First times are usually not the best times. – T. Ross

Alien Dice
Chapter 4

Lexx managed to get a few hours of shallow sleep before resigning himself to getting up and researching the next dice he would be going after in the morning and the best strategy. ADIS had informed him it was the Dig dice. This one tended to be excessively hot headed and wasn’t going to be one that Lexx would allow to wander freely in the living area of the ship.

While everyone else slept, Lexx checked on the biosphere’s current condition from the small corridor that lead to its main entrance. The Rift was not made for comfort, but utility. Fortunately, Lexx didn’t need a lot so that the main living area was not cluttered. There were five sections to it. The living area, which was the largest area, containing the partitioned food preparation area, eating and relaxation area, then the sleeping quarters, outfitted for four and the cleaning room. This made up the top layer. From here, one could get to any of the other three sections.

The biosphere was barely a quarter the size of the living area, half full of water with an ‘island’ of sorts of dry land and earth. There was a little bit of foliage inside that Lexx had himself picked out and tended from seedlings over the years. It was a relaxing place to be when one didn’t want to be bothered, although,.. its actual intent was merely a place to keep dice to let them stretch their legs or swim. Keeping a dice in dice form for too long tended to make their bodies atrophy. Lexx preferred letting them free all the time, but the ship was too small to let them all out at once. This area kept the larger ones out of the way and there were quite a few dice that were bigger than Lexx was. Now, he looked through the ornately decorated glass and metal door separating the small corridor from the biosphere, a mesh of wire added for decoration along the walls over the lights as well. The only way to the small island was to walk across a narrow foot wide plank or to swim. Skate was currently inside, dosing near the surface of the water. The third area was situated around the biosphere, a semicircle that held the circuitry for ADIS, storage and the ‘door’ that could take Lexx anywhere on Earth. The final area of the ship was the navigation room. The one area that Chel wasn’t allowed in. The last thing he needed was for the human to get in there and push buttons.

While he was accessing ADIS, he was aware that Stealth must be awake. “What are you doing here?” He grumbled. It was easy to sense the cat’s location, since she was always being intrusive into his thoughts to gauge his mood.

“Nothing, I just noticed you were up.” Stealth purred innocently, rubbing up against the back of Lexx’s legs.

“Stealth,… you didn’t do anything to Chel did you?” Lexx looked down at her, the previous wonder at being able to hear Chel’s thoughts so clearly was still fresh on his mind. While being able to hear another’s thoughts and communicate that way would be considered as some mysterious psychic ability, it wasn’t that way for Dice players. It was artificial. While it was true that there were large areas of the brain that were not in use and there were ways to make use of those areas, that really had nothing to do with being able to communicate with another equipped player. It was only the area that held the thoughts on another level, separate from normal communication. The only way to access the area was through a receptor chip. Lexx had one. Damian had one; … actually, all of Damian’s people were automatically implanted with one from birth.

The receptor chips acted as relay points across a subspace channel, much like a modem in a computer would serve to access the internet, only far more effective. The only problem with, unlike modems and computers, the link could not be severed from the main communication pipe. Now,.. how had Chel managed to be able to project?

Stealth was strangely quiet, her head looking down and tails not moving. “Stealth,… you did something…?”

“I overheard her. I didn’t think it would work that way, but she was focused on you,…”

“Stealth….” Lexx felt a sharp pain in his side as he breathed in too deeply.

“The first night, I used a self embedding receptor on her…” Stealth glanced over her shoulder in a guilty manner.

Lexx could barely contain the sudden burst of anger, grabbing the cat by the back of her neck and lifting her up to his level, “Stealth! WHERE the H___ did you get a self embedding receptor?!” His eyes narrowed and he glared at her, shaking her slightly to emphasis just how upset he was.

“I… took it from a shop,…” Stealth whined, ears flat against her head, but in a submissive manner as she was very aware of just how badly she’d acted for her own interests. “A while ago… I thought it might come in useful….”

“You stole it… great,.. great. You stole a receptor, and a very expensive one at that and then thought it’d be useful to use on a Human? Do you realize what you could have done?! That technology isn’t meant to be used without medics on hand!” Lexx began to panic, holding Stealth in one hand, his other hand on the console rapidly accessing the sensor grid on the ship. “You could have killed her!”

The sensors focused in on the sleeping quarters and gave a perfect readout of Chel, Zeta and Fly, all three still asleep. Lexx read the scanner quickly, noting that everything was normal and yes,.. it detected the receptor. “What were you thinking?” Lexx grated, his jaw set hard to hold back the desire to throw the cat up against the wall as hard as he could.

“I thought,.. I’d convince her to leave the ship and that it would go dormant after that. We’re so far out of the way, I didn’t see any harm…” Stealth began quickly, rubbing one paw over the other one nervously.

“No harm, no harm…” Lexx repeated, tightening his hold on the cat’s scruff enough to make her squirm in pain and go rigid. She didn’t fight back. She knew full well that would only make everything worse. “Stealth,.. what you did,… I don’t want to speak with you right now.” He dropped the cat.

“She is ok, right?” Stealth landed on all fours and darted down the hall before Lexx changed his mind. She’d gotten off lightly. “It can be removed?”

Lexx stood there quietly, turning away and clenching the sides of the panel before him. “No. Receptors, any kind of receptor,… they’re never intended to be removed. The best thing to do is to not say anything about this and do NOT talk to her using it. The more it’s used, the more linked it becomes and I don’t know how I’d explain this to her. She’d be more angry than I am … and with me. What could I do? I can’t remove it, she’ll be stuck with it!” And then, he trailed off into a tirade of excessive profanity in Rishan.

Morning came too soon for Lexx. He had slept a few more hours, changed his clothing and messed with his hair for something to do to calm his nerves. The nutriadditives were not doing a good job of relaxing him. Now, he was back down in the corridor, taking a last minute recount of the statistics and location of the new dice. These were estimated stats of what he would be like.

“Good morning, Lexx.” He jumped as Chel addressed him. She blinked noting that he was on edge and wondered about the reason.

“Morning.” Lexx spoke quickly, “I know you don’t like it when I catch dice, … especially after what happened with Zeta, Fly and Stealth last time, but I’m going to ask if you want to come anyway.” He pushed a few buttons, showing the Dig dice. It was obviously a creature meant for digging with long curved claws on each foot and an armored body. It looked a lot like an armadillo to Chel. “This is him. He’s called the Dig dice.”

“Hmm,…” Chel considered it. She didn’t like seeing the animals hurt, but Lexx was inviting her and who knew when she’d get to leave the ship again. It was really getting to be confining and the fresh air was always good. “I suppose I could go and watch.”

“He’s a level 4, so I can use two of the others as long as their levels combined are not more than twice his. Most likely, he won’t be injured. I can’t promise that he won’t be, but chances are with that armor plating, we just have to catch him.”