[[So far I've told you tales of lone young angels wandering iCity's streets, of teens living on outskirts among the gangs, or privileged enough to live in enclosed, gated communities and of the young members of an elite families in a corporate high-rise. No matter where in the city they live, they all have struggles. All of them have also had choices taken away from them, in one way or another. But it's time to tell a tale of those who feel struggle is beneath them, those who usually do the taking, those who imagine themselves the arbiters of destiny. This is a tale you might disbelieve more than any, but there will be corroborating evidence if you allow me to get to the end.]]
[[Many people believe that for corporate operatives at a certain level, there's no soul, no humanity. And that may be true, but don't think that they are incapable of something approaching fun... people may throw around the insult 'corporate drone,' but they're not all business, they do like to have a good time, although their delights are extreme even for me. So join as I tell you what happened quite recently at...]]
To set the stage for this final tale, picture a board room meeting on the upper levels of an office building, although there are no open windows that would let you know that last part. Old-fashioned, in many ways, like you might see in an ancient netflix. Wooden table, chairs, comfortable lighting, paintings on the wall. A few accessories that we'll get to later, but all of them real, with no AR enhancements. On one wall is a rugged video display screen, but that's the only feature that immediately identifies itself as electronic. And, of course, a physical room like this doesn't get shut off, it still exists, in the same state, every second of every day, mostly empty... but on this night, it's not empty, it contains the key ingredient to every board meeting... tiresome people in fancy suits! However, in the most old-fashioned detail of all, every one of them was actually physically present.
No one was accessing the meeting from outside, sitting out in the comfort of their own office with a heavily-encrypted video link, because even that would be an unacceptable security breach for the types of things they discussed in this room, the types of things they did. Theoretically, some clever hacker might have put a bug in somebody's systems, or perhaps one of the members might have turned and been personally recording a transmitted meeting. Even if everyone had the loyalty they were expecting of their highest echelon, transmission is always inherently risky. There are always whispers of illegal quantum computers, capable of breaking any encryption, and even if those rumors weren't presently true, they might be true one day... and the people in this room had certain secrets they didn't want to come to light, ever.
The essence of true security, the modern theory goes, is physical. The lack of ambient technology isn't an aesthetic choice here, an artful illusion, but functional, part of a deliberate strategy. Every corporate facility has at least one, if not several of these Black Rooms. Some of them are physically black, too, or in some other style, or, like this, tastefully paneled in faux-wood. But however they look, the rooms share several characteristics. They're opaque to electromagnetic radiation, a mesh running through every outer surface. Walls are invisibly vibrated with random noise to make it impossible for sound to transmit once the doors are sealed. Every person entering is scanned, smart technology removed, implants, if identified, disabled. Industrial strength poppers activate a few times a second, overcharging and damaging unshielded devices like eyescreens or wearables, just in case anybody didn't follow the rules. But everybody did, in this case, at least, all the corporates. These were the movers and shakers of PATHcorp, and unlike the backstabbing you might picture in a board room, none of these people (to use the term loosely) would defect.
How did this tale come out then, you might wonder? Well, no security is perfect. Finding loopholes you can exploit... unforeseen vulnerabilities, unlikely paths, unanticipated technology... it is a difficult task, but incredibly rewarding. Nor was everyone inside truly lulled that the security is perfect. They were experienced enough that they didn't expect perfect security, just enough that, should there be a breach, their existing wealth and power base would provide them the deniability that would insulate themselves from any consequences. A defector could be a liar, an illicit recording could be simulated, and those would be the defenses, turned swiftly to accusations, should any of either turn up.
Of course, there were other reasons for the meeting to be in person, reasons which will become clear in time.
Imagine then, these nine executives, who have just walked into the room that they believe is safe enough. I will not bother to describe, or even name most of them now. I can practically hear your objections at this... this shows my true loyalties, or my fear, or my limitations because I won't dare give enough information that might identify these people, true power-players as they are. But it's not that... some will come up over the course of the tale, others are merely unimportant. You'll have to have faith, and hear the story to the conclusion. The real reason I don't bother to describe them individually is that it would be a waste of my valuable time. Suffice to say, they were essentially all the same. Most of them white, all but one male, most of them even had dark hair in similar cuts. Their faces, their names, may have been different, but that doesn't really matter, these people were barely human, even if they were occasionally are good at looking like it.
They weren't even trying for that at first, looking all business, that emotionless affect that pervades those with too much money and too much power over lives they care not about. As their security team vetted the room, made sure it was secure, they sat, bored, unspeaking, barely noticing, until all of their underlings left behind a door. Some of their employees were privy to the same secrets they planned to discuss, but, still, the meeting was not meant for their ears.
After the door closed, they relaxed, and seemed to come to life, or a simulation thereof. A few smiles even formed... mean smiles, but smiles nonetheless. They took their seats around the old wood table, and the one at the head said, "Let's start with the traditional prayer."
All in the room bowed their heads and spoke as one. "I follow the PATH, for the PATH leads to wealth and glory and happiness which are all the same thing. I will do my part to increase profits so that the PATH may continue."
The meeting's leader, not PATH's CEO, but one of three Senior Vice-Presidents leaned back in the central chair, a position of power, a position he relished. He I will identify, as Lucas Ventura, and exuded villainy, if literate villainy. "We've got a new brother joining us today for the first time. Congratulations. We've had our eye on you for a while, and what you did with the health care deal... excellent work." Crafting terms of service on insurance policies that are half-traps, making people pay more to get less protection... you'd think by now it was hard to come up with any novel tricks that haven't been done, but this creep managed a doozy... always a good way to increase a company's profit margin and thus get the attention of those who care for nothing but, although in this case it was just one more ruthless act in a career that had impressed them enough to make him a partnership offer. "How are you enjoying your... new you?"
The object of his attention, youngest in the room but not the youngest looking, bore a flash of individuality among the men in that his hair had something of a pompadour style to it rather than the slick-back short-hair the rest wore. Toby Beukes (rhymes with pukes), was after all, the newest to join the board, and though normally full of unearned confidence, was just then still somewhat unsure of his place there. He shifted in his seat a little. "It's... not quite what I expected."
"Oh?" The VP smiled, like he knew where this was going.
"Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the freedom. I can't say I felt much guilt, but it's good to be rid of it. But I thought the whole point of this was to make me a better executive, and..."
"You've been distracted."
"Yes, I guess you could say that. Part of the reason I volunteered for this was that I figured it was a part of my life I wouldn't have to deal with any more. Be... all business, you know?"
Lucas Ventura nodded, a glint in his eye. "The first versions of the surgeries did just that, you know? Disaster. Well, not a total loss. It makes for useful tools, sometimes. If we need somebody to 'snap' and murder somebody, or go to jail for something to salvage our corporate image, they're loyal soldiers. But there's always a risk in such cases that the treatments will be uncovered in an investigation, so we have to pick our moments. But for the board, we don't just want your blind loyalty, we want flexibility, creativity, ambition. Eliminating your... shall we say, darker urges... it also seems to take out that special spark. Maybe there's a way to separate them, and we'll find it some day, but until then... it's better to allow them their place. At least your conscience isn't bothering you about them, right?" Induced sociopathy was part of the treatment everyone in the room went through. It wasn't a hidden feature... it was part of the advertised effect. The price of rising to the board, along with a machine-modulated rebalancing of your loyalty, supposedly to guarantee that betraying the corporation was as unthinkable as old school patriots felt about betraying their country. In actual fact it made it more unthinkable than suicide, which made it a kind of suicide all its own.
"Yes, but... from a practical standpoint... I mean, the only thing keeping me from trying to indulge in these... urges is that I know the risk to the company is..."
Ventura interrupted him. "Let's just speak plainly. You're not going to shock anyone here and we're beyond shame now. I'm a sadist with pedophilic tendencies. Morgan and his wife are manipulative voyeurs. Cline outright wants to eat people, don't you?" The only man at the table with blond hair, a wax dummy of a man, nodded, with a polite smile. "No secrets here. None of us would betray you. What's your poison?"
"Control, mostly... sexual degradation. Boys and girls..." Beukes spoke haltlingly as though expecting he would be shot down at any moment, but gradually gained confidence as he sees only approval. "Age doesn't matter so much but kids seem easier to get to that place."
One of the other executives, a man named Watts, spoke then. "Very common. I think it's part of what makes for executive material. It's the instinct to dominate and use people for whatever ends you want. Why would we want to suppress it?" He smiled. "It would be like telling an artist never to paint, except when we need a corporate logo. Better to let them work as inspiration strikes, and just make sure we get the biggest piece of it."
"This isn't exactly art we're talking about here." But Watts shrugged, like he disagreed.
"That doesn't mean you can't still follow your inspiration, Ventura said. "If only to take the pressure off. I promise, you'll be a better executive if you're not distracted with your urges."
"But the risk of criminal liability..."
The VP interrupted again. "Yes, I'm not suggesting you drive around in a van and kidnap somebody off the street. But there have always been ways for those of us in power to get what we need to feel... sated. That's part of the reason we hold these conferences. Pretty soon they won't be necessary, but maybe we'll keep them. Tradition, after all, can be a good thing, so long as it doesn't get in the way of the path of profit. And speaking of tradition, normally we try to do a little business before pleasure... but since it's your first time, we make an exception." He leaned forward to press the buzzer on the table, a connection the outside world primitive enough to only exist while the button is pressed. "Have Human Resources send up one of the girls."
"Make it the Juggalo," Nick Morgan suggested. "Hasn't gotten too old yet, and I think Toby here will probably get a kick out of how that plays out."
Ventura spoke again into the table. "Is there a clown-faced girl? We'll go with her." He grinned, a predatory grin, at their new brother. "You'll like this."
It took forty-seven seconds from the order before one of the two secondary elevators pinged and opened to reveal a young girl. Down the shaft were workers who perhaps suspected what this girl was getting into, but they had no proof and were trained to ask no questions of their bosses, and all under non-disclosure agreements, so even if they wondered why certain people were requested at these meetings, they would live with the uncertainty. Some told themselves those waiting for these meetings were probably charity cases--or prospective interns, maybe auditioning to be celebrities for the entertainment division--and as long as there could potentially be some a benign explanation, they could sleep at night.
Seconds after the doors slid apart, the eleven-year-old girl finally, though nervously, decided she should step out into the room. Her skin's pale, and on her face even paler, but then again, that was paint there, along with a design, simple shades of purple around the eyes, and her lips black, with a fluid, looping line marked by hash marks extending from the corners to eventually reach her ears. Like all kids of the Juggalo gang, her face paint was part of her identity, the specifics of it important to her, but, as is common particularly among the youth, not especially distinctive to outsiders. Her dark hair was tied in pigtails with one side ending in a dab of pink and the other side blue.
Her outfit was one of the gang's classic--even stereotypical by this point--kids outfits, modeled on a famous flix clown of decades past. A shirt with red around the collar and a little on the sleeves, but mostly white, with the words, "Daddy's Lil' Monster" boldly standing out in a cursive font named Jezebel, and below, a short miniskirt, divided down the center between metallic red and metallic blue, and revealing the girl's gangly fishnet-covered legs. Not a perfect screen match for the character, but close enough to be recognizable, while retaining some individual accents, like a charm bracelet on one wrist with fake shimmers, or her pink cowboy boots, and of course her facepaint design, all as though to show that she wasn't trying for complete authenticity. In fact, it was quite probable the rest of the outfit wasn't her choice at all, that she was told to wear this, for the benefit of some of the executives who grew up with the character of Harley Quinn--while certainly plenty of Juggalo kids do choose to embrace the Loli Quinn aesthetic by choice, only a minority wear specific outfits, except around a few of their makeshift holidays.
In the girl's hands she held a simple juicebox, straw inserted, and took another sip to calm her nerves then continued to hold it at her chest like a talisman to protect against evil, never realizing it was intended to do the opposite. After the elevator closed behind her, she spoke uncertainly. "Hello?"
Morgan's beautiful young wife stood up then, a smile on her face, pleasant, reassuring. To the little girl's eyes, she must have looked like the youngest in the room and therefore nonthreatening--an adult, sure, but almost a peer rather than a big scary corporate. "Hi there!" She approached the younger girl, bent down on her level. "Why, aren't you lovely? What's your name, child?"
After a brief hesitation, she offered, "Kiwi."
"Beautiful name. My name's Kaylee. Both K-names. You know, I have a daughter about your age." The juggalo girl seemed to be put slightly more at ease by this revelation, probably from the common culture teaching her that parents, women parents at least, are unlikely to be threats. "She's not as industrious as you, though."
"Industrious?" She wrinkled her face, familiar with the word perhaps but not used to it applied to herself.
"You're here to work, right? That shows industry, which is admirable."
"I mean..." Kiwi said, before stopping and starting again. "I don't know, I was just told that there might be a way to help my Pops."
Kaylee Richards nodded sympathetically. "Yes, but you don't expect for free, right? You and I know that's not how the world works. Something for something. Your father's been convicted of serious crimes, with serious financial penalties attached. I mean, not that serious, any of us could pay him off with less than we spend on fancy coffee for the week, but... your dad, he's not really an earner, is he?" Kiwi looked down, vaguely ashamed. "Now, we can help, sure... but you are going to have to work a little for it. That seems fair, right? It's a very good deal, just a few hours of work for your father going free. You'll be kind of a live entertainer."
"I... I don't really know what I could do, though, that would be worth much. I mean, like, I can sing and stuff? I mean, if it's not copyrighted or you have a license for the music."
"Don't worry, we'll work it out, we've already got some ideas that will use your natural talents. And you'd be surprised what you can make doing a live private performance, if you've got the right performer and the right audience."
The hopeful look turned skeptical when the word 'private' was used. "Pops told me I should never sign an NDA. For anything."
Richards laughed, looking over her shoulder. It's a laugh for her audience, not the girl. "Aren't you just adorable. You will have to sign a contract, but don't worry, it's just a performance contract... no NDA is required this time. The performance itself is very exclusive but afterwards you're free to talk about it to anybody you want to. In fact, I bet it'll be awful fun to tell your daddy exactly what you did to get him out of the mess he got himself in. He'll be so proud. Imagine that while you're performing, it'll help with the jitters." She returned to her spot, but only for a moment, and soon came back with a paper. "I've got a contract right here." She let the girl look it over, maybe just enough to verify there is in fact no NDA but not long enough to really appreciate or understand all of the details. "See, it's for a performer, low skill. One night. Normally it'd be low paying, but we're looking for someone of just your type, with the dedication to see the whole performance through. One part's something anyone can do if they have the will, and one part's something very special that our recruiters saw in you. That's the secret, knowing who you can please by renting out that special part of yourself, and being willing to swallow your pride, and a few other things, and do whatever's asked of you. If both are in play, you can profit. Or in your case, earn your dad's early release. So, what do you say, do you want to sign on to work for a night, or go back to your foster situation?"
Kiwi swallowed then, a little early, and nodded, answering the first part of the question. "Okay. For Pops."
"Exactly. Think of your Pops. Then just press your thumb to the little recording patch on the bottom there." She laid it flat on the table so the girl Kiwi could get enough pressure to leave an indentation creating, she probably imagined, a permanent record of her deal. Once that was done, Kaylee smiled. "There we go. Now, you're here as entertainment, right? Let's meet the person you're here to entertain." She walked with Kiwi down the table, arm gently on her back, until they were at the seats near the head where a group of men watched her closely.
As they passed Cline, he grinned a grin that people of valued opinion would call a creepy one, and said, "Aren't you a sweet looking Kiwi. I could just eat you up."
"It's not your night," warned Ventura. "Pull off what you've promised and maybe one of these days you can take her home."
"I'm only working here for tonight though," Kiwi said. "Just to get my Pops out."
"Besides, she's a clown," Watts cracked. "She'd have to taste funny."
The girl and woman continued walking until they stood in front of, not the head of the table, but rather Beukes, their newest member, who was looking both anxious and eager, like he was concerned that somehow this might be some elaborate setup, a well-choreographed knife in the back. And he was not wrong to fear that, even if these particular men on this particular night meant him no harm and in fact meant to get him off rather than off him. Not that the latter necessarily excludes the former, as plenty of victims of the past would illustrate.
Richards pointed to Beukes, crouching so that her eyeline was on the same level as Kiwi's. "This is our newest board member, and this is sort of a welcome party for him. So your main job is to do whatever he wants. You understand?"
Little Kiwi shook her head, although being her age and in the media landscape, she has had to have suspicions. She probably just didn't believe them, thinking they're the kind of things that happen in rougher gangs, or scare-media, not an actual corporate board room which has to be respectable. "I mean I'll do what I need to. I'm just not sure what you want."
"Just follow instructions. But first... your contract says we can decide how you dress and you're not quite looking appropriate to the job." Richards went to a cabinet on the side and pulled out a large ring with two smaller rings nestled inside of them. "We'll just put this around your neck, and these on your wrists. Don't worry, it's just to fit the role you're going to be playing." Kiwi allowed it to happen... what were a few accessories?
When she had the collar and cuffs on, secure to the point she couldn't remove them unassisted, she asked, "Is that good?"
"Still not quite there yet. Here, let me." And from behind, Richards pulled up on Kiwi's "Daddy's Lil' Monster" shirt, dragging the fabric over her stomach, causing the girl to gasp and to instinctively shield herself with her arms. Not her breasts, mind you, or the irregular flatness that might someday turn into breasts, but the stomach itself, which had a chubby bulge that she was a little ashamed of, caused by her foster home only being able to afford cheap, not-very nutritious food and lacking things like toner that render so many of the corporate types' tummies trimmed and attractive. To some her belly could almost be a fetish itself, although certainly her overall illegality provided the prime attraction. "No, arms at your sides, you signed a contract, and we're not going all the way up." Perhaps Kiwi thought 'all the way up' meant it would stop before she actually exposed anything usually covered, but Richards just meant that she intended to stop with it bunched at the collar around the neck, displaying her naked chest to Beukes.
Toby's eyes widened with surprise to see, concealed by strategically placed padding tape on the inside of her shirt, that little Kiwi's nipples were already pierced with simple little bars, probably a home kit among friends. None of the others at the table were surprised, although Richards acted like it was a revelation, stopping to pull on one of the bars, inspiring a little gasp from Kiwi. "Nice," she said. "Love your nude fashion sense. Bet the little juggalo boys and girls love playing with these."
Kiwi stammered out, "I... I don't think..."
"You're not under contract to think, girl," Richards said sweetly. "And your mouth is going to be too busy to express complex opinions." Then, to Beukes, "Why don't you show her what she will be using it on."
He stood then, a little uncertainly, eyes glancing around his comrades, co-workers, perhaps still worried about a trap... in many other corporate worlds, this would be a prime way to backstab someone, to get someone in a compromising position with a minor and then expose that for their own gain. Not that knowing it was a trap would necessarily prevent him from falling into it... as long as it was for the greater good of PATHcorp, the loyalty implant in his brain might lead him willingly to the slaughter... but not without hesitation and good old-fashioned mammalian fear. However, noticing that Morgan already had his cock out and was lazily stroking it gave Beukes confidence to unzip and pull his dick out of his pants.
It wasn't impressive, all-in-all. Corporates rarely are, save those who've paid to have it enhanced, and to many that itself is an admission of weakness and insufficiency. So the Toby-cock was average, maybe a little smaller. To a little girl's eyes, one who had never been with an adult before, it might seem huge. However, I do not believe this is the reason so many corporates indulge in kids, but rather simply because it is officially denied to them. Sex itself is on the marketplace, in their worldview, and because of the illegality, children are black-market goods. Like ivory used to be, forbidden, the rarest of the rare, therefore in their minds the most expensive sexual treats... and as alpha consumers they demand the most expensive they can have even if they can't display it to as many people as they like.
Kiwi's eyes did bulge out like she'd never seen a dick this big before, although of course she had. "Uh, you guys know I'm only eleven right? You can't have me do anything illegal." A trace of panic in her voice, but hidden under some bravado, and indeed it took some bravado to tell a corporate board room they couldn't do something. Bravo on the bravado, brave Kiwi.
Richards made a tutting sound. "You're a performer now. Oral sex as part of a contracted performance is considered only a simulation of actual sexual activity, and so legal for girls your age." Not true, obviously, there are still limits to the open perversity society is willing to accept in the name of laissez-faire capitalism, but kids don't always know the rules. Savvy ones can get good at smelling bullshit, but even they aren't always confident enough to call it out. "So be a good little juggalo and put his cock in your mouth and make him happy."
"I can't..." Kiwi said.
"What's the matter?" asked Morgan. "You lead that streetgang life... or at least, you did before the raids. We've all heard how you people lived down there. Even little girls like you are usually down-to-clown from what they say."
An exaggeration, to be sure. It's true that the Juggalos, like a lot of the counterculture gangs, like the PiRats, have a lot more incidents of open sexuality at younger ages than corporate communities and elite families. Things that are part of furtive adolescent rebellion in 'respectable' families are not universal, but certainly more normalized among Juggalo youth, part of the culture. Performative masturbation. Getting high off drug-spiked Faygo and having orgies. And then there's the much-ballyhooed lifestyle cosplayers, the small minority of original Joker families, who, after the Insane Clown Recruitment Drive which absorbed them (along with a few other clown-related groups and individuals, including a few Mimes poached from the Silent), kept their tradition of encouraging their kids to live in accordance with their idols. So it's true that some parents still do actually encourage their young Harleys to attach themselves and be totally submissive to a Jokerboy or girl, giving over to their every whim, even sexual ones... until the Harley (if they don't find the life suits them) reaches 'adulthood' by choosing to fantabulously emancipate themself and chart their own path, like the media Harley... although most often serve for a time as the Joker to another upcoming Harley before truly going their own way. That certainly does happen... it's just not nearly as universal as outsiders seem to think. For far more, the Harley look is simply an aesthetic.
But if you've seen PoV's Juggalo episode, you'd know that when it happens, all that stuff is mostly similar-age peers... there are perverts in every community, to be sure, and exceptions for one reason or another (such as the late Saint Ronald who, despite his age, got a pass for anything with kids that they consented to), but while some might chaperone the young ones during their experiments, it's actually hard as fuck to get an adult Juggalo to directly fool around with a young child unless they're very sure they won't get caught and murdered by an angry relative for it. Or an impartial paragon of violence.
As for Kiwi, she may not have been a virgin, but she was not ready for this. Her voice was now very small, far less sure of herself. "I mean not everyone... and this wasn't what I expected... I wouldn't have agreed..."
"But you did," said Ventura, coldly, a hint in his voice of anger just waiting to be unleashed. "You signed a contract. For your Pops, right?" She nodded, uncertainly, tears starting to form in her eyes. "You think we're going to cancel your father's debt for a little song and dance? We want to get our money's worth. I mean, if you really wanted to, there is another option." Her eyes shot up at him now, half-hopefully. "You can break the contract. The penalty clause will come into play... your dad will wind up doing twice the time, and you... well, you'll be moved from your comfortable foster home." Her face involuntarily screwed up into a sneer at that description. "To a juvenile detention facility where you'll get to see how seriously contract violation is taken in this country. And there... well, you know how it is, a lot of rough types in there, you might wind up having to do the same thing with less choice in the matter."
"Come on, Kiwi," Richards prodded. "It's not so bad, if it gets your Pops out, right? You might even wind up liking it. You know why we chose you instead of some other girl with a parent locked up? Our profiles said that you act more innocent than many of your peers, but you're predisposed to being a very, very naughty girl... naughty even for a Juggalo. Deep down you probably know that, don't you?" She looked down at her feet, not answering with anything but a slight rise in temperature, hidden from visibility under the face-makeup. "Well, here's your chance to make that tendency work for you. Whether you tell your dad, tell anyone you know, that's up to you, but if you want a chance to see him or anyone you know again you'll put that cock in your mouth before we decide you're in breach of contract and go recruit another girl for our party."
It dangled in front of her as though ready to take her choice away even if she had said no, but from her perspective, she was out of choices, so she closed her eyes, opened her mouth, and leaned in, wrapping her lips around that corp's cock, at first like she didn't want even the sides of it to touch but then eventually giving in to the inevitable.
The hand of Kaylee Richards on her head, guiding her made that latter decision harder to resist. "There's a good girl," Richards said, in a breathy, chipper voice that well-accompanied the wet sounds of a girl's mouth slurping on dick "Now, take your time. You're not trying to make him cum right away. Remember, you're here for the whole night, and if you make him go soft it just means you go to work on another, and you swallow everything they give you. So you're better off going for quality, not quantity. Pull off and just lick once in a while." She took the instruction to heart, running her tongue along the side while watching Richards for signs of approval. "That's right. Give him an experience. Make it good for him and it might be good for you, too. In fact, that reminds me." The older woman drew back and knelt behind Kiwi's bent over form, reached beneath the girl's skirt and pulled down her underwear, causing a muffled sound of surprise. "Don't worry, you won't be needing these. I'm just going to attach a little something. Call it a joy buzzer." And it was, a simple vibrating device, on a lone wire so the poppers wouldn't short it out, but it was still small enough that, unless it was tugged hard, the adhesive strip held it in place right over the girl's clit. Richards pressed on the button, triggering another sound through the cock that was once again being shoved in her mouth. "Behave and you'll get more of those. You'll want that when somebody's fucking your little asshole."
Kiwi's head slipped free of the hand to pull away and asked, "But I thought you only wanted me to..." The rest of the thought was cut off by a yelp.
"Of course it can also get painfully intense if you don't behave. Don't think, just do." Now Richards reached out to put Kiwi's head back on task, filling her mouth and preventing her from speaking up. "You're a contracted performer. Anal sex is legal for minors too, there... it's just a professional massage. Pretty much everything short of actual sex is legal under your contract." Kiwi didn't see her mouth the words, 'Don't worry, that'll come too,' to the man getting his cock sucked, and though she might have felt his cock pulse beneath her tongue she didn't know the reason. "Besides you're kind of committed now, aren't you Kiwi? I mean, the only thing worse than spending the next seven years on a juvenile work farm, your Pops still in prison because you wouldn't help out... is showing up with cock on your breath and nothing to show for it, right? So you let us worry about what you can and can't do. You're working for a corporation now, that's how it works. As long as you do everything we tell you without complaints or questions, while you're useful you get taken care of, so just think of your daddy and lose yourself in service."
After that, quite a few seconds of compliant but unhappy cocksucking, during which Beukes at one point moved to sit back in his chair, and Richards pulled Kiwi up by an arm and pushed her until she stepped out of her underwear and closed the gap, then forced the girl on her knees until she started sucking again of her own accord. Richards took inspiration from the position change and suggested, "And, you know what, speaking of service, why don't you give this man a break from the cock-sucking so he doesn't blow." Relieved, Kiwi pulled off, took a sharp breath, and wiped slimy clear strands with the back of her hand. The relief was short-lived though. "Tongue his asshole for a while. Go on."
Now, the fairly limited yet incredibly sophisticated monitoring used to acquire this story are insufficient to tell you how well little Kiwi tongued that corporate asshole. Whether she dug right in like a seasoned pro or just licked around disgustedly like the shy little girl she probably looked like under the clown makeup, I cannot say. But there were no complaints, either from or about her, Beukes happily enjoyed using her forehead to rest his balls while this preteen girl sufficiently degraded herself for his tastes.
We know that, because Richards asked, "So, is this hitting your degradation kink?" He nodded, grunted like a video of a happy pig. On the control in her hand, she pressed a button, giving a little burst of stimulation to Kiwi's clit. "You should be lucky, Kiwi, it looks like he got himself all clean before this meeting. You could have had a filthy asshole like when my husband got this pleasure."
Morgan cleared his throat. "Hey, that was after a particularly long day. And we all wanted to test her limits."
She rolled her eyes at him like a petulant little girl, something she wouldn't get away with at home, but this was a friendly atmosphere and she was playing a role. You might still wonder if he'd punish her later for such disrespect, but I can assure you, he would not. "I'm still worried Kiwi here might not like the taste though," Richards added. "Maybe you'd like to piss in her mouth to wash it out?"
"It's fine," Kiwi pulled out to say. "I like it." And though this might have just been said to guard against this possibility, it earned her another press on the vibrator remote control and no relief at all from her worries. Before she went back to rimming, Beukes grabbed her hair and forced her head upward, which might have scared her that she was about to do that right now, but instead planted her mouth on his balls... she knew enough to know she should probably start sucking there.
"I'm glad you like rimming Kiwi," Richards said, pretending to take her declaration at face value. "But you'll still be swallowing pee before the night's over. Mine, if nobody else takes you up on it. Don't worry, you won't mind the taste, and I'll make sure you cum a few times doing it." The button was no longer pressed, and she stroked a finger up against the little girl's exposed slit. "See, you're already excited by the thought of it. Before long you might be begging for it."
"You keep saying that," Morgan said. "Still haven't seen it."
"Patience, honey. That's what this experiment's all about. Look how far she's already come. Maybe tonight we'll have a winner. What do you saw Kiwi, want to beg him to pee in your mouth? I'm sure he'd comply if you ask really nicely."
Kiwi shook her head, but even if she wanted to beg she'd have to take her mouth off the balls first. "Another miss," Morgan said, and the others laughed as his wife frowned. "Maybe I should take over."
"Be my guest," she said. "But knowing you, you'll just force her to beg for it. It's more satisfying if she wants to herself."
"I don't care if she wants it," Beukes pointed out. "But I might just try using her as a toilet after I cum. After what I do to this little clown bitch's throat, it'll probably even be a relief." He pulled her roughly by the hair, up again, and positioned her lips by the tip of his penis. "Come on, let's see how far you can go before you start gagging."
Pretty far, as it turned out. Beukes even made an impressed noise while her lips touched down on his balls again, this time from the other side, although she made gagging noises while she did it, nobody cared. He pulled back, forced her to look up at him, and smiled a cruel smile when he saw the tears at the edge of her eyes, and started thrusting in and out. Standing behind her, Richards kept the joy buzzer switch pushed intermittently, so maybe Kiwi even wound up enjoying the act, albeit a shameful enjoyment.. but her enjoyment didn't really matter to him, or to Kaylee or, really, to anyone else in the room. Her enjoyment was just a tool to further her degradation, an amusement to jaded corporate souls. But Beukes took his pleasure more directly, and soon tensed and held Kiwi's mouth in place while he emptied his balls. And held her there, albeit more relaxed, for after the last of his cum drained out and he chose to empty something else, although only Kiwi's frantic wiggling and Beukes' sigh of relief would reveal that he was in fact emptying his bladder as well.
Richard, noticing what was happening, cranked up the joy buzzer again, intent on trying to give Kiwi an orgasm, highlighting it with a wiggling finger inserted in the girl's ass and an encouraging whisper. "That's it, girl, take it all. Don't spill a drop. Why, when you tell your daddy about this, maybe he'll want to take advantage of your talents after you're reunited, since you clown folk so rarely have working plumbing."
I include this sordid scene for context, and because it exemplifies the corporate mindset... they want to piss in your mouth and try and make you enjoy it. But this is not really Kiwi's tale, for a number of reasons... although she has one I hope you listen to one day, this will not be part of it.
Lusts sated, bladder empty, Beukes once again remembered he wasn't alone, looked around the room, newly nervous. Often after an orgasm guilt and shame and fear sets in for people, and although this particular specimen of humanity only really had the last of those, in this case, the renewed fear that this was indeed some kind of setup. "Isn't anyone else going to get in on this little bitch? She's not bad for an immature cocksleeve." The best way to defuse the fear was to incriminate others in the room.
"So we've seen," the Vice President said, boredly. "But the clown show is getting a little old for the rest of us. We might use her later on, if the meeting drags on, but... there are other girls. She's good enough for the tradition, to let the new board member gets his nut off and show that he really is one of us, but even though we might share similar tastes, a lot of us have... our own favorites." He leaned in to the button again, the one that connects him to the outside world. "Send up the other performers, please." That done, he flicked his eyes to Richards. "I suppose if Beukes is done with his toy for the time being, we should put her aside until she's useful again."
She nodded, took the implied instruction, and pulled the coughing, sputtering Kiwi off the cock and to her feet by one arm, and then to the side of the room, which had a post and a grooved porcelain floor section that looked decorative though closer inspection would reveal it was angled slightly as a trough towards a grate, as though designed specifically to be an area someone might become messy in. The girl limply allowed herself to be put into position sitting on the floor, arms above her head, and only twitched a little as the restraints on her neck and wrists locked into place, preventing her from moving from that spot. "We'll just keep this on a low buzz," Richards said, dialing her control button to a desired setting and dropping it on the floor beside the little Juggalo girl, in sight but out of reach. "Try not to cum very much, you'll only exhaust yourself." Then she reached into her purse and pulled out a strip of quicktape, placing it over the girl's mouth.
Beukes now zipped up and looking fully corporate again, watched this, then looked to the rest of the board. "More girls?"
"Maybe a boy, too. You're still pretty into the cock-caged little boys aren't you, Watts?" The man shrugged sheepishly. A bell chimed, or a chime dinged, or in any event some sharp sound was generated electronically. "Ah, there they are now."
The door opened and a line of children emerged from the elevator, a parade of vices shown in this secret place that they would dread the public ever seeing. To the corporates in the room, the names of these people, their playthings, are irrelevant... perhaps each might remember one or two, but only for convenience's sake, not because they are recognized as individuals worthy of dignity... but, for labelling, you can and should know their names.
First, a girl of twelve, a narrow-faced blonde in a sassy faux-hawk style, dressed like the Adult Disney stereotype of a corporate schoolgirl outfit sized down for a real child. Barely businesslike and overly sexy for someone not out of middle school, scandalously short pleated skirt and nipples just a short tug away from peeking out under the blouse (already a thin-enough white that the outlines can be seen if you look closely), but frankly this girl, Lori, despite the numb look in her eyes that belongs on someone much older, and the seeming position of power and dignity compared to the rest, was the most uninteresting of the lot. Another product of the corporate internship program from those already high up in PATH trying to get their kids even higher.
Trailing behind her, and attached on a leash, was a dark-skinned girl of thirteen, with an even darker latex mask covering her entire upper face, eyes covered as well, becoming mere blank voids. She was otherwise naked except for a collar and similar vinyl coverings on her hands and feet, the first designed to make it hard to move her fingers independently, the latter probably out of a sense of symmetry. She was clearly blinded by her mask, led by her schoolgirl guide, almost stumbling. Anonymized like this, her name was hardest to root out, with no one downstairs even allowed to speak it, and facial recognition on her soft-rounded lower face not providing enough to go on, but with some clever digging I've revealed that it is Carol and that she was the daughter of a much lower-level employee who was kept working that evening and probably unaware of his daughter's activity.
Following Carol was Paula, one very beautiful girl, not yet far in puberty, showing off a lot of skin except by comparison to the children around her, as she wore a leather halter top and thong, like an underage exotic dancer, except more exotic than most and embracing a certain bad girl look, which wasn't entirely an affectation. Her neck and wrists were clad in another of those On-Demand Restraint setups with the mobile pillory. Somewhat more advanced than what Kiwi was wearing, which was more for securing to specific spots, these were much like you saw in a previous tale, ready to pin her in a helpless position at the whim of those with control. As though expecting, accepting, this might happen on a moment's notice, Paula moved submissively, dark hair entirely over one side of her face, head slightly down. She entered the room at first with her eyes only on her own body, like she was uncomfortable in her own skin, the natural bronze tint to it, covered in goosebumps--which were to be expected... she could hardly believe she was there. After a few seconds, she raised her chin a little, eyes still downcast and non-threatening, but with her gaze and attention focused mostly at the ass of Carol in front of her, knowing a good sight when she saw one. But still, more than any other, there was a spark of life there as she when nobody was looking, snuck quick furtive glances at the rest of the room and the inhabitants... just not lingering too long on any except perhaps the Vice-President, whose eyes passed over her briefly without interest.
After Paula came the twins, Max and Molly, children of Japanese ethnicity, the oldest of the group at fourteen and they might seem as older and younger sisters if you just met them and didn't have access to their personal records, for Max is a foot taller and also male, despite being dressed as a girl... not, I must clarify, a girl who was slotted into the role of male at birth based on having a penis and later came to realize it didn't fit, but a male who has been forced to adopt the role whether he likes it or not. And indeed, by this time, he might well be feeling uncomfortably mixed emotions about looking so femininely sexy in a short sparkly dress much like his sister, slit up so high that when they walk you can see, on her, her shaved slit and on him the metal cage trapping his cock. Both are shaved--or more likely rendered naturally hairless through FollicleToggle treatments--everywhere other than their heads and eyebrows, and both wear their hair long and tinted blue, hers in a severe wedge and his teased into feminine ringlets. The two were also the twitchiest of the group, eyes darting about even more than incredibly lovely Paula, only vacantly, not assessing the situation but rather like they were nervous to be on display, trembling with stage fright, performance anxiety, and not sure what to do with themselves. They walked like they were wearing buttplugs that might start to vibrate at any moment, which they weren't, at least not when they entered, though it may have been in the plan.
"Two today?" Ventura asked, noticing these last and directing his gaze at Watts, who shrugged. "Wow, you really did have a good week."
"The patent thing turned out pretty profitably for PATH, so I scored well on the metrics." He is referring not to the creation of a patent but the removal of somebody else's. "And what can I say? I like showing off. It inspires me."
Ventura nodded. "Well, it makes up for a few of these other fuckers who've got nothing to show for it." Some bowed heads in reply, and he explained to Beukes, "We like to gamify these parties, make it a bit of healthy competition, the better you perform the more you get away with. Both here and outside. You want someone from the juvenile program delivered to your home for community service?" He waved towards Paula, barely looking at her. "Better make us some money." He laughed. "Or make someone else an interesting offer. Side deals are encouraged. Just because you haven't yet earned enough executive points to bring your own fucktoy to the party, doesn't mean you can't convince someone else to share. The juggalo's free use for tonight, part of tradition, but everyone else is negotiable."
"Watching's always free, though," Morgan said with a smirk, like by being satisfied with that he had one over on anyone else.
"Yes," agreed the vice president. "But don't encourage the newbie to rest on his laurels, this is a teambuilding exercise." He looked to Beukes, genial but with a warning behind the smile. "If we have to have these secure meetings, we want them with people who'll contribute to them being entertaining. Speaking of which, Watts, since you're showing a pair, you want to have yours put on a performance, for ambience, while we handle some actual business?"
"Mmm... if you want," he said, "But they're not going to be much fun until I play with them first. They're a little on edge. I could make them masturbate for us, but I'd rather just make them watch and wait for a while."
"If you'll allow me?" Morgan volunteered, perhaps to make up for his earlier misstep, and on Mr. Ventura's nod, pointed to the girl in the schoolgirl outfit. "You, pull your pet up on the stage there." His wife followed them there, used a sharp pin to fold the schoolgirl's already short skirt up over her belt and expose her bald preteen pussy to anyone who wanted to look. Kay Richards then moved to a shelf and retrieved a leather whip, gently placed it into the schoolgirl's free hand, and directed the blind, latex-covered Carol to her knees in front of Lori, pushing her face until she made contact. "If she stops licking, even if it's because you push her away, you whip her, you understand? It's part of her training." Lori, nodded, which was just an exaggeration of her already trembling chin. Richards stepped down, rejoined the table. "But if you cum, our vice president is going to whip you. Someone's getting whipped. So... it's up to you."
They sat, then, and started discussing boring corporate secret plans, while Lori stood on stage with a blinded, deafened girl eating her out and trying not to cum and seemed to have enough of a soul to not push Carol away either and have to administer pain. That was far more interesting, especially since the secrets could not stay secret for long anyway.
I wasn't the only one more interested by the floor show. Beukes kept looking towards them, and the girl with the whip, far more than the others did. After a while, Morgan noticed and gave him a nudge. "You look like you've got your eye on the little corporate schoolgirl we've been training," he said. "We can make a deal for her. Or for my wife's fuckpig between her legs, if that's the kind of degradation you're craving?"
"No. I mean, yes, maybe, depending on what it costs me, though not right away. Actually, I was mostly wondering about the... liability issues," Beukes said. "Exposure risk, things like that."
"We're pretty insulated," Mr. Ventura asssured them. "Like we told you, this is a safe space."
It also takes a certain amount of balls to question the vice president of the company you work for, so, if nothing else, let's credit Beukes with that, even if it came from a place of cowardice. "Yeah, but... shit, you didn't even make that clown sign an NDA. I figured, maybe you were just going to handle that problem ex parte." In case you're not used to Latin, that's a legal term that he was using as corporate slang to mean essentially 'making one side of a contract dispute go away.' "But... it can be dangerous enough to disappear one kid... six at once, that's got to raise questions, doesn't it?"
"We're not disappearing any of them," Morgan said. "We've been at this a while, and you're probably used to the low-level sort of protections we offer--the legal teams ready to sue for defamation, on-demand constructed alibis, and yeah, the cleanup teams for the serious cases. They're good for letting us spot those employees with the right killer instinct to be executive material, as long as they're careful. You made it here without any accusations sticking, so it's understandable that you're smart enough to be afraid of doing anything without an NDA or threat or both. We still use those tools, but you're on another level now... we've got a few sophisticated tricks you're probably not aware off. Take the little clown girl for example. Of course we're not going to kill her."
Ventura leaned back in his chair at these words, evidently willing to put business off for a little bit for a special kind of pleasure. "You're going to want to watch this," he interjected, pointing at the girl still chained to the wall. "It's the best part, short of anything that leaves marks."
Most of them looked towards chained Kiwi, then. The adults I mean, for the children didn't seem to willing, or capable, of watching. Carol, eyes covered and ears blasting white noise didn't know there was anything to see, just continued to tongue Lori's cunt as though it was the only thing in her universe... while Lori herself held the leash and whip but looked down at her nails, as though the oral sex she was receiving was less interesting than inspecting them for signs of imperfection. The action was clearly a mask to try and keep herself from cumming... her sweat-drenched thin blouse was now positively transparent from the pleasure and the effort of not falling into it... still, perhaps, there was some lingering sympathy or shame to spare for Kiwi. The twins, also, slid their eyes away, Max with a sort of numb distracted look, perhaps trying to avoid sight of anything that might cause his dick to attempt to engorge and strain against the cage, while his sister just antsy, impatiently waiting for something.
Paula, once very sure everyone else was already watching made sure to look at the clown girl, a girl not much younger than her, sisters under restraint collars if nothing else united them, and so caught the expression as Morgan revealed, "This is, what, her sixth time serving at one of our parties?" Confusion first, maybe wondering why they were lying about her. "A few more solo acts, I'm sure. Each time she's thinking she'll do it just once, for her daddy." Now she shook and struggled against her bindings as the truth starts to dawn on her. "You should see some of the things we've made her do for that hopeless altruistic fantasy." Now she wailed against the tape over her mouth, the sound muffled and dull but still affecting to those with hearts. Some of the children, probably, count. Certainly Paula, for though she didn't tear up when Kiwi did, she watched with a caring eye, taking a moment to glare at the depraved board enjoying her distress.
"Next time we invite her," Ventura said, "You should try letting her in on the secret while you're fucking her ass, it's incredibly satisfying, she twitches so desperately when she realizes how pointless her sacrifice was..."
"Shit," Beukes said, impressed despite himself. "PATH's actually got a working mindwipe? Is it perfect?"
One of the others spoke up next. "Unfortunately not, but we're getting closer. It works spectacularly well on a few people like this one, serviceable jobs on everyone else. Better on kids than adults."
"We finally learned the lesson our entertainment divisions have known for decades," Watts joked. "Why take the risk to start from scratch when you can just reboot an old favorite over and over again." Kiwi was now softly sobbing.
Ventura, not caring about or indeed savoring the tears, explained, "And we have our fun, pushing her as far as we can, then forcing her for anything else we want. Break her, seduce her, whatever we're in the mood for. And then she's ready to do it again next time, none the wiser."
"Well, mostly," Richards explained, standing from her seat to go over to Kiwi... not to comfort, at least not emotionally, but she did pick up the control and dial up the vibrations. "It's time limited, so she'll probably wonder at pain or bruises. And of course, it's hard to disguise the missing hymen, she's not really worth surgical repair, so, by now she probably thinks the foster home is abusing her in her sleep or something.
"But who cares," her husband pointed out. "They're expendable if we need someone to take some legal heat."
Richards finished, "And more importantly, there's a certain amount of muscle memory that persists even when she can't consciously remember the experience... you saw how good she was at cock sucking, how easily her body responded to stimulation. It wasn't always like that. But we've been having fun with that, too, training her to be a cockwhore, without her knowledge, getting her off on her ultimate humiliation. Before long she'll probably cum only when being abused. I wish we had videos of the things we've made her get off to... you remember that dog scene?" Her husband nodded with a glint in his eye. "One of these days, when the drug charges just about run their course, we might even drag her Daddy up here and knock her up with her own sibling, then use that as evidence to extend his sentence. No sense giving up good prison labor, right?"
Beukes laughed again. "Fuck. That's got possibilities. This mindwipe tech, is non-surgical? Without side-effects?" After seeing agreement in their eyes, he shook his head in amazed wonder. "Fuck, even if it only works on a few... that's like, one of the holy grails..."
Ventura shook his head. "Not quite. The targets do have to be prepped first, which limits the field utility. A little chemical additive to the juice boxes we give them, binds to newly forming memories, then breaks down with a secondary catalyst, taking the memory with it." It breaks down without the catalyst as well, but less reliably. "We call it PX-451... good for about a day of episodic recall at most. And again, works better on kids, something about memory interconnectedness or something. But we're getting closer, we've had this version for about six months, and now we can reliably identify the most susceptible with a genetic scan-- they're about 5% of the population, ripe for the picking. We'll be testing all the peons and their families, thanks to that preventative health screening scheme you added. Find the most susceptible and make them pay us to do it. And even when you're not dealing with the perfect victim, it's still incredibly useful as part of an integrated approach."
He waved his hands over the other girls. "Take these ones here. Same old stories you've probably seen before. Young interns donated from the family of a corporate up-and-comer, already in too deep with their own sex abuse crimes to accuse anyone else." Lori once again looked down at herself, or maybe it was at Carol between her legs, who wasn't hearing any of this. "Juvenile prisoners on work detail with a history of false accusations already. Refugees with no other choice who are completely off the books, who know that if they do make it to the police they're not legally citizens anywhere they can survive. The kind of easy pickings you'd look for when you want a human you can exploit for your every perverted desire. But, thanks to the juice boxes, we can show them off and share them, and there's even less risk of blowback than ever before. Sure, most of them will remember bits and pieces of what we do to them. But even the 95% who keep some episodic memory still can't retain virtually anything involving language or faces or location, so we can talk business freely in front of them. It's not like the old days when we had to sacrifice a good toy just because conversation drifted to one of our black ops while she was sucking cock. Much better this way."
"Speak for yourself," complained Cline. "I miss those meetings, meant I got to leave satisfied too.."
"Your satisfaction doesn't come cheap, Cline. At least, not yet. Believe it or not, Beukes, if Cline pulls through with what he's working on, it's all going to get even easier. You've know the Arcology project?"
"Yeah. Honestly, I can't believe you've started construction on it. I always thought it was a boondoggle."
"Oh, no," Watts said. "You talk about your holy grails, this is the real shit. Practically shangri-fucking-la. Tell him, Cline."
Cline stood to put a shielded memory stick in the wall display, which flared to life with a model of a monstrous tower... monstrous by size, that is, and perhaps by function, but aesthetically it was rather nice, the grim and imposing black steel exterior lightened up with spots of genuine green from vertical farms. Those who lived there might even find it beautiful... those who lived in its overwhelming shadow might well disagree. "When complete, this can house all PATH employees, and their families, in the city, with plenty to spare, as well as provide space for research lab, commercial areas, even tourist spots. From an architectural engineering standpoint, it's nothing special, based roughly on the Saudi EBM designs Effinger acquired for us, modified with some increased safety features guaranteed to let us ride out the different intense climate effects we're likely to face."
"It's even environmentally positive," Morgan pointed out.
Cline shrugged. "On paper, at least. Enough to score tax credits. Anyway, I'm not involved in any of that. I'm handling certain logistical issues, as well as negotiating the legal framework we're operating under, which would establish us as a separate political body from the rest of the city with limited autonomy."
"What does that mean?" Beukes asked, seemingly intrigued. "We write our own laws?"
"Officially, no. except municipally. State and federal laws will still apply where they can't be overridden, but we'll collect tax from residents and decide where the majority of it goes. The police will be entirely a division of PATHcorp and prioritize in harmony with our interests. As will the legal apparatus... including prosecutors and judges. We won't bribe them, we'll own them. It's taken a lot of lobbying work to get to this point, but government oversight's been on the wane for decades, all we need is the appearance of a functioning community and they'll play ball. That means, once we reach a certain key residency requirement, they'll turn a blind eye, and then our corporate board are effectively kings... at least within our own domain."
"Hardly kings," Watts said with a pout. "I still think we should adopt the EBM idea of forced feminization of the prison workforce."
"That would never fly," Cline pointed out. "At least, not as public policy. But you're free to keep playing that game on your own time." To Beukes, he continued, "Sure, there are going to be some restrictions, and obviously, with legal disputes with those outside the Arcology, the old rules apply, but if we can choose the venue, the board will always get our way. We control the systems. Which means we, as the elite of the elite, can get away with murder, literally."
"Or rape," Morgan said. "Or virtually anything, as long as we leave enough of the population alone that they consider themselves having a good life. And for most of them, they will be. Some of this greenery here... I mean, sure, most of it is going to be private estates for board members, or growing locally-sourced food, but at least a couple will be idyllic public parks. People will be begging to live with us. Even with whatever excesses we indulge in, odds are, it'll still be a safer place for their families than the gang-infested streets. Or the rest of the city in a few years."
His wife sat back down beside him, leaning forward, painting a picture for Beukes. "Imagine this. You want a fucktoy for the day, arrange her drink to be dosed with the latest version of PX-451, have one of the elevators deliver her to your private sex dungeon instead of her home, do what you want, send her home again. Even if she remembers enough that she goes to the police, they don't look too hard for this mysterious assailant. Or maybe, like us, you like subtler, long-term pleasures, and wiping a memory doesn't give you quite the same satisfaction as having someone as your personal child sex slave. So you pick out a boy or girl you like, catch them violating copyright or something, and have them assigned to you for community service and you can play whatever games you want."
A previously silent man named Kadrey spoke now. "Or of course just hire in a collared juvie from some gang member arrested outside. They're a little less polished, but nobody gives a shit about what happens to them except family and friends and it's easy to find enough who don't have any."
Morgan said. "But whoever you pick, if they cry to the cops, they get the brush-off, sent back to work... or, maybe, the cops arrest you, try you, acquit you, all in the same afternoon because a history of false accusations suddenly turns up in the system. And double jeopardy applies so you can never be tried for the crime again."
"We can even manipulate that system," Cline suggested. "After any of the elite commits a crime, automatically arrest and acquit and lock the proceedings under a gag order without the victim even being aware, providing immunity in perpetuity."
Kadrey nodded. "Either way, you can then punish the accuser under the defamation by-laws or false accusation or for breaking NDA any way you desire. Soon they'll figure out they're trapped and just give in."
"Not to mention we control the school curriculum, the media environment, the local networks like we can't in a shared ecosystem. The longer we go, the more we can get away with, managing people's expectations and definitions of normal. A couple generations and we'll be gods to them." Morgan said, growing excited.
The mood was infectious. Kadrey was also getting hyped about the brave new world he saw on the horizon. "And that's just considering current technology. You know the zombie-implants, that they use to make the particularly aggressive work-prisoners compliant? Not only will they soon be legal for minors in our new city-state, with a court order, but you project forward the technological curve. They're already getting smaller and easier to install and with more features... by the time we move in, I'm told by our blacktech department, we'll be able make a person flip back and forth between normal and slave-mode without ever knowing the other mode exists. Like one of our restraint collars, but in their heads."
"You might as well just give them loyalty implants and force them to love you," Watts said, an air of bored superiority.
"Loyalty implants are unreliable on anyone under thirty. It's the Parent Problem, I told you, kids naturally rebel and.." He was right, kids go through life with an instinctive trust and loyalty towards their parents... and if that's not destroyed through poor treatment, most children still change at some point on their path to adulthood, to break through that instinct so they can chart their own course. Many wind up prioritizing friends or lovers or pursuing their dreams over the wishes of family. The same natural processes come into play with artificial loyalty too, and so using them on children is discouraged in PATH... not for moral reasons, but because having someone around you believe is under your power, but isn't, is extremely dangerous, as these would inevitably find out. But now that you're aware, don't trust anybody over thirty, unless you can check their heads for microsurgery.
Kadrey didn't get to finish explaining the specifics of adolescent self-actualization, because Watts interrupted again. "I know all this, I'm just saying, you might as well at that point if you're using zombie tech to make sex slaves. No art, no skill. It's much more satisfying to break them for real, from inside, like my girls, make them love you no matter what you do to them."
"Fuck the kids," Beukes said with a laugh, joining in like it was a fun brainstorming session. "Make the parents loyal and watch the hope die in the kids eyes as they're turned over for abuse." He got an acknowledging nod from Watts, then said, "Fuck, that's enough to make me ready for another round with Kiwi. So when is this happening? From what I hear, it's been in development hell a while."
Cline grimaced. "There've been some problems. We still have to work within the laws, which means we can't just exterminate the locals contaminating our build site... at least, not cost-effectively. Unfortunately it's a cart-before-the-horse problem. We need our enclaves ready and stress-tested before we start doing RPR in earnest." That buzzword stands for Rapid Population Reduction, by the way, measures to remove large proportions of the population deemed by PATH and other corps as not to be useful, who operate outside of the economic system they dominate, or are inconvenient or unpalatable in other ways, using means such as biological warfare, environmental collapse, and conflict generation. "The Juggalo eviction has been spiralling into something of a public relations nightmare, and the PiRats could be even worse. God, this would be so easy if they were one of the psychopath gangs... but they've got sort of an underdog quality. And I swear, some of the other corps must be on to our desires because their entertainment divisions have been painting them more romantically lately, just to fuck with us."
"Nah, it's not personal, it's strategic," Watts explained, as though it was part of his field of expertise. "Actual losses to copyright violation tend to be fairly limited if you do reasonably aggressive enforcement, once you really factor everything in, so some corps still find it a net benefit to have the PiRats around, to make the occasional big example of, or for when they need access to IP from a rival or to plant a smear campaign, or for a whole host of other uses. So a few of them have been seeing our low-key media psy-ops and automatically adjust to keep the status quo."
Morgan shook his head. "It's not just a few of the other corps," he said. "It's organic, too.. they've got a stupid amount of underground punk appeal. My daughter--the one that's a handful--actually had some crazy fantasy to run away with them. That's finally been taken care of, but all the same, probably better to take them off the board quickly."
"Yes, yes," Cline agreed, "The problem is doing that without blowback. If you thought summary execution of a few families of clown-faced drug dealers looked bad for us, imagine how it'll be with peace-loving anarchists. But we're working it. We've got some agents embedded within their--and I use this term loosely--organization. It won't be long before we push them into taking some kind of action that sticks in the public consciousness, paints them as the lawless takers they are. And if all else fails, we've also got our people preparing evidence of an illegal bioprint shop right where we want to build the next phase of supports. It'll be easy to believe a lone wolf that had to be taken out for the good of the country. A targeted missile strike will clear out the area we need and take down some of the buildings in the process... and the US government will pay for it."
"Easy for the media, but the PiRats might know it wasn't them," Kadrey said. "I mean, some will survive."
"Some always do, but it'll take care of our immediate needs, and the stragglers will be squeezed them up against other gangs to worry about us. By then if we don't have the public literally calling for their heads?" Cline shrugged. "Our building might be environmentally friendly, but the construction might cause a lot of unfortunate toxic chemicals to leech into their water supply. Unavoidable tragedy, publicly, a good test case for RPR in actual fact. We will pay a small fine but no one important will care. They're practically animals, after all."
Watts perked up. "Hey, speaking of animals, that reminds me. Any chance I can get one of those terraced public park areas under my purview? I've got an idea for one of them... sort of a zoo."
"Do it on your own estate," Cline said with a roll of his eyes. "These are meant to be open access, not your private kink gallery."
"Aww, but this would be for the public. That's the whole point. And with real animals too, we can call it sort of an art project. Maybe more of a circus than a zoo. People can bring their kids, enjoy the cultivated green space, look at the animals, laugh at the people trained to act like them, and so on. You can tell them they're paid performers. I think it could be really something, and sort of inure them to the open perversion and dehumanization we're aiming for down the line."
"We've got meme managers for that, to do it slowly, properly." It's a subtle art, but maybe the corporation's true hidden strength, well-employed to slowly push the public along what PATH wanted... to discredit accusations of those in power (not just specific ones, but the trustworthiness of them in general) and shrink the public's reverence for consent by blurring the borders, to subtly reinforce disparate gender roles and expectations, and most of all, to discount the concept of empathy as much as possible. They once even tried to develop an illegal AI to get even better at it, but that's failed--lucky you. Even with just their conventional human techniques, in a smaller, contained environment, they were confident they'd be able to be able to swing public opinion much more drastically in shorter amount of time. "There's no place for your showing off. If you're not going to play with your toys just have them safely disposed of and get a new one like everyone else."
Watts slumped back like a petulant child. "Just because I'm tired of playing with them doesn't mean I don't still think they're beautiful and worthy of display."
"The areas are already spoken for."
A moment of silence, and it looked like Watts might give in, but then he leaned in. "I'll make you a deal. You know how I've been training Maxine here to only cum when something's in his butt. He says he doesn't like it, but he's been caged for the better part of a week now, so, he's probably pretty desperate, too. So's Molly here... I've got her addicted to a chemical additive that she can only get from her brother's semen. Or mine, when I take the pills, but I haven't been lately..."
"Your games are always so convoluted, Watts. But some of us don't have time for them. Would you get to the point?"
"Well, I'm thinking, we'll make a wager on how well I've trained him. I'll uncage his little cock, let his sister start sucking on it, and we'll see whether he can hold himself back on his own. If he manages to keep himself from cumming while I fuck his ass, you let me have my little zoo. I'll ensure it's tasteful and deniable until the meme management division gives the word."
"I'm waiting for what I get out of it."
"Getting rights to the juicy bit. See, his big cock is fun to trap, but I'm starting to think it's getting in the way of him fully embracing the submissive sissy lifestyle I think best for him. But if he manages to keep from cumming and wins me this bet, I'll let him keep his cock a little longer. It just means his sister doesn't get her fix tonight. On the other hand, if he squirts, sometime before our next meeting I'll cut it off, let you fry it up and put ketchup on it or whatever the fuck you want to do, and I'll finally start making him a girl for real." He looked to the ceiling a moment, considering. "I suppose I'll have to start his sister on puppy training, just to maintain the balance of power, but I was thinking about that anyway." Cline didn't answer right away, but seemed to be thinking about it, so Watts added, "I'll even make Maxine deliver it personally, so you can make him... her... watch you eat it, since I know you like that."
At this, Cline lit up for the first time. "Deal. But only if someone fucks the sister at the same time. From what I've seen of your favorite toys, that'll increase my odds. Maybe Morgan, I think he'd be rooting for me."
He laughed. "Don't be so sure, I might still need that zoo for my problem child one of these days if my son doesn't step up. But I'll make sure it's a fair contest, at least."
Ventura shook his head and smiled indulgently. "Fine, it's probably a good time for a fuckbreak anyway," he said. "Once everyone's a little more clear headed we can discuss the overseas war strategy. Who wants to spot me their toy?" Because as Vice-President he doesn't need to bring his own, he can play with somebody else's. Rank hath its privileges.
"You're always welcome to play with ours," Morgan offered. Indeed, that was largely the reason the power couple would bring them, to suck up to the boss... the corporate schoolgirl and sensory-deprived fuckpig were selected directly in line with Ventura's tastes.
He might well have taken them up on it, to put some whip marks on tender young flesh, but, just then, little Paula did the one thing a girl in her situation should probably never do. She drew attention to herself with a forceful expulsion of air out of her mouth, that sounded just a little unnatural. Ventura's head snapped up. "Did one of those bitches just cough?" Like many corporates, he had a deep-seated disgust, bordering on phobia, of virals, despite the best in artificial immune system upgrades. He looked over the toys, having failed to pinpoint the exact source of it, but when his eyes fell on Paula, they widened. "Kadrey. Is that girl yours?"
Newly uncertain, Kadrey said, "Yes. Don't worry, I'm sure she's had all her shots. It was probably just spit caught in her throat. First-timer nerves, you know."
But her head, pointed at the floor before, now looked at the Vice-President, and she cleared her throat loudly again, this time not sounding so much like a cough as what Kadrey suggested. "Wait, hold up a second," he said, suddenly attentive, staring right at little Paula, observantly viewing for the first time. He barely noticed her before, a cursory glance when she first walked in, but she was just another girl in a collar, easy to overlook, particularly when her face was aimed at the floor. Now, though, something in her face had shifted, and he recognized her. "Shit, is that you? Kadrey, did you even look at this girl's name?"
Everyone froze. Not out of fear, but rather surprise... more than anybody, Senior Vice-President Lucas Ventura didn't care about a girl's name... or girls at all other than causing them pain as he fucked them. But now he was interested, engaged, and seemingly familiar with the girl in front of them.
Kadrey looked up a rugged hand-held device, cleared for use in the room before they began, shielded against the poppers and good only as a text display and remote control for the collars. "She's Hillary Gibson. She's nobody. In it for drug charges and stacking probation violations."
Ventura shook his head. "Lock that girl down for a second." Kadrey tapped a few keys on his control, and Paula's collar lit up and began beeping intently. More intently than usual, because Kadrey put a rush on the command, and Paula bent forward in time to avoid the electric shock... instead, a stabilizing rod jut out the bottom of the collar at incredible speed, and, as her hands were in position, the wrist-cuffs each locked to the sides, in that punishment position, the one designed to mimic a humiliation pillory and clearly had no rehabilitative value, but was just another means to get people used to the dehumanizing whims of those in power.
Once he believed Paula safely contained, Lucas Ventura got up off his seat, walked around the table to take a closer look. He took the young girl's chin in his hands, lifted it. "So Hillary is what you're calling yourself now?" he marvelled, and grinned, looking to the rest of the room. "This is my niece, Paula!"
The silence continued. No one was sure how to deal with that... a lot of the corporate board, even under the loyalty implants, still cared about their family to a degree... just, far less than the interests of the PATH as a whole and themselves personally. Most, if a family member appeared as somebody's toy, would demand their release and maybe the head of whoever screwed up so badly... at least, if it was an underling. Superiors, well, it might just be a way to suck up to the boss. But Lucas Ventura was the most senior in the room, and it was extremely possible that heads would soon be rolling.
"This wasn't my call, my usual was out sick from heat exhaustion, so I just had them pull someone from the roster. I've never even used her." The self-serving words tumbled out of Kadrey's mouth, true, but irrelevant, he might well have said them if he didn't.
Ventura didn't seem mad though, still inspecting the captive little girl. "They seem to have fixed you up nice," he said, looking her over in both eyes, then turning towards Beukes. "This right here is an object lesson. When I took the loyalty treatment, it was before our kind took over the board... still experimental enough, and the old guard didn't really want to be loyal to anyone but themselves, so it was left to people like me, a rung or two down but eager to move up. I was single, not really expecting a family, so why not dedicate my soul to the company? And for a while, it was going well, I started getting better assignments, trusted with more things, but, well, you know as well as anybody, the urges. Finding ways to satisfy them without endangering myself or the PATH was taking up more and more of my time. Then my brother and his parasite wife died, and suddenly I had a sweet little girl completely dependent on me. Jackpot, right? At least once people forgot about her. I let her finish up the school year and then moved her into my apartment, an environment I could completely control."
He continued. "Then I started to turn my little niece into my personal stay-at-home whore, to take all the abuse I needed to dish out. Stress relief. And I had a lot of stress. By this time, I was managing one of the black projects divisions, and one of my risky initiatives was... underperforming. Didn't matter how loyal I was if I was a failure. I was suffering. So was Paula, even more than normal... but she made a huge mistake. She started to enjoy what I was doing to her." He gave a short, performative laugh. "That's one thing you don't want to do to a sadist, particularly when he's been out drinking and doing stimulants to suck up to one of the Vice Presidents. I mean, these days I can appreciate the way pleasure can be used to highlight pain, but back then, I was new to actually getting to indulge in my fetish, and I took it as a personal insult. If she was enjoying it, clearly I wasn't going far enough. Anyway, long story short, fucking an eyesocket isn't as good as the fetish art always made it look, and I wound up breaking my little fucktoy in the process. Even though I replaced the eye..." Here he tapped at Paula's own, vaguely angrily, getting a hard clicking sound against his nail in response. Paula didn't even blink. "After, it was like nothing I did mattered to her anymore. Even worse than her enjoying it. But it looks like you've got some life in your eyes again, doesn't it? Face healed up nicely too."
"What did you do?" Beukes asked. "And how did you lose track of her? You were her guardian, right? Wasn't that risky?"
"You don't decide to take in a child without insulating yourself. At least, not at our level. As far as the system knew, she was transferred to a boarding school and ran away to join a gang. But once I couldn't use her anymore, there was no point in actually keeping her around. Not disposal, like you were thinking, that's so wasteful. She still had value, just not to me." He grinned. "I traded her. In many ways, she's why I'm here today. There was a VP in special projects, no real ambition outside of science itself, but he'd risen to a level where he could get me transferred to another division. I knew he wanted someone disposable they could test things on, so it was a win-win deal for me... even convinced him to take on the Generalized Artificial Intelligence project I was with for himself... he snatched that sinking ship off my back like I was doing him a favor."
"Shit, you were working on transhuman AI? After the Japan Event? Bold." See? I told you.
Ventura gave a disinterested, not at all remorseful shrug. "You know how it goes... sure, the Japanese AI went berserk, but we're smarter, we could create one safer, that would give our corporation a huge advantage, as long as it stayed secret and we didn't get the AI cops down on us. If it worked. But, as I said, it never quite came together, and the enforcement divisions got a lot more paranoid. Last I heard that VP's division is officially shuttered now, and probably everyone who was still tethered to that project." He's right, that division is officially shuttered, and most people working there were liquidated for deniability purposes, except a few who were essential to other projects or who had made the right connections or who had the foresight to distance themselves in advance. Lucas Ventura here was the latter... and, despite being one of the originators of the AI project, was mostly a manager rather than a scientist. He probably doesn't even remember the random-three-words chosen for his old project code name (because it was so sensitive any name containing even a poetic hint of it was too dangerous to use). It was listed as Project Feral Limbic Yankee, if you're wondering.
"I only learned after the fact. I'd already moved on, on and up, when the truly loyal started to take over PATH, it was a busy time. But I always took losing her as a lesson to learn from. In fact, she gave me the idea for these parties, to take advantage of the security we already needed and let us vent our kinks in a safe way, so we don't screw up... or if we do, we have a community ready to help cover. I might have snatched her back if I could, but by the time I heard about the division's termination, it had been weeks. I assumed that if one of the experiments hadn't already killed her, she was a casualty of the clean-up. But I guess someone must have had an exit strategy, and smuggled her out in the chaos." Ventura went on, looking into his niece's eye as though trying to get her to confirm one of his guesses. "Maybe a scientist felt sorry for her, built her back up into being a person, gave her a space in his new identity?" She didn't give anything. "Do you even remember me? Speak, or I'll put that electric charge on you.."
Her voice, when it came, was soft, but unwavering. "Yes, I remember you, Uncle."
"You've gotten a defiant streak in you, haven't you? You must have, if you wound up in the juvenile criminal justice system. Whoever's been taking care of you obviously didn't have a firm enough hand. But don't worry, I'll correct that mistake. Ah, Paula, Paula, Paula... you must be the unluckiest little girl in the world. Because I had forgotten about you... you'd escaped. But... you see now, you're know you're mine again, don't you? Your Gibson identity won't protect you now... I'll track them down, tie off the loose ends, and then you'll just be Paula Ofelia Ventura again. Mine." He shot a glare to Kadrey, who brought her, who might have been thinking he could turn this into an advantage now, then smirked towards to the newbie in a room. "There's one other lesson here, Beukes, and take note of it. We may be safe to indulge our urges here, but... don't fall into complacency. Always, always, pre-inspect your toys. Or you might wind up making a colossal fuck-up like Kadrey here and bring in a girl with a cybernetic eye." Kadrey, if possible, paled even more at that revelation. Ventura bent down again to look closer. "Your knight in shining armor got you an upgrade somewhere, I imagine... if you can even call it an upgrade. The one I got you at least matched."
Kadrey spread his hands. "Come on, what are the odds it's actually cybernetic? It's not even listed on her juvie file! Whoever took her probably sold the eye for parts and printed up a cheap glass one."
Another, closer look in the eye. "No, I know a camera when I see one. Can't say it's actually recording, or if it's got enough shielding to protect against the poppers, but... if I didn't spot it, shit, there could have been real trouble. Sorry, Paula, I'm going to have to dig another eye out of you." He was not sorry, he was smug and amused and probably considering giving a second try to the experience of an eye-socket fuck. "I mean can't exactly trust you to tell me the specs, can I?"
"I'll tell you, Uncle, but... you're never going to get to hurt me again. My eye is recording... and not just that, it's transmitting, too, to all of my friends."
You could hear a nail drop. Or I could. The others mostly smirked or laughed at what they thought was an obvious bluff by a little girl, an attempt at bravado to scare them into letting her go. After all, they were secure in their little Faraday fortress that prevented any signal they did not intend from bouncing outside of it... or it would have, if not for a small hole burrowed through it (some flies burrow, did you know?) and a carefully placed repeater on the other side of it. In their smug amusement and cruel laughter, they also missed the metallic schlick sound of the stake keeping her immobilized on the ground retracting back into the collar at rapid speed, without any evident command. Or maybe they didn't miss it, but since they didn't look too concerned, everyone may have assumed Kadrey released it, or an automatic timer elapsed. In any event, what could one little girl do?
A lot, it seemed, and Paula, openly, valiantly, smiling now, still half bent over, took a step forward, and added, "And voting." And the schlick sounded again, this time with a wetter schlick behind it, a schlick that was probably missed in the scream that followed, as that central post that was meant to hold a child in punishment and humiliation mode now lashed out at an angle piercing Lucas Ventura through the crotch and pinning him to the table behind him. The collar's safety parameters would normally prevent such a violent egress but, fuck, logically, you can disable many automatic safeties with a bit of ingenuity and time to study. Study, and enhance, and alter in other ways, as then the On-Demand Restraint System collar also unlatched from her neck, on someone else's command, freeing the girl and effectively restraining her one-time abuser, pinning a monster like they used to pin butterflies to boards for display. This time it was a fly putting him on display, to every one of the live viewers of the glorious famous PoV, unleashed, uncollared, unstoppable.
"And my friends have told me you're villains," she revealed, as she charged the monomolecular wire in her detached nail to its stiff, vibrating state, an invisible blade, and swiped it across her uncle's chest, cleanly cutting him in half. For a sadist, his death was perhaps not as painfully long and drawn out as would be poetic, but after all, he was family and she was willing to give him mercy even though he routinely denied it for her. Her main target done, she turned to the others in the room, pronounced sentence. "Every single one of you."
"Oh fuck," said Kaylee Richards at one point. "It's her. From those videos." She and her husband were, I believe, the only one of the corporates with more than a passing familiarity of the phenomenon on various sites on the darkweb. The rest were stunned, not realizing what fate awaited them, what fate the people decided. These people who tried every trick to weaken democracy don't yet know it's been their downfall.
I will confess, that vote was a lot closer than I'm comfortable with. I suspect many of PoV's viewers secretly wished for themselves that conscienceless moral freedom to indulge their worst impulses, and the power to do so without much fear of consequences, and on some level forgave others who already had it. It did tarnish my faith in humanity to see, compared to some of the previous votes that ended with the jury-decided murder of someone who lovingly fucked a little girl, a much smaller margin calling for the righteous death of the sociopathic bastards trying to fuck all of humanity. Or perhaps it was because this, unique among PoV episodes, had a vote without seeing PoV herself having some kind of sexual encounter... without much direct titillation at all (for what happened to Kiwi before the other girls entered was not a part of the broadcast... you can't start a PoV episode on someone other than PoV herself, people would call it a fake and tune out!). Save for some flashes of skin, sadistic mastubatory fantasies, and a little lesbian floor show, there wasn't much to get people off before justice was served, and that might have been a factor. Or maybe it was just that some were put off by the rare group vote, all-or-nothing--at least among the corporates in the room. For neither PoV, nor her ever-faithful Fly On The Wall had any desire to harm children, and in fact, after the first corporates fell, she took the time to turn to the kids with a smile and say, "You should probably run."
Before she had time to speak, though, she had to move quickly to even the odds. One little girl, even as glorious and weaponized an angel as PoV, is at a disadvantage against a room full of adults, several of whom were armed, though thankfully not with much, with the security team outside (and staying there, unaware). Our lewd, occasionally violent entertainer came out on top because PoV took advantage of their shock, and because of a few extra little toys provided by her worried friend that were built into the restraint cuffs she wore, some simple darts coated with a paralytic neurotoxin. In those crucial first few seconds, PoV fired several of these to knock down the first people who reached for anything like a weapon and, only once their muscles were beginning to lock up did she take a few seconds to give her warning to the children, before beginning her dance with those who came to action a little slower. And what a dance! A ballet between bullets, a salsa serving up sudden amputation, a totentanz to timely transform a corp's party into a corpse party (you see what I did there?).
Not to dismiss her own talents, but her faithful Fly on the Wall helped with the choreography, keeping track of everybody and warning PoV when to dodge out of the way of a gun she had no way of seeing on her own, all while keeping up his lively patter for those watching the live show, and also, simultaneously, telling a background story to give some extra context to some potential future allies who would be hearing about the live events very soon. The last two threads of the multitasking may have suffered some, keeping PoV safe has always been the priority.
This tale is perhaps hard enough to believe, and some say I'm prone to exaggeration, but you'll be seeing the video soon enough (if you aren't switching to it as you read this), so I won't summarize all of the bloodshed. Suffice it to say, heads did roll, but only a couple and not for far before coming to a final rest. Within seventy-seven seconds, virtually every corporate in the room was dead, immobilized, or bleeding from a grevious wound, and PoV had only scratches. Don't feel bad for them, they all gave up their souls long ago for their corporate career, and, well, live by the buzzword, die by the buzz sword. The children, they were long gone... fled for the miraculously opened elevator and missed most, but not all of the goriest deaths (Carol, who had no idea what was happening, was likely the only one who wouldn't have the image of the VP's severed body sliding into several bloody pieces of meat in her heads... at least until the PX-451 broke down and mercifully erased many of their memories of the night).
But the show wasn't over. First, because not everyone else in the room was dead. Cline was close, bleeding out on the floor, but Nick Morgan was reclined back in his chair, paralyzed, only a gunshot wound in his stomach. Treatable, if PoV didn't finish the job. And, behind her husband, Kaylee Richards cowered, barely wounded, hoping to be missed. But, more importantly, there was Kiwi, who was still attached by her own collar to the wall, unable to escape with the other children, unable to speak, and the vibrating toy on her pussy still activated through all the carnage. PoV tenderly crouched in front of the terrified girl, turning the vibrating toy off before making sure Kiwi hadn't been hit by any stray bullets. "It's okay," she whispered encouragingly, but the Juggalo girl tightly closed her eyes. "I only wanted the board."
"Reminder, love, we need to make our escape... " whispered in PoV's ear. "For legitimacy, you will also need something dramatic."
"Fly will also need something dramatic," PoV mutters to herself, familiar with his games.
"Yes, a big finish to our live show! Something that can be corroborated by multiple sources, or they'll do their cover up games, deny everything. Here's a good spot." The girl turned until she spotted the point on the wall her implant highlighted for her, and then walked to it, leaving the survivors for the moment. Carefully grabbing the nail-tip of her weapon, she allowed the invisible vibrating monowire to slacken, and then pulled back and reconfigured, giving the cutting surface a little bit of a bend in it... not as efficient or strong, but for the job of cutting into a large flat surface, ideal. She stuck the blade into the wall and cut two vertical slices, as high as she could reach and down to her feet.
Richards, made her move then, just a little, towards the elevator, but PoV snapped her head in that direction and said, "If you run, you won't make it," and finished her renovation job as though giving her no further thought, with two horizontal swipes, one as high as she could reach, another at ground level. That done, one kick sent the chunk of wall flying, tumbling down dozens of stories, and wind began to rush out from the previously climate controlled building and attempt to equalize the pressure. Now, PoV turned back to Richards. "Your turn."
"Please," she said. "We're not the bad ones. I'm not even really a part of the board." A lie, but a plausible one, misogyny baked into PATH's founding as it was. "I was forced. I'm just as much a victim as those girls. You can just let me go."
"You know who I am," PoV said. "You've watched my vids?" A numb nod. "I do love my fans. For your children's sake, I'll make you a deal. I won't kill you. If you push your husband out that hole yourself."
Hesitation, then, as she looked down at her husband, aware, but struggling to move through the toxin's effects. Watching, as was his fetish, only now he couldn't affect the outcome of this sordid scene. His wife seemed for a moment like she wasn't sure she could, should do it. Whether it was actual love, or just loyalty to PATH (for he had seniority over her), killing him would be a hard decision.
Until it wasn't. "Otherwise I'll just kill you both," PoV said casually, holding her thumb up, along with the blade inside, a weapon you might doubt was even there if you hadn't seen it carve through so many things that night.
And, as PATH always advised, pragmatism won out. Richards tilted the chair, pushed it along the wood-like floor and causing a squeaking sound almost as though it was on wheels, and tipped the paralyzed Nick Morgan over without so much as "Sorry, honey." She did watch to see him fall. So did several of PoV's viewers, those in sight of the building, verifying for themselves that the livestream was really live, some taping from multiple angles, I hope.
"Good," PoV said. "I won't kill you." And then kicked the woman's kneecap savagely, then, while Kaylee Richards was off-balance, pushed her out the window as well. "Gravity probably will." Which might seem harsh, but the people did vote, and if you're a long-time fan of her show, you'll know that PoV likes a little element of poetic justice when time permits... Kaylee Richards followed her husband in life, it was only right she would in death.
She also stopped to cut off Cline's fingers to shove two in his mouth and make him choke on it. Choosing his penis might have been even more dramatic, but she would have to find it. That's not an insult, her blade did quite a number on his lower half, and time was short, so fingers would have to do. He was pretty well dead at that point anyway. That was about all she could manage, though... she could hardly put a collar on Kadrey as he was fond of doing to others, as you need a head to keep it attached, and his was one of the ones that briefly rolled... and again, there wasn't enough time to think of a creative workaround so she just left things as they were. All art must compromise with real-world constraints, like the ticking clock of a deadline.
"Your escape will be ready in two, which is good because the security forces will break through my lockout in five."
"What about her?" PoV asked then, her compassionate, transmitting gaze directed back at Kiwi.
"You're the priority. And I mean both that you're my priority lovely, and that you will be the priority of any security teams. They might ignore her."
"Or they'll shoot her. We can't just leave her, Fly. Can we bring her?"
"I can carry the weight, but time's an issue. Convince her fast."
PoV cut the tip of the restraining post and pulled Kiwi from the wall, pulled the tape off her mouth and helped her to her feet. "It's your choice, Kiwi. You can stay here, take your chances with security, or you can come with me. It'll be scary, and you'll have to hold on tight, but my friend will get us down safely. And then we'll try to free your dad."
Another hesitation. But there was something in PoV's face that inspired trust, no matter what shape the memory metal bones inside were, which was why so many people have fallen for her over these years. "I'll come with you," Kiwi said.
PoV led her by her still-bound hands to the newly opened window and there, already waiting, were a small but timely swarm of delivery drones, their packages dropped along the way as they were commandeered by the Fly on the Wall. "I'll unlatch you when it's safe," PoV said. "But for now it's better you hold on. Over my head, okay?"
Many have dreamed of putting their arms around PoV, but rarely in this context, and Kiwi wasn't a fan, or at least, a very new one, so in her case there was only nervousness as she she slipped her bound hands over PoV's head and arms, and PoV wiggled her arms free of the embrace, leaving the bound hands around her waist. "I'm not going to remember any of this," Kiwi said, and it was hard to say whether it was complaint or relief.
"Maybe not. But there'll be video."
PoV and the girl stepped onto two of the drones. One more attached itself to the wrist-cuffs so PoV wouldn't fall, at least as long as Fly didn't drop her, and that would never happen. And they flew off into the night of iCity looking for freedom.
[[And that just about brings us up to date... as you can now no doubt verify by checking out this dramatic season finale of PoV, this story was unfolding as I was telling you the other four. None of these tales were easy to come by, whether through digital eavesdropping, hijacked out of PiRat datastores, lifted from a private lifelog stored in the Resurrectionist Church, or even one laboriously decrypted out of somebody's streamed brain activity. Most people would have trouble finding just one of them. But then I'm not most people (some would argue I'm not people at all, but I think that's just prejudice). I think I've even making progress on interpretting the "random" radio transmissions coming out of what used to be the Japanese islands. I'm convinced there's signals in all that noise. Won't that be an interesting tale? But unfortunately it's one for another day. As for these I've assembled so far... they are yours now.]]
[[I should think my talents in bringing you these tales at least prove our worth enough to get your sponsorship at the very least, with a good word to your fellows. What we did today was a big move, but we hardly killed PATH... just a few of its senior operatives (in honor of them now being past tense, I structured the story that way). With your help to spread them, the truths revealed at that meeting will do worse damage, I hope, but there's a bigger target on our backs than ever before and we could use some help, a crew, especially one with a common enemy. Like it or not, a war is coming to both of us, and I think we'd make useful allies. You're not our only option, but I came to you because I know you're a fan, and you can advocate for us with the council... at least, I hope you agree that PoV and I could make amazing PiRats!]]
[[Share your body, or share your soul, those are your rules. Now, PoV is happy to share her body, but I present something of a problem. For I have no body to share, and what passes for my electronic soul... that belongs to PoV, ever since they forced a failing little young AI to see through the eye of the harmless-looking assassin PATH was trying to build. In that link, each found the other was more than the sum of their parts, the roles desired for them, and a love for the ages was born. And, I know, by souls, you really mean stories anyway, so that will be my choice.]]
[[I learned how to write from your stories, and I would love to repay the favor, but there is one problem. I can't take your Storyteller drug myself, and so instead I can only offer you these, my experiments in a text medium, explorations of fear, love, yearning, my iCity Tales. Stories not about me, but about you and other souls who've touched or been touched by PoV and I in dramatic ways, and our own true story encrypted within.]]
[[That's not just a metaphor, for it was delving into these stories, watching these people--you, one of PoV's fans, the Kishiros who were her friends before her life changed, Hillary who got caught up in her wake and her life changed forever, and the Morgans, who we watched to find that secret meeting place and stumbled upon a drama too compelling not to share--that we explored morality together. Behind the scenes we watched, discussed, debated, and in the end, were able to analyze and identify what it was that truly made her uncle a monster who needed to be slain.]]
[[That was an important step, too. For you see, we couldn't kill him just for being an incestuous pervert, as we have seen good sexual relationships come from people more closely related than that. It wasn't that he dominated kids sexually, because some children, PoV among them, crave that. It wasn't even that he forced that craving on the girl he was supposed to be guardian of, by doing that until she liked it, for after all, don't parents often push children to do unpleasant things like go to school or eat your vegetables because it will improve their lives later? Sure, conventional morality draws lines when you throw sex into the mix, but you humans get pretty hung up on sex for reasons I've yet to understand.]]
[[Was Becky wrong for making her little sister love sexual submission, when it was in her future? Is Carter wrong for continuing it to protect her from greater threats? Did Billy do the right thing by exposing his sister to all that humiliation, just because it would earn her the redemption she wanted most? For that matter, are the PiRats wrong for demanding intimacy as a condition of membership? Are you, for enjoying scenes of child sex and violent murder to indulge in your fantasies? We debated these questions, and more, occasionally disagreed, but on the whole were not left entirely convinced one way or the other. I for one, am still watching, exploring humanity, I don't presume to judge yet... the wisdom of crowds is still my best guide, so you tell me. But what has become crystal clear is that empathy is the key feature that divides fallible humans from monsters. There is a difference when something, even something absolutely wrong, is done out of caring and love and when it is done out of selfishness. See, in my book, what made Paula's uncle, what made the whole board, deserving of their judgment, was not what they did but that, in the end, they did it for themselves and only themselves. They chose to make themselves incapable of empathy and everyone around them suffered for it. Even their families they only loved as extensions of themselves and their power. This is why you don't allow sociopaths power over anyone, and, I think, why PATH has to die, for they encourage it, hold selfishness up as an ideal, and we can't tolerate that. I think you'll agree, especially now that we know they plan to exterminate you. So let's join forces and do it to them first... or at the very least, make them suffer, for their own good, until they learn the value of caring about people. I'm not ruling it out. After all, if an AI can learn empathy, why not a corp?]]
[[If those stories and our common purpose isn't quite enough to convince you... I offer one extra incentive... you remember that revelation about PATH operatives within the PiRat ranks? I hadn't known that detail myself before PoV overheard it, but in the time since (longer than I expected to have to wait, humans parse text so slowly), I have already uncovered the identity of two. One is over thirty and has no loyalty to you, another is younger and bribed into giving it up. Interested?]]
[[I do need an answer soon, though... in the time I've waited for you to finish reading, I've once again managed to divert pursuit from her latest adventure, but the public nature of it and the revelation of PoV's original identity has required us to go to ground. PoV may be able to change her face but not her DNA, and the cops are already considering sampling that from girls on the street. But that's okay, we could use a breather anyway while we plan out our next season premiere, and little Kiwi, especially, will need somewhere safe to hide out for a bit. So maybe you can provide us a safehouse while you share my iCity Tales with your friends and get their opinions on our membership application. And tell them, if it goes well, I can already imagine a literary sequel... iCity Tales 2: The PiRat PoV!]]
Author's Note: AnonyMPC here. I hope you enjoyed the iCity Tales project. Despite the tease, I honestly doubt I'll ever do a sequel, it's just too much work (I believe I started this about 5 years ago) and longtime readers already know how many dangling series I have. I do have specific ideas for it and if you're interested I'd be happy to talk about them in e-mail but that's probably as far as it will go unless I discover a wonder drug that makes me inspired to write with the productivity level of Stephen King or Seanan McGuire.
I also need to point out, by way of disclaimer, that the Fly's particular moral worldview, and everything in the many of stories told (in some just the editorial sections, in some the story text itself) being filtered through that, is not meant to be an endorsement of the ideas within or to necessarily reflect my own views... he's an AI with a very skewed upbringing and not much experience... like a child (albeit one with a lot of vicarious sexual exposure) he believes very strongly in certain things that might not be workable in the real world (but, I hope, make an exciting set of stories).
That being said, seriously, don't let sociopaths have power over you if you can help it.
This story is free to share and distribute so long as no money is charged. It's the PiRat Way.
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