"Okay, Dick, what is you want to show us?" I asked as P'nyssa and I walked into the lab.
Dick Reedhon bent over his lighted work table, a pair of old-fashioned biocybernetic headbands in his hands. "This is it," he said.
"What is it?" I asked.
"An adaptation of Biocybe... aspect switching." Dick Reedhon is one of the most brilliant men I know. He's also just a little touched in the head. But then I like him; he was a friend of mine before Pendor ever existed, and the changes in him since The Great Hall only make him more fun.
"Aspect switching?" I asked.
"Yeah. Each headband is a BR I/O port- they shunt all sensory data and voluntary commands, and provide feed for the same, from the other headband."
"Wait a second," P'nyssa said. "You mean, if two people wear those things, then they will, I guess, switch bodies?"
"Almost," Dick said. "Almost. There are problems. For instance, if you," he pointed to me, "Are wearing one and she is wearing one, and your body," pointing at P'nyssa, "gets hurt, he will feel the pain, and he, being in your body, will probably grab at the pain. The problem is that if the pain requires some sort of biological response, it's likely that his brain," pointing at me again, "will produce the hormones necessary for the response. So he would get the adrenaline rush for your physical discomfort, while your body would be slow in producing the physical agents necessary to repair. Combat would be different- he would still perceive the psychological effects of adrenaline, but since it's in his body, not yours, you would still be physically unready for battle."
"I don't get into battles," P'nyssa said.
"Yes," he said. "That's the other problem. You're a telepath. You would have perception problems. I'm not. A telepath, I mean. I don't know how you 'feel' or 'hear' or whatever it is that you do. I've spent hours under biocybe, playing back perceptive recordings from telepaths, empaths, whatever. I feel very little that I would classify as 'unusual.' I don't know 'where' you would feel your telepathy. But other than that, your complete aspect, your total point of view, sight, smell, hearing, proprioception, everything, comes from the person wearing the other headband, and vice versa."
"Proprioception?" I asked. The term was new to me.
"Your sense of balance, of weight, hunger, whatever. That's another problem. When one body is hungry, it is the other that will want to eat."
"And when one body is horny, the other will want to have sex," I said in Dick's annoyingly nasal accent.
"Not necessarily. The feedback on sexuality is different. Unpredictable. You may have testosterone. How her brain processes those perceptions as they are fed to her is unpredictable. It may encourage her own sexual response. I can't predict with any degree of accuracy what may happen. You may get a positive feedback loop, you may not." He shrugged.
"And you called us for this."
"You're a scientist, Ken, you can appreciate my curiosity. Besides, all I want from you two is an honest report afterwards of what happened."
I picked up one of the headbands on the table. "Do we have to wear these things?"
"I had to install the hardware in old class-IV Brace headbands. I'm sorry. But I had to overcome a few things that your normal biocybe doesn't allow you to do. Oh, you'll also need this," he said, landing a large metal suitcase on the table. "It's the processor."
I sighed. "Well, Nyss, are you up for it?"
She looked at me querulously and said, "Are you?"
"Sure," I said with a smile.
Her reply was a smirk, pulled to the left. "I think I could try it."
"Now the first problem," Dick said, dismissing our willingness as 'not a problem,' "is getting you to accurately control her body and getting you to accurately control his." He waved his hands wildly to indicate who he was talking about. "So go home and try it out."
We returned home. Inside, I turned to her and said, "Are you sure you want to do this? I mean, you're not a regular user of biocybe anyway."
She shrugged and said, "It'll be different. I at least want to try it."
I nodded and sat down in the easy chair next to the coffee table. Setting the suitcase down I opened it up and looked inside. There were two cellular nodes, one for each headband, and the standard Brace six-channel oscilloscope monitor. I turned it on, and the familiar whine brought back massive waves of nostalgia. I remember when all biocybe whined like this, at least at the terminal.
She set down two drinks, an iced Mate' for me and an iced tea for her. "Ready?" she asked.
I held out a headband for her and watched as she put it on. It settled down around her temples easily, settling down on her ears. "How's it feel?"
"It feels like a headband. What else should it feel like?"
"Just wondering," I replied. I eyed my headband warily, like a stinging insect. I put it on my head quickly and glanced over at her. The sillyscope registered positive feed. "Ready?" I asked.
She nodded. I reached into the suitcase and hit the 'go' switch.
There was a familiar microsecond of nausea, and then I looked up. I was sitting on the couch, and I wasn't me. I'm used to not being me- it's how I feel whenever I use powered armor, or interact in certain cyberspace applications. But this was a weird kind of not being me.
For one thing, now that I had a word for it, I knew that during interactives usually my proprioception wasn't interfaced. Here, not only was the biocybe interacting with my proprioception, it was feeding me an alien one.
I tried to still my eyes. Hah! 'My' eyes. Not likely. I got them under control and looked to my left. I had a moment of panic. That was me!
No... I tried desperately to get a grip. That was my body, but P'nyssa was in it. Not really. She was in the cranium of the body I looked out from, controlled the motions of.
I looked down from where I sat and assessed the body I was now, effectively, in. It wasn't mine. It was P'nyssa's, as sexy as I had ever found it. Except that I looked out from it, down at the angles she saw every day. "'Ehn," I heard.
I looked up at, well, me. Gods, is that my voice? "Nysh?" I managed to get out. Damn, her tongue was different from mine, and it was interfering with my ability to speak. Hers too.
"K-ehn?" she said again, clicking the 'k' sound slowly.
"Yeah?" I asked.
"How do you theel?"
I thought for a second and tried to shrug. I succeeded. "I'm okay." The sensation of her voice was different from mine; it felt... smaller, I guess. "Is this how you feel all the time?" I asked.
"Uh-huh," she replied. I tried the arms.
Oh, great. What is she going to do with my arms? I managed to get her tentacles to flop about, forcing them to obey. But in my thought processes, I was used to lever-elbow mechanisms. Her ten bent at the middle. I pulled the mitten in front of my eyes and opened it, closed it, opened it. I began to systematically learn the motion systems, as if I were in a new suit of armor. I tried stamping my feet. After a few minutes of this I decided it was time to stand.
I rocked slowly and pushed myself up to a standing position, holding onto the couch for balance. Her tens are much weaker than my arms, I realized. A lot weaker than I had thought.
She was watching me. "Don't get hurt," she said.
"I'll try not to," I replied. I slowly picked my mitten off the couch, practicing the fine art of balancing. I had a few revelations as I stood there.
I was thankful P'nyssa's breasts were small- they added little to the problem of balance, but they were still enough to be disturbing. What I did realize was that my center of gravity was a lot lower- It made learning to stand much easier for me than it would for her. But I also felt... fat. I'm used to my center of mass being chest-centered. For her, it was further down, in her belly. P'nyssa is not fat, but I felt that way.
I took a step, flailed my tens desperately, grabbed the couch. "You okay?" I heard my voice ask.
"Fine," I replied. "So?" I asked.
"So, what?" she asked.
"What do I call you? He? She?"
"How about, P'nyssa?" she replied. I decided that trying to stand was a weird enough experience. I sat down on the couch again, awkwardly, and then slid forward onto my knees. I crawled forward until I was kneeling before my own body, with my beloved.
"Okay," I said. "Want to come down here with me?" I asked.
P'nyssa eased down onto the floor. I helped her keep from falling over. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," I said. "Let's go to the bedroom."
"We can't even stand and you want to have sex?" she asked.
"No, I want a soft place to flop around in." The laugh that came from my mouth was kind of scary. I eased over to the access port and fell down it. I landed on the bed and P'nyssa followed.
We lay on the bed, trying out various things that I could normally do with my own body. We decided I couldn't sing no matter whose voice I was using, and she was still telepathic. "Even though I know I'm receiving from over there," she said, tapping my temporary head, "I 'hear' it like I was in here," she tapped my original skull. "And I'm hearing your thoughts. It's very weird, like I'm listening to a stereo track that's off by a tenth of a second per channel."
I nodded. With my new tentacle, I reached out and stroked my own face. Her hands reached back and touched my chest, stroking my breasts. That felt neat! In my thoughts I could almost see little sparks streaking just under the skin to my head. When she touched my nipples I sighed with pleasure. "This is weird," she said.
"Like?" I asked.
"It's so... narcissistic. I'm about to make love to myself. Except I don't feel like myself."
"I know the feeling," I replied, smiling. At least, I hope it was a smile. It felt like a smile.
She reached up and kissed me. I could feel my fur ruffling as her cheek stroked against mine. Her lips met mine and we kissed, tongues meeting, and whose was whose became a matter of semantics. Her masculine scent was strong. My own tongue felt thick and strong against the one I had control of, which by itself felt softer and thinner. I think I was analyzing it too much, because she backed off and looked at me. "You're thinking," she said.
I nodded. "It's hard not to."
"Let's try taking off our clothes," she said, stripping off the green collared shirt I'd put on this morning. I removed the T-shirt I was now wearing. We took off our pants and shoes and threw them aside. Now naked, I had a good chance to appraise myself.
Well, from this angle I don't think I look too bad. A little pale. I'm not getting enough sun. And my chin, yikes! I've heard of 'strong profiles,' but that's almost ridiculous. Nose is a little too strong, too. I need a haircut.
I could see P'nyssa giving me the same look over. "What do you think?" I asked.
"I think I understand why you like me. From here, I think I'm rather cute, if you don't mind my inflating my own ego."
"P'nyssa, your ego needs inflating. For my part, I still don't see what you see in me."
She lunged across the bed and knocked me flat, my head landing on a pillow. My face hovered in front of me. "It's your mind I love," she said, tapping her present skull. I laughed.
I wrapped my tentacles and pulled her down to me. She cuddled close, her hand ruffling the fur of my chest and caressing my breasts. I sighed gently. "It feels strange, having so much bare skin. I feel cold," she said.
"You always feel cold," I said.
"I mean, more than usual. It's weird. And you want to know where I feel most... masculine, I guess? In my thighs... your thighs, I guess. There's so much muscle there."
"Well, you're making me feel feminine just by stroking my breasts. Oh Gods, that sounds funny." I laughed.
"You're still male, aren't you?" she asked.
"Yeah. And you're still a woman, P'nyssa. Erect or not."
"What?" she said. "Oh..."
Her cock had become hard. Probably because in stroking my breasts, the feedback released testosterone into her bloodstream. But my...
"P'nyssa, back off for a second."
"Why?" she asked.
"Just do it, please?" I asked.
She moved away and I sat up, cross-legged on the bed. "I want to try something." I closed my eyes and placed my mittens in my lap. Slowly, I brought one closer to where my sex was. As I passed a certain zone, my brain began to go into red alert. I had thought so. Castration complex started screaming full-scale klaxons in my head. I paused, taking deep breaths, fighting down what may well have been the first full-blown panic attack of my life. I counted back from ten to one, slowly, and pressed the pad of my mitten against my sex.
Nothing there, as far as the alarms were concerned. I kept my eyes closed and thought quieting thoughts, trying to relax, to realize that everything was really okay, that for the time being I wasn't going to have a penis, but something else.
My mitten stroked against the majora; they felt like they were radiating heat. I eased the edge of the mitten against my cunt, parting the lips. It felt so strange, and so good. I was getting hot, and I looked up to see my own, masculine face looking at me with a mixture of concern and lust. She was trembling with my adrenaline. I smiled at her and said, "Okay."
"What was that?" she said. "You were terrified. And I don't feel so good, either."
"I'll explain after. Come here," I implored. She came closer, her cock somewhat softer. I reached out and stroked it slowly, feeling it get harder. She groaned. "Oh, that feels... better!"
I laughed. Her hands reached between my thighs and pushed my mitten away. She spread my lips, and the sensations were making me feel high. It was so different from my usual response.
I was going to come. I knew it, although I have no idea how I knew it. Her hands were expert on my clit, stroking me, and I trembled as waves of pleasure rolled over me, an alien pleasure.
I looked up at her and said, "Nyss, do you think you could fuck me?" I asked.
She gave me a curious looked and said, "I can try."
"Lie on your back," I said. She lay down, her erection sporting against her belly. I straddled her thighs and looked down at my body, but that was definitely her soul behind those eyes. "I love you," I said suddenly. I felt I had to say that.
I took her cock in my mitten and stroked it slowly. It felt weird to be holding something I was so familiar with and not getting any of the sensations I was used to. All I could feel was this hard, textured shaft of flesh pulsing in my hand. I've felt that before, when I've been with other men, but this was more, because dammit that's mine! The thought made me smile. I eased myself forward and straddled her cock, aiming it for my cunt. My cunt.
I eased down and felt her cock press against my labia. They parted, and I felt this mass of flesh enter me. I let myself come to a rest against her hips, her cock sunk fully into me.
"Ken?" she asked.
"Yeah, Nyss?" I replied.
"What's it like?" she said.
"It's in the wrong place," I said. She laughed. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate. "When I've got cock in me, it's most definitely somewhere else."
A big smile on her face, she nodded. "I know the feeling," she said, echoing my words. "And I don't know how to say this, but for me this is almost uncomfortable. I feel like all my sensation is coming from a part of me that's not attached."
"I hope it's still attached!" I said, laughing. Klaxons sounded dimly in the psychic background.
"It is, have no fear," she said, smiling. "I mean, my pleasure comes from my body, from parts of me that are inside me. Your pleasure comes from a point a distance away. Your having my- your mitts on my chest almost feels better."
"Let's see about that," I said, stroking her cock slowly, feeling empty every time my cunt was emptied. It felt so sweet. I sighed. "I wish you could fuck me," I said.
"You want me to get on top?" she said.
"How about getting behind, the way you like?" I asked. "Now that I've got a chance to know why you like it."
She nodded. I rolled off of her and turned over, getting onto my knees, putting my ass high in the air. She got behind me and said, "What if I put it here?" she asked, her finger brushing against my asshole.
"Then when we take off the headbands, you'll have to deal with any aftereffects. Besides, I like that feeling, remember?"
Nyss said nothing, but aimed her cock against my cunt and pressed, sliding into my already wet sex. I felt it press against me inside, and as her hands grabbed my hips I realized I was in for a ride. She began slowly, sliding into me. I pressed my head against the pillow and played with my breasts as she fucked me, twisting my nipples between my thumb and pad. She began fucking me harder. "Feels so good," I sighed.
"Good!" she said with a snarl that surprised me, starting to stroke harder. I lay there, worried that if she worked any harder I was going to be hitting my head against the headboard. But the pleasure was sweeping me away, taking me. I don't remember much. Just being fucked, and enjoying it in ways I could never comprehend, and I remember hearing her scream and coming inside me, and I could feel her jab as her orgasm subsided. And then she was gone.
I collapsed over onto my side. She lay next to me, breathing hard. I crawled over to her and held her close to me. "I love you," I said.
"I love you too," she said. "Are you ready?" she asked.
"Whenever you are," I said. "These looked like standard Brace headbands. They should cut when we remove them. On 'go.' One, Two, Three, Go!" I pulled the headband off.
The picture changed. I was looking at P'nyssa. I was looking straight at my coimelin, blue fur and yellow eyes and sweaty black hair. And I was myself. My first reaction was to grab my dick and make sure it was still there. Yup.
She laughed. "That's all you men ever worry about." She placed her mitten against her chin and said, "I know what you were afraid of, and now I understand why." I laughed. "So, tell me what great revelations you had."
"I know why all women complain that they're fat," I said. I explained, and she laughed when I was done.
"It's more complicated than that!" she protested.
"Oh, I'm sure. But in a male-to-female difference, that's one of them."
"Probably. So what do we tell Dick?"
"We tell him he can go play his guitar. We're keeping his new toy."
She shook her head. "No, let him perfect it first."
We cleaned up and headed back upstairs. I didn't hear the whining from the Brace unit, but that should be because we'd removed the headbands. Something about the unit bothered me. P'nyssa can always tell when something's nagging me, and she asked me about it.
"I don't know," I said. "Brace units used to make this strange, kinda screechy whine when they were... Dick, you son of a bitch!" I shouted. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a screwdriver.
"What are you doing?" she asked. "Don't mess with it."
"Just a sec," I said. "I have to see something." I pried the case off where the batteries had gone in the older models. Sure enough. I pulled the small reel of golden lasertape, six tracks clearly marked on it. "Look," I said.
"What is it?"
"ReyTape. The original recording format for biocybernetics. That bastard was recording everything!"
"Well," she said, "that way he'll get the data he wants. Let him keep it."
I thought about it. Dick was a sneaky son-of-a-bitch, but in some things he was trustworthy. Nobody else would ever see that tape. "Yeah, what the hell. I hope he and Susan have fun with it."