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II

The space service was practical, but not given to more than acknowledging that humans, particularly with mixed crews, did require a certain privacy. Cubicles for one officer would fit two, but not with all that much room to spare.

Rokujo, lying in Ghenjis arms, or on his right arm, looked up. Officers cubes have a cross-section thats almost bell-shaped.

It helps get rid of excess heat, he replied languidly.

Or traps it...my not-so-monkish lover.

He stroked her short, silky, brilliant white hair.

I need to go, she said. I do have the med-section mid-watch.

You didnt...

I wasnt about to. Your monkish concern with duty would have had you protesting that you didnt want to interfere with mine. Almost absently, she licked her lips, before smiling at him. This way, youll get a good nights sleep.

He had to admire the seemingly boneless way in which she slithered into her uniform skin-suit and shipvest before leaving him and the cubicle.

He lay back, amazed at what had happened. In a way, she had almost coiled around him, he reflected, yet cool as she seemed, and as cool as her touch was, she also radiated warmth. How could anyone look so cool, even feel so cool, and then pour forth such heat? But then she had said that her nature was both hot and cold.

Later, alone in his small cubicle, he finally drifted into an uneasy sleep, knowing that before long hed be in suspension in transit to the combat zone, even if he had no idea where it was or exactly what the mission would be.

He dreamed, and the dream was like all the others. He was awake and trapped in his cocoon, and, just as the shakes and shivers began to subside, the temperature began to plunge once more. He could not move, and at that moment, the face of a woman with flowing white hair and skin as white as porcelain, and lips like cherries appeared above him, and bestowed a loving kiss upon himand the ice encased him with whiteness.

He woke, not sweating, but chill. The face in his dream had been that of Rokujo. The chill in his soul intensified as he realized that it had been her face all along. Every dream about life-suspension hed ever had was exactly the sameand it had always been her face. He just hadnt known it.

Surely, he was just back-projecting. He had to have been. Hed never met Rokujo Yukionna before embarking on the Amaterasu.


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