Nicholas reeled in pain as he stepped out of the shower, dripping tepid water on the heated bathroom floor. His left ankle was at it again, reminding him of the most egregious day of his life.
It had happened on a Saturday night, almost ten years earlier, when all dreams and hopes for the future rested on an orange basketball. No one had believed his team could reach the Championship finals, not even their coach, but like all good underdog stories, they had proven time and time again that perseverance was key. It was the decisive game and, for the first time, the audience was cheering them on. After a terrible first quarter where every rebound ended on a turnover, the twenty-point difference had now shrunk to six, with his late-hour three-pointers’ practice finally paying off.
Three different scouts from prestigious universities sat in the silver and green bleachers, taking notes and analyzing his performance when it happened. A miscalculated jump followed by a head butt against the opposing team’s SF and he was down, leg bent unnaturally, broken fibula protruding from the skin. The recovery of the resulting compound fracture lasted up to seven months, but his one chance was gone, and the injury never fully healed.
Standing at almost six-feet three, Nicholas was not the tallest man in his family - that honor belonged to his older brother, landscape photographer Tom -, but he was certainly the handsomest, with short dark blond hair, penetrating brown eyes, and a perfect jawline that was swoon-worthy. An ex of his had once compared him to Henry Cavill, and while he was no Superman or Geralt of Rivia, he still made more heads turn than the ones he was interested in. Now, two months away from reaching his thirtieth birthday, the former sporting promise was making a living for himself in the IT sector. With a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering and already two years of experience under his belt on his path to become a PE, his field of expertise revolved around compilers and operating systems design and development. He spent most of his working days glued to a laptop screen, and even his days off invariably ended the same way. Entertainment software was also a predilection of his, and his tastes in that regard were quite peculiar.
Nicholas cleaned himself with a rugged blue and white striped towel, put on an old Giants T-shirt and jeans combo, thought of drying up his hair before realizing his old appliance was still broken, and peered at his tired reflection on the slightly steamed concave mirror. A small, soft pink sac was forming behind his right ear.
“Great, another one.” He mumbled, shaking his head in discontentment. Epidermoid cysts ran in the family. While he had never developed a major lump or experienced the need to have one surgically removed, the skin blemishes were always a source of stress as he struggled to remind his hands to avoid touching them or trying to squeeze them out. He combed his hair backwards to conceal its presence and descended into the living-room.
The wide open space, perhaps too big for one that lived alone, was decorated with a gray two-piece sectional sofa with chaise, two extra chairs to the left of it, and a round coffee table that had seen more beer bottles in one month than coffee cups in an entire year. Above the electric fireplace embedded at the far end of the division, rested an 88 inch OLED TV A modern print, geometric rug and blue cushions added a splash of color to this otherwise neutral space, and so did the wall closest to the stairs that led to the upper floor where two modular plywood bookcases reached for the beamed ceiling. They housed a bit of everything from college manuals riddled with complex schematics to his collection of 19th and 20th century sci-fi classics and even some Manga leftovers from his teenage days. He had touched none of them in years, but they looked good side by side, their colorful bindings intertwined in an invisible smile. Behind the sofa were a select few of his brother’s photographs, all monochrome yet teeming with life. The view from the slopes of Back Allegheny Mountain, facing east, was his favorite.
The lower right corner of the division opened to another room, his home office. It was there he kept his laptop, always perfectly centered atop a dark wood desk, but also another flat screen television, roughly half in size in comparison, and a gaming cabinet with two jet black gaming consoles on top of one another, a set of VR goggles that had been collecting dust since the beginning of the year, and about fifty different games, mostly first-person shooters with the occasional sports title (anything but basketball!) in-between, and some old-school survival horror titles. The top shelf of the cabinet was reserved for the ‘good stuff’ though, with that designation restricted to erotic and pornographic software escapades. Femdom Farm I to III laid flat horizontally, visible signs of tear and wear on the plastic sheen surrounding the explicit three-dimensional covers. The fourth installment in the prestigious series was still unopened, yet a cum stain already embellished the purchase receipt.
Nicholas loved Femdom, or at least the exceedingly selfish and distorted version of it that saw ‘dominant women’ of all ethnicities reduced to verbiage-spewing wanking fodder in ever so provoking latex and leather attires, coupled with make-up so heavy that didn’t let their pores breathe. The Femdom Farm series, developed and published by the HeartCore Corporation, had been a favorite of his since the first entry had reached almost mainstream status back in 2014. Following its groundbreaking success, each new edition had been accompanied by a steady increase in sales and new settings and accessibility features that made sure no one would be deprived of their addictive dose of kink.The date on the receipt was of three weeks prior, more time than he had ever spent without indulging on his warped fantasies, but that was about to change.
“I’m coming for you and we’ll be cumming together.” He sniggered, already seeing in his mind’s eye the multitude of new masturbatory delights waiting for his hardened hands.
He was still drifting in this anticipatory altered state of mind when his phone sprang to life to the beat of a frantic Techno ringtone. It was Paul, his friend since sophomore year - some people would say the only remaining one.
“Good morning, Nick. Did I wake you up?” He asked the moment he heard the engineer’s muffled response to his contact attempt.
“It’s ten thirty in the morning, Paul. Of course, you didn’t wake me up! What do you want?”
“Oh, this is just your friendly reminder that tonight we have to wipe the smile off those smug Raiders’ faces once and for all.”
“Still obsessing over that?”
“It’s not an obsession, just a friendly animosity that must end with their complete annihilation. We’ve got to win this one, pal!”
The “Raiders”, a.k.a. Aaron and Dennis Page were identical twins who played a mean ten-pin bowling game on a semi-professional basis. Regular customers of the same arena where Nick and Paul liked to hang out, they had soon become rivals. Not a month went by where they didn’t try to one up the others and Nick and Paul were already three games down since the beginning of the year.
“It’s not the end of the world if we don’t, but okay. I promise to do my best.”
“Have you been practicing your throws since the last time?”
“My throws are just fine. If I remember correctly, you’re the one that couldn’t land two decisive spares.”
“Right... don’t remind me of that, please!”
“You started it. Is that all you wanted to talk about?”
“Yeah. What are you up to?”
“Well, if you really want to know, I was getting prepared to start FFIV.”
“Going back to the classics, I see. Good for you, man. Final Fantasy IV is to die for.”
“Not that FFIV.” Nick clicked his tongue. “It’s Femdom Farm time.”
“Oh...” Paul’s tone suddenly became somber and distant. “I’d forgotten you like those things.”
“They’re fun. You should try one.”
“No, thanks. Even if I were into that, Brenda would never stop hounding me if she found out. I can’t have that.”
“Look who’s worried about his girlfriend suddenly... don’t tell me it’s getting serious!”
“It’s not... I mean... I don’t know, okay? We’re in a... strange phase right now.”
“If I tell you, you need to promise me not to laugh.”
“When did I ever laugh about your relationships?”
“How about always?”
“Fine...” Nick sighed and rolled his eyes. He was right. Feelings weren’t really his thing, especially other people’s emotional attachments. “What’s going on, Paul?”
“I gave her a drawer two weeks ago. Yesterday, she asked me if she could have two.”
“I see... might as well give her the whole cupboard because it’s obvious she will not stop soon.”
“You really think so?”
“Yeah, and you obviously feel the same, otherwise you wouldn’t find it strange. I don’t know how you do it, but okay.”
“That whole monogamy shtick...” Nick yawned as if the mere mention of the dreadful “M” word was enough to put him in a coma. “It’s such a waste.”
“Is it, though? Then what do you call spending your free time jerking off to virtual ladies in a porn video game?”
“Manual exercise. That’s what I call it.”
“You really got to go out more, dude, and live a little. God knows how many opportunities you’ve missed out on already.”
“Funny, I don’t remember any.” Nick shook his head and glanced at the game box once again. It was calling him just like the Eye of Sauron called out to The One Ring, hoping to become whole again.
“How about Darla?”
“Brenda’s friend, the one you stood up after going for a leak. That was awful, dude! She’s really nice.”
“If by nice you mean clingy as fuck and desperately looking for a husband then yes, she’s all that, and not for me.”
“Whatever... just don’t overdo it on the ‘exercise’, okay? You need to have a good grip tonight.”
“I’ll have a good grip all day. Later, Paul.”
Call finally over, Nick took a deep breath, muted the device, and then put it inside a drawer so he wouldn’t have to look at it the rest of the day. Perhaps extreme, but it was his day off and he didn’t want to be disturbed while he toured all the nooks and crannies HeartCore’s latest virtual creation offered. He tore the plastic open and held the translucent disc in his left hand. Despite many attempts to that effect, he hadn’t been able to go full digital yet.
The external drive connected to his silver laptop whirred as it was being fed fetish porn. There was a slight hiccup, and the install process began automatically. As soon as it finished, Nick skipped the opening barrage of logos and all the necessary yet utterly boring software use agreements and sank down on his favorite chair, a black and white reclining RESPAWN 110 with embedded footrest. It had served him well in long fantasy sessions before and, even though its wheels were showing visible signs of deterioration, they were sure to have another round in them. The computer screen went momentarily black and then the title screen emerged from it, a stylish logo wrapped in a nine-tail whip and a pair of high-heeled leather boots dominating a realistically lit skyline not unlike the one he could see from the window behind him. He pressed “enter” on the keyboard and a synth arpeggio played in harmony with the cracking whip. The party was on.
The first thing he noticed was the new, sleek interface. Gone were the garish colors of the first two installments, and the exceedingly muted version of the third. Metallic blues and silvers were the new hues on display in a complex yet pleasing to the eye succession of horizontal lines and juxtaposed angles. It was like a living circuitry, pulsing to the sound of an electronic heartbeat. Its notes crawled right under one’s skin and stayed there, creating tingling ripples that spread from the tips of his fingers to the back of his spine. Thing were off to a great start.
The main section of the menu was divided in three primary areas: Training, Sessions, and 24/7 Experience. There was also a grayed out VR Mode he had no intention of trying just yet and two separate sub-menus running side by side at the bottom of the screen, one for a DLC Store that contained a handful of new Sessions and additional language packs, and the other for general options and interface calibration. It was the latter he visited first, adjusting the balance of the regular game audio and the accompanying sound effects and making sure it wasn’t neither too bright nor too dark. The same whipping sound from the start played every time he adjusted one parameter, a curious choice that was bound to grow stale soon.
Nick left the options sub-screen behind and jumped right to the Sessions tab where he was greeted by a generic yet still somewhat sultry feminine voice, welcoming him to the fun.
“Please type the name you wish to be referred to on the box below.” It said.
It was always the same. Wood, his surname, a simple yet effective reminder of what it was all about for him. Nick was almost always horny. He thought about cumming one hundred times a day, if not more. His libido practically knew no bounds when it came to the online sphere.
His taste for porn had been a reality before the Internet conquered all. His first experience with it dated back to discovering some of his father’s dirty magazines tucked away in a dark corner of the attic. The first women he had jacked off to were already dead and buried when he sullied their grainy pictures with his sticky seed, but who cared? Having such a trusty companion between his legs always ready to celebrate was one of the best parts of being a man, and no one would take that away from him.
Nick pressed the “enter” key again and the main interface changed color, becoming just a little brighter but nothing that affected his eyes any more than it should. A new elaborate menu appeared on the right side, urging him to create the dominant avatar that would guide him on his darkest fantasies of seduction and control. He remembered the days when such devices were clunky and torturous experiences that, no matter the efforts put into them, always seemed to create the most abominable specimens imagination could muster. This time, and just like the rest, everything ran smoothly, yet the multitude of options available from the start that even included such trifling things as thirty-nine types of beauty marks and over five hundred foot sole designs for the most picky of fetishists out there, was more than his impatient personality could handle. The Randomize option in the left lower corner was a lazy dream come true, and good enough for a first run. He clicked on it and watched the program do its magic.
The avatar created went by the name of Mistress Anya, although she also liked to be called Queen or Goddess. She stood over six feet in heels, was well-endowed, and had dark and long curly jet-black hair coupled with a pair of penetrating ultramarine eyes. The 3D character and also sported a slightly scooped nose with a turned-up tip and full, plump lips painted in a shiny deep red. The software’s attire of choice was a made to measure black PVC Hobble Dress with long sleeves. With his curve hugging bodice and sleek glossy material, it was seductive without being revealing. Despite the slight Russian accent added to her voice, the English coming out of the laptop’s speakers didn’t carry any of the language’s special constructs that could sound grating after a while, and that was a good thing. Nick didn’t hate Russians, but he didn’t love them either. It was a perfectly neutral relationship as long as each side remained on their part of the globe, real or not. He was impressed, but not entirely.
“Bah.” He grumbled. “You could show some cleavage at least.” He gawked at the screen, perhaps looking for a subtle transparency effect applied to the cloth simulation. There was none and the light refraction was on point, behaving almost exactly as the real deal. Had he not seen the model being generated before his eyes, he could have easily been tricked into thinking he was about to interact with a real woman. However, the illusion was easily broken by hovering the cursor anywhere over her as it triggered an interactive box with other characteristics, including primary likes and dislikes. That’s how he came to know she was 32 years old, a Scorpio, and had a single tattoo of a spider in its web slightly above her right elbow to hide a scar from a bicycle accident. She loved humiliation games, and her favorite word for a small cock was the uncommon combo “shrimp crank”.
“Wow. They really thought of everything, huh? What was the budget for this thing, anyway?”
The correct answer was something only Johanna Heart, the CEO of HeartCore, could provide, but the final figure had surely more zeroes than the ones he would see on his bank account for the rest of his life. He pushed the thought from his mind and selected a humiliating JOI session. A small disclaimer appeared in the center of the screen claiming that, for the sake of authenticity, the current setting could not be altered midway. Nick nodded and allowed the program to run.
Unlike the game’s title, Mistress Anya was no farmer girl. Instead, she appeared to live in quite the luxurious apartment with not-so-subtle BDSM elements incorporated in every element of the decoration. The arms of the black chiseled throne she was sitting on were supplicant hands, and below the velvet red cushion one could see a human head in visible distress. It was as if Atlas, tired of bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders, had been tricked by this devilish virtual woman to only serve as her furniture for all eternity. The lamp to her right had the shape of an erect phallus dripping light from the tip as if it were glistening cum. A little further back, a wide assortment of whips and paddles made it clear she was into pain, but pleasure was all he was after, and she had to deliver.
“Well, if it isn’t Wood, my pathetic little servant.” She began weaving the illusion that he had been at her service for quite some time. “I know what you want. You’re dying to get that shrimp crank hard for me, aren’t you? Normally, I would tell you to piss of, but I’m in a good mood today so I’m going to reward you... my way, of course. If you’re not yet holding that meat sack in your hands, what are you waiting for? Take it off and show it to me.”
The camera of his laptop lit up with a white circle, suggesting her gaze was really focused on him. A nice detail on a fairly standard opening. Then again, the quality of the scripts was not the primary reason the series continued to sell gangbusters.
“Sure thing, babe.” Nick unzipped his pants, lowered his indigo boxers, and held his already throbbing cock in his right hand.
“How dare you speak to me like that? That’s Mistress Anya to you, slave!” The avatar retorted, eyes fuming from what to appeared to be genuine indignation.
“That’s new.” Nick thought. A fully reactive AI applied to their 3D constructs was something HeartCore had been promising for a while now, but this was the first time he had seen anything that looked believable enough. There were obviously still a series of scripts running in the background, but the little details on her face and the micro-expressions around the eyes and unamused lips added a lot of exciting nuances to it.
“Apologize. Now!” She commanded, crossing her legs.
“I’m sorry, Mistress Anya. It won’t happen again.” He tugged at his tumescent member, giving it a nice blushing coloration.
“I hope not. Don’t make me want to hurt you. I see that thing in your legs remains as useless as it’s ever been, but my guidance will give it life. I know you want to cum for me as a sign of your unwavering submission and devotion, yet I’ll only allow you to do that if you follow my instructions to the letter. I’ll be paying close attention to you, slave. Any deviation from the path I set for you will be met with devastating consequences so don’t incur on my wrath again. Start stroking.”
Nick nodded again and gave his favorite organ another pull, feeling it hardening even more. A wave of bliss enveloped his senses. Masturbating on command - or even on his own - was more than a fleeting carnal satisfaction to him. It was the equivalent of Zen, even if understood very little of the real deal. Both hands were well versed in the art of keeping a rhythm and switching up whenever needed, so her subsequent instructions were easy to follow.
Mistress Anya wanted alternating quick strokes, almost as if his hands were covered in oil. Lingering touches were strictly forbidden and so was fondling the base of his balls. Whatever control he thought he had was to slip away from him as he continued to debase himself for her amusement.
“That’s hilarious!” She chuckled. “Look at you, unable to get a proper grip on that pecker! If you keep at it, I’m not even sure you’ll be able to cum at all. Go faster, little Wood. Non-dominant hand only this time around because there’s really nothing dominant about you. You’re just a tool attached to a body with a brain so small inside even a microscope would have trouble finding it. You and I both know this is the only thing you’re good for. Some people are born with the looks and the power to do whatever the hell they want in this life, while others thrive on jerking themselves to oblivion for the satisfaction of their superiors. You need to please me. You need my approval in your pointless existence, and the only way you’ll ever come close to getting it is to keep pushing yourself. Stroke and lose yourself to me.”
Nick moaned, eyes fluttering, every muscle in his body slowly going limp. This was good shit, even if a little predictable. He struggled to keep himself focused as the rush of imminent release continued to build up. The AI was at its best moment, all the variables of its adaptive programming coming into play and the more powerful she appeared on screen, the less resistance he had to the downpour of submissive emotions flowing through his body.
“So close...” She stated, wetting her lips. “You know you don’t really deserve this, but that’s how generous I am to you. When I snap my fingers, and not a moment sooner, you will cum. You will cum when you hear the snap, mindlessly sinking to your knees to shower me with praise. Keep your ears peeled. If you miss it, there will be no pleasure, no deliverance from the tormenting ache you’ve been going through. If you want your happy ending, you’ll give me mine, first. Only when I snap, never without it. Are you ready? It can happen at any moment now, right after I finish this sentence or in the unexpected middle of a...”
“Cum, slave! *snap* Cum for your Goddess! *snap* Cum and give yourself to me. *snap* CUM!”
Nick fell from the chair and hit his head on the top drawer of the desk as he melted in a pool of bitter and slimy jizz. He stayed on the floor for about five minutes, panting uncontrollably. His heart was beating so fast the sound drowned the slightly distorted laughter of the avatar, signaling another successful takeover of a slave’s bodily functions.
“Consider yourself lucky I’m not making you eat it this time.” She concluded. “Goodbye, Wood. This was fun.”
And with that, the session was done, forty-five minutes that felt like three hours or more. Nick struggled to get back on the chair, aching fingers slipping against the armrests. When he finally was able to do so, he laid his head backwards, faced the ceiling and sighed. He was still sweating and dripping when he realized the game had reverted to the Session’s menu, with Mistress Anya waiting patiently in the background to enslave him again. He blinked, pulled his boxers up, and decided he wanted another go right away.
As to be expected, the second time was not as entertaining as the first. Despite taking place in a new dungeon environment, the overall experience was colder and more synthetic. Mistress Anya's repertoire proved less innovative than he hoped for, the slight repetitions in her speech patterns tearing open an irreparable hole in the facade. The third time was even worse than the second, his patience rapidly wearing thin. While he stomached it until the end and had the sticky hands to prove it, he was already set on something else.
Though it was already past lunchtime, Nick continued to fiddle with the program, trying out new sessions variations and basically exploring all the options available. One by one, they all came short, proving that the overall package was more style than substance. The insistence on not letting him back out from a scene once he got it going was the worst part, and no option on display allowed him to circumvent that. As the “quick fix” mentality sunk in and so did the most obnoxious parts of his personality, he fell into the same dangerous routine that plagued his past experiences.
When things don’t work out in a person’s life, there are usually two choices: persevere by finding another suitable path or try to cheat one’s way out of it. He liked the second option more than he should. He got bored easily, so cracking open the very programs he used to escape from reality was a good way to reclaim control once more. Neither of the previous entries had been immune to his prying obsessions, so why should this be the same? With the program still running in the background, he opened another tab and began searching the installation files. The protection mechanisms in place rarely allowed ordinary people to change the software, but he had the skills to bypass them. The source code was complex yet perfectly within reach. It should take him only a few hours to find out which parameter did what and how to use them in his favor. In the end, controlling Mistress Anya and any other avatar combination from within was far more appealing than going to the trouble of having another handful of disappointing wanking sessions. He still had a few hours before he had to go meet Paul for the bowling rematch, so he got to work, feverishly.
He was so engrossed in his new exploration that he completely ignored the red pop-up of unauthorized access that flashed on the screen before receding into darkness. An invisible, silent alarm first ran through the circuitry and then spread across the Internet, telling his tale of unlawful manipulations to anyone that wished to hear it.
Only one person paid attention to it and answered the call. She worked on the 33rd floor of HeartCore’s Headquarters in Seattle. Her name was Maria Turner.