Excerpts

That’s odd. Leefield had checked the schedule in the morning and no shipments had been on it. To re-verify, he asked Melba to bring it up again. When the calendar materialized in front of him it confirmed that fact: nothing was due to arrive.

“What’s in the shipment, Ms…. Ms….” He paused, trying to remember her name. She was relatively new to the job, hired within the last nine months sight-unseen based upon the recommendation of the Twin Lions.

Recommendation. Leefield laughed. When the heads of Nutrex recommended someone, you didn’t respond with I’d like to interview them first. Fortunately, Ms. Whatever-her-name-was had turned out to be quite competent.





“Hey, Chirp, reference Alfredo here and show me where its code is being stored,” she told her agent. A few seconds later, a laser-brilliant line of light extended from the virtual dog to a server concealed in the base of a nearby street lamp. Nina relaxed her mind, and began to navigate the various connections with her own neural circuitry and the small but powerful computer she carried on her person. She found Alfredo’s program, and opened it up to view the various ownership rights...





Feel. Want. Take. The song seduces me, and I seduce those who watch.

I push onto the tips of my toes and hold for a few seconds, enjoying the stretch of calf muscles. When I return to flat feet, my hands go to my waist. I’m about to start a slow grind to the floor when the music hiccups.

“You have a message,” G says. “Urgent.”

I freeze, heart seizing in my chest as the song’s crescendo reaches its peak. Breathe. Relax.

I should open it. Tagged as urgent can only mean one thing, but I hesitate instead.

I need to cool down first, I think to myself. I’ll read it after.





««Mei-mei, I have noticed a significant increase in your core temperature. Are you feeling unwell or is this because you are embarrassed?»»

“Not now, Hiratsu!” she subvocalized. Mainly to distract herself, she asked aloud, “Where are we going today, Doctor? You haven’t told me yet.”

The smile fell from Dr. Greymane’s face. She looked directly into Mei’s eyes for a moment, almost as if she was looking for something. “Bosing”—her eyes never left Mei’s face—“and don’t call me Doctor. Call me Linda from here on out.”





Rhett glared back at Meeps, a wash of betrayal across his lips. "You live stream our sessions?"

Meeps shrugged. “People like our sessions. Lazy people who pay me to watch this. The most popu—”

Rhett examined the chat stream that scrolled by over Meeps’ head. The last reply read: the laziest.

"Perverts. Ugh." Rowan groaned as she flagged some of the sleazier comments in the chat.

Meeps procured an ice cream from a nearby automated cart. "Hey, I got credits. SLRRP. Let's go rent a room and continue our game session. SLRRP. Don't they have those temp party places on the lower floors?"





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