Chapter 1: The Sovereign's Sixteenth
"Finally I get you all to myself."
Sherbie sneered, trying to remotely access the controls, but it wasn't quite that sophisticated, and wasn't designed for that. "I never knew you liked me that way."
Teck chuckled. "Oh you are funny. Aren't you the joker?"
His knife gleamed off a nearby table as he tossed the fin carelessly over his shoulder. Sherbie tried to shift his legs, but they were bound tightly to some sort of...operating table he was lying on.
Oh God no.
He began to struggle but Teck was smiling from where he was over the room, empty eyes glowing with the promise of absolute agony.
"I feel I've been selfish," Teck sneered, approaching. "You were going on about how much you hate your artificial parts, so I thought I'd assist."
"What do you mean?!"
Sherbie thanked God his voice didn't wobble.
His answer was a scalpel just tickling over the skin on his breastbone.
"I daresay you'll find out. I forgot any numbing meds, so sorry. This may hurt a little."
Sherbie's eyes widened, before he finally just figured to hell with it.
"Then if this is really it then I want you to know I immensely enjoyed breaking your neck and just wish I'd done it to every other bone in your body as well, taking my time with each one! You're a psychopathic murderer and I hope you rot in the worst pits of Hell when the others are done with you."
"I haven't even started on them."
The scalpel flashed, as Sherbie went for the pain blocking mechanism - only to find it had been disabled.
Alt woke with a start, her heart pounding. Nearly every night for the past few months, she'd witnessed that scene through Sherbie's eyes in her dreams. She'd grown rather sick of that recurring nightmare, but she couldn't really do anything about it.
I won't go into background about how Alt's full name is Altair Caroline Devonne Caraway XIV and how she's the queen of the super-secret island nation of Technuloji and yada yada yada, because this is the fourth roleplay in the series about her and you really should know all that by now.
What I will say is that this particular day happened to be her sixteenth birthday.
She glanced at her alarm clock; it was two minutes away from going off. She turned the alarm off and left the room to get dressed, slightly adjusting her royal tiara on the way.
She almost dreaded to think of the nationwide requirements of her today, when all she really wanted to do was celebrate with just a certain kangaroo jack and their son.
No-one was entirely sure when it had happened, but Nebula was in the very early stages of pregnancy, a standard check-up having revealed the beginnings of new life within her by complete accident. She and Sherbie's clone, Figment, were already engaged, so neither reacted at all negatively.
Even Ohm had cracked a smile, which he then disguised with a snide joke which everyone knew he meant in jest.
Alt herself was looking forwards to getting engaged. She couldn't do so for another two years, of course, because the minimum age for that in Technuloji was eighteen for both parties. (Nebula and Figment got away with it because due to their unique origins, they had no official age.)
But we digress.
A few minutes later, Alt was in her normal black-and-gold clothes. She began down the stairs to the foyer of the royal embassy.
She knew exactly who she wanted, and was delighted that he wanted her too.
Sherbie was probably still asleep, she figured affectionately, he really wasn't a morning person.
Or at least, up until he ambushed her as she came out into the hallway.
He sprang out of a closet (how very Sherbie), grinning broadly, and plucked her right off her feet, wrapped his arm and nanotech operated fin around her, spun her in a circle and kissed her, the bones in her legs melting and senses reeling, before he parted them and rested his forehead against hers affectionately.
"Happy Birthday, Alt."
Alt needed a moment to catch her breath after that one.
"...ewmfioewfmoeiwfm... thank you, Sherbie."
He grinned again, before whistling; a purple joey skipped out of an adjoining corridor and presented her with a dusty pink, thick envelope, smiling.
"Happy Birthday, Mummy."
It was Beacon, their technically son.
Sherbie had specially ordered the card and envelope, as all data was transferred electronically in Technuloji. He personally felt written word conveyed more feeling, especially on a day like this.
On the front, Sherbie had written 'Alt' in his scruffy writing, and Beacon had added a few 'kisses' in the form of sixteen x's in a different colored pen underneath.
"... ... ..."
Blushing a bit (although it was hard to tell because of the fur covering her face), Alt turned the envelope over and over in her hands for a moment. The object was rather foreign to her, so she wasn't sure how to open it, or for that matter if she was even supposed to do so.
What the heck do I do with this thing?
Sherbie grinned, taking it and pointing out the seal and how she was meant to peel it open.
Confused, Alt did so, and was covered in small birthday confetti which Sherbie had filled the envelope with along with two cards, one from Beacon and one from him.
Beacon's was large and garish, but so very touching; it was effectively a blank card in plush material which he'd drawn her, himself and Sherbie on the front, and printed Happy Birthday above. Inside, it read:
Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day.
Beacon stared up, hopeful that his card would be sufficient.
Alt blushed again.
"Aw, Beacon, how touching."
Beacon beamed at the approval proudly, and Alt pulled out the other.
The was white, and printed with the glossy image of a flush red rose nestled on a heart shaped cushion, a few petals scattered on the floor.
Happy Birthday as scrawled in red calligraphy at the top.
Inside was written:
Happy Birthday, Alt.
A lot has happened in the time I've known you,
And I'd have it no other way.
One thing has been a constant: I love you,
And that's really all I can say.
Lots of love,
She had to re-read a few times. Sherbie had attempted poetry.
"Yeah, I know, its hardly Shakespeare," he mumbled, blushing.
Alt just smiled. She leaned forwards and hugged Sherbie without saying a word.
He closed his eyes, grinning.
"I have two presents for you, later. Well, three if you count me bribing Ohm-igod with ten new USB sticks, a suggestion for a defense improvement and a paper plane to keep all the reporters and annoying officials off you today aside from that one speech you have to make. But yeah, later."
Ten new USB sticks, a suggestion for a defense improvement and a paper plane? I think I'm better off not asking.
Alt looked up.
"...Where did... how did you get these cards? Paper products aren't manufactured here in Technuloji, and entry and exit from the nation are strictly monitored by the department of war."
"I found someone who DOES make paper here in Technuloji, makes custom stuff. Nice guy."
Sherbie nuzzled her forehead.
"Sure, I gue--"
A soft BEE-BADEEP filled the air, signaling that someone was entering or exiting through the front door. Alt turned her head; it was Joule the Mare, followed closely by a robot-driven service cart.
"Hello, Your Majesty! Happy birthday! Hey, Sherbie! Beacon! I was going to bring the Queen breakfast in bed, but it looks like I'm a little late."
"Alt is a weird mutant that enjoys getting up early," Sherbie mock-shuddered, but then grinned.
"Anywhere good to sit and eat, Alt?"
There were times where Alt couldn't tell whether Sherbie was joking or not. This, thankfully, wasn't one of those times.
"There's a table right over there with some seats."
Sherbie winked at Joule, who smiled right back, carting the food over as they sat; then a familiar air burst in, out of breath.
"Sorry!" gasped Figment, hair messy and fur askew, "We lost track of time!"