"Welcome to WORLD OF THE FUTURE!" A colorful archway sign with flashing lights and neon letters read. There were two realistic statues flanking the entrance. A completely silver robot made of metal and chrome, with impossibly gorgeous female features stood on the right side on the arch, facing an equally dazzling statue of a woman standing on left side clad in a gold form-fitting space suit with Buck Rogers style transparent bubble space helmet. The two statues were posed with each mirroring the stance of the other, the robot's right arm and the space woman's left arm were raised and touching the side of the sign. The flashing lights reflected off their motionless bodies, which were curvy, lithe, and beautiful enough to be almost goddesses.
"Before you ask, they're real." Ken Philips whispered. He was a friend of Walker Winson and very important person in Winson's company. He was another of the select few who knew the secret of behind the success of Winson's popularity: The electronic miracle known as the Suspendor which could instantly turn beautiful, stunning, attractive women into beautiful, stunning, and attractive lifelike mannequins for Walker's companies. At first they had been used only in the department stores and boutique to model the latest fashions, but recently the Winson empire had started to expand and more applications for the device were found. Ken continued chatting as they walked through the arch. "We have to be careful with them because the lights can get very hot. The girls doing it get paid even more then usual."
Dave Brighton wanted to look at the at the gateway girls even more closely but his uncle's friend hurried Dave through the crowd. Walker had more business to do (some deal in South America. Something about finding some models) so he had his friend and deputy Ken help give Dave tour of the Las Vegas casino Winson owned, the newly opened 'Platinum Comet'. Taking a science-fiction theme, the gaming floor appeared to be an exotic space-station from a 1950's vision of the future, with rounded corners on all the walls, pipes running everywhere, and clouds of cool fog ("Jet Blast") spraying out at random intervals. The carpet on the floor was dark indigo blue, peppered with multicolored stars, while each of the gaming areas was decorated as a separate part of the station, appearing as pods or islands reaching into space. It was unlike any other casino he had ever visited.
Dave hadn't known his uncle owned a casino but he reflected that it wasn't that surprising, after everything else he'd already seen on his visit so far. Walker had so many incredible things to show that Dave thought the wonders might never end. Besides the department stores and the beautiful frozen models working for him there, Walker had innovatively used the suspendor in many different ways that had made Winson's successful in just about every venture the company attempted, from chic private boutiques catering to the ultra-rich all the way to electronic gaming shows like the one Dave had visited just a few days previously.
The Suspendor had first made Winson's the place people went to for women's fashions; now his amazingly lifelike mannequins and statues were drawing patrons into this latest casino venture as well. Like Midas, everything he touched seemed to turn into gold.
But Dave knew the Suspendor was more, too, because the girls who agreed to be frozen in Walker's stores, resorts, mansion, and the storage galleries below it called the device greatest thing they ever had experienced. Presenting themselves dressed up in vast number of lavish costumes, or sometimes nothing at all; alone or with others in a diorama, the effects of the electronic device that instantly changed them from living women into beautiful mannequins and statues had done something to them that made them all want to experience those effects again and again. The benefits went beyond simply delaying aging and preserving beauty, because on permanent exhibit in the huge basement of Walker's mansion there were thousands of frozen models who had volunteered to be 'transformed', or suspended permanently, and now were display figures shown in a variety of poses, costumes, and accessories.
The Suspendor had been invented years ago and continuously improved; the latest form being a miniaturized receiver / transmitter so small it could be hidden in the smallest things like models' earrings and finger rings, brooches, pins, and even necklaces. Using remote controls, the main device could sent out coded pulses of radio signals into the receiver and then the body of the woman wearing it. Different signals did different things. They all produced an enclosing suspended animation field that could instantly 'freeze' a woman into something so much like a display mannequin or statue that they couldn't be told from the real thing. Another coded signal could wake up the model immediately and yet another pulse could allow reposing of the model without her waking up. Once the device had been activated to immobilize the subjects, no additional energy was required to keep them in a suspended state indefinitely, no matter what happened afterward. This meant no need to keep continuous power to the suspendors when the girls were frozen. It also meant that the immobilized models could spend years or centuries fully suspended as mannequin-like statues and they would never know that time was passing. For Dave, seeing it in use was amazing since the gorgeous women Walker had chosen went into complete, rigid, suspension as if there was nothing unusual about it; despite their being turned into living artwork in the blink of an eye.
Last week he had already seen it in action (and the resulting inaction) at the department store, Walker's mansion, corporate retreat and a gaming convention. Now here at the casino, Dave saw his eccentric uncle had found some new uses for the odd technology.
Dave wanted to know more and see more of his uncle's business. It was so amazing that he had to see more. But his week of leave was about to be over. He would have to go back to the ship after this last day's visit. He still didn't know what he might do with his life when he could leave the Navy but he now realized he wanted to be with his uncle's frozen beauties, the models like Danielle and Collette, very much. It was something of a problem for him because he still loved flying.
"Would like to choose a service, sir?" A beautiful blonde woman in a stunningly cut silver evening gown asked as Dave came into the lobby. It was a gaudy, brightly lit, place with frozen silver statues of girls in spacesuits standing stiffly in niches within the walls as well as upon small square pedestals placed strategically among the gaming tables and rows of slot machines. In the middle of the lobby was a rocketship modeled on the one from Flash Gordon as the centerpiece of a fountain with motionless damsels in distress posed on small island in the middle of the water and evil space aliens (not as beautiful as the ones at the sign however) about to do something bad to them. Bright holograms danced above the dancing waters and what seemed like hundreds of young girls in tight silver and gold jumpsuits with high boots walked to and fro serving as staff, providing shapely flashes of metallic color. Except for a few hostesses, who catered to the more exclusive clientele and were costumed more elegantly, the majority of the dealers wore a simple metallic low-cut diagonal-skirted tunic with sparkling silvery pantyhose and matching four-inch heels. Their hairstyles were very distinctive, swirling almost weightless around and above their heads to form fantastic shapes in metallic hues that seemed like spun gold or silver with an occasional coppery red or gunmetal black. There were enough of the lifelike statues dressed and coiffed in the same way for Dave to guess how most of the staff spent their break time. Frozen.
"We'll be fine, Melinda," Ken said as he led Dave to a hidden door behind a silvery curtain. Dave had not much time to smile at Melinda before he walked through the door. She looked disappointed not to have had more time to chat. "Sorry for rushing you like that but the high rollers like to have the girls handle them ASAP. I figured you wanted a better experience here than battling a throng the whole time." Behind the door was a hallway lined with well made furniture, but it was still a service hallway. Suddenly it became quiet, too, though the noise outside hadn't been that obvious until it was gone.
"Must be some handling." Dave said. "I like the way you welcome people."
"We try our best." Ken nodded. "Your uncle tries to create the finest experience, whether it's here on the Strip or in his stores." They stepped into a concealed elevator and Ken pressed a button. Bad muzak played when the elevator moved. Walker might have been Dave's favorite uncle but he sure had bad taste in music. "Yes, we'd like better music for the elevators too." Ken said, upon seeing Dave wince.
"Your face said it all." Ken grinned. "We always hate the Muzak Even the models. They think Mr. Winson is kind of strange to be so good in everything else but wanting to hear this kind of stuff."
The elevator stopped and opened onto an elegantly decorated room. It looked like some skybox at a stadium, with couches, a wet bar, comfy chairs and everything. The opposite glass wall was tinted with some sort of yellow color and everything outside looked like old photos. He realized they were on the other side of one of the many mirrored walls.
The skybox let Dave see everything in the casino from above; the gambling floor, the show hall, the dinning room and buffet line, the lobby, a disco dance floor that Dave hadn't seen from the lobby. The floor was mostly empty at this hour; a group of metallically-clad staff was going through some new moves with the delighted customers while new hostesses stood to one side, observing.
Casinos never really close, they just more or less busy. Early in the evening the crowds had not started to fill the Comet as they had every day, while staff continued to do maintenance and training. Dave watched as two workers dressed in coveralls wheeled a handtruck holding a silvery-suited statue between rows of slot machines until they reached a small display pedestal. There was already a statue standing there, a posed nude with bits of sculpted metal covering her private parts. Her skin and face were very shiny, as if she had been varnished; her hairdo was similarly coated and rigid. With practiced skill, the workers removed the statue from the pedestal, swapped it with the one from the handtruck, and replaced the guard rail all within a few minutes. Unless he had known, Dave would have never suspected that the fantastic statues were in fact frozen girls.
By moving to the left side of the skybox, he could observe the show hall better, along with everything behind the show, too. What was going on behind the scenes grabbed Dave's interest immediately.
There were the usual dazzling showgirls expected in a Las Vegas casino revue milling behind the stage. But these were dressed in sci-fi outfits with lots of silver and metals and plastic. Even the large feathers on their head fans and sweeps looked like some alien bird had donated them. The girls were not wearing much else but they still shone from all the metal. From the frenzied commotion, he guessed that a show was about to start. Seconds later the curtains went up.
This number had acting in it besides the all dancing and singing chorus. There was a character like an adventuress wearing a tight leather space suit done up in fantastic colors getting into a futuristic vehicle in a space station or space ship. Then more female figures in form fitting Lycra outfits with completely featureless faces came on stage, firing laser beams at the adventuress. She had a laser beam too, of a different color, and when she hit one of aliens with her beam the gorgeous female alien would suddenly freeze and stay rigid in the pose they were in when they were hit. Soon the stage was populated with unmoving warriors as the heroine triumphed. The scene changed as the adventuress ran into a giant room (an obvious backdrop) containing frozen female statues in different colors and materials standing around a prominent pedestal with a big jewel on it. Ignoring the figures, the adventuress strode up to the central pedestal and plucked the jewel from its perch. Suddenly, as if some sort of switch had been thrown, the statues quickly came to life and attacked the adventuress with swords and fantastic weapons. The woman in leather had her weapons out too and again when she hit an attacker, the figure was instantly frozen in place. Finally, she got away with the jewel and jumped out of some airlock or door into blackness. Then the lights flashed twice and the frozen female alien figures on stage were covered by some smoke or dense fog as a miniature rocketship flew through the air above the stage and the curtain fell. There was a pause as the stage lights dimmed.
The audience seemed to have liked it as they cheered enthusiastically and called the stage. The show's actresses and dancers came out and bowed to the crowd and then again, since interesting things happened to some more scantily clad girls in the show. Then everybody got off stage, the curtain came down, the house lights came on, and everybody went out to gamble. At same time a lot of statues rose from inside their pedestals around the showroom and stood frozen there as the crowd left the room. They looked exactly like the frozen alien females who had been in the play. They all had exotically beautiful features and were lithe, tall, slender yet with serious curves. They appeared the same as the aliens from the show and were frozen in the same poses too. A lot of people looked at them and were amazed by their beauty.
Dave could see through the skybox windows and on video screens that many of the girls from the show who were frozen during the show remained frozen when curtain fell. Then the backstage crew moved the frozen girls under the showroom to the pedestals that each had their own lifts. Then the suspended girls were raised up into the room so they would look like statues for the crowd. At the same time, girls who had been frozen as statues for the crowd before the show (they were lowered in the darkness when the show started) had been moved from their pedestals and unfrozen so they could get changed and relax with the other showgirls who were not imitating sculpture.
"We first wanted to have some of the girls playing aliens pop up on the pedestals during the show and have Vicki," Ken said, nodding at the dark haired, slender athletic actress playing the adventuress, "shoot them with her laser so we could freeze them right on the pedestals and let people look at them there when the show ended. However, we had lots of fog going off so the laser beams would look good, but when the villains froze the crowd couldn't see the freezing. Also, many people attending the show would bring in lots of things - even wearing some of the jewelry we sell - that could reflect the laser. And we didn't want the suspendor to be going haywire just because we had laser reflecting from some ring. So, it's all done by radio now and the laser is just a prop."
"It takes a lot of computer work to do it this way. It must be more complex."
A tall, auburn-haired girl in a short black skirt, blue shirt and strappy heels said as she joined them. "Hi, I'm Monique. Part time model for Mr. Winson and part time computer programmer. I get to see that everything runs right so I can be in the show."
"Nice to meet you. My name is" Dave began
"Dave Brighton. You're the nephew of Mr. Winson." Monique smiled. "I've had some people tell me about you. I think you may know my friends: Danielle, Michelle, Janice, and Tanya. We all went to the same university and joined Mr. Winson at about the same time. Danielle and Tanya are just more adventurous," she admitted.
"I'll say!" Dave had spent last night at the estate in the company of the named girls, plus Fiona, in the Gallery of the Transformed under Walker's mansion. It had been a very fun time and yet a tiring time for Dave. The girls were not nearly so tired since they got to sleep suspended most of the time; that was just how he had left most of them.
And a lot of the Transformed girls were not in the same poses either after the end of that whimsical night. The girls played as some cheerleaders and got their costumes from figures on the Gallery floor along with the nurse's outfits and everything else Dave could think of that they could possibly want to realize any fantasy. It was a fun time but Dave got no sleep after the fun in the gallery. "I saw them in action."
"Or inaction. I had to say that." Monique giggled. "My sources tell me Tanya is still the way you left her... Do you want to see more of the casino here? I think I can let the computer run things without me for a moment."
"Monique is a good guide." Ken said, nodding. "She also makes a very good model for the mannequin displays. For some reason she likes appear in natural poses a lot. Au Natural, if you get my meaning..."
"I will have to see one of those some time." Dave said. He could imagine Monique placed on display for everybody to see. An artfully suspended statue, with everything being displayed.
"Maybe;" Monique smiled, "maybe soon." She strolled ahead, letting her hips sway suggestively, knowing he was watching her. "Want to continue the tour?" The two men caught up quickly as they left the skybox and descended into the lower level workshops.
"The casino is sort of a place to test new gizmos out and see how they work. If we get a new idea and it sounds good then we try it here first. Things can get pretty wild sometimes," Monique said with smile. "Not everything the public gets to see but.."
"So what kind of stuff do you come up with?" Dave asked. He look very carefully at the human-like robots that stood against one wall of the room in a static line, as if turned off. He saw that they were really frozen girls in total suspension but that was all. "I've seen some of the things here already, but what else can you do? It's hard to think of anything more fantastic than what you've done so far."
"It gets very wild sometimes," Ken said. He raised a remote control like the sort that Walker had used. "Watch this." He pressed some buttons on it. On other side of the room one of the frozen 'robots' came to life. It moved in a very stop-and-go way but it was moving towards them. "How may this unit be of ser-vice?" Came a computer-sounding voice from the robot.
"That's a very good actress here." Dave said rhetorically. The robot moved mechanically like every bad science fiction movie Dave had ever watched. But the actress doing the act must be very a good mime.
"That's not the woman doing those moves, Dave." Monique laughed. She showed Dave a PDA with a read-out on the frozen girl. "Adrianne has been frozen for the past week now. Solid."
"But, how?" Dave asked as he looked at the PDA. It had a screen like the other one he used to tell what state the subject was in. For Adrianne, it said that she was still completely suspended. "I thought the models could not move by themselves when they are frozen."
"Yeah, that's right. But she is not moving. The robot suit she's wearing is moving her." Dave looked at Adrianne again, in a different light. Monique continued. "It's a special suit we're working on. Something like a cat-suit with exoskeleton like you saw in the movie Aliens. There's a small computer in the back near the neck that controls all the electronics on it. There are paper-thin robotic muscles and isolinear joints like you see in some experimental robots the Japanese are making. They would not usually be strong enough to stand up with or walk and talk and move. But by using a frozen person as a base, a maquette if you will, they can exert enough force to move the person's body; they can stand up, for instance, and then stay in the pose they are moved into."
Adrianne now stood rigidly in front of the group, unmoving once more.
Monique circled the 'robot'. "You know how the Suspendor can change from hard-frozen - where the person is just like a statue and you can't move her at all - to a posable state where she is still frozen and unaware but you can move her into whatever pose you want and she'll stay in that pose? Dave nodded as Monique continued. "We decided to replace the person moving the frozen model with an enclosing robotic shell that the model wears." She pressed another button, and Adrianne began a robotic action routine.
Dave looked at the moving robotgirl and was amazed. This 'robot' was actually frozen model but she was moving without anybody reposing her. Anybody human close to her, that is. "The computer also makes her talk like a robot?" He queried.
"And sing like a robot. Or we can have her talk in her normal voice, if we record her phonemes beforehand. The computer makes the sounds, so the model doesn't talk but we can make it sound like she's talking. There's a thin-film speaker concealed in the suit." Ken pressed a few buttons and the robot started doing an energetic quick-paced dance like the lambada. It was hot and sexy dance and the robot had right curves and body lines for the dance. "Some things, like interacting with other people, are harder for computers to do but we are finding ways to accomplish them."
"It must surprise some people when they see this kind of technological magic." Dave said, still gazing at the frozen girl as she danced in the metallic catsuit that was, in effect, dancing her. It was something you didn't see - or think about - when someone in a Star Wars type costume was doing something as sexy as the lambada.
"You can't believe." Monique say. She turned to a video screen. "We already have some of these girls in our restaurants and the dance club. You have to see it." The TV screen showed a busy dining room. There were a lot of people eating at the tables. Dave guessed it was not a fancy five star establishment because most of the patrons were not dressed formally, being more casually attired. The sight still made Dave hungry since the food looked very good; he had not eaten a lot this day just like not having slept a lot last night. The helicopter flight was not a good time to have breakfast, and ever since landing he had been going nonstop.
There were a lot of gorgeous costumed waitresses walking rapidly back and forth with food and dishes for the tables. It looked like a normal restaurant, but in this place there was something different about the waitresses. They all wore the same kind of metallic catsuit like the one the tireless robot Adrianne was wearing. They all had different clothes on over the catsuits and Dave was happy to note the screen had listed in little green floating letters the word "waitress" above all the waitresses as they moved around because they were in many different outfits.
Some were in costumed as classic casino cocktail waitresses, with short skirts. Some looked like playboy bunnies and others more like French maids. Other appeared as Hooters' girls or like the sexy bartendresses of Coyote Ugly-like type show bar. Some were dressed as old European-style serving wenches and yet more like some sort of sci-fi high-tech copies of the previous waitresses, seeming like suspended girls acting like robogirls acting like cocktail waitresses. Of course the spacesuited bubble-helmeted costume was also well represented. There were girls dressed in all kinds of outfits between those of the girls that Dave could see and those he had seen before; they seemed to go on and on. There was an incredible variety in their costumes and appearances, from almost natural to full-on bodypaint and contact lenses.
Next to little green 'waitress' label on the screen was an icon showing if the girl was suspended. Not all the girls was frozen but most were. The view of the girls got more interesting because the screen showed something else. A costume code. "The customers can
have their waitress dressed in different outfits if they want to. They just choose one off the PDA menu and she'll come out dressed as desired." Ken smiled. "Lots of people come back to our restaurant simply because they can do that."
The TV screen switched cameras to another shot. This was from behind the doors leading to the dining room. The view showed the hallway to the kitchen and something else. A big open room next to the kitchen where the girls were changing and getting ready for customers. The unsuspended girls were dressing themselves as usual but the frozen girls had attendants and other robot girls to do it for them, choosing from a large wardrobe. Dave smile as he watched suspended girls getting stripped and redressed because somebody had chosen the outfit from a menu like she was another dish. In a way, the beautiful waitresses were just that.
"We also have engineers working on the suits now to make them even more dependable. Don't want them to be breaking down on the job. Makes a mess in the dining room when they're carrying a lot of food and might give away to some people what's really going on." Monique said. "It is funny when the girls become frozen in middle of walking into and out of the dining room. All of a sudden there is a statue posed next to your table that used to be the waitress serving your food. The customers are very surprised by these random freeze occurrences but some like it a lot."
"I would be surprised, too." Dave agreed. "Do you do the same thing in the dance club?"
"Yeah but of course we have more dancing than at the restaurant, and fewer costume changes." Monique laughed. "It's a strange sensation of you wear the exo-suit without being frozen first. I've done it a couple times while awake and many more times when frozen while testing them out. It's like something you never felt before, being moved without actually doing it. Now I know how a marionette feels! It can be so good but if you're trying to go against the programmed action, moving can be very tiring in the suit. It's far easier to just let yourself go limp, unless you want to practice your isometric exercises."
Dave imagined Monique or Danielle or Michelle in a catsuit like that and liked the image quite a bit. He would have to get Danielle to wear one for him sometime. He walked over to the now frozen, still Adrianne and felt the material. It was shiny but thin and he could feel the model's skin and muscles under the catsuit. It was not metal, even if it looked like flexible metal; he wondered if computer chips could feel soft. "Must be some very high tech stuff you're using here with Adrianne."
"You can't imagine. It is very expensive." Ken pointed at the screen. Now the TV showed a very crowded night club or dance club. "Costs a lot because we must keep it so thin and yet feel like lycra. Only way any girl can do these moves in the disco scene."
The crowd was really dancing up a storm with the lights and music and air of the club. It must be very exciting or stimulating. Lots of really fantastic looking women in tight short outfits that looked like the latest fashion filled the place and gyrated to the pulsing beat of the awesome sound system. It was the same with the restaurant that all the waitresses and dancers had signs by them on the screen telling Dave which was which. They all were wearing the suits that made them in effect living puppets.
Dave wondered again how Walker could get some many attractive women working for him. It really must be the suspendor, Dave thought, because all the waitresses and all the club's bartenders were female. Most of the bartenders were dressed in hip-hugging tight jeans and T-shirts, looking alive enough, talking making drinks, dancing sometimes on the bar like in the movie Coyote Ugly.
"Most of them are frozen," Ken interjected, answering Dave's unspoken question. "The girls have lottery for agreeing to be frozen and then let computer decide who get frozen and when, and what duty they perform afterward. Gives them a little more excitement by being surprised I guess. And they also wanted to see if any of the patrons could see anything different. So far, nobody can." Ken said.
"The only thing better than being frozen stiff is being frozen when you don't know when - or if - it's going to happen. Makes for a new high for us models," Monique smiled warmly, as if recalling a pleasant experience. She must have liked a lot from what Dave saw in her. "There's nothing in the world like becoming a statue and then not knowing when you are. I can't really say why that is, you wouldn't understand, but it is really a great experience for a woman. I can sure tell you that." Monique smiled faintly, like a Mona Lisa.
"Sometime somebody will have to tell me why the suspendor is so good to use. People keep saying that but they never tell me why."
"You're a smart guy; should be able to figure it out by now," Monique jibed.
"OK, OK," Dave chuckled. "I've got some suspicions. Anyway, do you make statues for the dance club too?"
"No. Too hard. There is a danger of someone bumping into a frozen model when you're dancing at full tilt, as well. They wouldn't feel a thing of course, but one of the patrons might poke their eye or something. Liability mumbo like that gives the legal staff gray hair. We do have some ideas we talk about, but haven't tried yet." Ken smiled at Monique slyly. "Some of Monique's friends want to have the casino give out cheap costume jewelry with suspendor units in them to the more beautiful girl guests for the night and turn them on at random times. That would help add more 'impromptu' statues to the casino and get more of the public to use the suspendor too. But Mr. Winson said that kind of exposure was too much for people at large to know about. You know someone would blab to the media. So he wants to keep it within the company, to folks he can trust. Walker's mostly right; but think of what it would be like to have that happening."
Dave certainly could, imagining some of the gorgeous women he'd seen in the casino turning unexpectedly to frozen sculptures.
"We've got other ideas we're working on too. Things that are even more out there and sci-fi then the suspendor." Monique opened a combination-locked cabinet and got out a small flat box made of a dark wood. Opening the case, she took out a weapon that looked like some fancy high-tech laser pistol from Star Wars or another futuristic movie. "This gadget we came up with couple months ago, but we're still getting the kinks out." She handed it to Dave.
"Is this what I think it is?" Dave looked at pistol, hefting it in his hand, noting the balance. It was smooth, sinuous, and slender like a beautiful woman. It looked like it might fire a laser beam because there was glass or plastic lens affixed at the muzzle end. "Looks very Star Trek. Does it work?"
"Why don't you see for yourself?" Ken pressed a button on his chair and leaned toward the arm of it. "Can Katie come in now?"
"Sure." A voice from a tiny speaker in the armrest responded. Some moments later a door in the far end of room opened and a brown haired, tall, slender young lady clad in jeans and a black cowboy shirt and white spangled boots came in. She wore little tag reading 'waitress' on it, along with her name: Katie Wilkinson. "Do you wish anything, sir?" She asked in sweet but very sexy voice.
"Yes Katie. First, we'd like you to take off any suspendor units you have on. Place them here."
Katie nodded, a little perplexed, and took off a ring and her ear jewelry and put them on the table. This wasn't a normal request.
Ken continued. "Then stand in middle of the room and start taking poses. You know, positions you would look nice in when you're suspended. Don't worry about what happens after that; we're scientists. This gun is just a mockup of something for a show."
"Sure." Katie giggled as she walked to the middle of the room, showing off the fit of her jeans. She smiled at Dave and then started contorting into a series of different poses, pausing slightly and holding each one for a moment. The poses were all sexy and demanded attention. Dave watched the posing intently; he liked most of them, but wondered what she might do next.
"Like any of them, sir?" Katie asked, flirting with him.
"He'll respond when you find the right pose," Ken said with a smile. Katie continued to run through poses and then Monique pointed at the laser gun Dave was holding.
"When you see a pose you'd like to have Katie suspended in, just point the gun at her and pull the trigger once. You'll surely like what you see next."
"Okay." Dave replied, not sure what it would do but he got the idea. But he knew that Katie didn't have any suspendor unit on her. "Hmm. Lets see.." Dave waited one more second and then Katie found a pose very fitting to see on a statue. "I like that one.." He mused, then pointed the gun at the waitress and fired. A bluish pencil beam shot out from the muzzle and struck her right in the middle of her ample chest.
Katie instantly froze. She suddenly stopped all motion and just stood there stiffly in the pose with one hand behind her neck and her back arched. Her face was frozen in a smile and she was looking like a a very pretty statue frozen there, or more like a mannequin since she was wearing her waitress costume. Dave got up and walked over to Katie, touching her rigid features and finding her hard, immobile. If anything, she seemed even more solid than if normally suspended.
He turned to Monique. "Okay. Where's her suspendor unit?"
"She doesn't have one. This freeze gun, as we call it, is the latest suspendor goodie we've come up with. We don't need a personal suspendor unit and remote control anymore. Just point this at the subject, decide what state you want the person to be in, and pull the trigger. You'll have an instant statue every time if you hit the person. And you can change their freeze state and awaken them just as if they had a suspendor unit on. It's easy to do, and fast. You can also use any of the other settings as with a normal suspendor."
"Just like that? It looks too easy." Dave was thinking of what a person, particularly someone with criminal intent, could do with something like this freeze gun. "I've seen other guns in the show that have the same kind of effects; the remote controls, too."
"Not like this one. The other guns you saw before, like in the games, were just disguised remotes that told the computer controlling the suspendor units the subjects were wearing to turn the units on or off. This freeze gun actually suspends or awakens or changes the state of the person it's pointed at. No preparation needed beforehand. The subject just has to be a normal person. Watch." Ken took the freeze gun from Dave, turned a dial, then fired at Katie again. He explained he was relaxing her suspension to a partially movable state; there was no visible difference. Then he went up to Katie and changed her pose to something that was even more sexy then what Dave had imagined anyone would do in mixed company. Monique, getting into the fun, also rolled Katie's shirt up and tied it just under her breasts into something like a halter top. Then Ken fired again and Katie was an immobile statue once more. Angling his hand slightly to the left, he caught Monique in the sights and pressed the trigger once more. She hardly had a chance to gasp 'Oh!' before stiffening into place. Now there were two statues standing there.
"That's really impressive! There's got to be a catch somewhere." Dave commented.
"Yes. The induced field takes a lot more power than personal suspendor units and so the LI-ON battery in the handgrip is only good for a few shots. Of course for something like this, in the prototype stage, the electronics cost a lot and the pistols are all manufactured by hand. We can only make a few of them a month. Sometimes the unit doesn't work for some reason or another and that can be quite annoying. Also, Walker is afraid this kind of weapon could get out into wider use and do more damage then just some purloined suspendor units could. Those need a remote to work properly, and of course the person has to be wearing the suspendor before hand. As you've just seen, the freeze gun will work without either a remote or receiver unit. So we can't have these weapons running around everywhere. Just think of the crooks who would use something like this if they found out about it. We are planning to add some sort of interlock or biometric key." Ken gave Dave back the freeze gun. "The corporation should stand to make a good amount of money of course by selling it to police, security agencies, and the FBI. In a way, the freeze gun is the ultimate in passive detention technology. No need for projectile guns, gas, or nets; just fire the gun at the perp and nobody gets hurt; the crook is flash-frozen, unable to resist. Talia and her girls in SecFor want to use them to protect Walker's businesses. I like that idea but Walker wants to wait some more before adopting them, and work out some sort of fail-safes. Losing one would be bad."
"Letting one fall into the wrong hands sounds very dangerous, just thinking about it. I think Walker has taken the right approach by being cautious." Dave agreed, but he still liked the idea of being able to freeze girls on a whim without their having to wear anything extra. He'd be careful about it, of course, but using it on the girls in the Gallery was something that he could have more fun with than with some TV remote thingie.
Dave started to hand the freeze gun back to Ken, but the scientist shook his head. "Walker did tell me you can have one of the freeze guns, provided you are careful. He thinks you will enjoy using it and you can be trusted to not use the power it gives you foolishly."
"Whew!" Dave exclaimed. "Let's start by getting your compatriot moving again, shall we?" Aiming it at the frozen scientist, he made sure the weapon was set on 'unfreeze' and triggered it.
She completed her move towards him. "Cute. So who do you want to use it on first?" Monique asked with smile.
Dave wondered if Walker could read his mind. He looked at the frozen statue of sexy Katie and figured Walker did know something about what his nephew might want. "I think I'd like to see all the girls I can aim at with the freeze gun. Then I can have some fun."
"You shouldn't leave her like that, you know," Ken said. "The shift supervisor might wonder if she was slacking off. Rather than being stiff as a statue before her schedule calls for that."
Dave aimed at the frozen waitress and touched the trigger button once more. This time, instead of a blue-green beam of light shooting out, there was a 'bzzt' sound as sparks shot out of the body of the gun and it suddenly became very hot. Dave dropped it on the floor before getting burned, but the weapon continued to overheat and started to smoke. Meanwhile, Katie stood as still as before, completely unaffected.
"Oh, drat; I thought we fixed that cascade," Monique grumbled, moving over to look at the malfunctioning weapon and completely ignoring the frozen girl. "Is that a new battery pack?" She prodded the still-smoking prototype with a pencil.
"Well, Dave, as you can see we're still trying to work all the kinks out. Heh, heh." Ken commented with an embarrassed laugh. "Come back before you leave today and we'll give you one of the latest revs. Looks like Katie is going to take a long break after all..."
"Why don't you just put her suspensor ring back on her finger and revive her that way?"
"Doesn't exactly work that way, unfortunately," Monique replied, picking up the smoldering remains of the freeze gun with the pencil through the trigger guard. "These run on a 'different frequency' so to speak, and we can set the units in a group too so different agencies can have their own choice of who gets frozen or unfrozen, and when." She dropped the weapon on the table with a clunk. "Let's continue the tour, shall we? Katie there is in no danger."
"Yeah; she'll be fine." Ken agreed. "Besides, if we can't unfreeze her, we can always strip her down, spray her silver, and put her in the fountain!"
Dave didn't know if he was being kidded, or not.
Dave wondered if there was anything his fantastic, eccentric, uncle Walker still had waiting as a surprise. "He can't have more stuff than everything I've seen already!" Dave thought. It was all too wild to think about.
"Mr. Winson didn't think of everything. Some things we came up with the idea for and he said 'yes' to afterward. He is not always that imaginative, in some things. Like music," Monique grinned. She opened a door leading into the basement of the casino. "We've dreamed up a lot of ideas too in R&D. And some, I might dare to say, are more exciting than anything Mr. Winson can think of."
The first level down led to a series of service corridors, threading under the casino complex like a maze. There were also dressing rooms and lounge areas for the staff here. Monique shook her head 'no' and motioned Dave to go in a different direction, towards an empty-looking area of the underground. They walked down another hallway. It seemed a bit similar to the one under Walker's mansion going to the Gallery of the Transformed, in that the decoration was more ornately elaborate and less industrial. This hallway had that same look and it ended at an elevator landing. There were two beautiful frozen agents next to the wood-paneled door of the elevator. These motionless women didn't have a silver covering on them like the guards Indra and Tomiko at the mansion, but they possessed a waxy sheen to them, like figures in a museum. "Who are you?" Dave said playfully, knowing they could not answer.
"Jamie and Patricia. We tried to go for a wax figure appearance with them. Ever see the old Hammer flick "House of Wax" where some visitors get coated in the stuff and put into the displays? That sort of thing." Monique laughed. "It's hard sometimes to get the right wax look on a real person. The goo we tried first melted like real wax and never really hardened; that made a mess. The people who had to clean it up were not happy. So we got some unique make-up from some Hollywood special effects people that Walker knew and tried it on the girls. Gives a great waxy look as you can see and no messes to clean up if it gets hot."
She pressed the button; the door opened immediately. They got into the elevator and proceeded downward once more. It was a short time before the elevator opened again, but the car seemed to have descended quite rapidly, judging from the feeling in the pit of Dave's stomach. He was used to flying by the 'seat of his pants' and could estimate G-forces accurately.
When Dave looked at what was outside the elevator, he thought it was a duplicate of the Gallery of the Transformed under his uncle's vast mansion. "Don't tell me you have another storage space for transformed models here under the casino? It looks a lot like that to me; I'm sure you know what I mean."
"Yes, of course. This isn't like that at all. There are no permanent display figures here, just some girls who want to spend a really long time suspended before going back to real world and may wish to have some fantasy concepts done with them while they're frozen." Monique pointed into the room. "There are several important things different between this space and the gallery."
Dave saw a few differences right off. This room, while huge, was much smaller than the gallery and only a couple of stories high. There were no niches or cabinets covering all the walls that had frozen models resting in them. The girls on this main floor were not placed in rows or lines with placards identifying them but rather arranged as groups in little displays or scenes everywhere across the floor. The Gallery had quite a few of these dioramas, but in this place they dominated. The only thing that seemed identical was how beautiful all the unmoving women who populated the displays were. And the models were not all still and immobile, either. Some were moving in the displays, moving by themselves and not only being reposed by people in white coats.
"Okay, this is something new I have never seen before." Dave commented. There were many different scenes that he was unsure about. There were a couple of Christmas scenes with lovely models costumed as Santa's elves in a North Pole workshop set in the middle of drifts of white stuff that looked exactly like snow even though the room temperature was normal. But these sexy elvettes were on the 'naughty' list for sure and looked like they, not the toys they were making, were meant to fill the stockings of horny boys around the world. Dave was sure no G-rated elves ever had outfits cut so high and so low and that Mrs. Claus had never looked like a supermodel in a red bustier and fishnet hose instead of a traditional dowdy grandmotherly figure.
Some of the girls must have been wearing the robot catsuits because they moved by themselves like mechanically driven figures in a department store window. After a few motions, their actions repeated in an endless loop. There were also small trains, construction sets, and other toys moving around the suspended models. "That is going to be some Christmas for somebody." Dave noted, wishing he had been so lucky.
Another scene was like some World of Tomorrow display from Disneyland. Everything was displayed as how people long ago thought the future was going to be, back in the age of biplanes and steam locomotives. Robogirls reminiscent of the 'Maria' figure from the film Metropolis were ratcheting mechanically across a wide swatch of grass as 'flying' cars mounted on really strong wires moved in the air. There were futuristic-looking art-deco buildings and moving sidewalks. Big garishly colored signs reading "food' floated over some small blocks of different colors. The suspended models here had high boots and short skirts on as in the 1950s visions of the future, or had bubble helmets with their spacesuits and jet packs or flying belts. Some brandished Buck Rogers-like laser pistols while big rocket ships flew over head on painted backdrops. There were some fantastic non-female humanoid robots like Robbie moving around too. Dave glimpsed a giant silvery man known by the name of 'Gort' standing silently in the background.
Then there was a contemporary fashion show with different frozen models mounted on small pedestals moving around an elevated runway, at the turnaround point in the loop the platforms would perform a couple of slow turns before returning. They went into a small box at the back and came out with new outfits on. The show seemed to have all different sorts of clothes from designers from all over the world. Most were things people wouldn't wear normally but all were of the latest fashion and seemed very expensive. Dave recognized several of the creations from the designers back at the spa as well as other famous couturiers he could not name.
Another diorama had different motionless dancers from various foreign countries as well as Canada and people from all over the world. Some looked silly to Dave like those costumed as if from southern Germany but he guessed people watched these dances while drinking beer. Lots and lots of beer. Others were very exotic, like the dancers from India, that Dave had never before seen. There seemed to be a lot of styles of frozen dancers in the dioramas but Dave was happy nobody was doing the riverdance-like ones. But somebody was doing a disco scene, which made Dave wonder who thought these things up. Walker's hand again?
There was an almost museum-quality display of a tribe of Amazon warriors living in the jungle. It looked like some bad movie serial (or a good softcore 'art' movie, Dave thought with a chuckle). The figures wore clothing and hats made of jungle plants; around a fire were costumed and masked tribal dancers and bare-chested warrior women with sharp-looking spears. Nearby, through a barrier of dense trees, the next display looked like the fabled city of gold with golden ornaments on buildings, gold-bricked streets, shining gold leaf on everything but the frozen girls ?living? in the city. Both scenes looked like they were set in South America, some legendary lost civilization explorers from long ago wanted to discover. And both displays had some girls moving and doing things under control of the robotic catsuits, this time in skin-toned Lycra. The women were not wearing a lot; the Amazons in animal skin clothing looked like Sheena Queen of the Jungle. The women of the golden city had outfits that were derived from Aztec or Inca clothing. Dave guessed (correctly) that blonde hair and blue eyes were not something the historical Incas or Aztecs or Amazon tribes possessed but somebody must have been watching too many B-movies to come up with these ideas.
Around the many displays were people walking around with PDAs and notepads. They moved around the frozen and robotic figures as if no one could see them. Sometimes they changed something in the display. Others simply took pictures and talked to others. "What are they doing?" Dave asked Monique.
"Most of them are engineers, working to get everything right and operating as planned. A lot of the displays are really complex and things can break down. They fix them and also make sure nothing happens to the models when they are frozen while at the same time making sure their robo-suits work properly. Some of the suits have to be latex coated to appear like flesh and that makes the electronics fail sometimes."
"So, what do you do once everything is working right?"
"Everybody else sees if they can put a display up in the casino, to make the resort more appealing, like sort of a living wax museum. But we've had some nasty accidents in the past, failures in the dioramas, especially when things were rushed. There was one Easter that was an absolute nightmare. Now we try them out here first after we get Mr. Winson to agree to our ideas. If we can make it work, then we have the business people come down to see if the display can be worked into the casino somewhere." Monique smiled. "Sometimes we try things here you couldn't use in the casino." She pointed at another of the displays.
Dave looked at the next display titled "Almost Home," which had something like a mechanical baseball game going on with female players and umpires, with one frozen running while almost reaching home plate (Dave was happy the players were not doing other things that players do sometimes in baseball, like spitting on the grass). The striking difference was that none of the players had a stitch of uniform clothing on, though they did wear sox and shoes and team hats. He wondered abstractly if anyone worried about the teams getting mixed up.
The next display looked like a still-life orgy. It was somewhat like the strange display he'd seen before in the gallery under the mansion where the models had lycra suits covering their entire bodies. But this one was for everybody to see without any fabric in the way. The girls weren't wearing much of anything; a skin colored G-string being the most he could see, and they were doing just about anything and everything shown in the many books of acrobatic and extreme sexual positions. The teaching of the 'Kama Sutra' was only the beginning for this energetic and supple bunch. Some were holding poses Dave thought nobody could do, at least without being double-jointed. "Walker didn't think of that?!" Dave gasped.
"No, this little gem was our idea. I wouldn't pose in there, not without some serious limbering up first, but some people I know could, easily." Monique smiled slyly. "I know some of the girls in the pile there. It's hard to recognize them now because most naked bodes all look the same from here."
Dave wasn't beyond trying to recognize a few individuals in the frozen throng of arms and legs, breasts and other sexual organs.
A little farther along, there was a diorama done in an ancient Egypt theme with half-nude buxom servant girls and some very curvy-looking bandage-wrapped mummies, like a cooler imagining of the interior of the famed Luxor casino. Next to the display was a group of Harley-D motorcycles with several toned black-leather-clad girls, some showing a lot of toned tan skin, standing frozen around the bikes. Then there was something that looked like a water ballet but Dave didn't know how people could put a swimming pool that big into the casino floor and have it work, though it looked great here in prototype. Somehow they had 'gelled' the water to make it stand still along with the unmoving players. It was strange how the arcs of droplets in the air were all perfectly still.
"Here's something the engineers are really happy with," Monique said, pointing to some girls that danced really fast in a disco setting. "They are very happy they can get robo-suits to react that quickly. Something to do with new electronics and computers. The techs are really happy about these developments and not only because the models can move and dance around."
"How so?" Dave pressed.
"They are getting close to being able to mimic fully any natural movement. In the restaurants and shows, everyone expects an effect so if the girls move a little erratically or stop at inconvenient moments that's just part of the experience. We're planning to use the suits and feedback controls for more things too, like 'teaching' a dealer something complex such as pai-gow in a single night. Enough talk about those things for now; some of them are even unbelievable to us in R&D!" Monique remarked with a wry smile.
There was display like the Medieval Times restaurant, though the knights were more handsome than that restaurant had; some of them were also unexpectedly female. Dave looked at the low cut dresses of the serving wenches and liked them but it seemed as if the restaurant still didn't have any utensils. "When you're giving people Coke in a plastic glass, why not have forks and spoons?"
"Oh, that just makes it more fun, having someone act as your servant. You just have to let go sometimes." Monique replied. "But wait, there's more..." she continued, pointing to an entirely different set of dioramas.
She hadn't been kidding; there were many more fantastic sights to see. When Dave finally returned back to the casino level to try his luck with some of Walker's cash, the dazzling sights of the Platinum Comet seemed almost ordinary to him. Almost, but not quite.
Dave didn't see Walker at the casino until right before he had to leave. His uncle stopped him as Dave was about to board Walker's helicopter to go back to the city. The ever-efficient staff of gorgeous ladies had fetched his bags and loaded them into the chopper. In fact, one of the lovely maids, the dark-haired Yvette, had accompanied the flight to make sure all was in order. Like many of the staff, she had been frozen until needed. Sitting absolutely motionless in the back row, she looked like a very sexy mannequin from some European adult shop window. The two men conversed as if she was not there, which in some sense was true.
"So how do you like everything?"
"I still can't believe everything I'm seeing. Is this all real?"
Walker laughed. "It IS real; Yvette can pinch you, if you revive her. Sometimes I have a difficult time understanding this is all mine, even though I knew it was going on and approved the plans. I have to touch and feel everything now and again to say 'yes' to what I'm seeing too!" He looked at Dave. "You'll do that too when you are around so many incredibly lovely sights for as long as I have."
Dave nodded. He understood. "I hope I can come back here. There's almost too many things to see and many people to meet."
Walker smiled "I hope you do, too. Come back soon. The girls will not be going anywhere, that's for sure." They both chuckled.
A few days later Dave had gotten back to his aircraft carrier. His friend Nick looked up at him. "Hey Dave. How was your leave?"
Dave smiled. "It was good. It was very very good."
...To Be Continued...?