What if you can cure the incurable, including restoring the dead flesh of a re-attached severed limb? How? Well, that's the rub, isn't it? The secret is in your sexual emanations and only works when reacting to the environment of a vagina. Yes, you have to inseminate someone to cure them. Welcome to your brave new world, one where you're a stranger in a strange land. Then you learn that someone wants to kill you...
A Novel by David Holmes.
Edited by David Harper.
I’m not sure where I got the idea of this book from; a lot of it seemed to write itself.
Still like my other novels and stories I owe a lot to my friend and Editor David Harper without whose help the magic of the story would not be as much fun to read
Imperial titles and ranking under the Empress
I sat in a chair in a drunken stupor, a half full bottle of beer in my hand as I reminisced over my life and how I found myself in my current position. I had been orphaned at an early age with no memories of family. British by birth, English by grace of God, yet sitting above a brothel in a rundown part of Bangkok, Thailand. I’d never been adopted; had always stayed at a series of children’s homes; learned how to look out for myself in the various pecking orders of bullying and status amongst the various kids.
I even nearly died when a flu epidemic ripped through the squalid crowded conditions just as I hit puberty. I was lucky, I survived, though a good few did succumb and we were moved out only when the scandal of the conditions got into the news.
School was tough. I wasn’t stupid, but the indifference of the teachers and my own stubborn resistance to trusting anyone meant I spent most of it in the lower decile brackets (the unteachables) and left at sixteen with no qualifications, though able to read and write and just had street smarts.
I got lucky though. I joined up at an Army Recruitment Office rather than going down the route of a life of crime as many of my fellow ‘inmates’ did. I was surprised to end up in 1 Para (First Battalion Parachute Regiment) though; seems I had an aptitude for the training, rapidly made it up to Sergeant plus a well-earned reputation as an unarmed combat trainer. I resigned from 1 Para after the debacle of the siege at Majar al-Kabir when the people who massacred the military police were more or less allowed to walk free.
By then though, I’d noticed an unusual gift. It appeared that if I were to come in contact physically with a woman, I had no problem persuading them into having sex with me. Nor did I have any bad luck with regards to STDs and the like, despite occasional checks by army medics as any woman I was with refused or removed any condoms.
Returning home to England was a shock to the system. I missed the order and camaraderie of army life and struggled to find a job or even fit in. Hence I began to drink too much and moved around a lot into a succession of low paid jobs. Yet I invariably got into trouble one way or another as my conscience would not allow me to walk away from someone in trouble.
I ended up fleeing the country after getting on the wrong side of a pimp who was beating one of his girls. Though wrong side is a bit of a misnomer. The gang behind the dead pimp and his five deceased compatriots were after me and I knew at least when I couldn’t win.
There is a network of ex-army people who will step in to help one of their own in trouble. They’ll only do it the once though, so it’s worth saving it up for when you really need it. So, I ended up doing security on a freighter heading to the Far East, mostly to act as a sort of a deterrent against the pirates who were a bit of a menace on the African coast. It was a quiet journey and I didn’t see any action, though did not get on well with the ship’s regular crew who appeared to see me as a bit of an easy mark to do all the scut work, though soon learned better when I decked two of them when they tried to make me do their work. Unfortunately they were the favourites of the senior officer below the Captain and so once again my life was shit.
I skipped the ship at the port of Bangkok and desperate for work and a roof over my head took on a job as a bouncer at a brothel and so found myself at fifty-two drinking too much, dirty fighting with drunken sex tourists and wondering just what the hell had happened.
“Dave!” a screeching voice roused me from my self-pity.
“Yes, Madame Chen?”
“Men fighting in alley over girl. Sort it!”
“Yes, Madame,” I replied and hauled myself to my feet.
It was Aom again, Madame Chen’s big attraction. Looked to be about ten but was actually twenty… ish. The men I didn’t recognise, but they weren’t tourists, that’s for sure.
“Aom, inside now!” I ordered, knowing she could speak a little English as could most of the girls.
“Don’t interfere, ai farang (insulting name for a westerner),” a young better-dressed man spoke in menacing tones.
“My job, ai hee-ah (son of a bitch).”
That did it. Suddenly the five other men attacked, most brandishing knives. Yes, I was older and a little drunk, but I’d chosen my spot well and was able to disarm the first one to get close and use his knife to take out the next two before tripping the first one and stamping hard on his throat.
It was then that something hard smashed into my side and I saw the young man had pulled a gun. This wasn’t enough to save him as I threw the knife and it went straight into his throat, pinning him up against the wooden wall. This made the other two turn and run as I felt the world going dark around me and thinking ‘so this is how it ends…’.
I then saw through my dimming sight a strangely dressed man and woman simply… appear as if stepping out of nowhere… then it went dark.
Here's forty credits recruiters fee
For those who volunteer to see,
To 'list and fight the foe today
Off to the stars and far away
I awoke feeling confused and wondering where the hell I was. It was then that I started wondering just who I was, as for the life of me I could not remember my name.
“Ah, you’re awake,” said a voice to the side of me in a language I clearly understood, but sounded wrong somehow, though I didn’t know why.
“Yes,” I croaked out. “Er…”
“You are in the Medical Resource Headquarters on Vreekoos,” the voice explained, and, for all it sounded female, I could not turn my head to see if it was.
“Why can’t I move?” I asked, a tinge of panic in my voice.
“The bed-field is holding you still to prevent you from injuring yourself.”
“Injuring myself? Why would I do that?” I asked. “Wait a minute, bed-field?”
“A medical grav-bed will hold a patient immobile whilst treatment is given.”
“Grav-bed? What’s a grav-bed?”
“What you’re lying on,” the voice replied in slightly amused tones.
“OK, I got that from the ‘bed’ part. What’s the grav part?”
“They really must have pulled you from a primitive planet,” the voice sighed as a woman, whom I would have placed in her mid-thirties, came into view holding what looked like a relay baton with an antenna sticking out of it.
“They did? I can’t remember,” I replied. “Also, you wouldn’t happen to know who I am, would you?”
“They haven’t told me. I’m just here checking the medi-tech’s repair work before you get interviewed by ImpSec.”
“So, I was injured?”
“And I have amnesia?”
“Do you have a name? I’d introduce myself, only I don’t know who I am.”
“You can call me Healer Cassire.”
“Thank you, Healer Cassire.”
I was ignored as the woman slipped the baton thingy into a pouch at her waist and simply left the room and me alone. It shocked me slightly when the wall simply opened in front of her then closed leaving no trace of the opening afterwards.
I spent the next few minutes trying to remember anything about myself, though failing utterly. I also tried and failed to sit up as well as move any part of my body other than my face. Nor weirdly did I feel constrained, it was actually comfortable (if frustrating) and I didn’t feel numb or even floppy.
The wall opened again and a man entered, wearing a similar styled coverall to the woman, though in a muted shade of grey, rather than light blue. He was also wearing red gloves which he removed as a chair flowed up from the ground for him to sit upon.
“I take it you’d like a few explanations?” he asked.
“Yes please. Start with who I am and who you are.”
“Your name is David. You may call me Herrick.”
“David?” I mused out loud, the name still meaning nothing to me. “I’m sorry, but I don’t recognise it.”
“Yes, when we found you, you’d lost a lot of blood and there was brain damage from oxygen starvation. We could fix the physical damage, but not restore memories.”
“Oh. Do I have family and friends who could fill in the gaps?”
“No, you aren’t from around here.”
“Here being… Vreekoos?”
“That means nothing to me either, sorry.”
“Vreekoos is the capital planet of the Vreekoosian Empire, colloquially known simply as the Empire. It consists of three hundred and forty-seven habitable worlds under the Empress Amantil and you are now one of her subjects.”
“OK… er, what do you mean, now?”
“I’ll get around to that explanation later. Suffice it to say, we found you on a primitive planet and chose to rescue and repair you after what appeared to be some sort of mugging.”
“Why me? Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful, but I suspect your people have better things to do with their time.”
“In this case we were looking for you, your… internet had flagged you as a miracle worker, though no one appeared to have put two and two together to make four and actually check you out physically.”
“Miracle worker? You can’t be serious.”
“I am serious. You are what we call a Cure. That means that you have the ability to fix any known medical condition,” Herrick explained.
“Except myself from a mugging?”
“Oh, you did. But, again, you can’t restore memories, just physical damage – along with disease.”
“So you… kidnapped me to work for you?”
“In a sense. We could have simply left you to die.”
“Yes, thank you,” I said after a pause. “I don’t suppose I could sit up?”
“Nothing stopping you.”
I tried to move again, but the bed held me in its grip still. “The bed is,” I finally said.
“Have you asked it?” he asked, clearly amused.
“Bed, could I sit up please?” I self-consciously asked.
“Try AI,” Herrick suggested.
“AI, could I sit up please?” I asked.
“Of course, Subject 1341,” a voice that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere stated.
Suddenly my upper body was free and I sat up to take a look around. The room itself was pretty much barren, just a bed, what appeared to be some sort of monitor and nothing else, just a light source that didn’t appear to have any particular origin as there were no shadows. I was dressed in some sort of coverall, had a wristband of some type as well as what appeared to feel like a torc around my neck.
“Nothing,” I sighed.
“Nothing?” Herrick asked.
“I sort of know what everything is, but nothing feels familiar. I’m also pretty sure the language I’m speaking isn’t my native tongue, even if I can’t remember my native tongue.”
“It isn’t, you’re speaking Imperial Basic,” Herrick confirmed. “We can mentally implant education, so gave you the language and a few descriptions of items.”
“The rest I figure out for myself?”
“Pretty much so, yes.”
“What’s this?” I asked, pointing to the wrist band.
“Identity wristband, everyone has one. You can contact the AIs with it outside rooms and it will also pay for goods and services for you… if you can afford them.”
“And this?” I pointed to the torc.
“Slave collar. Identifies you as an Imperial High Slave.”
“Slave?” I asked, feeling shocked.
“Think of it as a disguise… of a type.”
“A disguise? Who do I need to hide from?”
“There are certain aspects of Imperial society in which a free subject is liable to pay damages for anything they say or do. Part of your education with Medical Resource will be to inform you of what they are. But, at the moment, you’re safer as a slave, as a slave is not responsible for and cannot be challenged over or punished for their actions.”
“The collar is removable, unlike a real slave collar. Just don’t until you understand Imperial society a lot more.”
“OK,” I nodded. “And what are you to me, Herrick?”
“Your Monitor. I ensure that your patients are prepared for you and that you turn up in the right place at the right time. I’ll also step in if you run into difficulties with real life.”
“You’re welcome. Now, come with me and we’ll see just how good a Cure you are,” he nodded and turned towards an opening in the wall whilst I asked the AI to get the bed to let go of me and panicked slightly as I realised I was floating on it.
Apart from being confused, I felt great, though was unsure as to why, only that I did. I did have a nagging feeling that my body was different somehow, but again I wasn’t sure how or why.
I followed Herrick into another room, passing a few people in coveralls who paused with what they were doing to observe me with mostly neutral faces, though a couple showed disapproval. In the room, a woman floated on a grav-bed looking tired, listless and her visible skin was covered in a fine tracery of black veins. Also in the room were those I believed were Healers, dressed in their light blue coveralls.
“We want you to cure this woman,” Herrick stated.
“Er… OK, how?”
“You need to have sex with her and implant your sperm in her.”
“Not only no, but hell, NO!”
“Refusing is not an option. You are an Imperial asset with a gift the Empire will demand you use as and when we need it,” Herrick replied. “AI, discipline him.”
I collapsed in agony as my whole body seemed to be on fire and seemed to last an age, though was probably only a second.
“Shit! What was that?”
“Neural punishment pulse. Do not disobey a direct order again,” Herrick replied coolly.
“I… I can’t just leap on top of a woman and fuck her.”
“You will if I order you to.”
“Can I at least talk to her?”
“Yes,” he finally replied with a frown.
“Greetings,” I spoke to the woman only to go down with another neural pulse.
“What the hell was that for?” I gasped out.
“The lady in question outranks you,” Herrick explained. “You should lead with ‘Salutations’.”
“Salutations, good lady,” I began again.
“Greetings, slave,” she replied.
“Do you know what it is I have to do to cure you?” I asked.
“Yes, they explained it.”
“Are you OK with it?”
“Yes, I get a quick free cure, rather than waiting binary cycles for a Healer to complete the removal of this genetically mutating virus,” she replied.
“May I know your name?”
“Shall we begin?” I asked, despite not really being ‘in the mood’ so to speak as the neural pulses hadn’t helped, nor was Tala’s current state helping either as the disease up close looked even worse.
I leaned in and kissed her, finding that she was responding rapidly to the kiss and moaned slightly as she became aroused to my touch. I struggled a little with her clothing as initially I couldn’t figure out how it was fastened. Eventually though I had her exposed and used my fingers to accelerate her readiness and pleasure. I was also becoming aroused myself, despite feeling like a performing animal for the observers and was able to remove my own coverall and underwear and scramble up onto the bed.
I slid into her and began to thrust in and out, if feeling somewhat disengaged from the entire procedure. I felt Tala respond and moan in pleasure until with a gasp I released into her, making her cry out in pleasure herself.
I then climbed awkwardly down from the bed, pulled my underwear and coverall back on and helped Tala to cover herself. I also watched in surprise as the black tracery vanished along with her tiredness.
“I’m cured?” she asked one of the Healer types.
“Yes, escort Tala, you are,” the Healer replied.
“Efficacy report?” Herrick asked.
“Judging by how quickly he cured her, he would appear to be very, very powerful, certainly better than any current Cure.”
“Interesting,” Herrick nodded. “Let’s try the particulate removal test.”
“At once, Monitor.”
Tala was floated out of the room and another patient brought in, this one a male.
“Er…” I began, wondering just how to explain that I wasn’t wired that way.
“Where’s the surrogate?” Herrick asked.
“She’s on her way,” a Healer informed him.
A wall then opened and a pretty young lady entered and greeted the Healer. “Salutations, Healer Duklan.”
“Greetings, escort Ylvay,” he replied. “You know what is to be done. The Cure is ready.”
“Salutations, escort Ylvay,” I greeted her.
“Greetings, slave,” came the indifferent reply as she simply dropped her garment and leaned over the grav-bed dropping a few personal items next to herself. “Well, come on, I haven’t got all day!”
“Really not feeling the love here,” I muttered as I dropped my coverall and underwear again, though was clearly ready to perform as Ylvay was quite lovely and shapely to look at.
“Anyone got any lube?” Ylvay asked.
She was handed a tube of something and swiftly prepared herself before handing it back to me.
“Any rough stuff and I’ll take a knife to you,” she warned.
“Seriously?” I asked the room before paling slightly when she pulled out a small stiletto from a bag lying next to her.
I lubed up and carefully pushed into her from behind, trying to ignore the knife and the threats. This made Ylvay moan in pleasure as I proceeded to fuck her, trying to guess just what it was she wanted and to keep her happy. She did have exquisite control of her internal muscles and before I was ready I released into her with a groan of satisfaction. I then stepped back and watched and dressed as Ylvay straightened up, went over to the patient as one of the Healer types got him stiff and then planted herself on him.
After what I reckoned was five minutes, the Healer nodded and she clambered off and began pulling her garment on.
“Well?” Herrick asked.
“Excellent results, all the particulates have been expelled from his body and the wounds sealed. We can regrow his leg without any issues now,” the Healer replied.
“Good,” Herrick nodded. “Come with me, David. Let’s sort out your quarters and prepare you for your education during the next work period.”
The wall opened up and we entered into what seemed to be a small booth and simply stood there for about a minute until the door opened and I realised that we’d been in some sort of lift, though I’d never felt it moving at all.
“These are your quarters,” Herrick stated. “It’s a median level apartment. Day room is where the lift will appear if you need it. Through there is the bedroom. This drawer is for dirty laundry, that’s the shower and toilet facilities. The tri-dee cube will focus on the furthest wall from you, it’s controlled by the AI. The AI will also deliver food and drink to you on request.”
“How do I pay for this?” I asked. “Also, what do I get paid in?”
“You’ll usually be paid in Royals at about ten thousand per patient, unless you forego the payment.”
“Is that a lot?”
“Yes, the normal wage of a Monitor is ten Royals per day. Under that is the Credit, there are a thousand Credits to one Royal.”
“How much is the apartment?”
“One Royal per binary cycle.”
“Binary cycle, ten Vreekoosian days, each day divided up into two working, two sleeping and two recreational periods.”
“Right,” I replied though not really understanding the lengths of the days.
“You’re confused, I know,” Herrick nodded, becoming a bit more… human. “Use the tri-dee system to educate yourself on Vreekoos and the Empire. Oh, and that box contains everything you had with you when we… found you,” he pointed to a container sitting on a bench top. “Now relax, study, get some rest and I’ll collect you for the next work period.”
“Yes, thank you, Herrick,” I nodded as a lift arrived and he left.
I wandered around the apartment, recognising the grav-bed but that was about all.
“AI?” I finally asked.
“Yes, Subject 1341?”
“Do I have enough credits to buy food?”
“Yes, Subject 1341.”
“What do you recommend?”
“Your vital signs suggest a need for a lot of calories as well as vitamins and minerals; some of it is down to mild shock at your current predicament.”
“And such a meal would be?”
“A Vlissos platter would restore your vitals to normal,” came the reply.
“Fine, could I have a Vlissos platter and some sort of hot drink, please.”
What arrived was a plate with what appeared to be spiced pasties and various dips along with a tall steaming glass of a vaguely tea-smelling liquid.
Seeing no cutlery I opted for the finger-food style technique and enjoyed the first meal I could ever remember having.
“AI?” I asked.
“Yes, Subject 1341?”
“What do I do with the plate and glass?”
The hole in the wall where the food had been delivered from opened again and I deposited the items in there.
“You are welcome, Subject 1341.”
I then asked the AI to put up some sort of beginner’s guide to Vreekoos and settled down on the floor to watch.
That night I dreamed, remembering fractured scenes of my past, nothing specific, though I woke up sweating and shocked at the remembrance of my near-death, though not the faces of those who brought it about. As I wasn’t sleepy any more, I tried out the shower after popping my clothing into what Herrick had called the laundry. The shower had been described to me by the tri-dee program the night before and despite using no water, soon had me cleaned down. And I left it to find my clothing neatly folded waiting for me to get dressed.
“Yes, Subject 1341?”
“Where do I get new clothes from?”
“I can order new items for you from the manufacturers. A display of such items on a similar sized model can be put up in the tri-dee cube.”
“How many clothes do I have?”
“One coverall, ten sets of underwear, one pair of boots and ten pairs of socks.”
“You’re welcome, Subject 1341.”
“AI? What time will Herrick be here?”
“Two hundred and forty rotations.”
I had no clue as to how long that would be, but did go to the box of my old possessions and pulled out my old military watch, which, by some miracle, was still going.
“AI, could you tell me when one rotation is over, starting… now.”
Turns out a rotation was barely under thirty seconds; hence Herrick was two hours away. I was able to figure out by questioning the AI on day length and year length, figuring fifty hours to the day and four hundred and ninety day periods in the year, or a Vreekoosian year being 2.8 times an Earth year.
“AI, can you get me a chair?”
I was startled by one simply forming itself out of the material of the floor, but realised I’d seen Herrick do something similar. I then spent some time getting the AI to help make the equivalents of rugs and carpets as well as a sofa and converted the screens to act as windows when not being used as screens.
Finally Herrick showed up and it was time for another day.
“Interesting taste,” Herrick observed as he looked around my apartment.
“The AIs helped,” I nodded, wondering if he was mocking me. “May I ask you a question?”
“Of course, though I will refuse to answer if it involves Imperial Security… or is none of your business,” he answered as we stepped into the lift.
“Fair enough,” I acknowledged. “How old was I when you found me?”
“You were 18½ years old according to the planetary records.”
“So why am I now 8?” I asked doing a quick calculation to come down from 52 to 22 Earth years.
“You’re a Cure, you were given rejuve.”
“What’s rejuve?” I asked feeling a little confused.
“It’s given to people who are a valuable asset to the Empire who could not be replaced easily. It keeps you in a permanent state of youth or rather at your body’s peak.”
“Wow,” I replied feeling somewhat amazed.
“Just remember, it can be taken away if you mess up.”
“I won’t, I like being young,” I nodded. “Also, in a dream, I remembered a little of my previous life.”
“Try to hold on to those fragments; they’ll help stabilise your existence here. If you had any bad habits, try and drop them.”
“I couldn’t remember any bad habits, just fragments, no family or other people, just I was in the Army,” I shrugged as we exited the lift.
“We have very little information on you, just gleaned from what your world called the ‘internet’, a sort of information database accessed via various devices. We were mostly looking for individuals who could do unusual cures and a Healer there had flagged you as being of interest. So we sent a team to collect you and they got to you just in time, though not quickly enough to save your memories,” he explained.
“Thank you,” I replied sincerely.
“We’ll be doing more tests on you and with you today, plus you’ll also be required to attend an assimilation class to help you fit in. Be aware, they will punish you if you mess up.”
“Damn, that’s harsh,” I shuddered slightly.
“So don’t mess up,” he shrugged before handing me over to the various Healer/Monitor types, whom I couldn’t as yet tell apart.
The assimilation class was rough. The AIs directing it were extremely unforgiving of any mistake made twice. Hence I learned always to lead off in a first meeting with ‘salutations’, always to ask the AIs for a destination and never assume I could just walk through any door in Medical Resource. Despite constant teaching, I could not ascertain just who or what rank the person I was talking to or was directing me was, nor were the AIs of any help. I, fortunately, did have a good memory for names and faces, which helped as, if I didn’t, the class would have been a nightmare for me.
The other tests all revolved around my gift and the time it took to become effective. I, it did seem, was an impressive specimen of a Cure, though the various Healers and Monitors involved with the cure generally ignored me other than to give orders.
I was however rapidly coming to the conclusion that the people in Medical Resource did not care for Cures and generally kept out of my way or refused to engage in conversations with me unless they absolutely had to. Hence I was making no friends or even acquaintances and after what I considered a week, was beginning to feel lonely and unwanted.
This changed one day after work when I got a call on my tri-dee monitor and found myself facing Healer Cassire whom I’d not seen since my awakening.
“Salutations, Healer,” I greeted her.
“Greetings,” she replied coldly. “You will come here and assist me.”
“Er, yes. Where are you?”
“Take a lift to the medical centre, Hrunesh block, lower level, section four. Do not stray as the area can be dangerous to the unwary. Ask for me in the centre,” she replied then just ended the connection.
Being bored, I decided to ignore her rudeness and simply see what it was I could do to help, though suspected it would be my gift.
The lift opened in front of the centre which was clearly marked and right beside what looked like some sort of market which fascinated me as I’d never thought to go exploring as I knew very little about how Imperials lived their lives. The only shopping I’d done was via the AI and delivered to my apartment.
The medical centre had definitely seen better days and looked both grubby and ill maintained. Still, this was where I’d been asked to go and so I approached the reception desk where a very small lady sat observing me.
“Salutations,” I began. “Healer Cassire requested my presence.”
“Oh, you must be Cure David,” she replied with a very bright smile and an infectious attitude.
“Yes, I am he.”
“Healer Cassire is through in the treatment room,” she pointed. “Just go through and she’ll see you. Oh, I’m Hiqua by the way.”
“Delighted to meet you, Hiqua,” I nodded, liking her immediately as the first Imperial to actually engage with me in a friendly manner.
“Thank you, it’s nice to meet you too,” she beamed as I wandered through into the treatment room.
Inside were four people, one clearly a patient, male and looking to be seriously undernourished. The other a pretty if tired looking woman who was stood next to a very large well-muscled man, possibly her bodyguard and also Healer Cassire.
“Oh good, you’re here,” she stated in unwelcoming tones. “You will heal this man for me.”
“No problem, I take it this young lady is the surrogate?” I replied, keeping my tones neutral.
“I am, name’s Vrion,” the woman replied for Cass.
“Salutations, Vrion, it’s nice to meet you, I’m David.”
“Just get on with it,” the man almost growled. “Time is money.”
“Charming,” I murmured.
“He’s my minder,” Vrion explained. “He makes sure I return to the entertainment centre complex as they hold my debt bondage.”
“Still doesn’t excuse his rudeness to a customer,” I frowned as he scowled.
“You aren’t paying, you aren’t a customer,” he replied.
“Someone must be paying?”
“Quid pro quo,” Cassire explained (though she didn’t use that term). “They supply a surrogate; I treat their debt slaves for free.”
“Oh right, so I am a customer after all,” I chuckled.
“The centre is,” Cassire replied coolly.
“Same thing,” I grinned. “Now he can wait outside, this isn’t a spectator sport, no matter what Medical Resource think.”
“Agreed,” Cassire nodded and spoke to the man. “You will wait in reception. There is no other way out.”
“I have to remain with her,” he snarled.
“No, as your boss Verrick no doubt explained to you, your job is to ensure she doesn’t abscond. As the only way out of here is that door, you will wait outside it. Do not make me call him as you will not like the result!”
Grumbling under his breath the man left the room to no doubt wait just outside.
“OK, Vrion, how do you want to do this?” I asked politely.
“Ooh, I don’t often get asked that,” she giggled “But best make it quick today as he’s already bitching.”
Vrion then simply hiked up her diaphanous garment and leaned over a grav-bed and indicated for me to do my stuff. I swiftly stepped out of my coverall and underwear and moved up behind her and found she was already well lubricated so I just pushed in gently making her sigh with delight.
“Oh my, that actually feels so good!” she exclaimed.
“Seems to be part of my… gift,” I replied, enjoying the feeling of her internal muscles trying to milk me of my semen.
“Well, I’ll definitely volunteer the next time,” she moaned. “I only came this time because I need to up my daily quota and you Cures have a dreadful reputation in the newsies.”
“I’m just me and I wouldn’t do anything nasty to you.”
“Might just make you unique,” she giggled then gasped as an orgasm hit her.
This then caused me to speed up and release my own bounty into her, causing her orgasm to extend further. She then, on very wobbly legs, went over to the patient, whom Cassire had got erect via her medical wand (as I now knew what to call it) and sank onto him as I dressed.
“So how much do you owe and for how long?” I asked as she just sort of squatted there.
“Not sure of the exact sum, but it includes my education debts and the payment made to my parents when they sold me to the centre.”
“Sheesh, can I help?”
“No, these are my debts; you aren’t allowed to pay off anyone’s debt of bondage,” she replied. “But thank you, you’re a nice man, David.”
“Pity, but if I could, I would.”
“Serves me right for bunking off school, but I was hoping to join Ground Forces, I never expected my Mum and Dad to sell me on.”
“I don’t really understand Imperial society, but I guess it’s legal,” I shrugged.
“Yep, often happens to kids who fail school.”
“Time’s up,” Cassire announced. “He’s healed. Thank you, Vrion.”
“Best go then before he gets more obnoxious. Thank you, Healer Cassire, lovely to meet you, Cure David.”
“Call me Dave, my friends do,” I replied with a smile.
“Thank you, Dave. We’ll meet again I’m sure,” she grinned, looking quite healthy herself now. “How many friends do you have?”
“You’d be the first, Vrion,” I chuckled.
“I’m honoured,” she beamed before walking out to be escorted back to the entertainment centre.
“You can go now,” Cassire stated to me.
“Could I stay and just help tidy up?” I asked. “It’s not like I have anything better to do.”
“Do as you wish, I’ve no further work for you.”
Outside I asked Hiqua where the cleaning gear was, only to get a blank look. “I think we’ll have to order some, if I can persuade the Healers to part with the credits,” she eventually replied.
“Don’t bother, I’ll get some from the market,” I grinned.
I left, hearing Hiqua call out something behind me that I missed totally and wandered over to what had to be a food vendor with a few chairs and tables scattered around outside it.
“Salutations,” I greeted the middle-aged lady who was observing me.
“Hi,” she replied looking a little amused.
“I’m a stranger here, but want something good to eat,” I went on looking at the items on display.
“The pasties are good and filling,” she replied.
“OK, can I have one and a glass of that hot brown drink, please.”
“A pasty and a tuch, coming up,” she nodded as her scanner debited my wristband.
“Name’s David,” I said when she handed over the items.
“Vatu, but everyone here calls me Mamma.”
“Nice to meet you, Mamma.”
“You too, David,” she nodded. “You work in the medical centre?”
“Yep, they want me to clean it up, but don’t have any cleaning stuff,” I chuckled.
“That’s easy enough; I can get my son, Solto, to take you around and show you the stalls that sell the gear.”
“I’m obliged,” I grinned.
“Wouldn’t want you to head off the beaten track and get mugged,” she nodded.
“You’ll be fine in the market, usually it’s neutral territory with regards to the gangs. But occasionally we get rogue elements.”
“Oh right,” I nodded. “Damn, this is good!” I praised the pasty.
“Thanks, one of my specials.”
“I’ll definitely be back for more.”
“Good, that’s how I make my living,” she chuckled. “Solto! Give David here a hand to get some cleaning gear like the stuff I use. Don’t let him get ripped off either.”
“Yes, Mamma,” a young thirteen-year-old (looking) boy replied who had been hanging around watching me.
“You the janitor at the medical centre?” Solto asked as he led me to a stall that sold various items that I didn’t recognise.
“Guess so, not sure what they call me though,” I chuckled.
“Got your work cut out. I don’t think that place… well the reception, has been cleaned since I was born,” he grinned.
“Treatment rooms are clean enough,” I shrugged. “But yeah, you’re right about that reception.”
Solto then ordered several items for me that I grasped the use of from descriptions on the packaging and let me pay for after haggling with the proprietor.
“You want a cleaning bot too?” he asked.
“I guess so, but it’ll have to be delivered,” I nodded holding onto a large box full of dusters, brushes, sprays and what I hoped was a mop and bucket.
“OK, follow me,” he replied and led me to another stall displaying various… floating machines.
Negotiations followed as Solto and the vendor figured out just what it was that I required, which wasn’t helped by my total ignorance of the devices. Eventually I ended up with a basic machine that would follow verbal instructions both automatically and manually. I paid up and was promised delivery in about thirty rotations (15 minutes).
“Can I offer you a few credits for your help?” I asked Solto.
“Thanks, mention it to Mamma next time you’re at the stall,” he grinned then guided me back to the medical centre.
“Oh my goodness, David. Are you all right?” Hiqua greeted me when I entered the centre.
“Yes? Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Don’t you know how dangerous the lower levels are?”
“The market is neutral territory for gang activity,” I replied remembering the conversation I had with Mamma.
“Yes, just don’t wander off the beaten track,” I grinned and put my box down and sorted out what I needed to at least clean the seats.
Ten minutes later a young woman arrived with the cleaning bot and with a little help from her I got it working to mop the floors, not that I expected to get them clean, but it would remove the worst of the trodden in muck.
The centre AI informed me that my sleep period was approaching as I’d requested and with Hiqua’s help I got the cleaning gear stashed along with the bot, got a hug off her and a thank you before I went home to clean myself up and get some sleep.
That set the pattern for the next three binary cycles (two months). I trained and was tested in Medical Resource during the working day, the neural punishments tapering off as I gradually improved in my knowledge of the Empire and began to fit in more, though I did not make any friends there, just distant acquaintances who were marginally polite to me, mostly to do with the activities of other Cures I believed who, apparently, were not well behaved at all.
In my free time though, I worked down in the lower level medical centre, gradually getting to know Hiqua, Vrion and Mamma along with Solto a lot better and reached the stage where we were genuine friends. I’d even persuaded Hiqua to venture out with me to Mamma’s one day and enjoyed a drink of tuch with her as she gazed around in fascination at the goings on.
“We were always warned to stay indoors and go straight to and from the lift,” she commented to Mamma.
“Pretty good advice for tourists,” Mamma chuckled. “But the people here don’t want the centre to close and attacking one of you would ensure that.”
“If you deliberately did it yes, but we still get the odd fight and have to get the Guardians in to deal with it. That’s just part of the job though.”
“Happens out here too, some folks just can’t seem to get along.”
“So we’d be OK just coming out here for our breaks?” Hiqua asked.
“Yeah. You’re definitely hands off with the local gangs, just be careful you don’t leave the main square,” Mamma confirmed.
“OK,” Hiqua beamed, looking at the various displays around the market.
With Vrion it was slightly different, I only ever saw her if I was assisting a seriously ill patient that the medical centre couldn’t cure. And it was not always her when I got requests from some of the other Healers working at the centre, none of whom could even be bothered to be polite. Nor were they particularly polite about their patients when talking about them behind their backs. Still, Vrion and I got on well as friends, though it was obvious that she hoped for something more. Unfortunately for her, for all I liked her; it just was not romantic in nature, which she eventually accepted. Her minders were an occasional problem for the centre, but gradually got the message that they were not welcome in the treatment room unless they were getting treatment.
The only lady there to really tempt me was Hiqua and that was a non-starter. For one thing she was married, had two daughters and Imperial law appeared to take marriage seriously in that divorce seemed to be hard to almost impossible to obtain. Nor were affairs easy either, the AIs monitoring the levels I frequented would grass you up if you tried, though the entertainment centres catered for single people of both sexes. Still, that didn’t stop us mildly flirting at any and all occasions when I was tackling the cleaning of the centre. I now even picked up a minimum wage for being there just to justify my presence there.
With Cassire it was different, for all she was the one I’d usually be summoned by, we didn’t get along. She was abrasive, arrogant, short-tempered and ignored me if she didn’t need me. That said, would tell me off if she caught me fraternising with Hiqua, which was a regular occurrence, though it irritated her that both Hiqua and I generally gravitated back to chat when her back was turned.
Solto was a big help, whenever he was around that is. He was the one who’d help me out when there was something I didn’t understand about Imperial society (in so far as he knew about it) and anything else that was going on as to what people were doing and why.
So it was through my friends that I gradually integrated my way into Imperial society, at least on the lower levels and gradually I felt less like a stranger in a strange land. Also, my dreams had been helping me to remember my past, each sleep period more was coming back. Gradually my memories had been building up, assisted, I thought, by my gift working on me as well as others.
I had just begun to do my full time work as a Cure for Medical Resource when things changed. My Monitor changed from Herrick to a guy called Vromesh, though I still saw Herrick around if I ran into difficulties with the authorities, usually for being in the wrong place (as a slave) or saying the wrong thing to someone in authority as often enough I wasn’t aware who actually was in authority over me.
This day though I was in the High Court observing quietly from the periphery as I was supposedly representing my fellow Cures. Not that I’d ever met a fellow Cure, nor had any idea what they wanted. Still, the proceedings had the advantage of being mercifully short, usually a lot of Bureaucrats and Nobles arguing over who did what and sometimes blatant power grabs as they tried to expand or defend their own little empires.
It was when I got home and changed that the problems started. I summoned a lift to take me to the medical centre and was told ‘request denied’ by the AI.
“Why?” I asked.
“You are no longer permitted access to the lower levels, Subject 1341,” the reply came back.
“For what reason?”
“You are too valuable an Imperial asset to be endangered down there.”
“I’m not in any danger down there!”
“Bureaucrat Mennik has decreed you are not permitted down there.”
“Can I appeal?”
And that was apparently that, though I did question Vromesh about it, but was told he didn’t have the rank to overturn it, nor was he inclined to try, he informed me indifferently. What other monitors I could speak to also were not interested, nor were any of the patients of a higher rank I spoke to any help. Many telling me they’d look into it, but I’d never hear anything about it again.
So I plodded on, again alone, hoping that something would turn up and I could see my friends again, even Cassire. The only other thing to turn up was Vromesh informing me one day he was moving on and that I’d be put under a new Monitor, though he never bothered to inform me as to whom, simply throwing it in as a passing line in a short update talk we had before I headed off to my lonely apartment.
“Ah, Subject 1341. Welcome to Medical Resource. This won’t take long,” an enthusiastic if oily voice welcomed me.
“My name is David,” I answered firmly.
“Of course it is, Subject 1341.”
“Do you expect co-operation with that attitude?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I am but a facilitator. There are things about you I’m not permitted to know, hence my attempt to keep this as impersonal as possible. Plus you wear the collar of a slave and should be addressed as such!”
“Just call me David. Or expect limited co-operation!”
“If you insist… David.”
“I do. What do you have for me?”
“Six-year-old girl, daughter of a senior bureaucrat, diagnosed with genetic dispersal syndrome.”
“How bad?” I asked, doing a mental calculation to come up with what I considered to be her real age of sixteen going on seventeen Earth years, rather than her Imperial age. Imperial years were roughly 2.8 times longer than the Earth years I had been used to, but Imperial bodies matured at the same rate as Earth ones.
“Terminal, three binary cycles (roughly two months, a binary cycle being ten Imperial days of fifty hours duration or getting on for almost twenty-one Earth days, an Imperial year being 490 days with a leap year day added every second year),” he replied, swallowing slightly.
“And does she realise just how this ‘cure’ works?”
“I… er, do not know. However, her father insists.”
“Cowardly bastard,” I muttered.
“His contract offers you your freedom to work in the lower levels, so long as you wear the collar and will return upon request,” Oily stated.
“He has this power?” I asked, having been disappointed before by the machinations of the Imperial bureaucracy.
Oily simply placed on the desk in front of me a slip of pseudo-paper which contained the details of the contract I was required to fulfil and the payment I could expect. It was genuine too, as my wristband scanner told me.
“Any other conditions expected?”
“None, the regular advanced medicines and gene reversion therapy did not take. He is reputedly desperate. She is his only… permitted child,” Oily replied.
“She should have been warned!”
“That was not my decision to make.”
“I know, it’s the only thing stopping you from getting a broken jaw.”
“There’s no need for hostility or your attitude!”
“Really? Kidnapped by the Empire from my home planet because an Imperial bureaucrat, in one of your planetary scans, noticed that I could cure sexually transmitted diseases?” I asked in contempt, giving the version of a story I thought closer to the truth than the official version I’d been given of being ‘found’.
“Your gift, along with your body, now belongs to the Empress Amantil, and therefore to her Bureaucracy. Besides, you now no longer live in poverty on a disease ridden planet and you have been given the rejuve treatment, which only the highest can get… more than I can get either,” he almost snarled.
“Jealous much?” I replied with a shrug.
“Will you help her?” he asked, looking like he was sucking lemons.
“Yes, though I’ll need to talk to her first,” I acquiesced.
“Of course. That was expected from your file,” he replied and pointed to an opening in the wall that had just appeared.
The girl appeared to be floating in mid-air, lying above a flat glistening bed-like plate. I said appeared, because I knew that she was being held in position by some form of gravitational attraction/repulsion that kept her there in the softest of grips, yet was also powerful enough to stop a heavy object passing through it. I knew this because I’d asked one day, surprising the bureaucratic Monitors who oversaw me and who took this sort of thing for granted. The explanation was long and complex, though I had a gift of a sort in being able to break things down by simplification and hence got the general gist of a scientific principle the people of my Earth hadn’t run across yet.
“Salutations, honourable youngling,” I greeted her in the expected manner of lower to higher, something they’d reinforced in me with a pain stimulator after they’d implanted the common tongue in my brain by direct neural transfer.
“Greetings,” she replied in a voice that held no power, almost whispered in resignation.
“May I know your name?”
“Have they told you why you’re here?”
“No. I assume I have been cast out to die, so none may witness my condition and the shame it brings my genome,” she replied, a lone tear trickling down her cheek.
“No. You aren’t here to die.”
“To be cured… should you choose to be.”
“Do not mock me. The genetic aberrations within my DNA will not permit gene resequencing!”
“I know. Which is why you’re speaking to me as I can bypass such things. Have you not heard of Cures?”
“Really, a Cure?”
“Yes, a Cure.”
I gazed at Taisha, who looked so frail. The genetic degradation within her body was eating her from the inside as her immune system turned against her.
“I do not believe you can cure me, it’s all just lies to fool the gullible!”
“It’s not a requirement… belief, that is. But, there is a price.”
“My father can pay.”
“It’s not that kind of price.”
“Then what is it?”
“Yes. My sperm, or at least the seminal fluid, contains some sort of miracle cure. No, I don’t know how. But it resets anyone’s genetic structure to a normal base sequencing level.”
She looked at me in horror and I couldn’t blame her one bit.
“Before you ask, no, I can’t just masturbate and inject you with the result, it needs to be delivered directly by full bodily contact within your vagina.”
“But I must remain unsoiled for my betrothal,” she gasped.
“Virginity can be cured by surgery,” I shrugged. “Your death, can’t.”
“I would rather die!”
“You will, otherwise, and I would hate that.”
“There must be another way, other than a… a slave having his way with me,” she snarled, some colour returning to her cheeks.
“I’m not a slave.”
“You wear the neck band of one!”
“Oh this?” I indicated my torc, before unlocking it and dropping it on a nanite table raised swiftly from the floor at a command via my wristband scanner. “It’s just a disguise to make me beneath notice in the dangerous politics of the court. An Imperial slave being beyond any punishment other than the Empress’ High Bureaucrats can inflict, and they would not dare to damage me as she would have them killed, slowly and with extreme malice.”
She looked astonished as the neckband came off. After all, they were supposed to be there permanently and explode if they were unlocked without a special… call it a key.
“Please, there must be some other way,” she begged.
“I wish there were, do you think I’d enjoy abusing you this way?” I sighed.
“On my world you would be regarded as a child or adolescent at best.”
“Taisha, the choice is yours. I won’t force you,” I replied sympathetically. “However if we don’t, you will die and I suspect your father will be heartbroken.”
“Does he know what you do?”
“Yes, he offered a great price should I cure you.”
“For me to be able to go into the lower levels and aid them with my gift… for a time. I’m pretty sure they will find a way to bring me under their control again.”
“Yes, no doubt,” she nodded, showing a good grasp of court politics, which was always about control and influence.
“I can leave you to think it over,” I offered.
“No, I wish to live… only I do not know…” she trailed off confused.
“I’ll lead the way and try to make it as pleasant as possible,” I nodded at her confusion.
“It’s David, or Dave if you prefer a more correct version of my name that I only permit those whom I like to call me.”
“Very well, Dave,” she nodded. “How do we begin?”
“Just relax, this will work better if you allow me to stimulate you properly,” I replied, before bending over and kissing her soft dry lips, making her start slightly in shock.
I kept the kiss going, feeling the tension leaving her body as another aspect of my gift came into play, the ability to create acquiescence from the woman I was attempting to ‘cure’. No, my gift doesn’t just work on women. However, as I’d discovered, men just do not have the necessary equipment for the cure, but, a male who penetrates a female within an hour of me depositing my semen in her, will be cured as well. So far I hadn’t been asked to get into what I considered paedophilia, Taisha being the youngest so far. Apparently the Empire could keep pre-pubescents alive long enough to be dealt with by the few practitioners of my gift. No, I’m not the only one who can do this… but I have a feeling I’m the best as I seem to be the one preferred by the higher levels of the bureaucracy.
Soon I was able to probe her mouth with my tongue as I awoke within her desires she never knew she had. Yet all this was tempered by the fact that I always spoke to my ‘patients’ first and got to see them as real people, not an object to simply fuck, hence I felt appreciation for them, or in the case of Taisha, genuine affection, as no one deserved to die as she would.
I slipped a hand under her hospital style gown and gently stroked her leg, eliciting a sigh from her as my magic… for want of a better word, produced in her a state of acceptance. The fact that her illness had reduced her to the state of an anorexic teenager mattered not to me as I saw the person that Taisha was and loved her in spite of her physical issues.
I kept the caresses soft and gentle, moving only to unseal the front-opening gown she had been placed in deliberately to enable the act. Whatever her initial misgivings, it was clear Taisha was enjoying my attentions far more than my gift could bring about. Her tongue now entwined with mine as she became fully involved in the process. Soon I was caressing an almost shrunken breast, the nipple, though, standing starkly erect as waves of pleasure ran through her body. Taking my lips from hers and making her sigh softly at the loss, I traced a pattern of kisses down her almost emaciated body to suckle a nipple and make her gasp out loud in pleasure. One of my hands had now moved to her hairless pussy. (All Imperial men and women are hair-free below their head. I was told this was a genetic adaptation from their distant past.) I found clear wetness and obvious desire as I probed and found her clitoris and gently rubbed it, making her moan in bliss. Soon she stiffened and crooned out a warbling cry as nature took its course and she orgasmed, a few tears streaming down her face, from the shock of it, I thought.
“Ready now?” I asked softly.
“Y… Yes,” she nodded as I unsealed my robe and clambered onto the bed to move on top of her.
I positioned myself carefully and gave her a soft kiss before I pushed down and into her, making her gasp in shock and pain as I broke her hymen. I then just held myself carefully, not putting any weight upon her until she regained her composure somewhat and became accustomed to my invasion of her body.
I then began gentle thrusts, savouring her tightness and doing my best to ensure she was enjoying it as much as she was able to. It soon became clear that Taisha was enjoying it very much indeed, if her gasps and moans along with her attempts to move with me were concerned. Finally I could hold back no more and with a groan of my own I released my bounty into her in several powerful spurts, one of the effects being she orgasmed again due to its efficacy.
Carefully clambering off her I sealed both our gowns as I used my wrist device to raise a chair from the nanite composites that made up the floor and walls and sat beside her just holding her hand as I watched. First, colour come back to her pasty complexion, followed by the wasting away of her body ceasing and then reversing as the bed pumped re-growth hormones, along with vitamins and minerals, into her. Soon enough she looked well, if a little underweight and was clearly stunned at the results.
“I… I’m cured?” she asked softly.
“Yes, I don’t know why or how. I have had it explained several times but it’s extremely complicated,” I nodded, still holding her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.
“I… I enjoyed it very much,” she replied with a blush.
“Good, otherwise it would have been rape,” I replied.
“Yes. I will never forget you, Dave,” she replied with a dreamy smile as a team of attendants came in to take her from the healing centre.
“Yes you will, little Taisha. They’ll repair your virginity, wipe your memory and say that Imperial science found a cure at the last minute,” I sighed quietly as Oily re-entered the room.
“Another success,” he exulted, rubbing his hands together in an unctuous manner.
“Yes, as always,” I muttered.
“Here is your re-drawn contract permitting you access to the lower levels. The only proviso being you return when directed,” he replied, picking up my identification collar and handing it over to me.
“Good, I have work to do there.”
“Goodness knows why; awful place, awful people,” he shuddered before walking out of the room through a doorway I was not permitted to use.
“He has the contract, Serenissima,” the man I knew as Oily confirmed to the tall dark-haired woman who had apparently watched the event from the viewing chamber.
“I saw and heard. I am still somewhat bemused by Senior Bureaucrat Jakkant’s… generosity in giving it to him,” the woman replied.
“He must truly love his only permitted legitimate daughter,” Oily shrugged.
“Yes, for this reason alone I will have David monitored in the lower levels, just in case Jakkant decides to have him silenced so as no one will know that she was supposedly dishonoured… no matter the reason or outcome. For that reason increase the security levels here to high until I get to the bottom of this.”
The woman then left silently and Oily relaxed. Dealing with the Empress was never easy and one mistake, false step or ill-spoken word could have him reduced to that of a pauper in the lower levels. Still, she was correct, Jakkant’s offer was unprecedented and that normally meant trouble… for someone. “David had better watch his back,” he murmured with a slight smile, before sending out the signals to the AI overseeing the health centre to increase the security levels and protection for the staff.
Me? Yes, I live in luxury, but it’s the luxury of a society that George Orwell, writer of 1984, would have understood all too well. I’m constantly monitored in the median and higher levels to ensure I don’t breach any rules or go anywhere I’m not supposed to. The Imperial AIs are both pernicious and all pervasive there and it is only in the lower levels that I’m relatively free, though I suspect that Imperial Security monitors there as well, if not so completely, only to quash the occasional crime lord or half-baked uprising.
Essentially the lower levels are where the dregs of society end up. Admittedly they live better and longer than the poor of my Earth (wherever that is) and are fed, although are unable to breed without a license so their numbers are less than you’d expect (along with the rest of Imperial society, as it’s tightly controlled). They are also the recruiting grounds of the Imperial Ground Forces in a sort of service that guarantees higher citizenship where their pension, should they survive service, grants them and any children they have a lowest median level existence, or one rank higher if that’s where they started from, in the median levels. Of course, the children have to pass the basic tests in schooling to keep this level, though I’m told many simply enlist in what has become a family tradition. Median level citizens also do not have direct access to neural learning programs, though it is offered to their best and brightest as the Empire is far from stupid and likes to introduce new blood as it slowly expands as well as contends with the result of wars against the various galactic Realms they have contact with.
I’d often been in the lower levels, at least until someone higher up in the Bureaucracy decided this was not where an Imperial asset should be spending his time. I had aided a small medical charity down there who did their best to assist with the various illnesses and accidents that were prevalent in the lower levels, where health and safety regulations were simply ignored… or non-existent, I’m not too sure. Yes, they knew of my gift, though all had sworn on their personal honour (a big thing in the higher levels of Imperial society) not to reveal it as they all knew too well one of the local crime lords might just kidnap me for his own ends and leverage against his rivals. As it was, the local crime lords knew very well not to interfere with the clinic, not if they didn’t want ImpSec (Imperial Security) dealing with them.
Ordering my wardrobe to open, I pulled out a non-descript coverall used by many of the basic workforce in the lower levels and summoned a… well, it’s a lift… sort of. It goes up and down, naturally, as well as horizontally, extremely fast, though you can’t feel this from inside. Closest thing to it would be one of those turbo-lifts you see in ‘Star Trek’. These ran planet wide from top to bottom on the Imperial capital of Vreekoos, a city which covered two-thirds of the entire land area of the planet with a population of ten billion. The other third being a small continent where the estates of the Empress Amantil and the senior Bureaucrats and Nobility, including, I suspect, Taisha’s father were.
Within seconds the lift had deposited me in the main market square of this section of the undercity, and almost directly in front of the medical centre.
“David!” came an excited cry from Hiqua, the young female receptionist. “Oh, welcome back. We thought they’d never let you out again!”
“I did a… favour, for someone very high up in the Bureaucracy and this was my reward,” I replied with a smile as Hiqua was someone I liked very much indeed. “Enjoy it while it lasts.”
“I’ll let Cassire know you’re back. I believe she has a few jobs for you,” she enthused.
“OK,” I sighed.
I didn’t understand Healer Cassire. She was a brilliant Healer and medi-tech (paramedic) and utterly dedicated to the medical centre and its ethos of helping, if they could, all who asked. Yet it was obvious that when she was away from the patients she utterly despised some of them, for no other reason than that they were poor. She also, when one-on-one with me, spoke down to me as if I was an idiot (occasionally deservedly so); though with a patient she was always professional and polite. Yet she and Hiqua were thick as thieves at times, despite Hiqua’s obvious lower median level roots and Hiqua wouldn’t hear a word said against Cassire, despite witnessing her at her worst at times.
Seeing the reception area was a bit of a mess, I proceeded to start tidying it up before it got too full of people seeking medical aid for themselves or their children.
“So, they let you out?” came Cassire’s voice from directly behind me.
“For now, Cassire,” I replied, missing off Cassire’s honorific of Healer.
“Well, I have need of your special service, so come with me,” she answered abruptly as there was no one around to be polite for.
“Of course, Cassire,” I replied, putting the old fashioned broom away and making her frown again at my familiarity in using just her given name.
“His name’s Dolarn. He works in the power plant as part of their cleaning team. Fools didn’t warn him that the radiation shielding in the area he was cleaning was faulty and he picked up a lethal dose. If he were higher or median level, they’d cure him. As it was they just simply cast him out and refused to do anything.”
“Is Vrion here?” I asked as Vrion was a prostitute the centre used as a surrogate for me to cure males.
“No, she enlisted.”
“Good for her. Then who?”
“One of the girls at the ‘entertainment centre’ has the black flux and has volunteered. She gets a fast cure and Dolarn gets a cure too,” Cassire replied with a slight smile that I recognised as her version of an evil grin.
“Just bloody wonderful,” I muttered. “Does she have a name?”
“Yes, of course she does. She’s through there,” Cassire pointed then simply walked off, ignoring me until she needed me next.
I walked past an obvious minder from the entertainment centre and through the opening to find myself facing a little mouse of a woman, clearly ‘shop-worn’ and also clearly marked by the black spider’s web-like veins that marked a sufferer of what the Empire called the black flux, a pervasive sexually transmitted genetically altering virus.
“Salutations,” I greeted her politely.
“Salutations. Are you the one who can cure me?” she asked plaintively.
“I can, yes. What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Ullina. I’m David. Do you know what I have to do to cure you?”
“Yes, you fuck me and it goes away.”
“Yes, and do you know what you have to do next?”
“Yes, I go next door, the Healer gets the guy there hard and I sit on his cock for ten rotations (about five minutes).”
“Yes,” she replied and rapidly removed her clothing as I slipped out of mine and laid beside her.
“I have to use this,” she stated, holding up a tube of gel. “I just can’t feel anything down there any more… or pretty much anywhere else.”
“That’s OK, no need to explain,” I replied with a friendly smile as she squeezed the gel onto her palm and then expertly grasped my cock to lube it up, getting me stiff within a few seconds.
Rolling me on top of her she swiftly grasped my cock and placed it at her entrance and then gasped as I slid in.
“By the gods! I actually felt that,” she moaned as I began thrusting swiftly in and out of her.
Soon Ullina was fully engaged with me, unlike the standard pattern of the prostitutes here, who used exaggerated gestures and words. Ullina was clearly enjoying being fucked by me and was rapidly coming to a climax herself which caused her to almost scream out in both shock and joy as I kept plunging my cock into her. Yet the thrill she got from me also brought me to the edge as I thrust as deeply as I could into her and coated her insides with my essence and gave her another orgasm as a side result.
As with Taisha, the results were swift. The genetic disease was rapidly contained by Ullina’s own body’s defences, aided by whatever the hell was in my semen.
“Oh, I can feel again!” she gasped as her body reset to a normal state and all the tracery of black vanished, along with the shop-worn looks.
“Yes, you can live a normal life again,” I nodded.
“No, I’m going to dodge my minder and go straight from here and enlist. I’m not whoring for anyone anymore.”
“Good choice, if you survive it.”
“It’ll be a clean death at least, rather than hoping someone like you is around.”
“True. Now you have to help Dolarn as payment for my help,” I hinted.
“Yes, but if I run into you again, any chance of you giving me one for old time’s sake? That was the best fuck I’ve ever had,” she grinned.
“If I’m free, it would be nice to treat you to a better time than a business fuck,” I chuckled, seeing her eyes light up in laughter.
“Yes, it would,” she laughed. “But now to business,” she finished and went through to the next room as I tidied up.
Ten minutes later Dolarn was fully cured and Ullina had slipped past her dozing minder to enlist, with him slinking back to the entertainment centre to register their loss. Cassire was just giving Dolarn a quick physical and telling him how to put in a claim for compensation when three men, clearly armed, entered the medical centre.
“And just who do you think you are?” Cassire burst out when the men entered.
“Quiet, bitch. We’re not here for you,” one of them snarled.
“Bitch?” she screeched, which drew her a leer and a hard punch to her stomach, making her fall back into my arms. Hiqua then slammed her palm down on an alarm button on the counter which almost deafened me and clearly startled the armed men.
“Smile, you’re on tri-dee,” Hiqua yelled over the noise before diving to one side as a gun was turned towards her… I say gun, but I had no real idea at this time what hand weapons criminals carried in the Empire, it could have been a stunner for all I knew… assuming they had stunners.
Yet clearly they were all out of position and so I made my move. First I moved Cassire behind me, then grabbed the medical wand Cassire used and slammed it point first directly under the chin of her attacker and straight into his brain. I had also reached out to grab his gun in doing so and aimed at the one trying to aim at Hiqua, pulling the trigger. A pale blue beam shot out and literally sliced him in two as the other guy looked stunned, only to find me fast approaching to lay him out with a series of nerve punches I had learned back in my Earth days when I was an unarmed combat instructor for 1 Para in the British army.
“Don’t suppose you could turn that down?” I yelled at a petrified looking Hiqua.
She didn’t move, but Cassire did to press a small switch under the desk and dulled the noise to something manageable. She then turned to look at me with horror in her eyes while the blood of her assailant dripped off her medical uniform.
“You or them.” I stated calmly to the pair of them. “That was the choice in front of me and honour would not allow me to choose them.”
“You… you killed them!” Cassire stated, aghast as we heard a distant siren of a fast approaching air-car.
“Hello? They had guns and were clearly not here for treatment,” I replied sarcastically.
At this point several armed and armoured… cops, entered the medical centre, all of them pointing their weapons at me as I realised I still had a weapon in my hand. Slowly, putting my arms out to one side, I dropped to my knees and placed the weapon carefully onto the ground and then raised my hands to behind my head.
“Smart move,” one of the cops commented and I realised he was actually a she.
“Didn’t want to be a victim of friendly fire,” I replied, getting a nod from her.
The cops… who later informed me that they were actually called Guardians, slipped a set of cuffs onto me, though I suspected they were far more than handcuffs and hauled me up to sit on a chair opposite Cassire and Hiqua. They then examined the initial scene with instrumentation of some kind before a new set of people entered, clearly some sort of detectives or investigators.
“Take them down to the Armoury. We’ll question them there. Keep them separated, you know the drill,” one of the investigators ordered the Guardians.
“Yessir,” the female replied and slammed a fist to her chest.
She then helped me to my feet and held onto my arm as she guided me outside to a waiting aircar, the others guiding Cassire and Hiqua somewhat more politely. I have to admit I was fascinated. I’d seen the aircars cruising above the city several times, but not up close as the lift system worked fine for me (usually). However, the Guardian informed me that a jammer had blocked off all lift movement in the area to prevent an escape and the device was currently being examined to find out where it was from.
I had to admit I was surprised at just how calm they were compared to the cops I remembered seeing on film on my Earth. They more reminded me of the Special Forces I’d had to deal with occasionally, who observed everything and only acted upon threats. Clearly they did not regard me holding a gun as a threat, which seemed odd, but no doubt they had their reasons. (I found out later that if their equipment detected a weapon, the AIs could disable it, hence they weren’t worried about the gun at all.)
The journey wasn’t long; they took me down to a room and simply scanned my collar and wrist band before locking me in. I could summon up a chair or a toilet from the floor, but that was it. I had no way to contact anyone, though suspected their scanning of my collar would set off some form of alarm at Imperial Security.
It was an hour later that the guy I’d been informed was an Investigator entered the room along with a young-looking woman.
“You can uncuff him,” he stated as a table formed from the ground and the chair I was on moved towards it of its own volition.
“Yessir,” came the reply and I recognised the voice as the female Guardian who had arrested me, who then simply raised what looked like an alarm fob which caused the cuffs to fall off my wrists and fly into her open palm.
“You are quite the enigma, Subject 1341,” he stated.
“I have a name, it’s David,” I repeated. “I don’t answer to Subject 1341,” I finished.
He frowned slightly, but then nodded. “Very well, you’re quite an enigma, David.”
“In a sense yes, though I will answer questions on the incident, just nothing else, not without an Imperial Monitor here. Sorry, that’s a rule I can’t break,” I answered, recalling one of the rules I had to adhere to in order to move about on the lower levels whilst wearing a collar.
“Yes. Healer Cassire confirmed that earlier,” he nodded. “She really doesn’t like you at all, does she?”
“To be honest, the only person I think she does like is Hiqua,” I shrugged.
“Well, she did confirm that three armed men entered the medical centre and that one of them assaulted her. After that things are a bit confused, as both she and receptionist Hiqua are at odds in their statements as to just what it was you did.”
“I simply dealt with a threat to my work colleagues.”
“How? You took on three armed men, killing two and disabling the third in such a manner as to possibly leave him crippled for life as he won’t qualify for medical aid,” the Guardian questioned.
“I can’t discuss my past; you simply don’t have the clearance to know. But, I do have military training.”
“But you’re barely eight in looks (about 22 Earth years).”
“I’m older than I look,” I chuckled, seeing a slow nod from the Investigator as he understood my comment as well as understanding the implications that I possibly wasn’t really a slave at all.
“I suggest you drop that line of enquiry, Guardian Kirim,” he stated to her in kindly tones. “Not unless you want a mind-wipe from ImpSec.”
“Could you describe what you did, before we release you on your own recognisance?” he asked.
I went through my actions accurately, getting nods of understanding from both before the door in the room opened and a tall saturnine man wearing red gloves entered.
“You will release Subject 1341 to my custody,” he stated, producing a holographic badge of the ImpSec Medical Resource from his armband.
“Of course,” the Investigator replied. “We had concluded the interview and can only commend him for his quick action which saved the lives of two women. We will hand over a copy of the interview to you and erase the copy we have,” he replied as the two slammed their fists to their chests at the sight of the badge.
“Good,” he nodded. “Come along, David. This was the easy part.”
“If you insist, Herrick.”
“Goodbye, Guardian Kirim. It was a pleasure to meet you and thank you for not shooting me,” I said to the woman and gave a nod to the Investigator.
She just gave a grin as I was escorted from the room.
“Not in any trouble are they, Herrick?” I asked the Monitor.
“No, they did everything by the book and stayed away from awkward questions once the Investigator knew your status as an untouchable,” he replied.
“That’s good, I rather like her.”
“She is a cut above your normal customers in the lower levels,” he nodded. “You could do a lot worse in your choices.”
“Tricky, when the Empire has a mind for you to live forever,” I morosely chuckled.
“True, but there are ways around that,” he replied enigmatically, before opening a lift and guiding me inside.
I then spent the next three days being wrung out to dry by ImpSec’s questioning. They even created a holographic image of the scene and had me emulate my actions until finally they released me back to Oily and his unctuous care.
“I am minded to revoke your contract to go down into the lower levels,” he stated sniffily.
“I’ve no doubt if you could you already would have, so please don’t irritate me with empty threats. Only the Empress can override a contract of that type and she likely wouldn’t bother as I’m but a flyspeck in her existence.”
“You’re a ‘Cure’. Of course she knows who you are. Though you’re right, she did refuse to revoke the contract. Seems she and ImpSec want to know who authorised the attack and why.”
I stared at Oily; clearly he was someone far higher up the food chain than I thought if he knew the Empress’ thoughts on any matter.
“Who or what are you?” I asked, my question laden with suspicion.
“None of your business. Now, carry on as normal as we investigate in the background,” he dismissed me out of hand.
A quick sonic shower later a lift deposited me outside the medical centre again.
“David! You came back!” Hiqua greeted me amidst the signs of repairs being done to the counter where the beam from the weapon I had used had grazed it.
“And not see my favourite receptionist again?” I chuckled.
“Aw, you’re so nice,” she beamed.
“Is grumpy pants about?”
“Don’t be rude, David. She’s dealing with some minor ailments out back.”
“Hey, she accused me of murdering a guy who had just assaulted her,” I chuckled. “I reckon calling her that lets her off lightly.”
“She was just shocked. She’s from the upper levels and not used to violence,” Hiqua chided me.
“Guess so,” I shrugged as Cassire came through to see what Hiqua was squealing about.
“Oh, you came back,” she stated, looking slightly shocked.
“Well, yes. I wanted to save you the bother of finding someone else to be offended by,” I chuckled, seeing Hiqua hide a smile too.
“I just thought your minders would hold onto you as those… men, were clearly after you.”
“Yes, and I’m sorry for the danger it put you in,” I replied sincerely.
“No matter, you surprised me greatly; I did not know you were ex-military… of some type.”
“You know I can’t talk about that, Cass,” I replied, using the nickname I knew irritated her.
“Yes, I know, nor do I wish to be mind-wiped either, as no doubt does young Hiqua.”
“Well, it’s easy enough. You certainly wipe the memories of my… cure, from all who come into contact with me as they leave this place,” I nodded.
“I have to. ImpSec were most insistent. Were you not some sort of miracle I’d not want anything to do with you,” she replied, utterly deadpan.
“You love me really, Cass,” I chuckled.