
The embassy, although large, bored its occupants. The Marines took to creating elaborate practical jokes on the unsuspecting populace. One of these involved getting the metalloids to wear red clothing, which the younger persons adopted with outrageous glee. Another involved the lead globes that the Marines used to protect their testicles. An entire delegation from one of the outer suns appeared at the embassy wearing the globes on their heads. Ambassador Spanner had to stifle himself and say nothing while the delegation was at the embassy. The four miscreant Marines paid dearly for that joke.
A more elaborate practical joke involved good-old Terran fireworks. The chemical explosions delighted the metalloids. Two marines and two metalloids attempted to rig an aerial fireworks burst high above the city. They partially succeeded. One of the larger fireworks blew prematurely and exposed two of the Marines to a lethal dose of radiation. Kirk rushed Ambassador Spanner to the location.
"…All this over some stupid fireworks? Didn't you think that in this energy rich environment gunpowder and fine metal powders were even less stable than back on Terra?" Spanner bellowed at the two, grey-faced Marines. His voice echoed inside the metal helmet and crackled in his ears. The Marines expressed regret and contrition. Spanner threatened to send them back to Terra in disgrace if someone, anyone died. One of the top five diplomatic sins was to be a dead as the consequence of a practical joke. Normally, Kirk stood well away from any disciplinary matters but this time he stepped into the mess.
"There is a way to save your men. No one has to die or be sent back to Terra Prime," Kirk said. He took them to an airlock a short distance from where they were standing. Inside several metalloids were in the process of melting and casting metal into various shapes. Huge balls of molten metal floated inside energy chambers. None of the humans had seen an energy conversion chamber. Spanner, Lieutenant Cody Buck, and the two injured marines stared at the sights. The metalloids carried the injured human to a device in the back of the building. A ball of white-hot molten metal floated in an energy chamber near the ceiling.
"If we convert your Marines to metal, the radiation won't kill them. The two metalloids involved in the practical joke will act as templates. Do I have your permission to proceed?" Kirk asked.
"I hate rewarding stupidity, but I hate dead men even more," Spanner waved a hand imperiously. He motioned for the two marines to step up.
"You first, and then your companion, that will be your punishment. You don't have a choice," Spanner ordered. The marine in the metal suit nodded his agreement.
"You can't stay in that suit. It's dead metal. Take it off and get rid of those lead shields on your testicles. Lead is, uh, anathema, inimical or deadly? I don't know the word… harmful in living metal. Don't worry; this building has an oxygen atmosphere so you can breathe. The basic process is simple, you just stand in the empty energy field, one of us will synchronize the living metal with your body and mind. Then we'll combine you and the metal. After that, you will be living metal just like any other metalloid," Kirk explained. Both marines released their helmets. They blinked at the brightness of the room. The ball of living metal glowed in incandescent brilliance. The two marines shielded their faces from the glare.
"That blob of metal is hot," the first marine said as he stepped out of the protective suit. One of Kirk's volunteers adjusted the energy chamber.
"Actually it's only a couple thousand degrees centigrade. That's not hot for a metalloid. Living metal, which is what you'll become, can survive on the surface of blue giants and their solar prominences with temperatures up to 50,000 degrees centigrade. Even inside a sun, we're OK until our bodies change to lead. That's the way we die. The closer we stay to solar reactions the faster we turn to lead. You have to stand on those pads and let the energy field form around you. These fields are strong enough to make you float," Kirk explained. Both marines jumped as they set foot on the deck.
"Everything is hot, dammit," the one marine said. His muscles gleamed. Sweat dripped from him and evaporated from the flooring.
"You are such an ass-kissing whiner. The damn firework blew up in my hands and you complain? They ought to let you stand up there while the metal fries your scrawny ass to a crisp," the other marine said. The man stepped up into the energy field. Tiny lightening flashes of free electrons danced on his body as the field reformed around him. The metalloid controlling the transfer took a long moment to attune his mind with the field and establish it around the marine's human body. Suddenly, molten metal flowed from the energy chamber and consumed the Marine's human body. The other marine stood silent. Spanner could see the intense heat bombarding his body. The metal flowed and churned for a moment and then formed a replica of the marine's body identical down to the smallest detail including genitals. Kirk looked behind the marine and saw his metalloid sponsor body change too. The energy field dissipated and the marine wobbled unsteady. He got his balance and pointed a finger at Kirk.
"That fucking hurts, you fucking bastards. It felt like the fucking metal ate every fucking cell in my fucking body," the marine yelled before he realized the Ambassador and his Lieutenant stood behind Kirk.
"Mind your mouth soldier, that's an order," the Lieutenant bellowed. The suit relayed his voice over the loudspeakers. The white-hot, metallic marine snapped to attention. His metalloid sponsor guided him to the cooling area. Spanner noticed that the metalloid's body was no longer angular and sharp but smooth like a human physique. It showed muscles just like a human's body and it now had genitals. A second metalloid took his position at the controls.
"What do you call the metalloid who fine tuned the energy fields," Spanner asked.
"That's not an easy concept to translate… Uh, sponsor or um… patron, advocate, guardian… but not father or, um parent… or um, not brother. This is the first time that I feel at a loss for words," Kirk explained. He helped the second Marine onto the platform. The Marine's feet sizzled against the metal platform but he ignored the pain. His face was ashen gray and his breathing was hard and labored. An ugly radiation burn covered the entire left side of his body. His blistered and blackened left arm hung useless by his side.
"Hurry, please," gasped the Marine. The marine slumped. Only the energy fields supported his body. He closed his eyes as the molten metal flowed into the annular space between the two fields. Again, the inner field relaxed and the living metal consumed the Marine's body. When his new body formed, he rubbed new metal hands of his metal arms and legs.
"Wow, this feels magnificent. It's amazing. I could feel my human body dieing. Now all I feel is power," the Marine's smile broke through the white-hot metal.
"Your new body will absorb energy from its surroundings to heal itself. You'll never be hungry or tired again, soldier," Kirk explained. They watched as the injured Marine's body cooled slightly. Spanner noticed that the metalloid who tuned the field had changed. He wasn't a copy of the Marine, but on Terra, he would be considered a brother or cousin. Their facial features differed considerably but their bodies were nearly identical.
"I need to understand what we've just done," Spanner opened a coded diplomatic channel to the Embassy, told them that he would be away for an extended period and that they should conduct business as usual. They relayed his order to Fred, the aide-de-camp. He snapped a finger at Lieutenant and pointed a finger at the conversion chamber. Lieutenant Buck immediately opened his protective suit and began to remove it.
"The best way both the Lieutenant and I can understand all of this, is for both of us to become metal just like these two Marines. We'll justify it as an emergency. I don't think that my men should go through this alone and I want to be able to advise them as they begin to understand the change to their bodies… Kirk, you'll be my sponsor or whatever you call it," Spanner ordered. He unsealed his suit and pulled the helmet off his head. He felt the heat and radiation batter his face. The air was thin and metallic on his tongue. The Lieutenant was already naked except for the lead globe protecting his testicles. His feet tingled on the hot deck. Kirk grabbed Spanner's body in his large, metallic hands and held him upright as Lieutenant Buck stripped the environment suit off the ambassador's body. Kirk's metal body was hot to the touch. The Lieutenant's hands felt cold by comparison.
"I like men who are eager and ambitious, Lieutenant," Spanner said.
"It takes a little to get used to the deck, Sir," the Lieutenant chuckled. He climbed up on the platform and faced the mass of molten metal. The heat intense reddened his unprotected body. He looked over at the two Marines cooling in the alcove. They gave him thumbs up. Spanner danced from foot to foot on the hot deck.
"This deck is like dancing with a fat lady in combat boots. I'm ordering you to submit to this transformation. We're headed into diplomatic hell for this, you know. That's why I'm formally ordering you to undergo conversion to metal and I will put that into your permanent record. Are you ready?" Spanner said. The Lieutenant dropped the lead jockstrap on the floor and shook his cock and balls away from his body. He stepped onto the platform and stood in position. The metalloid wasn't ready to encase him in the energy field.
"You're a good man, Ambassador but you aren't military. From what Kirk tells me, we'll be able to sustain ourselves without oxygen, without air, in any weather, even floating in the vacuum of space. For space's sake, he just told us that we‘d be able to walk on the surface of a sun. We won't need protective suits for anything. Energy beam weapons won't hurt us. The top brass will be thrilled with those abilities. They aren't about to bust their wildest dream down to a private. I wanted to become metal from the moment I met these guys. I want to be an indestructible soldier and so do my men. This is a no brainer sir. If it were up to me, I would convert every Marine in the embassy to metal and be done with this metal suit and radiation nonsense. Besides, that lead jockstrap would have stretched my balls down my knees," the Lieutenant answered.
"More than I wanted to know about your testicles, Lieutenant. A simple YES would have sufficed," Spanner almost growled. He knew what the Lieutenant wanted but he didn't want Kirk to hear the Lieutenant prattle on the way he'd just done.
"You metalloid sponsor is Jemnar Keng," Kirk introduced the metalloid at the controls.
"May I ask Kirk a question, Sir?" the Lieutenant inquired.
"Feel free," Spanner answered. His voice sounded rough and raw.
"Will my cock and balls work when they become metal? To be blunt, Will I still be able to fuck?" the Lieutenant said. He couldn't blush because his body was red and sweaty from the heat. Spanner coughed and pretended it was the heat and atmosphere.
"I don't know. I don't know. Kirk lied. He used his most sincere poker face to pretend he was at a loss for words. In truth, the Metalloids wanted to incorporate human sexuality into the metalloid race. They needed human genitals and emotions to grow beyond their staid and sluggish existence. Their leadership wasn't adventuresome and thwarted any and all attempts at space travel for several millennia before the Terran first contact. Kirk and his fellow conspirators wanted the metalloids to journey to the stars.
"Well, then my last words are Semper Fi." The energy field surrounded the Lieutenant as he woofed. It held him motionless. In less than a minute, the molten metal consumed his body. Spanner and Kirk had to wait for the energy field to disperse. The Lieutenant's metalloid sponsor would watch him until he cooled and solidified.
"Kirk, what would happen if I opened the door to the outside?" Spanner asked.
"It's just plasma energy and vacuum out there. You'd die in seconds and nothing I could do would save you," Kirk answered. He took his place on the controls. The Lieutenant popped out of the energy field a mass of red-hot, glowing metal. He landed catlike on his feet and started to shadowbox. He punched a fist high into the air celebrating and jumped off the platform. He wanted to hug the Ambassador but Kirk grabbed his arm.
"Not so fast, Lieutenant Buck. You're still too hot to touch human flesh," Kirk held him tight. Lieutenant still couldn't contain his enthusiasm.
"This is great. It feels so good. Thank you Sir, thank you," the Lieutenant punched Kirk as hard as he could. His hand clanged against the metalloid's body. He stepped into the alcove and felt his body cool down. He watched them get the Ambassador ready for his conversion.
"By the way, Sir, I have one thing to tell you," the Lieutenant's smile flashed bright against his cooling exterior. Spanner raised his head to listen.
"It really does hurt like hell when the molten metal hits your body and your flesh burns to metal," the Lieutenant said with a hearty laugh. Spanner flipped the bird to Lieutenant Buck. He climbed the steps up to the platform. The heat from the reservoir of molten metal scorched his body. He felt the energy field grip his body and manipulation its quantum structure. An unseen hand took hold of every atom in his body and fixed it inside the energy field. His vision darkened as the second energy field formed permitting molten metal to flow between the two fields.
It was hotter than he ever imagined. When the inner energy field dropped, the molten metal attacked his body like a ravenous beast. It burned a duplicate of every cell in his body as it converted those cells into living metal. An amazing amount of energy filled his body giving new strength to his bones and building new metal muscles. The energy field dropped and he was free. His new body landed on the deck with a metal thud. He rubbed his hands over his still red-hot metal body. Steel tendons replaced fleshy and blood. A metal skeleton supported his body. Metal muscles moved smoothly, silently and powerfully over his new joints. He felt no heartbeat. He had no reason to breathe. I don't have to eat. I won't get sick. I'm metal, solid metal, living metal, he thought. He walked to the cooling alcove.
"How long do I have to wait in here?" he asked. His body changed color from white, to yellow, to red and then to silvery, shiny metal as it cooled. He studied Kirk's body. The metalloid new body resembled his human body.
"These cooling alcoves let the living metal recreate your new metal body as an accurate copy of your old body. For the first few minutes, you can be stamped, molded or hot worked into any form. Your new body should be stable solidify in a few minutes." Kirk said. Spanner felt his body harden as it cooled. He realized that he never really understood how the metalloids of Epsilon Orionis reproduced. Apparently, they cloned themselves into new bodies of living metal. If they wanted the same person, then one metalloid merely cloned his body. To create different personalities, then two, three or more metalloids sponsored an offspring. That's why they seemed so androgynous or asexual. The fad is going to be Marines, not humans and their foibles. Spanner chuckled at the thought of a planet filled with gung-ho marines. Unexpectedly, a voice entered his head.
"I never told you that metalloids can speak to each other with radio waves. We thought all races could send radio messages. Now we realize that humans live in a silent world," Kirk's voice seemed to come from nowhere. Spanner looked around puzzled. Kirk's chuckle popped inside his head.
"It's an internal radio. How else would we communicate without an atmosphere? Verbal language was new to us when your fist contact team landed. I guess no one ever thought to tell you it's so basic for us. We could never figure out why you Terrans used radio waves in space and not on the ground," Kirk said over the internal radio set. Spanner tried to activate his internal radio but he couldn't.
"It takes a day or two to learn how to listen and send. We metalloids all know how to keep our thoughts from each other."
"How about coded transmissions?" Spanner asked.
"You have to learn how to do it. We equip our diplomats with the ability to code transmissions. Another thing, your eyes are now sensitive to all frequencies of light. Right now, they see what you understand. In a few days, you'll be able to see the entire spectrum or one specific frequency," Kirk explained. Jemnar Keng contacted Lieutenant Buck with his internal radio. He immediately showed Buck how to maintain privacy so they wouldn't disturb the Ambassador. Lieutenant Buck's training gave him a natural aptitude for radio communications. Unbeknownst to everyone but Jemnar Kent, Lieutenant Buck was in contact with his superiors. Kent also showed him how to set up a timing circuit to record details with a date-time stamp.
"I never imagined that conversion would give us new abilities," Spanner lied. He knew that he immediately had to tell the truth. It was good technique to follow a blatant lie with a blatant truth. He continued; "We should have done this long ago. Right now, I want everyone in the embassy to undergo conversion as soon as possible. Will you make those arrangements for us Kirk?" Spanner made the request sound as formal.
As he talked about the arrangements with Kirk, he watched his features. His mouth and lips moved to the words, but his new voice didn't come from air passing through a vibrating medium. Rather he synthesized it inside his chest and broadcast it out through his face. He took a good look at the Lieutenant and the two Marines. Not only did their bodies glitter like freshly polished steel and chrome, they talked the same way. Distracted, he realized that nothing distinguished their rank or identity. When the two Marines and their metalloid sponsors stood next to each other, them, they looked like brothers, cousins, or at worst, doppelgangers. The bodies of the metalloids were as smooth and well muscled as human bodies, not only that, they had human cocks and balls. He took a good solid look at Kirk and realized that he looked like a younger brother. How unexpected, Spanner thought.
"Gentlemen, we need rank insignias and nameplates. Make that a policy for every military man converted to metal," Ambassador Spanner ordered.
"That's easy to accomplish, Sir," Kirk answered so fast he surprised Spanner. He put his heavy metal hand on the Ambassador arm. Spanner felt his new, metal arm heat up. When Kirk removed his hand, the Ambassadorial insignia remained. Kirk put his hand on Spanner's chest and two lines of raised letters appeared like a nametag. The top line read -- Ambassador Spanner Templeton and the lower line in thinner and smaller lettering simply said -- Templeton-Kirk.
The metalloids showed the soldiers how to create rank insignias on their deltoids and nameplates on their chests. Lieutenant Buck became Lieutenant Buck-Keng. Spanner dropped his guard and teased the Lieutenant about the combination of names. They both had a good laugh. Unexpectedly, Jemnar Keng, Lieutenant Buck's sponsor reached over and changed the nameplate erasing his part of the Lieutenant's new name. Spanner immediately regretted his lapse and returned to behaving like an Ambassador.
The trip back to the embassy became a revelation of colors and sights. This was the first time that they could ride on the ubiquitous Epsilon Orionis flying platforms. Streams of plasma energy flowed from the living suns out to the orbital platforms. The arrangement of the energy sources made sense. The metalloids lived not only on the surface of the stars but also on the surface of energy bubbles confined by force fields. They had unlimited energy from sustained nuclear fusion reactions in the white dwarf. Spanner wondered how efficiently his body converted energy. He wondered if the metalloids understood the inefficiency of human bodies and human energy systems.
Spanner Templeton wanted to know about the secrets of the metalloid power conversion systems no matter what it cost him.
5,600 words more or less
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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