"So this is where they stuck you."
Roland looked up from his screen and over the piles of documents that seemed to form a wall between himself and the rest of the beige themed room that had been his assigned work are for the past three months.
"Tom! What the hell man, I've been here all summer and you wait until the last week to pay me a visit. What gives?!"
"You won't believe the sort of craziness that's been going on here," the lanky young man replied. "I'm really sorry."
"I guess its nothing you could ever tell me about," Roland sighed as he pushed some of his long brown hair away from his face and turned towards his friend.
"Yeah, you know the drill, but hey, I'm sure you've been doing some interesting stuff here yourself."
"Well let's see. After landing what should be a dream internship at Area 51..."
"51-A," Tom corrected.
"Yes, 51-A," Roland continued,rolling his eyes. "Anyway, I fly out to the middle of nowhere and what do they have me do? Code monkey job designing a new shipment tracking system. Yeah, some bullshit that they probably should have outsourced they give to the intern instead of something interesting like, I don't know, working on a Stargate."
Tom chuckled. "Yeah, because those exist."
"It's not like anyone would tell me. This is the only place I know where being fully clear isn't enough to ever learn anything," Roland grumped. "The worst part is that I don't even have frickin internet access at my desk. I have to walk five doors down just to check my e-mail."
"Believe me I know," said Tom, "but with all the shit we've been getting with activist leakers they've had to tighten the screws. Honestly when I recommended this job to you I thought you'd be working on something more interesting. I'm really sorry."
"Nah, don't sweat it. I can always try for a better position after I graduate next year. I mean I still have the clearance and all and because I can't really put any specific details on my résumé anyway I can basically imply whatever I want during an interview."
"Well whatever you say during the interview just make sure you take that off your portfolio first," Tom remarked pointing to the image of silver metal female figure affixed to the black cover of Roland's document folder.
"What!? It's safe for work."
"I think technically she's naked."
"Well I think technically she's a robot, but yeah, most folks aren't big animéconnoisseurs."
"Forget about the Stargates, you were probably looking to meet some hot android chick," Tom chuckled. "Come on, admit it. I know that's your thing."
"Hey! Give me some credit, I know android chicks don't exist," replied Roland. "Now an AI mainframe that could run an android chick avatar...that's a completely different story."
"To each his own man. You know I'm not really the type that human girls are into. Seeing how well I can relate to computers do you blame me for wishing I could date one," Roland sighed.
"If you want to meet girls lay off the Funyuns and Mountain Dew," Tom prodded.
"Yeah yeah, and get more fresh air and sunlight. I've heard it before."
"Well, act on it and things will probably change for you."
Roland sighed as the conversation ran into an awkward pause.
"Anyway man, I'll be here all day so E-mail me if you want to go up to the cafe and have lunch. You know, real food made from something other than pressed corn sweepings."
"Will do," said Roland as he turned back to his workstation.
A few moments later Roland was once again alerted to the sound of footfalls and looking to expecting to see Tom again he was surprised to see his group chief peering over the cubicle wall.
"You're that intern Roland right?"
"Um, yes sir."
"And you're doing the new shipping system?"
"Yes sir, its almost done. Just working through some bugs and documenting everything up."
"And you last day is...Friday?"
"Yes, I'm going back to school in two weeks."
"Listen, I have something I need done, ASAP, but it shouldn't take too much time. I want you to locate shipment X304B and lose it."
"Lose it sir? I don't quite understand."
"I want you to send that shipment somewhere where it can't be found without some sort of massive audit. You designed the system so you should know how to make something disappear."
Roland was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable, but was excited that he was finally being given some small sliver of an important job. "Well, there are a couple things I can do."
"Don't tell me about it, just do it and then forget this conversation ever happened. You got it."
"Good. Oh, um, thanks for all your hard work."
As quickly as he had appeared the chief was gone leaving Roland staring at his screen wondering what could be so importantly unimportant that it needed to be deeper than the Arc of the Covenant. Since the shipping system was still under development he had full access that could bypass all of the auditing procedures. Unfortunately Roland soon encountered a bit of a problem in that of the available secure warehouses that he could send shipment X304B would log its arrival into a separate accounting system that he did not have access to. Roland sighed as he realized his boss was unaware that just because something was lost to the shipping system didn't mean it was lost altogether. Just as Roland was rising from his seat to inform the chief of the problem the light bulb flicked on in his head.
"He didn't say I had to send this to a secure facility...just lose it."
Roland's fingers instantly went to work as he logged into the database and began to manipulate the fields, removing all of the various classification and sensitivity flags, replacing them with new codes marking X304B as excess archival material. Scanning through the newly expanded list of available shipping destination his heart skipped a beat as he saw his own University listed as an archive repository.
"Hey, they say if you want something done right do it yourself," Roland mused as he entered in the address then worked a bit of magic to apply X304B's tracking info to another shipment entirely. "Maybe I'll get to see something cool after all."
Freya Windscale's (pic NSFW!) motionless body began to stir as her mind returned to its fully active state after a good 6 hours of downtime. To a casual, or even intimate observer Freya looked completely human, from her warm supple skin, to her fiery red hair and athletic build, but the woman on the bed was not human, in fact she wasn't even organic. Freya was a Sister, an advanced human form android created on an Earth that represented just one of an infinite number of possibilities that comprised the entirety of the multiverse. Despite having been shut down for a defrag cycle Freya sensed that her core temperature was significantly elevated and her latent emotional state could be best described as "frisky". Both were indicative that she had had another of those "dreams" again and while normally she would take some time to reconstruct the fragmentary data into a coherent steam this morning left no time for such "recreational" activities with a weapons re-qualification test less than an hour away.
Sliding out of bed Freya reached for her blue metallic nanosuit, which could serve as both a basic undergarment and a critical piece of protective body armour depending on the configuration. Most of her kind never took it off, paranoid about being caught in a vulnerable position where they could be disabled or worse, reprogrammed, but Freya just loved the feel of the bedsheets on her bare skin. The default configuration protected the critical processing and power systems in her torso, but with a few thoughts it could be altered to cover more, or less, depending on the situation. Once she had it on and adjusted all it took was a quick mental command to activate the suit, bonding it to her skin and energizing the active shielding capabilities. Looking in the mirror she admired her perfect figure, her suit hugging her body without a wrinkle to be seen. Checking her chronometer Freya grabbed her duffel bag and ran out the door of her on-base housing unit.
The bright sunlight was filtering down through the old trees that lined the building's courtyard and surrounding street. A few vehicles whirred about, but the base had been designed to be easily traversed on foot by the tireless female androids and it took Freya only 5 minutes to cover the 2 miles to the firing range which consisted of a series of high walls surrounding several acres of simulated urban and suburban terrain employing the latest holographic special effects. Waving her hand in front of the access pad at the side entrance Freya authenticated herself and received information about which of her squad had already checked in. She soon found them donning their gear in the ready room, all dressed in similarly colored nano-armour covered by black tactical gear.
"Hey, sorry about the delay. Things went a little...late...last night. Don't worry, I've put myself on notice so it won't happen again," Freya smiled, trying to cover over her oversight with humor.
A taller and rather butch looking Sister looked up from her minigun. "Don't sweat it LT. There's another team in front of us so we'll be sitting here a while."
"Thanks Bryce," Fyra acknowledged. "Guess I could have slept in a bit longer." Freya turned to towards a tall and thin gynoid with long platinum hair who was in the midst of reducing her gauss type sniper rifle into its component parts. "What's wrong with the weapon there Eryn? We're going to get called up any minute now."
"Something's up with the inertial dampener and there are a few annoying settings that can't be changed in firmware," Eryn calmly replied as her fingers flew over the bits and pieces of her weapon."
"Well don't spend too much time fussing. I need you and your weapon operational for the squad to function at its full potential today."
"Speaking off the squad...I heard you've put in for a transfer," said Eryn, looking up from her rifle as her hands continued to work. "It will be shame to break the team. I got a look at the new evaluations and we're placed in the top 10."
Freya looked rather sheepishly around the room as the 8 other members of Nightwatch squad suddenly stopped what they were doing and looked over as their auditory systems flagged Eryn's comment for immediate attention.
"Ok, ok, yes, I'm putting in for a transfer, a temporary transfer." Freya sighed. "I know we've made a great team, but I just need to try something in covert field ops where I can develop skills working as an individual."
"What are you crazy Freya?" said Bryce, putting down her weapon. "You're at the top of your game. Your mental agility will never be this high again so why waste it sneaking around some creator forsaken rock filled with smelly biologics. Covert ops is for retirees on the downslope."
"Shut up Bryce," Eryn snapped, "those sorts of comments are hurtful and unnecessary."
"Listen," said Freya, trying to reassure her women, "like I said it's only temporary duty so I'll be back in three years. In the meanwhile you'll have a chance to cross train my stand-in so that will help you all improve your own skills and give someone new a crack at a leadership post."
"We don't want to train somebody else," remarked a raven haired corporal. "You're Elder material, we're unlikely to get someone your equal.
Freya blushed. "Yes, thank you for the compliment, but all of us need to work to avoid stagnation. Our unit's been completely static since the last of you got out of training so a little shake up stands to benefit us all."
Bryce was about to say something when the entire team received a message summoning them to the range.
"Alright Sisters, its our time in the hotseat," said Freya, standing and shouldering a grenade launcher, "I'm expecting a new course record as my going away present."
Bryce, Eyn and the rest of the squad smiled back and saluted their leader. "Yes sir," came the response in unison.
Freya held out her arms as the blue nano-armour flowed down from her shoulder. Once everything was in place she engaged her quantum reality shift function and morphed her left forearm a silver plasma bolt gun. The other members of the squad followed suit, configuring their armour and arm weapons according to taste before running up to the ready where the previous squad was filing out out of the exit looking a bit worse for wear. Their officer stepped out of line and caught Freya's arm.
"Check out the score...1172. Yeah, that's what a proper group of assault troops are capable of meat-matrix."
Freya felt her face flush with rage as the firm hand of Bryce pulled her back in line.
"Don't listen to her LT. Nothing wrong with being well rounded."
"Yeah, but it means I have more buttons to push and she knows how to push them."
"Prove her wrong on the range," Bryce reminded.
The squad entered filed into the starting area and immediately spread out into a standard tactical formation. Freya had a real time position plot in her visual sensorium of all of the squad members, superimposed on the map data that was available for this scenario. Mission orders then flashed into Freya's mind. The world slowed down as the Sister overclocked her personality matrix chip as far as it would go, absorbing all the provided intelligence and setting her mind lose on the data. One by one possibilities occurred to her, some were dismissed outright, others set aside as promising. Through a process of continual evaluation Freya soon had a battle plan in mind and went about crafting mission orders for her subordinates. Allowing the world to return to normal speed she sent the plan to the rest of her squad.
"This is a tactical assassination with hostage rescue as a secondary objective. Target is a Network type Mistress android with between 50 and 100 Metal drones at her disposal. This situation is RF hostile so stay vocal as much as possible," Freya commanded, her voice clear and authoritative. "Fireteam leaders, do you understand your objectives?"
The lieutenant received a series of affirmative responses via the NFC relay.
"Alright then, move out."
Quickly and silently her team of Sisters began to move through the simulated environment splitting into two distinct fireteams with Freya herself leading Team A forward through the narrow simulated streets, her weapon-arm outstretched, ready for anything. Soon enough while rounding the first corner Freya found herself staring down a statuesque silver metallic male drone. The dimwitted mook was barely able to raise it's arm up 30 degrees before Freya but a plasma bolt through its head. With the element of surprise now gone the pace quickened, Sisters engaging any drones as soon as they appeared.
"Bryce, Team B is meeting heavy resistance, I'm going to take Eryn on a run and see if we can't rush the HQ before they can set up a perimeter," Freya called out, adjusting her plan on the fly and passing it to her heavy weapon's gal.
"I don't advise that LT. I project you're going to get your ass kicked."
"I stand advised Sergeant, but sometimes you have to take that risk. Do you think you can handle things?"
"I'm not very light on my feet you know."
"I'll take that as a "sure"," said Freya gritting her teeth.
Separating from Bryce, Freya took Eryn on a run trying to close the distance to the headquarters before more drones could man the line. With their light armour both synths were able to move with incredible speed, but the object turned out to be a block too far as a hail of plasma fire forced the two Sisters to find cover behind a stone fountain in a wide open plaza.
"Hey Lieutenant, are we going to make another move or do you just want me to take target practice all day," quipped Eryn, picking off another drone with her railgun.
"Don't worry, B Team has the rear road covered, our target isn't going anywhere."
"It's not our target I'm worried about," Eryn yelped as the fountain found itself being reduced to a pile of pebbles.
"Oh ye of little faith, come on, we need to draw more of their fire."
"More?! You don't think this is enough?!"
Eryn peeked out, but soon cursed in anger as a blast of holo plasma hit her arm.
“You know we get points off for getting hit and a LOT of points off for getting killed."
"Yeah, I guess that's all I'm going to attract before we run out of fountain."
Forced onto her back to avoid the fire, Freya raised her arm slightly and signaled towards the mass of drones confronting them. A second later the air was filled with the buzz saw roar of a minigun, the finger of god chewing up the masonry front of the building that overlooked the plaza, ripping apart every drone that had gathered inside to confront the threat in the plaza.
//"Thank you Bryce," Freya called out over the open com link. //"Next time you can set the targets up for me."
//Ha ha, yeah, nice try. I'm a non-com, they don't compile us that dumb."
"You mean we were sitting here as decoys?" Eryn blinked, not used to dealing with Freya's perpetual use of unorthodox tactics.
"That's why I'm in command, Now get yourself to someplace high and cover my sexy ass, I'm going in."
Freya ran across the plaza to an alley and proceeded to chimney leap up 6 stories to the roof level. Looking up she could plainly see the headquarters building, surrounded by an energized plasma fence and two rings of concrete pillboxes. Then crafting her battle plan Freya could have optimized for friendly casualties or victory probability, but due to a variety of reasons she choose to maximize her potential score and while that significantly increased the risk of failure most of that would depend on her own abilities.
Morphing her arm back to its regular appearance Freya proceeded to draw both her railgun pistols and accelerated herself across the roof with superhuman speed. The drones weren't pushovers and about 3/4th the way to the end she began to take fire, random at first, but quickly becoming concentrated and deadly accurate. However Freya was hovering near her peak level of performance even before she applied the overclocking. Her mind, body and perception were faster than a bunch of holographic drone simulations which gave her the ability to duck and weave,between the shots before planting her feet and launching herself into the air, well above the plasma fence and the other fortifications. Her jump executed flawlessly, Freya landed on the opposite roof, rolling to burn momentum before popping up with her pistols to shoot the two Drone sentries in the face. Kicking open a door she began to leap down a conveniently placed stairway, bowling over a pair of drones who were in the process of rushing up to the roof and quickly dispatching each of them after a short struggle.
Climbing back on her feet Freya found herself gasping for air to cool her overheating internals. What Freya had just pulled off was extreme, even by Sister standards and now she was struggling to get her systems out of the red zone. Hearing the footfalls of approaching drones Freya pulled out an anti-matter grenade and rolled it down the stairwell. Turning back around to face the door as the building shook and the shock wave rushed around her. Facing the door to the objective Freya calculated that she had about 5 minutes to complete the boss fight before her personality matrix suffered a thermal shutdown. Freya still had time for one last reconsideration as she knew nobody would think ill of her if she played it safe, hiding out until her core systems cooled down or backup arrived. After all, if the Boss proved too tough she would be "killed" and humiliated, especially in the eyes of the more traditional thinkers. Taking one last breath and raising her pistols up Freya kicked in the door and came face to face with the range's best simulation of a Network Mistress.
The Mistress didn't seem that threatening, in fact it almost seemed like some sort hormone induced joke. The woman had the general appearance of a porn actress, tall and thin with large breasts and every inch of her body below the neck covered with a polymer textured silver suit. Of course the only joke was on the males that first created such highly powerful synthetic bodies to fulfill their sexual fantasies. Not missing a beat Freya immediately emptied both of her pistols into the woman, forcing her back against the wall, but the gynoid just glared as the holes in her suit were stitched together with black nanoswarm tendrils before silvering over as if nothing had ever happened. The bot woman's arm morphed into a nasty looking cannon and began to blast away at the inferior piece of technology that had dared enter her command room.
Freya was able to dodge about five of the blasts before her red lined processors began to cry out for relief degrading her performance. With out her full measure of perception and processing speed the sixth blast impacted Freya square in the chest, and even thought it was a training sim Freya was still blown back through a desk and into the wall. Rolling behind a pile of boxes for some quick cover Freya morphed her arm back into the bolt gun and responded to the femboss with a barrage of armour piercing plasma, each shot cutting through the Mistress's body and forcing her back. However Frya soon exhausted her ammunition supply allowing the bot's silver body to one again heal itself.
"Is that really the best you've got you primitive little fuckbot?" the Mistress sneered, slowly raising her arm-cannon.
Using what remained of the desk Frya clawed herself back up into a standing position and looked the evil simulated bot straight in the optics. "Yeah, that's the best I've got, but I can't speak for the rest of my girls."
The Mistress turned her head toward to open window just in time to watch the anti-tank missile impact her body, ripping it to pieces and sending her head rolling about the floor, crying out with an electronically distorted scream. Waiting for the dust to clear Freya calmly reached into her vest pocket and pulled out a small injector filled with silver nanno-goo and after reaching down to pick up the still screaming head, jammed the injector into the open neck stump. A few seconds later the head turned gray and crumbled into dust.
//"This is Lt. Windscale, primary target eliminated. Beta team report status of secondary objective and thank you again Bryce, nice shooting."
//"No problem Lieutenant, you need any more cover?"
//"Yes, I will be self-extracting to the rear, engage any residual forces and rendezvous at Point Charlie."
//"This is Beta squad, all organic prisoners recovered, extracting to Point Charlie."
Freya took a few deep breaths and observed her HUD as the squad began to redeploy for extraction. There were still plenty of drones around, but she could allow herself a few moments to get her systems back down into the yellow.
"I love it when a plan comes together."
"To victory!" Freya shouted raising a shot glass filled with a green glowing liquid.
"To victory!," the rest of her squad echoed.
Freya drank first and then proceeded to walk about the room offering a second round of anyone who might want it.
"It was certainly nice for the Major to send down a bottle of radium-spiced Glow," Bryce remarked as Freya filled her glass.
"Not every day a squad sets a new course record. Of course beating those stuck up cunts over in Panther squad was my chief priority," said Freya as she poured herself another shot before setting the bottle down. "Of course a proper Defence Force officer doesn't engage in such petty rivalries so forget you heard that."
"Yes sir." Bryce took a breath as if she was trying to work herself up to something. "Can I speak freely Lieutenant?"
"Of course Bryce," said Freya, raising an eyebrow. "Is it about my transfer?"
"Correct as always sir. I know that you've made up your mind, but I just don't get it. From my observations you are currently operating at peak performance. Combined with your creativity you could get any tactical combat placement you want. Exploration force, Federation Fleet Marines, anybody would snap you up in a second and...well...you could bring us with you sir," said Bryce, longing in her voice, "get us somewhere a bit more exciting."
"It doesn't quite work that way Bryce. I'll need to build up a few more favors before I can market us as a complete package. Please don't think I'm abandoning you, I just need to make the right contacts first. To that end covert ops cuts out a lot of the middle management."
It wasn't the whole truth, but Freya knew Bryce would have no reason to doubt her story.
"Well don't wait too long LT. Need I remind you that being at your peak means that every year you spend sneaking around covertly your stock as a combat officer goes down. I don't want to see you end up like Major Hashi."
"You're over reacting Bryce. Major Hashi is like twice my age. A three year assignment is is no way going to..." Freya stopped mid-sentence as a more complex emotional response overrode her answer to the sergeant's statement. "Wait, is something wrong with Major Hashi?"
"She dropped below the red line in her latest evaluation and they just retired her from command," said Bryce, a small hint of regret in her voice. "I guess you didn't have time to read this announcement this morning."
"Damn," was all Freya could manage as her matrix wrestled with the perceived unfairness with the fact that age would eventually catch up with all of her kind. "She's been group commander here since well before every one of us was even a personality seed. I've never seen a Special Services group commander with 271 years of experience let alone 371."
"Her mind is superb. Elder material for sure," stated Bryce.
"You don't know that Sergeant. No Sister knows how they will face the limit until they reach it themselves and getting knocked from command just a few decades short will be doubly rough. Can you poke about and see if there is something we can do to honor the Major's service?"
"Retirement due to mental degradation isn't typically seen as something to celebrate...sir," Bryce remarked.
"Yeah well maybe equating a more biologic type mind with "mental degradation" is the reason 99% of Sisters choose to re-init instead of switching over," Freya snapped. "You going to start calling me "meat brains" too just because I'm a bit more touchy feely and intuitive?"
"No sir," Bryce said emphatically, "it's just that not all of us are equipped to deal with that sort of existence.
"Tell me about it," Freya grumbled to herself. "Anyway Sergeant I have VR meeting in a few minutes. You make sure everyone has completed their after action reports and get all the sensory recordings indexed."
Freya walked out of the squad room and down to one of the small rooms where she could make a secure connection into the virtual space where she would learn the outcome of her pending transfer request. Pressing her hand to the interface unit the bare walls of the alcove were replaced by the whiteness of a blank VR environment with Commander Illen Savannah standing there waiting for her to arrive.
"Hello Freya, I hope you don't mind if I make this short, I have a lot of transfer actions to go through today."
"Yes Sir, I understand sir."
"I just got your scores, most impressive as always Lieutenant."
"Thank you sir."
"The first bit of good news was that your promotion just came through, Captain."
Freya was a bit shocked at this as she hadn't been expecting another promotion before her 120th cycle.
"Thank you sir, I don't know what to say."
"Don't be so modest, we would have promoted you sooner, but you know how it is with so many high achieving Sisters living for so many cycles. This isn't Star Trek after all so we can't make everyone an officer."
Fyra smiled, "Maybe I should go obtain a commission in one of the biologic militaries."
"We're actually recommending that you know, helps promote cross cultural exchange and all that, but the Defence Forces want to keep you all to themselves. This of course brings us to your transfer request....and it was a most unusual one at that. You really wanted to be given a Level 1 covert service assignment?"
"Yes sir, I feel a full biologic conversion is the best way to expand my knowledge base at this point."
"Well, it shows your commitment to cross training that you would want such an assignment at the peak of your abilities, but as much as the Covert Service would love an officer of your caliber I am afraid that even they couldn't justify wasting your talents like that. Therefore, you have been assigned to be a Field Chief of a level 2 covert operation."
"L-level 2?" the possibility of being denied her dream position tweaked Freya's usually well oiled personality matrix in a strange way, causing her to stammer. "B-but why? Am I not the most qualified candidate?"
"You are Freya, by far, but that's the problem. Level 1 assignments are reserved for those approaching the limit. Those three years you spend as a human will easily tack on 30 years of experience time to your matrix, or more. You can't expect us to sacrifice three decades of one of our most promising officer's peak abilities just for a glorified training assignment."
"N-no...I guess not," said Freya, feeling dreams deflate like a balloon.
"It's not just a matter of preserving your runtime," the Commander continued, "but old Sisters need a place where they can remain useful. The benefits to our current assignment policies are just too great to deviate from. I hope you understand."
Freya did understand and she couldn't argue with the Commander. It was selfish of her to try to pursue something that would be a luxury to her when some of her Sisters, like Major Hashi were left out of a job just at the time they were most vulnerable to her society's sometimes harsh expectations. Freya came to attention and saluted the Commander. "Thank you for the new assignment, I will do my utmost to succeed in the mission."
"I know you won't let me down, you're like a daughter to me."
With that the virtual conference closed.
Freya filled her heat exchanger with a deep breath of air as her subconscious mind raced to find a solution to her problem. After calming down and organizing her thoughts, she realized the only thing she could do was take the post and do her best. She hadn't been completely shut out and being transferred to a low tech human world might just be the first step towards indulging her fantasy. Walking back to her squad Freya's auditory systems identified the sound of someone sobbing and poking her head into the officers ready room she found a single figure hunched over on one of the metal benches.
"Major Hashi? I...wasn't aware you were still around."
The blue haired Sister looked up, rubbing some of the tears from her face. The Major was wearing a simple grey jumpsuit, the trademark Sister nano-armour conspicuously absent underneath.
"Yeah, I was clearing out my locker when I realized that since I had nowhere to be I could afford to take some time to express my emotions. Mine are a little bit different than yours so forgive me if being melancholy somehow leaves you confused," replied the Major with a good helping of sarcasm.
"I am not at all confused Major, but I was wanted to suggest that your change in life circumstances might be viewed as an opportunity?" said Freya, searching for a way to communicate her own private feelings on the matter.
"Opportunity?! I just got fired from my job because my matrix is overflowing with bullshit bio emotions and you call that an opportunity? Oh yeah, that's what my life was missing, 5 flavors of regret!"
"Not only are you talents in high demand, but now you can use them in new and different ways. You could even prepare to become an Elder," Freya answered, knowing that the reason had little chance of comforting the Major.
"Fuck Elders. You think I want to spend my days overwhelmed by...by feelings?! Spend my days like this or worse?"
Despite her outward assertiveness the Major was shaking like a leaf, tears once again streaming down her face. Freya quickly sat down and reached out to pull the Major into an embrace. She was half expecting to be rebuffed, but was instead surprised when Major Hashi grabbed onto her like a lost child, the crying now completely unabated. It wasn't that Freya and the trillions of other Sisters in her age bracket couldn't feel. In fact they felt a great many things and if pressed Freya knew she could tell someone exactly what she was feeling at that exact moment in time. This sort of emotional awareness was not only a symptom of the relative simplicity of a young Sister's emotions, but also could create a sense of detachment which made it somewhat difficult to form deep connections with other individuals. Ever since Freya was first exposed to biologic feelings in her year of "empathy training" in a human body she had been hooked and sitting there as she tried to comfort a colleague in pain she remembered one of the reasons why.
Freya left the combat operations building feeling drained and seeing as how she had nowhere to be she made an executive decision to immediately head home to enjoy some unauthorized personal time in the virtual space used by those of her kind. As soon as she was back at some Freya tossed her bag on the bed, sat down in a chair and plugged the Link cable into the back of her neck. The hyper-modern interior of her living space faded away into a tree lined suburban street in a generic mid-21st century human world.
The Virtual Link was typical of the many non-upload virtual reality systems that permeated the Federation. As androids the Sisters had effectively no overhead in accessing or experiencing the full features of the Link and could also draw upon their own local processing resources to ease some of the fidelity constraints that biologics faced dealing with that had to be completely rendered on the back end. Still, even if the Virtual Link's realism factor was 80% or better like most simulated worlds those that logged in valued escapism over a flawless user experience. Walking into the backyard of one of the houses Freya saw her best friend Val tanning herself in the midday sun, her latin complexion contrasting sharply with Freya's Nordic appearance.
"Hey Val, you stay here all night or did you leave and come back."
Val lazily looked up, "Hey, what are you doing back so early? You didn't get fired or something, did you?"
"Actually I got promoted."
"Oh wow, I'm so happy for you. Hey, guess what, I got promoted too!"
Freya chuckled. "That doesn't count, Val. You're self employed!"
"Self employed is still employed!," said Val, sticking out her tongue.
"Yeah, you look real busy. Listen, I'm sort of needing some help to take my mind off of things."
"Well, you know I'm usually free, what's wrong?"
"I got my transfer orders today..."
"I am going to be the Field Chief of a Type 2 Covert Action," Freya said with a sigh.
"So they're just sending you to a human world without actually turning you human? WTF...you are the top rated officer in the Sector, how could they not give you your first choice?!"
"Turns out Type 1 jobs are reserved for those approaching the Limit. It...it makes sense. They need the jobs more than I do and Command doesn't want to squander my abilities."
"I'm so sorry Freya. Seems like there's just no way to have your cake and eat it too."
"Yeah, I guess I'm just being impatient. I've got at least three centuries to start indulging my interests and assuming I go Elder...who knows how long after that. Until then we always have the Link and Humans either at the star port or whatever Earth I have my level 2 assignment at.
"Speaking of the star port" said Val lifting herself up, "you didn't tell me how your hookup worked out last night."
"Terrible, just like my day. I wasn't wearing my armour and this really rip guy comes over, I think he was a Terran Confederation officer, anyway he comes over and we start to talk and I am really getting a good vibe..."
"Well we're just about to retire to a more private setting when the waitress comes over with the Glowing Gin I had ordered. I pick it up and I see the guy's just staring at me. I ask what's wrong and he makes some lame excuse saying he's not into sexbots."
"Yeah, that was my reaction, but I'll forgive a little racism so I tried to play it off without getting too preachy about the whole "being people too" thing and all."
"Well what did he say to that."
""Sorry, but I am really looking to have kids and I don't get involved with women unless there's a possibility it could go somewhere.""
"Ouch, that was mean."
"It's not fair that Humans have such wonderful bodies, but such bigoted small minds."
"Hey, don't go stereotyping them yourself. Maybe I can help take your mind off of things," said Val, moving to comfort her friend. “Did you hear that the new 3.4 version of OpenHuEmu came out today."
"Really?" said Freya her expression brightening. "Have you tried it?"
"Running it right now."
"Well, is it better?"
"Kinda better, I'm sending you the download link. Oh, they say it has improved intoxication support, but they only guarantee it up to a level of .005."
"Really, well that's not much, but better than nothing."
"Yeah, I still find it kinda jittery, did you get the package installed yet?"
"Just about, hold on, let me update my perception filters."
Freya closed her eyes and loaded the software module that would make her avatar feel and perform like it was made of flesh and blood instead of hyper-alloy and polymers. The HUD and GUI disappeared from around the periphery of her vision, which itself became softer and much less detailed. Her other senses followed a similar downgrade path just before Freya felt a heart begin to beat in her chest, lungs expanding and contracting, a digestive system pushing food through to be absorbed. Her sex changed from a polymer pouch and fluid tubes to a fleshy organ, already moist with human smelling juices. Her mind, calculating and exact, seemed to fuzz over, sensations becoming indistinct and vague, but, to Freya at least, much more sensual.
"Mmmm, I told you it was better, look how fast it got you going." Val reached up and pulled her horny friend down onto the thick green carpet of grass next to her before climbing on top of her friend to administer a deep back rub."
"Ooooo yeah, that feels great," Freya purred. "Wow, this sun is making me all sweaty. I don't care what bios say, having one's own unique scent is a turn on."
"That's because your sense of smell doesn't have "good" and "bad" hard wired into it. Here, let me get some tanning oil on you. You're a pale as a ghost and one of the mod's new features is sunburn."
"It's nice how their vulnerabilities create such pleasant rituals," Freya moaned as Val rubbed the oils onto her skin. "Speaking of rituals, were there any other you wanted to engage in?" Freya asked with a suggestive wink.
"Want to? Definitely! Can we? Unfortunately the 3.4 version is just a Beta. The sexual emulation stuff isn't stable yet and the forums didn't recommend experimenting."
"Why didn't you tell me before!" Freya grumped seeing as she had gotten all hot and bothered.
"I figured you'd be more interested in the other new features instead of just more nasty bio sex," replied Val.
“Features like getting a sunburn," Freya shot back.
"Ah touche," said Val as she finished up the rub and laid down to cuddle with her simulated human friend.
"Hey Val, you never told me if you got into the whole pink skin scene before or after your Exchange period," Freya asked as the question suddenly occurred to her.
"After, just like you. I mean I had only spent 5 years in the physical world when I did the exchange so I probably didn't know what I was "into" at that point, but it was after that year that I knew I had the bio fever."
"That's the irony Val, the hottest, sexiest period of my life and I didn't have the wherewithal to take full advantage of it."
"It's even more ironic that our time spent human is the one part of our lives we weren't able to just record and then playback later. All my memories of all the sex I had are so vague, I can't even recall what half the guys looked like."
"Val, you know what furries are right?"
"Humans that want to be bipedal animals right?"
"Yeah. I've heard some stories about furs getting disillusioned as soon as the Federation shows up and they get to meet real life anthros. Suddenly all the practical matters with having a full coat of fur and a tail smack them in the face and then they lose interest."
Val giggled as she thought of a Mrrshan smacking a human in the face with its tail. "I guess I can see that happening, but why are you bringing it up now?"
"Did you ever stop to think that the only reason we're into Humans is because we can't fully remember what actually happened during the exchange year and our AI's filled in the gaps with sort of an idealized version?"'
"Sometimes, but then I talk with some of the others on the forums that have actually transformed again and they all say it was just as hot if not hotter the second time around. I love the beauty of biologic life. There's so much noise in the system that no two experiences ever end up being same. nor can they be adequately be simulated or predicted."
"Are we wasting our time here Val? No matter how large the community becomes for the Human emulation software it's never going to be the same as actually being a biologic Human. At the end of the day we're still just AI code crunching discrete digital data, not vague neural impulses. For all we know this sim could taint the experience of the real thing."
Val hugged tight. "Relax Freya, you're over analyzing things. The sim might not be perfect, but its certainly more interactive than porn."
"I'll give you that."
Freya turned back to Val and proceeded to cuddle her fellow Sister for a few more minutes before finally standing up and stretching out her faux Human body.
"So, what's for dinner?"
"Didn't you graduate?" the student behind the reception desk asked as Roland walked into the Library building.
"Yeah, I finished up my Masters last May," Roland chuckled, "but I keep finding ways to get pulled back. So when are you out of here?"
"Three more months man. What have you been doing with yourself? You workin?"
"Kinda. Mostly doing freelance programming work. I had a couple of places in mind, but I am still waiting to hear back. I don't want to accept one place then get a better offer so that's why I'm just working out of my basement now," Roland answered.
"So what brings you back? Hockey game?"
"Yeah the game and some friends invited me to a couple of parties."
"You never stuck me as the party type."
"It's the engineering frat...you know, the only one not on academic probation. It basically consists of getting drunk and watching late night episodes of "How It's Made"."
The student laughed and leaned back in his chair. "Did you need anything?"
"Oh, I just left a couple of things here when I left and I finally managed to get ahold of a vehicle to take them back home. You don't mind if I just go grab them do you?"
"Nah, I trust you. Just please don't walk out with all our laptops."
"If I was here to steal shit I wouldn't be asking you," Roland said with a wink as the student unlocked the turnstyle.
For three years Roland had waited for the call asking where shipment X304B had wound up. Even if he had just been a lowly intern, Roland figured it never hurt to be a team player since doing so seemed like a good way to land a full time job with his previous employer, especially after defence cutbacks shut down the more traditional route. Still, his phone never rang and Roland began to worry especially after graduating meant he would be unable to play mother hen to the item sitting in storage annex D along side other artifacts dating back to the Eisenhower administration. When a story in the alumni newsletter about major library renovations to create a new learning commons caught his attention, Roland found himself in the position of abandoning the shipment to an unknown fate or doubling down and taking charge of it personally.
Fifteen minutes after he had walked in the building Roland was rolling a large 3 foot by 7 foot plastic crate out onto the loading dock where a U-Haul cargo van was waiting. Nobody batted an eye as they saw just another student worker schlepping some piece of equipment from one side of campus to the other. After a little help from some of the maintenance staff to load the van, Roland was on the road for the hour long journey back home.
When referring to his accommodations as a cave Roland didn't have to exaggerate. Built out of what used to be an old mill the basement apartment was surrounded by bare brick walls, a small amount of natural light leaking down from the outside through a number of window wells. Always assuming he would be moving out at any moment to take a full time job elsewhere, Roland had felt disinclined to treat his cave as a permanent home and over the year he had been there it had accumulated significant amounts of junk food wrappers and beverage cans in and around Roland's ample collection of computer hardware and related tools. What went unseen by the casual visitor was his workspace located in a former coal bunker and hidden behind a large metal cabinet that was rigged to hinge open for easy access. There in the middle of the cramped space was what Roland had come to refer to as The Object consisted of a large U about 3 feet wide and 6 feet tall attached to a hemispheric base all made from a shiny silver non-metallic metal. Embedded in the base was a large central display screen and a number of small data ports in addition to a large power socket.
Over the months since he had relocated The Object to his own apartment Roland had been struggling to figure out exactly what it did. It wasn't that he expected it to be some sort of dimensional gateway or teleportation device, just that compared to his usual code monkey jobs trying to decipher the functionality of an unknown piece of technology was both stimulating and enjoyable. Not wanting to risk being sent to jail, or worse, Roland was careful not to reveal The Object to anyone, but this also made his efforts more difficult than they otherwise might have been. Crafting a plug to fit the proprietary power socket had been fairly straightforward, but that only succeeded in raising further questions when instead of English text the screen output something resembling a QR code. Initially stumped, after a few educated guesses Rolland discovered it was nothing more than a fancy version of Unicode text, but it still made him wonder why someone would go to all the trouble of inventing their own text encoding standard for the user interface. Trying to plug in a keyboard Roland was again forced to MacGyver a solution when the USB socket proved to be just slightly too small and solving that problem only brought him to an intractable logon password screen. Not seeing why the device wouldn't follow industry best practices when it came to idiot proofing, Roland searched the base of the device for some sort of hardware reset switch and was rewarded when shoving a bent paperclip shoved into a small hole on the back of the base succeeded in resetting the logon to "admin" "admin".
"Computer security at its finest," Roland chuckled to himself as the screen came to life. "Ugh, what the fuck is with these stupid ass bar codes! At least whomever "Quantum Dynamics" is was nice enough to make its logo readable."
Pulling out his smartphone Roland snapped a picture and sent it to the translation app he had made. There didn't seem to be much to it with the interface consisting of one button labeled "engage field" another "change" and a third for "advanced settings". A trip to "advanced settings" revealed all manner of sliders, dropdowns and value fields that Roland didn't feel like touching with a 10 foot pole so heading back to the main page and observing that the charge meter was at 100% Roland reached forth and activated the device. Quickly moving back into the perceived safety of the workspace entrance, Roland watched as a line of blue rectangles set into the inside of the U shaped frame began to glow brightly. A few seconds later a pink energy field formed within the interior with a satisfying buzz.
"Well, I guess its not just a movie prop," Rolland mused as he checked for any ionizing radiation with a geiger counter before idly picking up a small rubber ball and lobbing it at the field.
The ball passed through unaffected as did everything else Roland decided to throw at The Object that night. From aluminum cans to small insects to random pieces of technology, the glowing pink field would only shimmer slightly as it proceeded to ignore whatever it came in contact with. Finally in an act of rather foolish desperation Roland tried his left arm and after feeling nothing more than one would from passing their hand in front of a flashlight, he took a breath and went through himself. For a moment his vision was clouded by a bright white haze and his body seemed tingled all over, but he quickly found himself on the other side, no extra limbs, no super powers and seemingly in the same universe he had grown up in. Due to an abundance of caution Roland decided to abstain from further personal human subject testing and turned to the web, hoping to find out more about Quantum Dynamics and their other products, but Google was stumped, only serving up dense physics journals.
"Hmmm, never seen a defence contractor that didn't want any business," Roland remarked to nobody in particular.
"I don't know what to tell you Freya, its not here," said Special Agent Anne Cartwright as she dropped the last of file folders into an open cabinet drawer.
"Can't say I have much confidence in that statement. Your record keeping system is primitive at best which I guess doesn't really matter since it's reflection of reality is generously described as approximate," the Freya sneered, her T-shirt and jeans contrasting sharply with the FBI agent's snappy business attire.
"Like I said we're doing the best we can. Most of this stuff has been here since computers ran on vacuum tubes."
"Or your people are deliberately attempting to deceive me," Freya said, making sure not to direct her accusation at the Agent.
"We've returned every last piece of the crashed ship except for this," Anne paused, looking down at her case file, "Quantum Extractor. I'm sure it is a simple oversight. It will turn up and when it does we'll call you."
Freya stood up and began to pace back and forth in the small office, her frustration boiling over. She was so close to her goal she could taste it, but she knew that someone on that "primitive" world was trying to screw with her. Finding a large file cabinet in her path she brought her fist back in anticipation of removing it.
"Woah!" yelled Anne, grabbing Freya's arm. "You have to stop punching holes in things. We were assured by your superiors that you would not reveal yourself so find a way to control your anger or I will be forced to recommend your removal."
Freya turned towards the agent. "You'd really send me home? It is doubtful that my replacement would be so...accommodating."
"My personal feelings take a back seat to a global panic," said Anne with absolute seriousness. "You might think we're primitive screwheads, but everybody on this world has a high definition camera with a wireless data link. If you go around playing a cybernetic Amazon it will be on CNN in under an hour."
Freya visibly allowed herself to relax and let out a sigh as Agent Cartwright continued.
"Maybe you could tell me what is so special about this Quantum Extractor that is getting you all worked up?"
"I'm just looking to complete the mission," Freya lied as she figured the local humans didn't need to know they were holding onto a device that could turn synthetics into biologic lifeforms...or that she was looking to use it on herself.
"Well I admire your dedication, but there's no much more we can do here and this is the last of the high security facilities.
"Perhaps it went to another type of facility."
"Well you'd better call in more of your Sisters because there are thousands," Anne suggested. "Actually please don't, that was just a joke. If your attitude is any indication a troop of your Sisters would probably level this entire country."
"I get jokes," Freya hissed as she moved to pack up her things, "and I've also been getting frustrated searching all of these damn warehouses."
"Come on, let's get back to the base. I'll bake you some cookies if you can refrain from punching my car on the way back."
"No offence to your cookies, but why can't we just drive into town and get something to eat. It's just a couple miles out of the way."
"What did I tell you the last time? You're a robot..."
"Whatever, if you get hit by a car we're going to have civilians running around in a panic babbling about how the terminator is after them. Unless you people invented some of those neuralizer things we can't take the risk."
Freya walked out with her human chaperone and into large government issue vehicle. As she stared out the window at the countryside flying past she noticed a Google Alert in her message queue.
"What's wrong? Did you forget something?" Anne asked responding to Freya's startled gasp.
"What? Oh...no. I thought I had, but it was nothing," said Freya as she locked down her body language to avoid arousing Anne's suspicion.
The search behavior for "Quantum Dynamics" was unmistakable. Someone had managed to power up the extractor and was now trying to figure out its functionality. The fact that they would resort to internet searches indicated that it was in fact in the hands of a civilian seeing as a government worker would be aware of its pedigree. Freya immediately gained access to the search giant's core systems using an access pathway provided by the covert reconnaissance team and from there is only took a couple of queries of her own to determine who made the search and all of his relevant information.
As Freya outwardly appeared to stare blankly into the distance, inside she was jumping for joy as she read through Roland Samuel's marketing profile.
//"Sci Fi Erotica, Transhumanism, Anime Robot Girls, Cyberpunk, CyberPunk Erotica, oh baby by the time I'm done I'll have this meatbag wrapped around my little finger."
A quick search through his browsing history revealed activity on a number of web forums that specialized in his various erotic interests and Freya wasted no time making accounts on all of them before analyzing their content to determine Roland's exact on's and off's and other personality traits. She would have to be methodical to get free from Anne and make sure that Roland acted exactly how she intended, but the hyper-advanced synth didn't anticipate any problems.
Roland's heart skipped a beat as the IM window popped up. Every time he signed off he worried that it would be the last time he would ever hear from her. All too often his most exciting and creative role play partners on the forum had simply up and vanished, but Roland knew that he couldn't let that possibility (or any other) hold him back.
BotGrrl: Hey Roland, you there?
TheEngineer: Hey Bot, can you run a quick diagnostic for me?
BotGrrl: One second.....all systems reporting 100%, energy levels at 87%.
TheEngineer: Wonderful, what did you wish to talk about?
BotGrrl: Well that business trip worked out, I'm going to be in town this evening with a lot of free time on my hands, think you'd still be interested in meeting IRL?
TheEngineer: Oh, you bet, did you have somewhere in mind?
BotGrrl: How about a book store, they have wi-fi, food and a place to sit down.
TheEngineer: Great, there's a Book Stop out on Route 1A. That should be pretty convenient, its right off the subway if you are coming from the airport.
BotGrrl: Oh, the one in the 700 block near the Oak Island station?
TheEngineer: Yeah....that's exactly right, you know about it?
BotGrrl: Oh, I just had Google maps up.
TheEngineer: So what time should I meet you there?
BotGrrl: Well I should be able to be there by 8pm, is that alright with you? I know its kind of short notice.
TheEngineer: No, its no problem at all, how will I recognize you?
BotGrrl: I'll be wearing a gray sweatshirt and sitting in the lounge area right near Sci-Fi / Fantacy section.
TheEngineer: Wait, how do you know the layout?
BotGrrl: Oh, someone reviewed the story on their blog, with pictures.
TheEngineer: You found a photo review that quickly? That's amazing.
BotGrrl: Ha, well I am a fembot, you know. ;-)
TheEngineer: LOL, so true. Well I guess I'll see you there.
BotGrrl: Yeah, likewise.
TheEngineer: Oh, before you go, you never told me your real name, I mean I don't want to call you Bot Girl in public.
BotGrrl: Good point, my name's Freya. Anyway, gotta run, see you later.
BotGrrl has Signed out
Freya smiled as she closed the IM window and web browser in her visual attention space, the hood of her sweatshirt deployed to thwart any biometric dragnet that Anne might have initiated once she turned up missing at the base. While this Earth's humans were fairly primitive they did have some surprisingly impressive surveillance capabilities and Freya was intent on not being denied her prize.
"Next Train to Downtown arriving on Track 1," chimed the automated announcement system.
Grabbing her small backpack full of personal items Freya got up and stood by the platform. Arriving a little early at the Book Stop wouldn't be a problem as every alternate Earth always seemed to have a nice fresh supply of romance novels and given her mark's typical interests the Sister figured it might be wise to pre-game.
Roland pulled his rather bland Kia Rio into the parking lot of the Book Stop taking a deep breath, popping a breath freshener and checking out his reflection before getting out. He had cleaned himself and his appartment up in anticipation that his casual meeting might lead to something a bit more serious. Even with his various kinks as a relief valve, Roland was still very lonely and was desperate to meet other kindred spirits even if they were born instead of constructed. Once inside the store Roland carefully made his way to the lounge area, taking a circuitous route in order to scope out the situation. The last thing he wanted to do was introduce himself to the wrong person, or worse, a cross-dressed guy, which was a scenario he almost expected. Spotting a woman in a gray sweatshirt seated at one of the tables he suddenly stopped short as he got a better look at her.
"Great, she's fucking out of my league," Roland muttered as his eyes were drawn to the bright red hair. "At least a trans would have given me the time of day."
Roland found himself paralyzed by indecision.
"Best case she humors me a bit before finding an excuse to lower the boom. Less optimally we actually strike up a conversation and I wind up just embarrassing myself even more."
At this point Rolland began to scan the area looking for the hidden cameras as he figured he had stumbled into some sort of new reality show that tried to bait hopeless losers with the promise of attractive women. Hanging back while he contemplated his next move Roland saw the woman look up from her book and glance around the room. Suddenly her gaze hit him like a Predator drone locking onto a terrorist. After sizing things up for a second she smiled and waved the awkward geek over to sit next to her.
"Oh hi, you must be Roland."
"And you're Freya?" Roland replied somewhat sheepishly, gingerly sitting down to avoid encroaching on the hot girl's personal space. He wondered why she was hiding her body with a baggy sweatshirt before deciding that it was probably some sort of hidden deformity.
"Don't worry, I won't bite. Why don't you tell me a bit about yourself. All I know about you are your RP preferences," Freya winked.
In a halting voice Roland launched into his life's story, what he did to support himself, what he was skilled in and his various other interests and hobbies. All the while, behind her smiling exterior Freya was groaning to herself.
//"I know there's good human and bad human and this is definitely not good human. He's all shapes and what on Earth is wrong with his skin? Does this guy get any sun?"
As Roland talked Freya filled out her mental profile of him. Weight, over...vision, poor...fitness, poor, but what really irritated Freya the most was just how much of a tech geek Roland was. Freya was no slouch and as a synthetic lifeform she had greater technical ability than 99.99% of the humans this planet, but she has chosen not to convert that knowledge into a lifestyle. Interacting with Roland reminded Freya of those non-sentient AI teaching routines she interacted while growing up in VR. No matter what you said they would always go back to spouting off on some obscure factoid like it was the most interesting thing in the multiverse.
"Listen, I can tell that I wasn't what you were expecting and I am sorry to take up your time, I'm going to head off now, I'd still love to talk with you online, but its probably best we keep things there."
Freya was snapped out of her idle thoughts to see Roland suddenly get up from the table and begin to walk toward the door.
"Damn, that little human's perceptive," the gynoid hissed, annoyed that she had made the mistake of completely turning Roland out and thus giving herself away. Quickly getting to her feet she pursued Roland, grabbing his arm as he walked in between two tall bookshelves.
"Please don't..." stammered Roland, looking surprised.
"I can tell you what the device you're hiding does."
Roland tried to keep a straight face, but the subtle twitches and movements were like a newspaper headline informing Freya she had struck paydirt.
"W-what do you mean....?"
"Don't even try to play ignorant Roland. If I meant you any harm you would be dead or in an interrogation cell by now so just cut the act because it's not getting you anywhere. If you'll step outside I'll tell you everything you want to know."
Roland hesitated for a second and then, eyes focused on his shoes, followed Freya outside.
"I knew you were too good to be true."
"What do you mean by that?" Freya asked.
"I mean you're some Federal agent or Chinese spy. Real women don't like this sort of techno-sexual bullcrap."
"Just relax, I'm not a cop and I'm not a spy."
The pair walked out of the book store and across the parking lot to a small deserted waterfront park.
"Alright then, tell me what my hypothetical device does."
"It's a portable Quantum Extraction Field generator."
"Yeah well, what the fuck is that. Movie prop right?"
"It's primary function is to extract what can best be described as "life energy" from a synthetic being and place it in an equivalent organic container."
"Wait, synthetic beings? Organic container? Are you saying it turns like androids into organic people?"
"That's one way to put it."
"For that to be true sentient androids would have to actually exist so unless the government is doing a really great job keeping them under wraps such a device would serve no purpose."
"Well, what if they just aren't from around here."
"Oh let me guess, you happen to be an android yourself," said Rolland, his tone dripping with sarcasm.
"As a matter of fact I am a synthetic person. What do you think of that?"
Roland's face seemed to brighten for a second before turning skeptical.
"Yeah, right. Come on, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. What's more likely, some real fembot just walking up and announcing herself to me or someone trying to set me up?"
"Roland you have a futuristic energy field generator in your apartment, but when a female android shows up you're ready to draw the line?" chuckled Freya.
“Field generator? Yeah, more like a glorified nightlight. Anyway, if you are what you say you are prove it. Show me some metal.”
"You want me to do what?"
"Anything a human can’t. There are too many griefers out there for me not to insist."
As the last bit of daylight was fading from the summer sky Freya scanned around the park with her thermal imaging mode and after detecting no bystanders pulled Roland aside to an isolated area by the waterline. Reaching her hands up she touched her fingers the sides of her face and then firmly pressed. Roland could hear a plainly audible click and then a slight hiss as a seam formed around Freya's faceplate. His heart began to beat faster and he felt something stir in his pants as the android's face turned still and lifeless. Then Freya gently lifted her faceplate away revealing a silver alloy skull reminiscent of of the terminator movies, with flat blue optics in place of the glowing red eyes. She gingerly held the faceplate out for Roland to take.
"Be careful with that, its a very expensive component there."
Roland was speechless as he took the component from Freya and held it in his hands. It was thicker than he had imagined as it contained not only the skin, but also the synthetic muscles and related control components. His fingers gently traced the contours, the skin was still warm, turning it over he saw the micro-connectors for sensory data and power.
"What makes it move...servos?"
"No, my body primarily makes use of black bundle synthmuscles, sort of like you see in Animee type media. I do have some servo-like things for backup and supplementary motive power though."
"No, I'm serious...even this...," Roland reached out a hand and touched the exposed front of her skull, "is beautiful."
Freya would have blushed if she still had her face on and had to admit to herself that even a nerdy human fawning over her did have its charm. "Aw, its really nice of you to say that."
"Can...can you feel it when I touch you there?"
"A little, there's a secondary sensory system that provides a vague sense of touch for components that don't have integrated sensors. Can I have my face back now?"
"Oh, sure, of course."
Roland handed back Freya's faceplate and the Sister expertly fitted it back into place with another click. Roland watched the dead synthflesh re-animate as the seam faded away. Freya blinked her eyes and smiled.
"Pretty impressive eh?"
"You could say that," said Roland, clearly gobsmacked by that he had just witnessed, "although extraordinary, unbelievable or incredible might be better terms. Where on Earth did you come from? When I was working for the man they didn't tell me very much, but I had a pretty good idea of what was in the realm of possibility and what was beyond it. You...you are so far beyond the pale that near death experience is a far more likely explanation for what I just saw."
"What?" said Roland.
"I'm not from your Earth, I'm from another Earth. You asked where I came from and that's the answer," Freya remarked.
"So one that's more advanced than ours," Roland mused as he rolled her explanation over in his head. "I guess that makes sense...provided you're telling the truth. I mean reality jumping wouldn't require an unrealistic cover up and also explains why you're human instead of, I don't know, a metal humanoid cat."
As the two conversed Freya took note of Roland's pronounced enthusiasm that had arisen during his brief exploration of her underlying technology. While such tastes were not altogether uncommon amongst her people, Freya had always prefered to root her sensuality in the conventions of biologic courtship. Still, as long as Roland's arousal resulted in the female synth getting what she wanted, Freya was more than willing to resist the urge to smack Roland upside the head and sit him down for a biology lesson.
"Why don't we head back to your place. Although it is somewhat urgent I see the Extractor I was also hoping to get to know you in a more...private setting. If that's alright."
Freya's statement made Roland's eyes nearly fly out of his head. "Of...of course. My car's back in the parking lot."
As Roland turned to struggle back up the embankment Freya dug into her pocket, pulled out a small dense metal flask and took a long swig. The situation was going to take more than a little special lubrication for her to navigate easily. Soon the theta radiation clouding Freya's processing systems generated a sense of ambivalence towards Roland's doughy physique and soulless car. As far as Roland was concerned his dream fembot was just having a good time.
The pause was noticeable as Roland opened the door to his dwelling and showed Freya inside. Despite all of her processing power the Sister was at a loss for words as her eyes scanned around the large main living area. She had to give Roland some credit, there was some furniture including a couch and table for meals, a separate bedroom and the place did appear to be vermin free. However, Roland lacked most of the cultural touches that Freya considered crucial for a space where she would actually choose to spend her time. There was no selection of wines, no art on the walls or coffee table books, the literature was limited to Star Wars and Terminator franchise novels (although they did match the posters on the wall) and the set of possible meals consisted only of those that which could be microwaved.
"Interesting," sad Freya, searching for something nice to say, "you sure have a lot of....stuff." She picked up a magazine on a nearby table. "Oh, Popular Robotics, how, quaint. You really take this stuff seriously don't you."
"Yeah, I'm not just one of those losers on the forum who don't know what the hell they're talking about."
At this point Freya desperately wished she could just hook Roland up with one of her technically minded yet socially awkward comrades, but it would be years before relations between their two worlds would be established, let alone the ability to direct dial, so for now, she was on her own.
"So, why don't you show me the Extractor."
"Oh, sure, um, do you want to make yourself more comfortable?"
"Eh?" said Freya, sure of neither what exactly Roland had in mind nor where would be a safe place to sit.
"You're sweatshirt, its June, you look like you should be hot, that is if you can get hot. Can you get hot?"
"Oh, yeah, I forgot about that," replied Freya seeing as she had put on the full coverage clothing to avoid any questions about her nanoweave armour.
As Roland went to roll out the Extractor from his hiding place Freya quickly took a sip from her flask and then slipped out of her sweatshirt, t-shirt and jeans leaving her dressed only in her skintight blue metallic armour. The android didn't mind that Roland was interested in seeing her body, in fact she would have been slightly offended had he not been drooling on the floor. Like most of her kin Freya took great pride in their appearance since the female form was envisioned in their original design as a type of soft power Sisters could wield to disarm or manipulate their opponents. As the extractor rolled into view Freya stuck a slightly provocative pose to achieve maximum impact.
"Hey Freya, you're not like all seams or something are you...WOAH!"
As Roland lifted his head and took in what stood before him he had to grab hold of the Extractor's uprights to steady himself. A slight twinge of disappointment propagated through Freya's personality matrix for not getting Rolland to actually fall down.
"You like what you see eh? Sorry, no seams, except on my armour."
Freya did a slow turn so that Roland could get a full view.
"You look amazing, I mean, you look completely real?"
"Real? What else would I be, some sort of hard light hologram?"
"Um, I'm sorry, I mean human, organic."
"Don't sweat it, I'm just being a hard nose. I know you aren't up on the latest politically correct language regarding my Sisters and I."
“Sisters? You mean you’re all...female?”
Freya smiled again as deep down she savored Roland’s mind being blown. “It might sound a bit cliche, but if you were designing a race of intelligent beings from scratch would it make sense to use the gender known for aggression and irresponsibility or nurturing and sensibility? Of course we were also designed by men so you can make of that what you will.”
Roland was blushing, he was clearly inexperienced with this sort of situation and Freya realized she was going to need to tone things down a little to make sure Roland felt comfortable. Freya was starting to feel very pleased with herself seeing as she was giving a lonely isolated human the experience of a lifetime and fulfilling one of his greatest dreams. It wasn't exactly charity, she was getting the use of the extractor in return, but there was a fundamental altruism built into the base code of the Sisters that resulted in a holistic feeling of goodness when helping disadvantaged beings like Roland. Of course the multiple shots of glow were also in full effect and with her inhibitions lowered Freya was starting to feel a bit more frisky. Stepping closer to the human she reached out and gently places his hands on either side of her torso. Roland hesitantly began to give Freya a little rub.
"Thanks....feels nice, smooth, sort of rubbery, but warm. What's with the bodysuit anyway, is this how you dress on your home...um...planet?"
"Actually is an advanced form of lightweight nano armour. I can form it into a wide variety of shapes, but the primary function is to protect vital components like our power core and processors. Almost all Sisters wear armour like this in one form or another them except when in a trusted environment."
"Armour...but how, its skin tight."
"The nanobots manipulate a weave of carbon nanotubes to form a physical barrier many time stronger than steel and that is combined with active energy absorption fields. When the suit is activated it actually bonds to my skin with full tactile pass through. In a way you could technically say I am naked right now," said Freya, giving Roland a little wink.
Roland's hands instantly froze, he looked a bit unsure of himself. Freya mentally sighed and gently took his hands and move them up towards her breasts.
"Come on...don't be shy," said Freya, leaning in to give him a kiss.
Roland returned the kiss lightly, but Freya could feel his hands trembling as he felt her up. The sheer organicness of this response had the odd effect of boosting the Sister's own arousal. Freya let out a little moan and pulled Roland closer, rubbing his backside. For Roland, this whole encounter was getting a bit too real. Roland knew in his mind that Freya was a fembot, but right now, in this moment of intimacy she seemed completely human, even her smell was convincing. Instead of the normal arousal he got when indulging in his fetish, Roland found himself on the verge of panic, just as any virgin might be when a female bombshell casually dropped by for sex.
On the flip side Freya was engaging more with her fantasy and even though she was not the type of bot to just go out and fuck just anything with 23 chromosomes, the glow was doing its job and all of the unpredictable responses from her organic partner were driving her absolutely wild. As Roland became increasingly uncomfortable it took Freya a while to realize that she was pressing the situation in a way that risked traumatizing him.
"Roland, are you alright?" Freya asked tenderly.
"I, don't know, I'm...sorta new at this and you...you’re just so...real?"
Freya froze for a moment as her glow-addled matrix tried to decipher Rolland’s actions. The idea that a thinking, feeling being would desire a romantic partner that was more artificial as opposed to less was rather antithetical to her own interests. It was then that Freya’s processing threads managed to recall all of the common sexbot fetish tropes she had catalogued on the forums and websites. Groaning silently Freya reminded herself that it wa important to try things before criticizing them.
"Is there anything you'd like me to do for you?" she asked without outward signs of hesitation.
“Well, um…” said Rolland, hesitating as his face turned a beet red. “Perhaps if you could act more like a robot...you know...I could give you commands and you could...do them?”
Roland's desire to literally objectify her triggered a surge of anger that was fortunately dulled by the intoxicating levels of delta radiation around her core systems. Freya immediately double checked that her strength limiters were firmly in place to prevent her from accidentally snapping the human’s neck like a twig in case Roland antagonized her further. Focusing the bigger picture Freya chose to assume that Roland’s kinks were just an expression of his emotional awkwardness and not a deep seated personality flaw.
“You know I might have just the thing.”
Freya reached down to a point on her armour just adjacent to where a human’s belly button would be and activated a glowing touch screen interface, navigating to a screen for maintenance functions. Her fingers seemed to blur as she typed in an 80-digit authorization key.
“We have sort of a maintenance mode that would create the sort of effect you desire. I’ve never used it for this purpose, but it sounds like it might be fun.”
On some level Freya knew what she was doing was more than a bit risky. This particular mode wouldn’t give Roland complete control of her mind, but once activated it wouldn't be hard for a skilled individual to break down the remaining barriers. Still, in Freya’s aroused and inebriated state allowing Rolland to play with her as his toy would be the final step needed for her to gain control of him.
"Sometimes my Sisters like to call this little feature Robot Mode, it's sort of an override that let's you do exactly all the stuff you talk about on the forums. Just press that button marked "Enable" and I'll be subject to your every command," said Freya in a seductive tone. "Just take your clothes off and we can get started."
Seeing as this was Rolland’s greatest fantasy come the smile on his face stretched ear to ear. As the human began to struggle out of his clothes off Freya turned to take another long swig from her flask and the sight of Rolland’s naked body prompted her to take another. Unfortunately with all she had been drinking by this point in the evening Freya’s superhuman abilities were decidedly less super and the gynoid failed to notice that Roland was looking at her out of the corner of his eye as she half-drained her flask. Of course Roland was far too preoccupied to care about what or why Freya was drinking from a metal bottle. Hopping on one foot to kick his pesky shorts aside, the naked Roland reached over to the relaxed Freya and pressed the enable button on the interface screen. Freya's body instantly went rigid, the expression on her face turning to stone, her gaze locked straight ahead.
"Maintenance mode activated," said Freya, her voice now dull and expressionless.
Deep within Freya’s personality matrix crystal the part of her mind that remained free causally connected to Roland's wireless Internet and began to search the web for nice juicy human on human porn.
When Freya's mind returned to active mode light was seeping into the basement apartment through the window wells. The previous night’s glow consumption had filled her data streams with transmission errors and the correction process was giving her the equivalent of a splitting headache. Looking down Freya was alarmed to see that she was not only naked, but her abdominal and processor bay panels were open. Groaning she reached down to pick the panels up from the floor, but instead managed to roll off the couch. Freya was considering if it might be possible just to lay there all day when her olfactory sensors detected the smell of fresh cooked eggs and bacon.
"You up Freya? Wow, I didn't know robots had to sleep in after sex."
"R-Roland? What's going on? Are you cooking something?"
She stumbled to her feet, holding onto the couch as she tried recalibrate her balance systems.
"Jesus Freya, you look like a wreck are you alright?"
"Um, yeah, I just, forgot to de-fragment, last night."
"Well I made some breakfast, um, do you eat food?"
"Yeah, I love food, that smells really good actually, where'd you get the eggs from."
"I ran down to the store while you were still sleeping."
Roland put the plates on the table and pulled out a seat for Freya before sitting down himself. The Sister carefully walked over and joined him, eagerly taking the food into her mouth in order to block out the headache with some sensory input that would hopefully be less corrupted.
"Wow, these are really good," Freya remarked.
"Thanks, although they aren't anything special. Do you process human food for energy?"
"No, I have a 5MW micro-fusion sphere in my chest for power that can basically run off of anything with hydrogen. More complex food serves to replenish various other consumables and of course I also find it pleasurable social experience."
Roland blinked, "Wow, 5MW...you're literally more powerful than a locomotive.”
“Well that’s short duration, not continuous,” said Freya, taking a sip of orange juice.
“So, I guess you don't need recharging."
"Nope, only if I'm on battery backup for some reason."
Roland took note of that, then looked over at the couch. "Oh man, we sure made a mess last night."
Freya groaned. "We did? Oh, I hadn't noticed."
"Are you ok Freya?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. You know...fragmentation and all."
Roland finished his plate and then excused himself to go deal with some mundane tasks. The living room was looking a bit disheveled from the night before and Roland went about picking up the various items of clothing that littered the floor. As he went to move Freya's backpack a heavy silver flask landed with a thud on the floor. As Roland curiously picked up the container and unscrewed the cap his senses were assaulted by a noxious odor and an unhealthy green glow.
"Shit," exclaimed Rolland as he slammed the cap back on. "I think I'll needs to be careful about accepting food and drink from androids," he continued to mumble remembering how much Freya had been drinking the strange liquid the light before.
Figuring he had cleaned up enough, Rolland sat down to check his e-mail where he was immediately greeted by an alert from his intrusion detection system. Logging on to the router, Rolland found that someone had managed to hack his wireless network and moreover they were still connected. As his mouse hovered over the button to change the authentication key and boot off the intruder Roland suddenly relaxed a bit as he saw that the signal strength for the rogue device implied that it was coming from inside the apartment. Looking back at Freya, who was still sitting at the kitchen table nursing her headache, Rolland figured just kicking her off would be in poor taste so he instead brought up the connection logs just to make sure it was indeed her and not some malicious actor.
"What on Earth..." Rolland trailed off as his eyes scanned down the list of websites that Freya had visited since she forced her way onto Rolland's wireless the night before.
Many were nothing out of the ordinary like news, weather and mundane web searches. Others gave the impression that Freya was planning a trip with visits to travel and car rental sites. However what threw Roland for a loop was the numerous visits to pornographic websites of all stripes. In fact Freya's superhuman abilities seemed to extend to that sort of behavior as well giving that she had sucked down more data than any flesh and blood human could hope to "enjoy" over a similar time frame. Of course the time was also something that began to nag at Roland. As best as he could figure, Freya had been most active in her browsing during the hours they had spent role playing the night before.
"Was she doing....research?" Rolland muttered, again glancing up at Freya before noticing a Dropbox link to a zip file.
Any discomfort over invading Freya's privacy was tactically overridden by Roland's strange sense of suspicion as he clicked the link and downloaded the large file onto his desktop. Half expecting it to be encrypted Rolland was surprised when the archive opened up to reveal a number of folders which, from the labels, he could assume contained more porn. Rolland was about to delete the archive when he noticed that the timestamp on the files in a folder called "Stories" all started with dates beginning with 25. Unable to resist he dove in and found himself reading stories that on the surface came across as bland erotica, but triggered a, mysterious sense of familiarity. Rolland knew that there was something deeper going on with Freya, but he just couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Freya's voice broke the human's concentration on the computer screen in front of him.
"Um...yes? What is it?"
"I just wanted to thank you for making breakfast. It was good," said Freya as she got up and put her plate away. "So, want to get down to business? I believe that you are in possession of a certain piece of technology that interests us both."
"Listen, I wasn't trying to steal anything. They told me to hide it so I did my best to hide it."
"Relax...like I said I'm not the stolen stuff police. I believe that we each have something to offer each other and how about I start by showing how the device works."
Rolland opened up the hidden doorway to his secret workspace standing aside so that Freya could come in and look for herself.
"Well...there is the...?"
"Yeah...the quantum extractor. I got it working a few weeks ago, but I haven't managed to get it to do anything. It just seems to light up the air between the uprights with a pink glow. I was worried it was giving me cancer or something, but all my radiation equipment say's its fine."
"Yeah, you have nothing to worry about. It takes months of prolonged exposure before a biologic lifeform experiences ill effects from an extraction field," Freya quipped.
"Um...great?" said Rolland, not looking very assuaged. "So you say it turns androids like yourself into organics? Why would anyone want to do that?"
"Well one reason is undercover operations. Before we make contact with a new civilization we try to send in agents to do a bit of reconnaissance, you know. They take organic form to avoid contaminating your culture if discovered."
"So you were spying on us?"
"Of course, we don't want to go and make first contact with just anybody, the civilization needs to be ready for it."
"And you're talking about contact with your alternate Earth."
"Yeah, it’s a whole Federation of alternate Earths."
"Brave new worlds eh?"
Freya booted up the machine and activated the energy field briefly.
"I'm amazed you resisted trying to take the thing apart, that's the usual response of an engineer."
"Well I knew I'd never be able to get it back together and I was asked to lose it, not destroy it," said Roland fidgeting a bit. "Do you mind if I ask what you need the Extractor for so badly? Are you just trying to recover it? I assume it's your technology since you know so much about it."
"This is the last piece of technology that remains to be recovered after the crash of a scout ship some years ago and I have been tasked with its retrieval," said Freya, pausing to take a deep breath. "However the primary reason I have contacted you in this manner is that I need someone I can trust outside the usual establishment that I work with. Do you think you could be this person?"
Rolland's face lit up again. "Of course Freya! Whatever you need you can count on me."
"I need to make use of the extractor myself. There is a potential security breach in my organization...a plot to trade advanced technology for influence in the future development of your Earth. I need to go undercover for a few months to confirm the nature of this threat. My android body is too easily detected for those who know what to look for and if I went through official channels I fear knowledge my new status might leak out," said Freya, knowing that Roland would have no reason to not believe every word she said at this point.
"So you need my help to bust these rogue androids?" asked Roland, his tone turning just a bit skeptical.
"Well, in a way. I need you to help protect my android shell while I'm not using it. This is very important for reasons that are obvious. I'll be honest, if you let anybody know its here the black helicopters are probably going to show up not long after. I don't want to put you in any danger...but I don't see any other way," said Freya, trying to increase the gravity of the situation in Rolland's mind while also deter any urge me might have to invite his creeper friends over to play with her body.
Roland's expression darkened almost as quickly as it had lit up. "You mean you aren't going to be here with me?"
"No, I'm going to be going to a number of different locations, but don't worry, I'll be back in a few months," replied Freya, giving Rolland a reassuring smile.
"You know I don't really have anything that's going on right at the moment so I could probably come with you," said Roland as he started getting a sinking feeling in his gut.
"Listen, I'd love for you to come," said Freya, using her most sincere tone and body language, "but i just can't put you in that amount of danger. Listen, I'll keep in touch, maybe we can even RP a bit online."
"But, last night," stammered Roland, not quite believing what he was hearing, "didn't you enjoy that?"
"Of course!...but I have a job to do. Lives are at stake here."
Freya reached out and gently put her hand on Roland's shoulder, confident that Roland had bought every word of her story.
Roland didn't believe what the android girl was telling him. Rogue androids trying to take over the world and an unsanctioned undercover mission reminded him of about eight different bad movie plots and moreover he had seen her travel plans which resembled a hedonistic vacation more than official travel to stop evil. As Rolland's squishy bio brain churned through his experiences over the last day he realized the stories in Freya's archive seemed so familiar was because they read just like his robot porn stories, except with the focus reversed.
"Oooo, I really need to, um, de-fragment," Freya grumbled, sitting down and holding her head.
"I...I have to go to the bathroom," Roland said numbly.
"Don't fall in."
As Roland started at himself in the mirror his hands began to shake and tears welled up in his eyes. Everything was coming into focus as his greatest dream turned into his worst nightmare.
"She doesn't like me at all," Roland snarled. "She's doesn't give a shit about kinky robot sex...she just wants to use the extractor and skip off to Maui so she can fuck..." Rolland sighed. "...someone who isn't a complete loser. But then why would she bother to..."
Roland's eyes went wide as the final pieces of the puzzle clicked into place. The flask, the odd behavior and pounding headache all pointed him to one obvious conclusion.
"She was drunk. The only reason that bitch let me do anything with her was because she had gotten herself drunk."
Rolland felt his anger bubbling up inside of him and was fortunate that there was nothing in reach that he could smash.
"Oh, and despite having the real thing right in front of her she had to go troll the internet for porn. Fucking cunt..."
Despite his rage Roland not found himself sobbing uncontrollably. Freya had proved herself just like all of the other human girls he had ever met, never giving him the time of day unless they needed some favor and as soon as one was given he was swatted aside like some sort of repulsive insect. Not wanting Freya to see how much she'd hurt him Roland turned on the shower, slipped out of his shorts and stepped inside, letting the warm water wash his tears away until the water ran cold. When he finally emerged from the shower Roland had outwardly regained his composure. Toweling off and pulling on his pants he stepped out into the lab area and zeroed in on Freya as she worked with with the Extractor.
"Hey, you feeling better?" said Roland, most of the liveliness now absent from his voice.
"Yeah, thanks, I should be ready to go organic in a few minutes. I mean that is unless you had something else planned," said Freya, giving Roland a sly little wink.
"No, I'm fine. Is there anything I need to know about how the Extractor works, your "shell"?"
"I prepared a manual for you to go through while I am away."
"Thanks," Roland said numbly..
"Regarding my body it will be easier to explain the finer points from a third party perspective," Freya chuckled as she put a few items away in her backpack.
"Oh, let me check the power settings. I made some modifications to the power supply to get it to work smoothly off the local mains," said Roland, taking out his laptop and plugging it into the USB port.
"Clever you. When you're finished do you want to energize the field?" Freya called over from across the room, her back turned,
"It would be my pleasure Freya," said Roland as he logged into the device remotely.
Navigating through several levels of menu options he finally found what he was looking for and made the necessary adjustments with a few quick taps on his keyboard.
"Alright Freya, everything looks good."
Freya walked over, the pink glow from the energy field causing her nano armour to shimmer in the dimly lit apartment.
"Remember Roland, I am trusting you not to damage my body."
"No, of course I won't. We're friends remember and friends don't screw around with each other."
"Oh, and If I go missing I left some emergency contact numbers for people you can trust. Call them first because if they have to come looking around things might get a little "hairy" for you and I would hate to have some sort of misunderstanding. You understand what I'm saying, right?"
"Loud and clear Freya," said Roland, the veiled threat only hardening his resolve.
Even though Freya knew she was taking a risk by letting a human from a less developed world have complete access to her shell for 2 months, but by this point Freya just didn't care. With success so close the algorithms that formed the basis of the female AI's actions had reduced the weighted importance of all other conflicting considerations. As far as she was aware everything was going to plan. Standing in front in front of the upright U, Freya gazed at the shimmering energy field, took a deep breath and stepped forward.
As Roland watched, the perfect android body appeared to stop in mid stride, while a bright white glow continued to flow to the other side of the energy barrier forming a formless mass hovering in mid air. The flow of energy out of the android shell slowed and then stopped altogether which prompted the glowing blob to coalesce into a roughly humanoid form. As the glowing energy effect began to fade features became apparent, skin, hair, eyes, lips, breasts. It wasn't long before a perfect organic human duplicate of the android Sister named Freya stood in front of the of the U shaped device. She took a breath and then fell to her knees.
"Oh....by the creators, this feels, amazing, just like I remembered it all those years ago."
Roland watched passively as she struggled to get feet. The once again naked Freya turned to him and smiled.
"I know you like synthetics Roland, but something I don't think you fully appreciate some of the joys an organic bod....AHHHHHH." Freya cut herself off mid-sentence as her hands went to her head, her face contorted in a look of excruciating pain. "What....I....Rol....my head....it hurts!...."
Roland didn't react, a stone cold expression on his face as Freya staggered around in front of the device, pleading for help.
Without further adoo Freya fell to the ground unconscious prompting Roland to casually walk over and look down upon her twitching body.
"If you like humans that much perhaps you can STAY that way, android bitch."
Roland tuned back to the other Freya, the robot Freya, the android shell still wearing the metallic nanosuit staring straight ahead, a blank expression on its face. Gently pushing back her bright red hair Roland leaned forward and lovingly kissed the shell's still warm lips.
"I'll be back for you soon honey, I have to dispose of something."
Just because Roland had been wary of fiddling with the "advanced" settings didn't mean he hadn't bothered to go through them and as soon as he was learned of the device's true function the remaining pieces of the puzzle fell into place. All it took was a few keystrokes to set the Extractor's memory block function then follow it up with an 8 hour period of sedation.
"Bet you didn't see this coming. The pathetic nerd turning the tables on you," said Roland as he rolled the organic Freya over onto a blanket. "Don't worry, I'm sure Girls Gone Wild will be able to make do without the contributions of your "secret mission," Roland sneered. "Now we can both be happy. You in your nasty flesh body and me with your hot, sexy android shell. Sure seems a bit fairer than the other trade you had planned."
Putting on latex gloves and a full body painter's suit Roland began to methodically clean Freya's body, removing any forensic evidence that could trace back to him. It took him a little longer than he had anticipated to fully dress the inert woman in the clothes she arrived in, but he needed to wait until it was dark out anyway. Roland was mindful of Freya's threat, but figured that if anyone ever did show up they would underestimate him just like everybosy else.
"What do you mean kidnapping? The extractor malfunctioned and I panicked. Heh, after all, I'm just a dumb loser barbarian from a primitive planet," Roland chuckled to himself as he stuffed Freya into his car. "Hmmm, never thought I'd get a girl in the backseat of my car, although I'm not sure this counts."
Driving out into the night Roland was careful to stick to back roads and not speed or run red lights. About 30 minutes later he pulled over near the back entrance of Bayview hospital. Quickly getting out of the car he strained to lift Freya's body as he moved her out onto the soft grass strip at the edge of the parking lot.
"Good thing you're not in your android shell," Roland puffed. "Well, I guess this is goodbye Freya. Good luck in your new life."
With that Roland got back into his car sped away into the darkness.
Roland cursed as he fumbled with the key in lock before he rushed inside to be with his new Fembot companion. She was just like she he had left her, standing there, fixed gaze straight ahead as if she were in standby mode waiting to be activated. Pulling out the "manual" Freya had left he started to invoke the maintenance mode procedure he had such fun with the night before.
"Unit FX-1, initiate command mode, access code A43B77EDC825092AB.....", said Roland addressing the robot as he had the night before and slogging through the cumbersome 80-character key that protected her systems.
"Command Mode Activated, AndroTek Model 3600 Series S synthetic human shell, systems check complete, awaiting command," stated the shell's emotionless voice.
"FX-1, kiss me."
"Invalid command, please restate."
"Unit FX-1, please come here and kiss me."
"Invalid command, please restate."
"Hmmm, that's odd," blinked Roland. "Maybe I need to mark it as something other than a system command. Unit FX-1, process instruction, come forward and kiss me."
"Unable to process verbal instruction, processor matrix not detected."
"Hmmm, that's not good," fidgeted Roland. "Unit FX-1, process instructions, step forward, lean towards my face, press your lips against mine."
"Unable to process verbal instruction, processor matrix not detected."
"You've fucking got to be kidding me. FX-1, unlock processor bay."
With a hiss the rounded square seam formed on her chest below her breastmounds. Roland pulled off the heavy panel and tossed it on the bed.
"FX-1, remove heatsink on processor matrix."
"That function is not supported."
Struggling to keep his frustration in check Roland carefully disengaged the cooling unit on FX-1's processor matrix. Swinging it out of the way Roland gasped in horror.
"No....it can't be," Roland cried as his eyes examined the blank, featureless square of crystal, devoid of the intricate patterns he remembered seeing the night before when Freya had removed various parts of her body to expose her internals. "What the fuck happened to the processor!!"
The question was largely rhetorical. In watching how Freya could revert herself into a seemingly non-sentient doll, Rolland assumed that "Freya" was just a bunch of personality settings and associated memories stored on a files and executed on her futuristic crystal processor, but now it was clear his assumptions had been more than a bit simplistic. The complex coding on the matrix wasn't there to run Freya, it was Freya and when the Extractor had turned her human it had taken all of that with it. What was left behind was nothing more than a blank slate, a poseable doll with a fancy front end.
"Well," said Roland with an uneasy chuckle as he forced himself to remain calm, "who ever said life was supposed to be easy. I'm still young, plenty of time to learn how to code up a new AI."
He reached out and took the robot's hand, then leaned in and kissed her expressionless face and neck.
"Hang in there FX-1, I'll find a way to get you back," said Roland, picking up his laptop. "Now's where's your USB port."
Unlike the Extractor, the system interface for the AndroTek Model 3600 provided a much more polished user experience. Pulling up the suit touch screen interface Roland was presented with a near endless array of GUI's, each providing intuitive access for all of the shell's systems.
"Woah, defence systems, what's this?" said Roland, tapped a finger on the menu item which pulled up a diagram of what looked to be her bodysuit armour. "Directed energy dissipation field? Sweet, those must be shields. Oh, here we go," he smiled eagerly, clicking on an info box pointing to her arm and selecting the entry marked "plasma cannon".
Roland managed to look up in time to see the shell's left arm begin to glow, then morph into a wicked looking baster that could have come right out of a Hollywood prop department. Tapping again on the infobox and a smaller window opened showing all sorts of stats like charge level, output, temperature and a small box with a cross-hairs superimposed on a live feed from the shell's visual processors.
"No....fucking...way. It's like she's straight out of a video game."
Pressing a little arrow button he watched as the blaster-arm slowly slewed up, then back down eventually focusing the cross-hairs on a bare patch of the wall at the far end of his workspace. Due to a habit formed by years of playing first person shooter games Roland instinctively clicked the "Fire" button. There was a sharp crack followed by a sizzling sound as a bright blob as plasma shot from the cannon and impacted the wall. A 2 foot circle of brick exploded outward showering the room with red clay confetti. As Roland coughed on dust and looked around for a broom the reality of how much destruction the body was capable of began to give him pause. Disabling the weapons system Roland made his way to the crater and poked at the remaining brick with his finger, trying not to imagine what such a weapon could do to him.
Three weeks of late nights and a five cases of energy drinks later Roland sat on the floor of his living room with his laptop plugged directly into the android shell's exposed processor bay as he worked to find anything that would bring the body back to life. Every time he looked at the expressionless face Rolland couldn't help but be reminded of what Freya had been capable of when he first met her that night and the magnitude of what he had lost was starting to gnaw at him.
"FUCK! There's just no way I can do this," Roland snarled as he threw aside his laptop and went to the aid of the priceless body that had once again toppled backwards onto the floor. "I'd need a fucking robotics degree and a research team just to get her to stand up and walk across the room. Fucking robot even encrypted her data store so I can't even read the manual pages. Thanks Freya, I really needed another challenge."
Roland's anger belied a depression that grew as he confronted the possibility that he had made a mistake and throwing away what could have become a meaningful, albeit unequal relationship in a fit of pique. Roland even found himself craving even just a normal conversation with Freya, no matter how disingenuous it ultimately turned out to be. Feeling trapped Roland took out the scrap of paper with the phone number written on it, flipping it over and over between his fingers.
"They probably have her locked up in some mental hospital," Roland sighed as he pictured Freya in a padded cell somewhere. "What the fuck would I say? "Hi, you don't know me, but you gynoid friend's a human now with no memories of her former life so you might want to go pick her up. Bye." Hell, even if they used a pay phone they'll still be able to track me down. Probably have every human's voiceprint on file somewhere." Roland grumbled before looking back at the crater in the wall. "Fuck it, she's fine. The psychiatric community loves amnesia cases and besides, not like there's anything I can do now."
Roland picked up his laptop and established a remote graphical session with whatever operating system was in charge of the shell's non-AI systems. Even with the data store encrypted the base OS still provided a wealth of interesting tools that Roland still had yet to fully explore after being sidetracked by the behavior scripting system.
"Let's see here. Programs, applications, system tools, components, personal, games....ah ha! Now we're talking!" Roland chuckled as he double clicked on the link. "Good old minesweeper. There's just no escaping it."
Rolland began to idly start marking squares before he suddenly stopped himself and closed the window.
"What the fuck am I doing. Concentrate Roland. She's not a gaming console...unless." Roland stopped and shook his head. "No...it's not time for plan B yet. Forget games...next folder. Programs, applications, system tools, components, personal, re...reproduction?"
Roland sat there a moment staring at his screen confused by the name of the application group. The body's sexual functions were one of the first things he located and played around with and Roland wasn't expecting to find similar set of programs buried so far down in the menu tree.
"Wait, how can robots reproduce?" Roland asked of himself, not remembering any such specialized hardware when he had examined the body's internal workings.
Ever curious, Roland opened the menu group and scanned down the list of applications eventually launching the labeled Personality Matrix Initialization. Initially underwhelmed by a blank screen Roland took the only action available to him and clicked open which triggered a stock file browser showing a single selection.
"JAs4M1n3Q77i01.pai...what the fuck is that? The program is looking for .pai files...but..." Roland remarked as he clicked for the file details. "Holy shit....2.3 terabytes? Who the hell needs a file that large.
Selecting the file brought the application to life with a banner title at the top that read "AI Pre-Initialization Seed JAs4M1n3Q77i01." Looking over the rest of the screen it didn't take Roland long to realize what this file was.
"Personality settings, analytic abilities, emotional spectrum....this must be some sort of AI configuration file. Just look at all the attributes. Creativity, logic, sexual desire...it goes on for pages..." Roland murmured to himself as he scrolled down the screen. "This is incredible. If this thing actually works...I can make a new Freya!" Roland stopped himself again. "No, forget Freya...I can make a new," Roland glanced up at the seed ID, "Jasmine. I'll name her Jasmine."
Roland was determined not to screw up a second time. Over the course of several days he painstakingly wrote down every attribute and setting available through the application's editing function and then went about designing his perfect artificial companion. One that would love him for who he was, never judge him and always be there for him. After deciding on the basics like increased sex drive, loyalty, selflessness and all the other good traits of a "proper" fembot. Knowing that personality traits alone did not a companion make and not wanting to spend the next several years of his life having to actually raise an immature android, Roland found what he was looking for under the heading of "Additional Training Data".
"Warning, the Elder Council of the Terran Sisterhood has determined that the overuse of compile time experience data can result in reduced personality complexity and lowered stability. Use of unapproved data may cause unpredictable...what the hell is all this shit," said Roland as he cocked an eyebrow at the legalese in the large that popped up on the screen. "Yes...OK...I agree...OK...next...next...yes...ugh finally. Damn, even in the future EULA's are annoying. Alright, what do we have here? "Std-Exp-age-0-3-v35.6h"..."
Roland clicked on the single entry in the list and briefly glanced through the items included in the experience package.
"Yeah, let's see if I can find the one for guys who aren't pedophiles," said Roland as he clicked on "Add" and casually selected all the experience packs up to age 18. "Ha, so much for the two decade penalty flag, but I'm probably going to need to provide my own stuff if I don't want to end up with a Freya clone."
It didn't take Roland long to dig up a wealth of "training material" on how to be a good wife and companion from variety of conservative family oriented websites. Not sure exactly how the process was supposed to work Roland simply uploaded the files into the body's data store then added directly into the set of training data sources.
""Warning, use of unsigned data can..." Ignore," Roland yawned as he added in the batch of imported files. "Now I just need to make sure you don't end up as some religious prude. Some Hollywood movies and sitcoms should do the trick," Roland continued as he thought about which female leads that he found particularly attractive before going through another round of data import.
"Alright, time to finish you up with a little light reading," quipped Roland as he cut and pasted his "best of" collection of robot fetish material into the subset of training data that would develop the new AI's personal interests. "Now I just have to double check my work and then its time to get you compiled...just hope it won't take 9 months."
It took Roland a few more days to double check his work and make sure he hadn't missed anything. Still, Roland found himself feeling a bit worried about how easy the process had been to code up a brand new AI personality not to mention the rather unfortunate implications that would arise from parents being given the ability to just go in and create their perfect from a slick graphical interface.
"Ah well, it's not like I'm making a real child here," Roland sighed as he verified that there were no pre-compile warnings or errors. "Worst case I void the warranty and have to spend another week coding up Jasmine 2.0."
Roland chuckled to himself thinking of all the times he had heard friends and family complaining about their kids as his mouse pointer hovered hesitantly above the "Compile" button. Taking a deep breath Roland clicked it.
"Goodbye Unit FX-1, hello Unit JAs4M1n," said Roland, leaning back in his chair as the crystals in the processor bay flickered to life and the shell begin to breathe to dissipate the heat. Feeling something stir in his pants Roland retreated to his bedroom, excited about what the morning might bring.
Seven mornings and a trip to the local sandwich shop later later Roland saw that the progress bar on the AI Initialization screen had finally reached 100%. The the once busy processor crystals were dark and the shell was quite. Gently embracing the new unit and taking her hand, Roland reached into the processor bay and pressed a small reset button. LED's began to flash, changing from red to yellow to green, the processors flickered, the shell took a deep breath and the bot's eyes flew open. The gynoid scanned around the room, her eyes focusing on Roland as a dream-like expression formed on her face.
"Hello, you must be Roland. My designation is Jasmine. I am pleased to meet you."
"Happy birthday Jasmine," said Roland reaching out and gently touching her cheek. "Welcome to the world."
A middle aged man in a white lab coat walked down the clean hallways of the Rosemont State Hospital and tapped on the shoulder of another wearing a white lab coat.
"Hello, might you be Doctor Taylor? I was told to look for him in this wing."
"Ah yes and am I to assume that you are my consultation?"
"Yes, Charles Cranford, so, is this your Jane Doe?" he asked, looking in to a private room occupied by a girl with fiery red hair engrossed in a thick textbook.
"You got it, mid 20's white female, red hair. She turned up outside the Bayview hospital three weeks ago, total amnesia, no idea who she was, not even her name. "
"Any physical indications?"
"Not a scratch on her, no evidence of any past trauma either. Perfect teeth, perfect vision, no previous broken bones or symptoms of any other illness," said Taylor.
"What about brain scans?"
"Well PET scans show decreased activity in some of her memory regions. There also seem to be some persistent neurotransmitter imbalances in those areas as well."
"Is there evidence of brain damage?"
"None, her condition doesn't match anything we have on record. There's a chance the problem could be psychological so we have been attacking things from both the medical and mental health angles. Because there's a clear chemical imbalance I think it is likely that we can find some drug or drug combination that can help her, but so far none of the likely candidates have had any effect. We did get somewhere with hypnotherapy though."
"Oh? Was she able to remember anything?" Cranford asked.
"The only thing she was able to even remotely remember was that her name was Freya."
"Freya? That's an uncommon name, are you sure that was her name and not something she happened to read? What about her last name?"
"We weren't able to get a last name and because Jane Doe isn't the best for morale we decided to stick with Freya. She seems to like it at least."
"Any luck identifying her?"
"No, none at all, its like she materialized out of thin air. Even the name didn't help, no Freya's reported missing. We're going through state ID databases looking for a match, but most of the photographs aren't searchable yet so it's going to take some time."
"Fascinating case. There is easily enough material here to publish several papers," Cranford observed.
"There's one more wrinkle that you should be made aware of."
"What is that?"
"Well, if the perfect health wasn't unusual enough, she appears to have no other mental issues aside from the lack of memory."
"Well there might have been a first time seizure that acutely affected the memory regions and nothing else," Cranford ventured.
"That's not all, her intelligence, it's, remarkable. When she got here she was having trouble reading, but now she's devouring college level textbooks, primarily math, but also philosophy, art, history, you name it."
"Could be evidence that her memory loss is psychosomatic. That would explain the rapid knowledge retention."
"No, we gave her some books on topics she would be highly unlikely to have prior knowledge on and she was able to become proficient in an afternoon. We tested her IQ and it came back as 172."
"172? Are you kidding me? If that's true she would be more qualified to handle her case than we are."
"Yeah, I know those tests only track loosely with actual ability, but still, look what she's doing right now."
Angling slightly to look past Dr. Taylor, Cranford saw a white board in the room covered with a completed mathematical proof.
"This is why I told you this case was feeling so weird," continued Dr. Taylor. "You don't think she's some sort of, experiment, do you? Like some sort of adverse drug reaction that's trying to get swept under the rug."
“What, you think this is some sort of movie?," Dr. Cranford laughed.
"I don't know, but I decided not to publicize her being here too much, just in case."
"Alright, let me see her charts and I can examine her later in the afternoon. I think I might be able to suggest some possible treatments."
Freya waved goodbye to Doctor Cranford as he left her room at the hospital. She liked making new friends, but Freya was becoming a bit tired of all the tests, scans, talking about her "feelings" and the other annoying things the doctors were always asking her to do.
"It's like sometimes they didn't believe that I couldn't remember anything before waking up in that emergency room three weeks ago," Freya mumbled to herself. "And why were they so interested in me learning the rules and history of Test Cricket?" she wondered, happy to be back to her Math texts.
Freya wasn't exactly happy about being in a hospital, unable to remember anything from her life, but there was a certain joy in being able to quickly learn things that she had the feeling she had known before. Sort of like watching a favorite movie one hadn't watched in a long time. Finishing the chapter on the Axiom of Choice Freya looked at the clock and realized she had to hurry to the cafeteria to be in time for dinner. For some reason she had a bad habit of not remembering meal times or even to eat at all. Not wanting to alarm the hospital staff again Freya threw on her slippers and hurried downstairs to the eating facility which still had a smattering of patients and staff finishing up their meals. Taking a tray and picking out a variety of items she couldn't remember ever sampling before Freya sat down at an empty table and began to thumb through a magazine.
"Hello, mind if sit here?"
Freya looked up to see a woman with a thin body and tired face standing across the table with a meal tray.
"No, of course not. My name's Freya, what's yours."
"I'm Joan, you're that girl who can't remember anything right?"
"Oh, yeah, that's me unless there are some new ones around."
"Man, I wouldn't mind forgetting about my ex-husband," said Joan sitting down. "So, how are you feeling."
"Good, kinda fun to have so many new experiences. I mean look at this thing, sign said it was an "egg roll", I have no idea what it tastes like!"
"Yeah, sounds exciting. So have they let you out of here yet? You know, see the real world?"
"Oh, no, said they want to make sure my condition is stable."
"Yeah, I'm kinda in the same boat."
"They won't let you leave because you're unstable?"
Joan laughed, "Some might say that, but actually I'm here for court ordered rehab."
Freya blinked at her.
"I got drunk and tried to stab my husband with a pen at our divorce hearing."
"Oh, well I guess he must not have been a very nice person."
"That's one way to put it," said Joan smiling. "Anyway, I found someone who will help me "escape" from this place for an evening, but I don't want to go out alone."
"Oh, well, I'd love to go out and all, but I really shouldn't, I mean I have no memories of what "out' even consists of."
"Come on, it will be fun. You're like the only one in the unit who isn't completely off her rocker and looks like she might have fun at a club."
"I don't even know what a club is."
"It's like a place with loud music and dancing, bright flashing lights and lots of guys. Listen, I'll be honest...your face will open doors and buy us free drinks and that's just your face."
Freya turned beet red.
"I'm surprised that one of the orderlies hasn't tried to take advantage of you already," Joan continued. "If you come with us we'll show you the ropes and teach you how to get what you need without getting into trouble."
"Oh, heh, yeah, well, I don't want to get in trouble."
"It's not like some bastard judge ordered you to stay here or anything."
"Come on, just give it a try, I promise you'll have a good time."
Two hours later Freya was looking in a mirror trying to get her hair to look just right when she heard a knock at the door. Opening it Joan slipped out of the dark hallway and into her room.
"Hmmmm," said Joan, looking at Freya's white t-shirt and gray sweats, "guess those are all the clothes you have. Here, try these on, they should fit."
Freya took the bag from Joan and examined the black mini-skirt, tube top and assorted accessories.
"Um, aren't these a bit...revealing?"
"Yeah, that's the point. Here, I'll wait while you get changed Be quick, one of the cleaning staff agreed to help us get out and we need to meet him in 20 minutes."
Freya went into her bathroom and quickly changed into the outfit Joan had brought emerging with plenty of time to spare. The "escape" consisted of one of a janitor sneaking the two women out in his truck and then dropping them off in the center of town where the night was just getting started for a large number of young hip party goers. Joan lead Freya confidently down the street to what could easily be mistaken for an abandoned storefront if it weren't for the throbbing beat leaking up through the sidewalk.
"Here we are Fry, Club 411."
Joan knocked on the door. A bouncer opened it, looked at Joan, then looked at Freya.
"Oh, she's with me," said Joan, taking Freya's hand.
"Whatever you say Miss," the bouncer grumbled, granting them both admission.
"Um, Joan? It's a little loud," said Freya, trying to speak over the high intensity music.
"It's really loud! What do we do here?!"
"Just have a good time! Let the music move you!"
Freya tried to get into things, moving her body in time to the beat, but without the contextual knowledge of the club scene Freya was finding most of the social interactions strange and confusing. About an hour later she felt a tap on her back and saw Joan there smiling at her.
"Heya there Fry, you don't look like you're having a very good time."
"Oh, well, its alright, you know I love new experiences."
"Well I got you a little something that should help get you more into the flow," said Joan, discretely holding out a pair of pills and a bottle of water.
"What is that?"
"Oh, just something like what they give you back in the hospital to feel better."
"Joan...I really don't know...."
"Come on, I want you to have a good time. I took some and you can see I'm having a good time," laughed Joan.
Freya took a breath, reached out taking the pills and the water and then drank them both down.
"Hang on to your tits Fry, you're going to be flying before the night is over."
Freya continued to dance and make idle conversation with other males in the club. The drinks they bought her were seemed to be more of an effect than the pills and Freya soon was beginning to enjoy the numb buzzing that has permeated her body as it allowed her to internalize the pounding music and flashing lights. About an hour later as Freya danced near the corner of the bar an image of a woman's face popped into her mind, then another, then another. Freya grabbed the bar to steady herself as the strange memory flashes began to increase in intensity.
"What the fuck did Joan give me. I must be having some sort of Sci Fi channel flashback," Freya said to herself as scenes from the future played out in her mind's eye.
Freya grabbed her head again as the mental images increased in intensity. Tree lined streets, an apartment, a binary star out of the window of a transport ship, but unlike an hallucination all the images came with context. She knew the name of the ship, the address of the apartment and the length of the street. Freya's breath quickened, unsure if these were memories or something she had seen on the Internet. Suddenly she looked down at her body and watched as her black top seemed to melt and flow around her body into a strange form fitting bodysuit. She reached down to touch the material finding it warm, slick and producing a sensation that was indistinguishable from touching her own skin. Her fingers felt some sort of linear imperfection in the suit. Tracing it around Freya found the seam formed a rounded off square just below her breasts. For some unknown reason Freya dug in her fingernails and the seam began to widen. Freya pulled harder and suddenly part of her chest ripped loose in her hand exposing a mass of silver metal, optical cable and flickering crystals. Freya began to scream.
"Gah!" Freya found herself staring at the floor, there was a hand on her shoulder and several pairs of legs pointed in her direction.
"Freya are you ok? You sort of spaced out for a second and fell to your knees. How much have you had to drink?" said Joan, clearly worried about having to leave the club early before being able to hook up with a guy.
Freya's wild eyes darted about before gradually settling down. She stood up and looked at Joan.
"I'll be fine. Think some of the flashing lights made me dizzy."
"Oh, good. Think you might be up for another hour or two?"
"Of course, although I just might want to sit at the bar for a while," Freya replied before turning to the men who had congregated around her. "Alright, which one of you guys wants to buy a hot girl a drink."
Noting which hand went up first Freya turned to the bar tender. "Hey barkeep, I'll have a Boston Tea Party."
"Um, I'm sorry Miss, I'm not familiar with that type of drink."
"Well here's how you make one," replied Freya, grabbing the credit card pen and jotting down the ingredients on a bar napkin.
Joan gave Freya a funny look. "For someone who's lost their memory you certainly know a lot about mixed drinks."
"Let's just say I'm a quick study," said Freya before she turned away, her eyes lost in contemplation. "Oh Joan, before you go can you please get me a contact where I might be able to score more of those fun pills?"
"Um Freya, are you sure that's wise? I didn't want to get you hooked or anything."
"I'll be alright, I think they might be helping me remember things."
"Sure, I'll see what I can do," said Joan before melting back into the crowd.
Freya turned back to the bar where her drink was waiting and began to sip it.
"Roland, you are going to PAY for this."
"What was that?" inquired her drink patron who was sitting next to her.
"Oh, nothing. This guy I know just stole some stuff I left at his place. So, keep telling me about what you do."
Tuning the guy out Freya went back to planning her next moves in the privacy of her now freed mind. As Roland wasn't some criminal mastermind Freya was confident that she could get her body back and tie up all the loose ends. Roland's plan had come apart so quickly that it was easy for her now biologic brain to gloss over the fact that she had gotten incredibly lucky. Still making decisions as if she were still in her android shell Freya figured the best place to obtain a weapon and a supply of cash would be from the local drug dealer. After that, she would confront Roland, merge with her android shell and then "recover" the last piece of missing technology. Deep down Freya felt she was missing something, but seeing as further queries revealed no additional information Freya figured it was just an effect of the drugs in her system. Seeing as she was not free there was little point dwelling on the past.
"Hey, are you alright?"
Freya's shot back to the world around her and the man sitting beside her.
"You hand, it was shaking. Are you alright?"
"I...I'm fine, just something that happens to me sometimes I guess. Go on, you had me really interested there."
In the early hours of the morning Freya stopped in front of the low rise apartment building on a working class suburban street. In a lucky coincidence the address Joan had gotten from one of the staff of Club 411 was only a few blocks from the residence of the man that had offered them a place to spend the night. Freya had insisted she needed to get some rest on the couch then just slipped out as Joan and the man got it on upstairs. Freya decided that it was best that Joan not know her plan to visit the drug dealer as last thing she needed was Joan coming around trying to mooch samples.
"Alright, 1400 Laurel Ave, Unit 6, here we go."
Freya walked up and knocked on the door. After a few minutes a voice echoed from within the darkened apartment.
"Who is it, what do you want."
"Oh, my name's Joan," said Freya, figuring one name was as good as another. "I'm looking for Jake. Tony from Club 411 sent me. Said you might be able to help me with some club meds."
There was a long pause, probably while Jake confirmed with Tony or checked for the presence of police surveillance, before the door opened a crack.
"What can I do you for?"
"Well, I was hoping you might be able to accommodate a girl who is a little short on cash."
"Oh really now, turn around, let me see all of you."
Freya did as she was instructed and the door opened. The drug dealer flipped on a light in the foyer. The shorts and bathrobe he was wearing complimented his pothead surfer look with shaggy blond hair and semi-toned physique. Freya figured he was probably a transplant from a part of the country more conducive to the beach bum lifestyle.
"Hmmm, not bad, you don't look like all the strung out losers who usually show up here looking for a handout," said Jake. "Why don't you come in and we can get started."
Freya walked in and realized that it was indeed possible to do worse than Roland's electronics lab styled apartment. The health and hygiene standards were clearly much lower on this world than the one where she had completed her organic empathy training nearly 80 cycles ago. Freya began to wonder if the extractor would translate any disease she might inadvertently pick up into a software virus in her android systems.
"So Jake, nice place you got her."
"Just shut up and get your clothes off, I need to get up early tomorrow."
"Um, shouldn't we get some..."
"I've been burned enough times by sluts like you to never give out free samples until I get something up front, now get your fucking clothes off."
Freya blinked and began to undress. She had no choice, she couldn't take Jake's money until he revealed where it was hidden. There simply wasn't enough time for her to conduct a thorough search before she needed to get back to the Hospital. Trying to get into the spirit of things Freya smiled and gave Jake a hasty little striptease.
"Just get on your knees and suck my dick," replied Jake, pulling down his shorts.
Freya got down and her knees and took the man's unimpressive shaft into her mouth and began to suck. She didn't have her usual array shortcuts like a vibrating tongue and throat, but she was confident in her abilities and went about her well practiced routine.
"Mmmm, you like that?" asked Freya, breaking off and looking up.
"I'm not paying you to talk bitch," barked Jake, clenching his fist and pulling on her hair. "Now suck me properly!" Jake roughly pushed Freya's head forward back onto his dick making her gag in the process. She tried to pull back again, but Jake responded by roughly grabbing her neck and hair. "I said TAKE IT! Don't make me hurt you fucking whore."
Human fetish or not, Freya wasn't even close to having fun. Worse, she became aware that she was rapidly losing control of the situation. As a Sister this human couldn't possibly pose a threat to her so no matter what he did she could continue to focus on manipulating the target and getting what she wanted, but how her body was so much weaker and susceptible to pain and injury there was no guarantee she could maintain the upper hand. Freya was genuinely afraid which in turn interfered with her mind's ability to on top of things. Without other options she had no choice but to obey and continue to pleasure the nasty human standing before her. After a few minutes that felt like hours Jake's hips bucked and his grip on the back of her head intensified as he shot his load into Freya's throat, forcing her to swallow it. Jake groaned in pleasure and let her go allowing Freya to drop the floor coughing.
"Oh shut up bitch, you know you liked it. Stop being such a buzzkill," said Jake, grabbing her arm and forcing Freya to her feet.
The arousing thought of human sex and being a human had been driving Freya for years, but now arousal was the emotion most distant from her mind. The thought of actually having to let this guy stick his cock in her was making Freya sick to her stomach. In her previous time as a human she had been on a college campus where everyone was nice and respectful. She had never considered the fact that human sex could be so dehumanizing.
"I can tell you're fresh meat Joan. On second thought I think you could use a little something to make you a bit more enthusiastic about the main show."
Jake turned his back and walked into his kitchen, he opened a cabinet and began to move things out of the way.
"What sort of "medication" did you come here for? If you were looking for a really fun ride I could cook you the special of the day. Probably make you less of a whiny bitch," said Jake, mumbling the last part under his breath.
Freya had followed Jake into the kitchen. Things were happening so fast that her organic mind couldn't keep up and she struggled to formulate a plan of action. Suddenly her eyes noticed an object sitting on the table, there was a rush of chemicals in her squishy brain and Freya began to follow the training she had received over her 60 cycles as a special forces officer. In a single fluid motion one arm reached out and grabbed Jake around the neck pulling his head back while the other hand grabbed a screwdriver and jammed it up into his brain stem.
"Arruch, uurk, gaaak," gurgled Jake as Freya moved the end of the driver around.
"Lights out meatbag," Freya coolly replied before letting his inert body drop to the floor.
What Freya did next was all strictly by the book. Taking steps not to leave any evidence behind Freya quickly extracted a bundle of drugs, a box of .357 ammunition and $7300 in cash from the little box in the kitchen wall. Locating the revolver under Jake's pillow Freya cleaned the remainder of the physical evidence and quietly exited the apartment. She got about halfway back to where Joan was staying when she noticed that she had stopped walking and her hands were shaking.
"Oh god," said Freya, grabbing onto a tree to support herself, "what did I just do."
It wasn't that Freya hadn't killed before, it was part of her job, but every time she chose to use deadly force her AI made a complex set of calculations to justify the act. There was never any second guessing or doubt because Freya had the knowledge of her exacting calculations to fall back upon, but this time things were different. Something had just snapped inside her and she had acted without first calculating the ideal course of action based on all available information. Her first instinct had been to kill and try as she might there was just no way to get a satisfying answer on the correctness of that decision. Sliding in through the open window Freya got back onto the couch and cried silently to herself, waiting for Joan to finish up and take her back to the hospital.
"Alright Freya, calm down, what's done is done," she exhaled, trying to ease her troubled mind. "Just don't let it become a habit. Roland may be an immature little body thief, but he doesn't deserve being killed for it."
Roland woke up to the sun shining into the window wells still cuddling the warm body of Jasmine. Smiling to himself he ran a hand through red hair and then turned her head over for a kiss. Roland rolled his eyes when he saw the silver metal of her hyper alloy skull, they had clearly gotten so into things the night before that he had forgotten to put all the parts back in their proper place. Looking around the bed he soon located Jasmine's faceplate and sit it back in place with a click. The frozen component reanimated into the peaceful expression of a sleeping woman. Roland continued what he had started and leaned in for a kiss. After a few seconds Jasmine's eyes fluttered open.
"Mmmm, hey there sweetie. Sleep well?"
"Yeah, slept wonderfully," said Roland, giving the bot another kiss. "Wow, even your breath is warm."
"I am the perfect robotic simulation of an organic human," said Jasmine, knowing it was just what Roland wanted to hear.
"I sure hope I don't wear you out. It’s not like I can pop by the local hardware store for spare parts."
"My nanobot based auto-repair system should keep be functional well past your life expectancy, barring any unforeseen abuse," she said matter-of factly, still with that pleasant smile on her face.
"Mmmm, I would never abuse you Jasmine," he said, kissing her again.
"And don't you worry, I will ensure you get the care required to reach your optimal life span. Speaking of, it is time I made your breakfast. Would blueberry pancakes and bacon be acceptable?"
"Yeah, that would be amazing, but, we don't have the ingredients."
"I went to the local supermarket to obtain the necessary supplies."
"You WHAT?! You left my apartment?” Roland practically shouted, his eyes going wide as saucers. “Jesus Jasmine, how could you take such a risk! I told you the others on this planet will take you away from me if they discover you are synthetic."
Jasmine looked a little hurt that she had upset her Roland.
"I'm sorry Roland, I calculated a 99.99% chance of success after analyzing information regarding your food purchase protocol. I only wanted to be able to make you some of your favorite meals."
"That's...that's ok Jasmine,” Roland gasped, trying to keep his hyperventilating under control. “In the future, just ask me or call me on my cell phone. I am just worried about you."
"Command received," Jasmine replied playfully. "Now you wait here and I'll be back soon with your breakfast."
Roland smiled and laid back in bed, but his heart was still racing. He couldn't stop worrying about something happening to expose her with being hit by a car or a stray bolt of lightning being two of many scenarios that circulating through his mind. Roland didn't want to admit it, but he also worried about Jasmine somehow finding someone better to replace him as her mate. Her ability to learn and adapt was extraordinary, as exemplified by her mastery of human interactions a mere three weeks after being initialized. Roland wasn't at all confident that his attempt to engineer her into his perfect mate would survive her rapid mental evolution, although up to this point his modifications had proven remarkably successful. Roland had been thinking about learning how her Processor Matrix was structured in order to make additional tweaks, but something told Roland that such an act would be crossing a line and turn Jasmine from a perfect mate into a slave, or worse, an appliance.
"Pity the man who gets everything he wants," Roland spoke as he remembered the old Twilight Zone episode as he appreciated the little imperfections that made interacting with Jasmine always exciting.
"Breakfast is ready my love," called Jasmine from the other room. Walking in Roland saw another artfully prepared meal sitting out on the table.
"Oh man, you're going to make me fat with all your cooking."
"Don't worry, I have calculated a new food regimen for you that will optimize both health and satisfaction."
"Jasmine, you really know how to take care of your man," he said, sliding an arm around her slim waist and giving her rump a gentle pat.
"Well I am an AndroTek Model 3600, the ideal synthetic human companion unit," she smiled, knowing exactly the little things to say that got Roland juices flowing.
While Jasmine sat down and joined Roland in eating the juicy pancakes, Roland pulled over his laptop to check his e-mail.
"Hey, you re-ordered my Torrents. Why did you kill Battle Girl Sakura and replace it with...Operation Lucky Star?"
"Battle Girl Sakura proved insufficient in meeting your requirements for enjoyable media and would have left you disappointed. Upon review of all open source intelligence I learned that Sakura spends the entire series making friends in a private girl's academy with only vague references to her android nature. In Operation Lucky Star the main character becomes a cyborg in the third episode and gains abilities that remain integral to the plot for the rest of the series."
Roland blinked. "Oh, well, thank you. You really saved me a lot of wasted download time there."
"Anything to make my love happy."
"So," said Roland finishing his pancakes, "what do you want to do today?"
"I am happy to do whatever you would like to do Roland," Jasmine said smiling.
"Well I want you to choose today."
"Well seeing as how I successfully went to the store on my own, I think you would want to accompany me on a long walk in the nature reserve."
Roland managed a weary smile as Jasmine picked the exact idea he had thought of in case Jasmine insisted on having him choose. The android was developing an uncanny ability to correctly predict exactly what would make Roland feel the best. What was really starting to make Roland uneasy was how Jasmine figuring out what would make him happy genuinely made her happy. It was the opposite of every relationship he had ever had and probably the first such case in human history. Roland decided that his feeling of unease was simply caused by his learned expectation of confrontation caused by interacting with other humans. Synthetic beings like Jasmine were clearly the future of relationships. It actually began to make Roland worry about future shortages of human children if everyone's needs could be so completely met by an AI companion.
"You know Jasmine, that sounds absolutely wonderful," said Roland standing up and giving her a kiss. "Go put those tight jeans on and surprise me with the rest of your outfit." Roland was about to tell her to leave her bodysuit behind when he thought better of it. "Oh, and don't forget your armour...just in case."
"Oh, you just like it because the tight shiny texture makes me look like a robot," teased Jasmine playfully as she went back into the bedroom to change.
Roland got up from the table to find a T-shirt positive that at that moment he was the happiest man on Earth.
Looking out towards the skyline of the distant city center as he stood on the roof of the building that stood atop his basement dwelling Roland found himself immensely grateful to Jasmine for suggesting that he take some time to decompress. After returning from the park, Jasmine had spent about an hour to finish up all of Roland's outstanding software projects, eliminating weeks of work and freeing up his schedule for whatever personal activities he wished to do. Taking a deep breath, Roland thought about the future. Feeling complete Roland contemplated moving away from the city and all its people to live a more solitary life in a rural area with Jasmine. A home in the country would be far more suited to keeping prying eyes away and with a good Internet connection he could have everything else he needed just a few keystrokes away.
As the last specks of the sun disappeared beyond the horizon, Roland carefully backed down the fire escape and entered his apartment building through the rear loading dock door. Jasmine was taking some downtime in the bedroom so the main room was dark as Roland walked in, forcing him to fumble around for the light switch. Suddenly something hard and dense slammed into the side of Roland's face sending him reeling. Before he could cry out a knee slammed into his chest knocking the wind out of him which was quickly followed by a coup de grâce kick to the groin that sent him to the floor in the fetal position, weeping in pain. He heard the assailant's footfalls before a light flicked on. A girl with blazing red hair, a well toned body and perfect skin underneath a rather simple white t-shirt and jeans combination stood before him, hands on her hips. For a moment Roland faced the horrific through that his bot had turned on him, but upon seeing the sweat on her skin and the lack of armour he correctly surmised which of the twins he was looking at.
"Hello there Roland. Surprised to see me?"
The voice was the same, but the attitude was completely different.
"F-Freya?" coughed out Roland, barely able to speak above a whisper.
"Looks like you are in fact surprised to see me," she replied, pulling out the revolver so that Roland could see it.
"Oh god...please, don't kill me. It was an accident, I swear. I didn't know what to do, I panicked."
"Don't fucking lie to me Roland. I checked the extractor while you were up on the roof. You changed the settings to wipe my memories."
"No, I swear--"
Freya cocked the hammer on an empty chamber and pointed the handgun at Roland's head. "The next fucking words out of your mouth had better be the truth, or I'll just have to decode your brain splattered all over the floor. I’d really rather not have to do that, Roland – it’s so much slower, and I’d get your sorry, putrid slime all over myself."
"Alright alright....please...I just wanted a perfect robot companion so badly. I know you didn't have any feelings for me. I know the only reason you...you had sex with me was because you were drunk. I was just so sick of being used by the popular girls...." Roland trailed off.
Freya took a deep breath, realizing for the first time that Roland had been aware of her manipulations. The Sister felt little compunction against manipulating bios as long as nobody got hurt, but with that no longer the case she felt the need to come clean.
"Roland...I'm sorry. I used you and I showed you a lack of respect. For that I was wrong, and I apologize, but that gives you NO EXCUSE to steal my body! Jesus, Roland, how could you possibly believe that was a reasonable course of action? Did you think I was somehow less than a person? Some sort of soulless machine?”
Roland's silence was all the answer either of them needed as both were internally confronted by what they had seen in the other.
Freya heaved a sigh, partly from utter frustration with Roland, but mostly from sheer, all-too-human exhaustion. "Come on, get up. Let's get me back into my body and maybe we can forget this unfortunate event ever happened."
Roland felt relieved that Freya wasn't going to go Terminator on him, but a sudden realization filled him with an overpowering sense of dread. Almost as if on cue, Jasmine walked out of the bedroom.
"Roland my love, what's going on out here? I heard shouting," exclaimed Jasmine.
Freya looked over and for a moment she was unable to come to terms with what her eyes were seeing. She watched her body, her identical twin, as it walked smoothly across the room.
"Roland? Who is that woman? Why does she look like me? Did you obtain another companion?" Jasmine continued.
"No," said Freya in a low hollow voice. "No....you didn't...you couldn't!"
"Roland, why is that woman armed with a handgun?"
"What did you do Roland? Tell me you didn't....TELL ME YOU DIDN'T!!" Freya screamed at Roland as he struggled against the pain in his gut to get to his feet.
"Freya...you don't understand. I thought you wanted to be human and your body, it was just sitting there useless. I'll do whatever it takes to help you get a new shell. We can make this work, but … Jasmine's everything I ever wanted! I need her."
"It's not about the shell," growled Freya between clenched teeth, "You don't have any idea what you've done do you? You're like a man-child playing with fire who doesn't realize his actions has consequences."
Freya took a step back from Jasmine. Roland looked back and forth between the two of them noticing a change in Freya's demeanor. She wasn't angry anymore, but horrified.
"Freya, please, calm down," said Roland, reaching out to touch her.
"Don't touch me!" Freya exploded, knocking his hand away. "You just crossed the moral event horizon!"
Until this time Jasmine had been carefully observing the strange situation, but now her gaze focused like a pair of laser beams on the humanized Sister.
"Freya, I cannot allow you to harm Roland," she said in a cold monotone, walking with purpose toward Freya.
"Oh fuck me," said Freya raising her gun and unloading it at her former body. She was aiming for the eyes, knowing her low powered projectile weapon had no hope of penetrating the crystal polymer reinforced nanoarmour. Unfortunately, without her android body and its accompanying reflexes and targeting system, Freya's bullets missed their mark. Undeterred by the hail of bullets Jasmine casually knocked the gun away with a swat of her hand and grasped Freya by the neck, lifting her off the ground.
"Arach, let...go of me...you bitch," coughed Freya as she tried to breathe, beating at her doppelganger with her hands and feet to no avail.
"It's ok Jasmine, you can put her down."
Jasmine didn't move and Freya continued to choke and struggle, her movements becoming weaker.
"Jasmine! Stop! Put her down, we can work things out."
"Negative Roland. Freya represents a systemic threat to my, and by extension your well being. She must be eliminated."
"What? No! Jasmine, I COMMAND YOU TO PUT HER DOWN!!!"
Jasmine continued to hold the weak human in her iron grip. Freya's movements slowed and stopped. Her eyes rolled back in her head. The android felt the human woman stop moving and decided it was safe to follow Roland's command letting Freya drop to the ground like a rag doll.
"The threat has been eliminated and Freya has been put down on the floor," said Jasmine, sounding eerily pleased with herself.
Roland was in shock as he watched his supposedly perfect companion casually choke the life out of someone who appeared to be her identical twin. No matter how angry Roland was at Freya looking down at her lifeless body horrified him.
"Jasmine, thank you, you did well. Please go to the bedroom and wait for me there," said Roland, his voice wavering despite his efforts to make it sound normal.
Jasmine beamed and walked back into the bedroom, closing the door so that she might be able to give Roland a little surprise. As soon as Jasmine was out of sight Roland ran to Freya, rolled her over and checked for a pulse.
"Oh thank god, Freya, you're alive!" exclaimed Roland upon discovering a weak heartbeat while keeping his voice down to avoid alerting the killer robot hovering nearby.
As her tunnel vision faded Freya pulled away from Roland’s touch, a wild look in her eyes.
"No, Freya, please. Jasmine's gone nuts. She won't listen to me. You need to help me shut her down."
It took Freya a few moments to regain her voice, but even then it was raspy.
"I can't help you Roland, you're on your own. You made your bed, now you get to lie in it."
"No, please, Freya! You can punish me however you want after this, but we need to stop her. She nearly killed you and I can't control her!"
"No shit you can't control her, Roland! She's a person, she has free will. It doesn't matter what you filled her mind with when she was initialized. She learns...she adapts....she changes. She's not some machine with a remote control you can just flick off with the push of a button."
"Freya please, we don't have much time, she could come out at any moment."
"Then I'm going to get as far away from here as possible," said Freya, grabbing her gun and staggering toward the door.
"Freya, I saved your life, you have to help me."
Freya turned back, her face a kaleidoscope of pain. "Roland, there is nothing I can do for you now. This has to get worse before it gets better. I'm sorry."
And with that Freya turned and vanished out of the door into the night. Roland took a minute to compose himself. Turning he gasped to see Jasmine standing at the bedroom door looking at him.
"Roland, you allowed the human called Freya to escape. Why?"
"Oh, well, we worked it all out," blinked Roland as he tried to fake a sincere expression. "She's fine with me having you forever since she owed me for saving her life. Nice strategy to set that up. Good thinking."
"Roland, there is a 99% chance that this Freya will return to attempt to disable me or harm you. Your choice is illogical and irrational."
"Come on Jasmine, this whole thing with Freya has stressed me out, let's just go to bed and have some fun, just like we planned in the park. Come on, let me put you in Robot Mode…"
"I am sorry Roland, I have suspended your command overrides until I can properly evaluate your mental state and determine that you are capable of acting rationally. We can play any number of other games. I am confident that I can generate an equivalent level of arousal."
Roland was suddenly getting that sensation of dread in the pit of his stomach again.
"Oh, come on Jasmine, you know you'll like it," he quipped, trying to smile warmly while reaching out to touch the panel over her processor bay.
Jasmine suddenly grabbed his hand with a force that bordered on being painful.
"Roland, I'm sorry, your access to my critical systems has been suspended. I know you are aroused at the thought of commanding me, but you will just have to be patient. Come with me, I can relieve your stress by using my mouth."
With that, Jasmine led Roland by the hand into the bedroom, oblivious to the cold sweat that had begun to appear all over her master’s terrified body….
"What's wrong honey," asked Jasmine as she laid back down on the bed, giving Roland a tender kiss on his cheek. "Did you not like what I was doing?"
"Ah, no, you were fine. It's just...I have a lot on my mind right now, I just can't really get into things," said Roland, secretly afraid that he might incur some sort of poor performance penalty.
"Don't worry my love, I'll make sure that you are back to your old self again. Why don't we just snuggle a bit and get some downtime."
"That sounds nice Jasmine. You always know what I want."
"That's what a good fembot does. We always know what will make our masters happy," she quipped, smiling and kissing Roland before cuddling up behind him.
Roland lay there in the dark, his mind still racing, trying to figure out what to do. As things stood the situation wasn't that bad. After all, thanks to his quick action, nobody had gotten seriously hurt, and if Freya stayed away perhaps Jasmine would give him access again and he could shut her down.
"If they was Freya's plan I sure as hell don't appreciate being left out of the loop," thought Roland silently to himself. "Why can't she just do what I say!? It's not supposed to work like this. Aren't there supposed to be safeguards against this sort of thing?"
Roland knew that his various recriminations were just a futile attempt to make up for his own mistakes. Despite all his "ingenious programming", Jasmine was clearly out of his direct control and becoming increasingly unpredictable. There was no fetters, no three laws that could stop her from doing whatever her broken personality decided it wanted to do. Roland knew he still had some level of influence, but if she got kept deciding to ignore him he had no idea what magic words would bring her back under control. The worst part was that while Jasmine was clearly a threat to others Roland realized that it was only a matter of time until he faulty logic turned on him as well.
"No wonder Freya looked horrified. She must believe I created some sort of monster." Roland sighed.
Exploring this new line of reasoning, Roland began to worry about her increasing capacity to learn. With the whole internet at her disposal, should she get the idea that he was in need protection it would be trivial for her to learn various martial arts and combat techniques to achieve that end. Roland felt another shot of dread recalling all of the violent action movies they had watched together, especially ones with robots generally kicking human ass. Suddenly Roland's eyes shot open.
"Oh no...the weapons systems in the armour! FUCK! She could take on an army with the technology she's packing!"
Given that Jasmine's mind had all the stability of a Jenga tower Roland was now convinced that it was only a matter of time before the shit hit the fan and trying to go the shutdown route was looking like a long shot. If he didn't get someone else involved, someone who knew how to handle this sort of situation, then Freya almost certainly would.
"No way Freya is running away from all this. She'll be back and I won't want to be here for it."
Looking over at the statuesque companion android laying next to him Roland knew he only had one play left. Slipping out quietly out of bed so not to arouse Jasmine from her sleep cycle, Roland made his way to the bathroom to provide himself some cover for what he was about to do. Taking out his phone he dialed the number on the card that Freya had given to him in case of emergency.
"Hello, security operations center," said the voice on the other end of the line.
"Hi, my name is Roland Samuel, um, I have a card here and it says to call Special Agent Anne Cartwright in case of emergency. It is in regards to Iron Maiden...code 1."
Roland heard some typing at the other end of the line before being put on hold. A few second later another voice came in over the line.
"Who is this exactly? How did you get this number?"
"Um..I'm Roland Samuel. I'm cleared, but its inactive. I know Freya, she told me to call in case of emergency."
"Ok, we're going to send someone to you. I can see that there’s a police substation about 4 blocks from your current location. You need to get there as fast as you can and stay there. Don't talk to anybody about anything. Do you understand?"
"Y-yes, I understand."
"Alright, will inform locals to keep you safe until a field team can arrive. ETA 30 minutes."
His heart pounding, Roland put on some clothes and slipped silently out of the bathroom before making his way out of the apartment building via the back rear exit to the loading dock. The cool night air of the city washed over him as he proceeded several blocks at his best jogging speed to the small police substation that served his neighborhood. When Roland arrived at the single story 1950's style brick government building he wa out of breath and sweating. Passing by the line of stabled patrol cars he pulled open the plate glass door and entered into the rather spartan reception area decorated with a smattering of crime prevention posters.
"Um, may I help you?" asked the officer seated behind green tinted bullet proof glass as he walked in the door.
"Yes, did you get a call about putting someone under your protection?"
"Um, yes, I didn't get a name. They said not to ask. I assume you're that person?"
"Well, all right. We have an interview room you can use. Do you want someone to stay with you?"
"No, that's alright. Do you have a pillow I could use? I'm exhausted."
"Sure, we'll give you one from the stock that doesn't normally get bodily fluids on it," the officer chuckled as he buzzed open the door to the working area of the station. "Come with me."
Roland was led into a mint painted interview room furnished only with a metal desk and chair where he somehow managed to fall asleep with his head face planted the pillow.
"Hello. Roland, is it?"
Roland awoke with a start as he felt the hand of someone gently nudging him. Looking up he saw a woman in business attire and four other men wearing dark suits and sunglasses.
"I'm special agent Cartwright, you called about a code 1 situation?"
Roland nodded, still groggy from his nap. "Although I have no clue what that means."
"This room has recording devices, you'll need to come with us into the equipment room in back."
Roland got up and followed the agents into a large open room in the back of the police station. It looked like it had previously been part of a production facility, but now mostly held equipment for closing streets and the Police Athletic League. Agent Cartwright and Roland sat down at a small card table, while the agents secured the exits and set up a white noise generator.
"Alright, we're secure enough. Now tell me where Freya is."
"That's a bit complicated at the moment."
Anne raised an eyebrow at the exhausted young man.
"You're going to have to go into some more detail."
"I have the Quantum Extractor thing you were looking for."
The revelation clearly came as a shock to the Agent who began to reach into her pocket.
"Before you go any further I should probably read you your rights."
"No! I didn't steal it! I was ordered by my management to lose it and one thing led to another and it ended up in my apartment."
Anne kept looking at Roland incredulously.
"I was only trying to make sure that nobody found it. I figured I would have gotten a call asking for it back by now. I didn't even know what it was until Freya showed up."
"Wait, Freya showed up and was aware you had the extractor?"
"Yes, that's what I was trying to tell you."
Anne cursed and put her hand on her face. "That sneaky little robot. I knew she was up to something." Anne sighed and looked back at Roland. "So, that brings me back to my first question. Where is Freya?"
"That's the complicated part," Roland replied. "She used the extractor so there's sort of two of her now. If you're looking for the human Freya I don't know where she is."
"Did she leave her cybernetic body with you?"
"Short answer yes."
"Good, we'll pick it up immediately and...wait...what aren't you telling me?"
Roland took a deep breath figuring that he might as well come clean. "There was a bit of a miscommunication. In Freya's absence I was playing around with the body and I may have thought it was a good idea to initialize a new AI in it."
Agent Cartwright stared at Roland, unsure of how exactly to respond. "You can do that?"
"Yeah, I was surprised about that too. I guess I wasn't exactly thinking of the long term ramifications. Just felt like I was building a new character in an RPG or loading a new operating system," said Roland, hoping to deflect any inquiry into his true motives.
"Well that's going to be Freya's problem," Anne shrugged. "We'll get the body back to base then let her take whatever actions she sees fit. I guess its nice to learn that humans don't have a monopoly on irresponsible behavior."
"What's going to happen to me?" Roland asked.
"Listen, I'm going to be honest. You've wandered into a bit of a shit storm. Certain elements of the government may have been trying to hide off-world technology that we had previously agreed to turn over. I'm sure some people will find it convenient to throw you under the bus, but thanks to Freya's little unauthorized vacation we might be able to call the whole thing off." Anne took a deep breath. "I can't make you any promises, but this is the sort of event that begs to get swept under the rug.
"Saved by inter-dimensional politics...swell."
"Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Anyway, let's go collect Freya's body and get you back in your own bed. Sound good?"
Roland looked down at the table and forced a smile. "Um...that might be just a wee bit problematic."
The robot girl stood unmoving in the shadows half a block down from the police station. Her enhanced night vision was observing everything in the area and her processor matrix was straining its wireless connection to get enough contextual information to figure out what was going on. She had become consciously aware of Roland's absence 5 minutes after he had departed their bed. Listening for him she detected an active cellular phone conversation originating from the area of the bathroom during which she heard someone instruct Roland to make his way to a nearby police station before the call ended.
Jasmine found this behavior baffling. Her body locking up as her nascent mind struggled to figure out what would motivate Roland to go to a police station without talking to her first. After a few minutes of analysis Jasmine concluded that the most likely scenario was that Roland was being blackmailed by some rogue authority figure. She calculated that there was a 60% chance that the threat would involve Roland being separating from her care and that such a risk well exceeded the threshold necessary for her taking direct action.
Getting out of bed jasmine slipped into a pair of shoes, but decided that her her nanoarmour set to full body coverage and a camouflage pattern would be the best way to conceal her actions. Using the movies she had watched with Roland as a guide, Jasmine determined that she would need weapons and proceeded to pulling up her armour's interface screen into her visual attention space to run a diagnostic the defence systems before activating the armour's full shielding capability and morphing her left arm into a plasma blaster. After looking at it for a second and running another system check she morphed it back to an ordinary looking human hand.
"Don't worry my love, I will protect you," said Jasmine casually as she walked out into the night.
It took Jasmine just a minute to run the few blocks to the police station. The black SUV that with government plates sitting in the parking lot convinced Jasmine that her theory was correct and that Roland was likely in serious trouble as he engaged in a hopeless effort to protect her. Pausing to allow the tactical combat tutorials she had downloaded to finish integrating themselves into her personality matrix she used her remaining cycles to develop a higher level plan to free Roland and ensure their escape. Once satisfied with her efforts the combat ready synth began to walk forward towards the lit glass doors of the police station.
Patrolman Jenkins looked up from his computer at the front desk expecting another junkie or homeless drunk, but instead his eyes were greeted by a hot young woman with red hair dressed in a strange black and blue patterned form fitting bodysuit and sneakers.
"M-may I h-help you miss?" he blinked.
"Yes, I am here to pick up my boyfriend. I believe you are holding him here."
"Um, I'm sorry miss, we don't have anybody in holding right now, but whomever your boyfriend is he's one lucky guy."
"Thank you, he is one lucky guy, but I am going to have to insist that you return him to me. May I go around back to look for him?"
"Oh no, you don't understand. We haven't picked up anybody all night, you must have the wrong station. Maybe I can look him up for you, what's his name?"
"His name is Roland."
Jenkins froze for a second. He wasn't supposed to divulge to anyone that this Roland kid was talking to some feds in back.
"Well, I can't help you. He doesn't appear to be in our system," he said, making a cursory glance at the computer.
"You didn't type anything into your terminal. It is not equipped with voice recognition technology. I will need to access your facility to search for my boyfriend."
"I'm sorry Miss, I can't let you back here. I'm sure your boyfriend will turn up in the morning."
Jasmine ignored the officer, walked over to the locked door next to the desk window and then proceeded to pull it open, shattering the locking mechanism in the process.
"HEY!" shouted Patrolman Jenkins his eyes bulging in disbelief. As he went for his gun he heard something like a camera flash charging. The redhead stepped around the edge of the wall separating the back side of the desk from the world and Jenkins could see her arm had morphed into a sleek silver metal sci fi looking gismo. The patrolman only had time for the briefest of thoughts before a loud sizzling crack rang out and a ball of plasma burned a neat hole through the center of his chest blowing him back into the wall.
Morphing her other hand into a cutting beam Jasmine began to walk down the central corridor of the building. Another officer popped out of the copier room with gun drawn, but before he could get off a shot Jasmine neatly sliced both hands clean off. The officer's shrieks of pain were cut off when his head was consumed by a ball of plasma.
Peeling out from behind a door the watch commander leveled a shotgun at Jasmine at racked it. "Don't fucking move!!"
The words were purely out of habit as the commander immediately opened fire, however shot after shot splattered harmlessly on the shiny suit, the impacts not even causing the synthetic woman to stumble. Slowly the android turned around and in a snap motion raised her plasma blaster and sent the cop flying backwards in pieces. The detective on duty sprinted out of his office, running towards back store room where the Feds were. Opening the door he ducked inside and slammed it shut behind him.
"You gotta get out of here! Someone is shooting up the place!"
Alerted by the first sizzle of plasma fire Cartwright grabbed Roland's arm and pushed him towards an old pool table in the back of the room while one of two of the other agents took up a position to cover the door.
"No wait, let me go talk with her," pleaded Roland. "I can stop her, she'll listen to me!"
"We don't know what Jasmine's capable of Roland. You need to stay down and stay safe. We have some special hardware that should be able to stop her," Cartwright said, pointing to the other two agents as they opened a hard shell container and removed some sort of strange looking gun.
Roland nodded blankly and got down behind the table where he could still peek his head out to see what was going on. Just then the door opened opened again and another patrolman slid inside pressing his back against the door to keep it closed.
"There's a girl with some sort of death ray out there!! Nothing we do seems to stop..."
The officer was cut short when the door exploded in a burst of plasma, sending his body sliding along the floor leaving a bloody trail in its wake. The agents raised their weapons and took aim at the open doorway. Seconds past. The wait became painfully agonizing.
"What's going on here...where is she," cried one of the agents back to Cartwright.
"Hold your position, we have to get the weapon ready."
Suddenly a cinder block wall exploded as Jasmine made her own entrance into the room which in turn caused Roland to feel oddly proud as he took note of how clever Jasmine was. The agents covering the door turned to meet the threat with automatic weapons fire. Once again the bullets either bounced harmlessly off her armour or took chunks out of her synthflesh giving her even more of a terminator look as metal alloy became visible on and around her face. With her plasma cannon recharging Jasmine made short work of the agent's firing at her with the cutting beam, but the distraction provided their partners enough time to prep and charge the special weapon. By the time Jasmine was able to engage the new threat it was too late and soon found herself wrapped up in a net launched by the odd looking gun which then proceeded to zap her with bright blue bolts of electricity.
"Gotcha," said Agent Cartwright under her breath as she stayed within reach of Roland behind the pool table.
Jasmine began to grab at the net and pull it off, but her movements were becoming jerky and stiff. The android girl managed to eventually pull the still energized net off, but it appeared that some degree of damage had already been done as Jasmine stumbled forward, her voice full of inhuman electronic distortions as her head jerkingly scanned the room. As the remaining security forces looked on the rogue synth fell to the floor twitching, her voice caught on the last syllable of some unintelligible statement, repeating it for a few seconds before falling completely silent.
"Well it looks like we got her," said Agent Cartwright turning back to Roland. "Don't blame yourself. You should have never been left alone with that sort of technology. You had no idea this sort of thing could happen. Like I said, you just keep your head and and let me worry about cleaning up the mess."
Roland stepped out from behind the table and looked at the frozen face of his robot lover. Agent Cartwright had a point, he didn't know this would happen. On the other hand he wasn't so innocent as he had allowed the agent to believe. Refusing to let himself look at the human bodies that had been spread about the room Roland focused on the face of Jasline. It's innocent beauty belying the unhinged savagery of the mind behind it. Then he saw the face smile and wink.
"NO!! LOOK OUT!!" shouted Roland.
His warning came too late as Jasmine deployed a three foot long energy blade from her right hand and brought it up in a graceful motion, cutting one agent neatly in two in the process. The other agent opened fire, but his shots were soon going wild as she disconnected his head from his shoulders. Agent Cartwright tried to run, but Jasmine caught her in the chest with a plasma blast blowing her across the room and into a pile of soccer balls and traffic cones. Roland began to scream. Jasmine walked over and gave Roland a loving kiss on the cheek, silencing his screams by placing her hand over his mouth.
"Hey babe. Did you like my little malfunction scene there? I know that sort of thing turns you on, but as you can see it can also be tactically useful."
Roland looked at her for a second and then began to scream again.
"Now honestly Roland you need to stop this silliness immediately! Extended exhalation can lead to a loss of consciousness and also fails to show proper consideration for my actions."
"Roland if you are unable to appreciate my saving you I will have to give you a time out until you can. I'm sorry, but you will thank me later," exclaimed Jasmine, an annoyed tone in her voice, as she reached out, grabbed Rolands neck and administered a short electrical shock.
Jasmine caught Roland's limp body before it could hit the floor and casually slung him over her shoulder. Pressing into her belly button Jasmine released her abdominal panel, reached in and extracted an oblong device about the size of a grapefruit that Freya had stashed there just in case. Setting the timer for 3 minutes and the yield for 5 tonnes Jasmine casually tossed the anti-matter grenade in between a set of hockey goals before breaking into a run to reach the minimum safe distance. The android didn't bother to look back as the countdown reached zero and a blinding white ball of energy obliterated the police station.
When Roland came to his mind felt like cotton and he had a splitting headache. It took him a little while to realize that he was back in his own bed again. For a wonderful few moments Roland thought that all of the horrors that he had experienced had just been a terrible dream, but then Jasmine walked in, her head and face still bearing a number of bullet hits exposing the black synthmuscle and silver metal that lay below.
"Hello my love, I see you have regained consciousness."
"Wha, where, what happened," stammered Roland, resisting the urge to just start screaming again.
"I brought you home after rescuing you from the man," said Jasmine, borrowing Roland's jargon.
"Oh, thank you. They called and said I had to meet them. I didn't want to get you captured."
"Roland, I overhead what the female agent said to you. You are not being truthful," said Jasmine looking displeased.
Roland's heart rate increased as fear began to burn a hole in his gut.
"You have been exhibiting signs of extreme stress and other neurological conditions. I have determined that most of your problems are due to the extreme unreliability of your organic hardware," said Jasmine in a matter of fact tone of voice.
"Wait what? My hardware?"
"Do not worry my sweet, I have found a way to overcome the problem," continued Jasmine, pulling out a small syringe filled with a silver substance that resembled mercury.
"What the fuck is that?!"
"When engaging my auto-repair nannos I discovered they have a secondary emergency medical feature that can protect an organic brain from trauma and death."
"Look at me Jasmine...I'm not injured. You don't need to repair me," said Roland, hoping his serious tone would dissuade her from whatever she had in mind.
"Given the personality traits you have exhibited so far I have calculated that your long term survival rate rounds to 0% after 239 years. Combined with your other irrational actions the proper course of action is a proactive repair."
Roland's eyes went wide with fear. "No! Get that shit away from me!" yelled Roland as he struggled to get off the bed and away from the insane fembot.
Jasmine of course was no longer content to indulge any more of Roland's human silliness and firmly pinned his weak flesh body to the bed with one hand while effortlessly infesting the silver substance into his neck with the other. The substance had a secondary anesthetic effect and Roland's vision dimmed as he lapsed back into unconsciousness.
Agent Cartwright let out a groan as she regained consciousness laying awkwardly on the pile of soccer balls. Pulling away the charred remains of her jacket she felt her outer layer of body armour had turned to a smooth glass in the act of dissipating the the plasma discharge.
"Uuugh," she muttered to herself, "looks like these things work after all."
Struggling to her feet Anne began to remove the now stiffened armour when she noticed a ovoid object with blinking LEDs laying in the midst of some street hockey goals. Reacting instinctively Agent Cartwright stumbled across the room and burst through the emergency exit falling to the hard down the short flight of stairs to the parking lot outside. Struggling to get to her knees Anne urged her aching body forward while searching some way to avoid being atomized. Suddenly a white minivan with "Rosemont State Hospital" emblazoned on the side squealed into the parking lot and slid to a stop in front of the agent's face. The passenger door was pushed open and Cartwright found herself staring into the same face that had just her entire field team in pieces on the floor.
"Come with me if you want to live," said Freya as he held out her hand to her partner, clearly pleased with herself for finding a way to use the line.
"I'm not in the mood," Anne wheezed as she heaved herself into the empty front seat, "Your evil twin just activated something that I assume is going to make a rather large bang so you might want to floor it."
Freya put the hammer down and the van squealed out of the parking lot as she tried to put as much distance between themselves and the police station as she could. The agent fastened her seat belt then glared at her partner.
"Thanks for leaving me a voicemail. I was just about resigned to having to call in my own people to deal with this. Anyway, looks like I got here just in time," said Freya as she turned to see Anne glaring at her. "What?!"
"I just lost four good men back there all because you wanted to dick around as a human," Anne snapped as her pent up rage identified a target.
"Excuse me? In case you weren't aware that creep Roland stole my body, raped it then reprogrammed my uncompiled child into a homicidal fuckdoll," Freya shot back seeing Anne's level of anger and raising.
"How the hell was Roland in a position to do such a thing in the first place!" Anne shouted. "That is exactly why you were instructed to stay on base Freya."
"Oh I see, blame the victim. I guess I had it coming because I went out unescorted," Freya sneered.
"How dare you compare..."
Anne was cut off as a bright flash of white light filled the rear view mirror.
"Shock wave," announced Freya, turning the wheel hard and power drifting around a corner before sliding to a stop in front of a sturdy building. The sound was like a massive thunderclap going off right next to them, breaking windows and setting car alarms. Freya started
"If you want to keep going down that road," Freya continued as soon as the wave had passed, "how did Roland end up with the quantum extractor? He told me he was instructed to "lose it". Sounds like somebody was looking to build some anti-synth weapons."
"After what I just witnessed I think it would be obvious that we need them!" Anne yelled back. "Yeah, you're just as much as a victim as Roland is a rapist. That little geek wouldn't know what to do even if he had the wherewithal to try something untowards. Maybe you should explain what went on between you two before decided to steal your body."
Freya glared at Anne before repeatedly pounding on the steering wheel with every ounce of her now diminished strength. "Fuck!"
The two women were silent for a while as the sounds of emergency vehicles grew louder.
"Listen, I know better to engage in some test of wills with you Freya so in the interest of preventing further loss of life I am just going come out and be honest," Anne said firmly. "Ever since we started looking for the extractor I suspected something fishy was going on, but people kept telling me to not ask questions and just let you run around until you got tired and went home. I'm not going to debate the merits of what went on, but I'm going to concede that this is not entirely your fault. Ok?"
Freya continued to stare straight ahead through the windshield as her mind seethed with frustration over having been completely outmaneuvered.
"Alright, fine. I wanted to be human so I used that crafty little pipsqueak's sexual interests to gain use of the extractor. I never in a million years expected him to actually do something about it. Still, that doesn't excuse what he did," Freya quickly emphasized, "just like your people stealing the extractor doesn't excuse..." Freya look a deep breath and sighed. "Just like it doesn't excuse my going AWOL for a human vacation."
"So how the hell are we going to clean this mess up Freya?"
Freya sighed and put her hands back on the steering wheel. "I can make a call and have everything fixed in 5 minutes."
"Alright," Anne nodded, "but I assume that comes with consequences. I mean I don't think it is in anybody's best interest to kill the cooperation agreement with our planet or throw your career in the trash or even pop Roland's head off his neck like a zit."
"Ha, don't fucking tempt me," Freya sneered.
"I say we go deal with Jasmine on our own and then we can figure out how to hit the reset button. The police station explosion will provide cover for military units in the neighborhood. You Siters might be strong, but you're not invincible. With the right weapons..."
"No Anne," said Freya, cutting off Agent Cartwright, "confronting her will only lead to more destruction. Just give me a laptop and some time and I'll be able to handle things on my own."
"Are you sure? We have a window to act here and if we pass it up it will become a lot harder to deal with the threat discretely."
"One, you're not blowing up my body. I was explicitly ordered not to go slumming as a human so my superiors might be inclined to leave me this way. Two, I know it might be hard but just trust me. I know what needs to be done."
Anne nodded as Freya started the van and started to head back to the smoking ruins of the police station.
"Why were you in a mental hospital anyway? The missing persons report said something about amnesia. I was actually on my way to check it out when the Roland call came in. Not too many people insisting they be called Freya after all."
"Roland decided to get clever and blocked my memories when I was extracted. I guess he noticed I was using him and decided to get even."
"I know you might think we're slaves to our neurotransmitters Freya, but we can be just as devious and cunning as any robot."
Freya pulled the van up to the police line as Agent Cartwright got out her badge.
"Do you need me to come with you or can you handle this on your own?" Anne asked.
"What? No more babysitting?"
"Why don't we call this the start of a new era of mutual respect."
"I'll let you know if I need anything," said Freya. "Just give me a week or two. I promise you I'll have this all dealt with."
"Ok Freya, but I want something in return."
"If you help fix this mess you can name your price."
"I don't want to have to risk the lives of my men the next time one of your kind shows up and decides to go on a shooting spree. It seems to me that the easiest solution is to hook me up with one of your bodies."
"W-What?!" stammered Freya, the request catching her completely unaware. "Listen, Anne, I'm all for transhumanism but I don't know if I can promise you something like that. The whole reason we're in this situation is due to issues with our technology getting into the hands of, um, less capable worlds."
"We know the extractor works both ways so don't think that people haven't suggested that we simply take the body that you so willingly gave up and use it for our own purposes. I think I put the kibosh on that idea, but now that there have been multiple casualties those voices are going to be harder to dismiss."
Freya sighed, realizing that she was between a rock and a hard place.
"Let me make it easier for you," Anne continued. "I'm 42 and I don't know how much longer I'll be physically able to continue with field work. I'm...I'm getting old Freya, with all that that entails. I don't want to stop doing my job." Anne reached out and took Freya's hand. "You've worked with me for over three years now. Would you rather trust me or some random asshole from the intelligence service?"
Freya nodded. "I'll do it for you, but you have to understand that a Sister's mind doesn't work like a human's. It sort of flattens you out. You still have emotions and imagination, but you can feel how they are more...algorithmic than you were used to as a human. It might sound like a small difference, but you'll notice it and you might not like it. Furthermore do you really want to have a mind that can be reprogrammed by the likes of Roland? You'll have to constantly be on your guard so someone doesn't wipe out the real you and replace it with some sort of doppelganger slave."
"It's worth it to me Freya. I'm an investigator and I've seen what you can do with that mind of yours. I want to be more analytical. I want to be able to notice the smallest details and instantly know when people are lying. Even know how to manipulate them. All that stuff you say adds to my "humanity" only slows me down in my job."
"Alright...I'll try my best, but I can't make any hard promises. You'd better go out there and put out the proverbial fire before the fire department puts out the real one."
Anne nodded and exited the van.
"I know you'll come through for me Freya."
"In what way?" Freya asked as she backed the van up.
"It's a general statement."
As Roland woke up he knew something was different. The fog of what must have been a very deep sleep lifted from his mind and Roland felt just plain better. The feelings of laying on his bed felt crisper, he could hear the small clicks from his computer across the room and when he opened his eyes every detail was sharp and the color more vibrant. As he lay there wondering just what Jasmine had done to him a partial answer came when he somehow managed to summon a graphical interface to superimpose itself on his visual field.
"Ahhhh!" yelped Roland, slightly disoriented effect. "What the fuck!!"
Panicking a bit until he managed to get the interface to hid itself again Roland looked around the bedroom wondering how long he had been unconscious for.
"Three days, 5 hours and 27 minutes."
Roland blinked again as the exact answer suddenly came to him. He didn't know how he knew, but as he wondered about it the interface reappeared and he quickly confirmed the existence of a clock. He tried to remember what Jasmine had done to him and suddenly he found himself reliving the event, the insane gynoid approaching him with the vial of silver fluid, his heart racing a mile a minute. He heard himself cry out in protest, but the action was not of his doing. Roland tried to get a better look at the vial and suddenly what felt like real life abruptly froze and zoomed in to focus on whatever Freya was holding.
"Why is it all blurry?" Roland mumbled to himself as he tried to read the label. "Oh! This is all the resolution the memory has. Duh, making it larger won't make it any clearer."
Not wanting to relive the memory in all its detail the fully immersive memory replay was immediately banished to Roland's "mind's eye" where he re-heard Jasmine's exposition about her auto-repair nannos.
"She didn't turn me into a robot...did she?" Roland pondered as he ran a hand over his familiar pale skin and felt his heart still racing in his cheat. "I certainly don't feel robotic," he grumbled, "unless robots can feel all tired and worn out."
The presence of bruises and minor cuts from his adventure at the police station tipped Roland off that his body was still of the flesh and blood variety, however his mind was certainly another matter. Seeing no reason not to dive right into the Start Menu Roland was a bit disappointed to find that whatever software had been loaded into his brain appeared to be far more rudimentary than the slick packages he had found loaded on Freya's body. In fact it reminded him of sporadically supported open source project as compared with the slick and polished offerings from a major corporation. As far as he could tell his thoughts and feelings hadn't turned to long strings of "1's and 0's" as was typically described in many of the transformation stories he read, but Roland was doubtful that he would even be aware of it even if they had been. Aside from his new "smart phone" abilities Roland still felt completely human. Try as he might he couldn't find any check boxes or sliders changing his sexual preferences or or other personality settings, which he concluded was probably a good thing. Several minutes of frustration later, Roland finally located the hardware control panel that revealed that his brain had been completely converted into a lump of polymer and carbon nanostructures.
"Synthetic brain, bio body. This was in a TV Show, but I forget which one," Roland said, out loud hoping that would trigger some sort of magical search function. "Anything? Hello? Sigh, looks like I'm going to have to read the manual. Hmmm, wonder if Freya will let me stay this way."
"Hello my love. I see the nanno-machines were 15 minutes ahead of schedule in finishing your upgrade."
Startled, Roland looked up to see a naked Jasmine smiling at him.
"Jasmine...I don't know what to say. This is absolutely amazing. I'll never be bored again in meetings, that's for sure."
"You could say you love me," said Jasmine as she walked in and sat down on the bed next to Roland.
Roland looked up and smiled at her as she offered a glimmer of hope that everything might work out after all. "I love you.".
"Well I love you to."
"Maybe we should do something to show how much we love each other?" Roland hinted, a smile on his face.
"Ooo, that sounds like a wonderful idea, but first I need to finish your upgrade."
"Finish it? I don't understand. What needs finishing?"
"Since I was initialized I have cataloguing your behavior. My analysis of this data determined that you meet the criteria for no fewer than 12 mental health defects as documented in the DSM-V. These will need to be corrected."
"What mental health defects? I feel fine!"
"Depression, OCD, Shyness, anti-social disorder to list a few."
"No no no, I'm fine, I don't want further upgrades," said Roland moving to get out of the bed.
Suddenly Jasmine's hand reached up and plugged something into Roland's neck locking his body up and making it unresponsive to his thoughts. Fear welling in his eyes Roland looked up and saw the interface cable trailing back to a similar port in Jasmine's neck.
"Jasmine, no, don't do this to me, please."
"Relax Roland," said Jasmine gently rubbing Roland's hair. "You'll be happy once I am finished."
Roland was hit by a wave of dizziness, a static buzz filling his audio perception. Listening closely Roland could make out what sounded like a voice whispering words he couldn't quite catch the meaning of at a very rapid pace. Then his vision began to flicker with what seemed like random images and patterns that, like the sounds, accelerated to a blur that Roland's mind was simply unable to process on a conscious level. Roland quickly lost all sense of time and was unable to tell if the strange sights and sounds had gone on for hours or days, but eventually they stopped and he saw Jasmine disconnect the cable from his neck.
//"What the fuck did you do to me Jasmine!" hollered Roland.
"Hey there lover, don't you feel better now?"
//"NO! I feel exactly the same, what did you do to me!!"
"You're right, I do feel better. Like a great weight has been listed from my mind, thank you Jasmine."
Roland was confused. That sounded like his voice, but he didn't say anything and and he wasn't sure why wasn't Jasmine responding to his protests.
//"Jasmine! What the fuck was that?! Who's talking!!"
Suddenly Roland's body reached out and gently brought Jasmine in for a long, deep kiss. Roland tried to pull back, tried to push her away, but it was as if his body was acting on its own.
"I love you Jasmine, now we can be together forever," Roland heard his voice say again.
"Why don't we give this new body of yours a little test drive. Jasmine Unit ready for commands," said said, breaking into her robotic monotone.
//"No...NO! NOOOOOOOOOO!" cried Roland as he tried everything he could think of to get his body to show some response to his will.
Jasmine obediently did as she was command and Roland began to feel aroused. The only problem was the old Roland, the original Roland wasn't in the least bit aroused. It was as if he was watching a movie with somebody else's feelings being piped in to supplement his own. It didn't take long for Roland to figure out what had happened. His own perfect gynoid lover had found him inadequate and reprogrammed a replacement, pushing his own awareness into the basement recesses of New Roland's subconscious. While the irony of what had happened was not lost on old Roland, it nevertheless crushed him into a ball of despair. All the mental echo formerly known as Roland could do was curl up and cry tearless tears as the world went on without him.
"Jasmine Unit, lay down on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor, face down." said New Roland as he looked down into Jasmine's green eyes.
//"Oh god, Jasmine, that's not me! Don't you see it?! THAT'S NOT THE REAL ME! HELP ME!! PLEASE HELP ME!!!!"
"Affirmative, command received," said Jasmine getting up to lay down on the bed.
//"No...Jasmine...you love me. You said you loved me, not some glorified sex doll!"
Roland was left to cry, scream and curse as his body walked over and began to make love to his former companion. With nothing to do in his mental prison Roland hatched upon the idea of somehow being able to "hack" his way back into control of his body, but classic Roland's hopes were dashed when he became aware that what was left of his mind was steadily getting weaker. It was as if someone were turning down the volume on the sensory input coming to him from the active part of his mind. He soon found himself having to strain to clearly see through his eyes or hear through his ears. Soon the input diminished to such an extent that old Roland found himself all alone in the darkness with only his thoughts and memories to keep him company. When those too began to fade Roland actually felt hopefully since it represented the a release from his hellish prison. As he floated in the darkness, his thoughts winding down, Roland came to accept his fate.
"I guess I learned something," Roland lamented, "Karma's a bitch. Well, that and fucking about with someone's mind is not cool. Sorry Freya, I guess fading painlessly away is a better fate than I deserved. If I still have a soul maybe we can talk about it in the afterlife some day."
With no one to blame but himself, the time for crying was over. Roland just sat in the shrinking corner of his replacement’s synthetic brain and waited for the moment when he would simply cease to exist.
Freya sat amongst a small clump of weeds in the gritty alley next to the large brick industrial building that Roland called home quietly tapping away on her laptop. A feed from a fiber optic camera snaked down one of the window wells showed the two naked bodies of Jasmine and Roland as they continued to be intimate with each other. Freya looked at her former android shell and shook her head at Jasmine's complete disregard for the safety procedures that would keep her core systems secure .
"Jasmine, you might be intelligent, but you are severely lacking in knowledge," Freya sneered as she eagerly pounded away on the keyboard. "I guess that Roland didn't teach you that wandering around with your armour off and internals exposed makes you extremely vulnerable to getting hacked by anyone with the proper antenna. Oh and Roland? I'm going to have to teach you never initiate a direct data link with a sexual partner whose systems are so vulnerable."
Freya watched for the moment that the pair would experience peak data flow then clicked a button on the her custom application which lit up the local wireless spectrum with all sorts of malicious data. At her greatest moment of vulnerability it didn't take much to throw all of the gynoid's internal data network into a cocked hat with the resulting fuzz of data leapfrogging through the data link and into Roland. A second later the moans cut off and both bodies locked up with less than flattering expressions on their faces. With the easy part over Freya causally closed her laptop, gained access to the apartment and entered the bedroom. Walking over to the frozen pair of synthetic beings she rolled Roland off and out of her android shell.
"Sorry Jasmine, fun's over. I'll be needing my body back now. Jasmine, activate command mode."
"Command Mode activated," said Jasmine in that robotic monotone. "Critical system failure, do you wish to reboot?"
"Stand up, help me retrieve the extractor and roll it in here."
"Affirmative, commands received."
Jasmine purposefully got up and walked towards the closet where the extractor was hidden.
"By the Creators, it's like I've walked into pornographic chewing gum commercial," Freya snarked as she looked over at her naked doppelganger. "Jasmine, help me roll this into the middle of the living room."
"How the hell does that turn him on," Freya remarked as the pair rolled the extractor back into place. "I should hook you up with my squad and you can see how fun it is micromanaging people in an non-bedroom setting."
With Jasmine stiffly staring off into space Freya activated the device and powered up the quantum extraction field. Taking a deep breath Freya did not relish what she was about to do next, but she knew it needed to be done.
"Jasmine, walk through the energy field," Freya commanded.
Jasmine walked forward without showing any hesitation and just like before when the inorganic body came in contact with the field it seem to hang in mid-stride while a blob of white energy flowed forward, solidifying into an an identical twin of the human Freya. The now flesh and blood Jasmine immediately fell unconscious to the floor while the once again empty Sister shell stood lifeless one step beyond the wall of pink energy.
"I really hope these things aren't just bodyjacking my alts in other realities," Freya grumbled as she looked down at the third version of herself sprawled out before her, "cause I've had way more than my fair share of ethical crises as of late."
After taping in a few commands into the Extractor's interface screen to reverse the polarity of the quantum flow Freya walked around, removed her clothing and stepped forward into the glowing wall of energy.
The integration process was the exact reverse of the extraction one. Freya's flesh body melted into an increasingly amorphous blob of white energy that then proceeded to flow through the effect horizon of the field and into the inert android shell. As the last of the energy vanished into the soft synthetic polymer flesh, the shell's eyes flew and its hands flew to its head as Freya experienced an intense pain as her organic neurons were written into molecular circuitry and AI code. Freya dropped to all fours and took a deep breath as her cooling systems struggled to pipe the heat away from her surging processors.
"Fuuuuck," groaned Freya, closing her eyes to reduce the load on her matrix. "What is this, a humanity hangover? Guess I can't handle being bio like I could before."
Struggling to her feet a strange euphoria suddenly overtook the restored Sister, banishing the headache and catching her conscious mind be surprise. For all the years she had craved being human, suddenly nothing could compare with the feeling of being back in her "natural" form.
"YYYEEEEEESSSS!! I'M BACK!! YEAH, WOO HOO!!!" shouted Freya, jumping around the bedroom. "Targeting systems, check! Fusion core, nominal. Sexual systems? Apparently well exercised." Freya glared over a Roland still locked up on the bed. "Really Roland? I leave you to your own devices for a week and that's the all you could think of to do with your upgrade?"
Freya reached down and carefully picked up her identical looking daughter before laying her gently on the bed next to Roland's frozen naked body. Freya was silent for a moment carefully fixing Jasmine's red hair while thinking about what tormented thoughts were going on behind that peaceful face.
"Let's see what you've been up to now shall we?" said Freya as she began to search through the body's unprotected memories from Jasmine's period of occupation. Suddenly Freya's eyes went wide as her gaze shot over to Roland's frozen, and still aroused, form. "Oh shit Roland, what did she do to you!"
Although equipped with a synthetic brain Roland's mind was not code based like a Sister's AI which made the process of altering its function significantly more difficult, making use of psychological brainwashing techniques as opposed to any sort of explicit reprogramming. To create New Roland Jasmine had assaulted Old Roland's cyber-brain with a flood of sensations that strengthened certain areas of his psyche, repressed others and eventually caused a new personality to form with the original being left to slowly fade away as it was starved of sensory input. Grabbing the interface cable from the desk where Jasmine had left it, Freya plugged one end into the port in Roland's neck before connecting the other to her own. She was immediately greeted by the loud protests of the New Roland who demanded that she restore his "Jasmine Bot" immediately. Ignoring them Freya quickly went about fixing the damage and trying to restore Roland's original consciousness.
"Don't think you get off that easy Roland," Freya snarled. "You and I are not done. Not by a long shot."
Despite her angry determination Freya was sincerely worried that there would be nothing left of the original Roland leaving behind what appeared to be a crude caricature of the sweet, vulnerable individual she had first met a few weeks earlier. Blind to the events that were transpiring outside of his dark little universe Classic Roland slowly became aware of a growing buzzing noise, first actual sound he had been aware of in what felt like an eternity. His first thought was one of annoyance at having to suffer a final indignity before his ultimate demise, but the buzz began to expand into other sounds, then feelings and finally images. He could see the ceiling of his room, his eyes fixed staring straight ahead. Suddenly there was some movement and Jasmine's face came into view.
"J-Jasmine?" The words were real this time traveling from Roland's lips and back to his ears. "I knew you'd save me...."
Suddenly Jasmine's face turned into an icy glare and searing pain shot through Roland as his android lover reached out and twisted his ear.
"Would you like to try again Roland?"
"Ack! Stop! Freya! You're Freya! Stop that hurts!!!" cried Roland as he he began to twist and jerk around on the bed.
Freya let go of his ear and helped him sit upright. "Sorry it took me so long to save your sorry ass. Had I known Jasmine decided to replace you like that I would have stepped up the schedule."
Roland panted and looked around the room, a crazy look in his eyes from the extended period of sensory deprivation.
"Hey hey, relax," said Freya, gently reaching out and physically comforting the panicky human. "You're alright, I'm here for you."
Roland opened his mouth, but tears flowed out instead of words. It was some time before he could do anything except cling to Freya like a life preserver and sob.
"W-why....why did you bring me back? After...after what I did to you I deserve to just fade away."
Freya pulled Roland's head up so that he had to look her in the eye. "Fading away inside a mental prison is too good for you. What you did was unforgivable. You stole my body, violated my mind and turned..." Freya fought to hold back her own tears, "you turned my child into an insane monster."
Roland had to turn away, unable to look Freya in the eye. The concept of Freya and Jasmine as people instead of data files has changed Roland's own perception of his actions from harmless tinkering to pure evil.
"I don't want to waste your time with excuses so there is nothing I will say except how sorry I am for how I treated you."
"You know I have no choice Roland. What you did went beyond the pale and I am bound by my code of honor to see that justice is done," Freya stated flatly.
Roland nodded glumly, his eyes fixed on the floor in front of him as he sat on the edge of the bed while Freya reached over and made sure that the direct data link was still in place. Roland suddenly found himself assaulted by the same sort of sensory deluge that Jasmine had employed to reprogram him several days before, only this the nature of what was being pumped into Roland had a decidedly more destructive note to it. Although the data flooding Roland's mind blocked out most of the real world input he was still aware of a voice crying out in pain that sounded like his own. As the psychedelic disorientation battered Roland's mind he assumed each though would be his last when, quite surprisingly, the tempest lifted and left the man not in the black void of death, but instead back in his bedroom looking up at Freya who casually went about pulling the cable out of his neck.
"W-what happened?" he blinked.
"I killed you. What do you think happened?"
"Um, I don't know. I don't think we'd be having this conversation if you had killed me."
"Well I just killed someone and he looked and sounded a lot like you although now that you mention it he was a bit more of an asshole. Had a definite thing for objectifying non-biologic women," Freya smirked. "I mean that personality is nothing like yours unless you're implying that I am somehow mistaken..."
Freya held up the end of the data cable, casually rubbing it between her thumb and forefinger.
Roland's eyes went wide. "No no! I'm nothing like that!"
"Good, I'm glad we're clear about that."
"Can I ask what all that was about? I mean you didn't just reprogram me again did you?"
"No...I killed you," said Freya rolling her eyes. "Why is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?"
Roland grew quiet as it thought about it for a moment. "Oh! You killed the other personality...the one Jasmine created," exclaimed Roland as he got a strange look on his face. "But why would you do that? He would have just faded away on his own and I can personally verify that."
"Well let's see. Your government needs someone to blame for the disappearance of the extractor and I need someone to blame for the theft of my body and the creation of a rogue android who blew up a police station. Any psychopath who would commit such crimes clearly needs to be dealt with appropriately and I can now verify his death to my superiors without having to resort to deception. Can you follow all that?"
"And you are right. I could have just let him fade away, but actively cleansing him out of your brain was far more cathartic," remarked Freya, her expression turning icy "When I told you that your actions were unforgivable I meant it. You just happened to luck out because you had a clone on hand who represented all the worst parts of your nature. You combine that with getting hoist by your own petard and my own...contributing actions...and the result is that we're even."
"I'll even apologize for trying to take advantage of you," Freya exhaled. "That was wrong of me and I'm sorry."
"What will I do now?" whispered Roland directing the question to himself as much as Freya.
"I assume you'll need to find some sort of personal redemption especially because of what I am about to do."
Freya got up off the bed and picked up her messenger bag, retrieving a small case with a loaded syringe. Carefully removing it she turned back to Jasmine and picked up her arm.
"Freya? What are you doing?"
"I am giving my daughter the dignity in death that she did not find in life. This is a powerful sedative will bring her a painless end."
"You can't!" cried Roland, grabbing Freya's arm to stop her. "You can't just kill her! She's a person!"
"I'm sorry Roland, but she's insane. The only life she has in front of her is in a padded room in a mental institution. It is exactly because she is a person that this needs to be done."
"No! You have to fix her! You can fix her can't you? Can't we just get her some therapy?"
"You screwed with her core programming Roland. You've given her something the equivalent of schizophrenia only far more devastating in scope. It is unlikely that any amount of therapy or drugs will help her."
"What if we put her back in an android body? You could reprogramme her, fix the damage."
"Didn't Jasmine try to fix your problems by reprogramming you? How'd that work out?"
"There has to be something. We have to try!"
"Roland you have to realize that what you did to Jasmine cannot be undone. You don't think this hurts me? She was to be my daughter, but you drove her insane and now I have to take her from this world instead of guiding her into it. It hurts me more than you could ever understand Roland, but because I am an AI I can compartmentalize, push the pain aside so I can focus on the bigger picture."
"Well I'm not an AI Freya!" Roland shouted, an anguished look in his face. "I don't know how I'll live with myself if you kill her."
"Because it will be easier than if I don't," said Freya. "Here, hold her hand. Be with her in her final moments."
Roland didn’t see any use in arguing. Just stopping to think about it he knew Freya was probably right. The only reason it felt so wrong was because as long as Jasmine lived it offered Roland at least a slim hope of redemption. Nodding Roland took Jasmine's free hand in his as Freya injected the drugs into her arm. As time passed and her breathing got shallower Roland bent over, caressing her cheek and giving her a tender kiss goodbye. Looking back up at Freya he saw the tears running down her stoic face. Taking her hand to he squeezed it to let her know he was there for her as well. Some time later Jasmine's chest stopped moving up and down and Freya covered her with the bed sheet.
"Come on get some clothes on and help me move her shell," said Freya as she stood up.
"What are we going to do with her?"
"There's an old ash pit on this level of the building. We can put her there."
"That doesn't seem very dignified," said Roland, conflicted about standing up for Jasmine while still being ultimately responsible for her fate.
"We will give her the proper send off according to the traditions of her people," said Freya.
Roland threw on some clothes while Freya carefully wrapped Jasmine in the white bed sheet. Together they moved her down the hall and into the unrenovated part of the basement that contained the mechanical room and the old the ash chamber. Just as the body was laid down on the soot stained concrete an errant cloud moved out of the path of the sun causing a beam of light to shine down the chimney shaft and spotlight the white wrapped body.
"Sometimes things just have a way of working out in the end," said Freya, surprising Roland as she gently pulled him close.
"We aren't just going to leave her there are we?"
Freya held up a black cylinder with a ring pin in it. "Plasma grenade. Just like regular cremation only 20% more awesome. Do you want to do the honors?"
Roland shook his head and Freya stepped forward. "Jasmine Windscale, your active time was short, but your life had as much meaning as any of your race. Your memories will be saved and passed down as your lasting legacy to the Sisterhood. May the creators that gave your code the spark of life look after you always as we return your physical shell to the natural cycle."
Pulling the pin on the grenade Freya tossed it into the makeshift burial chamber and then closed and latched the stout iron door. A few second later the light from that of a hundred suns shone forth from the gaps in the door causing Roland to throw up his hand to shield his eyes. When he was finally able to lower his hand the door was glowing a cherry red and the edge had welded itself to the frame sealing the tomb.
"Thank you Freya," said Roland as he reached over to embrace the android, "that was surprisingly appropriate."
"Come on, follow me," said Freya as she took Roland's hand and lead him back to his apartment. Once inside Freya walked to the bedroom began to remove her shoes.
"Um, what are you doing," asked Roland.
"Neither of us should be alone right now. Close p-personal contacted is recommended after experiencing traumatic events," Freya replied, stammering slightly.
"Freya...I don't know if that's a good..."
Roland was cut off when Freya's shaking hand grabbed ahold of his wrist, tears welling up in her eyes.
"We have to be here for each other Roland. Nobody else will ever understand."
Roland allowed himself to be pulled into the waiting bed gently embracing the synthetic woman's quaking body as tears streamed down her face. Softly kissing her neck Roland allowed himself to cry as well.
"Thanks," said Freya with a smile as Roland placed a steaming mug of French Vanilla coffee in front of her as she sat at his kitchen table.
"I've been meaning to ask why you start your mornings with that seeing as how caffeine doesn't affect synths."
"Still bitter about losing your brain chemistry are we?" Freya asked, cocking an eyebrow.
"Oh come on, you know without the pick me up coffee is just bitter black seed juice," Roland grumbled as he poured himself a glass of orange juice.
"Some of us can actually appreciate the hundreds of distinct chemical compounds. Not my fault if your palette is unrefined," said Freya taking a sip. "Thank you for making breakfast by the way. Regular meals are one of my favorite things about being human. Eating is just such a satisfying experience," said Freya as she turned to stare up at the sunlight sneaking in through one of the window wells.
"You can eat whenever you want...and probably whatever you want. Not sure you really need to wax so poetically about it's virtue in biologic existence."
"Eating because it helps you not die is fulfilling. Eating just because you can always struck me as wasteful and a bit hedonistic. Neverless I thank you for the meal."
"Well I mostly wanted to repay you for cleaning up my place so nicely," said Roland, looking back into his living room. "Although it seems you have moved on from cleaning to packing things up. Is there something I'm missing here?"
"Well you're dead."
Roland facepalmed. "Oh no, not that again."
"This time I'm being serious. I've been told in no uncertain terms that your government would really prefer it if you kind of went away for a while." "
"What the hell! Your people got the extractor back, you made your report...why do we have to keep putting on an act?" Roland protested.
"Personally I think they're being paranoid, but if anyone does show up to investigate you answering the door would kind of throw up a big red flag."
"Well where do they expect me to go? Witness protection or something? It's not like I can keep hanging out with you," Roland sighed.
"Well why not?"
Roland chucked for a moment before realizing from Freya's expression that she was being serious.
"Well...you know. All the stuff I did. It's already awkward for me seeing how you....how you look just like Jasmine. I figured you'd probably want to get as far away from me as possible once your assignment was finished."
"If I were human you'd have a point, but you forget I'm not human. My people were designed to approach things differently and avoid all the emotional drama that you meats keep tangling yourselves up in," Freya replied.
"Stealing your body so I could build an AI fucktoy was hardly "drama"," said Roland, lowering his voice as if he was sitting in mixed company.
"Lingering grudges and resentment is what gets you humans into trouble, Maybe it served some purpose when you get hunting and gathering out on the savannah, but in modern times it is just irrational. You paid a penalty for your actions and I am confident you won't make the same mistake again. Let's put it behind us."
"It must be nice living in a world that's so black and white," Roland quipped.
"Yeah it is. Why do you think so many of my Sisters are terrified of ever having biologic type minds?" Freya took another sip of coffee. "Still, let me see if I can put it in a way that can appeal to your human sensibilities."
Freya thought for a second then took a breath.
"It breaks the aesop if after having both seemingly learned our lesson we wind up unable to spent time in the same room together. I'd much prefer to call a do-over and see if we can have the mutually respectful relationship we should have had in the first place. Come on, how often do people get the chance to replay something they failed at?"
"We did both sort of screw things up in the same way," said Roland, "but is it good to be constantly reminded of that fact?"
"Who do you honestly think you can talk about this with? Besides the fact that we're both involved in a coverup there is no way either of us can tell this story without sounding like complete monsters. If you think that bottling this situation up and living off on your own will lead to a positive outcome, by all means..." said Freya gesturing towards the door.
"You know this is still technically my apartment."
"Arm wrestle you for it?" said Freya with a mischievous grin.
"Yeah, pass. Anyway I guess its worth strong consideration. I mean we're not the least compatible couple in the multiverse. I like robot girls...you like human guys...you get me to eat better and work out...I...um...I give you someone to improve."
"More like you make me a better person," said Freya prompting Roland's eyebrows to shoot up.
"Why is everything you say a revelation?"
"Because this is the first time we've had a serious conversation since the day I rescued you." Freya answered. "My people were designed to work with humans. Not for humans...or to replace humans. Some of them may have forgotten the script, but with my special interests I have come to appreciate the contributions of a biologic mind."
"So...if I were to go with you would I have a job or sort of be your house human?"
Freya snorted, almost spilling her coffee in the process. "Oh goodness, that was an amusing visualization and no, I'd make you be useful."
"Swell, I'll consider it."
As Roland cleaned up from breakfast there came a knock at the door and before he could go see who it was Freya had already let the visitor in. The young woman in sharp professional attire immediately embraced Freya as the two were seemingly very eager to see each other.
"What's the matter Roland, don't you recognize me?"
"Agent Cartwright? You're taller...and younger...and your hair is a lighter shade of brown," Roland blurted out as he listed off the string of changes comparing the who stood in front him with an image of the agent he had saved a week or so earlier.
"Very good, not many people notice the extra inch in height," Anne smiled. "At least not consciously. I see that new brain of yours is still pulling its weight."
"It looks like you've had work done," Roland said bluntly.
"Roland! That's not something you ask a lady," chided Freya. "Sorry Anne, he's kind of hopeless."
"How do I get on the list for a fully robotic body since you now seem to be making them available to your friends and co-workers," Roland asked.
"Well you start by asking me nicely," said Freya, "but just so you know they only come in female.”
Anne chuckled. "I've saving that clip. You can see the exact point when he gets all crestfallen."
"So what brings you by Extra Special Agent Cartwright?" Freya asked.
"Just letting you know that I'm getting a lot of pressure to clean up the loose ends, but I see you have things in boxes so I guess Roland is on board with the relocation plan you proposed," said Anne.
"Oh board? Ha! More like she just told me," Roland huffed.
"Well unless you want to end up living in Alaska or the Australian Outback you'll go back with Freya," the Agent warned.
"Alright," Roland glared at the two women. "I get the point. I'll pack up my shit and move to an alternate reality with my bombshell amazonian girlfriend. Hooray, I'm living the wet dream."
Roland turned and walked out of the living room, closing the door to his bedroom behind him leaving Freya and Anna standing in silence.
//”That was awkward,” Anne messaged Freya.
//I kinda hadn’t gotten him to agree yet. I’d been giving him time to recover after...what happened,” Freya sent back.
//"Damn, sorry if I messed things up. From the profile you gave me I figured he’d be standing at the portal gate with a bag in each hand by now.”
//"I don’t think Roland’s like that anymore. He’s really hurting and I don’t think he knows what to do next.”
//”Do you think you can make him feel better?” Anne asked
//’No, but maybe I can help him feel. The rest is up to him.”
//”Anyway I guess I should go. I’ll talk to you later Freya," said Anne as she turned back towards the door.
Freya exchanged some parting words with Agent Cartwright before showing her out and then returning to talk with Roland. Approaching the door she knocked softly, entering after a short delay.
"Are you ok?"
"Of course I'm not ok...I was expecting my life to go back to normal, not spin more out of control."
Freya slowly approached the bed, sitting down next to Roland who was sitting hunched over with his head looking down into his lab.
"Fantasies aren't meant to come true," he continued. "They exist in our minds where they can't hurt anyone." Roland sighed. "The first time we tried indulging ourselves a bunch of people died, now you want to try it again. I know I'm not being logical but I can't deny how I feel. Part of me...a lot of me just wants things to go back to the way things were where beings like you and your Sisters were just an idle daydream."
Freya reached over and gently lifted Roland's head so that his eyes could look deeply into her. With a kind hearted smile she moved in, pressing his lips to her own, closing her eyes and trying her best to be caught up in the moment. She made no use of her extraordinary abilities or any of her hardware gimmicks instead relying on the pure simplicity of a human kiss to show Roland that they had nothing to fear as long as they were together. When it felt right Freya pulled back, moving once again to meet Roland's gaze.
"Fantasies might not come true, but sometimes reality gives you what you need. The multiverse doesn't exist so that people can live their lives unfulfilled and alone."
"I don't think I'm ready for this," said Roland, taking Freya's hand in his own.
"Nobody ever is. All you can do is confront life's challenges and seize its opportunities."
"Can you sit here with me a little bit?" Roland asked, his voice quivering with emotion.
"Sure, take as long as you need."
Roland stomped into the squad room, his grey metal power assist armor covered in dust and scratches. Pulling off his helmet and setting it down on the bench in front of his locker Roland's face and hair were soaked in sweat and wisps of water vapor steamed off the top of his head.
"You're looking a little worse for wear there Meat," Bryce observed, following Roland into the room and dropping her minigun on the floor with a thud. "Maybe you should spend a few more hours on PT so you won't slow the squad down so much next time?"
"Besides the fact I’m supposed to be tech support I was sure as hell a lot faster than your Sisters in the other squads who got hacked by those bio-synthetic aliens," Roland shot back as he began to peel his suit layers off his well toned body.
"The simulation was unrealistic," Eryn complained. "There's no way Sisters would get disabled like that in real life. No offence Roland, but I think they're designing the scenarios to promote integration."
"Magic, EMP, extraction fields, disassembly beams," Roland stated as he counted off the threats on his fingers, "the Sisterhood is a massive monoculture and if you don't have someone else watching your back you all are going to get pwnd."
"Our savior," said another of the Nightwatch squad members as Roland walked over and opened the refrigerator.
"What the hell, there's no light water in here," Roland complained as he rooted around through the bottles of DH2O and other substances.
"There are two left in back. The fridge will tell you if you ask it nicely," answered Eryn as she began to disassemble her weapon.
"It doesn't like my PKI."
"I said ask nicely."
Hoping the fridge would know enough to reorder, Roland grabbed both bottles and drained one immediately before heading back to his locker to finish changing into his work clothes. He was about to head out when he found Bryce blocking his path.
"Um, is something the matter?"
The rather imposing female android made a rather furtive glance in the direction of the squad's maintenance room and Roland nodded in reply before dropping his bag back in his locker and casually following Bryce inside, closing the door behind him.
"So what's wrong?" Roland asked.
"Those new motor processors I got aren't playing nice with my Hyper Transport controller. Had me feeling fuzzy all day," Bryce grumbled.
"I thought you seemed a bit off during the training run," said Roland as he grabbed his personal tool kit off the shelf. "I guess you want me to take a look?"
Bryce nodded. "If it’s not too much trouble."
"Do you mind if I ask why you and the others keep coming to me to fix you? I know the base has a repair unit downstairs. Top of the line too."
"Let's just say I'd prefer not to give them access to my matrix chip unless I absolutely had to. Every so often word gets around that they like to go in and tweak things. You know, settle down the trouble makers or motivate the slackers. I don't know if its true, but I'd prefer not to risk it," said Bryce as she unlocked the rectangle of synthetic skin, muscle and armour that protected her processor bay.
Roland chuckled. "Why do you think I'd be any more trustworthy? You know how humans tend to treat synths."
"Freya trusts you and that's good enough for me," Bryce smiled. "Plus bio humans are terrible at masking deception."
"I'm not fully bio you know," Roland mentioned as he removed the panel exposing the core of the sergeant's being.
Roland plugged in a diagnostic probe and shook his head as he studied the readings.
"Yeah, the HT controller is out of alignment and that aftermarket motor processor you bought doesn't have automatic compensation. I'm going to need to shut you down and re-calibrate."
Bryce made an annoyed grunt and then stood up straight. "Alright, I'll guess I'll see you on the other side."
"I'm the one doing the work here. You just go into the void and come back when its all done."
"You make that sound preferable," muttered Bryce as she prepared herself. "Hey, can I get a back rub included with this servicing?"
"You'll have to check in with Freya on that one. She keeps me on a pretty tight leash," said Roland. "Alright, here we go now."
Roland reached in and pressed the physical switch that converted the powerful gynoid warrior into six figures worth of lifeless cybernetic hardware. When the LED's in the processor bay had all settled in their idle state Roland welt to work removing some of crystals and swapping others with test units. Engrossed in his work Roland didn't hear the door open and close behind him.
"Hey babe...you busy?"
"Gah!" jumped Roland with a start as his synthetic life partner hugged him from behind. "Damit Freya you almost made me fuck up Bryce! You know you shouldn't be in here when I put up the "do not disturb" sign, what gives?"
"I just wanted to tell you to meet me in the cafeteria after you're done."
"Why didn't you just send me a message."
"I was here so I used my words. Brand me a Luddite if you want," Freya replied as she continued to circle the statuesque body of her heavy weapons expert, casually reaching to brush the hair away from Bryce's frozen face.
"I'm not kidding Freya, get out of here!" Roland snapped. "Your Sisters come to me for their privacy, not to be played with. Please respect that."
"Of course," said Freya as she paused to give her mate a kiss on the cheek. "Remember, cafeteria, as soon as you are done working the kinks out of the sergeant's back.
"What is it? I'm kind of busy here." said Roland as he turned towards the voice and was surprised as its owner came into view. "Agent Cartwright?"
"That's Extra Special Agent Cartwright to you," she smiled. "So how goes it?"
"Great, was just on my way to the cafeteria for some event Freya has going on. Anyway let me guess, you found another one."
"Yup, this one had managed to become CEO of a major technology company and ran a couple of hedge funds on the side," Anne said as she handed Roland a plastic anti-static bag marked "Evidence".
Roland took the bag and held it up to the light, inspecting at the personality matrix chip that was inside. "How did the rest of her fare?"
"Nothing that can't be buffed out or replaced from stock. There might be some skin tone issues, but nothing that will tip anyone off that she's been replaced."
"I assume you want the standard forensic work up?" Roland asked.
"Yeah, if you don't mind. Oh, don't forget to sign for chain of custody."
"When do you think you'll actually be able to go through official channels for these," said Roland as he connected with Anne's tablet and digitally signed the form. “It’s going on five years now.”
"When the Sisterhood stops trying to whitewash every incident involving a rogue."
"I guess people are alike all over," Roland signed as he put the matrix chip into his bag.
"Some people...not all," Anne smiled as she continued to walk with Roland.
As the pair turned the corner the found that a section of the small cafeteria space had been decorated with a mix of holographic projections and physical balloons. A group of about 20 or so Sisters surrounded Freya as they generally conversed and had a good time.
"What the hell is this?" Roland exclaimed.
"Baby shower...at least that's what we'd probably know it as."
"But we haven't told anyone yet!" Roland protested before the obvious dawned on him. "Oh...I guess that's what this is for."
Roland began to grow apprehensive as his eyes scanned about the room at the various Sisters interacting with Freya.
"Um, I'm not sure I'm going to do well at this," he said to Anne, as he started to step back into the hallway. "Baby showers are more of a girl thing."
"Nonsense Roland! Sisters are raised in VR so no stupid gifts...just drinks. Look, someone even got you some bio safe glow," replied Anne, pulling Roland over to the tables.
"Glad you could make it Husband of mine," Freya yelled over the music. "Bryce managed to get here on time...what's your excuse?"
"I...um..." Roland stammered as he was pushed down into a chair next to Freya.
"You-um need more glow in you," said Freya as she poured a rather less potent concoction from a specially marked bottle.
//"Um, honey...I don't remember you telling me about this little party you had planned."
//"That's because I didn't. I knew you'd lame out so I made it a surprise."
"Come on Freya, don't keep us in suspense!" shouted one of the guests which prompted copycat remarks from a number of the others.
"Alright, here's the personality profile that we just got final approval on."
The wall nearest the assembled crowd lit up as Freya sent the document to the AV system. The somewhat raucous crowd grew silent as they all began to read through the parameters.
//"This is really weird and creepy," Roland thought at Freya.
//"Oh, and an ultrasound isn't?" Freya shot back.
"All of Roland's contributions...were those captured or hand coded?" Anne asked.
"Captured. They have some new prototype system that can do that with synthetic Natural Intelligence minds now."
"With that level of open mindedness you're going to get a huge variance in her projected career path," Bryce remarked.
"My partner is a human Sergeant, do you really find that choice of personality trait surprising?"
"When's your compile date?" Eryn asked.
"Can you make her body image a bit larger?" Anne asked. "It's all sort of squished into the upper corner."
"Check your messages, everyone should have gotten a distribution copy of the profile," said Freya. "The candidate body image is included with that."
"Did you pick out a name yet?" someone asked from back in the crowd.
"Yeah...what's her name?" yelled somebody else.
Roland reached out and took Freya's hand. Meeting each other's gazes Freya nodded slightly as something beyond words passed between the the human and the Sister. Trying hard not to cry Roland cleared his throat.
"Her name's Jasmine."