Fugue State: Echo Diver

I’ve always fancied the diver boys of Echo 7. The translucent blue skin with the delicate gill frills that run from collarbone to just behind their ears. Yes please, and thank you. And the white hair, wavy and twisted like their kelp forests…Of all the post-Earth human breeds, leave it to Echoers to win the genetic and planetary lotteries.

I’ve got to get off Elta 6. So tired of the Cedret 3 guys that flood this rock, thinking just because their strains can still breed with ours that we’re all definitely down to bang. I guess a lot of us are, just not me. I’m saving up for a few weeks in the conversion tank and a one-way ticket to the Echo system instead.

I’m not digging on the idea of becoming part of an interplanetary brothel/controlled-breeding program. And half-Cedret-half-Elta kids? Poor little bastards can barely breathe this atmosphere, and only a few can survive the heat on Cedret (although I don’t know who would want to, really). They either go through the conversion tank way earlier than anyone should have to or they die. I’m just not into it.

“It’s all there,” Meli said. “You guys run a hard bargain. Feel like I’m paying somebody’s ransom here.”

“Well you kinda are, in a way,” the tech in the white coat shrugged as he thumbed through the plasticine bills. “Except it’s your own. The price of peacin’ off this heap.”

“I also feel like putting up at least a token defense of your price would be more professional, guy,” Meli frowned. “You lot know what you’re doing, though, I guess.”

“You better hope so,” the tech said with a smirk. He gestured to the tank room.

“Wow.” Meli arched an eyebrow, but followed along.

The tank room housed a series of huge glass vats with dividing walls for different transitory liquids. The red was for Cedret, and those capsules were mostly empty of occupants. The green chutes were for the forest planet Martiney, filled mostly with low-tolerance hybrid kids and what looked like post-op patients who wouldn’t survive the low oxygen of Elta anymore. The sealed high-pressure vats with deep purple solution were the Echo variations, with only one empty capsule. Which was why it had cost her entire savings to reserve.

Meli’s heart lurched at the sight of the airlock entrance to the capsule; it would strip the oxygen out of the air as soon as she stepped into the chamber.

“You ready to breathe through gills the rest of your life?” the tech asked with only the thinnest interest. “No going back once you’re in.”

Meli stripped off her clothes without batting an eye.

“Alright, alright,” the tech murmured and smirked again until she tossed him her mothsilk dress. “The hell am I supposed to do with this?”

“Burn it.” Meli grinned. “I got no use for silk where I’m going.”

Once the chamber had sealed and pressurized behind her, she dove in.

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