A blonde woman wearing a short green dress entered the nightclub. It was already a busy evening, and all new patrons were immediately assaulted by a fog of pheromones and perfume, as well as the throbbing vibrations of the sound system as it blared loud music. However, the blonde didn't seem affected by all this stimuli. She mingled with the crowd, observing the bustling activity around her, but it was clear that she was seeking out something—or someone—in particular.
To her right, a wingless S'kytri was crammed into a booth. With her lute resting limply on her lap, the green nymph looked like the very portrait of tragedy. As the blonde continued her trek across the club, a Garhoon walked past her, tugging an obviously hypnotized man toward the lift. Her victim followed along with a dopey smile on his face, either blissfully unaware or perfectly willing to be enslaved.
The blonde did a double take as she caught sight of what looked like a Ghostling woman floating among the patrons, humming quietly to herself as she darted away from hands that grabbed and jabbed at her. Their shots usually missed, except for one that made the blonde cringe—but the Ghostling merely shimmered faintly and continued on her way. She was only a hologram of a Ghostling, not a real one.
Finally, the blonde made her way to the bar. In one corner, a crowd of people were all focused on the same thing. It took some maneuvering, but she was finally able to see what it was they were so enamored with: a bespectacled blue Twi’lek was sitting at a table, surrounded by ardent admirers of her... knitting? She wasn’t sure what the fascination with the Rutian was, but she didn't have time to stay and find out.
Her attention was drawn to a man standing nearby. He wore a semi-formal suit and tie, and his dark brown locks were perfectly combed with not a hair out of place. Catching her eye, he looked back at her. His gaze had a curious vacancy to it.
Not one to be deterred by a slightly creepy stare, she sauntered over to him and bluntly asked, “What’s your story?”
“I am an Advanced HRD, or human replica droid,” he replied. “I am the property of the owners of this establishment.”
“Wow.” She looked him up and down. “Don’t think I’ve ever met an HRD before. May I touch you?”
“If you like.”
Cautiously, she reached out and touched his shoulder, then gave it a playful nudge. “You feel real. And you certainly are a handsome fellow, with those big brown eyes...”
“Thank you,” he replied politely. “But if you intend to purchase my services, I must inform you that I do not work here in that capacity.”
She smirked. “Pity. What is it that you do here, then?”
“I function as a club bouncer.”
“Do you enjoy it?”
“I am not programmed to discriminate in that area.” The HRD inclined his head. “If you meant to ask if I would rather participate in certain scenarios over others, I have only one preference—that I am not damaged in the process.”
Though he didn’t emote much, she got the impression that it was something he had dealt with recently. Her gaze softened. “Of course. Everyone is programmed to survive.”
“Sentient beings are not programmed.”
“Well, maybe not by software makers in a lab somewhere—” She sighed. “Never mind. It’s only a turn of phrase, not literal.” She took a step closer. “Do you have a name?”
“I am called Ayreon,” he replied.
She raised an eyebrow, studying him closely. A smile crossed her lips once more. “Well, Ayreon, I’m actually looking for someone, and I was wondering if you could help me. She just started working here about a month ago—perhaps you know her. Her name is Inanna Hoole .”