Beautiful World 15: Memory

On the fourteenth iteration through the Mock Turtle’s soup song flashing before my eyes, I figured out the trick. “Debugger, stop, open window.” The words stopped scrolling, and in front of me, a fresh window opened, the codepoint highlighted. “Add watch. Set step speed, one-per-second. Resume.” Glowing green letters still rolled through my field of vision, much slower, but my eyes were on the small window, watching the source code dance. As a line of text faded out of my field of vision, the pointer suddenly jumped from user space to the environment. “Stop!” The words stopped, and I dragged over the debugger window to confirm.

The Voice of Irokai was a core function that could tap into any audio stream in order to deliver important system updates; it had permission to access anyone’s audio system at any time. However, for deaf tourists and noisy environments, Tadashiissei provided an alternative: a scrolling text field, which again couldn’t be disabled but could be resized or relocated for customer comfort. That hook was always present, even if the recipient of the message could hear! The hack bypassed the audio system, went straight for the visual interface, repositioned and altered the text to be as annoying as possible, and then began dumping chunks of Project Gutenberg passed through a fishbowler. The end result looked like a badly-written description of a drug trip.

“Debugger, abort run.” The words vanished from my vision. “Open e-mail, title, quote, bug one-four-six-two-two, end-quote.” I dumped a fast summary detailing my findings, suggesting that the visual hook be disabled as long as the audio one worked and access for the text interface be explicitly limited to the individual. It wasn’t a cure, but the real fix would take locking down the Voice of Irokai, which was way outside of my scope. Ideally, I’d have never gotten this deeply into the core systems in the first place, but with the ongoing crisis, Tadashiissei needed all the help it could get.

I pulled my test results together, then attached them to the outgoing message. “Send to developers-internal. Close. Suspend.” With that, the remaining windows faded around me, leaving me sitting in the back of Tadashiissei’s Beni office, rubbing at my muzzle with one paw. “One down…” I glanced up at the wall, to a list of open issues, then shook my head. “Too many to go.” I rose out of the chair and stretched. “I can’t believe I’m up this early.”

Mitsuko put a paw on my shoulder, smiling gently, her own deep green eyes tired. “You were not sleeping, John, nor was I. At least this way we are helping, ne? The outstanding crises are being addressed. Progress is being made.”

I groaned, paws on the small of my back. “Yeah, but the overall list is still growing.” I rolled my shoulders in a shrug and twisted, trying to pop my back. Explain to me again the sense of giving people the ability to fly and then letting them have sore backs. I wondered if it might be some function of the map from neurons to code that made me still think my muscles felt tight, when in fact I had no muscles to tighten. That got me thinking about the models they were using and how they got the tail to function so naturally, but before I got too far into that path, I felt something in in my lower back give way and the tension melted. “Still, I wish the reason I couldn’t sleep was ‘busy’ and not ‘worrying about not waking up.'”

“Do not worry, John,” Mitsuko’s other paw was at my side, and then her body was warm against my back. “I will not let that happen.”

I reached back and hugged her against me, then turned and kissed her forehead. “I appreciate the thought, Mits, really.” I stretched again, loosening up my shoulders. “I’m going to take a break and see if anyone is open for breakfast. I’d rather not just instantiate something.”

“Oh, hai,” Mits said, making a face. “One can only see the same plate of eggs so many times before doubting its sincerity. I will meet you in a bit; this meeting cannot last much longer.” She slid back, out of my arms, then tapped her ear, holding one paw in front of her, waving me away with the other.

The skies over Beni were overcast, but the rain had yet to return. At least someone got rid of the music, I thought, paws stuffed into the pockets of my slacks. The streets were eerily empty, as were the store fronts. Pseudo-organic tendrils jutted and swayed haphazardly from buildings and road, spreading in a fibrous network across rooftops and across streets. Signs hung on the walls at regular intervals suggesting that tourists visit Murasaki Prefecture or the Bazaar at Hana while Beni Prefecture was undergoing emergency maintenance; it looked like most everyone had taken the suggestion.

One front door to a tenement building hung open, unlike all the others in the block, but even more oddly, it opened not to one of the stock building interiors but to an unlit staircase, leading down. I recognized the floor of the FutureShock as soon as my hinds touched it, that weirdly cool, slick feel of trying to process the sense of touching nothing. This, however, wasn’t the Shock’s entrance; there was no warning message and no sign. From a quick scan of the environment, it looked like somebody had hacked the door in place.

A quick review of timestamps showed that the edits had been put into place late last night, after the extended shift had gone to bed. The link out from the club had Briar’s information stamped all over it, which didn’t surprise me; she was the sort to make that kind of quick hack, but she had to have authority to link to a public area. The inbound link had a name I didn’t recognize on it, but where the author’s employee number would have been was only the single line: terminated, Rei Sasaki.

That made me pause. Something very clearly had happened, but based on what little I had, I had no way to tell what, and the last thing I needed was more mysteries while I was already tired and hungry. I copied chunks of the relevant logs and databases to personal storage, then stepped inside the door. I wasn’t interested in what the Shock had to offer at the moment, but it was the first sign of anything other than abandoned buildings and other people’s tampering.

“Briar?” I called out as I entered the main room of the club, but the interior was as empty as the rest of the prefecture. Semi-fungal fronds covered large chunks of the walls, swaying and occasionally sending out a fresh shoot to cling to one surface or another. The sunsphere looked clean, as did the mirrors, but most of the rest of the hexagons had been obliterated by it. The Tree sported eerily organic curves in addition to its angular branches, and underneath it, most of the benches looked like they’d been completely overwritten. I squatted over my heels, pulling up logs and object models. From a first glance, it looked like it did some kind of space analysis, then did a massive property overwrite to spawn copies of itself, but where was it getting its environment? It wasn’t calling any kind of environment model, could it really be doing a fast location test? That seemed really inefficient, especially in open spaces—

Something electric slammed into me from the side, sending a spasm through my body and knocking me onto my side, landing on my elbow with a curse. A second later, some kind of thick vine shot through the space my back had just vacated, hitting the side of the Tree with a wet splurch. Where it hit, a fresh discolored disk began to spread, new nodules rising out of its surface. “You want to watch those force fields,” a familiar voice called. “You’ll have plenty of chances to get hurt, don’t worry about that.”

I scrambled to a sitting position, looking towards the voice in shock. Standing in front of one of the mirrors was a starkly white-furred wolf. His arms were folded across his bare chest, subtle shifts of his posture emphasizing the gold bars in his nipples and the matching chain that hung from his neck. He wore his pants baggy, covered in gold-toothed zippers, the wide hems sweeping the floor. His tail wagged behind him, matching his grin.

He walked over and held out a paw, which I took hesitantly, looking him in the eyes as he helped me back to my hinds. “Jules… what’re you doing here?”

Jules ignored the question, motioning with his free paw to the tendril that had almost hit me in the back. “That thing’s nasty; cleaning it out of the zone’s going to take work. I’ve spent the better part of a day deconstructing it, and you’re not going to like it. It eats properties, fills space, clones itself, and that’s about it. Oh, and it’s unpredictable; it’s doing some hash-randomizer that tells it where to spread and how that I can’t reverse-engineer. I’ve seen that spine-tendril trick before; I threw a chair and it got snagged in mid-air. It’d be a really cool screensaver if it weren’t wiping out the place.”

“Jules,” I repeated, squeezing his paw more firmly to get his attention. “You got banned. What’re you doing here?”

At that, he turned and looked at me. “I’m trying to clean up my club, but it looks like a lost cause. The back rooms are clean, though; it can’t get through the mirrors. It can eat them, but it can’t read the portal code.” He smirked at that, tapping the edge of one and sending ripples across its surface. “These are still some of my best work.”

I scowled, my tail lashing behind me. “Jules, quit dodging the question. Tell me what’s going on.”

The wolf rolled his eyes, letting out an exasperated sigh. “All right, fine. Follow me; I’m not standing around in here.” He tapped on the surface twice, then stepped into the quicksilver surface, pulling me behind him. I closed my eyes as it slid coolly over me, then opened them again as my hind again touched solid ground on the far side. The walls of this room were red, a deep crimson velvet interspersed with hardwood beams and brass. Gold dragon statues breathed a steady stream of smoke into the air, filling the space with a sweet herbal haze. The floor away from the edges of the room was recessed, with steps leading down to a thick carpet that matched the walls. Overstuffed sofas and bean bags lay strewn about the floor, next to tables on which a number of hookah sat. The whole place had the feel of a futuristic opium den.

Jules let go of my paw and spun as he popped out of the mirror. Walking backwards with practiced ease, he dropped into one of the bean bags built for two, snagging a hose on the way down. “Like what I’ve done with the place?” He grinned, slipping the filigreed nozzle into his muzzle.

“The dragons are new,” I quipped, folding my arms across my chest. “Listen, Jules, I don’t know if you noticed, there’s a disaster happening, and last I heard, you were still banned. How’d you get back in?”

The wolf breathed out a cloud of faintly shimmering smoke, then stretched, crossing his arms behind his head. “I know people, okay? I caught wind that something bad was going to happen to Irokai, so I got with some friends and came to find out if I could help.”

“Nice try,” I replied. The grin vanished from Jules’ expression, his eyes shifting away from mine as I continued. “Outside of Adam and I, you don’t know anybody well enough to help you try to crack the security on Tadashiissei’s servers, I wouldn’t do it even if I could, but I’m not half the developer you are, and Adam wouldn’t even know where to begin. Plus, I know you. You want to be here legitimately so badly that you wouldn’t dare violate your ban, even if you could get an unregistered rig onto the network. Drop the patter, Jules. Just tell me the truth: why are you here?”

Jules started trying to look relaxed and confident, but the more I spoke, the more he looked like he wanted to crawl inside the bean bag on which he’d flopped. When I finally repeated the question I’d tried to get him to answer twice before, he sighed, ears flattening against his head. “Okay, fine, John, you caught me. Are you happy? Yes, I’m on an unregistered rig. I got the keys from a contact. I got tired of pretending this wasn’t important to me. Ever since you moved, Adam’s the only one left I see regularly, and he hasn’t been the same since. And he still refuses to call me Jules.” The wolf sagged into the oversized cushion. “You know the ban’s nothing but politics, John.”

I sighed and shook my head. “I know, Jules. I said that from the beginning, but it was because you wouldn’t let go of your crusade.”

At that, his arms shot out wide. “Crusade? They’re charging you by the second for the privilege of being alive! They’re bleeding you dry, making you pay for stuff that should’ve been free, just for the sake of squeezing a little bit more money out of everybody’s dreams!”

“My point, Jules,” I said, putting a paw to the bridge of my muzzle. “Look, you’re right, I agree with you. I always did, you know that. That doesn’t justify you breaking and entering. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

The wolf’s eyes dropped, his body tensing. “How about three?” he breathed.

I cocked my head to the side at that. “Three? What—” His outburst and the quiet admission combined in my head with some of the things I’d seen over the last day, and my eyes narrowed to slits. “You bastard.”

Jules cringed. “John, I—”

“Stop.” I cut off his protest with a sweep of my paw, and my eyes lit a deep and righteous gold. “Jules, you had better tell me the truth, and you had better do it right now. Did you have anything to do with what’s been happening to my home?”

The only response I got was a nod, but it was enough. A chill ran down my back, the bottom falling out of my stomach. “Why?” It was all I could do to force the word out around a clenched jaw.

The wolf pushed himself out of his seat and jammed his paws into his pockets. His shoulders were stooped, his tail trying to curl between his legs. “Okay, yes, I was stupid. I was angry. After I got banned, somebody contacted me about an underground movement to protest Tadashiissei’s policies towards Irokai. I joined. At first it was harmless pranks, leaving messages for people to find to make them ask questions, but Tadashiissei just kept it all under wraps. So… we escalated, and they just kept burying it. So, finally, after months and months of protests and trying to make ourselves heard legitimately, the group finally just blew up, hoping to make a scene that the company couldn’t just hide. It worked.”

I bit back the first reply, then gave up and let it out anyway. “Idiot. Do you really think they’ve heard a single thing you’ve said? All you’re doing is proving that if you can’t play your way, you’re willing to ruin the fun for everyone else. Damnit, Jules, you’re not this dumb! Since when did this kind of strategy ever work?”

He hunched further in on himself. “John, please stop yelling.” His voice had gone very soft, taking that near-monotone I knew meant he was close to his breaking point. “I said I was wrong. I said I was stupid. I don’t need you making it worse. I was angry. I was desperate. You’re right; I want this. I want this desperately. I never expected Tadashiissei to ban me for trying to challenge their policies. I figured the worst that would happen is they would win and I would keep paying forever, hating it but doing it anyway because I need this. I need to be this. When they told me not to come back, I went a little crazy. I did some really dumb things. Now all I can do is try to fix them and hope for forgiveness.”

I took a deep breath and let it out in a rush, feeling the anger sap out of me. I took a step closer to the wolf and put a paw on his shoulder. “You’re forgiven, Jules. I couldn’t stay mad at you. I just wish you’d thought this through before you did it. All of you. Two residents so far are confirmed deleted and the backup system is offline to prevent accidental corruption, so there’s no pulling them back until everything’s fixed.”

Jules winced. “Oh, hell.” He turned, his yellow eyes looking into mine. “Please, let me help.”

I nodded. “I’ll talk with Rei and some of the others I know in Security; they may be willing to listen to reason, and this will be a good way for you to prove that you’re trustworthy, but you’re going to have to come clean and turn over everything you’ve got. I mean it. And that means the rig, too, if he asks for it.” His eyes went wide, but I pressed onwards. “I’m serious, Jules. I’ll help you get back in, but you’ve got to go legit.”

He sagged against me, but he nodded anyway, his arms wrapping around my shoulders in a hug. I returned the embrace, and suddenly he was clutching me to his chest, shaking, tears quietly rolling down his cheeks and onto my shirt. I ran a paw down his back, doing what I could to comfort him. “I’ve missed you,” I said quietly. “I never quit loving you, you know.”

That caught his ears and he withdrew enough to look at me, wiping at his eyes with one paw. “What? But what about—”

“Mits?” I smiled. “We were close, but it wasn’t until after you got banned that we got together. I’d gone out of habit, but I was having a lousy time, and she happened to be off-duty. We spent the day just talking about Irokai, how much I loved it, how much you loved it. She told me she’d heard what happened and was sorry the company had responded as it had. We commisserated. Things went from there.” I shrugged. “I wasn’t the one who broke it off, Jules. I tried to tell you outside, but you were so set on it being a problem that nothing I said was getting through.”

Jules chuckled quietly, his tail giving a half-hearted wave. “I wonder if Mitsuko knows how lucky she is.”

I smiled. “She’s got an idea. I’ve still got all your old avatars, you know. I kept them. We don’t come here much, since you left, but we still reminisce about this place.”

“Yeah?” The wolf’s eyes lit at that. “Do you think… you could? Once, for old times’ sake?”

I huffed, tail lashing. “Jules, remember that whole ‘disaster’ thing happening?” Seeing the look in his eyes, though, I sighed. “Okay, okay.” It took a moment to scan through the interfaces to find where I’d archived everything, a few more to do a quick validation to ensure they were safe, but once I had them active, I backed out of the menu and then looked down at my paws. A quick internal command, and my pads began to glow. “Ready?”

The wolf nodded, his eyes focused on my paws. He licked his lips once, then waved away his pants, leaving himself nude in front of me. A fresh glint of metal caught my eye, making me chuckle; he’d put a barbell through his sheath, even knowing no-one would probably see it. “You really do need this,” I said quietly, stepping closer to him. I knew the answer, but seeing him nod, watching the shivers of anticipation pass through him still made my cock twitch in its sheath. “Easy or hard, Jules. Pick fast.”

Jules snapped his eyes shut, but not before I saw the hunger in them. “Don’t be gentle,” he whispered. His tail curled tightly against his back, his sheath stirring. He balled his paws at his sides. “Please.”

I snapped open my hardline and enabled the pain transmitters, glimmers of pure white mixing into the golden glow. “Brace yourself,” I replied, then grabbed his paws in mine, sending pulses of light up his arms.

Instantly, he clenched his jaw. “Hurts,” he whimpered. “Don’t stop.” His tail lashed behind him as the light spread further up his arms and over his shoulders. I grinned, tightening my grip against his wrists, letting the light slide further over him, outlining his body in a radiant halo. His muzzle hung open, tongue lolling. He gulped air, letting out a gasp as the light enveloped him. As he dropped to his knees, he let out a high-pitched whine, flattening his ears against his head. “Please….”

I nodded, then pushed the light, baring down on the wolf’s paws. Under my pads, the fur flattened, joints stiffening as his skin began to crystallize. His elbows locked as the change spread further up over his arms. “Please what?” I smirked. “Please stop? Please no? I could leave you like this, I guess—”

“No!” The cry was reflexive, thrusting itself out of Jules’ throat with the force of a junkie begging for a hit. “Don’t… don’t stop.” He opened his eyes, haunted and needy, looking down at himself as his shoulders froze. His expression locked into one of panic and bliss as his chest solidifed, his ability to breathe gone but not the instinct to do so. Then the changes came faster, down over his stomach, his crotch, his stiffening shaft turning smooth as it turned to carved diamond. Light permeated the wolf’s entire figure as the shift accelerated. He tilted back his head, muzzle frozen half-open. “Ye—” The word died mid-syllable as his muzzle became translucent, clear, his entire figure transformed into a crystal sculpture with a final flash of light.

I took a moment to validate that the editor had finished, then put my paws together, the light shifting from a deep gold to a bright blue. I put my fingers on his chest, and the glow suffused Jules’ form, casting curious rainbows across the crimson carpeting. Deep inside, where the wolf’s heart was, something sparked, then caught, an orb of cerulean lightning crackling to life. It flickered, then flashed, sending tendrils of current out through his frozen limbs. As it crossed joints, the crystal fractured, then broke. Metal plates grew to seal the shattered ends, with powdered gemstones providing lubrication. Metal shafts grew inward through the hearts of the crystals, forming rods to carry current from the central core out to the smallest segments. Fractal filaments pulsed with power as the ball in his chest throbbed. The last spark sent a wave up his head, restoring his neck and filling his eyes with St. Elmo’s fire.

“—es….” Jules moaned as he collapsed, his fall muffled by the thick plush pile. “Oh, gods… oh, John.” The crystalline wolf shook, fingers clutching at the carpet. “Thank you… I’d… I’d almost forgotten how good that feels.”

“Oh, hai, John is quite skilled at that.” I spun around, ears flat against my head. Mitsuko stood next to the magic mirror, her arms folded in front of her chest, her tail waving lazily behind her in amusement.

“Mits!” I ducked my head, a chill running down my back. With a guilty glance, I dismissed the glow around my paws. “How… how long were you watching?”

My girlfriend giggled. “Long enough to watch you give Jules-kun what he wanted?” She walked towards us. “I did tell you the meeting would be over soon, John.”

Jules pushed himself back to his hinds, though he was still shaking from the rush of the change. “I’m sorry, Mits; it was my fault. I was the one that asked him to—”

Mitsuko put a finger over Jules’ crystalline muzzle, silencing him. “I have no reason to be jealous, Jules,” she said quietly. “I know John loves me. I know John loves you too. And I am glad to see you again, even under such circumtsances.” She withdrew her finger, then leaned forward and pressed her muzzle to the wolf’s, eliciting a quiet whimper from him as they kissed. She withdrew, then licked his muzzle teasingly. “Perhaps when this is all over, we shall finally get to know one another, ne?”

Jules’ tail wagged, though the wolf’s cheeks still glowed with embarrassment. “I think I’d like that, yeah.”

“Oh, hai, I do as well,” Mitsuko murmured. “In the meantime, though, I suggest that we both show John how much we know about him, ne?” She grinning, and then as she arched her back, her clothing dissolved, falling around her in a flutter of leaves and flower petals.

“I think I’d like that, yeah,” Jules replied, turning his attention to me, his expression taking on an almost feral grin. Lightning flickered throughout his entire form as he took a step in my direction.

I looked from wolf to raccoon and back, reflexively taking a step backwards. “Hey, what about… we just stepped out for food, Mits… we don’t have…”

Mitsuko advanced, grinning. “We should make the time. If Irokai is to disappear, then our final moments should be good ones; if Irokai is not to disappear, then we may continue our work afterwards. There will always be more reasons not to do the things we wish, ne?” With that, she smiled, kissed her paw, and blew it at me, enveloping my muzzle in a cloud of sweet-smelling pollen.

Reflexively, I tried to draw in a breath before the dust hit me, but by the time I knew she was doing it, it was too late to avoid pulling the pollen deep inside. Almost instantly, a warm tingle ran along my spine, tail shivering and muscles relaxing. My knees went weak, but thankfully I had a beanbag nearby to break my fall. I landed smoothly, feeling almost liquid as I draped across the overstuffed leather.

Jules grinned down at the other raccoon, dropping to his knees. “Nice one, Mitsuko.” His eyes turned to mine, flickering with concern. “How you feeling, John? You can still say no.”

I looked at the wolf, a warm grin spreading across my muzzle. My head felt clear, my body relaxed. The pain in my back was gone, as was the tension in my shoulders I hadn’t even realized I had. I was still in control, still very aware of my surroundings, but all of the stress of everything that had happened over the last forty-eight hours just melted and poured out of me. “Good,” I murmured. Watching Jules move so freely and so confidently, I couldn’t help but remember how it used to be between us. I missed it. I missed him. I’d told him the truth, earlier, one I hadn’t even really said to myself; I did still love him. “Very good. Please.” I groaned and, with a bit of maneuvering, shifted the bag so I was mostly level, my rump over the edge, my knees spread.

The wolf let out an electric growl, positioning himself between my legs. His crystal shaft rose from its shealth, glittering and smooth. “It’s been a while,” he admitted. “Too long. I may need a little help.”

At that, Mitsuko was beside him, smiling. “How may I help you this morning?” Before he could answer, though, she knelt, one paw ducking between her own legs. Her breathing visibly quickened as fingers shifted against her sex, and then she gently wrapped her paw around his shaft, spreading her nectar along his length. At her touch, his back arched, letting out a modulated groan. “Oh, hai,” she breathed huskily. “I can assist you with that.” Once his shaft glistened from her juices, she withdrew her touch, leaving him to crawl closer, his cock bobbing up as he moved between my legs.

The wolf’s pads were as cool as I remembered as he spread my cheeks, nestling himself between them. The tip of his cock tingled with current as he cautiously positioned it against my pucker, then wrapped his arms around my thighs. “Ready?” When I nodded, he leaned forward, pressing himself inside of me in a slow, smooth motion. Almost instantly, the pressure and power and pleasure pulsing under my tail made me groan, bliss spreading over me in shockwaves up from my crotch. Jules slide his smooth crystalline cock as deeply as he could into me, then held himself against my legs, panting. “Forgot… how good it feels….”

I closed my eyes and nodded in response, trying to breathe deeply, senses overloading. “Keep going.” I put one paw on my sheath. He groaned as he withdrew, then thrust forward again, achingly slow, visibly relishing every twitch and spasm of my pucker against his cock. I did my best to match my strokes to his, and soon we had established a rhythm between us, his crystal-and-lightning form moving against mine, arousal surging every time his hips came to rest against my rump.

Mitsuko giggled above me, and I opened my eyes again to see her standing over me. “Excuse me, but is this seat taken?” Without waiting for a response, she knelt over my muzzle, legs parted. At the cleft of her crotch, rather than the delicate folds I knew, a vivid blue-white magnolia blossomed, its petals unfurled. As she neared, her scent, rich and heavy mixed with floral fragrances that overwhelmed my nose. It filled me with the urge, like an insect, to explore her depths. As soon as I could reach her, I parted my jaws and flicked my tongue out to savor the taste of her nectar as she rocked against my muzzle. With each breath, that teasing, aching desire burned more fiercely, and I tried to slide my tongue further into her.

“Wow.” Jules’ voice was distant and panting. “You got him.” I felt Mits arch her back above me, glanced down to see the wolf’s paws at her breasts, then focused my attention back to her floral depths. We all of us moved together, my girlfriend above me, my ex-boyfriend below, each of us shifting and moaning and panting in time to the others’ movements, driving each other to higher and higher depths of joy.

The wolf was the first to break the pure sounds of lovemaking, whimpering against clenched teeth. “Not… gonna last.” I nodded and started squeezing him as he thrust himself into me, tightening as much as I could given how out of practice I was and how devoted I was to licking each and every petal from base to tip and back, tongue circling Mits’ stubby stamen at the base of her cup. She keened quietly, driven closer to release by my actions as well as Jules’ eager caress at her chest, but it was the one between my legs whose rhythm was breaking. His whole body shook, paws moving back to my hips to pull himself deeper into me, struggling to hold out one more, thrust, another, and then with a warbling howl he drove himself into the top of his knot, sending not spunk but a wave of pure electricity deep into my guts. The surge of power sent its own spasms running along my spine, down to my tail and up to the top of my head, and my paw tightened around my shaft in time for me to come, sending spatters of my own juices across my chest.

As the last aftershocks of his release passed, Jules pulled out of me carefully, a last zot of his charge leaking against my pucker and making me jump. He grinned, then sprawled back on his back. “I needed that,” he groaned. “I can’t tell you how much. He doing okay for you, Mitsuko?”

The moment my orgasm had left me, I had turned my attention back to Mits’ petals. At the wolf’s comments, though, she rose and then bent down to kiss my muzzle, flicking her tongue across her juices soaking into my fur. “Always, Jules, but I am afraid that something urgent has arisen.”

She held out a paw to me, which I took, rising and shaking my head to clear it. “What’s up? Sorry you didn’t finish, Mits.”

The raccoon smiled at me, but her eyes were hollow. “It is okay, John. For now, we must go.” She tapped her ear. “While we were engaged, I received word from the head of Hospitality. The decision has been made at the highest levels to increase our efficiency in handling the ongoing issues. With most critical system disruptions resolved, senior management has opted to declare the crisis averted and handle the remainder as maintenance issues.”

Jules’ eyes flashed, baring pointed teeth in a growl. “Hello? Metafungus? I don’t think this counts as resolved.”

Mitsuko turned to the wolf, arms folded across her chest. “Oh, hai, you are correct, but nor is it an emergency if the zone is empty. All available personnel have been asked to locate and escort anyone remaining within the area to the transit station for Murasaki. In one hour, Beni Prefecture is being taken offline until further notice.”

3 thoughts on “Beautiful World 15: Memory

  1. Mmm, nice and unexpected in terms of the interaction between the three of them. Not sure what will happen with the world, though, and I hope Mits is really on their side.

  2. My only even remotely non-glowing comment for this part is that the jump into intimacy seems a little quick, just on one side of feeling forced. That said, the tempo and pulse of the piece is outstanding. And the sex, well, it’s fantastic.

  3. If I were an entirely computer-generated individual with no life outside the system, I would be out of the Prefecture, like, yesterday, with reports of the corrupting fungus thing coming in. Mits is either braver or more foolhardy than I.

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