Public Static Void
This is my submission for Geek Pride Day 2018. This version as been edited for your viewing pleasure. Thanks for reading!
The electric hum at Public Static Void resonated within Rayce as soon as he walked inside. No matter how long he stayed away, the Void was always the same when he came back. The same handful of regulars staring blearily into whatever digital fantasy they were immersed in; the same muscle-grafted guys hitting on the same genetically-altered women; the same stench of humanity steeped in alcohol and despair. He didn't even have to place an order- the barkeep Jazmine walked over with a pint glass in hand.
Home, sweet home.
"Hey, Rayce! I was startin' to think you'd found another bartender to flirt with," she said, leaning over so he could get a better look down her blouse.
"Don't worry, Jazmine, you're still my favorite cocktease this side of Phantasy," he assured her, flashing a crooked grin before taking a swig. "And you still serve the least watered-down ale, too."
"Just get back from a job?"
"Hope you got paid well, cause you look like shit."
Rayce had told himself he'd stop working for NeuroStim, but when he saw how much they were offering, he couldn't help himself. When he'd worked for IllumiGen, they'd kept him pumped him full of high-grade nootropics so his mind ran like a bullet train, winding through matrices and constructing algorithms with serpentine agility. Nothing he could buy on the street compared to the real thing.
Everything was brighter on NeuroStim. So shiny and reflective that colors bounced off each other. Ideas bounced off each other, materializing from nowhere and manifesting into brilliance. The ugly became beautiful, the beautiful pure light.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard he tried to pace himself, he was already out.
"Well I'm glad you made it back. Thought you might be in trouble."
"No more so than usual. Why?"
"Someone's been asking about you. Corporate henchman, from the looks of him."
"What did ya tell him?"
"I just played dumb. Not that hard for me," the busty redhead said with a wink. A lot of men underestimated her because of her looks, but Rayce wasn't one of them.
"Thanks, Jaz," he said with a chuckle, sliding a bill across the bar, which soon vanished into the depths of her cleavage.
"Don't mention it, honey."
"Did he said what he wanted?" Rayce asked.
"No, but I assume it wasn't to kill you."
"Oh? That's awfully optimistic."
"Well, I figured if it was, you'd be dead by now."
"You have that little faith in me, darlin'?"
"I got plenty of faith in you, Rayce. That's why I told him you'd be back sooner or later."
He turned his head, following Jazmine's gaze over to a booth occupied by a man in a black suit and tie, his white shirt glowing slightly from the ambient UV light. Not only was he corporate, but his biceps were about the size of Rayce's thighs. The man looked back expectantly.
"Fuck- you couldn't have given me a heads up?" he muttered, wishing he'd kept his ten spot.
"Sorry, hon, but he tips a hell of a lot better than you do. But like I said, you're not dead yet, so don't fuck it up. I'd hate to lose one of my cutest customers." And Jazmine sashayed her pretty ass away without a second glance.
Rayce swore under his breath, knowing that whatever the suit was there for, he wasn't going to be taking 'no' for an answer. After taking a long draft of beer, he slid off his barstool and shook away his nerves before approaching the man's table. When Rayce straightened himself up to his full height, he made for an intimidating figure- though not nearly as intimidating as he'd like.
"You looking for me?" he asked brusquely.
"Yes, Mr. Chance. Please, take a seat."
"Why- you buying me a drink?"
The company man smirked. "If you accept my offer, you can by yourself as many drinks as you want. Take a seat." His voice was firmer this time, but that only made Rayce more defiant.
"How do you know I'm even looking for a job right now?'
"Because you need quite a bit more than a drink, don't you Mr. Chance? I can tell by the tremor in your hand, the way your eyes wander, the sweat on your forehead- classic withdrawal. And I know you've been working shitty, dangerous jobs that should be beneath a man with your skills just so you don't get any worse- am I right?"
It was rhetorical, but he still paused long enough for Rayce to wonder how long they'd been tracking him. And who the hell 'they' were.
"My employer's prepared to pay you quite a bit up front. Enough to get your head clear. You remember what that's like, don't you Mr. Chance?"
Anger rose in his throat like battery acid. This man represented everything Rayce had come to hate about working for a corporation like IllumiGen- everything he'd come to hate about himself and what greed could drive him to do.
Rayce slid into the booth opposite and stretched his legs out to the side in an attitude of ease that he didn't feel. Men like this didn't usually take no for an answer. "I'm listening."
"A shipment of skindolls was recently smuggled into the Freedome blackmarkets. We need to retrieve one of them, and considering how unwelcome corporate entities are in Freedome we thought it would be best to hire someone outside the company. Someone who knows their way around."
"What could be so special about a skindoll?"
The man scowled briefly, obviously not used to impertinent questions. "The reason doesn't concern you. All you need to know is that we're prepared to pay you a hundred thousand DGC to retrieve it on time and without undue attention."
"That's a lot of cash for a piece of ass..."
"It may appear to be an ordinary pleasure doll, but I assure you Mr. Chance, it's not. Which is another reason we chose you- we've heard you're not susceptible to their charms."
"Seems like you've heard a lot about me. I'm flattered," he said before taking a thoughtful sip of beer. "I do have connections in the Freedome, but I'll still need to grease some wheels along the way. I'll need thirty thousand up front."
"That can be arranged."
"And a valid permit to travel between sectors."
Rayce pretended to consider the offer a moment longer before nodding. "Okay. What's my deadline?"
"You have forty-eight hours." The company man reached into his jacket and produced a syringe. "So- shall we make it official?"
Knowing that he didn't have much of a choice either way, Rayce held out his hand. He didn't look away, nor did he flinch as the company man gave him an injection of intradermal nanocells. In a matter of seconds, the ink infused cells formed a QR code on the inside of his wrist, like a tattoo.
The rest of the cells were traveling to his heart, where they would stay clustered around its chambers for the next forty-eight hours. If he didn't complete the terms of the contract in time and have them extracted, they were programmed to release a lethal toxin into his bloodstream.
After he put the syringe back in his pocket, the company man pulled out a glowing photogram strip and flicked it across the table. Like all high-end skindolls, the one in the photogram was surprisingly lifelike. Beautiful, even, in a subtle way Rayce found appealing, despite his aversion to engineered pussy.
Not all gynoids were made for pleasure- like their male counterparts, they could be weaponized and trained in combat, just as plenty of androids turned tricks- but for the most part, they were walking cunts. Having once worked as a neural-memex designer, Rayce had seen their bodies printed out with bioinks made from "reclaimed" human materials. He'd come to regard these so-called living computers as mechanical corpses, and fucking one seemed like a form of necrophilia.
But still, there was something about this doll that was different. Familiar.
"Does it have a name?" Rayce asked. Skindolls came prenamed for activation purposes. Generic models usually had a stripper name followed by a number- like Bambi498 or Gemma844- but this one looked custom made.
"Yes. Lottie Silverlight."
If the Void was where dreams went to slowly burn out into ash, Club Voltage was where they went to blaze brightly and briefly. The thumping music and dizzying visualizations heightened the edginess Rayce had begun to feel; like an itch beneath his fingernails.
He was greeted by a server on rollerblades- or rather, was nearly run into by one. The light from the OLED walls, ceilings and floors cast colored patterns on her pale skin like she was kind another organic projector screen. In her left hand, she was expertly balancing a tray of vials filled with eerily glowing purple liquid, which she held out in offering.
"Wanna Shockwave?" she yelled over the music,
Rayce realized that it wasn't just a trick of the light- her skin was light blue and eyes a vivid fuschia. It was a doll.
"No- I'm here to see Watt. Know where I can find him?" he shouted back.
The hostess-doll just shrugged and skated back into the crowd, her platinum ponytail floating behind her.
Careful not to get carried away by the current, Rayce navigated his way through the throng of frenetic ravers painted in day-glow colors, bare limbs and breasts brushing against him as they thrashed together in a mass of heat and confusion. His eyes had already begun to play tricks on him, distorting his depth perception and leaving holographic afterimages floating in his vision, and the pulsating lights added to the feeling of disorientation.
Rayce managed to reach his destination- a set of stairs that led to the upper level where Watt's office overlooked the club, as well as rooms for his girls to work. Waiting at the bottom was a bouncer who was around seven feet tall and as wide as the stairwell surveying the club from behind reflective lenses. It was a security android with anti-ballistic skin and firearm implants. A machine designed for brute force, most likely with a cranial bomb at the base of its skull as a last resort defense measure.
"Rayce Chance, here to see Watt."
After a tense moment during which Rayce assumed the android was confirming his identity and scanning him for weaponry, it spoke at last.
"Is that really you, Chance? You look like shit, my boy." Watt's words came out of the android's mouth, striking Rayce as both comical and menacing.
"Thanks, I've been getting that a lot lately. So are you going to let me talk to you face to face, or am I going to have to carry on a conversation with this synthetic giant?"
"You know I have to take precautions in my line of work. Especially when I'm dealing with someone in your line of work who happens to owe me six large."
"Is that all? I could have sworn it was eight."
A laugh came through the android's mouth, clipped and mechanical. It made Rayce shudder.
"That's what I always liked about you, Chance- never afraid to stand up to the fire."
"Yeah, and I got the burns to prove it. I also have your money. All of it and more."
He opened his augmented reality optics and accessed his new crypto-wallet. Looking up at the android so his system could identify it as property of Watt Zero-Seven, Rayce swiped the window containing his account balance over its face to initiate the transfer of six thousand digital gold currency units.
"Looks like I won't have to mess up that pretty face of yours after all..."
"No need to get sentimental. So, you gonna let me up now to talk business or do I have to suck your surrogate cock first?"
"Don't worry, my boy- I never mix business with pleasure. Unless the business is pleasure."
Even though ten years had passed, his old associate seemed even more intimidating than the last time Rayce saw him: stiff dermal plating that nearly but didn't quite match the rest of his flesh; tell-tale signs of new weapon and ocular implants; even his movements seemed preternaturally swift, like his muscles had been wirejacked.
When Watt got up from behind his desk and walked towards him, Rayce was fully prepared for a punch in the face.
"Fuck, Chance, you look even worse in person!" Watt chuckled before clapping Rayce on the back. "I always knew we'd cross paths again- but I never thought I'd be the more sanguine of the two of us."
"Sanguine? Did you get a vocabulary skill-chip or something?" scoffed Rayce.
Before wireless implants were developed for neural-enhancement programs, it was common to have an implant placed in one's brain with a port behind the ear to accept chips. With all the plastic surgery and gene therapy Watt'd had over the years, the now obsolete SkillSlot was one of the few things that dated him. That and his taste in music, which leaned towards the trip-pop electronica of three decades prior.
"I've been reading literature," Watt explained as he strode over to his bar and took down a bottle of whiskey and two tumblers. "Well, Deep Downloading, which is better if you ask me. Don't have to sound out the words. I'm turning into a real fuckin' intellectual."
Rayce accepted a glass but didn't take a sip.
"Sounds like. Do you have any NeuroStim I could buy off you before we get down to the nitty gritty?" he asked as casually as possible, though he couldn't completely hide the panicked urgency.
It was hard to tell if the brief strain of Watt's mouth was from amusement or melancholy.
"Yeah, of course."
"I have the cash."
"I know, my boy." His electric green eyes flashed down to the freshly printed code on Rayce's wrist. "I'm sure whoever gave you that also gave you a generous advance. Hope you know what you're doing."
"Have I ever?"
Watt didn't pry further but tapped a panel on the wall with his thumb to open a safe. "How much do you want?"
"However much this will buy," Rayce said, transferring another large chunk of money into Watt's account with a flick of his fingers.
Watt made a few calculations and soon an automated counter was dispensing shiny red pills like so much candy into a bottle. As soon as he'd handed them over, Rayce placed one under his tongue to let it dissolve.
In seconds, euphoria trickled down his spine as a surge of energy rushed up it so fast that it blew the top of his head off. Rayce took a drink of whiskey and leaned back in one of the plush leather chairs in front of Watt's desk, letting out a long breath of relief. The pressure building in his skull dissipated, the persistent ghosts of images and memories faded away when he closed his eyes, and the sense of impending doom rose off him like steam after the rain.
"You got any girls working tonight?" Rayce asked.
The first rush of most any drug always reminded him of how much he liked to fuck. And it would be good to get it out of his system before traveling with a skindoll that he found inexplicably attractive. It almost reminded him of Joules, his collegue and lover when he worked for IllumiGen. He could still remember her scent, the feel of her limbs around him, the softness of her skin.
"I always got girls, Chance."
"I don't mean dolls, I mean actual women."
"Oh, that's right- you're one of those pussy purists, aren't you? Yeah, I got a live one. She'll cost more, of course, but she's worth it. Hot, tight, loves to suck and fuck- you'll like her."
"As long as she's real."
"That can't be the only business you have to discuss with me. I mean, no matter how shitty you look, a smoothtalker like you can always get laid."
"I'll get to it then. You know anyone in the Freedome who can get around the blackmarkets?"
"Why you askin' me? Isn't that your old playground?"
"'Old' being the operative word. Not sure if any of my connections are still in business. Or would be too happy to see me if they were..."
"What you looking for exactly?"
"A skindoll. High-end, custom made, factory-fresh."
"And I thought you were a purist!"
"Call it a professional interest."
"Hmm, well, I may know the person then. She's come in a couple of times trying to buy my girls- you know, the ones you won't fuck. Calls herself a liberator. Earned the handle ICEQueen cause there's not one intrusion countermeasure she can't get around. When I met her, though, she said her name was-"
"Lovelace?" Rayce interjected with a scowl.
"Yeah- you know her?"
"Very, very well."
"Shit, Chance- you ever met a pussy you didn't screw?" Watt chuckled.
"You know I'd rather be a lover than a fighter, but Ada brought both of them out of me. And she wasn't fond of losing."
"You'd better have some thick fucking kneepads, my friend, cause she didn't seem like a woman to cross."
"Watt, you are nothing if not a man of keen observation."
"Hey- I've been called worse. Good luck on your suicide mission."
"Thanks. I have a feeling I'm gonna need it."
Shortly after making one last transfer to Watt's account, a girl appeared wearing a pair of skintight shorts that left her ass hanging out and a crop top that left the bottom of her breasts exposed. Her long, tanned legs ended with pink-tipped toes that peeked out from glittery open-toed heels.
After appraising her new client and finding him more than adequate, a smile played across her face. "Hi, my name's Candy," she purred.
"Yeah, cause she's so sweet. Show my friend here a good time, won't you Candy?" Watt slapped the hooker's round ass and gave Rayce an avuncular sort of smile before the two went off to an empty room.
Once the door was locked, Rayce pulled Candy close, one hand splayed over the small of her back, the other curled loosely around her neck.
"Do you kiss?" he asked softly, his dark eyes flitting down to her luscious red lips. Rayce was starting to peak and his cock throbbed against her bare midriff. God, he wanted to fuck her pretty little brains out.
Candy just nodded, her mouth going slack, sooty lashes fluttering against her cheeks.
"Good. So do I..."
Rayce watched her eyes close as he slanted his mouth over hers, the bright green eyeshadow shimmering on her lids above thick purple eyelashes, felt her breath catch and then rush out of her nostrils, punctuated with a moan. His lips curved against hers before dipping inside, feeling the lush walls of her mouth with his tongue.
"Mmm- you even taste like candy," he murmured, licking at the lightly sweet flavor she'd left behind on his lips.
"Should I find out what you taste like?" Candy asked, rubbing her palm over the bulge in Rayce's pants.
He just nodded and Candy was on her knees, freeing his cock into her eager hands. She licked every inch of his shaft before taking him all the way inside her mouth. Gradually she built up a rhythm of sucking and stroking, her eyes up and locked on his as she bobbed up and down.
When Rayce started to get close, he pulled Candy up again and took off her shirt to see her tits Their light pink peaks looked even paler against her tanned skin. He held their firm weight in his hands, brushing his thumbs over her nipples until they were stiff. Then he slid down her miniscule hotpants to feel her hot cunt.
A cry caught in Candy's throat when two of his fingers delved inside until his palm was flush with her labia.
"Are you protected?" he asked hoarsely, hoping he wouldn't need to use a condom.
"Of course. You can cum anywhere you want..."
With a primal growl, he picked Candy up, and tossed her on the bed. He positioned her with her ass in the air and gripped her hips while he slammed inside. And then there was only the sound of their frantic breathing, her pussy getting ravaged, his heavy sack slapping against her flesh, the mattress creaking, and a deep shuddering groan.
Rayce's first and only flight, which he took when he was a young boy, was a blur of indistinct memories: The noise of the engines during take off; sips from a cold can of soda; the sterile voice of a stewardess-bot over the PA; squeezing his mother's hand when the plane shook. They'd been accepted into a conglomerate-run megapolis called the Haven, which promised clean air and water, education, medical care and safety in exchange for full cooperation in their work program.