“When you’re different, sometimes you don’t see the millions of people who accept you for what you are. All you notice is the person who doesn’t.”
― Jodi Picoult,
An Algorithm to Love
A young man and woman sat on the couch in the office of Empress Alexa. They were slight in build with androgynous features. Both were physicists, which caught Alexa Ivanovich and her brother Peter’s attention.
They looked up, hands folded in their lap as Alexa and Peter walked in. When Alexa approached them, they stood and offered a respectful bow. Alexa returned the honor and motioned for them to sit. Peter sat a few feet away with his tablet computer and pecked away at it.
Alexa sat on the couch next to the male and turned toward him brushing his pant leg with her knees. Her skirt rode up high on her thighs exposing her legs.
The male kept his eyes leveled at Alexa’s gaze while the girl looked at Alexa’s smooth skin and hair. She self-consciously pressed the fabric down in the gap between her legs as Peter took notes, lifting his eyes to watch the two on the couch.
“So, you are Jon and Mariah. I’ve heard about your work in the lab. I must say, I never expected you to advance so quick.”
“We have the best mentors,” Jon offered. Mariah nodded in agreement.
“I see you are humble as well.”
They averted their eyes in unison at the compliment.
“Tell me more about yourselves. I’d like to know about your work and what your hobbies are.”
Jon spoke first as Mariah sat silent, only answering when Jon referred to her for validation. Alexa continued to ask questions, directing some at Mariah. As Mariah spoke, Alexa placed her hand on Jon’s thigh. Alexa looked in Jon’s eyes with intensity.
Mariah paused and watched.
“Please continue,” Alexa urged.
Mariah began again as she watched Alexa’s hand rub the inside of Jon’s thigh. Mariah stopped again, this time, Alexa ignored her.
Alexa leaned into Jon, turning his face to hers with her fingers, and touching his cheek. She kissed him and watched his face for a response. Jon leaned back as Alexa’s aggressive sexuality smothered him.
Alexa cut her eyes over to Mariah and noted her growing frustration. She turned back to Jon.
“Jon, do you want to have sex with me?”
Jon looked into Alexa’s eyes as she stroked him playfully.
“If you desire it.”
“No Jon. I asked you if you wanted to have sex with me, not what I desired from you.”
“My only desire is to please you, Empress. In whatever way you wish.”
Mariah looked down at her hands in her lap and closed her eyes.
“Thank you, Jon. What I wish is for you to go with Peter. He has some questions for you.”
She gave Jon a pleasant smile and glanced at Peter, standing a few feet away, waiting. Jon walked out of the room with Peter, glancing back at Mariah. His concern was evident.
Alexa turned her attention to Mariah.
“Mariah, do I make you angry?”
Mariah looked up with a passive gaze at her Empress.
“No, ma’am. I don’t feel anger, only curiosity.”
“What are you curious about?”
“I am curious if I would feel the same pleasure as Jon.”
“What is it that you want?” Alexa asked.
“I want the same as Jon.”
“What did he want?”
“He wanted to please you.”
Alexa looked into Mariah’s eyes and judged her emotions. She sensed Mariah was not honest with her. Maybe the Cybrid knew this was a test. She waited as Mariah examined her with a quizzical gaze.
“Do you want to please me too?” Alexa asked.
“How will you do that, Mariah?”
“I will submit to you if you like.”
“What if I wanted you to seduce me, would you?”
“I’d like that very much,” Alexa cooed. Her eyes said otherwise.
Mariah approached Alexa and looked into her eyes. She exuded a quiet sensuality tinged with fear and wonder.
The Empress ran her fingers through Mariah’s hair, moving the strands from her face. Mariah’s green eyes grew larger as their lips touched.
Mariah’s kiss was electrifying, her gentle touch soothing. Alexa felt Mariah’s heat through her clothes. She struggled to stay focused. This was only a test, yet she felt her mind hijacked by their forbidden contact.
Mariah seemed to sense her arousal and her vulnerability. She became more assertive forcing Alexa in a submissive role. Mariah’s passion and skill surprised Alexa. After a few minutes, she found herself lost in the pleasure.
Alexa’s arousal was threatening to overcome her as Mariah kissed her neck and ran her fingers inside her panties.
“Is something wrong?” Mariah asked, frightened by Alexa’s sudden reversal.
“No, I just think it’s best we stop.” Alexa insisted.
“Did I fail to please you, Empress?” Mariah seemed apologetic.
Alexa smiled, hugged Mariah, and moved away with apparent uneasiness.
“You pleased me more than I anticipated. Will you do me a favor?”
The flush on Mariah’s cheeks disappeared, and her demeanor returned to the humble person she was before.
“Yes, Empress.” Her eyes looked at the floor as she held her hands together and bowed.
“Peter will come for you when he’s finished with Jon. I want you to go with him. He needs to ask you some questions.”
Alexa led the girl to an adjoining room where she could wait for Peter. She paused and felt a strange closeness to the girl. Alexa noted Mariah’s passive look eroded to one of a distant longing as she sat and stared through the outer wall of glass at the landscape and sea.
* * *
Hours later, Alexa sat at her desk writing in her journal. The Cybrids’ reactions troubled her. Their emotional algorithms were too controlled by their programming of loyalty and duty to the Dragons.
Both should have rejected her advances in a controlled way, yet they submitted and obeyed her simply because of her position as Empress. She didn’t want slaves; she wanted physicists with the ability to experience a range of emotions without losing themselves to their duty to obey.
Alexa stopped writing and swiveled in her chair to look out the glass wall of her office to the night sky. The Milky Way arched across the heavens in a cold light that kept the horizon ablaze in a suspended glow, a harbinger of something mysterious that chilled her.
She reflected on how she felt when she touched Jon and felt his arousal. It was how she felt with a human except the apprehension was missing. Her reaction to Mariah concerned her. She let it go further than she intended. It was an unimaginable and unsettling pleasure she felt with Mariah.
Her emotions troubled her. She imagined making love to the Cybrids and falling in love with them. The forbidden allure of love filled her heart against her will. She would never allow such things with another Dragon Sister or Male Dragon. The boundaries of such behavior remained unchallenged.
Humans and Cybrids shouldn’t feel this way toward each other. They existed to fill a void in her life. She felt a desire to love and be loved without consequence or shame to herself or others. Alexa feared the future with humans and Cybrids crossing the boundary of love and sex. She feared it because she didn’t know if it would elevate humanity or destroy it.
Alexa realized the initiation and acceptance of Mariah’s sexual encounter were because she didn’t consider Mariah human and so no lines of acceptable behavior were crossed. Or, were those boundaries crossed in a way that spelled the end of the Dragon’s rule? Social boundaries once crossed led one down a slippery slope of self-indulgence eroding the cornerstones of duty, honor, and self-sacrifice.
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