Ashton Cheng mines for gold on a lonely planet at the edge of the Milky Way. His boring routine is interrupted by the last thing he expects: a free one-week trial with a sex robot.
Lin is a sex and domestic services robot with human emotions—a hybrid. Ash is drawn to Lin, but Lin’s hybrid status isn’t the only thing that’s different about him…
Be Warned: m/m sex, robot sex
Ashton Cheng checked the gauge one more time.
No gold present.
He sighed, gazing up at the pale violet skies of Planet X2-4 and smoothing back his short black hair.
Mining precious metals on the outer rim of the Milky Way galaxy had its advantages. Better than decent pay for one thing, and the freedom to live as you chose to, much of the time.
On the other hand—being the only human on a planet could get a little lonely.
Ash shut off the analyzer machine and lifted it into the land skiff. He could check off this area: there was nothing here.
His brown eyes scanned the light-green flatlands and dark purple hills in the distance. The hills registered as a possible, so he would try there next.
The skiff flew over the short grasses as Ash reset the machine, cool winds ruffling his workman’s jacket. Earth’s constant need for precious metals, especially gold, meant an odd-jobs man like him could earn enough to buy a used spaceship after a few years working a dreary job like this one. His company had the contract on this sector of this particular solar system and Ash was their only employee on the planet.
Once gold was spotted by the analyzer machine, Ash used the automatic mining machines to dig it out. It wasn’t difficult, but he would work long hours for days once the process began.
His commissions on top of his salary made the difference. If he found enough gold in the remaining areas of the planet as he’d already found so far, he’d have enough to buy that ship and start traveling the stars.
He was in his late twenties now, and had saved diligently for the past two years. A few more months and he’d be there.
Ash could almost taste it.
A beep on his U-tab: it was Jake. Jake delivered his supplies once a week and served as his connection to the rest of the universe, bringing him gossip and tidbits that Ash couldn’t get on the U-net.
The message was intriguing: Bringing the usual plus something extra. Prepare yourself for a good time.
Ash frowned, but couldn’t keep a little quirk from lifting the corner of his mouth. A good time? Not with Jake, who Ash knew was straight while he was gay.
Let’s see if you and I have the same concept of what a good time is, he smirked to himself.
In the late afternoon he ambled out of the station that served as his home, with Tiny barking in excitement at his heels as he always did when Jake arrived.
The small silver ship settled into the rust-colored dirt and the ramp unfolded to the ground. In the next minute Jake was coming down the ramp in that rangy way of his, hands in the pockets of his deliveryman’s jumpsuit. “Yo.”
“Yo,” Ash said agreeably. “So where’s my surprise?”
“Inside the ship.” Jake wasn’t even trying to hide the salacious smile on his face. “Let’s get the supplies in first.”
As Ash helped Jake bring the boxes into the station, he eyed the other man narrowly. “I get all the porn I need from the U-net already, so this had better be something else.”
“Oh, this is something else for sure,” Jake grinned, loading the last box into Ash’s storage room. “I’ll go and get him.”
Him? Ash stared after Jake as he went outside.
Tiny panted and barked, looking up at Ash happily. The white and tan terrier mix always got that look on his face when something good was coming.
Ash’s curiosity got the better of him and he went to stand at the bottom of the ramp with growing expectation. The delivery pilot had procured some useful and interesting novelties for him in the past two years. Maybe this would be something fun.
He never could have anticipated what he saw next.
A silver-haired young man appeared in the ship’s hatch and looked down at Ash with a tentative smile on his face. “Hello.”
Ash stared open-mouthed as he walked down the ramp. A man? Jake brought him a man? Was he a hustler?
The young man had startling light blue eyes set in a gentle face. His skin was smooth and pale.
Wait. That matte silver hair—
Ash blinked as the young man held out his hand, and he shook it automatically. “My name is V-Lin. I’m very pleased to meet you.”
“Ash.” Tiny began barking at their feet, staring at the new person and trying to jump up his leg. “And this is Tiny.”
“Tiny,” V-Lin said, crouching down. He petted Tiny’s head and the dog licked his hand. “And Ash,” V-Lin said, looking up at Ash with that hopeful smile again.
Jake walked up and Ash turned to him. “Can we talk?”
Tiny scampered into the station and V-Lin followed him inside. Ash touched Jake’s arm and moved them closer to the ship so as not to be overheard. “He’s a robot?”
“Guess the silver hair’s a giveaway, isn’t it? Yeah. He’s an SDS model.”
Ash could feel his face flush. “You mean—”
“Sex and domestic services,” Jake said. “I mean, you don’t have much use for a farming robot out here do you?”
“Listen, just try him out. If he doesn’t work for you, I’ll pick him up next week.”
“I can’t afford a robot, not even to rent,” Ash said. “You think I’d be doing this for a living if I could?” He was amazed Jake would even think he had the money for this.
“Well, let’s just say this model has a few… issues,” Jake conceded. “Anyway, I’ve got to get going. See you next week!”
He sprinted up the ramp, leaving Ash spluttering. As the ramp pulled up, Jake waved cheerily. “Hope he puts a smile on that grumpy face of yours.”
Ash watched Jake’s ship lift off in disbelief. Was he serious? On the other hand—
Had he just been given a free trial with a sex robot?