tagSci-Fi & FantasyArena Ch. 02

Arena Ch. 02

bySanityCheck©

Immersion Playground

Book #2: Arena

Chapter 2


Friday morning Rick awakens to find Giselle still asleep in his arms. Most days he gets up and leaves for work well before her, but Friday mornings are different. Fridays he works at Immersion Playground, which means he gets to sleep in, or in the case of this morning, cuddle with Giselle.

"You're late," she mumbles.

"It's Friday," he whispers in her ear before kissing her there.

She takes a long deep breath, sighing in contentment as she wakes up, looking into his face while blinking the sleep out of her eyes. "I wish I could stay right here, with you, all day," she murmurs before kissing him lightly on the lips.

"I'm game if you are."

She stretches with a groan, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him in for a longer kiss. "I wish I could, but I have to go in today. Not only do I have work to do, but if I don't show up now, it'll only be worse when I do."

He looks at her for several moments before speaking. "I know. I wish you didn't have to go through this. It's not right."

"I know, but it is what it is. I'm kind of dreading it, and kind of looking forward to it, at the same time. There are a couple of younger women there that I hear bragging about how great their sex lives are while griping about men in general. That seems to be all they talk about. I'm sure they think of me as some dried-up old battleaxe. I wonder what they'll think of me now." She smiles with the thought.

"Why do you even care?"

"I don't. They just rub me wrong, that's all. It's almost like they have something to prove. Well, I'm not impressed, and it will be supremely satisfying to see their faces."

"I don't even know who you're talking about, but I already know they aren't even in the same league as you. What you did last night..." he murmurs, before his voice trails off.

"You liked that, huh?" she asks, smiling. "A little something I picked up from Charlie."

"You two are going to have to stop comparing notes. You're going to kill me," he says, though his tone suggests that if he's going to die, there are worse ways to go.

She giggles. "I was planning on doing that to you on your birthday. Well, not the blindfold part, but the rest of it. Now I'll have to come up with something new. Something for you to think about for the next two weeks." She kisses him once more quickly on the lips and then rolls out of the bed.

He can feel a tingle in his manhood at the thought as he watches her walk to the bathroom, admiring the view before getting up and slipping on his pajamas. While she showers, he prepares her a light breakfast of fresh fruit, toast, yogurt, and a cup of hot tea. He's waiting for the toast to pop when she comes into the kitchen, dressed and ready for work. He kisses her just as the toast springs out of the toaster. She settles into her usual spot and sips her tea while he quickly butters the toast before adding it to the plate and placing it in front of her.

"You know," she purrs, "I think I could get used to the idea of you fixing my breakfast each morning while wearing nothing but your underwear."

"Pajama's," he protests playfully. "They're pajama bottoms."

"Semantics," she says, waving away his protests before popping a slice of orange into her mouth and chewing slowly. "It's what I know is inside that interest me." She pauses, then changes the subject. "Aren't you going to eat breakfast?"

"I tried, but she was having none of it," Rick says with a smile, but then he picks up another orange and begins to peel it as he sits down in his own chair. "Normally I just skip it, but I have to admit, that orange looks pretty good."

"It's not bad, especially when someone peels it for you. Thank you for breakfast this morning. Normally I just eat a yogurt, so this is like a feast. I may find myself asleep and drooling on my desk later this morning."

"Unlikely. Are we still meeting for lunch today?"

"Yes. I'm really looking forward to it."

"What time should I pick you up?"

"Eleven-thirty. Maybe a little after. I'll ping you if I'm going to be late."

"I'll meet you out front. I'll come in the Aston and make all your friends jealous."

"That'll do it," she agrees. "The women will be jealous of me having you in my bed, and the guys will be jealous of the car in the garage." Her lips curve up in a small smile. "I like this plan. Wear shorts."

He'd planned on dressing as he normally would for work. Where Giselle wears a suit to work each day, he dresses comfortably in slacks, a knit shirt with the company logo embroidered on the left breast, and comfortable shoes. The suits are reserved for important clients and bankers, and not much else, but if she wants him in shorts, shorts it'll be.

"Will do."

She finishes her breakfast and, after sipping her tea for a bit longer, issues a dramatic sigh. "I have to go. Clients to meet, people to make jealous. Where do you want to go to lunch?"

"Why don't you surprise me when I get there?"

"Mmmm, maybe I will. Maybe we'll go to a motel for a quickie so and I can go back to work with a big smile on my face. That'd really start their tongues wagging."

He gets a leaping feeling in the pit of his stomach but barks out a quick laugh. "Yeah, I would get so lucky."

"Play your cards right and it could happen," she purrs in her newly-discovered sex kitten voice. "But not today," she finishes in her normal voice.

"Damn. My hopes dashed again," he says, but there's no mourning in his voice.

Giselle giggles as she returns to their bedroom to rinse her mouth clean and to pick up her stylish clutch. She meets him at the garage door on her way out and puts one hand behind his head, pulling him down for a kiss. The kiss is chaste but then she moves her lips to his ear.

"You know, that motel idea is sounding better all the time," she whispers. With those final words, she leaves for work.

He watches her enter the garage, and just as he closes the door, he hears her begin to giggle. Now how does she expect him to get any work done with that thought running around in his head?

He checks the time. If he hurries, he can just make it to work on time. He rushes through his shower, quickly dresses, and grabs his whitest tennis outfit to take with him. He'll make the bed this afternoon when he gets home.

***


Rick is opening the door to Immersion Playground as Charlie rolls her Porsche to a stop next to the Aston. He's surprised she's alone in the car. "Where's Todd?" he asks as she exits the vehicle.

"He's out looking at some tunic samples for the extras. He'll be in later," Charlie explains. Rick holds the door open to allow her to enter. "What's the matter? You don't look happy this morning."

"Giselle was called into see the partners yesterday about the immersion."

"Oh. I assume it didn't go well," she says with sympathy.

"It could have gone better, but they didn't fire her and she's too proud and stubborn to quit. So today should be an interesting day. I'm meeting her for lunch, both for moral support and to show everyone that she—we—are not ashamed of what we've done."

"Excellent. I can't wait to get the scoop from her," she says, settling into her office chair. "I know you answer all the mail, but Todd and I read it sometimes. If people could just read some of the letters, I think their attitudes about you and the company will change. I wonder if maybe we shouldn't put some of them in the store?"

"I know what you are saying, but I don't want to do that. Some of the letters are so private that I think we, the company, need respect that. Giselle's a fighter. She'll get through this. And if it gets too bad, there is an empty office at the end of the hall with her name on it. It's not going to be long before we're going to have to hire a lawyer, anyway. I had no idea of all the legal BS we have to go through. I'm starting to feel bad for Giselle as it is."

"Yeah, me too. Hopefully after today, she'll have another contract to write, though."

"That girl's supposed to be here at ten?" Rick asks.

"Yep."

"I may stick my head in and say hello, but after that I'll leave it to you. I'll need to leave by ten-thirty to pick up Giselle for lunch, and I doubt you'll be done by then."

"Probably not. I hope not, anyway," she agrees. "If we're done that quick, it didn't go well."

"Here's to a long day then. I'll leave you to get ready. I'm sure I can find something to keep me busy until ten," he says with a smile as he steps out of her office.

Rick spends the next forty-five minutes paying bills and answering mail when his link pings that someone has come in the front door. Once again he makes a mental note that they need to get another receptionist. Why does he have such a hard time remembering to ask Charlie about that?

His office is the third of four, and as he steps into the hall, he can see Charlie enter the hall at nearly the same time. Since she's closer to the lobby, he decides to let her greet Sierra. He returns to his desk to wait to for Charlie's ping.

Charlie opens the door to the reception area to see Sierra Pederson casually glancing around the room. At five-feet eight, Charlie isn't short, but Sierra was more than a few inches taller than her. Sierra's dressed in black and grey riding leathers, heavy boots, with her eyes hidden behind dark aviator sunglasses and a black motorcycle helmet tucked under one arm.

"Sierra? Welcome to Immersion Playground. I'm Charlie. Nice to meet you," Charlie says, extending her hand.

Sierra switches her helmet to her other arm and takes her hand. "Sierra Pederson. Nice to meet you," she says in a rich, throaty voice. Her handshake is firm, like a man's, but not crushing.

"Thanks for coming. Follow me please," Charlie says, opening the door to the office area and leading Sierra to the conference room. "Please, have a seat. Can I get you anything?"

"No thanks," Sierra says, sitting down and plunking her helmet on the corner of the table. She unzips the front of her leather top, pulling the zipper down far enough so that she can remove her sunglasses and hang them in the V of the zipper.

Charlie sends a ping to Rick, asking him to step into the conference room, and then begins. "Sierra, what do you know about Immersion Playground?"

"Not much," Sierra says, looking up as Rick enters the room.

Rick steps around the table and extends his hand, "Rick Chamfer. Nice to meet you, Ms. Pederson."

"Sierra, please," Sierra says, standing and taking his hand. "Nice to meet you, Rick."

He's immediately struck by how tall Sierra is. She looks him dead in the eye, which means she had to be at least 6'1" in her stocking feet, and she has a firmer handshake than a lot of men. Her dark eyes, angular features, and complete lack of makeup gives her face a severe beauty. Counter to that, her short hair, in disarray from the helmet, and tight riding leathers makes her look like the type of woman that could kick a man's ass, either in the bedroom or a back-alley brawl, whichever he prefers. He guesses her age to be somewhere in her mid-twenties.

"Thank you for coming by," he says, releasing her hand.

"Rick and his wife Giselle are the founders of Immersion Playground," Charlie explains.

"I was just telling Charlie here that I didn't know anything about your company. I've heard of it, of course. Who hasn't? But it wasn't until you called that I looked at your store. You sell some kind of adult immersion, but you don't call it that?"

"True enough, though you really need to experience it, I think, to get the full understanding of what we do. Charlie will comp you a copy," he says. "We're trying to do a follow up immersion and we're hoping you're going to be our female lead."

"You want me to star in a porn immersion?" she asks, her voice totally flat and devoid of emotion.

"Yes and no. Once again, you really need to experience our current offering to understand what we're trying to do with our next immersion," Charlie says. "But, yes, we will be asking you to be physically involved with a male co-star."

Rick gives Charlie a pat on the shoulder. "Sierra, again, nice to meet you. I'll leave you two alone to work things out. I hope to see you again," he says before he leaves the room.

Sierra watches Rick go, then returns to her seat, scratching her jaw. "My first reaction is to say no, but I have a friend that loves your immersion and has been trying to get me to try it for a while now. So tell me more about this and let's see where it goes."

"Before I can give you the details I'll need you to sign this NDA," Charlie says. "You should read it before you sign, but basically it states what I'm about to tell you can't be discussed with anyone outside of Immersion Playground until after the release of the immersion."

Charlie sends the non-disclosure agreement to Sierra, who signs it and sends it back immediately. Charlie takes Sierra's digital signature and saves it in case she needs to give her a complimentary copy of The Proposal later.

"Okay, now that you've signed the NDA, I'll tell you what we're trying to. Let me give you a little background since you haven't experienced The Proposal, our other immersion. The Proposal was recorded several years ago using prototype immersion recording equipment. You probably don't know this, most people don't, but Rick almost single-handedly created the immersion interface. He was also very instrumental in creating the net. Anyway, he recorded his marriage proposal to Giselle. That immersion is The Proposal."

"So why is there all this discussion about it being a porn immersion?"

"Because, after Giselle accepted his hand in marriage, Rick and Giselle made love on the beach under the stars. The whole immersion is unbelievably romantic and the sex..." Charlie pauses to look and make sure Rick isn't walking by. "The sex is incredible. I was lucky enough to be the first person to experience the immersion, outside of Giselle and Rick of course, and it was the most profound and moving experience of my life. Later my husband, Todd, experienced it, and it changed our marriage."

"So it is an adult immersion?"

"Well, we don't consider it so, not the way you mean. Most of our clients don't consider it so either, judging by the mail we get. Yes, there's sex, but unlike an adult immersion, these are two people head over heels in love, and that makes all the difference. If you noticed in our store, we don't even mention the sex. That's not the point of the immersion, though it is certainly a big part of it. Rick once said we could cut the sex entirely out of the immersion and not change it in any significant way. I agree with that statement."

"So why didn't you?"

"That's a reasonable question. The reason we didn't is because it isn't until after they've made love that you really get the full impact of how they feel toward one another. You've surely had that intense feeling of closeness after you've made love to someone, haven't you?"

Sierra answers the question with one of her own, not wanting to reveal how lonely she sometimes feels. "Okay, let's assume that I buy into all of this. What do you need me for?"

"Well, to be honest, we don't think we can do better than our initial release for an immersion of two people in love. So, we're trying something else. Outside of falling in love, what would you think is the next most powerful, positive emotion?" Charlie asks.

"Thrills. The thrill of impending death, and overcoming it."

"Right, the thrill of triumph. That's what we're trying next, but not the thrill of impending doom part. I found a picture of you hanging on a rock wall like a fly, and while you might find the prospect of falling to your death invigorating, I can tell you I wouldn't. So we're pulling back a little from that."

"In what way?"

"We are thinking of man versus woman in the oldest competition in the world."

"Fucking," Sierra says, the pieces starting to fall into place.

"Fucking," Charlie confirms with a nod.

Sierra leans back in her chair and studies Charlie. "Okay, let me ask you this. Why is this any different than any other fuck vid or immersion? And why me? You're hot as shit, so why don't you do it?"

Charlie smiles, both at the compliment and the insightful questions Sierra's asking. If she can win her over, she's found her gladiatrix.

"Because, I'm not the right type. Like The Proposal, the sex isn't the primary motivator for the immersion, though it will be a much bigger part than it was in The Proposal. Right now, Immersion Playground is known for an immersion for straight couples, so we're going with our strength. We need something where men and women can compete on, more or less, equal terms. We also don't want subjects that would alienate potential customers, so nothing where someone gets hurt or there's pain involved. Nothing scary, like hanging off a cliff wall. It also needs to be exciting, so no cerebral activities, like chess. So where does that leave us?"

Sierra grins. "Non-contact sports. And fucking."

"Right," Charlie agrees. "And which would you rather lay out your hard-earned money for? Getting all hot and sweaty chasing a tennis ball, or getting all hot and sweaty while you fuck your brains out?"

Sierra laughs. "Okay. Point taken. But that still doesn't answer why you can't do it."

"Part of the appeal of our immersion is that it's real. With this immersion we're going to make it as real as we can. Right now, we're building a replica of a Roman arena in an old orange grove a little south of Bakersfield. It's small, only sixty feet in diameter, but when it's done, it'll be our best guess to what a small arena, far away from the power and influence of Rome, might have looked like. We've had some professors of ancient history look over our plans and they admit it could look as we envision, though nobody will ever know for sure. In that arena our two... gladiators, I guess is the best term, will compete. The goal is to make the other submit, to be unwilling or unable to continue."

"Gladiators? You mean like Christians and lions and sword fights. That kind of gladiator?"

"Kind of, but without all the hacking and maiming. While we couldn't find evidence that the type of contest we're talking about actually happened, there isn't any real reason to think that it couldn't have. There's plenty of evidence that sex shows were performed between gladiatorial matches, so is it that big of a leap to think that those shows might have had some competitive qualities to them? What we propose is a contest, man versus woman. There's no script. We put the two gladiators on the field and record what happens. The last man, or woman, standing, wins."

"So let me get this straight. Two people go into this arena, and they fuck until they can't fuck anymore? What keeps this from getting out of hand?"

"Each person will have a safe word. We expect it to be rough. That is why we need someone like you and not me. But we don't want anyone hurt."

"Full contact fucking, eh?" Sierra says with an evil smile.

"I guess you could call it that."

"Who's the guy?"

"Don't have one yet. I'm trying to get the woman first because I knew it was going to be a much harder sell for a woman than a man."

Sierra scratches at the back of her head violently. "Would I have input into selecting the guy?"

"If you sign up, of course. There isn't much point in doing this if there isn't some spark, do you think?"

"What's the pay?"

"We have budgeted fifty thousand for one day of your time," Charlie says. They'd actually budgeted one hundred thousand, but no point in spending it all if they don't have to.

Sierra's eyes open slightly wider. "Fifty thousand for one day? That seems like a lot."

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