Wired Hard 3 was the first volume of the series to come out in the 21st century.
Today’ excerpt is from Zoner, by Michael Barnette:
“You have a visitor, sir,” the voice of the front desk security officer said. “Your, visuals are out, is there a problem, sir?”
“No, no problem. I’m not dressed for a pubic appearance. You understand.”
There was a slight pause, then the guard replied, “Of course, sir.”
Jessman wondered what the man was thinking then. If the person he’d requested was all he had been led to believe he or she was…well then maybe the guard was jealous. Or maybe not.
“Do I let him in or not, sir?”
Him. A man then. He shivered a bit in anticipation. Jessman hadn’t been with another man in a good many months, not since before his arrival at NeuroTech, and the thought of another man sent a thrill of eagerness through him.
“Does he have the security key?”
After a moment’s silence the guard’s voice relied, “Yes, sir, he does.”
“Then send him up.”
Jessman checked his reflection in the mirror beside his door. His short, dark hair was neat, his forest green silk shirt and pants were immaculate and spoke of an affluence that was the norm for a highly placed officer of a major corporation. He checked his teeth, perfect and white, the best implants money could buy—-some of his own teeth having been lost when the ‘hiring team’ had subdued him those many weeks ago. NeuroTech had even been so kind as to give him the facial–sculpt that made him even more physically attractive than he’d originally been—-not that he’d been unattractive. But MLC hadn’t updated his look in several years and he’d still been wearing the cheekbones and chin that had been popular five years ago. Then NeuroTech had ‘recruited’ him and the outdated look had been changed. Not only had they made the cosmetic physical changes, they’d added the latest in neurological hardware to sweeten the deal even more. Jessman now had the best available piece of thoughtware NeuroTech had to offer; and the interface was cool–wired directly into his brainstem. Now he could jack into the Net, or an entertainment simvideo without any static coming over a warm–wire like the one he’d been given by MLC. Though they’d been a very good company to work for, their thoughtware interface couldn’t compare with what NeuroTech—-who specialized in such hardware—-had at their disposal.
The door chimed and the EnCoSet’s gender neutral voice spoke, “You have a visitor.”
Jessman’s heart jumped.
He took a deep breath, hurried to the couch and sat. “You may let him in.”
There was a soft click, and the door swung soundlessly open.
He was smaller than Jessman had anticipated, maybe 5’7″, and he was dressed all in dully gleaming black leather. His hair was the color of cornsilk and fell in a mass of tight braids down over his shoulders, down his chest almost to the archaic looking gunbelt that rode his slim hips. Fastened in the wild tangle of braids were dozens of tiny silver bells, a riot of feathers and neon bright glass beads the shade of a simvideo summer sky.
“Hello, Mr. Jessman.” His voice was a dulcet tenor, bordering on a baritone. Low and sexy.
Jessman stared, his dark eyes widening. This wasn’t what he had expected. Not at all.
This gunwhore was supposed to be the best money could buy. Somewhere between a body guard and a common prostitute, a gunwhore was supposed to be the ultimate in personal protection, and sexual partnership all rolled up in one neat package. This one was reputed to be the best his agent could locate from out of the morass of crushing poverty that was the Liberty City FreeZone; a lawless part of the city where survival was determined with fists, feet, knives, and guns. He’d expected a ruggedly scarred man, not the beautiful boy who was standing before him now. This wasn’t a real FreeZoner. Couldn’t be. The boy was probably just one of the company’s many prostitutes, all dressed up to play at being a FreeZoner to keep an employee happy—-and safe. Jessman sighed and tried to hide his disappointment.
Neon bright eyes the color of summer lightning gazed at him from a behind half–closed eyelids. The brilliant color of those eyes left no doubt in Jessman’s mind. This boy had probably never even seen the FreeZone, much less lived there. Neon color like that cost plenty of money. More than a FreeZoner would see in a lifetime.
“Come in,” he managed to say as he stood to greet his visitor, his momentary lapse in composure quickly replaced with the smooth politeness of a man used to the politics of the corporate ladder. He was still disappointed, but he’d make the best of the situation.
The young man stepped into the apartment, his eyes taking in the luxuriousness of the thick cream colored carpeting, the dark leather upholstered furniture and the glass and brass tables. Expensive neo–renaissance prints hung on the off–white walls. The neon lighting of the youth’s eyes burned over everything, as if making permanent digital visual records of the scene, his eyes missing nothing of importance.
Jessman held his hand out as though greeting a business associate.
The boy’s cool gaze caused him to withdraw his offered hand.
Well trained to his role as a Zoner, Jessman thought. Well, two can play the game. Jessman decided they would both play their roles, even if all they were doing was playing.
“Would you like to have a drink?” Jessman asked. “I have some scotch and a bit of bourbon.”
“Either is fine,” the boy replied, the rich quality of his voice softly modulated.
Jessman decided it was a cyber–enhancement too, and he wondered what else the youth had enhanced. Speculation sent a thrill though Jessman. Maybe this will turn out better than I have anticipated. He poured them both drinks and discovered that he was shaking a bit. Even though the boy wasn’t what he had expected, his beauty and grace sent a shock of wanting though Jessman. Yes, this might just turn out all right.
The boy took the glass from him, glanced coolly at it, then downed the scotch in one swallow. He smiled a slow smile at Jessman and held out the glass again. “I could have another go at some more of that, sir.”
Jessman nodded and poured a bit more for the boy, staring at the slender fingers that held the crystal drinking glass. There were small scars on his knuckles, the kind you got from punching people in the teeth according to the all adventure simvideos Jessman had linked into. He ‘remembered’ looking down and ‘seeing’ them on himself while he was taking part in the simvideo environment. That had been a good simvideo. One where he’d been a gun toting FreeZoner, hot–wired for speed, enhanced for endurance and strength and able to hold his own in any bar room brawl or gun fight on the street. He’d linked to that particular one over and over again, and each time it had been different, unique. And the sex had been wonderful….
Of course, he knew the scars were, like the rest of the boy’s appearance, simply enhancements for the part he was playing tonight. Or does he play it every night? Jessman wondered absently.
While he watched the boy moved nearer to the EnCoSet’s main console, looking at the touchpad controls and the system settings with mild interest. Jessman had to admit the boy was good in his role, studying the EnCoSet with half–lidded eyes and a slight smile on his face.
Still thinking about the lost simvideo, he came back to himself with a slight start. “Yes?”
Faster than he could have believed, the boy moved in, and had a small device out and pressed against his stomach. “I’m glad I found you so easily, Mr. Jessman. The Megalli–Loran Corporation says hello.”
He felt the sting of the needle, and wondered vaguely why the EnCoSet’s alarm wasn’t going off before the darkness closed in.
/c* * * */c
Jessman woke—-which in itself was a surprise—-with the smell of smoke and something he couldn’t identify in his nostrils. He’d thought it was a suicide hit rather than a ‘re–hire’ by MLC. He was glad to discover that MLC had decided to get him back, rather than see that he was ‘phased out’ of both companies.
Still bleary eyed from the drug, and unable to clearly make out much of his surroundings, Jessman tried to sit up and realized that he was unable to do so. Solid handcuffs of gleaming steel held him spread–eagled to the bed.
It was then, through the clearing haze over his vision, that he noticed the bed itself.
A dark canopy of night dark cloth, that carried the dull shine of black satin, arched over his head, held up by a spiderweb design of what looked, to his still bleary eyes, like wrought iron in the dim light that suffused the room. The posts that held it in place were patterned after thorn–decked vines, as was the footboard and what he could see of the headboard by straining his neck to look.
It was the motion of his head that brought the other occupant of the room into focus.
The boy was seated on an equally unusual chair, complete with burgundy velvet cushion. There was a cigarette between two of his slender fingers, coils of smoke spiraled toward the distant ceiling. Behind the youth, hanging on the far wall, were an assortment of chains, manacles and other restraint devices.
“Where am I?” Jessman asked.
The boy grinned, his teeth just as perfect and white as Jessman’s own. “You’re in the FreeZone, Mr. Jessman.”
Jessman went white with the understanding of what he was smelling screaming loudly in his head. There were enough pollutants in the air of the FreeZone to permanently damage his lungs. Seized by a moment of panic, Jessman began to struggle against the solid cuffs that held him to the bed.
“Mr. Jessman, just stay quiet.” the boy’s voice urged.
“I have to get out of here,” Jessman said, desperation sharp in his tone.
The boy stood, dropped the cigarette, crused it beneath one black booted foot, and crossed the space between himself and the struggling man. “It’s no good, Mr. Jessman. Those chains aren’t going to break unless you are enhanced for strength, which I know you are not.”
“What is it that you want?”
The young man sat down on the bed. “This isn’t about what I want from you Mr. Jessman. It’s about what you want from me. You hired me, remember?”
Jessman froze, staring up at the boy in confusion. Yes, he had hired the boy for a sexual liaison, but….
“This is a simvideo setting, isn’t it?”
The boy smiled again, shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not.” His fingers caressed Jessman’s face, ran down his throat, over his chest and stopped suggestively right below the waistband of his silk trousers. The smell of the leather that the boy was wearing crept into Jessman’s nostrils along with the sharper odor of cigarette smoke and an underlying metallic tang of gun oil.
Quicker than Jessman’s own cybernetic eyes could accurately follow—-the motion so fast that it left a blurring of ghost imaging in his wake—-the boy leapt up, caught the iron frame of the bed’s canopy and easily arced his slender body upward, to land with a slightly stomach jarring bump straddling Jessman’s hips. The boy leaned forward, his leather jacketed chest pressed against Jessman. He could feel the hardness of the leather, knew it was lined with a composite material, layers of bullet proofing. Just what you’d expect to find on a gunslinging prostitute who roamed the lawless streets of the FreeZone—-in a simvideo. Jessman didn’t think a real gunwhore off the streets could actually afford a jacket like that, much less the pants that went with it. He could feel the tightness of the leather over the boy’s ass pressing against his hips. The boy’s weight and the light armoring of the garment pressed against the bones of his pelvis in an uncomfortable way. But he found his heart rate had increased just a bit.
The youth leaned father forward, his breath warm on Jessman’s cheek. “So, what it is that you want, Mr. Jessman?”
Jessman’s mouth suddenly went dry and he blinked rapidly trying to clear the imaging suite of his implanted opticals. They were only cosmetic enhancements, better than flesh eyes, but not able to track someone who could move at what passed for combat speed in the Zone. “I…uh…want…I want to know your name.”
A look of disappointment crossed the boy’s face. “Is that all?”
He rose to his feet and was gone, leaving only cold air where his warmth had been. Again the optical phantom trailed the boy’s motions, ending where the boy had come to rest, back in the chair, another cigarette between his fingers. It was as though he’d never moved, never rested astride Jessman’s hips. Except for the slowly vanishing heat where their flesh had been in contact.
The dulcet voice purred in Jessman’s ears then, “They call me Bells, Mr. Jessman.” And the boy shook his head, the silver bells in his hair chiming sweetly. Jessman was dimly aware that each time the boy had moved he had been able to hear the gentle ring of the bells in his hair, but the speed with which he moved had been so distracting that the sound hadn’t fully registered on Jessman’s consciousness.
“Bells,” Jessman murmured.
“Do you remember why I hired you?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“Let me go.”
The boy took a drag off the cigarette, tossed it aside, a tiny comet arcing through the darkness, and got to his feet. This time when he moved it was slow, an arrogant swagger that seemed to suit him. He climbed on to the bed, and crouched over Jessman, studying him from half–closed eyes. He reached up and took one of the cuffs that held Jessman’s wrists in one of his slender hands, gripped the metal and squeezed, tightening the locking mechanism more, rather than doing as Jessman asked.
Jessman’s breath caught in his throat as the boy leaned across him to tighten the other cuff. The leather of the boy’s jacket was pressed hard against Jessman’s chest, the boy nearly lying down on top of him in order to reach the other cuff. Though only of average height, Jessman was a good six inches taller than Bells who and had to strain to reach Jessman’s other hand. The leather couldn’t fully disguise the firmness of the boy’s stomach where it pressed against Jessman. Bells pulled himself a bit farther across Jessman in order to get a firm grip on the cuff, and the man felt a sharp jab as the gun that rode the boy’s trim hips dug into his ribs. He heard the lock of the cuff click twice, the metal biting into his wrists almost painfully.
Jessman swallowed the slight tang of fear that had gathered in his throat. He’d jacked into lots of simvideos, but none had been like this. He’d always been the one in control of the situation before, and he’d thought this time would be the same for him. He’d paid for the fantasy, and he felt he should be the one calling the shots. Jessman’s favorite role had always been that of the benevolent FreeZone gunslinger coming to the rescue of an old friend who’d gotten into more trouble than he could handle. They’d solve the problem and then have incredibly passionate sex. Jessman had enjoyed that simvideo. But it too had been lost. Left behind when NeuroTech’s ‘hiring team’ hauled him out of the MLC corporate enclave.
This whole situation was different.
He was at the mercy of another man. Helpless. Handcuffed to a bed of iron in an unfamiliar place. Simvideo or not, he couldn’t help but be a bit afraid. Deep down, he realized that the fear he was feeling was part of the scenario too, but it was so compelling that it became his fear. Real and chilling.
Bells sat up, his eyes cold and bright. “I’m going to teach you a few things, Mr. Jessman.”
The boy grinned, his strong fingers gathering up the silk of Jessman’s shirt.
The man’s body was jerked upward slightly amid the sound of tearing fabric.
Cool air caressed Jessman’s bare skin where his shirt had been. The man’s nipples tightened, his heartbeat taking up a newer, faster pace. Jessman turned his head in time to see the newly made rag flutter to the floor amid the dual optical ghosts of Bells ripping the shirt off of his body, then leaping off of the bed and crossing the room to a cabinet that Jessman hadn’t noticed before in the darkness of the room.
When he came back toward Jessman, it was with that slow swaggering step.
The sway of the boy’s gun weighted hips sent a thrill of desire through Jessman. He’s so damned beautiful, and perfect that this just has to be a simvideo. And then Jessman realized what it was the boy carried in his hands. A short riding crop of braided leather that he caressed while he stared at Jessman, the smile never leaving his face.
Jessman broke out in a cold sweat. “Wha…? What are you going to do?”
The boy said nothing, but his smile chilled Jessman’s blood.
Fear lanced through Jessman, driving a cold steel spike into his guts. “This isn’t what I want. I paid you for this, you should do what I want.”
Bells’ sensual mouth curved into a slight smile of amusement, “But Mr. Jessman, you told the broker that you wanted the real thing. A FreeZone gunwhore. You got what you paid for, now I’m going to teach you a few things about life in the FreeZone. I’m going to teach you about the Sweet Sisters, Mr. Jessman.”
“The Sweet Sisters?” he asked, worried by the way that Bells kept running the length of the crop through his hands.
“Yes, Mr. Jessman. I’m going to teach you all about the Sisters, Pleasure and Pain.” As he spoke, Bells had come closer to the bed until he was standing beside it. He ran the tip of the riding crop over Jessman’s bare chest, lightly flicked his right nipple, then the left one.
“This isn’t….” Jessman began then bit his lip as the end of the leather crop slid slowly down his body, scratching gently, lower and lower until the sensation of it’s touch left his skin and flowed over the silk of his trousers. He found himself getting hard, much to his own surprise.
Bells’s smile widened. “Ah, so you do like this. Good.”
Again the visual phantom of motion frosted Jessman’s vision as the crop swung to lay a stinging series of welts across his taut abdomen. A gasp of pain was torn from his throat, and then pain lessened to a dull sting. Three stripes marred his faintly tanned skin and Bells stood astraddle him, one booted foot planted low on Jessman’s trembling belly. The heel of his small foot pressed against Jessman’s limp cock, causing it to stir to life once more. Jessman, his heart hammering in his chest, stared upward at the boy, his eyes twin mirrors of confusion and fear. The boy moved so damned fast that Jessman gasp of shock was ripped from his throat long after Bells was once again kneeling over his hips, his tongue fluttering over Jessman’s nipples. Jessman’s cock stiffened beneath the boy’s firm ass, straining against the confines of the silk bikini briefs he wore. Then the boy’s leather clad ass pressed down hard, teasing Jessman to an erection that was so solid that it hurt inside the unyielding material. He groaned, his desire mounting higher, overcoming his fear.
Bells sat up, leaning backward to increase the pressure on Jessman’s straining flesh. He rocked and swayed a moment, then stopped, his neon gaze meeting Jessman’s dark eyes. “You want it bad, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Jessman agreed, desire thick in his tone. I’ve been so long without another man, with only the companionship of the company’s pretty–girls….
Bells’s teeth flashed in a wicked grin and he stood, staring down at Jessman’s helpless body with something akin to contempt. “You’re weak, Mr. Jessman. I could break you, make you beg for my slightest touch, the kiss of this….” he struck Jessman stingingly across the chest with the crop and watched the man flinch with an air of satisfaction.
Jessman’s cock lost some of its solidity as the pain seared through his nerves. He wanted this gunwhore, wanted him like he’d never wanted anyone before. But the handcuffs kept him from moving, kept him from grabbing the boy and pulling him down on the soft, satin sheeted bed. He tugged in frustration at the handcuffs, knowing the futility of the gesture.
The boy’s grin was feral.
And then Bells began to unfasten his armored jacket. First he undid the zipper that held the outside flap closed, then, one by one the snaps that held the inside layer shut were undone. Jessman’s prick became like iron, a throbbing rod of living steel as he watched the youth slowly removed the leather that had hidden his flesh from Jessman’s eyes.
The boy’s chest was muscular, tanned to a color Jessman could only dream of attaining. Criss–crossing his chest and the hard muscled abdomen below was a harness of black leather that vanished into the waistband of his pants.
With the jacket gone Jessman could see the enticing bulge of the young man’s crotch seemingly so far away, though hardly more than three feet actually separated them.
He found that, despite the circumstances, regardless of the whip, he wanted this boy as he’d never desired any of his completely illusionary simvideo sex partners. Even if this was another simvideo—-and he had no reason to believe it was anything more than that—-he had actually seen and touched this boy in the waking world; knew he was real flesh and blood in the solid world outside the simvideo. And he wanted him all the more for it. The best simvideos are the ones that are made by a living person.
With the grace of a trained acrobat—-or a martial artist, Jessman realized—-Bells hopped off the bed, twisting in mid–air so he was still facing Jessman when he landed on his feet.
Jessman was getting used to the blurring of the optics as they tried unsuccessfully to accurately track the youth’s inhumanly swift movements.
The pain of the crop striking repeatedly to his chest and twice to his belly didn’t hit until the boy had already stopped striking him this time. So rapid were the blows, Jessman’s unenhanced nervous system hadn’t registered them all until they were over. Even his swollen cock hadn’t had time to go soft before the boy’s warm hand was rubbing it through the thin veil of his trousers.
Flashes of pain rose from his abused flesh, the lash of desire rose from his prick, blending into a sensation that made Jessman tremble. The youth’s hand kept up a steady but slow motion, expertly keeping him aroused. Then the crop stung, once, twice, but the speed and rhythm of Bells’ hand on his cock never wavered.
Crack, crack. The need building in his groin, the sting of the whip across this chest. Over and over it repeated until Jessman was moaning in a fever of agony so intermingled with the pleasure blazing through his crotch that he couldn’t have said when the pain and pleasure—-the Sweet Sisters as Bells had called them—-had merged into one white–hot entity roiling in his flesh.
And then it stopped.
Jessman came back to himself, bathed in sweat, the pressure in his balls nearly unbearable. He looked for Bells, and found him, seated once more in the chair, a lit cigarette dangling from his lips. His eyes were closed, his breathing slow, even, as though he’d fallen asleep.
The eyes opened, focused on Jessman, “Yeah?”
The voice was still velvet in Jessman’s ears, but the tone had changed. It was not the respectful murmur of a boy speaking, it was now the hard–edged voice of a man.
“Why did you…stop?”
A brief laugh rolled out of Bells’ mouth, “Because I wanted to, that’s why…”
The five-volume, 44-story bundle will only be available for this sale price for a couple more weeks. Grab it before it’s gone!