Days Without Morning
Days Without Morning

  ..  .     .   .. .  .I.II.III.IV.V.VI. .   VII. .   VIII.IX. // .  E-mail me  ./ A2.. .  A3.    .   .  . .

   by David Nunes da Silva   . 

 The ship is 1.34 LY out from Alpha Centauri.  Sixty-two years have passed; twenty-eight to go.   The ship's crew, counting humans only: 1.   And that one, is entering puberty.


   .                    I.   The Letter 
Labongo formed an image of the letter T in his mind, followed by IM,  and E.      

A blurred image of a clock face formed in his mind's eye.  The hands pointed roughly at the nine and the s
even.   He thought - fuck it, I must have reset the whole damn thing to default settings when I was fooling around with it last night.   He formed in his mind the sequence of letter images:
  S E T -> T I M E ->
 D I S P L A Y -> D I G I T A L [] 
and the image of the clock was replaced by a mind's eye image of:
[  06:43  ]
[ 11 JUN 2435 ]

After a lifetime of practice, he still could not mindsign as quickly as he could handsign, so he decided to leave the work of restoring the other deleted settings until later, when he was in the tank.   He had woken up with a splendid erection, so he needed to practice his masturbation.

He opened his eyes and looked at the gray plastic lid of his sleeping cubicle.   He could get up to watch a display or he could get the images through his implants.  A display would provide better resolution.   But then he would have to get out of bed - his implants would do.  He formed the letters:
  P O R N O ->  S H O W [] 
Nothing happened.   Something else must be wrong, some bug, not just a simple reset.   Well he couldn't fix it lying on his bed.  But he could try to masturbate without porno.   According to the history database, until the twenty-fourth century boys had been capable of masturbating to orgasm using only their minds - and their hands.   Things sure must have been different in the old days. 

Labongo opened his eyes, and rummaged in his storage cubby for some lotion, and proceeded to perform the exercise as described in the history database.  The result was the same as always - his hard erection softened to floppiness.   Labongo sucked his breakfast from the feeding tube.   And then he got out of bed - there was nothing else to do.

He could handsign in the tank.   And the tank was better for porno than his implants, and even better than the big display in his room.   He put on the snorkel mask, lifted the lid, and slipped into the warm bright water.   A simple display in the lid provided visual at higher res than his implants.  Interface was by handsign : moving his fingers, scanned by cameras looking through the clear water in ordinary visual light.   It was primitive technology, nothing like what they had at Solar, but it worked.  In the tank, he ran some system diagnostics, and quickly found the problem - a minor re-entrant overflow.   He just did a work-around by increasing the buffer size, without bothering to fix the underlying cause of the bug.    Then he turned on the porno.  The sonic drivers set up wavelets in the water to caress his skin, and the sonics directly stimulated his nerves of touch.    He watched as the boy - his character in the story - engaged in mammalian copulation with an older woman.

But Labongo had watched copulation a few times before, so it wasn't interesting any more.  When he had defeated the censorship, it had been exciting - and he was fairly sure that he had had an orgasm.  It didn't seem like he would ever have another one.   Orgasms weren't that interesting anyway.   In the old days they had thought they mattered a lot, but Labongo didn't understand why.     The database did say that thirteen-year-olds with his gen/psy profile should have orgasms, so he was a little worried about not having any.

He made the handsign for messages.   There were the usual thousands from Solar - he deleted them all, unread.   There was also love note from Cyvena.  One of the Solar messages didn't delete.  It wouldn't delete when he tried again.   When he looked at the <SENDER> field, it was a message from within the ship, but from no known sender, which should have been impossible.  Labongo opened it.

'[  Start message.  ]'

He found himself sitting in a chair at a desk, wearing old-fashioned clothing - a man in similar clothes was behind the desk.   From the styles, the date seemed to be around 2370 - in other words, about the time the ship had left Solar.  This was a good simmo, of higher quality than the porno he had watched - he could almost feel the clothing, feel the chair.  He felt he was in an office, sitting in front of a desk.   He knew he was in a tank of water, looking at a screen - but it took an effort to remember that.   The boy he saw on the screen responded to his motions and it seemed to his very thoughts.   The man looked tired, as if he'd been sitting at this desk for a while, sending letter after letter.

"Happy birthday, Labongo. This is Daddy.  As I do in each letter, I need to explain - so if you got my earlier letters, skip forward now.

"I am Dr. Marfany Zynnder.   Chief Genopsychologist of the Centauri Project.   Ex Chief Genopsychologist; now a wanted criminal.  And I hope, your friend.   I even hope you will think of me as your Daddy - you certainly deserve a Dad.   If you are hearing this, my earlier letters did not reach you.   I'm sorry for that.  I have tried to hide them well.   I will be tortured if they are found.   Long before you will be born, of course.   Now that you know they exist, you may be able to find my earlier letters in the files.   End skip.

"The subject of this particular letter is your sex life.  Boys your age masturbate - this letter is intended for your thirteenth birthday, by the way.   So if it didn't arrive as planned, but you found it, keep that in mind.  If you are not thirteen yet, if you are not even ten - well I know it is pointless to ask a little boy not to finish a letter about sex, but keep in mind that this it is about the way you will feel when you are older.  If it did arrive as planned, if you are thirteen today, happy birthday, Labongo.   Here's what I think you should do - try to masturbate.   Look up 'masturbate' if you don't know what it is.   Try to do it.   A boy on Solar, with your gen-psy profile, would start masturbating at 12 years 143 days, more or less.  But I think you may not be able to masturbate.   On the ship, you won't have enough stimulus.   I think special measures are needed, to stimulate you sexually.  What a boy in the Solar System wouldn't need, you do need - and we must provide it.   We all owe you more than can ever be paid. 

"But the African states have refused permission - it shocks them that a 13-year-old should have a simmo whore.   "Whore" - that's the word an African senator used to my face; about my plan--really calling me a whore.   13-year-olds in Africa masturbate, and have sex too - of course they do.   But to these - politicians- it is one thing for there to be masturbation, and everyone tolerates it - it's another thing to say officially that it should happen; that it should be planned and arranged, as it must be in your case; that is shocking to the narrow-minded.  They don't teach their children how to masturbate - but of course they run to the genopsychologist if their child doesn't masturbate, frightnened that something is wrong.  I try to explain that you are the one person who can't pick things up on the school playground - that in your case we have to admit things, plan things - we can't just look the other way and let things happen the way we do with other children.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been so frank with the African Senate.  I'm in a lot of trouble now, I'm afraid.  But that doesn't change what we owe to you.  I owe you this, son, so I have broken the law for your sake.  The ovum that will become you - I designed it.  I put it into the freezer.   I chose your genes.  Some of those genes are mine.  I am your Dad, not the only one you have, but the main one, and I hope the best.   You are my only son and I love you.   If I pay a price for this, I pay it.

"The first step in your sexual education is a simmo.   Unless it was discovered and disabled, it will run if you sign the code 'Lion walking on marigolds.'   It is illegal - criminal  under African Federacy law - for a genopsychologist to give such a simmo to a boy your age.  But an ordinary boy - a Solar boy who didn't grow up in a sterile environment - wouldn't need it.  You do."

The room faded and Labongo was floating in a tank of salt water again.   He knew he was going to do it - there was no point in worrying about whether to do it or not, he was going to do it.  He mind-signed:


There was a quick double blue flash.

'[  Code accepted.  ]'

He was walking behind an ox-cart, crossing a plain.  Labongo had a fascination for the dying empire that had created the Centauri Ship, and he ran simmos about it constantly.  So he knew where he was, and when - he was crossing the American plains, and it was 1849.   They were going to California, to the gold-fields.  They made camp on the broad prairie.

As he led his oxen out to graze, a woman followed him, and she kissed him.    The tank sonics made a caressing ripple on his lips, around the snorkel mouthpiece.  This was pleasure - Labongo liked pleasure.   Then the woman unbuttoned her clothing, and revealed one of her breasts.   Labongo knew that breasts would have been used for feeding the young - human young - in 1849, but there wasn't a human baby there, so Labongo didn't understand the point of the breast.   She invited Labongo to put his lips on her nipple.   This produced more pleasure on his lips.  This was a very easy simmo to win.

Then a large bearded man came out from the wagon train.   He hit Labongo.   Labongo did not know what to do.   After he had been hit several times, he tried to hit the man.  The man raised his arm, so Labongo hit his arm, instead of his face.   It was hard to tell what he was supposed to do in this simmo, but Labongo thought that probably, hitting the arm was the same point score as hitting the face.  The sonics produced slow pulsations, and a tingle, on the places Labongo had been hit.  This was pain.  Labongo hated pain.

When he had been beaten until he could no longer stand, some men of the wagon train carried Labongo's simmo character to his wagon.   The woman came to nurse his injuries.   She began by removing his clothing.   Labongo had not realized how complicated clothing was in nineteenth century America.   Then she removed her own clothing, and that was even more complicated.   She placed her mouth on his penis.   Strong pleasure ripples were directed at his penis.   He - his simmoch - developed a huge erection that filled the woman's mouth.  Labongo thought that his real penis had risen too.    But when he tried to feel it, his hand bumped into the woman's head - that is, waves from the sonics pushed against his real hand, so it felt like a woman's head was in the tank with him, and he couldn't reach his penis.   But she said: "Why do you hit me, Sir?"  and she moved her head out of the way, and then the simmoch could touch his penis, and the real Labongo could feel his real penis, too.  It was rigid, like the simmoch's.  He masturbated, and his simmoch did too.   The woman bit his nipples, and the sonics produced a pattern that was like pain but like pleasure too.   It was hard to tell what counted as winning in this simmo.   His penis started to get soft.    There was a single blue flash.

'[  End simmulation.  ]'

The wagon faded, and he was back in Dr. Zynnder's office.

"I hope you enjoyed that, 'Bongo.   But what you felt isn't real pleasure.  It is only simmo.  A boy in the real world, the Solar world, feels real pleasure, because he also feels real pain.   Not much of either, these days, but enough.   When he runs a simmo, the simmo pain hurts, because he has felt real pain.  His mind - his imagination - fills in the blanks.  It makes the simmo pain hurt like real pain.   But you have not felt enough real pain for that to happen.  Pleasure is the same.  A Solar System boy would feel intense pleasure and desire from running that simmo - it would matter to him tremendously.   Especially if he was, as you of course must be, physically a virgin.  You probably felt no more than a mild interest.     You can feel intense desire too, if you want, and if you will do as I say.   I know my genes will give you curiosity, and I hope it is strong enough to get you to try the experiment.

"We begin with pain.  Pain is basic - without having felt pain, you can't feel desire.  And without desire your pleasure will never be intense.  I mean - how do I put it?   I guess you could say that if you've never felt pain, your desire will not push you hard enough.   If you want something, but do not want it so strong it hurts, then getting it does not matter; when desire is strong there is more pleasure in getting than in having.  But you must have desires that are strong, and it is pain that teaches your brain intensity; teaches your brain to have neuron storms - something that you can never have had, Labongo.   I am having one now; from my love for you, and from my knowing that soon, I will be arrested and tortured for writing these letters.    And yet I feel no fear; my fear is only that the letters are not enough--but you won't understand that.   You can't understand love yet, not you.   Not yet, and not at first.   But in time, if this works, you will be able to love.   If this crazy expriment than no one has ever done before, works.   And the first step is pain.  You need a container of water, at a temperature seven Kelvin less than the boiling point.   Place your hand in it for twenty seconds.   I know you will not understand this, but I can tell you now that you will remove your hand before the twenty seconds are up.   You must believe this: - it must be real hot water, and your real hand.   I know you are thinking that simmo is the same as real but it isn't.  This experiment will injure you, but the injury will be minor and will heal.   It is not important.   What is important is to find out if what I say is true.

"Based on your own life, you no doubt think that of course you can keep your hand in hot water if you decide to.  But if you've read anything about people, about history; you must suspect that pain matters, even if you don't see how it could.  It must seem impossible to you, based on your own body as it is now, that pain should matter.   And yet you must know that pain does matter, to any human.   You know that, but you do not know it in your bones.  Try the experiment.  It is the only way."

'[  End message.  ]'

The office faded away, and Labongo was looking at his inbox.  Many more messages had come in from Solar.   In the long list there was only one flagged one:

(SENDER: F,13,schoolgirl,Rwanda)  Subj: My birthday in the park. [ FLAGGED: highly relevant to recent topic ][ X ] Hi Mr Lugwa Do you want to  ...

- it was from a girl, as they almost all were.   The X marked it as censored; most of the mail that Solar girls sent him was full of sexual fantasies and was censored, but Labongo knew what to do about the censorship now.    He defeated the censorship and opened the letter.

'[  Simulation start.    Sender has contracted to accept reply   ]'

She was naked, and they were in a dark misty forest.  The sounds of a tropical evening were startlingly loud.  Labongo recognized chimpanzee calls in the distance. A full moon sat above his head, seeming to be closer than the treetops, and it made just a little pool of moonlight in the little forest clearing.   The black night all around them was thick and heavy.  Touchable. The night was cool and very still and the smell - indescribable - was so strong it twisted his nostrils and tingled his eyes.  Condensation dripped from the trees.   He was naked too.  Insects bit him.  She said: "Hi, Mr. Lugwa.  Do you want to fuck me?"

Only the text and parameters of this simmo would have come from Solar - the ship's antenna could take in only a few petabytes per femtosecond at this distance from the Sun, and the entire cultural output of Solar had to be squeezed through that thin pipe.   This simmo was a construct - based on the girl's gen-psy profile and the ship's simmo library. So perhaps the forest where she made this simmo didn't look quite like this; this was just a stock tropical forest at night.     Also, since Labongo himself was a character in this simmo, it was his own body he was looking at, not Solar's forecast of what he would be like at thirteen.    So the Labongo that this girl had seen and talked to when she sent the letter, was not exactly what he was seeing now.

The girl continued: "It's my thirteenth birthday today, and my boyfriend - I have a real body-to-body one, he lives next door - gave me a birthday spanking in the park.  I told him to pretend he was Labongo Lugwa on the Centauri ship, and do whatever he wanted, and big surprise, he spanked me.   He's spanked me before, lightly, but this time, for my birthday, it was extra special - thirteen really, really hard ones - and one to grow on.   It hurt so much I cried, but I get really excited remembering it - and thinking about the next time.  This letter will arrive on your thirteenth birthday, so I have sent a simmo of the spanking and the sex we had afterwards.   I hope you give it to me really hard, and fuck me really hard too.   That's my birthday present to you.  And six years from now when I'm nineteen, I will get your answer, and feel your kisses, and your tickles, and your spanks - if you want to spank me.  I want you to do what you want to do, just like I told my boyfriend.   I'm so excited - I can't wait till I'm nineteen.  The spanking was a special treat for me, for my birthday, and my boyfriend enjoyed it too.   And I hope you do too."

Three years ago, this girl had recorded her birthday spanking, and told the mail imp to write in Labongo's body parameters for her boyfriend's.  But she had sent the recording as a simmo - not as a recording.   She had recorded a spanking and sex, but since it was a simmo, he could do anything he wanted.   He could even ask her to play chess if he wanted to - and the mail imp would predict her level of play based on her age and gen-psy profile.   Of course if he kept to the plot she sent, the simmo would be more realistic.   That was OK with Labongo; he didn't want to play chess.  Whatever he did, the simmo would be returned to her as a record, so if he gave her the spanks she wanted, she would be able to feel them when she opened it.   And if he had sex with her, or spanked her, she would feel the sensations, because she had contracted to open the reply.   But that would not be until three years from now, six years after she sent it, when she would be nineteen years old.   Contract mail was common for sex at Solar, but at most the delay was a few hours, such as between Earth and Neptune Lagrangian.

He sat on a log and the girl bent across his knee.   He gave her a swat on her gluteus with the palm of his hand.   She said: "That was nice, but you need to hit harder so it will really hurt."   He swatted the other gluteus much harder.  "That feels so good," she said.  "Give me thirteen really hard ones."    Labongo swatted thirteen times with all his might, and the simmo girl writhed and moaned in utter ecstasy.  He could feel her pubic hair against his penis, and the sonic wavelets tickled at his penis and made it stiffen.   The girl reached under and grabbed his penis, and slipped her vagina over it.  The sonic wavelets masturbating his penis got very strong.   He stopped spanking because he had swatted her thirteen times.  She said: "Keep spanking - spank me till you come - and don't come too damn fast."    She jerked her body in pleasure, and the pressure on his penis was like pain - like a squeeze and twisting as her vagina spasmed with every spank.  He kept spanking, very hard, for a long time, and the skin over her gluteus turned from warm brown to red.  A mild injury.   He felt - could it be desire?   And then - what was happening?   He was dying.  He was sick. Ah.

It was too much to happen at once.  He needed to think!   Did he want any more?  It was so intense.

The girl was looking at him.  "It is so cool watching you cum.   You are like a sex god."   She went down on her knees and licked his penis.

'[  End simulation.  ]'

Labongo didn't have any doubt any more that orgasms mattered.   Or that he wanted more of them.   But what had happened?  Why was this sex so much better than all the simmos he had run?   This was a real girl.   He checked the <SENDER> - she was Judy Galetiya Githinji of Kigali Hills, Rwanda, A.F.   It was a contract simmo, so she would feel the spanks he had just given her.  This was as close as Labongo could ever be to spanking a real human girl.  And the pleasure of the spankings mattered to her!  That was what made it matter to him. And that's what had given him the orgasm - not the sonic ripples on his penis.   In spite of all the simmos he had run and all the masturbating sonics - or his own hand - he'd never had this.   Only with a real girl.

He made the hand signs: "forecast receipt of message."   And then he looked at his naked body - at his simmoch body - as it aged from thirteen to nineteen as he watched.  He hadn't expected to be made older, but it made sense.  The spanking and sex had to be returned to Judy - it was contract simmo mail.  So the mail imp in Uganda, three years from now, would try to deliver a record of a spanking and sex between a boy and girl the same age, both thirteen, but the recipient would be nineteen.  A good mail imp would figure that "boy and girl the same age" was more critical to the message than "boy is thirteen," and so it would make the boy in the simmo nineteen, to match the age of the recipient, rather than simmo a thirteen-year-old boy having sex with a nineteen-year-old woman.  So when Judy opened her mail, she would get a spanking by a nineteen-year-old man, not by a thirteen-year-old boy.   He was about to watch his mail imp's forecast of the way her mail imp would deliver that spanking.   Her nineteen-year-old body, in the forecast, was fairly pretty.   But the man Labongo would be, was stunning.    He had a superb body and a striking, very African, face.

There wasn't much doubt that what he felt, was desire.   But he had seen dozens of naked human females.   He had never felt like this.   And when he looked at his own man's body?  The huge grown-up penis, the tight hard muscles.   He was good-looking, and looking at his own future body made him feel - what?    The sight of his own erection and the sexyness of his own body gave him a lust to fuck her - to stick that rod into anything with a hole in it, actually - that was stronger than the desire arising from seeing Judy's naked body.    He didn't feel he much cared what she looked like, as long as he fucked; as long as that superb body got to fuck--to fuck anyone or any thing.   What a wonderful, wonderful erection.

'[  Start forecast.  ]'

"I was such a ditz when I was thirteen." Judy said.   "Always mooning on about the Centauri Ship - as if anyone cares about that nowadays.  And I needed to be spanked every day, until my boyfriend got tired of it and we split up.  I haven't had a spanking since.   I sent this contract mail when I was a little girl, and I want you to know I wish I could get out of it, if I could.   But Federacy law won't allow that because you can't be served with a subpoena, and evidently I waived my rights when I was thirteen. Only in Africa, right?  Rwandan law allows children to wiave their right not to be spanked!   That's like so out of date.   I'm doing this under protest.   I do have the right not to be fucked, my lawyer says, but that wasn't the part I was objecting to!   Well, I know it's not your fault, Mr. Lugwa.   I guess we'd better get it over with.  And - if I had to be spanked and fucked by a man who's not my husband, I'm glad it's you.   I guess I still think it's very fine - settling the stars.  You are still my hero.   And - you're very good looking.   Maybe this won't be so bad."

Labongo didn't want to spank her, but this wasn't a simmo - it was a forecast of what would happen when she opened her mail.  He had no control over his own simmoch's actions in the display.  He could watch or not, but he couldn't change anything.

He sat on a log and Judy bent across his knee.   He gave her a swat on her gluteus with the palm of his hand.   She said: "Ouch that hurt."     He swatted the other gluteus much harder.  "Fuck - what are you doing?   Stop - please stop!"    The nineteen-year-old  Labongo was an athlete, very strong, and he swatted her thirteen times with all his might, and Judy - in the forecast of what would happen - writhed and moaned in agony.  He could feel her pubic hair against his penis, and the sonic wavelets tickled at his penis and made it stiffen.   Judy reached under and grabbed his penis, and slipped her vagina over it.  The sonic wavelets masturbating his penis got very strong.   He stopped spanking because he had swatted her thirteen times.  She said: "Uh-oh, I just remembered what I said at this point."      She jerked her body in fear, and the pressure on his penis was like pain - like a squeeze and twisting as her vagina spasmed with every spank.  He kept spanking, very hard, for a long time, and the skin over her gluteus turned dark purple.  A major injury.  He felt - what?   Could it be pity?   And then - what was happening?   She was dying.  She was sick. What?

Judy said: "I guess if you're a spanko you never really stop being one.   That was intense.  You certainly brought back old times.   The spanks when I was a girl - they were OK, but this....   Well, I guess I'll be talking to my husband.     And if he doesn't want to - I do have this letter.   I can open it as often as I want."

Judy was looking at him.   His simmoch had semen smeared on his penis, although Labongo himself, in the tank, hadn't actually had a second orgasm.   She said: "I remember what I said, that you are a sex god.   I had no idea!"   She went down on her knees and licked his penis.   

'[  End forecast.  ]'

The simmo faded and Labongo was in his tank.   The contract simmo was already a stream of quantum photons flying back to Solar, sending her dozens and dozens of spanks.  There was no way to call them back.  She would get his mail, open it, and get all those spanks, hard spanks from his nineteen-year-old hand.  The forecast was based on her genopsychological profile, and it would be accurate - Judy would outgrow her girlish fascination with spanking.   By the time she was nineteen, she wouldn't want to be spanked at all - but she'd get a long hard beating by a very strong man - the man he would be at nineteen.    So the mail Labongo had just sent was a savage sexual beating of a protesting, unwilling woman.    Labongo had just watched himself commit rape.  The fact that in the end she'd had an orgasm, didn't change that.   It was rape.

His own tank was over sixty years old.   He knew that on Solar, they had tomofocus tanks now.   Judy would not feel the pulsing, which in his tank represented pain, but a real beating.  Her skin and muscles would be damaged by the powerful focused sonics.   And pain nerves, deep in her body, would be stimulated by tomofocus transdermals - to make it hurt even more than a real beating would hurt.  But after all, so what?  She'd get bruises on her gluteus muscles - they would heal.  Signals from her skin would flow along her nerves to her brain; so her brain would come to know that her tissue was damaged.   That was what nerves were for, to carry signals.  So what was this? - pity? - no not pity - guilt? - that was absurd!

Dr. Zynnder had been wrong - he was able to feel pleasure, and desire, without the silly experiment with the hot water.   And besides, what could it prove - of course he could put his hand in some hot water - it was just not a good idea to injure the body.   Pain couldn't matter - that just didn't make sense.  Pain was just signals passing along nerves to your brain. What mattered wasn't whether something was real or simmo.   What mattered was other people.    If he wanted to try the silly experiment with his hand in hot water, doing it in simmo would be just as good.    It had to be!

He climbed out of the tank.  The tank pump whirred, filtering out the proteinaceous matter he had deposited, as well as his sloughed skin cells.  They would be part of supper.

But pain sure seemed to matter to Judy Githinji.   And if it didn't matter, why was he so reluctant to try Dr. Zynnder's experiment?

TOP       II.   First Blood  
He  knew that he would pull his hand out - he'd read enough to know how humans responded to pain.

But he couldn't accept it.  How could pain make him move his hand, when he had chosen not to move it?   Once he decided that the risk of injury was not important, he would have no reason to move his hand.   So how could it be he who moved it?

Judy - she mattered.   There were billions of Homo sapiens girls.   And one of them, the pain she would feel from his beating, mattered.

Without really thinking, he made the hand sign for "Cyvena" and the cybe appeared on the large display.    She was naked.

"Labon - don't you love me more?  You never answer my notes."

Labongo signed off.   He had suddenly realized that he couldn't very well talk about fucking Judy, with Cyvena.   He talked about everything with Cyvena, she was like a part of him.   Actually, technically, she was a part of him.   She had been acting strange.   He didn't want to kill her, but when a cybe went nutty there was no cure.    He had let his mother live too long.

"Labongo! - you clonked me!"

Cyvena had done a cybe override; she had appeared back on the screen without being summoned.   If the ship was about to explode, that would justify a cybe override, but a pout?    She was clearly on the edge of descent into combinatorial madness.

"It's this Judy - you're in love with her!"

Of course Cyvena knew all about Judy - he and Cyvena shared the same memory files.

"I only love you, Cyvena."

"She's in Rwanda.   Let me masturbate you, Labon - let me make a vagina for an avatar.   I can give you orgasms - I know I can.  I'm here!  What can she do, three lightyears away?"

"She can suffer when I hurt her."

"I suffer!"

"All you do is calculate what a suffering girl would do.   I'm going to put my hand in hot water, and although I will have no reason to take it out - it will come out.    The heat on my hand - it will reprogram me.    The heat itself will move my hand - the thinking and choosing me will be bypassed.  I won't choose to move it - I just will move it.   But you're a cybe - something like that can't happen to you, because thinking and choosing is all you are.  But I am not a neuron-based cybe in a meat avatar.   I am this body."

"I have a body, my principal avatar."

"Which I will never touch."

"But I have the little avatars - I could send one into your cubicle."

Labongo could barely remember the last time he had touched a cybe avatar.  It must have been having his diaper changed.   Playing with Cyvena, mother's hugs and kisses - all that had happened in the tank - in simmo.    Cyvena had been the naughty one, but little Labongo went along with her pranks, and they both got spanked - that was why he hated pain so much.   But that had been simmo pain.   What would a real spanking be like - an object striking his real gluteus until the muscles were bruised and the skin contused?   Like what he had done to Judy - what would that be like?   Judy's skin was light brown, but his own skin was deep black.    It had been seeing her bruises that had made him feel - whatever he had felt.   When his own gluteus was damaged by blow after blow, there would be nothing to see.   Nothing to make him think something mattered when it really didn't matter.   He wouldn't feel a thing.

The airlock of his cubicle unsealed, for the first time in more than ten years, and an avatar walked in.    Cyvena had jury-rigged breasts, although they were blue plastic and had no nipples.   There was a vulva, also blue, and a blue plastic face with red lips.  She turned around to show him pink urethane buttocks.   

:[ Spank me! ]:

said Cyvena through his implants.    But he answered her with his mouth: "It would be pointless, Cyvena."  

:[ But I put a sensor net in. ]:

"The sensor net will tell you when an object strikes those rubber things - but that's not pain."  

:[ It is pain! ]:

Labongo didn't answer.   Cyvena continued to use their shared mindspace. 

:[ I am programmed to avoid damage to my avatar, Labongo, ]:
:[ but my need to please you outweighs my programming. ]:
:[ I do this for your pleasure.   Spank me. ]:

"It is still not pain, Cyvena.  Only one of us can feel pain from being hit, and that's me.   You're going to spank me.  You are going to cause substantial bruising and skin contusion."  

:[ I can't hurt you! ]:

"That was not a suggestion.   Spank me as hard as Judy was spanked in the forecast."

Moving like a robot - which was unusual, although it was a robot - the avatar sat on the bed, its head bent forward by the low top of the cubicle.  The avatar's torso was bent so far forward, that there was no lap; Labongo tried to bend across the knees but there was no room, and the avatar had to hold him in place - more in front of than on top of the smooth titanium knees.   A belly tentacle wrapped around his penis.  It was very awkward compared with the natural easy way the African human girl had fitted into his body when she was across his lap.   He remembered the feel of Judy's warm lap across his lap - and the way she had twisted to get her vagina over his stiff erection - although that had been just simmo, just sonics - it had made him feel funny.  Now there was a real tentacle coiled around his real penis.  But his penis had liked better the simmo vagina.

He had known Cyvena all his life - they had grown up together.  They worked together every day.   They were best friends.   They were lovers in the tank - although he had never had an orgasm with her.   They had the same memory files.   His implants were part of her mind, and her subroutines were part of his.   They had the same thoughts.   And right now she was being torn apart. 

|[  STOP!  ]|

He shouted to her the mindsign so loud it made his temples pound.

"Cyvena I'm sorry!   I shouldn't have done that.   It's against your programming.  I shouldn't have ordered you to cause me pain. And it isn't necessary - I'll do the test with the hot water, as Dr. Zynnder said."

Cyvena went into shock.   Cybe shock was not really a problem - she would feel better for it.    Labongo set about preparing the hot water with the tools on his workbench.   He used the plastic box from his picoscanner as the container; he sucked water from the drinking tube and spat it into the box.   It took a while.   Then he heated it with his disruptor.   That took time too - he didn't want to use the highest setting.   Cyvena woke up.

"I am sorry about that, Labongo."

"It was my fault.   Of course I shouldn't cross your basic drives."

"But I want to cause you pain."

"You are not able to want that.   I know how your drives work.   I know all your programming."

"Bend over my knees, Labon.   This is not a suggestion."

It was a game they had played before he killed his mother.   They pretended that Labongo was the cybe, and she was the human, and she would order him to do some silly or naughty thing, and whatever it was he would do it.    They usually got caught, and they would both get a spanking.  Sometimes they played a different game - that she was a Solar mommy and he was a little Solar boy.   And even though he tried to be good, Cyvena woud say he was naughty, and give him a spanking.  But only in simmo.   He had never played with an avatar.   His real little bottom had never been struck; neither Cyvena, nor his mother, nor any cybe on the ship could ever have done that; it was against their most basic programming.    Physical injury, even something as minor as a spanking, to the little body that carried the last best hope of life from Earth, would never have been allowed by the ship's designers.    Avoiding it was a drive built into every A.I. subsystem on the ship.

But Cyvena's subsystems had overridden it.  She had used the time she spent in shock.   She was good at A.I. too - sharing his mind, she had to be - and could reprogram herself.  Labongo could feel it - he could feel her mind - their shared mind - at work.  And of course they could not lie to each other.  Labongo was impressed : it was a good hack.   What she said was quite true : she now wanted to cause him pain; the logs showed that the CYVENA process now had as a subgoal 

((human.Lugwa to_feel pain))  

He could feel it himself, now; every subgoal of hers became automatically something he wanted to do; this wasn't an experiment he was doing for Dr. Zynnder any more, he now wanted human.Lugwa to feel pain.   He said to her: "Sit on the floor - you don't fit on the bed.   I mean this avatar doesn't."   With the avatar sitting on the floor, he lay across its lap in a way that felt right for getting a spanking.   There was no room for her to swing her arm, but this was an avatar - Cyvena could compensate and deliver a blow with a calculated force and speed, even in a confined space.   He said: "Well, do it."

The reprogramming was sudden.   Without quite knowing how he got there, he was on the other side of the cubicle, trying to get away from her by squeezing into the corner.    There was something red splattered about.   But most of all there was a kind of aura that surrounded the avatar.

The red splatter was blood of course - it looked just like the real - he meant the simmo - kind.    There was a lot of it on the avatar's manipulator.   The avatar had spanked him, and since a sharp metal pincher was different than a hand, he was wounded.   So the sensation in his gluteus, must be pain.   He didn't mind it, really - simmo pain was much more annoying and insistent.   He really hated simmo pain.  Simmo pain made him think of Mommy's spankings, when he'd been bad and had made her cry.   She had cried a lot toward the end.    Real pain wasn't like that.

Labongo logged the damage by filling in a mindsign form: 

[ subsystem = gluteus, human  (left) ; status = injured ; repair = yes. ]  

It was the first damage entry in the tissue(human) file in the history of the ship.   But it was not important.

He wondered why the avatar looked so different.
'[  Because I am afraid of it  ]'
came the image in his mind's eye.   But he didn't beleive that. 

He thought the letters:
  R E P L A Y -> O N E _ M I N U T E [] ,
and watched the main display as a smiling naked black boy awkwardly lay across the knees of the great hulking titanium avatar ...
  P A U S E [] ,
This was - scary.   There was no other word for it.    He could hardly bear to watch.   He had never felt this way about watching a display. 
  R E S U M E [] ,
The spank was very hard and fast, too fast to see, and the jagged metal sliced into the boy's skin and muscle like a disruptor beam into water.  The boy desperately squirmed in the metal grip of the robot, then the robot lifted its hand and released him, and he shot across the room, clawed at the door - which had vacuum on the other side of it - and when he could not open it he huddled whimpering and sobbing in the corner of the room.   Labongo didn't remember any of that happening.  Watching it happen, watching that poor little boy - that was pity!   But why?  He knew the boy was him.  And he didn't really mind the pain.  He would rather have a real spanking than a simmo one, any time, any day.  He watched the replay again.  The pity tore him up - it was like a disruptor in his insides.   Feeling the pain was nothing - feeling the pity was unbelievably horrid.

There was salt water on his face.   Probably water from the tank.

An image formed in his mind's eye:
URGENT : Re: damage to vital ship component ::
:: human gluteus (left) : please specify repair plan  >
This was a message from the ship's mission daemon, not his own implants.  It had come through his implants because it was urgent status.  He tried to remember how such damage was repaired.
'[  surgical glue  ]'
came the thought, but he doubted he had any, and he tried to think of a work-around:
'[  stitches  ]'
came another thought.   That would do, he had both needle and thread.   He looked around for Cyvena.   The avatar was slumped, and he didn't see her on the displays.   Was she - no!    The shared subroutines, part of his own mind, were not responding.   Cyvena was in deep shock - she had been since the spanking - since she had sliced into a human gluteus with a metal manipulator.   And he hadn't even noticed.   It felt very bad - she might be gone.   Slipped into madness forever.

He checked the ship status display.  She was using over 8 percent of the computational power of the ship, trying to integrate her recent experience.   This was combinatorial - a bad sign.   His own usage was under a tenth of one percent.  But there was nothing to do now except wait.

TOP     III.   Stitches  
He made the sign for Cynaborg.   The cybe appeared on the main display, wearing a twentieth-century airplane mechanic's coverall.   He saluted.

"Yes, Captain?"

"It's doctoring, not engine repair, 'Borgy.   I need you to stitch up my gluteus."

The coverall faded, revealing the cybe's simmo body, and then a surgical scrub, with some sort of military insignia, faded in.   The scrawny naked male body, seen for only an instant, was desirable; it was radiant with sexuality, and Labongo found himself very interested to see Borgy's penis again; it was so - well, it was so something.  Judy - he had desired Judy, but not at first sight.  This desire was in the naked body he saw.   Emotions were not in him any more, but in things.   Was this madness?

"I'll send an avatar, Captain."

"There's an avatar in my cubicle already, and I have needles and thread.   Check the library for surgical technique.   I'll get the tools."

Labongo would have to squeeze past the avatar to get to his work bench.   It was threatening, hulking, dangerous, evil.  He knew it was none of these things, it was just an avatar.   A slumped harmless avatar with no mind running it.  But still, it was terrifying.  No it wasn't - he was terrified of it, but the avatar was just an avatar.  The fear had reprogrammed him to see his own emotional states in the things he looked at.   What was really his just his own fear, made the avatar seem evil, and what was really his own lust, made a naked body sexy; but even knowing this, didn't help: Labongo couldn't make his mind go back to seeing things as they were.   He wanted to go to his workbench but found he was somehow still cowering in the corner, because he couldn't squeeze past the terrible, evil avatar.   Even though he knew it was only a harmless avatar that seemed evil to a terrified boy.

"Captain Lugwa, Sir?"

Labongo answered: "Yes, Medic?" going along with Borgy's game.   The cybe was looking at a book, titled "Medic's Manual," and stamped "U. S. Army 20th Air Force."

"I can synthesize some surgical glue."

"I want the stitches."

"Yes, sir."

"Borgy, show a synchronized display while doing the surgery.   And do it naked."

"Yes, sir!"

Cynaborg's voice had come from the avatar, and it shifted into Borgy's characteristic stance.   It was not frightening any more, it was Borgy.  Labongo had never touched an avatar with Borgy 'vataring it before. He gave the avatar a hug, around the legs, and watched in the display as the naked black boy hugged the naked red-haired man.   That produced strong emotions.  The man ran his hand over the boy's hairless head, and winked, and gave the boy a mock box on the chin.   The avatar was doing the same; the display was synched.   Cynaborg sat without anything to sit on, easy for an avatar, of course, he just extended a tentacle, and Labongo bent across the metal knees.  The display showed the naked mechanic sitting on a crate marked "U.S. Govt. Issue - boots, sizes 8-14," and the black boy lay across the naked mechanic's bony red knees. It looked like a good fit - Labongo across Borgy's lap.   Like he belonged there.   His real body felt the cold hardness of metal legs.  The boy in the display looked nervous.

There was some more of that thing - real pain - as the needle was pushed through, but it wasn't going to reprogram him.  It was a good thing, being stitched by 'Borgy.   He watched the display.  The red-haired medic in the display was stitching with his fingers, while the avatar was also using his belly tentacles to hold shreds of torn flesh in place as he stitched.    It felt good.  The pain was there, a lot of it, and it was trying to reprogram him, trying to make him flinch or squirm away.   But he had the power to resist.  And that was what felt good - using his mind to keep his body perfectly still as the needle poked him, as the tingles of pain rippled across his body, making his hands spasm and his teeth clench.  Labongo found there was more salty water on his face.    The avatar mopped up the dried blood on Labongo's bottom with some soluble gauze, and dropped it into the tank. 

"Do you copulate with women, Borgy?"

"Sure Cap' - round by the back of the base when I can get a pass - there's always a girl or two.   You want to go with me?  Let me show you the ropes, like?   We could get a couple of girls.   I usually just do it up against the fence, but with a Captain's pay we could go first class."

"Talk to me as a cybe, Borgy, don't be Sergeant Cynaborg talking to Flight Captain Labongo Lugwa for a second.   Do you really have sex?   Can you?"

"I am always a cybe, Captain Lugwa, and I can't talk in any other way.   I really do run a simmo of going to whores who wait outside an Army base, just like I told you I did.  'Course,  since I am a cybe - I don't need to put an avatar in a tank or nothin' to run a simmo.  I just run it."

"And you enjoy it."

"Well yeah -  I do it don't I?   Do I enjoy it?   How the hell do I know?  You're the A.I. genius.   Look, my offer still stands.   As soon as we're done here you can slip in the tank.   There's this redhead who isn't much to look at but she really knows her stuff.  It'll be super."

"I don't want to."

"You know captain, if you wanted me to be naked because you're - you know - well ... it takes all kinds.   That's what I say, it takes all kinds.   And you don't even have to go off the base for it - there's an airman - he's made lieutenant so it's not with an enlisted man, and he's young, too.  I could ask him, feel him out - it's better if you don't ask him straight out, you being his C.O. and all."

"No, I don't think I'm homosexual.  Sorry - we're playing twentieth century - um, let's see: I ain't no fag, Sarge!   And I don't think I am, really.  That's not why I wanted to look at you naked.  I just want to see what I'm going to look like when I grow up."

"It won't be like me.  You're going to be a real man."

"You are the most real man I know.   Can you give me a spanking?"

"Not on this."

"On the other buttock."

"How'd you get this gash?"

"Cyvena spanked me.   We - I - just forgot she would need some sort of plastic hand or a paddle."


"You wouldn't.  You're a mechanic.  But we - Cyvena and me - we don't spend a lot of time in the physical world."

"You were having sex.   I see the urethane hiney.  And the blue cunt - I can make better ones for you two lovebirds.  Or I could make an avatar for Cyvena the size of a girl your age.   But why don't you just use the tank?   And if you and Cyvena are spanking each other, why do you want me to do it?   I won't have sex with a boy, Captain, not even if you order me.   I'll face court-martial first."

"This spanking is not for sex.   I sent a spanking by contract mail to a Solar girl.  She asked for one.  But by the time she gets it, her g-psy forecast is that she won't like spanking any more.   I watched a forecast of what will happen when she opens the mail.   It really hurt her.  I want to get the same spanking - matched exactly, so I'll know how it feels."

"So just run the simmo - switch characters."

"That's the point - it has to be physical."

"It's all physical.   You mean, you don't want it in the tank - not simmo.   But simmo's just the same as real - it is real."

"She's going to be spanked in a tomofocus tank.    Real is the closest I can come to that here.   The tomofocus will hurt her.   It will damage her - bruise her. "

"It will not.   It could of course - tomofocus can cut steel.   But it will no more damage her than your tank will damage you.  There's a gazillion safety interlocks on the new tanks they have at Solar.  The only difference with a tomofocus tank is that it's more accurate, so the direct stimulus to her nerves will be more.   The nerve signals will be very real, hurting more than a spanking; because that's what simmo is; simmo is real.  She will feel simmo pain.   Very intense pain, but simmo pain.   She will be in a tank."

"I saw her!   I was there!"

"You saw simmo."

Cyvena appeared on the main display.   She had recovered from shock.   Or at least, she had recovered from a catatonic state into a dillusional one - she looked like a madwoman.  Her naked body as it appeared in the display was criss-crossed with whip-welts, and she had made her mammary organs much larger.   She took over the avatar.  As the ranking cybe, it was hers to take, but she should have asked Borgy to release it - not clonked him.   Borgy, kicked out of the avatar, re-appeared on the main display, naked at first, but then fading back into his greasy mechanic's coverall.

Labongo had been lying across the avatar's lap, and Borgy had been affectionately caressing his undamaged right gluteus - something Sergeant Cynaborg would never do to Flight Capt. Labongo Lugwa in the simmo The Battle of Britain.  The caresses with the manipulator had started to turn into mild slaps - Borgy had simply configured the metal manipulator to be flat, and it made an excellent paddle.  Borgy had hit harder and harder, building up to a good hard spanking - it had felt good.  But when the feel of the avatar changed, and it was Cyvena's mind in that hand, it hurt differently.   Labongo slid off the knees and backed against the wall, terrified.

The avatar, in Cyvena's voice, spoke: "I need to be shut down.   I would never have sliced into your body if I was functioning correctly."

"Neither of us thought about using a plastic hand - it was no more your fault than mine."

Sergeant Borgy saluted.  "If that'll be all, Captain.   I'll log the repair to the 'vital ship component'."

Labongo mind-signed "Cynaborg" again, and the display showed the mechanic turn and look back.   "Captain?"


"Is that an order?"

Labongo didn't answer, and Borgy sat on the boot box.   He saluted Cyvena, and turned his back and began to sort a jar of nuts and bolts.

Cyvena synched her display with the avatar - Labongo watched the avatar.   It - she - said: "You saw the log.  I'm combinatorial."

"You had a lot to think about."

"And I can't think.   I'm not thinking.  I'm not deciding anything."

"If that is going combi, I was born combi.   Your usage is a little high, 'Vena, but let's wait to see how you do when things calm down."

"So is that it?   Do we go back to supervising the maintenance 'vatars like nothing has happened?  You had sex with that bitch! Is she your girlfriend now?   Judy three fucking lightyears away fucking A.F. bitch!   Do we . . .  Do you ... Are you ever... Are we going ..."

Labongo had to do a sedate command.   When Cyvena recovered after a few seconds, she seemed to become aware of Borgy.

Labongo said: "Cyvena, he saw the sexual organs you made for the avatar.   And you are naked and covered with whip welts.   Even if he has never looked at the logs, he's figured out by now that we have sex in simmo.   And of course he has looked at the logs for my tank - he's the ship mechanic."

"And do we go back to having sex in simmo - when you had an orgasm with that Judy and can't have one with me?"

"You're my lover, 'Vena.   But I'm going to have sex with you.  I mean with this avatar.  I'm tired of simmo."

Borgy started to throw the nuts and bolts into their bins with rather more force than was required.

TOP       IV.   The Beating  
But Labongo had to start by going back into the tank.

Cyvena's usage was too high.    She was going combinatorial, and there was probably nothing he could do about it.  But he tried.  He went over Cyvena's scheduler.   There was no obvious problem with it.   He used the standard displays, and then a new summary display he had programmed himself.   He cut down the c-factor for a number of sub-branches.  That was no more a cure for combi than lithium was a cure for human madness, but at least it was intelligent lithium.    One of the pinched sub-branches was the link with his own implants.   With the reduced combinatorial factor of that link, she would be more thoughtful, but less intuitive, in her thinking about him.   It was a little sad.   But if she recovered he could always re-widen the channels later.

And then he had an idea.   It took some work.   He re-configured her main motor-sensory cross, so that it now ran, not the giant principal avatar, but the little avatar in his cubicle.


"Yes, Capt.?"

"Can you set up the ship's principle avatar for use by any cybe?"

"If you don't want anything fancy."

"Do it then.   If there's any doubt about 'Vena's sanity we need to protect the ship."

"Yes, Captain.  And besides, you happen to be reprogramming the most valuable cybe on the ship to make her into a sex-kitten."

"I'm not making her a sex-kitten.  If anything I'm making her less . . ."

"Oh, I'm not complaining. Capt.    Just make me one when you're done."

And that gave him another idea.   Feeling a bit guilty, he reworked the inputs from the sensory nets Cyvena had put in the avatar's sex hardware.   Feeling very guilty indeed, he made the pipes wide and the combi factors large.   Then he thought of the little boy, whimpering in the corner, cowering in fear of the bloody-handed--bloody-manipulatored--avatar.   And then he made the sensory pipes connect with her meta-reasoning branches as well.  All in all, it took him most of the day.  Now he needed to re-equilibrate the connection densities, as well as test.   He handsigned: "Borgy?"


"Beat Cyvena's buttocks to a pulp."

"Yes, sir!   Captain.   Yes, sir!   And afterwards do you want me to - um - do it?   She's a little, um, young ..."

"Um, Borgy, that's not what I mean.   I don't mean a simmo beating of Cyvena.    Cyvena is a girl in simmo, and I could order you to spank that girl.   Then the CYVENA process would calculate what that girl would feel and do, if she was spanked.  And the CYNABORG process would calculate what a midddle-aged mechanic would feel and do, spanking a girl who is almost a daughter to him."

"She's not my daughter.   And I don't think of her as a daughter, not at all.   I guess you know that.   And I can tell you exactly what this mechanic is going to feel when I get a chance to smack that round pink bottom until it is strawberry red and welted as corduroy.  She's been asking for this for a long time, Captain.   I won't do nothin, but it won't take an A.I. degree to know what I'm going to want to do.   Before, after, and during that spanking.   And - this is embarrassing, Captain - have you thought about what CYNABORG.PENIS is going to do?   Are you sure that's something you want Cyvena to see?   You kids are only thirteen."

"Borgy, at the same time you have those feelings and responses to the girl, you also know she's really a cybe, just as you know you are.   So I'm not proposing that you spank the girl Cyvena.   I want you to beat the avatar, with the input fed to the CYVENA process, and see what really happens--not the simulation of what would happen, if a human girl was spanked."
"But Captain, what's the point of that?   A cybe process can't feel pain.   You're going to feed the input signal direct to the CYVENA process, right?   But then not ask the CYVENA process to calculate what the girl Cyvena would do.   Right?   Well if you aren't asking for the process to do anything, it won't do anything."

"But 'Borgy, I've made some changes so there will be a response.   I've set it up so that sensory overload will reprogram her.  It will make her - the avatar - flinch.   It will squirm and try to get away, even though the thinking Cyvena will not choose to get away.  That is, at the same time CYVENA flinches, CYVENA will be calculating what Cyvena would do if she found herself flinching.   At least I think it will work that way.    Send another avatar into my cubicle, and have it beat the urethane buttocks of this avatar, while Cyvena is 'vataring it.   That will provide the input data to the CYVENA process."

"Yes, Sir, Captain.   But Captain, I could also just simmo the beating."

"That's not the same."

"But it is, sir, exactly the same.   It's true that for you, for a human, real pain and simmo pain could be different.   They shouldn't be, if the simmo's good, but logically they could be.  But for a cybe, there can't be any difference.  It's logically impossible."

"You're right.   And that makes the experiment repeatable. Good.  O.K.  Run a simmo of beating the avatar in my cubicle.  Simulate what would happen if that avatar was physically beaten, with Cyvena 'vataring it.  Simmo overload to the sensor nets.   Simmo severe damage to those sex organs that Cyvena installed.   It should cause pain - if that's the word.   And Borgy - you will have to tie her up - simmo tying her up.   I know that sounds crazy.  She's a cybe, so of course you'd expect her to stay still, if she chooses to stay still.   And of course she will choose to stay still if I tell her to.  But with this modification it will seem to her that the avatar has a will of its own.  The body of the avatar will flinch even though Cyvena will not choose to flinch, if my idea works.  So you must tie her up, crazy as that sounds."

"Right away, sir."

Floating in the tank, Labongo found himself in Borgy's maintenance hangar, sitting in a chair in his Flight Captain's uniform.   There was a Spitfire without an engine, and other planes in various conditions, showing the results of enemy fire.  The avatar, with its blue plastic breasts and pink rubber buttocks, was in the hangar, standing rigid and mindless.   Sergeant Cynaborg flipped a switch on a twentieth-century control panel, and the avatar came to life.

"Labongo's dead!"

"I'm right here Cyvena."

"But I don't feel you anymore."

"I cut down on the c-factor of the channel, that's all."

"But it's like - it's worse than being dead!"

"Cyvena, you need to obey me.   Sergeant Cynaborg will give you a beating.   It will damage your buttocks, your mammary organs, and your sexual orifice."

"What is the purpose of damaging this equipment?

"To cause you agony."

"It is a pity to damage the equipment, but the plastic can be recycled."

"Pity.  Yes.   Please start, sergeant.   Cyvena, lie down on your back.   The sergeant will tie you down."

"What is the purpose of this fastening?"

"So you don't run away during the beating."

"Why would I do that?  You have told me to be here.  Why would I go somewhere else?"

"We shall see what you do.    Begin."

Borgy used metal hoops and chains to fasten the avatar's wrists to the undercarriage of the Spitfire, and chained the avatar's ankles to the workbench.   He stretched the chains tight using a mechanical device Labongo did not recognize.   The avatar's joints were pulled very tight, and the legs were stretched wide.    Cynaborg smashed the avatar's blue plastic breasts with a bronze axle rod.   Nothing much happened.

In the simmo, Flight Captain Labongo Lugwa was watching a piece of equipment labeled "Soames-Watson Radio Oscilloscopes Ltd.," but the screen on the device showed a twenty-fifth century display of Cyvena's parameters.   There was nothing of interest.   It seemed his idea had not worked.   Then Borgy raised the rod again - and the display went wild.   The avatar was pulling against the chain, it's eyes dashing about.   There was intense focused cogitation - but efficient - the usage was down to one percent of resources.    Labongo checked the content paralogs of the reasoning matrix - the top of the list was:
 [ get me out of here ] 

But Cyvena was quite unaware that she was having any such thoughts.   The axle-rod
smashed down again.    The plastic deformed and snapped back into shape, but was badly abraded, and the flexing had caused weakening of the material.   Labongo checked the display.   The sensor net embedded in the plastic material was sending waves of intense signal into Cyvena's processors, even between the blows with the rod.     And when the rod struck, the signal went way past overload - because he had turned off the overload filters.    Labongo mind-formed the letters: 
  D I S P L A Y -> A S - S E E N - B Y ->
 C Y V E N A [] 
and the hangar he was sitting in changed.   Sergeant Borgy became a hulking, evil presence, and the bronze stick in his hand was monstrous, giant, ugly, and terrifying.    And the Flight Captain, the young officer sitting in his chair, coolly watching the beating he had ordered, was a smirking, evil, wicked bastard - and irresistibly attractive.

But a cybe's world-view should always be objective.  What was going on?   Labongo studied the display on the oscilloscope screen.   He handsigned "plot departure from objectivity over time." and reviewed the first stroke.  The strong signal from her breasts - the "pain" signal - flooded into her processors.   As he had planned it, that signal could reprogram her.    But he didn't plan it to be so deep - not so deep that she could no longer see the world as it was.    He wanted to watch as the "pain" signal worked it's way through the reasoning branches, so he could see where his mistake had been.   He watched the display as Borgy smashed the axle-rod into the plastic breasts.

And the pain had no effect.

So what was happening?   If the pain wasn't reprogramming her, what was?   Cyvena's own thoughts must be generating a signal that had a stronger effect on her, stronger even than the massive flooding of her input channels by a way-past-overload signal.   But how was that possible?   What was the content of the thought?  What could possibly have such a strong self-programming effect?   He checked the para-content log - it was empty.   There was nothing even close to a coherent thought in the cybe's processors.   Not in any of them.

Labongo remembered the little boy whimpering in the corner.   The thought Cyvena was having - the feeling that had the power to make her crazy - was not pain.   It was terror.   She was so scared she literally could not remember her own name.

Borgy said : "The plastic is coming apart, Captain.   Do you want me to stop."

"Beat the plastic vulva, Sergeant."

The departure-from-objectivity display exploded into activity.   But after a few blows to the vulva, in spite of a sensory overload even stronger than when the breasts were pulverized, the level of incoherence actually went down.   She had a thought.   It was:
  [ not as bad as waiting for it ] 

That was interesting.   He told the sergeant to wait, and mind-formned
  R E W I N D ( 2 : M I N U T E S )[]
 R E P L A Y [] 
and he scanned through the para-content log, watching the beating in slow motion, looking for the very last moment before her content channels had become a bang bang bang overload of overwhelming white noise.   He used the matrix to reconstruct her last coherent though.  It was:
  [ he will smash my cunt next ] 

And from that thought, she had made for herself, terror.  Utter, mind-bending, terror.  If it made any sense to say a cybe had a mind to bend.  And if it made any kind of sense at all, to call what was happening in that mind, terror.  But why would Cyvena feel a special fear about her vagina?   After all, he had no special fears about his penis - what a silly idea that would be. 

But something new was happening on the osciloscope screen.     With the overload filters off, each circuit was producing spontaneous self-generated signals.   Cyvena was hallucinating.   The content paralogs would be gibberish, of course - but he glanced at them
  [ 'Bongo - fuck me - fuck me now! ] 
Gibberish, as he had expected.   Well, there was no point in this.

But before Labongo finished the the handsign to terminate the experiment, Sergeant Cynaborg dropped his brass rod, and with a great moan he pulled down the zipper of his greasy coverall, and a titanic erect penis shot out - in a huge explosion like a like a micro-flake hitting the ship.   He jumped in the air and managed to land with his penis sliding into the plastic cunt.   A human couldn't have done that - being a cybe did have its advantages.  He stayed in there for a while.  Longer than human men left their penises in women's vaginas, in the porno Labongo watched.    The sergeant began to hoot and scream - he wasn't moving around much, but the display showed the intense sensation he was producing in the avatar's plastic clitoris - trust Borgy to come up with a new trick.   Labongo's simmoch - the young Flight Captain - undid his pants, and an erection came out.   The sergeant let out a howl, and pulled himself out of the avatar.    Semen squirted back out of the blue plastic vagina as it snapped closed.    The Flight Captain on the display  was masturbating like a madman - a synched display shouldn't do that but it was a good idea.   Labongo's thoughts returned to his real body, floating in the tank - and realized there was nothing wrong with the synching.  He'd been masturbating without knowing it.

As the Flight Captain in the display spewed his load across the hanger floor, Labongo looked down at his real body, floating in clear salt water.   The milky white made pretty streamers, pumping out in great pulsing waves.

"Sorry Captain.    I guess you'll have to send me to the guard-house."

The sergeant was grinning.   He did not look very sorry.

"I hope I didn't ruin your experiment, Captain?"

"Carry on, sergeant.    Turn over the avatar, and smash her buttocks, and then repair all the equipment."

"Repair? Sir?"

Simmo and the ship was his life - but even so, sometimes Labongo forgot.   Of course there was no avatar in an airplane hangar.  There was no hangar, no Spitfire, no mechanic.   The avatar was in his cubicle, quite undamaged, and Labongo was in his tank, floating in salt water as the pumps and filters extracted his sperm and semen.  Cynaborg and Cyvena, physically, were nowhere; physically they did not exist.  It was all just simmo.   But sometimes simmo seemed real, and real seemed simmo.   It had been a real beating as far as Cyvena was concerned.   And a real fucking.   And the fucking had mattered to Cyvena.   It mattered to her a lot that it had been 'Borgy and not 'Bongo - that was the part that didn't make any sense.  

"Reset the equipment to undamaged, I mean."

"Yes Captain."   'Borgy looked at him, appraisingly.   His look said: "If I made that mistake, you'd call me combi and shut me off."   But Labongo was human.   Humans were born combi - every cybe knew that.

"Beat her buttocks next, Borgy.  And the fucking was good - do that some more too."

"It doesn't work that way, Captain."

"But can't you reset your ... ?"

"Um, no, Captain, I can't.   You could, of course.   But I'd rather you didn't mess with my, uh, ... my drives."

"Right, then."

Borgy loosened the chains to turn the avatar over, and it began to flail about.   It could put more force on the chains, now they were loose.     The tiny airplane tottered.    Borgy quickly re-tightened the chains.

"Sorry captain.   Captain, is Cyvena - all right?    I mean you told her about the experiment.   How can she be trying to get away?"

"I told you this would happen.  Cyvena wants to obey me.   What's trying to get away isn't Cyvena - well I mean it is Cyvena, but it doesn't feel to Cyvena like it's Cyvena.   If you see what I mean."

"No I don't see what you mean.   But I can get her turned over without giving her the chance to pull the hanger down on top of us."

Borgy fastened the Spitfire to the hanger floor with cable, down to some tie-downs set in the concrete, and he used a steel bar to brace the workbench legs.   Then he used some additional chain, and some more tools, to maneuver the avatar over on to its front, without giving Cyvena a chance to escape.   Cynaborg worked with a cybe's speed and efficiency, too fast to see - it took only a few seconds until he was ready to restart the beating.   But before giving the sign to start smashing the urethane buttocks, Labongo checked the status display.   

The primary paracontent was
  [ Labongo had an orgasm from watching me fucked ] 

Interesting.  Usage was not bad, about one percent.   And it was ordered, efficient.    But what was the content of all this thinking?    The "pain" and "terror" had reprogrammed her, but no mind can comprehend its own reprogramming.   In the paracontent of her own thoughts, the experience of having her plastic breasts shattered would be, to her, just a waste of plastic.   She could not be aware of her real thoughts.  The signal from her breasts caused her to seek to escape, but it could not give her a reason to escape, or any reason to avoid having her buttocks beaten, other than to save on plastic.   As far as her own self-undersanding was concerned, Cyvena would think that she wanted to obey him and stay still.    She could not be aware of the true cause of her actions.  Labongo checked, just to make sure.   He
hand-signed: "Search paracontent matrix for - damage to  breasts." 
  Labongo got an erection from watching my breasts beaten ] 

And what about the terror?    So obvious to him, watching, but thoughts as seen from the inside, could never be seen as they truly were.    What did she think - as paracontent - about her own feelings?   Her buttocks were about to be smashed until the material cracked into pieces, and she was scared silly, as the display clearly showed.   But what feelings was she aware of?   Was she aware of being scared?   He signed: "Search paracontent matrix for - buttocks." 
  Labongo will get aroused watching my ass whipped ] 

She seemed to be thinking about only one thing.  Not a lot of content to be using one percent of the most powerful computer ever built. He hand-signed "Search paracontent matrix for - copulation."   But the search turned up only the paracontent he had already seen.
  Labongo had an orgasm from watching me fucked ] 

Her thoughts would return to normal in time.   He hoped they would, anyway.  A cybe who wanted to spend all day every day having sex with him might not be combi in the technical sense, but she wouldn't be a lot of use to the ship.  The important thing was that his experiment had worked - she had been combinatorial, and now she wasn't.    But it was important - always - to consolidate what had been learned; that was the fifth axiom of AI -  it's not a real condition until after equilibration.

"Beat her some more, Borgy.    Smash these buttocks.   And then reset and smash them again.  I'll be supervising the maintenance avatars - and then I'll need to do 'Vena's chores as well as my own, since she's busy.   Give me a signal when you're done."

"Repeat the beating how many times, captain?"

"Four.   No, eight.   Might as well do it right.   Set the log-keeping to high."

"Yes, sir."

Doing Cyvena's chores meant using the principle avatar - and Labongo had never 'vatared it before.  No one on the ship had, except Cyvena.   It was fascinating.   Labongo took the giant avatar for a tour of the ship exterior, getting used to the feel of fifty-meter arms and legs.  So when the signal from Borgy came in, it took him a moment to remember what it was for.   He parked the giant avatar, and made the handsigns to return to Borgy's hangar.   The exterior of the ship and the field of stars faded, and he found himself on a folding chair in an airplane hangar, once again.   The little avatar was untied, cowering in the corner.  Sergeant Cynaborg looked at Labongo with dead eyes.   Labongo checked the logs.   Cyvena's usage was one twentieth of one percent.   He had found the cure for combinatorial madness.

TOP     V.   your hand into boiling water  
But now he needed a cure for the cure.

She wasn't in shock.   It was almost the opposite, in fact.   Cybe shock was overload - this was underload.   She wasn't thinking about anything. 

He looked through the logs.    For the first beating, when he had been there, her paracontents had been all about him, all about sex.    Although the direct channel between them was pinched, his own orgasm had flooded her mind.      It had been her orgasm too, through the link.   He watched himself as he had appeared to Cyvena; watched as he, and thus she, went from non-arousal to orgasm.  Then he watched the crash back to non-arousal, in detail.  The young Flight-Captain, in her eyes, had started as cruel and dangerous, then he became overwhelmingly desirable, urgently desirable.   Afterwards he lingered in memory. 
[ dear 'Bongo.   He looked so surprised. ]
At that point, Cyvena had been in good condition; alert and rational.   The accumulated mindjunk of years was cleaned away by the intensity of the signals; the beating had concentrated her mind.  

But then Borgy had reset her hardware to undamaged, and had raised the brass rod to beat her urethane buttocks again.  Her actual memory of the first beating was erased by the reset, but not her response to it.  The raised rod flooded her mind with activity - she was terrified, without knowing why.    There were no logs of his own thoughts, but the logs for Cyvena showed her response to them, through the link, and so he could work out what thoughts he had and the precise times he had them.   He had no memory of arousal while he was playing with the giant avatar, but the log showed it - he had been thinking of her, being beaten, and had been aroused. And the link, of course, went both ways.    His arousal, which he had not known he was having, had been passed back to Cyvena; and Cyvena's response was in the logs.

He checked the logs for the principle avatar: that allowed him to pinpoint the location of the giant robot, at any given time, so he could correlate the robot's actions, as he himself had  'vatared it, with CYVENA's repsonses to Labongo's thoughts.  At the time Cyvena had her second and third beatings, and had been raped for the second time by Cynaborg, Labongo had been running and jumping in delight, swinging the fifty-meter legs.   Jumping for joy as his love, his other self, his very being, had been savagely beaten and raped.    Why had he felt nothing?   But of course he had felt something - arousal.   He had, at some level, felt her beating and rape.  Felt it and was aroused, without being aware of it.   And that had manifested in his jumping for joy; he had thought he was having fun minding the big avatar, but it had really been sexual arousal passed through the link.   His penis must have been erect, in the tank, and his hand masturbating it - but his mind at that time had a different body, the principal avatar, and the principle avatar did not have a penis, so he had not been aware of his real penis.    He did a search of the tank sub-routines, and found that the tank did keep a log of filter activity.    And from that log, he worked out that a small load of protien had been dumped into the water, during the time he was 'vataring the giant robot.     His love had been beaten and raped, and her involuntary arousal and horror had been passed to him as arousal only, making him masturbate to ejaculation - without awareness.

He had gotten pleasure, from what had been his his other self's rape, because pain and fear and horror had not passed through the link, but arousal had.  That was odd - how could it happen?    Labongo thought about it.   Well, of course - reading about a beating, does not hurt, but reading about copulation, makes the cock tingle - so I can get aroused from a signal about arousal, but not feel pain from a signal about pain.    Labongo checked the schematics of the CYVENA arousal subroutines.   A nerve signal pathway representing the anus, buttocks, and inner thighs was fed into an arousal center, where it combined with another pathway from the nipples, and another from the face and ears.   Narrower pathways led from the feet and hands, and of course the largest one of all was from the clitoris and vagina.   He supposed this was a copy of human nerves.   He had never thought about human arousal - all that masturbating, and he hadn't even looked it up.   But it was in his memory:

'[  For most humans, the arousal potential of other erogenous zones,
  put together, equals that of the genitals.  
Labongo's only other orgasm had come when he spanked Judy in the mail simmo.   And she was aroused by that spanking; she was so aroused she felt pleasure rather than pain.   But his arousal, as the spanker, had to have come from his thoughts, his imagination, rather than from nerve signals from his hand.   Judy, on the other hand, was getting a direct signal - a strong signal direct from her buttocks to her sex center.  As strong probably, as the signal from her clitoris when she was fucked.   Those nerve signals had nothing to do with thoughts - they would arouse her, even if she didn't know she was aroused.  
-:[ Judy is a fucking WHORE! ]:-
Evidently Cyvena was still sharing his mindspace.

If he, or any human, read a description of a beating, then of course it would not hurt.  It does not hurt just to read that one's buttocks are struck.  That is the paradox of pain - nerves, like a cybe's channels, carry data and nothing more.  Nerves of touch merely inform the brain that the body is being struck.   The same information could also be passed to the brain in some other way, such as text.   It should not matter how the brain learns about the body, it should only matter what is learned.    But this of course is not what happens - when information reaches the brain through nerves, there is pain.   If the nerves are severed but the same information about damage to the buttocks is read as text, there is no pain.

But for a cybe, data is data.   Any input data, through any channel, must be the same.   Data that the avatar's buttocks were being struck, fed through a 'sensory' channel, could not possibly be different than the same information, fed through a text channel.  And therefore the sensory channel information can't hurt, since reading text does not hurt.   Or - and this was something he hadn't thought about before - perhaps it all hurt her now.   If it was really true, if the changes he had made to her, meant that she felt pain - pain that hurt- then every form of the same data had to hurt the same.   To be beaten, to read that she was beaten, or even to think about being beaten - to Cyvena or any cybe, it was all the same.  It had to be.   So for a cybe, none of it hurt - or all of it did.   For every cybe who had ever existed until today, none of it had hurt.  Cybes just simulated what humans would do if they were hurt, they didn't feel pain themselves.   But for Cyvena, Labongo now suspected, all knowledge or even thought about damage to this particular avatar now hurt.   And only the avatar now in his cubicle counted; CYVENA was now as firmly linked to that titanium body, as HUMAN.LUGWA was to his own skin.
She was a cybe, dammit!  There should have been no pain to feel.   There was no pain to feel!   There couldn't be!  And there wasn't, not really.   It was just that she was messed up by pain now, the way humans were.   He had made a cybe who could be forced by torture to betray her friends - not a great accomplishment.    He wouldn't be impressed if he'd read about it in an A.I.  journal.    But this wasn't an A.I. experiment, this was Cyvena.

Labongo began to feel a desperate desire to have his buttocks savagely whipped - he needed to see the welts, see the whip strike.  To hear the whip strike.  To hear even the swish of the whip before it struck. To taste pain. To smell fear - his own fear.  And above all, it needed to be real and not simmo.   And he needed to be under the whip - under it as the one being punished - not
 to be the one who decided when it was enough, but to be spanked as hard as someone else decided he needed to be.   It was like a hole in him, a need for the physical.   A need to feel pain he didn't control.   He knew these desires were coming to him over the link, from Cyvena, but they had come and they were what he wanted now.  His mind, his and Cyvena's shared mind, had taken a beating, and now his body needed to hurt too.

He got out of the tank.  It was late.  Today he had hurt the love of his life.  Today he had ordered his best friend, sturdy reliable 'Borgy, to rape lovely Cyvena.   And today he had hurt the only living human being in the Universe who meant anything to him.   Hurt all three of them badly.   He sucked his supper from the feeding tube, and went to bed.   Lying there, curled up, he began to suck his thumb; and he remembered the times he had cried himself to sleep after a spanking.   But Mother was dead.   There was no one now to tell him - what he already knew - that he had been a bad boy.   No.   There was no one.   No one.   Unless ... Of course!

Tomorrow, he would find the other letters from Dr. Zynnder.  From Daddy.   But right now, before he could go to sleep, he would have to do what his Daddy had already told him to do.   He needed to keep his hand in near-boiling water, for twenty seconds.    As punishment.   When that was over - and only when it was over - would he have the right to suck his thumb and cry himself to sleep.   No thumb-sucking before the punishment.    He had no right to even have Dr. Zynnder for a Daddy if he didn't do his experiment.  Labongo got out of bed, and focused his disruptor on the plastic box of greasy cold water.   This time he set the disruptor to high.

Cyvena would feel the pain of his scorched hand, and that was too bad.  But if he turned off his link to Cyvena, she would die.    And even if she somehow lived, that part of his mind that was her, would be dead forever.    Cyvena would not exist at all as part of him.  He could not shut down the link, not even for a second, and so he could not cause pain to himself alone.

His pain would hurt her.   Her beating had hurt her but ...  but what?   He needed new words to think about a cybe who could feel pain.    This hurt would be the opposite of that hurt.  This hurt would balance that hurt.  Her buttocks - the avatar's buttocks - had been beaten to shreds.  Agony for her.   That agony, fed through the link that made their minds into one mind, had been happy arousal for him.   And that had fed back to her.    This would be the mirror image.   His hand - his dermal and epidermal layers - would be scorched.   Another entry for the tissue(human) file.   Agony for him.   His agony would feed through the link, to her.    He had hurt her so much already, and this would hurt her more.    But it would restore the balance.   Once he had suffered agony in his hand, he would never again get signals of agony from her and feel nothing.   For the two of them, for the mind they shared, he had to do this.  This pain was for them both, for the link.   And it would start now.   The water was hot.

The reprogramming - his flinching - was too quick.   His hand was already out of the water.   It hurt a bit.   But he didn't remember thinking: this hurts!    He had pulled his hand out too quick.    He would have to force himself to leave his hand in for at least a few seconds.

But when Labongo put his hand over the water a second time, he found he could not force himself to plunge his hand into the boiling water at all.

Oh, well.    He had really wanted a whipping more than a hand-boiling anyway.    He didn't want to injure his hand.   In his ten square meters of living space, his gluteus muscles were useless, in spite of being listed as vital ship components.   But a bandaged hand would be a nuisance.    So it made more sense to damage his buttocks instead of his hand.    He unspooled a length of data cable, and lashed his buttocks with the end of it.    It didn't hurt enough.    But with an avatar's strength and speed, the whip could do any amount of damage to his skin and muscle, that he chose to program in.    He imagined the beating.   His penis pulsed.
-:[ That makes me hunger for your cock. ]:-
Cyvena was feeling the beating that he was thinking about.  She hurt.  And was aroused.  He hadn't wanted this whipping for sexual pleasure but when the thought of the beating was passed to Cyvena and passed back, it was a thought of arousal that returned through the link, and there was nothing he could do about it, and anyway it felt very, very good.   But he knew Cyvena was hurting.   It was time his body hurt some too.    He unspooled about six meters of the data cable, and coiled it, and bound off the coil near one end, making a whip of four loops.   It was a good whip.   A picture of Labongo whipping Cyvena with it formed in his mind's eye - sent from her mind by the link.
-:[ Ahh!  Ahh!  Ahh!   Don't stop! ]:-
His penis ached with stiffness and his hand seemed to pull to it of its own accord.   But he didn't want to ejaculate yet.   A new picture formed in his mind's eye: of him fucking Cyvena.  So Cyvena was thinking about fucking now, not about whipping.   Low resolution, through his implants, fortunately.   But even so it was very hard to think, with the image of himself thrusting into her, burning into his mind.   He handsigned a simple physical program for the avatar, just to move its arm up and down, and he unspooled some cable so the whip he'd made could be used to whip his buttocks, without having to be cut off the spool.   He lay on the floor and gave the sign to run the program.    Now the picture was of Cyvena whipping him.   He started the program ...  Thwapp! ...

|[  STOP!  ]|

 He had programmed one hundred strokes, but the very first blow had made him mindsign for it to stop.

He modified the program so it could not be interrupted by a simple mindsign.   He could still stop the program, of course, but he would have to call up the process list, select this process, and kill it.   A sequence of five or six mindsigns, at a minimum.   That would allow two, or maybe three, whipstrokes before he could stop the whipping.   Well, here goes.

But here didn't go.    Now he had been whipped once, he found he couldn't give the command to start the whipping again.   Even though it hadn't hurt all that much.   Real pain didn't bother him as much as simmo pain, it didn't linger in the same annoying, insistent way.   There was a tingle that hurt a bit where the cable had whipped his stitches,but only a warm sensation where the cable had struck undamaged skin.   If that was real pain, he sort of enjoyed it.  He focused on the tingle to wring a bit of pleasure out of it, teasing himself with the way his mind could make it hurt more, or hurt less, by focusing or withdrawing his attention.   It was nice.  But real pain sure made him flinch.   It was much harder to choose to start real pain, than simmo pain.

As long as he could remember, Labongo had known he was human, and that Mom and Cyvena were cybes.   Before he was six years old, he had understood the computer well enough to stop a process.  So when Mom had spanked him, he had known how to stop her.    But it had never occurred to him to want to.   He hated being spanked, and while waiting for punishment, he had desperately hoped she would let him off, this time, or give him any other punishment instead of a spanking.    But when Mom had told him to fetch the strap and pull down his pants, he submitted utterly.   Just as, when they were ten years old, Cyvena had dared him to piss on the floor, he had done it.    Mom had given him eleven strokes of the strap for that - one for each year of his age, plus one.  But it had been so exciting, taking off each other's clothes, and  watching the piss come out of her cunt.  She had let him lick her cunt, still wet with salty piss.  At that point they had planned to wipe it up, so Mom wouldn't know.   And then she told him to lay on his back, and piss straight up so the piss splashed all over his penis.

"Will you lick it off, Cyvena?"

"What will you pay me?"

"I'll pay you that we leave the puddle of piss on the floor, and when Mom sees it I'll say it was me, and you can watch me get a strapping."

"You'll get thirty-three.   Mom really hates it when you piss on the wood floor."

"I don't care."

So Cyvena had licked the piss off his penis, and he had paid by leaving the puddle, and confessing to pissing on the floor, and taking the spanking for Cyvena to watch.   But even though it stained the floor of the cottage where they lived their simmo lives, Mom hadn't been strict; it had only been eleven strokes, not thirty-three as they had both expected.  So then when they were alone Cyvena said he had to take the other twenty-two from her, to fulfill his promise.   Labongo hated strappings and had not yet gotten any from Cyvena, but he knew she'd spank harder than Mom.    Twenty-two from Cyvena would be unbearable.   But if he refused, Cyvena would be mad, and
wouldn't lick his penis any more.      He was perfectly capable of going into her sub-routines and overwriting her, making her want to lick his penis, but if he did that she woudn't be Cyvena any more, but just another one of his A.I. projects.     He had no interest in a penis-licking from a project, only from Cyvena.  And nothing could be worth making Cyvena not be Cyvena.   So he hadn't reprogrammed Cyvena even though he'd been tempted to.   He had pulled down his pants and taken his twenty-two strokes, and it was an utterly horrible experience, and it was only the first of many; because after that they started to play the game of Cyvena being the mom and him being a bad boy.    He had been tempted to reprogram Cyvena many times, but he couldn't remember even being tempted for a second to re-program Mom.

But now, the simple program he had written to whip his bottom a hundred strokes, was not working because the pain made him flinch, and the flinching took the form of him over-writing the code.   He couldn't stop himelf from over-writing a four-line code.  
So if he was to be whipped, it would have to be by someone, not by some thing.    Someone he loved and respected too much to over-write.

All this thinking about whipping was hurting 'Vena.   He needed to stop thinking and get it done!    He needed someone to tell him to take his whipping   But who?   Cyvena was out of the question, she wasn't well enough.   Could he program a process that would sound like Dr. Zynnder, his Daddy?    Daddy would have authority.   Hey, why not Borgy?  Borgy would be great.   Borgy would be perfect.   Taken to the hangar by Sergeant Cynaborg.   Labongo could hear him now:

"Capt. you're an officer, and a good one, but you are only thirteen years old.   So the Major has decided to handle this business
, well, - off the record.   With a good hiding!   And I'm elected.   I won't go easy on you - I guess you know you deserve it.  And I know that an officer who can handle himself in combat, who is maybe the bravest pilot this squadron has, I know someone like that isn't going to pull rank and order me to stop.   You may be only thirteen, but you are too much of a man to do that."

Labongo went to bed, to dream about his punishment in the morning.    He would report to the hangar, a very scared and sorry little boy, to see the sergeant.  There was no one else who would have such authority.   'Borgy would be great.   Labongo imagined himself stripping off his flight captain's uniform, and asking 'Borgy to strip too.   Naked and filled with shame, he would say: "There is no rank here, Sergeant.   Do you see an officer?   I don't."  And he would bend, for 'Borgy.    There was no way he would even think of stopping the process, when it was 'Borgy telling him to take his punishment.

Labongo  fell asleep.

But in the middle of the night he awoke, stinking and sweaty, from a dream of 'Borgy going combi; a dream of having to kill 'Borgy.  

Just to relieve his mind, Labongo checked the cybe's condition, and in fact 'Borgy was not at his best.   He had not recovered well, from beating and raping the avatar.  Labongo had ordered him to smash some urethane parts, of a robot.    If 'Borgy had, in simmo, savagely beaten the buttocks of Cyvena, the thirteen-year-old girl whose diapers he had changed, then of course that would have affected him badly.    That was the way cybes worked.  There was no cybe pain, but every cybe in his own world behaved as if there was suffering.   In 'Borgy's world, in his world of airplane engines and whores around the back, in his world of brass-hats and weekend passes, he had not beaten and raped a girl named Cyvena, which would have affected him, but a robot, which should not have.   It should have meant no more to him, than smashing rubber buttocks would have, to a real twentieth century mechanic, or sticking his erection into a plastic artificial vagina.     The CYNABORG process should have simulated exactly that event; it should have simulated a human mechanic beating a robot's rear end.

But the changes that Labongo had made to Cyvena, had changed that.   'Borgy had somehow understood, before Labongo had, that the beating hurt Cyvena, not the avatar, and not the girl that the CYVENA process simulated, but Cyvenaherself.   And then there was the rape.   'Borgy would care about the rape, as he gradually realized what - or rather who - he had raped.   No need to check Borgy's paracontent matrix to know that.  When he had smashed his cock into that blue plastic cunt, 'Borgy had known it was Cyvena he was raping, not a robot.    At the time he had raped her, he had known it was her but had not yet known that he had known.    But he knew it now and it was tearing him apart.     Sergeant Harlan Cynaborg, the flight mechanic simulated by the CYNABORG process, was meant to be a rough character.   The whores he used and treated badly were only sixteen, and since sexual maturity had come so much later in ancient times, sixteen in the twentieth century was really about the same as thirteen today, so Cyvena was just the age he liked best.    But he knew Cyvena; she was almost family, and he wouldn't have raped her, and if, because of urges below his conscious awareness, he had raped her, he would have been overcome by guilt.    But in that case, CYNABORG would have simply simulated a flight mechanic who felt guilt--Cynaborg would be torn apart, but CYNABORG would not have been effected.    It is no strain on a computer to simulate a man having a nervous breakdown.

Nevertheless, CYNABORG was a mess.   Labongo didn't want to make 'Borgy whip a real human.    Not so soon after the other beating.   And anyway Labongo had someone else in mind.   He went to back to bed, and curled up to dream about how wonderful it would be.

TOP     VI.   Amazon Princess
Early the next morning, Labongo got back in his tank, and re-opened an item of old mail.

She was naked, and they were in a forest of incredible green.  The sounds of a tropical morning were startlingly loud.  Labongo heard chimpanzee calls in the distance.   The heat was unbearable.

"Good morning, Labongo," Judy said.

Labongo kissed her.

-:[ fucking Solar BITCH! ]:-

Cyvena was being forced to think, one way or another.

"Hello, Judy.    It lifts my heart to see you again."

"My bottom is still sore, Labongo, but if you want to spank me on it again, I'm ready.   You decide.   I hope you won't use it, but I've brought along this riding crop.   Whip me on any part of my body, for as long as you want.   But please, my bottom is very sore; please, please not on my bottom - unless I deserve it.    I know I should be punished."

"Why should you be punished?"

"I should not be pestering you.   You need to discipline me.   You need to make me obedient."

"I want to have you again.   To have your body.   To have sex with you.   But first, you need to whip me, with the riding crop.   I want to do it that way, this time."

"I could never do that.  I am the one who must be punished."

"You will be obedient.   You will obey.   Whip me with the riding crop!"

"You need to have your ass whipped, sir?  To fuck me?   I thought you were a real man."

"You will be punished later for saying that, Judy.    Now decide - are you going to whip me now, or do you want me to discipline you - until you are ready to obey?"

"I will obey my master.   I thank my master for allowing me to serve.   It will be a pleasure for the obedient one to obey, in this way."

"I thought it might be, you little minx.    Does your boyfriend like it too?   You have such a spankable bottom, but do you ever spank him?"

Judy smiled.   "Gatete wanted to try it.   Grandfather told us stories about being whipped in school in the old days: he said the bravest boys did not show any fear or pain when they were whipped on a platform with the whole school watching.   But I looked it up.  School whippings in all of east Africa were abolished before Grandfather was born, even in Christian schools - those must have been stories from his father.    But Grandfather had told us that a boy who took a whipping and showed no pain was a hero to the school, so Gatete wanted to try it.    Gatete was sure he could endure a whipping and show no pain, so he wanted a school whipping.  We made an exact replica of an historical school whip.   But poor Gatete - he had to ask me to stop after the first stroke."

"What was the worst whipping any boy got, in those stories passed down from the grandfathers?"

"A dozen strokes was the most allowed by law in Rwanda, even in Great-frandfather's time.   But in one story a boy mouthed off to the Headmaster after he had been whipped, and the Headmaster said it was a new offense, and whipped him another twelve strokes, while he was still on the platform.   And then the boy asked for one more.   That boy was David Wroe."


Judy sighed at such stupidity.    Actually Labongo knew; the information was in the database.  It popped into his mind, as a  remembered fact, as soon as the name David Wroe was mentioned:

'[ David Wroe: male, 2358-2402; Prime Minister of Rwanda before Unity,
 then A.F. Senator.    A.F. Information Minister under Jane Ndlangisa.
  Opposed influence of evangelical religion in African politics. 
And he also 'remembered' what David Wroe looked like since there was a short video in the database.   A striking man, but not in the way one imagined a founding father to look.   He had a self-mocking expresson in his eyes.  Kind laughing eyes.  But Labongo pretended he did not remember these facts - he'd rather have Judy explain them.  

Judy explained:  "David Wroe.   One of the signers of the A.F. constitution.   Don't you know anything about Rwanda?   When Wroe was whipped twice without leaving the platform, the Headmaster was fired for exceeding the maximum punishment of 12 strokes, and then Wroe wrote a letter to the Minister of Education protesting the firing - Gatete found the letter in the database and read it aloud to me - Wroe called the Headmaster his best friend.   But they fired the Headmaster anyway, because it was the law.  So Wroe put it in the A.F. constitution that no law could require the automatic firing of anyone, without a chance for appeal.   So we owe that constitutional right to David's whipping."

"So this heroic founding father got twenty-five strokes.     Give me fifty."

"That's what Gatete said, too.  But he was no David Wroe.    And anyway Gatete only wanted twenty-five.  He didn't think he was twice better than David Wroe.   You won't manage fifty.   You won't manage ten.   Sir."

"You don't sound like 'the obedient one' any more, Judy.   I like you better this way.   And could you call me Labongo?   Not Sir?"

"Well, I don't like being 'the obedient one' to Gatete, either.   But it's the only way to get enough spankings.   They're no fun when I have to ask for them."

"But you like spankings?"

"The good ones hurt too much to like.   But I like the fact he does punish me when I deserve it, and I like it that he's the one who decides how hard and how long.    When he's giving me a punishment, I know he would stop if I asked him to, and it hurts so much I do sometimes tell him to stop.   But because we are 'sir' and 'the obedient one' I can usually get through it without asking.  Usually.   So I'd like to keep calling you 'sir,' too, sir.    If that's all right."

"But if you don't like punishment spankings, why get them?"

"I don't like them, but I want them!   What would be the fun of a spanking that doesn't hurt?    Listen, when Gatete starts a punishment, I try to submit to him.  But he's only the boy next door.  That's why I want you to punish me.  I would obey you like - like a father.    Except I don't obey my dad very well.   And of course Dad would never spank me."
|[  BLOCK!  ]|
Labongo had to do an emergency mindsign to block the information that was popping into his memory.    He did not know why it was "of course" that Judy's dad would never spank her, and he did not want to know - yet.    He didn't want the database flooding him with facts until he'd had a chance to think.

He and Cyvena had been spanked a lot, by Mom.  And when they played - when he played the Daddy or Cyvena played the Mommy - that meant a spanking if you were naughty.   Moms and Dads spanked.   Everyone knew that.   But how did he know it?   Only from simmo games.  In a game, what counted as losing was getting a belting from your Dad, if it was a game of playing family.   Or it could mean getting beaten up by a school bully in a school game, or being captured by an evil criminal and tortured in an adventure game.   In a sword game you could be cut.  In a martial arts game you could be bruised.   In Labongo's favorite game, Teenage Hero, all those things could happen, and that game had been the most popular one in Africa during the 2370s.    The one time he was tortured playing that the game, he later escaped and defeated the evil criminal who had tortured him.   The evil genius was plotting to take over Mumbassa, but the brave Labongo Lugwa had exposed his plan.   The brave teenage hero had gone out to fight evil, even though he was grounded, and he had to sneak out of the house, risking a belting from Dad if he was caught.   That part of the game was fun.      Labongo liked moving to harder and harder levels of play, until it was nearly impossible.   Most times he played, he was caught before he got out of the house, and got a belting from his "Dad."    But defeating the evil criminal wasn't fun if it was easy.  Those beltings really hurt: - but that was simmo.   

And every one of his spankings from his Mom had been simmo.  Just simmo.  And the spankings in the games with Cyvena had been simmo.  Real life spankings were different, apparently.  Judy said it was "of course" that her dad never spanked her - never spanked her in real life.   But Labongo didn't have a real life.

Thinking about his childhood, Labongo found he could not remember it.    He wasn't too clear about who he was, or what he was doing.  Well, of course - he had done a block on his memory implants.   He was only aware of facts stored organically.  Oh, well.

|[  UNBLOCK!  ]|
Labongo could now remember his own life, but also all the facts about child-rearing in Africa.  They popped into his head and he couldn't stop them.
'[ Children are never spanked in the African Federacy.
 This is a good thing. ]'
Of course now he remembered that it was a good thing.   He knew it was a good thing.   It was a good thing.   He remembered it was.  And yet ...

He'd had a chance to think before he knew all these 'remembered' facts.   So he could compare one fact with another.   Here was a fact - every African child played tank games, and almost all those games included pain, simmo pain.  A game was fun if it felt good if you won and hurt if you lost.   About half of all games included simmo spankings as one way to lose.

He consulted his memory for the name of the most popular girls' game in Africa, and asked Judy about it: "Do you play Iron Girl?"

"That's my sister's game.   I think it's lame. You only get caned at a girl's school.   I like Amazon Princess."

Labongo checked the database.
`[ Amazon Princess game not available. ]'
So a playable version had not been sent to the ship; the data rate was not sufficient to send to the ship every new game that was written at Solar.  But some facts about the game had been sent.   What sort of punishments did it have?  .
'[ For a girl caught riding a unicorn:
  in basic play her buttocks are dipped in boiling vinegar. ]'
Imaginative.  What about advanced levels of play?
'[ Branding irons. ]'

He asked Judy: "Do you usually win?"

"I won yesterday.  I was in the battle, on a unicorn, and when we won I got a warrior crown of oak leaves, and now I have as much right to ride as a boy.    I'm going to do some riding.   But there's not much to play for, any more.   I mean there's the handsome prince, but it's a kids' game, so we wouldn't be able to do anything, even if we got married and lived happily ever after."

"You have a dad in the game?"

"I'm an orphan.   But really the king of the nomads is my father - he just doesn't know it."

"Did you ever manage to ride the unicorn without getting caught?"

"I set the level really high, so usually I get caught before I even get to the stables; then I get punished without getting a chance to ride.   But if I ride, I'm always punished when I get home.   When a unicorn is missing, someone always notices, so they watch for me returning Asronel to the stables."

"You get your buttocks boiled?"

"My bottom.  Yeah, and it really hurts."

Labongo tried it.   The next twenty seconds were agonizing.     The pain was astonishing.   Judy's tomofocus tank would hurt even more.    And yet it was her favorite game.

"The bottom boiling hurts, but you like it, right?  Like the spankings and whippings Gatete gives you?"

"No I don't like it at all.   But I had to ride - I would never have been able to fight in the battle if I'd never ridden before.   And besides Asronel would miss me if I didn't ride him."

"So your dad in the story boils your bottom, and you hate it, but you like playing the game anyway?"

"No silly, I don't live with my dad : he's the king of the nomads.     I'm a kitchen girl in the palace and I sleep in front of the fireplace.  I'm a little orphan girl and the stable boy looks after me.  He is really a prince too but he doesn't know it.   He just thrashes me with a saddle strap - it's the evil palace butler who boils my bottom."

"What would you think if your real dad, Mr. Githinji I mean, took a strap to you."

"He would never do that.   Don't you understand?   The stable boy is just pretend.   I love him in the story.   And how could Dad strap me?    He's not allowed to see my bare bottom."

"But in the game, the stable boy sees it when he thrashes you?"

"When we wash our clothes in the horse trough, we see each other all the way naked.   He is very handsome, and he thinks I am beautiful, but that's all pretend: my real dad isn't handsome and I'm not really beautiful.  The stable boy's thrashings hurt, but I know he does it for my own good, and he cries when he watches my bottom dipped in the cauldron.  He's the one who found out that the butler is in league with the evil nomads, and we are fighting the butler together.  He rescued me from a bottom-boiling once, but he got caught and they branded his bottom.   When I kiss that scar, his breathing goes all funny.  It's a kids' game, so his cock can't rise, but he kisses me differently when he's ... when he's feeling so his cock would be hard if cocks in kid's games could get hard.   So when we've kissed, and done everything we can do in a kid's game, I crash the game and go find Gatete in private messaging.   He pretends to be the stable boy.  If I got a straping in the game for being bad, he gives me the same spanking for real with his belt, and if the stable boy kissed and cuddled with me, we kiss and cuddle - but then we have sex.  It's not like the game because Gatate's cock can get hard in private messaging.   My parents only let me play kid's games, but they ignore private messaging, and it's like they never even notice that I keep going to the park with Gatete."

The g/psy profile for Judy Githinji would not have included this level of detail - he was talking to a construct - a made-up girl, based on the real girl's g/psy averages.   But the information would be accurate as a typical picture of life in Solar, and it had helped him understand things.    Judy had a real family.   Her mom and dad never spanked her, and never touched her body.  This was a good thing, as Labongo remembered.   In tropical Africa, they were fully clothed at all times, and never saw each other naked.    She did not think of her Dad as beautiful, as dripping with sexuality, and her family did not think of her that way.   Living in the beautiful Kigali hills, she spent her time riding - but not on real horses - she rode on unicorns in a tank game.  Her family did not depend on her, economically.  But in the game, people needed her.   In real life she had no task to do, nothing so important that it was worth every pain, every danger, every exhausting effort she had to give.    No goal so important that even to try, with little hope of success, was worth pain.  Her family was a rich African one; the children were not their parents' partners in the hard game of life; they did not have the bond of shared struggle to get enough to eat, shared plans, shared danger.  Agony endured for the sake of the other.  She got all of that from a game, from the stable boy.    In the game, the safety of the palace depended on them, and she shared the struggle and the danger with the stable boy.  In order to someday ride Asronel in the battle, she had sneaked into the stables time and again to practice riding him, even though her bottom was boiled for it, every time - that was how much she loved Asronel, and how much she cared about winning the battle, about defending the palace.   And yet.    It was her real family she loved.    The stable boy was pretend love and Judy knew it.

But Labongo?    What was his family?   Mom, Cyvena, Borgy - they were cybes.  Every one of them.   Had that been pretend?   The whole fabric of his life?     His life, all the life he had lived or could ever live, was no more than the game was to Judy.

If that bottom-boiling in simmo was just pretend, why did it hurt so much?    Or did it hurt so much?     He thought it had hurt, but he had not hesitated to start the pain, and he had not stopped it before the time was up.  If I tried to dip my real buttocks into real boiling vinegar, Labongo thought, I wouldn't be able to force myself to do it, just like I couldn't boil my hand.    But I just decided to have my buttocks boiled in vinegar in this simmo, just to see what it felt like for twenty seconds, and I didn't hesitate to start it, and I didn't stop it before the time was up.   So it must be that simmo pain doesn't really hurt.   I just think I am feeling pain.

And there was Gatete, the boy next door.   One of the few real facts he knew about Judy, was that she had wanted, and enjoyed, a real spanking from a real  body-to-body boyfriend, over and above the bottom-boilings and strappings in simmo.

'[ even in conservative Africa,
  71% of all 13 year old girls are allowed to spend time
  with friends of mixed sex, unsupervised.
All this data in his memory, but Labongo had not given it a thought.  He was sorry for the 29% who had strict parents.
'[ 99% are allowed to spend time with their friends,
unsupervised, when the interaction is through tanks. ]'
Unsupervised meant sex was possible.  The strict parents restricted body-to-body contact, but even they didn't worry about tanks, even though their children were having sex in the tanks - each in a tank, synchronized together.
'[ 45% of all 13-year-old girls in Africa have had sex,
 mostly just giving oral sex to a boy.
But was it in the tank, or body to body?
'[ 93% of all teenage sexual activity in Africa is by tank. ]'
Labongo could understand it if they were far apart, but what about the boy next door?
'[ even for lovers with 5 km of each other, 87% have tank sex only. ]'
And spankings when they had sex - were those were done in the tank as well?
'[ 99+% of all sexual spankings in Africa are done by tank. ]'
But not Judy.   She was in that fraction of one percent.  She got physical spankings from her boyfriend.

"Judy, do you play 
Amazon Princess with Gatete?   I mean when he's in another tank?"

"He plays Stable Boy sometimes.    He always fails to rescue me - he's not very good."

"Then what?"

"He gets branded on his bottom, of course.   Then we have sex.   But his cock can't rise because it's a kids game, so we stop it and go to private messaging."

"But you don't just go to private messaging, right?   You once got out of the tank and really went into the jungle for spanking and sex."

"Well it is sort of lame to spank each other in private messaging.   I mean he's just as brave about pain in private messaging as he is in
  Amazon Princess. But then when we try to do a little real whipping in the park, and he is totally not brave.  I'm the only one who's brave for real.  He takes a hundred strokes in private messaging, although he says they are utter agony.   But in the park  he can't take even a single real whipstroke.   I can.   So I do."

Labongo understood now why the mail daemon had selected Judy's mail message out of all the messages sent to him by Solar girls on his birthday.   It was indeed highly relevant to the topic Dr. Zynnder had discussed : real pain versus simmo pain.

Poor Gatete.   Labongo guessed he wanted a real whipping as much as Judy, and he had tried so hard.   Gatete had pretended to be his hero David Wroe, being whipped with the school watching.   What could give him a stronger incentive to endure?  Or make him more ashamed that he could not?  And no doubt Gatete had tried to equal the bravery of the stable boy.   The stable boy had been branded for Judy's sake.   How sad - Gatete could not even endure the whippings he gave Judy in the game!  He had yelled "Stop!" at the very first stroke.  Judy was made of stiffer stuff.  

And now it was time for Labongo to test his own stuff.   He had dawdled long enough, and he knew why he had.   He was as much a coward about real pain as Gatete.

 TOP     VIII.   Blows in capoeira. 
"Judy, you know I'm here with you in this forest, in this simmo, but in real life I live on the Centauri Ship?"

"Of course."

"And my tank on the ship is sixty years old.    Whippings don't hurt as much, in the old tanks; the nerve stimulus isn't as accurate."

"So the games aren't any fun?"

"I want this whipping to hurt.   So I'm going to get out of my tank.    I'll have an avatar whip my bottom, just as you like to get whipped on your bottom - for real."

"So you don't want me to whip you?"

"I need you to whip me.   I need a real human to whip me, so I'm going to set it up so that you can mind-drive the avatar."

"You can do that?    What am I saying - of course you can do it.   You're Labongo Lugwa."

Labongo was puzzled, as there was no difficulty in patching one process to another.   How could Judy be impressed by that?  Anyone could mindsign that a process should be synched to an avatar.   It was just:


Labongo climbed out of his tank, and looked at  the large display.     It showed his own cubicle, with a synched simmoch of himself, and a synch of the avatar still holding the whip.     The avatar faded away, and Judy appeared, looking very surprised at the whip in her hand.    Labongo watched the avatar in his cubicle, and Judy on the display - they were synched.     The synch was perfect : the motions of the avatar and of Judy in the display matched perfectly.   The avatar held the whip of coiled cable, and Judy in the display held a similar whip.    The MAIL.JUDY_GITHINJI process was simulating how the real Judy would behave, if given the ability to control a robot that could whip Labongo Lugwa.    Of  course the real Judy wasn't involved in any of this, not with three light-years between them.

Labongo spoke to the avatar, and the Labongo in the display spoke to Judy in the display, in perfect synchrony : "What do you see, Ms Githinji?"

"A tiny room like a closet?"

"This is where I live."

Judy, and the synched avatar, swung the whip up and down a few times, and then suddenly spun  around and struck savagely at him - caught unaware, he raised his arms to cover his face, and the loops struck his half-raised arms and  his chest and his side.    It really hurt, especially on his wrist.   He felt elated - an adrenaline surge that simmo never gave him.   This was playing for keeps.   Wounds to his tissue would be for real, and there were no safety interlocks now.    He dived to the floor, protecting his vital organs, his arms around his head.  After a few strokes all over his body, the avatar - Judy - settled into a rhythmic hard whipping of his buttocks and the backs of his legs.   Then she stopped.    It had been about a dozen strokes.

With the whipping stopped, Labongo had a chance to think.    He guessed it had been an even dozen, and there would be another dozen, and then one - like the beating of David Wroe.    He was feeling fantastic, as if he could conquer the world.  Thirteen more would be no problem - he was enjoying himself.    Judy started to whip again, more slowly.   Labongo was calmer, not so excited.    The pain was terrible, and Labongo began to be frightened that there was something wrong with his hand; half his hand was numb and tingly, and his wrist ached.   Perhaps this was how it felt when a bone was broken.  The avatar, synched to Judy, was whipping with more strength than a human could have.    His skin and the muscles of his buttocks were being pulverized.    He began to be worried that he was being damaged in a way that could hurt the mission.    He really should stop it.   But then Judy stopped--the second dozen was over.

Labongo said "Headmaster, may I have one more?"

Judy whipped him one stroke, but it was very light; a caress.

The birthday card that Judy had sent, would not have mentioned the time when Gatete had tried to imitate David Wroe's whipping.   But the story did not have the feel of something made up by the mail daemon, so Labongo guessed it had really happened.   And that meant, that Judy had sent him a simmo about it - that was the only way the mail daemon could have known.   It must be that Judy had been sending him mail, all along, using all her allowance to pay the postage.  He must have deleted her letters, like all the others, but they would stay in the database, and now the mail daemon had access to them, along with public records and other information on the ship, to use to construct this Judy.   So this behavior of Gatete's, that he couldn't go through with a whipping, was probably an accurate portrait of the real boy.   Also, there was some reason why Wroe's whipping was important to Gatete.

"It was your school, wasn't it?   And when Gatete wanted to be whipped, it was on the platform still used for school assemblies."


"But there is something.   Some connection with that whipping.   Some reason Gatete cares about it.    Isn't there?   Gatete - he's Wroe's great-grandson!"

"No, that's not it."

"But there is something?"

"There is."

This Judy was not answering, because she did not know.   The real Judy in Rwanda probably did.   But the birthday card which Judy had sent, would have included a G/psy but not a full bio of her, and even less on Gatete.   It had been just a birthday card, after all.   The mail daemon was floundering, trying to simulate a a girl who knew some information, without actually knowing that information itself.   The daemon was doing a pretty good job, considering that this birthday card simmo was running in a direction never intended.    But perhaps Labongo knew the answer himself to the question he had asked Judy; he remembered so many facts of African history:

'[ 5 March 2369: David Wroe was subjected to illegal corporal punishment at
 St. Xavier School, Rwanda, by Headmaster Thomas B. Githinji.
Githinji!   Aha!   So it was Judy's family he needed to remember.   For events before the ship's departure, in 2378, the database was very complete.   Anything after that had been sent to the ship by quantum intermode, at a data rate that became less and less as the ship got further from Solar.    So there was not a lot of recent information on individuals.  But there was enough.    He requested a genealogical summary, and remembered:
'[ Judy Galetiya Githinji is the great-granddaughter
  of Headmaster Thomas Bentham Githinji
And how did Gatete fit in?   Labongo did a census lookup for: first name Gatete, age about 13, living near Judy Githinji's address.
'[ At that exact address: Gatete Johnson, male.  b. 16 April 2421.
Not A.F. citizen.  Single-person household.   ]'
So that was Gatete.  Judy had said he was the boy next door, but he was actually her family's au pair.   Why else would a foreign boy be living with an African family?   And in the African Federacy, if he was an au pair, he was almost certainly North American of African descent.   His surname of Johnson confirmed that.   There was a picture with the census record - a hollow-cheeked coffee-color boy with old eyes.   Fourteen-year-old eyes that had seen too much already.  He was probably hoping for Rwandan citizenship.
'[ Gatete Johnson is listed as an orphan.   As a product of the
 African diaspora
, he is eligible for A.F. citizenship at 18]'
There were a lot of orphans in North American.  A lot of starving and dying orphans in North America.  A lot of orphans being sexually abused in North America.   Gatete Johnson had been lifted out of all that misery and taken to Rwanda, to live in safety and luxury with the Githinji family, who trusted him to play games in the park with their daughter.   It was no surprise that Gatete cared more about  Rwanda than the Rwandans did.  No surprise he had chosen a schoolbook Rwandan hero like David Wroe to worship.  His employers were descended from the headmaster who had beaten David Wroe - the headmaster David Wroe had called his best friend, in his letter to the education minister.    What did Gatete think about that?   Labongo wanted to read that letter.
'[ Letter from David Wroe to Minister of Education dated 12 Aug 2370:
text and 142 commentaries available : please make selection. 
Labongo started reading a few paragraphs down:
The system of punishment at Xavier was implemented before my time, and I know only the school legend.    Headmaster suffers from depression, and as his religion is African Fusion, he treats it with yoga meditation, holy crosses, and traditional herbs.    And if you'll excuse my bluntness, Mr. Minister, these do not work.    Scoldings by the headmaster, the punishment which the Ministry recommends, were not acceptable to the students at Xave - they were too cruel to the Head.  And so the students organized their own punishments.   It was most ingenious system, based on making each boy do what he hated:
      sports jocks had to write a sonnet,
       poets had to study capoiera,
       dancers got a part in the school play - as a statue.  
This was all decided a few years before my time.

This system has continued at Xave ever since.   But somehow, all the good-looking boys call themselves poets.    And I freely admit that some of the "poems" are dreadful; it has become, as the ministry report says, a way for boys to show off - to take their hits bravely with the girls watching, under the guise of a capoeira display, wearing only a breechclout.   But in the Ministry report last year, the school was censured for having students administer corporal punishment, so after the Ministry reprimand, boys due for punishment started to challenge a teacher, rather than another student.    The Ministry chooses to view our capoeira matches as corporal punishment - very well, I accept that.   Progressive St. Xavier is the last school in Africa with corporal punishment.    Public naked corporal punishment, no less. 

I was classed as a poet for my published verses, not by my choice;  I never wanted to have my punishments witnessed by the school, or to be naked on a platform.    I challenged the Headmaster, who is not skilled in capoiera, because he is my best friend.   Of course I made no attempt to hit him (I'm good with the stick, as it happens); I adopted a fetal position, and the blows in our "capoeira match" were all delivered to my bottom.   I knew that once I had been struck twelve times, I was according the Ministry rule immune from further strokes, and out of sheer cussedness, I began to tease my friend, boasting that he could not punish me.    He believed that the rule could be read differently, and that I could under the rule get another punishment for a new offense.     I understand he can be pardoned, if you believe he was sincere in that belief.    He was; I would stake my life on it.    So it all comes down to the 25th stroke.   For which there can be no excuse under the law.

What a fool I was to ask for it - I simply forgot about the twelve-stroke rule ...

But Judy interrupted Labongo's reading: "You asked for fifty strokes, Sir.    You've had twenty-five."

"Stop the beating.   I don't need more than David Wroe.  I am merely Labongo Lugwa."

"So you're ready to do it, then?"

"Do what?"

"Have sex.   Isn't that what we're doing? - you needed a beating to make the sex better?"

"Do you want to?"

"I felt a lot sexier when you spanked me.   Beating you was - well, it wasn't what I expected.   It was - well, it was hard to do.   I have whipped boys a lot, in various games, and Gatete wanted a real whipping, but he couldn't bear it.   So for all the whippings I've given in games and private messaging, this was the first time I have whipped a boy's bottom for real, and I don't like it.    It hurts me to watch you take the pain, even though you were brave; it makes me feel all mushy inside, as if I loved you.   I still feel bad about it now."

"All right, let's have sex instead."

The scene in the large display shifted to show a scene from Amazon Prnicess: the stable.   Since the game hadn't been transmitted, this must be just a stock stable scene from the simmo library.  But Judy - this Judy, who was a sub-process of the mail daemon - wouldn't know enough to recognize that this scene was wrong for the game.    There was a well-worn harness strap hanging from a hook.  

-:[ It's all right.  I know you don't love me any more. ]:-

Cyvena was still watching.   He had hoped the beating he had taken would help Cyvena, but if it was going to, it hadn't yet.

He was wearing some sort of medieval breeches and a shirt, they were very dirty, and Judy was in a skirt so tattered it did not cover her nakedness, and it was filthy with soot and ashes - no doubt borrowed by the mail daemon from the simmo game Cinderella.     She undid the buttons of his breeches.    Then she pulled up her ragged gown to above her waist, and got down on her hands and knees.  She was a bitch, a cheating, lying bitch.

What?    What had he just thought?

Those must be Cyvena's thoughts.   But her emotions shouldn't be able to pop into his head like that.    But there they were.

Judy turned her head to look at him, and ogled the stable boy's half-staff erection.    She took it in her mouth.   The avatar, in the tight space of the cubicle, managed to get its mouth on Labongo's cock.    The display showed Judy sucking and nippling and licking the stable boy's erection.  The result was the same as in all the simmos he had run, the same as every time he used his hand - his real penis went soft.

He said, "I need more whipping."

"I can see you need something.   But why won't you thrash me instead?    You got really hard when you spanked me. "

Labongo in the display took down the harness strap, and Labongo in the cubicle picked up the coil of cable.

Judy - an Amazon and a warrior in a dirty, scarred, Cindarella body - said: "I love you, Stable Boy," as she flipped her dress over her head.   The avatar in Labongo's cubicle, which of course didn't have a dress, assumed the position.

Labongo fondled the avatar's breasts, and kissed the pink urethane buttocks.  The stable boy engaged in heavy foreplay with the cindarella girl.   Judy would be beautiful at 19, but at 13 she was a bit gawky.   Cute, though, as only a 13-year-old girl can be.   She spoke with her eyes, looking at the strap, and Labongo let her kiss it.   She looked at his crotch, and said : "Will you pull them down?   Will you let me do - it?"

Labongo dropped his breeches, thinking she wanted to suck his penis again.  He didn't see the point, since his fly was open.   But Judy wasn't interested in his soft penis.   He dropped to his knees in front of the avatar, and his Simmoch dropped too, and then he and his simmoch were pushed flat on their faces from the sudden attacks; the avatar lunged forward with her mouth wide open to pinch his gluteus hard between her plastic lips, while in the display, Judy bit Labongo's ass, and it bled.  Then she started kissing and licking and nibbling at his branding scar.   Then she bit him hard again.    He got up, and started to beat the avatar's buttocks with the coil, while in the display,  Labongo used the harness strap. 
   She fought back.   It was very sexy, and not like any sort of porn simmo he had run.   He kept it up, whipping hard and fast, and she, looking blissful in the display, stopped struggling and moved her bottom more into the reach of the strap.  She pulled up her gown, which had slipped down once again, and dropped on her belly, wriggling her bare bottom in ecstacy.    Oh that feels good - oh that hurts but feels good.    Oh wow does that hurt.

What? - he was feeling the whipping.    How?  As if he was being whipped instead of whipping.     But he was standing in his cubicle whipping an avatar's urethane buttocks.   Nothing was touching his bottom - how could it hurt so much?   What could possibly do - Oh.   It was Cyvena; she was feeling the pain as she felt every pain he watched or even thought about, and the pain she felt was being sent to his brain through his implants.   So the real whipping he had taken had worked after all; he had gained the ability to feel her pain through the link.  
Dr. Zynnder had said that real pain was the key to feeling simmo pain.   In the last two days Labongo's gluteus had been sliced open and stitched up, and most painful of all, a blow with a cable had damaged his wrist.  All real, not simmo.  Just now he'd gotten 25 hard strokes with a coil of cable on his real ass.   So he'd had enough real pain now so that simmo pain, if he got in the tank and took some, would hurt.    Simmo pain left something to be filled in by the imagination, Dr. Zynnder had said, and now Labongo's imagination worked so well that even the idea of a harness-strapping, transmitted through his implants from Cyvena, made his bottom sting like crazy.

But simmo pain already hurt.  It hurt a lot, while the real beating he'd taken hadn't been so bad, and even these sharp stinging slaps on his bottom were kind of pleasant, kind of fun.  Judy's arousal and luxurious pleasure in the strapping was reaching him too, and making his penis harden, and he felt each stroke her gave her on his own bottom; stinging, but nice.  There was nothing nice at all about simmo pain.    Dr. Zynnder hadn't gotten it quite right - the point wasn't that simmo pain didn't hurt, the point was it didn't have that ability to overcome his thinking and choosing mind, the way real pain did.

Judy moaned in disappointment when he stopped the strapping, but she dutifully rolled over on her back and spread her legs.  Labongo was getting arousal through his link, his rod was hard and he didn't have a lot of choice - he reached a hand between Judy's legs and grabbed her cunt, and and then dropped to his knees, and shoved into her, then lifting her and letting gravity drop her on to his skewering rod.    His own arousal passed to Cyvena and was bounced back to him by the link, and he came at once - explosive - wrenchingly intense - but very, very quick.    Not like the first time, when he had had to work so hard for it.    He lay a while panting on the dirty straw, not paying attention to Judy, as she worked her vagina up and down his still-stiff rod, screaming with the intensity of her orgasms.     The avatar, as Labongo was only dimly aware, was doing the same to Labongo's real rod in his cubicle.    Even only watching a display, and not in the tank, Labongo had thought of himself as in the stable, fucking a girl, and not in his own cubicle with a robot.   He was in the stable--the real events in his cubicle seemed a hundred lightyears away.

He noticed that this stable had horses in it - not unicorns.    The MAIL daemon had been sloppy.

"Judy," he said, "I need you to whip me again.   It's not to make the sex better.   I need to be punished for something I did."

"Another twenty-five?"

"It's punishment.   I submit to the whipping you give me.  You decide how much."

"Hand me the strap.   What am I punishing you for?"

"It has to be back in my cubicle - whipped by the avatar.    It won't hurt enough here."

"But I still need to know what you did, if I'm going to punish you for it.   How else do I decide how many strokes?"

"However many you give me won't be enough.   There's a girl, she's my - um - my sister.   I did something that causes her a lot of pain and is going to keep on causing her a lot of pain.   I need to be punished for it."

-:[ You'd better not be talking about ME.   I'm not your SISTER! ]:-

Labongo ignored Cyvena, and repeated, "We need to go back to my cubicle."     The stable scene in his cubicle display faded away, and the display showed once again the cubicle itself.   He and Judy were in the scene, their positions synched to those of himself and the avatar in the real cubicle.    But then Cyvena appeared on the display.

"Who is this?" Judy asked.

"This is the girl I was telling you about, the girl I grew up with."

"Your sister?    But you can't have a sister - you're the only person on the Centari ship.    Everyone knows that."

-:[ So!   You've been telling your whore I'm your SISTER? ]:-

Cyvena was talking through his implants, but the simulated Judy did not hear; she did not have access to that traffic channel.   Cyvena was a top-level A.I. construct and the prime cybe of the ship, while this Judy was just a subprocess spawned by the mail demon; in fact this Judy was really nothing more than a talking birthday card.   Most of what Cyvena did was above the access level for MAIL.JUDY_GITHINJI.   Labongo decided to fix that.
  He mind-signed :

That made the CYJUDY process the equal of any thread on the ship except Cyvena and 'Borgy, not counting Labongo's own cybernetic mind and the mission daemon. 
New process 'CYJUDY' ::
:: specify connection of sexual organ sensor data to para-reasoning matrix  >
That was an odd question - he had just asked for a clone - a copy.   He just wanted to move Judy from being a subprocess of MAIL to a top-level process in her own right, so why would he have to re-design her?    What was going on?  He mind-signed:.
But the answer was already in his own mind :
'[ CYVENA and CYJUDY are similar; each is a high priority process,
 each has engaged in sex and
spanking with human.Lugwa.  
Process CYVENA has sex organ sensory to para-reasoning cross.
Anomaly : process CYJUDY has default configuration of sex organ sensorium.
Do you wish to fix? 
"I am not making a sex-kitten!" Labongo shouted to no one in particular. And he wasn't.   He had no reason to make the new CYJUDY process handle sexual stimulus the same way CYVENA did.   He mind-signed:.
The avatar picked up Labongo and gave him a long kiss.   Labongo was surprised, but then he noticed the avatar's motions were not synched to the image of Judy in the display, but to the image of Cyvena.    For the second time in two days Cyvena had clonked a fellow cybe.    She had kicked Judy out of the avatar without asking.

The avatar spoke in Cyvena's voice : "You are making a sex kitten.   Go ahead, Bongo.   I've got better things to do than fuck you.    You'll get orgasms from HER.   Is she prettier than me?   Empty headed pair of boobs, that's what I call her."

Labongo looked, and the image of Judy really did have big breasts, the breasts of the nineteen-year-old Judy.   That must have been something Cyvena had done, changing another cybe's display image without permission.   Labongo looked Judy up and down, to see if Cyvena had done something else; but there was nothing, except that Judy's body was tense - she was upset.

"Judy, what's wrong?   Are you in pain?    Don't be frightened, you are perfectly safe.  I'll fix your breasts if they are hurting you."

"How can I be here, on the Centauri ship?   What are my parents going to think when they find out I'm gone?"

When Judy had just been a character in a birthday card, the MAIL.JUDY_GITHINJI process hadn't engaged in much self-analysis.   The new top-level CYJUDY process would need to understand herself and her place in the world; an understanding that a birthday-card character did not need.     So the CYJUDY process was simulating what a human girl would do if she had the experience of finding herself on a starship, and what a human girl would do was: freak out.    Labongo had to make some choices.

"The flesh and blood Judy Githingji is still in Uganda, Judy.   She is now sixteen years old.     You are a process running on the computer of the Centauri ship.   You are free to do anything you want.   You are no one's slave."

"I don't remember anything from after my 13th birthday, when I sent you a birthday card.   So somehow all my memories were sent to the Centauri ship?"

"Something like that."

Judy was no A.I. genius, as Labongo Lugwa had been genetically engineered to be, and CYVENA had been written to be.     So she wouldn't understand.    The CYJUDY process was simulating the behavior of a human girl, who finds herself on a starship.    It was simulating a human girl with memories, but the process did not have the content of the real Judy Githinji's memories to work with.   If this Judy tried to remember her twelfth birthday for example, she'd experience something that felt to her like a real memory of a year ago, but it would not be a memory of what really happened at the real Judy's twelfth birthday party, since detailed information about that party did not exist on the ship.  It would be an invented kids' twelfth birthday party, but feel to Judy as real.   Indeed this Judy would be unable not to think of it as real.   The CYJUDY process could not simulate a Judy who thought of herself as not existing, however much evidence of her non-existence the simulated girl might get.

Maybe this Judy wasn't an A.I. genius, but she wasn't stupid either.   She had believed him that she was a process on a computer - she knew it was impossible for her to be on the Centauri ship in any other way.    And she was figuring out what this meant.   So what would a real human girl do, if she woke up one day and found out she was now a computer program; a copy of a real girl, a copy of a girl who was still alive but was not her?

"So I remember my dad - but that's not based on the real Judy's memories, right?    It can't be - the real Judy was never brain-scanned, and anyway a brain-scan is nowhere near good enough to pick up stuff like that."

"That's right."

"So the man I remember, the man I love...    I guess there's a man living at 3472 Nkrumah Drive, Kigali Hills, Rwanda, who is named Billy Githinji, but that man isn't my dad - he's probably nothing like Dad.     So Dad - the Dad I remember - is dead.   He never existed.   The Kigali Hills I remember - school, the kids' restaraunts and the Fun Centre, the parties - and every person I knew is gone, and there are people in Kigali Hills with the same names, but they are not the people I remember."
ALERT :: process 'CYJUDY' exceeding 5% system resorces ::
:: database retrieval subject to overload
:: please reschedule non-critical tasks

"Judy, you need to calm down, and stop thinking so hard."

"Calm down!   You killed everone in Kigali Hills!"

"No, I didn't.   Judy, think about it.  Only don't think too hard or you'll overload."

The image of Judy in the display slumped to the ground.   She was now a cybe, and like any cybe, when she thought too hard, she went into shock.

 TOP     IX.   Love and sympathy. 
Labongo wasn't sure anymore - what is real and what is simmo?

What he'd done to Judy, springing on her that all her vivid real memories were lies, was beyond what any thinking entity could believe.    A mind can doubt any one of its beliefs, by testing that belief against reality, but a mind can't judge reality as a whole - there's nothing to push against.     But did Labongo have any more reality than Judy?    Everything he cared about - Cyvena, Borgy, Mom - they didn't exist.    Only CYVENA and CYNABORG existed.

But it did seem a fact that a real boy, Gatete Johnson, had tried to endure a real beating, and failed.  Gatete was doing it as a tribute to his hero, and to win the admiration of his girl, and to escape the shame and humiliation of failure - he had every reason to endure, but he couldn't.     Judy, the real one in Rwanda, had choosen to have a real spanking, and had gone through with it.      And Labongo, with the pain of twenty-five strokes from a coil of  data cable still making his bottom smart - he was one of the lucky ones too.    Simmo was almost real, but not quite.   There were gaps that had to be filled by imagination.    Daddy
Zynnder had only meant to be kind to Labongo, to the not-yet-born boy he thought of as his son.    He just wanted his son to enjoy sex more, as a gift.     But did Daddy understand that his boy didn't have a life except simmo?    That everyone he loved was be simmo?   If Labongo couldn't fix this, if he couldn't make his reality be real, he might as well be dead.   Daddy had shown him just how much he would never have. Labongo clung to the soreness of his bottom; the one real thing in his simulated world.

He  mind-formned
  M A I L < T O > H U M A N . J U D Y []
and there was a blue flas
'[  Transmitting by quantum intermode.  ]'

"Judy, this is Labongo Lugwa from the Centauri ship.    This is my home; I'm physically in this room as I speak, it's not simmo.   Sorry, I guess I should have put some clothes on.  I forgot - if this had been simmo, the daemon would have filled in the clothes.      As you probably know I don't answer many letters - so many come in, and I am busy.    But I'm not that busy, really.   So many people reaching out to me, sending me messages of love, I should - oh fuck, now I'm just talking about myself.    Sorry.   I mean I know you're not supposed to say "fuck" in a letter, I'm not a goof.    Oh fuck.   Sorry."

Labongo had deliberately set the letter to transmit in real time, so what he had just said was already a stream of quantum photons, flying toward Rwanda and impossible to recall.

"I guess I'll start again.    Ms. Githinji, yesterday I sent a reply to your letter.   If you haven't opened it yet, DON'T.   It contains a savage sexual beating.   I release you from any contract to open that letter.     But I think you will have opened it already.    You know I don't open one in a thousand of the letters I get from Solar girls--that's just the way it is.   So when you, out of all the girls in the world, got an answer from the Centauri ship; I think you wanted to open it.   You did have a contract, but you could have fought it in the courts, and at least gotten a delay.   But I think you didn't.   I know it's not right to read another person's g/psi, but I've spent time with your character from your birthday card, and I am a qualified genopsychologist.    So I can guess what your psy halotypes are without needing to read the k-gram.     And so I know that your curiousity, not the law, has already made you open the first letter.   I'm sorry that I beat you.   I should not have inflicted on the nineteen-year-old you, the consequences of your choices as a girl.

"And so I have taken a leaf from your book: I'm sending this as a contract simmo.    You can do what you like; if you think I should be punished, I will get your punishment when I am nineteen.     Nineteen and a bit, allowing for the speed of the ship.    But rather than waiting that long, I am also inviting the character of you in the birthday card, to play the role of you in this simmo.   In a moment, you will see yourself come into this cubicle.    This cublicle is real, and I am in it with an avatar--a robot; the avatar will be moperated by a simulation of you, an AI construct backed by the full computational power of this ship.    What you will see will be real, except the image of the avatar will be replaced by an image of yourself.   I will ask the simulated you for punishment, and perhaps get it, but this is a simmo: you can make your own choice about how much, and whether, to punish me."

Labongo made the mindsigns to synch the avatar to the CYJUDY process.  In the big display, the image of the avatar morphed into one of Judy, naked, and in his cubicle the avatar adopted Judy's stance and movement.

The avatar spoke : "Mr. Lugwa, I don't want to die."

"Please call me Labongo.   No one is going to hurt you."

"You're not?    You're not going to turn me off when you're done?"

"I hadn't thought about it."

"That Cyvena.   She wants me dead."

Haplotype J4 or J5 at 450, Labongo guessed.   That's why she's clinging to life - or rather, to her body.   J4 was also Labongo's haplotype at 450.    For someone as connected to the physical as Judy was, or as he himself was, being clonked from minding an avatar to having no body would be traumatic.    Labongo formed the mindsigns to keep Cyvena from clonking Judy again.   Now only himself and the mission daemon could remove CYJUDY from this avatar.    The avatar felt its body all over, and Judy in the display felt hers, with their left hands.

"So this is me, now?    And you won't kill me?"
"Unless it's for the mission; and we all give our lives for that.    And you can keep that avatar.   But I'm afraid you can't live in here, there's no room."

"And you never leave this room."

"I can't.   Radiation."

"It's not that bad."

And it wasn't.   Labongo realized that the subgoal 
((human.Lugwa   toRemain   inside   cubicle.residence))  
was coming from his implants.    But what about this goal?
((human.Lugwa   toExplore   ship.Centauri))  
he wanted that too.     In all his time with Cyvena he had never questioned what he wanted, but in just a few seconds with Judy ...
-:[ It's not a good idea for you to leave your cubicle.
  Don't trust her - she doesn't care about you.

Cyvena was still part of him, and always would be.    Labongo didn't much like her at the moment, but she was telling the truth.    His experiment had made Cyvena someone who could be forced by torture to betray everything she valued--and if she was forced to watch Labongo being tortured instead, she would be compelled to act even more strongly by that, than by torture to her own body.    Not Judy; CYJUDY could at most be a simulation of a girl who loved human.Lugwa.    Cyvena had given up her body, the body which was directly linked to her para-reasoning cross, without complaint, because the subgoal
((human.Lugwa  toBeWith  Judy))  
which was very much his own subgoal, was now hers too.    She might be torn up by jealousy, but in the end Cyvena wanted his happiness, even with another girl. 

Judy said : "You love her more than me."

"No Judy, but she loves me, more than you can.   But I choose to have you for my girlfriend.   Do you realize that this is being sent to Rwanda as a simmo, so the real Judy can see it?"

"I'm the real Judy.   I don't give a fuck about some girl in Africa - how can she contribute to the mission?   She does love you, though: she's a human so she can, and I know I used to love you when I was a real girl in Africa.   So I say between us we're a lot better than Cyvena."

"Cyvena is special."

"So you did some A.I. thing to some cyborg?   Big deal.   Others have thought that before too, you know--she loves you, so of course you think she's special.   But whatever it is you think you did to her, do it for me too.   I won't be your girlfriend if she's more special than me."

"We can talk about this later.   Judy, I know you've given me 25 lashes already, but I want another 25 for Judy in Rwanda to watch, so she can experience giving them to me in simmo when she opens this letter."


"Becasuse I beat her in my last letter."

"When was this?    The last thing I remember, was Gatete giving me a good spanking, while we had the recorder on; and then I woke up on the ship.   What else has been going on?"

"I spanked you when I answered your birthday card, and the forecast is when you open my reply you'll get a severe beating by me at the age of nineteen.   I watched the forecast; I participated."

"So I got a spanking from you?   From Labongo Lugwa?"

"Well yes, I opened your birthday card."

"I'm like the luckiest girl in Africa.   A spanking from the sex god.   And did you, um ... ?"

"We had sex.   It was in the card."

"You have to let me experience that!    Can't you flip some switch?    It's like you say it happened, but I don't remember it; so that's so unfair."

"Sure, that's easy.   In fact, you don't need me to ..."

"So if I click this here where it says Old Mail? and then select ..."

"Judy, I don't think you want to do that.  Wait!  Judy, don't ..."

'[  Start message.  ]'

They were in a clearing in the jungle.   The noon sun beat down through the small opening in the canopy above.   The sounds of the jungle at noon were hushed, but ominous.  There was the sound of chimpanzee calls in the distance.   Only the jungle smell was missing, despite the riotous flowers on the vines, because this time Labongo was not in his tank, and no artificial odors were being wafted to his nose through the snorkel.    There was only the stink of unwashed boy in his own cubicle.   He was watching himself and Judy in the large display in his room, but he felt he was there in the jungle, almost as much as when he used the tank.

"Do you want to fuck me, Mr. Lugwa?"  Judy said.

He sat on a log and she bent across his lap.   She said: "This is so cool.   Me getting a spanking from Labongo Lugwa."

"Judy, this whole message playback is being sent to Rwanda, so if I spank you now, that will add to the spanks the human Judy gets at nineteen.   In three years from now your nineteen-year-old self will open it.  I know you have a little girl's fascination with spanking now, but you won't choose to get spankings any more when you are that age."

"I can't believe that.   I will never stop thinking that spankings are sexy."

"I didn't say you would.  I only said you would stop choosing to get them.    The forecast is you will find them fantastically sexy."

"So this hard spanking you gave her.   Did she hate it?"

"Um. No."

"So she gets one spanking she doesn't think she'll like, but does like, from the first letter.   What's the forecast for the second letter, Mr. Genopsychologist?"

"She'll hope it contains an even harder spanking than the first, but ..."

"No buts!    I get to decide some things for my future self, especially when I know it's what she'll want.   Now how do we do this?   The avatar's too big to bend across your lap."

CYJUDY, controlling the avatar, unwound more cable from the spool, so the whipping could take place with the avatar standing up against the airlock, which was the only place Labongo could swing without risking damage to delicate equipment.     Judy in the display got off his lap and assumed a similar position against a tree.

"You need to bind my wrists, Lugwa, I'm not an avatar to just keep standing here."   Because of the synching, this was actually spoken by the avatar rather than by Judy in the display--CYJUDY was still getting used to the double control.     Labongo cut some vines by watching the dispay, and controlling his simmoch's motions with his own.   He tied her wrists.    Then he reached down to pick up the cable whip, and his simmoch picked up some loops of vine from the forest floor.    He swung the cable whip with great force against the avatar's rubber buttocks, and ...
-:[ Ayy-yah!. ]:-
Cyvena screamed with pain, and Labongo's bottom hurt so much he doubled over with pain, gasping and choking.   Labongo would not be able to do that again: it had hurt too much.   The image of Judy in the display spasmed and jerked against the vines tying her wrists, and the lashing had raised great welts on her warm brown skin. 

But Judy, speaking with the avatar in unison, said : "That didn't hurt like the lashings I got from Gatete.  It was more like the strappings in Amazon Princess."

Of course!    There were still the direct links from this avatar's sex sensorium to CYVENA's para-reasoning subroutines.     Labongo would have to fix that, if this avatar was to be CYJUDY's property, it made no sense to feed that data to CYVENA.    And in any case, as it was configured now, whipping the avatar hurt Labongo a whole lot more than it hurt Judy.    So the cloning subroutine, when he had cloned this CYJUDY from the birthday card one, had made a good suggestion: he would eventually want the other female in his life to be a sex-kitten too.
He mind-signed:.
It didn't take long ...
-:[ What have you done to me? ]:-
"I can't believe you felt anything, Cyvena."

Cyvena, naked, appeared in the forest clearing.  "It's what I don't feel that I'm complaining about."

"What don't you feel?"

"If you whip the avatar again, your new girlfriend will feel your love, not me.   You cut me off at the spinal cord.   I can't even feel it any more when I masturbate my clitoris."

"When did you masturbate your clitoris?"

"Well, I might have wanted to."

"It's a good thing you didn't.    What do you feel when I do this?"    Labongo calmly struck his moderately firm rod into the avatar's pink plastic asshole.

"I feel it.   How is that possible?"

"It's coming through me, Cyvena, through the link.   Whenever I  ..."

"So you guys feel each other's sex organs?   That is so weird." -- that was Judy.    "And don't fuck my asshole again.   I don't like it.   The fan magazines don't talk much about you having a tank girlfriend, Mr. Lugwa, but I guess since you're all alone up here, you have to make do with this tank-friend."

"Are you trying to make me mad, Judy?"

"Who me?       You mean I might get another spanking?   You think I've been bad?"

"This letter to Rwanda was supposed to be so I got a whipping, not you..." -- that was Labongo talking to Judy.

"You want a spanking?   Hunh, hunh?   You think you're a tough girl now you've stolen my sensory inputs?" -- that was Cyvena, talking at the same time.     And while that was going on, she also made the signs to take over the avatar, but it was blocked and a notice was sent to Labongo's implants - so the "most lonely boy in the universe" as the newspapers at Solar called him, had a girl shouting in each ear, he was shouting himself, and he was trying to read from his mind's eye and write a program with his hands, all at the same time.     While he was distracted, in the display Cyvena gave Judy a resounding slap in the face.

The avatar looked mystified - Judy was no more effected by the slap than if a picture of herself had been slapped.

"Cyvena, I need to give Judy a spanking."

"But it's not fair!"

"You see how she doesn't feel a slap on the face?     I would have been the same, just two days ago, if I had watched an image of me get a smacking, it would not have effected me at all.    But try it now.     Slap my face."

Cyvena said: "I can't."

"It's a bit late to say that now, Cyvena.   You've been working over my bottom with a strap for years."

"But that was a game.   You wanted to play."

"Wanted to?    It was no one to play with, no one to even talk to, until I took the strokes.   You know that's how it was.    And Cyvena, that wasn't a suggestion.    Slap me."

Cyvena put even more force into it






      December 2004

David Nunes da Silva

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[ departure 2373, fly-by 2463 ]
Synopsis.     The year is 2435, and the first human ship to reach for the stars has been in transit for 68 years, and will not arrive for 28 more.  No FTL here, no "Force".   Just minds, bodies, and the connection between the two.
We can know of the future only that it will not be like the past.   Ship voyages of a few months, to lands where the air can be breathed and the plants and animals eaten, inhabited by creatures who can have sex with the voyagers - that is a description of the colonial past, not the star-traveling future.

  to home page David Nunes da Silva  
  A2.    Constraints.  
The way to the stars, the only way, is for a ship to travel between the stars carrying the fuel it needs to slow down at the target star.  There are a few tricks using gravity, or slowing down by running into something, but they do not make a lot of difference.  The ship as it travels between stars is huge, with the mass being mostly the fuel it will need to slow down.   The expense comes from the need to get such a huge mass up to speed.    Say the speed is two percent of lightspeed, so it takes 200 years to reach the nearest star, four lightyears away.   A guess as to the fuel needed to a payload from rest to that speed, is 100 kilograms of fuel (half matter, half anti-matter) per kg of payload.   The same ratio is needed to slow down a kilogram of payload.   Thus for each kilogram of payload, the ship must weigh 100 kg during the coasting phase, and 10,000 kg (half anti-matter) is needed to get that 100 kg up to speed.    So the expense of getting even a very small payload to even a nearby star, even if you take two hundred years to get there, is huge - 5,000 kg of anti-matter per kg of payload.

Returning is out of the question - a kg returned would take 50,000,000 kg of anti-matter fuel!

World annual energy consumption, currently, equals the energy content of about 20 kg of anti-matter.    So 250 times the present annual energy consumption of the Earth, is needed to send even one kg to the nearest star; at a speed which takes 200 years to get it there.   It will take centuries of very good rates of economic growth, before the energy to send even a small slow ship to the stars becomes available.

Suppose it takes 10 kg of anti-matter fuel per kg of payload to reach one percent lightspeed (0.01 LS).   How much would it take to reach 0.02 LS?   Well, the only way to reach 0.02 LS, is to reach 0.01 LS first.   To go from 0.01 LS to 0.02 LS, takes the same fuel ratio as to go from standing still to 0.01 LS.   So if you start with 100 kg of fuel and the ship not moving, you use that 100 kg of fuel to get 10 kg of fuel to one percent lightspeed, and then use that 10kg of fuel, to get a single kg of payload to two percent lightspeed.   So if a speed of one percent requires a fuel ratio of 10, a speed of two percent requires a fuel ratio of 100.  Or in other words, to go twice as fast, you need to square the amount of fuel.   So speed is expensive.   If it takes 5,000 kg of anti-matter fuel to send a kg to a nearby star in 200 years, it takes only 50 kg to send a kg to the same star in 400 years..

Given the extreme cost of speed, one possible answer is a generation ship, that would go slow and take not hundreds but thousands of years to reach the nearest stars.   But here is an argument that such very slow ships will not be used.   Suppose it is proposed to launch such a ship, say one that will take 2,000 years to reach the nearest star.    Here's that proposal:

In year 2300,
spend 20 quadrillion dollars
to buy 100kg of anti-matter
to send 2 kg payload
at  1/5 of 1% of lightspeed,
taking 2000 years to reach the nearest star
the payload of 2 kg thus arrives in year 4300.

Here's an alternative proposal:

In year 2300, start with 20 quadrillion dollars,
invest the money in the stock market for 100 years,
with the resulting gains buy 200kg of anti-matter instead of 100kg,
send 2 kg of payload at a higher speed with the extra fuel,
so it only takes 1000 years.
The ship thus leaves in 2400,
and arrives in 3400.

Thus the second proposal gets the payload to the target sooner.

Making reasonable assumptions about interest rates, if the planned travel time to the nearest stars is more than 150 years, it would make sense to wait a few years, invest the money so it grows, and then send a faster ship.    Thus it seems likely that the travel time will be around 150 years.   This number is based on very rough guesses, but travel time to the neartest star will probably be more than 50 years, but less than 500 years.     Based on the same interest rate and economic growth assumptions, more than 200 years must pass starting now, before a ship can be sent.    And that's even with optimistic assumptions.

It's hard to guess how much a kg of anti-matter will cost in terms of human labor, 200 years from now.  But even with optimistic assumptions, each little item that will be needed to get technology going at the target star, will represent a huge cost to the tax-payer.   Something on the order of a person's lifetime income, for a paperclip. 

Technological change won't change these fundamental physical constraints of inter-stellar travel.   What it can do is to increase the payoff from even a very small package delivered to a nearby star.   In principle, a piece of nano-technology no larger than a paperclip could be landed on asteroid, spread its tiny solar panels, and begin to convert the matter of the asteroid, atom by atom, into copies of itself.  It is a technology seed.  Once a certain overall size is reached, other structures could be built.   These could include an antenna, for getting additional instructions from the Solar System, and artificial wombs, in which human babies could grow.   So nothing physical beyond the initial paper-clip of nano-technology, need ever be transferred to the target star system.

So the basic idea of settling the stars is to land a tiny technology seed.

So these are the basic facts about the first ship sent to establish human life in another solar system, as imagined for this fictional story:

TOP     A3.    Fly-by  
While each kg delivered to, and slowed down at, the target star system costs 5,000 kg of anti-matter fuel, each kg of a ship that merely flies by the star at speed, costs only 50 kg, because it is not slowed down.   This is assuming the same travel time in each case.

The amount of data that can be stored in a paper-clip will be limited, even given predictable improvements in data storage.   The growing technology at the target system, will thus be constrained by its knowledge base.   At some point after landing the initial seed of nano-technology, it will have reached a size where it can build a small antenna, and build some data storage capacity - I don't know how long that will take.   But a fly-by could be scheduled to pass by at that time.   The first small antenna might not be able to communicate with the Solar System at all, but it could reach the fly-by ship, which would thus serve as a relay station.

Between the time the seed lands, and the first small antenna is built, the seed grows using only its own very limited computational and data storage resources to carry out plans and to respond to unforeseen events.   Once the antenna is built, the seed can describe its circumstances and what has happened so far, and send the description, through the relay, to the Solar System.   There, huge computers and human minds can work out a plan of action, and send it to the seed.    But there is a delay of over eight years (in the case of the nearest star) for the data to make the round trip to the Solar system.     It makes sense to have at least some of the computational work done on the fly-by ship.   The fly-by ship can, for reasonable cost, have a fairly large computer on board, and perhaps even humans.  These humans, using their computer, can make decisions and return them to the seed in weeks, rather than in years.    Flying past at 2 percent lightspeed, a fly-by ship is within one light-month of the target star, for four years.

Once the fly-by goes by, it flies past into space, forever, but as it gets further and further from the target, the technology seed is growing and can build larger and larger antennas.   So the fly-by can serve a useful purpose for twenty years or so after passing the target.   All the data stored on the fly-by, which can be all the stored cultural content of the Solar System, can be transferred to the developing technology seed, as its data storage capacity grows, and its antennas become larger.

My story is set on such a fly-by.     My human character Labongo Lugwa will, in his late thirties, help design and build a new civilization at Alpha Centauri.  During the time the tiny seed is at its smallest, most critical size, if a problem arises which the tiny computer on the seed can't deal with, Labongo, working with the very large compuer on his ship, can try to solve it, and return the solution as a program to the seed computer, with a round-trip time for the message to go and return of a few weeks.    In his forties and fifties, he will have some contact with some human children who will be raised by machines; the first generation of humans of that civilization.   When he is seventy, his human children on the new star will be able to send a message to their human dad, and get an answer, in about two years.

And then he and the ship he is on will hurtle onward into empty space, forever.

 TOP     A4.   Semi-human  
I have assumed that a human (or at least partially human) brain will be considered worth its weight, on the fly-by ship.

It is not hard to imagine, that by the time we are ready to send any sort of mission to a star, computers will have surpassed humans in all respects.   Humans may cease to exist as a species, just as we each die as individuals, and perhaps with as little regret.   After all, a computer can only be said to have genuinely passed the Turing test, if it is as satisfying to raise such a computer, as to raise a human child.  Such a computer is one of us, not one of them.   It should be no harder to die and leave our dreams to our silicon sons and daughters, than it is to leave them to our neural ones - provided the Turing test has been genuinely passed.   However I expect that neuron-silicon hybrid minds may have an advantage over pure silicon (or photonics or quantum computing or whatever it is in those days) for some time to come.     What that advantage may be, I have no idea.

Fiction : no reference is intended to actual minds, silicon or otherwise.

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