The Solicitous Servitors
The General’s Lab
When fugitive Hangiri roughnecks Iker Macauley and Peregrine Varga came to, they were restrained on gurneys in a laboratory. A pair of identical muscular, tow-headed young men with pale skin and pale blue eyes typed notes into tablet computers as they observed their subjects. A bemused Iker noted that the only garment the lab assistants wore under their white coats was a pair of shiny silver briefs that left little to the imagination. Noting that their subjects had awakened, the lab assistants proceeded to solicitously attend to Iker and Peregrine.
“You’re awake—wonderful!” the technician assisting Iker exclaimed. “I imagine that you would appreciate something to drink. I am not allowed to remove your restraints, but I will do everything else that I can to make you comfortable. My name is Darius. My companion Dareios and I are at your service.”
“You’d think the unoriginal fuck could have come up with names that sounded different enough that both of you wouldn’t turn around when he called,” Iker muttered as he allowed the buff fellow to help him to a seated position. “Or maybe that’s what the egotistical bastard wanted; all eyes on him always. Are you fellows the only components in the set, or does he have an entire army of toned blond boys at his beck and call?”
“We are prototypes,” Darius explained, smiling agreeably, his faceted blue eyes dilating and contracting as he scrutinized the hunky roughneck.
“If Master Darden deems us successful, he will build more like us,” Dareios added, his placid voice and unwavering smile unsettling to Iker.
“Build…Lord of the stars, what did that megalomaniac tell you two? He didn’t build you. He provided the biological catalysts for your bodies to build themselves.”
“Master Darden built us to serve,” Darius explained. “He wishes for us to work with the pair of you. You will teach us to please man.”
“I’m sure you fellows are very skillful at pleasing man,” Iker remarked, “So, since Bissette sent you here to practice pleasing man, you can free my partner and me, and we’ll get to work.”
“Macauley, you are entirely predictable.”
The renegade scientist and self-proclaimed General Darden Uffe Bissette strode through the laboratory door clad in a crisply pressed field officer’s uniform. He carried a riding crop which he drew teasingly over Iker’s bare abdomen and chest.
“I ain’t sure why you saw the need to tranquilize and shackle us to convince us to school your pleasure clones in the manly arts of homosexual lust, Bissette,” Iker stated pointedly. “I have no respect for guys who use roofies. I suppose you were worried about the beat-down you might get after all the trouble you’ve caused us.”
“All the trouble I caused you?” Bissette snorted derisively. “Thanks to your shenanigans, my lovely merman is missing, and my squadron has mutinied. I had to rebuild from the ground up. Fortunately, I have no shortage of determination and ingenuity.”
“Some might call it obsession. I’d say you’re better off without the salty little vampire,” Iker retorted. “Let us go, Bissette. I promise we won’t lay you out. We’d like to visit Ohannes and make sure that he’s all right, and maybe we’ll find Finn before he bites anyone else. Because I’m feeling generous, we’ll get down with you and your two Rockies before we leave. It ain’t like Perry or me is prone to turning down sex with a pair of muscular young hunks or a hot brainiac.”
“Spare me, Macauley,” Bissette sneered. “I’m hardly what musclebound fuckboys like you dream of banging. Do you think for a minute that I believe a ripped Hangiri roughneck clone is overflowing with lust for a scrawny blood-born scientist who drew the short straw for his height allotment? A guy like you likes grabbing some hard muscle when he’s slapping booty, don’t lie.”
“While muscular guys may be the kind I play with most often, I appreciate variety,” Iker retorted. “I don’t have any problem slapping butts with a scrawny blood-born scientist. Your face and body are appealing enough. The trouble is your personality, which sucks like a zerograv vacuum extractor. But it ain’t like we’re getting married. We’ll throw down with you and the boys, and as long as you don’t open your trap other than to scream my name when I’m giving you the best you ever had, we’ll all have a good time.”
“Well?” Bissette inquired, glowering expectantly at one of his lookalike assistants.
“I believe that he is speaking truthfully, General,” the ingenuous technician reported.
The technician’s placid grin unnerved Iker, even as the solicitous fellow removed his restraints.
“Darius, isn’t it?” Iker inquired as the blond fellow massaged his wrists and hands.
“I am Darius, Sir,” the technician clarified amiably. “Have I succeeded in restoring optimal sensation to your appendages?”
“Yeah, you’d make a fantastic therapy aide,” Iker replied. “Does it hurt to smile all the time?”
“I feel no pain, Sir.”
“Well, try relaxing your face. That constant grin is creepy. I have no desire to shag a Cheshire cat.”
“Sheshire cat, Sir?”
“It’s a creature from an old Earth story. Well, the sooner we start, the sooner we can finish, eh?”
“Are you really so eager to hurry away from my cozy laboratory, or do you just come quick and run quicker?” General Bissette smirked. “I’m asking seriously. It isn’t like I’d know, considering that the last time you were in my presence you tranquilized me, and when I came to, my beloved Finn and my soldiers were gone with the winds.”
“The last time we were in your presence, your soldiers brought us there at gunpoint,” Iker pointed out. “Have you ever considered a friendly invitation? Look, Bissette, I’m the kind of guy who likes to get the job done without beating around the bush. You’ve implied that Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are superior to other pleasure clones. What makes them superior?”
“First of all, they aren’t pleasure clones. They are superior to all clones.”
“They sense and adapt to the needs of their partner to provide a perfected sensory experience. Darius, Dareios, let us begin by giving Mr. Macauley and Mr. Varga a therapeutic massage. Mr. Varga, you’ve been extremely quiet. Do you always let your master do the talking?”
“There’s no sense trying to ruffle me, Bissette, I’m not going to bite the bait,” Peregrine retorted. “Iker isn’t my master, he’s my foreman, but you know that. His tongue tends to be much sharper than mine. Anything I said would be redundant. Besides, I was having a pleasant time conversing with Dareios. There’s no denying that your boys are a lovely pair of chaps, but like Iker, I’m at something of a loss to identify what makes them superior to other clones.”
“Lie face down on the massage tables and you’ll know soon enough,” Bissette ordered. “I would like for us to stop working against each other and join forces to find Finn and bring my squadron home. Darius, Dareios, work those muscles and realign those spines! You boys are going to feel better than you have in years.”
“I’ll admit, these guys really know their stuff,” Iker conceded. “I’ve had a chronic tight spot on the left side of my neck for years and Hot Stuff here just loosened it up. Did you give them x-ray vision in their fingers or something? It’s like he hovered around the spot for a minute and then, bam! He whipped my muscles into shape like nobody’s business.”
“Agreed,” Peregrine concurred. “I can’t recall the last time my shoulders felt this relaxed. Come on, Bissette, tell us. Did you make their hands super-sensitive or something? They seem to be able to feel out just the right place to put just the right amount of pressure.”
“I told you, I programmed them to serve man.”
“And they’re doing a damn good job of serving us so far,” Iker agreed. “But I wish you’d talking about these guys like they’re machines. It’s fucking demeaning.”
“It isn’t demeaning if they are machines, is it?” a smirking Bissette inquired.
“What are you driving at, Bissette?” Iker demanded, sitting up on the edge of the massage table. “Are these guys cyborgs? Even if they are, you still didn’t program them, you enhanced them with mechanized components. Every time I start thinking I can tolerate you, you open your mouth and ruin it. Quit being a shitty little know-it-all and you might get laid without having to drug or coerce your partners.”
“We are not clones or cyborgs, Mr. Iker,” Darius explained.
“Well, I don’t know what this clown has told you, but you can’t be a blood-born human. They take about two solar decades to become fully mature. In any case, there are no human females on Igrobos to provide ova or gestate an infant. Therefore, you are a clone and/or a cyborg.”
“We are not clones or cyborgs. We are not blood-born humans either. We are androids created by General Bissette for the purpose of pleasing man.”
“Well, that would explain the creepy frozen smiles and the fact that you sound like you’re reading a script. Forget it, Bissette, I have no interest in banging a machine. I very much doubt that you were authorized to create these things, but I’m willing to leave you and them here in your twisted little empire without reporting you. Perry, come on, we’re out of here.”
“Please, I need your help,” Bissette begged, falling on his knees in front of Iker. “A.I.s like Darius and Dareios can perform tasks that are dangerous for the living. They can allow pleasure clones to serve higher functions, thus reducing the risk of physical abuse or emotional trauma by unscrupulous employers.”
“It sounds like he’s telling the truth, Ike,” Peregrine noted.
“As naïve as you are, I sometimes wonder how you survived through fifty-five annum.”
“Let’s hear him out. What can it hurt? He could have kept us in restraints, but he turned us loose.”
“All right, I’ll listen, but I make no promises. Keep talking, Bissette.”
“Thank you, Iker, you won’t regret it. It is true that Darius and Dareios are socially inept. They can learn much from the pair of you and will express their gratitude in ways that you are certain to find satisfying.”
“Splendid. Do you have any acceptable food that we could continue this discussion over?”
“Would you find braised loper with root vegetables acceptable?”
“I’ll eat the vegetables. I’ve a soft spot in my salty, grizzled heart for lopers.”
“Would you care for a glass of Diamante Effervescent Wine?” Darius inquired.
“As long as it isn’t spiked with something that’s gonna knock me out again, I’m for it.”
“Then let us drink a toast to a mutually satisfying working relationship,” Bissette proposed.
As Bissette, Iker, and Peregrine ate, the smiling A.I.s served them fine wine appropriated from upper-class homesteads abandoned following Pingucury raids. A nonplussed Iker shrugged away Darius’ hands when the A.I. attempted to massage his shoulders.
“Brother, when I’m eating, I don’t want nobody groping me!” the gruff roughneck foreman admonished. “If you guys don’t eat, which I assume you don’t, why don’t you make yourselves useful and tidy up the laboratory or something?”
“I don’t know if we’ll be helpful to your cause or not, Bissette,” Peregrine remarked. “Guys like us don’t want anyone fawning over us. We prefer a level playing field. However, I assume that the kinds of men who purchase the services of pleasure clones are the sort who might want their servants massaging their shoulders while they eat. Since those are the men that you’ll be selling your A.I.s to, what good can come of training them to recognize the desires of labor clones?”
“I also intend to make my A.I.s available to organizations utilizing the services of labor clones,” Bissette explained. “A happy laborer is a productive laborer. Imagine if after a long day or night extracting Gaccov from the veins of the planet, you could rely on the services of a capable and eager pleasure technician to help you relax and unwind. The A.I.s could have freshly prepared meals waiting for their masters and would be well pleased to assist with a bath, massage, and whatever else you might desire. There would be no risk of emotional or physical damage to delicate flesh or mind as there is with a pleasure clone. I call that a win-win solution. Agreed?”
“Sure,” Iker replied. “Helping you with these two beats going back to Hangiri headquarters for reassignment on a new rig. You up for it, Perry?”
“It’s like you said, Ike, they aren’t hard on the eyes. We might as well see what these mechanical man-pleasers are capable of. In fairness, you aren’t getting a real representative sample of what your A.I.s might face with us as your subjects, Bissette. Iker may be a bit of a grouch at times, but we’re both ethical players and we aren’t terribly kinky. Playing rough is fun sometimes, but we aren’t into giving or receiving real humiliation or pain.”
“My dear Peregrine, the A.I.s are not living beings,” Bissette reiterated.
“Same rules apply anyway,” Iker insisted. “I can’t bring myself to see these guys as equipment or inanimate objects. Even if I could, I treat equipment and inanimate objects with respect. I don’t believe in damaging things to get my rocks off, and I sure as hell don’t believe in indulging sadistic fantasies. I hope you don’t get your kicks inflicting harm, Bissette, ‘cause if you do, the deal’s off. I ain’t about to partner up with a psychopath.”
“Boys, you can rely on my code of ethics,” Bissette promised.
“Coming from the guy who cloned a vampire merman, you’ll forgive my lack of confidence in your code of ethics. Still, you’ve never shown signs of cruelty, so I’ll trust my gut. You feed us and give us a place to sleep and we’ll help you train your A.I.s. Let’s iron out the details.”
The Devil in the Details
“I’m not sure what details require ironing, Macauley,” Bissette sniffed. “I’m guaranteeing you a place to sleep, food, clothing, and access to a pair of well-endowed A.I.s. who can handle whatever you dish out. They don’t feel discomfort like we do. They don’t require sleep. They’re always ready to serve. I thought we were clear on this.”
“Simmer down, Hotpot. I’d just like you to satisfy my curiosity on a couple of details, and I want you to be straightforward with me.”
“Fine. What do you want to know?”
“You say these fellows don’t feel discomfort. Do they feel anything?”
“What I said is that they didn’t feel discomfort like we do. Strong sensations of pain experienced by living beings are in part psychological. The A.I.s have no fear of physical damage. Thus, unpleasant sensations are reduced.”
“So, do they feel pleasure, or do they just thrust away until you tell them to leave off? Because I’ve gotta tell you, that ain’t my idea of a good time.”
“It didn’t sound like much fun to me either, so I constructed them with their satisfaction as well as mine in mind. I cannot say for certain that they experience pleasure in the same way that we do, but they do experience it. Erotic interaction with them is much the same as it would be with a living man with one difference. Their partner always comes first, both figuratively and literally.”
“When you say come, do you mean that they actually…” Peregrine inquired.
“Yes, Varga, they experience a peak of arousal and eject lubricative fluid at the moment of climax,” Bissette confirmed. “You may rest assured that their lubricative fluid is fully compatible with human tissue and is hypoallergenic and free of any biohazards.”
“That sounds…beneficial, if not exactly arousing,” Iker concurred. “I have to admit, I’m still on the fence about this little experiment. There’s something unsettling about going the rounds with a machine, even one that has a human appearance.”
“Take the time to get to know the boys. You’ll soon forget that they are machines. They are revolutionary beings whose purpose is to make life easier and better. I defy you to look upon them and not see perfection.”
“I’ve never trusted perfection,” Iker retorted. “It’s always been my experience that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The placid A.I.’s silently analyzed the animated discussion between their living companions. They joined hands, communicating through touch as they conferred on the optimal course of action to render themselves indispensable to the chaotic creatures who, for the moment, it was necessary to serve.