19 - FULL DUPLEX
VIP room no. 3
Someone knocked at the door.
Pearson straightened his necktie. "Come in..."
The beautiful young girl approached; she was wearing the same lingerie that she used on stage.
"Hello, big boy. Ready to have some fun time?"
Pearson swallowed. "Oh boy."
The girl stepped slowly, not keeping her eyes off him. "So, you're the gentleman who gave me a very nice tip downstairs."
"It's the least I could do, er... and sorry for the wing."
"It's okay, we're even. As long as you don't do it again."
"Sorry, I was - couldn't..."
She pressed her index against his lips. "Shh. That's in the past, honey bunny."
Pearson felt the blood raising to his cheeks, he could do nothing but smile.
"Uh, okay, thank you, Elizabetha."
"You can call me Liz, mister..."
"Pearson. Uh... Rick Pearson at your service." He quickly wiped the leather seat to his right. "Please, feel free to sit down."
"Or maybe I should I sit on you?" she added, with a naughty smile; "I don't mind."
"Uh... next to me - right... my right is fine." Oh boy, he thought. He couldn't think of anything else, feeling Elizabetha's naked shoulder touch him made him clumsy at thinking or planning things. Had this girl somehow hacked him and crippled the speech center of his brain? No, you idiot, it's the hormones.
Wait - should he take off his coat?
"Um, would you like something to drink? It's a bit hot in here, don't you think?" he said, removing his coat and folding it carefully.
The girl giggled. "Yeah, why not. I'll have a martini, what would you like?"
"A virgin cuba libre."
"The barman will know." Finally, some known territory to navigate in. Not that this was completely unfamiliar territory, but this girl made him nervous as heck.
"Okay. So... just to set things straight," Elizabetha said, slowly caressing Pearson's crotch with her index and middle fingers, "condom is mandatory, and any kind of fluid interchange other than kissing is forbidden. And I'm not into rough things, I hope you don't have a problem with that, kind sir?"
"No, no, of course not."
Slowly, the girl took Pearson's hand and put it on her naked leg. "Feel free to touch."
He felt her skin. "Wow, it's really smooth. Do you bath daily in milk or something?"
She giggled. "Oh, you. No, just moisturize regularly, and eat healthy."
"How healthy, exactly?"
"I take little carbs, lots of vegetables and drink a protein shake for breakfast."
"Sleeper diet, huh? Too much time in VR?"
"Half a day, mostly, but I do cardio regularly."
"Yeah, it shows."
"Thank you! By the way, you can touch anywhere, if you like."
Pearson swallowed. "Anywhere?"
The girl slowly undid her corset and put it aside. Her breasts looked even more beautiful than in the promo card. "A-ny-where."
The girl made an elegant maneuver and she was now sitting on top of Pearson, a thin layer of cloth separating her pussy from his pants. She took Pearson's hand and rested it on her left tit. Pearson touched her with his other hand as she kept rocking back and forth, grinding agsint him.
What am I doing? thought Pearson. He was supposed to find more information about her, or was it really just sex what he wanted? Sex with her? This was wrong, very wrong, but he couldn't stop caressing those tits - and her skin felt really, really soft. It was so soft it almost felt criminal touching it. One part of it wanted to squeeze them and feel them, but they were so delicate... almost like a porcelain doll. He didn't want to break her by giving in to his desires.
"Ahh... ahh.... ahh..."
The girl's panting was so feminine, so alluring... her nipples got hard, he could feel them brushing against his palms.
This is wrong, this is so wrong, he kept saying to himself, but he couldn't stop fondling her. Her skin was so soft and her tits were so squishy... how long since he had last slept with someone? He barely had money for porn, and it'd been at least two years since he visited a dating server.
She probably thinks I'm a loser, isn't she? What the fuck am I doing here? he thought, even while fondling her tits. Fuck, why did he have to choose her? Why not anyone else? Why did it had to be the girl in the poster? He could be talking to an older woman, and spend a more intimate time, but Elizabetha was not just a stranger, she was part of the job. Would she forgive him if he told her he was investigating her? Would she feel offended? But what if she was the murderer? And now she was on top of him, like a hooker treating her customer. He felt guilty. He felt very guilty.
Someone knocked on the door.
"Come in!" shouted Elizabetha in a different voice.
Pearson stopped. "I -" I think tits - I mean, it's! It's... better if we take things a mit more slowly..."
"Sure, no problem," replied Elizabetha as she sat next to him. She reclined herself on his shoulder, while her left tit touched Pearson's right hand. Cursed elegant suit, he should have come in a T-shirt and feel her skin more closely. But the sensation of the breast pressing against him was heavenly. And deep inside, he was wishing this was Kimiko instead. How he missed her.
"I charge by the hour, if you don't mind, first package is two hours. You're fine with that?"
He swallowed his sadness and put a smiling face for her. "No, I'm perfectly fine." I fondled a much younger girl. I'm a monster.
She sent him a payment request. 300 credits. Reasonable for the service. He paid right away.
The bellgirl served the drinks. "Two martinis for the lady, and a virgin cuba libre for the gentleman." She opened the can of coke and served it on Pearson's glass. She then cut a lime in half, squeezed it, and she added a little slice on top of the glass. Finally she wiped her hands and gave Pearson a transparent plastic tablet with a QR e-printed on it. Pearson scanned it and performed the transaction.
"That's it?" asked Elizabetha. "Just a coke?"
"With fresh lime, it makes all the difference."
"You're kidding, right?"
"Give it a sip."
She did. "Holy fuck, this is amazing! I'll definitely try it next time. But why no alcohol?"
"I'm on meds right now, I had a surgery... uh... this week."
"Oh. Nothing serious, I suppose."
"Heart surgery. I almost died, in fact."
"No shit? Some kind of illness? Is it fixed?"
"Listen, kiddo, take this advice from an older guy. If you drown your sorrow in alcohol, you'll need a new liver and a whole lot of medical problems in the next twenty or thirty years. And don't calm yourself down with food, either. After I quit drinking, I used cookies as my comfort, and ended up with my arteries clogged. Hell, I couldn't get it up until I got my arteries cleansed. That's cholesterol for you."
"Yeah, but I got it fixed. Got a new heart and everything. So now that I got my mojo back, I came here to celebrate."
"Well... congratulations, Mr. Pearson." She raised her glass. "For a new heart, and a renewed sex life."
"Amen to that."
They touched glasses.
"Hey, speaking of sex life," she said, "I'm taking an Ignite. Want one?"
"No, thanks, I'm already in the mood."
Elizabetha took a one-pill package of ignite and swallowed with her glass of water, before giving a sip to her martini.
"Oh boy, I'm really gonna get so wet in a few minutes."
"Remember to stay hidrated. You have mineral drinks in here, don't you?"
"Oh shit, you're right! I almost forgot!" A few seconds later, the same girl who served them came back with a different glass and poured some electrolite drink on it.
"How many pills do you take a week, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Two or three, depending on the demand. Don't fret about it, I used to take two daily when I was fifteen."
Pearson spit his coke. "Fifteen? That's illegal!"
"Oh no, no!" she laughed. "I wasn't working back then - that was for therapy."
"What kind of therapy?"
"Sexual. For depression and stuff." She made a puppy face that was half exaggerating and half sincere. "Trust me, you don't wanna know."
"I see... don't worry, I won't ask. But seriously, two daily?"
"Yeah, so I took one every morning and every night, just to keep my mind occupied..." she giggled. "The neighborgs demanded I insulate my bedroom. "I'm very loud."
"I'd really love to see that."
"I have a stimvid of me moaning, wanna watch? Just 50 bucks."
"Sure, why not."
Pearson bought and played the stimvid. It felt super weird feeling himself in a female body - and one with wings and tail, to make things even weirder -, but the moaning was real. And just when she was about to come... the vid stopped.
"Hey... where's the rest?"
"For the full version you need to pay 500."
Pearson chuckled. "Clever."
"I know my worth." She smirked.
"Yes, you do."
"So... did you like it?"
Pearson gave another sip to his coke. "Yeah. Really loud. So you must be a sexual connoisseur by now, am I right?"
"Yup!" She smiled sincerely. Her smile was beautiful, almost like a teenager. "I'm a total slut. Frankly it's the one part of my teen years I don't regret. On the weekends I took an extra dose and stay all the fucking day massaging myself until I couldn't take it anymore and reached for the wand. It was like resting on clouds before exploding into fireworks."
"Later I learned the drink trick. A sip every few minutes and I could resume being horny without getting tired... Jesus Christ," she said, closing her eyes, "it was so hot..." She resumed caressing Pearson's crotch. "Hey... your little fella is not so little after all, is he?"
"Well, I guess I owe it to my dad."
She chuckled a bit. "You're cute!"
"Yeah... at first I thought you'd be one of those pervs who immediately wanted to fuck me and get done with it, but you're nicer than I thought."
"Guess I owe that to my mom."
"So... should we get started?" She began to unzip Pearson's pants. He didn't say anything so she took his cock out and immediately began to massage it. "Oh, I think the ignite's starting to work... I want to suck it so hard. Let me put the condom on."
"No, wait wait wait..." Pearson tucked and zipped himself up.
"Sorry, did I go too fast?"
"I'm sorry," he replied. "I mean, we have barely talked and you want to start with a blowjob. This isn't... this isn't what I had in mind. I mean, maybe, but not so soon." Pearson wondered if she did this because she wanted to satisfy him, or because she wanted to get this over with and go to the next client.
"And what did you have in mind?"
"Well, I'm old fashioned... I'm not usually the guy who has sex in the first date. Well, it depends on the girl and the place... but I'd like to take things slow. It's been a while since I last was with a woman."
"Oh. So, what would you like me to do?"
Pearson gave her a friendly smile. "Do you have implants?"
"Yes? Ahh! You want me to touch myself and share, don't you?"
"No, I was actually thinking... have you ever been to a ball?"
"Like, a hamster ball?"
Pearson began to laugh. "Sorry, a what?"
"A hamster ball, I mean, I've seen some porn..."
"No, no, not that kind of ball. I mean, people dancing together."
"Oh - oh!!!" She laughed. "Here I was getting scared for a second!" She gave another sip to her drink.
"Care to join me? I have a subscription to a nice server."
"Well that's a new one. Just let me move to the other side..."
"Sure, but... why?"
"Just normal precautions. Not that I don't trust you, but..."
Pearson smirked. "But you don't trust me."
She laughed silently.
"I know the risks of the job, go ahead."
Hotel Vista Bella (VR)
Pearson logged in, still smiling about the hamster ball, and waited in the lobby for her. He didn't have to wait too long before she appeared wearing a black denim skirt and a black T-shirt with some offensive messages on it.
"Welcome," he said. He was wearing a fine tuxedo.
"Oh, shit!" she shouted, covering her clothes. "Let me change quickly."
She summoned a control panel in thin air and with the press of a button she made her clothes disappear into thin air. She sighed.
"Sorry about that," she added, bending her wings and tail to cover her naughty bits.
"Uh... why were you covering yourself? There was nothing to be ashamed of."
"Because those clothes were private, okay? I'm not used to visit VR on the job. Um... just let me pick a decent set of clothes..."
"Actually, I might happen to have the perfect dress for you."
Pearson tossed her a cyan-colored data cube.
She scanned it until it turned green, then made the cube disappear and a black dress materialized on her hand.
"Why, thank you! Let me put it on."
"Let me help you. Turn around."
She stepped inside the black silk dress and let Pearson observe her naked butt. "Enjoying the view?"
"It's a great view." He pulled the dress up and carefully moved put the straps around her wings. "I guess you need to choose your wardrobe carefully at home, don't you?"
"Oh, don't get me started on that. That reminds me, I need to get a new wing pillow, the one at home got too soft and it's starting to smother my wings."
"Wow, I never thought about that. Must be hard not being able to take them off."
"Yeah, but they're part of me now."
"I see. Let me just button the back... there. That way it won't fall down."
"Thank you! Um, my tail's kinda struggling..."
"Can't you just remove it? It's VR, after all."
"Oh, right." She chuckled. "I almost forgot I could do that here." A bit of fiddling with her settings, and the snake-like bulge beneath her dress disappeared. "Got it!" She felt her dress with her fingers. "It's a very fine dress.... what fabric is it?"
"Givenchi. I bought it for... someone special to me."
"Wow. It's beautiful."
"You know what's crazy about this, Mr. Pearson? Instead of just cloning the data, they have these virtual workers to actually weave the fabric and then sew it by hand. All for authenticity."
"You're shitting me."
"No, it's true. All for the economy."
"Exactly. I mean, we could live in a fucking utopia, and what do corporations do? Bullshit jobs, just to reinforce that crazy idea that people need to earn the right to live. And don't get me started about landlords."
"All Landlords are parasites."
"Exactly! You get it. So... what is this place?" she asked, putting on the shoes that came in with the dress.
"It's a special server for people who like to dance in their free time. You may want to download some dancing concepts, by the way."
"I'll just let you lead."
"I insist. Here."
Another data cube. She scanned it - again, and installed the concepts. "Okay, done."
"Well, it seems we're ready. May I?"
"Wait. I don't like these shoes, may I use others? I kinda prefer lower heels."
"Be my guest."
She gave him back the shoes; he just soft deleted them.
"Ah! Much better. I'm ready, Mr. Pearson." She extended her hand to him; he gracefully held it before entering the ball room. "Now what?"
"We sit down and wait for the current song to end."
The waiter served them the drinks, which one could change flavor by simply modifying their properties from their context menu. Elizabetha chose a popular soda flavor, and Pearson chose another coke with lime.
"It's a nice place."
"Yes, it is. Brings back beautiful memories. Okay, the next song's about to start. Shall we?"
She accepted Pearson's hand.
"It's a simple waltz," he said. "You move left... then right... then left... then right..."
"This looks easy."
Pearson grabbed her back. It was a really soft skin, but he could feel the texture. This girl was not new to the grid, and she had certainly spent money in her virtual persona.
"You know," she said, "this is the first time that a client takes me to dance this way."
"Seriously? I'm the first? Oh, I get it. You say that to all your clients."
"No, I'm serious. I mean, it's not the first time I get a VR invite, but all the time they take me directly to a love hotel room."
"And you... uh... perhaps this isn't the right place to ask..."
"No, it's fine. Please ask."
"Do you actually have sex with your clients in VR? I mean, the bellgirl told me..."
"That's just in real life. In VR it's just bits and bytes travelling around. I think of it as living a shared lucid dream."
"Not to argue, but.... I think that's advanced mental gymnastics there, if you ask me. Not that it's not convenient for me, mind you." Yeah, convenient, but at the same time it could open an entire can of worms...
Liz chuckled. "You're dying to fuck me here, aren't you?"
Pearson avoided eye contact. "I admit nothing."
"So... enjoying the night?"
"Well, it's really romantic, almost like a movie. By the way, Mr. Pearson..."
"You can really grab my ass if you want."
"Oh, but we're just getting started. And it would be inappropriate in front of so many people."
"Please. I insist. I want to feel your hand in my ass."
"Well, if you insist..." Pearson lowered his hand and began rubbing Elizabetha's left buttock.
"Inside the dress, please."
"I would, but the dress is too tight."
"Not from below," she said, winking.
"Sorry. Against the rules."
She sighed. "That's bullshit, but guess I can't complain."
"The night is long, sweetheart."
The music stopped and everybody clapped.
"And now," the announcer said, "for those who want to move those virtual muscles... some Salsa!"
"Follow my lead until the concepts kick in."
After a few seconds, Elizabetha began experiencing the joy of dancing. Automatically she knew what moves to perform. She moved a little stiff, but then it was just matter of practice.
The dance lasted only four minutes, but that was enough to get her to hyperventilate.
"Okay... I think I'm getting a little high... can we stop for a bit?"
"Sure, sure. Let's move to the balcony if you want."
"What about our drinks?"
They stepped out and she walked to the ledge. "I love this breeze. Where are we, exactly?"
"A hotel in Puerto Bello. Mexico. And trust me, the real version is even better. Look at that spot over there? There's a bunch of hotels and casinos now, and the lights are fantastic - but they haven't updated this server yet."
"You're a man of surprises, mister Pearson."
"So are you. No, wait, I mean..."
She chuckled. "I know what you meant. So... now that we're here," she said, sitting down and taking a sip from her drink, "tell me more about yourself."
Pearson looked up and took a deep breath.
"Well... I have a pretty boring life. I just quit from an awful job today. Couldn't stand the people in there."
"A high paying job, I suppose?"
"Nah. Standard pay. I could barely pay the rent."
Elizabetha tilted her head. "Wait a sec... if you could barely pay the rent, how come you got a rhodium card?"
"News travels fast in here, huh?"
"Well... let's say I got a huge employment opportunity here, and suddenly my budget increased tenfold."
"Oh? Please, tell me more."
"I'm sorry," he said, looking down, "it's one of those confidential things I'm not supposed to talk about."
"Hmmm... now that makes me even more curious. Can't you at least name your employer?"
"I'm not supposed to reveal his name."
"His? You're not working for a corporation?"
"...and that's the cue to tell me I've already said too much."
"Must be a very rich man, then."
"From the citadels."
"I cannot confirm nor deny that."
"Interesting. So... should I stop calling you Pearson? What about Bond, James Bond?"
Pearson Chuckled. He made a fingergun and aimed at her in a classic Bond pose.
"Thanks! It's one of my charms."
She kept giving a sip to her drink, which never stopped refilling with each sip. She smiled at Pearson and began rubbing Pearson's crotch with her naked foot below the table.
"Can I ask you a question, Liz?"
"Just out of curiosity... why did you set a price so high for actual sex?"
"Uhh..." She stopped rubbing.
Shit, I shouldn't have asked that. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to."
"No, it's fine. It's just that... at first it was like an insurance. Like... I'm not really a hooker, you know? I know, it's ridiculous... but I'm just not ready to take that final step."
"The bellgirl told me you had sex with her."
"Just how much did she tell you, anyway?"
"She told me that you did absolutely everything. I really don't know what that means, by the way."
Liz sighed. "I'll have a word with her once I get out. But yeah... we did lots of things in bed." She bit her lip and began to blush. "Lots of things... shit, I'm getting wet already."
Pearson wondered if he should take the cue, but curiosity got the best of him. And he still had to get some intel about her.
"So, why is it different from a man? Is it just because it's a girl that you gave her a 99% discount?"
"No, of course not! If she was a different type of girl, like one of those crazy college teens... hmm..." Liz began touching herself below the table. "Damn, I think the Ignite's starting to make effect. I'm getting really, really horny right now, you know?"
Pearson swallowed. He rubbed his chin, wondering what should be his next move. But if he gave in, he'd lose all opportunities to get some facts from her.
"I... I'm really curious about the question."
"Shit. Well, let's make it interesting, then. Truth or dare."
"Truth or dare? What is this, a college party?"
"Okay, just truth. If you can't answer truthfully, you just decline to answer."
"Sounds reasonable, but what's the penalty for declining?"
"A discount vs. an extra charge. Let's start at 20 bucks."
"I like it. I'm in."
"Then let me ask first. What was your job before you took this big opportunity?" Liz rested her head on her palms, imitating a classic villain pose.
"Shit. I really, REALLY don't want to talk about it, but can I tell you what my job was before that?"
"Depends... is it interesting?"
"Oh yeah. It is."
"Fine, I'll bite. What was your previous job, then?"
"I worked as an android manager in Kahazaki."
Liz dropped her hands. "Kahazaki Management? Where?"
"Right here, in Hong Kong. Eight years ago."
"You're shitting me."
Liz's eyes began to spark. "Prove it. Tell me your most interesting experience there."
"Too many questions. My turn."
"Shit." She gave another sip to her drink.
"So... what's the difference between the bellgirl and me? Is it just because I'm a man, or is there something more?"
"Well... if you want me to be honest? Yes, partly because you're a man and I'm a lesbian. But it's not just that..."
"Well... she was hot, and I was already horny, you know? I would have done it for free, but then I was in a bit of a problem back then and I really needed the money... but if I wasn't I would've ended up doing it with her, anyway. So it's like, it's more like, she wants it, I want it, we're both horny and want to fuck each other. You get what I'm trying to say?"
"I totally understand. You're not the first stripper I come across in my life. Some do prostitute themselves, others just dance. The dancers... are the lucky ones. They can afford not to have sex with a customer, because they got a great body and charm. Just like you."
"Why, thank you! My turn."
"What's your ideal woman to fuck?"
"I mean, obviously you're interested in me, but I got the feeling that I'm not your ideal type. So if I'm not... then what is?"
"Honest to God?"
"Honest to God. Or goddess, or whatever deity you worship."
"Honest to God... I prefer them over thirty... with more experience in life, and... big... BIG boobs."
"Bigger than mine?"
"I don't want to offend you."
"Oh no, I'm not offended at all! I perfectly understand. I like girls, remember?"
"So you like big boobs too, then?"
"Yeah," she replied, with a naughty smile.
"Okay. My turn then. Name a woman who's turned you on a lot. Can be a celebrity or someone you've met in real life. Hell, can be virtual, or an AI."
"Well..." She began to blush and licked her lips. "Today earlier, I met this woman... she runs a... business with lots of naughty girls."
"An actual brothel?"
"In a birdcage."
"Interesting. I might pay her a visit, is the place is good?"
"Sorry, it's a secret. But to answer your question, she was like two meters tall, and had this huge, ENORMOUS pair of knockers. Oh boy!" She began to blush like a tomato. "She let me fondle them and I was so absorbed in them that she had to hit me with a whip to stop."
"A whip? Was she a dominatrix?"
Liz was smiling like a perv. "She offered me a deal of a lifetime, and I can't wait to visit her again."
"So you do like it rough."
"Not from men!"
"My turn. What's your dirtiest fetish?"
"Be honest, Mr. Pearson."
"Okay... let me see... I like to tease her."
"Ohh? Tell, tell!"
"If possible, I'd tie her to the bed, or the couch, or whatever thing I can. I'll use a soft silk scarf, or a cotton rope."
Liz bit her lip. "And then? And then?"
"I like to kiss her softly in the legs, caressing her body... but never touching her where she wants to until she's ready to explode."
"Oooh, naughty! You're cruel!"
"And then I ask her what she wants, and slowly start obliging her wishes."
"She must be really, really wet by then."
"You're just turning me on with that."
"My turn. What's your dirtiest fetish?"
"Honest to god?"
"Honest to god."
"A [****] [****] with a huge [*******]. With lots of [****] and maybe a little bit of [******] [************]. No, wait. Make that a lot."
Pearson had no words to reply to that.
"Jesus Christ! Are you serious?"
"I'm not lying!"
"Holy shit. And do you want to merely participate, or be the star?"
She bit her lip again. "My turn."
"Aw come on! No fair!"
She giggled. "So... you worked at Kahazaki... eight years ago, right?"
"Right. My turn."
Pearson chuckled. "Just kidding. Go on."
"You bastard," she said, smiling. "So... by any chance did you catch any of your former colleagues doing anything illegal?"
"Yes, I have, but I'm contractually obligated not to divulge anything."
"Fuck." She looked aside.
"My turn. Why are you so interested in Kahazaki?"
"Do you want me to really answer that question, Mr. Pearson?"
"Yes. I'm actually interested now."
Liz took a deep breath. "My father neglected me during the worst year of my life. In middle school, at the worst of my bullying. She got a job at Kahazaki. And she changed. For the worse. Sometimes she began treating me like one of her employees... or worse... one of her androids."
"Seriously? How old were you?"
"Do you want me to go on?"
"Only if you want."
"There was this girl... the principal's favorite. I don't know if she was his granddaughter or if he was a pedo and she let him fuck her for grades... but she never stopped bullying me. She targeted me because I was prettier than her... and because my father was single, and a catgirl. She and her gang; they called my dad a whore, and lots of things. They kept saying she had to be a hooker to afford me going there. Then they made my life impossible. At one point I decided to - okay, I think I spoke too much. Let's just say that while I haven't completely forgiven my father... much of the blame resides in Kahakazi. They ruined my life."
"I understand. I almost got killed because of them."
"Rogue android. Blew up an entire construction site; I barely made it."
"That's not the worst part."
"Sorry, I can't say anything more. You know, confidentiality and all that shit."
> It was in cahoots with one of the managers. That shit was so bad they were forced to buy my silence. I couldn't say no.
>> Holy shit.
"My turn. Let's change the topic, shall we? This is a private server, but you never know if there are hidden mics in here. Which technically would be illegal, but still."
"Oh, right. I need to be more careful with that."
"So... my turn. Let's go back to the naughty stuff."
"Oh yeah. Ask away."
"This one might be hard to answer, so feel free to refuse if you want."
"If I had those five thousand credits right now... would you be willing to have sex with me in real life?"
Liz swallowed. Pearson winced and paid attention to her expressions: she looked away, her breathing got heavier, and her eyebrows showed worry rather than excitement.
"Shit... I didn't expect that question."
She looked at him. "You really want to have sex with me, don't you?"
"Well to be honest, I'd rather have sex with any girl, but you're in front of me and are too attractive. But I'd really like to know your answer."
"Don't worry, I won't press you. Sorry if I put you in an uncomfortable situation."
Liz's eyes began to get wet. "Shit."
"Oh, Liz, sorry, it really wasn't my intention."
Beth wiped her tears. "No, it's fine. After all, it's part of business and I set that price for a reason." She swallowed. "Can you excuse me for a second?"
Elizabetha froze in place, and her body turned transparent and colorless. Above her a rotating aura said: "Be right back."
Pearson rested his arms on the ledge. "Why am I doing this... shouldn't have asked."
Elizabetha closed her eyes and pressed her lips together. "I'm sorry..." she said with breaking voice. "I'm not ready yet."
Pearson sighed. "I understand."
"Shit. You must be think I'm crazy, right? I mean... I'm a stripper, and you came to me for a reason, but... I really don't know if I could forgive myself if I accepted. And yet... shit. Shit! I want to say yes! I really want to! But I can't. I know, it sounds ridiculous, I even give blowjobs and let the clients cum on my face... but if I keep my virginity intact, I still won't be a hooker! That's the only thing I have left! And nobody wants to get married to a hooker, do they? I don't want to be alone forever... I don't want to!"
"Oh, come here. Come here."
"I'm sorry, I... shit, why am I telling you all this?"
"Because of the Ignite? It lowers your inhibitions, after all."
"Shit. I need to be more careful with that."
"So you're not ready to become a hooker. Not yet."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Pearson. You're a nice guy and everything... but I'm not ready. I'm sorry."
She looked at him and two tears began falling down her cheeks. Pearson cleaned the tears. "I understand. Trust me, I understand. You're still too young, and this is a step you need to take on your own, without any external pressure."
"Fuck... no, no... please, don't leave me for another girl! I want to try, seriously! I want to try, and I want to take this opportunity, Mr. Pearson! But please, don't leave me for another! I really need that money! Just give me some time... please?"
"Come here, come here. Let me hug you." She came to him and he hugged her and caressed her hair. "Liz... you're a human being. Of course I understand. And trust me, I don't plan to leave you for another."
"Well... I do have to confess something, and it might be not-so-good news."
"Shit... it's bad, isn't it?"
"It's not so bad, but I think you've been overestimating my rhodium card."
"I... I don't understand."
"I can't give you all the details, but the card comes with a limit. Basically, the expenses have to be related to my work, and well... spending it on Venus once in a while is an allowed bonus... but I think your price is way above my budget."
"I never had the five thousand in the first place. I'm sorry."
"Mr. Pearson... how do I know you're not lying? Just to make me feel better?"
"Let me tell you a bit about myself, just to convince you that I'm not some asshole millionaire who can buy women at his whim. But it's dark. Would you like to hear?"
"Every morning, I wake up in my 5x5 bedroom. Usually after a nightmare, I wake up sweating, and I look at the other side of the bed, where my wife was supposed to be. But she's never there. I lost her and there's no way I can have her back. Then after changing, I keep staring at my clock, thinking of how fucked up my life is. Then I go back to sleep for another hour or two. Then the fucking alarm clock keeps waking me up. I need to go to a job I hate because otherwise I can't pay my bills. I turn on the TV and watch the news while I keep fantasizing about my dead wife. I try to do exercises. I can't. My condition is shit. Everybody at the job makes fun of me and calls me McGrubber. I hate it, but I have to take it because otherwise I won't be the nice fat guy with a personality. But sometimes I want to kill every single one of them. I spend all my day sitting on an old seat, with nothing to do, doing something that I initially thought would be glamorous and exciting, but it's a load of bullshit. And then I do paperwork. Every single fucking day. Surrounded by assholes, or god forbid, a bunch of blueheads who don't give a shit about people's emotions. My boss yells at me. He keeps shouting my name and telling me I did things wrong again. I get threatened with losing my monthly bonus. On Friday everybody goes bowling or going to a bar and cracking jokes. I can't, because my pay's not enough. I would drown my pains in alcohol but I can't even pay that, and I already wasted my savings on a synthetic liver. So what do I do? I eat chocolate cookies. And then I get fatter. Sometimes I see myself in the mirror and want to throw up. I get in bed, watch some porn or movies and fantasize that I'm a private detective solving shit and becoming the hero. And sometimes I just get in bed and start praying I get a heart attack and don't wake up the next morning. And if not for the new job I got today, I would still be drowning in debt. Does that look like a millionaire's life, Liz?"
"You're not... rich, after all?"
"I'm a member of the working class, just like you. I'm sorry, but I don't have those five thousand."
"Well, shit. And here I was worrying about nothing."
"You know... I wish I had a father like you. A male father."
"Yeah, my father... she never gave me this kind of hugs. Not even after she quit Kahazaki. I think they fucked up her brain permanently."
Pearson kept hugging her and said nothing.
"But it's not like it matters, because I stopped trusting her, anyway."
"Sorry to hear that, kiddo. Sorry to hear that."
"I'm so sorry to dump this on you... I've probably ruined your night, didn't I?"
"What are you talking about? You opened yourself to me, in a way... we got some intimacy. I got to know you, and I think that's more valuable than sex."
"Well, thank you."
"So... sorry about popping your bubble. I'm not a millionaire. I'm just a private consultant for a furry bastard with a rhodium card. So you really need that money, don't you?"
"Well... it's not like I'm on the edge of homelessness... but I got in a really crappy situation this week. So I guess I do need the money... just in case, as an emergency fund. But... what if I could really get that money, and ruined my entire life for not taking that chance? What would you do, Mr. Pearson?"
"You really want my sincere opinion?"
"It would help."
"Even if it represented a conflict of interest?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm a horny old man who would pretty much love to fuck a girl like you, and this girl is now asking whether she should accept his advances and go to bed with him. I'm sorry, but I think I'm the last person you should ask."
Liz sighed. "Everyone in the club tells me that I'm an idiot for setting an impossible price. 'In a year you could get a luxury house. Even an apartment on the citadels! You got what it takes, Beth! Everybody would do it! Just get rid of that stupid morality you got at school, yadda yadda... but they don't know me. As if I gave a shit about what Jesus or Virgin Mary would say... it's all bullshit, anyway. Just a bunch of fairy tales for adults."
"You're not religious?"
"Pfft. As if. The greatest suffering in my life came from a Catholic school."
"So you got no religion to hold you back from becoming a prostitute."
"I guess not."
"So what's holding you back, then?"
"I really don't care about money. All I want is someone to love me."
"And you think that someone won't love a prostitute."
"Well that's a load of bullshit."
"The right person wouldn't judge you for becoming a prostitute, be it virtual or in real-life. Even if you were a cheap whore, if they really love you they'd accept you, with all your virtues and defects, and even life situations. Whoever starts putting conditions on their love won't love you anyway."
"You really think so?"
"I'm sure of it. Fuck, I fell in love with a prostitute once. It didn't work out, but... I was ready to propose. She wasn't. But my point is... if you play your cards correctly, you could amass a small fortune in very few years, and then quit your sex work for good. And then you're back in the game."
"If you put it that way, then it's not so bad, is it?"
"Feeling any better?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Please sit down. I have another question that might help you understand what you really want."
"So, right now... you really wouldn't have sex for five thousand credits, because that'd make you a whore, right?"
"Hypothetically... assuming I won the lottery... let's imagine I offered you fifty thousand credits. Would you have sex with me?"
"Fifty thousand credits? I... That'd take me years to earn!"
"Well... I'm still not sure, but I'd be really tempted."
"Okay, let's raise the stakes. Imagine I offered you... one million credits."
"One million credits in cash. All legal."
"And what's the catch. You'd want to torture me, or something?"
"No; nothing you wouldn't do in VR already."
"One million credits. Would you agree?"
"Holy shit... well of course I would! I mean, who wouldn't!"
¨"But if it was only five thousand you couldn't say yes. That's the question, Liz. What's the difference? And that's a question only you can answer."
"Well, the answer's obvious."
"Well... if it's something anyone would do... there's no shame in doing it, right?"
"So what's really the difference?"
"The difference is... that it's socially acceptable? I mean, not like publicly, but everyone would understand if I did it."
"If you say so."
"Why the sudden smile? A couple minutes ago you were crying, and now you're smiling?"
She approached him and gave him a kiss. "Thank you, Mr. Pearson. I found the answer I was looking for."
"You're welcome, kiddo." He patted her on the head and scrambled her hair a little, making her smile even more.
Beth sat down and gave a sip to her beverage. "Okay... Can we resume our little game, please?"
"Going back to Kahazaki... by any chance, do you keep the concepts you learned while working there? In a backup pen, or box, or anything?"
"Uh... that would be an intellectual property infringement. Where are we going, exactly?"
"Let's say... that if by any chance, you stumble upon evidence that the concepts those bastards gave to their employees... weren't exactly legal, or that they cut some corners during their ethical certification. If you found that evidence... would you give it to me?"
"That's a... very specific question. I take it I'm not the first person you ask about this?"
"Maybe not, but you're the first person I met who worked with them back then."
"You really want revenge, don't you?"
"Yes, Mr. Pearson. I want revenge, but I want it to be legal. You may not have had the means or the will to stand up to those bastards... but I do. I want them to ever regret having fucked up my dad's brain, and I want to crush them. I want to crush them so hard that the government will have to intervene and make the company disappear."
"But... without managers, what will happen to the androids?"
Elizabetha chuckled. "You don't get it, do you? Managers will come and go, what I want is to destroy the giant - I don't give a shit if we end up with a thousand dwarf companies. I want Kahazaki to die, and I want the bastards on top to cry and whine about their lost billions."
"And you think you can do that with that evidence?"
"I'm willing to try."
"Okay, I get it now. So let's suppose... hypothetically... that I have an untouched neural router from back then, disinfected, with all the data intact, Kahazaki data included, in a safe place. What then?"
"Well, if that were the case, if you can get that evidence... I made up my mind. If you give me that evidence, Mr. Pearson, I may not have the money to pay you, but I'll have free sex with you for an entire month."
Having said that, she let her dress fall to the floor.
"...Jesus Christ. You're serious about this, aren't you?"
Beth nodded. "Well... that's my price. What do you say?" She approached him and let her tits touch Pearson's face. "Is there any chance you can get that info? Or was it all hypothetical?"
"Well... I don't remember if I still have those implants. I don't have them with me, but I do have them in a safe place. There's an issue, tho."
"I have a really important business to finish first, and my rhodium card depends on it. I need some time."
"Could be two months, could be a year. I honestly don't know."
"What kind of job is it?"
"Sorry, top secret. I'm not allowed to tell."
"Well, you know the price for my body now, Mr. Pearson. Or maybe... fifty thousand credits?" She winked at him.
Pearson chuckled. "Sorry, that's definitely out of my budget."
"Oh, well," she shrugged. "At least I tried."
"By the way..." Pearson asked. "What did you say about having sex here in VR?"
"Um... you got hard, didn't you?"
"I'd be lying if I said no."
"Well... sorry, Mr. Pearson, but now that I know you worked at Kahazaki, I really don't know if I should give it to you, because I really, REALLY want that info. So maybe if you have sex with me here would make you desist from searching for that info."
Pearson chuckled. "Well, shit."
"But that doesn't mean I want you to leave with a bad case of blue balls. After all, you paid for my services, didn't you?"
"Yes, I did."
"Come on, I'll get you off in the room. No penetration, tho."
Pearson stood up. "You know... I think I have a better idea. Trust me, you're gonna like it."
Pearson arrived at his apartment. It was strange going to sleep here for the first time after 8 years. "Shit. I forgot the pills... I'll have to ask the doc for a new ones. Well, I'll leave that for later."
He removed his suit - which had a stench of alcohol, cherry and nicotine. "Guess I'll sent him to the cleaner tomorrow."
He removed the rest of his clothes and decided to take a quick shower and change his bandages.
Elizabetha> Thank you for everything, Mr. Pearson. It was a night I'll never forget. And thanks for the review! (wink)
He chuckled. Of all the things he theorized about this night, getting cockblocked by Kahazaki wasn't in his bingo card. But it was all for the best. He started having new feelings for this girl Elizabetha, but not as a lover. And so far it didn't seem like she was someone who would murder her aunt. At least, not yet.
> Take care, kiddo. And don't do anything stupid. KM are not someone you can take on easily.
>> I know. Good night.
> Hope you can get your family issues solved. Good luck.
He turned on his night lamp and opened his bedside drawer. The first thing he saw there was a lone paperclip. He chuckled. The paperclip, he had almost forgot. He bent the paperclip and pressed a button below his bedside drawer. He heard a click.
"Hah! It still works."
The secret compartment with the fake floor. There they were, placed inside a carved foam were a small black notebook, an old pendrive, and a spare gun. It was amazing... everything was still there, untouched, after all these years. Why did he forget to put them in the safe?
He took the black notebook. Built by hand, made of pages with printed hex numbers, stapled together. After scanning them, he closed the notebook and put it back in his secret compartment. He took the gun out and put it above his bedside. Seven bullets. He'd need to clean it, just in case. But that could wait for tomorrow.
He pressed the fake floor until he heard the click. "There." He bent the paperclip back and closed the drawer.
He activated the standard encryption plugin in his implants and used it on his scanned text.
> In this world you turn the other cheek and you get hit with a lug wrench.
The stuff that dreams are made of.
The beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Pieces of quotes from his favorite Noir films.
He downloaded the decrypted text in his internal notebook. He turned on his AR interface and began looking for the relevant page.
"Okay, let's see... Kahazaki, Kahazaki... there."
"F. Braulio. I wonder if he's still alive... well, one for the TODO list."
He wanted to help Elizabetha, but he was afraid of what he'd do if she accepted the files and gave him permission to fuck her. Would he do it? Would he ever forgive himself if he actually did it? The more he thought about it, the less he wanted to find out. At least he was sure of one thing: He had taken the right choice tonight.
He turned off the AR, switched off his night lamp, and went to sleep.