“Who are you today?” Kiri asked coiling into her chair.
“I’m Princess Arktura,” the young man shouted leaping from the couch and jabbing both thumbs at his chest. “Can’t you see?”
“Of course, Your Highness. I’m very sorry.”
“Our patience grows short, Doctor Kravor. What are your plans with me?”
“Don’t try to hide, Kravor. You’ve changed your appearance, but I still know it’s you. After this interrogation, I’m turning you over to my security chief.”
Kiri pressed an icon on her desk. “You do realize that you’re in my office. Don’t you … your Highness?”
“Realize? As in re – ah – lize? I can’t re-ah-lize what isn’t real.” This pseudo-virtuality is where you people go to escape.” He shook, taking an angry breath. “Anyway, I won’t be here long. My guards will soon come and take you away.”
“Where will they take me?”
“Wherever I tell them, of course, Arkturon, Londiss, Hygoria—our universe is vast. In your case, Doctor Kravor, it’ll be some place particularly vile.” He hissed and bared his teeth.
“Very well,” Kiri pressed another icon. “Can you tell me how you got here?”
“Kidnapped.” He looked at Kiri defiant. She stared back, waiting. “What? You want details?”
“Yes please, Your Highness.”
Tight-jawed, he threw himself back on the couch. Then with a sigh he began. “I was walking alone in the garden of Arkturon beside the palace. I stopped by the crystal fountain to watch a bird of paradise bathing,” he threw his arms up, “and they took me.”
“They took you?”
“They took me. You know. That’s a polite way of saying I was violated.”
“How were you violated? Were you raped?” Kiri pressed the icon to record.
“OK, yes, I was raped.” He glared at Kiri. “There was a gang of them. I don’t know how many. They did it the usual way. Tore off my helmet and glasses, ripped out my tubes. I was embarrassed to be so exposed. But that didn’t satisfy them. They stripped my tactile sensors and watched as they forced me to unplug myself. Then they touched me.”
“How did they touch you?” Kiri made a note in the desk record.
“Hands first, then my arms. They made me stand, held me as I walked, made me come here. Then they flushed the uplink enablers out of my blood and forced me to eat their shit.”
“You mean food? They made you eat food—the kind you have to chew and swallow?”
”Yes. And then I had to clean myself,” he winced opening his lips over tight teeth. “I had to use a bristly thing to get the shit taste out of my mouth. Disgusting. Everything here’s disgusting.”
“Was that it, Your Highness? Was that how they raped you?”
“Yes. Now are you going to do something about it,” he flashed an arrogant smile, “or shall we wait for my guards to come and make you?”
“I think we can do something.” Kiri closed the rape recording and pulled up the options. “It sounds like you want to go back. Is that right? You have many options. You’re intelligent, healthy, an attractive young man.”
“That’s just how I project in this plane. Intelligence, gender, age, beauty,” he rolled his eyes toward the ceiling, “those are all checkboxes. Here I am stuck with this.” He flipped his hands toward his tan physique. “I’ll change all this as soon as I get back.”
“So you definitely want to go back? There’s no question? You don’t want more time to think?” Kiri’s tentacle hovered over the icon.
“You can have your world. We have our own.”
“And all of you, everyone in your species feels this way? You don’t care if we have this world as long as we leave you alone in yours?”
“What’s here for us?” The young man opened his arms and shrugged.
Kiri closed the option window with one tentacle and with another handed the man a mobile helmet. “This’ll help you get to a transfer station that’ll take you back, Your Highness. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. We need verbal confirmation before we occupy a planet. Galactic law requires it.”
As the young man pulled on the helmet, he watched Kiri uncoil in her chair. “You guys are really deep into the alien encounters stuff, huh?”
Do you see any problems integrating virtual reality with old-style reality?