The four of them stood staring in open-mouthed shock at the huge crowd of people surrounding them. Finally Syrie turned to his sister and said, "Sis, I love ... well, no, actually right now I hate you, but in either case sometimes you are an idiot."
"But I was so sure," was all Aerie could say in reply as she continued to stare at the scene around her.
For her own part Sammy was babbling as she stared at the mobs of people around her. "I must be dreaming. Someone pinch me and wake me up, I'm having a nightmare. I must be dreaming. Someone pinch me and wake me up, I'm having a nightmare. I must be dreaming. Someone pinch me and wake me up, I'm having a nightmare. I must be dreaming. Someone pinch me and wake me up, I'm having a nightmare. I must be dreaming. Someone pinch me and wake me up, I'm having a nightmare. I must be dreaming. Someone pinch me and wake me up, I'm having a night-."
Aerie finally snapped and slapped Sammy on her ass. "Snap out of it! You are not dreaming! This is very real."
"Hey, don't go off on her," Syrie said, rounding on his sister. "This is all your fault!"
"But I honestly thought this was a convention for people with fur coats," Aerie protested.
Aerie pointed up to the giant banner hung from the domed ceiling of the vast convention center which read, '231st annual Palisadae Furs Convention'. "This is a tropical resort. Who in their right mind would wear heavy fur coats to this place? Well, other than us four that is?" Syrie gave his sister a look of utter disgust.
"Yeah, I have to say I'm sweating my ass off," Sammy agreed. "And that's not hyperbole. Sweat is quite literally rolling off my ass and running down my legs. I could probably wring a liter of sweat out my socks right now."
"I have to say I myself am quite comfortable," Verdandi said.
"Hey, if you think we have it bad just imagine being in a fursuit like all these motherfuckers" Aerie said. "So stop complaining."
"What is the purpose of this gathering?" Verdandi asked. "Is it a religious observance?"
Aerie laughed. "Yeah, it's the kind of religious observance that usually ends with guys in fursuits sodomizing each other. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just that fursuits make me itchy."
"Sounds like you've done this thing before," Sammy said.
"Oh, a very long time ago," Aerie said. "Before you were born."
"So you knew exactly what this convention was about!" Syrie said, his girlish voice brittle with anger. "You're always doing something like this!"
"I said it was a long time ago," Aerie replied. "I honestly had forgotten about the whole furry scene until just now. I promise I'm not jerking your chain this time. Honest!"
"Are we really supposed to believe-"
"What, do you expect me to remember every single sexual encounter I've had in the last two centuries?" Aerie demanded. "I really forgot, so give it a rest already!"
Sammy shrugged out of the heavy mink coat she was wearing. "Kids, can we stop arguing for now? We're drawing attention and frankly it scares me."
Indeed, a number of nearby people in bearsuits, catsuits and a lone bunnyfur were looking them over. From somewhere in the crowd someone muttered, "Mundanes," and the crowd of furs seemed to close around the quartet.
Sensing the potential for violence Sammy dropped the heavy fur coat she was holding and stepped away from her companions in order to give herself room to maneuver. She shifted her feet apart and brought her fists up into what could be best described as a ready stance. She didn't like the idea of starting a brawl with a bunch of civilians but if a brawl started she fully intended to be the one to finish it.
However, it turned out to be unnecessary when Aerie intervened. "Boy, am I glad to see you guys," she called out. "See, we just got in from Hoth and our luggage got lost on the way so now we don't have any fursuits. We were hoping that maybe someone could point us towards an enterprising tailor or seamstress that could maybe, you know, turn these fur coats into suits." She regarded her companions with a sorrowful look. "I guess we'll have to settle for being minkfurs for the time being."
"Why didn't you just wear your fursuits during your trip?" a bearfur asked.
"Couldn't," Aerie replied. "The cruise line wouldn't allow us to. Said it would make the other passengers uncomfortable."
There several sympathetic and knowing nods among the furs surrounding them and a few mutters of, "Fursecution."
"You don't have to settle for being a bunch of minkfurs," the bunnyfur said helpfully. "There's a fursuit flea market here. At conventions this big there's always furs looking to try a new fursona or trying to sell old fursuits so they can get enough money to upgrade to a higher quality suit."
"Somebody else's old cast-offs?" Aerie said, wrinkling her nose in distaste. "I don't think so. I don't relish the idea of crawling into some ratty stinky old bearsuit some guy has been sweating in. Hell, just having the words 'fursuit' and 'flea' right next to each other in a sentence is making me all itchy."
"Well there are a number of custom made vendors here if you don't mind spending the money for new," the bunnyfur said. "However, it might be helpful if you told me what your fursonas are first."
"Well, I'm a foxfur," Aerie said. She pointed at Syrie. "My brother here is a platypusfu-"
"I am not a platypusfur!" Syrie yelled. "I'm a bunnyfur, just like you," he told the bunny suited boy.
"Brother?" the bunnyfur repeated, confused. "So you're actually a boy?"
"I am not a boy," Syrie said. "I'm just a girl who happened to be born with the wrong equipment."
"That's great Syrie," Aerie said, "now shut up. As I was saying, Verdandi here is a mousefur and Sammy over there is a baboonfur."
"Baboonfur?" Sammy said in surprise, turning to look at Aerie.
"Don't be shy now," Aerie said to Sammy. "Nobody here is going to judge you just because you like to let your bare ass hang out of your fursuit."
"Excuse me but I do NOT like letting my ass hang out in public!" Sammy shouted.
"This is a furry convention, hardly any of the guys will even bother to look," the bunnyfur said. He put an arm around Syrie's shoulders. "You on the other hand ... well let's just say that a cute cross-dressing bunnyfur is exactly my type. Now let's see if we can't find you a proper bunnysuit."
Syrie gave his bunnysuited would-be suitor a smile. "I put myself in your hands, Mr... ?"
"The name is Chaz," the bunnysuited boy said. "No 'Mr.' needed or desired. And I think that my hands are very good place for you to be."
"Yeah, that's great," Aerie said. "But what about the rest of us?"
"Hmm, well you being a foxfur might be difficult," Chaz said. "Not many furries have fox fursonas so foxsuits aren't in much demand. You can get a foxsuit but it will cost more."
"Money is no object," Aerie informed him.
"In that case everything just got a lot easier."
The young woman looked up at the three girls from the metal folding chair she was sitting in behind the table of her vendor's booth. "Well, dears, that indeed is a tragic tale. Of course, I can't be too sad about it seeing as how your misfortune is turning you into customers of necessity."
"So, no problem?" Aerie asked. She read the woman's nametag. "You can take care of us ... Stacy?"
"No problem," Stacy assured her. "Custom fursuits are our specialty after all. Now we need to take measurements. Which one of you ladies would like to go first?"
Aerie gave Sammy a push. "Here's your first volunteer."
"Damn it, Aerie," Sammy cried out. "Why not go first yourself?"
"Stop whining and just do it," Aerie commanded.
Stacy put a hand on Sammy's arm. "Nothing to be scared of. I'll just take a few quick measurements and then you'll be done. Just head on into the changing room and strip down. I'll be right with you in a few moments."
"Strip down?" Sammy asked. "As in get naked?"
"Well you can keep your bra and panties on of course," Stacy replied.
"Don't be so shy," Stacy said with a laugh. "You don't have anything I haven't already seen hundreds of times before."
"Yeah, well, I bet you haven't seen anything quite like me before," Sammy muttered under her breath as she complied with Stacy's directions and stepped into the changing room.
Moments later Stacy stepped into the dressing room with a measuring tape in hand. "Oh, you didn't need to get completely nak- Oh my! That certainly is big. Ummm ... you are a Futanari? Yes?"
"Yup, that's me," Sammy said. "Just your everyday friendly furry Futanari. Look, can we just get this over with so I can get my clothes back on and get out of your hair?"
"You have nothing to be ashamed of," Stacy said. "The human body is a beautiful work of art."
Sammy jerked her thumb towards the dressing room door. "There are fifteen thousand people out there who don't agree with you."
Stacy laughed. "What? All of them? I doubt it. Sure, they might like getting into fursuits but I really doubt it means they hate the human form." She absentmindedly scratched her head. "Well, I think they like the human form just fine. They just prefer it covered with fur."
"And you?" Sammy asked.
"This is a living for me," Stacy said. "I don't fursuit."
"Oh, kinda like being a drug dealer who is also a user is bad idea?" Sammy asked.
Stacy stared at the Futanari, her expression unreadable. "You are a strange girl. It's nothing like that. I'm just not into fursuiting is all. Anyway, we've wasted enough time. Ready for me to take your measurements?"
"Yeah, let's get this over with," Sammy said.
"Absolutely. Just one more thing," Stacy said. She opened the changing room door and stuck her head out. "Hey, anybody want to see me measure Sammy's fat juicy futacock?"
"Hells yeah!" came back Aerie's excited reply. A chorus of voices also replied in the affirmative.
"I call dibs on sucking her off!" a male voice cried out.
"Bullshit!" Aerie snarled in reply as she squeezed through the door, pushing Stacy aside. "You keep your filthy llamafur mouth away from my girlfriend!"
"How the hell do I let you talk me into this?" Sammy complained, dressed in her baboonfur suit. She had strategically placed her back up against the wall near the convention center's main entrance while she awaited the first opportunity to make a quick exit.
"Now don't complain," Aerie said. "You look sexy in that suit."
Sammy gave the Pixie a look of simmering rage. "I do NOT look sexy! Nobody could possibly look sexy in this damn getup. I look like an idiot is what I look like."
"Well I think you're wrong," Aerie said. "C'mon and turn around. Let me see that sexy ass of yours."
"This is just stupid," Sammy grumbled. "Fucking fursuits. A waste of my damn time."
"Are you saying fursuiters are stupid?" Aerie asked dangerously. "There are at least fifteen thousand furries here. Fifteen thousand sensitive furries who will react badly to any perceived 'fursecution' from 'mundanes'. Do try to avoid starting a riot here."
"I can take of myself," Sammy said, still sulking.
"I'm worried about that baboon fursuit you're wearing. I paid over three hundred Imperials for that thing!" Aerie snapped. She snuck a hand behind Sammy's bottom and pinched the Futanari's naked rear-end. "Now get out there and mingle!"
Sammy jumped in surprise. "Hey now, just wait a min-"
Aerie slapped Sammy on the ass. "Mingle I said!" She turned to the mouse-suited Verdandi. "Watch her. Make sure she doesn't do anything stupid and start a war."
"I'll do my best, Ma'am," Verdandi promised. "But I have a question about being a mousefur."
"Sure, what is it?" Aerie said.
"In popular media, mice are generally portrayed as being fond of eating cheese," Verdandi said. "Will I be required to eat cheese? I'm a little worried about-"
"No, you won't need to eat anything at all," Aerie replied.
"So what will you be doing while Verdandi is watching me mingle?" Sammy said.
"Since this is a furry convention I thought this would be a good chance to score some hot gay furry sex comics," Aerie told her.
Sammy rolled her eyes. "I'd ask if you were serious but I already know that you are."
"Yup, now go forth and show these furry lovers how sexy a non-hairy ass can be."
Mingling turned out to be nothing more than wandering around with Verdandi in tow. She had admit that Verdandi was quite cute in her little mouse suit and she noticed a number of other furs staring at the girl longingly. Apparently not all furries were gay.
"Verdandi, you said that you are an autonomous thinking machine, right?"
"That's right, Sammy, I am," she answered. "Do you dislike thinking machines?"
"Huh? No, not at all," Sammy assured her. "What I'm curious is whether you have any emotion plug-ins. Like Charlotte has had software upgrades over the years. One being a humor plug-in. Although given her rotten sense of humor the plug-in seems to be buggy."
"Oh no, software upgrades are impossible for me," Verdandi responded. "Unlike most thinking machines I am not a positronic device. I am a purely mechanical device."
"You mean like levers, gears and springs?" Sammy asked, stunned by the concept.
"Yes, exactly," Verdandi said, nodding her head.
"You're a sentient thinking machine but with no software?" Sammy said. "How does that even work?"
"Well I could offer a technical explanation but to simplify things you can think of my brain as a very sophisticated and complex acabus."
"A bunch of little moving bits of metal?" Sammy said, shaking her head as she tried to process the concept. "How can a purely mechanical machine be self-aware? A bunch of little bits of metal that somehow achieved sentience? Doesn't seem possible."
"Why?" Verdandi asked. "The human body itself is merely a machine. An organic machine. The elements oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen comprise seventy eight percent of the human body. So over three quarters of your body are made up of elements that are a gas at temperatures that support life. A sentient machine made of metal bits seems just as plausible as a sentient gasbag."
"Yeah, but as you know most of the oxygen and hydrogen in the human body come in the form of water," Sammy pointed out. "Which is a liquid at temperatures that support human life."
"Your point being that the human body is much more complex than just a bag of separate elements," Verdandi said. "The parts combine to make a complex organism that is much more than just the sum of its parts."
"Uh, yeah, I guess I was," Sammy said. "Okay, I get your point. I don't know how your mind is possible but I have to accept that it exists. After all, I can't explain how it is that I'm a self-aware sentient being. Yet I exist."
"Indeed you do," Verdandi said. "And in many ways I am jealous of you. I may be sentient but you can experience life in a way I can not. In fact, properly speaking I'm not alive; instead I merely exist."
"What about 'I think therefor I am'?" Sammy asked.
"Oh, I don't doubt my existence," Verdandi said. "However, I realize that my experience is limited compared to humans. I don't have human emotions nor do I really understand them. And I'm not equipped to experience sensations such as pain, hunger or pleasure. As much as I have come to value my time spent with different humans I know that I can never fully understand any of you."
"Sounds very lonely," Sammy commented.
"I'm aware of the human condition of loneliness," Verdandi replied, "but it's not something I can experience. So no, I'm not lonely."
"I don't know whether to pity you or be jealous of you," Sammy said. "On one hand you will never know intimacy or ... make love to anyone. However, you will also never have to experience the painful emotions of loneliness, grief or heartbreak."
"If by 'make love' you mean sexual intercourse then I have made love," Verdandi told Sammy.
"Huh, but you said you weren't equipped to experience pleasure, surely you meant sexual pleasure as well," Sammy said.
"That's right, I'm not," Verdandi agreed. "However, I am equipped with functional replicas of sexual organs which I have put to extensive use. Although I don't know if you could call it truly making love in my case. I'm aware of the human emotion of love but-"
"You're incapable of feeling it for yourself, yeah, I get it," Sammy said. "What I do isn't making love either. I'm more of 'fucking' person than a 'making love' person. I just used the term because it sounded more ... artistic I guess."
"Are you an artist?" Verdandi asked.
"Only if drawing stick figures in various sexual positions is considered art," Sammy replied. "But tell me, if you get no pleasure from having sexual relations then why do it? What's in it for you."
"The primary reason for my existence is to learn about humans," Verdandi said. "Much can be learned from a person when they are in the throes of sexual passion. And there is also the fact that I have learned to value helping people."
Sammy was taken aback. "Helping people? By having sex with them?"
"Of course," Verdandi said. "Is not sexual need still a need? In fact the argument can be made that sex is almost as basic a need as food, air and water. After all, no species can survive long without reproduction."
"So you're just doing a good deed," Sammy said, amused at the idea. "But instead of selling cookies to fight cancer you're spreading your legs to fight sexual frustration."
"If not for Aerie I would ask you if you were in need yourself," Verdandi told her. "For somewhat ulterior motives. Not many of you Futanari leave your home star system so the chance to see how you are while having sex would be a rare opportunity."
Sammy waved her hand in dismissal. "No thanks. I like my partners to be active participants. No offense to you but I don't want to fuck some robot who's just lying there."
"Oh but I'm not like that at all," Verdandi protested. "For one thing I have watched hundreds of hours of instructional programs on sex."
"There are instructional programs on how to have sex?" Sammy asked.
"Oh yes," Verdandi answered. "There is a near infinite amount of instructional sex programs. I think the popular term for them is 'pornography'."
It was late when Sammy and Verdandi made it back to the hotel suite they were sharing with the Pixie siblings. Opening the door Sammy found that the suite's main room was empty but she could hear the sound of someone moaning coming from the room she shared with Aerie. "Huh, she goes and says that I'm her girlfriend but apparently that doesn't stop her from fucking someone else when she feels like it."
"Most humans think of being a boyfriend or girlfriend as being an exclusive relationship," Verdandi commented. "However, I think Aerie is an exception to that."
"No shit," Sammy retorted when Aerie's moan of, "Fuck yeah, you're gonna make me come," came from the bedroom. "I imagine that Aerie sees herself as having a near-infinite amount of potential boyfriends and girlfriends. Pretty much any mammal with a heartbeat is qualified to be her fuck buddy. Or any mammal shaped robot for that matter. As long as you are anatomically correct of course."
"I'm sure this doesn't change the fact that you are important to her," Verdandi said.
"Yeah, so important that as soon as I was gone she went and found someone to fuck," Sammy said. "Well, I'm not about to sit around here and listen to my 'girlfriend' fuck some guy in a fursuit."
"I'll keep you company," Verdandi offered.
Sammy shook her head. "No offense but right now I think I'd rather be alone." She opened the door and stepped back out into the hallway before slamming the door shut behind her.
She wandered around the convention aimlessly until she happened to run across a booth selling graphic novels. "Baboons of Darkness? What the hell?"
The monkeyfur sitting at the table looked up. "Well Apes of Darkness was already taken of course. So instead we decided to do a story about a bunch of sexy baboons having hot butt sex with each other. Too bad that there aren't that many baboonfurs though. We've been looking for a baboonfur mascot. No success until now."
"Uh, I'm not so sure about that," Sammy said, putting her hands up in refusal and backing away from the booth.
The monkeyfur put his hands together and pleaded. "Look, I'll get down on my knees if it helps. Hell, I'd blow you but I'm not really into girls-"
"Funnily enough, I come equipped with a real live cock," Sammy interjected.
"Holy shit!" the monkeyfur said. "You must be that Futanari that everyone is talking about."
"People are talking about me?" Sammy said, suddenly feeling sick.
The monkeyfur vigorously nodded his head. "Yeah, you're a real hot topic right now. Look, now you have to be our mascot!"
Sammy shook her head. "I don't think so. I really don't feel like-"
"I'll pay you."
Sammy considered for a moment. "How much?"
"Well, I can't pay you in actual money," the monkeyfur admitted. "But I will give a copy of the Baboons of Darkness graphic novel and I'll buy you dinner."
"That's an incredibly good offer but no," Sammy said, turning to walk away.
"Offer to give you a blowjob still stands."
Sammy stopped in mid-stride. "You have really excellent timing. My girlfriend is up in our hotel room fucking some guy. So getting my cock sucked by a complete stranger seems only fair-"
The monkeyfur was beaming. "Excellent! Just let me find someone to watch my booth and we'll start with my payment."