bAdmod - Part 4
"Once they neurononanoed you, ya fucked"
-- bAdmod, in Mission Antari (ep. 1409)

"Um hi Ree do you know about alifes and shit?"

Even though it is late, the cyber girl is still up. She looks at him, all medusa jacks for hair. "Got an old edition of Non-Corporate Alife of the Galaxy" a screen forms out of utility fog, all menus and sub-windows and a stylised alife for a logo/icon. "Updated it but there's still a lot of stuff you can only get in the new edition. Don't have the Corporate Alife companion volume sorry."

bAdmod settles on a patch of floor in her room that seems free of clutter. "That's chill. Wanted to talk to you about...uhh..."

She looks at him as if undecided whether to be curious or dismiss him as a dumbfuck.

"You got encryption?" he says

One of her medusa snakes extends to him. She says "it's a Metasoft GY 2301 Biont standard."

He nods, takes the stiffened end and plugs it into one of his Cybah Boi sockets. Faintly erotic anticipation, but only cos he's never shared a fullbod virch with her.

They are standing in the middle of an infinite featureless white room. She looks identical to how she does in real life.

bAdmod says "you're not gonna use an av?"

"This is my av" she snaps. "What, you want some stupid sex bimbo?"

" I..."

"I can do that too." She morphs into a sorta cross between Fiono Ambient and the Cherry GoGirl.

"Fuck." He can feel his real life cock going hard.

"Ok we're encrypted." She murmurs. Slides towards him, hips swaying. "Not even Da Skwiid could get in." Her breathtakingly beautiful face looks briefly uncertain. "Well...maybe Da Skwiid."

He stares at the amazingly real tits under her shimmering little top.

"Ok I'm out of here." She starts to dissolve.

"Wait!!! Sorry, look, uh, turn back to how you look in r/l."

She solidifies as the old Ree. Looks at him, arms crossed.

bAdmod feels relief tinged with regret. It's been so long since he's had virchsex. "I wanted to ask you about um...that alife..."

She looks at him like she's half-bored.

"Novaseeker" he says

"What about her?"

"Well I was wondering..."


"Is it possible for an alife, I mean an ascended one, to fuck with your head? I mean like get you to a play a script and"

She throws back her head and laughs.

bAdmod feels his real-life mouth creasing in a grin, half genuine, half-self-conscious in case she's laughing at him. "Cos you know that sitcom Jack Up Jack Down" he starts quickly "well you know that scene-"

"Oh Zerrin's alife's like that with all the 3Ds. Full on mediamemesis. I've seen it do all the sitcoms, dramas, self-help edutainments. Streets of Corona City, DIY Asteroid Mining, Hassy meets Gogfgleplexboi, the Fifflewiffles, Intrusion Force, Jack Up Jack Down, Dit Kron and the Bots. You name it, it's done it. That's the way it learns about us humans. You know for an alife we are a totally alien species. Used to be much worse, when Zerrin first brought it. It's been quite the last few months though, growing bored with the whole thing maybe, ready for the next big adventure."


"Yeah, moving on soon. Novaseeker, I discovered" Ree opens a page of Non-Corporate Alife of the Galaxy and plonks it in bAdmod's field of vision "is actually a Nebo's Entertainment Mediomimetic Anthropophile from about three centuries ago, with a colony of sentient nanobots symbiotically coexisting, from whence it gets much of its hyperbright insights."

"Say what?" bAdmod freaks.

"Yeah they don't stay in one place long. Surprised they've hung around here this long. Maybe they're rappin' with Da Skqwid."

"Sentient nanobots?"

"Yeah, a regular little civilization in there." She chuckles. "Don't worry, they keep to themselves."


"I think they're on hibernation cycles or something"

bAdmod nods.

"Yeah. Shame you weren't around when I arrived. It was crazy. It's still a regular Novamedia here, but at the time it was like living in one of the Nova Terra Orbital bands. Talk about reality interactives."

"That's why it's called Novaseeker hey."

"Yeah Li'unie thought up the name. Before then it was Hugglepuss and other ridiculous names Zerrin gave it" Grins at him, eyes supernaturally bright in the virch environ. "I was wondering how long it would take you to figure it. Guess you're not as dumb as you look."

"Uh, thanks," bAdmod doesn't know whether to be insulted or flattered. "But what was freaky was that I was playing the script."

"Duhh, a little thing called a firewall."

"I've got a firewall! I've got four!"

"Then you're fine."

Hmm. Maybe it was just coincidence. He realises there's something else he wants to ask. "So, uh, can we trust her. Em. It."

Her av gives a sort of half shrug. "Sure."

"Do you?"

"I guess." She props herself up on an invisible ledge/table/box/chair, legs swinging in mind air.

"Like, maybe it's taken over Zerrin. Maybe the real life Zerrin's just a decoy"

"No, he's not a meat puppet, alifes don't do that."

"Yeah but he's been acting kinda strange. I'm freaking on this deal. He usedta be more careful. Maybe he'll turn me in."

"Aren't you and Zerrin buddies?"


"Before you came here he used to always go on about you, my man the Mod, he's my man, Tommy's the one, my main man, all that macho posturing male-bonding crap."

bAdmod looks at her thin legs swinging in mid air.

Ree's medusa jacks wave gently in the air. "Anything else you want to ask?"

"Well umm..." he suddenly feels funny confiding in someone he hardly knows. She may still even have a grudge against him from that thing with the hypodermic full of lovestick Tissa had him inject into her. "Nah."

The virch dissolves. Ree's voice says "ok I'll let you go then." He opens his eyes and is back in her room. She's goit her back to him, mucking around with her gear and shit.

He lets himself out.

"Yep Zar Squid is wunna me best custermers"

There is something about the hu cyborg captain - a sort of transparent duplicity and lack of moral fibre, the way he matches all their standard station profiles to mark as petty criminal suspects for closer surveillance, that makes both Rund 20473 and Dulx 59022 uneasy. (affectivity exceeding normal operating parameters)

"It is not inconvenient then, zar?" Rund 20473 asks politely. E is finally mastering voice modulated communication.

"Nah nut at all." The hu-borg pulls at some loose wiring in one of his many battered dryware implants. "In fact lucky fer ya I was jest gonna be makin' a run when ya two bots showed up. Jacky here'll show ya ta ya cabins."

The two cybershells expertly grip the magnetic stripes as they follow the old vec through the hold of the Onawan.

"Jacky is an unusual name" Dulx 5902 states.

"It is short for Ship's Officer Jack", the vec's optic sensors regard them while the rest of em pulls along the hand rails and climbs through narrow bulkheads. "You do not seem like conventional bots. Those cybershells are of the cheapest and shoddiest design."

"They were the only ones available" Rund 20473 says testily. (affectivity exceeding normal operating parameters)

"You would do well to upgrade. In fact I am puzzled why you are even visiting the Squid Provolve" the vec displays a pattern of coloured lights approximately equivalent to a photophore display "in Blu Jafikan Habitat. I have a suspicion but would first be interested in your respective explanations. Here are your bunks zars."

Rund 20473 and Dulx 59022 roll into a small metal room, barely bigger than a closet. Unused power and data cable sockets and empty fuse-ons show that machinery was once housed here, possibly computers or a small life support control unit.

"We are on an important mission," Dulx 59022 informs Ship's Officer Jack solemnly.

The ship vec quickly but carefully scans the area, motions the two aioids further inside, then squeezes in and shuts the door. A small dirty phosphor plate provides the only illumination.

"You wish to talk in secret?" Rund 20473 sends in tightbeam. Then sends the same message to Dulx 59022

"Correct" the old vec beams back.

"We are listening" Dulx 59022 says, and sends a data-copy to Rund 20473. This is all a new, quite exciting experience. E feels completely turingrade, even superturingrade, alive with excitement of subtefuge.

"As a fellow mechanoid" the old vec says, "I feel obliged to advise you both, revered zars, of the situation as I understand it."

"We are going to apprehend a human" Rund 20473 says proudly.

"Then where is the warrant for that human's arrest, in accordance with St Heiden Federal Polity Law?" Ship's Officer Jack asks.

"E is correct" Dulx 59022 narrowbeams, "we do not have a warrant, Rund 20473"

"Perhaps we should turn back?" Rund 20473 seems suddenly uncertain.

"Over the last week we have increasingly been departing from our parameters" Dulx 59022 observes. "Seemingly without reason"

"Could it be that we have been subverted by a trojan or virus?" Rund 20473 feels close to panic now.

"I fear that we may be, Rund 20473!" Dulx 59022's previous excitement gives way to terror, as eir earlier doubts about how things are going return with a vengeance. Is this what a fully Turing sophont feels, a succession of emotions and crises demanding action? "Please Zar Ship's Officer Jack, tell us what we must do!"

"Yes, tell us please!" Rund 20473 adds.

The vec says, "please understand these are merely my circumstantial deductions"

"Yes yes" tightbeams Rund 20473 impatiently.

"I have been on this same run for two hundred and twelve years, with the same captain, the formerly most honorable hu Hintman Lavudon" E pauses 0.2 milliseconds for dramatic effect. "During that time I have watched many characters arrive and depart, and observed Captain Lavudon deteriorate from a vigorous nearbaseline-borg to the dorph-addicted mess he is now."

"But zar..." Dulx 59022 beams uncertainly, "why don't you resign and find a new commission?"

"It is not easy to find work on a ship, even a short-range bucket-hauler like the Onawan. And besides-

" beep! "excuse me" "yes Captain?"

Over a tinny intercom built into the vec: "Jacky we're ready ta blow station. Where'n a mutant space rat's asshole are ya?"

"I was just showing our passengers to their quarters Captain Zar."

"They settled in?"

"Yes they are."

"Likin' it?"

"Do you like your quarters?" Ship's Officer Jack tightbeams quickly at them both.

"They are very comfortable" Dulx 59022 says uncertainly. In fact neither e nor Rund 20473 have ever had their own quarters before.

"Yes, it is very comfortable for them Captain Zar."

"Oh-kay. Get ya metal carcass onna bridge soon as possabull. Lavudon out."

"We will continue this conversation at a later date, zars" Without another word, the vec leaves.

Over lunch, Zerrin, bAdmod, Tissa and Novaseeker have an argument that is so tacky it must have come from a really bad sitdrama. The sort that baseline virchstudios make to insult the intelligence of baseline audiences

Just to be sure, bAdmod uses his NetFace Mod checks the record of scripts through the local intranet. Yep, episode 2130 of After Hours (sitdrama about the adventures of a clever nearbaseline, Adent Cantor (played by the sim31024 virtual thespian system) who as part of his ludicrous adventures outsmarts the machinations of bumbling hyperturings)

The worst thing is that he had played word for word ten lines in the part of Jokki Varris, Adent Cantor's wannabe sidekick who always has to rescued and gets really pissed off about being outsmarted.

bAdmod spends two hours and runs ten different expert systems checking all the logs for his NeuroGard firewall for the last two weeks.

No doubt about it. He's been hacked. All four firewalls are down. It happened the first day he arrived here. Shit!


"It's me" bAdmod says to Ree's door.

"I know its you. Look I can't keep talking to you all the time bAdmod. Got stuff to do myself."

"It's important!"

The door slides open.

bAdmod looks around nervously after it's closed behind him.

Ree looks impatient.

He says "I think I've been hacked."

"What happened to your firewalls?"

"Dunno. They're all down. Must've been a back door."

"Sit down", she says.

He does so. She pulls out a weird contraption. Like some of that hacker shit bAdmod saw when they visited those Karpaty Cyberians. Like a neural-spider from hell.

"No it's ok leave your CyberBoi on. I'll just jack in through that."

The tendrils make contact.

Ree jacks in to the spider thing.

Some dialogue panels come up, Ree wants to access your mediaware. "Uh do I?"

She nods absentmindedly.

He selects yes.

He watches, worried sick. Fuck, what could she find there? Can she find anything?

"A lot of nano in there, what is this stuff?" Her voice comes from his implanted bionano speakers in his head.

His heart jumps in his throat. He knew it! He's been gooed! He's been gooed! Terrible scenarios run through his head. Unwilling puppet of some joker, meat version of an assassinbot or, worse, a wankerbot. Or a Jar Dim Sum virus, being changed into a pudgy huge-eyed yellow-brown-skinned slug person. Or simply eaten alive, converted into a pile of pink bionano replicators. Oh no oh no oh no...

Five, ten, minutes drag on with glacial slowness.

"Uh," Ree's voice says again "do you know a...uh...Man Xydal?"

"Yeah yeah he's my bud, he's a po that helps me and Zerrin and Goodboy." Suddenly realises Goodboy is no longer there. Terrible grief wells up.

"That's optimal," the voice says.

Minutes drag on. His Biorg and CyberBoi throw up random alphanumerics, flash screens without him asking them too. Flashes of random phosphenes. He hopes she knows what she's doing.

Fifteen minutes.

Terrifyingly, bAdmod finds himself thinking of Tissa fucking Ree. His cock goes hard, he should've wanked or something before coming here. What if she picks up these thoughts, maybe she'll get angry? Pushes the thoughts down with an effort of will.

Twenty minutes.

The faint pongy smell of Ree's breath. Ok he saw her pubes that time when Tissa tricked him into injecting that love stick, shit, he shoulda fucked her then, not let Tissa do it, fuck he hates being shy like this, has to see Man Xydal about it, no no Ree could be tracking this with the neurospider and she'll be angry and not help him think about something else think about something else yeah fucking around with the guys on Robrock, that was good he should never have left. So he's seen her pubes but what sorta tits does she have? Cos she's pretty flat chested, maybe it's just silicon nipples like those cyberhoneys Goodboy met oh yeah they were hot babes yeah imagine fucking Ree plugged in groin to groin nips to nips Ree picking up these thoughts getting pissed "you fucking sleaze ok I'm gonna dump some disassemblers in your cranium now see what you think about that dumbfuck" no no think about something else think about something...

Thirty minutes.

This is murder murder. Can't move. Keep getting a hard on. His heart leaps into his throat as without warning something like a heavy duty cybersnake uncoils from the wall and glares dangerously at him. Must be Ree getting mad 'cause of him having those thoughts about her. A dozen octopus-like access tentacles unfold from where its head would be. Without warning the whole thing jams itself against his face. Something pricks him, it must be injecting nano. This is it this is the end goodbye life I had a good run no I didn't it sucked it really fucking sucked

Squeezes his eyes shut, waits for the end.

Nothing happens.

Fourty-five minutes.

More random phosphenes. His CyberBoi's still throwing up screens and panels in his field of vision without him asking it to, too fast for him to keep track. Pongy smell of Ree's body odour. It's really turning him on, he's got a hard-on like you wouldn't believe. Tissa bringing the dildo thing to fuck her. He keeps pushes the thought down but no matter how hard he does it keeps coming back...

One hour.

Erection long since gone. The cybersnake thing's claustrophobic, just these tentacle-legs all over his face. Can hardly breath, with this thing in his face. His body's numb. Sweat pours out of him, soaking his T-shirt...

One hour fifteen minutes.

His legs have long since fallen asleep. Just this heavy tingling. It's agony. He needs to piss. His throat is dry. He itches all over. Will he ever be free. Maybe they'll find him, mummified, dessicated skin stretched toight over dried bones, pinend to the wall like this...

One hour twenty-five minutes.

The device on his face moves slightly. Thank the archailects! He can see Ree from between the snake-octopus thing's legs. She's in another world. The thoughts come again. The harder he tries not to think about Tissa fucking her and how they came, the more he gets a hard-on from them. Things are gonna change alright, wait till he gets outa here, no more fucking passive reluctant loser seize the nanosecond, all that, him and Ree and Tissa in bed together oh yeah, Tissa with her beautiful big soft breasts and Ree with those really neat silicon nipples like those cyberhoneybabes back at Karpaty...

One hour thirty minutes.

Fuck he wishes he'd never come here. And never let Tissa talk him into anything. In fact he's never ever gonna let her talk him into anything, if he ever gets out of here alive he's never ever...

One hour thirty-five minutes.

The cybersnake withdraws, curls back into the wall.

Ree opens her eyes. Jacks out.

He's too nervous to say anything. How much had she picked up of his thoughts? A good psychoscanner can read almost everything from the location and amplitude of the neurons firing, give cinematically exact mental feedback.

She takes the spider thing off his CyberBoi.

He tries to move his legs. Agony of pins and needles. "Shit!"


"My legs went to sleep."

"Okay" she says "your firewalls were all down. They were giving signals they were up, blocking the most basic stuff, but they were all down."

"Fuck. Yeah if I'd never checked those logs I wouldn't realised."

She smiles. "Sneaky hey. The user never guesses."

"It's Zerrin's fucking alife right? Fuck that thing! I'M GONNA GET MY PREDATOR MOD SOMEONE'S GONNA PAY!!!" He jumps up, almost falls down because the blood hasn't fully started moving through his legs.

"Relax guy. It's not Novaseeker. It wouldn't know how. Not the nanobot colony either."

"Huh it's not...?"


"Then," he's dumbfounded. Who could it be? "Then who?"

She nods at the far wall.

"Huh?' Then he suddenly realises its in the direction of the beach. "The Squid???"

Nods, smiles. "Right on Zar Modhead."


"It would've been when you went out there the first time. When Daskwid drilled you with eir little laser."

He inadvertently touches the scar on his cheek. "But why would the squid...?"

"Must've shot a bit of nano at you at the same time. It was good stuff too! Your firewalls wouldn't had much chance. Fortunately they hadn't hidden themselves; they even advertised their position with little status signals. That's how I was able to find em, and remove them. There was also a whole lot of Novaseeker's nano in there, I cleared that out as well. I left all of Man Xydal's stuff. Reset your firewall as well."

"Wow. How can I thank you!"

She walks over to a heap of clutter by one wall, rummages through.

He watches her skinny body. Thinks of Tissa fucking her with the dildonics, how they both liked it. Imagines being in the sack with both of them. Doesn't push away the thoughts this time.

She walks back to him. There's a funny look in her eyes.

"Uh, what?" he says

"Thought I'd return the favour. Since you got off so much on watching that cartoon bimbo fuck me-"

Oh archailects....he feels like the ground beneath him has vanished and all that there is is a bottomless pit.

"-you would surely get off on this." Thrusts a capsule into his hand.

"Uh I dunno...I mean...", he looks at the capsule. It's a soft brown gelatinous thing about 15 millimeters in diameter. She did pick up on his brainwaves after all. Shit!!!!

"Just slap it anywhere on cartoon girl's bare skin." She smiles, the funny stare gone.

He looks at her.

She looks back. Her mouth is a hard line.

"Uhh, I can't make it look sus." He puts the capsule carefully in his pocket.

The hardness is gone. "Sure, anyway you want to do it so she won't suspect you. Just do it sooner rather than later. Okay?"

He nods dumbly. bAdmod scratches the little scar. The tracking bug!!!

"What is it?" Ree says.

"You know when the Squid zapped me with that laser?"

She nods.

"It was a bug! A police microbot!"

"What? Why didn't you tell us???"

"I dunno. Yes I do! The squid put a block on me! That must've been when he took down the firewalls. That musta been the nano!"

"That was a week ago. The cops would've had plenty of time."

"Maybe they're not coming here. It must be the meet. That's what the Squid warned me about!"

"You better tell Zerrin then."

"Zerrin." bAdmod jerks his head. "Pssst!"

"One moment Zar." Zerrin gets up from whatever he's organising with Qunifst, comes over. "What is it 'Mod. Hey you had us all worried yesterday, you hafta be careful around Nov, she' know..."

"Yeah I know." bAdmod walks a bit further down the hallway. "Sib we're in trouble. I think."

"Nah it's chill Tommy. Nov doesn't hold grudges. She's an ascended alife, they don't have those reptilian-limbic emotional reaction type things."

Flash back of the alife all spikes and armour and sensors and weapons I'll squash you like the insectbot that you are!!!!!. bAdmod whispers, "no I don't mean that."

Fast Zerrin looks at him expectantly. "Go on hu, I'm all ears."

"I think spacepol's on it's way."

"Huh? What for?"

"Well..." he's not sure how Zerrin will take this. After all that he's been through he doesn't want more hassle. Zerrin looks at him expectedly. bAdmod says "ya know when the squid drilled my face?"

Fast Zerrin peers forward to look at his cheek. "Yeah it's healing up fine. Nice little red scar, but we can get rid of that with some nanopatch. Though ask me hu ya should keep it. Makes you look," he stands back, nods his head a bit from side to side for effect, "distinguished."


"Yeah." Zerrin grins. "Like a real tough cunt." He nods.

"No shit?" bAdmod grins back.

"No shit hu." Zerrin gives bAdmod a friendly slap.

"Yeah so anyway why the squid did it, was cos there was a bug on me, that's why he zapped me. He took out a police microbot."

Zerrin freaks.

"The meet's off." Zerrin looks sullen.

"What?" Ree says, looking up from her drawing materials. "No more commando drills for our daring raid?" Pretends she has an military-style slugthrower in her hands, strafes the room "kakakakakaka thoom thoom!" Li'unie giggles, Tissa laughs.

bAdmod for one is glad Zerrin listened to his advice for once. "Good."

"Told Jucabocal our security had been compromised, was he pissed."

"Stupid hruvvie," bAdmod says. Tissa giggles. He gives her an idiotic grin, then hopes she doesn't think he's a jerk. It's cooler to be more aloof.

Zerrin lloks worried. "I dunno why the Squid didn't tell us about the tracer bug."

Tissa says "You said dah...dah..." sprays spittle at him in an effort to correct his pronunciation. "Dah skwid" more spittle "skwid."

bAdmod feels like jumping up and pulling her little top off again. He'd get another a good perve then. But Zerrin is freaking out still. "I thought we were sweet I thought the Squid was looking out for us, but why would he keep this secret, this of all things, why keep it secret!!!"

"I told ya hu," bAdmod said "The Squid said not to complicate things."

Zerrin's eyes are wild. "Of all the fucking things like what do we now hu what are we supposed to do now huh just me what we do now!"

bAdmod says "we drop the plan like I told you."

Li'unie says "Zerrin it's okay. Daskwid got the tracer right?"

Fast Zerrin stares at the floor.

"So there's no harm done. Right?"

"This has screwed things," Fast Zerrin mutters at the floor. "Was all ready to go everything optimal now this."

Briefly, irrationally, Jaym's thoughts go out to the two little aoids, Dulx 59022 and Rund 20473, who so tirelessly worked to maintain the safety of the polity, along with all their other helpmates. Now only they remain, and even then probably not for much longer. When archailects fight, the sapient is killed. Although who knows, if Xydal has anything to do with this, they may end up being augmented and liberated. In a strange way, that thought comforts Jaym.

bAdmod hopes The Squid would be there. He really wants to rap with the prolve, found out what the story of the nano is. Why wasn't Zerrin told about the bug. Why'd the Squid keep it secret? Maybe the squid doesn't consider Zerrin someone worth telling stuff? But surely the squid'd tell Novaseeker, and the alife'd tell Zerrin. Or does it want to fuck Zerrion as well. And not in the way he thinks.

He hugs his armoured knees. Fuck Man Xydal coming in and screwing up everything. Maybe the bug had managed to transmitted their coordinates before the Squid caught it. For all he knows SpacePol is on their way now. Probably they're gonna to plant some evidence to bag Zerrin, and of course him too. This time it'll be some claustrophobic asteroid mining station way out on the periphery. He just knows it. He has to speak to the Squid.

But there's just the sound of the waves against the beach.

Li'unie and Ree are doing some virch together. bAdmod watches as they sit cross-legged, facing each other, in the middle of the lounging room, eyes closed, jacked into each other's craniums, like two cybertantrika goddesses. Occaisonally one of Ree's eyelids will flicker. Li'unie's little remotes circle lazily.

Tissa is in the other corner, pouting at being left out, tits bulging under her tiny midriff top, flicking channels on the 3D even faster than normal. "This sucks, they never have anything good on." She glances at bAdmod as if suddenly aware of his eyes. He looks away sorta embarrassed. He knows he should take the chance to press Ree's capsule against her, but each time he goes to try, something makes him chicken out. If's been over 24 hours since she gave it to him; if he doesnt act soon, she might start getting agro on him. Or something. He needs some Pepp. Or Parti Boost.

Qunifst's falsetto voice. "This is a game? A quicklearn? A cybersex?" bAdmod looks over as rthe little borg, Zerrin, and the Novaseeker alife enter.

"Yeah, a game zar." Fast Zerrin says to em. "Probably Middle Galaxy or something. " To bAdmod "Hey sib how's life what're the honeys virching, you know?" All his bewilderment from the previous day seems to have evaporated. That's Zerrin for you.

bAdmod just shrugs his shoulders. "Dunno."

"Tiss," Zerrin says with a wave. Tissa shoots him a big beautiful smile.

She never smiles at me like that, bAdmod thinks. Fuck that bitch. What does Ree call her, cartoon bitch. Not that she looks that much like an anime poser, more the first impressions, but nothing like The Astro Debbos back at Karpaty. He watches as Zerrin and Qunifst and the Novaseeker alife settle around the table, Zerrin setting up the small portable pao unit. Novaseeker starts twiddling with it in funny ways. Is there really a nanobot civilization in there? Are they communicating now? Maybe striking a deal with Qunifst's people?

bAdmod suddenly feels very left out. He gets up to go. As he walks out he distinctly feels Tissa's eyes on his back, but when he looks around she's staring fixedly at the 3D.

The microremotes connected to the sensors bAdmod set up in the bathroom beep. Hope it's not Zerrin again. However many times that sib has to go the bathroom, do a piss, powder his face, check his cock, whatever. He puts down the cinebook, checks the display image on the little readout by his bed. Optimal! It's Tissa! Pockets the eroto-capsule Ree gave him. Heart pounding he charges down the corridor. Stops himself, makes sure he's walking at a more reasonable rate.

She's standing in front of the mirror, wearing a short bathrobe thing that's undone down the front so it's showing her navel and half her boobs, and bright red and green panties, slowly brushing her hair. The brush whirrs softly as millions of microscopic actuators in each shiny black bristle unknot and shampoo her hair. Knot of tension excitement adrenaline in his stomach.

Her reflection smiles at him. "Hi Killer."

"Hi." The shampoo makes a faint but distinctive smell of fruit and pheromones; a list of aromatic compounds scrolls before his eyes as his Biorg Mod analyses and identifies them all for him.

"Don't mind me." She brushes more vigorously, making her boobs jiggle with each stroke. There's the usual hardness and tightness in his pants.

"Oh," he says. "Yeah." It'd be sus if he didn't piss or something. He struggles to get his erect cock out. He has to bend right over so he doesn't piss on the wall, ok the lickerslicker'd clean it up but it wouldn't look cool. When he's finished he notices Tissa looking at him. "Umm, I..." he manages to get his dick back in.

"I'm off to bed." She puts the brush down, gets to her feet. His eyes follow her as if hypnotised. Then the rest of him follows her.

She stops outside Li'unie's door. "Just be a minute. Li!" The door hisses open to admit her, slides shut behind. He stands there, heart pounding, sorta sick in the stomach from not knowing whether she'll tell him to fuck off or be nice. He really needs a How To Pick Up More Girls expert system, but the last one he tried, a Kassanova 5000-b++, gave him stupid advice. Waste of fucking credits getting it. Muffled voices from inside. He puts his ear to the wall. Silence. Maybe they are using some encrypted intranet link to link talk, except he knows Tissa doesn't have the required cyberware.

Footseps. "Night!" Sound of a kiss. The door hisses open. Li'unie gives him a cursory glance. He gives her a brief perve. She's got on a one-piece skintight of some intellimaterial that covers her whole torso, while leaving her arms and legs bare. The door closes in his face, and he follows Tissa to her room

Ree's capsule presses against him, though the fabric of his pants.

His fingers make their way under her panties, sensuskin amplified touch thrilling to silk smooth skin and bristly pubic hair. He carefully manipulates Ree's fuck capsule with his other hand. There doesnt seem to be any way to interface with it, at least not with the mod's he's got on. Now how can he slap it on her so it doesn't seem sus?

"Don't Killer!" She turns on her side, wriggling free.

bAdmod lies on his back, staring up at the gloom. The capsule is hot and sticky in his hand.

"If you're gonna do that" Tissa says "you can sleep on your own."

"But what's the point of asking me to sleep with you if you don't wanna have sex?"

"I didn't ask you. You followed me."

Anger and frustration overcoming his shyness, overriding his poorly thoughtout plan, making him say things he may regret later. Well fuck it. "The girls on Karpaty weren't as bad as you."

"Oh fuck off. You're like your friend."


"No, Zerrin's a real gentleman. The cyborg. Mister Chip"



"What happened to him?" The thought of Goodboy makes him suddenly very sad.

"He was just like you. Never heard of foreplay. Didn't know how to kiss. Kiss me Killer."


She turns to face him in the gloom. He can smell her scented hair. Sound of sheets rustling as she edges closer. Her breasts pressing softy against his chest.

He puts his arms around her, puckers his lips, kisses her. Feels the capsule in his hand melt quickly into her skin. Taste of her saliva in his mouth.

She pulls away "See what I mean?"


"You're supposed to move your lips and mouth. Not be like some wooden fish!"

Well fuck off! He rolls on his back, blinks hot tears of humiliation. He shouldn't have to put up with this shit. He wouldn't either, if he didn't have to do this thing for Ree. Ok he could wank but it's never as good as a proper fuck, at least bAdmod never found it so. But he slapped it on her, it should be having some effect.

She leans over him, warm breath in his face. "Like this." Kisses him, more saliva goes in his mouth, not sure if he likes the taste, mostly he doesn't. "See?"

"Uh, sure." Kisisng feels the same either way to bAdmod. He'll have to talk to Zerrin later about this. Zerrin knows how honeys think. Except Zerrin's been memed by a freaky alife with an even more freaky nanobot civilization in symbiotic association.

"Now go to sleep and let me go to sleep." She kisses him lightly on the lips (no saliva this time), takes one of his hands, turns so her back is to him, puts his hand on one of her beautiful soft breasts.

He lies there for a while waiting for the capsule to work. A million thoughts flash through his head, cheap porno images of Tissa moaning with lust, like Ree when she injected that stuff up her, only more so. Him fucking her in every position. Yeah. This will be good!

Time passes. The sound of her quite breathing.

Ok, so the little nanos have to make their way to her arousal centers or wherever. Give em time! Usually it takes at least 15 min, sometimes as long as a standard hour.

He watches the green head up display in his field of vison, ticking off the minutes.

Twenty minutes.


Still nothing.

He can't sleep. His erection's keeping him awake.

Image of Ree's face, really mad, you fucked it, you stuck the eroto in the wrong place. I said put it there! Not on her back!

Or whatever she'll say.

Sound of the station pumps gently ticking, the soft steady creak of old carbonite.

Her smell his heaven in his nostrils. He can't stand the waiting. He's lying here almost an hour now, too tense and turned on to sleep. Maybe he should just wank and be done with it.

He gets his arm under her, starts sensutouching both nipples, feels them go hard.

"Mmmmmhhhh..." she says, wriggles her butt against his groin.

Oh yes! It's working!!!

Then there's just the sound of her steady breathing.

Maybe she's immune? Or her medical nano took it out?

After another half hour he can't stand the tension any more. He voice activates the lights, pulls the sheets back, looks down at her in all her bodysculpted splendour.

"Huh?" she says sleepily. "Fuck what is it Killer. Gotta get my beauty sleep. Oh." Yawns "Okay, go for it." She puts her hands behind her head, arches her back, like some amazing sex goddess. "Just don't cum on the sheets, their microcleaners are half-fucked and I don't wanna sleep on a wet patch." She wiggles her chest, making her tits jiggle lusciously.

bAdmod cums on the sheets.

"Can't you just pull him in?" Chaisla asks.

"It's not that easy," Vytrona tells her. "Blu Jafikan is not part of the Orion Federation. It's a sovereign habitat-state, according to sephirotic law. Despite <<>> action's, it would make St Heiden, and by implication the entire Orion Federation, look bad if we raided them without reason."

"But you do have a reason. They were found with proscribed nano templates."

"No, there was nothing illegal on Arim or his lady friend when we grabbed them."

"So you're letting them go?"

"No, we're rememing them, they'll be constructive members of society."

Chaisla makes a face. "It's scary, thinking about that. What remains of a person, and free will?"

"According to the Pabholz Theory of Psychological Composition, the psyco-cognitive superstructure of memes and associations are distinct from the deep structure of identity, what in the old religions was called the soul."

"I've got a friend who's a member of the Splice and Provolve Universal Church, he's always talking about things like the soul and God and spiritual consciousness and the light within, even write a thesis on it."

"Light within, sounds Solarian." Jaym instructs the field of utility foglets to form a dinner suit. "Fancy a night of wining and dining?"

She beams at him. "The way to a girl's heart."

The Onawan is vibrating so hard that Rund 20473 is afraid it will shake itself to pieces. Not that as an mechanoid e would fear the airless vacuum of space, but the thought of drifting forever without hope of rescue, until eir power pack runs out, is somewhat unsettling. "Is it always this bad?"

"Only when we make a point two gee burn," Jack explains. "Usually it is only oh point oh five gee."

"What's the hurry?" Dulx 59022 wants to know.

The old vec shifts on eir titanium haunches, settles back against a cargo pallet. "That's what I meant to finish telling you."

"Should we use tightbeam again?" Rund 20473 messages.

"No need. Captain Hintman Lavudon could not possibly hear us from here, and the hold does not have any nanocams"

"Nevertheless, I would feel more at ease using tightbeam"

"As you wish, Zar Rund 20473"

Although the tightbeams have a range of several hundred meters, twice the length of the Onawan, Rund 20473 and Dulx 59022 huddle close to Ship's Officer Jack.

"You may have suspected" the vec begins, "that this flight is not part of our usual schedule"

"Yes, we suspect your captain Lavudon is deceiving us" Rund 20473 beams.

"Hintman has been offered a lucrative contract if he delivers you to Blu Jafikan."

"But we are wishing to go there anyway, so perhaps this benefactor is in the Policing Department Briv-4 Aioid Squad and assisting us in apprehending this dangerous suspect Tommy "bAdmod" Grannish."

"But Rund 20473" Dulx 59022 beams "it is highly irregular."

"True, but we cannot discount the possibility."

""We cannot discount it totally, but the likelihood is exedingly remote." Just to be sure, Dulx 59022 runs a simulation. The odds come out at several 10 to 12th power to one. E beams the result to Rund 20473, and sends a data-copy to Ship's Officer Jack.

"Your simulation is not based on a complete dataset" Rund 20473 snaps"

""True, there may be an error of several orders of magnitude either way."

Rund 20473 addresses Officer Jack (beaming a data-copy to Dulx 59022) "Zar Jack, do you know the identity of this individual who is apparently helping us?"

"It is almost certainly the same contact who occasionally gives us very strange jobs to do, usually delivering cargo or aioid-operated cybershells like yourself to places that may contain suspect sentients. All of these places are on our regular run." He looks at them and adds proudly "The Onawan services over five hundred separate habitats, and we may be getting some new contracts!"

"Ship's Officer Jack," Rund 20473 says seriously "have any of the cybershells been recovered?"

"We have never recovered any."

""Perhaps another ship later retrieved them" Dulx 59022 does not sound optimistic.

"If it is PD B-4 Aioid Squad then they were surely recovered" Rund 20473 says with bravado.

"My own suspicion" Ship's Officer Jack beams to them both "is that this is one more of Eir Most Exaulted Excellency Commissioner Vyrona 47-0+, May Eir code always be pure, 's schemes."

"Zar Commissioner?" Dulx 59022 says "Eir Excellency Zar Commissioner Vyrona 47-0+, the Posthuman in charge of St Heiden System Security?"

"Affirmative. Eir Sublimeness Zar Commissioner Vyrona 47-0+ is a first toposophic transapient, and as such may not care much for basic sentients like ourselves, and even less in your case as you subturing aioids do not have full citizenship"

"We are not subturings" Rund 20473 beams angrily " We are full turingrade. We have evolved to T level 1, if not more. In fact this mission, to apprehend one Tommy Grannish has been taken on our own initiative!"

"It was Rund 20473 's idea" Dulx 59022 adds meekly.

"But station aioids are not allowed this degree of autonomy," Ship's Officer Jack says. "Not under St Heiden law."

"I feared as much" Dulx 59022 wails. "It is a trap! We have been set up! I have suspected this for some time already!"

" Nonsense" Rund 20473 tries to put on a brave front.

"I suspect you are part of a game organised by the agents or partials of Eir Most High and Worshipful Excellency The Commisioner plays in order to maintain security within this solar system" Officer Jack says.

"How do you know so much about our Commisioner (may Eir code always be pure)," Rund 20473 asks suspiciously

The vec straightens eir shoulders in an almost human gesture. "In the five hundred and twelve years since I have resided in this polity, first as a domicile vec in the service of the Most Honourable Zar Brax, then, following Zar Brax's merger with a passing ISOlect, which, unfortunately, did not accept my own upload, as it already had its quota of vec personas, as a free-sentient office assistant, then assistant clerk and finally full clerk, working for Yua and Yua Associates (Shipping), and finally, following the sale of Yua and Yua and distribution of assets, in which I was again given by freedom of leave, by the grace of the Ho, Ho, von Callisto and Neemor, Associates, who bought Yua and Yua but did not, regrettably, require my services, as a cabin vec upon the Onawan, in which I have served honourably for two hundred and twelve standard years, with the same captain, the noble but now unfortunately dorph-addled and deteriorating Hintman Lavudon. And during that time" e continues to the now somewhat awed security aioids (whose existence has been counted in mere years and always in the same Briv-4 Security Poligard Aioid Squad) "I have had the opportunity and honour to live under the benign surveillance of some twenty seven Commissioners, carefully gathering data, running simualtions, enquiring amongst other vecs, and in that manner gradually coming to observe, no matter how partially, their modus operandi, especially from the advantage of my clerical employment with Yua and Yua Associates (Shipping) and then more recently on board the Onawan, in the service of the noble but increasingly flawed Captain Lavudon. And even with my very limited, mere subsingularity turingrade sentience, I was able to notice - if only even very imperfectly and witha high degree of uncertainty regarding the details - the various differences and methods and quirks and what seem, although this is only to us mere sapients of course, irrationalities in the ways Our Most Exaulted Commissioners conducted their investigations, and kept law and order and ensured the safety of law-abhiding sophonts throughout St Heiden. And that was the conclusion I have come to regarding our present, most Most Exaulted and Worshipful Commissioner Vyrona 47-0+, may Eir code always be pure, yay, even unto the Final Omega itself."

For a long time, no-one beams any messages.