Original novel by Yoshihara Rieko
Illustrations by Michihara Katsumi
Japanese translation and scanning by Shabriri
Spanish translation by San and Shiromori

Ai no Kusabi Chapter 2

Memories from the Past – Flashback

In every time, in every place, the encounter between two beings, human or inhuman, is an exciting and dramatic gamble. Depending on who one meets, luck can either smile on one, or cruelly turn its back.

Which way will the scales tip? No one can know since no knowledge or established theory exists that can explain the spiritual connection between two people...

Whether purposefully or accidentally, this encounter begins something: friendship, treachery, love, hatred, suffering, sadness...

Desiring it or not, nobody can remain immaculate.

Perhaps this is the reason why people, aspiring to swath themselves with maturity and experience, repeat such encounters and separations on the waves of time.

One night, five years ago… Riki met Iason for the first time.

"A Mongrel from the Slum has nothing to lose." That is what Riki used to tell himself then.

That night, the panting breaths of Midas, the city that never sleeps, could be heard. Multicoloured sequins sparkled charmingly, and whispering sweet and lascivious words in the ear, tried to capture the nocturnal calm and silence.

The arched doors that welcomed one into the city were really imposing. The scenes of naked women represented in their bas-reliefs came from the so-called "Vila of Myths", the culmination of eroticism and karma. Those in turn came from old legends native to the Salinas Nebula that had been passed on by oral tradition, and that the fame of Midas had again put in vogue.

The figures in these bas-reliefs were so detailed and beautiful that they seemed real, and so sensual that they made people desire to touch them.

As if trying to weave an even more entrancing spell, the rainbow of lights that washed over and lit up the multitude giddily, was no more than a poison that tore desires sleeping in the depths of their hearts up by the roots and dragged them out.

The zone inside the doors was exclusively for humans. To carry a weapon, even a knife, was forbidden. Doing full justice to the slogan of "Fun and Security" that was displayed on the doors, people were rigorously searched before crossing them.

In the streets, ringed around the casinos, the sparkle of neon never ceased.

Both men and women, young and old, dressed in their best clothes, and the enchantment of their voices, together with the burning atmosphere, seemed stagnant as mud.

The mixed multitude moved happily from one side to the other. But, skillfully avoiding the flow of people, a figure moved with such agility that it seemed to swim among them.

He was too young even to be called a "man", but neither could it be said that he was a boy needing shelter and protection.

The garments covering his long and limber limbs had a peculiar attraction that seemed to sarcastically mock the multitude weighed down by their sumptuous clothes.

He did not have a dazzling beauty, but his figure and, above all, his face gave the strong impression that whoever looked at him (even if only once) would not be able to erase the image from their memory for a long time. His indomitable and arrogant eyes were in total discordance with the surrounding environment, and this made him stand out sharply against the blur of the crowd.

This was Riki. This was Riki during the time that he was called the "Leader of Bison", and there was not a single soul in the Slum who did not know his name.

During the night, the main streets that led to the casinos were brimming with people. Among them, it was very easy to find the newly rich from the neighbourhoods of Logos and Galaria with loaded pockets.

Normally they did not carry a great deal of cash. What weighed down their pockets were credit cards. This was what Riki wanted.

Obviously, making a mistake could be fatal.

The police of the Pleasure-Zone of Midas were well-known for their violence, especially if the one being handled was one as disposable as a Mongrel from the Slum.

In spite of that, the young Mongrels continued prowling about nocturnal Midas because the high price at which they could sell the stolen cards on the sly was a hard profit to pass up. But maybe the reason was that such a thrill was, for them, a test of fire that served as a powerful stimulant, and made them forget their boring and monotonous existence.

In the Slum, all children were raised in Centers of Infancy. The boys were obligated to become independent at the age of thirteen. Each one of them was free to follow the life he wanted without intervention from anyone, but although they made great effort, no doors opened for them. It was not a question of their tenacity.

Besides, the likelihood of having the luck to find a good opportunity was one in ten thousand. The world discovered by the youths leaving the centre was covered in the sticky smell of rot that came of apathy and indolence.

A month was more than sufficient time to become badly infected by it.

Confusion, disturbance, desperation, escape from reality... all this melted and mixed, creating that thing called the stigma of the Slum.

In the lowest morality, that which was necessary for survival in that place, the only valid rule was « each one takes care of his own ass »... That was what Riki thought.

The value of a life was equivalent to that of cheap liquor, but Riki did not intend to justify his behaviour by this. He only wanted action, to be able to say “I’m alive!”

Stealing credit cards was a palpable way to test that this was certain. His alert nervous system and the sharp and furious beat of his heart, combined, generated a totally different excitement than the one produced by Stout - an almost paralyzingly high-spirit.

Midas rose in temperature, with the arrival of night.

Brimming with overdressed provincials and nouveaux-riches who observed everything that surrounded them anxiously, it was the ideal game preserve for the Slum’s adolescents who did not have anything better to do to fill their spare time.

Riki pegged a possible mark, and smiled maliciously. He adjusted his step to the rhythm of his target’s, maintaining a short distance between them.

In that moment, Riki marked the rhythm mentally, calculating the most opportune moment, and when again that night he was on the verge of being intoxicated by that secret pleasure, suddenly an arm appeared over his shoulder, and encircled him tightly while holding him firmly by the wrist. A chill seeped to every corner of his body, panic at having been discovered causing him a shock that tensed all his muscles. He even had the sensation that the tip of his tongue had become cold and numb.

"Your skill as a pickpocket leaves much to be desired." The voice was deep and velvety.

And yet those fingers clamped on his imprisoned right wrist with such strength that Riki bit his lips, trying to suppress a moan.

Then, another voice of a different quality sounded over his head. "Hey, what’s happening? If we don’t get a move on, we’ll be late... Who’s this? What's the matter with him?"

Riki paled, and prepared himself to be taken to the Police Centre.

"Sorry, but would you mind going ahead alone? I’ll catch up with you presently."

"No problem, but..." Hesitating, the man glanced at Riki. "What a strange beast. Don’t get involved with him. It will bring you complications later"

‘Don't you see that he’s no more than scum from the Slum?’ was what was hidden behind that man’s impassive tone. Riki raised his eyes, furious. One could say unerringly, that what he felt for that man now was absolute hatred. Nevertheless, discovering that the one who was there was a long-haired Blondie, Riki was breathless for a moment.

The man, paying no attention to Riki’s surprise, turned to leave. "See you later, then." He turned his back tranquilly, and moved away.

When the back of that Blondie melted into the crowd, Riki slowly looked back. The other man was a Blondie too, and his beauty was such that any attempt to describe it would be in vain. Worthy to be Elite, his artificial body was made with the same ultra-precision as his brain. His face reflected so much beauty and intelligence that it was startling to look at it.

The man whose nobility seemed unattainable and inviolable… Iason Mink.

"If you’re no more than an amateur, you should stop doing this..." His tone of voice sounded much too indifferent to be a rebuke.

This struck at Riki’s inferiority complex, but instead of letting out the first insult that came to his mind, staring at the Blondie, he laughed right under his nose.

"What do you care? Why don’t you go call the police right now?"

Was it perhaps his nature as a rebellious Mongrel that forced him to react in such way?

Riki stared at his opponent. Allowing himself to be intimidated and looking down would mean assuming his inferiority. Not for anything would he behave like a frightened puppy in the presence of the Blondie. His pride wouldn’t allow it.

Then: "I will call the police next time. Don’t you forget it," and after saying that, Iason turned his back on him and left.

Puzzled, Riki could not say a word. He stood there, just watching Iason's back in a daze... he could not believe that it had resolved so easily. Indeed, if he had just remained there watching the Blondie leave the scene, surely that would have been the end of it.

But that was not what Riki did.

Before Iason’s golden hair had disappeared completely from his view, Riki had already taken his first step toward a murky labyrinth of desire and frustration; ecstasy and humiliation…

‘I would rather die than owe anything to a Tanagura Blondie.’ This was the only thing that he had on his mind as he went after Iason at a quick pace.

Following him was easier than he had thought it would be, since the Blondie left a breach in the crowd behind him. Trapped by his beauty, everybody stopped and turned to contemplate him.

Before all those looks, a suffocated Riki reached Iason, and grabbed him by the arm.

"Hey! Wait!"

At the same time, a murmur of envy rose around them.

Without losing his serenity, Iason looked at Riki, inquisitively. ‘What now?’ he seemed to be asking him.

"Why did you let me go so easily?" spat out Riki.

"No particular reason ..." Iason’s tone of voice still kept the same coldness.

This really exasperated Riki, and he frowned openly. On top of rage at being indebted to the Blondie, he was even more incensed by the man’s cheap compassion.

"I hate being indebted, especially to an Elite like you."

"I see… Do you usually protest when someone is benevolent towards you?"

‘You bastard!’… The desire to insult took possession of him, but he got a hold of himself, and raising his chin abruptly, made a gesture to the Blondie, inviting him to go with him.

Riki took two or three steps, and when he turned back, he verified that Iason followed, walking in silence at his side.

Tanagura’s Elite had accepted his almost desperate invitation.

Riki’s face was somewhat tense. ‘Come what may…’ he said to himself.

The exchange of words between them ceased.

The glacial beauty of the young Iason and the rustic charm of the adolescent Riki captured looks of surprise as they passed by. Given a Blondie’s reputation, it was inevitable that anyone walking at his side who was not another Blondie would appear unworthy of such an honour.

Nevertheless, the sight of the two of them walking together, in spite of the imbalance, was strangely harmonious.

It was a very fragile balance, anchored on the border between calm and movement, positive and negative...

In Midas, the slave of desire, money, and sex, it seemed as if only the two of them had been left out.

Riki crossed intricate alleys with the natural ease of someone who knew the zone well, and without even looking back to signal to Iason, he passed under the doorway of a place of dubious a reputation called Club Minos.

Inside, darkness reigned. It was the type of darkness to which the eyes never become accustomed, and which produces such anguish that one is incapable of walking a single step.

At the bottom, in front of them, three weak but somewhat soothing, lights were lit. The one in the center was blue, and to the left was a red, and the right, a yellow.

Riki took Iason's arm, and groped his way towards the blue light.

Just close up enough to sharpen the sight, the mystery of those phosphorescent lights was revealed. They were nothing but knobs which corresponded to three doors.

Riki turned the knob to the left until a small but audible click was heard.

It worked just as he had heard the rumours say. As soon as he took his hand off the knob, the door opened, sliding in without making the slightest noise.

The interior of this new room was likewise dark. As both of them entered, the door closed automatically behind them, and from the place where they stood, weak intermittent lights arose, pressuring them to move forward in the indicated direction. They continued towards those sparkles until they came to another door.

But was it really a door...? There was no knob, and it seemed to be only a cold, naked wall.

Riki didn’t know what to do for a moment, but then suddenly, his vision cleared before him.

It was all covered with blood…

His surprise was such that Riki’s throat trembled involuntarily, but after realizing that it was only a thick carpet of a deep crimson, he swallowed, still nervous.

Even so... Riki looked around the whole room thoughtfully. It was empty, except for an eccentric and obsolete chandelier.

Certainly, it was a room without a single decoration.

Then, without his notice, suddenly, the chandelier began to rotate slowly and silently while playing a melody. From the ends of the twelve arms, some little crystal chains off subtly changing colour balanced gracefully. The combination of the shades was worthy of admiration, and had a hypnotic effect. Unexpectedly, the music ceased of a sudden, and at the same time, the chandelier's movement stopped.

One of the arms stretched out to its full length, pointing toward one of the walls. From the end of this arm, like a blown kiss, came a blue laser beam.

Then, what Riki had thought was a simple wall, to his great amazement disappeared, revealing an entrance.

The other side was a corridor wide enough that two adults walking side by side would have been able to pass easily.

There were doors on both sides of the corridor. All of them seemed the same, except for a few that had dimmed the light emitted by some strange lantern of an obsolete construction. This indicated that the corresponding rooms were occupied.

Riki pushed open a door in which a red light spun, and for the first time in all this time, directed his eyes toward Iason, gesturing to the Blondie to follow him inside.

Publicly, "Minos" exhibited the sign of a "club". Only those who had heard about it knew that it was really some sort of brothel.

The knobs that shone in the darkness of the entrance divided it into zones. The red one was the female company zone, the yellow one for the male company, and the blue one was the zone for couples. It was guaranteed that, from the time of their entrance until they left, the clients would not run into anybody.

Only cash was accepted. Payment was made at the end, and in the same instant that the automatic door closed, the computer began to count the time.

Riki did not have any choice but to choose that place, having heard that it was the only place where they accepted any client having sufficient money to pay for the service.

Even after going into the room, both of them went on not saying a word to each other.

Riki sat down on the edge of the bed.

Iason, however, dropped himself comfortably on the sofa, and observed Riki, waiting for his next move.

Riki, feeling uncomfortable under that burning silence, slid his tongue over his lips.

Ten minutes passed in this way without either of them breaking the ice.

That was all Riki could bear.

Determined, Riki stood up, took his clothes off, and got into the bed, but Iason, looking at him with disinterest, made no attempt to move closer to him.

Finally, Riki, raising his voice, said: "Hey! How long are you going to stay there, quiet? I think we can skip the preliminaries, don’t you? Come here, and let's get this over with, once and for all."

Without bating an eyelash, Iason, staring at Riki, said, "So, when you have no luck picking pockets, you earn money by bringing men to places like this, do you?" His tone of voice, low and forceful, had an air of straightforward mockery.

The color drained from Riki’s face.

More than seeing his pride brutally humiliated, it was the feeling of being spat on that made his lips tremble involuntarily.

"Unfortunately for you, I am not so desperate as to put my hands on a Mongrel from the Slum, nor do I have any intention to do so. Besides, as payment just for my silence, it seems too excessive a compensation to me. Suddenly, I feel tempted to think that all this matter is due to some other hidden purpose of yours. As it is vulgarly put, ‘nothing is more costly than that which you get for free’."

As he listened to the direct and raw speech of Iason, Riki became more and more pale. Nevertheless, he was not so weak as to be intimidated, and to lower his head.

“If you didn't have any intention of doing it, why the hell did you blindly follow me here? Did you think that we came to chat? Come on, take me! I told you that I hate being indebted. Besides, someone like you probably couldn’t even imagine what kind of place the Police Center is. There, people like me are practically trash. There, there have been guys who, after making a mistake and falling into their clutches, have been raped in turns throughout the whole night, until they were not even able to stand on their own feet. And if they take it into their heads to try to resist, they’re beaten until their faces become unrecognizable. I have seen enough of such things to make me sick. That's why I'm telling you that you can do what you want to me.”

“The Tanagura Elite's golden rule is 'to be exceptional in everything', isn't it? The rumours say that ex-Pets that have ended up in Midas, both men and women, are so lascivious that they don’t hesitate to offer themselves obligingly to anybody. Then, being so used to such good quality merchandise, you don't feel like doing it with some boring riffraff, do you?"

In a gesture much too theatrical, Riki threw off the sheet with his right foot, while curving his lips provocatively. His incredible flexibility had a flavor of wild manliness that could not be found among the Midas citizens, domesticated in harems.

"You mean to say that you would prefer to pay me with your body than to owe me a debt, is that it?"

"This way, both you and I will be able to go our own ways without any more complications."

Riki smiled a false smile. His stubbornness was putting his pride at risk, but above all, he did not want to leave the scene like an idiot with his tail between his legs.

"If that is the way of the Slum, that's fine, I will have you pay me. But do not forget that you were the one who urged me to do what I wanted."

‘Ooh… how scary! Who do you think you’ll intimidate with that?’ Riki underestimated Iason, while he looked fixedly at the Blondie.

It was rumoured that the Pets bought by Tanagura's Elite in the auctions were some sort of accessory, and that their owners did not take them personally, but enjoyed themselves by watching their Pets have sex with each other. Riki had also heard that the reason why the ex-Pets of Midas were some sex maniacs was the chronic addiction for the aphrodisiacs they had used during that time. In short, the Elite, with their artificial bodies, should not be up to date on the physiological mechanisms of flesh and blood human beings, so he would be taken by the Blondie, he would let out appreciative moans, and it would all be over…

Although, on second thought, half the reason he was determined to pay for Iason's silence by having sex with him was because he was curious about the Blondie's artificial body.

Was the Elite of Tanagura, considered superior to the common people, gifted with sexual functions? Even thought Riki had tried to excite him, he was not very sure.

Iason came close to him, walking calmly.

"What a prude! If you feel embarrassed to strip, we can turn out the light."

"First show me your body, so that I can see whether it is worthy of being taken by an Elite or not."

‘How long was this guy planning to play the hard-to-get game?’ thought Riki, while he hurried to leave the bed, and to stand with his back to the wall.

An icy look ran over every contour of Riki’s naked body.

He was not invaded by the uncomfortable sticky feeling that a lascivious look would have caused, but neither did he note any ardent burning in his groin. On the other hand, Riki felt as if the tip of a very sharp knife was sliding along his side.

In spite of it, he made an effort to maintain a light tone.

"So? Have I passed the examination?"

"You have good proportions. It would be enough for you to be part of the Dyas harem, of course, supposing you could stay quiet."

"The same goes for you. If you quit with that sarcastic tone of yours, I think you would be able to earn a living in Club Lusca, although, in that place, technique and endurance in bed are more important than a pretty face."

"You know that place well, do you?"

"…Well, if you didn't listen to rumours, even when they’re crap, you’d die of boredom in a place like the Slum…"

Riki was more talkative than usual. Perhaps he was trying to counteract the glacial gaze which was pouring over him from above. Or maybe it was in order to break the spell of that peaceful voice that almost seemed to wrap him in a calm and absolute relaxation.

Riki's exhibition of self-confidence was only awkwardly interrupted from time to time.

This was because, for an instant, Iason’s serpentine fingers, clinging to his body like leeches, played the strings of his sensuality.

Riki felt dazed.

It was not shame he was feeling. Neither was he innocent, nor did he intend to play the decent at that stage. If there had to be a reason, it would be surprise at Iason’s unexpected abilities.

Riki knew where his secret points were situated, those at which the slightest friction made his blood boil, and Iason seemed to have found them all unfailingly.

Riki became breathless when Iason smoothly teased a nipple with his fingertips.

The other hand descended, flowing over his back, slipping over his buttocks, and then creeping up between his thighs.

The uncanny sensation that this last action caused in Riki made him jerk his hips, startled.

Then Iason suddenly held him firmly, and, putting his knee between Riki's thighs, forced him to open his legs.

The elegance of those fingers that caressed his naked skin did not seem to fit their powerful strength.

Immediately, Riki tensed his cheeks.

But, in the next instant, he became aware of another kind of rigidity running through his whole body.

That place that Iason’s fingers were touching burned in such a way that it seemed to be lit in flames.

It was not his imagination. He felt stabs of pain, like a sharp tingling sensation, and unconsciously, he began to growl.

His heart beat so furiously that he could hardly breathe, and he felt a sharp oppression in arms and legs. As in opposite reaction, the wave of pleasure that had been growing, swirling deep, deep inside of him, thrust up, rising along his spine.

‘…It can't... be!’

Riki suppressed a moan.

That sensation was very similar to the twinges of fire that had made him tremble those times when his erection had been meticulously worked by lips and tongue.

As a result, his hardening manhood arched, pointing at the sky. The veins became inflamed, and the tip became wet.

Riki could not believe that, just by the stimulation of his erogenous zones, he had reached the verge of explosion.

Never in his life had he felt so humiliated. His eyed blurred as his sight became dulled. But this uneasiness was also fading as his limbs sank into the delicious heat, and the current of pleasure increased more and more.

Occasionally, a sort of electric shock ran up his back like a flash from his anus to his brain.

Riki hung on Iason’s arms, and gritted his teeth.

The smell semen reached his nose...

His violent spasms and his altered spirit dissolved in an incredible way. Riki released a deep and heavy breath, but he could do nothing to get rid of the bitter gall that brimmed inside his mouth.

As if he wanted to give another painful blow to Riki’s already cracked pride, Iason said without hesitation,

"Just by doing this to you, you’ve come already? Ridiculously soon, isn’t it?"

Invaded by the feeling of humiliation that boiled and swarmed inside his head, he was not even able to retort. The lips he bit tightly were pale, and they trembled.

Riki, exhausted and bent over, moved his hands away from Iason’s arms, but he was not able to break loose from the Blondie’s embrace.

"What’s with you? Don't tell me you consider the matter closed just with this?"

"… I’m useless now!"

"It was you who pressed me to accept payment for my silence. At least you should be able to measure up to what you offered."

"What do you want me to do? Pay you lip service like in the harems? We Mongrels from the Slum don’t have those techniques!"

"They are not necessary. It seems that you are quite sensitive. It would not be bad to make somebody cry for the first time in a long while."

"Hmn. Said so confidently, it sounds like you’re making fun of me."

"That all depends on how you take it. Or is it that you dislike to be treated like a Pet?"

"… You could at least take off your clothes, couldn't you?"

Unexpectedly, a smile appeared on Iason’s lips.

"Nobody in Tanagura would be so stupid as to get undressed just to discipline a Pet."

Riki, feeling as if he had been given the coup de grâce, held his breath.

Iason buried his fingers in Riki’s messy hair to hold him gently by the back of the neck. He intertwined his right leg with Riki’s so that he could not close them, and feeling his buttocks with his free hand, he slowly brought the Mongrel close to himself.

So near that a sigh would touch his cheek, was the cold and limpid beauty of Iason.

Riki, not recovered yet from the humiliation suffered a moment ago, and straining his already cracked pride, directed his eyes towards Iason's, holding his gaze.

"Do you think that I am going to give you the pleasure of feeling something?"

Riki knew that trying to resist it was useless, but he could not bear the idea of being dragged in such a way by the wave of pleasure, especially when it had been him who, taking the initiative, had excited the Blondie in the first place.

Maybe, it was this strong determination to not give up that Riki always showed that aroused curiosity in Iason. Or was it the fact of having found, for the first time in many years, a really worthy toy that had attracted his interest...? At any rate, in that moment, perhaps half seriously, half jokingly, Iason had already decided to take the proud Mongrel down a peg or two.

Realizing the situation, Riki was already trapped inside the labyrinth, and similarly, unconsciously, Iason had also opened 'Pandora's Box'.

Iason, bathed by Riki’s severe gaze, slid his fingers down until they reached his slightly shadowed groin.

He caressed Riki’s soft member from root to tip, and then, and then, as if he was inspecting them, he held both balls between his fingers. Iason began to rub them, pressing one against the other, and immediately, Riki reacted, pursing his lips.

Iason smiled faintly, but there was not the slightest bit of obscene sweetness in it. On the contrary, it was so loaded with sarcasm that it chilled the bones.

Seeing it, for the first time, Riki regretted what he had done; to provoke a member of Tanagura’s Elite into making fun of him…

The inside of the room, where silence reigned again, trembled for the second time with Riki’s violent gasps. The atmosphere vibrated with his pitiful moans, becoming heavy, dense, and stale.

How long did this go on? Suddenly, in Iason’s arms, Riki cried out with a voice which seemed a howl. "E… enough…!"

His breathing was chaotic, and his words shot out in a strange way.

Although he raised his voice, he could not help stammering because of the burning sensation that the stabbing tingle was causing in his groin.

"I... I’m not... a… a... a toy...!"

In that moment, he had the impression that the air got blocked inside his throat, and he bit his lips. So intense was that boiling that, unconsciously, he was seized with the desire to crouch down and moan like one possessed, but Riki knew that it would not last much longer.

The string of pleasure was tightened to the breaking point, but it never broke. It was as if, on the verge of reaching the highest note, Iason, impassive, stopped playing the instrument.

Nevertheless, the Blondie made no attempt to release him from his embrace. It was as if he enjoyed seeing Riki arched backwards, panting and moaning convulsively.

‘Not bad making you cry’ was what Iason had said.

For Riki, these words were not merely a result of the Blondie’s superiority complex. Iason squeezed him in such a way that he began to doubt if it was a reflection of his hostility towards real human beings.

He felt as if he were about to explode, but he could not do it. Nevertheless, excitement remained latent in his groin.

Iason, taking advantage of Riki’s male nature, had already pushed him into the abyss of despair several times, when the Mongrel's voice became almost sorrowful.

"... Fi... finish it ...one ......once and for all...! Do… don’t leave me... in… the mid… dle...!”

If he had been slapped in the face, he would have gritted his teeth enduring with dignity. If he had been stabbed cruelly with a dagger, he would still have managed to launch a sharp parting remark, but he was unable to bear the burning fire that consumed him from the inside, driving him crazy, without end.

The desire to come prevails over everything.

It is the male instinct.

Riki, bowing his head, dug his nails into Iason’s arms. Without shame or pride, he implored the Blondie to put an end to his torment.

Was it maybe that which awoke some slight trace of humanity remaining inside Iason? Or... was it only that his interest in the Mongrel had faded? In any case, immediately after that, Iason drove him to the final ecstasy.

Perhaps because of the relaxation caused by being released from that which had been building inside him, as soon as Iason moved away from him, Riki fell to the ground, completely exhausted.

Without paying any attention to him, Iason took off his gloves and threw them into the trash can. Then, from a pocket on his chest, he took out a few crisp bills, and placed them on a table.

"Here’s the change for your payment. This makes us even."

Riki, still breathing hard, licked his dry lips with a trembling tongue.

He did not have enough energy to cover his exposed member, nor was he in the mood to continue arguing. Even when Iason went out of the room without a backward glance, all that Riki did was remain seated there with a worn and depressed look on his face.

Five minutes...

Ten minutes...

The faded time elapsed, devoid of content, like a blank tape.

At last, Riki got his breathing under control, and stood up slowly.

"Heh. I guess it serves me right..."

With clumsy steps he approached the table and, without even bothering to count them, took the bills in his hand.

"So... a Blondie from Tanagura..."

After spiting those words as if grinding them into small pieces, he slammed his fist against the table.


This was the beginning of Iason and Riki's story - an unnatural start in which not even their names were exchanged, leaving an unpleasant and gloomy aftertaste.


Half a month passed...

But that bitter feeling of humiliation was still buried in the pit of Riki's stomach. If he closed his eyes, he could see Iason's cold beauty as if it were engraved on his eyelids.

Of course, he knew that they would probably never meet again, but this was not enough reason for him to forget it all, and carelessly turn over a new leaf.

The memory of his submission to the Blondie's will hurt his cracked and beaten self-respect to the point of bleeding. Even in the middle of his intimate moments with Guy it got entangled in his thoughts, and as if mocking him, it refused to leave him.

Having so close a relationship that each one knew every corner of the other’s body, it stood to reason that Guy noticed Riki's uneasiness. "Is something wrong?" asked Guy with a worried look.

"Nothing....." answered Riki bad-temperedly.

The fact that Guy should not try to go more deeply in the matter symbolized their entire relationship.

At that time, Katze, an influential man in the Black Market, offered Riki a job as a courier.

"It's safer than picking pockets, and you’ll have a steady income," Katze had said with an inscrutable expression on his face.

He was still young, and except for the pitiful scar crossing his left cheek, his beauty would be worthy of a place in the top-class clubs of Midas.

Of course, that would be in the hypothetical case of there existing a club so charitable as to offer a job to a Mongrel from the Slum.

Katze was a quiet person.

He never said more about himself than was strictly necessary, and as to how he had gotten that scar, and how he had left the Slum and been promoted to an influential broker in the Black Market, Riki knew only rumours. But as the words 'To live in the Black Market, a past is unnecessary' seemed to rule his way of life, Riki was not interested in making deeper inquiries.

The scar on Katze's face was like a silent warning of the price to be paid for leaving the Slum. ‘Are you ready to take the risk?’ it seemed to ask.

Riki accepted willingly.

If the only other choice was to grow into a shaky old man buried in the stigma of the Slum, he would prefer a short, but sharp life.

If mind and body remain idle for a long time, they become rusty.

On no account did he want to die while sleeping off a hang-over at some bar in the Slum, turned into a grumbling, good-for-nothing adult.

At first, he was no more than a 'go boy', but soon his perceptive mind, and his rash determination, both highly appreciated qualities, contributed to the fact that, gradually, more and more important tasks were entrusted to him.

In spite of having grown up in the Slum, Katze didn't help him out, but instead of growling, he made a great effort to obtain the best results.

He felt completely at home in the Black Market.

He came to be known as 'Riki the Dark'

‘Someday I'll show who I am to the cold eyes that despised me just for being a Mongrel.’ This thought was what drove Riki's actions.


That day, at last, the wind was bringing a bit of humidity.

Riki wandered alone about the streets.

Bathed in sunlight, Midas was almost deserted, and this in some way gave the city a certain languid air.

Riki went out from Moga Street to a back alley, and taking care to be discreet, he went into a drug-store.

The basement of that place had become Katze's hide-out.

An hour had since he received Katze’s call-sign. It was not that it was an urgent matter, but Riki always tried to arrive ten minutes before the agreed upon time.

To descend to the basement, he used a private elevator. It was an obsolete electric elevator for which spare parts could only be obtained through special order. He inserted the magnetic card that Katze had given him, and the door opened.

Recognizing Riki, Katze greeted him with a glance and came closer to him.

In the same way, Riki acknowledged him with his eyes, and fell into his habitual place on the sofa, while giving a hasty glance to one of the corners of the room. There, he saw two seated figures huddled together.

More than sweet, their features were noble and well-proportioned. The area around their eyes and mouth still had a childish look, but it was impossible to determine their age and sex just by their appearance.

Such was their kind of beauty.

Both of them were completely wrapped in old-fashioned robed from past eras that covered them to the ankle.

One of them had soft-looking blond hair. In both ears were impressive ruby earrings that looked like drops of blood.

The other, with splendid and brilliant black hair, had an enormous spherical sapphire embedded in the forehead.

However, both of them had their eyes firmly closed.

Riki was not surprised to learn that, this time, the job would consist of transporting cargo to the remote region of Laocon, but when he realized that those two were the merchandise, he frowned unconsciously.

"Tsk. But they’re just kids."

Riki felt repugnance towards those who enjoyed having sex with children who had not even reached puberty yet.

But, setting it aside… giving them a second look, Riki tilted his head, confused. Accessories aside, it was very clear that these two had not grown up in an ordinary harem. The operation would have had to be done in a secret, but even so, with Midas obsessed as it was with sanitary control of its citizen-merchandise, blindness was somewhat unthinkable.

As if guessing at the doubt that was going through Riki’s head, Katze said flatly, "These two are a special order from Ranaya."

Riki held his breath for a moment.

"What?!... But that place was dismantled a long time ago! Are you sure?"

“Yeah, at least officially. But there are many fans of odd things out there, so the fact that they’re closed to the public doesn’t mean that they don’t continue to do business clandestinely. It’s demand that moves business."

Katze reported this to him dispassionately, and in a straightforward manner. In contrast, Riki did not even try to hide the indescribable feeling of repulsion he felt. Seeing such an ostensive gesture, Katze said abruptly, "In the Market, there is no clean or dirty business. Worrying about something that is not your job is a waste of energy and time."

"I know..." answered Riki laconically.


The only heterogeneousness under the flaring neon lights of Midas.

It was a name too gloomy to limit itself just to satisfying physiological desires. Its somber image followed it everywhere.

Hair stood on end as if, only there, time had frozen.

With such a description, Ranaya-Ugo could only be the very Castle of the Devil.

In that place, gentlemen and ladies degenerated, not into simple men and women, but into vulgar male and female animals. Abandoning every vestige of reason and dignity, they devoured ecstasy without the least restraint of their more base instincts.

And, the grotesqueness of those who drew them to the height of pleasure was the reason for which Ranaya-Ugo was branded as heretic.

In general, all the youths of Ranaya-Ugo had a remarkable beauty.

But… there was not one of them who did not have some kind of physical defect.

A single arm, legs joined together, missing extremities from the knees or the elbows, etc, etc…

Their deformity was not congenital or hereditary. They were purposefully made in such way by means of genetic manipulation.

The fact that the proportions of their features were so perfect made them even more pitiful.

To prevent them from being picky about their clients, their eyes were put out, and in order that they should not hurt the customer's genitals during oral sex sessions, their teeth were pulled. Besides, since a very early age, they were trained exclusively and severely in sexual techniques.

Paying no notice to their appearance, the clients knocked at the door of the rooms specializing in their favourite sexual position. They had been made to provide them the greatest pleasure in those positions.

Condemned to be locked up for life in the cage appointed for them, just deformed sexual dolls…

Thinking on this, Riki felt the same rot of the Slum, the same desperation that neither killed nor allowed one to live, the anguish of being caged, and not being able to do anything to avoid it.

From that moment, Riki did not want to look at those two unfortunates again. He concentrated on memorizing the instructions that Katze had given him.

Flying at top speed, it took only three days to get to the far region of Laocon in the stellar system of Veran. During this time, he treated them as if they were simple merchandise. He attended them in a mechanical way, speaking no more than was necessary with them.

Nevertheless, each time he gave them some food or arranged the bed for them, although he disliked it, he could not avoid being conscious of the heavy burden that they carried on their shoulders: the terrible anguish of an uncertain future, of not knowing if they would go on living tomorrow...

Knowing no other life than that of the cage to which they were destined, these poor dolls neither sang nor laughed, nor even cried. They accepted the inevitable with a sigh. If they expected nothing, there was no reason to despair, they seemed to be saying...


A week later ----------

Riki went out with his colleagues, both to relieve himself, and to be freed from sorrow.

He felt that, if he did not do something of the sort, he would die of melancholy.

When he was cheerful enough, he went to pay a visit to Guy, not having seen him in a long while.

It was absolutely not in his plans to get drunk beyond reason, but he knew that if something wasn’t put in his body, he would not be able to look Guy in the face.

He missed the heat of Guy’s skin so much…

It wasn’t that they had broken off their relationship for good, but they had been distant with each other almost to that point.

The riffraff of the Slum probably thought that they had already broken up a long time ago.

Riki did not have any intention of regretting his selfishness to such an extent, but the sensation that some day he would have to pay for it remained an obvious shadow in his heart.

Nevertheless, Guy received him without reproach as warmly as always. They passed the time looking each other in the face, and exchanging pleasantries. That was the atmosphere established between them.

"Some day I’ll leave this place, Guy. You’ll see,” he said to encourage himself, and to face up to anything.

Guy looked at Riki for an instant, as if to test the meaning of those words, and then he said carefully: "I… suppose so." His gentle voice became a whisper, tinged with an air of sadness.


A Blondie of Tanagura of whom nothing, not even his name, was known...

For Riki who stood out on his own in the Black Market, that was an ignominious black mark on his record.

Although he did not want to remember, in his spare time at work, when the tension lessened, the image of that clever beauty strayed furtively into his thoughts. Every time that this happened, Riki bit lips and said: "Some day, surely..."

And one day, Riki saw Iason.

It was in a place he didn’t expect at all, in a seat during a Black Market auction. Only his hairstyle was different, shining brown and short, but the cold beauty behind those dark glasses was unmistakable to Riki.

‘It‘s that bastard...!’

Before the auction had even ended, Iason disappeared through a black-painted door situated at the bottom of the place, but as he turned to go toward that door, Riki was already running after him.

Iason walked with familiarity through the complicated corridors that seemed to form a labyrinth.

Riki did not have any definite purpose in pursuing him, but he was intrigued to know why the Blondie had been present, disguised, during a Black Market auction, and where he planned to go now.

The passages twisted from side to side, but no matter how far they advanced, they seemed to have no end.

Iason walked quickly, and Riki, in order to keep him in sight, hurried on.

Taken with the excitement of pursuing Iason, Riki seemed not to notice that under his feet, the floor was gradually changing colour. Neither did he seem to notice that, behind him, the corridors were being blocked off silently, nor that the walls on either side of him were opening to form new pathways...

Riki could not have said for how long he walked.

Iason turned right at a corner, and unexpectedly disappeared from Riki’s view.

A little further from the place where the Blondie had disappeared, was one dark door.

At first sight, it looked like an old construction door, one of those ones that one expects to squeak when opened.

From above the door, a two-headed snake stared at Riki. It was a golden relief with large spherical rubies embedded in its eyes.

As he looked at them fiercely, Riki felt his hair stand on end, and without noticing, he swallowed.

As the door of so unnatural a corridor, it was more than discordant; it was quite sinister.

A slight hesitation rose in Riki’s heart, but in the end, curiosity won over uneasiness. Riki took a deep breath, and turned the doorknob decisively.

The inside was immersed in a mysterious blue darkness.

It was a world of azure silence in which there seemed to exist neither sky nor land, and the view was lost in infinite immensity.

Where there should have been twinkling stars, far from the image of the night sky, there was the sensation of belonging to some strange dimension of the most extreme solitude where there could be no consolation.

For a moment, Riki stood there, absent-minded. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he seemed to see something 'splash', and he came back to himself with a start, but although he looked hastily in that direction, he did not see even a shadow disturb that blindly monochromatic abyss.

"Did I… imagine it?" Riki asked himself, giving a sigh of relief. He had the impression of having been devoured, body and soul, by that strange atmosphere.

‘What’s happening to me? This isn’t like me…’

Riki smiled clumsily, mocking himself for his unusual nervousness, but the smile was abruptly erased from his lips.

He shook his head slightly, and looked down at his feet.

In that instant, Riki froze. Under the floor that recalled the dark azure depths of the ocean, a strange creature had raised its gaze to him. Its slanted golden eyes with their cat-slit pupils observed Riki eagerly, unblinking.

Its green hair rippled smoothly, and its skin was a disturbing white. Better said, its horrifying paleness came from the silver scales covering its whole body. Noticing it, Riki shivered.

The creature in front of him, in spite of having a similar form to his own, had nothing human about it.

A scream froze in his throat without ever becoming a sound, while small tremors shook his stiff and clumsy legs.

He noticed that his armpits and the palms of his hands were damp with cold sweat.

At last, he was finally able to break the invisible ties that seemed to bind him, nearly preventing him from breathing, and he began to run, stumbling, but as hard as he looked, he saw nothing that looked like an exit.

As Riki ran from side to side, overcome by panic, the creature, with it undulating movements, followed him closely just on the other side of the transparent barrier.

When Riki realized that even the door through which he had come had disappeared without him noticing, he felt as if his whole body were freezing to the marrow, and he stood completely paralyzed.

The sound of a deep and muted laugh rose, echoing in all directions in such a way as to make it impossible to tell from which direction it had come.

Riki had the impression that claws sank into his heart, and realized that the bottom half of his body was shaking convulsively.



The sound of footsteps approaching slowly seemed to cut like knives deep into his brain. Someone was walking towards him, making the azure atmosphere vibrate, and unexpectedly, his cold and aristocratic smile appeared before Riki’s wide open eyes.

Holding back a cry, Riki fell on his back in pure shock.

“Shall I help you up?” asked Iason, trying to suppress a chuckle. Nevertheless, when he met Riki’s furious gaze, he couldn’t keep a silent laugh from quivering in his throat.

“Oh, I forgot how much you hate having unpaid debts…”

Muttering an unintelligible mix of insults and curses, Riki collected himself clumsily. However, the trembling of his knees did not disappear so easily.

"What a surprise! I didn’t expect to meet you again in a place like this."

"… …"

"What’s the matter? For someone with such a sharp tongue, you’re very quiet today."

"… What… what was... that thing?”

"A new type of ornamental Pet. For now, it’s in the experimental phase. It’s still too early to think about taking it to an auction," Iason answered directly, with the same old calm tone.

" …Is it okay to be telling me all this? If I divulged it out there, it could attract the hostile gazes of those fat fish in the Federation."

"Well, I see that you recover quickly. I never imagined I would hear those words from the mouth of someone who, only a moment ago, had a serious problem keeping his pants dry."

"… …"

"Would you mind not looking at me with those aggressive eyes? You make me want to make you cry again..." Iason raised the corner of his lips in a smile.

The thought that the Blondie was making fun of him, but in a different way than before, made Riki’s guts burn.

"Well, it seems that your arrogant attitude hasn’t changed at all. Isn’t that right?"

"… Where’s the exit?"


Riki opened his eyes wide, and he lost control of himself. It was as if sparks jumped, lighting what, since that day in Club Minos, had continued to smoulder in the deepest part of his heart.

"I have no intention of joking with you in this place! The exit! Where is it?!"

"Your blustering won’t help you here, Riki."

Hearing his name so unexpectedly, Riki started.

‘How the hell... does he know my name?’ he wondered.

As if reading the apprehension in Riki’s eyes, Iason declared in a tranquil tone,

"Has Katze perhaps not taught you? Excessive curiosity can be deadly…"

‘Katze...?’ Riki felt the fire that had awakened in him a moment ago freeze.

"He might consider himself fortunate that, back then, the injuring of his prized face was his only punishment. All in all, the kindest of the sentences, compared to wrenching off both his arms and legs, and causing him to spend his remaining days dragging himself miserably in the darkness. Don’t you think so?"

Riki startled again. It had never even occurred to him to imagine that the Blondie was in some way related to the scar that Katze had on his cheek.

"Who.... are you?” Riki’s lips trembled hopelessly.

"Iason Mink. Just a Blondie 'whose golden rule is to be exceptional in everything'."

‘You liar!’…

Repressing the longing to shout these words in his face, Riki backed away slowly.

‘Who is he...? He’s not just a Blondie... This is dangerous! I've really put my foot in it!’ Thoughts like these whirled like a dark vortex in his mind.

A step…

Two steps...

He did not take the third.

Iason grabbed him by the shoulder, and pulled him towards himself with all his strength. Riki noticed that, not only his face, but his entire body had become completely stiff.

"In the short period of time that I have not seen you, your face has become fiercer. I have heard that, in the Black Market, you are known as 'Riki the Dark'. If seeing you did not awaken old memories in him, then Katze is still too ingenuous."

"What... are you going to do with me?"

"Hmn… I don’t know. What could I do with you?" said Iason in a tone that was relaxed, but at the same time, full of hidden meaning.

Before Riki’s wide open eyes, Iason laughed coldly.

Riki felt something like a chill up his back…


An hour later, Riki found himself observing the city of Midas that extended beneath his eyes - the same Midas that had treated him cruelly, that he had only ever been able to look at from below.

A strange feeling took possession of him.

Seeing it that way, looking at it from this privileged position, he, who had tried so desperately to get out of the Slum, without knowing why, felt like an idiot.

However high one rose, there was always somebody higher.

Seen from this room in one of the gigantic skyscrapers of the chimerical Tanagura, Midas was no more than a shrill torrent of lights. After all, even Midas was nothing but a puppet dancing in the palm of Tanagura’s hand. Realising that, Riki felt as if, suddenly, the tight blindfold covering his eyes had fallen away.

The glass that had been served to him when he had entered was already empty.

"How long does he intend to keep me waiting here?"

Unable to control his nerves, Riki clicked his tongue. To leave him waiting in a place where he felt so out of place was torture. Not knowing Iason’s true intentions also mortified him, and it fed his impatience even more.

In the meantime, Iason had settled himself, with his habitual elegance, in another room. He was seated comfortably on a wide and soft sofa, observing a screen in front of him. Onscreen was the image of Riki pursing his lips with an irritated air.

At the flip of a switch in Iason's hand, Riki’s face instantly appeared in close-up. Those deep black pupils trembled with a shadow of anxiety, and anyone who could have seen him would have realized that he was trying to repress the exasperation that ate at his guts.

When Iason returned the screen to its previous state, he saw that Riki was taking out his anger by kicking a sofa with all his might.

Without his intention, a laugh trembled in Iason’s throat.

And then…

"Hey! Are you serious?" said a voice at his back with the defiant tone of one who demands an answer.

It was Raoul Am. His beauty had a wild touch very uncommon among the Elite of Tanagura, but now a cloud of worry darkened his face.

"You could have your pick of anyone you wanted. Don’t tell me that you’re going to settle for that scum from the Slum. A male without any sort of instruction or control will only be a source of problems."

"Even so, he’s better than an arrogant and stupid sex doll. What do you think? Look at that sulky attitude... rough, vulgar, disarranged…. Don’t you think that it’s worthwhile to train him? Occasionally, having an unconventional Pet can turn out to be amusing."

"You’re free to choose whoever you like, but if he becomes your Pet, the name of Iason Mink will be dishonoured."

"I’m not so sure of that. I believe that, with a little training, I will be able to make quite an interesting Pet of him..."

"You’re very sure of yourself. What will happen if you can’t make anything of him?”

"… In that case, I would adjust his brain to make him into a docile sex doll, and then I would sell him in the Black Market."

With this impassive statement, Iason directed his eyes toward the screen again.

To make a Mongrel from the Slum into his Pet…

Iason did not even suspect that the idea, which was mostly a whim, would promptly become a wedge that would shake his pride as a Blondie.


Tanagura City ------- N 22:00 hours.

Although the night wrapped it completely in its dark cloak, this strange city never slept. With no distinction between day and night, the city itself breathed in perfect order, counting each second. As if dispensing with the slightest deviance or deformation, it found its greatest pleasure in thus abusing the passing of time.

Tanagura was beautiful.

Nevertheless, although it competed in splendour with the likewise nocturnal queen of the night, Midas, it was a cold, unspoken competition of diametrically opposite beauties.

On the last floor of the tallest building among all the skyscrapers of Eos, the one they said was the highest class residential zone in the whole of Tanagura, Kyrie waited for someone.

The room, surrounded by ivory-coloured walls, was very spacious, and just being in it gave a great spiritual calm.

The floor was covered by a dense carpet, the furniture of simple design, was unified by the same velvety colour, and a pleasant silence filled the living room.

Suddenly, Kyrie let a small sigh escape. For someone who had only known life in the filthy colony of Ceres, all that was too tempting.

On the other side of the window was the radiant face of the night. Making up its dark complexion with the happy colour of the lights, it showed its seductive and fascinating figure freely.

To view the sumptuousness of Midas that he already knew from the heights had another special charm. Mysteriously, only the live sparkle of its lights remained trapped in his eyes.

‘It really looks a lot like the effect of a hallucinogenic liquor of the best quality.’

Kyrie half-closed his fascinated eyes.

Including this time, it had been three times that, after having been led to this room, he had had the opportunity to contemplate Midas from the heights...

The first time that they brought him here, his mind had simply gone blank, as if all the words had been erased from it. From the time he was born up until that moment, he had never had the slightest contact with a beauty so sublime that it could snatch from him the ability to speak. What’s more, practically no other experience in his life had caused his heart to beat in that way, as if it burned inside his chest. Before that culture shock that he savoured for the first time, Kyrie’s soul was so inflamed, that he felt nervous cramps contracting his sides.

Nevertheless, the second time that the magical beauty of Midas unfolded under his eyes, it produced only an uncontrollable rage. In that moment more than ever, he was invaded by a ferocious resentment realizing the enormous contrast that there was between it and his native Ceres. The lights twinkled ominously here and there, forcing him to think that only the Mongrels like him had been left out in the cold.

And, now that he was to meet again for the third time in the same room, Kyrie desired even more fervently than before to climb out of the Slum.

This was the kind of magical power hidden behind those flashes of light that sparkled below his eyes. And that magic lit so violently in Kyrie’s chest that it pushed aside his ingrained complex as a Mongrel from the Slum.

Suddenly, a voice calling his name took him from his daydreams.

"Forgive me. I’m late…" It was a deep and resounding voice, slightly low. It had so pleasant a resonance that, even bringing someone back abruptly to reality, it did not prevent one from remaining leaned calmly where one was.

Kyrie turned slowly in silence. His gaze met with a face of perfect and unattainable beauty on which there was a serene smile.

The noblest of all of Eos’ Blondies… Iason Mink.

"Well? How was it?" he said in a casual tone after seating himself comfortably on a sofa.

"The story seemed too incredible to him, and he’s confused. He thinks that there’s something hidden behind all this..."

"I see. Tempting offers have poison in them....don’t they? I would have been suspicious if he had accepted easily and without hesitation. At least he’s cautious. Good. That pleases me. So, tell me frankly. Is there any hope that he might accept?"

"I will convince him, whatever it takes,” said Kyrie, raising his voice.

"Anybody would be happy to say goodbye to the Slum… It’s only that he’s undecided. I only need a little more time to persuade him. The problem… is the other."

"The... other?" asked Iason, showing deep interest.

Immediately, with a gesture of true anger, Kyrie clicked his tongue.

"That Riki! It seems that he is dedicated to secretly putting strange ideas in his head. He’s just jealous at not having been the one chosen. I’m sure of it!"

"Oh, so we also have an inconsiderate friend involved in the matter, eh?" Iason’s voice shook with a contained laugh.

"It doesn’t seem funny to me. I don’t know if I should tell you this, but a while ago, those two were a couple, and they were living together. Nevertheless, now it seems that they’re separated…"

" … "

"Well, in the Slum that’s not at all strange. After all, as there are very few women, they have some advantage. Just because they can have children, they’re treated as well as in a harem of Midas. The Slum is overflowing with young men who will never be studs, while the women are all vexed. This is for the sake of the conservation of the species, as they say, what a joke! Since the lack of women is evident, why don’t you create a series of babies by artificial insemination or something? Besides, these days, natural delivery is a tremendous anachronism, don’t you think? Without money, without dreams, without even contact with women to top it all off, one begins to feel that it’s not worthwhile to continue living. Not even by changing sex would things improve. So in the end, they all end up getting behind whoever’s closest."

"Then, one would suppose that you also have a partner..."

"I… make a rule of not selling myself cheaply."

Saying this, Kyrie, from beneath his lowered eyelashes, glanced upwards at Iason hastily. ‘If it were you asking me, I would not mind being your Pet,’ he seemed to insinuate with his eyes.

Nevertheless, Iason, as was his custom, only returned his look with an impenetrable expression.

Kyrie lowered his eyes, showing weak self-mockery in the colour of his face.

When this entire story began, Kyrie asked himself what the hell Iason saw in Guy. He mortified himself trying to imagine why the Blondie had not been set on him.

‘Why? If I have a much better figure than Guy...’ Thoughts such as this became a buried thorn that even now tormented him.

"But you’re a little odd yourself, aren’t you? I don’t know if it’s good that I say it, but… we’re speaking of a Mongrel from the Slum of bad quality who’s passed his expiry date and barely knows anything more than how to read and write. Maybe an Elite like you would prefer to have a Pet raised by the Academy to show off?"

Kyrie deliberately used the Slum’s way of speaking. Since one could tell from a mile away that he had grown up in Ceres, he thought that there was no sense in trying to be well-mannered now. Rather than make a fool of himself adopting some artificial manners, he preferred to show himself as the Mongrel he was.

Nevertheless, Iason didn’t give it any great importance. "It’s a matter of taste," he replied to Kyrie with a mocking tone, accompanied by light laughter.

‘Why does a Blondie from Tanagura have so much interest in a Mongrel from the Slum?’

In Kyrie’s place, it was logical that wanted to find it out, but he kept himself from asking again.

He wanted to find out more about Iason, but he was afraid that so many impertinent questions would end up angering the Blondie…

To have run into Iason in the crowd that day in Mistral Park, it seemed to Kyrie to be one of those opportunities that only present themselves once in a lifetime.

Everything begins with one event. It does not matter the insignificance of it. Something like meeting a person and exchanging words with them can, for good or evil, open up new horizons.

Before meeting with Iason, Kyrie had never had such an opportunity.

Knowing that sitting and waiting never got anyone anywhere, and yet having no idea of how he might change things, Kyrie passed his days consumed by rage at his own impotence.

But now it was different. The feeling of being alive filled his heart completely. Just because of that, he clung to his fragile and uncertain relationship with Iason…

Given the uncertainty of his position, he realized that it was better to consolidate his territory slowly, little by little, not aspiring to take too much at a time. Risking ‘all or nothing' was not the best way to try to get out of the Slum.

In any case, the aid that he now received in business came from Iason. The Blondie had no prejudice against him for being a Mongrel from the Slum. He relied on his favour... Kyrie repeated to himself that, for now, that was more than sufficient. He had to reconcile that with his natural restlessness.

Perhaps, Kyrie had sensed that the condition of his linking with Iason was to refrain from investigating anything in depth...

After they had exchanged two or three words at the most, the musical bell that announced the arrival of another guest sounded, so Kyrie rose from his seat to go.

When Kyrie’s silhouette disappeared completely from his view, Iason smiled to himself. It was a sadistic and icy smile, like that of a hunter who pursues his prey, luring him into a trap.

But his delight was interrupted by the voice of Raoul, who entered the room after having passed Kyrie. "I hope I haven’t interrupted anything..." he said with knowing eyes.

Iason gave a forced laugh. "Nothing that asks your discretion."

"Oh, no? Well, that Kyrie gave me a gloomy look when I passed him."

"Your imagination..."

"Why don’t you try doing it with him at least once? Is that not perhaps what he desires? That way, he would mature a little, and become more pleasant."

The expression on Iason’s face remained impassive. "Then, why don’t you do it with him, Raoul?"

"Are you joking? Unlike you, I don’t have such patience and confidence in myself. Still, if it was a matter of a perfectly controlled human from Midas, good… But, to domesticate a savage Mongrel by myself? No, thanks. Not even if they begged me. I would rather observe a virus with an S.E.M. or some old thing."

Raoul Am was a biotechnologist in Tanagura, and Iason’s only close friend among the Elite, well known for his individualism. "But all right. Although the quality is a little bad, it’s worth trying to have him as Pet, don’t you think? He pleases you, doesn’t he? He’s got a quick mind, he’s reckless, shameless, and best of all, he doesn’t have so strong a will as the other one…" Raoul smiled broadly.

Then, Iason, in a deliberately tranquil tone, said, "Unfortunately, the imitation can’t compare to the original."

"Hey, hey, don’t start talking like those rusty old heads from the federations. It’s exactly the mass of imitations that has made the originals into valuable rarities. Kyrie, with some little wearing, would come to be an acceptable Pet. It’s your chance to show your abilities, isn’t it? Or it is that, perhaps, you’re wary in this?"

"Aren’t you going off on too many tangents...? I don’t believe that you came here to speak with me about Kyrie. What’s really the matter, Raoul?" said Iason, counter-attacking smoothly.

Raoul shrugged his shoulders slightly. "Nothing important. It’s only that a strange rumour came to my ears. They say that, in the Slum, there is a guy very like the one whom you and I know."

"That’s logical. It’s he himself, in person… though the information got to you a bit late. He’s been there for a year already."

The smile disappeared from Raoul’s face immediately. "This is a joke in poor taste, Iason. The rules say that Pets whose limits have expired should be reprocessed or sold to Midas. Or does a Blondie like you intend to ignore the law?"

"That isn’t my intention. I have only removed his ring, though I should admit that it’s very probable that he is convinced that I have left him completely free."

"Removing his ring obliges you to erase him from the registry. There are no exceptions."

"Riki is a Mongrel from the Slum. He has no number in Midas."

" !! "

"The Pet laws only affect the citizens of Midas, so there will be no problem," Iason stated, unworried.

Not knowing what to reply, Raoul kept silent. It was not that he changed his attitude, but that he had felt chills seeing the way in which Iason took advantage of the Pet laws to justify his behaviour.

“I needed three years to domesticate Riki. Three years, Raoul. You didn’t seriously think that I was going to get rid of him just like that. If I removed his ring, it was only to let him rest and enjoy himself for a while. Even a Mongrel with the most rebellious spirit can be suffocated, if the collar is tightened too much. Nevertheless, it worries me, the thought that he will turn out like any another pet that wags its tail, playing at his owner’s feet. A Mongrel from the Slum should not lose his characteristic pride, so I decided to leave him to do as he wishes for a year. But that time limit is coming to its end, and since with his character it’s quite unlikely that he would return of his own free will, as owner it is my obligation to make the necessary arrangements so that he won’t have any other option than to come back to me.”

An aristocratic smile played on Iason’s lips, while Raoul tried unsuccessfully to understand his friend.

"What are you trying to do, using Kyrie?"

"Nothing serious. It is only that I have interest in discovering with whom Riki would stay if obliged to choose between his pride and his old pairing partner."

"But it’s not a matter of a simple Pet. No, worse, it’s some vulgar scum from the Slum… Why are you so blinded by him? You are not your usual self."

"Not my… usual self."

Iason lowered his eyes a bit, and breathed deeply. "A simple Pet... If I had come so easily to that conclusion, I’d not have had him in my power for three years. In the beginning, he was only a whim, but... then I noticed that I needed to possess Riki so often that the marks never had time to fade from his body. It was especially after what happened with Mimea that at last I understood that not even I was immune to human feelings. If I told you that… that I love Riki… would you laugh, Raoul?"

Raoul opened his eyes widely. He could not say a word. Shock and confusion had mixed, leaving his mind totally blank.

The corner of Iason’s mouth curved in a bitter smile.

Iason Mink was the son chosen by Jupiter to become Tanagura’s mainstay, even if sometimes it was better to say that he was a new type, manufactured by this Artificial Conscience.

For a long time, Iason had lived loyal to his Creator, and proud to be able to share Its Will. He was firmly convinced (and satisfied) that he was far above the human race. Before meeting Riki, one would have been able to say, without the slightest doubt, that Iason had not had any contact with the typical sordid feelings of flesh and bone humans.

In order to showcase the prosperity of Tanagura, he thought that it was necessary to maintain that deformed girl called Midas, and he accepted the fact of having and rejecting human Pets as a part of the Elite’s social life.

For Iason, who branded the Mongrels as useless scum whose only perspective of the future was to reach the old age, Riki became an interminable source of surprises. It pleased him to observe the vitality that emanated from his flexible body, and to feel the warmth of his wild spirit, but, on the other hand, he also forced Iason to notice that the privilege of being able to express their feelings directly was exclusive to flesh and bone humans.

What did it mean not to have any type of control or instruction? Iason felt as if this question hit him in the face.

Each time that happened, Iason savoured a strange sensation. It was as if, in the bowels of his body, a slippery and viscous snake raised its head and pulled out.

It was so real an illusion that it made him feel sick. Entangled in his Blondie pride, he smiled sardonically with a sinister face.

‘Perhaps it was that he was consumed with desire to do it with Riki?’

‘Perhaps it was that he was envious of his body of flesh and bone, so flexible and full of life?’

It was easy to deny all this flatly with a shout of rage. Nevertheless, once the door was opened, it was no use to go back and close it.

Iason was already aware that in his heart a weak glimmer of human nature also shone.


A legislation of nine clauses regulated the keeping of Pets in Tanagura. Their listing in the register, conditions under which to mate them, imposition of punishments, and so on. Everything was meticulously detailed in order to reduce the occurrence of problems to a minimum.

It was said that, to be a Pet in Tanagura, meant to live chained to these regulations, but, even so, for Midas’ citizens nothing was more attractive than to be the Pet of an Elite’s. This didn’t mean that anyone could have been one. Only a few chosen ones got the ticket to go toward the brilliant light, but that fascinating dream never stopped attracting them.

The higher their owner’s position, the greater was the Pet’s esteem. In few words, the breeding centre to which they belonged was a secondary factor.

In Tanagura, the merit of a Pet was in his stratagem, so to speak, to obtain an owner of the highest possible rank, and to remain curled at his feet for the longest possible time.

For those Pets filled with vanity, anyone except for themselves was a possible rival. Even so, they tried to pretend a certain harmony, since the Elite required that their Pets be worthy of them.

Nevertheless, Iason had not cared at all that he had broken with all precedents to keep Riki.

Logically, the other Elite could not hide the confusion and curiosity of their eyes, although, as was to be expected, nobody dared to criticize Iason openly. But everywhere he passed, broke out subtle mocking laughter.

Translated into the Pets’ environment, it became even more insidious. The jealousy and the contempt they felt towards Riki caused them to spit words of unusual violence. Their natural dislike of a Mongrel that had come to be no less than a Blondie’s Pet was indelible.

It was also possible that they were eaten by the instinctive envy that awoke in them at Riki’s wild and shameless nature that radiated from his body. But, above all, what most got on their nerves, were those eloquent marks that never faded from his body. Riki had not had sexual contact with anybody, either in public or secretly, so, it was not much of a guess as to who had made them.

They imagined the scandalous behaviour of Riki, moaning in pleasure while Iason did that to him. Their teeth ground in rage while they evoked the figure of Riki raising his hips, arching his back, and ending with the scene of that erect member being withdrawn from deep within his body.

Sometimes Iason took Riki with his own body as many times as it took him to be satisfied... When this thought crossed their minds, they felt as though they were on the verge of suffering spontaneous combustion.

Nevertheless, the more intense the criticisms became, the more insolent and arrogant became Riki’s behaviour. He answered their manifest hostility tranquilly, spitting, and with the privilege he possessed as a Blondie’s Pet, he exacerbated their prejudices and mockery.

Riki did not humble himself before anybody. Although he knew that if he only yielded a little, the situation could become more comfortable for him, he was convinced that if he showed weakness even once, then he would no longer be respected, and would have no alternative but to live licking their feet. The typical obstinacy of a Mongrel brought up in the Slum was incompatible with the pride of those born in Midas. Sometimes, based on that fact, his instinct for survival obliged him to act in that way.

Pets did not have to spend the entire day thrown at the feet of their owners. Some of them excited and entertained themselves by having sexual relations behind their masters’ backs, and others enjoyed being left to the flattery of their court of followers. The fights among different factions of Pets were extremely fierce, and the sexual lynching produced by consequence was so complicated and hidden so deeply that not even the owners noticed what was happening.

One of the causes of these confrontations was a persistent and insidious fear. Their golden time as Pets was short. Even if proud of their beauty and of the perfection of their proportions, sooner or later, all of them ended up being swallowed by the currents of the inexorable flow of time.

This was even truer in the case of the males.

Except for those coming from the harems whose voices had already changed, and who had already grown pubic hair, there came the moment to face puberty. The majority of the male Pets of Tanagura requested hormonal control of their own free will. The uneasiness and the repulsion they felt toward the idea of no longer being adolescents, but becoming adult males left them defenceless before the dark devil of doubt that sowed their hearts with the fear of losing the favour of their masters. Those poor, unhappy ones did not know how to earn a living other than by being Pets.

Due to that, they lacked completely any sense of modesty and embarrassment. Doing what it was ordered to them, even the most humiliating things, became a routine for them.

For that reason, parties in Tanagura were even more lascivious and scandalous that those in Midas.

In the beginning, Iason had thought to instruct Riki to a certain extent, and then to elect an appropriate female to couple him, but they had not gone even three days before, with an ironic smile on his face, he saw that he would be obliged to rethink his original plan. Riki had turned out to be more of a rebel than he had predicted.

The first month he had kept him completely naked, without providing him even underwear. By that, he intended to put down any objection Riki had to exhibiting his intimate parts before the eyes of strangers.

The mating of Pets was a public spectacle, and unlike those ones genuinely bred to be Pets and to the youths from the harems, Riki had not developed any such immodesty.

A look that slid over every part of his body as if licking it made Riki feel incredibly uncomfortable and violent. Nobody would say that it was the same boy who had opened his legs of his own volition, trying to excite Iason that day...

Subsequently, each time that Riki had an erection, Iason forced him to masturbate. While Riki, face twisted, tried in vain to resist, Iason opened his legs by force, and excited him until his body arched rigidly backwards. Then, always, he made Riki finish the job himself with his own hands.

In this manner, almost three months elapsed before Iason saw that, at his order, Riki, biting his lips, went to the space between his legs, and began to moan aloud.

Having achieved this, the following three months he dedicated to training Riki with calmness. Not needing to whip him or to raise his voice, he nevertheless did not have any consideration when it came to disciplining the Mongrel.

After half a year, Iason took Riki completely for the first time.

The nudity of Iason was different from that of Riki. While the Mongrel’s wild adolescent body brimmed with flexibility, the figure of a Blondie represented the ideal of harmony. Their proportions were so absolutely perfect and beautiful that they could only have been calculated and designed by a computer.

Feeling Iason’s body against his, Riki discovered that the touch of his skin was so hot and full of life that nobody could even suspect that it belonged to an artificial being. Sometimes, because of it, the tension that gripped Riki’s arms and legs dissolved little by little, although the fact that the Blondie’s kisses were infinitely sweeter than what he had expected contributed to that.

His caresses, besides being skilful, were intense and precise. Iason knew perfectly where and how he should touch Riki, to cause him to tremble, to pant, and to twist in pleasure. While kissing him, Iason caressed a nipple and, immediately, Riki’s body reacted with a shudder, and pinching it, he made the Mongrel's lips tremble. A contained laugh echoed in the Blondie’s throat when he verified that, only by rubbing him in that area, Riki’s groin began to swell rapidly, showing again the fine sensitivity of the Mongrel. Iason then rolled the nipple between his fingers, and Riki’s erect member responded, twitching convulsively. The slit in the head was damp, and when Iason, biting it, began to work it roughly, some drops of pre-come leaked out in a little thread.

"I’m....going to come...." gasped Riki, with his face contracted in agony.

Iason held the straining member, stretching back the fine foreskin, and almost simultaneously, Riki moaned, his whole body tensing.

Semen burst torrentially, as though expelling all the ardent excitement that consumed him from the inside. The liquid, murky as muddy water, accumulated as if it wanted to show the privileges of being a male of flesh and bone.

Suddenly, an unpleasant discomfort took possession of Iason. It was an indescribable and inexplicable sensation similar to nausea, but, curving the corner of his mouth, he immediately transformed that uneasiness into a smile.

Riki was licking his lips time and again while he still panted, his chest rising and falling violently.

Looking at the scene out of the corner of his eye, Iason extended his hand to reach for an object situated to the side of the bed.

It was a ring that shone opaquely. It was too large to be put on a finger and too small to serve as a bracelet. At first sight, it seemed like simple ring, current and common, but observing it closely, an engraved inscription on its exterior face could be distinguished.


That was Riki’s number in the Pets’ registry.

Iason slipped the ring over Riki’s limp manhood. The object seemed to possess elastic properties, since it settled itself smoothly at the base of the member so that it remained firmly secure, but did not press it too much.

Some minutes later…

Riki was moaning and rubbing the back of his head against Iason’s chest.

Two fingers were inside him, twisting and turning, trying to force a way open in those fleshy folds. Riki’s member pulsed rhythmically.

Each time he felt the friction of Iason’s fingers rubbing him in that place, Riki’s breath hitched, and his lower extremities shook nervously.

Noticing an intense and persistent tingling that repeated in the whole area of his pelvis, Riki unconsciously tightened his anus forcefully.

Then, while his husky voice vibrated in his throat, he began to stroke his member furiously with both hands.

Nevertheless, it jutted up in vain, showing no sign of approaching climax. Riki was so rigidly arched backwards that his tendons and veins stood out under his skin, but the ring bit into his flesh without freeing his body.

He panted violently shattering himself in trembling sighs, and while he rocked his hips frantically, a near sob broke from his lips.

Even to the tip of his member, wet and shining, he trembled. Contemplating so graphic a scene, Iason gritted his teeth forcefully. That ironic smile chiseled in the corners of his mouth had disappeared a long time ago. He had his eyes half-closed, consumed by an unstoppable impulse.

"… I must have him!"

It was a compulsion that he had never felt before, like a hot itch in the deepest part of his brain. Iason changed position slowly, and holding Riki’s hips, raised them violently.

Riki was in a state of semi-consciousness, but if he had had a glimpse of the livid and erect member that stood out from between Iason’s legs, he probably would have backed away, resisting the pull on his hips with his face contorted in terror.

'That thing' was arched backwards at an angle and engorged in a manner impossible to a common and ordinary human being.

Jupiter had taken care of the most minute details, including that mechanism.

Very few knew that the Elite were also perfect sexaroids of the highest calibre.

Riki was adequately lubricated, but he was too small to harbour Iason’s member all at once. Despite knowing that, Iason loosening the ring for him, thrust hard, abrupt and merciless.

"Nnngh!" A loud yell echoed distorted in the room. With his body contorted, Riki sobbed aloud.

Untouched even by this, Iason thrust in again.

Riki doubled backwards, throat convulsed. His lips trembled in such way that he was not even able to shout.

Deeply united in a single body, Iason began to rock forcefully. Each time that this happened, Riki’s arms and legs shook in small spasms, while semen spattered abundantly.

After that, for three whole days, Riki could not move, not even to go to the bathroom without help. Even the impassive Iason frowned, tormented by the bitter aftertaste that experience left him. Nevertheless, the Blondie was not so soft as to change his attitude only for that reason.

Yes, though, since then he flatly refused to choose a partner for Riki. Just thinking about it, he felt a faint but irritating nervousness stir in his heart. When Raoul asked him, “Is the training not going well?” Iason answered with ambiguities and excuses, but the answer, clear and simple, was that he didn’t want anybody, man or woman, to have sexual relations with Riki.

Iason fully realized it the day he discovered Riki masturbating alone. If it was simple masturbation, he probably would not have given it great importance. After all, it was Iason who had taught him to be shameless.

Riki was lying in the middle of the room, naked from the waist down. His nostrils were flared and he was panting hard. His glassy eyes delighted in a hologram that represented (with incredible realism) the figure of a naked woman.

Iason felt himself attacked by a wave of displeasure that seemed to fill his whole being. It was an unbearable feeling of an unknown nature that expressed itself outwardly by an evident frown.

Iason approached with long strides.

Not noticing the Blondie’s presence, Riki moaned weakly, and his body contracted in ecstasy. He even allowed a smile of satisfaction to reach his parted lips.

Iason got angry.

He grabbed Riki by one of his already weak arms, and yanked him to his feet with all his force. Riki, taken by surprise, and not knowing what was going on, looked at him pop-eyed. Iason slapped him in the face repeatedly. He hit him so hard that each slap he gave him turned his head in the opposite direction.

The essential qualities of Tanagura’s Elite were vast knowledge, and a cold capacity for judgment. This fed their unbreakable pride and confidence in themselves.

Iason, a perfect example of the culmination of such qualities, lost control because of a Mongrel from the Slum. He ended up hitting Riki in a sudden attack of straight out fury. It was as if a wedge had been driven into his Blondie pride, a wedge of intense and ardent passion, and the rumours of the relationship between Riki and Mimea resulted in wedging it there definitely.

A Mongrel from the Slum and a virgin from the Academy. There was nobody who had not laughed and commented at least once at such an unthinkable union. “It must be a baseless and malicious rumour,” they told themselves.

But when, after being submitted to a severe interrogation by Raoul, Mimea admitted the fact, everyone wondered what destiny Iason would reserve for a dog that had bitten his master’s hand, more still because it was already public knowledge that the Blondie did not treat the Mongrel like a simple Pet.

Nevertheless, against every expectation, Iason took it with extreme serenity. He accepted the fault committed by Riki as a simple slip, and limited himself to apologizing to Raoul, telling him that he would give Riki adequate punishment.

Even Raoul, before Iason’s quick answer, had no alternative but to pretend calm. At least publicly, he did not storm or make even the slightest wave.

Of course, Riki was the only one who knew the true reach of the storm.

Iason had to be honest with himself, and admit that the black feeling that he harboured against Mimea was nothing but jealousy. What’s more, that uncontrollable discomfort forced him to open his eyes to the fact that, to him, Riki was someone special…

But Iason could not allow himself to treat Riki in a way that went against his pride as a Blondie. He feared that if he did, the passion would only increase, gaining strength until it dragged him hopelessly along. Even so, he didn’t have the slightest intention of getting rid of Riki in order to preserve his honour and his pride, but he came to the conclusion that Riki should remain chained at his feet as a Pet.

A human of flesh and bone and a being with an artificial body. Pet and master. That twisted bond was the only thing that could keep them chained to each other.

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