"Welcome back, Ladies and Gentlefen of the Class of 1016 from the Stormwater Decanting Facility." Blah, I thought as the robot at the front door welcomed people to the large convention center in the heart of Seattle. We were nearly twenty miles from Renton and the Stormwater Decanting Facility.
It was such a pretentious name, suggesting swords and sorcery. In truth, it was a bit of a pun. "Stormwater" was literal; the biological decanting facility was built next to and on top of a city drainage system that literally handled the rainwater that fell on the Eastside region.
I wondered what the Hell I was doing here. Four thousand people were decanted by the Facility in the year 1016. Maybe one in ten would be here today. And to be honest, we had nothing else in common. What does it mean to say that you were decanted in this place, only to be turned over to people who volunteered to raise you but have little or no biological reason to be attached to you?
Stopping by the identification kiosk, the efficient robot inside already had my identity. I picked up the badge it offered to me and put it on. It had my name and, to my amusement, it had a marker reading 'Tank 2197.' Oh, great, so if I meet Tank 2196 or 2198 do I shout "Hi, neighbor!"?
It was laid out like any medium-sized event: a buffet table to the right, laden with dozens of yeast variants, nanochine constructs, and primitively grown real fruits and vegetables-- and who am I to complain, since that's the stuff I prefer, forget the price; a few dozen large, round tables with seating for seven, each pristine in its white tablecloth, with a setting of napkins, water glasses, and silverware. I noted with amusement that there were both Western silverware and chopsticks-- Chinese, of course.
I walked in and looked around. All the humans were taller than I, of course, bigger, stronger; that's the way it is with humans and their creations. All of the Pendorian species have their trade-offs, but Katckins and Neorats were simple matters of ego, proof that "we can do it too." As it turns out they couldn't do it and Alpha leant their expertise to cleaning up the sequences before we were, what was the word? Oh yeah, "published."
But that was generations ago and these days I'm a citizen, not a publication. I'm also third generation, a milestone in a species that stubbornly refuses to reproduce at anything approaching the human rate. If it weren't for the fact that reproduction is almost entirely a matter of quotas and conditions, rather than desire, the Katckin species would have disappeared from the record just as readily as our genetic bases, the American Lynx and the Mountain Gorilla.
There were knots of humans all standing together as if they knew one another. Some wore the yellow-striped badges of guests, indicating that they were, for one reason or another, the favored companion of whatever Stormwater decantee happened to be here. I spotted one Tindal in that category, amused at his awkwardness, but this was still a room dominated by that now most sessile of species, H. Sapiens Sapiens.
Shit. I really need to get laid.
"Wallflowers rarely get to meet people," said a soft voice to my left. I found myself looking at an apparently young mel, of course true age indeterminate. He had a grin and two glasses, and he offered me one.
"Maybe I'm not here to meet people," I answered.
"There's no other reason to be here," he said pointedly. "I mean, do I even know you, tank number 2197?"
"I don't know, tank number 1631," I said. He grinned. It was a predatory sort of smile. I liked it. "But I see that your real name is," I peered closely, "Scottino. Italian?"
"Mmm, hmm," he said. "Suba. African?"
"It doesn't sound Indian, does it?" He didn't have a response to that. "So you're a century old this year, too."
"That would be the point of this pointless exercise, wouldn't it?" He took my arm. "Come. Let's actually sit down and have a waiter bring us something to eat." Did he read my mind?
The waiter came. We ordered. The food arrived. It was nothing spectacular. We shared the round table with four other people, all of whom led equally inglorious lives to mine own. One was an artist, one an economist, one a geologist, and one who laid claim to no professional interests at all but was content to let the world come to her. And it would, these days. A person either made something up to do or there was nothing to do. Someone would have to travel very far off-world to find danger, excitement, and human travail. Not that I have an interest in human travail.
Scottino feted me carefully. I wondered how he had picked up that I might be interested in him; empaths were still unknown among stock humans and, even so, I hadn't been thinking in that direction. It wasn't like I was wearing the rainbow or the green orchid or anything like that. Scottino, for that matter, wasn't wearing anything that might give him away as a member of a minority that was so mainstream.
But he was cute. And talkative. This man might, under other circumstances, be the kind who could host a bitchfest and walk away with first prize. "So, does the Zapata regime know how to host a going away party or what?" he was saying to the woman to his left. She wisely demurred her comment, knowing full well that whether or not the ongoing Zapata administration of Earth would continue on the ringworld we had bought from the Pendorians was a controversy best ignored. There were doubts that Ebele Zapata would ever step down. There were fewer complaints, though.
The M.C., a competent and human speaker, if nothing else, introduced us to the obligatory media review, a two-dimensional record of the last century. We knew all of the high points: The sale of the Earth, the discovery of the Ritans, the reconstruction of llerkin, the Eastern Rebellion, first contact with the Shriaa and the Catena, the destruction of the private world of Kemper Al-Pourreine, the end of the third Christian millennium without the reappearance of their messiah, the prosecution of the Outer Rim slave trade, the heroic recovery of the Pendorian Starship The White Looker, the finding of the Dyaus, and other things. All mundane, expectable, and unsurprising.
"So," Scottino asked after it was all over, "What do you do?"
I demurred for a moment, then said, "I'm a field combat engineer."
"A soldier?" Scottino said. "I didn't realize that I was talking to someone with that much testosterone." He gave me that predatory grin.
"Engineer," I pointed out. "Not quite a soldier. I tell the soldiers how to put together land-crossing constructs, build bridges, blow up mines, that kind of thing. Nothing spectacular." I sighed. "Not that we've had a lot of combat in the past couple of decades. I keep busy with civilian projects."
"Sounds rich," he agreed. The others around the table nodded in agreement.
I shrugged. "People need bridges. That's what I'm here for. To build them."
Scottino followed me after I left the table. "Bored?" he asked me.
"Why did you come here?" he asked. "Doesn't sound like it's your kind of venue."
"I was bored enough to come. Looking around, I see lots of humans, a few Katckins and Neorats. We were all birthed from tanks built across the lake. Big deal."
"And otherwise we have nothing in common," he said, echoing my thoughts of an hour ago.
"Yeah." I sighed. "I really need to get laid." I said it in the kind of voice that one would use mano'-a-mano'. I hoped it worked.
"I can help," he suggested. He meant to be involved.
"Is there anyplace to go around here and just have fun?"
"Hundreds. This is Seattle. One of the computing centers of the universe." He grinned. "I exaggerate. Australia and Ganymede are the true centers these days, at least as far as Terrans go, but Seattle was once a great computing center. You can see it as we go out. We've got a great VR games center right across the street." He grinned. "And more adult playcenters up the street."
"Another center of the universe," he said. "Not that we get lots of Katckins in there."
"I see," I said. "So would I be an object of curiosity?"
"I would prefer that you be an object of desire," he said. "An exclusive one."
I looked him over. Impeccably dressed in the cream-colored suit that was going to be next year's fashion statement, his short hair cropped upwards and fixed into heroic place by a year's supply of nanochine, he was an icon of current gay life, if such a thing existed anymore. "I could be convinced, for an evening."
"That is all I ask for." Again he took my arm and led me out into the hallway, down an escalator, and out the door. We walked passed centuries-old icons of consumerism, now closed or renovated into other kinds of meeting places, although the Realms were slowly making even that purpose somewhat obsolete. If you wanted to go somewhere artificial, the Realms would provide. If you wanted to go somewhere natural, the world outside the cities was good enough. Our ancestors had managed to save enough species that the temperate forests of Washington and British Columbia still looked like they were natural, although biologists assured us that once upon a time these hills had been teeming with many more kinds of birds and wild cats. I suppose it seemed a shame, but I found it hard to care. What was important was what I saw, and what I saw didn't interfere with my life so much that change was required. I didn't want more, and could find little energy to care about less.
Right now, my gonads were what had me as Scottino led me up a hill to another building, this one an unassuming modern building of gleaming plastic, painted white. It took me a few seconds to realize that the outside was the same color as porcelain. The door, otherwise uninteresting, read "Hot Pipes." "Come on in," my "date" said.
"Good god," I said as we walked in. Even from the front door, three doorways led down into different areas, the hallways dim to hide... what? Once upon a time it had been to hide the differences, the effects of aging, the slow disintegration of bodies on their way to geriatric dissolution. These days, the dim light was there to hide our sameness, our universal unaging condition.
Fuck, I'm a cynical one tonight.
In accordance with the rules, with which I had some passing familiarity, we left our clothes in cubicles at the front door and wrapped towels around ourselves. Scottino led me down a hallway. I turned a right, hearing the groans of men in the throes of private pleasures. The greasy smell of volatile nitrites filled the air, reminding me that it was still the most popular drug for sodomites of any orientation. It wasn't as bad as in some places I'd visited. I heard the rhythmic slapping of body upon body, the repeated grunt of someone getting fucked, gasps of "yeah, harder," from one cubicle we passed, the door half-open, a naked man who failed to rival Scottino standing there, spectating, dick in hand.
"So many corners in this place," I said as we turned another. "It's like a maze."
"It has a lot of nooks and crannies for guys to disappear in. A friend of mine calls this place a 'Habitrail for Homos.' A habitrail is..."
"I know what it is," I said, smiling at the imagery. A combination of the idea of men crawling all over one another in these tight spaces, getting tighter all the time, and the old legend about "gerbelling." I wonder if that one will ever die.
We passed people who eyed me with curiosity, and I had to fend off one unwelcome hand. Despite the amount of noise coming from the cubicles, there were fewer men wandering in the halls than I had experienced in other places.
Scottino led me into a dim room that was unoccupied. There was a bed in one corner, grey sheets covering it. On a white, cheap plastic table next to it were two towels and a little wicker basket filled with little spheres of lube. We were further from the rest of the action, back in a corner. "I want us to be undisturbed," he said softly as he took me in his arms.
I tensed up against his touch, then eased into it as our lips locked and began a centuries-old dance. We kissed hard, and I felt his solid body against my own, his dick already trying to get my attention. Our erections butted against one another like two elk, antlers out. His hand groped for my dick; I wrapped my fingers around his.
He dropped to his knees. "Yeah, go for it," I said as he gobbled down my dick, taking it all in one easy gulp. His mouth was hot and strong, as good as any I could remember recently, and truly welcome around my hard-on. I took his head in my hands and began to fuck his face, looking down and seeing my dick slide in and out of his mouth. He gasped for air as I gave him a break, looking up at me with a grin and the glisten of spit running down his chin. "You are one hot man," I said.
"Glad you think so," he said, taking my dick again into the back of his throat. His tongue was a tease on the underside of my dick, his lips a torturer along the length of it.
I pulled away from his mouth and pulled him back up, then bent him over the bed. His ass was high in the air as I knelt over and dug into that asshole with my mouth, licking my way around that manhole. "Yeah, that's it," he groaned. "Stick that tongue up there."
I did as he asked, forcing deep licks into his sphincter, eating his ass like the dessert of the day. "Eat me," he groaned again. I didn't need any more prompting. His balls lay across my chin; I grabbed them in one hand and twisted them gently. His groan told me that I had found another hotspot, one that lots of guys have and few ever discover. He moaned all the harder as I pulled away, pushed him down to the bed, and took his dick down my throat. He lay on the bed and arched his back with desire as I sucked down that hard stalk of flesh. He even tasted good.
I must have sucked that gorgeous root for a while because he started to tremble like he was about to come. I didn't want that. Not yet, at any rate. I jumped onto the bed with him, pressed his knees up to his chest. "Are you ready?"
"Fuck me, Suba," he growled. "Fuck me hard."
Nobody needs to ask me that twice. I spat on my cock to give it at least the illusion of lube. I pressed the head against his already spit-lubed hole. He didn't keep me out for long; in a second I was buried in his rectum to the hilt. He grunted as I hit bottom, the curve where ass and intestines meet. "You're big," he groaned.
"You're short," I said with a grin as I began to fuck him. I was in no mood for niceties. It was time to fuck. I hammered his body to the bed, taking him for a ride. He slid on the bedsheets and kept moving away from me. I anchored him to me by wrapping my arms around his thighs and gave him my best nasty fuck. He held his legs up in the air, giving me easy access to his ass while he could watch my face and jerk his dick between us. I looked down to see him stroking his meat in time to my fuck, my dick repeatedly forcing its way into his guts then pulling out again, his balls bouncing between us, little victims of our lust. He bounced his head on the mattress, gasping "Oh, yeah, oh yeah," over and over. "Fuck me, Suba, more," he groaned.
His rectum was sweet, smooth, and seductive, and as I fucked him his asshole gripped and loosened, over and over, milking my dick. I was gonna come inside him. I was gonna... "Yeah! YEAH! Take it, you fuck, take it hard!" I could feel it shooting out of me, a firehose of come up this prettyboy's asshole.
Scottino didn't last a second longer, shooting his own come all over his belly, big, thick wads of greyish-white semen reaching all the way to his bellybutton, filling it like a tiny swimming pool.
I grabbed a towel from the table and wiped my dick off with it before tossing it to him. He grinned. "There's a shower down this hall and to the left. There'll probably be guys doing things in there, but it can be used for its supposedly main purpose."
I grinned and followed him. He was right. There were guys in there anxiously giving each other head, and one guy who walked right up to me and said, "A Katckin. Cool. Would you pee for me?" I declined. A little soap, another pair of towels, and Scottino and I dressed and headed back to the party.
I felt better now. The edge was off. I hugged Scottino briefly and thanked him for the afternoon. It would keep me for a while. But another half hour of the party was more than enough for me. I decided I didn't need to know who I had shared my recycled support waters with. Without remorse, I bid farewell to the four hundred or so people who had been born in the year 2900. I was born then. That was enough for me.