The drone deposits him at my feet, kneeling. His face is wet with tears, slimy with snot. “This was Jacob,” the drone announces.
I smile at him. “What’s your name?” I ask. He looks at me. Confusion? Hard to say. I can’t read minds, after all. But I’ve read his file; he’s smart enough to know that “Jacob” will not be the right answer. The candidates aren’t trained in protocols before I get them. Had he even met a drone before today? Probably. No, revise that. Of course he has. But even if you know intellectually that drones used to be people, it’s hard to think of them that way.
“For now,” I tell him, “Your designation is Candidate 5-Lambda.” He nods. “Would you like me to untie you?”
“Yes, please ma’am – sir – um…”
I had thought my gender presentation was entirely binary, and feminine, today. Apparently not. Strictly speaking, the question is irrelevant; neither “sir” nor “ma’am” are terms drones use.
“People who aren’t your master are addressed as Superior unless you are otherwise instructed.”
I beckon to the drone who brought him in. It walks forward and unties him. “Can you stand?”
He tries, but a moment later he’s on his ass. I nod at the drone; it kneels down and massages his feet and ankles. “Can you stand?”
He climbs to his feet, but wobbles. I flick my fingers and the drone stands up. It can support him as he recovers. I let my eyes rake over him, one hand gently squeezing my crotch. This is standard procedure, but with 5-Lambda… even if it were a violation of the rules I doubt I could help myself. Candidates are always attractive, but many of them don’t do much for me. Blake’s tastes aren’t mine, and it’s his tastes that determine who qualifies. But 5-Lambda… he’s a treat. Less muscled than most candidates, red hair (and the curtains match the drapes), absolutely covered in freckles, and taller than me. He doesn’t have the beard he had when his picture was taken, so I suspect that someone – and “someone” almost certainly means Blake – knew I’d find him attractive.
“What is about to happen to you is not a punishment. Some of the things I will do can be used to punish you for aberrant behavior, but today your pain, stress, and discomfort will serve two purposes. The first is to soften your mind so it will be more pliable. Can you guess what the second is?”
He shakes his head. I grin. “I’m going to get off on it.” I step forward and run my tongue from his collarbone to his neck. He flinches.
“Um, I, I…”
“You can stop this at any time. It will mean the end of your candidacy, a small memory wipe, and going home in disgrace. And you really can’t afford that, can you?” After all, if he could he wouldn’t be here. Blake compensates the families of successful Candidates lavishly, but it would take a very selfless person indeed to volunteer if they had any alternative.
“Let me be clear, Candidate 5-Lambda. Right now, your body is mine. Mine to look at, to fondle, to grope, to use, to hurt… and to fuck. And while all those things are in the service of your Overlord and your transformation, they are also for my own personal enjoyment. And I’m going to enjoy them. A lot.”
“So, did you get my present?” Blake’s voice is coy. “I had him picked specially for you.”
“The redhead. He’s yours.”
“Wait, what?” It’s not that Blake hasn’t picked Candidates with my tastes in mind before. He likes using his drones to get me off, and that works best with drones I think are hot. But they’ve still been his. “Mine?”
“Completely yours. If you want him.”
“What am I supposed to do with him?”
“Babe, you’ve trained dozens of my drones. You know what to do with him.”
“I think it’s hundreds, actually. And I train them for you. I don’t have drones. I don’t know how to have drones.”
He raises his eyebrows.
One of his drones comes up to me and starts nuzzling at my neck. I grope the drone absently; my attention fixed on Blake. “Don’t try to distract me with sex!” The drone squeezes my cock through my dress. I turn to the drone and say, “Override Aleph 6.” The drone backs off.
“Aleph 6? Is that a new one?”
“Yeah, I use it before I go to Aleph 5. No electric shock, more humane. Your drones don’t really need pain to obey. Most of them, at any rate. But that proves my point. You don’t need verbal overrides, you just have to think the command to them and they obey. I don’t have the implants, I’m not sure I want the implants.”
His expression shifts. “The surgery is entirely safe. You’re more likely to get brain damage from a root canal.”
“It’s not that. I know your surgeons are good it’s…” I swallow, this is tough. “On some level I worry I’d wake up in the cells.”
“Fuck. You know I’d never… right? I love you.”
“Anxiety isn’t always rational. On some level, yes, I know that if you wanted me droned you’d’ve deactivated my overrides and had me processed years ago. But going into surgery means putting myself completely in your power--”
He interrupts. “That’s my point though! We’re supposed to be equals in this relationship. You aren’t my sub, I’m not your dom. But sometimes it feels like I am.”
“Okay, this sounds like there’s been some problem with our marriage festering in your mind for months. We’re supposed to talk about those things.”
“Um, babe? You’re the one who apparently thinks that I might deep down secretly want to drone you and only just mentioned it.”
“If you had drones, you wouldn’t need to ask me every time you wanted something done. Not that my drones aren’t entirely at your service, but right now if you wanted a burrito you’d either have to ask me or make it yourself, with your own body. Like a drone. I, I… I want to throw up every time I see you doing some menial task that could be delegated out.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Well I do! I want everyone to know your place! And that that place is besides me, not beneath me.”
I make what I hope is a lascivious wink and say, “Sometimes I like being beneath you.”
“Oh no, you’re the one who took sex off the table. You don’t get to put it back because it’s convenient.”
“I can’t be the only one here thinking about how hot the makeup sex will be.”
He blushes. “Look, I know you don’t really pay attention to what happens outside the Citadel, but a lot of my subjects – our subjects – seem to think that you’re, I don’t know, a particularly autonomous drone I like to fuck. They expect someone in your station to have drones. And when you don’t, it lowers you in their eyes. And yeah, I know you don’t care, but I do.”
“If I say I’ll think about it, will that be enough?”
“Will you actually think about it?”
A pause. I reach out and grab a passing drone by the cock, briefly fondling it before releasing it back to whatever its designated task is. The stim is soothing, I feel my muscles – which had apparently been clenched – relax. And I realize I don’t need to think about it. There are two possibilities: either I’m the love of Blake’s life, he’s the love of mine, and this is about wanting to make everyone in the Dominion realize exactly who I am to him… or this entire thing has been a giant, extravagant long con to get me droned. And honestly in that case I’d rather be a drone then live with the heartbreak finding that out would bring.
The next morning, I’m back in the cells to continue 5-Lambda’s training. He should be hungry. He hasn’t had any food, and only a sip of water, since our session last afternoon. I always enjoy the initial session, but it’s entirely preparatory. Get the Candidate fucked, in pain, tired, and hungry. There are lots of ways to do it, and arguably “fucked” doesn’t have to be part of the process, but if I subject a hot guy to intense agony I’m going to fuck someone afterwards; might as well be him.
Today 5-Lambda is naked, blindfolded, and tied to a chair. Nothing in his ears yet, and I’m deliberately loud as I open the door and walk into the room. I sit down in the armchair (designed specifically for my body and comfort) across from his chair (metal, hard, and decidedly uncomfortable). “What is your name?” I ask.
I said his new name only twice yesterday, and that was before I softened him up. I’ll be impressed if he remembers. “I think it was, I don’t know, a number and something. I don’t remember.”
Does he expect to be punished? Possibly. And I’m tempted to, just to see him writhe in pain. But no, I have to be professional about this. “Candidate 5-Lambda. Repeat it.”
“When I ask you your name, I want you to tell me your designation is Candidate 5-Lambda.”
“What is your name?”
“Candidate 5-Lambda, Superior.”
“Wrong.” I slap his face. “Drones don’t have names. Your designation is Candidate 5-Lambda. What is your name?”
“I don’t have one, Superior.”
A drone unties the bonds on his arms and wrists while another gives him a small hunk of bread and cheese.
“Eat,” I tell him.
He wolfs it down. It’s not enough, of course. That’s the point. “What is your designation?”
“Candidate 5-Lambda, Superior.”
This time a drone places a straw to his mouth. “Drink, it’s just water.” He sucks up as much as he can, but once again, it isn’t enough. It also isn’t just water, but the mind-softeners are almost flavorless and the dosage is low.
I repeat myself. “When I ask you your name, I want you to tell me your designation is Candidate 5-Lambda. What is your name?”
“My designation is Candidate 5-Lambda, Superior.”
A drone removes his blindfold. He blinks as his pupils contract in the light.
There are debates on the next step. Some people think that drones shouldn’t use first person singular pronouns; it implies individuality. Others think that replacing those pronouns with things like “this drone” is stupid. I tend towards the former opinion (and also, it’s hot), while Blake is decidedly in the latter camp. But 5-Lambda won’t be Blake’s drone.
“One more change. Don’t say ‘my,’ or ‘me,’ or ‘mine,’ or ‘I.’ Refer to yourself as ‘this drone’ or ‘5-Lambda.’ What is your name?”
“This drone’s designation is Candidate 5-Lambda, Superior.”
The drone unties his legs.
“Stand up, that chair isn’t comfortable.”
He stands, and once again I let my eyes rake over his body, over my body.
“You learn quickly, you obey well. Good boys deserve favors.”
The second line is deliberate, a mnemonic he learned before he was 5-Lambda. I haven’t schooled his face to impassivity yet, so I see the flash of recognition on his face. “You’re a musician?” he asks, momentarily caught off-guard, momentarily thinking like a person.
A minute later he’s back on the chair, tied up, and blindfolded. “Candidate 5-Lambda, we are not two people having a conversation. In this room there are one person, three drones, and one candidate-drone. Right now, the person is talking to the candidate-drone and the candidate-drone is responding. I remind you once again that you can end this at any time. Do you wish to leave?”
I relish this. Sometimes it does happen, some of them do choose to leave. And I let them go after a quick memory wipe. But usually they don’t respond; I suspect they hope their silence will be taken as consent.
“Candidate 5-Lambda, do you wish to leave?”
My cock hardens when he says “No.”
“Good drone.” I put a straw to his mouth and he drinks. I let him drink his fill; the drones bring more water after he finishes the first cup. I stand and press my body against his shoulder, letting him feel my cock.
“Do you want me to fuck your face?” I ask.
I don’t mind that he takes a moment to respond. This is an essential part of the learning process. Drones aren’t mindless; it’s just that their minds don’t matter. Whether he’s fully grasped this – and in truth there’s no reason he should have this early in the process – is a different question.
“If you want to, Superior.”
Not correct, but much better than many Candidates do when asked this question the first time. A few of them are brave, or stupid, enough to say “No”; they get beaten and warned that a second failure will disqualify them. “Yes” is a more common response, and while it’s wrong, I don’t punish them for it. Well, unless I’m in a bad mood or they’re really hot.
“Candidate 5-Lambda, full marks for effort, but wrong.”
He flinches. God, he really is hot as hell. Especially when he’s scared. I want to untie him, bend him over my knee, and spank him. Not as punishment, I just want to get off on his cries and whimpers. But that isn’t how you get good drones. And I want 5-Lambda to be a good drone.
“Candidate 5-Lambda, we’ve already established that drones don’t have names. Drones don’t have anything. That includes opinions. As a drone, you will neither give nor withhold consent. As a Candidate, the only time your consent matters is if you ask to leave. Do you want to leave?”
My cock is still against his shoulder and I grind into him as he decides his answer.
When it comes it’s quiet, with a hint of a sob behind it. “No.”
“Good drone. Do you want me to fuck your face.”
“I –” my hand goes to his throat, a quick warning, “I mean… Superior, this drone has no desires.”
He said “I.” Twice. Do I punish him? I want to, but were I to punish Candidates every time I want to, I wouldn’t get any drones. Just screams and cries for mercy. Fun, but not practical. And he did correct himself. But then, 5-Lambda is mine, not Blake’s. If I ruin him, I won’t damage anyone else’s property.
I turn to one of the drones. “Count each time Candidate 5-Lambda is says ‘I’ starting at two. Duration indefinite.” The drone is impassive, as it should be.
“I’ll decide on your punishment once you’ve racked up enough points.”
“How many –” he cuts himself off. “Nevermind, I… this drone doesn’t need to know.”
“You’re learning. You’re becoming a good drone.” I turn to the drone on counting detail. “Untie him and put him in my chair. Then suck him off to orgasm.” Rewards are important. If the reward is tinged with a touch of horror, with a vision of what his future will be… well, that probably helps the lesson stick.
All of Blake’s drones give good head. This drone, I don’t remember its designation, is no exception. It doesn’t take long before 5-Lambda is squirming. I wish I could read his mind, know whether the physical pleasure he’s obviously feeling is complemented or contrasted by his thoughts and emotions. I’ll never be able to do that, though. The implants, once I have mine and he has his, aren’t designed for that; I’m not sure whether it’s even possible. Which is probably for the best: once he’s a drone its thoughts and feelings won’t matter.
After he climaxes and the drones have cleaned him off, I sit in his lap. “Try to cum as much as possible during your training. Candidates are allowed to, but a good drone does not cum.”
The drones echo the last six words under their breaths. It’s a trigger phrase, an absolute truth.
“Candidate 5-Lambda, you said earlier that you had no desires. That’s going to change, because I am going to order you to want something. Candidate 5-Lambda, want to be a good drone. Do you want to be a good drone?”
I remove his blindfold. Once again, he blinks in the light.
“Are you a good drone?”
“This drone does not evaluate himself.”
For now, the gendered pronoun will slide. He does still have a gender, and I don’t think he’s heard me refer to any drones as “it.” Besides, otherwise the response is perfect. Third person, clinical language, almost devoid of humanity. His file said he’d scored high on vocabulary, but knowing abnegating words and using them about oneself aren’t the same thing.
Praise is good for Candidates. “That was an excellent answer.” It’s the first time I’ve given him a compliment other than “good drone.” “You’ve earned two rewards.” I turn to the counting drone, “Deduct one ‘I’ from your count.” I stand up. “Get on your hands and knees and follow me.”
No, the reward isn’t going on all fours. He might think it is, or think that I think it is.
The counting drone speaks, “Should I follow you, Superior?”
“Yes,” I tell him. “Good proactivity protocols.”
Spontaneous rewards are tricky. The ideal reward for a Candidate is one that brings pleasure with a touch of horror, like the blowjob the drone gave him. 5-Lambda needs to eat a proper meal, so I decide to go with food. I walk out of the room, down the corridor, and into another. Drones open and shut the doors as we pass.
The room is huge, but mostly empty. In the center two chairs face each other. Both padded leather, but only one has restraints for the wrists, neck, and ankles. A light-bulb dangles over them from the ceiling , the only illumination in the room. I sit in the chair without restraints. 5-Lambda looks at the other chair then back to me. “Superior, should I – should this drone sit in the chair?”
“No. Kneel in front of it, facing me.” He obeys. “Standby drone, report.”
A drone steps out of the shadows. “I await direction, Superior,” it says.
“Retrieve one drone meal ration and one of the meals for instructors. If Kelly’s in the dining room, ask her which meal on order today is best. If she’s not, engage judgment protocols, choice is permitted.”
“I do not have judgment protocols, Superior. I apologize for the deficiency.”
I sigh, shoddy work. “Who was in charge of your candidacy-training?”
“Instructor Michael.” Of course. Michael, who failed one time too many. His son was hot, so I gave Michael the choice of execution or sending his son to the cells. He actually had the decency to choose death, but his son still ended up in the cells. I had the executioner-drone tell him that at the end. Always nice when someone’s last words are “You bastard!”
“Find a drone with judgment protocols, relay my order to it, then report for training in judgment protocols.”
I stroke 5-Lambda’s hair as we wait. Two drones walk in, one holding a drone meal ration, one holding a tray with a plate of roast lamb, a small salad, and a slice of cherry pie. Given that Kelly hates cherry pie, and knows that I love it, I guess she thought the real food was for me.
“Place the drone meal ration and tray on the floor next to Candidate 5-Lambda.” They obey.
“Candidate 5-Lambda, your reward is a meal of real food, a good one. This is not something most Candidates get. It will also be your last. Next to the tray is a drone meal ration: that is what you will eat for the rest of your life. Eat the real food. If you are still hungry afterwards, eat the drone meal ration. You may use your hands.”
Drone meal rations don’t taste bad, or so I’m told. They contain all the nutrients a drone needs for strength, energy, and muscle maintenance. But they’re hardly appetizing. If he hadn’t impressed me with ‘This drone does not evaluate himself’ his last real food would have been the hunk of bread and cheese I gave him earlier.
5-Lambda eats slowly. I massage my crotch as I watch. The occasional flicker of eyes suggests he notices. Good. Observance protocol training should be easy.
He doesn’t even look at the drone meal ration when he’s done. “Sit in the chair,” I order.
As soon as does, five drones step out and each secures one of the restraints. I order a standby drone to remove the tray and drone meal ration.
“The time has come,” I tell my future drone, “to clean your mind.”
I leave him an hour later. The bulb flashes on and off at irregular intervals, none longer than a minute. His ears are covered by headphones that transmit a litany of nonsense mixed with trigger phrases, cacophony, and euphony. That will shift over the next several hours. As his mind softens the nonsense and cacophony will fade, and the trigger phrases will be supplemented with base protocols, axiomatic truths, and secondary directives. Then, white noise. The white noise will be the longest part. All the while the bulb will flicker randomly. It’s probably unpleasant, I wouldn’t know. One of the benefits to being in charge of training is that I can skip out on conducting the parts that bore or irritate me. I could skip out on conducting training altogether, but… yeah, that’s not gonna happen.
Blake’s not waiting for me when I get to his chambers. “The Overlord’s meeting with his governors is running late, Superior. Would you like to hurt this drone until the Overlord is finished?” My heart melts at the words. I know Blake thinks saying “this drone” is silly; having drones use first person singular pronouns is one of the only parts of drone training he’s overruled me on. But any time he uses a drone to deliver an apology to me, he overrides his own directive.
And yes, I would like to hurt this drone. “Disengage impassivity protocols and reduce pain tolerance,” I order. “I want to hear you scream.”
The drone is screaming when a door-drone announces that Blake is coming. I order the drone I’ve been hurting to engage its impassivity protocols and return its pain tolerance to the standard threshold, but I don’t bother to untie it; a drone will do that when its services are required again. Probably.
Blake claims my mouth with his and we kiss passionately. His drones undress us and he uses them to augment what he’s doing to me with his own body. They caress me, massage me, plant kisses down my back and legs, and whisper sweet nothings in my ears.
I return the affection as well as I can with only two hands, cupping his ass with one while the wraps around his shoulders, holding him as close to me as physically possible. We harden and grind into each other, then Blake ends the kiss and nuzzles my neck. I loosen my grip and a drone takes our cocks in its mouth. I hear a moan, but I don’t know if it’s mine or his. “I want you inside me.”
“Which of my cocks do you want?”
“The one attached to your body, doofus.”
My hips buck as a thought crosses my mind. The drone doesn’t gag, Blake must have overridden its reflex. He doesn’t always, both of us like a gagging drone now and then. “Hmmm?”
“I was just thinking what would happen if literally anyone else called you doofus.”
“Sadist. And Katie uses much harsher insults.”
“Babe, could we not talk about my sister during sex?”
A drone starts rimming me and I convulse with pleasure.
“God, Blake. This one is… damn!”
“Any chance we can do that to all of them?”
“Not really. Takes up a lot of brainpower. It can’t really do any task apart from oral sex. I’m going to have it done to a few others. Want me to do it for your drone?”
“No, I want to use him for a lot of things.”
“You’ll have others.”
“Probably. What if my capacity is one?”
“Mostly caps that low are from incompetent surgery. You’ll be getting the best surgeon I have, and the legal cap won’t apply to you.”
The drone starts fingering me, I moan and writhe in Blake’s arms, but I don’t say anything. I can’t say anything. The pleasure is too overwhelming. I almost cum the instant Blake enters me, but manage to hold myself back. I want him to cum first. In the end he doesn’t, he almost never does, but he’s not far behind me. The drone on my cock hasn’t finished swallowing the dregs of my load when he goes off. Blake eases out of me and once again there’s a drone’s mouth on my ass, drinking down the cum Blake deposited inside me.
5-Lambda is having a bad day. As a consequence, I am having a great day. “Candidate 5-Lambda, there are only ninety-eight standard resting postures for you to memorize. If you can’t bother to to understand the difference between thirty-four” (hands clasped behind the back – right on top of left, palms facing inward – legs slightly bent, head bowed, knees touching, feet apart) “and thirty-five” (hands clasped behind the back – right on top of left, palms facing inward – legs slightly bent, head bowed, feet in line with shoulders) “you’re going to fail your candidacy.”
Its conditioning has reached the point where the idea makes it visibly nauseous, and the reality is that for all practical purposes its candidacy is over. Even with a memory wipe, the fundamental need to obey, to have a master, to surrender freedom, those impulses would remain. It couldn’t function if it weren’t a drone.
Still, that doesn’t mean its candidacy is over. It still struggles with memorizing the endless iterations of protocols, with suppressing its thoughts, and with getting fucked. It seems to have some deep-seated emotional issues with penetration. Nothing that can’t be fixed, but completely unacceptable for a drone that’s going to be used the way 5-Lambda will be.
But for now, I get to hurt it every time it fails. And it fails a lot. It hasn’t learned to adjust its pain tolerance internally yet, so I’m still using drugs to reduce it as much as humanely possible before punishment. My idea of humane probably differs from its. That’s okay. It doesn’t need to have an idea of humane.
“This drone apologizes for its aberrant behavior, Master,” it says.
“I know you do. But that’s not sufficient. You need to be a good drone.”
“Yes, Master. This drone needs to be good.”
“Are you a good drone?”
“This drone does not evaluate itself.”
I still love that. Can’t believe I’d never thought of the phrase myself. A first-person variant of it is now a standard response for Blake’s drones, too.
“What is a good drone?”
“A good drone is an extension of its master’s will. A good drone complies with orders and proactively anticipates its master’s desires. A good drone suppresses its thoughts and feelings and acts on those of its master. When a good drone’s judgment protocols are engaged, it chooses what is best for its master.
“A good drone never repeats the same mistake. A good drone reports its unnoticed aberrant behaviors so it can be punished. A good drone learns from its punishments. A good drone reduces its pain tolerance before punishment.
“A good drone keeps its body healthy so that it can be used. A good drone rests to regain its strength. A good drone eats the rations its body needs. A good drone reports to the infirmary when it is sick or injured. A good drone has strength and stamina.
“A good drone learns new tasks and protocols. A good drone is smart. A good drone knows things that make it better at its functions. A good drone forgets things that are not relevant to its functions. A good drone has many functions and can add more.
“A good drone is available for its master’s pleasure. A good drone is horny. A good drone has a skilled mouth, a skilled ass, a skilled cock, and skilled hands. A good drone knows what its master likes. A good drone swallows. A good drone does not cum.
“A good drone has only one desire. A good drone wants to be a good drone.”
I tousle its hair. “Good drone.” It preens; I haven’t engaged its impassivity protocols yet. “Engage impassivity protocols.” It stops preening immediately and its face goes blank. “Good drone.” No response. “Run through each resting posture in alphabetical order.”
“Start with resting posture eight, then eighteen, then eighty, and so forth. The last is posture two. You can work out the others for yourself. Take your time, don’t announce your posture until you’re sure.”
It goes slowly. I make 5-Lambda start again at eight if it makes a mistake either in which posture corresponds to which number or which number is alphabetically after another. I punish it after every tenth mistake. Usually a quick electric shock, but I mix things up. The last time I bent it over my knee and spanked its bare ass with my hand. Probably didn’t hurt as much as some of the other things, but not all punishments are about the offender.
When it’s done, I reward it with a bath. Drones usually take quick lukewarm showers (Blake was right to tell me I couldn’t make them take ice-cold ones, damn him), so a long, hot bath is a serious prize I grope its body, fondle it, and tug on its hair as it cleans itself. Eventually I start to jerk it off. Its cock is hard and oozing precum in less than a minute.
“Candidate 5-Lambda, does a good drone cum?”
“And yet you do.”
“This drone cums when ordered to. Its master’s desire for it to cum overrides its own need to be a good drone.”
“But do you want to cum?”
“No, Master. This drone wants to be a good drone.”
“Does it feel good when you cum?”
“I am going to keep jerking you off. Judgment protocols engaged, choice permitted. You may beg me to stop.”
“Master, please stop jerking this drone off, please don’t let it cum, please let it be a good drone. This drone knows that good drones do not cum and it wants to be a good drone. This drone can suppress its need to be a good drone if its master wishes it to cum, but this drone implores its master to stop.”
I increase the pace.
“Master, Master, please. This drone does not want to cum. This drone wants to be constantly horny, for its body to constantly need release, and for that need to be denied. This drone wants to suffer so that it can be good.”
I bring 5-Lambda to orgasm with my mouth, then spit its cum in its face. “Candidate 5-Lambda, you will never cum again. From now on, you will be a good drone”
“This drone is grateful.”
One of the nice things about being married to the Overlord is that doctors still do house calls for you. I’m sitting at the table, Blake stands behind me, massaging my shoulders (with his own hands, not a drone’s). A door-drone announces Dr. Kej and she enters with her drones. She bows deeply to Blake. “Overlord.”
One of Blake’s drones addresses the doctor. “Please sit down, doctor,” it says. She does. “This is the Overlord’s husband, Thomas.”
“A privilege to meet you, sir.”
Blake’s drone replies before I can, “Yes, it is.”
“Hon, don’t speak for me.”
Dr. Kej winces. Is it the pet name? The fact that I gave him an order? Probably both. Blake continues to massage my shoulders, unperturbed.
Dr. Kej’s description of the implant surgery is professional and clinical. Not the best bedside manner, but I’m okay with that. I zone out for most of it; the drones will memorize everything she says anyway. “Any questions, Overlord, sir?”
A drone speaks. “What will his cap be?”
“It’s hard to say. Some people can only have or two drones, most can manage about five, and the legal cap is six, but you’ve waived it for Thomas. I doubt he’ll be up to your myriads, Overlord.”
“But a lot of it depends on the surgeon’s skill.” The drone again.
“Yes, Overlord. And I am extremely good at this. But with the legal cap at six, it’s hard to say how large a standard deviation above the mean is. I can’t give you any sort of idea in terms of whether ten drones would be a little bit more than the normal mental cap or staggeringly above it.”
“I’m sure you can get him at least ten. I’ll have you executed for incompetence otherwise.”
One of her drones gasps.
“Doctor,” I say “are your drones’ impassivity protocols engaged?”
“I think so, sir.”
She thinks so. “Drone, are your impassivity protocols engaged?”
“Yes, Superior. This drone apologizes for its aberrant behavior.”
I look up at my husband. “Yeah, no. She’s incompetent. We’ll need to find someone else.”
Blake speaks with his own voice. “Should I have her punished?”
“Aw, babe, you don’t need to.”
Dr. Kej is trembling. Pity she’s a woman; I love it when a man is this terrified.
Once again, Blake’s drone speaks. “You are dismissed, doctor.”
She rises, backs up just past the door, and bows. The door-drone closes the door after her own drones have filed past.
“You can’t reject all of them.”
“Look who’s talking. I’ve rejected three. You’ve rejected eight. And I’d’ve been fine with two of those. Blake, we both know this ends with you asking Katie to do it, so why don’t we just skip to that? We know she’s good, she did you after all.”
Blake sits down next to me. “Because I’m not joking when I say that if the surgeon doesn’t do a spectacular job with you I’ll kill them. And I don’t want to kill her.”
“You act like it’s inevitable. Katie won’t fail and even if she did, you wouldn’t actually have to kill her.”
“But I would. Probably with a drone’s bare hands right then and there without a trial.”
“So this whole rigmarole has been to find a surgeon you trust enough to let open my brain, but not one you like so much that you’d regret killing them in a fit of homicidal rage?”
As if on queue – and that would be because I’d already worked this out two surgeons ago and queued it – Katie walks in. “Is Blake being a shithead?”
“As per usual.”
She walks around the table and punches him in the arm. “Blake, I already told you. You aren’t going to find someone better than me. You aren’t going to find someone even half as good as me. My track record on implantations is perfect. Given that you’re the shining star on that track record, I’d think you’d know that.”
Blake has the decency to look away while Katie continues ranting, “I am also, quite possibly, the only person who loves Tom more than you do.”
She glares at me. “You know what I mean. If I mess up his surgery, which I won’t, I won’t really care if you kill me. Tom’s told me which doctors you’ve interviewed. They’re all brilliant experts, and I’d skin every one of the alive if they came near him with a scalpel.”
“Okay, okay. Point taken.” Blake raises his hands. “You can do the surgery.”
“How gracious of you to let me.”
“Sorry. Katie, will you please install Thomas’s implants?”
“That’s better. And yes, I will.”
The words are, to some extent, scripted. But they aren’t a formality. To my knowledge, no candidate-drone ever has come this far and failed, but with some seriously powerful truth serum in their veins, they really do have to mean every word they say.
“When you began your training, I told you that you could ask to leave at any time. But that is for Candidates. Once you are a drone, that option will be gone.”
“Do you want to leave?”
“Do you understand how I will treat you as my drone?”
“Master, this drone will be an object for you to use or discard at your leisure. You will have no obligations towards this drone. You will feed it, clothe it, and house it if it pleases you to do so. You will use it, fuck it, and hurt it. Sometimes you will hurt it to punish it for aberrant behavior, but sometimes you will hurt it for your own amusement. This drone will eat only drone meal rations, will sleep on the floor, will always be horny and never cum. This drone will only make decisions when ordered, and its choices will always be for the good of its master, not itself. The arrangement will be entirely to its master’s benefit, the only reward this drone will get is obedience to its master. This drone consents to be its masters drone because it wants to be a good drone, and a good drone is an extension of its master’s will. A good drone…” 5-Lambda recites the good drone creed.
“Candidate 5-Lambda, do you renounce your humanity, your family, and your identity to the service of your master?”
“This drone has no existence beyond being its master’s drone.”
“Candidate 5-Lambda, is this what you wanted when you arrived?”
“No, when this drone arrived it thought it was a person making a horrific sacrifice to save its family. It hated the thought of becoming a drone and almost asked to leave several times. This drone does not know whether its family has been compensated for its service and does not care. This drone no longer thinks it is a person and being a good drone is its only desire. All that remains of what arrived are some memories that this drone will now purge.”
“Candidate 5-Lambda, are the memories purged?”
“This drone has no memory of its existence before being its master’s drone and no interest in that existence. This drone begs its master to tell it, is it a good drone?”
“5-Lambda, you are no longer a candidate-drone. You are a good drone.”
“This drone exists for its master’s pleasure. It is his to use and fuck and hurt as he wishes.”
And then I cum on its face. It wipes the cum off its face with its hands and licks them clean. It looks up at me, face impassive.
“Report to the infirmary for your implants.”
It crawls away as I head up to Katie’s operating room for my own. I will never need to give it a verbal order again.
The New Year’s Ball is supposed to be a purely social occasion, but it never is. Diplomats from Blake’s client-states have pulled him off the dance floor to beg him to relent on taxes, to send soldier-drones to fortify their borders, to choose a different client-state to annex the next time he wants to expand the Dominion. I’ve been pulled off the dance floor by some drone-trainers who want to pick my brain on techniques; I don’t really mind that, it’s a chance to infodump and to size up potential trainers for the the Citadel’s drones. But still, I had really wanted to dance.
I reach out with my mind and order one of my newer drones to find one of Blake’s. I catch Blake’s eye when it does, and wink. Then my drone leads Blake’s onto the dance floor, through an obscenely erotic tango. Then they switch and Blake’s drone leads mine in a slow, sensual rumba. They continue to dance, trading off follow and lead, and we add more drones to the mix, partnering them off until we have six drone couples on the dance floor.
The other couples on the floor, mostly people, some people dancing with drones, dance among them. Our drones are beautiful, graceful, perfect. The other couples are fine, I guess.
Our dancing becomes less formal, more sexual. One of my drones squeezes the ass of the drone it’s dancing with. Two of Blake’s drones start grinding into mine. Another drone slips its hand into its partner’s pants. I disengage my drones’ impassivity protocols and enjoy the mix of desire and frustration on their faces. Blake must have disengaged his drones’ as well, because I see one of them open its mouth in what is almost certainly a moan.
I’m hard and if I keep watching I’ll end up fucking a drone in public. I re-engage my drones’ impassivity protocols and instruct them to be less erotic. Blake’s drones back off as well and we resume their more stately, chaste dance.
Katie taps me on the shoulder. “You’re going to give me diabetes,” she says.
“You literally already have diabetes.”
“Yeah, because this is so sickeningly sweet that it reached back in time to our mother’s womb.”
“Consider it payback for what I put up with at your bachelorette party.”
She groans. “In my defense I was drunk and my wife really is that beautiful.”
As the clock chimes midnight, my eyes lock with Blake’s as our drones kiss. “I love you so much,” he mouths.
“I love you too.”