"I was born wanting to be more than just a person," Bambi said as we drank our wine.
Being intimate with Bambi was more complicated than I would have thought. She had two large couches, and I shared one with one of her bodies, the other two lounging haphazardly on the other, all three pairs of eyes glancing at me with interest. I've given speeches before rapt audiences before, but her attention was somehow much more intense.
She said, "At first, Tylia Shardik thought that was a flaw in the Nipha programming, but as time went on and the Taboo began to really fall, more and more people from all the species began trying out these different arrangements. And they were enjoying it. We, I mean Pendorians, agreed early on some ground rules, like trial times for immersives, and guarantees of reversion."
I noticed that the alcohol was hitting all three of them, although the one actually drinking was taking it the hardest. Bambi seemed to be as sensitive to alcohol as I was; we were only on our second glass, and already we were both talking freely. It seemed that although her brain 'segments' were all intimately linked, disruption in one by alcohol or fatigue could well be localized. "But you didn't need that," I said.
She shook her head. "No. It's not as if it was easy, though. It was really confusing when I woke up. There were all these voices in my head, but they weren't other voices, they were my voice. I was thinking, not so fast, but so much, that I couldn't make sense of it all. I worked with a really good programmer, a guy named Sokari, who helped me sort out thoughts, impressions, senses, all the things that go into daily interaction, until the three of us were really unified. And it was something we all wanted."
"Well, it was something you wanted before the procedure began," I pointed out, "And since all three of you had the same memories and drives when you came to..."
"Right," she said. "And it was like magic. One day I just woke up and felt... whole." She touched her chest briefly. All three did the same gesture at once, making me smile. "It's funny, though. Once I got used to having three times the brain power, I went back to being, well, myself. I didn't want to have to work too hard at being creative, I just wanted to be a good starship engineer. I'm glad I didn't give up. There were times when I wanted to." She sighed. "Ken? I still bother you, don't I?"
I shrugged, the wine making giving me the courage to say things without holding back too much. "How am I supposed to feel?" I asked her. "I mean, it's not like I have a choice in the matter, and it's not as if I understand what's happened to you, or what's happening on Pendor. Are you a physical person, Bambi? How do you play soccer against another team? Is three-on-three basketball a cheater's game these days?"
She leaned against the backrest of the sofa. It was a very tempting pose. "Sport doesn't mean much when you can have whatever body you want. It meant something back when we were comparing ourselves to others, with the same restrictions, but..." She didn't seem ready to finish the thought, and I just nodded. "Anyway, there are plenty of individual things one can do. Mountain climbing is as popular as ever, and some idiots still die doing it without backup. Some of them even get a thrill out of doing it without being braced." She shivered. "I never did understand that."
"I can see it, but I'm not the sort of person to go doing it myself," I admitted. "Solo sports make sense. It's not you against other people, but you against hardship itself."
She laughed. "But, actually, I do like basketball, if you don't mind playing with me. And I have no real physical advantages. Neither do you, if I read you right. Which means we'd be even if I just put one of my bodies into the game at a time."
"Maybe, maybe not. I do have three times the mental capacity. That doesn't seem to help my reflexes very much."
I smiled. "I'll take your word for it."
"You still haven't told me," she said after we were quiet for a while. "Why did you and your family up and off like that?"
"Oh, just peace and quiet. It had been a really busy century. The Ritans, the Han, the llerkin return and the revolution afterward, the Shriaa, and all that. It was time for us to get away, and much to my amusement the AIs had held a planet in reserve for something just like this, so we decided to take advantage of it."
She looked distant for a moment. "The AIs..."
"Did you know that history books refer to the 100-1100 years as The Static Millennium?"
"I'm not surprised. That's exactly what it was. Central planning to the max, with an overwhelming amount of intellectual firepower designed to keep it right where I and the AIs wanted it."
"You admit that?" she asked, surprised.
"Does it make me a criminal?" I asked, with a smile.
"No, but the Fall sure made a lot of people mad at you!" she said. "When they realized just how much development you'd held back because you couldn't hack the changes..."
"Bambi," I said, touching the back of her hand, "You know as well as I do that Pendor and Pendorians had everything going for them from the beginning. Parochialism is built into the very genes of the Pendorian species; in many ways, we're as boring as the Sendar. That doesn't make it good or bad. It's not that I couldn't hack the changes."
"What was it, then?"
"Let's try an analogy. When life evolved on Earth, it was happening in many places. Eventually, one kind of life, DNA-based life, won and became the only form of life. Later, if another kind of life started to emerge from wherever it was that abiogenesis occurs, it would find itself in an even more hostile world than the originals had faced, one which had lots of little biologicals fully evolved to defend their turf.
"The same thing is true of the post-biologicals. I made the petri dish much, much larger, with a much more diverse collection of life forms to enjoy the possibilities. And a larger collection of petri dishes– planets– on which to carry out the different experiments. You're an example of that. You're one of the very few Pendorians who are going forward, proceeding into the next evolutionary stage."
"Yeah," I said with a grin. "I hope that scares the fuck out of you."
"Well, I'd rather keep my 'fuck,'" she said, laughing. "But, yeah, I know what you mean. When I volunteered for this, I had no idea what I was getting into. Adjusting was hard. But afterwards, there was no turning back." All three heads looked right at me. "You're going to compare that to a drug habit, aren't you?"
I gaped. "Are you telepathic now?"
"No, it's just that lots of statics made the exact same comparison, and while I'm talking to you, my mind is rolling forward more steps than I could achieve as a singleton."
I said, "I never objected to people getting to their own private hells or heavens by whatever means they had at their disposal. And I was thinking it, but I had already rejected it. Most moral objections to drug abuse don't apply to an abundant society because drug abusers aren't a drain when the resources they consume are regarded as insignificant. And you don't seem to be a drain at all. If anything, you're a bright, vivacious, beautiful fem who happens to have three bodies and is frighteningly smarter than I am."
She grinned and leaned close. "Flattery will get you everywhere."
"It's nice to know you're not immune to that."
"No," she murmured, leaning close to me. The other two held their places. "I'm not. I don't know that I'd like to be. Are you?"
"Are you sure you want to get comfortable with the biggest static of the first millennium?"
"I'm already comfortable with you, Ken. I have been since I met you. For all the holding back you may have enforced, you managed to avoid suffering and engineered kinds of beauty and diversity that would never have happened if we'd hit The Opaque Wall before you'd had your chance."
"Hit the what?" I asked.
She said, "The Opaque Wall, on the other side of which the rules are so different that people like you could never understand people like..."
"You?" I said.
"I didn't want to say that."
I smiled. "You didn't have to." I pulled her close and kissed her. Her thin lips were warm and wonderful, and her tongue was broad and strong. "There are different kinds of understanding, Bambi."
"I knew you'd see it my way." She pushed me down onto the couch, her mouth upon mine, one hand already finding its way up my shirt. She had warm hands and the fur on her wrists stroked rather than tickled.
"Shall we take this to the bedroom?" I asked.
"All of me?" she teased.
"Isn't that how you operate?" I replied.
She nodded, then stood up. "Uh-oh," she said, suddenly. The three of them faced one another, eyes flicking back and forth self- consciously.
"Something wrong?" I asked.
"If you're not sure about me," she said, "you're probably not going to like my bed."
"What's with your bed?" I asked.
She led me into her bedroom and revealed what looked like an ordinary appearing waterbed, complete with old-fashioned retainer wall to keep the bag from sloshing about too much. The room was comfortably warm and so the bed had no sheets on it, just a large collection of throw pillows. The mattress, though, was covered in fur that looked just like the kind on Bambi's throat– grey, dense, and soft. I reached down and touched it. It quivered. Like it was alive.
"What the Hell?" I said.
"It's called a body mattress. They're very popular."
"It's... alive?" I said.
She nodded. "More or less the same process by which they make posits and grow meat for starships. It's my own genecode with the cascades for things like fell, fur, muscle, and the like, but the brain and long-term nervous system is suppressed, grown on a directed frame. It's completely self-contained."
"How does it... Does it eat?"
She nodded. "There are four small systems embedded in the corners that use SDisks to supply oxygen and nutrients, and nanochine does internal maintenance on both the hardware and the wetware. It has a musculature– it's mostly muscle, really, with a thick layer of semi-armored skin."
"But no brain." For some reason I found that comfortable. Whatever it was, at least it wasn't suffering.
"Nope," she agreed. "And it has one other advantage, if you can call it that. It has few major internal organs of its own; a few hormonal maintenance things. But if one of me is ever seriously wounded and needs a replacement organ..."
"It can act as a growth bed."
She nodded. I stroked the fur of the bed gently, then glanced back at her. "It's almost a shame..."
She grinned, then looked away for a moment. "Try it now."
I stroked the bed gently, and she shivered. "I was only kidding," I said.
"I know. But I had it done anyway. It does have a short-term nervous system to report damage and enact repairs. I'm used to having my body be large and multiplex, and it would seem such a shame that only bad feelings get processed by the bed. If it has the capability, I may as well enjoy it. The oblongata nexa is topped with a simple sensoria cyberwear. And some stimula back when it's on with me."
I looked down at the bed. "It's an extension of you."
Two of her walked around me and guided me down to the bed while the third walked around to the bedstand. "Think of this room as an extension of me." She (they?... she) efficiently stripped off my shirt with two hands while another two took care of my pants. In moments I was naked, and the third, who had disappeared behind me, wrapped her arms around me from behind and pulled me onto the bed.
She followed me down to the bed, which trembled as much as she did. I looked up at her. "Are you afraid of me?" I asked.
"Yes," she said.
"Because you're afraid of me," she whispered. "You're afraid of returning to find a future that you don't understand and minds that you won't be able to keep up with. Minds like mine. People who are more than just the limited flesh and blood you're used to. And because sleeping with me won't reassure you. You've done it with AI extensions. I don't want you to think of me that way. I want you to think of me as a person. All of me. My three bodies, my bed, my connection to the great library that this ship carries and that I rely on as surely as I rely on my need to pee three times in the morning."
I looked up into those big, moist eyes, and that trembling lower lip with its broad, chisely bottom teeth. She was right. It was harder than I would have thought to relate to her as a person, an individual. She was, by any measure, one sophont being. If I could accept the sentient insect hives of Shriaa, smart enough and big enough to make their own starships, surely I should be able to accept her. But the Shriaa kept themselves in their mobile hives, which looked nothing at all like people (unless the Shriaa made an effort for them to do so, which wasn't often, as human bodies were typically too small for the hives that had evolved sentience). And I had never attempted to have sex with a Shriaa.
Bambi looked like a person, She felt like a person. We had interacted like we were on some coy date, talking, eating, drinking, and now we were in bed together. There were two people in the room. But there were four bodies– five if you counted the bed.
I reached up to put one hand around the back of her neck, and pulled her down into what had to be the most delicate kiss I had felt in years. We were both shaking; me with the possibility of discovery, her with the fear of rejection. It was a kiss both of us wanted, a gentle, tentative kiss that grew into something more almost immediately. I wanted the kiss to be right, but the thing about kissing is, if you think about it too much, it's never quite right. So I stopped thinking about it and just felt it, her muzzle to my mouth, my tongue against those large, handsome bottom teeth. I was sandwiched between her and the bed, surrounded by her. It was a moment to treasure. For a second, I wondered if she could enjoy this kind of pleasure, this degree of surrender. There was no where to go; she was on top of me, to the left, the right, and underneath. Maybe there was as much pleasure in being the surrounder as there was being the surrounded.
A soft nip on my lower lip brought me back to the here and the now. I pulled her over, side-by-side, our legs mingling, the soft fur on her thighs tickling my legs and my sex, making me aware of just how beautiful this sweet fem could be. A new species; a new... model. A thoughtful model. Part my history, part Tylia's, all her own.
"You..." I whispered to her softly, "are the most wonderful part of my coming back to Pendor so far."
"I don't know what to say to that," she said.
"Don't say anything, then," I replied as I returned to kissing her. After a millennium of being with furs, the experience of having fur in my mouth was an old and familiar one, hardly anything to write about. I nipped her softly on the neck, kissing her gently. Her small breasts were tempting to my fingers but I held back. Taking our time.
Her hands were on my back and caressed my thighs. Part of my little lizard brain kept insisting that we were being interrupted, that I was taking on more than I could handle. She touched my face, her mouth against my chest. She was holding back with the two bodies not involved, as casually put aside as one could ignore one's knees during such intimacy.
Her hand reached down between us and found my cock, already hard at attention against my belly. I moaned with appreciation but wanted to hold off on anything that could get me off until later. Sure, with the latest upgrades I could probably have gotten hard a dozen times and gotten off a dozen over that, but that wasn't the point. I was still a human being in my brain, the patterns of expectation were the same.
There was a moment of wordless debate as the two of us wrangled over who would get to taste whom first. I won, sliding down the length of her body as she parted her thighs willingly. We both wanted this, but how it worked for her was a mystery to me, a mystery I would soon find the answer to.
Her cunt was already flowering open, moistened with dew that smelled as sweet as any orchid. I licked at her lips playfully, matting down the dark grey fur that surrounded and protected her sex from the bumps and bruises of everyday life. She gave me an anticipating sigh as I playfully kissed her mound, getting my face wet with her juices.
Making love to Bambi, especially cunnilingus, is something to satisfy even the gravest of egomaniacs, and I am certainly one of those. Her cunt is sweet, clean, and ideally displayed, the kind of thing so perfectly arranged that it's a mystery all cunts aren't so proportioned. But with three bodies and the bed, licking her was an experience of being surrounded with appreciation. The two I could not service for myself lay nearby, hands between thighs, caressing, arousing, the choral equivalent of twisting her own nipples, but here with lascivious effect for a static like me. The bed twitched and wiggled in time with its three blood sisters, and the Bambi under my mouth panted and held my head in place as we played ourselves closer to her climax.
Sometimes, when making love, I can feel when I'm doing things just right. It seems to be a people thing; there are just some people who I understand well enough that they give good feedback. Bambi gave great feedback. She shivered when I licked her hood. I slid a finger into her cunt and she moaned loudly. When I dedicated myself to her clit she seemed to come even more alive, as if that were possible. And when she came it was like being worshipped, ecstatic bodies on all sides shouting my name and praising, "Oh yes, Ken, yes!"
Somehow, that had exhausted even me. But I raised my head and, to make the point if only to myself, grabbed the Bambi on my left and pulled her down, kissing her. There was a moment of confusion from her, and then a giggle. "Let me get my attention back on beam!" she whispered.
"You are one blazingly hot fem!" I replied, my body ready for her, my cock aching to take any one of these bodies and treat it in a beastly, pre-Singularity manner.
"And you're not a hot guy?" she asked. We both sat up together on her warm, living, part-of-her bed. It was strange, being surrounded. "Ken, that was pretty amazing!" She was grinning from ear to ear, obviously pleased with the way things were going. Her hand again groped for my erection. "How many times can you..."
"I'm not that heavily modified," I said. "Call it an atavistic thing, but I don't know if I would enjoy it as much if I knew how much of it wasn't innate."
She grinned. "You statics are weird." She kissed me again, caressing my chest with the back of her hand. The bed underneath my butt shuddered softly, as if trying to participate, and her other bodies maneuvered around us again until I felt like I was drowning in soft, rich, downy fur. The one I had been facing grinned at me and slowly dropped her head into my lap, closing her lips around my cock. For a moment, I wondered what she had done with that pair of large teeth on the bottom, and then I stopped wondering and settled back to let her have her way.
Her tongue was amazing. She could swallow my cock whole and keep it there for more than a minute. I couldn't believe that a throat could put up with that much abuse or, for that matter, that she could last so long without breathing. Then it occurred to me that maybe she, like the bed, didn't need her lungs to breath.
It's hard for me to keep thinking so technically, or to even keep thinking at all, when a hot mouth is wrapped around my cock, and hands are caressing my shoulders, and another mouth is kissing my lips, and all of this attention is coming from one person, one complete and whole person whose entirety is more than I could imagine. The kisses and caresses were distracting, but the wet friction between my legs couldn't not be denied. I looked up into her eyes. "Bambi, I'm going to come if you keep doing that."
"Good," she whispered, and for a moment I appreciated the fact that she could talk to me and give me head at the same time. I would have hated for her to stop at that moment. My body was thrumming with need, my cock about to explode. She closed in around me, kept me warm and fuzzy, while she sucked my climax right out of my body. When I came it was like inside me a bomb went off.
She closed in to me again, holding me near to her as we relaxed. It took me a second to realize that one of her bodies had moved away– the one doing the sucking, to politely disengage and spit out into a towel. I don't know if I was meant to see that or not, and I didn't let it bother me too much. I'm too old to let the question of spit or swallow obsess me.
On the other hand, I'm not too old to appreciate someone as incredible as Bambi. "You were wonderful," I sighed.
"You're a very good lover yourself." She kissed me gently, and we fell back to the bed, again entangled in each other's arms, nibbling and petting. I had no idea if this was the third body, if I'd finally made my way to sampling all three or not, and I had ceased to think it mattered. I got an answer anyway. When I slid my hand down between her thighs I found that her vulva wasn't wet enough for her to be the first and I knew this wasn't the second. But it was still plenty wet.
We rolled over into a missionary position. "Very old-fashioned," I said.
She giggled and said, "Shut up and get inside me."
I was surprised to learn that I could do just that. She was wet and I was already hard again (had I ever gone soft?) and after a moment of maneuvers the head of my cock was sliding past the soft expanses of her inner lips, nudging its way down into her vagina, and down, down the length of the rabbit hole. I had already found the rabbit at the other end. She– all three of her– sighed with pleasure, multiplied by three. The bed shivered momentarily and then pushed up at us. "You want something," I said.
"I want to be fucked by you," Bambi said. "I want to be fucked long and slow."
I smiled and did as she asked. Slow was the key term, and we took our time. Each stroke was a delicious banquet, the feel of her cunt around my cock a breath of ecstasy every, a hint of more to come. Her face was beautiful in the dim light. Her bodies and the bed closed in on us, touching, stroking. There were hands on my butt and thighs, a mouth touching my mouth. Bambi kissed herself at one point and I thought I might come right there. I tried not to think about the software that let that happen. I mostly succeeded.
Her breasts may have been small, but they were still soft, and when I nipped at one of the six nipples offered to me she moaned, "Yes," and I closed my mouth around it and sucked. She bucked hard at that. I had found a new plaything. She, the one underneath me, wrapped her legs around me and held my close. "Wha?"
"Sshhh." I was halfway to coming. But I felt a nose probing at my backside, and a tongue reaching out to kiss my asshole. "Ohh..." I moaned as I let her have her way with that backdoor.
It was only a minute, maybe less, but it helped make me higher than a kite. "I thought you would appreciate that."
"Oh, I did!" I laughed as she released me and I resumed my gentle fucking of the cute bunnygirl. "You're sweet."
"So're you," she whispered.
We made love, just like that, the four or five or two of us, however you want to count it, two people who would count their experiences at the end and I guess that's what really mattered. The bed wriggled and responded, every voice in the room getting louder as each of us reached for ecstasy. She found it first and for that I was satisfied. When I came, it was powerful, silent, a great quake that trembled through me from my toes to my hair, in that order.
I could still feel my cock dribbling even a minute afterwards and I didn't want to pull out of her, but we eventually had to. We had to sleep, and eat, and shower, and do other things. Be in the world, and of it. "Thank you," I said. "For making my return to the universe something... wonderful and reassuring."
"You're welcome," she said. "Thank you for showing me that, well, you're not going to reject us."
I kissed her cheeks. "Are you crying?" I asked.
She nodded. "Just a little bit. I was so scared and so turned on..."
I brushed away the tears on the cheeks of this body, knowing that I'd have to get up to address the needs of the other two and so skipping that. "I knew that when I came back the Corridor was going to be a different place. I knew what the Singularity would be like. I knew I could never understand it all." I touched her nose. "I don't care. It's full of smart, beautiful, honest and sexy people, and for that, I'm grateful."
She grinned. "You say the right things."
"I have a lot of practice." I reached back for her other bodies and pulled them all close. "I'm sorry I don't have the arms to hug more than one or two of you at a time."
"That's all right. I'm tuned to make contact the more important experience. If you can't hug all of me, it's not missed. I'm one person, not three; I don't 'miss out' on anything because a part of me misses out on an experience it can't possibly have."
"I think I've figured that out."
I nodded, finally. "Yes."