It was space year 2563, when everybody called me Baby and I didn't think to care. I sat at the viewport, only inches of transparent diamond between me and the cold void of space. The hull of the starship glittered, reflecting the endless ocean of stars as a blue gem in the distance expanded, eventually filling my field of vision. The planet Kel E Manz, a pleasureworld terraformed for optimum conditions and enjoyed by the galaxy's wealthy elite.
Before long, the ship had docked and we were disembarking, service cyborgs travelling to and fro with our bags and settling us in. With a clang, the barely-human mechanical frame of the planet's ruler Maxitron approached and shook my father's hand. My father was a robot technician, specialising in replacing injured people's bodyparts. And he had extended Max's life by thousands of years.
“If it weren't for this man, I'd be standing before you a dead man.” He smiled at me, my mother and my sister then gestured to a hovering building in the mountains. “There are zero gravity dance lessons right now. Why not enjoy them while we get you settled in?”
I found myself dancing among a crowd of other rich, vacuous lifeforms. Humans old and young, robots, glargons and bigellians flittered about to the instructions of a young human girl in the middle. Apart from the control chip in the back of her neck, you'd never know she wasn't high class. She barked orderes and told just the right kind of bland jokes to keep every entertained. She had complete control of the room; she was beautiful.
As we were dancing, Maxitron entered the room and introduced us to our waiter for our stay, a young man called Robotty with douschey hair who was okay looking, but not so attractive or interesting as to be the leading man. I knew immediately he would turn out to be some kind of villain. Maxitron also introduced his heir, a weasely young man who was still mostly made of his original organic components.
“This is Neilazoid, he's learning to terraform pleasure planets himself.”
Daddy nodded. “Baby's going to change the world. Specifically, planet Almanor Z.”
I smiled and explained my dream; “I'm going to make the planet a nature reserve, where species discovered on other planets can be kept safely and not destroyed by intelligent races.”
I was forced that night to dance with Neilazoid at the ball, but that was where I saw him: Jonny.
Dancing with the same young lady who had taught the zero gravity class earlier in the afternoon, Jonny moved like nobody I'd ever seen. His every step was filled with passion, his every facet absorbed in the dance. He and Penny were like twin stars, their limbs one orbiting ring of planets. They were one.
“They shouldn't just show off with eachother, that won't sell brain downloads.” Neilazoid tutted. Maxitron watched for a short while longer, then tapped a button on his wrist. There was a slight shudder, as the control chips in the two dancers' necks send them orders, then they separated and danced with the other guests.
Later, after a tedious evening of trying to ignore Neilazoid, I found myself exploring the planet on my jetpack. I travelled lower and lower, past the beautiful man-made vistas and into the catacombs where the servant classes lived. I saw a young man carrying glowing green meteors. He was heading into a locked room, with loud music pumping from within. He was struggling to carry his load and dropped one of them. I landed beside him and picked it up.
“Whoah!” he shouted. “What are you doing down here?”
“I was just going for a fly.” I started walking towards the room, and the young man shrugged and led me inside.
In the hall, people were dancing. They were actually touching eachother, skin to skin, clothes to clothes, without forcefirelds or wireless communications. It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time.
“Where did they download those moves?” I asked. My companion laughed.
“They learned their moves themselves, the old fashioned way.”
There was a commotion, as Jonny and Penny arrived. I watched them dance for a while, enjoying the raw emotion of it. “They're amazing.”
“I know. You'd think they were a couple, huh?”
“Nah, not since we were younglings.”
Jonny noticed us and approached. He could immediately tell I wasn't service class. My sensory cybernetics were too advanced and I had no control chip. “What's she doing here?”
“I carried a meteor.” Jonny gave me a quizzical look, and I immediately felt like an idiot. What sort of thing was that to say, I carried a meteor?
I stayed a short while, danced with Jonny and the others, but eventually I had to return home.
Another night, I was in a dance class and caught a glimpse of Jonny. He was arguing with Neilazoid, who asked “Where's Penny?”
“She's switched off her control chip, she deserves a break!”
“As long as its not an all night break.”
Neilazoid insisted I spend the evening with him, boring and unpleasant as it was. As we wondered through the kitchens, I noticed Penny in a corner, crying, and distracted Neilazoid before sneaking away and finding Jonny.
Later, Jonny and I were back at his place, talking to Penny. She was pregnant, actually pregnant. Most humans were born in tubes now; I was, my sister, mother and father were. Even among the service class, it was almost unheard of for a baby to be born naturally.
“What are you gonna do?” I asked Jonny.
He looked back angrily, angry at me for assuming it was him, and said in an angry voice “I'm so angry that you assume it was me.” He was angry.
It turned out, the father was Robotty, the obvious douchebag introduced a few scenes ago. Penny's only hope was to have the baby teleported out and aborted, but the service class didn't have constant access to Transporter technology. Penny needed 250 space credits to use a public Transporter but she didn't have that kind of capital.
I found my father the next day, shooting space lasers at meteors with my mother. “Daddy,” I said, “I need 250 space credits.”
“That's a lot of money, Baby.”
With a wave of my hand, I used the force to influence my father's mind. “You will give me 25o space credits.”
“I'm gonna give you 250 space credits.”
Later that night, I crept back down to Jonny's place and gave Penny the money. She shook her head and pushed it back. “The transporter beam is only pointed at this sector once every megacycle, and me and Jonny have to be dancing on planet Sheldrake.”
“What, are you gonna dance?” Asked Jonny.
“I'm gonna dance.” I said.
“Lol, I was just jk!”
“Nah, but for reals.”
Penny interrupted. “She can dance quite good.”
“Fine!” Jonny sighed, giving in. “I give in.”
The next few days went by in a blur. When I look back now, I remember a series of incidents wherein Jonny and I danced together, growing closer and improving in dance capability, all set to a series of different songs.
On one occasion, I accidentally trod on Jonny's foot. He chastised me; “This is my dance space quadrant, that's your dance space quadrant. I don't invade yours and you don't invade mine.”
Later, Jonny was trying to teach me the lift, but I was having difficulty, so he suggested it would be better practised on the moon, where gravity wouldn't be such an issue. When we were up there, the planet swirling behind us, I realised I was falling in love with him.
Before I knew it, me and Jonny were zooming to planet Sheldrake in his rusty spaceship, the Century Eagle. We landed, and I kitted myself out in the dress and make-up, and we took a shuttlecraft down to the theatre.
I was nervous at first, but felt safe in Jonny's arms as we completed the dance. At the last moment, I ran towards Jonny for the lift, but this is only the middle of the story and that's obviously a climactic money shot, so I bottled it. Nonetheless, the show was a success and we felt pretty cool as we flew back to planet Kel E Manz, looking out at the stars.
What awaited us was only tragedy.
Penny was lying on her bed, writhing with agony. Jonny ran to her side. “What happened?”
“The transporter wasn't accurate enough for a space abortion. It took some of my insides and that with it or something and it really hurts.”
I rocketed off to my father and dragged him back. He looked at me disappointedly. “I am disappointed. Is this what my money paid for?” He replaced Penny's guts with roboguts and, as we were leaving, he turned from me and said I was banned from seeing Jonny and his friends ever again.
He stormed off to bed, and I crept out, went to Jonny's place. He was drained from the night's events, but thankful for what my father did. I apologised for how rude daddy was, but Jonny had convinced himself he was nothing, that he deserved to be service class. But I knew he was special, how he made me feel. That night, he crossed the event horizon of my black hole. He boarded my starship. We completed docking procedures. I climbed on his rocketship. We totally boned.
Over the next few weeks, me and Jonny had an amazing love affair, though he resented the fact I wasn't willing to come out to my father about it. One day, we were together when Robotty walked past. He made an inappropriate joke about my sister, and Jonny drew his laser sword. He had a bitching fight with Robotty, culminating in Jonny cutting off his opponent's hand.
Some planetary rotations later, I was eating lunch with daddy and Maxitron and Neilazoid when Maxitron mentioned that he'd be firing Jonny because Jonny had stolen something the previous night. I said Jonny couldn't have done it, as I was with him all night. I explained the lurid sexual acts we'd performed to my shocked father and, though Jonny was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, he was asked to leave planet Kel E Manz. Nonetheless, he was amazed at the selflessness of my actions and seemed to board the Century Eagle with a renewed energy about him.
It was the final night of our holiday. On the enormous amphitheatre at ground level, singers were entertaining an enormous crowd. Daddy, mummy and I were watching from a shuttlepod far above, as many of the richer guests did who felt like they didn't want to get too close for comfort.
Suddenly, with a loud crack, the shuttle was rocked by a laser beam and plumetted to the floor. The door burst open and through the smoke, I saw Jonny. He reached out a hand, which I took, and said “Nobody puts baby in a shuttle.”
I followed him outside, where he'd disassembled a communications array.He plugged a device in and press play. Suddenly, the speaker system and screens had their image replaced with Jonny's face, delivering a message.
“Sorry about the disruption, folks, but I always do the last dance of the megacycle. This year, somebody told me I couldn't. But somebody else taught me a lesson, about the kind of person I want to be. Frances Spaceman.”
(That's my name, by the way. Baby is just a nickname, obviously.)
Jonny pressed another button which started some music playing, then he and I took centre stage. We did our dance again, totally nailing it, and finally the galaxy was at peace.