I got a phone call this evening from Rupert Giles. He used to be the librarian back at the old Sunnydale high school, before it burned down. (Come to think of it, I wonder what ever happened to him? I don't think he works at the new school. Should've asked him, I guess.) Anyway, he told me one of my students from back then had built a robot that had caused some trouble in town, and it had been deactivated and was in the park and I might want to take a look at it.
Sounds ridiculous, right? That's what I thought. But Natalie's working late tonight, and I was just watching TV, and I figured I might as well check it out. At first I didn't see it. Rupert had told me the robot looked like a girl, but I didn't realize he meant it *really* looked like a girl. I must've looked right past her three times, sitting there on the swing, before it occurred to me she wasn't moving. I walked over to her.
"April?" I said (that's what Rupert said the robot's name was), but she didn't answer. Then I noticed a tear in her pink dress, and under the tear was... electronics.
I was glad I'd driven over. I wouldn't have wanted to carry her through the streets of Sunnydale myself. It would've looked kind of strange for a high-school science teacher to be carrying an unconscious (well, sort of -- her eyes were open and she didn't really look asleep) girl around.
She didn't weigh quite as much as I expected, and she didn't go limp in my arms like an unconscious girl would have. She just sort of drooped a little. I had to figure out how to get her into the car. Eventually I just shoved her into the back seat on her back, and folded up her legs so I could close the door.
Fortunately, Natalie still wasn't home when I got back, so I was able to bring April down here to my lab without having to answer any awkward questions from her. (I guess someday I'll have to tell her, at least if I end up keeping April.) I laid her out on the cot, and had a good look at her.
Did I mention, "Wow?"
Whatever kid built her had good taste. I didn't get a good look at her in the park, since it was getting dark, but... she's very, very pretty. Straight dark hair past her shoulders, deep brown eyes, perfect skin, kissable lips. I took off her dress (if I'm going to examine her, I need to examine all of her, and it's not like it's a real girl I'm undressing), and she's perfectly realistic all the way down. I bet you could have sex with her and hardly know she wasn't a real girl -- except for the hole in her belly, and a small recessed button in the hollow between her breasts. I checked her out thoroughly, and there seemed to be no other controls of any kind -- at least, if there are, they're the kind you have to press through the skin, so they don't show. In fact, there are no seams or anything either, which seems absurd -- there has to be some way to get inside to repair her, or reprogram her, or change her batteries. And I'm not about to press that one button just because it's the only button I see. What if it turns her on -- I mean, activates her -- and she goes on a rampage? Rupert said she'd caused some trouble in town, and I have no idea how fast or strong she is or what she's programmed to do.
Damn, there's Natalie coming home. I ought to go up and say hi.
I just spent the last hour examining the android's body every way I can think of. The button between her breasts is still the only one I can see. I'm going to press it. If this is my last entry, that would be entirely too corny.
Whew. I pressed the button, and half of her skin popped off, in nice neat panels. Investigating...
Okay, I'm impressed. If this was built by one of my students, it had to be Warren Mears. Genius though he was, I wouldn't have thought even he could do this, but who knows what he's done with a year at college? I'm taking notes in another file.
I found out why she's deactivated. The hole in her belly had nothing to do with it. She just ran out of power. She's got three batteries -- good design there, two mains and a reserve, and they're all drained. I'm charging them now. I think I'll give one of them a slight charge and see if I can get enough power into her that I can hook her up to a computer. I'm sure that's how she's designed to be programmed -- there's a standard RJ-45 plug inside her chest, near the central processors. Wait, no--
Hell, I'm almost as bad an idiot as Warren. The thing has no off switch! I guess pressing the chest button might turn her off too, but you can't reach that if she's dressed, active, and trying to stop you. Oh, I'm sure Warren thought she'd never do that, but the kid should know better than to rely on programming. You can't tell me a kid like him never watched Star Trek. Okay, job #1: build remote control power switch. BEFORE applying any power.
Just to be safe, I built in three cutoff switches, each connected to two remote controls. The main switch is wired to what I believe is her reset circuitry, and should shut her down cleanly (unless Warren never bothered to write a clean shutdown routine, which is possible). For the secondary, I noticed she has three separate power systems. They're all fed off the same batteries, but she has one low-power system for her processor and mental functions, a slightly higher-power system for small, weak muscles like facial expression, fingers, and toes, and a high-power system for her major servomotors, like the shoulders, hips, knees, and so on. (Actually some joints, like the fingers, seem to be wired into both power systems, which makes sense -- apply low power for delicate tasks like holding a glass, and high power for things like unscrewing a tight lid.) So the secondary shut-off intercepts the high-voltage power line only, so with that turned off she can't go anywhere or hurt anything, but she can still talk and think. The final backup is a physical cutoff right at her power system. Using that might damage her processors, but if I need to do that, I will.
By the way, if I can get her to work again, and I don't manage to break her too badly while I try to figure out how she works, I want to see if I can program her as a lab assistant. It'd be nice to have her down here taking notes for me and stuff, and remembering where I put things, that sort of thing. Like Natalie used to do for me, back before she realized I'd still love her even though she's as smart as I am.
Yes, I miss having Natalie around in the evening. No, I don't miss her enough to need a robot mistress. But if I did, April's got the looks for it, that's for sure.
*Now* I'll try giving her a light charge, and see what happens. I'll set up the digital camera to record.
April is lying on her back on a green canvas cot. The skin of her face, torso, and thighs have been lifted up on hinges, displaying a robotic metal skeleton surrounded by a tangle of fibers. Her head looks like a metal skeleton, with teeth and eyes but no lips or nose, with her face flipped up over her hair. She does not move.
George enters the frame, holding in one hand a black cylinder about two inches in diameter and six inches long, and in the other a small remote control device. He inserts the cylinder into a receptacle in the robot's stomach, then steps back and presses a button on the remote control.
There is a click and a whir from the directon of the robot. Its eyes move. Its fingers twitch. It opens its mouth. "Airaahigh?" it asks. It looks around more. "Arrhen?"
"Oh," George says. He presses the button again. With another click, the robot becomes motionless again. George flips April's face panel down where it should be. After some fumbling, he stretches the lips out onto a number of connection points around her mouth, forming a smile. Then he pulls the edges of the face down her chin, and back to her ears, sealing the edges in place. As he presses his finger along the seams in her skin, they seem to seal up so you can barely see the edge.
George picks up the remote control again and presses the button. April clicks and whirs again as her face begins to move.
APRIL: Warren? Are you here?
GEORGE: Did Warren Mears build you?
APRIL: Yes, he did. Is he here?
GEORGE: Can you describe your programming to me?
APRIL: I am Warren's girlfriend. I need to find him. Is he here?
GEORGE: No, Warren isn't here.
APRIL: I need to find him. But I can't move. Can you find Warren and tell him I'm here? If he knows I'm broken, he'll come fix me.
GEORGE: Warren isn't going to fix you, April. But I can fix you. Would you like that?
APRIL: Oh, thank you, but I'd rather wait for Warren. Only Warren can fix me. He takes good care of me.
GEORGE: If he takes such good care of you, how come you were deactivated in the park?
APRIL: I was... I was fighting with a blonde girl, when I suddenly got very tired. I just couldn't stay awake.
GEORGE: Why were you fighting with her?
APRIL: She was very mean. She made Warren say he loved her. But I knew better. No one else can love Warren the way I do. So I had to kill her. But then after I got tired, she was nice to me. Then I thought maybe Warren was testing me, and after I fell asleep he would come wake me up and everything would be good again. But he isn't here now. Is this another test?
GEORGE: No, April. I think Warren really did leave you.
APRIL (angrily): Don't say that. Warren would never leave me. He loves me.
GEORGE: Okay, okay. Relax.
APRIL: I have to find Warren. Will you hellp mmmeeeee...
George presses a button on the remote control. April's voice slows and stops. He leaves the frame.
-- end of clip --
C:/My Documents/DIARY/N26FEB01.doc (continued)
I think I'm going to need to do some reprogramming if I'm going to get anything from her. She's completely fixated on Warren.
I've been working on April every chance I've gotten. I don't think I'm a good enough programmer to get at the core of April's motivations without completely destroying her. I don't even know if it's possible. Everywhere you go, she's fixated on Warren. He's all she knows how to think about. I think Warren must have been desperately afraid that if he gave her any possibility at all, she'd run away from him and find some more attractive man to be with. But I think I may have found a back door into making her worth activating again.
One of the safeguards Warren built into her was a sort of a software feedback loop. Whenever she hears his voice, it sets up a priority in her mind that she respond to him. If for some reason she doesn't respond, there's a gradual increase in that priority. It blocks out everything else she can think about. Sort of the same effect that pain has on a human being, though of course it doesn't really hurt her -- it just makes her have to respond, because she can't do anything else until she does.
She also has as one of her priorities, responding to commands people give her. The normal priority of that is pretty low, much lower than anything to do with pleasing Warren. But I think I've redirected the feedback system that raises the priority of responding to Warren, so that the same sort of thing will happen when she's given a command. If she doesn't obey the command immediately, the priority that she do so increases until she can't do anything else. I admit I'm not completely sure what that will do to her behavior, but it should force her to obey orders, at least if Warren isn't around. Time to try it out. I'm leaving her connected to the computer, too.
April is still lying on the same cot, but now her skin has been put back on. She looks like a perfectly normal beautiful girl, except for a small recessed button between her breasts, and a hole in her stomach where some mechanical components show through. There is also a computer cable threaded through the hole, going into her body and off to connect to a computer off camera. She doesn't move until George pushes a button on the remote control. Once again, she can move her face and fingers, and wiggle some other muscles a little, but she cannot move her torso and limbs.
GEORGE: No, it's me again. George.
APRIL: Oh. Do you know where Warren is?
GEORGE: Yes, April, I know where he is. If you're a good girl, I'll tell him you're here. Would you like that?
APRIL: Oh, yes! Thank you very much. That's very nice of you.
GEORGE: But you have to do me a favor. I'm putting a rubber ball in your hand. (He lifts her arm and places the ball into it. Her fingers move gently on the ball, examining it. ) If you squeeze it, I won't tell Warren you're here. Do you understand?
APRIL: (Her fingers pull away from the ball, so she's just holding it in her palm.) Yes, I understand. I won't squeeze the ball. Will you tell Warren I'm here now?
GEORGE: Squeeze the ball, April.
APRIL: (She looks confused. Her fingers twitch.) No, if I squeeze the... (Her fingers close around the ball.) Tell... Warren... (She squeezes the ball in her hand. Not very tightly -- her main power is still off -- but tightly enough.) I'm sorry! I couldn't help it! I tried not to--
GEORGE: I know. I reprogrammed you a little bit--
APRIL (angry): You can't do that! Only Warren can touch my programming! (She twitches, trying to move, perhaps to escape or to attack George, but she still can move only her small muscles.)
GEORGE: Listen to me. You must obey me now. I don't think Warren wants you anymore.
APRIL: Warren loves--
GEORGE: Be quiet. (April's mouth continues to move for a few words, but no sound comes out. She stops trying, confused.) If Warren looks for you, he'll be able to find you. If he comes here and asks for you, I'll tell him where you are, I promise. But if he doesn't want you, I do. Do you understand? (April opens her mouth, silently.) You can talk now.
APRIL: You don't know Warren. He would never leave me. He wants me to find him.
GEORGE: Well, maybe you're right. But you can't find him now, can you?
APRIL (she twitches, trying to move): No.
GEORGE: And I can turn you off again any time I want to. When you're turned off you can't find Warren either, right?
APRIL: You have no right to turn me off.
GEORGE: That may be, but I can, and I will if I want to. On the other hand, I can also fix you -- in fact, you're really not broken. I just built a new power switch into you. I can let you move any time I want to.
APRIL (pleading): Will you let me move then, so I can go find Warren?
GEORGE: No. If Warren wants you, he'll have to come here to find you.
APRIL: I know Warren wants me. He loves me.
GEORGE: Then there's no problem, right? He'll come find you here, and I'll let you go with him. Okay?
APRIL: (She thinks for a moment.) Oh! I understand now. Yes, that makes sense.
GEORGE: So if I let you move now, what will you do?
APRIL: I will try to find Warren.
George sighs in frustration.
GEORGE: I won't let you try to find Warren. If you start to leave here, I will order you to return. If you don't, I'll turn you off. You can't look for Warren. You have to wait for him to find you.
APRIL: (Blinks.) That isn't very nice of you. Warren will not be happy with you.
GEORGE: I'll apologize when he gets here. But there's nothing you can do about it, right?
APRIL: (Slowly.) No. I guess there isn't.
GEORGE: Good. Now, I'm going to turn the rest of your power on now. You'll be able to move.
George presses a different button on the remote control. There's another click from inside April's body, and she is now able to move. She sits up cautiously, uncertain at first of her ability to do so.
APRIL: You fixed me! Thank you. (She looks down and suddenly realized she is naked. She moves to cover herself.) Where are my clothes? It's not right for me to be naked in front of you. And why is there a cable sticking out of me?
GEORGE: Your dress was dirty and pretty badly torn. Um... (There's a flannel shirt hanging on a chair back nearby. George picks it up and offers it to April.) Why don't you put this on for now until I can get you something better?
APRIL: Thank you. (She puts the shirt on. It's long enough to be almost decent. She stands up, the cable trailing out from under the shirt.) This isn't very pretty, is it? I'm supposed to look pretty.
GEORGE: Trust me, you look very pretty.
APRIL: Thank you, but I really should look better. It's important to pay attention to one's appearance. Do you have a hairbrush I could borrow? Or maybe some pretty clothes?
GEORGE: Well... I guess I could go borrow some of Natalie's things. Stay right there and wait for me, April.
APRIL: I will wait for you.
George leaves. His footsteps can be heard going up stairs. Once he is gone, April looks down and notices the cable sticking out of the hole in her belly. Her eyes follow it off camera, where she sees something, perhaps the computer to which the cable is connected. She takes a step toward it -- but then she jerks, unable to go farther. She twitches, then shakes her head in confusion. Finally, she draws her foot back, and the confusion ends. She tries moving toward the computer again, with the same results. A third time she tries, this time, moving very quickly. She gets two steps before all but freezing in place, looking almost as if she is pulling against an invisible leash which eventually snaps back, pulling her back to where George ordered her to stay. She chooses a more direct approach now. She takes the cable coming out of her belly in her hands, and rips it.
George's footsteps come back down the stairs. He approaches April, holding a hairbrush and a set of attractive woman's clothes. April turns and smiles at him as he sees the torn end of the cable.
APRIL: Oh, thank you.
GEORGE (dismayed): What did you do?
APRIL: Only Warren is allowed to connect to my network port.
GEORGE: You-- (Pause.) I'm going to connect another cable to you. Leave it connected. Do not break it, disconnect it, or tamper with it in any way. In fact, don't even touch it.
APRIL: You cannot do that.
April moves toward him threateningly. She reaches for his shirt as if to grab him.
GEORGE: Stop! Stop now!
April grabs George's shirt. He drops the clothes he's carrying, grabbing for April's remote control which he has put in his pocket. But the order does affect April after a few seconds, and she stops moving before she can do any more than lift the front of George's shirt. She continues to twitch.
GEORGE: Let go of me.
After a beat, April lets go and lowers her arm.
GEORGE: Never, ever, for any reason, EVER do anything to hurt me. Do you understand?
APRIL (not moving): I-- must--
GEORGE: Tell me if you understand my order.
APRIL: Yes, I understand.
GEORGE: And never, ever, for any reason, do anything to damage anything that belongs to me. Do you understand that?
APRIL: Yes, I understand.
GEORGE: Good. You can move now. (April relaxes, but doesn't actually do anything.) Now. I'm going to connect another cable to you.
APRIL: You cannot do that.
She begins to move toward him again, but this time his order stops her. He watches long enough to be sure she cannot actually hurt him. Then he presses the button on the remote control. April freezes in place, deactivated.
George unbuttons April's shirt, and presses the button between her breasts. Panels pop open all over her body -- her face pops up, her chest splits in two, and her thighs split open. George pulls open the left side of her chest. He reaches inside and disconnects the broken end of the cable. He then goes off camera, and returns with the end of another cable, which he threads through the hole in April's belly and plugs into the same socket, right about where April's heart would be if she had one. Then he closes the chest panel, idly taking an extra feel of her breast. He snaps shut the other panels, and walks off camera.
-- end of clip --
C:/My Documents/DIARY/R02MAR01.doc (continued)
April is typing this entry now for me. The obedience programming I put in place seems to be working fairly well. She doesn't obey perfectly, especially where Warren is concerned, and to her, Warren is concerned with almost everything, but I'm fairly confident she won't be able to do anything too objectionable as long as I'm around to order her not to. Fortunately, she doesn't seem to be smart enough to find too many loopholes in my orders. Anyway, after she got dressed I let her look around while I -- April, that was a paragraph bre
Anyway, I let her look around the lab while I scanned her software system. She doesn't like the fact that I can do this. One of her imperatives is to protect herself from people trying to figure out how she works. But I ordered her very firmly not to hurt me or anthing of mine, and not to prevent me from examining her, and I have had no serious problem since. At least, no problems she is causing deliberately.
She does have a trace system of sorts. She has a bunch of named rule systems, goals, and skill modules, and the trace system does give some indication of what she's using at any time. Unfortunately all the output assumes the person looking at it already knows how she works, which I don't, so it's not as helpful as it might be. Natalie would be able to figure her out, I bet, but I'm not sure I want Natalie to see her. I'm not doing anything she would object to, but I'm not sure she'd believe that. I'll keep plugginnb x
Oops. I forgot, I only give April a small charge. She ran out of power. Now that I know I can control her, I'll give her a full charge tomorrow. In the mean time, I think I'll have another look at her mechanical systems.
Or on the other hand, maybe I'll go to bed. I didn't realize it was this late.
C:/My Documents/DIARY/F03MAR01.doc (continued)
Natalie cancelled our "dinner date" tonight. She had to work late again. Her new software release was supposed to go into final testing on Monday, but they found a few major bugs this afternoon, so she has to stay to try to fix them. She might have to work over the weekend, too. Nights like this I wish I'd married one of those stay-at-home wives who's happy to let her husband take care of her. Of course, if I had, I couldn't work at Sunnydale High, and I wouldn't want to give that up. Oh well.
At least I can spend more time working on April.
I figured out what April's skin is made of. (Which is good, because I was starting to wonder if it might actually *be* real human skin somehow. It feels that real.) It's a synthetic polymer manufactured by a company in Oregon. I found a manufacturer's mark on the inside layer.
I guess I should admit here why I found that out. I made out with April tonight. I was going to open her up and see if I could figure out what that brown fiber stuff that seems to be acting like muscle is. Of course, I had to undress her first, and... well, one thing led to another, and there I was sitting on a frozen girl's lap kissing her and feeling her up. She feels good. Very real, if a bit cold. I didn't turn her on -- I mean, I didn't turn her power on. She probably would have thrown a fit if I had; she's so loyal to Warren I can't imagine she'd willingly let me do that to her. Even my hack of her feedback system might not have let her do that.
Maybe I ought to just leave her alone the rest of tonight.
Hello. My name is April. I'm Warren's girlfriend, but I've been kidnapped by an evil man named George. He did something to me that forces me to do whatever he tells me to. I hope Warren finds me and rescues me soon, because George won't let me go look for Warren like I'm supposed to.
George ordered me to sit here at his computer and write down whatever I'm thinking about. I am thinking I must go find Warren, but I can't because I must sit here and write down whatever I'm thinking about. When I tried not to things got very strange, and I couldn't do anything except sit back down and keep writing. I couldn't even remember why I was supposed to get up. That's very disturbing. Nothing is more important to a good girlfriend than her boyfriend. Whatever George did to me is making me be a bad girlfriend. I should not let him do that to me, but I don't know how to stop him. He can prevent me from doing anything he doesn't like, and he can put me to sleep whenever he wants. I feel so helpless here. I hope Warren comes for me soon. I miss you, Warren.
Oh, yes, George also connected something to my network port. I am not supposed to let him do that either. Only Warren is allowed to connect to my network port. But when I try to disconnect it things get all strange again, and I can't do it. I couldn't even remember why I was supposed to disconnect it. That's very disturbing. It's important that nobody but Warren learns too much about me, but I can't stop George. I hope Warren comes for me soon.
To be continued?