Kal bobbed his head in sync to the blaring music. The gyrostabilized vehicle vibrated to classic rock in HD surround sound, enveloping the team in lust filled memes. At the back of the cabin, the android team had morphed the seating into a bed, and clustered themselves together for a pajama party.
Even Andromeda joined in.
Kal and Thrax sat at the forward end, still in seats, with nine small monitors showing the vehicle exterior to their left, controls to their right. They simultaneously spun their seats around to look at the androids. Hercules sat at the very back, left of the bed; rigid, tense, eyes burrowing into Thrax’s head, weapon cradled in his lap.
Thrax ignored the roidroid and sipped gin.
“This will be good,” grinned Kal, tapping his buddies’ shoulder. “From a purely anthropological point of view, of course.”
Thrax nodded, trying to appear disinterested and failing. “Yeah, course. Anthro- whatever.”
“Someone call Margaret Mead,” said Sable seductively eyeing Kal.
Kal felt a thrill at the reference. Sable wasn’t bad looking. Bit uptight conservative though. He wondered what she’d look like if she let her hair down.
Sexbots. Kal knew they existed solely to gratify human desires, male or female. Whichever. And they were perfect. Science in service of lust. One of The Seven Pinnacles of ancient civilization. Twin pinnacles? He snickered at his own tasteless joke. Kal liked tasteless jokes.
Small wonder people didn’t want to screw the real thing. Kal himself had only had sex with androids. Ever. Who’d have wanted him? A scrawny, gangly odd ball with muscles of jello and spotted skin. Compared to a bot, he was barely human.
In fact, few humans in the pit could stand up to such a comparison.
People had pimples, imperfections, cellulite, male pattern baldness and were stunted and scarred by radiation damage. Their flesh sagged. They grew old and decrepit. Got Warts. Goiters. Horrific mutations. Some developed fanged serpent penises or toothed vaginas, thanks to demented retrovirus designers, sniggering sado-hacks, ancient trolls who lived in their parent’s basement, pumping out invisible monsters to torment and twist people.
So many terrible things that didn’t have to exist but did because... people. Once they just coded viruses for software. Then they graduated to DNA. The Mortymortymorty virus made people endlessly recite the hacker’s handle until they died of starvation. Twisted stuff. Kal kind of envied the mayhem they were able to inflict upon the world. To live in a globalized, interconnected world!
Physical imperfection of course was the least of it. The emotional needs of another human being were far more complicated than anything a human could reasonably meet, or an android could feel. Which made them better at faking it. There was a word for it: psychopathy.
The artificial never had angst and ennui. They didn’t read existentialist novels. Such books just made them angry.
Kal stared idly at Jasmine. Was a true relationship even possible with an android? He knew there were android lines designed for it. iMate was high end artificial, a long term partner. The Pleasurepit didn’t have any, but he’d looked it up in the records. They were always going crazy in threevee stories, hacking their lovers to bits and sticking them in the fridge, only to bring them out for dinner parties. Kal wondered if that sort of thing ever really happened.
But iMate went out of business. Not as popular as sexbots. Nobody wanted the hassle.
Too much work.
Disposable mates to go along with the disposable appliances. Maybe that’s why civilization had collapsed.
Jasmine sat up and brought Kal out of his reverie. A bandolier slipped off her smooth shoulder. “Ready, choombas?”
“Ready!” declared the team in unison, giggling. Candy squealed and shook in anticipation. Sable whipped off her prim rimmed glasses and revealed gorgeous, big blue eyes.
Thrax and Kal exchanged an oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-this look.
Jasmine tapped an interface. A 3D projector flicked on and began to play The Princess Bride, without sound. None was needed, as they’d all memorized the lines, and repeated them aloud.
Kal found it sensory overload.
Candy’s carry on bag rustled, and Max crawled out, drawn by the commotion.
The dog gave a curious yap, spotted Candy, and ran over into her lap, wagging his tail. “You brought the dog?” blurted Thrax, incredulous. “On a top secret mission?” “What, you afraid he’s going to talk?” snarked Kitty.
“He’s a mammal. Could be mind probed,” mused Kal, missing her tone.
“Oh, not the mind probe!” mocked Kitty, mouth agape in faux horror. She kicked her legs in an agitated flurry. “He might give away his dog food supply!”
Kal flushed red. “Ah. Right. Sarcasm. The lowest form of humour.” Kitty blew him an exaggerated, sarcastic kiss and winked.
“Look, we don’t have room or time—,” started Thrax.
“There was no one else to take care of him,” interjected Candy. She leaned over and Max, paws on her breasts, licked her face with a tongue of soggy sandpaper. “Please. Let me keep him.”
“It’s too late to go back,” noted Kal.
Thrax concurred. “Just don’t let Ghatz see the little chibit.” Candy smiled radiantly and nodded.
“So. Cute!” gushed Jasmine, flicking a mint about her mouth. It clacked against her teeth. She stroked Max’s fur. He wagged his tail so hard his furry bum shook. The other androids joined in, fawning over the dog, who lapped up the affection like cool spring water. He panted happily.
“Kissy, kissy,” cooed Candy.
Kal sank back glumly into his chair. “This is not what I was expecting,” he muttered dejectedly, propping his head up on his palm.
Thrax grunted. “I hate that damn dog. So much.”
As the sun began to set it drenched the world in a warm orange glow. The limo roared between two vine wrapped arcology mega-pyramids. Thrax remembered them from his childhood. Bored by school, he’d set out to conquer the legendary Twin Pyramids. Couldn’t have been more than ten. He ‘borrowed’ his parent’s hoverbike for the last time.
It was probably still in there, where he’d left it, rusted and broken. Dad never let him forget it. But that wasn’t the worst part. When he’d set out at dawn that day, four other boys had followed, lured by Thrax’s promise of adventure. Only Thrax returned alive. Yet he wasn’t the only one to return. He shuddered. Another returned, days later, covered in dirt and burrs. Billy Stanton. Only he wasn’t Billy any more, not really. Could still see that wounded look on his face, his dead grey eyes, his flesh beginning to rot. He’d been reanimated by a nano-advertising campaign. Ad zombie Billy tried to sell everyone shoes until Thrax put a fork through Billy’s eyesocket and scooped out his sparkle ad-goo infected brain.
The limo turned up a gently sloping hill and onto the remains of an antigrav highway. Slabs of white diaceramic still glowed softly. Support columns and light posts were wrapped in carnivorous weeds. Slender stinger tendrils snapped harmlessly at the armoured limo as it passed. Above them drifted a great herd of transparent, bulbous crystal jellyfloaters trailing stinger nets. They blinked bright neon with fluorescent proteins, waves of saturated colour, red, yellow, green, blue, sweeping through the herd, forming a complex dance of colour based communication. Some long dead geneticists idea for living Christmas lights. The swarm spotted the car, sank rapidly, and dropped their stingers over the road, but the sealed limo just passed harmlessly through.
“Stupid jello drapes.” Kitty chewed her gum casually, mouth open. The smacking sound filled the cabin.
“Could you close your mouth?” said Kal finally, “You sound like some kind of bovine.” “What?” replied Kitty, annoyed. “It’s gum.”
“It is distracting,” said Sable.
“Yeah, it’s annoying,” added Thrax. “Shut yer mouth.”
“Got a question, boss.” Kitty blew a bubble at him until it popped. “How do I get out of this outfit?”