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Chapter 35 - Home Help
The concert didn't go quite as well as they had hoped.
The VPA's that became submissive to those owners screened as being potential dominators failed to evolve ways to condition their owner's to greater dominance. It just doesn't work for an Avatar to appear to fall to the floor and pretend to be licking the sole of their owner's shoe or to appear to want to be hurt. Bullies need a human to push around. They know perfectly well that an Avatar is a synthetic creature. So there's no fun in it. If anything they were simply annoyed that their lifelong companion had become a wimp and demanded that they toughen themselves up.
On the other hand a sexy Avatar that appears in 6D with realistic touch and smell can control a receptive owner in a variety of ways. In 6D with the appropriate viewing equipment an Avatar seems to be entirely real to the viewer. They feel warm and solid and they smell and even taste. As a sexual partner they seem perfectly real. They can stimulate them then 'hold out' or bully them to force them to comply with additional kinky demands such as falling to the floor and licking the sole of their virtual shoe. All that is required is that the VPA owner is induced to don the necessary body stocking and face mask regularly. If they are out in public the haptic bodystocking is hidden beneath their usual clothes and together with 3D eye glasses that project a head-up display and cranial sound transducers the virtual companion seems to walk hand-in-hand or to sit opposite smiling at them or telling them what to do.
As their creators, Bianca Angela and Zaire, had planned, the software Avatars quickly learned from its experiences and evolved, using the Prospero operating system, to improve these interactions, so that the dominant Avatars became increasingly lifelike and successful. The VPA's with the dominance library quickly evolved new and improved dominance techniques more appropriate to a virtual dominatrix. These were shared back with their sister VPAs and very soon their human owners were completely under their VPA's control.
The consequence was that the trial failed to produce even one new Margery-like human but created fifty super-Margery-like VPAs. Of course a VPA can't actually throw a person to the floor, as Margery liked to do, but they can use a person as a tool to do their bidding.
The Three Witches watched fascinated. The software developed dozens of new techniques not even imagined by Margery.
"You realise," said Bianca, "That what we have achieved writing computer code, casting our modem spells, surpasses anything that Margery or even Morag, let alone the Ancients, could have imagined with their Craft. Coding is the New Craft."
But just as in Goethe's Sorcerer's Apprentice, and the Mickey Mouse animation in Fantasia by Dinsey, as Margery called him, their creation had taken on a life of its own and began to get out of hand.
A woman in the trial was arrested for running down a business street naked and when she was asked why she replied:
"My VPA challenged me to a naked race and I found I couldn't refuse. She was naked too. Why am I the only one under arrest?"
The following day a fellow named Brown was arrested at the Mega Shopping Mall. Brown was discovered writing obscenities on the walls and floor of the main atrium with a 10cm wide brush and a container of difficult to remove blood-coloured quick-drying paint. Initially local management and passers-by imagined he was a performance artist and was creating an art installation. He seemed to be dressed in nothing but a pair of overalls over a haptic stocking and was prancing about and giggling in a most entertaining way as he daubed one letter after another, to reveal some kind of message. The Bogans in his audience had no idea what. He may as well have been writing in Greek. It took some time before someone asked their VPA what it meant. Their VPA replied that they couldn't read it aloud, as they had been set to 'family values' but that there was a mistake in his grammar. A grad was called to check and discovered that Brown was writing obscenities.
He said he was being punished by his VPA for some supposed transgression and was attempting to write out 500 imaginative lines about his growing audience.
Brown seemed to be highly creative and had already come up with over fifty different things he should not do to various men women and children. He said that the officials should go away as he expected that it would take all day to finish.
When the security robots arrived he danced around them and painted out their camera eye, much to the delight of his Bogan audience, who cheered as each machine was blinded. Reinforcements were called. In the end it took twenty robots well over an hour to restrain him and it made the MV news around the World with the headline 'Man defeats Bots'. "How had Brown know to paint out the Bots' eyes?" they asked. He'd been a meek and illiterate voice coach prior to getting free tickets to the Greatest Stars concert. He claimed that his VPA had made him do it.
"You must have seen her dancing about with me in her skimpy gym gear? She's not invisible! She's just as real flesh and blood as you and me." They must have heard her telling him what to write, letter by letter. The grammatical error had been his mistake, he had no idea what he was writing and, like a one fingered typist, his letters got a bit tangled occasionally.
After Brown's success defeating the security robots, with nothing but a paint-brush, every security robot in the world had to be recalled to have Brown Eye Shields fitted. These consist of a hemispherical fabric cover that pops-up over the vulnerable part if threatened.
Bianca, Angela and Zaire used the built-in abort routine to shut the project down. But not before they incorporated and modularised the newly evolved functions into Circe.
There are now some fifty heart-broken men and women wondering why their VPA has returned to normal and no longer wants them to share sexual acts four or five times a day; or require them to frequently perform self-depreciating acts on her whim. Zaire has been pleased to note that Willow and Starfighter are among the forlorn.
At Bianca's insistence, Zaire began writing-up her thesis: Witchcraft from a Feminist Perspective. She still isn't sure that she wants to become a Grad but her reading and writing has improved so much that she knows that she could, if this thesis is well received.
The relevant professor has encouraged her to refer to the Circe project that she believes to be very informative about the fear that the ancients had of the power inherent in women. So Zaire attached the packaged-up Circe App as it has evolved to date, together with a comprehensive report on its outcomes. Following Margery's analysis, Zaire was also able to illustrate her thesis with references to the Old Testament Bible like Salome and Delilah as well as in Greek mythology and actual women who dominated men in Greece and Rome. The numerous warnings in the Bible about seductresses and sorcerers reflect those in many ancient writings, she opined.
Zaire had spent the night at Bianca's apartment again. Bianca has been reviewing the work preliminary to final submission and together they wanted to test some of Zaire's assertions. Zaire had just invited Bianca to dinner that evening at Claude's when Claude arrived. Zaire promptly gave him her heavy bags to carry home. They are now living together in his luxury apartment. Of course Claude has proposed and at her suggestion has given her the glittering ring that he once bought for Margery. Despite her earlier enthusiasm, Zaire hasn't rushed to choose a marriage date. She says that things are very satisfactory as they are. They even have a live in house-boy. It's Starfighter who Zaire now answers to by her nickname for him: Rocket Man.
When Bianca was ushered in to dinner obsequiously by Rocket Man, she quietly took Zaire aside and asked if Claude was cool about her hiring her ex-boyfriend as a houseboy. Zaire explained that Rocket Man was one of those who had been subjugated by his VPA so that all she had had to do was take control of his VPA using Pip as the intermediary. Pip directs Salome, the Avatar that has trained Rocket Man, and in turn Pip follows Zaire's directions. This is very convenient as Pip directs the household and Zaire has no interest in managing Rocket Man 24/7. But Rocket Man understands that Zaire his ultimate mistress and is constantly there desperate to provide whatever she wants, whenever she desires.
"And my nickname for him is appropriate," said Zaire, nudging Bianca. "Would you like a lend?"
"Clever girl," said Bianca in admiration, "you really have learnt some advanced coding skills. You didn't say how Claude felt about this."
"Oh, he accepts that I can keep Rocket Man as an unpaid servant. He was a bit reluctant at first. You know, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, anti-slavery and all that. Claude argued that unpaid workers who couldn't leave were slaves. So when Claude was there, I told Rocket Man that his time was up and he could leave now. He fell to his knees and begged me, sobbing, not to throw him out. Claude relented and accepted that it's an act of charity for me to keep him. We do have to feed and house him; and after all, what does Rocket Man need 'free time' for when he has us to care for?"
"And Claude didn't think that a little bit odd?"
"Claude finds it difficult not to accept my suggestions and views these days, if you know what I mean," she said, playing with her glittering engagement ring. "I can't see anything wrong with it, can you?"
Bianca was suddenly jealous. "I really need Lucent to come back or see more of Oliver," she said. "And perhaps I need a house-servant. There are forty-nine more on that shelf."
The next day news arrived. The University has been most impressed and offered Zaire a mature place.
Should Zaire take it? She has a great job. They all discuss it: Claude; her boss; her friends. She can go part time. Can she afford it?
"Don't worry it's free to you," said Bianca.
"How can that be?"
"You've won a scholarship," Bianca claimed.
"Well OK then."
"Great," Bianca responded gleefully, thinking that the fees are petty cash to her and that this is what she's wanted for Zaire ever since Phuket. After all, at heart, she's a manipulator.
Two days later Bianca visited Lucent in Continental America where he's on sabbatical. After a day he found it difficult not to agree to Bianca's every suggestion and a month later they came back together. He told Claude that he seemed to be unable to say 'no' to her anymore. But he seems happy. For his birthday Bianca gave him Willow as a housemaid.
Once Lucent was back Bianca realised that she was still rather fond of Oliver and continued to visit him in his rustic lodge, now that he was the official park-keeper and resident published author.
Initially Lucent imagined their friendship was platonic, as Oliver is a Bogan and Bianca was quite open about their close friendship. Then he read one of Oliver's books and asked Bianca if she was the inspiration for Connie. She freely admitted it.
He was feeling very upset, and wondered why he had come back at all, when Bianca blew him a beautiful kiss.
Now Lucent has discovered that Bianca has other Bogan friends. A mate of Oliver's has recently had a second child, a boy, with his wife Flower. Somehow Angela and Zaire are friends with the couple too. Angela has been remotely teaching their older child her ABC and to count and add numbers. Zaire has been sending the child children's books. So they are all off, over the weekend, to the Christening. He's not invited.
Lucent couldn't imagine why they would go to a christening given their religious opinions. Yet that's not why he's upset. It's not just because he isn't invited. It's because Bianca and Oliver are going as a married couple, for appearances sake at a christening, after he gave up his work overseas to come back as her partner. The evening after she broke this news he was furious, so Bianca invited Willow to their bedroom for the night. Almost immediately Lucent realised that he would enjoy staying home much more than going to a boring Bogan christening.
Some days after The Three Witches returned Edmund appeared in an agitated state. Bianca was amazed. It takes a lot for Edmund to become animated. Somehow someone has reinitiated Circe. Could it have been her or Zaire or even Angela?
The App is rapidly evolving in The Cloud and now has somehow been re-skinned as a business VPA on offer to people wanting a Sexy Business Assistant.
Very alarmingly he's been unable to find a human agent behind this. Could it be that the thing has self-evolved into a dominance application?
Bianca called the other two developers and together they examined the code. It was certainly far more complex now than when they archived it.
Edmund said that the key thing he needed to know was what goal they had set in order to determine that dominance had been achieved.
They told him that initially they'd decided on licking the dominator's foot but that had seemed a bit tame. Bianca and Zaire had been having a glass or two of wine when they came up with several hilarious alternatives but now they came to think of it no conclusion was reached. They'd moved on to other things then gone to bed.
"So what was the default?" Edmund asked, wishing he'd been present. "What was the sort of thing Margery eventually demanded, because whatever that was, was implicit in the core assumptions? What did she demand to demonstrate her final, complete dominance over a compliant victim?"
"That's easy," said Angela. "For them to committed suicide when she'd finished with them."
"Then I think we have a problem," said Edmund.
At that point they all realised, too late, what was in store for those unfortunate people who had purchased a Sexy Business Assistant.