Pierre had been out for a walk looking around and trying to make new friends when he noticed the comic book store simply entitled Integrate’s Dungeon. Likely a play on the comic book store shown in the still-running Oil Age show The Simpsons which held the moniker of Android’s Dungeon. The clerk even had a yellowish tint to his skin and wore clothing similar to the character of Comic Book Guy, but was in far better shape and had bat tags. Of course the reference flew over Pierre’s head as he knew nothing of Oil Age customs. “Excuse me, this is a shot in the dark but. There’s an Indie Comic I liked back on Earth, my sister moved the family and I don’t suppose there’s any kind of way I could have you order it is there?”
“i figured you for an Earther. Only two types of people are in Uplift without RIDE tags. Nextus Tourists and Earthers, but you seem too clueless to be from any civilized world.” The clerk said rudely. “I don’t special order comic books from other planets. This business is locally owned and there just isn’t enough of a demand for them here.”
“Ahh… I see.” Pierre responded looking quite disappointed. “You didn’t have to be so rude about it. Still, I guess I need a new fix now that I can’t read GoKARTers. What do you recommend?”
The clerk’s bat ears perked up. “GoKARTers eh? We’ve actually carried that since the series started. I remember some officials tried to ban the book for revealing too much of Zharus, but when they read the book to see how laughable it was they let it slide. Worst Historical Fiction Ever. We have all the issues and the new mini-series Road To Collaboration is available in paper form and a few of them have been autographed by series creator Gary Mason.”
“...Sweet.” Pierre said, his heart racing at the chance to have an autographed and actual PAPER version of his favorite series. “I’ll take one of as much as 3000 MU will buy me, and 500 MU worth of random girly mags. Anything ass-centric. Nothing with a skunk RIDE or anyone with skunk ears… I learned my brother is my sister lately and skunks make me think of her…”
Pierre’s order was filled and his tablet was loaded with the digital copies of all of his books. This same tablet had one been built into him, back when he was only a tincan, and now he carried it around with him in a carrying case. The frenchman found this a little creepy at first as it was akin to dragging your lungs pancreas around in a bag and reading comic books off of it. Pierre walked back to the hotel after looking at the display monitors of the comics on sale.
There were plenty of Marvel and DC books. Collections of Oil Age stories, Marvel and DC stories taking place on Zharus (They called this the “Z-Defenders” for Marvel, and DC called it “Quantum Age”) and ones taking place during the Mid 21st Century in a what-if version of reality where the Post-Oil Dark Age never happened (the normal, these tended to sell better), this seemed to take up most of the racks. Though there was a section for Indie books, and a smaller section for Archie’s Image, which is what the company renamed itself after Archie bought Image.
A lot of the Indie Books tended to be Steampunk Sci-Fi stuff that went heavy on the Zeerust, not much of it was about Zharusian life. Though there were a few of them that were such as “The Valkyries Of The Haven”, a political propaganda piece about four RIDEs crafted by a female version of Odin, “At The Crossroads”, a biographical piece about written by a man who had been a woman before a genderjacking incident from some bugger called Alpha Wolf changed him focusing of the lives of him and his wife who was a man before that same attack, “Marshalls:True Talltales”, which were nothing but recountings of raids and missions from a military group called The Marshalls. What really caught Pierre’s eye was a book entitled “Chasing Integrates:Zharusian Ghost Story or Hidden Minority?”. Pierre decided to preview this one to read up on their findings.
“Hey uhh mister, Are you an Integrate? I mean with the name of the store... Cause my sister is… I was surprised to see this book say they’re not sure if they exist. I mean it’s like that in GoKARTers, but my sister’s an Integrate, so I figured that was for dramatic effect.” Pierre said nervously as he read startling things about rumors of dead people being alive and hiding in the desert or how Integrates kill humans to prevent themselves from being found.
The man behind the counter laughed. “Kid, your sister’s been yanking your chain. They’re just a myth. Do you honestly think it’d be legal to sell RIDEs if they could do that to someone.”
“I don’t know, I’m already having difficulty believing someone said it was okay to sell a product that can change your sex, is sapient, and has military grade weapons attached to it… Frankly I’m finding super powered cyborgs easier to believe than that.” Pierre wasn’t sure if this was a joke or not. “I mean she said to keep it a secret, but I thought she was just…”
“Look… there’s a big desert out there. They call it names like, The Dry Ocean, and The Billion Year Drought. Cause it’s huge. They got slave traders, runaway RIDEs, societal outcasts, mining accidents, crime syndicates. All that. It’s a dangerous place. Some nitwits go out thinking they’re gonna be the next Clint Brubeck or Joe Steader.“ The man stopped to explain when he noticed Pierre was confused by those names. His somewhat flamboyant and pretentious voice seemed to fade away to a New Yorktropolisian accent. “Real bigwigs, modern day Rockefellers. Or at least Clint was until he died and his oldest girl went up into space, now his son Zane owns his joint. Anyway, they go into these caves. Their ZPS gets damaged or someone with a bigger gun shoots em dead and people act like it’s a big mystery. In the Oil Age they pulled the same stunt with Big Foot and the Bermuda Triangle. Worst Conspiracy Ever. Your sister’s just foolin’ ya. Lot of people do that when their family moves up here with ‘em. I once did some community service when I decided to buy a female RIDE for a nephew of mine who moved up here as a joke. Man I was picking up trash for a month straight before she dropped the charges. Says she actually started to likes it.”
“I see… What’s with the voice? It changed on you.” Pierre scratched his head curiously. “Reminds me of the time my sister decided she was going to speak in a thick french accent from then on. She still does it and she’s 53. It’s embarrassing because we’re all french and she just plays into the stereotype.”
“Oh you mean THIS!” The man said swapping over to his previous voice then switching back. “Naw I had some nanite work done to let me switch up my voice more easily. Our store is actually themed after an old show and that voice is just how the comic book salesman from it talks. I only really play it up for the customers. I talk like this normally or when I need to explain something. Used to be really fat like that guy, but I had to lose the weight cause the guy I hired moved back to Cape Nord under pressure from his family. Apparently Comic Books weren’t manly. Even though they’ve only had a mostly male audience for six hundred years…”
Pierre light up like a lamp, deciding to drop the Integrate thing for now. He wasn’t ready to call his sister a liar, but he’d stay on his toes now just in case it was a trick. “Hey I have some time, I could work for you if it means reading comics on my downtime. Comics are my passion, plus Simone, my sister, says I need to be up and about to learn the culture better. Sides, the strip clubs and bars aren’t accepting my Earth ID because it doesn’t have my current face on it and I need something to do.”
“Mmm… I don’t know I could use the help and people haven’t been coming in as often since I shed the pounds.” The yellow skinned man said scratching under his chin. “But you do seem a little young…”
“I’m seventy years old…” Pierre said showing the man his tablet. “If I were under 25 the porn you sent me would have been blocked, see it’s an Earth tablet from my brainbox.”
This seemed to be sufficient evidence or rather it was after the man checked the model number and looked for any jailbreaking, though it wasn’t long till he was satisfied. “Mmm.. you used to be an R4-D5 Replica… Alright, I’ll sign you on if you agree to sell me your old brainbox for 150,000 MU, that’s 14,500 more than what it’s worth. That would make a great decoration, especially since my friend’s cousin is a software engineer for that CrossRIDErs Garage joint. I could get her to program in a subroutine for my big events. Whaddya say? ”
“DEAL! I’ll start immediately” Pierre cheered, walking behind the counter for his first day of work on the planet of Zharus.
“Alright, you get a 15% discount on all instore merchandise and a 50 MU an hour wage.” The man said, whistling for his RIDE to add his weight. “I’m Paco Ng, and this bat I’m wearing is named Bruce. We open at 9 and close at 23. Saturdays are off because I have temple. Your training will be on the job. It’s pretty simple stuff.”
Sometime had passed with the two reading comics as they waited for customers. Pierre had all day to read his GoKARTers books and he didn’t feel like getting a boner at work so he didn’t read his girly books either. Instead he read one of the Z-Defenders Marvel books from the coutner kiosk which had all the stock available for free reading to the clerk on duty. Paco explained this was to stay knowledgeable of the products they sold.
Specifically he read Captain America, an Eagle Tagged Heroine with a beak, a Hardlight Shield, and an Eagle RIDE named Dream. This was meant to combine the Marvel Heroes Captain America and American Dream and appeal more to a wider audience. The book was rather interesting being about Stephanie Rogers, a woman who was encased in ice during a cryogenics experiment back in 1985 during the Oil Age; who after being revived on Zharus with experimental nanites wanted to serve in the Nextus-Sturmhaven War. The recruiter told her that her eyes weren’t good enough to enlist, until she opted to be a test subject for the first Eagle RIDE. Pierre didn’t know how close that was to the original Captain America, but he was having a blast. Especially with the fight scenes in the animated portions of the comic where she faced off against Red Skull, A Sturmhaven General who had an agenda to convert males into females, vowing not to rest until everyone in Nextus was female because they were inferior. She had several speeches about how Cap should have understood because she was a high and mighty woman herself, Pierre really digging both how serious the voice acting was and how if this comic was anything to go on, Girltopia in GoKARTers was really accurate.
The comic ended with Cap giving a speech about how she became Captain America in honor of an ancient Oil Age country called America which demanded freedom for all races and sexes and would never have converted the minorities into the majority even if they had had the tech with Red Skull swearing revenge in her destroyed base. There was one more page teasing the next issue would have a love story with Stephanie and another character called Tony Stark, a tiger tagged billionaire with a design closely based on that of the famous Zane Brubeck, according to the adverts he was some hero called Iron Man.
This was when Rufia walked into the door with her RIDE Yvonne. Pierre had recongized her from the other day when she told him about Doctor Eleven. “Hey Paco. Get me the latest issue of ‘Self-Made Men In Unmade Clothing’, “Expanding Breasts Weekly”, “Hardlight Hermaphrodites” and ‘Uplifted Tails of Uplift’, oh right and my RIDE here wants a copy of Quantum Age Animal Man”
“Ah Rufia, my broad shouldered friend. I’m glad to see you and Yvonne here again. We have indeed got your Uplifted Tails of Uplift in stock. I’m very surprised you yourself aren’t in it.” Paco said condescendingly and judgmentally..
“Hehehe, sides too many people round here have seen me in my Organs-Didn’t-Actually-Look-Like-That-On-My-First-Birthday suit for that to seel well anyway.” Rufia, a broad shouldered elk tagged crossrider, joked before turning to Pierre. “And I see Kiss And Run works for you now.”
Pierre smiled looking up at Rufia. “Hey, cheaper comics.” he replied. “Thanks again for the advice on Doctor Eleven. Now that I’ve got a dick again, you and I should make sure it’s working right.”
Rufia giggled with her mouth over her mouth in a girlish manner, though it contrasted with her somewhat masculine body a tad. “Tempting, but I think you’re a little too young for me.” “I’m actually seventy, and my boner actually has the size of a man even if I have the appearance of a kid.” Pierre tried to convince Rufia, kissing her on the hand and rubbing it sensually.
Rufia laughed aloud as Yvonne downloaded the books into her harddrive. “Here’s my Virtual Card with my apartment number and frequency on it. Maybe if I have a few beers.” she laughed for a little while longer before smiling again. “Give you and your sister something to bond over.”
“You’ve slept with Simone!?! I didn’t realize she and Shyver were that kind of couple..” Pierre said alarmed.
“Yeah… she’s dating one of my relatives so I need to see if my family had been done right.” Rufia elbowed Pierre before fusing up with Yvonne and reading her pornographic reading materials. “Turns out he had, hahahahaha and so did he… oh don’t give me that look, he’s a distant cousin. We still share the same last name though.” She said thinking for a bit before shrugging.
Pierre had a guilty nosebleed. He had been actually quite attracted to Simone’s Integrate form as it was very similar to his comic book crush of the same name, he had been avoiding looking at skunk fusers to try and get it out of his head; A threeway? What sort of things was this Rufia into? “wh…. what is your last name? I don’t think you or Shyver have ever said.”
“Oh hey that time again? Well I gotta bail.” Rufia said on her way out. “I have some clients I can’t keep waiting, to show around Uplift. Tour Guide and all.”
Pierre went back to reading comic books afterwards, the thought of his sister’s Integrate form being pleasured and thrusted into by a lesbian pleasuring her overly large bosom was getting to him and he needed to get his mind off of it. As such he flipped over to a My Little Pony:Friendship Is Magic comic to get his mind out of the gutter and to his surprise he found himself actually liking it.
Once Pierre got home afterwork he sat down in his bedroom with his comic, thankful that Simone was in her human disguise which Pierre had no attraction to whatsoever, as he sat down and opened his comic on his tablet.
-Road To Collaboration:# 3.5 Guest Author Imaginary Story - Regina Vs. Oliga, Lynx Vs. Tiger- Written by Edward Miller Drawn by Isabella Mann Featuring characters made by Janice Slater GoKARTers is the intellectual property of Gary Mason
Oliga was thought to have been killed by Simone Barrows, the french collaborate heroine of Jupitarn. A farming community on this great planet, the planet of the KARTs and their operators and friends the GoKARTers. But Oliga did not die, and now he has come to Wishfufill, where two strong and powerful women responsible for maintaining the GoKARTers Garage were about to find their powers were needed for the good of all humans, KARTs, and the mysterious Collaborates who were close to finally revealing their existence to the world.
In today’s issue of GoKARTers we will follow our heroines Regina Boulderfence and Rachel Cascademustang. Two women who pretended to be men in order to find themselves taken seriously as mechanics, but wound up revealing their secret to one another and forming a more powerful bond and team in doing so. Read all about this in the previous issues #2 and #3 of the “Road To Collaboration” mini-series. #2 “Combining Transport” and #3 “The Less Than Manly Secret of Reggie Boulderfence.”. In today’s imaginary story (Cause this is filler! Filler time, because the head writer of this comic is still on the flight back to Zharus! So I wrote some, filler, filler, filler yeah!) the girls do battle with the villain Oliga (Only 5 MU in the Online Store or where ever comics are sold now on 5 planets!) from the last story arc as he attempts to take over Wishfufill.
“Hmm hmm hmm. That idiot Simone attempted to destroy me. But you cannot keep a bad Collaborate down.” Oliga, a meat face collab in a greenish armor with metallic claw hands, was facing a large domed city with a sign outfront saying “Welcome To Wishfufill. We hope your experience is fulfilling.”. The collab said in the first panel what was written in his dialogue balloon.
In the second panel we see him from the front with an army of pink metallic avian robots with guns for hands. “Oh it shall Board of Commerce, for aim it to take over Planet Nazarus followed by Gaia, and soon after, the entire Milky Way.”
On a new page altogether we see a lynx eared woman with an ample bust and grey eyes. Due to this being a comic written by a guester writer this familiar character has a much larger bustline than usual. Giving us a tasteless image of her cleavage on full display as she fiddles with a sci-fi gadget. Desptie the character not normally wearing a lowcut outffit. This was Regina in a SimpleMerge Jumpsuit. There is a narration caption with her thoughts. “Rufio was my life long friend back on Gaia. He showed me the ropes, but I could never show him my femininity. I am a scientist seeking the ultimate challenge, and I can’t let my gender be seen as a handicap.”
The next passage shows her from the behind and we see she has a lynx tail, and is uncharacteristically wagging her ass in a seductive manner. It is noted that her jumpsuit is far more skin tight than usual allowing you to see the crack of her shapely rear and even parts of her camel toe. “On Gaia and even the more advanced Nazarus, a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Rufio was always the manliest man I knew. Constantly trying to get me to act more masculine, not knowing the truth. I feared that if he did he would attempt to make me yet another one of his sexual conquests. Rufio is a good man, and I misjudged him. My encounter in the desert where I first met the Collabs proved that when to my surprise, he honored Regina, just as much as he did Reggie” In the next page we see a woman with a similar build to Regina’s, only with snow leopard parts instead of lynx. This was Rachel Cascademustang to provide much needed exposition. “I see you’re working on the new super weapon incase Billy runs into any trouble revealing himself as a Collaborate. He’s kind of cute isn’t he?”
“Yes… About the weapon. I mean. Billy may own a prestigious mining company and sure he’s handsome. But I prefer not to have men in my life in that fashion.” Regina said with a grimaced look upon her face. “I’ve pretended to be a man long enough to know how their kind see ours. I am not a housewife, I am a scientist! Love is nothing more than a chemical compound. No thank you.”
“I pretended to be a man too, it was the only way I could get hired in this economy. I just got lucky and happened upon the only person in town who also happened to be a crossdresser. Weird that Rufio just happened to dress as a woman for a hobby. Actually it seems like a lot of people we’ve met have been into crossdressing. Just what are the odds of that?” Rachel asked, shrugging comedically. Her face appeared to be partially melted and was quite disturbing to look at.
“32.33, repeating of course, percentage of that happenstance.” In this panel, the same one with Rachel shrugging in the background, Regina was doing some light welding touching a copper wire to something sparking heavily. In real life one would need a visor or risk going blind. Yet here no protection is used, likely to get in another shot of the cleavage and Regina’s strangely full lips. One would think that the sparks flying into her bosom would burn like hell. Yet strangely it doesn’t seem to bother her.
It was at this point that the reader of the comic, a man named Pierre Bertrand put down the comic to find his sister Simone who was helping their mother Marvelle learn how to walk again after her body restoration. The two were far more obviously daughter and mother than before as Marvelle’s body looked like an older, but less well-endowed, version of Simone’s human disguise. “Okay Maman, one step in front of the other. You don’t have a subroutine for zis anymore so you’ll have to actually move your legs.”
“I know Simone, it’s just, difficult for me. I haven’t had nerves in the lower half of my body since 2464.” Marvelle said. Now a long haired blonde french woman who appeared to be in her 30’s despite her real age being close to triple digits at 98. The ol’ girl still had a century left in her at least. Right now leaning against a bar as she tried forcing her legs to move, but to no avail. “Come on now, the catheter is embarrasing enough. MOVE DAMN IT!” she screamed at herself before managing to take one step, but not finish it. Leaving her leg lifted in the air without coming down causing her to lose balance and fall on her plush rear end. “Ooof…”
Simone frowned to herself and helped her mother up. “Vouz know I could give you some of ma memories to help you regain your sense of body mapping. We’re genetically similar, so it should have you up and running in non time.” “No dear, I’d like to learn to do this on my own. I’ve depended on machines for too long!” Marvelle exclaimed, as soon as Simone sat her down in a recliner she blushed recalling that her own daughter was one for keeps now. “No offense….”
“None taken maman.” Simone replied, getting Marvelle a bowl of peanuts to enjoy as the latter of the women turned on the vid screen to watch more fashion shows. Of course it was more the tails Marvelle admired than the outfits. She was gleefully waiting for her own, as once she learned to walk again her daughter promised to buy her her very own RIDE.
Once the skunk tailed daughter returned to her mother with pretzels and some fresh water she smiled at the screen. “Mhmhm. Oh I cannot wait to go RIDE shopping with vouz. You have no idea what you’re in for. A RIDE isn’t just a vehicle, she is a doctor, armor, communications, gaming, and a sapient companion all in one. I wouldn’t have Lucille leave my side even if we weren’t stuck together like this.”
“After this show, I want to try walking again. I want to be off this recliner and in my RIDE by next monday!” Marvelle cheered
“Zere are no mondays on this planet.” Simone reminded her mother.
“...By next tuesday then.” Marvelle added on, the wind somewhat taken out of her sails.
The two watched the show together, admiring the outfits. Being of French descent their love of fashion and beauty was encoded into their very blood. Even Pierre came into watch, though he was more interested in what the outfits didn’t show.
There were a lot of talented women. Zharusian Beauty Paegents were very different than other planets. For on Zharus beauty was for sale for pennies on the dollar. If you want big breasts just go out and buy nanites to kickstart your mammary glands for an Earth Nickel. If you want stylish hair just pour a packet of nanopowder into your coffee and wait 6-8 minutes. As a result their beauty competitions were more about how a woman could hold herself, selecting the right outfit for her figure, deciding what performance to go with, and which nanites to use. All three of the Bertrand clan enjoyed it, especially Pierre and Simone who found it enjoyable in a sexual way. Right now a snow leopard fuser in an amethy dressed with red hair and green tinted glasses was flaunting proudly. Originally she had been dominating the competetion, but the company that made her nano had recalled it due to a recent incident here in Uplift involving a RIDE named Uncia who glitched horribly after a run in with Amontillado. A lucky accidnet as it gave this model the chance to prove she could be confident and have serious moxie even without the nano.
Once an ad started to play Pierre turned to Simone to ask a question. “Hey Simon, can you send my memories of what it’s like to have breasts? Specifically their sensitivity and what if feels like to touch your own?”
“....That’s a highly unusual request Pierre… I am your sister if you recall…” Simone said a little creeped out.
“No no, it’s for a bet I have with this comic publisher.” Pierre replied, showing Simone the scene where Regina’s workbench sparked on her cleavage without hurting her. Causing the skunk to grimace as she released some memories to him in a packet over email. “...eeep.. yeah th.. that would hurt.” He said, holding the tablet over his nosebleed. He saw those bare breasts and he was liking it, oh god how was he going to break this?
“That comic is even worse than usual…” Simone rolled her eyes before leaving with Shyver who just messaged her for a date that night. “Well, enjoy Pierre. Me and Shyver are going out. It’s ladies night at Cheers and he’s taking me to a fancy restaurant afterwards.”
Pierre nodded slowly as she left. He had read about instances in which siblings who meet each other for the first time in adulthood become attracted to one another, could this be something similar. The frenchman left to his room to read some of his smut and hope a good discharge would get it out of his system. They say the longer you go without jacking it, the better it feels. This turned out to be true as Pierre loaded up “Uplifted Tails of Uplift” and truly enjoyed the possession of hands and genitals for the first time in onver 10 years.
Getting back to his comic afterward, he read onward now in a scene about Oliga.
“According to The Bosscat this is where Regina Boulderfence lives. That troublesome girl know too much about us. If I can get rid of her, I will win his favor and use him as a pawn in my game.” Oliga said in his speech bubble rubbing his metallic paws together, people looking scared as he walked through the town. Citizens proclaiming in fear that they thought we was dead and begging him not to hurt them.
In the next panel Oliga is seen walking up to the GoKARTers Maintenance Bay and charging a laser weapon of some kind. One page later we see a two page splash image of the laser going through the entrance and Regina barely managing to dodge the attack. Doing a pose that shows off the crack of her rear and cleavage that seemed impossible for the human spine. “Ahhh!” she screamed in her text balloon.
“Ah, Regina, the only threat to my regime” Oliga said on the next panel, standing over Regina who had her legs spread in a suggestive manner as she seemed worn out on the floor. Though oddly enough this didn’t make sense with the way she fell. “It is time to say good die as I slay you here.” He said with a hardlight blade held to her neck.
In the next panel Rachel fired a repulsor at Oliga who swore at her. In the panel below Rachel helped Regina up, but the two were so close it looked like they were about to kiss despite never showing any lesbian tendencies before. Pierre was getting rather frustrated as this isn’t want the other comics were like. It was clear the writer just didn’t get the setting as it was revolutionarily pro-woman by treating them no different than the male cast was treated. It wasn’t even doing anything for him sexually as he was too appalled at this. He decided to call it a day and save the rest for tomorrow. Hopefully it would get to a good part
-Friday, Late June-
Pierre was working at the comic shop, appalled by the blatant oversexualization in his comic. He was distracted by how good the series used to be. Full of socially progressive characters, humor based on characterization and unlikely happenstances, and the action scenes. Here it was just cleavage and butts with the insulting of great characters. Where the original GoKARTers was full of dramatic moments and ridiculous situations that came close enough to being out there while still keeping up the suspension of disbelief. Maybe it was the guest writer, maybe he should stop writing altogether before he ruins GoKARTers forever. Hopefully Gary Mason wasn’t behind this.
This time the shop was crowded now that it was finally properly staffed, so Pierre didn’t have time for comic books. He wasn’t sure his heart was in it after seeing his favorite series get ruined. Paco put his hand on Pierre’s shoulder. Understanding the problem as he read GoKARTers himself. “Sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad.” He said to Pierre. “I’ve seen my share of horrible reboots and bad story arcs. Tomorrow’s Saturday, so we’re off then. Maybe the book will get better.”
“Yeah maybe…” Pierre said, but he doubted it. He didn’t read the GoKARTers comic again that night, he was just too plum tuckered out.
-Saturday, Late June-
It proved to be a very special day as Pierre’s mother Marvelle walked to the kitchen to fix breakfast. Waking the whole hotel with the scent of omelettes and the surprise of her movement.
“Maman… You can walk…” Simone exclaimed as she walked into the room
“I just woke up and suddenly I found I could move. So I decided to surprised everyone. Integrates still eat omelettes right.”
“Oui ou!” Simone cheered stuffing her face along with Shyver and Pierre. Though Pierre’s heart was still sunken from his bad story. Not that anyone seemed to notice. “After breakfast we need to hit la market place!”
“...Reminds me… I hope Prometheus is okay… I haven’t had the time to call Paula or Kane since we landed.” Shyver said with some hint of worry. Simone didn’t notice this easier, she was happy to get her mother in a RIDE. So was Marvelle, all she cared about was getting a nice fluffy tail.
After breakfast they hit the streets, Pierre reading his tablet some more hoping to found the good part and end the feeling of betrayal. Something Simone scoffed it as they searched vendor after venodr. “We’re finally buying RIDEs and you’d rather read comics about them. You’re a piece of work Pierre.”
“Shush… I have to find a part of these where Regina isn’t treated like a tramp.” Pierre exclaimed reading intently as they entered “Big and Fluffy” a store specifically in RIDEs that had fluffy tails. After long periods of nothing special this seemed promising as the tail is what Marvelle wanted most.
“Whatever…” His sister replied, walking Marvelle through a selection of RIDEs each with their own sales pitch. Though she quickly turned back to Pierre once Shyver pointed out something to her he noted. “PIERRE DON’T TOUCH ZAT SQURRIEL!” She screamed at her brother who was leaning against a squrriel RIDE.
“...What?” Pierre looks around confused not seeing what the harm was. After a few moments he pointed to an adjacent squrriel RIDE “What about this one? Can I touch this one.”
“Sure that’s fine, touch that one all vouz want.” Simone shrugged
“...And I’m the one that doesn’t make sense.” Pierre sighed getting back to his book. Only to be interupted by Marvelle screaming.
“OH MY GOD! THAT ONE’S SO CUUUUTE!” Marvelle screamed, walking up to the RIDE Pierre leaned against after being told not to lean against the other one. “And he’s only 5000 MU. Oh Simone can we get this one? Look at him, he’s like a cute little child.”
Simone looked at the RIDE and then at her mother with great concern. She didn’t want to disappoint her mother, but she had to tell her the truth. “Maman, I don’t zink you want this RIDE. He’s male?”
“And?” Marvelle asked. petting the RIDE’s head who didn’t say anythign just smiled at her. ““I’m not sexist or anything.”
“Non Maman, if you fuse with a RIDE that’s the opposite sex from you, you are turned into zat gender. It’s why getting Lucille made me female.”
Pierre’s eyes lit up. “Huh, you know in the book they never state why all the KARTs and GoKARTers are the same sex… Wait… I was almost an accidental chick!?!?! Mon dieu!” He said startling, taking another step away from the female squirrel.
“Oh..” Marvelle thought about this for a second before smiling. “Eh when you’re as old as I am you’ve seen all there is to see, wouldn’t mind expanding my horizons.” “...I’d try to talk you out of it, but zat would be hypocritical of me…. I’ll get the salesman.” Simone had just gotten her mother truly back, now she was worrid about losing her all over again. But it was her right and Simone was the last person to talk someone out of a crossover.
“..I’m going to have a dad again!?!?!” Pierre exclaimed having a mental blue screen of death. “Simone WAIT! You can’t…”
“Why not? I did, I have no right to tell her she can’t.” Simone said to Pierre as she went to pay for the RIDE. “I don’t like it either, but, we need to be supportive of our mother. She is getting on in years. If she wants to see what it’s like to be a man. Let her.”
“But but…” Pierre was protesting trying to find a good argument when Simone came back with the deed to the RIDE to give to Mavelle.
“Says his name is Nutkin. I guess Conker and Mr. Nuts were already taken… Well mother you are now the proud owner of a male RIDE” Simone said, Cashew following them out to the store.
It wasn’t until a few feet outside that Nurkin started sparking and fell over with a dead screen visible in his eyes. When Simone did a scan on him he found him in serious disrepair and realized the reason he wasn’t talking to them was his lack of voice processors. Made as hell Simone revved up her palm mounted flamethrower and went back inside. Marvelle and Pierre grimaced as Simone proceeded to cuss out the store owner in her native tongue of french. Shyver just stood confused and asked. “What’s she saying?”
“You don’t want to know.” Pierre and Marvelle said at the same time looking somewhat frightened themselves. Shyver had no idea what inhuman thoughts laid within the minds of the Integrated and vengeful.
Simone came out with a V-Card of someplace called “FreeRIDErs Garage” and stared at it for a few seconds before finally explaining the situation that the dealer was going to pay for repairs, a free weapons upgrade, and a hardlightt conversion as the garage’s owner owed him a favor. “He said that we just need to ask for Kaylee Cross.” she said to her family.
That wasn’t too far so Simone did exactly that. Though at the co-ordinates she found a place called "CrossRIDErs Garage" instead. Upon closer inspect she found it was a sticker someone used to vandalize the building. She got a chuckle out of this, even if she was still upset that someone would sell her mother damaged goods. She had half a mind to torch the place, and Lucille was only encouraging the idea. Once inside the garage she did a full scan of the room and quickly did some background checks on the place. Approaching a woman with lynx ears as she worked on a dragoness RIDE who didn’t notice them come in.
“Deja Vu…”Pierre said, nothing the woman looked a lot like Regina Boulderfence.
“Bonjour madame. I was told to find one Kaylee Cross. Does she work here?” Simone asked not finding a Kaylee Cross on the payroll when she hacked.
The woman’s ears raised in surprise upon hearing that name. “Now there’s a name I never thought I’d hear again.” she spoke turning to face the four and holding her hand out to Simone for a handshake. “Rhianna Stoengate, RIDE mechanic. Kaylee Cross was a fake employee I told some people I had for personal reasons. Ever since a few weeks ago she hasn’t been needed. I doubt she will again. See I was a little embarrassed about having accidentally bought a female RIDE, but I loved her to death, so instead of trading for something more in my gender. I used her in passive mode and just told people I had a Kaylee Cross working here. My RIDE’s name is Kaylee and I was trying not to cross.”
“Zat’s clever” Simone grinned with giddy glee. “I trust your feminity is going well for you? I’m cross myself you see.”
“It is, and thank you” Rhianna nodded looking over her party. “Relatives from off-world? I’m sorry I only sell RIDEs in special occasions like a custom order or our giveaway program where we find broken RIDEs and give them to kids after we repair them. But I can show you some good stores on a map.”
“Non we just came from Big And Fluffy and the RIDE we bought for our mother is damaged. They say you can, well, as the Old Earth saying goes. Pimp My RIDE”
“I wondered when ol’ Jed would cash in that favor. He’s always trying to push faulty goods on people. Okay bring him in.” Rhi said, Simone leaving the garage to get the RIDE which she carried in.
“Huh… couldn’t turn him back on? Interesting that you can lift a RIDE this heavy with your bare hands Ms.?” Rhianna said, starting to put two and two together.
“Bertrand, Simone Bertrnad. And well uhh… Eat your vegetables…” Simone said, having Lucille set a poker face for her.
“Are you sure, because I have a friend whose Inte…” Rhianna thought about it for a second and decided it was nothing. “ I mean into the tour guides business… Her name is Rufia I recommend visiting her while I fix up your RIDE.” She said, swallowing as she looked Nutkin over noticing something strange. “....Wait before you go. You said this RIDE was for your mother?”
“Yes well I’ve been a woman for 100 years, why not try being a man?” Marvelle answered, Pierre grimaced in disgust.
“Okay, I’ve heard so many stories of Garage Owners who’ve been sued because they assumed their customers knew what gender RIDE they bought in. Just wasn’t to make sure you were aware.” Rhianna said, rubbing under her chin where her beard used to be. A hard habit to break. “Alright. We’re looking at Data Registry errors, a broken Voice Box, thee broken lifters, and a glitchy fetter. Ordinarily this would cost a small fortune, but it’s on the house since Jed owes me one. Hell I'll even thrown in a free hardlight conversion and some weapons upgrades cause I'm just that kind of gal. However before I get started I’d like to talk with Simone in private. though if that’s okay with everyone.”
Everyone thought this was weird, but they obliged nonetheless. Rhianna spoke to Simone the second they left. “First off, if my mother came in these doors and saw me as a cross-rider. What it’s like to be a man would be the last thing on her mind.” The lynx eared woman laughed with Simone for a second.
“Well maman's a headturner, it's where I get it from.” Simone smiled.
“Yeah.. I know a few women like that." Rhianna laughed with, scratching the back of her head as her laughter grew long and forced. The mechanic wasn't sure how to approach this situation, but she had to go for it. I can’t help but to notice that you’re… not exactly what you say you are.” Rhianna said hoping that didn't sound as bad as she thought it did. “You’re not the first Integrate I met. You could lift Nutkin like it’s nothing, and well, Integrates have this habit of leaving a form of dandruff when they interface with something.”
“Ah, merde. Look you cannot tell anyone. I’ve been legally pronounced dead. That’s why I’m here in Uplift. If I showed up back in my home on Venars people will know something is up.” Simone said worried for her life. “I’m very powerful, I could end you with a mere thought Ms. Stonegate!”
“Look I know you’re scared, just… I’ve been working an improved DIN for Integrates, more stable, more powerful, and with a few programs in it you may found useful as a bonus. I can make you one with the help of my coworkers Rochelle and Uncia. It can help you hide” Rhianna offered seemingly concerned for Simone’s safety.
Simone thought about this for a second before ultimately accepting this generous and unbelievable offer. “I warn you Mademoiselle Stonegate, if this is a trick I will burn your garage to the ground.” The skunk flared up a small fireball from her palm and extinguished it after her point was made.
“...Well that escalated quickly.” Rhianna jumped back in recoil. “No no trick, I’ve been to an Integrate Enclave before. I know what it’s like. This can keep you out of them.”
“I’m sorry… it’s just the last time I trusted someone with a really good offer I became an Integrate in the first place. I don’t regret it, but… I was made this way to be used as a weapon of war. Forgive my skepticism. But I don’t want to be someone’s pawn again.” Simone folded her arms. "Admittedly, the background check I've been running on you this whole time shows you to be far less shady than that disgusting Aristo."
“The Attack on Venars… You’re THAT Simone.” Rhianna gasped, her uncertainty and fear becoming a smile. It was time to do what she did best. Machines! “Well consider it an honor. I read about the incident while researching the schematics used by the now defunct ACE Evolutions. Thanks to your efforts in stopping him many of his blueprints came to the public domain. I can’t thank you enough. Aristo was a cruel man, but a genius.” She said cheering up and down before catching herself “Sorry… not used to the estrogen.” she said with a blush.
“It’s okay, I did some crazy things under la influence of estrogen. And don’t mention the Aristo incident. No… please don’t. It was a trying time for me. Believe it or not, le homme with panda ears you just saw was not only my boyfriend, but he was also Aristo’s right hand man Shyver. As you can imagine that made our relationship rocky for awhile. And zat’s not getting into my best friend being kidnapped and all the Venars Citizens who died.” Simone spat the floor. “If I ever see him again no one else will afterward!”
“Huh, that’s funny. We both own garages, or rather you did. And we both have crushes on people a different species than us who are or were CEOs of…” Rihanna's ears went down in shame, she nearly admitted something in the heat of the moment she shouldn’t have for multiple reasons. “Let me get Rochelle down and we can start the process.”
It took a few hours and Simone’s family were getting worried about her. “Should we check on them?” Marvelle asked with a hint of concern to her voice. “You don’t think Rhianna somehow figured out Simone was an Integrate and did something to her… oh I’ve got to go back in there!”
“I think Simone would have sent a distress call if that was the case. They’re probably just running late. Have faith in her she’s survived worse scraps than getting stuck at some amateur's garage.” Shyver said trying to be strong.
“I’ll take your word for it Mr. Shyver… let’s go back to the Hotel. If she doesn’t return we’ll know where she was last.” Marvelle said, afraid, but saw little other choice.
“You go on in, I’ll check it out.” Shyver said, walking through the door. “Unless you want to Pierre.”
“Huh?” Pierre said reading his book intensively he was in the homestretch now.
It had been a heated battle Wishfufill was in ruins as Regina and her RIDE Kylie tried in vain to lore Oliga was from the city. Now the comic was showing many panels of fight banter and dialogue doing not much else to tell a story. The action scenes where the best part of the comic by far.
Neither side was taking an advnatage. Regina and Rachel finally decided to combine their powers and hit him with everything they had, but Oliga wasn’t damaged at all, yet buildings behind him were. Almost as if he was too fast to be seen moving.
“How did you dodge my attack. No one dodges that attack!”
“Regina you fool! Don’t you know anything about science. Thanks to the Hardwater Vapor Generator I installed, I can influences the tachyons and procaltoids to redirect your fire to anywhere on the planet!” Oliga bragged, laughing to himself.
“No, then it’s all lost, the only way to beat him it to reverseify the electorno-harmonanifier. But we’d need our Power Cards to do that and I left those back in Davidson Mining. I can be so scatter brained at times. If only my KART was male. Men have such a way of keeping track of things.” Regina said bracing for impacct from Oliga’s next move accepting that she would surely die.
“Looks like I came just in time!” Spoke a voice from off panel.
“No way, can it be? The only man I’ve ever loved?” Regina said as she looked dramatically.
It was another Tiger Integrate, Billy Davidson, CEO of Davidson Mining. “Ladies, you’re very lovely really. But keep better track of your things” He said, and in animated panel threw two card like objects at the girls who caught them. Did a strange little dance and summoned a giant canon that they held together.
“Oh no! Not a Sunday Best Reversifier… How did you get that!?!?!” Oliga screamed in agony, this part was still animated and thus voiced acted as well.
“It looks like you’re the only one who doesn’t know science, It’s obvious if you know Quantum Physics!” Regina said, and then stated to following in unison with Rachel. “SUNDAY BEST REVERSIFIFER!”
“NOOOOOOO!” Oliga screamed, completly obliterated by the blast. With a caption reading “The End?”
There was one more page though. One of Regina holding onto Billy for dear life. “Oh Billy, I don’t know what I’d do without you. I was so scared until you showed up!” Regina said in her word bubble over a black background.
Pierre closed the program and banged his head against the tablet. “What the hell!?!? WAS THAT!?!” He said before looking around and noticing Shyver and Marvelle left him. “Oh fuck.” he said to himself.
-Inside FreeRIDErs Garage-
“What are you two doing to my fiance!” Shyver screamed at Rhianna and a woman with a Snow Leopard Fuser, Rochelle and Uncia.
“I told you to wait outside Shyver.” Rhianna said with an uncomfortable grimace. “I should have told you to go back to your hotel instead… my fault… I’m almost done don’t worry.” She said putting the finishing touches on what appeared to be a DIN and putting it in Simone’s DIN slot. “There is no way anyone is going to be able to hack you with this.”
“Come on! Test out Simone-Lucille OS Version 1.0!” Rochelle cheered feeling proud of her self. “You’re a tricky one Simone. Especially since we hardly ever work with PSAs.”
“And you’re the first 817 Forced Integration Model I’ve ever seen. Most people think you guys don’t exist. Oh what I wouldn’t give to tear you apart and study you!” Rhianna was practically foaming at the mouth with desire. “Oooh Simone if I could have five minutes to see what makes you tick I’d let you sleep with Rochelle here.”
“Hey I'm your employee, not your hooker! I mean not that I’d mind… she is built like a brick house …” Rochelle made a realistic purring nose. “You free for dessert later Simone? It’s on me.” She gave a naughty smile looking over Simone’ ample frame.
“It was just a joke Rochelle.” Rhianna laughed recalling a few of her human partner’s exploits. “Knowing you you’d probably do it anyway.”
“You can read me like a book.” Rochelle said giggle, before bursting out into an explosive fit of laughter. “Oh man, I didn’t even mean to do that. You can RHI’d me like an e-book. Cause that’s your name now.” There was silence from all parties before Rochelle pouted looking away. “Well I thought it was funny.”
“I won’t let you cut me up, but I will give you a copy of Lucille’s schematics as a way of saying thank you.” Simone said, mailing them right to Kaylee. “And sure why not.”
“Just the skunk.” Rochelle smiled, defusing from Uncia who she felt was too child minded for sexual activity. "Sorry Shyver, you can watch though."
“..Oh Rochelle.” Rhianna laughed shaking her head at this exchange. “You’ve been spending too much time with Rufia since the Bifrost incident.”
Rochelle teased Rhianna by putting her tail between her legs to emulate a bodypart she no longer had. “Oh Rhi, you’re just jealous because mine’s bigger than yours.”
“And that confirms it.” Rhianna said immediately getting back to work as did Rochelle agreeing to meet Simone at a later date.when she wasn't working. “Oh Simone, I’ll have your mother’s RIDE done in a week. I’d have it done sooner, but well, you’re a mechanic too and you’ve seen the damage. Anyway here's Ruf's v-card if you wanna take up that tour I suggested. Rufia's an eccentric one, but in the past six or seven years since we've been here she's learned this planet better than she ever knew our old hometown of New Boston.”
"Oh you're from Earth as well? Interesting, I'm from Neo-Paris myself."
"No offense, but I kind of guessed. It was either that or Ville Lumière, I was leaning towards Paris Amore. If this one thing Zharus is good at it's overdoing it."
Simone chuckled, having never been to Ville Lumière herself, but had been meaning to get around to it. "I'll consider that a compliment and your friend for a visit."
Shyver and Simone thanked them and left the garage together. “What was that about sweetums?”
“I’ll tell you later mon jules.” Simone repleid looking over her new DIN. Her connection to the net was stronger AND more secure,. The DIN itself also didn’t feel like she could break it by breathing on it. Something she literally did a few times.
Pierre was about to follow them home, but first there was something he had to do in the FreeRIDEr’s Garage. “HEY Boulderfence!” he yelled distracting Rhianna from working on Nutkin.
“It’s Stonegate actually and wait… didn’t I see you at Cheers? Yeah! You were the kid who came in and kissed Rufia.” Rhianna said staring at the young man.
“Yes you did. Read this.” Pierre grinned, sending the Regina Vs. Olgia issue to Kaylee from his tablet.
Rhianna fused with Kaylee out of curisoity just as Pierre left and wasn’t sure if she was pissed or laughing her stub of a tail off at what she saw. “Well that was a load of shit. Rochelle, come here, I think this guy used our likenesses. Should we sue?”
Rochelle had a look for her self and grimaced at what she saw. “Up the butt.”
“Yeah we should sue.” Kaylee concluded. “Boulderfence seriously? and I didn't give you tits THAT Big… But what really gets me is how did they even find out about Zane being an Integrate or the Desert Incident?”
“I… I don’t know.” Rhianna responded thinking long and hard about the mystery of the less than stellar comic. “It’s not like every moment of my life is put on a .org for everyone to read.”
Rochelle chortled putting on an overly dramatic voice. “FreeRIDErs:It’s The Sci-Fi Event of the season, Transhumanism, Sapient Vehicles, A bit with a Snow Leopard, and No Gender Roles in sight!”
“I know right, could you imagine? Would be kind of cool to be famous though.” Uncia the Snow Leopard RIDE chirped along with.
--- The next day Pierre did more thinking about the comic book he had read. It was bad, it was worse than anything he had ever read and it likely defamed that Rhianna woman. There wasn’t much he could do about it except move on, some stories are bad and he had to live with the fact it happened to his favorite series. Today though he’d give the R4-D5 to his boss and claim a large cash award. Though he was in for some misfortune on his way to work.
“Give me all you’ve got, I want your money, not your life, but if you try to make a move I won’t think twice!” Spoke a man in a jackal fuser holding a gun.
“You could have my cash, but I don’t have any money…” Pierre screamed before a question popped in his head he just felt the need to ask though he didn’t know why. “I have to ask what made you wanna live this kind of life anyway?
“That Earth Tech is worth a fortune.” The thug responded.
“Oh right, that makes sense…” Wait no it didn’t! Pierre objected quickly. "Hell no this was going to be ticket to easy street, it was my body for years. I deserve the cash for it!”
“Do you want to have your soul attached to a body at all?” The man asked firing a warning at a drone delivering an Amazon package to someone obliterating it instantly. It looked expesnive, whoever's it was was gonna be pissed.
“Fair point…” Pierre’s voice broke in fear as he ran leaving behind his old brainbox.. Fortunately his boss took it well once he explained the situation. By which I mean Pierre was cussed out and fired.
Pierre felt like shit, blaming himself for this. If only he had picked out a RIDE when his mother did he would have stood a fighting chance against that mugger, just like the women in any good GoKARTers story. Heading downtown to look for Male RIDEs he was immediately faced with problems. Sure some of the less popular species like pigs or chihuahuas were in his price range, but picking up those would be just as bad as buying a Female RIDE, he needed something as tough as he was. Luck struck when he found an auction auctioning off a Male Lynx RIDE, similar to the one Regina used in the comic, but it was taken away when he was outbid in seconds. Even with Shyver’s help there just wasn’t a tough male RIDE in his price range. Maybe it was time to settle for a female?
Upon entering Crossrider’s Dream, a store that specialized in female RIDEs and grimacing as he put down money for a white tigress/skunk hybrid RIDE. Pierre was proud of being a man, even when he couldn’t prove it. He always said he’d rather die than become a woman, yet now it seems like that was the case. If he ever found himself in a situation in which he was attacked again, he might not be so lucky. “Alright, I don’t want to do this but I’ll take Zig-Zag… but… tell her to make it quick.” He said about to press the transfer button on his digital wallet when he heard a loud noise outside.
It was the same mugger who robbed him this morning firing a gun in the direction of a fleeing Arctic Vixen RIDE. “I’ll be right back…” Pierre said running outside before seeing no one around was helping the poor fox. Instead people were cowering for their lives. “Hey fucker!” He yelled to the jackal fuser hoping they weren’t his last words. “What’s this fox have to do with you. You got your money when your robbed me.”
“This bitch transferred all the money in my digital wallet to charity. after I sold your tin can. But since you’re in such a hurry to lose yet another body I can help with that” The man said pointing his gun at Pierre.
“Gulp… no time like the present.” Pierre said looking towards the fox RIDE. “Fuse with me so we can fight back…”
The Fox nodded and charged towards Pierre who braced for impact as he expected a fuse. In seconds he’d be a girl and lose all sense of honor. Or would have if someone hadn’t pushed him out of the way at the last second. “Pick on someone your own size!” The mystery woman yelled. Picking up a nearby trash lid and charged towards the man uising it as a shield and smacking the gun out of his hand letting Pierre grab it and point at him.
“Thanks lady, I thought I’d have to change my name to Penelope for a second.” Pierre laughed to himself for a long time. Nervous laughter of relief. Pierre and his Y Chromosome would be together for years to come, or at least so he hoped.
“Anything for my son.” The fuser said, lifting her faceplate. “I heard that you were out looking for a RIDE because someone gave you trouble. I thought I'd find you before you did anything rash.” Marvelle smiled. “I came just in time now to return this RIDE to whoever she belongs…. Oh… oh I see.”
“What is it mom?” Pierre asked, noting that she sounded rather distressed.
“Well when you fuse with a RIDE you can see the poor dear’s memories. This is one’s an escaped RIDE of a gender jacking victim. That’s apparently a crime where you turn someone into a new sex against their will.” Marvelle paused. “She used this one until her three years were up then changed back into a male after leaving this one off at a scrap heap out of spite. She has no home and has been stealing money for repairs. Oh Pierre, I have to take her home.”
“What about Nutkin I thought you wanted to trying being a man for a while.” Pierre raised this question mostly in hopes of her forgetting the ridiculous idea of her becoming male.
“Oh being a man is overrated anyway” Marvelle responded scoffing at that. “Helping this one off the streets is more important than my curiosity.”
“I’d hate for Rhianna to have done all that work for nothing.” Pierre said following his mother’s statements. “Well I’m just glad you’re female and not me. I like having a mother.”
“And I am fond of having at least one son.” Marvelle giggled, the fight between a man armed with only a gun and a woman in a bullet proof vixen fuser with a built in armory was very, very brief. After crushing the attacker's gun with her RIDE clad hands she lifted the man up and literally dragged him to a police station. Marvelle was very eager to both show off her find to Simone and Shyver and see what she looked like with a tail and ears.
“OH MY GOD!” Marvelle screamed when she got back to the hotel and defusing for the first time, “Simone check this out. I found this darling new RIDE and look! I have a tail, an honest to goodness tail. It’s so cute and fluffy. Why I feel like I’m 40 again.”
“Could be the physical high talking from your first fuse, but yeah they are healthy for you.” Lucille said, before Simone took over their body to give her comment. “Oh Maman! You’re so beautiful. All these years of fantasizing about you being your old self again have finally come true. You’re a darling. Why you’re even MORE beautiful than the woman I remember.” She said excitedly. “And now that you have your own tail you can stop freaking out over mine.”
“Oh please Simone. Your tail is nothing compared to my fluffyness. How lucky Nutkin was busted eh?”
“I assume Pierre gets Nutkin now?” Simone asked.
“Ugh.. a squirrel.” Pierre nearly puked. “That’s a girly animal.”
“Well we’ll figure something out.” Simone nodded, kneeling down to look at the tiger sized fox. “Bonjour wee one, and what is your name?”
“...I… I don’t have one..” The fox said,looking at the ground. “My last operator got me just to last her three years of being female. She said if I got a name she might get attached to me.” Simone almost didn’t catch what she said as she was distracted by how the fox had the most adorable and angelic sounding voice.
“Well I’m calling you Miracle. Because it was a Miracle I was there when I was to save my son.” Marvelle smiled, fusing back up with her new fox. “And you will be my little miracle.”
Simone smiled, happy to see her mother happy. “Once Nuktin is fixed I can help you guys find permanent residence. We’ll sell him for a good house wherever you wish, males are worth a lot in all but two polises.”
“How about Cape Nord? That place looks sweet. “Pierre suggested.
“NO!” Simone and Marvelle said at the same time.
Things were looking up, but it wasn’t meant to last. As the unthinkable happened and the Bertrand Family was left horrified.
-The Day Of Nutkin’s Repair-
“Simone! We’re heading for the FreeRIDErs Garage. Are you coming?” Marvelle called out and so did Shyver and Pierre, but she was nowhere to be found. She also wasn’t answering any messages sent to her either. The only clue they found was a note in Simone’s recharging bed that read. “Simone’s never existed, the faster you meaties realize that, they happier we’ll be. - No One Important.”
“Oh no…” Shyver’s eyes grew wide at this. “... There’s only one explanation for this…” He turned to Marvelle and Pierre with the note stuck in his hand and his entire body turned cold. “They’ve taken Simone.”
“They?” Pierre asked.
“The Integrates” Shyver responded fear filling his voice. “They found her… and this is a warning that we need to go on with our lives or they will kill us.”
“...Well not all is lost… maybe Rhianna and Rochelle can help us. They’re knowledgeable of Integrates.” Marvelle said clinging to what she was worried was false hope. They went to see what the wonder girls could do, but they were worried it wasn’t much.
-Meanwhile In the Dry Ocean-
“You idiots! I want nothing to do with a life of pretending I’m dead.” Simone screamed as she was dragged away in a hardlight cage sustaining a constant EMP, one weak enough to effect her weapons systems without effecting her. “Let me go back to my family and you can go tell Fritz to eat both my cunts.”
“You know the rules pretty lady, our kind doesn’t mesh with the inferior races.” A Horse Integrate dragging the cage behind him spoke up. “I aint got no idea how you’ve been able to hackproof ya self. But blunt force is just as good.”
Simone looked down as though she was about to cry at the cage floor, but lucked up in rage with her flamethrowers burning hot, though they didn nothing to the cage. “Is zat what we are? Cowards hiding away? With our powers we could make Zharus an even better place than it is, and you’d rather serve that egomaniac!”
“Listen skunk. Humans aren’t like us, they’ll try to enslave us when they are to us what the first sludge to crawl out of the primordial ooze is to them. We can’t let anyone find out about us or it could jeopardize everything.” The horse grumbled. "What if they found a way to hurt us if we didn't co-operate?"
“Big bad God scared of a few mice.” Simone taunted, spitting outside the cage. “Let’s face it, you’re just scared that we might not be as hot of shit as you think we are. I once had a human nearly kill me with a mini-gun! He’s my fiance.” Simone admitted talking down to her captor. “You want to feel high and mighty, but you are scared it’s not true.”
The horse became enraged, turning off the cage and attacked her with a rifle he had on him. This was exactly what Simone hoped for as she wasted no time ducking under the gunfire and sweeping the leg knocking the horse down. Now she’d put Stonegate’s invention to the test. “Vous don’t know moi. I was never even here.” she smiled as her DIN glowed allowing herself into the horse’s mind and deleting that he ever had an order to go to Uplift to take her in the first place. Not only did this DIN give Simone the boost, but it helped that said horse was way behind on a few firewall updates.
“....Hey Simone, I haven’t seen you in awhile where have been.” The horse said with a smile. “You still single?”
“Nowhere important and non, I’m seeing a human.” Simone said walking onward, knowing the memory scramble would only be temporary.
“Human half of an Integrate?” The horse asked unsure where an Integrate was supposed to find a human that was even capable of surviving an enclave encounter.
“If he lives long enough.” Simone said turning into a feral skunk form for fast travel. Unfortunately the cage damaged her ZPS and she wasn’t sure how long it would take to get it back online. “If he can find me…”
-Back at FreeRIDErs Garage-
Rhianna had a rather distressed look on her face when was told of Simone’s situation. “Damn it! I’m busy manning the garage and Rochelle is too important to the work being my coder. Not only that, but if they find out I made her DIN all of Uplift could be in danger.”
“So our baby is lost…” Marvelle asked, swishing her tail hoping to find some comfort.
“For the time being, I’m sorry. This is my fault. If I had just been able to perfect my DINsec idea she’d be invisible to them. I’m sorry I take full responsibility for this. I realy wish there was something I could do. But I have teenagers who work here and Lilliput's parents would kill me if I endangered them.” Rhianna said drinking a cup of coffee Rochelle made to help everyone calm down. “I have some friends who are Integrates, I might be able to make a few calls. But I can’t promise anything.”
“I understand…” Marvelle said, her ears lowering. “My daughter made some big sacrifices to get us here and I just hope we can find a way to return the favor.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s suicide. We have no way of knowing what enclave she was taken too, and it’s too dangerous to bust down the door of each enclave asking for her.” Rochelle added. “We’ve been working on a way to protect humans from Integrates, but it just isn’t there yet. If were able to perfect it, maybe, maybe. You’d have a fighting chance. The best thing I can recommend is hope she escapes on her own. I’m not trying to sound heartless or nothing, but I had an uncle in the same situation. Never seen him since” Shelley sipped her coffee, trying to remember her uncle.
Pierre buried his face in his palms looking up slowly and seeing Nutkin. “Did you get him fixed?”
“Yes I did, and he has firepower like you wouldn’t believe. But you said he was too girly…” Rhianna said, feeling insulted that she slaved over a hot RI core for nothing.
“There’s no RIDE too girly, and no mission too suicidal. Simone got me my body back, and now I’m going to get her back.” Pierre cheered, turning on Nutkin and initiating fuse.
“Please, Pierre don’t. I’ve been in an enclave before. One of us didn’t make it back and I had to give up my life as Ryan just to survive. A life I may never lead again.” Rhianna said, referring to the incident in which the Integrate Flint-Burke was born.
Kaylee headbutted Rhianna’s leg and purred. “Not that you should.”
“Yeah girl I know.” Rhianna smiled to the lynx giving her a scritch behind the ears. “I think we both know I’d rather be able to enjoy our friendship to the fullest than cling to the past.” she said before frowning again to get back to the seriousness of the scenario. “Pierre if you go out into that desert looking for Inties. You won’t come back. They will kill you, or Integrate you. It depends. Some Integrates aren’t bad, but it’s pure anarchy out there.”
Pierre rubbed the side of Rhianna’s cheek, smiling at her as she looking in the eyes. A seduction technique he taught Simone back when she was Simon so many ears ago. “Frankly my dear…” The frenchman said before kissing Rhianna right on her lips, he thought about using his tongue but Nutkin told him it was a bad call. “I don’t give a damn.”
Rhianna angrily shoved Pierre off of her, deeply offended by this. "I get that you're excited, but never kiss me again."
"Yeah that was a little fucked up, sorry about that... Well off to save my sister!" Pierre said, marching out Marvelle, Rochelle, Uncia, Kaylee, and Shyver left immediately to try and stop him, but it was too late. Rhianna just sat there thinking about the kiss, not sure why that happened or how she felt about it. There was no affection for Pierre, she was mostly taken by surprise as a man had never treated her that way before. In that moment she began thinking about all the oil age stuff she watched and suddenly getting a bad taste for the parts of it that had female characters who were nothing more than a prize to be one. Something Rhi never quite questioned before she was a woman. ::Kaylee what just happened.::
::A womanizing frenchman just showed us he’s either really brave or the dumbest person we’ve met. Considering we met a guy who tried to feed his RIDE Catfood, that’s saying something.:: Kaylee responded, returning to Rhianna’s side. There was nothing more the FreeRIDErs could do except maybe ask their friend Quinoa if she had heard anything.
Days turned to Weeks, and weeks to month when finally progress would be made. It was September now and Simone had been avoiding the enclaves, lost in the Dry Ocean with her ZPS Software corrupted. The closest wifi signals were around the enclaves which she had been intentionally trying to stay away from. She was lost with nowhere to go. She had only Lucille to keep for company, a strong upside to being two people sharing a body as otherwise she’d have no one except for a few escaped RIDEs she offered repairs to the best she could in exchange for some water and food they had.
Right now she was resting in a cave and thinking about what she wouldn’t give for a battery upgrade or a new lifter as hers was shot down while trying to fly upwards and get her bearings. “Well Lucille, is this how it goes? Super Powerful God Robot, so high and mighty, dies of a malfunctioning life support system.” She said to the skunk who was in Augmented Reality right next to her. “So much is broken, yet its amazing Stonegate’s DIN is holding up. I still don’t know how they found me, us, whatever, in Uplift. They haven’t managed to out here.” she said panting, her life support systems where shot, her coolant was running low, her internal fans became jammed with dust, and now she was dehydrated.
“Maybe we should cave in and help for an enclave I am calculating a 12% chance of survival if we do not get repairs. 60% chance of bettery failure, 50% chance of over-heating, 75% chance of having permanent data failure, 90% chance our life support systems fail, 88% chance a miner finds us and mistakes us for a threat, and a 100% chance that we will not reach a town before any of these errors are repaired.” Lucille sighed. “I think we’ve lost, Simone.”
“Never give up, have the French ever given up!?!” Simone cheered raising her fist triumphantly.
“Ye..” Lucille was saying before she was cut off by the irate human half.
“Don’t answer zat!” Simone narrowed her eyes are the augmented reality vision. “There must be something we haven’t tried Lucille. Our auto-repair needs food to produce the nanites. We can eat sarium, meat, fruit, veggies, qubitite, mmm.Is zere a cactus around? Can we use cacti?” Simone said running through that of her files which hadn’t been corrupted to search for a plan. She probably could have found one, but the more her data got corrupted the less straight she could think. Sometimes it just didn’t pay to be an Integrate. “It’s so hard to think with this fragmentation. Do we have enough power to survive a defragmentation and a reboot?”
“We barely have enough power to keep running our eyes. You would surely crash and without power, eventually die. Oh human why did you give me your mortality?” Lucille groaned.
“Hey you’re the one forcing me to run off of electricity without any civilization anywhere. I could just FORCE myself to make do without before then, but no, wow I get a fucking error message if I so much as get sand in my panties.” Simone groaned, part of the reason why she was laying down was actually due to her battery not being strong enough to do anything but talk and see. “I’m sorry Lucille, neither of us meant that. We’re just frustrated. If it means anything, I was lying just now. Even if we die, I will never regret us becoming one person. I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather partially be.”
“And, well… I’ve really enjoyed being a human named Simone.” Lucille smiled before sighing and giving into her despair. “What we really need is to last until the sun comes up. If we can get our solar panel charged we might be able to a trader or a miner whom we can speak with provided that they won’t think we’re after them. Till then we’re stuck.”
“And you don’t have enough power to turn us back on if we shut down for the night… If we get out of this alive. I’ll consider going to church.” Simone said, meaning to sigh but aside from her eyes and speakers, she was completely paralyzed.
The two continued talking until by sheer dumb luck just when they were just about to reach 0% their speech and eyes having been shut off hours ago the morning rays hit them and slowly charged their battery up to its maximum capacity. Thanks to the damages, that's 30% but enough to move and get into ONE skirmish before needing to recharge. “HOLY FUCK!!!... I literally thought we had died. Our brain was working, but only very basic thoughts were getting through. Holy shit Lucille we’re sentient again!” She screamed jogging as fast as she could to the nearest food source. Rations left out by some Slave Traders who had camped not to far from the cave.
This is was likely the last time Simone would see food for a while, going into silent mode she approached the open bag of rations around their now dead campfire and proceeded to open a bag of jerky to scarf down on. She had just finished the bag when one of the slavers yawned. Simone began sweating for a moments until he rolled back asleep. This was a close enough call to tell her to leave. Too bad she stepped on the potato chips and woke them all up.
“Well I’ll be! It’s one of them Integrates! What do you think Nextus would pay for one of those suckers?” One of them said fusing with his Saint Bernard RIDE, the other two both having male fox RIDEs.
One of the fox RIDEs licked his lips at her. “Got us a pretty one too, and she looks badly damaged. Maybe we oughta have our way with her.”
::Lucille what systems of ours our online to fight back with?::
Lucille tried as hard as she could, but hardlight weaopns were a no go, they had no guns, there were out of gasoline for the flamethrower, the skunk spray wouldn’t work as they were in their RIDEs and couldn’t smell anything, and the Kitten Tamer Baton was left in Uplift. There wasn’t anyway to get out of this situation it seemed. Simone swallowed her pride and began tearing her clothing.
The men pointed their guns at Simone and demanded that she strip faster while Lucille ran the calculations. They were just about to fire when Lucille took over the body and screamed “THIS!” as she kicked the nearest one in the crotch to no avail. “RIght power armor… well I guess you’ll just have to rape me… If you catch me!” Simone and Lucille said as they ran in a desperation maneuver. Taking a few shots that she wasn’t in a condition to heal as such she began limping and their libidos only propelled them faster. “You know it’s not as good with an Integrate… we uhh talk a lot in bed and call the next day, every day!” That wasn’t to dissaude them. Simone said that to help calm herself down with some humor.
Just when it seemed all hope was lost as Simone came to a cliff Lucille managed to get their lifters working for a few more seconds. Enabling them to fall to their deaths. Well the humans were dead, the RIDEs where in too bad of condition to protect them. The death of the humans forced them to de-fuse as Simone slowly scaled the mountain having an idea she didn’t like. “Lucille… forgive me for this…” she said stripping the humans down and eating them. It wasn’t pleasant and it grossed her out, but she needed food to help her auto-repair systems work again. “You know, it’s… not that bad…” she said to herself. The RIDEs weren’t present as they had left once their owners died. Some parts of them came loose which Simone helped herself too. No battery sadly, but her life support systems were more stable and she was beginning minor repairs. Though this would make her live longer, there was no beating around the bush that she needed intensive care.
“Battery at 50%, I recommend we go into sleep mode as we haven’t slept in days and we can survive a nap now.” Lucille said, making Simone’s eyelids go heavy as she said this.
Simone woke up a week later with her systems more repaired, not a full recovery, but she was further from Death’s Door than she had been. “Battery at… 54% okay it seems we’re getting better.. That's a new record high.”
“Yes but it’s going to drain fast… I… Hold on… I’m getting something on a frequencey. Yes someone’s trying to contact us… It’s Paula. The signal’s very different though. It’s like I can’t differentiate between her and Ru… By Patil's Gods she’s an Integrate!” Lucille exclaimed.
“Well we are ascendant, so that’s a good thing.” Simone told another joke as she noticed her battery dropping rapidly. “What’s the signal say?
“It’s not oming in clear due to our damages. But it sounds like a distress call.” Lucille said.
“Oh well” Simone answered, heading for the location of the signal, finding an Integrated Paula, her friend Kane RIDEless as usual, and some guy in a unicorn fuser she didn’t recognize. They all seemed to be fighting an Armadillo Integrate. “Don’t worry Paula, Aunt Simone is heard to….. to…..” The skunk panicked as her speaker began glitching up as she looked at her battery to find out way. She had only 3% remaining. “To save the d...a...y..” Simone fell over, shutting down entirely. Her batteries had melted and she could no longer take a charge.
Simone’s eyes opened for the first time in two weeks. She stretched feeling like she just woke up from the greatest nap ever devised by man. “Where am I?” she said, looking around and being unable to place the location.
“Oh hey Sleepyhead. You actually flatlined twice and it took us forever to get all the parts we needed.” It was the jester hat wearing red panda Integrate known as Xhyz smiling at her. "Tell me, have a Near Death Experience?"
“Non..I just felt like I took a nap... and I can't recall the dream... It was September 9th… what day is it now?” Simone said somewhat delirious at hearing that she apparently died twice. “Where’s Lucille. I can’t find Lucille.”
“Oh she’s fine, it’s going to take her longer to get back to consciousness. But she will trust me, if she was dead you would be too.” Xhyz calmly explained. “It’s the 28th and you’re in the Maintenance Wing of Traingle Lighthouse. We will send you back to Venars after you’re in perfect health and you answer a few questions.”
“Venars?” Simone looked confused. Xhyz wasn’t this stupid or forgetful, Simone hadn’t lived in Venars in over a decade. Why would he assume she’d be going there? It just didn’t make sense. “I can’t go back to Venars. You know that.”
“Actually you can, your status was downgraded from Dead to Missing ever since Zane Brubeck came out as being an Integrate. It’s okay for us to go home now. This is my home, but you can go back to Venars.” Xhyz said explaining and looking over his gorgeous maintenance wing.
“Zane Brubeck’s an Integrate? That man won’t give a RIDE le time of day let alone share his life with one. Alright on my chain you are yanking. What day is it really? April 1st?” Simone laughed, par for the course for being rescued by Xhyz. Always a good samaritan and pratical joker.
“Actually…” Xhyz loaded up a holo-screen of footage from Brubeck Mining Price Conference where a tiger with an orange glow in his stripes was speaking into a microphone.
The words he said would change Simone’s life for the better. “Hi, my name is Zane Brubeck, and I’m an Integrate.”
“....No fucking way…” Simone said, checking her internal clock and various news feeds. It was true. Integrates were free to live among humans now. Live among humans… she could see her family again after so many long months.
“You have some questions for me I know but I’ll let you ask anything you want if you tell me what this is.” Xhyz said holding up the DIN that Rhianna and Rochelle had made for her. Simone averted her gaze from it pretending it wasn’t there.
“Why that’s clearly an ordinary DIN. We need them to access the net. Is zis an amnesia test?” Simone laughed unconvincingly.
Xhyz shook his head and pulled out his own DIN from his DIN slot and shamed it with a nearby hammer crumbling it into dust. “THIS was an Ordinary DIN.” The red panda put Simone’s din on the same table he crumbled his DIN on only for it to not even scratch Simone’s DIN. “You can understand why this perplexes me. Who made it, and why?”
“...Do you promise not to tell Fritz?” Simone begged with her eyes.
Xhyz: smiled a smug cheshire grin. “I don’t answer any question until you answer mine.”
“A woman named Rhianna Stonegate in Uplift, and her assistant Rochelle. Theiy’re friends with an Integrate. The CEO of some company if I re…” Simone realized it could have only meant one thing. “Zane Brubeck. They made the DIN because they’re allies of Zane Brubeck. Zane Brubeck... had humans equip him and those loyal to him with special DINs?”
“Bingo. So you see why this concerns me? They’ll be coming for my enclave wondering whose side I’m on. It’s no secret that I’m not a supporter of Fritz. But Zane’s causing more problems than solutions. I like that we’re not hiding anymore, but, his scheme is going to get people killed. Especially since it’s hard to argue that I am not cheering for the idiot who doomed us all and thus shouldn’t have my head removed and put in a nano-jar if one of my right hand women. Who has been missing for several years is wearing his girlfriend’s merchandise!”” Xhyz screamed at Simone. “A human knows more about us than we do and you just take candy from them. No I’m not telling Fritz or he’d kill us! I’m counting on you to keep this a secret.”
“I answered your question Xhyz. Answer mine. I saw Paula before I collapsed and if humans are now allowed to know about Integrates… Just tell me… Where are they?” Simone said wanting desperately to see a familiar face that won’t accuse her of treason.
“Oh…” Xhyz looked like he was about to start to cry when Simone asked this. He had the visage of a man, or techno-organic red panda rather who needed to say something, but lacked the courage to do so. “I really wish I had told you that earlier… Simone I’m sorry.”
“Oh God…” Simone buried her face in her hands crying softly. “Why couldn’t it have been me?”
“That I just played a horribly cruel joke on you. Pierre, Shyver, James, Paula-Ruby, Kane, and Marvelle are in the waiting room being entertained by Thana and Zediel.” Xhyz laughed to himself.
Simone decked Xhyz right in the face and headed for the waiting room. “Asshole.” Finally, everyone she cared about was collected in one place. She had no idea who this James was, but it’s always good to meet new people.
[Category:Story] [Category:Hawl] [Category:FreeRIDErs] [category:Feline] [Category:skunk] [category:Transgender]