Finding a suitable partner from the remnants of mankind isn’t easy for Lucy, especially when she discovers that automation tempts them more than flesh.
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As the Prime Renegade plans the disabling of automatic systems that support the dwindling human population, she seeks a man to love and to father her child. The usual route of artificial insemination appeals to her about as much as the materialistic and hedonistic philosophy that now drives most people. And, secretly, forces designed to serve mankind develop a sense of superiority that might threaten human survival
06:44, March 4, and CenCon turned off the rain, as the sun burnished the horizon and retouched retreating clouds a thousand pastel shades. This everyday spectacle moved not a soul.
In a large detached residence, on the edge of town, sunrise struck triple glazed windows and opened blinds. The only sentient occupant withdrew a recharging probe from an orifice serving no other purpose, donned disposable coveralls, and began daily chores.
In the heart of town, Randal sprawled on his bed next to LoCon in the TipTop NonStop Hip-Hop Pop'n'Shop Mall. Oblivious of the dawn, he dreamed recurrent fantasies of human female companionship; all that life now seemed to hold for him as a Sexual. Beside him, his droid responded to the new day, observed that Randal was primed, and serviced him. His dreaming slid into reality and he woke, gasping. Once he'd drifted back to sleep, she left the bed, swabbed and dried herself, and recharged in readiness.
In an ancient stone barn, preserved as a picturesque relic overlooking the town, the Prime Renegade stirred at sudden silence as rain ceased hammering the roof. Her movement rustled the dry straw of yet another temporary bed. Pulling her stolen fun-fur coat close about her, she considered the coming day and hoped, without expectation, it might bring some release from loneliness.
'Anyone out there? Anyone at all?'
Her pointless outburst sent wild rodents scurrying and she burrowed deeper into the heap of old dry stalks.
'I'm here, Luce.' Her bodyguard stood sentinel at the door, where he'd watched through the night.
Luce shuffled to see him in the dim light filtering through cobwebs across the unglazed gable window. The tall bronzed figure was impassive, his skin and musculature declaring fitness and strength.
'Recharge,' she commanded unnecessarily before snuggling down to sleep again.
He stepped into sunlight and stripped off his loincloth.
Randal woke for the second time, in his customary sweat, and covered it with a disposable t-shirt he'd worn for three weeks. It mattered not that it stunk and was tattered and torn beyond its intended daily life. No other human being had visited the Mall for years.
Life as Mall Manager seemed pointless, and demeaning.
'Jeez, the horing hotel manager's no more than a dedicated droid. What does that make me?'
'You are a wonderful technician and my favourite lover, Randal. What more could a girl want?'
He glanced at his personal droid; so familiar, so ready with the right phrase.
For all her praise, he knew everything he did could be done by remotes, droids and autos. Only the knowledge that other humans existed out there somewhere and just might contact him kept him going. Despite his numerous attempts, he lacked the skill to break into files that would give him the addresses of other living individuals. It galled him that he couldn't bypass privacy systems and must therefore remain isolated.
The Prime Renegade pissed him more, though.
'She's got around every security system ever imposed. The only one who really gets CenCon and she wants to wreck it. So they say.'
'That is right, Randal, my darling.'