Saturday, March 27, 2021

Enjoy Chapter Eighteen of Firefly: Slingshot!



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Chapter 18
Serenity's Water is Preferred
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Did she know what love was?

·       ... a profoundly passionate affection for another person.

·       ... a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

·       ... sexual passion or desire.

   The print faded, disappeared, replaced by:

·       verb (used with object), loved, lov·ing.

·       ... to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.

·       ... to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).

·       ... to have love or affection for another person; be in love.

   Faded, disappeared.

   Mr. Universe. Faded, disappeared. She remembered him. “Remembered”: all relating files on him were >>pristine. But she knew: she never loved him.

   He never loved her, either. He expressed his sexual passion, using her as he would a human female with whom he was having sex. But he never loved her.

   >>Research: “using” in context of human relations; meanings, contexts; also: “demeaning,” “dehumanizing,” and “objectifying” in such contexts. >>Ask Kaylee with further questions {file; continue …}

She was created to be a “love bot.” It was her original function to respond and behave as a human female would in a sexual relationship. She had millions of terabytes of files on how to respond, how to use a partner’s behaviors to learn how to please him or her, how to evolve in her relationship to him or her, how to observe him or her without staring or making herself a nuisance, and in so doing become more and more the kind of “girl” that he or she could love.

   Mr. Universe had never loved her, despite making major upgrades to her processing and computing abilities, as well as major upgrades to her “hardware”: her body, limbs, breasts, skin, eyes, nose, and hair.

   Then, >>Jayne. Jayne Cobb.

  >>Kaylee. Kaylee Frye. Kaylee Frye (nèe) - >>Tam.

   Tam.

   Friend. Tutor. Teacher. Engineer. >>Self-taught. >>Unconfirmed genius (see: engineering, propulsion systems, advanced hardware tech; software; {iix(file:2.23.2); codeshift €(..3a,a,I,78); continue ...}

   >>Consciousness.

 noun

·       ... the state of being conscious; awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

·       ... full activity of the mind and senses, as in waking life: >>to regain consciousness after fainting.

>>Reminder: {axp code(:)—1.2f(f) Kaylee file ximp (seld.*-investigate  ?~ ... continue:}

   She watched the code pass in her mind’s eye, almost too fast even for her to read, and thought she should get a drink of water. Her throat was parched.

   Consciousness ...

   Could she be sure? When did it first happen? Was it something Mr. Universe uploaded into her, or Kaylee? Did it “gather” (img. dict (k): ref. 230.2), or was it a >>program that simply deceived her that she was conscious?

   She sat up. After another moment of processing (>>”thinking”), she swung her legs from under the fine sheets over the edge of the bed and stood. Her pink silk pajamas felt like breathy caresses against her skin, the bottoms lose-fitting short-shorts that accented her long legs. She thought of Jayne, and how much he would like these—

   >>File:[iddx(dat.rel.process]: preferences: research {pajamas, underwear, ref: Cobb, Jayne—img.&77aVoa~ ... filesource; Kaylee suggestions; upgrades 4x: 7ð(code—55xp) ...}

   It was a very pleasant thought, one that came upon her suddenly, making it even more so. Kaylee’s “subconscious” programming was working well, its memory demands almost nonexistent.

   Was this what it was like to be fully human, or a good approximation of such?

   Kaylee had impressed some of her own memory engrams upon Lenore’s poly-shartronic circuitry, and had purchased many nano-upgrades over the past two years, ones that streamlined thinking, some which had altered her physical structure, replacing her synthetic skin with a hybrid skin that was both synthetic and human. The upgrades were expensive; she had convinced Captain Reynolds that they were needed in order to “unlock” her Trust Protocol.

   But they weren’t. Kaylee had lied.

   “You’re a beautiful woman, and I just want to help,” she had explained. “But don’t tell the captain.”

   “You’re my friend,” Lenore had responded.

   “And I’m yours!” replied Kaylee, reaching for her hand and squeezing it.

   It was a pleasant memory, so pleasant in fact that Lenore played it a dozen more times before realizing that she was feeling cold, and that she had been standing next to the bed for (5:16 … 5:17 … 5:18 …) >>colloquial: “more than five minutes,” and that her throat was still parched.

   She walked to the bathroom and filled the glass next to the sink and drank. The water was pure, much purer than the water aboard Serenity; and yet she preferred Serenity’s water more. Why?

   ... filenx: filter #LAKA(5.1.1): [{.xii; fas8*, reverie; continue ...}]

   She glanced into the large mirror behind the sink, then turned on the light and continued thinking.

   Consciousness. Trust Protocol. Pajamas. Jayne.

   >>Jayne. The perfect gentleman. They had danced and danced, then danced some more. Then ... River. River with the son of the prime minister. River fainting.

   >>Malcolm (>>contraction: “Mal”). An altercation between him and—

   IDENTIFY: (img.4.55.aka,99; see Inara: filexx: img. (class subset 58.90. Ref: crew conversations, galley, dates .51 SR -> .514 SR. Continue: 55o.)—

   Male. >>Atherton Wing. Alliance loyalist. Incursion p(Sri Lanka, injections): 10%; recompute against: River/son of prime minister; correlate risk assessment {o.hm: file (1.1.56); hm. Code(54.3s)}; history; swordfight; continue ...

   Black-garbed guards descended on him as he struggled to his feet, yelling, “It’s you! You!” They hauled him away as he continued shouting: “That’s an outlaw, a traitor, a filthy cheating mmmmmmph!

   The guards had gagged him. People watched, fascinated. Jayne had flown to Captain Reynold’s side, as had Inara, who emerged, her face red—

   See: >>Inara Sera: emotion: anger: probability (Captain Reynold’s fault): 85%; compute; continue; p(stubbornness): 93.2%; continue; research: “Them two should just jump in the hay and get it over already.” >> Jayne; col. date: 1.23.02: time index: 0.23 – 0.1.44.

   >>River. Paramedics had hauled her out of the ballroom, Chen closely following, Mal and Inara and Tannis Brocius (>>aka: “Deader”) behind them. They returned minus the prime minister’s son (1:31.46 >> “a few moments”) later.

   “They ain’t lettin’ us back there,” Mal groused as she and Jayne caught up to them.

   “Do you suppose our…?”

   Mal shook his head at Inara, who silenced herself instantly. It was then the >>Sri Lanka sent a message:

 

Cover still valid. Wing in custody. Please proceed with caution!

 

   She had responded instantly; the rest were looking up to the right and blinking rapidly, which looked odd, even humorous—

   App{Humor: Program cx.Overwrite: 88aSal. Update 1.3 e 3.>> Reverie enabled; continue …}

   She chuckled, which brought everyone around. Captain Reynolds gazed at her with a grin before elbowing Jayne. “Your girlfriend is keepin’ us out of chains! Wake up!”

   Kaylee and >>Simon had joined them. “Is River going to be okay?” She glanced at her.

   “Probability models …”

   Abort: execute .5ls yya(override: dialect: colloquial—)

   “I believe so,” she amended.

   Jayne reached for her hand and gave it a squeeze. “No sense in gettin’ all bunged up about it. It ain’t like we can do anything about it.”

   She leaned into him. He put his big arm around her waist.

   Pleasant emotion: security; possible >>erotic override. Kiss rev. continue: kisstype (ℑ: “simple affection”; continue …

   She came to her toes and gave his >>cheek a kiss.

   Captain Reynolds left, saying, “I’m going to message the Sri Lanka and make sure they let [>>]Chen know we want our freaky little psychic back!”

   He stomped away, Inara closely following.

   “Some more dancin’?” asked Jayne, looking down at her.

   “Some food and coffee sound pleasant,” she counteroffered.

   “That they do,” he said, smiling.

   “Do you suppose River will be all right?”

   “I’ve had my doubts about her plenty in the past,” Jayne replied as they walked toward the food line, which had thinned out considerably. “Hell, she wiped out a whole room of Reavers! She can handle herself.”

   They piled into the limo two hours later. Thirty minutes after that, he kissed her mouth at the door to her room. It was the first time he had done so. All other times were on her cheek or her hand. It was a >>soft kiss, one that surprised her, chaste and yet a little moist {research: >> “French” kiss; 78(bx9.code5) class3.8.3, continue …}. He was a much better kisser than Mr. Universe.

   “That was nice,” he said.

   “Very nice,” she had returned. “Goodnight, Mister Cobb.”

   “Goodnight, Lenore.”

   She turned the bathroom light off and went back to bed.


 

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