It may not have been fair or right - Aldyth would have been the first to admit that - but could she pass up such a golden opportunity just for the sake of principle?
At least, that's what she would have told those lunatic masculinist protesters she always seemed to run into whenever she left the Transit Port. Stop further expansion into the Galaxy, give up a good job, just for the sake of equal rights? Not likely. However, after a three-month tour of duty on the Antares Colonies, and already two hours into her weekend pass, discussing politics with a bunch of radical men's libbers wasn't on her mind.
Getting laid was.
She was surprised at the diminished action on the Downtown streets, believing that her company would have been the first to enjoy Earthleave that evening. Was there a Zeroball Match on the vids, or a sale on beer somewhere? Then she saw a few Colonial Marines staggering into a back alley with their studs for a quickie; of course, those military bitches didn't operate on the same rules of leave-sharing that the Rigger companies followed. Which meant to Aldyth that the best beef would have been claimed already, and she'd have to be content with the stragglers.
Unless... she tended to avoid the lovenests, favouring the independent streetwalkers (the latter tending to work harder for their money). But, as the old saying went about beggars not being choosers...
She walked into one sleazy joint called the Seraglio, accessed its database on available studs, selected and reserved one, feeding it her credcard for the duration of her stay, then followed the directional corridor lights to his room.
It was like every stud's room she'd seen before: a large bed dominating the centre, wallscreen for erotic holos, separate shower/toilet area, and the smell of cheap cologne and the sweat of previous customers; still, with the prices they charged, who looked at the wallpaper? The room's occupant had been standing by his wallcomp, having been alerted to the imminent arrival of a customer for him. He looked just like his database holo: tall, Latin dark, jet hair ponytailed, deep blue eyes, a nice soft frame beneath his white silk kimono. He approached with a practised smile. "You must be Aldyth Weller. Good evening; my name's Jimi." He looked her over, as if he was genuinely pleased. "My, I am lucky that such a lovely woman-"
"Cut the crap, boychick; it's wasted on me." Aldyth had no illusions about her appearance: with a height just under two meters, a girth just under a hundred kilos (maybe not a graceful body, but perfect for extended duty on high-gravity worlds), a ginger crew-cut, and a nose repeatedly broken in barroom brawls and reset by cheap robodocs, she knew she was as ugly as sin and twice as hard. And she preferred it that way; deep space was no place for the delicate. "How about a drink? Highland Monkey, if you've got it."
Jimi dropped his smile, all business now (Aldyth preferred it that way, too). "I've got it, Aldyth."
"Call me Al." She watched him glide to his drinks cabinet, approving of the curves of his ass beneath his kimono.
"Where're you stationed then, Rigger?" he asked over his shoulder.
"Antares." She glanced down at her civvies. "How'd you know I'm an Rigger?"
He handed her a glass, clinking it once against his own; he smelled nice. "I could say I didn't think you looked rough and tough enough to be a Marine." His attempt at humour failed with her scowl. "Your boots. Riggers' boots are always scarred white with phenolic resin."
Aldyth grunted - pretty smart, for a man - swallowed her drink in one go, then smacked her lips as she looked about the room. "Right, let's talk prices."
She could feel his eyes on her. "Let's talk action. I don't do rough stuff, understand? You have to take good care of me, lover."
"Yeah, yeah, sure." She readily agreed, not willing (at least tonight) to tussle with some burly lovenest doorwomen out to protect their studs. "I've got a wide-on that won't quit. I'm just looking for a bit of oral, then a straight fuck. Maybe some more afterwards, if you're good enough."
"I'm good, very good. " He paused. "120."
Aldyth snorted. "Fuck off! If you're so good, why weren't you busy when I arrived?" Then she noticed the compbooks on a shelf, schematics of power transfer conduits - she recognised them immediately, snatching one book, turning and sneering at him, her latent Welsh accent emerging. "You're studying Rigging? You, a man?"
Jimi quickly set his glass aside and reached for the book, hugging it against his chest like a baby. "Why not? It's not illegal."
"No," she admitted. "Just a damned waste of time and money."
Transit Corridors, with their ability to open portals between Earth and any of a thousand known worlds in the Galaxy, had made spaceship travel obsolete - after all, why spend decades, even centuries travelling on expensive, dangerous spaceships, when one can step through a doorway, and instantly be on another planet, light-years away? Industry, exploration, the sciences, commerce - all had made quantum leaps with the use of the Corridors, and many problems which had plagued humankind had now been conquered.
Of course, there had to be a catch: the Corridors could carry just about anything - goods, food, energy, workers - halfway across the Galaxy and back, with no ill effects. But it inexplicably tore apart any living tissue carrying the human male chromosome, killing all men who tried using it. Even sperm samples were damaged, and after more than a century of research into the problem, a solution was still not forthcoming. But despite this, humanity couldn't leave the Galaxy unexplored, unexploited, could it?
Thus, it was women Expeditionaries who first mapped and prospected worlds like those in the Antares, Deneb and Spica systems. Women Riggers who built and ran the factories and refineries, the terraforming plants and farming stations, on those new worlds. Women Marines who fought the territorial wars with the alien races encountered Out There.
And as for the human men, seemingly bound forever to Earth's system, their former political, economic and societal dominance now hopelessly eroded? Well, apart from those fringe radicals at the spaceports calling for the Corridors to be shut down just because they can't use them, Aldyth thought men seemed more content now with their lot than when they were running the world (into the ground). Like her mother used to say, men were good for childrearing, housekeeping and entertaining. Just don't give them anything more important than that.
She glared at him. "No wonder you try to fleece your customers."
He shrugged helplessly, returning the compbook to the shelf. "The Rigger's course doesn't come cheap."
"I know; I'm still paying mine back, after five years."
"But if they ever do make the breakthrough, I want to be the first qualified male Rigger on some new world."
"Not if you keep turning away customers with your prices; I never met a stud worth more than fifty creds a shot." She reached out, pulling aside one lapel of his kimono, examining his clean, bare chest. "Still, you're better looking than some of the old boilers on the street. Fifty-five."
He stuck out his chin, trying to look defiant - Aldyth thought it cute. "Seventy. I do have some pride, you know."
She considered it. "Let's see your piece."
.... There is more of this story ...