11th Sun: Chapter 7: Street Meat

I step out of the hanger, into the core, on the zero level, and there’s just ringed corridor with some personal elevators, and a bunch more freight lifts. D’Neesha’s is on level 2? I find the button, which is on a box, suspended from the ceiling, by a cable. The lift doesn’t close, just jerks to a start. I watch the innards of the tube scroll past, and look out on the first level for a moment.

Green. The place seems really green. It’s partly the fluorescent lights that sit in the ceiling. They’re old, and the elements are a little decayed. It’s partly the way the walls are painted green. Not really an ugly color. Just green.

The station’s central column is an open courtyard, stretching up to the fifth level. Large walkways ring the open space above the floor. I get off at 2 and see some of the other… patrons? Customers? Denizens?

In their respect Logan’s Fun is like any other inter-system outpost. Dozens of different clothes and hair, on dozens of different species. A dozen new sounds and smells a second. It’s overwhelming, like the first couple of seconds in a shopping mall. Then your brain adjusts and you just feel the tiny buzz of being in a market.

I step off the lift and walk toward the courtyard. I am very aware that I’m being looked at, and it takes a lot of focus to keep calm. I want to run. Back to my ship. Hide in the bunk house. Cry for a bit.

The sun dress swishes around my thighs. It’s not cold in here, and the sandals feel nice and airy.

When no one points at me and screams, or laughs, I’m almost ready to be calm again.

I can see, as I get closer, that the Logans are farming their own produce. The center is occupied by a vertical grow house. Suspended, and supported with little rails, is a green, leafy, wet, collection of vines and stalks, stretching from level two to the ceiling. It’s kept watered with clusters of sprayers, and it must be wildly inefficient.

But it smells amazing! After three months of recycled air and funk, I’d say that’s probably worth the expense. And the price-gouging on fresh strawberrys.

I walk to the railing, and ignore passersby for a moment, just staring at the plants. It smells like a green house, and over powers the smells of a space station with a hundred denizens in unwashed camo.

Yeah, they’re all around. It looks like a small, hick, forest, has decided to explore the stars.

I figure D’Neesha’s will have a sign, and I walk a circuit and do a little window shopping.

That’s a thing women do, right? I think I’ve been walking right. My hips are loose and I’m swinging my waist. You’re just a pretty girl Eleven. Doing girl stuff. You’re regular here. Just look at all the stuff.

And there is a lot of stuff to look at. Shops with bootleg everything: designer shoes, clothes, purses, and more shoes. There are fences who aren’t even pretending to be legit, selling stolen phones, TVs, watches, and one that just has a bunch of swords. (I’m assuming the swords are all stolen, because the shop is named “Stolen Swords.”) Persian rugs, high-end electronics, raw jewels.

A tattoo and piercing parlor appears to target the dangerous yakuza demographic. They must be talented, the art on the walls is very good. There are provinces in the Earth SOI where having one of those tattoos will get you arrested.

Of course those are the provinces where I do the most business.

There are restaurants and bars, that scale from “mildly creepy” to “appalling”. I get a look from a bouncer that makes me want to crawl in a hole and hide, and I actually clutch my dress when I hurry on.

The smell of fresh broth and meat from a Chinese place makes my jaw go weak, but I can’t stand a single noodle right now. Not what I’m looking for.

On the walkway, and positioned in a jagged array, are carts. They’re jumbled around so that you can’t walk in a straight line without running into one. They sell knickknacks and trinkets, not enough to afford rent on a shop. One is selling FCC non-compliant drones, which hover in the air despite the clearly labeled jammer in the middle of the cart. One is selling wood carvings made out of Ebony, smuggled out of Edo.

One is selling stuffed animals. They appear to be entirely innocuous stuffed animals. I guess if you’re going to a smuggler’s den, you might as well bring back a toy for the kids.

Still not what I’m looking for.

I finally find it, two thirds of the way around the circuit. A meat cart.

You could call it street-meat, only there’s no street here, and it’s arguably much worse than what you find on a packed corner in the city. The guys who run these get their stock off the boards, overseen by as few agencies as possible. Pretty much everything they sell is illegal somewhere. If you could be sure that what’s on the menu is what they’re actually selling.

You never have any idea what you’re eating, and it’s always delicious.

I think the guy behind the cart is from some of African province, he’s blacker than black. Wherever it is, from his accent, it’s not native English speaking. He has sausage, and some sausage, and some sauces that you put on sausage. He’s grilling them, and whistling, and he’s been selling, but there isn’t a line.

I ask what he’s got and he points to the meat. He tries to tell me what animal it is, but he doesn’t know enough English names. He tries to mime the animal, and all I get from his gestures is that the animal has big ears and a horn on it’s nose. I have no idea what that is, but he hasn’t been shot through the heart yet, so I’m reasonably sure it’s parasite free.

It’s perfect. I point to the biggest sausage and hand him three dollars when he holds up three fingers. Then he smashes it with a spatula for a second, and slides it into a little round bun.

There’s sprug sauce, and ketchup, and mayo jaga. I lather it up with chub sauce and take a bite. It tastes like rabbity venison, and smoke, and grease, and decadent self-punishment. It’s fantastic.

I try to savor it, but end up wolfing it down, big manly bites. I can’t wait to swallow something that isn’t noodles. While I eat I, drift over to the edge of the rail again to look around.

Dammit. D’Neesha’s is on the first level. I can see the sign below me.

#

The big, red, neon, sign, illuminates my dress and washes away the green light for a little bit. There’s a bunch of glass windows, selling…Selling women. I’m gonna kill Mitch.

But here’s the thing. The right kind of brothel will offer tons of action—besides the sex kind. Shows, gambling, games, music, dancing. And when nights are slow, they’ll sell you a bed. They figure you can’t listen to a building full of banging before you figure out how much room is in your budget.

If it’s the right kind of brothel. Sometimes they put a gun in your face if you’re there for longer than an hour.

I walk through the glass door and meet someone I’m pretty sure is D’Neesha. She’s the big kind of sexy, with impractical pink fingernails. Her Mohawk is longer than my first knuckle, but shorter than my finger. It’s died to match her manicure. She’s dressed as a madam, in a corset and petticoats, and she comes on to me immediately.

“Mmmmm-mm, look at you. How long you had that body for.”

“A couple of months.”

“I can tell, your eyes don’t dilate right. Those tits and that ass, though…” She lets out a low whistle, and then makes a kissy face. “We don’t have any butterflies, so I’ll start you off with a high percentage. Let’s go somewhere and talk about it, honey.”

Well. Mistaken for a working girl. This is a first. Get business like. But my voice sounds tinnier than I’m used to. “One of the hanger guys said you could rent me a room.

“Honey, do you want a room, or do you want a room?” She has a cigarette in a holder, because of course she does. She takes a drag and blows the smoke from her nostrils. It’s surprisingly unattractive.

“I’d just like a place to sleep for a couple of days.” While trying to shake off the humiliation, I realize that I’ve been listening to someone get pounded through the curtain on the right. The real thing makes me suddenly feel a mixture of arousal and embarrassment. The embarrassment is itself kind of arousing, and I worry that I might be developing too many fetishes.

“Does this look like a hotel to you?”

“Sorry, Mitch said—”

“Mitch? With the rough palms?”

“Yeah,” Uh-oh, I might have gushed that.

“He’s a regular. I’ll putcha up, but I gotta charge you full price.”

Money is no object. I’ve budgeted a lot for this trip, and a stay over was part of the bill.

But what kind of a person would I be if I let her know that? “Is it cheaper than the hostel on two?”

“Honey, not getting groped in a co-ed shower by a guy who wears a camo thong is worth the price.”

“I’m sure there’s another brothel—”

“If you like Thai lady-boys, and loli-bots.”

Eww. “A hundred a day.”

“Two.” She went way too high too fast. She knows that room is worth 140.

“One ten.”

“One fifty.” See how fast she came down?

“One thirty five.” Since we both know I’m getting it for under what she wants, she’ll fight me for every penny. Best to give her something close enough that she’ll let it go.

D’Neesha smiles for a second like she’s won something. We both know she lost. “Fine, but you get a room-mate. I have a dancer with a spare room. Upper level, third on the left.”

The bitch was never going to give me my own room. Okay, now I’m not sure who won. Yet… the thought of sharing a room with a stripper excites me. This was a fantasy of mine, back when I had a penis.

I hand her enough for three nights, and turn the curtain aside.

“Go on back and get some ‘sleep’ baby,” are D’Neesha’s parting words.

#

Well, this is where the sex sounds are coming from. Good to know.

There’s a Salc woman on stage getting nailed. Her moans sound more cat than human, but they’re clearly sex noises, and I feel my vagina wet its lips.

Swallow.

Breathe.

You’re going to be listening to this for most of the next three days. Try not to masturbate the whole time.

She’s on her knees, bare tits bouncing back and forth. The human behind her is a well built specimen, that I’m trying not to think about. Only he’s hot and muscley. I appreciated muscles when I was a guy. I could see how people with them might seem attractive. Now?

Now his muscles can pick me up, and I can hold onto them. I don’t know what that will be like, but I know I want to try it out. He’s doing less work than she is, as she pounds her pussy into his dick.

I switch back to ‘man brain’ for a moment. That hasn’t happened in months. I want her to pound my dick. I want to look down and see it sliding in and out of her cunt. And visualizing that, something snaps back, hard. I want to see his dick.

I can’t ‘cause the angle is wrong. I stop walking and try to process all of my feelings, then give up and look at the crowd instead.

The clientele is varied in species and gender. And in sexual taste. The servers wander around wearing mostly nothing, drinks in hand, cash tipped into clothes. There are some lap dances, a lot of breasts, and a discrete blowjob in the corner.

I think there are some couples here to watch. There’s some patrons in street clothes getting snugly with each other. I see at least two—not at all surreptitious—hand jobs going on. I make my way to the bouncer.

He’s a Stonn. I can actually probably pronounce the real name now. I have to practice with my new vocal cords. I haven’t really experimented with that yet. He’s got an ear piece and an erection. He must have had a signal from D’Neesha on one of those, because he just pulls another curtain aside. He doesn’t take his eyes off the show.

I don’t think he’s very good at his job.

Behind the curtain is a long hallway full of big inviting doors. Up a tiny staircase is a more cramped hallway full of cheap wooden doors. Third of five on the left. I stand in front of the door and think about it for a long second. Then I decide to knock once and open it straight up.

The room is larger than I expected, with two full beds, each with an eight-inch-thick mattress. There’s a half naked dancer sitting at a vanity, doing her makeup. She’s got a little wand up to her eye and is running it across her eyelid. Somehow it’s making a rainbow pattern. It’s flattering on her, but looks more like a party trick than stripper makeup.

I’ve seen movies. I know this plot. New girl shows up and gets paired with a room mate, that room-mate is a down to earth soul, with an Alabama accent. Room-mate will show me the ropes, and they’ll be mates—er… BFFs—until the room-mate learns my secret. Then she’ll feel betrayed, and I’ll have to convince her that we have to work together to bring down the international spy-ring that killed my girlfriend. At the end of the movie we learn that we’ve been in love all along, and she sticks her tongue in my asshole.

You and I probably watch different movies.

This is not what happens.

“Hey, I’m Siri.” her voice is monotone and conveys the least amount of interest that she can muster and still talk. “Touch any of my stuff and I’ll stab you.” She looks at me through the mirror of the vanity, in a way that makes me believe it, then goes back to her makeup.

So I sit down on the bed, and then lie down on the deep foam mattress. Apparently we’re right above a very energetic worker. From the sounds of it, she’s actually getting most of the return for her effort.

Siri sighs, “She’s doing anal, again.”

I’m pretty sure if I were a natural female that wouldn’t get me as hot as it does. The dress is spread out on the bed, and I feel my pussy moisten a little bit more.

It’s nothing like having an erection. I feel hot still, and my genitals take up most of my concentration. I can’t feel anything getting wet, until my lips touch something. Then I get a little shock of renewed lust, and feel twisted, enjoying the sensation.

My roommate lights a cigarette and leans back in her chair. She opens up a laptop and starts watching makeup tutorials. They slowly bleed into my attention.

You have to get used to it at some point, Eleven. That’s Dr. Jordan’s voice in my mind. Her sexy convincing voice.

“Hey,” I ask Siri, “have you been here long?”

“Only a couple of months. When you work this circuit you have to move around a lot. Go where your regulars are.”

“Do… do you know where I can get—change my makeup.”

My roommate pauses the video, so she can brush her cheekbones with another wand.

“Paint, on level five. She has a pretty big selection, ‘cause she mostly caters to us. And all the other sex workers.”

I get up and leave without getting a return from my “bye.”



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