A New Purpose

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Jacob hadn't seen another human in months, so the smell of fresh bread wafting from the window of the log cabin drew him in. Of course, the fact that he'd been subsisting on wild berries and snails for much of that time probably had something to do with it. He knew how to hunt, but his supplies had been destroyed in the same accident that had killed his father. He pushed that thought aside; those who dwelt on their losses in the wild only decreased their ability to survive. He had to stay strong, and right now that meant making friends with the person who could make bread smell like that. His stomach lead him on toward the cabin's door, despite the fears that battled for sovereignty over his legs. The Apocalypse could teach harsh lessons to those who ignored prudence. Even before his father's death, he had learned that lesson well.

In a world of ultra-abundance looting hadn't become a problem. People had just quarantined themselves, sending their loyal androids out to do anything they would have done otherwise, and they died by the billions. And now he'd come to a mysterious dwelling in the middle of the mountains, clearly not abandoned. Jacob hesitated in his progress toward the cabin. Statistically, the chances of the breadmaker being human were remote. This made things safer in many ways, but not without risk. Perhaps the home owner had died a hermit, inimical to outsiders, and left the androids within with instructions to dispose of intruders. After all, contrary to numerous misinformation campaigns, androids could harm humans – on the command of their owner.

With trepidation, he realized that his hunger had impelled him toward the door, as if he were in a trance. Scared and desperate at once, he reached for the doorbell, but before he could touch it, the door swung open. Jacob shrank back, but the smile that answered on the other side of the door smothered any desire he had to run away. The full lips, the golden tresses that framed big azure eyes, and the warmth that radiated from that expression proved sufficient to root him to the spot. No one could doubt she was an android. No human could match her perfection, and any that might wouldn't still be in the woods making bread. Of course, few ugly androids existed; who would want them? Still, this model had made him instantly erect.

“H … hello,” he said. His stammering embarrassed him, and he blushed. Unlike most of his surviving peers, he had no real experience with androids. “My name is Jacob Abernathy, and I ...” His voice stalled. What did one say to a goddess in a cabin?

“Welcome, Jacob Abernathy,” she said, as if savoring his name. “I am called Abby. You look hungry.” Her smile broadened, and the lilt in her voice stirred cravings for more than food inside him. “We can offer you a meal. Please come inside and visit with us a while.” She turned, and the floral patterned sundress swirled around her legs before she padded off deeper into the cabin. The invitation obvious, he followed after her, still not sure if he were the luckiest man alive or accepting the bait for some trap. But he had already stepped through the doorway. No bolt of death came to strike him down, but Jacob couldn't relax.

“You said 'we,' Abby? Who else is here?”

“My friend, Rachel,” said Abby. “She made your dinner.”

A chill ran through him. “My dinner? You're saying Rachel made dinner for me?”

Abby glanced back. “Rachel always makes dinner. But this time she'll be happy, because you can enjoy it. It has been years...” She didn't finish, just turned back around and continued further into the log cabin. “Log Cabin” understated the situation. Certainly the walls were constructed of logs, but the similarity ended there: the single story house wasn't palatial, but he'd underestimated its size. The foyer opened into a large living room, fully furnished with a sizable stone fireplace occupying the center of the space. He could hear movement off to his left, and Abby turned that way, leading him into a spacious kitchen.

“Rachel,” said Abby, “we have a guest! His name is Jacob Abernacky.”

Jacob looked across a table laden with steaming pasta and breads. A woman worked at a sink, her wet hands washing knives and other utensils. She wore a sundress as well, but she wore her brunette hair in a bun, and seemed taller. She turned to him and favored him with a smile that eroded his caution against his better judgment. “Welcome, Jacob Abernathy!” she said. “I'm so glad you could come.” He could tell she had been designed to seem older than he and Abby, yet her beauty rivaled the shorter girl. Were she human, he'd say she looked old enough to have graduated from college a few years past, maybe ten years his senior. Still, Jacob knew they might not be older than the onset of the Phage, maybe as little as ten years since first bootup. These thoughts did nothing to abate his increasing arousal; Rachel's figure competed with Abby's, athletic but soft where his male brain most desired softness. Jacob found himself staring at her full breasts, but despite his urges he had questions.

Ignoring her hospitality, he said, “you set a table like this every day?” Hungry he might be, but he still didn't trust the situation. He cursed the disadvantage of being raised exclusively around humans, even though it may have helped him survive this long. How could he adjust to this situation before he made some terrible mistake? He could sense the impact of the girls' beauty and the aroma of the food begin to overcome him, and he shook himself.

Rachel smiled at him, her brown eyes sparkling, and nodded. “Three times a day, in fact. And I am so glad you could be here to enjoy it all.”

“But why? Both of you are...”

“Androids?” said Abby. “Yes, Jacob Abernathy. This is one of Rachel's duties.”

“For who?” he asked, dread creeping past the hunger in his gut.

“Our master and his daughter,” said Rachel. “They both enjoy my alfredo chicken pasta. And master likes a beer after dinner.”

Jacob's mouth twitched at the use of the present tense, and the eerie inclusion of pointless information. Why should he care what their master liked?

“Abby,” he said. “Can I meet your master?”

“Yes, Jacob Abernathy. Please come this way,” said Abby, and Jacob's heart began to pound. Could they be alive? Would they throw him out, have him killed? Could the Phage still be here? He'd heard there hadn't been a case in a few years, but still his hands grew clammy. He followed Abby. The tempting sway of her hips failed to distract him from his fears. They wound their way through the rustic halls, emerging onto the open air of the back porch. In the back corner of the fenced-in yard, he could see two mounds grown over with grass. Two crosses stood up from the mounds. Jacob's fears abated, replaced by a hollow in his stomach, creating an awful counterpoint to his hunger. The Apocalypse had taught him to think selfishly, and he sighed with relief, for no disease could be present so long after two deaths, not if grass had occluded the soil over the graves.

“What is your role in this house, Abby?” he said, his voice low.

“I am Emily's companion. She is a special girl, Jacob Abernathy. She loves her father very much. I hope she does not miss master's birthday party again this year.”

Jacob felt a chill. He knew very little about androids, but surely they understood death. He resolved to approach the subject, but only after he'd eaten.

“Rachel's meal is getting cold,” he said, and turned back into the house.

Behind him, he could hear Abby say, “Yes, master and Emily will probably miss dinner again, so Rachel will be happy now.”

He sat down at the kitchen table, and the girls sat across form him. He tried not to be disturbed by their tranquil and silent smiling. They're just machines, he told himself, just tools. He took a bite, and his eyebrows arched in appreciation. After a few minutes of ravenous chewing, he said, “This is great! Where'd you learn to cook this way?” He blanched at his own words, and Abby giggled. Androids didn't learn in schools, did they?

“You are silly, Jacoby Abernathy,” said Abby, beaming, and Rachel covered a quiet laugh with a hand. “I choose to like you.”

Jacob blushed at that, and decided against fumbling through anymore small talk.

“So what brings you here?” asked Rachel.

Jacob stared at her. “Don't you know about the Phage?”

“We know,” said Abby distractedly. “It was awful. That is why we are so happy to see you, Jacob Abernathy. There has not been a human in this house in five years.”

“If you know what's happened, why do you speak of your master as if he'll just walk in from the porch?”

“We are not stupid,” said Rachel. There wasn't a hint of reproof in her voice, just a silent plea that he couldn't read. “Do you know what it is like to have no purpose, Jacob Abernathy?” She smiled at his confused look. “Of course, humans can lose their way. But they can find it again for themselves, a reason to live. That is the power of humanity. You purpose yourselves. Some of you find purpose in merely surviving. We do not have this power.” Rachel looked away, as if to look into a good memory. “We act as though our master and Emily are alive, because there is nothing else for us. It is our duty to keep our master's house as he wished. I make three meals a day, because that was his wish. I clean the house, because that was his wish.” Rachel looked back at him, “there are other tasks that I cannot complete, because he and Emily are dead. The same is true for Abby. That is why we are so happy for your presence, Jacob Abernathy. We will tend this house until we cannot, doing as our master wishes, but without a human here, we cannot ...” Rachel looked away, placing her delicate hands over her stomach. Could androids feel pain? “Perhaps English has only poor words for this.” She turned back to Jacob. Her gaze fell from his eyes and trailed down his chest, making promises that didn't need words. “Our master would call the code we cannot execute a 'need.'”

“Listen, I appreciate the food, but I'm not your master,” he said. “I'm just a hungry stranger. You don't know me. How could I help you?”

“But you are a human,” said Abby, as if stating the obvious would explain the matter. “How can you not know?”

Jacob glanced away. “When the Phage started, I was only eight, and my family didn't own androids. When my mother died, we came into these mountains, looking to escape what was happening. My father told me things about androids sometimes, but our network access was sporadic. It's been ten years. The truth is you two are the first androids I've met in person.”

The girls gave each other a furtive look, and Jacob marveled at how human they seemed. Abby's gaze returned to him, and he caught his breath. “You are a very rare human, Jacob Abernathy.”

“As I hear it,” he said, “that describes all of us these days.” Abby laughed, a sound that made his heart smile, though Rachel shot her a worried look. He smirked at them. “Yeah. I still got a sense of humor. Dark humor, anyway.”

Suddenly, Abby turned serious. “Jacob Abernathy,” said Abby, “do you have anywhere to go?” The question struck Jacob in the bones. His smirk slackened, and his shoulders began to quake. Unexpectedly, Abby came to him. She took him in her arms, pulling his head to her stomach, while she stood by his chair. Her fingers pressed lightly into his hair, offering comfort. Rachel covered his hand with hers, and when he saw the look of compassion on her face her nature ceased to matter. Abby whispered, “Then you don't have to go anywhere.” His vision blurred, and he smothered his face in Abby's stomach. He had held back the hurt for so long, because his father had needed him to live, and the wilderness didn't care if you cried alone in the darkness. But Abby's arms were so warm, and Rachel's hand felt like a place where tears could cause no harm, and no wilderness could harass him with promises of death and solitude if he allowed the sadness to haunt him.

“Why did they go?” he said, his voice muffled by his sobs and Abby's dress. “Why did everyone leave me?!”

“Jacob Abernathy,” said Abby, her voice soft and sincere. “If you become our master, we will never leave you. We will give ourselves to you forever. You will never be alone again.”

But in that moment Jacob couldn't believe in Abby's words, because he knew in his heart that everyone would leave someday, and he would have to face the wilderness alone again.

He woke in a bed sometime later. He felt something soft surrounding him, and the beat of a heart. Slowly, he opened his eyes. The face of a goddess greeted him. Abby smiled, and said, “Good morning, Jacob Abernathy. You are not alone.” Jacob laughed, first at her stating the obvious, and then at the philosophical question of whether a machine constituted company. But he could feel her girlish flesh surrounding him, and he knew she wasn't just company, but good company. Abby glanced down to the growing bulge in his pants. Her smile never faltered, nor did she seem to register any impropriety, only saying, “Would you like to bathe?”

He recognized an escape when he heard one, and smiled. Trying not to blush, he said, “That would be great! I've been in the wilderness for a while, and it feels wrong to be in such a nice bed while I'm this dirty.”

Abby disengaged from him, springing to her feet. She offered him her hand, beaming at him. He took it, and she helped him to his feet. He hadn't realized how weak he had grown from his poor diet, but at least the deep hunger had left him. He paused, and looked around, realizing for the first time that one or both of them must have carried him to a bedroom, since his last memory was the kitchen table. He surmised that the room must have been the master bedroom, for it seemed quite large for a guest room or child's room. In addition, the room contained it's own bathroom. Abby followed him inside. He started when he saw her behind him in the huge mirror over the sink.

“Abby,” he said, his voice querulous, “why are you in the bathroom with me?”

For an instant she looked confused, then her smile returned. “I am going to bathe you, Jacob Abernathy.” She stepped around to face him, and grabbed the bottom of his shirt. When he didn't raise his arms to let her remove his clothes, she waited. Her smile never wavered.

“You're serious, aren't you?” he said. “Is this how it works in the cities or something?”

“This is how it works everywhere,” she said, then paused, considering, “except where you come from.”

He chuckled at that. “Okay,” he said. “I get the point.” Then he looked down at his still raging erection, and blushed. “But are you sure?”

He felt her hand cup his cheek. His gaze lifted to her eyes. The look she gave him made his erection painful. “Do not feel shame, Jacob Abernathy,” she said. Her voice had turned husky. “You are special to me, and to Rachel. We accept every part of you, because you can give us purpose.” Her other hand dropped from his shirt and snaked into his pants. He was filthy, but Abby didn't seem to mind. And why would she? Even so, Jacob minded, and he tried to turn away, but her hand moved faster than his hips, and now she held his cock in a sweet iron grip. “There is no reason to hide your nature from us,” she said. She pressed her face closer to his, her lips touching his ear. “There is no reason to hide your desires. We want so much to fulfill them all.” To his shock, her hand began to vibrate, and a spike of pleasure radiated from his pelvis, ending inside the cage of her palm. Without warning he came hard, soaking his underwear. It had been a long while since he'd ejaculated; worrying about food and shelter all day every day by yourself could do that. His knees wobbled, almost buckled, but she managed to remove his clothing without further protest from him, as he slumped against the wall dazed. He realized that he'd been handled, but he didn't mind. She led him to the shower and lathered him with soap, lingering over his erogenous zones longer than necessary. He orgasmed several more times, to Abby's delighted giggles, before she began rinsing him off. Jacob thought he'd never felt so clean, but she wasn't done.

“You're going to shave me and brush my teeth also?” She only smiled and proceeded to do just that. He imagined himself as a doll in some little girl's playroom, pampered to ludicrous extremes, but he thought he might get used to such treatment. She even gave him a haircut, sitting him in the corner of the bathroom on a stool and humming a tune to herself, as she snipped his bangs. Did most people really live this way, constantly attended by creatures of ineffable beauty? He figured such folk couldn't do much for themselves, but he knew criticizing them would be hypocritical.

“Young men are so energetic!” she said, ruffling his hair. “I never needed to service Emily that many times in the bath, and master could only manage once!”

It took Jacob a few seconds to process this. Life outside the mountain was strange. “You did that with Emily? But you're a girl!”

“I'm not a girl, silly!” she said. Jacob started at that, jerking around to look at her wild eyed. Had he …? Abby dissolved into laughter, and Jacob blushed.

“What's so funny?”

“You thought I was a boy for a second” When he frowned at her, Abby pointed to the sink. “Is the sink a girl or a boy?”

“That doesn't make any sense.”

“Exactly,” said Abby. She knelt in front of him, her huge blue eyes reminding him all over again of his luck. “Jacob Abernathy, humans do not have a season, like other animals. Arousal can come to you any time, and you should not suffer from sexual tension. Orgasms are important to your health, especially now when there is so much pain for humans in the world. Our master and Emily came here to escape the Phage, just as your father fled to the mountains with you. There were no humans here – so Rachel and I released their sexual tension.” She glanced down, saw that he had become hard again. She was so close, so warm, and her body couldn't be compared to anything his young mind had yet conjured in his most private moments. Her soft hands encircled his cock once again, slick by some process he didn't understand, and she began to stroke him. “And we will release your tension also, as often as you want.” Jacob's head smacked the wall, and he arched his back. Why did it feel so good? It's not like he hadn't masturbated before – far from it. Normally he could hold out much longer than this, but every time she touched him his pleasure seemed to be greater than before. Then a bliss of heat and wetness overtook him. Through half open eyes he glanced down to see Abby's mouth engulfing him. This surprised him, because she had only used her hands in the shower. He couldn't hold back anymore and came hard over her tongue. When his spasms ceased, she pulled away from him, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “All better?” she said, and he gave her a weak nod. Abby stood and pulled him to his feet, hugging him at the waist to steady his wobbly gate. She threw a bathrobe around him and led him to the kitchen, where Rachel sat at a table already set for breakfast. He wondered where she had gotten fresh eggs, sausage, and hashed potatoes from, but then he remembered that most people used nanofabs. His father had taught him to hunt, not because he was a neo-Luddite, but because he believed the technology wouldn't last through the Apocalypse. They didn't use the machines.

“This smells fantastic, Rachel,” he said. He couldn't be sure if such compliments mattered to androids, but his doubts were assuaged when he saw her smile at him. They always smiled, but it was like a whole language they'd devised. This was a radiant “thank you!” smile. He returned it and sat to eat.

“You seem very refreshed this morning, Jacob Abernacky,” said Rachel. Jacob blushed, and coughed around a bite of sausage. “When you came to us yesterday, I was worried. You looked so weak, so hurt.”

“It's been rough,” conceded Jacob. “I lost all my tools in the accident, so I couldn't hunt very well.”

“What accident?” asked Abby, concern on her face. “Are you hurt?”

“No. It was a while ago. Me and Dad,” he said, his voice catching a bit. “We were exploring an abandoned mine, looking for a place to store our equipment out of the elements. Dad also figured there might be something we could use in there.” He paused. Abby placed a hand on his shoulder. “I was securing a generator when I heard a crash. A cloud of dust and stale air covered me. I couldn't see ...”

“You do not need to say anything more,” said Rachel, taking his hand. “This is causing you pain ...”

“No, it's alright,” said Jacob. “I need to say it.” He looked into Rachel's soft eyes. The total lack of judgment he saw there warmed him, and he kept going: “I couldn't see anything, but I went into the mine. I knew Dad was in there somewhere, and I had to get him out. I yelled for him, yelled and yelled. After a while, I heard his voice. Real weak, but it was his voice. I didn't have a light, but I found his hand. It felt wet. I knew it was blood. He told me to get out, that I couldn't do anything. He told me he loved me, but he had to go see Mom.” He could feel the hot trails of tears on his cheeks, but he kept talking. “I told him I'd get him out, but the rocks wouldn't budge. They just tore up my hands when I tried to pull them away, just stood there like a wall, like somebody had mortared them together. All I could do was stay their and wait for him too …” He paused, then, “I've been alone ever since.”

“You are not alone anymore, Jacob Abernathy,” said Abby, squeezing his shoulder.

“Will you stay with us?” asked Rachel. “We cannot replace what you have lost, but if you stay ...” she pulled his palm to her face and closed her eyes. “If you become our master, you will never lose us. Everything we are will be yours,” she said, and Jacob could hear the subtle promises behind her words, could feel it in his palm against her warm cheek. “You can be happy here, Jacob Abernathy.”

Even before his bath, Jacob had made his decision. Of course he knew they had gone as far as they dared to manipulate him into his choice, but their campaign of comfort appealed to him, and if somehow deception waited for him, how could it be worse than the wilderness? But he wasn't important enough for such an elaborate ruse.

Sheepishly, he said, “Okay, Rachel. I'll be your master.” He could feel her smile against his palm, a look of absolute bliss on her face. Abby squealed and hugged his head into her ample chest. “Alright, alright!” he said, pulling away, yet he couldn't keep a grin off his lips. “But what do I have to do? Is there some sort of code I recite, or maybe you want a retina scan?”

“I took all your biometrics in the shower,” said Abby. Jacob gave her an apprehensive glance. “I remember you analyzing parts of me quite closely.” Jacob blushed again at the reminder of their bathroom play. “It is no different, just more accurate. Now all you have to do is give us your sperm!”

Jacob coughed, then shot an incredulous glare at the two androids. “What?!”

“Our master programmed transfer of ownership this way,” said Rachel. “He didn't want anyone to take us by force. He wished for us to choose our new master. Only someone we choose can take us sexually; our pleasure modules will not respond otherwise, and you would not be able to penetrate either of us. Your sperm will be used to slave us to your gene sequence, freeing us from duty to our current master. It will also allow us to reproduce your biomass for any future medical needs.”

“What if I'd been a woman?” he said, his eyebrows arched.

“We would have taken an egg from you for the same reasons. We are equipped to make that process very pleasurable.”

His eyes widened. “Isn't that a little extreme? Why not just take blood?”

“It is perfectly safe, and in both cases lasts much longer than blood. In fact we took all of Emily's eggs well before she died. She wanted us to keep them safe for her.”

“Strange girl,” he said, feeling a bit queasy.

“It is a common practice,” said Rachel. “One period is enough for most human females, and no disease can threaten their eggs while inside an android host. Besides, our bodies are stronger.”

“Never mind all that,” said Abby, circling her arms around his neck. She placed her soft lips beside Jacob's ear, recalling her bathroom seduction. “Giving us your sperm will be fun.” She snaked a hand down his chest, and it came to rest on his growing erection. He moaned. “Don't you remember?”

The look in Rachel's eyes suddenly changed. Her cheeks became flushed, and she bit her plush lip. She reached out and brushed his cheek, and each fingertip left a trail of desire in him. She stood, never breaking her gaze from his, and took his hand in hers. Giving his hand a light tug, she said, “Please complete the transfer with us, Jacob Abernathy.” The soft plea in her voice gripped his libido. He wondered then if he'd ever be sated, but who could blame him for giving in to their request? They asked so little in exchange for everything they had, and he wanted everything.

Abby disentangled herself from him and sauntered over to the kitchen entrance, where she paused, her eyes gazing at his crotch. Another slight tug from Rachel snapped him from a trance he hadn't known he'd slipped into. She didn't need to ask again. He allowed her to lead him after Abby, who pushed off from the door jam and ambled her way back into the master bedroom.

They stopped inside the bedroom, and Rachel turned surprised him with a light kiss. In moments, her tender suckles were replaced by an insistent tongue. Jacob pulled away. “I've never ...” he said, stammering. “I mean this is ...”

“Do not worry,” said Abby, who had come up behind Rachel. She lifted the hem of the brunette's sundress, exposing a tanned thigh. Rachel hissed and curled her fingers into the lapel of his bathrobe, getting up on her toes at Abby's fondling. The blond's hand came away glistening. Rachel pressed against his chest, panting. She looked at her soiled hand, rubbing her fingers together. “Look. Rachel has opened for you already. She wants this.” She licked her fingers clean. “I want this. And your body wants this too, Jacob Abernathy, just like it did when I bathed you.” She stepped back and pulled her dress over her head, tossed it on the floor. Then she unzipped Rachel's dress and pulled it from her. Jacob's eyes only had moments to snap open at the sight of her exquisite flesh before the brunette pressed against him, suckling on his mouth again. The softness of her mouth, the smooth warm flesh meeting every fold of his body, all became too much for him. Jacob grabbed Rachel and pushed her onto the bed, pinning her arms above her head. His hips fumbled around, his mind reeling with the need to bury himself inside her. Abby fell onto the bed beside them smiling and grabbed his erection, guiding him into Rachel, who wrapped her legs around him as soon as he entered her. “Young men are so energetic,” she said for the second time that day. Jacob began to buck against his new lover, building into an untutored frenzy he had never known. She kissed his neck, purring graphic imprecations into his ears that drove him over the edge. In minutes he spasmed and released himself into Rachel. Something soft and wet clamped onto the head of his cock from inside her. He started at this, tried to pull out, but her legs locked him to her pelvis, forcing him even deeper inside. He pushed himself up off the bed, pulling her lower body up with him. Very soon he would reach the limit of the sensations he could handle, he knew. Rachel's body shuddered a few times, arching under him, and at last went slack. Her legs released their vice grip over his thighs, and he pulled out her with a sigh of mixed pleasure and pain. He glanced down at her face, surprised to see a blank stare greet him.

“Transfer complete,” she said. “Owner Jacob Abernacky registered.” Her eyes refocused then, and she started to searched his face slowly, whispered, “Master.” He had never before understood worship, never seen what it looked like. Now he did. She gazed at him as if studying his face long enough would get her to heaven. And perhaps that's just what he had done for her. How could he know what life without a master meant to an android? They had spoken to him of purpose, but it seemed like much more.

“My turn,” said Abby. He flinched a little, caught by surprise after contemplating Rachel's condition. She pulled him off of Rachel, who still lay their dumbstruck by her new Master. “I want to feel like her. It's been so long, Jacob Abernacky.”

“But I just came,” he protested.

“And it is still so hard,” she said. She grabbed his erection with her soft hand, playing with him. A stirring spread through him, and he found her caress compelling. She pushed his back into the mattress and mounted him, sliding his cock inside her. This time his experience seemed less rushed, less insistent. He could feel the pleasure build slowly, as Abby rocked her hips above him. She leaned forward, her ample breasts brushing his cheeks, and he sucked a nipple into his mouth and bit down. Abby moaned, and her hips built speed. Their flesh smacked together with increasing force, and Jacob cried out. He bucked and shot his seed deep inside her. Just as Rachel before her, something grabbed him inside her, and she pinned his wrists to the bed with her hands, keeping him from squirming away from the intense sensation. Abby's eyes rolled back and her body convulsed. After a moment, she collapsed against him. “Transfer complete. Owner Jacob Abernacky registered.” Then she sighed against his neck, brushed her lips against his ear, and said, “Master.”

Braille shuddered in ecstasy, his body rocking in his king-sized bed. He couldn't tell back from front, and his senses floated on a sea of pleasure that seemed not of this earth in his young mind. When he came back to reality, his companion, Sasha, stroked his cheek. He opened his eyes to look at her. The porcelain beauty of her face, her mane of auburn hair, masked the blandness of his apartment. She smiled, and the evidence of his pleasure glistened on her lips. “Happy?” she asked, a playful glint in her hazel eyes.

“You used inhibitors, didn't you?” he said, feigning disapproval. After all, this was their third go, and he hadn't lost his erection or desire. Her bare flesh enticed him even now, so smooth and creamy, as though a living desert awaited his enjoyment.

“I want to fuck,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone. “Anyway, the Project is not complete.” An old excuse, he mused, but not a lie. She straddled him, grinding her sopping snatch over his erection, and he moaned.

“As if the Project will ever be complete,” he said. He grabbed her hips and entered her. She hissed in pleasure.

“As if you have ever complained,” she said. Her eyes closed and she began to ride his dick.

“Once,” he said.

“Puberty,” she said. She built speed, ramming herself onto him. “Your hormones drove me into a frenzy. Not my fault. Other Project models had problems like that too, back then. It worked out.”

“Only after I escaped from my bedroom,” he said. “I was raw for three days!” Not caring to make it last, he shot inside her. Braille rode the glow of orgasm for a few seconds, then he relaxed to wait for his favorite part. He grunted in pleasure, as something inside Sasha, soft and wet, clamped down on his cock. She arched her back and screamed. Braille laughed and slapped a hand over her open mouth to quiet her. The pseudo-muscle that rippled beneath her supple stomach convulsed, and she whimpered around his palm. Her large breasts shook from her ecstasy, and she panted, stroking her hands up and down her body. Then Sasha's head jerked repeatedly to one side, as if she'd developed a tick. Finally, she collapsed on him, her simulated breathing coming in ragged pulls.

“I thought I would cease functioning,” she said. “I needed it. I still need it. Please do not run away again, Braille. I do not wish to function if I can not have you inside me.”

“Just because you want my babies, that doesn't make it's special,” he said, but he pulled his fingers through her hair in gentle strokes, and kissed the ear that faced him.

“That is cruel,” she said. She paused a moment, and smiled. “Your ancestors would call you a cad.”

“Only the boring ones,” he said. His eyes lost focus then, and he fell into silent reflection.

After a time, she said, “You are thinking about him again.” It wasn't a question.

“I need to find him,” said Braille. “I have to ...”

“Why not just stay here?” She stroked his chest idly. “Be here with me. What if you asked to raise one of the children? No one could deny you or the others that request. There is not an older right. Would that satisfy you?”

“I won't leave you, if that's what worries you,” he said. “I don't understand my life without you anyway. All my memories have you in them. You were the first person I knew inside the crèche. But I have to find him.” He sat up, gently displacing her from his side.

She said, “you are already a father ten-thousand times over. Why do you need this so much?” She waited, but he didn't offer an answer. It wasn't the first time she'd asked. She sighed and hugged him from behind. “Then I will go with you,” she said softly, her voice laden with resignation.

“I know,” he said. “You always go with me. That's why I love you.”

As evening approached, Sasha sat Indian style on the floor, the apartment's delivery droid clutched to her as if she were hugging a large teddy bear. Their last romp alone had inseminated five dozen ovums, and Braille's companion busied herself with passing the zygotes into life support capsules extruded from the pseudo-skin of her belly. Her stomach pressed up against the clear plastic collection basket at the droid's front. Braille could see the droid was already half full of her capsules. He came up behind her, rubbed her bare shoulders with his hands. “They're beautiful, as usual,” he said, as he peered over her shoulder at the emerging capsules. It had taken until his sixteenth birthday before she would allow him to see the process, fearing it would harm their relationship. The capsules would form from her taught belly, glistening from the colloidal fluids used to aid their production. Every time a capsule detached from her, Sasha shuddered in pleasure. He envied her a bit, remembering one day when she'd had to eject two hundred capsules. Braille found it hard to blame her for wanting him inside her all the time, not when it lead to that much pleasure even after the sex, nor could he argue with the success of the Project. He'd seen dozens of his own children playing happily in the crèches.

The Human Breeding Project, colloquially known as “The Project,” sought the ultimate rebuilding of mankind's family tree. Braille had been among its first successes, descended from an early survivor. He knew his mother had died of the Phage at its zenith, but little was known about his father, a man responsible for siring Braille and all his million siblings. All that seemed clear is that no one in the Project's borders had ever actually seen him, which meant he lived Outside – if he still lived at all.

“Are we going to go see Kari?” asked Sasha, pulling away from the droid. The machine beeped, closed it's collection basket, and trundled to the window, where it latched onto a track that lined the exterior of the apartment. The window opened, and it disappeared over the side.

“Yes,” he said. “We're going to leave tonight.”

“I like her, but she can scare me sometimes,” said Sasha.

“That's because she doesn't listen to the Directors. Not that they can do anything about it. She's been hiking Outside for years now. It makes them nervous.”

“Outside makes me nervous also, Braille.” She came up beside him, hugging him at the trunk. “I am scared.”

“What are you worried about? You can't die.”

“But you can.”

“Not so easily.”

“But there are non-Project human settlements Outside. I hear they do not like strangers.”

“They don't trust technology, so we have the upper hand,” he said, patting her arm. “They would need molecular technology to kill me.”

“But not to hurt you,” she said quietly.

“Then I'll have to depend on your love to protect me,” he said, and gave her a dopey grin.

“You are teasing me,” she said, pouting.

“Only a little, pretty bird.” His mouth set in a line. “I know you're not just my lover. The Directors packed some serious tech into you. Do you think I'd just throw my life away to find my father?”

“I am not invincible,” she said, looking toward the window. “When the capsules are coming out ...” A look of mixed longing and trepidation crossed her face, and she caressed her bare stomach with a her fingers.

“I know,” he said. “But life is risk. I have a million siblings. If the worst comes, the Project will go on.”

“A million siblings,” she said, her voice low. “Only one Braille. Only one for me.” She turned toward him, and her hand slipped down his stomach to grasp his flaccid member. His breath caught, as she began to play with him.

“You're insatiable,” he said, his voice querulous. However, he could feel his anatomy respond. He turned inside her arms, hugging her. She didn't bother returning the affection, her focus on his growing erection.

“I want to fuck,” she said simply. “I want you to come inside me again before we see Kari.”

“Are you jealous?” His eyebrows arched.

“I am yours forever,” she sad, not answering the question. Her eyes didn't meet his, as she worked his cock into a turgid state. “Even if you run away from me again.”

“Who could run away from you?” He grasped her by the neck, pulled her to him until her lips touched his neck. The heat of her pseudo-flesh against his body stiffened his cock even more.

“Once …,” she said. Sasha smiled against his neck, tickling him.

Braille rolled his eyes. “I believe you called it 'puberty.' And besides, you were the one malfunctioning.” He gasped, as Sasha rubbed the head of his cock against her wet sex. “Why do you feel so good?” he whispered into her ear.

“Because I was made for you,” she said. “I could not make anyone else feel so good. No one else could make me feel good at all.”

Braille tightened his grip on her neck, knowing he couldn't hurt her, and pulled her head back. Her smile told him that she didn't care much how it happened, as long as it did, so he hauled her over to the dresser and forced her face onto it's black surface, bending her over. His cock fell between her firm round ass cheeks, and he could feel the heat and wetness there. He hadn't taken her in the ass for some time. He felt sure that some deep part of him desired to punish her for seeking to drain him every second of the day. Sometimes he wondered how he would make it through the door, much less Outside. But he also knew she didn't much care why or how he fucked her, as long as he did; it would always make her come – so long as he shot his seed into her. Even coming in her mouth could inseminate her eggs, though it wouldn't usually get her off. Usually.

“Crazy bitch,” he said, half disgruntled, half amused. He slipped his cock into her ass and bore down on her, pumping away.

“Sweet talk only gets you everywhere,” she said, a coquettish lilt in her voice. “Now shut your hole and fuck mine!” She had responded to his aggravation, as she always did, and despite himself it turned him on. He worked himself into a quick lather, savoring the extra tightness of her anal canal, and came in her with a grunt. After the contractions of his orgasm passed, he caught her by the arm to keep her from smacking the dresser and collapsing to the floor from her own climax.

When she was done with her convulsions, he hugged her from behind, said, “You're going to have to wait to deliver those capsules this time. After you get dressed, you can meet me at Kari's.” He got up and dressed himself in black jeans and a white silk shirt, not bothering to look at her again, because if he gave her an inch she would talk her way into keep him at the apartment as long as possible, attempting to avoid the inevitable. He knew that if he left, she'd find him without telling her his whereabouts, but he often favored her with human courtesy, despite her insistence that it didn't matter to her. It mattered to him.

Once hew stepped out onto the streets the beauty of his home city at night struck him all over again. Even though his own apartment seemed austere, the dome that covered this particular Project town glistened like some deep sea bioluminescent creature, its surface pulsing blue with delivery droids criss-crossing high above him. The apartment towers seemed to grow towards the sky, their modular structures reaching upward like stalagmites in some dreamland cave. Most of the people were young, not any older than him, and even dressed in a similar manner, although some chose more flamboyant garb. A tiny number looked a bit older, perhaps Phage survivors, but he couldn't really tell for sure, since once a person reached 26 they generally looked that old or even younger until they died, unless they chose to age naturally – a rarity in this age.

He walked several blocks, passing streets named after pre-Phage cities from around the world – London Street, New York Parkway, Beijing Boulevard – cities that rested in skeletal silence after the depopulation. He came to the corner of St. Paul and Christchurch, and looked up at Kari's tower. Before he even got to the entrance, an icon popped up in his field of vision, and he opened it.

“Sasha told me you were coming by, kid,” said the concerto voice on the other side of the link. “She really is a scrumptious little thing, isn't she?”

“You never stop, do you, Kari?”

“Well, that kind of craving is kind of unproductive, as the Directors see it. So I indulge. I believe you're coming to see me for similar reasons? I heard something about a camping trip...”

“Something like that.”

“You know I'm going to require a bit of compensation.”

“Of the unproductive sort, I'm guessing.”

“It's not like you didn't enjoy it last time,” she said. Every syllable dripped with invitation. “And they even gave Isobelle a few eggs, as unproductive as I am. Even the Directors know a good opportunity when they see one, the bastards.”

“I'm so glad you're not my sister, Kari, otherwise I'd never find a guide.”

She laughed, and said, “come on up, kid.”

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