Base Jumper, Epilog

He awoke from a half slumber to find a wet and mostly naked Erin standing before him. She was still dripping and she gave him a long hung. No scar from any wound marred her. If anything she was more perfect than before.

They kissed.

“Still as sweet as always,” Mace commented as he followed her into the room.

          Pulling away, Dak moved to shake the young PR’s hand. “You really came through in a pinch. It’s good to know you have my back.”

Pulling away with some distaste. “Well, Erin’s anyway.”

Erin after rebrith

“As far as I am concerned that’s more important.” This brought forth a nod from him and a hug from his girlfriend.

“Until next time,” he said taking Erin under his arm. On a whim he took the big blaster with him as he passed through the door. Mace chuckled to himself as he lit up a smoke.

Mace

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Lonely Erin

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Base Jumper

It became hard to keep from gawking like a kid in a toy store. Dak had seen his share of tech, but nothing compared to this. Large steel machines, shaped like opened coffins, gapped hallow and bubbling. He had already seen three holding half-formed people.

He thought about how his Erin had been forced to go through this and shuddered.

Mace, the man who he had thought was Fosters for so long, led the tour. Gone was the frame of the old detective. In its place a handsome young man stood. If Dak focused hard enough he could she some similarity in some of the mannerisms, but Foster’s fifty-year-old body was a far cry from this tattoo covered PR with a half shaved head.

Perhaps seeing his eyes lingering on the ink, Mace said, “Do you like the work? Tattoos are of course one thing that doesn’t pass with you when you Jump.” He smiled. “I figure this way I can get new work every year. Pretty wicked eh?”

Dak didn’t comment. Instead he took in a painting that illustrated a happy man jumping off a skyscraper rooftop. The figure’s right hand was raised over his head in a fist. “What’s this?” he said pointing at the painting with his smoke.

With a bigger smile, Mace said, “Base jumping. Our group’s founder was known as Titan. He was quiet found of base-jumping. Some even think this is where the name for our kind began.”

Holding his arm tight, Erin looked up at him her green eyes blinking. Her dress was a skintight strip of red cloth smaller than his towel. As always, her body was slim. Shapely. Perfect. “Titan tended to be more than a bit on the reckless side. But he was insanely wealthy. He would lose a leg in some failed stunt and just Jump into a new healthy clone.”

Pressing herself closer to him, she went on. “Back in his day we were almost accepted. Normal. He was only using his own body though. We would hardly even consider that Jumping now. He however, was the first of the immortals.”

“Until that parachute did not open.”

To his left two Grafters were helping an elderly man into one of their coffins. Noticing his gaze, Mace commented. “People will give all they have for a second chance.”

Nothing more needed to be said. It became very clear why these Jumpers always seemed to have almost unlimited funds. Having Erin finally be honest about her own wealth hadn’t been the worst thing to have ever happened to him. That along with the small sum he took from the Jumpers had definitely increased his standard of living.

Passing a middle aged woman as she stripped off her clothes, he managed to overhear her say, “Make sure I’m really pretty. I want to be really pretty. I’ll see if the prick is cheating on me first hand.”

Mace laughed, but waited until they were well pass to say, “Most people don’t want to leave their lives, but a weekend of Jumping can accomplish more goals than one can count. Athletes in peek form are selling their bodies so novices have a chance to play their favorite games like the pros. And of course there’s always the perversion factor, but you and Erin know about that.”

He felt his cheeks grow hot. “Is there a reason for us to be here other than for you to be showing of like some sort of punk priss?”

Chuckling, “You’re always so touchie Dak. It seems that even Evan I mean Erin-“

Dak moved quickly. A necklace was grasped and he pulled Mace’s face close to his. “I told you that you weren’t allowed to call her that.” Words spit from between his teeth. “I don’t care how many bodies you’ve been in, I can kick your ass. Insult my girlfriend again and I will.”

“Calling him by his name is an insult?”

He barely got the words out before Dak gave him a hard right hook into the jaw.

Erin gasped and rushed forward. “Dak, you shouldn’t” A reproach from Erin made him cringe. All around him Jumpers took notice. They dropped what they were doing and walked closer. Most had weapons. 

Mace stood erect. A pull of the arm drew a smudge of blood from his lips. He waved the approaching Jumpers back. “No it’s okay. He loves his Gender-Jumper. I think It’s cute.”

“Screw you Mace.” Erin gave him a glare that made Dak wonder how well they might really know each other.

“Shall we just keep moving?” Mace asked as once again he wiped his mouth free of blood. He shot Erin a glance which did nothing to soften the mood. “And yes you’re correct you were brought here for a reason.”

The butt of his cigarette still glowed as Mace threw open a wide set of polished steel doors. The insides of the room contrasted strongly with everything else he had seen at Base Jumper. He could have been stepping back three centuries. Bookcases lined the dark hued walls. Never had he seen such a collection of books outside of a museum.  Since the advent of the computer over two centuries ago, books had been coming ever rarer. Most publishing houses had closed within a hundred years. Books were now considered oddities and collector’s items.

Centered amongst the vibrate rainbow of book spines was a walnut desk that could have fit three people. Instead an annoyingly young blonde boy was just putting aside a folder. This was added with not great haste to an already considerable pile stacked to the left of him. The boy looked perhaps seventeen at the most, but Dak guessed that the mind within was by far his own senior. His crystal blue eyes had a tight glare that no youth of that age could have pulled off.

“This is The Doctor,” Mace began. “For lack of a better term, you may consider him our leader.”

“More of s spokesman really.” His tone was one of wisdom and experience, but as if from the lips of an angel. It came out musical and tinged with the strength of a fresh voice. Leaning forward, the youth said, “But please call me Maxwell.”

Dak nodded, he had no reason to speak. Erin gave a courtly curtsey, which was something he would have never thought he would see.

A slim smile spread. “I’m sure you consider your life as busy as mine and as my employees, I assume you are keeping yourselves active.” This wasn’t even worth a nod. “So I will be blunt and brief.”

“Someone has been hired to assassinate Jumpers.” He paused for a moment to let his statement sink in. “Whatever is doing this is a professional and very successful.” Erin’s nervous eyes met his and she trembled. “He has already racked up fourteen of us and those are just the people we know of.

Maxwell stopped. Keeping his voice even, Dak asked, “Do you have any idea who might be behind the attacks?”

“I think it’s the Major,” Mace answered for him.

The Doctor favored him with a stern look. Dak had a feeling he wasn’t used to being interrupted. “Yes, Mace thinks it is the Major and it well could be, but my years of experience have led me to believe that it is not always the most obvious choice. There are always the Nappies to consider.”

Dak thought on this. Nappies was a derogatory term for The National Association of Parents. The supposedly moral body of citizens had their hands in more than anyone considered safe. As a legislating body they could make or break elections. Dak considered them foul self-righteous censors, but working for the Public Enforcers he had often found himself being asked to bend to some policy they were promoting.

“It doesn’t sound like Nappies, they don’t hire assassins, they hire lawyers.”

A short chuckle escaped from Mace, and Maxwell smiled without humor. He addressed Erin first. “It seems you have been keeping your mate in the dark my dear. Dak works for…I mean with us now.”

“Dak’s knowledge has no shortcomings,” she said, crossing her arms under her 36cs.

Dak allowed himself a grin of his own. “I’ll look into it. So why am I here?”

Looking more serious than his young face should allow, Maxwell dropped his voice. “We are being hunted. I don’t like that. Both the assassins and whoever has hired them must be made to pay. We have ways of avenging our own. What I want from you is the legwork. You are a detective, you have the resources of the Public Enforcers behind you, go detect.”

He leaned forward to emphasize one final point. “I also do not need to remind you who you are sharing a bed with. You are involved Dak, whether you like it or not, unless you intend to throw Erin into the teeth of the wolves.”

Find out more about Dak and Erin and their Quest to preserve New Cluster Here!

The Climax of A Clone of a Different Color

It did not take long to pack. Fear lent them speed. Dak’s Public Enforcer salary was enough to allow him the luxury of a vehicle. Sure there would be numerous checkpoints before he could be free of the Hub, where the Mayor’s influence remained strongest, but he could only hope that if they moved fast enough this Enforcer clearance would see them both through before anyone realized they were gone.

Once they opened the door, they found themselves staring down the barrels of three Flashguns. It was Matthews, Waterman, and Fosters and it didn’t take much to force them back into the apartment.

Fosters shut the door behind them then motioned them with the business end of his pistol to have a seat on the sofa. He sat down opposite of them. Matthews scanned the rest of the small apartment, while Waterman mopped his brow with the back of his arm. Neither Waterman nor Fosters took their aim away from the couple.

Waterman sneered at Dak. “Matthews told me about who you really are and what you’re doing, and before they put you away, I just wanted you to know how sick I think it is.”

“Thanks for the update. I would have never been able to sleep other wise. Your opinion has always mattered so much to me.”

“Why you piece of-” Waterman hollered, as he rushed forward.

But Fosters drew him off. “Put a gag on it, Waterman. You know the Mayor wants these two. We’ll let him decide what to do with them.”

Dak looked over at Matthews. His silent pleading proved a wasted effort and Matthews avoided any uncertainly by looking away. Dak was running out of options.

“Come on guys, after all we have been through, you’re going to flush our friendships on a technicality?”


“We do not consider sleeping with a terrorist a technicality, Dak,” Waterman snarled. “Your perverted mind is just too clouded to see how screwed up you are.”

“All right enough of this chit chat,” Fosters said, his voice growing louder. “Matthews, Waterman, check them for weapons. I didn’t want any surprises.”

As it turned out everyone was surprised, but Fosters, when the older man shot Matthews and Waterman in the back with a powerful stun setting. They crumpled to the floor limp and unconscious.

“Wait, what?” Dak said, hopping to his feet. His confusion multiplied when Erin began to quickly gather the fallen officer’s weapons.

“Calm down and sit down,” Fosters said, waving his flashgun at him. He did so. Even if he could make a break for it, he would have stayed. He had to hear this one out. He just hoped it didn’t end with his death.

He looked down were Erin used each officer’s own cuffs to bind their hands behind their backs. She refused to meet his eyes. His heart pumped twenty extra beats a minute. “Erin?” he questioned. She still refused to look up at him and moved father away from him. She made a small sniffing sound and then wiped a hand across her face.

“Don’t blame poor Erin or should I say Evan. She didn’t know she was going to fall in love.”

Fosters seemed pleased with himself, but Dak had never been more confused. Although he had a feeling it would soon be becoming very clear to him. He looked from Erin, who still used her hair to hide her face, over to Fosters.

“It’s because of her that you aren’t flapping like a fish on the floor. It’s because of your little cutie that you’ll be given options. You see,” he began using the gun like a baton to emphasize his points. “We Jumpers are far more powerful than you could possibly imagine. The Mayor is a fool. He has no clue how far our fingers reach. He might not know, but you’re starting to.”

“You aren’t really Fosters are you?”

The older man pointed his finger at his nose in a very undignified manner. “Bingo, my laddie.  Although I have been him for about seven months now. Before me it was my buddy Jaze. You see we usually get paid for a one-year stit and get paid well, I might add. By the way, a good way to keep from getting Jumped, don’t be predictable. I can play his grumpy cynical cop thing all day.”

He imitated some classic Foster mannerisms and it became unsettling to watch.

“I get it, please stop.” A moment of silence stretched and Dak looked over at Erin. She still refused to meet his gaze.

“Why so quiet Evan?”

“Don’t call her that.”

“Oh touchie, how do you know she doesn’t want to be called that? She’s getting paid too, you know.” Dak felt flushed. He stared at the floor. “Your little secret was out long ago. We keep close tabs on those that touch us.”

The presence in the Fosters shell leaned forward. “We are the new immortals, the Gods. We will never age, at least not for more than a few years at a time. I can relive twenty-three for a hundred years. I’m just doing this Foster gig so I can make some money first. Five more months and I’ll be twenty-three when you’re sixty.”

“Don’t say that, Mace,” Erin said suddenly. Her voice sounded choked.

“Hah, what, you want him to join us.” She finally met his eyes.

“Let’s just talk about tonight.”

“Wise, wise. Yes, let’s just talk about tonight. Thanks to Erin you were a useful tool an unwitting man on the inside if you will. With little nudges from the various Fosters over the years you could be steered away form areas of…conflict.”

“I’m not an idiot! I can understand what you have done.” He looked at Erin while he spoke. “What happens now?” he said raising his voice. Beneath him Matthews stirred.

“Maybe that isn’t for you to decide.” At first he wondered who else could be involved, but then Dak saw that he stared at Erin. “Well, Erin?”

“Oh, Dak I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t feel too bad, Dak. The girl you knew as Erin’s contract was up half a year ago. She signed on for another year. Usually we worry about such things, but in the end we all Jump for pleasure, so for each their own. We have no simpler motto.”

“Does Erin have to go?” he asked the ghost of Fosters.

“That’s the real question isn’t it?”

“Would you still want me to stay?”

Dak was still. How long has it been since he took a breath? “Is she allowed to?”

“Alright, this is starting to make me sick. Just tell him what you told me before.”

There was a pause. It grew longer. “I think I’ve fallen in love with you. Dak. I’d like to stay if you’d have me.’

“Will they cut you loose?”

“Oh-hey sparky. No, no, you will both be working for Jump 101 or your lives with get messed up real quick.” He stood up and put the pistol away. “I’ll send someone over with the contract tomorrow.”

“What about these guys?”

“They know a little too much I’m afraid. Besides this bastard Waterman works for the Mayor. We have known that for a while. I’m taking him with me. He might be Jumped, but” he made a face, “he’s so nasty and ugly we may just have to dump him into a den of Mut-hounds.”

“I think I could talk Matthews around it. He’s a good kid.”

The Jumper stood and considered the situation. “I like him a bit too. He isn’t too bad for a pee I suppose. It’s a deal, but if he sinks so do you. I’m still taking Waterman.”

Soon the thing in Fosters’ shell left with Waterman slung over his shoulder. He wanted to deal with Matthews, but Erin was starting to cry.

He moved over to her. “You must hate me for lying to you.”

“How could I hate the woman who loves me? Everyone needs a job I guess. I hope it pays well for I expect dinner to be one you for about a year.”

She tried to smile.

He took her into his arms. “I can live with you know as long as you are a hundred percent honest from this day forth.”

“I can do that. I’ll start with I love you.”

“I love my Erin, no matter who the hell you really are.”

Discover Dak and Erin’s most insane adventure here!

A Clone of a Different Color, Part IV

“What’s wrong?” Erin gasped, when she saw the look on his face. She had always been very good at reading him.

He didn’t pull any punches, he never did when someone’s life was on the line and this was his Erin. “The Mayor knows about us.”

Her small hands covered her mouth in horror. “Oh no, oh no.” She shook for a moment and that was all it took for him to have her fill his arms. She shivered against him.

“What are we going to do?” she whispered.

“I’m not sure.” He moved her back so he could look into her crying eyes. “It sounds like he already knew about us. Most likely he figured he would keep it for an ace in the hole to use when he needed something from me.”

“Like now?”

“Yeah, like now.”

“What does he want from you?”

“It was pretty much like you thought. He wants to blame this on Jumpers and get more PR before the election.”

“Did he really kill Homes?” she asked while trying to hold back the tears.

“Who knows and I doubt it matters. There’s no way I could do anything against the Mayor even if he had pulled the trigger himself.”

“You can’t blame some innocent Jumper can you?” she asked, her eyes looking so sad.

“No, of course not. I think the only thing we can do is try to leave. Get outside the hub.”

“You want me to go with you?” her words came slow, with hesitation.

“Oh course I do, I said we didn’t I?”

“You don’t have to do this Dak. Being an Enforcer is your life. I could Jump back. No one would know. What could they prove against you then?”

“I don’t want to do that.”

She looked up at him as they each held the other’s arms. “Why?”

“You said being an Enforcer was my life. That’s not true anymore.” He stuttered for a moment. “I think I’m in love with you. Everything I see, it’s all tarnished, wicked, and wrong. You’re the only light.”

He stopped suddenly and her tears began again, but for a different reason this time. “Can you really love me? Can I really be your woman?”

“Erin, you already are my woman. Now get your things packed and remember, we are traveling light.”

She started to go, but then dashed back and gave him a long kiss. He watched her for a moment, while she started to pack her things and hoped he was making the right choice.

 

Look for the Conclusion Of Clone of a Different Color on August 9th!

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A Clone of a Different Color Part II

A face that always smiled upon his return greeted Dak. Moving with habit more than thought, he flung his jacket over a kitchen barstool and headed toward his girl. He couldn’t be sure if it was the events of the day, but he became fully conscious of the fact that even though the lips he kissed felt soft, full, and very female, the person who kissed him was really a male, at least on the inside.

Dak wouldn’t call himself gay. He had never touched another male in such a manner. However, during the case he had so recently spoke to his fellow officers about, he had come into contact with a male who had Skinjumped into a ravishingly beautiful female. He had not known it at the time or even while he’d experienced the best sex of his life. Through no fault of his, her identity had been raveled and she had been not only put back into her real and very male body, but also put behind bars for a very long time. But for Dak it was already too late.

He was hooked. No sex had ever been better. Since they knew what felt the best themselves, they gave it willingly. While some women accept their role with a lackluster performance, these Gender-Jumpers went at sex with a wild abandon, which Dak never tired of. At home, in an effort to prove themselves a match for any true woman, they always cooked and cleaned his apartment until it shined. And the clothes, these Jumpers dressed in what men wished women always wore.

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Since his first a little over three years ago, Dak had been only dating Gender-Jumpers. He tried a normal gal again once, but became bored as soon as her had gotten her in bed. Yes, he was hooked, but looking down at his Erin’s perfect face he thought, what a way to go.

“How was your day,” she purred. Like most Skinjumpers who jumped gender, Erin tended to exaggerate her feminine nature. Maybe it was one of the many reasons he liked her so much. He had issues, so what?

“We had a serious crime involving Gender-Jumpers.” It might have been the only thing that he could have said that would cause her to drop her role. They played it safe. Erin didn’t even work outside of the few modeling gigs she did under the table. If she was ever discovered, they could both be sent away for a long time.

She retreated to an arm’s distance suddenly serious. Despite her sensuous voice, he thought he could detect the man within her for the first time in months. “Tell me what happened?”

“It’s common knowledge all over the Vid.”

“You know I can’t stand watching those lies.” She always had been a reader.

“From the looks of things, four upscale Hitters Skinjumped into a gaggle of hot little numbers and then proceeded to waste new major hopeful Felix Homes.”

Her big eyes grew wide making it easier to accept her as female again. “Mayor Edgar hates Jumpers. He’ll use this as an excuse to hunt us down.”

She was getting excited and words began to tumble from her mouth mixing chaos, conjecture, and paranoia. “Erin it’s alright. I’m on the case. I’ll take care of it.”

“It’s not okay. This is a double win for that fat freak. He loses the competition and gets to blame us for it. I hate that bastard.”

“He’s not my favorite guy. I’m not too worried about it, but let’s have you lay low for a while okay,” he said, while his hand began massaging her shoulder.

“Maybe I should jump back until this is over,” she said looking into his eyes.

He felt a tight pull in his groan. He had been living with Erin over a year now. They had been sharing a bed nearly every night for longer than that. She was the third Gender-Jumper he had dated and by far the most wonderful. “No,” he blurted out. The idea of her becoming a man again disturbed him on more levels than he cared to count.

Seeing the disturbed look on his face made her smile. She moved in running her long fingers across his face. “Why would you miss me?” He could feel her warmth. She smelled like lavender.

Her lips were near his. “Yes.”

“I could still stay over.”

“It would not be the same.”

“Why because I would have one of these?” Her other hand gave his member a squeeze to emphasize the point. Her mouth paused next to his ear. “Do you only like me for my body.”

“I can’t live without my Erin just the way she is.” These words satisfied her and she allowed him his kiss and soon she allowed him so much more.

Find out more about Dak, Erin, and the rest of the Skinjumpers here!