This red light district was different from others.
Though, on the outside it looked the same as any other.
The buildings here were made of red brick, short, compact and close together. Some of the buildings had fabric awnings of varying bright colors. Between the fat buildings were strings of paper lanterns, just as dazzling and bright as everything else in the packed corridors. The alleys were narrow, the streets were packed with humans, these alleyway side streets too small for cars, but ample for pedestrian traffic.
Outside the buildings and causing the roads to become even more narrow, were food carts and vendors selling cheap wares, the air was filled with the smell of fried food and sweetmeats. All around there was life and movement, the white noise of conversation was almost soothing.
It was barely misting outside, the pavement was wet but there weren’t any puddles, the stones beneath the hundreds of feet wet enough to reflect the bright colors of the lanterns swinging above. The awnings of each building gave a sense of privacy, intimacy, letting the narrow spaces stay bathed in the neon glow of a multitude of signs hanging from each building.
Zenyata made his way through the crowd like he’d been there a thousand times — but he had never been here before. But the map of the area he had downloaded the day before made it easy to navigate. He hadn’t told Genji where he was going but his sweet trusting sparrow let him go regardless with no questions asked.
They normally didn’t keep secrets from each other, and Genji had no reason to suspect Zenyatta would venture into the seedy side of the city. They had never been here before together, so why would this area ever cross his mind as places Zenyatta might go?
Now that isn’t to say he came here for any nefarious reason.
No, of course not.
He was actually here for Genji.
Not that Genji knew it but Zenyata had a hunch he’d be very excited about why he was there once he found out (well, maybe he’d express his excitement and curiosity after he berated him for being reckless and probably expressed his concern for not wanting him to ever go alone again).
Zenyata wasn’t dressed in his usual attire (that would make him stick out far too much). Instead he wore something more casual — loose black slacks, shoes, a long sleeve knit blue sweater and a heavy dark cloak that covered him from head to toe. He was hunched to conceal his height and face.
This wasn’t a side of town omnics frequented.
On each whore house doorstep stood a slender woman, most modestly attractive, each trying to entice new patrons inside. All of the women on the doorsteps were human, of varying heights and ethnicities.
Zenyata easily waved off any woman that looked at him for too long as he passed. He wasn’t looking for just any house. He was looking for one house in particular and for a very particular reason.
The Red Orchid.
Finally, he found the building.
It was shorter than the others, wedged between the other buildings like a fat brick dumpling. Above this house in white neon letters was the name written in Japanese.
Outside, there was a small Asian woman in traditional dress, her dark hair pinned up by elaborate combs and sticks. This place looked much different than the more western house fronts of the buildings he had passed earlier.
“We aren’t accepting any new bots.” She told him flatly, her smile having dropped once she saw the red light reflect against his metallic face.
“I am here for information.” He said, unfazed by her tactless brush off.
She looked around him, waited until customers weren’t looking then gestured him inside, “Madame Synth is in the back.”
Once inside, he was met with a boisterously colored interior. Dark lacquer furniture and more young women that were in similar dress and style to the decoy out front. All the women of the house were there at the parlor, lounging among silks and pillows, barely giving him more than a cursory glance.
Aside from being an omnic, their real disinterest was born from not needing to work.
This cat house, like all the others on the street did not dabble in human flesh. No, this one, like all others in this shady neighborhood peddled omnics.
Real sex bots, with synthetic human sex parts.
It was illegal.
Both in trade, and for an omnic to have any organic parts at all (synthetic or otherwise).
Omnics weren’t supposed to look like humans. They could not resemble them in any way. Just another way to keep the boundary between them from being blurred. It was why omnic rights were still pushed so far back. As long as they looked like robots, it was difficult to garner sympathy from most of the human population. Omnics (to most) were just as equal as a toaster to them, as far as they were concerned.
Human and Omnic marriages weren’t supported.
Relationships, relations, all taboo.
But prostitution and synthetic genitalia was illegal and punishable by “death” (or the destruction of an Omnic’s black box, whereas humans normally got a modest sentence).
Omnics in the sex trade were just a novelty. Just a sex toy that could walk and talk, respond to touch and endure anything the patron wanted. Unlike human women and men, omnics didn’t bruise, and could withstand torture and violent sex acts.
Zenyatta wasn’t naive to think humans came here to romance an omnic. They came here to live out fantasies, and sometimes those fantasies involved abuse.
This district, and many others around the world were facing boycotts. Both from humans (who felt a human prostitute had more value than an ‘unfeeling robot’) and from omnics who didn’t want to see their brothers and sisters exploited in a trade that could literally ‘kill’ them.
But, until omnics were given equal rights, until these shady parts of town were shut down, or until synthetic parts were available to the omnic general public--
Zenyatta just had to make due. He had a craving just like many other omnics did with human partners, and he desperately wanted to scratch that itch.
That was another reason why he hadn’t told Genji he was coming here — or why.
But he wanted to experience intimacy with Genji. Especially since they had made their relationship official. He wanted to experience that human need of the flesh that Genji so craved.
Zenyata wanted that soft, wet, warm place that Genji could sink into. He wanted to truly be one with his former pupil, to embrace that beautiful intimacy now that he’d found love — his soul mate.
So he was willing to go to such lengths to obtain the nearly impossible.
He was selfishly doing this for himself, but he was also doing it for Genji.
But it was also the reason he couldn’t tell Genji where he was going or why. The danger of it would have caused him to stand in his way, and he didn’t want that. He didn’t want to fight over this, because Zenyatta truly wanted it and he knew Genji did too (even if he didn’t admit it outright).
Zenyata walked with ease through the dimly lit parlour towards the back of the house. Down a slim hallway, past many shut black doors with red numbers until he made it to the end.
This last door was red with gold trim. More imposing than any other he had passed by so far. He hesitated to knock, fist raised when the door opened on its own. Slowly, it opened just enough for him to wedge himself inside. It was then he noticed the door was attached to some sort of mechanism that was also attached to several locks on the door. The thickness and security of the door reminded him of those in bank vaults.
The small space he was allowed into was a stark contrast to the parlour and the hallway he had just walked through. Where everything previous was very loud in color, caught the eye, and dispersed the attention between multiple things--
In here the furniture was traditional, just black lacquered wood with simple prints. There were paintings of the countryside on the walls, and a small brass ball hanging in a corner emitting fragrant smoke.
At a low desk, at the end of the room, sat an Omnic. She was very slender and tall with a flat teardrop shaped face. She only had one round green eye heavy set by a thick black line that could almost serve as eyeliner or the outline of one sharp eyelash. Her long fingers were decorated in silver rings as was her long neck. She was made of brass, polished so brightly Zenyata could see his reflection in the curve of her face. She was wearing a black kimono with the depiction of cranes in flight. The obi was the same hue as the metal she was made out of and tied with red chord.
The table in front of her was neat. Papers arranged perfectly, ink stones and brushes laid in just the right way.
There was nothing personal on the desk or in the room.
“Madame Synth?” His voice held an inclination of a question but he already knew who this was. She inclined her head and he took a seat in front of her, kneeling down on the white pillow there.
“Lower your hood and extend your arm.” She didn’t have a visible mouth, and there were no lights on her body aside from her eye, yet the voice came from somewhere -- soft and melodic like the song of the nightingale.
Zenyatta did as he was told, revealing his face to the omnic in front of him. He then extended his metal arm to which she grabbed his wrist once it was in range. Her long fingers touched along the side of arm, diving into the wires there that looked like veins.
“You’re an older model.” She commented, “Your personal data is only stored at the back of your neck then?”
He took his arm away when prompted and instead leaned forward, offering the back of his head and neck to the omnic in front of him, “It is, in the small access panel there.” He kept his head bowed as she probed this part of his body as well, “May I ask why you need access to this panel?”
He noticed when she picked up a wire attached to a small black box from beneath the table. She leaned forward to plug this device into his access panel, “Just a precaution. I need to check underneath your firewalls to be sure you aren’t a police spy.”
“If I was?”
Madame Synth laughed, the sound tranquil like a bubbling brook. “Well, if you were, this device would shut you down immediately and wipe your memory drives.” Soon, she unplugged the device and sat back neatly on her pillow. The black box and cable was stashed back under the table as if nothing had happened between them at all.
Zenyatta sat back and fluffed up the hood of his cloak though didn’t put it back on completely, “Had a lot of run ins with law enforcement?”
“At the start.” She said conversationally, “Now it’s more protocol than anything else. It’s been years since we’ve run into any trouble. But, I need to be sure.”
“Now, tell me why you are here.” She said, her focus completely on Zenyatta, the door behind them bolted shut and humming softly as if it were charged with electricity (it probably was).
“I would like to modify my body.”
She waved a hand, the sound like a ringing bell from the jewelry hitting her metal plating, “Specifics.”
“Well,” He started. “I would like genitalia that will allow me to have sex with my human lover. I would prefer a vagina, specifically.” He spoke as controlled as possible, even if he felt saying the words out loud was embarrassing.
“Just a vagina?” She asked, the way she said the words was both alluring and scandalous.
Zenyata tipped his head to the side to display his confusion openly. “I’m not sure—“
She held up her hand to stop him, “I will elaborate. I will refer you to the patron of all these illicit establishments. He owns all of the Omnic buildings on this street and he directly supplies and modifies us. I am in charge of the structure, the revenue, you understand?” She paused briefly, when Zenyatta nodded, “I will refer you, however you will only be modified once. If you have any issue with your new equipment, you will come here. But, you will only see the master once, and he will only fit you with the equipment once.”
“So I must make my decision.”
She nodded her head. “Yes. Be sure of exactly what you want. You can ask for anything, he can custom make anything, but you will only have one consultation.” She decided to add, “The price you pay is the flat rate for any modification. But, I’m sure you’re aware of the cost or you wouldn’t have sought me out.”
Zenyatta knew exactly what he wanted, “Yes, I understand.”
“Now, the payment.”
He reached into the breast pocket of the sweater under his cowl and pulled out a silver colored card. He handed it to her briefly, she lifted the card to her eye and scanned it. The transaction only took a few seconds and he was handed his card back immediately after.
She pulled out the drawer in front of her and removed a business card. The card itself was white, no text visible to the naked eye on either side. She took the small gold cylinder that was sat upright on her desk and dipped it in a pad of red ink. On one side of the card she pressed down the seal, the stamp looked like an orchid. She flipped the card over and handed it to Zenyatta. “The writing can be seen when you hold a flame up to the card. It will have the address of the master and the time you should meet him.” She continued, “After the meeting, hand over this card. Any further dealings will be with me directly, if you have any issues with your new parts.” She emphasized again.
“Okay,” He said, bowing politely to her one last time, “Thank you for your assistance.”
“You’re welcome, and good luck.” She said, the door opening just enough to let Zenyatta out.
He was that much closer to what he wanted, hopefully Genji wouldn’t come looking for him before his quest was finished.