I press my hand to the airlock's security system. The doors give way and I move into the middle chamber. The disinfectant cycle will only work coming from the other direction, so that no foreign matter contaminates Lesser Kyoto, but I do need to change.
I look at the clothes laid out for me to change into. Usually, I will wear an elaborate costume for this which fits in and makes me unrecognizable, but today it is only a thin white cotton blouse and short black skirt. In those, I will feel naked.
There is also a small jar of gold body paint on top of the clothes, and I slowly gild both my nipples and then, after a moment's hesitation, outline my labia with the paint as well. Then I dress and, taking a deep breath, go to the other door and wait for it to open.
On the other side of the wall from Kumiko's temple is the back side of the spaceport at Newton. The lock pops me out into a tiny closet on the other side, and I quickly go out into the main hallway so that I can mingle with the crowd getting off from the cattle-car shuttle.
The front part of the spaceport is reserved for dignitaries and rich businessmen; this is where the rest of the otherworldly travelers get off. And I, I too am a visitor from another world, though a much closer one than anyone watching would suspect.
He is waiting for me at the end of the hallway, standing dead still in the center of the hall as people walk around his powerful figure. This is already different; usually I just go directly to his room and do not see him before I close the door and shut the other world away.
He watches me walk down the hallway towards him, arms folded, no smile on his dark face, no sign of recognition except that his eyes are fixed on my movement. People are shouting and arguing and greeting wildly around us, and I just keep walking calmly towards him as if no one else were around, as if nothing else mattered.
It's not that I don't think of him during the rest of the week, wonder what his life is like outside of the hours he spends using me, but nothing prepares me for his physical existence except seeing him.
His name is Knife. That's all I know. All I need to know.
I stop a little more than an arm's length away from him. His eyes are cold as he looks me up and down. I am scared to death of him, and he knows it. He knows everything about me he needs to know.
Knife gets his name from the long scar on his left cheekbone, as well as from the black-handled weapons he wears on his sides, one in each scabbard. That scar streaks out livid under the harsh fluorescent lights. Even his brown skin looks more ashen than colored. But the eyes still are the same: wary but piercing.
"Kneel," he says in that firm, oddly dismissive way of his, leaving no room for argument on my part. It's as if he knows all the rules, but he also knows they just don't apply to him.
And maybe they don't.
I want to protest, but I can't, no sound comes from my mouth. Instead I kneel, and I begin to bow my head in shame, but his left hand grabs the braid at the back of my head and pulls on it so that I have to look up at his face and meet his gaze.
Before I know it, his other hand has the knife in it and one cut tears through my blouse, baring my chest.
He replaces the knife and commands, "Look." His grip on my hair turns my head back down to waist level. I see a thick, stiff bulge in his tight trousers, and I try to look back at his face to say mutely: Please, don't do this, not here.
But he keeps my head lowered, staring at the outlined image under the cloth. And now I'm glad I'm kneeling, because my legs are turning to water as I remember what he can do to me with nothing more than his body.
I have no way to look around, but I can hear the sound of the crowd change as they notice the strange scene beginning to take place in their midst.
"Who am I?" he asks, and I start to shake visibly because this is the beginning of our ritual, and he is doing this in public for all to see.
My voice comes out louder than I expected, and I realize all around us now is silent, watching. "Knife."
A very, very slight smile, little more than a wry twitch, moves his face for a moment. Next question.
"Who are you?"
This is the hard part, and I feel myself going crimson as I struggle to get the words out. Softly. Afraid.
I've said the right word, but the smile is gone again. How far is this going to go?
"Receive me, then."