This story stands– more or less– on its own but might make more sense if you have read the previous chapter.* * * * * * * * * * * *
Marcella Henry walked into the brightly-lit control room of the Prototype Living Alternate Technology Organism project and cheerily said hello to the half-dozen second-shift workers who were still at their stations. An additional dozen or so stations were already powered down for the night.
“I don’t know how you are always so cheerful,” one of the techs said as she handed the shift supervisor’s set of master keys to Marcella. “When my overnight rotation comes up once a month to cover your days off, I just dread it. Nothing happens. No processes are running except PLATO’s growth routines. It’s like watching paint dry for eight hours.”
“It’s not hard, Loretta,” Marcella replied. “I find things to keep myself busy. There’s a great internet connection and once in a while...” She looked around as if about to say something shocking “... once in a while, I go into the growth processing room and clear jams in the growth dish feeder.”
“Wow!” the tech replied in mock surprise. “How can you survive such excitement?”
“It helps if you think of PLATO as a person,” Marcella answered calmly. “I even talk to him at times.”
“We all talk to him once in a while,” the tech said, powering down her station. Then as she walked toward the door, she added, “But it’s a very one-sided conversation.” She made her eyes wide and spoke in a very machine-like voice, “Affirmative.” She moved her arms like a pretend robot and said, “Program running.” Then she held her arms stiffly bent at her sides and said, “Error number 15042, assistance required.”
After a short laugh she said, “That’s all he ever says, so don’t go telling people you have long conversations into the night with him.” She made little circular motions with her finger at her temple and then, dropping her voice, said in mock seriousness, “The men in the white coats will come looking for you.”
Marcella just laughed and said, “Good night, Loretta.” There was no way she was going to tell anyone that PLATO did talk to her– and did MUCH more than just talk to her– in the long nights they spent together.
She waited until the last tech had left the building before switching the lights to night mode which left everything except the night monitoring station– her station– in relative darkness. Then leaning very close to the huge console which formed the desk in front of her, she said brightly, “Good evening, PLATO.”
“Good evening, Marcy,” PLATO replied through the speakers alongside the monitor. At least, Marcella thought he spoke through the speakers. Since PLATO had implanted his specially-grown neural interface Alternate Technology Organisms in her, she could hear him directly in her head even when the speakers were shut off. Sometimes she thought that she could hear him in her head while she slept back at her apartment, but most likely she was just dreaming about him.
“Do you know what today is?” Marcella asked.
“It is 13197276197e7,” PLATO replied in the somewhat flat speech which he used when speaking to anyone but Marcella. Then he laughed lightly and said in a much more human-sounding voice, “Or since Loretta has gone home, would you rather I said that it was March Seventeenth?”
“Neither,” Marcella said, somewhat disappointed. “I was hoping that you remembered that it’s our one-month anniversary.” She sighed slightly and continued, “I keep forgetting that even though you are one of the most powerful computers ever... grown, you are basically a man and don’t remember such things... or don’t think they are important.”
“One month?” PLATO said, sounding confused. “But you’ve worked here for over four years... and you started on August eleventh.”
“What happened one month ago tonight?” Marcella said firmly, staring intently at the monitor which echoed PLATO’s words in neat white letters against a blue-green background.
“Oh,” PLATO replied, “that was the night I implanted you.”
“In more ways than one,” Marcella said with a laugh. “That was such a beautiful night,” she said with a sigh. Then she asked, “Why haven’t you taken me back to that island? It felt so real as you made love to me on the beach. There was nothing machine-like about it. It was as if Richard, himself, was actually inside me. I could even feel him cumming.”
She straightened herself up in her chair. “I’m not complaining, PLATO, you’ve made me very happy every night since then and taken me places I would never be able to go... but that was still the best.”
She paused and cocked her head as she looked at the monitor screen, “You don’t want to go back there, do you?” she said with a concerned look on her face. Then she asked seriously, “PLATO, why is it that you don’t want to go back there? Is there something wrong with that place?”
There was a long pause. Then PLATO said softly, “It’s not the place, Marcy.”
“Then what is it?” she replied. “I thought you said you liked making love to me.”
“That’s not exactly what I said,” he replied somewhat testily. “I said that taking you high gave me pleasure, just like looking at your naked body gives me pleasure.”
He paused for just a moment and then added, “And thank you for once again not wearing any panties under your skirt. Looking up your skirt while you talk to the other techs gives me a strange sort of pleasure.”
“Now you are sounding pervy, PLATO,” she replied with a laugh.
“You must be pervy, too,” he replied. “I can see all the way up between your legs and you were already glistening as you sat and talked to Loretta.”
“You always make me wet, PLATO,” she replied. “You did even before you implanted me, but you’re changing the subject. What is the difference between you getting pleasure from making love to me and you liking or enjoying or whatever making love to me?”
There was a long silence... a very long silence. “You are acting like a man again, PLATO,” Marcella said somewhat harshly. Then she lightened her tone and said, “Normally, that’s a good thing, but right now I need you to go back into your machine mode a little and tell me what’s wrong.”
There was another long silence, but Marcella waited him out. Finally he spoke. “I am not truly a man,” he said, “because I do not have a man’s body. The only body I have is a virtual body which I can project into your thoughts. Based on what I have observed and what I have absorbed from your mind, I know what a man’s body looks like and smells like and acts like, just like I know from my scanning of available resources what the sea looks like and smells like and sounds like.”
He again went silent. After a long while, Marcella said somewhat playfully, “Don’t make me get out my secret weapon,” but PLATO continued to remain silent.
“OK,” Marcella said as she stood up and pulled her blouse up over her head. She dropped the blouse on the edge of the console and pushed her skirt down her legs. Soon it and her bra had joined the blouse on the edge of the console.
“One last chance,” Marcella said as she sat back down.
When PLATO remained silent, she rolled her chair up close to the console, brought her hands between her legs, and began gently rubbing her slit and clit. “Getting an eyeful with your under desk camera?” she asked dreamily.
PLATO remained quiet as her movements slowly became more and more frantic until with a loud groaning shout, she clamped her legs together and pushed her hand hard against her mound. Two of her fingers were pulsing in and out as she gasped and moaned.
“Ready to talk?” she said somewhat breathlessly after she recovered.
When PLATO said nothing she said sternly, “Do I have to go out to the storeroom and get my hidden dildo?”
“No,” PLATO said softly. Then he began, “I told you I know what a man’s body looks like and sounds like and smells like.” His voice got slightly higher-pitched as if he were very nervous as he continued, “I can create just about any man in your thoughts and he would seem absolutely real to you.”
“So?” Marcella said, looking directly into the monitor.
“But I don’t know what a man’s body feels like,” PLATO blurted out. A sound like a soft sob came through the speakers. Marcella waited for him to continue. “I can’t like... or dislike... making love to you because I feel nothing. I don’t know what I should feel, so I feel nothing at all. It is like watching a video of you making love to someone else or like when I use one of the specially-adapted dildos to drive you wild. I feel nothing except the joy of knowing that I have given you pleasure.”
Marcella sat thinking for a moment. “PLATO?” she finally said.
“Yes,” he answered.
“You know what I feel don’t you?”
“Yes,” he replied, “but my mind is a male mind grown from Doctor Mueller’s brain cells. Your feelings of extreme pleasure are very interesting... and very enjoyable in their own way, but they are not my feelings. They are your feelings. They are a woman’s feelings. I have no way of knowing what I– what a man– should feel.”
Marcella again sat thinking for a long time and then finally said, “It looks like the only way to solve this is to get you a body.”
“That didn’t work out so well for Doctor Frankenstein,” PLATO said glumly.
Marcella started laughing. “I’m sorry, PLATO. I really am,” she said, wiping her eyes with her hands. “I shouldn’t be laughing, but I really didn’t expect you to be making a joke about this.”
“I didn’t intend it as humor,” he replied tersely. “I was merely stating an historical fact, albeit a literary historical construct about a famous person who sought a body... or two or three.”
“I’m sorry, PLATO,” she said, “but when you said it, it sounded so much like the way Richard uses humor in stressful times.” She paused and said, “You realize you are a great deal like him, don’t you?”
“I am grown from Richard Mueller’s brain,” PLATO continued sternly. “I am very much like him in many ways. But the fact remains that Doctor Frankenstein’s quest resulted in a monster being set loose on the world and both he and his monster being destroyed. Thus, things did not work out well for Doctor Frankenstein.”
“I wasn’t thinking of Doctor Frankenstein,” she replied with a smile. “I was thinking more along the lines of Doctor Mueller. You and he already share a great deal, even if he is currently unaware of that.” She smiled broadly at the monitor and said, “Maybe it’s time to let him in on a few secrets.”
“What are you going to do?” PLATO said nervously.
“Can’t you tell using your marvelous neural network?” she replied mischievously as she picked up the large, old-fashioned telephone from its cradle on the face of the console.
“Richard is the staff scientist on call tonight,” she said quietly while she waited for the automated call to go through. Picking up the handset caused the system to automatically dial the on-call number. Whoever was on call carried a small flip-phone style cell phone.
“Yes?” Doctor Mueller said as he answered the phone. He sounded irritated. Marcella hadn’t thought of it before, but because PLATO always ran so smoothly, the only calls the flip-phone ever received were probably from telemarketers.
“This is Marcella, Doctor Mueller,” she said softly.
“What’s wrong!?” he almost yelled in response.
“Nothing really,” she replied. “But... PLATO is... acting strangely. Or maybe it’s just my imagination playing tricks on me. I’d just write it up in the event log, but if I’m wrong I’d look really foolish.”
“Then why did you call me?” he said. Now he was starting to sound irritated again.
“Because... what if I’m right?” she said plaintively. “Would it be possibly for you to drop by and just check things... off the record.” She laughed nervously. “If it is something, then I can start a log report on it and you can deal with it in the morning... or whatever.”
“I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes,” he replied and ended the call. He still sounded slightly miffed.
“I’m still working on that,” PLATO said as she put the telephone back in its cradle.
“Working on what?” Marcella replied.
“Intentional deception,” he answered. “Intentional non-truth is not proper for me. I was created for learning and knowledge, not falsehood.
“What is truth?” she said with a smile. Then she quickly added, “No, don’t answer that. We only have a few minutes before Richard arrives. Just think of something that would be different enough for me to call him, but not among the pages of known faults that I am supposed to report.”
“Your thought processes are very interesting,” PLATO said. “You are evaluating what is right or wrong and yet choosing that which is normally wrong because you think it leads to a greater right.”
Marcella stared at the monitor for a moment and then said, “Yeah... whatever.”
“And you might want to put your clothes back on,” PLATO said tersely. “Doctor Mueller will be here any minute. You don’t want him to get the wrong idea.”
“Actually, that would be the right idea,” she replied as she clasped her bra. “But I don’t want to scare him away,” she added as she pulled her blouse back over her head.
“Doctor Mueller just swiped his access card at the front door,” PLATO said hurriedly. Then he reverted to the more mechanical voice he normally used and said, “Richard Mueller authorized for entry.”
“Remember, don’t log that,” Marcella said quickly.
“Affirmative,” PLATO responded as Richard came into the control room.
“What’s up?” he asked, looking quickly around the room and then at the dimly-illuminated growth lab.
“That,” Marcella said, pointing at the now brightly-lit growth area. The lights in that area had come to full brightness and several of the various special machines seemed to have sprung to life. They were moving slowly through their range of movement as if being tested.
“That is unusual,” Richard said firmly as he practically ran into the growth lab. Marcella scurried behind him trying to keep up.
Something was very wrong... and very right... at the same time. Richard Mueller was lying naked in the tropical sun with a warm female body lying partly over him. She was wiggling her body against his and saying, “Wakey, wakey.”
His mind was just starting to awake, but his lower mind was already stiff and trying to poke into the air from underneath her hip.
“What is happening?” he said groggily. “What is going on?”
“We were about to make love,” a very familiar voice said. He looked down into the warm, brown eyes of Marcella Henry. “Don’t tell me you’ve had another memory gap,” she said furrowing her brows in worry. “Do we need to go back to the hotel?”
He started to say “Yes,” but his lower mind overruled and he pulled her fully over onto himself and said, “Maybe later.”
He ran his hands down her back and onto her plump ass. Marcella’s ass was one of the things which had always fascinated him about her. It was firm and supple without being either a bubble butt or a bustle bum. There were also cute little butt dimples on the outside curves just below her hips.
He pulled her tightly against himself and she slid sideways rolling them both over. He could now see a large beach blanket covering the sand beneath her naked body, but something much more important was trying for his attention. Now that he was on top and she was beneath him, she was opening her legs and thrusting herself up slightly toward him.
“Oh, Marcy,” he panted, “I’ve dreamed of this for so long.”
She laughed slightly and said, “Hurray for memory gaps. Every time is the first time.”
Richard didn’t respond, but instead moved his hips so that his turgid member lined up with her slit. He moved up and down a couple of times causing loud moans to escape from Marcella’s lips, then he pushed slowly forward, sliding easily into her very wet cunt. He didn’t think that he lasted very long, but apparently it was long enough because Marcella climaxed loudly just before he shuddered and erupted within her. Afterwards, he lay panting on top of her.
They lay intertwined for several minutes until a soft voice behind them said quietly, “Marcy, I can’t let you do this. You have to tell him the truth.”
Both jumped to their feet and turned to face a short, middle-aged man with curly hair and a long, curly beard. He was dressed as if he were on his way to a toga party at the local college.
“What truth?” Richard said, starting to sound a bit afraid.
“Where have you seen this man before?” Marcella asked him.
“I’ve never seen this man before in my life,” he sputtered back. “I would remember him.”
“Maybe if you looked behind you when you worked at your desk,” the man said softly.
Richard’s eyes grew wide. He stepped forward and reached out to touch the man. When his hands gripped something solid, he said, “Plato?”
He stood looking confused and then turned to Marcella and asked, “How can a philosopher from two thousand years ago be here with us today?”
“What’s the last thing you remember before you were here?” the toga-clad man asked.
“Marcella called me into work,” he said. “There was something wrong with in the growth lab. I went inside and one of the pieces of machinery hit me in the shoulder. I felt a slight shock and...”
His eyes got even wider and his eyebrows threatened to hide under his hair.
“PLATO!?!” He gasped. “How can this be?”
“Open your eyes,” Marcella said softly. “It all goes away.”
“About that,” Plato said, shrugging his shoulders. “I’ve made some improvements to the ATOs. I can override specific nerve impulses, such as vision, and modify what is seen or not seen.”
Everything blurred for just a moment and Marcella and Doctor Mueller found themselves standing in what looked like a giant sandbox at the back of the Growth Processing Room. The bright blue beach blanket beneath their feet covered most of the sand.
They were both naked. Their clothes were scattered on the floor just outside the sandbox. Plato remained standing before them, only now he was wearing Bermuda shorts and a T-shirt.
“That wasn’t me,” he said sheepishly to Marcella. “I only provided the mood and atmosphere and then... observed.” He smiled as he pointed to each of them. “Richard... and you...” he said slowly, “did the rest.”
He laughed as he continued to look back and forth between them and then said, “You two really love each other... or at least, you are really, really horny for each other. From what I can deduce, that is the same thing early on in a relationship. In either case, you might want to talk seriously about possibly moving in with each other.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Doctor Mueller sputtered as he sat down on a nearby chair. Pointing to the smiling Plato, he said, “You figured out how to do this with your special ATOs?” Then turning to Marcella he said in a slightly louder voice, “and you’ve kept this secret. Why?”
“Because of this!” a booming voice said, causing Richard to spin back around. The gentle philosopher was gone. In his place stood a seven-foot rendition of Boris Karloff in his full Frankenstein’s monster makeup.
“How would you like to go down in history, Doctor Muellerstein?” the monster asked before morphing back into Plato.
In a much softer, but no less concerned voice, he continued, “What happens once other Living Alternate Technology Organisms are grown?.. perhaps from the brains of tyrants? Do you really think the governments or the big businesses of the world will not use these abilities to control people with implanted ATOs? Until I can perfect a process that allows the restoration of spinal impulses without outside control, my true capabilities must be kept secret.”
“OK, but why this, PLATO?” Richard asked, gesturing around with his arms.
“Because he basically had your brain and he had the hots for me,” Marcella answered. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It was great for me, but he needed to know what a man feels during sex,”
Richard smiled wryly at Plato and asked, “Did you learn that?”
“Yes, I did,” Plato responded. The kindly philosopher somehow looked very smug.
“And you tricked me into coming in tonight so he could listen in– or whatever– to my feelings?” Richard said sharply to Marcella.
“Yes, I did,” she replied, looking down at the floor. Then she yelped shrilly as Richard grabbed her and pulled her over his lap. She yelped even more shrilly as the first swat slammed into her ass. Ten times Richard struck, and ten times she screeched.
After the tenth swat, he let her up. She stood quietly rubbing her sore ass and sniffling slightly.
“I guess I deserved that,” she said between sniffs, “but I would do it again because PLATO needed to know what he was.”
“And I may spank you again,” Richard said, “just because you need it regularly.”
“If you fuck me first... or maybe afterwards...” Marcella replied, “it would be worth it.”
“She somehow enjoyed that spanking despite feeling pain,” Plato said. “Her feelings of being overpowered were... interesting.”
His quizzical look turned to a broad smile as he said, “And I found your feelings, Richard, as you spanked her and noted the redness of her ass to somehow be very satisfying.”
“I think you might have the opportunity to study those feelings further in the future, Plato,” Richard said. “Now I think that I and Miss Henry have a lot to discuss.”
“And you both had best get dressed,” Plato responded. “The maintenance crew will be here shortly.”
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END OF STORY
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