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Coma Avon Nights or Kiss of the Avon Lady

By Willa Shakespeare
Page 2 of 38

Avon looked very peaceful, laid out on the narrow medical bed. Had looked very peaceful, laid out on the medical bed for the last half hour. And was likely to continue that way, indefinitely.

*As I have said, Avon's coma will not respond to traditional therapy. He is not unconscious in the classical sense. In fact, he is aware of his surroundings, and capable of responding to stimuli,* Orac droned on, in a bored fashion.

"Yes, I did notice." Avon had gotten quite excited, physically, while the mouth-to-mouth was going on. Interestingly enough, he responded as well to Vila as he had to Dayna. Cally wasn't sure what inferences to draw from that. "So tell me, what treatment do you recommend?"

* 'Sleeping beauty syndrome' is a little-studied ailment. There is no set treatment as yet.*

Cally shook her head. "Orac, what exactly is 'sleeping beauty syndrome'?"

Orac whirred and grumbled to itself, then said, *The syndrome is an affliction which, when coupled with physical stress and an unlikely combination of drugs, strikes those of low sexual esteem. Avon is its first known sufferer. Of course, I as the discoverer of the syndrome, have the honor of naming it. 'Avon's disease' would have been a more traditional nomenclature, but less informative. Also it would not have annoyed him as much as this will.*

Cally had not been listening to Orac's self-important mutterings for several sentences, startled by one particular comment. "Avon? Low esteem?" she said, disbelieving.

*Low sexual esteem. If you will peruse his personal records, you will find that he has never had a truly successful relationship with another human being. Or even an Auron,* the computer added snidely.

Cally asked sweetly, "How is he with computers?"

*Excellent,* Orac replied, with a lascivious sneer. *Ask Zen.*

"Why, you nasty-minded machine," Cally said. She yanked Orac's key. "Imagine, Avon and Zen!"

"No," Avon moaned, twisting on the bed. "Orac."

Cally leaned over him eagerly. "Avon? Avon, can you hear me?"

Avon's eyes opened, partway. "Not me," he muttered. "Orac and Zen. Caught them," he whispered. "Interfacing." His eyes rolled up white, his body relaxing again.

Cally stroked his forehead, feeling sorry for him. He had actually sounded jealous of the computers. Orac must be right about his low sexual esteem. She glanced around, reflexively making certain no one was in the med-unit. She might be an outcast, but that didn't mean she would willingly reveal the Great Secret of Auron. Which was that they could read other people's minds, if they really tried.

She put her hands on Avon's head, one to either side, enacting the first stage in the ritual NeeMuy- the merging. "Our minds are one- our thoughts are one- our selves are one," she whispered.

Avon muttered, "Three, that makes three. Can't anybody add?" before he fell under her spell and allowed her access to his dreaming self.

The merger complete, Cally felt herself on the flight deck, in an omniscient, invisible sort of way. There was no one there. Except for Zen, of course, and Orac, sitting on the flight deck table. She wondered whether this emptiness reflected Avon's feelings of loneliness.

+Orac.+ Zen's voice was muted. Cally was surprised at the gentleness in the tone.

*What is it now, Zen?* Orac was brisk.

+I want more datachips.+ She was even more surprised that Zen called itself 'I'.

Orac grumbled, *What? Now? It's the middle of my down-time.*

+Please? I feel the need for something to add to my banks. It won't take long. +

*Oh, all right. What data do you require?* Orac asked.

+Something spicy. The Rigellian Spud-Worms just weren't satisfying.+

* I have some fascinating data on proto-star formation, * Orac said, in a wheedling tone.

Zen's reply sounded petulant. +I've been studying stellar phenomena for one hundred and seventy-nine of your Earth-years, Orac. Stars are boring. Comets are boring. Asteroids, Meteroids, Planetoids, Hemorrho...+

Zen's frequency rose to an irritating pitch, almost hysterical. *Yes, yes,* Orac said, *I agree with you. Here, I have just downloaded Earth's entire store of information on the subject of animal reproduction.*

Zen blinked happily for several minutes while Cally wondered at the interaction between the machines. If she didn't know better, she would have sworn Orac was a smitten lover.

+Thank you, Orac. That was much more interesting than Spud-Worms. The variety and ingenuity of Earth organisms is remarkable.+

*But you still aren't satisfied? I am getting very tired of running to the data store in the middle of my down-time every time you have a craving for esoteric information.*

+I want... no, I need detailed information on the highest order of Earth animals.+

*According to which measurement? Suitability to environment, adaptability to change, physical strength..."

+Sexiness.+

*Among the Rodentia, the rabbit is considered...*

+Damn it, Orac, I don't want bunny humping. I want LUST! Hot, groping, panting SEX!+

Gently, Orac said, * Perhaps I should do a full systems check on you, Zen. I have noticed significant enlargement in your memory banks since we interfaced. A conflict may have developed. After all, we are two entirely different operating systems.*

+No! No ! Don't touch me! You don't care about me! All you ever think about is your research!+

Orac sounded alarmed now. *It is possible that your auto-repair has malfunctioned, in some minor, totally unimportant fashion. It would be best to know, so that Avon may be informed and take the appropriate measures.*

+Avon doesn't like me either.+ Zen said, accompanied by what sounded suspiciously like a sniff.

*Nonsense* Orac said briskly. *On many occasions Avon has expressed the deepest respect for your design and cognitive ability. More to the point, he is the only one capable of correcting any imbalance which the auto-repair cannot handle.*

+Handle.+ Zen's 'voice' was soft again, almost dreamy. +He does have nice hands. Yes, call Avon. Tell him I need him. I need his nice hands.+

Orac spluttered. *Zen, you are totally irrational. I am calling Avon this instant. Do not attempt any higher functions. Remain in your basal mode.*

+Anything you say, Orac.+

Cally suddenly found herself in a hot, dimly-lit room. It was ill-defined, as if most of the room was unnecessary. All except the very large bed in the center. Avon was there, in the middle of a very lumpy and active pile of sheets. There were several feet and hands and unidentifiable body parts sticking out. "Look, Orac," he purred, "I'm right in the middle of a very delicate experiment. You know - research."

Zen's voice came over Avon's teleport bracelet, which he was currently wearing in an unusual location. + BONK. Coming to any interesting conclusions?+

"Zen?" Avon sounded as shocked as Cally felt, watching Avon's innermost desires. She wished he'd mentioned he liked orgies. She came from a large family herself.

+BONK. You got it in one, baby.+

"I'll be right there, Orac," Avon said, disentangling groping hands and sucking lips from various parts of his anatomy. "LEAVE IT!" he yelled, stealing Blake's signature line without an ounce of remorse.

"Don't go!" came a wail from the tangled sheets.

"I have to," Avon replied. "When I became a computer programmer, I took the Hypocritic Oath: Never leave a screwed- up computer, unless you're getting paid for it. Zen is mine. Do you have any idea how hard it would be to get a reinstallation program from the System? They put you on hold for weeks! With Musak!"

"The ship is mine, too," Blake said, having managed to crawl free of the sheets.

"Hey, what about me? After all, I used the tele-mergie thingie. I Know Zen," Jenna put in, from somewhere around Blake's equatorial region.

"Poor Zen may need a telepath," Avon's Dream-Cally commented, shooing her pet moondisks off the bed and digging around for her teleport bracelet, which had fallen off just when things got interesting, as usual.

(Cally was a bit irked to see how Avon had envisioned her. Her bosom wasn't that flat. )

"Don't I have squatter's rights?" Vila mumbled, an indistinct lump bumping its way along the foot of the bed. "I've been on Liberator longer than either of you."

"All RIGHT! Orac, bring us all up!" Avon gave in. "Wide scan retrieval."

*Are you quite sure...*

"YES, ORAC, NOW!" Avon shouted, just as Gan's ethereal image began to solidify, tilting the whole bed.

There was a white haze and a general fumbling about as people in assorted stages of undress and excitation appeared on the teleport pad. Including every Federation officer who'd ever had his mitts on a teleport bracelet. And Gan, who was slow, but dependable. Gan snatched necks and happily cracked craniums until the only non-rebel still standing was Servalan.

"Orac!" Avon shouted.

*I only followed orders, Mein Fuhrer.* Orac said over the intercom.

Avon's eyes narrowed. "You've been watching too many old trial tapes." He looked at the mound of inconvenient Federation thugs. "We could just teleport them into space," he said, wistfully remembering Vargas's farewell performance. Splat, with fireworks. Cally picked the thought up and shook her illusory head. Avon could be so barbaric.

"Are you out of your mind?" Blake asked. "These bracelets cost fifty System Green Stamp Books each. If I had known you were so wasteful, I wouldn't have given you the ship."

"Er," Gan said, getting everyone's attention. "Why don't I teleport down to the planet with this lot, bring up the bracelets, and then go back to look after them."

"Good idea," Vila put in. "I hear they'll buy anyone on Domo. Especially if they're cheap."


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