Alicia's Return

Submitted by Darkmind on Thu, 11/21/2013 - 13:44

Talib watched the new client walk into his office, then turn to her puppy-girl beside her. “Romy, why don’t you go play with Scavo, ok?”

“I haven’t heard her called that in… Romy, you said? I thought I recognized her. Let me guess, you are Alicia, right?”

“That’s right. And you, of course, are Talib Yoshida.” The young woman sat.

“What’s it been? 10 years?”

13; I’m 21 now. I got Romy’s message, from before, just a few weeks ago.”

“Ah.” He waited.

“She was right, by the way. I’ve needed a friend. My parents split up, which got really messy, and I ended up in foster care for a while, and…”


She was wiping a tear from her eye. “Sorry, just remembering. I got to see exactly how much she would do for me. Including take a bullet. Or three.”

“Oh. Um, may I ask what happened?”

“It was… Six years ago now. I was in foster care, and the father… Well, he was a mean drunk. I’d had enough — wanted to just split, take my chances. Packed a bag, headed out. Romy at my side, as always. Didn’t even think about having her along. We headed, well, away from the ‘good’ part of town. After all, that’s where my dad would look for me.”

“Next thing I knew, I heard a shot, and Romy fell over. I looked down, and there was blood on her face. I still didn’t understand; I knelt down to help her clean it off, ask her if she was ok. But she wouldn’t answer me, and the blood was coming from a hole in the side of her head…”

“I’m not sure I’d know what happened for the next few minutes if it wasn’t for the fact that her implant recorded it all. I’d heard voices, but hadn’t realized what they were saying until they got to me. They’d been arguing over whether it was a good idea to shoot ‘the dog’. The leader said she didn’t have a cunt anyway, and she was marked as having some specialty-soldier mod. Then they grabbed me.”

“It was going to be right there, right then. There were… I couldn’t tell. The count later was ten of them. It’s possible they missed some, but it was more than enough. I remember the knife at my face, the hands holding me down, and the threat to ‘treat him right’, and then…” A deep breath. “A couple of the thugs called out. Said ‘the dog’s getting up’. I remember that distinctly. The leader didn’t believe them, but didn’t care: They were to finish her off.”

“ ‘She’s changing man! She’s changing!’ It didn’t make any sense at the time, but for some reason they were afraid. There was a meaty crunch, and they stopped.”

“The leader spun, leaving me to lie there in fear. And Romy spoke, in a voice that didn’t sound like anything human. To many ‘r’s, too little definition to the consonants, but it was understandable. ‘Get away from her.’”

“The leader didn’t speak, he just raised the gun in his other hand. Romy charged, he fired. Two shots, point blank. I saw them hit. Didn’t stop her. Didn’t slow her down. Her jaw met his throat, and ended it.”

“Most of the rest ran, but a couple fired widely. She was on them in an instant, faster than I could see. And there was another body lying on the pavement.”

“And then… It was over. She came over to me, to where I was gibbering in terror, and put her arms around me. She’d changed back, but there was still blood on her mouth, hands, head, chest. She told me it was going to be all right. They were gone now, and wouldn’t try to hurt me again.”

“A comforting thought.”

“I was terrified. I ran back to the house I’d run away from, and locked myself in my room. I wouldn’t let Romy enter for days. And then… Then she apologized to me. For scaring me. The person she was protecting.”

“The hearing didn’t help. I was brought in for killing them. Since she was, after all, my Property. It was ruled I’d killed them in clear self-defense.”

“Eventually I let her explain, and let her back in. I’d been so terrified of losing her, and then scared of her… It took time for it to heal.” She laughed at herself. “But my foster father stopped drinking, and was very careful around me, so I had the time. And I’m proud to say I never considered trying to set her free.”

“I’ve thought about it off and on for years. And then I got that video… It answered so many questions, and opened so many more. She didn’t have a choice in that alley, did she?”

“Only in how best to protect you. Nothing else matters to her by now, I’m sure.”

“And I hurt her, when I sent her away.”

“Yes. But you didn’t send her far.”

“I know. I just… That was the only time she saved my life, but it wasn’t the only time she saved me, you understand?”

“I… I’ve had good friends help me through rough patches before. I think I understand a bit.”

“And she’s never wanted anything in return.”

“She has what she wants: To see you healthy, whole, and taking on the world. She fell for you the first time you played fetch with her.”

“Yeah. She said as much, in the video. And after the video, I’m starting to realize just what all she’s given up, to make sure my life is…”

“She didn’t want to see you hurt the way she was hurt. When her parents split, and she had no friends to turn to.”

“Is that why?”

“It’s not all of why, but it’s part of it.”

Alicia sat and nodded. “You did all the mods on her, didn’t you?”

“Unless you’ve done some since, yes.”

“I can’t find anyone who would touch her. No one who wants to mess with her while she has that werewolf protocol. A couple were willing to wipe it…”

“But you didn’t want that.”

“It saved her life. Mine, as well. And it’s a part of her, who she’s always been to me. I can’t take that away from her. Besides, she took it for me.”

“She did. So… What do you want?”

“I can’t free her, can I?”

“You mean cancel the contract? Sure you can. It’d break her heart, but you could do it. If you mean, undo the loyalty programming she asked for… I can remove what I gave her. The reinforcers. In time, her loyalty to you might start to fade. In a decade or two, maybe. Who knows, she might even get back to what she was before.”

“But you can’t be sure it’d work. And in the meantime, she’d be… My perfect pet.”

“Yes. I have no idea what would happen once those reinforcers got removed. It might not matter at all anymore.”

“Would you be wiling to administer a couple of mods to her?”

“I could do that. In theory I know I the contract specifies that I should ask her, but…”

“But we both know that she will agree to any mods I ask her to take. Here’s what I want.” She passed over a viewer.

“Hmm. Technically, this is a mod and a removal, or two removals and a mod, depending on how you look at it. With the werewolf mod interfering…”

“Can you do it or can’t you?”

“As you said, I did the originals. I have the records, and the full specs. I can do it. I’ll just have to double-check the programming very carefully. Are you sure you want to do this? If you do, there’s only one person…”

“I know, and yes, I do.” Her voice softened. “I realized in that alleyway that I loved her. I’ve probed that, and the fact that she can’t, well, express that physically, has been a strain on me. I’ve tried not to let it show. I could probably get her to fake it, but… No matter how loyal she is to me, it would be rape if she can’t be interested.”

“I will get working on it right away. Anything else?”

“Yes. I love her now, but I know the averages as well. The average long-term relationship lasts something like twenty years. The average marriage, maybe thirty. Few manage over a century, almost none two. Married for life just doesn’t cut it anymore when we live for hundreds of years. People drift apart. It happened to my parents, to Romy’s… But Romy will always feel the same about me. She will always be my perfectly loyal, perfect pet.”

“Yes, she will. And, eventually…”

“Eventually, I’ll get tired of her. Probably. Maybe not completely, just… Not by my side every day, all day, whenever and wherever I can.”

“That’s the probability. She knows this.”

“I was looking for a way to pay her back for all she’s done for me. But there’s only one thing she wants, isn’t there?”

“There is.”

“And you did that mod too. The one in her implant, that made her eternally loyal.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I want it. Make me as loyal to her as she is to me, for as long as she is loyal to me. Otherwise… I couldn’t stand to cause her that pain, to one who has given me so much for so long. I can’t stand to know that, eventually, I’ll betray the one thing she truly wants. The only thing.”

“If you are sure…”

“In twenty, fifty, or a hundred years I might have not been. Here and now, today, I am. And I know that the only way to remove it will be to get my permission, which, because of it, I will never give. I know the cost: To be in love with her, for the rest of my life. Like she will be in love with me for the rest of hers.”

“Then I’ll say something I said once before: May she appreciate the sacrifice you make for her.”

“I’m sure she will, as I appreciate hers.”

“Hey, Romy, come over here.” The puppy-girl came running, a smile on her face. “Sit. Talib has a couple of n-pads for you; I’ve approved them.”

“Sit straight, this one needs to go pretty low on the body… There we go.” He placed it above the Barbie-doll-like lower anatomy. “The other one needs to go on your back. Just a moment…” He counted vertebrae, to place it as close to the center as possible. “There you go.”

Talib stood, and turned to Alicia. “You can take them off once the design fades off the surface. You won’t notice any difference, until you get her…”

“I know. I picked them out, remember? And me? Will I notice any difference?”

“No. It doesn’t implant thoughts, it only shapes and rewards them. No thought will feel different than the one before it, but each will be one step further.”

“Thank you.”

“You are welcome. Have a good life.”

“I will.” She smiled. “I have a good friend by my side.”

Future Dom

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