Protect and Serve just took on a whole new meaning.
For Recreational Intercourse Operative Gemma, patrolling Newcity's Lovehuts and Pleasurebots isn't much of a pleasure. But it's work she clings to after an accident destroyed her marriage and left her with half her body made of replacement parts.
She keeps her head down and her mind on her job, waiting for the proverbial hammer to fall. The head of the ruling council is out to make those like her illegal. If anyone finds out she's mecho, she's toast.
A routine inspection of a Pleasurebot turns into a strictly forbidden--and mind-blowing--sexual encounter. Then she realizes it isn't an "it" at all. He's human, and despite the sweet-hot climaxes he gives her, she buries her report to save them both from the consequences.
Except he can't seem to stay away from her, and for a time life seems almost...normal. Until Gemma uncovers Declan's own deep, dark secret. A secret that could get her fired from R.I.O. Or both of them killed.
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April 26, 2010
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Excerpt from Passion Model by Megan Hart
Seeing Rando out from behind her desk was still worth a second glance, even after my many years with R.I.O. Her legs had been withered by an Offworld disease contracted during her service in the Earthen-Livannone War fifteen years ago. She'd opted for a hoverchair, increased rank and a desk job instead of cosmetic enhancement and repair. It was so unusual to see someone with flaws of such a grand nature, that even after all this time we all paused for a moment as she took her place in the front of the room.
"By now, you'll all have heard," she announced. Her plazglass lenses reflected the shimmering light of the viddy display still scrolling behind us. "This news affects the entire department. The physical requirements of employment with any of the Special Ops departments, including Recreational Intercourse, means it's a natural choice for those citizens who've found themselves enhanced, whether through choice or chance."
She glanced down at her legs, thin and twisted inside the navy artisilk uniform she wore. "For some, it's more chance than choice. But for whatever reason, you all know we have a higher percentage of mecho employees than in any other department or trade guild in Newcity. Until the past year or so, that worked in our favor. Since the Ruling Council started its latest campaign, I'm ashamed to say that is no longer true."
"You mean since Howard Adar started accusing mechos of not being human." Orli's strong voice echoed through the room.
I envied him his confidence, but shook my head a little at his brashness. I can kick ass from here to next year if I have to, but only if I have to. Spouting my mouth about things I can't change has never been my method. It causes trouble, and I've had enough of that.
"When more than fifty percent of your body has been replaced with metal and optic fiber," put in Frude, "what can you expect?"
There might have been a fight, but for Rando's sharp snort. Nobody wanted to mess with her. She didn't need her legs to kick anybody's ass.
Orli backed down, glowering. Frude just shrugged and gave the rest of the assembled Ops an innocent look. Frude's attitude hadn't earned him many friends in R.I.O.--but it hadn't exactly made him any enemies, either.
"Times are changing," Rando continued. "Maybe not for the better. But we're here to do a job the best we can. I will not let common bias and prejudice come between any members of this team, am I clear?"
"And when they take away our citizenship?" Orli asked, giving it one last try. "What then, Cap'n?"
Rando met his gaze without flinching. "Let's hope that doesn't happen, Orli."
He didn't say anything else. I felt the weight of a dozen pairs of eyes on me, but if I looked around I couldn't seem to get anyone to meet my gaze. I'd never made a secret of my condition to anyone...except Declan.
Rando continued. "Along with the recent ranking changes, the Ruling Council has also implemented some new regs for the entire SpecOps department, including R.I.O."
A low groan rippled through the group. New regs meant training time, at three quarters pay.
"Obviously, we can't have all Ops tied up in training. Pleasurebot related incidents have risen .003 percent since last year. So half of you will hit the field while the rest participate in the new training. Then we'll switch."
Eddie nudged me. "I caught a glimpse of the new protocols. Hot stuff."
Rando was reading off the list of partners. I rolled my eyes. "So some manufacturer puts out a new set of specs on its models, and we have to be updated. Why? When you come right down to it, even the Kama Sutra only has so many positions."
"You're awfully young to be so jaded," Eddie told me, which was a laugh since he's exactly my age.
"EDDE 08111977, GMMA 4121609."
"That's us, surprise." I gave him a wink. "Let me go beat your butt."
Eddie grinned. "I look forward to it."
It turned out the new regs were for the HTTIE 750, the latest Pleasurebot to hit the stores. It was the most expensive bot on the market, and most were still privately owned. A few used models had started to trickle into the pricier Lovehuts now, and several problems had been detected. Nothing quite as serious as the PSSN's malfunctioning ignition, but the sexbot industry couldn't afford any bad publicity.
"Not much like the GRLFRND 220, huh?" Eddie remarked as we entered the training room.
The Girlfriend model had been the most popular in history--until it became obvious that once the warranty expired, the bot's ditzy nature turned to maudlin self-pity. Privately owned models were the worst--sold into service or even those given up to work as freebots, the Girlfriends became suicidal at being sent away from the men and women who'd bought them originally. Expired-warranty Girlfriends had taken to self annihilation all over the place, sometimes taking their unfortunate clients with them. It had been the biggest scandal in Pleasurebot history, but had reaffirmed to all Newcitizens the importance of R.I.O. Interestingly, the equivalent male model, the BYFRND 220, hadn't had any problems at all. What that said about the differences inherent between men and women, I couldn't tell you.
"I'm a Hottie Model." The bot flipped her cascade of blonde hair over one perfect shoulder and looked down her nose at me. "Not a Girlfriend. I'm the most advanced and expensive model out there."
"I see the snob function works perfectly," I remarked, not bothered by her dismissal of me.
"Some men prefer an aloof partner," said the Hottie. "It validates their belief that they're escorting the finest Pleasurebot available."
"In other words," Eddie said, "some guys like getting it on with chicks who'd would turn them down if they were flesh."
The Hottie sniffed. "I've had two owners, and both were ecstatic with my performance."
"Not ecstatic enough to keep you very long," I mentioned. She didn't respond. She probably wasn't programmed to react to criticism. I glanced at her specsheet. "And now you're a freebot, registered in District 56?"
"Available for private jobs through appointments at the following: Xtasy, Xanadu and Perfect Partner?" I named three of the most prominent kennels in that District.
She gave a supercilious smirk. "That's right."
Eddie took a peek at the specsheet. "Says here you've had several complaints about being difficult to stimulate."
Her pretty features creased momentarily. "I undergo daily diagnostics. I perform perfectly."
I looked over our instructions, which included a log of complaints. The instructions included a list of malfunctions, most of them minor, and the specific workarounds to eliminate them. I'd never take in a bot for something as stupid as this, but if the order came down from above, it had to have been backed by the manufacturer. The companies don't want to lose business.
"Eddie, this looks right up your alley."
She allowed herself to look curious. "What's it say?"
"Says here we're supposed to stimulate you to climax three times."
She shifted in her chair, crossing one long, perfect leg over the other. The artisilk skirt clung to her thighs like a second skin. "No problem."
"In under an hour."
She still didn't look concerned, even though her diagnostic report clearly showed an inadequately tuned climax dial. She must've been programmed with a healthy dose of attitude.
"Let's get started." I unsnapped my jumpsuit and hung it up on the wall hook. I checked my internal clock. "I need to get out of here on time tonight."
I'm not a HTTIE 750, but I had to admit I looked pretty good. The personal holo image from which I'd selected the dress had shown it would flatter my figure. In reality, it did more than simply make me look pretty. It made me feel pretty.
It wasn't in style, not with the long sleeves and high neckline. Current Newcity fashion ran to sheer fabrics and exposed skin. Only the back opened low to the first swell of my buttocks. The color was a deep, rich plum that softened the violet hue of my hair and emphasized the natural blue of my eyes. I wore a thin pair of slippers with it, and my feet felt so light after removing my standard footwear I almost thought I could fly.
I forced myself not to pace as I waited outside the restaurant. Emile's is the hottest eatery in District 87. I'd never been there...but since I hated eating in restaurants alone, I hadn't been much of anywhere in eight years.
Declan was late, and I tried not to let that bother me. I filled my time watching the outdoor viddy screen. Its visual had split, with the city ranking still scrolling on the left and a Donball tournament showing on the right.
Nobody waiting to get in tonight had to worry about their Newcitizen rank. The cream of Newcity society mingled outside the doors of Emile's. I recognized several faces from the viddy screen. Nobody really famous, nobody really powerful. B-list celebs, at most. Still, it was interesting to note that Frank Phillips' hair was grayer in real life than on viddy, and his wife fatter.
There were more reports from the Ruling Council about citizen classification protocols.
"Nobody's saying that bots should be given citizenship," one talking head was saying. "That's ridiculous. Bots are made, not born."
"Are you denying the rights of artificial womb babies?" A woman on the screen yelled out.
"That's different," put in another debater. "They're human, no matter how they were conceived. Bots are made of metal and wire. They have computer chips for brains."
"And what about mechos, then?" cried another woman. "Once the body's dead, shouldn't it stay that way?"
I turned from the screen, disturbed. I thought I heard a couple of muttering whispers, but shrugged them off. The bottom line is, unless you know for sure about me, you just can't tell. The medtechs had done an excellent job in that respect.
I ignored the sinking in my gut when fifteen minutes passed, then fifteen more. I checked my internal clock against the numbers on top of the viddy screen and was disappointed to find they were the same.
The crowd thinned as the dinner hour, even for the fashionably late, passed. My stomach growled. I waited another ten minutes, then turned on my heel and headed for the pedtread.
A green-uniformed courier stopped me just before I got on. "GMMA 4121609?"
"I have a delivery for you." He flashed a portable retscan in my eyes to confirm identity, then handed me the lightweight silver box. As he rode away, I thumbed the button on top of the box to activate the holomessage inside.
The letters formed in a golden haze an inch above the box.
Ran into some problems. Will not be able to get to Emile's. I'm waiting at Chez Garnier.
"Screw that," I muttered and tossed the holocube into the closest incinerator. "I waited forty-five minutes for him. I'm not that much of a sap."
But I was. When the next courier caught me on the next block and gave me a florb, which opened to reveal a spray of daisies and ferns, I changed my mind about meeting Declan. I didn't like myself for doing it, because it went against my nature to cater to a man like that. I'll admit the thought of not seeing him broke my pride better than anything else could have--except the second holocube and its one word message.