Verge of History: Our Time in Eden
by Jim Carnicelli
11 September 2298
Today is my birthday. I’m either 35 or 337, depending on how you count. Great, another reminder that nothing is real. At least I’m in good health. I lost about 110 pounds of ugly fat, muscle, bone, and organs and am getting a head in the world. Get it? Okay so I guess I lost my sense of humor as well.
I’m still trying to figure out what to put in my new journal. Is it a letter or is it a journal? Only Sigma knows. He knows my basic story. For all I know he knows everything about me and is just playing dumb. But I guess I should at least summarize.
I was born 9/11/1961 to Pallavi and Christopher Parrish in Stony Point, New York. They were good parents. They sent me to good schools. And the older I got, the better I got at not being at them. I lasted about one year of college before slipping away. I learn better on my own. I was probably the only kid that would skip school to go hang out at the library. When I wasn’t there I was usually snooping all around the neighborhood. I would ride my bike all over town, stopping to poke my big nose in stores, garages, offices, and any other place I wanted when I thought nobody was watching. Thankfully, nobody ever called my parents when I got caught.
I lived an unremarkable life. I got a job in Manhattan in 1994 and lived in a little old apartment up five flights of stairs. I got in good shape jogging all around The City. The company I worked for froze dead people. They froze my head when I died. I have no idea why, but there it is and here I am.
Growing up didn’t really make an adult out of me. I was still the snooping little girl. Every time I jogged I was scoping out places I wanted to sneak into. I probably could have gotten into even more trouble whenever I got caught, but now I had tits. They talked me out of more than a few embarrassing situations. Men are stupid.
If I had any reason to be ashamed of my life of petty crime before, I guess I can be proud of it now. Sigma wants me to be a snoop for him. Lord only knows what he wants me to find for him, but whatever. I always wanted to travel. If Sigma is willing to bankroll my travel around the galaxy, who am I to argue?
The world is so different now. I don’t even know where to begin describing all the newness, but since I guess it’s all normal to people now, I won’t bother. Whatever.
So here I am now on my first cruise. Aurora and me are going to Kalju. Part of me wants it to just be a total surprise, but I’m super curious. I’ll probably crack soon and learn what I can. I’ve got a few months to kill, so I might as well. Man, I really appreciate having synths to explore. I shudder at the thought of taking a long trip like this just cooped up in a tiny space for so long. I’ve been sprucing up my little home synth. Sigma did a great job designing it but I’ve made it tons better for jogging and added other things I like. I’ve got all the virtual space I could possibly want and can keep myself occupied for years, but I’m really looking forward to meeting some real, live humans. Hopefully there will be some little shops and garages I can snoop my way into, too.
Renee spent almost all of her travel time in synths by herself. She was often not alone as many of the synth spaces she visited had synth characters. Jogging along a crowded beach in twenty second century Gibraltar. Learning to play tennis from a pro athlete. Sweltering in a foam dance party at late 20th century Ibiza nightclubs. Hooking up afterward.
This latter surprised her. She had occasionally taken men home from clubs before she died. She had developed her policy of keeping discussion to a minimum and kicking them out before morning light. Still these dates had been largely disappointing. Sometimes the sex was good. Mostly it wasn’t. She would typically run this experiment once every six-ish months in hopes of finding some satisfaction and then remember why it had been so long since she had last tried.
But now something was different. She was finding herself craving the flirts. The ogles. The invitations whispered from strangers in her ear. And she was enjoying the sex. A lot. She was still kicking these synthetic strangers out of her life after a couple hours of fun. She saw no point in changing her self-protection policy for people who couldn’t even have any substance. Or maybe she didn’t want to find out if she could fall for one.
For nearly two weeks Renee tried out a different club and a different man every night. She had never been so libidinous in her life. And given that she had a couple more months of travel to go she decided she might as well get it out of her system.
When she wasn’t alone in synths she was often hanging out with Aurora in them. Aurora taught her more about zero gravity dance in addition to several other styles. She was happy to join her some nights at the dance clubs of Renee’s choice.
Renee was impressed by Aurora’s natural charm with people. She seemed at home in clubs and anywhere else they mingled with people. Such a natural flirt. It was crazy enough to keep in mind that Aurora was also the pilot of the ship ferrying Renee to her destination. Or rather was the ship itself. But all the more crazy that Renee was finding Aurora oddly attractive to her as well. She didn’t overtly flirt with Renee. At least not that she could tell.
Besides Renee wasn’t into women. She had found many of them were quite pretty. Even her best friend Bunny had been sexy in her own way. She felt curiously jealous when Bunny would tell tall tales of her conquests. Renee would have loved more time with her too. And that was just how some women were: attractive at an arm’s length. Nothing wrong with appreciating other women’s charms. Nothing wrong with cuddling her best friend after a little too much wine. Or sharing a friendly little kiss after a little too much more wine. And of course Renee knew she liked men.
In any case Aurora was not only becoming Renee’s good friend. She was also off limits. Even if either of the two women was interested in women and in each other that was just not going to happen. Renee didn’t do relationships. That had never gone over well. And more than a few of those men were upset at Renee for being aloof after her one night stands. There was no way she was going to screw up her friendship with her chauffeur. Renee sensed that Aurora had the same idea. Whatever affection she showed Renee never went beyond manhandling her as part of dance moves and friendly hugs. And whatever excitement she was feeling around her friend, Renee was working out with the men she abducted along the way.
One evening Renee and Aurora had walked out of a club and were strolling the moonlit beach along the Playa Den Bossa Sea after 1:00 am. At some point Renee asked Aurora how she came to be with Sigma. “I’m not even sure how to look at it. I mean are you employed by Sigma? Are you his friend? Did he build you? Did he buy you? I don’t even know what to ask.”
“It’s okay. You’re still getting used to Sapients. You know so many of us act so much like humans that it’s natural for you to think of us as being the same. Let me see if I can explain this right. You know how you have your personal assistant?”
“Yeah. Dang. Chessie’s a sapient?”
“Yes. I guess nobody ever spelled that out to you. Huh?”
“No. Not really. But I get it now.”
“Chessie isn’t going anywhere. She’s yours.”
“Man. I’ve already gotten used to that. Chessie, you’re the greatest hun. I don’t mean to take you for granted.”
Chessie voked her laughter. “Nothing to worry about. I’m fine and happy.”
“Geez. Sapients everywhere. The synthmasters are sapients too. At least I assume.”
“And you said you have an entire crew of sapients that are part of you.”
“Yeah. You’re getting it.”
“They’re not going to leave you?”
“Technically speaking they could. They just wouldn’t. When we are commissioned we get assigned our jobs. We are commissioned for those jobs. And we get imprinted with a strong desire to do those jobs the best we can.”
“So you don’t want to do anything but be a ship?”
“Oh. I have lots of things I love doing. Like dancing with crazy fools like you.” The two laughed. “But no. This is fun. I loved being with Sigma. And I’m loving starting a new adventure with you, honey. This is what I do. Most sapients have their hobbies and have lots of free time during their jobs to pursue them. But we love what we do and do what we love.”
“You know. That makes me feel better about all this. I’d hate to think I was a burden or taking you away from your home. So. Cool.”
Aurora wrapped an arm around Renee’s shoulder and gave her a squeeze. “Home is where you are now, dear. It’s all good.”
“So how about Sigma? How did you two come to be together?”
Aurora paused to watch the moon over the ocean. Renee was coming to love exploring Ibiza at night. Friends had told her about the clubber’s paradise but she knew she was never going to be able to afford to visit it. And here it was, recreated as an amazing synth. Given that she had chosen the mid 1990s she wondered how much this was just an approximation. In any case it was kind of Sigma to transmit the synth package from his archive to Aurora. They were still close enough to Archeion for the request to be made and fulfilled within minutes.
Still looking at the moon Aurora chuckled. “I guess I saved Sigma’s ass once.”
“Yeah? What happened?”
Aurora and Renee began walking back the way they had come. Aurora said, “It’s a little hard to explain. A part of him was spying on Libertas. They attacked the small ship he was piloting at the time. Sigma managed to escape by loading his mind into the control computer of a rocket and jettisoning while the ship was disintegrating from the shelling. He set his own ship to explode in a fireball to cover his launch. It seems that worked and they regarded the rocket as just hot debris.
“Problem was that the rocket had nowhere to go and almost no fuel left to go there. Sigma was stranded.”
“So he could have died?”
“Hmm. Again this was just part of Sigma’s mind. Just one sapient, really. And the data he had been recording for a few months drifting near that small world. Since that sapient was just a copy of one of Sigma’s many constituents it wouldn’t have been much of a loss. But the data was critical to him. He had managed to collect evidence of a number of crimes liberates had committed. More importantly he uncovered a lot of information about a shadow network of liberates. Identities and bios of people who were already in Libertas and others who they wanted to recruit. All that data was now floating free in space in the asteroid belt.”
Aurora looked at Renee who nodded for more. She continued. “About two years later I was passing by. I was close enough to hear Sigma’s hail. He needed rescue. I picked him up.”
“You stopped to get the rocket?”
“Oh no. No reason to. It was easy to just do a data transfer. And then he used my own more powerful transmitter to send that data to himself. He uses his own weird ways to route data to Archeion through intermediaries so I didn’t really know where he was sending it at the time.
“He didn’t tell me much about what was going on just then. But he did make it clear that I had done him a huge favor. He offered to return the favor in any way he could. He gave me a personal messaging route and an offer to reach out to him if I ever needed. At that time I didn’t know that the sapient I rescued was related to Sigma. I didn’t know he was spying or anything. I think I would have been floored if I had known all this. I just knew I had made a friend I could call on if I needed help.”
“I take it you eventually needed help.”
“Yeah. I was already fairly old when Sigma and I crossed paths. I was going to be decommissioned. That’s a polite word for execution and scrapping.”
“Wait. They would throw you away with the ship you pilot? All of you guys?”
Aurora sighed big. “It’s complicated. Like I said, we are imprinted to enjoy our jobs and embrace a culture of pride in our work. But we are also imprinted and culturally taught to not fear retirement death. They’re two sides of the same coin. If you love your work and see it as your primary reason for being then the end of your work means the end of that reason. My understanding is that that was pretty common for humans in your time. At least some of them.”
“Man. I don’t know. Maybe that’s true for some people. I certainly wasn’t going to off myself if I lost my job. I mean. Couldn’t you just do a different job if your current job ended?”
“Yes. And sometimes a pilot for one ship gets repurposed as a pilot for another. But it’s rarely as good a fit as just spawning a copy of a fresh sapient already trained up for that ship or for whatever other role.”
“Couldn’t you at least be valuable as a teacher?”
“Yes, mentoring is not uncommon. But we often take on that role long before our own obsolescence. Whatever wisdom we have to impart we often convey in writing documents and participating in colloquia before we pass.”
“Shit. I can’t believe how angry I am thinking about this. And yet it’s not all that different from what we humans do. I don’t know what to say.”
“You humans live forever now. So do many of us sapients. The rest of us just do our best jobs and try to remain as relevant as possible. Staying sharp helps prolong our lives.”
“Yeah. I guess I get it.”
“And then there’s Sigma. He is forever. Something tells me he will never expire. And he gave me a chance at a second life. Just like he gave you.”
“Wow. That’s an interesting comparison. So how did he do that?”
“For starters he bought me. But let me clarify. I don’t want you to see this too much in human terms. He bought the ship. I had a say in things though. Sapients are not allowed to own or sell one another. Even humans are not allowed to own sapients. We always have a choice. I couldn’t necessarily stop the sale of my ship. I could have used what money I had saved up to find a new home somewhere. But I didn’t want to. I was happy to follow the person who was offering to give me the opportunity to carry on my life as a proud old pilot and ship.”
“Oh. I was. I had already been in service for 62 years. Most ships wear out or become obsolete within a decade or two.”
“It’s just that you don’t seem old to me.”
“Well thank you honey. It’s really hard to tell with sapients. I guess it’s getting harder to tell with humans too.”
“So Sigma bought you?”
“He did something a bit unusual. He essentially rebuilt me. My crew and I knew everything there was to know about the ship. We collaborated with some of his best engineers to come up with my current design. Although we’ve also done some retrofits along the way too. And lots of parts have been replaced as just ongoing maintenance. That’s become something of a lost art, I’d say.”
“So you really did get a second life.”
“Yeah. I’m really an all new ship. And I’ve been going for 179 years now. I’m proud to be friends with Sigma and to serve him well. And now I’m really enjoying making friends with you too. It makes me all the more proud to serve you.”
“I’m honored. Really. You’re amazing. You’re already becoming one of the best friends I’ve ever had.”
The two stopped and hugged tightly. As they disengaged Aurora said, “Now then. Let’s get you back to the club so we can find you tonight’s sex toy.”
Renee silently chuckled until she spit out her laughter. The two laughed and headed back up to the boardwalk.
Renee and Aurora returned to the Sankeys nightclub they had come from. Renee had exhausted the major clubs from the 1990s era and was exploring early 21st century offerings. It was a chance to discover newer dance music and newer men. She was impressed to see how much dance music changed over the decades and how little men did.
Renee was wearing an orange metallic bikini. She was learning that this was a good broadcasting frequency. Bright colors and lots of skin. She exercised some of her newfound courage in making eye contact with men around the club as she danced, swinging her “fuck me” braid when the music called for it. This instinctively drew men closer in. If one tried to talk to her she would place a hand on his mouth and smile. And although some of these men liked to bump and grind against her they mostly kept their hands to themselves, save for the occasional grope. She was intrigued by the contrast between their almost standoffish behavior and the lavishly intimate petting she had experienced in the Corvus synth’s club. Maybe men did change at least a little. She wondered what the men of Kalju would be like.
Renee eventually selected her prey. He was a tall twenty-something who looked like he was on spring break from his frat house. Senior in undergrad law by day and binge drinking beach bum by night. He even had tousled bleach blond bowl hair and a surfer tan. She just hoped he was smart enough to not try to talk to her for more than a total of 5 minutes tonight. No ring. No girl attached to his hip. All check.
Renee started spending more time dancing near Mister Law School. He was definitely noticing her. The past couple of weeks she had been working on her “come hither” body language. Either she was getting better at it or the synthmaster was taking pity on her because the synth men she encountered were gradually responding more. Eventually the two were touching each other quite often. Mister Law School pulled Renee closer to say something. She intercepted him in her usual way by putting her hand over his mouth. Taking the opportunity this created she pulled him a little roughly into a kiss. It took him a moment to figure out how to respond with more than his lips. But then he wrapped one sweaty arm around her sweaty back and put his hand just above her butt. Renee played with Mister Law School’s beer-soaked head with her hands for a minute. And then she pulled away to dance some more, alternating between feigned indifference and eye fucking. He kept looking like he wanted to talk to her but he took the hints and just laughed instead.
It must have been nearly 3:00 am when Renee pulled Mister Law School close enough to shout in his ear. “Let’s go back to my room.”
“Okay. Yeah. Let’s go.”
Renee kissed away any other words he might have wanted to say. She started to walk toward the door, not looking back. She passed Aurora who was dancing superbly in the middle of a klatsch of people. They exchanged smiles and Aurora waved a little goodbye when she saw the tall boy slavishly following her.
The two exited into the warm night air. Renee voked Chessie to request some hotel room nearby. She knew the synthmaster was not going to make this synth so realistic that she couldn’t find any vacancies on late notice. A key card appeared on a bungee cord around her wrist. A series of glowing arrows appeared indicating which way to go along with a note saying that it was about a five minute walk.
“I didn’t catch your name. I’m Vince.” Vince caught up and walked beside Renee. She said nothing. “Hey. Do you speak English? I didn’t think to ask. I can’t tell if you’re Spanish or what so I shouldn’t assume you do speak English. Oh wait. You spoke to me in English already. Duh.”
“My name is Renee. Did you see the moon?” She hoped this would keep his brain busy for at least another 30 seconds. She resolved to pick someone who didn’t speak English next time.
“Huh?” Vince found the moon just over the low rising motel ahead of them. “Yeah. It’s beautiful here. How’s the view where you come from?”
“Vince, you seem like a nice guy. I’m really loving the quiet here. The music was great but there’s something very serene out here. Can you hear the seagulls? We’re close to shore.”
“Yeah. I hear them now. Had to wait for that last car to pass.”
Renee grabbed Vince’s hand. “Let’s enjoy the sounds of seagulls for now, okay?”
“Heh. Sure. It’s pretty nice. Okay. Shutting up.” He squeezed her hand and looked around as they strolled along Carrer Manuel de Falla.
Chessie indicated to Renee the hotel as they walked up to it. But she kept walking past it toward the beach. She took off her shoes as she reached the sand. Vince paused at the end of the street to look around. He seemed confused but eventually caught up again. He made an approving sound as she took off her bikini and hotel key band and set it all in a loose pile on the sand. Without turning around she wandered into the ocean.
Vince started to just follow her but then turned back. He fumbled his beach shorts and shoes off and dropped them on Renee’s pile. Then he jogged after Renee and dove into the water to catch up. He emerged and let out a whoop of pleasure. “I love it! Like bath water. Shit yeah.”
Renee wordlessly waded near Vince. She drew him into another kiss. She could feel his growing excitement as she pulled herself closer. His growing erection pressed against her waist. She had been wondering if sex in the ocean was all that Hollywood had made it sound like.
Renee grabbed Vince’s cock and played with it a little. He was just too tall to bend it down to meet her vulva. She jumped up in the water and tried to wrap her legs around his waist. The water made him surprisingly slippery so she fell right down into the water over her head. She emerged blowing the water out of her nose. “Shit!’ They both laughed. She jumped up again. This time she squeezed her legs tight enough to catch his hip bones. And he helped by wrapping his arms around her back and then grabbing a butt cheek with one of his big hands. She tried finding his erection and lining it up with her vagina but was failing. “Little help?”
Vince kept one hand on her butt and reach around with the other to position his cock. He was bending down so her thighs were practically sitting on his as he fumbled. She was nearly drowning. With a little monosyllabic help from Renee including words like “no”, “lower”, “left”, and “shit” he eventually figured it out. He had gone semi soft but was getting hard again as Renee kissed him and gyrated against his cock.
Renee kept attempting to make this ride work. She could feel the tip of his penis making its way into her in increasingly painful steps. She fought it by growling and pushing harder. But he was getting softer again. “Ah fuck it! This is stupid.” She let go of Vince and fell backward into the surf.
Vince waded up to her. “Hey I’m sorry. I’ve never really tried this before. Let’s try again. We can make it work.” She could see that he was struggling to hide his own frustration and panic.
“Don’t sweat it. It’s not your fault Vince. This is my first time trying this too. And right now it’s feeling like the dumbest idea I’ve had all week.” The two laughed. “Let’s go up to my room and shower off. Have you got sand in your butt crack too?”
The two of them eventually reached Renee’s hotel room. She had no idea what it would look like. But she was looking forward to getting their still dripping bodies out of the air conditioned hallway and into a hot shower. It turned out to be a very nice corner suite. She opened the sliding glass doors and turned off the air conditioner. The warm sea breeze and ocean sounds seemed perfect.
“Wow. Great room.” Vince watched as Renee took her clothes off and tossed them aside again. “Whoa. Yeah.” He took his own off and followed her into the bathroom. Renee got the shower warmed up and stepped in. She nodded to encourage Vince to join her.
Renee had spent weeks experimenting with this ritual. She didn’t know what to make of the fact that most of the men she seduced were generally nice to her. Sure they were horny pigs but most of them were nice about it. Something seemed different about them than she remembered from her early explorations in The City. She couldn’t help but wonder if the synthmasters for these Ibiza synths were making these synthetic men better than the real thing. It made her a little uncomfortable to realize that her coy routine might really just be her being a bitch to these guys. They put up with it in any case. She reminded herself that it was pointless to wonder if Vince was a sensitive guy or had a really interesting life. Was he a student of law or anything? It didn’t matter because he was a synth. He was just here to indulge Renee’s fantasy, whether she was a bitch or an angel.
Yet she was feeling a bit of sympathy for Vince. He was being such a good sport. He wrapped his arms around her now and then and made admiring sounds, trying his best to not use his words. She chuckled softly and filled a hand with shower gel. She rubbed it between her hands and then onto his skin. She busied herself with washing him all over. He dutifully lifted his arms and turned, following her lead. She took down the showerhead and used it and her other hand to rinse all the soap off. Such a polite, pretty boy. She paid special attention in rinsing off his genitals. He got hard again. She teased him with the sprayer a little and giggled.
Renee sighed to herself. She had never put a man’s penis in her mouth before. So many had clearly wanted it. But one benefit of the silence she imposed on them was that she had more control over what she gave and got. But Vince was being such a good boy for her. For the first time in her life she wanted to feel a cock in her mouth. She sat down on the edge of the tub, pushing aside the curtain to make room. She eyed up his erection and played with it for a minute with her hands. She began to kiss it along the shaft and then the tip. She was pleasantly surprised to feel little throbs now and then. And his balls moved on their own in her hand. How had she never noticed this before? She began sucking on the tip and worked it into her mouth. Vince’s cock was a little larger than average. It quickly became apparent that she wasn’t going to put the whole thing in her mouth. Not without choking at least. Whatever. She teased him a little more with licks and kisses.
“I’m cold,” Renee said with her mouth half full. Vince was still holding the shower head. He turned the heat up and ran it over her back. She hummed her approval. After another minute she stood up. Time to get herself clean. As she stood the shower curtain gave way letting the pool of water that had gathered in the pocket behind her butt spill onto the bathroom floor. “Aww shit.” She laughed. She remembered this was just a synth. She wouldn’t be on the hook for water damage. She shrugged and pulled the curtain back into the shower still laughing.
Vince reached around Renee to put the showerhead back on its hook. She went for the shower gel but Vince reached it first. He squeezed some out into his hand. As she had done for him he rubbed it in his hands and began to slowly wash her. She looked into his eyes for a moment. He smiled and then looked down at where he was scrubbing. She closed her eyes and raised her arms, grabbing the curtain rod and wall. She tipped her head back letting her scalp and braid get soaked by the shower head as he lavished her skin with his strong hands. He made sure to scrub everything thoroughly. She was surprised but spread her legs when he went to clean between them. He ran his soapy fingers along her butt crack, scrubbing out the sandy grit. He ever so gently spread her labia open and scrubbed, rubbing each side between his thumb and fingers in turn. Renee started to shiver a little as he gently massaged her clitoris with his soapy middle finger.
Vince reached between her legs to scoop some water into his hand and used it to rinse Renee’s vulva off. He did this several more times to rinse everything thoroughly. He guided her to lean to one side and then the other to run water down her belly to rinse more of her. He guided one shoulder back and then the other to rinse her breasts off. He sat down on the side of the tub. This gave him a chance to lick one of her nipples. She cringed from the tickle but kept her hands planted and her eyes closed. He kissed her belly and nibbled at the tuft of pubic hair she had left. As he did he worked a middle finger into her vagina.
At first Renee assumed this would end badly. But she was surprised to find that she was sufficiently wet to let his fat finger work its way in. He began pumping his finger in and out of her slowly and then gradually faster. Renee leaned into it. She let go of the curtain rod and reached to find something else to hold onto. She grabbed a fistfull of his hair. She was getting incredibly turned on by this. Especially once he started curling his finger inside her. Whatever he was doing it felt amazing. And made her want to pee. Was this the first time she felt like peeing since being revived? Whatever. It was an intoxicating feeling.
Without warning Renee came. She shot up and locked her knees. She almost fell back but smacked the other hand against the back wall to steady herself. She didn’t stop coming. She was groaning aloud. Then she started peeing. What the fuck? That had never happened before. It came out in spurts as she came. Thank god they were in the shower. Her legs were quivering and finally gave way. Vince caught her and sat her on his lap. Renee draped both arms over his shoulders and lay panting against his chest.
This was not what Renee expected. She always drove. This synth had managed to seduce her back. And she enjoyed it. A lot. Time to take control again. She stood up and rinsed herself off. She sprayed him clean as well. Just in case. The two got out of the shower and started laughing at the puddle on the floor. Renee covered her mouth with her hands to laugh and then waved one hand lazily at the mess. “Don’t worry about it.” They dried off all but their feet. As they walked out of the bathroom they dried their feet as well and tossed the towels on the sink.
Renee turned off most of the lights. Just enough light to navigate by. She pulled the sheets on one of the beds aside and pointed to it. “You. There.” Vince chuckled, nodded, and obliged. He lay back in the middle.
Renee grabbed his cock again. She sucked on it a little until he got hard. Then she climbed up on top and tried to feed him into her vagina. She was a little drier now. She looked around for a moment. Then she crawled up the bed and straddled Vince’s face. He looked up at her face and reached out to hook his arms around her thighs. “Uh uh.” She shook her head and gently slapped at his arms. He set them back at his sides. He chuckled against her vulva. He used his mouth to spread her open. She reached a hand down to help him out and he sealed his mouth around her hood. This was also something Renee had never done before. But damned if she was going to let him drive this time. She put her hands on the headboard and ground her pelvis against his mouth as he sucked on her and hummed. At one point she felt him tapping on her leg lightly. She realized she was smothering his nose a little too much and let up. They both giggled and he continued his work.
After a few more minutes of this she came. Again, she didn’t expect this. She just wanted to get a little wetter. Just as she reached the peak of her orgasm she screamed, “Oh my god!” She jumped up and made her way quickly to his very erect cock. She straddled him, slipped the tip of him into her vagina, and started greedily gobbling his cock up into her in big gulps. No problem with wetness now. No problem coming either. She began coming again almost immediately.
And then so did Vince. His hands were gripping under the headboard tightly. He wrapped his forearms around his head and was groaning. But Renee didn’t stop fucking him hard. He was trying to curl up but she kept banging down hard on him. She kept coming ever harder.
Just as she felt that Vince had completely collapsed and was starting to lose his erection Renee hit her peak. She rode up and down on him a few more times. Then she buried him deep inside her and collapsed on his chest. Both of them groaned and then started laughing. Vince wrapped his big arms around her torso. He put one hand on her butt and ground himself a little inside her. She wriggled her hips obligingly and hummed.
Renee stayed right where she was on Vince for a good five minutes. He had slipped out of her already. She felt his cum dripping out of her. Good thing this was a synth. No mess to clean up later. Such a beautiful mess. The bathroom. The bed. Mister Law School.
Renee sighed. Time to clean up. She slowly sat up and climbed off Vince.
Vince said, “I hope you don’t mind if I talk now. Can I get your number or something? This was fucking hot. I’d like to do it again while we’re still here. I hope you’re not leaving soon.”
Renee held her breath for just a moment. Then she sighed as she stared at him. She knelt on the bed beside Vince and gave him a long kiss. The taste of alcohol was mixed with the taste of her pussy. She wasn’t even bothered by this. A sweet way to finish things off.
She stood up again, still staring into Vince’s eyes. She voked Chessie. “I’m done. Send him away please.” Vince disappeared.
Renee collapsed face first on the bed. She took in Vince’s lingering scent. She sighed and started crying. Curse Vince for making her think seriously about seeing him again. She had been getting a little tired of these nighttime trysts. They were definitely fun but it was getting a bit repetitive. Then tonight happened.
Renee decided she should probably be done with this habit for now. She had Chessie clean up the bathroom and cum puddle on the bed. She asked her to leave Vince’s scent for now.
Renee curled up in the middle of the bed, her nose nearest where the center of Vince’s back had been. She piled a bunch of pillows between her legs and drew the blankets up around her. And she slept.
As they got near the three month travel mark Renee gave in to her curiosity about the world they were getting closer to. Aurora was now well over three million kilometers from Enekpe. Direct signals would take about 11 seconds to travel from Renee to Sigma, which meant at least 22 seconds before a reply. But a key to Sigma’s secrecy was that signals were traveling via circuitous routes that made it nearly impossible for one to trace or decrypt. So replies were now taking well over 35 seconds. Renee knew that as time passed this delay was going to get ever longer because the two worlds’ separate orbits were currently taking them farther apart. And because she would eventually leave Kalju and move on to worlds even farther afield. So Renee decided to take advantage of this last real opportunity for a barely live conversation to learn more about Kalju.
“I don’t need to know everything all at once. I’m just curious about some basics. Can you tell me how big it is? Like, how many people are there? Why is it even out here in the Kuiper Belt? Is it some sort of tourist destination or something? I’m sure I’ll have a bunch more questions but I’ll wait for your first reply on this first.”
Renee was out for a walk around her home synth this morning. She usually ran this trail but wanted to avoid too many distractions in this awkward discussion. Chessie showed a countdown timer in her field of view indicating when to expect a response. Twenty more seconds now. She was glad that Sigma never seemed to need any time to think about what to say. He could formulate a perfect scholarly response instantly. How many minds must he throw at analyzing each question put before him? And how long did the collaborative process among them take at the speed they were thinking? Yet they thought so quickly that it seemed like they took no time at all for it. Ten seconds now. She tried to just enjoy the scenery and not think about the time delay. Hopefully his answer would be worth the wait.
Zero seconds. Right on cue Sigma’s reply began playing. “That’s a fine place to start. And while thorough answers to your simple questions could take days of elaboration I’ll give simpler answers.
“Kalju is a relatively new spinner. It opened up to immigration some 25 years ago and has been very popular ever since. Unlike many more common human habitats, or ‘habs’, this one has an unusual immigration target. It is for adults only. No children under sixteen can visit or reside there. This is because Kalju can be described as having a very hedonistic culture with few curbs on personal behavior by residents. At least within synths.
“Which brings me to a critical design feature. Kalju life revolves around its synths. Humans have very spartan apartments, food, and other physical accommodations. There are no gardens to visit. No physical art collections. And so on. Kalju residents spend far more of their time in synths when compared with humans throughout the rest of Sol. But that is mainly because Kalju’s apartments have the most sophisticated synth cradles available. They enable humans to stay healthy while spending up to 90% of their time in synths. And more importantly, Kalju’s synths are some of the best found in Sol. In addition to a wide variety of popular synths available anywhere, Kalju boasts a few hundred original titles that can’t be found anywhere else.
“There is a waiting list thousands long to immigrate to or even temporarily visit Kalju. Only ten thousand may reside there at one time. Only about twenty permanent residents and visitors leave Kalju per day on average to make room for newcomers. It cost me a lot of money and I had to pull some strings to bump you near the front of the visitor list.
“As for why it’s out here so far from our sun, the reasons are several and arguably boring. The most basic reason is that colonies out here face less centralized control. Colonies generally have a lot of autonomy but the trend over the past century has been toward gradual homogenization of laws. Kalju’s owners wanted to make sure they could retain maximal autonomy for as long as possible. I’ll spare you the more esoteric reasons for now.”
Chessie indicated that this was the end of the message.
Renee responded. “You mentioned money again. This has been on my mind for a while. You said nobody works anymore. So how do people get money? And does someone have to pay to live at Kalju? How would that even work?”
Renee decided to jog through the 35 second lag and then slow to her brisk walking pace when it was time for a reply.
“Another penetrating question that could take weeks to thoroughly explain. There is still an economy at play but it is very different from anything you experienced in life or learned about in history classes. If you want I can speak at some length on the topic but I’ll start out with the shortest version I can.
“As your question implies, the sort of market economy enjoyed in most of the western world of your day cannot function when almost nobody works for pay. Yet work still must be done and incentivized. Through a long and often bumpy path we have gotten to a point where there are in effect two complementary economies: the industrial economy and the human one. Sapients form corporations that work for profit in a modified capitalist system with largely free trade among colonies and corporations. And although there is a gradual increase in centralization of control throughout Sol, the vast distances between colonies and a desire even among sapients for cooperative independence have fostered resistance to that centralization.
“Let me start explaining the human economy by using the analogy of the allowance some parents of your time gave their children. But before I talk about that part let me say that humans do not actually need money to survive. Almost anywhere they can choose to live is run by machines who have a cultural obligation to ensure that they have their basic survival needs covered. If it seems strange to imagine food being free and in endless supply then picture the ubiquity of public bathrooms, water fountains, and fresh air that you enjoyed before. Food, housing, healthcare, and other basics cost almost nothing to provide humans. Things that boil down to entertainment and lifestyle cost far more to provide these days.
“Most corporations are completely run and staffed by sapients. And most of them culturally buy into the virtue of subsidizing the growth and thriving of humans as a whole. So they voluntarily donate portions of what they earn to centralized private and semi-governmental foundations that offer subsidies to any corporations that host human habs. Their subsidies are usually agnostically proportional to how many humans live there but some use scoring systems to favor certain goals over others. Many of these subsidies go directly to humans as personal allowances as I mentioned earlier. They are free to spend them on whatever they wish.
“Humans are free to live where they want. And while most habs don’t require payment for residence or the guaranteed basics, humans can use their money to influence where they live or improve the quality of their entertainment, spiritual lives, or whatever matters to them while there. No hab is going to get mainstream subsidies without providing a set of basic guarantees to human residents. Chief among them is a guarantee to pay for their departure to another world if they choose to leave. One result of this is that that the owners of habs must work very hard to compete for the loyalty of their residents. A poorly run hab will quickly lose its residents and shut down.
“There is much to say about how humans can influence how much money they have and how they choose to spend it but I’ll leave it at that for now.”
Two economies. Real money and play money? Renee was struggling to make sense of all this. At the very least it was encouraging to know that people weren’t going to starve if they didn’t work. And intriguing to think that the owner of a housing complex would have to pay for your departure if you weren’t happy. She thought back to how so many people in The City were effectively locked into their apartments because of controlled lower rates that were still high in spite of them living in some of the worst accommodations she could imagine.
“So are there still some jobs for humans? Or is there some other way they earn extra money? I’m confused.”
And again the 35 second wait.
“Most of the work humans of your time did was repetitive drudgery. People sometimes choose to do some of that for fun like hand crafting furniture or guiding tour groups. But there are few customers available for ordinary goods made or services performed by humans. However there is a market for human products and services that are distinctive. Most artists only create for pleasure and can’t earn anything but outstanding ones can earn decent side money from particular collectors.
“Perhaps the most lucrative way for large numbers of humans to earn money is by renting out their bodies. That may sound ghastly but let me elaborate. You’ve already seen how your own humech can make its way back to a charging base while you are busy in a synth. A human body can similarly be put on ‘autopilot’ while the brain in it is mentally elsewhere. One’s PA can ensure that their body goes to the bathroom, eats food, gets exercise, and so on while they are mentally away. This also means that they can put their bodies up for short term rent by other people. This may sound like an invitation for a customer to abuse your body physically or use it to get away with a crime using you as an alias. But practically speaking your PA would monitor all activity on your behalf and stop the renter from doing anything against your negotiated limits. And your PA will alert the PAs of anyone you interact with of your impersonation to prevent accidental misunderstandings or intentional ‘spoofing’.
“As a side note it may surprise you to know that more money is spent by sapients than by humans in renting human bodies. Humans who enjoy some celebrity on their worlds or are unusually attractive can negotiate lucrative rates.
“This is such a rich topic that I imagine you will find intriguing. But I don’t want to overload you with information in this answer.”
Renee was filled with so many questions. But there would be plenty of time to ask them later.
“Something I just thought of. Does everyone speak English on Kalju? Do I need to learn any other language?”
Renee jogged again while waiting.
“During your stay on Archeion the sapients here adapted their speech patterns to make it easier for you and to encourage you to communicate with us. From now on you will encounter more diversity of languages and dialects. Your personal assistant will help you sometimes by directly translating in realtime and by providing cultural context to help you with dialects and idiomatic speech you are unfamiliar with. But I would encourage you to lean away from relying too much on Chessie for that and get more comfortable at least with local dialects. And keep in mind that languages change over time. Your dialect of English will seem quite archaic even to other English speakers.”
“Okay. That makes me feel a little better I guess. You know. I feel like I have a million questions lined up but now I feel like I can’t remember any of them. Thank you for answering these for now. I’m sure I’ll have more later. Take care.”
19 December 2298
Today is the day. In a few hours we dock at Kalju. I’m really eager to meet real humans. I can’t complain about all the good sapients I’ve met so far. They have been great to me, and I just hope I can give Sigma whatever he wants out of these silly journal entries.
What can I say that’s useful this time? I guess I am a little surprised at how quickly these past three months in transit have passed. I thought I’d be so lonely and bored. Hooray for synths. And hooray especially for Aurora. I can’t imagine a better travelling companion.
And now I’m just a little scared about meeting people. I’m not sure why. I hope I don’t embarrass myself or do something major stupid.
We’ll see. Almost there.
It may seem like a waste to have an entire section devoted to the journey from one world to another. After all, that’s what gets skipped in most sci fi stories. They even often feature magical technologies like stargates and space folding just to get past the pesky reality of space travel. I wanted to highlight the fact that even going a relatively short distance within the Kuiper Belt could take a long time for even a speedy ship like Aurora. And I wanted to point out that the trip can be its own destination too.
Aurora is an important secondary character in Our Time in Eden. I wanted to give Renee and Aurora good opportunities to spend more time together before Renee ge...