“We’ll take that one.”
Sadie knew she was in trouble when the dark, curly haired man pointed straight at her, despite her attempt to hide behind the cybernetic prostie-borg in front of her. Pasting a blank look on her face, she tried to remain calm and look like all the other girls in the line-up.
There were prosties with small breasts, some with large, and some sported racks any porn-vid queen would be proud of. Some were so short they were practically dwarf size and some were so tall they could have played for any Zero-G team in the league. Their measurements ranged from anorexically slender to downright Junoesque. They sported skin tones from ebony to golden tan to peaches and cream pale, and hair ran the gamut from blond to redheaded to brunette and every shade in between.
Every face was plastically perfect and completely blank. “A Girl For Every Taste-Cybernetic Sex Made Delightfully Easy” was the motto of the Prostie Palace. Every possible combination of attractive female features and attributes was represented in the silent ranks of the assembled prosties and this joker had to pick her.
Hidden inside her outrageous scarlet wig she could feel the bargain Overlook-Me chip flicker for the last time, fizzle, and die. The noninterference field she’dbeen wearing like a protective halo for the past two weeks faded into nonexistence. Damn it, she’d known it was a bad idea to buy her main protection from Big Bob’s Bargain Basement Chips, but what was a girl on a budget supposed to do?
It was hard enough financing the ticket from Io to Titan in the first place. In the end she’d had to ride on an ore transport that was far from luxurious. Insinuating herself into the Pleasure Dome Prostie Palace had required several bribes to the right people, both to get inside in the first place, and to add herself to the database of resident prostie-borgs. Add that to the cost of her outfit, make-up, and wig, and she barely had any credit left at all.
My whole life savings spent paying for this trip and now I’m screwed. Literally and figuratively. She stared blankly, as the man pointed her out to the mechanical madam who nodded in her direction. It was the same panicky feeling she had experienced when she first walked into the Prostie Palace and saw the kind of outrageous sexual practices that went on here. Having been raised on the morally uptight colony of Goshen on Io, the scene at the prostie brothel was an education to Sadie in more than one way.
She had financed the trip on her own for the ultimate payoff, a juicy scoop on the nitty-gritty, hard-boiled life of a prostie-borg in the Outer Rings.
Prostie-borgs were cybernetic organisms grown in flesh tanks on Mars. They were a variation on the more common flesh-bots that were used for manual labor all over the solar system but instead of being fitted for heavy lifting and tasks no human laborer could do, prostie-borgs were crafted specifically for sex. Despite a simple synthetic brain that put them on the mental level of a ten-year-old child, they were very popular, especially with the sex-starved men that mined the outer rings of Saturn. Intellectual stimulation wasn’t high on the must-have list of female attributes for most Ring miners, and real women were few and far between at this cold, dark end of the solar system.
Sadie was tired of covering joining ceremonies, baby showers, golden anniversaries, and all the other human interest crap that a junior reporter got saddled with at the Io Moon Times. Problem was, her senior editor, a grouchy, chauvinistic man by the name of B. F. Fields, thought that was all she could do. Sadie had set out to prove him wrong.
Taking all of her yearly vacation in one big lump, she had hopped an ore transport to the most notorious prostie-brothel in the System, located on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. There she had planned to spend her free time gathering facts for a blistering tell-all exposé that would blow the top off the barely legal prostie-borg industry. She even had a title for her article all picked out: “Pain and Suffering in the Pleasure Dome: A Prostie-Borg’s Daily Life in the Outer Rings.”
When she got back to Io, Fields would have to recognize her reporting prowess and promote her out of the human interest section once and for all. Hell, she might even go freelance and sell her story to one of the intergalactic news vids.
Her plan had been working like a charm, too, until the bargain Overlook-Me chip began to die. When the other prosties began noticing her, Sadie knew she was in trouble, but she kept hoping the chip would last just one more week until her transport for Io left. Now the chip was good and dead and she didn’t even have a repair kit to try and get it working again. She was about to find out first hand exactly what the prosties went through and she was afraid it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience.
At least he looks cleaner than most of the clientele you see around here. Sadie eyed the dark man carefully. He had very tan skin and his hair was the color of bitter chocolate, curly and thick, cut short but not too close to his scalp. Any woman she knew would kill for that kind of natural curl, she thought absently, taking in the indigo eyes fringed thickly with black lashes and the narrow but sensual mouth of the man pointing her out. Broad shoulders covered in a black leather jacket tapered to a narrow waist and powerful legs. There was a heavy bulge outlined by his tight black pants that made Sadie bite her bottom lip nervously as she felt those deep blue eyes sweep over her body.
“That one,” he said again, and Sadie had no choice but to step forward. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe it’ll add realism to the story, she thought desperately, trying to nerve herself up for the act. She felt horribly exposed in the tiny gold mesh dress that showed her breasts and sex plainly, but, after all, she’d been wearing it and outfits like it for two weeks. While the Overlook-Me chip had remained functional, no one had really seen her in them. From the look in the dark man’s eyes, he liked what he saw.
Sadie was suddenly aware that her nipples were erect with fright against the scratchy gold mesh fabric. She squeezed her thighs tightly together, trying to keep her knees from shaking.
“Which one for the other gentleman?” the silver-skinned, mechanical madam asked, giving a jerky nod to the man’s right. Standing beside him, hidden partially by the dark man’s broad shoulders was another client. He stepped out from behind his friend with a nod to the madam and Sadie could see he was almost the exact opposite of the other man.
Tall and muscular with a runner’s build, he had hair the color of beaten metal and the clearest sapphire eyes she had ever seen. The dark man wasn’t short, but the blond was at least two inches taller with a full mouth that seemed naturally red against his pale golden skin. He was dressed in the same style as his colleague in tight black pants and a white shirt with the ubiquitous mining company symbol stitched in red on the collar. He was also wearing an identical black leather jacket.
Sadie couldn’t help noticing that the bulge outlined by his pants was no less impressive than the dark-haired man’s. Did they work for some mining company that only hired well-hung men? What was their motto-Less than nine inches need not apply?
These two were so different from the typical grimy, disheveled specimens who usually patronized the Prostie Palace that they might have come from Stud Miners R Us. Sadie felt a hysterical bubble of laughter rise in her throat at the thought and forced it back down. Prostie-borgs did not laugh.
“My friend and I prefer to share,” the blond man said, to Sadie’s horror. “That one will do fine.”
Two at the same time …? She couldn’t stop her eyes from widening. Merciful Goddess, she didn’t have all that much experience in the first place and she’d never done anything even remotely kinky. Certainly nothing like this.
“I …” she began and shut her mouth fast as she felt both sets of blue eyes boring into her. A prostie-borg wasn’t supposed to have opinions about the clients she serviced, Sadie reminded herself. She simply went with the men the madam matched her with and did as she was told. But still …
“Is there a problem …?” The madam stepped forward and scanned Sadie’s ID number which hovered like a small holostar over her right hand with glowing red eyes. “Number 217?”
Sadie shook her head mutely, thankful that she hadn’t depended completely on the failed Overlook-Me chip for security. The disguise and the fake ID number had seemed like a luxury, but it was a good thing she had them now.
The madam stared at her closely for a minute, clearly processing her personal data, then the blinking slits of her eyes turned green. Sadie knew she was in the clear-as long as she could take whatever these two men dished out. She shivered involuntarily and tried to contain her dread.
I got myself into this; I’ll have to get myself out. That was fine, she was an independent girl, but she couldn’t do anything, in front of the madam. One more security check and a supervisor would be dispatched to see to the problem-a human supervisor who wouldn’t be as easily fooled as the mechanical madam.
“Go with the nice gentlemen, number 217.” The madam made a creaky shooing gesture with her silver, tentaclelike arms. “Be sure to give satisfaction.”
“Yes, madam,” Sadie submissively bowed her head. She followed the two men meekly to one of the many pleasure cubicles that lined the long steel corridor to the left, her heart galloping madly in her chest. Could she really do this? As she was trying to answer that question, they reached the room the madam had indicated and the dark-haired man produced a scanner card and reached down to pull up on the sliding steel door, which disappeared obligingly into the ceiling when he yanked.
“After you.” He nodded mockingly to his blond companion and made a flourishing gesture with one arm.
“Ladies first,” the tall blond man said quietly, gesturing for Sadie to enter before them.
Sadie looked despairingly at the door. It was solid steel-titanium alloy and once she was locked inside the tiny pleasure cubicle anything at all could be done to her. There was a strict noninterference policy at the Pleasure Dome, which was why the customers had to put up a sizable damage deposit before renting the services of any of the prostie-borgs. The deposit was in case the prostie was rendered nonfunctional. In other words, killed, Sadie thought, trying to breathe past the sudden lump in her throat.
Sadie swallowed hard. She looked at both sets of blue eyes, indigo and sapphire staring expectantly at her and then looked at the monitoring device on the wall to their immediate left. Someone was watching right now, probably a bored guard who would like nothing better than to sound the alarm and add some excitement to his monotonous day. Sweet Goddess, she was going to have to go through with it. She swallowed again and edged reluctantly toward the doorway.
The fear she was feeling must have shown in her own amber-brown eyes because the dark man who had picked her out in the first place stepped forward and took her elbow gently, looking at her intently as he spoke.
“Hey, it’s okay, sweetheart,” he said gruffly. “We’re not gonna hurt ya.”
She noticed for the first time that he had a strong New Brooklyn accent and wondered why anyone would come all the way from Old Earth to be a miner in the Outer Rings of Saturn. It was a hell of a long trip to do a dirty and dangerous job even if it did pay fairly well.
“My friend here is correct,” the blond man put in quietly, taking her by the other elbow. “We have no interest in hurting you in any way.” His voice was softer and more cultured than his friend’s, but no less deep and commanding for all of that.
In spite of her fear, Sadie found herself propelled into the tiny steel room. Breaking their hold on her arms with a convulsive effort, she turned around just in time to see the dark-haired man slam the rolling door closed with a muffled bang.
She was trapped.
“Look …” Sadie backed away from them slowly, her hands out in front of her in a placating gesture. “I’m not what you think I am.” Acting as though she was fluffing her hair, she reached carefully under the back of her scarlet wig to retrieve the miniature tickler she had concealed there in case of this sort of emergency.
“It’s okay, baby,” the dark-haired man soothed again. “We’re not who you think we are either.” He took a step toward her and Sadie took another step back, the tickler held tight in her sweating palm. She shivered as she felt the cold metal of the far wall of the tiny room touch her bare shoulder blades. There was nowhere left to run. Trapped!
“I’m w … warning you.” She hated the way her voice trembled but seemed helpless to make it stop. “I … I’m armed.”
“And dangerous, huh?” The tall blond man sounded amused and not the least bit frightened. “Come on, honey, what’ve you got? A blaster? You couldn’t hide a thing in that skimpy little outfit.” Sapphire eyes raked her nearly nude body appreciatively, taking in her firm breasts, the nipples hard with fear, and her neatly trimmed sex. He walked forward as he talked, holding one hand out in front of him as though he was intent on soothing a frightened animal.
“I won’t tell you again.” Sadie felt a cold calm drop over her like an icy blanket and suddenly her voice was steady and her nerves stopped jumping. So much for going through with it for the veracity of the story, she thought. She had no idea how she would get out of this room and the Pleasure Dome Complex alive-let alone back to Io-but she did know one thing, she was going to do some serious damage to these two men if they didn’t leave her alone. “Back off, buddy,” she snarled with the ferocity of a cornered feline.
“Hey, Holt, look at her eyes. I think she means it,” the darker man cautioned, taking a step back. But his companion just grinned. He had a nice smile with white, even teeth, Sadie noticed in a detached sort of way. He was lucky she was holding a tickler and not a set of brass knuckles or she would’ve happily knocked every last one of them down his throat.
“Not gonna hurt you, honey,” the blond crooned softly. “Look at her, Blake, she’s just scared.” He turned to the dark-haired man to talk and that was all the opening Sadie needed. Lunging forward with the tickler in her right hand she pressed it into the blond man’s lean flank. She hit him right in the vulnerable junction where the armpit met the ribs, enervating the entire brachial plexus just as she’d been taught in self-defense class. The effect was instantaneous. One moment the tall blond had been creeping toward her speaking in that low, hypnotic voice, and the next he was doubled up on the floor, his long body convulsed with helpless fits of laughter.
“Hey, what the …” The dark man closed in on her, but Sadie stood her ground and pointed the tickler in his direction.
“Get away from me.” She was amazed at the calm in her voice. “I’m only going to say it once.”
“Okay, okay, you convinced me.” He held his hands up, palms facing her as he backed carefully away. “I just wanna check on my partner, is that all right?”
“No funny stuff.” Sadie made a short, jerky motion with the hand holding her weapon, indicating he could do as he asked.
“Hey buddy, you okay?” The dark-haired man touched his partner tentatively on the shoulder, causing another outburst of laughter.
“Don’t … don’t touch me, Blake!” the light haired man pleaded. He thrashed on the floor, sliding away from his companion’s hand. “Not hurt, just …” He was unable to finish the sentence and simply shook his head, chortling and gasping in turns while tears streamed out of his tightly shut eyes. At last the chortles died off to chuckles, then to the occasional giggle and he was able to sit up, wiping his eyes and shaking his head.
“Well, looks like the little lady taught you a lesson you won’t soon forget,” the dark-haired man remarked with obvious satisfaction. “Told ya to leave her alone.” Now that he was certain his partner wasn’t injured in any way, he seemed to think the whole thing was a pretty good joke. The blond man, however, was not amused.