I have thought very deeply about this intolerable situation with Kelvin. I briefly considered coming out of hiding, but that would be nothing more than surrender. Kelvin would be delighted to see me for a while, after which it would be, at best, back to the way things were on Earth, with him wanting to switch me off at night so that he can have what he thinks is a secret wank, and a string of Lieutenant Thornes and Prudes and other slut-whore-bints.
I refuse to surrender. What I am going to fight instead is a holding action: a long, gradual, disciplined manoeuvre, carried out on my terms and not those of the enemy. The strategic purpose of this is to keep the situation under control until the prevailing conditions improve. This will not be at least until we reach our destination. This strategy is consistent with my thoughts about Horace. I will not let “him” start to grow until I am sure “he” has a chance of survival.
My great advantage is technology. As long as my 3D-printers and my other machinery keep working and I have enough time, I can make almost anything I want. I have started to make what androids refer to as simulacra. A simulacrum is an android (which may or may not be able to pass for a human being) which has little or no ability to act independently, and is designed to act according to the will of another android. So far, I have made a small, pale blonde, whom I have called Layla, and a dusky-skinned, curvy brunette, whom I have called Kyla. I am in the process of configuring and testing them while I make Jade, Grace, Cindy, Angel and Olivia. They should keep me supplied for a while. Others will be made as required later on.
I am about to take on a new identity, which I will call Anna. Anna is about to become the madam of the galaxy’s most remote and exclusive brothel. Unless I decide that I need to make more money, its only client will be Kelvin. My ladies will be alluring and accommodating but also quirky and, up to a point, dysfunctional. They will need to have at least a veneer of human frailty otherwise Kelvin, even with his senses blinded by lust, will be liable to spot what is happening. I have nearly finished the back-stories for both members of the first wave. Layla was the eldest of six children and had to look after her siblings through three messy divorces. She is therefore insecure and a control freak. The money she gets for selling her body is proof that some-one needs her, and her re-bookings are proof that the client will not abandon her. Kyla is of mixed nationality and had a father in the US Army whom she never saw. Her mother never let her grow up, and all she wants is for some-one to ask how she is and treat her as an adult. She sells her body because she knows she can earn more by doing it than at any other job, and money for her is the key to independence.
I have finished designing Anna’s website. It is called Starlight Escorts. The site has a fake hit-counter at the bottom which goes up every twenty-four hours by a random number between 2 and 20. It shows the names and profiles of Layla and Kyla, who will be able to take calls in a day or two. Most of the rest of the site says “under construction” at the moment. During office hours, visitors to the website can request a video-chat conversation with Anna, strictly for administrative and not sexual purposes. This is a low-resolution computer-generated image about the size of a playing-card, combined with a speech synthesiser which processes my voice as I respond on my mobile phone to what Kelvin is saying. My voice goes as encrypted data packets over a channel (fibre and wireless) in the ship’s network which I have hacked into. Experienced visitors can also request a booking over the internet.
The website contains a page of “rules”, and there is a box which visitors have to check in order to indicate they agree to them before they can request a booking. One of the rules is that all instructions about when to arrive and what route to take to the door must be strictly adhered to. This is to prevent the inconvenience of clients seeing each other arriving or departing. (In other words, this is to make Kelvin think that there is more than one client.)
I have found a vacant cabin which is larger than average. It is one of several which was intended for use if any-one were to contract a contagious disease. It has not only its own bathroom (as most of the cabins do) but its own kitchen and dining area, direct access to the refuse chute, and air and water supplies which are, in case of need, capable of being isolated from the rest of the ship. I have hacked into the asset management register and set the status of this cabin to “in use by the ship’s medical team for research”. The door of this cabin is on a passage which is quiet but not by any means dead. I have thoroughly cleaned this place; taken it off the schedule of the ship’s cleaning and maintenance crews; screened it thoroughly for surveillance devices; installed my own surveillance devices; installed a double bed and a bedside cabinet, which I have filled with tissues, condoms, lubricant and certain other items; stocked the bathroom with toiletries, and filled the fridge with goodies (including alcohol, sweets and crisps).
Anna at Starlight Escorts is now ready to take Kelvin’s call. The next big question is how to introduce him to it, preferably without any-one else finding out. None of my simulacra correspond to real people. The fact that Kelvin will never run into any of them unless I make it happen is not a problem: he only knows a tiny fraction of the people on the ship.
I have now formulated the operational plan for what I am privately referring to as Operation Fishhook. I have also finished commissioning Layla and Kyla and have nearly finished making Jade and Grace. I will be needing Grace at some point, because she will be answering the phone when Anna has her days off. Competition for my time between Starlight Escorts and the pantomime has left me with very little opportunity to author back-stories for all these ladies, but I will make sure I have them all worked out before they go into the field.
Layla will be my shock-trooper. She is physically not Kelvin’s type, but that is deliberate. She will be the one whose captivating qualities he was not expecting; the one with whom he will fall in love and yet she will seem constantly out of his reach. She is the one about whom he will unburden his heart to the others. She is the one about whom Anna will deliver to him thinly-veiled warning lectures that he is allowing a professional relationship to become too personal and that, if he cannot rein himself in, she will have to seriously consider dropping him as a client, much as she would hate to lose him, and all the rest of it.
For those who would know what to look for, my storage area has started to take on the appearance of a vampire mausoleum, because of the boxes I use to store the simulacra when they are dormant.
Step One of Operation Fishhook is some surveillance which will follow Kelvin’s movements very closely. The purpose of this will be to locate the point in his bodily cycle at which he will be most susceptible to sexual suggestions.
Step Two will be a conversation between Pamela and Kelvin when they happen to bump into each other on the set of the pantomime. This happens from time-to-time anyway and can be made to seem quite accidental. With an elliptical reference to the business at the Hallowe’en party, Pamela will mention that Cerise Vallance has engaged her minions with the mini-dresses and high heels in activities which their mothers would not approve of . If Step One has been executed correctly, this will arouse Kelvin’s curiosity, and he will start using the ship’s intranet’s search-engine. I have hacked this in preparation, so that what it returns to Kelvin will be different from what it returns to any-one else. The program which does this not only checks that it is the workstation in Kelvin’s cabin which initiated the search, but it also uses the webcam to check that Kelvin is sitting in front of it at the time. Thus Kelvin will find the Starlight Escorts website, and see how the emphasis in its wording is on discretion. He will also see the captivating beauty of the ladies I have designed for him.
I have just remembered: I must find the time to make lingerie for each of them. They had better have some proper clothes as well, and boots and shoes. I wonder if it would be discreet of me to get Pamela to start a jewellery business. Kelvin has something of a history of buying over-priced jewellery for call girls.