Hair suite, p.1

Hair Suite, page 1

 part  #2 of  Hair Suit Series

 

Hair Suite
 


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Hair Suite


  Hair Suite

  Sequel to Hair Power

  Piers Anthony

  Hair Suite

  Copyright © 2016 by Piers Anthony

  Cover Art

  Mac Hernandez

  Design

  Niki Browning

  Editor-in-Chief

  Kristi King-Morgan

  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof

  may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever

  without the express written permission of the publisher

  except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Printed in the United States of America

  First Printing, 2016

  ISBN 13: 978-1540843821

  ISBN 10: 1540843823

  Dreaming Big Publications

  www.dreamingbigpublications.com

  Contents

  Introduction

  1. Spheres

  2. Levi

  3. Burn

  4. Crisis

  5. Gena

  6. WormWeb

  7. The Tower

  8. Challenges

  9. Answer Box

  10. Pod

  Author's Note

  About the Author

  Piers Anthony is the author of over 170 books. His popular series include Xanth, The Incarnations of Immortality, Chromagic, Geodyssey, Mode, Bio of a Space Tyrant, Adept, and Cluster.

  Other books by Piers Anthony from Dreaming Big Publications:

  Hair Power

  Writer's Retweet

  Service Goat

  Introduction

  Hair Suite, the second word properly pronounced “sweet,” is the sequel to Hair Power, wherein Quiti, dying of brain cancer, helps an alien hairball and is given a new head of hair that bestows marvelous properties as it grows, such as beauty, genius intelligence, telepathy, and the ability to fly. Also, incidentally, it cures her cancer, and she comes to wear it in lieu of clothing as it approaches six feet in length. She makes friends with young Speedo, who has a crush on her, and Gena, a truck driver a decade older. She meets Roque, another hair suit, pronounced “suit,” with similar powers, whom she marries, and later they rescue young Tillo, the third hair suit, whom they informally adopt. Through Roque we come to know his former woman friend Desiree, who has AIDS. They meet Gena's adopted out daughter, the spirited Idola, who adopts Tillo as her boyfriend. It turns out that the aliens they have waited to meet are actually their own new hair. Finally they co-opt a suite in the local city hall to be the new alien embassy, and Desiree, Speedo, and Gena become trusted staff members.

  The sequel begins soon after, and is just as wild.

  Chapter 1

  Spheres

  Quiti went out at noon for the ceremonial song. They did this daily, since taking over the city hall in the original songfest; the people demanded it. She nodded to the men of the honorary guard that had once been a government swat team; now they guarded the Hair Suite, the embassy of the alien Hair Brains, and seemed quite satisfied. It was, after all, the quasi-official outpost of the first known extraterrestrial civilization to establish a base on Planet Earth. If there were skeptics, they had only to visit the embassy to discover the Powers of the Hair.

  The squad leader formally saluted, and Quiti flashed him with her outstanding torso, revealed momentarily under her cloak of hair. He liked that; she read it in his mind. How could he not? Then the translucence turned opaque, and became her formal blouse and skirt. Scarcity enhanced the value of a flash.

  The people were there, hundreds from the neighborhood, along with several media reporters. They were smiling in anticipation of the event, minor as it might be. Many were regulars; she even received fan mail from some of them. At this stage it was mainly good fun.

  Quiti raised her arms in the manner of a conductor. Then she sang, and they sang with her, in perfect time and tune, the refrain from the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

  Glory, glory hallelujah!

  Glory, glory hallelujah!

  Glory, glory hallelujah!

  His truth is marching on.

  The sound echoed from the walls of the city hall and the buildings of the city, a mighty chorus. They all loved it; their feeling was as clear as their voices. There was something about the joyful unity that uplifted them, making them part of a marvelous larger entity. Some might call it God, but the hair suits did not; they had merely borrowed the song for their own purpose.

  “Thank you,” Quiti said as it finished, her voice telepathically amplified so that everyone could hear her clearly. “We are still checking sites for our potential permanent Hairpin Embassy, but have not yet decided on the best one. Frankly, it is difficult even to conceive of one that would be superior to this temporary one here, because of your wonderful support.”

  The people applauded. They liked the compliment.

  “But we can't camp in your nice city hall forever with our Hair Suite.” She pronounced the word correctly, “sweet.” “Even though your handsome mayor calls me 'Hair Sweet.'” Her encompassing hair manifested as the cloak it was and formed into a momentary heart shape around her.

  They laughed appreciatively. If some suspected that their reactions were being manipulated by her telepathy, they did not object; this was a harmless feel-good public relations session.

  “Now, is there anything else I should address before I return to my boring stack of paperwork?” she inquired. As she spoke, she floated up into the air about ten feet, her billowing hair skirt supporting her as it displayed her shapely legs and feet. The reporters aimed their recorders at her, though they had seen it before. It was her quiet incidental proof that she was no ordinary girl, but the representative of an alien culture with remarkable abilities. There was fun but no fakery in it. The naughty flashes of her legs helped guarantee it would be featured on news shows. In fact, a significant portion of her fan mail related to her hair, especially when it flared. Sometimes it even flashed her body up to her bosom, from below. To think that she had once been a shy, dull, plain girl! The hair had transformed her in many ways, and now she reveled in being the showpiece of the alien outpost.

  A woman raised her hand. “Yes, Elvina,” Quiti said, reading her name in her open mind.

  “My—my mother is old.” She gestured to a woman in a wheelchair. “Smoking took out her voice; she can't talk. She hasn't much longer to live. She's from Russia, long ago. Could you—could you sing her favorite song, 'Meadowlands,' so she could hear it one more time before she dies?”

  Quiti smiled. “Why not?” Meanwhile, mentally to Roque inside the building: Words and melody for song 'Meadowlands.'

  Roque was on it. The tune and words flowed into her head. She walked to the old woman and sang.

  Meadowlands, meadowlands

  Meadows green and fields in blossom...

  She sang it well and with feeling; song was one of the many powers her hair conferred on her. Then the words appeared in bright letters in the sky above her so that the rest of the audience could join in.

  The old woman was in rapture; it fairly radiated from her.

  “Oh thank you so much!” Elvina said as it concluded. “She will remember this the rest of her life!” That was surely literally true. She wheeled the old woman away.

  Now the crowd dissipated, knowing the show was over. There would be another show next day.

  A handsome young man approached. “May I have a private word with you, Quiti?” he asked.

  “A brief one. I really do have paperwork to do, chore that it is.”

  “To be sure. This will take no longer than you wish.”

  She gestured, establishing a sphere of privacy around them both. It would fog their outlines and their words so that others could not intercept their dialogue. “Yes?”
Her hair now formed a conservative business suit, discouraging any hint that she was available for anything romantic. Men tended to get notions.

  “I am Levi. I am a Chip Monk.”

  A what? She tried to read his mind, but found it opaque. That was interesting; was he immune to mind reading?

  “This is humor?”

  “No more than being a Hair Suit is for you. I am here on business.”

  “What is with your closed mind?”

  “Telepathically closed,” Levi said, smiling. “It is not an advantage; we chip monks are not telepathic. We do have compensating abilities.”

  “Such as?”

  “Similar to yours. We can float or fly.” He lifted smoothly off the ground. “We are highly intelligent. We are handsome, as we were not originally. We are strong; I could bend a steel bar with my bare hands, as I will demonstrate if you wish. We have acute senses. We are much like you, but in different ways. We are of course essentially alien, in human hosts, as you are. But we do come in peace.”

  It was apparent that he spoke the truth. He represented another alien culture! “What do you want with us?”

  Levi frowned politely. “That requires careful explanation. Perhaps I should meet with the other hair suits, as you will all want to hear it.”

  “Perhaps you should,” she agreed. “Please come inside.”

  “May I bring my companion? She's friendly.”

  This continued to grow in interest. “By all means.”

  “Burn,” Levi said.

  A young woman walked through the crackling shell of the privacy sphere. Quiti masked her astonishment; that should not have been possible. She should have been rendered harmlessly unconscious by the mere touch of it.

  “Hello Quiti,” the woman said, extending her hand. Her skin was deep brown, her hair black. “I am the other chip monk. I am so glad to meet you at last. I have admired your performance. I am Burnetta, Burn for short, my name meaning 'little brown one.' My folks told me I was baked too long in the oven.” She laughed. “Little did they know!”

  Quiti took the proffered hand. It was warm and firm, and though the touch was gentle, very strong. The woman looked purely average in size, and her shape was highly feminine; she was a beauty. But she was also an extremely fit athlete. “I am glad to make your acquaintance, Burn. I suspect there is no one else on Earth like you.”

  “Apart from you,” Burn agreed, smiling. Her white teeth were bright in her dark face. “I hope we will be friends.”

  Quiti knew already that Burn would make a very bad enemy. “Is there a reason we should not be friends?”

  “Yes. But it can be navigated.”

  Quiti snapped her fingers and the privacy bubble vanished. Visitors, she thought to Roque. Bring Tillo too.

  They entered the building, and the Hair Suite. The receptionist looked up, a pretty blue-eyed blonde in a low cut blouse. “Company?”

  “Indeed,” Quiti said. “Levi and Burn, here to meet the Hairs.” To the visitors she said, “Desiree, our first defense against intrusions. She distracts folk until we know whether we want to see them.”

  The two visitors smiled, appreciating how Desiree could do that.

  A young man stepped up, handsome and muscular in a haphazard way. “May I help?”

  “This is Speedo, our second line of defense,” Quiti said.

  “Glorified handyman, and errand boy,” Speedo said, smiling.

  “Speedo, take us to Gena.”

  “This way, please,” Speedo said, making a mock bow.

  Gena was at her desk in the next room. She looked up as if surprised as they entered. It was an act, as Quiti had warned her telepathically. “Yes?”

  “And Gena, our office manager. She runs the show. Gena, these are Levi and Burn, similar to me but of a different alien species. Notify Roque and Tillo.”

  Gena pressed buttons on the desk. “Quiti is bringing Levi and Burn to consult with you on an even basis. You will meet in the main reception chamber.”

  There was a brief pause while the unseen parties assimilated that. An “even basis” meant they had special powers; it was fair warning, apart from the telepathy.

  In that moment Quiti picked up on something. What's wrong, Gena? she queried mentally, projecting her thought.

  I don't want to bother you when you're busy. She was not telepathic, but knew Quiti could read her phrased thought.

  Gena was Quiti's closest normal friend. What bothered her bothered Quiti. Give me a hint.

  Gena opened her mind and Quiti picked up on it in a single gulp. Unable to take care of her daughter Idola years ago, Gena had adopted her out, finding a nice family for her without leaving her life. Idola was satisfied and loved her foster parents, who took excellent care of her, and Gena had complete visiting privileges. Everyone was happy. But now Idola had confided that there was trouble in paradise that might break up the marriage. This threatened to ruin an idyllic association.

  Oh, my, Quiti thought, chagrined. It was not her business, technically, but she hurt when Gena hurt, and Gena's daughter Idola was Tillo's girlfriend. This impacted her indirectly, but was bound to complicate her situation.

  She could not afford to dwell on it at the moment. I'll get back to you, she thought, compartmentalizing the issue.

  Thanks.

  “Please go on in now,” Gena said politely as if nothing had happened. “They are ready.” The mental interaction had taken only a moment.

  They went on in. Roque and Tillo were there.

  “This is Levi, a Chip Monk,” Quiti said, introducing him, mentally capitalizing it for the first rendition in the manner of a special description. “And his companion Burn. They are here on special private business.” Then, to the visitors: “This is Roque, my husband, and Tillo, our adoptive son, both hair suits.”

  They all shook hands, and Quiti knew that Roque and Tillo were picking up on the masked power of the visitors, as well as the potent sex appeal of the woman. They settled into a private room.

  “You were saying?” Quiti prompted Levi.

  “Burn and I are what you might term cyborgs,” Levi said. “Human beings with metallic alien components that enhance us in much the way your alien hair enhances you. We are part of the Chip sphere of influence, as you are part of the Hair sphere.” He gestured with his two hands, and a holographic picture appeared in the air before him. “Here is the Hairpin home planet, in the center of its sphere.” The planet glowed so that it showed up amid the stars in that region of the galaxy. “Here is the Chipper home world.” Another world glowed within its stellar sphere.

  Quiti was intrigued by more than the demonstration. This was not illusion; there was no touch on her mind. This was an actual picture. How was he doing it?

  “As you can see, the two spheres minimally intersect,” Levi continued as the secants of overlap glowed. “And directly within that common segment is Planet Earth.” Now Earth glowed. “It can inhabit either sphere or both. But with the present state of competition, it must be one or the other, not both. That is our concern.” The stellar picture faded.

  “We have not considered ourselves to be competitive,” Quiti said carefully. “Our interest is in being as friendly with Earth as possible. We bear Earth no malice, and would not join any other alien culture in anything that threatened Earth in any manner.”

  “Neither would the chips,” Levi said. “We, too, wish only the best for Earth, and are prepared to contribute significant technology to enhance its prospects. The question is whether Earth shall be considered a Hair or a Chip subculture.”

  Quiti shook her head. “Neither. It is not a subculture of anything."

  “Perhaps my term is insufficient. I shall explain further. There is a larger competition occurring, on a galactic scale. Earth is one tiny planet of thousands bearing cultures, and the spheres are hundreds. The placements of particular worlds within spheres may be unimportant on the larger scale, or it may be vital. Perhaps it would help to think of it as res
embling a three dimensional game of Go.”

  “The oriental tile game?” Roque asked. “I used to play that, but generally got tromped. You might think it would be easy to place stones one by one on a board, but the strategy is strenuous. Worse than chess.”

  “Think of a world as a single stone, and the board as the galaxy.”

  “That would be mind blowing! Go is considered maybe the simplest yet most sophisticated game extant. On a galactic scale, in three dimensions--”

  “Precisely.”

  “I don't get it,” Quiti said. “I have heard of Go, but it's only a board game. What's this about worlds and stones?” Tillo was similarly perplexed.

  “I'd better explain,” Roque said. “The board is lined, nineteen-lines to a side. There are black stones and white stones, which are placed on the intersections, not the squares. Two players, one playing black, the other white. The strategy is to enclose the other player's stones, surrounding them and taking them off the board. It's called the game of enclosure. The one who encloses more territory and stones wins, but it can be tricky to score, and mind-bendingly complicated to play. I'm a lot smarter now than I was before I became a hair suit, but I'd still be a duffer player. I remember when a computer defeated a top oriental player it was a milestone that put chess in the shade. But the essence is yes, the placement of a single pebble can make a phenomenal difference, maybe winning or losing the game. If there are players using our world as stones, we of Earth are utter pikers.”

  “Thank you,” Levi said. “It is only an analogy; the actual contest is more sophisticated. But it provides a notion why Earth is important. It may be considered to be a black stone or a white stone, depending on the sphere it associates with. The hairs and chips are not antagonistic to each other, but are on opposite sides of this contest.”

 
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