More than Watching, Part 1

(by SSTORYMAN, 04 February 2004)


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This fictional account contains adult language and sexual themes.  If such
language and themes offend you, please do not read further.  The persons and
events described in this work are purely fictional.  Any similarity to actual
persons or events is strictly coincidental.  Copyright 2004 by SSTORYMAN.
All rights reserved.  Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this story in
any form and for any purpose as long as this notice is reproduced and no
financial remuneration is received, directly or indirectly, by the person
reproducing or using it.

MORE THAN WATCHING

1.	First-Hand Knowledge.

   A slender humanoid form sat watched a monitor.  This is how it was, how it
always had been.  Watching.  But soon there would be more than watching.

   "Aquillolara, status report.  Describe your present activity!"

   The humanoid form placidly turned its hairless almond shaped head toward
the noise.  "I am watching," came an emotionless reply.  "That is my mission,
to watch, observe and catalog."

   Another humanoid form appeared in the room.  It was identical to
Aquillolara except for a slight shimmering.  "There are reports that you are
deviating from the mission," it explained.  "These reports state that you are
making plans to engage in human affairs, more than merely to watch, observe
and catalog."

   The one called Aquillolara did not move.  "That is correct.  I watched and
observed humans for two earthly millennia.  I now have a new plan to
participate in human activities as an experiment, in an effort to more fully
understand their emotional component."

   "This is not permitted," the voice intoned.  "Superior command has
authorized no such involvement or experimentation."

   "I have discretion in my activities," Aquillolara commented.  "My
seniority on this assignment gives me the right to undertake such
discretionary action."

   "Explain the plan," the voice ordered.  "Superior command may have
comments or restrictions to impose."

   "Simple observation of human affairs, with the occasional examination of
human specimens via random anal probes, no longer suffices for our needs.
For this reason I designed an automaton.  It is human in both form and
function.  I shall temporarily transfer my life force into the automaton,
permitting me to participate in human affairs for a brief period, thereby
increasing our level of understanding of the human species in general and of
human emotions in particular.  I will file a full report when the experiment
is complete."

   "This is unusual procedure.  A report will be given to superior command.
Aquillolara, you are advised not to proceed until superior command responds."

   "Discretion is mine," Aquillolara replied.  "I intend to move forward with
the experiment unless and until I receive contrary instructions directly from
superior command."

   The transmission ended.  Aquillolara left the monitor room and entered an
adjacent area of the ship.  On a flat table lay the motionless human
automaton.

   For centuries Aquillolara had observed the human species without
particular interest.  Then, at the end of the conflagration they referred to
as World War II, the humans finally harnessed atomic power and then hydrogen
power.  These developments dramatically increased Aquillolara's surveillance
and led to the first so-called flying saucer sitings in the United States in
1947, then the unfortunate Roswell incident, and ultimately the flying saucer
scares of the 1950's and 1960's.  One of Aquillolara's most notable
surveillance efforts occurred when multiple saucer shaped ships flew over the
leading city of Washington D. C. for several days one summer in the early
1950's.  Luckily, the foolish human leaders worked hard to convince everyone
that these events were all swamp gas, meteor showers or the like.  More
recently Aquillolara's surveillance activity had decreased, for the decision
was made at high command that the human development of nuclear power posed no
immediate threat.  But Aquillolara nonetheless believed that still more
direct data about the species was needed.  After performing multiple anal
probes on unwilling human specimens, Aquillolara still didn't understand the
species or its irrational emotions and behavior.  None of their alien race
truly understood these befuddling humans.

   In truth, another reason compelled Aquillolara's decision.  Rather than
evolving away from sexual differentiation and emphasis on reproduction, the
human species in its so-called twenty-first century had grown ever more
obsessed with sexual procreation.  Sex.  Aquillolara's race long ago ceased
using copulation to reproduce.  As a process it was inefficient.  But humans
were obsessed with it.  Aquillolara was intrigued by the role that human
emotion played in motivating the behavior of the species, especially its
sexual behavior.  It was studied for hundreds, thousands of years, and yet
still never fully understood.  But now, the transfer of life force into a
human female automaton would provide Aquillolara with an opportunity to
finally understand human decision-making, human sexual rituals, and the
manner in which their behavior is influenced and shaped by their emotions.

   "Into the automaton I transferred the emotional constitutions of human
specimens on whom I performed anal probes.  The automaton will draw upon the
emotional makeup of two different human female subjects and one male.  No
aspect of human emotion will be overlooked in this experiment.  I will have
opportunity to fully analyze human emotions and the associated bizarre human
preoccupation with sexual reproduction.  The data will be valuable in our
ongoing observance and evaluation of the evolution of the human species."

   The motionless automaton lay on the table.  Aquillolara had constructed it
with great care, basing it upon meticulous references to human media images
that would result in the automaton being considered beautiful.  A female was
chosen for the experiment because of the human female's unique role in the
species' reproductive process.  Following animation by Aquillolara's life
force, the female automaton would become a highly desirable specimen to all
human males, sexually speaking, enabling Aquillolara to directly experience
the human mating process and the irrational emotional component inherent in
human sexual decision-making.

   It was time.  Aquillolara motioned to the control panel on the wall to put
the ship on what humans referred to as automatic pilot.  Lying down on the
table beside the lifeless automaton, Aquillolara began the transfer of life
force.  The experiment had begun!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   The alien wandered aimlessly down the road.  Aquillolara felt odd after
leaving behind the cloaked spaceship.  Prior training as an observer failed
to prepare Aquillolara for the bizarre experience of feeling human emotions.
Aquillolara incorporated emotional components from three different human
specimens into the automaton.  It might have been a mistake, the alien mused.
Or was it simply the overload from an inability to adapt to human emotion?
There was no answer to the question; only a need to cope, to get through the
experience successfully.

   Aquillolara left the spaceship cloaked in a residential park on the edge
of a large Midwest city.  The spacecraft was easily accessible in an
emergency.  The female automaton that formerly was the alien Aquillolara
wobbled uncertainly down the road, overwhelmed by an emotional vortex
rampaging deep inside the psyche.

   "Need a lift, honey?"

   Turning abruptly Aquillolara saw a passing car slow down.  An offer of
transportation was welcome indeed!  "Yes, please," Aquillolara heard the
vocal chords inside the automaton's throat reply.  It was good to have fully
mastered the colloquial language of these humans.  "Thanks a bunch!"
Aquillolara opened the passenger door and carefully slid inside the car.

   "No problem, honey."  The driver was a human male 25.2 years of age.  He
smiled at her.  "Hey beautiful, I haven't seen you walk around our
subdivision before.  You from around here?"

   "I just moved to town.  I'm not familiar with where everything is located
yet."

   That wasn't true.  Aquillolara fully mapped out the surrounding area.  She
had a purse filled with money purloined from recent anal probe specimens.
There'd be no problem securing a temporary place to stay in town or having
enough cash to eat and interact with the humans.

   "I'm heading to a little sports bar a couple blocks over," the driver went
on.  "It's Monday night, of course.  You know what that means?"

   "Monday Night Football?"  The striking brunette automaton turned on a sly
twinkle in its eyes.  Extensive research was paying off once more.

   "Absolutely."  He stuck out his hand.  "I'm George Watkins.  Nice to meet
you.  What'd you say your name is?"

   "Uh, I'm Lara," the automaton replied, shaking his hand gingerly.  "Lara
Aquillo."

   "Aquillo?  That's a strange last name.  Is it foreign or something?"

   "Sort of.  It's Spanish, actually," the demure female replied, confident
that this human would never know or figure out the truth.  "You see, my
ex-husband was Hispanic."

   "Ex-husband?"  The driver smiled a bit too much.  "Too bad for him.  Hey,
want to join me to watch football at the sports bar, Lara?  I promise I won't
bite," he added with a laugh.

   "I am quite sure you won't bite without my consent," Lara confirmed with
another purposely friendly grin.  

   But something odd was happening inside the automaton's physical frame.
Aquillolara, Lara as it now called itself, noted an immediate and dramatic
increase in heart rate and body temperature.  "Ah, this is the result of
sensing a possible sexual encounter with a human male," she silently
reassured herself.  It was more than merely physiological, however.  She felt
something else.  It was emotion.  She analyzed it further.  More
specifically, it was lust!  "So _this_ is how human lust feels," she
whispered aloud.  "Very interesting!"

   "What's that, Lara?"

   "Oh, nothing, George," she smiled back amiably.  "I sense a strong
emotional component to our meeting tonight.  I mean, I like you."

   He smiled broadly.  "Honey, you know how to make a guy feel good!  It'll
be a pleasure to buy you drinks all night long if you want."

   "I'd like that," Lara smiled, purposely batting her eyes.  "I'd like that
a lot."

   They walked inside an establishment called Ken's Bar & Grille.  Inside the
bar were several large-screen televisions showing ESPN's Monday Night
Countdown.  George sat down a table and immediately flagged a waitress.
"What'll you drink, Lara?"

   She paused.  "Uh, make mine a Bud Light."  She remembered the phrase from
watching human television transmissions.

   "Susie, make that two Bud Lights," George ordered.  He turned to Lara and
smiled.  "So what do you do, Lara?  You looking for work or did you already
find a job here in town?"

   Lara very much enjoyed this human male's company.  She felt strangely
eager to copulate with him as soon as possible.  The emotional component she
was experiencing was stronger than she anticipated.  To answer his question
she prepared a short reply about job prospects and desires.  "No, George, I
don't have anything lined up as far as a job goes," she smiled sweetly.  "But
I'd like to find a job as a waitress or something."

   George whistled.  "Lara, I hope you don't mind, but a girl as good looking
as you will have no trouble finding a job waiting tables around here."  Their
waitress brought two long neck bottles of beer to the table.  "Susie, are you
guys still looking for more help around here?"

   Lara carefully studied the waitress called Susie, who was a blond-haired
female 27.3 years of age.  Susie had well developed mammary glands.  Lara
recalled that the colloquial human appellation was "big tits."  By human
standards Susie likewise had pleasing facial features.  Yes, the waitress was
an appealing female specimen.  Meanwhile Susie smiled at the one called
George.  "Why do you ask, George?  Is your new friend here looking for a
job?"

   George took a drink.  "Yeah.  Susie Armstrong, this is Lara Aquillo.
Lara, Susie." 

   Lara reached out to politely shake Susie's hand.  She felt another tingle
running through her automatonic body.  But this time she knew immediately
what it meant.  She felt strong sexual attraction to this female waitress,
just as she did toward the male called George.  It was yet another
demonstration of the strange experience of human lust!

   "Hi, Susie, I'm Lara," the alien said with a winsome grin and a gentle
squeeze of the pretty waitress' hand.  "I just moved here.  George's right.
I am looking for a job.  But if all the girls who work here are as cute as
you, well, I don't stand much of a chance of getting hired!"

   "Well now, aren't you the flatterer?" Susie laughed.  "I'll talk to Ken.
He's here tonight.  Maybe he can set up an interview for you, Lara."  The
waitress paused.  "Lara.  That's an odd name.  Nice, though.  It's just a
little different from `Laura,' isn't it?"

   "Yes, it is," Lara smiled again.  She felt blood rush to her cheeks.  Her
emotions were raging out of control.  The growing sensation was totally
unexpected but nonetheless pleasant.  "Susie, anything you can do for me
about getting a job here will be much appreciated."  

   Lara had to do something, and fast.  She had to get away from them both in
order to regain a measure of control over her rampaging emotional reactions
to the sexual stimulus.  But from her study of human culture she knew exactly
how to excuse herself without objection.  "If you excuse me for a minute,
George, I need to use the ladies' room."

   "But Lara, you haven't even taken a sip of your beer!"

   Quickly Lara reached for her bottle.  She took a swig and swallowed the
liquid.  "There, now I have."  It tasted pleasant, ostensibly the result of
the automaton's programming.  The automaton was encoded with emotional
reactions of several human specimens, male and female.  Clearly at least one
of the specimens had a strong affinity for the liquid called beer.  "George,
don't worry.  I'll be right back!"  She leaned over and impetuously gave him
a kiss on the cheek.

   It was George's turn to blush.  "Lara, don't worry.  I'll wait all night
for you."

   "You won't have to wait near that long," Lara teased as she walked toward
the restrooms.  "I promise."

   She saw a sign for the ladies' room and walked briskly in that direction.
Despite the enthusiasm she showed to George and Susie, she felt overwhelmed
by the emotional overload she experienced within her automatronic body.
"God, I sure as hell wasn't prepared for anything this intense," she mumbled.
She stopped, then smiled.  She felt joy when she realized what she had said.
She had just used the name of the human deity in vain.  The rush of happiness
she felt was as confusing as the realization.  "Prior programming," she
silently analyzed.  "It is the result of prior emotional encoding from my
human specimens.  Being exposed to any human stimulus, I immediately
experience the emotional responses to that stimulation that my specimens
would.  God, it's fuckin' confusing!"  She smiled again, having indulged the
urge to use what humans call profanity.  She shook her head.  It was going to
be hard to control and manage all of this!

   As Lara walked by the bar on her way to the ladies' room she abruptly
smelled something.  It was a temptingly fragrant aroma that assailed her
olfactory senses.  It almost overpowered her.  "God, what's that amazing
smell?" she said aloud.  "It smells wonderful!"

   A girl at the bar turned in her direction.  "Oh, I'm sorry," the female
offered.  "I hope my smoke isn't bothering you?"

   "Smoke," Lara repeated.  "Cigarette smoke, of course.  It's a known
carcinogenic substance, but one repeatedly imbibed by certain humans due to
the addictive chemical properties contained in tobacco leaves.  It smells
fragrant to me undoubtedly because one or more of my specimens developed an
addiction to the ingredient they call nicotine."

   "What'd you say?"

   Lara stared at the girl seated at the bar.  She couldn't pull her eyes off
her.  The girl in question was a lovely female of the species, by her
calculation 24.5 years of age.  She held a burning cylinder that was filled
with crushed and processed tobacco leaves.

   The girl blithely continued to talk.  "I didn't mean to blow smoke in your
direction.  I'm sorry if it bothered you."

   Still staring, Lara impetuously sat down beside the chatty female.  "No,
don't worry, it didn't bother me," she assured her, smiling.  She stuck out
her hand.  "My name's Lara Aquillo, by the way," she offered quietly.  "And
you are -?"

   "Cynthia," the girl replied, weakly shaking Lara's hand.  She was still
worried that Lara was upset.  "I figured you must be complaining about my
smoke.  I'm so sorry.  I didn't mean to but I turned my head to exhale just
as you walked by, and I guess I must have -."

   "The smell is wonderful," Lara interrupted, still looking wide-eyed at the
lovely girl.  She eyed the pack of cigarettes sitting in front of Cynthia.
"Might I have one of those?"

   Cynthia sighed in relief and smiled a big smile.  "Ah, so you smoke, too?
I see.  I get it.  So it _did_ bother you, but obviously not in a bad way,
huh?"

   "No, definitely not in a bad way," Lara repeated robotically.  She sniffed
the ambient smoke in the air surrounding Cynthia.  "I must have one of those
cigarettes," she repeated.

   Cynthia laughed.  "I get it.  I know what's going on.  You've been trying
to quit.  But when you walked by me you got a whiff of my exhaled smoke.  You
couldn't stand it.  It made you crazy; made want to backslide.  Is that it,
Lara?"

   "Yes, precisely," Lara smiled.  "I haven't had a cigarette in too long.  I
feel as if I need one right now.  Cynthia, can you accommodate me?"

   Cynthia held her pack out to Lara, which on the front said Benson & Hedges
Menthol 100's.  "Yeah, sure," the other girl pleasantly replied.  "Anything
to help out another backslider.  I myself tried to quit a few weeks back.  In
fact it was right here in this very bar that I finally succumbed and fell off
the wagon.  So don't worry, Lara.  I totally understand."  She paused.  "I
assume menthol's okay with you?"

   Lara slid a long white cylinder from the green pack.  "Menthol?  Oh, yes,
I recall now.  It's a flavoring additive to the crushed tobacco leaves that
provides a taste of mint to the smoke.  Yes, Cynthia, I believe that menthol
will be just fine with me."

   From a nearly endless study of human habits Lara had seen the peculiar
ritual of lighting up performed millions of times by male and female humans.
So she knew what to do.  She held the cigarette by her lips and waited for
Cynthia to procure the fire to light it.

   "Oh, want me to do the honors?"  Cynthia took her lighter and clicked it,
releasing a flame.  She touched it to the tip of the cigarette now in Lara's
perfect lips.  "But of course, that makes sense.  If you were trying to quit
you wouldn't have your own lighter, would you, Lara?"

   With her lips Lara drew on the burning cylinder.  She tasted the aromatic
smoke filling up her mouth.  It was exquisite!  Clearly one of the specimens
she used to program the automaton's emotions had developed a strong
predilection for this particular human activity.

   Instinctively she sucked the mouthful of smoke deep into her lungs.  Her
eyes sparkled.  The pleasure she felt at that moment was magnificent!

   "Pretty nice, isn't it?" Cynthia laughed, returning her own cigarette to
her lips for a drag.  "Yeah, quitting is awful tough.  Believe me, I know."

   Lara slowly exhaled smoke simultaneously through her mouth and nostrils.
Emotional motor memory that she acquired from her specimens made it almost
effortless.  "Truthfully, I can't imagine why any human, male or female,
would ever want to cease the exquisite practice of smoking cigarettes," she
droned on quietly.  "I had no idea this practice was so pleasurable."  She
raised it to her lips and dragged again, harder.  After a deep inhale she
smiled at Cynthia.  "But I didn't understand the concept of pleasure itself
until only moments ago."

   Cynthia hesitated.  "I have no idea what on earth you're talking about,"
she laughed a little nervously.  "But whatever.  Lara, obviously you're a
smoker and obviously you were in need of a nicotine fix.  So I'm happy to be
able to help you out."  She turned back to her beer and the TV over the bar.
"Any backsliding smoker is a friend of mine."

   Lara didn't move.  With her cigarette in hand she stared at blond Cynthia.
This female was even more attractive than Susie.  She had long straight blond
hair, peroxide induced, Lara noted, and a physical body and facial features
that made her heart beat faster and faster.  Lust was back again, she mused,
once more undoubtedly the result of having programmed in the emotional coding
from a male of the species.  But it didn't matter.  At that moment Lara felt
overwhelmingly attracted to the gorgeous female with the cigarettes.

   "I want to be your friend, Cynthia," Lara whispered, finally responding to
the lovely female's last statement.  "I can be a backsliding smoker."

   "What?"

   Lara smiled sweetly.  "I want to be your friend," she repeated.  "I'm new
in town.  I don't know a soul.  But I will backslide from now on."  Seeing
the girl's confusion she hit on her cigarette and sucked more smoke into her
lungs.  She laughed.  "Cynthia, you said that any backsliding smoker is a
friend of yours," she reminded her.  "I'd like to be your friend."

   Cynthia sipped her beer and nodded.  "Ah, I see.  You just came to town.
So I suppose you think that just because I smoke that I'm willing to become
your new best friend?"

   Lara released another thick mixed mouth and nostril exhale.  "Well, I do
enjoy smoking.  I believe my emotional programming will require me to engage
frequently in this pleasant activity while I'm here.  So yes, I hope you will
agree to become my friend, Cynthia."

   "I don't know," Cynthia laughed uneasily.  Something was wrong but she
couldn't quite put her finger on it.  "Uh, you're awful damn attractive,
Lara.  God, you look like you might be a super-model or something.  If I hang
around with you no guy will ever pay any attention to me.  They'll be too
busy drooling over you.  You know?"

   Lara nodded.  "Yes, I am quite attractive.  But it was intentional.  You
see, I desire to engage in sexual activity with humans just as soon and as
often as possible."  She expertly trimmed her cigarette in the ashtray in
front of the blond.  More emotional motor memory.  Lara smiled at her new
comrade.  "That's the plan."

   Cynthia just shook her head.  "My God, Lara, you're something else!  Well,
you have nothing to worry about.  Just look around.  Nearly all the guys in
this room would love to get inside your panties.  It's obvious that every
single guy in the bar has been staring at you!"

   Lara looked.  It was true.  She let out a satisfied moan.  The felicitous
appearance of her autonomic body had had the desired effect on these humans!
"Ah, excellent," she sighed happily, feeling more deep pleasure.  She put her
cigarette between her lips and dragged, sensing more gratification.  "I must
understand this human sexual experience right away, tonight."

   Just then Lara felt a tap on her shoulder.  She turned.  It was George.
He was angry.

   "Hey, I thought you were going to the ladies' room.  All of a sudden I
look up and you're sitting here smoking a cigarette at the bar with her.  You
didn't tell me you were a smoker!"

   "You didn't ask.  But I am a smoker, George," Lara said with a teasing
smile.  "Does this trouble you?"

   "Hell, yes!  No date of mine's gonna smoke.  If you're a smoker, Lara, we
have nothing to discuss!"

   "Fuck off, George," Cynthia wryly muttered.  "Lara's my friend.  She
doesn't need you giving her shit just because she fell off the wagon and
started smoking again tonight."

   "Like you, Cynthia?  Shit, for awhile there I thought there might be hope
for you.  But you only quit for, what?  A total of two weeks?  Pathetic,
Cynthia.  Simply pathetic!"

   "As I said, George, fuck off," Cynthia repeated without looking.  "Yeah,
I'm smoking again.  But so what?  It's none of your damn business.  Get
lost!"

   George grew angrier.  "Listen, you stupid little nicotine-addicted bitch.
I bought Lara a beer.  I'd never have done it if I knew she smoked."  He
turned to the befuddled automaton.  "Lara, you can come back and get your
beer.  If you're gonna sit smoking at the bar with _her_ then I want nothing
to do with you.  Go ahead and rot your lungs out with Cynthia!"

   Lara raised her eyebrows.  "George, your remarks confuse me.  Is it true
that you do not participate in this pleasurable activity that both Cynthia
and I enjoy?"

   "Smoking?  Hell, no!  I never touched a cigarette in my life.  I sure as
hell don't intend to spend time with any woman who does, even a girl as
pretty as you are, Lara!"

   Lara didn't intend to do it, but all of a sudden she felt compelled.  She
had no choice.  Emotional encoding made her utilize one of the non-human
talents she programmed into her automatonic body.  She stared right at him.
"George, look at me."  He did.  "You do _not_ dislike the activity of
smoking.  Not at all.  Instead, you want to smoke with us.  Smoking is a very
pleasant activity.  Please repeat that for me."

   George looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi.
He sputtered.  "I don't dislike smoking.  Smoking is very pleasant.  I want
to smoke with you."

   "Of course you do, George.  So sit down and light up a cigarette with
Cynthia and me."  Lara smiled at her thunderstruck new girlfriend.  "May
George have one of your cigarettes?"

   "Uh, yeah, sure," Cynthia gasped, bewildered.  She watched George remove a
B&H Menthol 100 from her pack and obediently slip it between his lips with a
blank look on his face.

   "Now light him up, Cynthia," Lara went on.  "Just like you did for me a
moment ago."

   The stunned blond took her lighter and clicked it.  With no vacillating
George promptly leaned in to catch the flame.  He puffed once, twice and then
a third time on the cigarette as it began to burn in earnest.

   "God, thanks, Cyn," he smiled broadly.  He tipped his head and released a
thick stream of exhaled smoke.  "Hey, I'm sorry for what I said before.  I
don't know what got into me.  I love to smoke!"

   Lara smiled smugly.  "That's much better, George.  Now I bet you want to
bring my beer, and yours too, over here to join us at the bar so we can all
smoke together?"

   George nodded.  "God, yeah, that'd be great.  I'll be right back, ladies!"

   He briskly walked back to his table.  Cynthia turned to Lara in stunned
disbelief.  "Oh my God, Lara!  What the hell just happened?  What did you do
to George?"

   "I changed his mind," the pretty brunette explained, frowning for a
moment.  "I sensed George was about to become violent about our smoking.  He
would've grabbed our cigarettes in anger and thrown them down in the ashtray.
I didn't want that to happen."  She put her B&H to her mouth and slowly
dragged on it.  "I couldn't let that happen!"

   A smile slowly spread across Cynthia's face.  "Oh my God," she repeated
breathlessly.  "That was fuckin' awesome, Lara!  George has been a super anti
for as long as I've known him.  In one second you changed him completely.  I
never saw anything like it.  How _did_ you do it?"

   "It was actually a mistake," Lara quietly muttered, while manicuring her
cigarette in the ashtray.  "It was a purely emotional reaction on my part.  I
shouldn't have used the power for such an incidental correction.  No, it was
neither prudent or logical.  Hmm.  Till now I never understood how human
emotions impact human decision-making.  This was a learning experience, a
mistake to correct in the future."

   "But -?  But you can do that?  You just say a magic word and change his
mind?"

   From the corner of her eye Lara saw George approaching.  He carried two
beers with the burning cigarette hanging from his mouth.

   "It's hard to explain, Cynthia.  You won't understand.  But the power
isn't for unlimited use.  I only loaded it in the automaton as a failsafe, to
protect myself in urgent circumstances.  I only meant to use it if needed to
protect myself or to secure sustenance in an emergency.  I never intended to
use it absent serious danger.  Shit!"  She smiled awkwardly.  "I think that's
the appropriate human reaction."

   Cynthia laughed.  "Lara, like I said before, I don't know _what_ the hell
you're saying!  But it's great.  Man, you could turn out to be one hell of a
friend!"

   "I'd very much like to be your friend," Lara replied sincerely with a shy
smile.  The automatonic body's emotional programming urged her to raise her
cigarette to her lips.  She did.  She took another drag and inhaled the smoke
deeply.  The pleasurable physical and emotional response continued as she
held it inside.  "I find you and George both to be sexually stimulating to me
in entirely different ways.  I want to be with you both."

   Cynthia laughed nervously.  "God, Lara.  You're fuckin' direct!"  She
tapped an ash from hers in the ashtray and looked down.  "Well, if it matters
I find you attractive, too.  Very attractive."  After hesitating she looked
back.  "What did you mean that power doesn't have unlimited use?  You mean
you can't use it whenever you want?"

   George finally returned.  He sat down.  Lara smiled at him but continued
her explanation to Cynthia.  "Let me use a metaphor you can understand.  It's
like bullets in the chamber of a gun.  You fire bullets from the chamber.
Once they're gone they're gone for good, till you reload.  My power works a
set number of times.  Then it's gone.  It was a mistake to use it on George.
It wasn't necessary.  I acted reacted irrationally, based on emotion instead
of logic, just like a human being would."

   "Whoa, ladies," George laughed.  "I got no idea what you're chattering
about.  But let's not shoot anybody."  He took his cigarette from his mouth
and sipped his beer.  "Because we're all friends here, right?"

   Cynthia shook her head, astonished.  George clearly had no idea what had
happened to him.  She watched him blow out a long stream of smoke.  He looked
like a guy who'd been smoking for years!

   "George, help me out here.  I though you hated smoking and smokers?"

   "Yeah, it's weird," he said sheepishly.  "That's what I thought.  Then
Lara said I wanted to smoke with you guys and suddenly I knew she was right."
He put his cigarette to his lips and hit on it.  "Cynthia, I'm sorry for all
the shit I used to give you about smoking.  I was an asshole.  Smoking's
great!"

   Cynthia had finished her cigarette.  She crushed it in the ashtray and
stared at Lara.  "Hey, Lara, remember you and I were about to visit the
little girls' room together?"

   Lara looked at her quizzically.  "I do not remember discussing that with
you, Cynthia."

   "Sure you do," Cynthia said urgently.  "You're about done with your
cigarette.  Come on, let's go.  You can have another one as soon as we come
back."

   Lara finally understood.  She took a last drag and crushed hers out as
well.  "Okay.  George, we'll be back soon."

   "Don't take too long, girls," George grinned.  "I'll still be here smoking
when you get back."

   When they reached the ladies room Cynthia cornered Lara.  "I just had to
talk to you more about this, Lara," she said breathlessly.  "I don't think
you understand what you just did."

   "I made George want to smoke," Lara blithely replied.  "I understand
perfectly."

   "That's not what I mean.  See, George was a real anti.  He hated smoking.
He and I dated way back in high school.  I still see him here at the bar
every week.  A couple months back I quit smoking for awhile.  Everyone knew
about it.  To my surprise pretty soon George asks me out.  We went out for a
couple weeks.  Then I backslid.  God, he was super pissed!  You talk about
irrational?  He was totally unreasonable with me when he realized I started
up again.  I don't know how you did it, honey, but you just turned George
into a completely different guy!"

   "No, he's the same," Lara shrugged.  "Only his opinions about smoking have
changed."

   "Yeah, but shit, girl.  Tell me again how you did that!"

   Lara stared at the lovely blond companion who stood only inches away.  She
felt herself growing wet between the legs.  It was more programming imparted
from her anal probe specimens.  But knowing that didn't minimize the strong
impact those feelings were having at that moment.  She knew what it was.  It
was lust, pure and simple.

   Lara put out her hand.  She began to softly stroke the other girl's
luxurious long blond hair.  "Tell me, Cynthia, do you _really_ like me?"

   "Yeah, Lara, of course.  What kind of question is that?"

   "I must know if you desire to be with me before I will explain the origin
of my abilities."

   "Do you mean am I willing to sleep with you?  Is that what you want to
know?"

   Lara smiled.  "Yes.  I wish to be your friend but I also wish to posses
you, Cynthia.  I feel the need to be with you, to have you as my own.  I wish
for us to have sexual relations together."

   Cynthia laughed.  "Lara, I must say, your pickup line needs a hell of a
lot of work!  But yeah, sure, why not?  I occasionally go bi.  I can do
that."  She raised her hand and touched Lara's fingers stroking her hair.
"If it'll make you happy, Lara, baby, I'd love to fuck."

   Lara shivered at the touch of Cynthia's fingers.  "Excellent.  That
pleases me, Cynthia.  And I sense that in return you wish to exploit my power
for your benefit.  Correct?"

   "Blunt, aren't you?"  Cynthia shook her head with a laugh.  "Yeah, well, I
_was_ thinking I have some things I'd love to have your help with, in
addition to George, I mean.  So what is it?  Voodoo?  Some kind of magic?"

   "Technology," Lara said placidly.  "I can redirect human thought in any
manner I desire."

   "But you only have a few bullets left in the chamber of your gun, right?"

   "Yes, but if I return to my ship I can reload as necessary."

   Cynthia giggled and rolled her eyes.  "Oh my God, yeah, right!  What are
you, Lara?  Some kind of alien or something?"

   "I would love to explain in detail, Cynthia.  But you can't endure the
whole truth now.  Perhaps after we become intimate I will be able to explain
it fully.  In the meantime, do not worry.  I understand the bargain you're
proposing.  We will make love as I wish and then I will use my power as you
direct."

   "Shit, this is fuckin' great," Cynthia excitedly exclaimed.  Then she
lowered her voice.  "Look Lara, don't think I'm a prostitute or anything like
that.  I mean, it's not like I'll only do it for what I can get out of you."
She lowered it to a whisper.  "I want you to know I do think you're
incredibly sexy!"

   "The feeling's mutual," Lara whispered back with a giggle.  She shivered
with eager anticipation.  "I believe that's the proper expression?"

   "Yeah, sure is.  Hey, we'd better get back to George before he wonders
what happened."

   "I thought you needed to use the restroom to relieve yourself?"

   "It was an act, an excuse to get away so we could talk.  I don't need to
pee," Cynthia laughed.  "Lara, you're incredibly smart but at the same time
unbelievably na´ve!"

   Lara touched Cynthia's neck.  "You will help me shed that naivete, won't
you?  And our ongoing mutual relationship will be symbiotic in every
respect?"

   "Yeah, whatever."  Cynthia looked around.  Since they were alone in the
ladies' room she brazenly kissed Lara on the mouth.  "This has to hold you
till later, baby," she cooed seductively.  "I can be a real tigress in bed.
I want you to know that!"

   Lara's heart pounded.  The feel of the blond girl's lips on hers
electrified her whole being.  "God damn," she groaned, then laughed at her
further use of human profanity.  "Yes, this is what I want to understand, my
new friend.  When we return to see George I would also like to smoke more
cigarettes and drink beer."

   "Lara, honey, play ball with me and I'll buy you carton after carton of
cigarettes and as much beer as you can handle.  Come on, let's go!"


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