Beasts II

By Vic James

Copyright 2016 by Vic James



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This story is fiction. None of the characters are based on real people.

You can see a list of my stories at the Nifty Prolific Authors page by my name.


Revised May, 2016



I woke up in a tank. A Chimp I'd never seen before was standing over me. He was wearing a lab coat with the name Lawrence stitched on it. I didn't know if that was his first name or last name. Digger stood next to him. I grinned at Digger.

"We're in orbit around Mars," Lawrence said.

"Oh, great!"

I sat up. My head spun for a moment. The dizziness passed, quickly.

"How do you feel?"

I thought about it for a moment.

"I feel fine!"


Lawrence stepped away and Digger helped me out of the tank. There was gravity, so we were in a rotating section of the ship, with the rotation simulating gravity. It wasn't Earth gravity. I suspected it was Martian—about thirty-eight percent of Earth's. My muscles weren't all working yet, so the lessened gravity was welcome. Hibernation was not supposed to cause muscle deterioration, but I didn't feel like I had my full strength. I turned my head and felt strange. I realized it wasn't my muscles that were weak—my sense of balance was off a little. That was a side-effect of hibernation, and should pass. Other than that, I felt fine. I looked around. We were in a large room full of tanks. They were stacked on top of each other. Having almost all the colonists asleep drastically reduced the amount of food and water that would have been required for the trip. I didn't see any of our family, but I was up early to give a speech before the other colonists were awakened. Also, since I was a major funder of the colony, we got first pick of the apartments.

I smiled at Digger.

"I can't believe we are finally here."

Digger nodded.

I checked my accounts. I had thousands of emails. I shuddered just thinking about going through them. Then I saw my bank balances. We were all a lot wealthier than when I'd gone to sleep. The sex fliks I'd made with all the men in my life right before we had gone into tanks had sold phenomenally well. My notoriety (I didn't consider it fame) and Alek's talent at making sex fliks made a powerful combination. I had written an autobiography with George. It was published a week before we went into the tanks. I hadn't paid attention to sales the first week, but so far, it had sold almost six hundred million copies. I had to read the number twice. The first time I read it I thought it had to be six hundred thousand. But no. More than half a billion people wanted to read the autobiography of a twenty-seven-year-old man. I always thought the idea of an autobiography at my age was ridiculous. I felt like my life was just beginning. But George was right. He said we needed to publish it while I was still news-worthy. Alek's filmed version of the autobiography had done almost as well. It was his first mainstream flik. He made two versions of the flik, one without sex and the other crammed full of sex. Both were popular.

I looked at my arm, tilting it from side to side. The scales Richard had given us to protect us when exposed on the Martian surface were visible from certain angles. I had been a little concerned that we would appear reptilian, but Digger didn't and what I could see of me, didn't either. We still had to see what we looked like in sunlight. Strange as it seems, since Mars is so cold, the sun is always shining during the day on Mars. The few wispy clouds don't block it, and even dust storms only partially block it.

I saw Harry on the other side of the room. He looked our way and I waved. He walked over to us, smiling.

"I just heard from Jeff. We will be leaving for the surface in about two hours. Do you want to wake up anyone else? The shuttle has two seats available."

I knew Alek wanted to be wakened when the bed was made and dinner was ready! Those were his exact words. I wasn't as sure about what George wanted, but he wasn't picky at all. Waiting or not waiting would be fine with him.

"Do you think we should wake Pan and Jock?"

"Let's let them sleep. I can spend a few hours with you to myself," Digger said.

I smiled.

"That sounds nice."

"Besides, if they are up, you will try to get their input on which rooms you take and we all think you should choose the location."

"That way you can complain about it," I said, grinning.

"Is Jeff already down?" I asked Harry.

"Yes. He left for the surface as soon as we made orbit. Your mother called, Eric. She is very eager to see you."

"Do the memes work from ship to surface?" I asked.

"No. You have to use a radio."

"I guess it can wait," I said.

I shook my head. "I can hardly believe we are finally here," I said.

Harry nodded.

"I've had butterflies in my stomach for two days," Harry said.

The actual landing would be a spectacle televised on Earth. Harry told us what Jeff wanted us to do. Digger and I were going to walk out of the shuttle and into the colony site without suits and without clothes. The idea made me nervous, despite the fact that I'd been fine in total vacuum. Mars was hospitable, by comparison.

I put my arms around Digger. He leaned forward and kissed me gently on the lips.

"You must still be part frozen," I said. "That was practically frigid!"

Digger chuckled.

"That's how Beasts 3.0 kiss."

"That's a lie!" I said, laughing.

I groped Digger's sizeable erection. It was rigid but not frigid. I was about to pull it out of his shorts when I heard my name called. I looked up and saw Roberta running towards me. Em was right behind her. I squatted and caught Roberta in my arms. I was pleased to see she looked very healthy. She was the youngest person to go into hibernation among the colonists, and although there was no reason to suspect she would have trouble, I was still relieved to see her up and around. And as hyper as usual. She was wearing a black T-shirt with a picture of Mars from orbit on the front, and blue shorts.

"I didn't cry once, Uncle Eric!"

I brushed a strand of her brown hair away from her face.

"You didn't? Not even when they closed the lid of the tank?"

I made a terrified face at her.

"No! I pretended I was just in bed."

Em had joined us.

"You are so smart!" I told her. Roberta grinned and nodded. "How can you be so brilliant when your mother is—the way she is?" I said to Roberta.

Em laughed, loudly.

"The way I am? It's good to see you, too, Eric!"

I looked up at Em and smiled. I was used to her being a Chimp, but I missed the old Em. I missed the old Digger, too. And the old me. I still saw someone else when I looked in the mirror. The guy in the mirror was just my type. He was a hot Gorilla with huge biceps and a big cock. I wanted him to fuck me, but it seemed to be anatomically impossible. However, I could make that hot guy in the mirror take all his clothes off and jack off in front of me. Digger got a kick out of watching me. Digger thought it was hilarious that I was in lust with myself. Once when I was standing in front of a mirror and he was fucking me, he said, "You better not cheat on me with him." I laughed. "Never mind. Go ahead. Suck him. Try to make him come when you do." I laughed, of course, but I sucked him and he did come when I did.

It sometimes seemed everyone I knew had two faces, including my mother.

I stood and Roberta held her arms up. That meant she wanted a ride. I squatted again and she climbed on my back. I began bouncing her a little to simulate riding.

"Do you see my horse, Mommy?" Roberta said.

"He's just an ass," Em said.

Digger, Em, and I laughed.

I ran around in a circle jumping as I did it. Roberta screamed in pleasure, right in one ear. Aargh! I kept it up for several minutes. The lower gravity made it very easy.

"Is Richard here?" I asked her, with Roberta still on my back.

"No. He's on the planet overseeing the landscaping. The last of the plants were ready to be planted. You know Jeff. They had to be in the ground before we move in. An hour after just wouldn't do."

I nodded. If I was an ass, Jeff Rosenbloom was a major pain in the ass. He was also brilliant, and I owed him my life. Still, I avoided him whenever possible. That would end soon. There would be no hiding in a small colony. Sometimes I got angry when I saw the way Jeff treated his lover, Harry. I had spoken to Harry about that very thing. Harry told me that Jeff was completely different when he wasn't working. I didn't see that as much of a benefit, since Jeff was always working. I sighed. Jeff treated me like I was a moron, and yet he actually seemed concerned about my happiness. He was solicitous, even. In a single conversation, he would imply I was brainless and wasting his time, seek my opinion on an aspect of the colony, and ask me how I felt. How do you relate to someone like that? I did it by running the other way, whenever I saw him approaching. Harry said Jeff liked me because I gave so much of my money away, but Jeff didn't treat people he liked better than enemies. My feelings towards him weren't helped by the fact that Alek had come to despise the man. Jeff basically told Alek he was wasting the life he'd been given. How did fuck fliks contribute to the betterment of mankind? I hadn't been there when he said it, but Alek sent me a recording of the conversation. I was so mad, Alek had to calm me down. He thought that was funny, and I guessed it helped him cope. Candy bars don't contribute to the betterment of mankind, either. Should they stop being made? Neither one of us told Digger or Pan. They both considered Jeff their father, ever since their adopted father died in an accident at his wildlife park. They knew Alek didn't like Jeff, but Alek said it was because of the way Jeff treated Harry. George and I knew the truth.

"Have you or Richard picked out where you are going to live?" I asked Em. I was very glad Richard and Em were happy. Richard was still a workaholic, but he often worked with Roberta on his lap, explaining things in simple terms to her.

"No. I'm going to pick it when you do. Richard doesn't care. He won't be spending any time looking out the window. Not for the first year, anyway. But it has to be near you. Someone has to babysit when I go out carousing. And I don't have to pay you."

I laughed.

"I thought you said you were going to carouse less on a strange world," I said. "There won't be as many carousers to carouse with."

Em snorted. "And you believed me?"

All of this was hilarious to Em and me. But Roberta got bored.

"I wanna see a birdy!" Roberta said. "I can do it by myself, Mommy."

"What?" I asked.

"She means the bathroom--don't ask," Em said.

Em lifted her off my back.

"That's because you're such a big girl," she told her daughter.

"You can have another ride later," I told Roberta.

She nodded her head and Em took her away.

Roberta turned back and waved. Digger and I waved to her.

I called Em on the meme.

"So what's the birdy?"

"There's a bidet in the women's restroom. A bidet on a spaceship. I thought it was hilarious. She heard me talking about it. I did not want to explain the function of a bidet, so I told her I said 'birdy'. Hey! It was the first thing that came to mind! She thinks it's a birdbath."

I laughed so hard I bent over and gasped. Digger looked at me like I was insane. I disconnected the call.

My right forearm began spasming as a cramp began. I grabbed it with my other hand and squeezed. That did absolutely nothing to stop the cramp or the spasm, but it made me feel better. I assumed it was a side effect of hibernation. Or maybe laughing too much. I checked my biosystem on my meme. The display showed there was a high concentration of nanites in my forearm, but they didn't seem to be doing anything. Maybe they were having a party. I groaned as I felt another cramp.

"What is it?" Digger asked.

"Cramp. My nanites seem to all be in my arm."

Digger started massaging my arm.

"Does that help?"


Harry walked over to us.

"You needed something, Digger?"

"Yes. Eric is having a cramp. He said nanites are clustered in his arm."

Harry frowned and closed his eyes. I assumed he was checking something. While we waited, the cramp loosened.

"That has to be a bug in the nanites, but not a major one. They all moved to your arm when you entered hibernation," Harry said, finally. "They are in motion, now. Is it any better?" Harry said.

I bent my arm a few times and squeezed it.

"Yes. It feels fine."

"I'll let Jeff know so he can fix it."

"OK. Thanks, Harry.

"No problem," Harry said.

"Thanks, Harry," Digger said.

We left the cabin. Harry headed back to the hibernation room.

We didn't have a cabin on the ship, because we slept through the journey. Jeff intended to give us one, anyway, because of the billion we had contributed to the colony. But that meant tying up a cabin we wouldn't use for ninety-nine point nine percent of the journey. So we let it go to other colonists. But no room meant either public sex or no sex at all. Neither one of those appealed to me. Digger was still erect, so he needed sex as much as I did.

"Let's go to the lounge," Digger said.

I followed him. I hadn't paid any attention to the layout of the ship. I had no idea where one was. We walked to a lift. I put my arm around Digger. Two Dogs, a man and a woman, were on the lift when the door opened. We introduced ourselves and they both started laughing. They got off the lift. I was annoyed. I expected it was because of my—our notoriety. Would they prefer I went around expecting everyone to know who I was, like some self-obsessed celebrity? Digger took me to the lounge, which was empty.

"I don't like being famous. That wasn't polite at all," I told Digger.

Digger nodded.

"What should we have said? Just 'Hi'?"

"I guess so. We aren't on Earth. All the colonists know who we are, even if they've never watched a flik or read your book. We aren't going to see anyone who doesn't know who we are. A lot of colonists wouldn't have been able to join us, if you hadn't paid their way. You have to expect them to know you and be grateful. If it helps, think of it as attending a meeting of one of your fan clubs and you standing up and introducing yourself," Digger said.

I sighed and nodded. I understood what he meant. And I guessed those hypothetical fans would consider it to be a joke and laugh. The thing was, they knew me, but I didn't know them. In fact, they probably knew everything about me from interviews, fliks, and the book. I needed to learn who everyone was. Then we could communicate without it bothering me. I needed to let go of my irritation with that couple. They could be next door neighbors. There was a door in the lounge. I opened it. It was a small storage room or closet. There were a couple of chairs and some supplies in it. Fortunately, the door had a lock.

"Look here, Digger."

Digger looked inside.

"Aren't these interplanetary-space cocksucking chairs?"

Digger burst out laughing.

"You know, I think you might be right!"

I pulled him inside and sat down. He stood between my legs. I pulled his pants down and watched him become erect. I leaned forward and kissed his cock.

"I missed you, baby," I said to it.

Digger chuckled. Then he held my head and rubbed his cock on my face. After it was wet with my husband's precum, I swallowed it and began sucking. I held his nuts with one hand and caressed his chest and belly with the other. After several minutes, Digger pulled me up and kissed me.

"I want to fuck you. It's going to be strange to be able to look at your face while I'm fucking you."

I laughed. That was because there was usually a dick in my mouth while Digger fucked me.

"These chairs won't do, if you want to fuck me on my back. How about this?"

I turned around and guided his erection to my ass. He pushed inside. We both sighed at the same time, and then laughed at that. I tilted my head back. Digger wrapped his arms around me and kissed me. After a moment, he began making short thrusts into me. It felt wonderful. My penis felt like it was stimulated with each thrust. That was a feature of my Beast 3.0 body. There was something to be said for only having one lover. I felt more like I was Digger's, and that was a good feeling. He never really had me to himself, except for the afternoon we met. But he wasn't a monogamous guy. Then again, maybe he was, and I wasn't. I was his only lover. He considered the rest of our family his friends. But I knew for certain that he didn't want me to be monogamous. He got really excited when he watched me have sex with other people. While he watched us, his cock would bounce and precum would flow out of it like a faucet on low. I didn't really understand it, but I was very happy and so was he. I pulled away from the kiss.

"I wish Alek was here," Digger said.


"Sex is more fun with more people."

"You don't like having sex with just me?" I asked him.

"I love it. But once I come a couple of times, I'm done. If I can watch Alek while he fucks you, I get recharged enough for more sex." I nodded. "Why have sex for thirty minutes when you can have it for three hours?"

I grinned at him.

"And why make two people happy when you can make five happy?" he added.

I smiled at him. "I love the fact that you think differently from me," I told him. "I get to appreciate life from a completely different perspective."

Digger grinned and kissed me.

"Hey! I've got a nice cock!" he said.

I laughed.

"You just noticed?"

"I'm watching the vid feed of my cock inside you," Digger said. I'd had cameras installed inside me. "Check it out!"

I did. I burst out laughing. The slit at the end of his cock opened and closed like it was talking—sideways.

"Hey! How are you doing that—making my best buddy talk?" I asked him.

"Tiny thrusts."

"What's he saying? I can't hear!" I said.

Digger laughed. "It's asking what shade of white he should paint the walls."

I laughed. "How about that ugly greenish-yellow color of your spunk."

"It is not! My semen is a beautiful, virgin white!" Digger said.

We both laughed.

I looked at the video. I saw Digger's pretty brown cock sliding inside my very pink colon while I also felt it. The slit at the end of Digger's cock opened and a stream of white shot out as Digger groaned.

"Hey! It is beautiful!" I said.


I watched several more spurts shoot out while my husband groaned. Finally, his orgasm was over. His cock rested in a pool of his semen.

Digger began jacking me off. His semen sloshed around as my body moved.

"Are you still watching the internal?" he asked me.


"Do you wish that Digger-milk was in your mouth?" he asked me.

That triggered my orgasm. My cum sprayed and hit the wall. I groaned. "Yeah."

"I'll give you some soon."

"Hey! Lucius is on board," Digger said.

"What? I thought Jerry didn't want to move to Mars," I said.

"Jerry isn't on the passenger list. Just Lucius."

"Oh. That's a shame."

The lounge was empty. We went to a port and looked out. Stars seemed to be spinning in circular orbits. I forgot the ship was spinning. We went to a display screen and looked at Mars from a camera on a part of the ship that wasn't spinning. We weren't over the site, but it was still beautiful. It was shades of red and a little bit of white, instead of blue and white, like Earth from orbit. I checked the atmosphere. The atmospheric water vapor percent was fractionally higher, due to all the water ice from the asteroid belt that had been flung onto the planet's surface. The ice wasn't part of the original plan. Jeff originally had no plans to terraform. But when I bumped up my contribution to the colony, he decided to use the money to bring ice from the asteroid belt. Mars' orbit had it close to a concentration of icy asteroids, so it was feasible to do. The colony would have an enormous amount of water, with the entire waterworks run by my stepfather, Jib. Jeff said it was of psychological benefit to have much more water than the colony needed. Digger changed the view to a camera on the surface, just outside the colony complex. I grinned at him when I saw it had been completed while we slept. I switched the view to look at some of the vegetation around the complex.

We saw Richard, surrounded by three robots, putting the finishing touches on a garden. He was a Chimp. I missed the Faun. We probably would never see another one. He was working on a fairly wide ledge, right next to the complex. We would be able to see it in person, later in the day. He was wearing a breathing apparatus. I didn't know why, he was Beast 3.0 like us, but then it occurred to me that if he was doing some of the actual work, he might burn oxygen faster than the nanites could convert the carbon dioxide in his lungs into oxygen. Or maybe Em just insisted he do it.

Digger put his arm around me and I leaned my head on him.

We both got instructions directing us to a shuttle. We headed for it. I was excited, scared, and worried. The last Martian colony had given up. Several colonists left and some died, until there weren't enough to keep it operational. Would the same thing happen to us? Our site was basically a luxury hotel, while theirs was just utilitarian. We might succeed where they failed, but it wasn't a certainty. The only other successful colony was on the Moon, but that was so close to Earth, it wasn't really the same. Earth was always outside their windows and there were flights every day to and from Earth.

Em and Roberta were already seated in the shuttle. Digger and I sat next to them. I looked around. The shuttle had seen a lot of wear. It was hard to tell what color the walls had been when they were new.

"How has Richard been?" I asked Em.

"Nervous and he missed us, of course. I really hoped he would be around when we woke up."

"I did, too, Mommy," Roberta said.

Em nodded.

"We'll see him soon," Em told her daughter. "Why don't you take a nap? You won't have to wait as long to see him."

Roberta nodded her head, solemnly. I smiled at Roberta.

While we sat there, others walked into the shuttle, including Lawrence. He smiled at us and I smiled back. He was wearing a wedding ring. I wondered if his wife would be with him. Or had they broken up like Lucius and Jerry?

I began looking at my messages on my meme. There were so many, it was depressing. Six hundred and forty-seven were flagged as important. I groaned and heard Digger chuckle. I began going through the flagged messages. At least it helped make me less nervous about the colony. I glanced at Digger's crotch and saw he was half-hard. I wanted him, but the shuttle was filling and Roberta and Em were next to us. I called him by meme and told him what I wanted to do with his erection. I watched him get fully hard and he called me a tease. I laughed.

"I want to tease the cum out of your balls," I told him.

"I'll be right back," he said, getting up. He walked to the front of the shuttle and through a doorway.

I went back to reading messages. A couple of minutes later, Digger called me.

"Walk to the front of the shuttle, through the door, and into the second room on the right."

"I'll be back," I said to Em.

I followed his directions. I walked into a small room. Digger was naked, in a chair with his legs stretched out and his erection resting on his belly.

I groaned and closed the door.

"Lock it."

I did. I walked over to him and knelt.

"You said something about teasing," he told me.

I pulled my clothes off and knelt between his legs. I pulled his cock forward and began sucking him. Digger ran his fingers through my hair. Despite my other lovers, I was still madly in love with Digger. I had decided not to have a group marriage. I loved the others, especially Alek, but I didn't love any of them as much as Digger. To me, that meant he was and would always be, my only husband. I caressed his nuts with my fingertips and got a sigh out of him. I sped up my sucking. A couple of minutes later, he ejaculated in my mouth. He shot a fairly large load, and I swallowed his tasty gift. When he was done, I climbed over him and sat on his cock, facing him. My ass was slippery with semen and he slid in easily. We kissed that way, until the shuttle took off. We heard the shuttle engines fire and suddenly were in freefall. The cum in my stomach tried to crawl up my esophagus. I pulled away from the kiss until I adjusted to the lack of gravity. I started to rise off his cock. I wrapped my arms around him to keep him inside me, but he started to rise off the chair. He didn't seem to care. Digger was smiling. He looked as happy as I felt. I caressed his cheek.

"This might be the last time we have sex in freefall," he said.

That was fine with me. Bouncing against walls and objects during sex wasn't fun and it distracted me. Digger enjoyed it, though. I shrugged. I kind of doubted it. We would probably live a long time and another flight somewhere didn't seem that unlikely. Jeff wanted to go to Titan someday, and Digger might want to go, too. By then, the second and third (and maybe fourth) books of my autobiography would be written and I would have enough money to help found the Titan colony. But where Digger went, I went. Period.

We felt a rumble and heard creaking when the shuttle hit atmosphere. I was a little surprised, since the Martian atmosphere is so tenuous.

"Is all the creaking normal?" I asked Digger.

"I have no idea."

The noise stopped.

I pulled Digger's mouth to mine and we kissed, again. We started drifting against a wall and stayed there as the ship's engines slowed the shuttle down. The engines' thrust simulated gravity, although it was very slight.

Digger began fucking me. He enjoyed it when I flew off his cock. He laughed as I gradually drifted back to him. I rolled my eyes. Not so he could see, though. He grabbed my hips and pulled me back down onto his cock. That, I enjoyed. I wrapped my legs around him and put my hands on his shoulders. I began moving on his erection. He pulled my mouth to his and we kissed, briefly. Then I began fucking myself, again.

"I love you," Digger said.

"That's nice," I said.

He laughed.

"You could have said it was 'very nice'."

"I thought about it," I said.

He laughed.

He pulled me off him and sucked me until I came. I reached for my shorts, afterwards.

"Have you forgotten? We are walking off the ship naked," Digger said.

"Of course! How could I? Wearing shorts and sandals would ruin the whole effect!" I said. We both laughed.

"Fortunately, you already have my cum running down your legs, so I don't have to fuck you again."

"I wonder how long it will take to freeze," I said. "I'm afraid your sperm won't make it to the colony. What a way for them to die."

"It's better than dissolving in your stomach," Digger said.

I really, really wished I was wearing shoes or sandals for the walk on Mars. I didn't want to be wincing while trying to act noble. I wouldn't be walking on dirt. It would be rock and sand. Most people wouldn't walk on rocks on Earth without shoes. I supposed Jeff envisioned a shoeless future.

To be honest, it wasn't just the shoes. I wanted to wear clothes. Normal clothes. I wasn't going to be carrying a breathing apparatus or wearing a spacesuit. Why couldn't I wear shorts and a T-shirt? Did Jeff envision a clothes-less future, too? But there wasn't any point in being embarrassed about being naked. Everyone on Earth had probably seen me naked by that time. They'd seen me covered with spunk and with many cocks stuffed into each of my orifices. They'd even seen my insides. Most of my sex fliks included video of my partners ejaculating inside me, taken by my three internal cameras.

We cuddled and kissed until we landed. I was glad to have gravity, again. Digger picked up his shorts and unlocked the door. I followed him back to our seats. I felt the eyes of all the other passengers on me as we sat. I sighed. I don't like being famous. But I was very well-paid for my notoriety, so I had no right to complain. I could feel cum leaking out of my ass. I put my shorts on my seat before sitting. I didn't want to get it all over the seat.

The two Dogs who'd laughed at me when I introduced myself on the lift walked over to us.

"Hi, I'm Louis and this is my wife, Eleanor. We are going to be filming your entrance into the colony."

"Oh. OK."

"Is it a long walk from the shuttle to the colony?" I asked.

"About a hundred-fifty meters," Eleanor said.

"I really wish I was wearing shoes," I said.

"Well, under the low gravity, you probably won't notice the rock under you that much, even if it's rough," Louis said.

I nodded. I hadn't thought of that.

"I bet Jeff wore clothes when he got off the shuttle," I whispered to Digger.

He laughed. "I'm sure you're right."

According to Jeff, I was the face of the colony, not him. That was why my walk to the colony was important. But there were a lot of Beasts 3.0 who could do exactly what I was doing, and Jeff was one of them. I sighed. At least I didn't have to write a speech.

I pulled my leg up and looked at the soul of my foot. I tapped on it. Digger laughed, beside me.

"Maybe they have some of those sticky shoe inserts. I could wear them, with the sticky part on my skin."

Digger laughed even harder.

"There's no air, it's a hundred below, and you are worried about your feet?" Digger said.

"There aren't any scales," I said, tapping my soul.

Digger frowned. He checked his feet.

Then I remembered whose colony it was. Would Jeff Rosenbloom want our televised spectacle to show the two of us wincing with each step? No no no no no! There were probably rose bushes and a little creek with lichen ferns lining the path!

The shuttle stopped and everyone started talking.

A man's voice instructed people to put on their breathing apparatus. He told them that they would be leaving the shuttle in about forty-five minutes, after the shuttle moved closer to the colony site. I watched Em put Roberta's breather on. Roberta didn't need it, since she had the latest generation of nanites, but I understood completely. And that was why Richard was wearing one while gardening. Louis and Eleanor put theirs on. Two people came from the front of the shuttle and began inspecting everyone's breathers and helping those who needed help. About thirty minutes later, that was done. I didn't know until later that nearly everyone else on the shuttle was service staff. Maintenance, cleaning, and cooking, mostly. Most colonists would remain in hibernation, until the first group—workers and us--were settled and the infrastructure was humming along.

"It's time," Digger said. "We're to go to the airlock at the back of the shuttle."

We walked back to the airlock with Eleanor and Louis. My stomach was really churning as the door closed behind us and we faced the door to the outside. Our two camera people tossed their cameras into the air and they floated around us. That made me miss Alek. One floated a couple of centimeters from my face and I wanted to swat it. It moved further away, though. Let the spectacle begin, I thought. It was what I was dreading, but it would be over soon. I hoped it was my last spectacle.

"Sales of the fliks and books are going to increase after this," Digger said, over his meme.

I hadn't thought of that. It was almost certainly true. Once again, I was reminded that I was very well paid for my notoriety. And there were plenty of people in need who would be helped with the money.

I stared at the shuttle door to the surface. It was show-time.