Once part of a sprawl of temporary industrial units floated into Kyushu harbor to make a Korean-owned nanochip factory, the building was industrial architecture that had been stuck on a shelf and left to forget – or really just rust. As far Fields knew – and could see – rust still really managed the property. Rumors said that Mama had scored the old building for cheap, had found some hungry jacks to scalp juice from the main grid, and some mysterious "sources" for the rest. The girls? They came from wherever lost girls always came from: the cramps of hunger or addiction, the Devil of father. They came and Mama fed them, sprayed them when they were sick, and put that rusting roof over their heads. In return, they worked.
Friday nights weren't usually this busy. There were even rumbles from Mama's office that Fields might be called down from her box to work the cribs with the pie-faced girls. But someone asked for the special of the house and she was spared having to watch the ordinary flatscreen with the rest of the girls. She was the special, so she had awhile to get ready, and even watch the end of Don't Drop It (her favorite) on the antique Hakati tank – and yum! – relish the new host).
The antique took a long time to power-down, and she always (since Mama had sold it to her) felt that thrill-tingle of worry that some client would come in and still see the spray/wash/float of green/blue/red hanging in front of her cheap holo print of Tokyo At Night that masked the unit and would ponder a bit too long over why a Mitsui Automaton would be watching a game show.
The streets, and common knowledge, said that Autos took awhile to power up, boot up their software, get their circuits warm and ready – though never really willing: the prefect love doll. The perfect toy. The real fact was that it took Fields time to get completely into her Act.
Her friendly gray robe went first, into the hidden closet behind the false wall of phony blinking tell-tales and dummy flatsceens playing loops of technical gibberish, with the rest of her reality: hung on a hook next to her vid discs, street clothes, wigs, pills, towels, creams, sprays, and plain-faced bottles of special dye.
Very special: an incredibly durable bonding polymer that she applied each morning – but was always careful to examine every inch of herself in a roll-up plastic mirror, lathering on the thick blueness at the faintest signs of her real pinkness before the light over the door flashed green. Her hair, every brown strand, was months gone – and kept at an imperceptible level by a chilling spray of tailored enzymes. Sure, she could wear any of her wigs, and sometimes did for those who just couldn't deal with an too-inhuman Automaton, but for the most part she liked going smooth and streamlined: you paid for a machine.
The little yellow hexagon pills still had about another two hours to go – her skin texture and temperature would be just that different. Not quite human, almost machine synthetic. Anyone, of course, who knew the real Mitsui would know the reality of pink-skin and blood Fields under the blue, behind the contacts, beyond the re-engineered body. But then the Autos were very rare, their legends and rumors huge, and who would know the real thing, after all in the dim shadows of big, sprawling, bad Kyushu?
Fields's body was a gift from Mama, really an investment: those long days two years ago with the Osaka Scalpers had taken what nature had lucked her with and shaped her into an almost perfect Auto Class B – still one of Mitsui's most popular models. Strong shoulders; round face with high, almost too- wide-for-nature, cheekbones; tiny, pert, full lips; huge crystal blue eyes; high, wide and moderate tits, huge against her actually small frame, with aggressively large nipples – some of it was really hers, some was machine made for her machine act.
Her looks, real or made, would be good and profitable as long as the real unit was State-of-the-Art ... and the rumors of how good, and how hot, kept flying.