The Color of His Crest

by Angel Martinez

In a four-gendered world where correct gender identity is law, Venk struggles with his inability to choose one sexual orientation over another. His body has matured, but he still shows the multi-colored crest of a juvenile, someone who has not yet presented proper orientation.

With his family losing patience and others beginning to whisper, Venk must find a way to change his crest or be labeled an aberration. But the only choice he sees is a dishonest one.

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"This nonsense stops now!"

Venk cringed as his va slammed a hand down on the flat surface of the gathering root. Va's claws left deep scores that would resist all efforts to sand out. Dem would weep. "Va, I would offer humble apologies, but it's not something I can help."

"Of course it is! It's just a childish phase!" His va surged up from the table, pointing a foreclaw at Venk's crest. "You will manage a respectable crest by the end of this lunar, or you will leave!"

The floor mats trembled as his va stomped from the room, his twitching tail nearly taking out the water display by the arch. Venk's lir reached over to take his hand,his poor, gentle lir who had spent Lir's adult life calming Va's wrath and soothing Dem's nervous twitches.

"Choosing, Venk? Have you truly made an effort?" Lir's voice trembled like hanging snails before a storm.

"I didn't want to be the last one to turn. I've tried."


Lir patted his arm. "Sometimes it takes longer. I'll talk to your va about being patient."

Venk nuzzled at his lir's cheek before he rose from the gathering root to wander into the garden. He knew Lir tried to be kind, but the last of his peer group had presented appropriate gender crests more than two years ago. Some younglings developed more slowly than others, but not that slowly. If it were a case of arrested development, he should have been smaller, slighter, and still have the pale, mottled hide of a youngling.

In the garden, the hopla plants were stirring for the evening, taking air into their slowly expanding flotation sacs. As their internal thermal units warmed, they began to glow and rise from their day perches along the walkway, providing light in the evening garden as they floated overhead. Venk broke a bulb off a passing hanging tendril, sucking the sharply spiced juice, deep in thought. Soon, the adjudicators would begin to question a multicolored crest on such an obviously full-grown person. He would be questioned, tested, and forced to undergo sexual analysis.


About the Author

The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, gave birth to one amazing son, and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.

She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.

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