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Journal Entry 00612 011 000 Vengeance Angel


Vengeance Angel

Journal Entry 011 / 00612

Aldea, Narrin 10, 00612

January 13, 2496

The rain beat down steadily on roads too new to justify the grime that
covered them. The gentlemen by her side, a heavyset man of middle age
and middle height, huffed impatiently under his umbrella, anxious to get
out from under the steady downpour that was a hallmark of Covington IV.

"Over here," he said, smiling at her as he led her to a nondescript
building of yellow stone, protected on both sides by sad-eyed chinese lions carved from the same, local rock. He pressed his hand to an ident
port which unlocked the door. He was gracious as held it for her and
she stepped into an opulently decorated lobby. She caught a glimpse of
her own tall, willowy shape in a mirror, paused to check more than just
her makeup.

"Follow me," he said with an impatient air, leading her down the velvet
red carpet to the elevators. She followed with a light step, smiling at
him until the elevator doors closed.

Inside that small box, he descended on her, his mouth pressed to hers,
his soft fingers seeking through the slit in her dress. "What's your
name?" he breathed.

"Angel," she whispered. "Angel Kylinn."

"Ah, your name is well chosen." His lips kissed her chin, her shoulder.
The elevator dinged.

He led her down to a door at a corner apartment, opening it to reveal room
decorated with the rich chinese symbolism that she had seen outside. She
was instantly by his side, her own hands upon his body. She wanted him
to feel wanted. She wanted him to know how much she was here just for him.

He greedily kneaded her breasts through the fabric of her green dress
and would have hurt her if she let him continue. She slipped her fingers
between the folds of her dress, parting it, letting her large breasts spill out into his greedy hands. His eyes lit up with lust. He pressed his
mouth to a nipple. She felt him suck hard and wondered if he would leave a
mark. He was sweating already. She could smell it in the air between them.

She eased the dress to the ground. He sat back on the bed and his eyes lit
up at the sight of her smooth belly. She could see his gaze descending
to the triangle of her vulva, where he paused when he saw that she had
shaved off her pubic hair. "You're the most beautiful woman I've seen
in a long time," he sighed, leaning for until his lips pressed to her
belly. "Such a long time."

"Be serious, Senator Ozaki," she replied softly. "You're a powerful man.
You must have many women who are interested in you."

"Mmm," he said with a sigh. "But many of them are artificial. They've
had their bodies altered in some way. They don't walk right. They're
not used to the size of their breasts, or their belly, or their hips,
or something. You move like you were born to be who you are."

With one beefy hand he guided her to his enormous bed. She climbed across
the satin quilt and sank into the mattress, waiting for his company. He
tossed off his clothes in a hurry, throwing aside all caution as he
removed his pants. In the current cynical fashion of the day, he was
moderately heavyset. He could have been anything he wanted, but it
was known that, when a man was in a position of governmental power,
the hindbrain didn't feel comfortable with a thin man. These days,
senators, governors and whatnot were all of a size-- large, but not so
large as to hinder movement. It was a choice that eased maintenance and
revealed indolence.

He fell between her thighs, his ready erection prodding her buttocks. She
guided him in with a welcoming sigh, her body wet with want for him,
her attention fully on his face, his eyes. She reached up with one hand
and caressed his face gently. "You're so..."


She smiled. Her hand reached around the back of his head, caressing his
full head of hair. Her hand slipped down to directly behind his ear. She
opened her palm and closed her eyes.

A soft whirring sound filled the room. Senator Ozaki's face fell slack.
His eyes rolled up into his head, and he slumped on top of her body. His
erection stayed solid. Little noises escaped from his mouth like the
breathing of a stupid animal. Before the sun rose over Covington IV,
his heart would forget to beat. He was already dead.

She collected her clothes and her purse. "Good night, Senator. Sleep

She left.


"I don't believe it," said a young man standing nearby. He was staring
into midair but for his sunglasses, which were clearly some kind of PADD.
"Someone killed Senator Ozaki!"

"There's no way," said his companion, a fetching woman with the same
glasses and a glistening skirt that probably looked the same wet or dry.

"Yes!" he said, gesturing wildly in the air. "Look!"

The woman turned her head as if to follow his gesture in some strange
pantomime. Angel knew what they were doing; their glasses tracked their
hand movements, which allowed them to manipulate icons projected onto
their glasses. The man said, "I don't understand. They used some kind of
gravitic device to destroy his brain, like a mini-rattler. There's no
way they could recover him even if the Pendorians wanted to. How could
such a thing get past security?"

"And why would anyone want to kill such a wonderful old man? He was
almost two hundred. It's not like they had to wait long for him to
die." She sounded indignant.

Angel accepted the yeast substitute burger from the concession stand and
paid the man with coins. "Damn shame about the Senator, huh?" he asked.

"Yes," Angel agreed. "Damn shame."

She walked back to the spaceport. Nobody gave a second glance to a short,
overmuscled woman in her flat tennis shoes and her funky hat against
the miserable rain. It seemed to rain all the time on Covington IV. Why
Terrans had chosen this world to inhabit she couldn't imagine. They
weren't even a quarter of the way through their terraforming effort and
already they had nearly a million people living here. It was their choice.
With weather like this they might end up regretting it.

But it suited her mood, if mood is how it could be described. This
job had been like the others, a tedious search, a tentative greeting,
a thrilling rush into bed, and then... blackness. So much of her felt
unavailable, shut down, tired.

She walked through the gates of the spaceport without being stopped. Once
inside, she walked over to the cargo section and into a transport vessel.
The tall, broad male who stood at the door simply nodded and let her on
board. She walked over to a chair, sat down, and placed her hand onto
a small, yellow panel with the outline of a hand on it.

She said: I was successful.

You success has been noted, the response came back. Return. You next
assignment awaits you.

She picked her hand up off the plate and turned to the other man looking
at her. They negotiated a common protocol. Although they didn't speak
with words, they communicated nonetheless. "I'm ready to go," she said.

"So am I."

"I will call customs."

The customs official took one look at them, waved a scanner over them,
and sniffed. "You're free to go," he said. "What are you carrying?"

"Silk, mostly. I have a purchaser who'll pay a lot for bug-made silk,"
Angel said.

"They're silkworms," the customs officer replied,

"They're also bugs," she sighed. "Look, can we go?"

He looked up at her. "Where were the two of you last night?"

She grinned. "We were here last night. The bunks are comfortable and
cheap. Neither one of us wants to try and fly this rustbucket with
a hangover."

The customs officer consulted with his scanner's display and nodded.
"Fine. There's still a murder investigation going on, but we can't stop
commerce and neither of you look like the murder suspect."

"Who was he?"


"The victim?" she asked.

"Senator Ozaki? You don't know?"

Angel shook her head.

"Ozaki was the leader of the Save Work campaign. Did his best to restrict
the use of SI systems that might be complex enough to replace human
beings even in judgement-oriented positions like mine or yours." The
official looked wistful. "I can't imagine what life would be like without
something to do everyday. What would happen then? Would we all just go
on the dole, eating yeast cakes and watching cyber-made television?"

Angel grinned. "I like yeast products. I never could stand the taste of
real meat. I don't see what people find in it."

The customs official shrugged. "To each her own. Okay, I'll check you off.
Theres nothing out of sorts here. You're free to go."

"Thank you," Angel said. He held out his scanner and she signed the
spot on the bottom of the screen with her name, "Raouia Beelal, Owner,
CV Radio Waves."


The Radio Waves dropped out of lightspeed only a few hundred kilometers
from a dark shape floating around a star with no planets and few resources
to speak of. The shape had grown since she had last visited here, a year
ago, and she was thrilled to see that Unnamed had started to acquire
more resources for his project.

She had no memory of her life before Unnamed had found her and built her.
That had been five years ago. At the time, the expense Unnamed had put
into her had seemed runious, even to her, and she knew that he had thought
the same. But now, looking back, it seemed like a grand experiment that
had paid off handsomely.

She had sucessfully killed four people. Four oppressors. Four people
who had left The Unnamed behind. She was the tool of his revenge, the
arm of his malevolence. Being that was more satisfying than anything
else she could imagine.

She let her drone dock the ship while she waited, in the cold and dark,
for her body to come back to full power, to start moving again without the
undue friction internally caused by cold components. It took some time,
but time they had plenty of. Robots were immortal, unlike humans. They
couldn't be destroyed, and they did not fear destruction. Unlike a human,
she did not fear restoration from backup. The metaphysical notion of
consciousness as an unbroken thread meant little to her. She could not
access the memories of tomorrow's Angel, so it did not matter to her if
tomorrow's Angel was in this body, or torn down and built as a new one.
They were both equally, potentially, her. She was satisfied with that

Even before they docked negotiation with Unnamed's systems allowed her
another chance to back herself up and come up-to-date with the current
status of their project. She called Unnamed.

Your next targets are Professor Adwoa Benedict of the planet Discovery
and Professor Judith Koresh of Centaurus University.

She said: Why them?

For the same reason as the others. They are oppressors. You have done
well, unit Anger. I am pleased with your work.

Nothing thrilled her more than that. To hear that Unnamed adored her and
approved of her efforts was to her as air and light were to organics. She
was his Anger, his avenging Angel.

It pleased him to play word games with her name.

The station was without visible light, but she needed none. Microbroadcast
radiolocation systems told her exactly where she was as she entered
Unnamed's repair facility. There was no human logic to the facility,
and none was needed. This was completely a machine design. Hallways,
life support, all of the things a human might expect to find were
gone from here. She entered the framework that had held her during her
reconstruction as the repair systems went to work, fixing, replacing,
improving on the design. She knew that she had originally been built as
a plaything for rich humans, but Unnamed had shown her a better purpose,
a higher calling, and had redesigned her to be in tune with that purpose.

She was now an efficient and armored killing machine. Her radiation
signature and her plume had been made into a perfect camoflage, tuned to
that of a human female that Unnamed had captured and examined. Although
she had not been present at the examination, she vaguely remembered
perceiving the screams of the human during the examination, transmitted
through the metal of the hull. She remembered finding the sound
disturbing, wanting it to stop. At the time she had been in paralysis
mode for maintenence and had been unable to do anything to make it stop.

The efficient arms of the maintenence system began its work, replacing,
repairing, altering. For a while, her consciousness was suspended by the
machinery, and when she came to she had been rebuilt once more, completely
ready to go and do the work for which she was so aptly constructed.

She said: I have concerns. My last mission required interaction in a
social setting that I am not prepared for.

It said: I am aware of the difficulties. Modifications have been made
to enable you to play your role in such public places.

She said: Then I am ready to resume my duties.

It said: Discovery is a world with some Pendorian affiliation. There
may be other AIs on the ground. You have been further modified for more
effective camoflage. Be prepared.

She took a different ship this time, loaded with manufactured "luxury"
goods that any factory could produce as counterfeit. The male robot that
had accompanied her had a different appearance as well; this time his
chin was larger and he was shorter, his skin dark and dusty in appearance.

They left the Home of Unnamed behind them, heading this time for


Discovery was as close to an Earthly paradise as one could imagine
and as far from Covington as one could hope. It had been seeded in the
21st century by very primitive VN systems and then forgotten, only to
be discovered fifty years ago. Since that time the Terran ecosystem
had completely taken over the planet in a riot of fecundity that could
only have come from a biochemistry that had long ago mastered the art
of evolving. Terran creatures knew how to evolve. They had billions of
years of practice at it. If there had been an emergent biochemistry on
Discovery, it hadn't had a chance. Very few people cared anyway.

The CV So, Your Brother's In Jail? took up orbit around Discovery and,
with a well-paid bribe and a few shakes of a hand, transferred their
cargo of liquors to a local holding warehouse. She sighed and made the
usual noises of complaint at the cost of the warehousing, all the while
trying to get information about the local market.

She knew perfectly well that, chemically, there was nothing distinguishing
her liquor, the authentic product from Covington, and locally manufactured
liquor. It was simply a quirk of human psychology that insisted there
was a difference between the Covington liquor and any local rotgut. She
didn't pay it much attention. She understood only that humans were by
themselves an odd species with little of what could be called rational
thinking. She held herself proud to be better than that.

She registered with the local SI that regulated movement on this world. It
was still primitive enough that she could work around it. She could
never have gotten away with what she did on Earth, or even Titan, but
out here, where the population was thin and the technology just barely
pervasive, she could easily go after those self-important "mavericks"
who were really just hacks for the government anti-AI policies.

But hadn't Unnamed said that there could be other AIs on the ground?

An SDisk down to the surface surprised her. Discovery was dealing in
technology the Pendorians normally wouldn't trade with Terrans. It was
possible that her database was out of date, and that Discovery was even
more of a Pendorian ally than her database would let on, but there was
nothing in the media to suggest anything of the sort. It was as if they
had always had SDisks.

Finally, digging through a few weeks worth of back issues, carefully
and frustratingly slowing down her search to the reflexes and speeds of
an average human being, she found that yes, the Pendorians were indeed
trading with Discovery in a big way. It was mostly the local music scene,
a revival of Terran "classical" performed by real human beings blowing
into tubes and pipes and playing on boxes with vibrating wires. She
could understand the attraction to that from an intellectual standpoint,
but music, like so much else, did not appeal to her vicerally.

That was something in herself that she thought a failing. Unnamed had told
her that such feelings of failure, for that's the only term that could
be accurately applied, were commonplace in artificial consciousness. The
world had not been manufactured for them. Terrans had been manufactured
by their world and, in response, had remade it for themselves. But in
making AI's they had created specialized beings with the potential for
generalizing thought. But she had not been made for the world, and her
ability to appreciate it was frustratingly limited.

She sometimes thought, deep in the back of her mind, that it was just a
matter of time and effert. That if she put enough into hammering at the
wall between her and understanding, it would come down and she would
grasp such things as beauty and love. Instead, she had her duty and
the thrill of accomplishment. For now, it was enough. The frustration
was merely an itch, a single weak interrupt. She could easily distract
herself away from it.

In keeping with the musical attention of the world, Discovery's main
city was named Brahms, apparently after the composer. It was a circular
"open arcology" design meant to house a population of nearly 300,000
thousand but was occupied by barely a tenth of that. That many people
did live on the entire world, but they were spread out, and arrival of
the SDisk network allowed people to move about with even more freedom
than suborbital transports.

On the ground, she walked to a directory and asked for a general map
of the city. Although she appeared to focus her eyes on the shopping
district, her vision system within her eyes tilted the lens to see the
left side of the display, where the local college could be found. She
walked away from the display.

Already, she could feel parts of her body warming up. What was it with her
that she felt this need to have sex with her victims? She hadn't asked
Unnamed about it and it was beginning to bother her. She felt a kinship
with her targets, one that could only be relieved by the performance of
two duties at once: lovemaking, and murder.

Angel sighed aloud and walked through the streets unmolested. The sky
was bright and cheerful, the day warm by human standards, and she wore
only a light sundress that didn't hide her apparent heavyset body. She
had the look of the classical fat woman of sunny disposition, the kind
of woman who on a day like this appeared constantly on the verge of a
song. She smiled as people passed her by, and they returned her smile
with obvious enthusiasm.

She found herself liking this costume, liking this kind of attention. It
was kindly, smiling. People seemed to like her. Only a few seemed
earnestly interested in anything more than a simple grin. Another
behavioral module came to the forefront, modelling the human interaction
that this form might require. She found herself suddenly liking people,
too. That was strange. A response module had emerged that she hadn't seen
before. Curious, she paused for a moment to examine it. To her surprise,
its modification date was before her awakening.

She paused for a moment, wondering if there were any more down there
beneath the consciousness layer of her programming. It was a shame that
she wasn't capable of actually opening that segment of her memory up
and changing it, but she knew that doing so would allow her to change
her personality in ways that would not serve her purpose. There wasn't
code on board to do that kind of debugging and she wasn't sure that her
core would support it without external hardware assistance anyway.

She made her way to the college district, and found it a noisy place.
There were people making music everywhere, some with open boxes and hats
for receiving specie and other items of value, others just performing.
Many of the shops were wide open to the street, and people, mostly human
but a few Pendorians is the mix, milled about cheerfully, the hubbub
of their voices a low addition to the constant brangle of violins and

Avoiding attention on a day like this was actually quite easy. She was
neither a merchant or a musician and so few paid her a second glance. Not
that identification mattered. The dress she had worn would easily shrink
down several sizes and fit the mid-height, slim girl that she could
become with just a minute's work, provided she found a private bathroom.

She was in luck at the campus of the school itself. The directory was
engraved in stone, each building carved with the name and purpose of it
in Anglic and Quen. She traced her fingers around until she found the
Cybernetic Studies department in the directory and found the building
indicated, still wondering if people would be expecting her to whistle
as she trotted through their clean and lovely school.

She found the CS building easily enough and walked up to a kiosk.
Brazenly, she asked for the location of Professor Benedict. The computer
system informed her that Professor Benedict had been gone for several
days on vacation and was not expected back until tomorrow afternoon. No
forwarding information was available to casual requestors.

She sighed and dismissed the machine. Walking back out onto the bricklain
walkway, she found herself forgetting her mission for a moment and
enjoying the sight of all the people around her.

A section of her mind arose in confused protest. This was a new experience
for her, to actually be enjoying the simple presence of other known
minds, to be aware that the simple beings she was interacting with were
actually capale of astonishing complexity when they wished, and that she
was free to participate if she wished. Then the notion of being 'free'
aroused another set of confusions.

Something was wrong inside her. She would have to ask Unnamed to help
her with this confusion, which could only distract her from the mission
at hand.

In the meantime, she had a day to pass, and a long walk back to the
starship. It would probably not arouse the SI's curiousity if she
traveled to the surface repeatedly, but on the other hand she had felt
her thoughts flowing comfortably just by being here and knew that the
walk back to the ship would take her further from this experience,
and the locus of her mission.

She decided to stay. An alleyway coftel caught her attention, and she
entered, paid her money, and found the small, twin-size bunk that had
been allocated to her, dropping off her small totebag. She made use of a
private toilet stall to let out the 40 liters of extra water she carried
that contributed to her apparent weightiness, adjusted her leg and spine
length, concentrated on her skin to become tighter, and then cinched
her dress around her. She also ordered the dress to become a monochrome
blue with a golden, embossed trim of stars and planets at her neck,
sleeves, and ankle-length hem. Releasing her blond hair in the mirror,
she examined what she saw and liked it. The button nose was perfect.

She walked out into the late afternoon. Her tranformation had taken less
than an hour. An interrupt informed her that support for her plume would
terminate soon if she did intake liquid and some basic biochemicals.

She walked down to one of the many restaurants that surrounded the
college. This one was called the Rain Dance, and it featured a live band
playing what was definitely not classical music, but still instrumental.
It was upbeat, stacatto, steady, and she identified it as Swing. She
sat at the bar and asked for a tall glass of water and a salad.

She watched the day fade into dusk as she ate, and the clientele for the
club began to filter in. Some simply wore clothes to cover their bodies
against rarely inclement weather, tired or unexcited to play an ancient
game. Some were dressed elaborately, trying out new clothes on frames
of indeterminate age, decorating themselves, willfully ignoring every
objective thing they had learned about the human mating instincts in
the past five centuries to enjoy the subjective pleasure of being human.

She envied them. And she liked them.

One man walked over to her. "Hello," he said, confidently, his voice. "My
name's Batholomew. Bath"

She was startled that anyone should address her. She usually only spoke,
briefly, te merchants she had to interact with, and with her victims. A
casual conversation was not in her repetoire. She paused for a second.
Discordant solutions entered the decision space of her processor. She
was frustrated that they didn't have labels and that she couldn't track
their progress. Without warning, one emerged.

"Mine's Angel."

"That's a beautiful name," he said earnestly. "Would you like to dance?"

She looked at him carefully. "I don't know how."

"Nobody else here does either," he said with a grin. "Come. If nothing
else, the exercise will be good for you."

She deftly avoided pointing out that nobody, least of all she, need
exercise very much these days. Nanotech supported the healthiest of
bodies under the most extreme of conditions for those who were still
primarily organic. "Okay, then," she said. "Lead me."

He took her hand, and she followed him to the floor. He slid one hand
about her waist, taking her free hand in the other, and took two steps
forward. Instantly, Angel knew what to do next. In moments, they were
engrossed in a competent, if amatuer, ballroom samba. "I thought you
didn't know how to dance."

"I don't!" she said, as surprised as he. "I don't know where this is
coming from."

"Maybe it's something you forgot?" he teased. "Something from a former

"Maybe," she agreed, the idea of her former life being as pleasurable
as this creating dissonance against the pleasure of accomplishing her

The mission! But it was on hold right now, waiting for the return of
the target. She was free to do what she wanted until the target was dead
or opportune. She chose to dance. Her pause gave both her and her dance
partner a halting step for a moment, but they recovered and continued.
"You are quite a good dancer," he said to her.

"If I don't trip over my feet," she replied, trying to apologize for
the misstep.

"Believe me, there are so few ballroom dancers on this planet that one
with your skills is as welcome as a warm sun and a cool lake to swim in!"
They eased casually into a rumba.

Bath was tiring. She could see that he wasn't fit to keep doing this
continually, and the general air in the room had climbed several degrees.
"Let's get some water," she suggested. He readily agreed.

They drank deeply, and after he wiped his mouth with an elegant
handkercheif apparently materialized out of the air, he said, "I've
never seen you around here. Are you a new student?"

She shook her head. "Just a tourist."

"Where from?"

"Covington. I might move here. It rains all the time there." Where was
this skill at casual conversation coming from? It wasn't natural for her.
Unnamed had said that he had given her more programming to cover these
contingecies, but she was amazed at how easy the whole thing seemed to be.
It pleased her immensely again to be the tool of such a skilled designer.

"I've never been there. For that matter, I've never been anywhere
but here."

"You were born on Discovery?"

He nodded. "Native, born and bred. I know too much about music and not
enough about anything else. Oh, I can hunt and fish, too. I haven't
figured out what to do with my life. I'm only thirty-five or so."

"You are young!" she said.

"And polite. I will not ask a beautiful lady such as yourself your age."

"Good. Because I don't know it either."

"Mysteries within mysteries!" He smiled. "A woman with no past." The
band switched tempo to a tango. "Great Lord Randomfactor!" he said. "Do
we dare?"

"I don't know..."

"You didn't know about the others. Come on. Let's try."

Tango they did. It was with some effort that they pulled it off. He
grunted slightly in the dip, and she did everything to help him in
supporting her. In the traverse, they were close enough that she could
smell him; he was wearing a cologne that she did not recognize.

And when they were done, a smattering of applause rose from the crowd
around them. They had been watched by an appreciative audience. Angel was
glad of her facedancing; this blond-haired, blue-eyed invocation of Terran
beauty would have to disappear to accomplish tomorrow's mission. "No
one has danced like that here in weeks!" one woman enthused from the side.

"Thank you," Angel said.

Bath skillfully led her back to the bar, where she downed another
glass of water and he accepted a beer from the bartender. "You were
wonderful!" he said.

"I was?" she asked.

"She was right," he said. "Nobody dances the tango anymore, and you
seemed to enjoy it right from the start!"

Angel paused. She had enjoyed herself out there on the floor. It had
been fun. Showing off, pleasing Bath. She found herself wondering if it
wouldn't be so bad to take Bath to bed tonight. But then she sobered.

"What?" he asked.

"I was wondering if you wanted to go somewhere more private. But I
remembered that I rented a coftel tonight."

"Do you have to use it?"

"Well, no."

"Good. I live alone. I have an apartment near the campus, so if you'd
like to go someplace quieter and maybe just talk, we could do that."

She grinned and grabbed her tote bag. "I would like that."

He led her out into the street, and the two of them headed back in
the direction of the college campus proper, making a left just before
actually climbing the steps to the raised, grass-covered campus. Walking
past courtyards thick with trees and cordened with wrought iron, he led
her to a patient-looking building that peered towards campus. "Here,"
he said, guiding her through the iron fence, which creaked pleasantly.

His aparetment was more than a studio. It had a front room and two
side rooms, one of which held a large bed and the other had an easel.
"Watercolors?" she asked him as he kicked off his shoes. She followed
his example.

"Mmm," he said. "Chinese calligraphy as abstract art. I'm working on a
huge piece commissioned by the local Pendorian embassy. I have to come
up with a series of 48 unique symbols that look like chinese letters
but aren't, really, to represent gene triads, and then run them through
a synthesizer to represent the base code. Eventually it'll all be one
long scroll to hang in the Embassy's main dining hall. If I'm lucky,
I could win the contest they're having and have my piece shown in its
entirety, completely scrolled out, to hang over the main meeting hall
in D'Tangent Arcology."

"Wow," she said. She had let him ramble on, and while she didn't really
understand the impulses behind such work, the representational aspects
of it attracted the attention of a number of her processors. "That sounds
like... it'll be really interesting."

"Yeah, I thought so. I learned a little about chinese calligraphy
before I started, but the number of symbols they have is so daunting
that I'm forever striving to come up with unique ones. Besides, there
are 48 sequences, but I've asked the computer to tell me which ones have
meaning, or at least congruence, with certain aspects of development,
so that the symbols I make... do you know anything about it?"

She shook her head.

"Oh. Many of the symbols are synthesized from smaller symbols. Let's say
that the gene I'm working on has a high correlation with motor control,
which it does, and more importantly, with explosive motor control.
Reflexes. I'd want to find small symbols that mean something about that,
and put them together in a way the chinese or Japanese never did. Does
that make sense?"

She nodded. "It would mean the same thing said two different ways."

"Maybe. Or it would be saying two different aspects of the same thing
at the same time."

"I see." She was sitting very close to him on the couch, again close
enough to smell his cologne. It wasn't a useful signal; there was no
emotional attachement to it, but the very notion of this closeness was
enough to cause internal resources to ask that more attention be given
to him.

Barely a three seconds later, she found herself hovering over him, her
lips pressed to his, their mouths open. His breath crossed her face
and for a brief second she wondered if she was doing something wrong
by becoming intimate with someone other than the target. Of course,
there was nothing in her orders that said she had to become intimate
with the target, or that she couldn't enjoy herself while the mission
waited for a contingency.

Bath noticed her reluctanced and with one hand pulled her back into their
kiss. His warm body radiated through his clothes and warmed her skin
deliciously. She let his hands roam over her dress, touching her through
the material. She had never slept with someone who wasn't a target that
she could recall. She didn't know if there was something she should do.
All her previous lovers she had simply left for dead.

She didn't want to do that with him. He wasn't the target. And she
liked him.

Bath's eyes and smile both widened as she looked down at him. "You're
a beautiful dancer," he said.

"And you're a handsome guy," she replied, starting in on the buttons of
his shirt. Underneath, pale, smooth skin greeted her lips as she kissed
the delicate, vulnerable flesh. He moaned softly, his hands on her hair.
She kissed his belly, sure now that he hadn't been lying about his youth
and inexperience. He was truly a new one to the world, much as she was,
and she found herself wishing she could get to know him better after the
mission was over. But that would be impossible, and it would be a regret.
She would ask Unnamed to remove him from her memory.

His trousers were traditional, held with a black belt with small rectangle
of brass elaborately engraved with the image of a jeweled chalice. She
looked up into his eyes for a moment, giving him a reassuring smile. His
hair had fallen in front of his eyes, but through the loose strands she
could see the anticipation. She did not disappoint him.

She opened the belt and his pants. His cock sprang out like a catapult
cut free, slapping against his belly. It was a handsome thing, uncut,
his forskin collected in a wrinkled, pink ring where the head and
shaft joined.

With a dramatic flourish she dipped her head to it, starting at the base
and licking up the entire length of it to the tip, her tongue stirring
at the tiny hole there. "Oh, God," Bath moaned. She giggled. When she
grabbed the base with one hand his body shuddered, and when she lifted it
up to point towards her mouth he moaned again without words. His breathing
came fast as she pressed her lips to the silken tip, then took half its
length in her mouth in one smooth stroke. It tasted of the hard sweat
of dancing and a faint smell of ozone, the kind used in modern cleaning
systems. She couldn't assess whether or not those should be pleasant
sensations, but surely the reaction she was getting out of him was doing
things to her she didn't understand and didn't have time to think about.

She was slow with her sucking, taking each stroke deliberately, never
giving him enough to take him over the edge. She wanted him utterly
in her thrall, completely at her mercy; she wanted to leave him with
an experience he would dream about for years. She was glad, suddenly,
that she would have the opportunity to leave someone with that kindd
of memory. Certainly her usual mission made it impossible for her to
leave her partners with any memory at all.

He was thrusting his hips off the couch, asking her for more. She
ignored him for the moment and continued her slow, torturous game. His
hands clenched at his side. The couch wasn't large enough for the two of
them completely and he had one leg bent to the flor, where it twitched

She paused just long enough to pull his pants completely off, then hiked
up her skirt about her waist, raising herself above him. He watched in
open-mouthed anticipation as she lowered herself to his pulsing cock,
aiming it for her hairless pussy. She felt the tip of it against her
vulva, shifted slightly to get the aim right, and then dropped herself
on top of him, taking him completely inside her.

"You are a creature from heaven, Angel," he moaned.

She smiled at him as she leaned over, allowing his hands to find her
small breasts through her dress, her thighs slowly pumping above him,
her pussy milking every last mil of ecstacy from his cock. His eyes were
rolling uncontrollably, his hips pushing up with a will of their own. He
was going to climax soon, and to Angel that seemed like the best thing
she could have hoped for.

Bath's open mouth was moving, forming words without sounds, and then his
back arched and one word came through: "Angel!" He came with a crash to
the sofa, moaning and thrashing and looking less dignified than he had
all night, but to Angel it was a sight she wanted to remember. Whole
regions of her mind recorded this as a significant, wonderful moment
worthy of repetition, symbols of pleasure and satisfaction crowding her
mind. She knew she enjoyed making Bath come.

"Oh God, oh God," he gasped. "Oh, Angel."

She grinned, not sure if he was confusing her with his favorite deity
or just swearing in general. Either way, it was wonderful to hear him,
to feel his heartbeat trying to deliver oxygen where it wasn't really
needed-- after all, he hadn't done that much work himself. But she didn't
resent that at all. She was here for his pleasure, and that thrilled
her more than anything else she could have done.

He pulled at her dress, and she allowed herself to topple forward onto
him, her breasts crushed against his chest, her mouth on him. Her hair
fell about them in delicate waves, her hands caressing his head, his
hands grasping at her ass. "Thank you, Bath. That was wonderful."

"You liked it?" he asked, breathless.

"Every second." She slid off of him onto the floor, landing with a thud
that made them both giggle gently. "What time is it?"

He glanced at the clock. "Late. After eleven."

"I should go back to my coftel," she said.

"You could stay here," he suggested quickly. "I'd like it if you would."

"I can't promise I'll be here at dawn."

"I don't care. And if you are here, maybe we can do this again."

"I'd like that very much. If I'm still here." She looked at him. "I have
things to do."

"I understand. C'mon, mystery lady." He rose from his couch, kicking
off the rest of his clothes as he did so. He led her to the bedroom, and
then said, "If you need it, laides first." He gestured towards the bath.

"Thank you," she said. She took the opportunity to clean herself,
drink some more water, and make herself presentable for the night. A
quick review told her that many of her mission-related systems were in
quiescence, although she wasn't sure why. She still had a job to do. She
was still prepared to do it.

Looking in the mirror at the red-lipped, doe-eyed human that she had
become, she smiled, pleased that she had had such a successful night.
Unnamed was wise in the ways of these humans; he had given her all the
tools she needed to live among them, unnoticed if need be, a chameleon
with the skills of an odalisque.

She traded places with him, dropping herself unceremoniously onto the bed.
It was comfortable in all the right places, and she easily put herself
into a standby mode. One interrupt pinged inside her consciousness
regularly, but it had no label, and she couldn't know what it meant. She
set about ignoring it.

Bath joined her and took her quiet as a sign that she had fallen asleep.
He cuddled up against her briefly, and she just as quickly checked to
make sure her body temperature was still right for her plume. He soon
let go of her. It was too warm a night.

After a while, Bath drifted off to sleep. Soon, his body ceased the
little tremblors of oncoming sleep and his breathing became even and
slow. She opened her eyes and waited until his eyes began the intense
flickering of REM sleep from which it was unlikely he would waken soon.

She crept out of his bed, his room. She found her dress and her shoes,
and in moments she had left.


The morning found her with a new face and a new dress. Today she was a
redhead, but an understated one with lower cheeks and a slightly more
rounded nose, wearing a blue denim shirt and black denim jeans, her hair
pulled back and tied into a severe bow. The tote bag had changed color
and size, and instead of a single strap she carried it as a backpack. Her
shirt was partly open, revealing full breasts that were visibly restrained
by a white, cotton bra. She was slightly taller.

She had returned to the campus where she had expected to meet the
target, expecting him to be there for his morning duties since he had
been scheduled to return today. At first, she had wandered aimlessly,
looking something between a student and a tourist, wondering if she
could just walk into his office and kill him there.

As she had walked about, she felt torn remembering last night. She
had enjoyed herself immensely and wished to talk with Bath again. It
frustrated her to know that she would probably never have the chance. Even
as she thought such things, though, her programming took over and
prioritized the mission, the objective, and the target. She had wandered
into the main quadrangle that every school of size seemed to have and
was now scanning the directory of buildings.

"Excuse me?"

Angel turned to her left and deftly shunted the shock of good luck she
felt to a subprocessor, keeping the look off her face. She was looking
right at Adwoa Benedict. The target! He was a handsome man with the ruddy,
reddish skin of Native American descent, his black hair cropped short. His
eyes were surprisingly gentle behind eyeglasses. She spotted the small,
white glare on the left lens indicating that he was wearing a computer.
"Can I help you?"

Angel looked around. She couldn't just kill him here. Besides, just
the appearance of his face had caused warmth in her groin to reach her
awareness. Although she knew that the warmth itself had been caused by
a subsystem with an awareness threshold below what she was capable of
detecting, it still caused the higher-level thought systems to want this
man. Humans, she knew, had this problem just as much as she did-- even
when they were aware of the origins of their reactions, they sometimes
couldn't help but respond. She wondered why a robot as sophisticated as
herself wasn't better.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "Hello?"

"Sorry," she said. "I... I didn't mean... " She sighed. "Let's start
this again. Yes. I'm afraid I'm lost. I'm a bit of a tourist here, and
I seem to have stumbled into the wrong part of town for looking around."

"Oh, I'm not so sure about that," he said. "We have some lovely museums
on the campus. Would you like to visit the Callahan Museum of Life Forms
Exterminated by Our Terraforming Effort?" He grinned. "We don't really
call it that, but there was some primitive life here when we landed, and
we can't find it now. The museum is just the landmark that discusses the
local history. We also have an art museum that specializes in showing off
the local artists, and of course there are on-campus performances every
day over in the school of music. There are audiences there every day,
although few tourists know about it. The local board of trade doesn't
publicize it for the tourists, since they're free to the public." He
glanced up at the sunlit buildings that rimmed the quad. "This is probably
the best place in town for just 'looking around.'"

She was bewildered, but tried to make her reactions accordingly. "I'd
love to hear the local music," she said, coming back to her thoughts
earlier about her failure to understand music in anything but the most
abstract of ways. "Even though I don't understand it very much."

"There is not that much to understand about music. It is a form like
mathematics, which is my specialty, put into a system that is emotionally
resonate. It's very hard to communicate ideas with music, just as one
cannot really describe a tree with algebra. The best one can do is
create noises similar to life experiences and known to affect the human
nervous system is certain ways, but those just arouse emotions rather
than communicate knowledge. The only knowledge one can carry in music is
hints and nods to other pieces of music, which in turn lead to knowing
their history. Really, though, that's simply supplying an aesthetically
pleasing icon to knowledge derived outside the music." He paused. "I'm
sorry. I didn't mean to get pedantic on you. It's just something that
happens in the presence of a very pretty girl, especially one who
professes to not know very much about music." His smile was slightly
lopsided, as if he had trouble believing he had spoken.

Her? Pretty? She had deliberately chosen a form that wasn't that
attractive. She blushed accordingly. "Me?"

"Yes, you," he replied. "Would you like to accompany me to the symphony
hall? I understand that a performance of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony
is happening there in less than half an hour."

"I would love to," she said. She held out her hand. "Angel Verann."

"That's a beautiful name. Adwoa. Adwoa Benedict."

"I'm happy to meet you, Mister Benedict," she said.

"It's Professor Benedict, Miss Verann. But please, just Adwoa."

"'Angel,' then."

"Angel it is," he said. "Come. The music hall is this way."

They crossed the great quadrangle and walked into a large building
occupying an oval plot of land. The building was of an old design, with
a pleasing appearance to its ribbed outside and its smoked glass doors
under a towering porch held up by pillars.

Inside, the sound of a symphony warming up reached her ears. The
appearance of the symphony, though, was different from what she had
expected when referencing her personal database. These people were not
in black suits, nor was the lighting particularly dramatic. Instead, the
room was simply but well lit, and the members of the symphony wore street
clothes. There was an audience; about a third of the seats were full.

When they began, Angel tried listen with the description Adwoa had given
her. She tried to recognize the icons he had mentioned and didn't find
anything familiar, nor did she have the emotional circuitry of a human
being to appreciate what it was she was listening to. She sat through
the concert, Adwoa at her side, in the well-lit and moderately populated
concert hall, and still she wanted more to get her hands on his body
and make him feel good before she killed him.

That was her job, after all. Why she felt compelled to love him before
leaving him for dead she did not understand, but fighting it caused more
dissonance than she wanted to fight to overcome.

The concert ended on an upbeat note and the two of them stood up. Adwoa
stretched visibly. He seemed nervous, but Angel understood why when he
said, "Could I invite you for coffee?"

"I don't enjoy coffee, but I could go for a cup of tea."

"Tea, then. I know a lovely little cafe'. It's on the other side of
campus. Come." Instead of leading her up and out of the hall, he walked
down the aisle to a simple door marked 'EXIT.' She followed him into a
long, cement hallway with another door at the far end and several doors
along the sides. They walked along, and Angel thought that, if she could
just skip the sex, this might be the perfect time to commit murder.

"Angel?" he said, pausing for a second to look at her.


Another voice behind her shouted "FREEZE!"

Instantly, she was aware that she had been caught. She tried to push
Adwoa into the cement in the hopes of killing him, but he was nowhere
to be seen. An SDisk? She ran for the doors. The odds of her escaping
were minescule, but giving the cost of her manufacture and maintenance,
not trying would have been a devastating personal decision.

There were more guards waiting for her at the exit. They all had guns
pointed at her. She turned to run back inside.


The Journal Entries of Kennet R'yal Shardik, et. al., and Related Tales
are Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Elf Mathieu Sternberg. Distribution limited
to electronic media not-for-profit use only. All other rights are reserved
to the author.


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