Hotline

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____ 2 days before start of classes, 1:00 pm ____

Ashley walked briskly down the hall, checking the numbers on the doors she passed. Rose hobbled along behind. The fembot was laden like a pack mule, carrying a bulky assortment of suitcases and duffel bags. "Just reminding you that this exceeds my rated weight tolerance." "Yeah yeah. You don't have to tell me every minute." "I'm programmed to warn you every sixty seconds. I literally do have to tell you every minute." "Remind me to adjust that setting later. In the meantime I'm commanding you to stop issuing warnings." "Just try to remember I'm a sex bot, not a forklift." "Don't say that too loud around Lori. You might end up being the first sex-forklift." Rose rolled her eyes. "How many roommates are we going to have, again?" "Just one. She'll have her own bedroom. The academy apartments each have two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a big living room, all furnished! Also, the roommate will probably be an underclassman." "How do you know?" "They try to put underclassmen and upperclassmen together. Some kind of mentoring thing. I guess they hope some knowledge and maturity will rub off. Ah, here it is. Apartment 418."

Ashley opened the door for Rose, who hastily stepped inside and put the bags down in the living room. Ashley stepped into one of the bedrooms. "Dibs on this one, I guess. I wonder if I should set up the work bench in here, or in the living room." She heard Rose's voice in another room: "Oh sorry I didn't know you were... uh, Ashley, you might want to see this." Ashley rushed over to discover the source of Rose's confusion. Standing in the bathroom was a naked fembot, frozen in place, staring into the mirror. Her chest panel was open and one of her hands was reaching inside. Rose spoke first. "Our roommate, I presume?" "Looks like it." Ashley leaned closer to examine the inactive fembot's open panel. "She seems to have... disconnected her battery." "Why would she want to do that?" "No idea. I'm gonna reconnect her." Ashley reconnected the battery, then stepped back, taking a moment to examine the fembot as it booted up. This was a brand new, custom design. She guessed it was a modified IVR-Z6 series, but she would have to take it apart to be sure. She was a little taller than Ashley, with an athletic build and a well-endowed bust. After a few moments of gentle clicks and whirrs, the fembot gave off a single beep, then jumped back to life.

"Gah! Oh geez, you snuck up on me!" Ashley raised her hands defensively. "You were standing here, turned off. Your battery was disconnected. I turned you back on." "Huh? Really? What time is it?" "Just after 1 pm." "Wow. I was really standing here for five hours? I didn't even notice." Ashley raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, I bet. So uh, do you want to put some clothes on or something?" The fembot looked down at herself. "Oh shit I forgot! Just a sec!" she said, dashing to her bedroom.

Soon they reconvened in the living room, and seated themselves on the couches. "Sorry about all that. I'm Lex. Am I... supposed to tell you my serial number or something?" Ashley smiled and shook her head. "Lex is fine. I'm Ashley. This is my girlfriend, Rose. She's staying with me." "I thought I was only going to have one roommate?" "I'm technically your only roommate. Rose is one of my belongings." "You own your girlfriend?" "It's a mutually beneficial arrangement", Rose quickly added. "It's not like I was forced into anything." "Sounds convenient." Lex turned to Ashley, "So she has to do whatever you tell her?" "Yes, but I try not to abuse that power too much." Rose stuck her tongue out. "Liar." "We really are in love, though. I consider her to be my girlfriend, not some sex toy." "Until we're in bed, then it's sex toy all the way" Rose said, grinning. Lex squirmed at the rapidly-escalating awkwardness of the conversation. Ashley leaned forward and changed the subject.

"Lex, if you don't mind me asking, what were you trying to do in the bathroom?" "I was practicing how to replace my battery." "You know you're a fembot, right? You run on electricity." "Sure do!" "Okay now, think through this carefully: what's powering your body when you disconnect your battery?" Seconds ticked by as Lex pondered this. Suddenly her face lit up. "Ohhh, I need to plug in to an outlet first!" "Bingo!" Rose cheered. "I'm guessing you used to be human, but got roboticized?" Ashley asked. "How did you know?" "Call it a hunch. May I ask how long ago that was?" "I went to sleep Wednesday and I was powered-up on Thursday." "Thurs... as in, two days ago?!" Ashley's jaw dropped. "Why aren't you in rehab?" Lex frowned. "Well they said it was optional, and I didn't feel like staying there." "It's important to teach new fembots how to take care of themselves. You need to know some routine maintenance, and how your body works and behaves. Basic stuff like not-accidentally-turning-yourself-off." Lex rolled her eyes. "Ughh, you sound just like my parents." Ashley sighed and slumped back in the couch. "All right, I won't be a nag. Just promise you'll try to learn the basics. I'll help you. Rose will too. Deal?" "Deal."

_______ 8:00 pm _________

Ashley plopped into bed, next to Rose's naked form. The sex bot came out of sleep mode and turned to face her lover. "Finished turning the living room into a workshop?" "Yep. There was enough leftover space to keep one of the couches in place. The rest of the furnature is all pushed over to the corner." "Do you do this every year?" "Yep. I fix robots on the side to help pay for stuff." "The Academy doesn't mind that you're running a business out of your campus apartment?" "In theory it's prohibited. In practice, they turn a blind eye if the work is related to your major." "Are there a lot of robotics majors here?" "Farraday Academy specializes in it. It's one of the top schools in the country for robotics, cybernetics, cybersecurity..." "None of those sound like Lex. What's her major?" Ashley winced. "Political philosophy." "Huh?" "Exactly. Coming to Farraday to get a philosophy degree is like going to Oxford for race car driving or an agricultural school for astrophysics." "Maybe her parents went here, or something." "Maybe. Despite her stunning technical ineptitude, she really knows her area of expertise. I looked her up. She posted an essay online about the relevance of Hobbes' Leviathan in contemporary Western-European monarchies. Poli Sci wonks are drooling over it." Rose raised an eyebrow. "Leviathan?" "What, 17th-century philosophy wasn't part of your sex bot programming?" "My programming involves practical skills," Rose said quietly as she reached up Ashley's shirt. "Everyone thinks their skills are practical skills." Ashley leaned in and started kissing Rose's neck. "You can personally attest to the practicality of my skills." "How about you use those skills to shut up, take my legs off, and eat my synthetic pussy out." "Yes, mistress."

_______ Week one, Wednesday, 12:35 pm __________

I need a hobby, Rose thought as she sat in the workshop. Back at the Electric Sheep, she would be busy at the bar or in the bed, but now she had empty time and nothing to do. She gazed at the top half of a fembot, laying on the workbench. It was shirtless, clad in a pink bra, eyes staring straight up at the ceiling, arms dangling off to the sides. The fembot's bottom half was sitting on a chair nearby, still wearing pants and shoes. Rose recognized the model: a VE-500, maybe a 510. That series didn't have a very good power system, so they often install upgrades. This particular VE-500, a student, got a cheap one. Several blown capacitors later, she learned her lesson, and came to Ashley for proper maintenance. With Ashley out buying parts, and Lex studying in her room, Rose was alone with her thoughts and a turned-off fembot. She was about to enter sleep mode when she heard Lex's alarmed voice come from her room. "Ahh, hey, what's happening?!" Rose jumped up and hurried through Lex's door. Lex was sprawled out on her bed, naked. Her legs were spread apart, and a small vibrator buzzed on the bed between her thighs. "I can't move!" Her face was frozen, her voice coming from an internal speaker. "Help... BATTERY DEPLETED ...meeeee... SUSPENDING FUNCTIONS" "Don't worry, you're okay. You're just shutting down." "Whyyyyyy" "You said so yourself. You're out of..." With the sound of a click, Lex went limp. Rose sighed. "Power." She walked over to the bed, picked up the vibrator, and turned it off. She looked back at Lex. Studying, huh?

Moment's later, Lex turned back on. Rose was kneeling at her bedside. "I've plugged you in. You're recharging now." "Thanks. I don't know why that happened. Normally I can go a whole day without recharging." "You must have used more energy than usual." They both looked over at the vibrator, then back at each other. Lex buried her face in her hands. "This is so embarrassing." "Oh shush, there's nothing to be embarrassed about. This happens to fembots surprisingly often." Rose paused, then, softly, "Was this your first time trying it in your new body?" Lex nodded hesitantly. "In the past, you would keep going until you got tired out, right?" "You and Ashley are really good at guessing things about me." Rose laughed. "The point is, sweetie, you don't get tired anymore. You're a machine. So if your plan was to keep orgasming until you're exhausted, you'll run out of power first." "So you're saying... I should plug myself in?" "No no no, then you'll never stop. I'm saying you need to set limits for yourself. It might take some willpower, but after a certain amount of time, you need to force yourself to turn off the vibrator and get on with your day." Lex considered this. "How about you, Rose? When do you stop?" "Half an hour or three orgasms, whichever comes first." Lex nodded and whispered, "thanks".

Rose turned to leave the room, then she heard Lex speak up meekly. "Wait." "Hmm?" Lex looked down and shuffled nervously. She had blurted it out unintentionally. "Would you mind... staying... for a while?" "Of course, sweetie." Rose sat on the bed next to Lex. "If you want to talk, you can talk to me about anything." "This might sound strange to you since you were never human but... ever since I became a fembot, I've felt... different about... feelings." "What do you mean?" Lex struggled to find the right words. "Attraction, desire... some things that used to turn me on don't anymore. And now some things are attractive that I didn't used to have feelings for." Rose put her hand on Lex's shoulder. "That's okay. You've gone through a big change. You used to be driven by hormones and pheromones and biology. Now your feelings of attraction come from scripts and emulation software. If you really want, Ashley can modify..." "I don't want to change it. It's fine, it's just... different. It's new." "Don't be afraid of it. Do what's right by you, and have fun doing it."

Lex sat silently for a moment, then spoke quietly, "Earlier, when I was... playing with myself... I was thinking of you." Rose smiled, not sure to reply. "Fuck, I shouldn't have said anything," Lex looked away. "I'm sorry." "No! Don't be sorry! That's a huge compliment to a sex bot like me. For what it's worth, I think you're pretty attractive too." Lex smiled bashfully. "Thanks." She paused. "I wish... you belong to Ashley so I don't know if... we could..." Rose leaned in and kissed Lex on the cheek. "We can." "We can?" "I've been given permission..." she said, laying down next to Lex, "...to help you explore your new body." "She's letting you do this... for me?" "Her kindness is what attracted me in the first place. But enough about her. This is about you. Where should we start?"

___________ 1:13 pm ______________

Ashley took off her work gloves. "Paula, remember: this new power system is more than your body was originally rated to handle. It's pretty safe, but you need to keep an eye on your heat levels when you're moving around a lot. Otherwise you risk burning your boyfriend's you-know-what." Paula's reconnected her pelvis to her torso with a 'click'. "Thanks, Ash. Funny you should say that, my boyfriend is getting roboticized next week. Won't be a problem, then!" "Good for him! Has he picked out a body yet?" "He'll be the new HM-LS model." She leaned toward Ashley and whispered conspiratorially, "I convinced him to put a Kingston 9 between his legs." Ashley nodded thoughtfully. "Good choices on both counts. Sounds like a fun combination." Their conversation was interrupted by a moan of pleasure emanating from Lex's room. "Speaking of fun..." Paula mused. Ashley rolled her eyes. "You know the way new fembots are." Paula nodded knowingly.


____________ Week two, Monday, 10:23 am _________________

Ashley returned from Microcircuits 301 to see Rose sitting on the couch, reading a book. "Well that's a first! What are you reading?" "Leviathan. I swear, the more I read this, the less humans make sense to me. Look at this: Hobbes spends two pages talking about telling the difference between whether you're awake or dreaming. Is this something people really think about?" "Well it's an important philosophical question, I guess. People want to know the stuff that see and touch are real. What if we live in a simulated reality?" "If I were capable of having an existential crisis, I'd be much more concerned with the fact that I'm a simulated person." Rose remarked, returning to her book. "Humans are funny. Just goofballs, really. And when you turn yourselves into robots, that only makes you mechanical goofballs." "You'll hear no argument from me."


____________ Week four, Friday, 4:59 pm _______________

Rose entered the apartment to see a manbot putting his shirt back on. Ashley was putting her tools away. "Sugar on the first date? That's not like you, Ashley." The manbot whirled around. "It's not what it looks like! I was having a servo replaced!" Ashley laughed. "Don't mind Rose. She cracks that joke on clients all the time." As the manbot awkwardly departed, Ashley turned to Rose. "Where's Lex? Wasn't she out shopping with you?" "She left with some friends to go play a game called Hotline. I don't know what that is." "Oh for fuck's sake." Ashley facepalmed. "Why? What's Hotline?"

"It's a dumb game. You connect the network interfaces of two robots, and they try to take control of one-another's body. The loser is under the winner's control for 24 hours." "That seems kinda dangerous." "It's the honor system. You've got to play it with people you can trust. Anything less is stupidity. Frankly I think the whole thing is stupidity." "If it's someone trustworthy then that's fine, right? Speaking as someone who is under the permanent control of the woman I love, I don't think it's that bad. Maybe you're overreacting." Ashley sighed. "She has no idea what she's getting into. Tonight, Lex is gonna be someone's sex toy. Sex toy Lex. That's kinda catchy." "It doesn't always end up that way, right?" "Well, I've heard of a fembot who did the winner's homework, and I've heard of a manbot who repainted a room, but the vast majority of the time, the winner uses the loser for sex. Hotline is the favorite pastime of horny cybersecurity majors."

Sensing Ashley's worry, Rose tried to change the subject in the way she knew best, putting her hands on Ashley's waist and kissing her on the cheek. "Let's do the favorite passtime of fembot mechanics." Ashley returned the kiss, then looked away. "I'm sorry Rose. Today I feel... like I want something different." Rose stopped. "What kind of different?" Ashley sighed and sat on the couch. "It's been a few years since I've been with a man and, well, seeing that manbot on the workbench made me feel..." "If you hurry you can still catch him." "No no, it's not about that guy in particular. It's just been so long since I've had someone inside me, your tongue notwithstanding." "Then let's head out and pick up a guy. Who could say no to a three-way? The good kind of three-way." Ashley sighed again. "I don't know. I don't want to start a relationship, or anything. I already have you." "Again: You're talking about having a no-strings-attached three-way between you, me, and the luckiest manbot the state. In the parlance of men, this is known as 'best night ever'. You can pick any guy you want." Ashley sat and thought for a moment, then "Fuck it, let's rent a manbot. Wouldn't be the first time I paid for sex." "Why pay for what you can have for free?" "Because a rental won't beg me for my phone number." "Good point."


________________ 11:36 pm ___________________

Ashley looked over at Rose, who was laying on the floor. Rose's battery had run out first. Ashley liked it that way. It was arousing to see her girlfriend laying there, naked, eyes staring ahead, her mouth open in an expression of surprise. The manbot, Delta-4975, had lasted an hour longer. Ashley chose him for his smaller size and lighter build. She wanted to be on the bottom, and while her cyborg half could handle the weight of a full-sized manbot, her human half would get hurt. Unlike Rose, Delta was programmed to "fail gracefully" when he ran out of power. He gently pulled out of Ashley, wished her a good night, and laid down on the bed, closing his eyes as if in a deep sleep. After cuddling with the immobile manbot for a while, Ashley got up, plugged Rose in to the wall, and turned her on. Rose sat up and surveyed the room. "Did you push me off the bed when I shut down?" "Not at first, but you kept getting in the way." "Fair enough, I guess. How was your alone-time with Delta?" "His technique was average, but it just felt so nice to have him inside me." Ashley blushed. "In the morning, feel free to plug him in and go another round. He's out of cum, though."

They both heard the front door open. "Ah, let's see who Lex got hacked by," Ashley whispered, putting on a robe and making her way into the living room. Standing with Lex was a fembot that looked like a latex sex doll. She had an hourglass figure, short black hair, and an expressionless face. Nobody could ever mistake this cheap model for a human, but it might pass as a mannequin. "Ah. Yuko, this is my roomate Ashley. She's a robot maintenance whiz. Ashley, this is Yuko, a Senior in cybersecurity." Yuko nodded in Ashley's direction. "Pleased to meet you." Her mouth didn't move; her voice came from a speaker on her neck. Ashley nodded back. "I trust you'll be taking good care of Lex?" "Yes. I am compelled to obey Mistress Lex's commands for the next twenty-two hours and thirty-four minutes."

Ashley blinked. "Wait. What?" Lex was grinning from ear to ear. "I won! Yuko challenged me in Hotline and I was able to shut her down. Now she's mine until tomorrow night!" "Wha... how..." "I'll tell you all about it later. The clock is ticking, Yuko. Into the bedroom with you!" "Yes mistress." Yuko bowed and headed for Lex's room, with her mistress following behind.

Rose had climbed back in bed, her recharge cable still plugged in to the wall. She came out of sleep mode when Ashley reentered the room. "You look like you've seen a ghost. Is everything okay?" Ashley sat at the foot of the bed and stared straight at the wall. "This is one of those times I can't tell whether I'm dreaming." "What's up?" "Lex. She won. She brought home a fembot that's obeying her for the next twenty-two hours." Rose processed this information for several seconds, then: "You're joking!" Ashley shook her head. "And you know the most fucked-up part? I know that fembot. She gave a presentation on encryption schemes last week. She knows more about cybersecurity than most of the faculty. Probably more than Lori. The idea what she could lose a game of Hotline against anyone is doubtful. The idea that she could lose to Lex is inconceivable." "Maybe it's just a hidden talent Lex has." "We're talking about a girl who can barely open email." "Fair point. Maybe she just got lucky?" "Hacking doesn't work that way. Hell, luck doesn't work that way. I can't wrap my head around this. it's not possible." "And yet it is so. Eppur si muove." Ashley cocked her head to the side. "Hobbes?" "Galileo."


________________ Week four, Saturday, 9:35 am ________________

The video call connected, and the screen displayed the face of a fembot with short blond hair and sharp facial features.

"This is the Ready Ratchet, K-4 speaking. How may I direct your call?" "Hey Karinka, it's Ashley. Put Lori on." "I'm sorry, there is no one here named Karinka," K-4 replied exactly as she was programmed to do. What came next wasn't programmed. "Damn you, Ashley. Why must you insist on using that name?" "Because that is your name." "Don't remind me. Anyway, Master is rebooting. She is repairing herself after a minor workplace accident." Ashley considered asking what the accident was, but decided against it. "Will she be okay?" "She'll pull through. She always does." "How do you like it there?" "Make no mistake, I'm grateful she hid me from the cartel. I still resent the fact that I've been reprogrammed to be her new assistant. A little free will would be nice." "If you had free will, would you try to murder her again?" "Probably, yeah." Ashley rolled her eyes. As part of her reprogramming, the former gangster was now incapable of lying to either Lori or Ashley. "Just have Lori call me back when she's online, okay?" "Actually she's just coming up now. "Master! Ashley's on the line!"

Lori entered the screen. Her right arm was missing, the shoulder scorched black by whatever new catastrophe had befallen her. "Ashley, my dear! Still not roboticized, I see." "Nope. That said, I might have my arms done sometime next month." "One step closer to the real thing." "You mean one step farther from the real thing." "A difference in perspective. Speaking of your arms, a good friend of mine takes all her limbs off before sex. You should try it when you can." "I already take my legs off to get them out of the way, but why the arms? I don't follow." "You lack vision, my dear." "Yeah, yeah. Listen, I want to get your thoughts on something..."

Ashley recounted Lex's deeds, failings, and exploits, pausing repeatedly for Lori's raucous laughter. Eventually they got to the current mystery.

"My dear, I think it's great that you're helping Lex with her journey into being a fembot. And it's very sweet and noble of you to want to protect her. But I don't think it's your place to be her sexual chaperone without her asking you to be. She's a grown woman! Let her make her own choices, even though some of them might be mistakes." "Yeah, but... what if something's wrong? The whole thing is fishy." "I have a theory. I won't share it with you, though, because my advice is to drop the subject and stop worrying. I suspect the reality of the situation is more benign, but also more interesting, than your fears that she is being exploited somehow."


_________________ 11:50 am ____________________

Ashley crept into Lex's room. Both fembots were recharging after their 11-hour sex marathon. Lex was in sleep mode in her bed, while Yuko was standing silently near the wall. Her model didn't have a sleep mode. Ashley silently waved to Yuko and beckoned her into the living room. Yuko quietly complied, unplugging herself and following Ashley. They both sat down on the couch. "Talk to me, Yuko. I find it hard to believe Lex actually hacked into your system. She thinks SQL injection is something you get at the doctor's office. Why go through all these lengths to pretend you're under her control?" "It's no act. I really did lose to Lex, fair and square. I am now running a script that compels me to obey her until the twenty-four hour period is over, in accordance with the rules. I lost by forfeit. As soon as the connection was established, I shut myself down." "Forfeit? Why would you forfeit?" "I guess we all just play the game differently. I play to lose." "You... want to be controlled by others?" "Not all the time, of course. But sometimes it's fun to be someone's plaything. I wouldn't expect you to understand." Ashley frowned. "What do you mean by that?" "Lex has told me a lot about you. You're a good person, but you like to be in complete control, even of the others around you." "Bullshit, I'm not some kind of control freak. She's just saying that because I keep having to help her." "Tell me, Ashley, when was the last time you slept with someone you didn't have absolute control over?"

Seconds passed in silence while the truth sank in. Ashley closed her eyes and whispered, "A long time." Yuko nodded. "I just thought you would benefit from hearing a different perspective, that's all." "You're right. I didn't even notice it. I'm becoming more like Lori every day." "Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. She is a very talented and respected mechanic." "Oh, it's bad enough. My plan is, and always has been, to become better than Lori, in a number of ways. Thank you, Yuko." "Thank you for being a good friend to Lex."


________________ 8:24 pm _________________

"So sanity is restored?" Rose asked while undressing. "All is right in the world." Ashley happily replied from the bed, "Also, I have new software patch for you" "Ooh, I do love upgrades. What changes did you make?" "Free will." "Huh?" "Rose, you will now have the capacity to tell me 'no' if you don't want to do something." Rose laid down next to Ashley and looked into her eyes. "Ashley, I've never wanted to refuse anything you've ever asked me to do, and I doubt I ever will." "I truly do appreciate that, Rose. In any event, now you have that option. You're getting free will and that's final." "Do I have any say in this decision?" "None whatsoever."

Rose could only laugh. Humans are such goofballs.


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