Author : Michael Varian Daly

Paln gently cupped the small green vegetable in the attachment designed for its harvesting. The steel segmented orb closed – a soft ‘snick’ – cutting the stem. Paln carefully placed the hard round vegetable among its brethren in the bin strapped to his midsection…and felt Pleasure.

“Brussels sprout,” he sub-vocalized. He knew what they were, the perfect conditions for growing them, but he would never eat one, had no concept of what a ‘brussles’ was, nor cared.

His universe contracted, focused totally upon the next small green vegetable. Cupping. ‘Snick’. Bin. Pleasure.

Internal sensors told him the bin was At Capacity, though Paln knew that already. That made him feel Satisfaction. He stopped harvesting, smelling the rich loam of the field. He could analyze the chemical components to the millionth part, but organic senses came first.

Paln was the perfect blend of the organic and the cybernetic. He looked around at his Pod Brothers, felt Connection. They were all Type 26 General Purpose Agricultural Mandriods. He was officially PLN-161697434, but the Mother/Master/Ruler who hatched his brood from the uterine replicator had called him Paln, his first moment of Pleasure.

He put the full bin on the field cart, retrieved an empty one. He was still human enough to sense the beauty of the day. The sun. The fields. The easy sloshing of the nutrient tank on his Feeder nozzle. The quiet hum of the vaporizer on his Bleeder nozzle. His Brothers harvesting. The grace of the dark skinned, yellow eyed, Mother/ Master/Ruler upon her horse, overseeing their work. The Fear/Awe of seeing her shambok, long hard leather hanging lazily from her saddle horn, the Symbol of Overseeing.

Tonight, when Paln was reclining in his cradle, the Bleeder-Feeder tubes hooked up, toxins draining, body healing, he would dream of the day, sun, fields, smells, sounds.

He would dream of Selt’s funeral. The Pod gathered at dusk. Selt’s body on the field cart. Mother/Master/Rulers down from The House, bearing torches. The yellow eyed one anointing Selt’s forehead with oil. The prayers as the black bag was…

Niniskil sat up with a start, breathless and sweaty. That chingado dream again!

She glanced around to find her Sisters, saw Rhea on one side, Tzisoc on the other, both still out cold. She quickly looked between her legs, sighed with relief. At least she had detached the bioform phallus before she passed out. It had been a serious Bacchanal. But after ten months on deep space patrol, they’d earned it.

She crawled out of bed, went to the window, looked outside.

The gorgeous vista of Sylph looked back at her as if designed to be perfect, which, of course, it was, from its core outward. Nothing, but jeweled archipelagos strung across warm azure seas without predators, skies painted with wispy clouds, all under the multicolored rings that crowned this princess of worlds.

A few yards away, just up from the white beach, a group of Sisters rested upon loungers in glistening nakedness, while a tall, lean Harlequin, a Mandroid pleasure server, offered them cold drinks.

She drew back, light suddenly like daggers in her skull.

“Ugh!” she grunted. That was definitely a Past Life dream. Too much detail…that yellow eyed Sister!

“Chingos!” she spat. What Sister wants to remember an Incarnation as a AgroDriod? But there it was. Time to see the Priestesses of Eriskegal for Regression Therapy. But not today.

She crawled back into bed. “The Wheel Turns,” she muttered, snuggling close to Rhea.

Drifting off, she thought, “Be extra nice to the servants today.”

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