Valentine Weis is a wasteland salvager, taking on dangerous retrieval jobs across the southwest. But Valentine is weary; he can’t endure much more of living in a van that reeks like socks, fighting land pirates and wrestling with body dysphoria. He yearns for the gleaming metropolis of Salt Lake City, where the testosterone and surgery he needs to transition are free, the food is plentiful, and pirate arrows through the chest are much less of a concern. But despite saving every penny from salvage jobs and cutting corners on food and essentials, earning enough money for a Salt Lake City visa remains insurmountable. So when a handsome stranger named Osric extends Valentine an invitation into the city to discuss a mystery job—with a visa as a reward upon success—it’s almost too good to be true.
But Osric is no ordinary messenger. Once a powerful AI extending through the city’s network, he’s been demoted into an android body too hot for his own good and no longer treated with the dignity he deserves. Valentine’s big heart and their shared predicament of being in bodies that don’t match their identities drives him to head to Salt Lake not only for a solution to his own problems, but Osric’s.
The job itself is intriguing: a local escort service offers android companionship, but all of the “ladies” are missing. Finding the androids is the easy part. The problem is they’re becoming self-aware, and they don’t want to return to the city.
If Valentine and Osric bring them back, Valentine will receive his visa, and Osric can access a programmer to insert him into the city’s network. But carrying out the mission would go against everything Valentine stands for. He’ll need to risk his own dream in order to ensure that the AI also have the chance to live as their true selves.