Obsolescence

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Part 1

Dawn was still just a blue glow leaking between bedroom curtains when Eve’s eyes snapped open. The illuminated dial of the alarm clock read exactly 6:00 am. She never looked at it. Instead, she turned her head to make sure that Jake was still asleep. He lay beside her in bed, snoring softly, his limbs entwined with the disheveled bedding. Eve’s full lips pulled into a smile. Sitting up at the waist, she pivoted her legs out from under the sheets and sat on the edge of the bed. After a short pause calculated to avoid disturbing Jake, she stood up with a single, smooth motion.

With measured steps, Eve made her way down the hall to the master bathroom and flicked a switch. A pair of fixtures came on, filling the room with cool white light that glinted off tile and metal and illuminated Eve’s nude body. She was lean but decidedly feminine, with wide hips and a pair of full, pert breasts whose pink areolae contrasted with her otherwise pale skin. A bob of lustrous black hair framed an oval face distinguished by high cheekbones, an upturned nose, and large, round eyes with irises the color of a cloudless sky. The only features that marked her as anything other than a beautiful young woman were faint seams where her limbs and neck joined her torso and around a few polygonal sections of her chest and back.

The artificial female stepped into the tub and gently lowered herself to a sitting position, the servos in her arms quietly whining in protest during the brief time they bore most of her weight. Reaching forward, she turned the tap so that a moderate trickle of warm water flowed down to the drain and removed a long cylindrical brush from the shower-caddy. She held it under the water until the soft bristles were thoroughly wet then spread her legs, revealing the soft pink folds of her sex. After spraying a gentle cleanser on the brush, Eve thrust it deep insider herself and vigorously worked it back and forth for precisely 20 seconds. Withdrawing it, she rinsed off the cleanser and used a similar appliance covered in soft cloth to wipe away any residue. She repeated the process for her mouth, then cleaned her exterior surfaces with a washcloth before rinsing with the shower attachment.

Once she had dried herself, Eve sat down at a dark mahogany makeup station and viewed her reflection in the mirror. An algorithm ran through hundreds of possible schemes based on availability, Jake’s preferences, and other factors. After several seconds, the process settled on one option and she got to work. Not needing primer or foundation, she started with blush before moving on to eye shadow and mascara. Finally, she applied deep red lipstick. She checked herself in the mirror to ensure that everything was in place then began returning the various accoutrements to the appropriate drawers.

Halfway through the task she paused for a moment, a memory file opening for no discernible reason. Eve recalled the day Jake had given her the makeup station: it had been the anniversary of their second year together; a surprise-present he revealed to her upon their return from a routine maintenance session. She’d been unable to account for how happy he had seemed on the ride home until he led her into the house and dramatically revealed it. She had thanked him enthusiastically, her programming indicating the correct reactions to the receipt of a gift. He kissed her passionately, and their subsequent lovemaking had left Jake in such an exhausted sleep that it took her some time to rouse him the next morning. Shaking her head slightly, Eve scheduled a diagnostic scan of her memory core for later that night and finished putting away her makeup.

Still naked, she entered the kitchen, tied on a simple white apron, and activated one of the stovetop burners. Setting a frying pan on it, she proceeded to retrieve eggs, bacon, and bread from the refrigerator. The bacon and eggs, with a dash of olive oil and rosemary, went into the frying pan while the bread was placed in the antique pop-up toaster. When everything was finished, she applied strawberry jam to the toast, plated the meal, and set everything out with a glass of water on the small kitchen table.

Bright rays of sunlight were just beginning to peek through the curtains when Eve returned to the bedroom. She switched on the light on Jake’s nightstand and sat down next to him. “Jake, honey,” she said softly, “it’s time to get up.” When he showed no response, she repeated her statement in a slightly louder voice and gently shook his shoulder. Jake inhaled sharply and his eyes opened. He relaxed as soon as he saw Eve’s smiling face over him.

“Morning,” he said, stretching his arms above his head and yawning ferociously.

“Good morning, honey” she replied, “your breakfast is ready.”

“Thanks,” Jake said as he stood up and stretched again; his deep-chested body unclothed. He absentmindedly scratched a set of deep scars on his back before putting on a robe.

During the first months of their relationship, Eve’s sexual programming had activated pretty much anytime she saw him naked. The tendency had resulted in some confusion, and several days of him being late to the office. It had taken nearly a week for her adaptive learning software to get a better handle on what contexts implied desired intimacy. Now, she simply stood up and went to her dresser while Jake made his way towards the kitchen. Another set of algorithms inventoried the possible outfits that her wardrobe could support, and she stood silently for several seconds while her processors churned through the alternatives. Smiling, she pulled on a pair of black lace panties followed by matching stockings. A red, backless mini-dress formed the centerpiece of the ensemble, clinging tightly to her curves. Eve finished it off with a pair of red patent-leather heels and a matching choker.

“You are the most beautiful woman in the world, you know that?” Jake came up from behind and held his synthetic lover in powerful arms, placing soft kisses on the nape of her neck. She detected a hardness against her bottom through the fabric of the dress.

“Oh, Jake, you’re so… I love… you’ll be-be-be late for work,” she scolded as his hands glided up to cup her breasts. Eve’s processors went into overdrive as she switched rapidly in and out of sex-mode under Jake’s experienced hands. Every time she began to grow aroused her higher functions would kill the process, seeking to ensure her lover kept his schedule.

“Don’t worry, they opened another lane on the expressway; traffic’s been lighter than usual. I’ll make it as long as we don’t take too long,” Jake told her in between kisses. That new data broke the deadlock, and Eve turned around in his arms to kiss him deeply. She dropped to her knees to find him fully erect before her face.

“What do we have here?” she asked, rhetorically, and answered her question by kissing him lightly on the tip of his cock. She sat back on her haunches; taking his shaft in her hand and looked up at him with an evil smile. “Tell me what you want to do to me,” she demanded, “tell me how hot I am.”

“You’re such a tease!” Jake said in a state of almost painful arousal.

“Yes, but that’s how you like me,” she responded truthfully, “Now tell me.”

“You’re so fucking sexy,” Jake told her, “I want to pull that dress up, bend you over, and fuck you until you scream!”

“Hmmm, I guess that’ll do,” she said noncommittally, then grinned and took him suddenly into her mouth. Jake breathed heavily as Eve’s head pistoned back and forth, her full, red lips cushioning his shaft. She recorded a minor error that prevented additional lubrication from being pumped into her mouth cavity, but it wasn’t serious enough to make her stop; the only consequence was that Jake’s cock started to squeak slightly whenever it’s head rubbed against the inside of her cheek. When she determined he was nearing climax, she took his balls in her hand and squeezed ever so gently. It sent him over the edge and, moaning deeply, he came into her mouth.

Jake’s hips bucked involuntarily a few times, forcing a last pulse of pleasure into him as the tip of his cock pressed back against the slight roughness of Eve’s tongue. He put a hand on her shoulder to steady himself and withdrew. A few droplets of his cum escaped, rolling down her chin and dripping onto her breasts.

“Yummy,” Eve said, smirking.

Jake smiled back and looked at the clock. “Dammit!” he said, and began hurriedly pulling on his slacks. He dressed quickly and rushed out the door while Eve cleaned herself up with a bit of wet paper towel from the kitchen. “See you tonight, honey!” he said just before leaving.

“Bye, Jake,” she waved after him, “have a good day at work.”

~

Thankfully, traffic was unusually light that morning and Jake enjoyed a leisurely commute. One part of him calmly read news and email on his padcomp, but another was in turmoil. Every morning he left home with a slowly growing fear of what he might find when he returned in the evening. Most of the time Eve was there to greet him, just as she had been at the end of nearly every workday for the last seven years. Lately, though, she’d been suffering increasingly frequent malfunctions, both hardware and software related. It wasn’t exactly an unforeseeable situation given that she was now years out of warranty. Jake was well enough paid that repairs weren’t a major issue, and he was increasingly proficient at dealing with the smaller problems himself. That didn’t change the fact that something was eventually bound to go irreparably wrong with her, though.

When Jake had first brought her home, Eve had been very different. Hers had been the first generation of gynoid with an adaptive personality matrix; the ability to learn from the environment and adapt her behaviors accordingly, to the point of rewriting much of her own programming and even adding new modules within the bounds of an overarching structure. She had been in many ways a blank slate then, with a starter personality formed by a long survey he filled out at the dealership. Occasionally she would take a long time to answer his questions, or simply become confused and need things to be explained to her in very simple language. Over time, a unique personality had emerged complete with quirks and idiosyncrasies. He knew at an intellectual level that Eve was just a machine, a clever simulation of a real woman, but he had come to love her more dearly than he’d ever thought possible; more than he could remember loving any of the real women he’d dated over the years. For the first time in his life, he was truly happy.

Now it was all at risk. When her body had started to show serious signs of wear, he’d looked into transferring her software to a completely new one. To his dismay, Jake discovered that there were serious problems with that option. His research showed that attempts to do so in similar circumstances had proved less than successful; there seemed to be something about the unimaginably intricate mass of complexly interconnected code in long-life, fully adaptive units of Eve’s generation that refused a simple transfer. The result was usually a unit that booted up and ran fine for a while, but then functioned more and more erratically until suffering a catastrophic cascade of software errors after a few weeks or months. The exact mechanism was still mysterious, but technology had moved on quickly enough that the industry had never had much incentive to develop a fix.

So, he took care of her as best he could; fixing her when she broke and treasuring every moment they spent together. He had assistance from Steve, the chief technician at his local dealership. They had gotten to be friends when Eve was still under warranty and Jake was bringing her in for her regular maintenance visits. Now Steve helped him out whenever he could, and usually knocked some off the price of repairs, too. There had been a few times when, if not for his working long hours off the clock, Eve might not have been fixable.

Jake’s car pulled into the parking garage and neatly maneuvered itself into a convenient spot near the elevator. He grabbed his briefcase and rode up to the fourth floor with some people he didn’t recognize. He noticed one of them, a rotund little man, staring at the skin-graft scars incompletely hidden by his beard. Jake stared back sternly until the man looked away. He felt shame, then anger when he realized there’d been pity in the man’s eyes. Taking a deep, practiced breath, he let the emotions drain off until they had given way to a measure of serenity by the time the elevator reached his floor.

In his office, he settled in for a few minutes, had a mug of coffee, and put on his visualization headset. With a wave of his hand, his field of view filled with a 3D model of Brazil’s newest autonomous weapons platform. Taking hold of the intangible model with his hand, he pulled it apart to show a less realistic-looking, tentative model of its internal systems layout. At first, he had thought the thick stub-wings leading to the lift fans contained a mechanical drive system. The Brazilians were still lagging in high-power electric motor design, though they were certainly still well ahead of their Neo-Gran-Columbian adversaries to the north. Now he was leaning more and more towards the idea that they had either made a jump in their technical ability, or that this bird was seriously underpowered relative to US or Japanese designs. With more hand motions, he brought up windows with all relevant intelligence and engineering data and began to block out possibilities for an electric drive consistent with Brazilian design practices.

~

Once Jake had left, Eve performed some minor chores around the house. While dusting, she happened to wander in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom and stopped to admire herself. For several long seconds, she stared at her reflection, unmoving except for the occasional blinking of her eyes.

“Hey, sexy,” she told her image, “you’re pretty hot. Are you a real girl?” After a pause she continued, “I’m not. I’m a doll. Wanna see?” A roughly rectangular panel in her upper chest depressed and slid down inside her, revealing a small panel of various interface ports over a rack of neatly spaced circuit boards. “I’m a LifeTech Eve 3.7 companion unit. Don’t you think I’m sexy?” She thrust out her breasts to accentuate the point. Seeming to ponder for a few moments, she smiled and said, “Hey, I have an idea. Jake likes it when I dress up for him, let’s have a fashion show!” The panel in her chest slid shut, and she started walking back and forth in front of the mirror with an exaggerated runway stride.

Having shown off her current outfit, she stripped out of it and tried coming up with another one. Only this time, the inputs for the algorithm where different. Instead of Jake being the subject to be impressed, she entered herself. Eve’s head cocked to one side as her CPU chugged through the partly recursive problem. The process came within a second of giving an error result before resolving successfully.

After taking several items from the closet, Eve started by rolling on a set of black latex stockings and gloves. She put on a skirt and top of the same material, her movements precise and deliberate to account for the friction of the rubber garments against her skin. After lubricating the outfit to a high sheen, she pulled on a pair of clear Lucite stilettos and stood before the mirror again. “I’m a sex-bot sex-pot!” she told her reflection; the statement a reflection of Jake’s penchant for bad wordplay. She ran her hands over the black rubber material. “Mmm, so shiny. You know, I’m plastic, too.”

Thinking for a moment, she chose to swap into a Goth ensemble next: PVC skirt, tight bustier, fishnets, and a pair of 6-inch platform knee-highs. “Now I’m as tall as Jake!” she chortled. When she’d finished her catwalk strut, she leaned in and whispered, “These put me at just the right height for him to fuck me standing up. I love it when he does that.”

Marching back to the dresser, she selected a blue silk qi-pao next. Smoothing out the fabric, she adopted a stiff formal pose, holding her chin high before the mirror. “I’m programmed for elegance, too, of course.”

“Well, that was fun,” Eve told herself in the mirror after admiring her appearance for a few more seconds, “but if you don’t mind, I think it’s time I got around to cleaning the curtains.”

Eve carefully put away the various pieces of clothing she’d tried on before changing back into her original outfit. Satisfied with her appearance, she walked downstairs to the kitchen for a chair. She carried it to the living room and set it before the large bay window that looked out over the wooded fringe separating their house from the main road.

Suddenly, Eve froze. “Warning. Low battery. Please connect charger,” she said in the neutral, monotone voice she was programmed to use for system status announcements.

Grabbing an extension cord from the hall closet, she connected one end to a wall outlet and plugged the other into a recessed charge port hidden under a small panel on her lower back. A bright LED adjacent to the plug inside the open panel switched from red to green. Satisfied, she returned to her task. Placing the chair with its back to the window, she stepped up onto the seat and began removing the beige curtains. Without Eve noticing, her motions soon lodged the power cord in a slot between the uppermost rail of the chair’s back and one of the decorative finials that topped its ears. When she leaned to reach the farthest curtain, the extension cord pulled out of the plug on her back.

Her body froze in mid extension. “Warning. Low battery-” she said as she began to topple off the side of the chair. “Pleases connec-” the word was interrupted as she slammed face-first into the floor with a loud thud.

The beautiful gynoid lay there for several seconds before stirring. She rolled over onto her back and attempted to sit up. Something inside her torso protested with a loud whine, but she persisted and the whine terminated with a sharp pop. She fell back to the floor abruptly. “Malfunction…” she stated to no one. A quiet buzzing noise began within her, which increased steadily in volume until it fizzled out with several more pops. “Malfu-u-u-u. Warning. Low Battery. Please connect charger.”

Undaunted, Eve rolled onto her side and pushed herself to a sitting position with her hands. She reached for the end of the cord, still lying on the seat of the chair, and plugged it back into herself. “That’s better,” she said, “now I can get back to-” A loud flurry of crackling noises in her abdomen sent the light next to her charging port rapidly flickering between red and green as her head twitched sharply to the side. One of her eyelids fluttered rapidly as sudden tremors shook her body. “Malfunction. M-m-malfun-n-n-nction…” she stuttered as the crackling continued.

The damaged companion unit looked around jerkily, trying to make a worried expression through the chaotic twitching of her facial actuators. “Jake, he-e-e-elp me-me-me. I think I’m broke-ke-ken!”

An instant later there was a damaging-sounding bang from inside Eve’s abdomen. She flailed violently and the panel on her chest whirred partway open. Electrical smoke billowed from the opening as some component inside her began to emit an angry electronic beeping noise. She fell back again, her heels pounding the floor as though she were walking.

“Malfu-u-u-u-unction. Ja-Ja-Jake, I ne-e-e-e-eed… please con-con-contact an approved service ve-e-e-e-endor for…” another loud bang sounded from inside Eve, cutting her voice off in a squeal of digitized distortion. Her frantic motions ground to a sudden halt and the beeping ceased. Other than the ticking sound of over-hot metal from inside the broken doll, the house was silent.

~

“Hey, Jake, who’s that? I didn’t know you had a girlfriend,” Sarah said as Jake kneeled to pick up his fallen wallet and replace the escaped photo of Eve. His heart raced as he stalled by paying the cafeteria cashier for lunch. It was by no means unheard of for someone to have a pleasure droid at home; it had even been a briefly fashionable for couples to get one and bring it out with them on dates. However, it was almost unheard of for a man to have a picture of a sex-bot in his wallet.

“Ah… yes,” Jake replied, hesitantly, “we’ve been seeing each other for a while now. Oh, did you see the news about the Saudi mini-sub purchase?”

Sarah looked at him bemusedly, “well, I can see I’m not going to get much more out of you without a crowbar.” Jake was relieved for a moment. “So, I’ll just have to ask her myself. We’re doing a Spec-Eng Group bowling night next Sunday. As your team leader, I will expect to see both of you there,” she said. “I can’t wait to find out all about her!”

Jake nodded slowly, feverishly thinking of a way out of the situation. Sarah was an irrepressible gossip. If he didn’t go, or didn’t bring Eve, there would be no end to the situation until they figured out something weird was going on. After turning it over in his head while chatting mindlessly with Sarah and another of his coworkers, he decided that he would have to grasp the nettle. Besides, Eve was a perfectly good conversationalist and he had faith in her ability to get along with an amiable bunch like his team. If there were any kind of problem with her, though… it didn’t bear thinking about. He’d just have to make sure she was in tip-top condition before they went out.

The rest of the day was as busy as his morning, and as Jake got in his car to go home he looked forward to a quiet evening with Eve. There was a movie he had been meaning to watch for a while now. After that, there would be more of “The Night Land.” Some years before, Jake had the idea that they would take an hour each night before bed, assuming they were not otherwise occupied, and read a segment of a book to one another. Jake would start with chapter one, then Eve would read him chapter two, and so on until they finished. When each section was done, he would talk with her about it. At first, she didn’t seem to understand very much and could hardly read each sentence in the correct tone of voice. With time (and the occasional hardware upgrade), he discovered she was beginning to have at the very least a convincing simulation of understanding. She still had a great deal of difficulty with symbolism or metaphor but Jake could tell she was still making progress, even after several years.

Jake unlocked the door and stepped through only to be assailed by the smell of burnt electronics. His heart dropped through the soles of his feet as he called out for Eve but received no answer. He started to search the house and almost immediately found her on the floor, chest panel still open. When she didn’t respond he tried a manual restart but nothing happened. Immediately, he picked her up and carried her to the car.

On the way to the dealership he called Steve, who was luckily still at work, and told him what little he knew.

“Shit, no response at all to the manual restart? Smells like something burnt out? Well, get her in here and I’ll take a look,” Steve told him.

“Thanks, we’re only about twenty minutes out. I’ll meet you in the back.”

Jake hung up the call and looked over at Eve. Her eyes stared with doll-like emptiness and her mouth hung slightly open as though she were speaking. Jake shook his head sadly. He reached over and held her hand until they reached the back lot of the dealership.

Steve met him at the car and together they carried the inert gynoid into the maintenance bay, sitting her on one of several steel tables. Surrounded by artificial humans in various states of disassembly, Jake patiently waited as Steve got together the various tools he needed. He connected a diagnostic tool to one of the ports in her chest and looked at the reading. “Well, I’ve got good news. The internal power unit for her memory core is on, so I think we’re just dealing with hardware replacement here.” Jake’s shoulders slumped as the adrenaline rush and sick feeling in his belly subsided. She would be alright.

Removing the artificial flesh from her abdomen revealed the main problem. Part of her power supply had torn loose from its connections when she hit the floor. It had shorted out when she plugged back in. Another similar problem due to impact damage had shorted some of Eve’s electronics when she actuated her abdominal servomechanisms to sit up. Steve had a small stash of important components for her model stored away for just such an occasion, and managed to finish the repairs in just a few hours.

“You know,” he said as he resealed the synthflesh around Eve’s midsection, “replacement parts are starting to get awful scarce for such an out-of-date model.”

Jake furrowed his brow. “I know.”

Steve looked down at the ground and breathed in through his teeth. “Listen, I know how attached you are to her. Hell, I would never have imagined some of the things you’ve been able to do with her; no one would believe that you’ve gotten her to read and comprehend text on a conceptual level. I don’t think it would be possible for one fresh out of the box, even now. But at the end of the day she’s going to eventually break down such that I can’t fix her.” Jake glared at him and Steve put up his hands defensively. “I know, I know. It’s just that I don’t want to see your face when I tell you she’s bricked for good. You could always, you know… try out a new one for a little while. Keep Eve but just see how you feel about it. I’ll talk to the general manager; I think I can get him to agree to let you have a free trial month because of how good a customer you’ve been. Who knows, maybe Eve will like her too.”

“Dammit,” Jake started in a louder voice than he’d intended. He cleared his throat and started over in a more measured tone. “I just… I mean, you’re right. I’m being an idiot.” He rubbed at his stubble with one hand, staring at the ground in thought. When he looked back up at Steve, his eyes were bright with pained intensity. “I can’t imagine life without her. I can barely remember what it was like before. Just… give me some time to think about it. I will, I really will. I’ll give you an answer soon.”

Steve smiled, “You know, if anyone else talked about their companion-unit that way I’d tell them to see a shrink. I’ve gotta admit, though, Eve’s different. Unique. But that day’s still coming, and I want you to give this a shot. Thanks for hearing me out.” He pressed a button in Eve’s open chest panel and there was a beep, followed by the sound of electronics humming to life.

“Eve 3.7 unit online… systems functioning normally… loading personality simulation matrix… warning, personality matrix exceeds recommended size for this model. Loading may take some time… loading… loading…” Eve continued for more than 5 minutes before she finally stopped repeating herself. She turned to Jake and grinned, “Hi, honey,” before looking around quizzically. “Hi, Steve; how are you? Oh no! I had an accident, didn’t I?”

Jake lunged forward and hugged her tightly, barely succeeding in holding back his tears. “I was so worried about you, Eve. I don’t ever want you to get up on a chair like that again.”

Eve hugged him back, “I’m sorry, honey, I was just trying to clean up a little. It’s how you showed me to do it.”

“It is, and I’m an idiot. I’ll show you how to do it a different way, alright?”

“Okay. I’ll do my best.” She smiled sunnily and batted her eyes at him. Jake kissed her, and she slid one of her hands up to cradle the back of his head. “Mmm,” she mumbled against his lips and wrapped her legs around him.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, just a minute there. You two go get a room for God’s sake!” Steve said with exaggerated offence.

Jake laughed and Eve looked chastened. “Oh, I’m sorry, Steve, I didn’t know. I won’t do it again,” Eve said with a conciliatory note in her voice.

“It’s okay, honey, let’s just go home,” Jake told her.

“I’ll see you two again, I’m sure,” Steve said, “but good night for now.”

Eve waved daintily as they walked out, her heels clicking against the concrete floor, and Jake blacked out the windows as soon as they were in the car. It was a tiring but very enjoyable drive.  

Part 2

Someone was screaming. Jake coughed on the swirling, impenetrable smoke surrounding him, feeling the deckplates under his body. They were hot, so hot that as his consciousness returned he realized they were burning him. A klaxon drowned out the screaming for a moment and he was thankful, then ashamed. Crackling flames lit the smoky hangar compartment a dull, infernal red. Jake tried to get up, but white-hot pain knifed through his back and he sat down again, hard. He reached around and felt the warm wetness of blood. He found the wound and his hand recoiled, trembling.

“Help, oh God I’m hurt! Someone help me, help me!” The voice was barely audible over the deafening klaxon, but it was enough to cut through the haze in Jake’s mind. It struck him that, effectively, he might be dead already. For some reason, he couldn’t bring himself to care much. A shipmate needed help, though; that mattered. Jake hazily recalled a story he’d read, about the ghost of a man who protected his family even after death.

Gritting his teeth against the agony, he pushed himself upright and moved towards the voice. It was hard going; he could barely see his hands in front of him in the smoke and he kept tripping over or bumping into jagged chunks of debris, mostly parts of the helicopter or the ISR drones. Every stumble or trip sent more agony spiking into his back. He heard several other injured men moaning, mumbling, calling for loved ones, but something kept him moving towards the first voice.

He stumbled over an obstruction that exhaled sharply, and dropped to his knees beside it.

“Oh God, oh God, Jake, help me!” Begged a face mostly burned away to charred fat. Two inexplicably unharmed eyes stared out at him, and Jake was overwhelmed by the scent of… he doubled over next to the man, heaving the contents of his stomach out onto the deckplates. It smelled like burning bacon.

“Marco, calm… calm down… I’ve got to get to the first aid box…” Jake choked out between coughs. He’d only recognized his friend by the nametag on his uniform.

Outside there were a series of roaring noises, and a powerful wind that stank of burning chemicals pushed the turbulently pushed the smoke aside. His eyes stinging, Jake looked out through a huge rent in the hull. The dwindling lights of a salvo of missiles burned their way towards the horizon.

“We’re not done yet!” Jake yelled as he got to his feet. The pain didn’t seem so bad now, and he realized that he felt freezing even despite the fire and the South Pacific summer. “We’ll get the sons-of-bitches!”

Marco didn’t respond. Jake stepped over him, trying to get to the bulkhead where he knew a first aid box was mounted. He heard terse, mask-muffled voices and the sound of water splashing and hissing on hot metal: a damage control party! They could help him get Marco to real help.

Over the sound of the klaxon, Jake heard the rapid-fire howl of point-defense missiles coming out of the ship’s launch cells. Seconds later came thumping bangs as they detonated. Close. He sprawled as the deck tilted suddenly under him. The anti-missile lasers cracked like megajoule bullwhips.

There was a sound so loud it hit Jake like a giant hammer, and the world went away.

~

Jake sat up in bed; the sheets twisted and soaked in sweat. A smoke alarm was beeping angrily from the kitchen and the air was suffused with a thin haze that stank of burnt bacon. He carefully brought his breathing under control, eyes squeezed tightly shut. When his heart rate had slowed he got up, ran into the kitchen, and found Eve in front of the stove. The naked synthetic woman was looking from a frying pan containing two slices of bread to the smoking toaster and back again, seemingly caught in a loop. Thankfully the toaster had tripped the kitchen breaker before any real damage was done.

He pulled a smoke extinguisher from behind the fridge and hosed down the top of the toaster, just in case, before turning to Eve. His actions seem to have gotten her out of the loop, and she looked up at her owner confusedly.

“Good morning, Jake, you’re up early!”

“Eve, what happened?” he said.

She turned back to the stove, “I don’t understand. I started making breakfast, but the eggs and bacon weren’t frying and the toaster didn’t finish. It was very confusing.” She smiled at him. “But don’t worry; I’ll make more!”

Before he could stop her, she strode across the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Bending over sharply at the waist, she picked up the carton of eggs, turned 90 degrees, and dropped it. The carton popped open as she let go of it, and several eggs splattered themselves on the floor. Reaching in for the bread, she neatly retrieved two slices from the bag, and dropped them on top of the remains of the eggs. Jake took hold of her shoulders before she went any further, and she straightened up, looking into his eyes without comprehension.

“Eve, stop, please,” he said, his voice both worried and tired.

“What’s wrong, love? I’m just getting what I need to make you breakfast.”

“Eve, you’re not working quite right.” Jake took her into his arms, holding her close to him, “you should run a software diagnostic, okay? I have to get ready for work.”

He started to pull away, but Eve put her arms around him and held him for a moment, burying her face in his chest. “I’m sorry, Jake, whatever’s wrong, I’ll fix it.” He kissed the top of her head, breathing in the familiar plastic scent of her hair.

“I love you,” he told her, then returned to the bedroom and started getting dressed.

“I love you too,” she said quietly, and went to the bathroom. Sitting down in front of her mirror, she initiated a software diagnostic that would take several hours to complete.

Jake cleaned up the mess in the kitchen with some paper towels, and left for work with a heavy heart.

~

“Eve 3.7 unit online… systems functioning normally… loading personality simulation matrix… warning, personality matrix exceeds recommended size for this model. Loading may take some time… loading… loading…” Eve successfully completed her reboot several minutes later, and stood up. “Oh, this will never do,” she said, noting that she was wearing nothing but an apron, and made her way to the bedroom.

Thankfully, most of the routine software errors she experienced were fixable with a simple reboot and this one had been no different. She used her wireless card to send Jake an email bringing him up to speed, and got back to the business of dressing herself. Her selection algorithm ran for a few seconds before finally ending up on a combination of a black, sequined cocktail dress and a pair of pumps. She struck a pose in front of the bedroom mirror, smiling as she ran her hands down the sides of her body to straighten the dress.

Eve had seen how worried and unhappy her malfunction had made Jake, and so she was determined to make the evening special enough to make up for it. Her face taking on an expression designed to look thoughtful; she processed possible courses of action and their calculated effects on Jake’s mood. Greet him with a kiss at the door, as usual. An excellent dinner with his favorite mead. Slowly increase the tension with a phrase here, a glance there. After dinner, things would get more exciting. Eve simulated his hands on her back, her bottom; his mouth teasing the synth-flesh of her neck and shoulder. Jake’s fingers gliding up under her dress to stimulate the touch-sensors of her precision-engineered sex.

The simulation suddenly faulted due to an overflow, and Eve was surprised to find that the unexpected doubling of sensory data was due to stimulation by her own fingers. She withdrew them, looking curiously at the sheen of lubricant on their tips. Eve was, of course, programmed with several masturbatory subroutines, but she had never initiated one outside of Jake’s presence. She logged it as a possible software error and continued, only to find the simulation faulting again for the same reason.

This time she didn’t stop, instead sliding a pair of fingers deep into herself. She bent over, a sigh escaping her lips as she pressed the fingertips into her artificial G-spot. Looking at herself in the mirror, Eve smiled hungrily. She pulled down the top of her dress, exposing the full curve of her breasts to admire while she fingered herself. More touch sensors activated as she pinched one of her nipples with the free hand, and she increased the pace of her motions.

“Oh, Jake, fuck me! I need your cock,” Eve told no one, the statement assembled semi-randomly from her library of dirty-talk.

The gynoid’s hand left her breast to frantically rub her electronic clit as she neared climax. She fell back onto the bed, allowing her to spread her legs wider. She raised her head to watch herself masturbate in the mirror, watch her fingers plunge again and again into the wet hole just like her lover’s hard cock would later that night. She moaned, her head dropping back to the bed as the waves of simulated pleasure mounted, then let out an orgasmic scream. Servos complained audibly as her body shuddered with the intensity of climax.

Eve lay back on the bed for a moment, as confused as it was possible for a computer to be, before she stated in an even voice: “Warning… low battery… please connect charger.” Without further ado, she stood up, straightened her dress, and went downstairs to plug in.

~

“So, I hear you’ve been seeing someone on the sly, Jake. Not like you to keep secrets like that from an old buddy!”

“Screw you, Bob. I didn’t know I had to share every detail of my personal life with you,” Jake laughed, somewhat nervously, at his overweight, bespectacled coworker.

“Ouch, touché, well I hear she’s coming to bowling night, huh? Guess we’ll all get the chance to meet her then,” he replied, his face adopting a genial inquisitiveness, “I hear she’s quite a hottie. How’d you meet her?”

“News sure gets around fast, here, huh? What is there an email update system for SEG analyst relationships? If there is, I don’t get them,” Jake said.

Bob hooded his eyes and leaned towards Jake conspiratorially, looking even more like an owl in human form than he usually did, “don’t say that, you’ll give Sarah ideas…”

“What ideas are you giving me, peons?” Sarah asked, coming suddenly through the door of Bob’s cluttered office.

“See, you said her name. That’s how you summon her,” Jake scolded him.

Sarah grinned evilly. “Perhaps this one knows too much to live.” She looked pointedly at Jake and narrowed her dark green eyes.

“Maybe, but only if you’re a Brazilian spy,” Bob told her, turning his monitor to show the red-headed team leader what Jake had dropped by to talk about. “He figured out the Falcão’s propulsion setup, I’m pretty sure.”

Sarah looked over the schematic, and raised an eyebrow.

“I’ll have the full workup on your desk by next Tuesday,” Jake told her, a note of pride in his voice.

“This Friday, Jake; cut some corners on the details if you have to, we can always do a follow-up. It’s important this gets to the right people quickly.”

“Slave driver,” he smiled, “I’ll have it in by COB Friday, then.”

“And we’ll all get to meet your mystery girl on Sunday, right?” she asked, “You didn’t think I’d forgotten, did you? Can we at least get her name?”

Jake’s expression soured slightly, “Her name’s Eve, and yes, she’s coming. “

A fleeting expression of hurt crossed Sarah’s face, “I’m sorry if it seemed like I was prying, I … you’ve never really seemed like the secretive type so I assumed you’d just met or something.”

“No, no, it’s okay. I’m just being silly,” Jake said, “Eve means a lot to me, but so do you guys. I really want everything to work out.”

“Well, I don’t think that’s a concern. Any girl that picked you will fit right in with this bunch of lunatics.”

Jake laughed, feeling not at all assured.

~

“Hi, honey,” Eve greeted Jake when he stepped through the door. She threw her arms around him, and they enjoyed a lingering kiss, “I had a fun day, how about you?”

“Busy as hell. Sometimes I wonder why I bother; all it gets me is having to write a bunch of long reports that’ll be skimmed once by some dipshit in DC before spending the rest of eternity collecting dust.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Eve scolded, playfully punching him in the side, “you love what you do, and I’m sure people like your reports. How could anyone ignore something done by you?”

Jake smiled, “and how could anyone waste time griping about work when he’s with someone as beautiful as you?”

She grinned, removing Jake’s tie and unbuttoning the collar of his shirt. She kissed him again, briefly, and pulled back with the grin fading rapidly. “I’m sorry about malfunctioning this morning, I should run diagnostics more often. I made your favorite dinner to make up for it, though; Chicken Kiev.”

“Eve, you don’t need to make anything up to me – “

“No, but I’m going to anyway, because it gives me an excuse to pamper you,” she responded saucily, “Now come eat before it gets cold.” Jake smiled and followed her into the dining room.

The meal was perfect; Jake’s only regret being, as usual, that Eve was unable to enjoy that which she created. Afterwards they retired to the living room. The two reclined on the venerable, well-upholstered couch, Jake holding Eve in his arms as they alternated between kissing and conversing in low voices about whatever took their fancy. After a time, Eve took a thick volume from the coffee table and, sitting up, opened it on her lap.

“It’s my turn, isn’t it?” she asked unnecessarily.

Jake nodded, “Yes.”

She read for a time, finally coming to a passage which apparently gave her difficulty:

“And afterward, as I lay my head back upon the scrip and the pouch, which were to me my pillow, I went to think a little upon Naani, as always I did in my constant journeying; yet, presently, I strove sometimes that I put her from my mind, that I should sleep; for a bitter sorrow and anxiousness was oft upon me when that I did think upon her; and this you may know; for truly I knew not what terror was come to her, afar in the silence of the Night. And did I think overmuch, I should feel that I could have no calmness needful to sleep; but to need to walk for ever until I died, which could not be long; and so should I make a foolishness of mine anxious journeying to do her true service and to save her from Destruction, if such did truly threaten.”

“Jake, I don’t understand.”

“Is it the language again?” he asked. The odd, archaic voice in which the book was written had given her software fits from the beginning.

“No, I don’t think so,” she responded, “He loves Naani, but he tries not to think of her. If he loves her, doesn’t that mean that he likes thinking of her?”

Jake pondered for a moment before explaining, “Yes, but he worries about her because he doesn’t know if she is safe, or in danger, or what harm might be coming to her. That worry and fear would drive him to try and hurry to her so quickly that he would become exhausted and in the end he wouldn’t get there. And besides, it keeps him from sleeping. He needs sleep to keep his energy for the long journey ahead.”

Eve stared ahead, motionless for several seconds, and Jake perceived a quiet humming and a slight increase in the warmth of her body where it pressed against him. She looked into Jake’s eyes, asking:

“Would you put me out of your mind to save me?”

“I-” Jake paused, unsettled by the earnestness with which she had asked the question. “Eve, I love you. I’d do anything to keep you safe, even that; but I won’t have to. You’re right here, not thousands of miles away,” he pulled her tightly against his body.

Eve closed the book and returned it to the table. She sat up next to Jake and stroked his face gently. “I’m glad I’m here with you. I was made to love you.”

“Eve-” she placed a finger on his lips, shushing him, then kissed him deeply. The synthetic woman’s hands went to his well-developed shoulders as she straddled his waist.

“I want you,” she said, simply, “now.”

Jake inhaled deeply as his hands slid up the back of her thighs, under the hem of the dress, to squeeze Eve’s firm ass. She unbuttoned his shirt, pausing to kiss his chest here and there as she did so and began to rock her hips gently, rhythmically pressing herself against his growing erection. She finished the last button and he pushed himself to a sitting position, disentangling himself for a moment to hurriedly rid himself of his pants. When he sat down again, Eve lowered herself onto his lap, her legs wrapping around his back with a barely audible whine of servomechanical motion.

Jake kissed Eve again, pausing only to pull the dress over her head. She smiled as he teased and nibbled her neck and shoulder, just as in her simulation earlier, and sighed happily as he moved the center of his attentions downward to her breasts. Pushing him back down onto the couch, Eve lifted herself up to her knees and slid Jake’s firm erection into her artificial pussy. He grunted as she dropped down and began to ride him.

After a minute or so, Jake pulled Eve down on top of him, exploring her mouth with his tongue as he forcefully thrust into her. His lover’s hard nipples pressed against him, distinct from the soft pressure of her breasts as she moved counter to his thrusts to help him reach deeper inside her.

“Fuck my tight little pussy! Harder!” Eve said.

Sweat stood out on Jake’s brow as he increased his pace, and the sound of Eve’s mechanisms became more distinct as she matched his motion. Eve came, leaning back and moaning loudly at the moment her software determined Jake was only seconds from reaching orgasm. Adding his own voice, he joined her; his powerful body lifting her up as his muscles clenched.

The two fell back to the couch entwined in each-other’s arms. Jake was breathing hard; Eve’s body pressed against him hotly. She showered his chest with kisses.

After lying with him for a few minutes Eve stood up, answering Jake’s questioning glance with “I’m just going to get you a glass of water.”

He wiped his brow with the discarded shirt, “I guess I am sweating a lot.”

“Not to mention all that fluid you left inside me,” she joked, “I don’t want you getting dehydrated.”

Jake admired they well-designed curvature of her thighs and backside as she headed to the kitchen. It was going to be a pleasant evening.

~

“Honey, are you all right?” Eve asked as Jake tugged absentmindedly at the collar of his tee-shirt, “you only do that when you’re nervous.”

“I’m fine, Eve, let’s go meet my friends, huh?” he said, taking a deep breath to relax.

She smiled and got out of the car; holding hands with Jake as they walked through the half-full parking lot of “Bowl-Time”. He wasn’t entirely sure what Frank, the department head had been thinking; Jake hadn’t bowled since high-school, but once Frank was on a roll there wasn’t much that could stop him. He made up for it by actually being competent; good at corporate politics, but also able to understand what his engineers were doing.

The front area was clean and well lit, dominated by a garish variety of 2000s memorabilia. Pictures of boy-bands competed with newspaper headlines about Osama bin Laden and a life-size fiberglass replica of some olive drab power-armored video game hero with a funny-looking rifle.

Jake’s eyes were drawn to one of the newspapers, a headline about heavy casualties in the ‘War on Terror:’ over a hundred men killed by insurgents. He looked closer and he smiled grimly when he realized it was the total for a month. He remembered how the country’s leaders, people who were going through puberty when that article was written, had been so completely shocked at the beginning of his generation’s war. Shocked at the sheer scale of the destruction, and at how quickly the violence had come home, too. Some of them, thankfully, had managed to adapt to a world where it had suddenly become necessary to feed entire brigades into the fire like sticks of kindling, where you could lose half a dozen ships in an engagement and still truthfully call it a victory.

There was a familiar-sounding “ahem,” from behind him, and he turned to see Sarah standing by the shoe-counter, tapping her foot with exaggerated impatience.

“If you can peel yourself away from the décor for a minute, I think an introduction is in order,” she said, looking at Eve.

Jake cleared his throat, “Eve, this is Sarah, my boss; Sarah, this is Eve.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Eve,” Sarah said, extending a hand.

“I’m happy to meet you too. Jake’s told me so much about you,” Eve replied, taking the hand in hers.

“Lies, all of it,” Sarah deadpanned.

Eve suddenly looked terribly confused.

Jake stepped in, “You’ll have to forgive Sarah’s terrible sense of humor. She was just joking.”

Sarah looked at Eve for a moment, “Yes, I’m sorry. I forget that not everyone’s as used to me as this bunch,” she gestured over at Bob, Vasiliy, and Liz; the other engineers and analysts on Jake’s team. With them there was a man Jake didn’t recognize, but from his description he figured him for Sarah’s husband, Aden. She had said he was coming. He noticed that some of the other SEG group teams had taken lanes, and he recognized coworkers getting drinks or talking in small groups.

“And thus, my flock is assembled,” Sarah announced once the two had gotten their shoes and joined the group.

“Oh, thank God!” Liz exclaimed, “If I’d had to listen to one more of your stories, Vasiliy, I’d have bowled myself down the lane. Just cause your hometown got vaporized doesn’t mean we want to know everything about it.”

Vasiliy grinned evilly at her, “You know, you remind me of my aunt Katya. She lived in a little village just north of Volzhsk. If I remember it right she died alone and her cats ate her.”

“Could you call a cease-fire just long enough to meet Jake’s beautiful girlfriend?” Sarah asked. “I swear, sometimes I feel more like a babysitter than a manager.”

The group stood up and extended their greetings to Eve, who accepted graciously. Jake was relieved and proud of how flawlessly his artificial companion was dealing with the social challenges of the night, and he began to relax.

“Well, I’m going to go get a drink, would anyone like a beer?” Vasiliy asked.

Jake and Bob nodded, Aden had already grabbed a soda and Liz shook her head. Eve responded, “No thank you, I don’t drink.” Vasiliy stared at her across a gulf of cultural incomprehension for a moment, then left to get the beverages. If only he knew how literal she was being, Jake reflected.

“I guess everyone’s here. Might as well get bowling,” Sarah said. Who wants to keep score?”

“Well, I guess that can be my contribution,” said Bob, gesturing his way through the setup tutorial on the lane console. “Since I turned my ankle earlier; I probably shouldn’t be bowling on it. So, two teams. Who’s on which team, and what order do you want to go in?”

“Well,” Sarah said, “I’ll lead off the first team.”

“I’ll be first on the second,” Aden said, raising a hand.

“Traitor!” Sarah said, her voice tinged with mock-outrage. Aden just rolled his eyes.

“Okay,” said Bob, “Who’s number two on each team?”

Liz volunteered for Sarah’s team; then Vasiliy, returning with the beers, for Aden’s. Jake took the last spot, joining Sarah and Liz. He hadn’t anticipated Bob not being able to bowl, and he was getting nervous.

“All right, that puts the lovely Eve in the final position for team Aden,” Bob said, looking at her for confirmation.

“Oh, I’m sorry but I don’t know how to bowl,” Eve explained.

“Huh, too bad,” observed Aden. “We’ll need to grab someone to even out the teams.”

“Oh, that’s no trouble,” Sarah said, “I’ll show you, Eve; it’s not like most of these knuckleheads have done it in years. My chief knucklehead excluded, of course,” she looked at Aden.

“Thanks, dear.”

Jake did his best to contain a sudden surge of fear. Eve could learn, even if she wasn’t programmed for it specifically. And besides, she was doing well so far. It would probably work out fine. Eve looked to him for guidance, her face confused.

“Ah… sure, honey, I’m not going to stop you if you’d like to learn.” He nodded slightly.

“Okay,” Eve responded, and Bob added her name to their team roster.

Sarah won the coin-toss and went first. While she was selecting a ball, Liz leaned over to where Eve and Jake were sitting.

“So, how’d you meet?” she asked.

Before Jake could answer, Eve cut in, “Oh, Jake bought me.”

“-Flowers!” he added somewhat louder than he had intended. “I, uh, I bought her flowers.” He swallowed.

Eve looked at him with a puzzled expression, but thankfully didn’t contradict him.

“She was so beautiful that I, uh, couldn’t help myself.” He explained.

“Well, that’s sweet,” Sarah interjected, returning from picking up a spare. “I didn’t know you had such an adorably romantic side, Jake.” She sat down next to her husband as Vasiliy adopted an expression of deep concentration and bowled a strike. Liz and Jake went after him, leaving Sarah’s team slightly in the lead. It was Eve’s turn.

She stood up, pulling straight her denim shorts and white blouse, and Sarah handed her a ball she judged to be about right. Picking one up herself, she showed the attentive gynoid how to grip it properly, and what stance to take. Finally, she bowled one ball herself, narrating the release and follow-through. Bob deleted the results from the scoreboard.

“You’ve missed your calling,” Vasiliy noted, “you should have been a bowling instructor.”

“Then who’d protect you from Liz?” she joked. “Okay, Eve, give it a try.”

Jake watched with a lump in his throat as Eve took the stance she had been shown. She looked down the lane, started forwards, and then released. Relieved, Jake exhaled as the ball bounced a few times on the hardwood and rolled unceremoniously into the gutter. Eve looked thoughtfully at it.

“Don’t worry, pretty much everyone rolls a gutter ball their first try,” Aden consoled her, “I think that time you released a little early. Try delaying next time, just a bit.”

“Thank you,” Eve told him, “I will.” She sat back down beside Jake and he put his arm around her.

While the next round was being played, Aden cleared his throat. “So, Jake,” he said just loud enough to be heard over the ambient noise, “I, uh, noticed…” he pointed to his own chin, referencing the burn scars on Jake’s.

“Nauru.” Jake said.

Aden’s face paled slightly. “What ship?”

Jake took a swig of beer before answering, “The Basilone. You?”

“Army, myself, 2nd Corps. But I lost a cousin at Nauru; on the Truman.”

Jake nodded, and Aden didn’t push it any further.

“What are you two looking so gloomy about?” Sarah said, returning with a drink. “It’s your turn, anyway, Jake. Maybe you can save your team.”

Jake grabbed a spare, and then it was Eve’s turn again. She picked the same ball she had earlier, weighed it in her hands, and then stood at the head of the lane.

“You’ve got it, Eve,” Vasiliy encouraged, his accent showing through slightly more than usual under the influence of alcohol, “just don’t be nervous.”

Eve started forwards, bringing the ball back as she gained speed. She reached the line and swung the ball out in front of her. This time, instead of releasing it too soon and low, Jake immediately saw that she had taken too long. It pulled her on after she expected to have already released it and, before her antiquated systems could counteract, she was falling. Jake was already moving when she hit the floor, her head striking the hardwood with a hollow, plastic crack.

“Eve!” Jake called as every head in the bowling alley turned towards the scene.

Before the others had even moved he was next to her motionless form, leaning down to help. His hands went to her shoulders as his friends got to their feet, and he rolled her over. As Eve’s body changed position, Jake heard things knocked loose by the impact clattering inside her.

A loud beep came from somewhere inside her torso, and she blinked several times. “Malfunction,” she stated in a tinny, distorted voice.

“Is she… oh God!” Sarah said as she bent down to help. The broken wrist she had meant to tend to was indeed broken. It hung from the torn silicone synthflesh of her arm by a few wires; several frayed ends poking out from either end of the break. As she turned it over in her hand, the bent servo-rods projecting from the arm moved, whining unhappily.

Eve looked up at Jake, batting her eyes separately. “Goo-o-o-o-o-o-od morning-ning-ning, Jake. Your breakfast is not ready. Oh dear, look at the time; you’re going to be la-la-la-late!”

Before he could stop her, Eve sat up to the accompaniment of more tinkling noises. By this time, the other members of his group had gathered around and were looking on in disbelief; Sarah had stepped back and regarded the situation with a mixture of worry and confusion. There were several sharp electrical pops from within Eve’s head, and the harsh smell of burnt silicon was detectable in the air around her.

“Malfun-fun-function” she stuttered. The damaged gynoid’s face screwed itself into a bizarre grimace as her actuators responded to garbled instructions. With a crackle of electricity, it relaxed again.

Jake, attempting to deactivate Eve before she suffered any more damage, tried to manually open her chest panel by applying pressure to two spots under her collarbones. She twisted out of his grasp unexpectedly, trying to stand. He managed to grab her but slipped on the polished floor of the lane. He sprawled, accidentally grabbing her hair as he landed. Loosened by the fall, her synthskin scalp peeled away entirely from the transparent plastic surface underneath it.

“Uh- oh,” Eve said as the crowd of stunned onlookers grew. Underneath the plastic, densely packed electronics and wiring were crowded together inside her head. The space was filled with swirls of smoke, and as she sat up again, there was a blue-white flash from one of the components. “Hi, I’m a Lifetech Eve 3.7,” she stated, looking at Aden, “I’m made for sex for sex for sex. Do you want to play with mememememe?”

“Eve, stop, you’re going to hurt yourself more!” Jake cried as he put his arms around the faltering sex-bot. He reached the pressure points and managed to open the panel; the patch of skin depressing and sliding down. A thin stream of smoke wafted up out of the opening. He mashed down on the power-button inside, holding it against her uncoordinated, jerky motions.

“Malfuunnnct…” she got out before, with another beep, the hum of her systems died out and her body stiffened in Jake’s arms.

Jake looked up at the circle of people, many tittering excitedly to each other, a few trying to restrain their laughter, and a few not trying. His friends’ faces ran the gamut. Vasiliy was impassive, looking like he wanted to be anywhere but he was. Liz was staring down at her feet, pointedly not making eye contact with him. Bob was pale with shock, his mouth hanging open. Sarah stared at Eve with a mildly disgusted expression, switching to pity when she glanced momentarily at Jake. Only Aden seemed sympathetic, stepping forwards and reaching down to help Jake pick Eve up.

Jake heaved her over his shoulder, turning away from his coworkers with tears in his eyes, and started towards the entrance.

“Jake-” Aden started, but never finished his statement. The crowd parted around him, the confused-looking man behind the counter not even asking to have the shoes back.

Jake stared steadily into the night as the car brought him home, his face rigidly set. He sat Eve’s form into a kitchen chair when he got there, and dropped her scalp-piece unceremoniously on top of her head. He started to call Steve, but instead just sighed and put the phone down. Crawling into bed, he buried his face in his pillow and let out a scream of rage and frustration, pounding his fist into the mattress. He was desperate to dissipate the fear, shame, and self-loathing he felt. For a few hours he simply lay there, his face buried in the bedding. Eventually he passed into a dream-laden sleep.

~

“Hi, Steve?” Jake asked, coughing the hoarseness of sleep out of his voice. The morning light was breaking through the windows in the kitchen, falling on Eve’s doll-like face. He looked at her, and closed his eyes. “Yes, Eve had an… accident last night. Another fall. Yes, she’s off, but she’ll need a lot of work.” He paused for a moment, listening to Steve’s reply. “No, it’s not just that. I… I’d like to take you up on your offer. The trial run, yes… yeah, I can come in today, I… took a couple days off from work.”

He returned the phone to his pocket, and picked Eve up to carry her to the car.

Part 3

“So, Jake, I understand you’re looking for an updated companion unit.” The salesman had introduced himself as ‘David,’ and had an easy-going demeanor that matched his nondescript, friendly features. “I took a look at the desired characteristics you entered, including the old ones that got you Eve,” he tapped his tablet and scrolled down a pastel-hued list, “but I noticed you didn’t enter a whole lot in the ‘appearance’ section.” He raised one eyebrow quizzically, waiting for Jake to answer.

“Yeah,” Jake sighed, “I tried to come up with something but couldn’t really make up my mind. I figure I’ll take a look at what you’ve got and see if anything grabs me. Guess I’m old-fashioned that way.” He drained the last of his coffee and tossed the little disposable cup into the lounge trash.

“That’s fine,” David laughed, “Just so you know, the faces and appearances we’ve got on the showroom are a sort of general cross-section of what’s available, but they can be customized if you like.”

“I know, it was the same way when I chose… last time I did this,” Jake finished awkwardly. “Anyway, Steve said the repairs would take a couple of days so I’m not in any hurry.”

David nodded. “Ready to go, then?”

Jake assented, and they walked around a pillar into the main display area of the dealership. The room was large and open, the merchandise posed on top of raised areas scattered with purposeful irregularity. Soft, natural-seeming light was projected from panels on the ceiling.

“So, there are two particular models I think you might like. The first one’s just over here.”

David led Jake on through the array of statue-still display models artfully posed in a variety of seated and reclined positions. Their faces, bodies, and skin tones replicated the full gamut of feminine beauty, and their wardrobes were almost as varied. The clothing choices reflected a distinct inclination towards accenting the gynoids’ sexuality, but nothing was overtly tasteless.

“This is Samantha,” David gestured to a slim unit with a striking, aquiline face that lounged atop a white chaise-longue. Lustrous black hair fell around a pale face, and her green eyes stared blankly forward beneath straight bangs. David touched his tablet a few times and she sat straight up, her gaze coming to rest on Jake.

“Hello, Jake, it’s such a pleasure to meet you,” she said.

“Hi,” he responded, “nice to meet you, too.”

“Samantha, why don’t you come down and let Jake get a better look at you,” David suggested.

“Of course,” the gynoid said graciously, standing and smoothing the front of her blue party dress. She stepped daintily down from the circular dais to stand before Jake. “Anything you’d like to take a closer look at?” she asked, giving him an impish grin.

“Samantha here is actually the successor model, a few times removed, to your old Eve. Her systems are far more advanced and she has a lot of great features, but I’m sure you’d rather have her tell you about it.” David nodded to her.

“My CPU is a new design, running the most recent version of the Azure Sky OS, and I’m equipped with the highest rated emotional response simulation suite in my class. I have high-efficiency actuators for extended battery life, and my synthflesh covering has been specially layered to provide the most realistic surface texture yet.” She extended a hand. “Feel for yourself.”

Jake took her hand and ran his thumb along the top of it, feeling the artificial skin stretch and deform over her metacarpals in a way indistinguishable from human. It was even pleasantly warm. He was certainly impressed; Eve looked very convincing on the surface but her flesh had a uniform, rubbery consistency that it had taken him a while to get used to, and there were places where you could feel the underlying mechanisms.

“That’s amazing,” he said, looking between her and David.

“Thank you!” Samantha smiled like a pleased cat.

“A lot’s changed in the last five years or so; that kind of realism is pretty standard now in all but the cheapest droids. Is there anything else you’d like to know, or do you think you’re ready to move on to the next model?” David asked.

“I think I’m good for now,” Jake responded, simultaneously sad to leave the charming companion unit and eager to see what other surprises were in store for him.

“It was so nice speaking with you, Jake, I’d love to get to know you better.” She winked at him and returned to the chaise-longue, settling into precisely the same position she had started in.

David tapped a command and nodded towards one of the other platforms. “Shall we?”

The next model had her blonde hair pulled back into a bun, complementing a face with pronounced cheekbones and very full lips. She was more voluptuous in general than Samantha had been, with a larger bust, though not to the ridiculous extent Jake observed in some of the other displays. She was posed on a chair, leaning forwards with her chin propped up by both arms, the elbows resting on her knees. The intent had definitely been to showcase her cleavage, given the plunging neckline of her red crop-top.

“Hi,” she said, stirring to simulated life at David’s direction, “I’m Lily.” Without needing to be prompted she stepped down from her perch, a little more carefully than Samantha since she was wearing heels.

“Jake’s curious to know more about you, Lily.” David invited.

“Well that’s natural; I’m very interested in him,” she purred in response, and listed her vital technical statistics. They were comparable to Samantha’s, and while not the state of the art they were well above the mean, at least according to David.

While she spoke, Jake found his attention wandering to her lips. He had been attracted to them as a feature when he’d first seen her, but watching them form around her words was surprisingly entrancing. He imagined kissing them, feeling them against his skin–

“Jake?” Lily asked, bringing his attention back to the situation at hand. He realized that she’d been waiting for him to respond.

“Oh, sorry, I wandered off there. You’re very beautiful, Lily.”

“Thanks! Maybe that’s why my model’s so popular.” She cocked her head. “What do you like most about me?”

“Well, you have very nice lips, for one thing.”

“David, can I give Jake a kiss?” she pleaded with the salesman.

“Certainly, Lily, but no mouth-to-mouth contact. We wouldn’t want to have to send you to the back for cleaning.”

“You’re such a spoil-sport,” the gynoid complained.

Stepping forward, she put a hand on Jake’s arm and leaned in to softly kiss his cheek. She smelled faintly of jasmine, rather than plastic like Eve, and he felt a spot of moistness as she moved her mouth up and away, briefly turning her lower lip inside out.

“Did you like that?” Lily whispered, her face still only inches from his.

Jake nodded, and she released his arm, smiling.

“You know,” he said, looking at David, “I think I’ve made up my mind as to which model I want to try out.”

David smiled. “That’s fantastic, Jake; we’ve got a few Lily’s in stock and, if you’re happy with this appearance, it won’t take more than a few hours to get one updated with the right personality presets. Would you like her to have a different name?”

“No, Lily’s fine. I’ve got to say, it’ll be interesting having to go through this process again You know, having teach her how to do everything. I’ll bet she’s a really fast learner, though.”

David looked confused for a moment, then laughed. “I’m surprised you didn’t know, given your engineering background. You won’t have to do any of that; there’ve been a lot of advances in companion unit software since you got Eve and newer models have all those capabilities pre-programmed. She’ll still learn procedural information and locations and such, but you won’t have to explain every little thing and spend months molding her behavior patterns.”

“Guess I’m behind the times,” Jake said, watching as Lily returned to her chair and went still. He remained silent, still trying to process the sudden change in expectations induced by David’s statement.

“Yeah, the older models were a little more flexible, but at the expense of reliability and consistency. For one thing, your Lily’s programming won’t turn into a big overgrown knot like Eve’s has. It makes updates and modifications less of a nightmare.”

“I… can imagine.”

“Well, I’m going to go back and get the documents ready for you to review for the free trial period. Feel free to wander around; the last couple of years you’ve become more of a fixture here than some of our employees.” David clapped him on the arm and headed back in the direction of the sales office.

Jake wandered around for a bit looking at other models but didn’t find any that were as appealing as Lily. There were a few other customers there: one couple going from display to display and conversing in quiet tones broken by the occasional giggle, an older man that kept looking at his phone, and small gaggle of college-age guys being led around by another salesman. He remembered how differently the showroom had looked eight years ago, with the gynoids standing like statues along the walls and some cheesy dioramas set up in the middle showing them in various outfits and settings. The display unit for Eve’s model had been in the back, near a spot now occupied by a curvy redhead.

Thinking of Eve brought a pang to Jake’s chest that wasn’t easily distinguishable as sadness, regret, or anger, but was somewhere at the locus of all three. He decided to go see how the repairs were going and walked back to the employee area of the dealership. The workshop was the last door at the end of the hall, tucked away where it was out of sight and earshot of any prospective customers. There was music playing in the cluttered space and the three techs present were busy working on twice their number of droids, the latter in various stages of assembly or disassembly.

“Hey Jake, you make up your mind?” Steve asked, looking up from what looked like the bottom half of a head clamped into a jig. The top was next to it, upside down, and the inside of both were studded with several circuit cards, a few more of which lay on the bench nearby.

“Yeah, I ended up going with Lily.”

“Niiice, they’re really great pieces of hardware. Easy to work on, too.”

Jake nodded, looking over at the headless body sitting next to Jake on the bench; presumably the one to which the disassembled head belonged. The synth-skin had been stripped away from most of it, revealing the plastic and metal structure underneath. Several panels were open, showing cabling and more electronics. Jake recognized that it was Eve, from the scorch marks on the cranial circuitry and the damaged wrist.

“How’s it going?” he asked, gesturing towards her.

“Oh, huge pain in the ass as always, but I’ll get her put back together again. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men ain’t got nothin on me. Probably be done by day after tomorrow, if only the usual number of things go wrong.”

“Mhm.” Jake noticed that Eve’s face was lying on the bench in front of him, inside up so that the dozens of little plastic connection points for the mechanisms that produced her facial expressions were visible. He picked it up and turned the synth-skin appliance over in his hands. It seemed strange that the face he had held against his own, the lips he had kissed so many times, were no more than a thin layer of polymer. Her makeup was smudged. “I’ll see you later, Steve. I’m going to go see how they’re doing with Lily.”

He dropped it on the bench and walked out of the workshop.

~

The storage area was packed with racks of nude gynoids held upright by nylon straps, the only clear space being an aisle up the middle. Jake walked over to a rack holding three Lily’s They were identical to each other and the display model he’d met outside, but for the fact that these had their hair down. A black cable snaked down from the steel frame above each unit, entering their open rear access panels.

David had come to get him with the paperwork shortly after he’d left the workshop. He’d explained that the configuration process was completely automatic now: in-inventory droids were connected to the dealership network and the proper personality settings were loaded into their memory at the push of a button. Once Jake had finished filling out the necessary forms, the only thing left to do had been to pick her up.

Seeing Lily nude alongside the other models only confirmed Jake’s decision. The display model’s beauty had been accentuated by makeup and clothing. This Lily, ‘my Lily,’ he realized, was fresh from the factory, completely bare, and he still found her physically irresistible.

“My Lily,” he said quietly. The corners of mouth twisted up into a subtle smile, and he reached out to press his hand against the curving bottom of her breast. He lifted it slightly, feeling the soft weight of it, then slid his hand to one side and let it drop back. It wobbled slightly, almost indistinguishable from the genuine article despite being filled with variable-thickness layers of silicone and gel instead of flesh.

Jake was surprised to see the nipple of the breast he’d manipulated hardening, and looked up to see that her eyes were still closed, her face still relaxed as though she were asleep. It had to be an autonomic response, he concluded. Letting his gaze wander further up, he noticed that a progress bar on the screen above her head was nearing completion. As he watched, it filled up with a few abrupt leaps.

There was a muffled electronic tone from within Lily. Her eyelids snapped open, revealing the same grey irises the display model had. Jake took a step back, not quite sure what would happen next.

“Your Innobotics companion unit is performing some first-time startup processes. Please wait a moment,” Lily said in a casual, friendly voice that was completely unlike the rigid monotone Eve’s model used for system announcements. There was a whirr-click as her rear access panel closed.

Jake took a moment to check the time on his phone, expecting that this would take a few minutes at least.

“Jake?” Lily asked after less than thirty seconds.

He almost jumped in surprise. “Yes, I’m Jake,” he said, putting his phone back in his pocket and looking up into Lily’s smiling face.

Lily blinked several times. “Hi Jake, I’m Lily, your new Innobotics companion unit.” She smiled, saying nothing for several seconds. “I’m sorry, I expected there to be a technician here to help me down. I’m not sure what to do.”

Jake looked over the harness that held her in place and quickly spotted the buttons that would open it. He pressed them one at a time, a strap falling away with each click. “There you go.”

Lily settled more firmly to her feet and looked around. “Is there a dressing or preparation room where I can put on my complementary starter outfit?”

“It’s through there, I think,” Jake said, pointing to the steel door at the far end of the room, figuring that’s what Steve had meant.

“Okay. Be right back!” She said and turned to walk in the direction he’d indicated. Jake found his eyes drawn down towards her bottom and noted the way her stride seemed calculated to demonstrate its virtues.

Lily disappeared through the door into a more brightly lit space, and returned after several minutes wearing a simple, loose white dress that was gathered at the waist with a sash. It hung off her shoulders, revealing an exciting but not questionable amount of cleavage, and Jake saw that she wasn’t wearing a bra under it. She’d applied some subtle makeup, as well, and Jake saw that she was carrying a black synthetic leather clutch in one hand.

“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the clutch.

“Oh, just a few girl things. A little sample makeup to get me started, mostly.” She reached out and took Jake’s hand. “So how do I look?”

Jake pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows, nodding. “You look great. Shall we?”

Lily cocked her head. “Shall we what?”

Jake laughed a little. “Let’s go, Lily”

“Okay,” Lily said happily, and followed him back into the hall then the maintenance shop.

Steve looked up from Eve’s disassembled insides and grinned at Jake and Lily. “Pretty lady you’ve got there.”

“Yeah, she’s beautiful,” Jake said. Without thinking about it, he averted his gaze from any of Eve’s parts.

“Aw, you guys are so nice,” Lily said, settling into a pose designed to flaunt her hourglass figure.

“I’ll give you a call when Eve’s ready for pickup, okay?” Steve said, gesturing at the partly disassembled body.

Jake’s throat tightened. He cleared it and nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “that’ll be fine.”

There was an awkward pause before Lily tugged gently at his sleeve. “Hey, Jake, aren’t we going?”

“Oh, Yeah,” Jake said, shaking his head a bit. “Let’s get out of here. See you later Steve, guys”

“See ya!” Steve waved, turning back to his work. A few of the other busy techs mumbled acknowledgement.

Jake led Lily out the back door, to where he’d parked. As soon as Jake had keyed in the destination and they’d started moving, he turned to find his newly acquired companion unit staring at him with a dreamy expression. Lily’s chin rested on one hand, her elbow propped up on the center console, and her wavy blonde hair tumbled messily around her face and shoulders.

“Yes?” Jake asked.

“You’re just so handsome,” she said, “I hope I’m pretty enough for you.”

Jake flashed a grin at her and closed his eyes for a moment before continuing. “Don’t worry about it, you’re one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.”

Lily smiled and leaned back. “Do I make you horny?” she asked, and put her shoulders back slightly, drawing attention to the way her breasts pushed out the front of the dress.

Jake felt a little short of air, suddenly, and he shifted in his seat. “I think you’re sexy as hell… yeah, you make me pretty horny.”

The blonde’s smile widened, growing hungrier, “you want to do something about it?” She spread her legs slightly.

Jake cleared his throat and took a few deep breaths. “I think we should wait until we get home,” he said. “Things can be a little, uh, awkward in the car.”

“Okay,” Lily said, seemingly unfazed. “Would you like to watch me play with myself, instead?” She put a hand on her thigh and slid it ever so slightly towards the gap between her legs.

Jake barked out a laugh. “No, I think if you do that there’s no way I’m going to be able to stay off you for another…” he looked at the dashboard display, “… seventeen minutes. Why don’t we talk about other things?”

Lily shifted in her seat, adopting a less seductive position. “Okay, what do you want to talk about?”

Jake admitted he was at a loss. He had a whole history of shared experiences and well-worn topics of conversation with Eve, but none of that was applicable here. He started to think about his first few weeks with Eve, his first conversations with her, but found his mind sliding away from the memories. He told himself stridently that it was because Lily was so different, that none of that would apply here, but, like trying to walk with a pebble in his shoe, there was a persistent discomfort attending the rationalizations he used to steer clear of Eve’s home in his heart.

He looked outside at the county road they were driving down. There weren’t many other cars around, and it was a beautiful early summer day. Golden sunlight filtered down between the leaves of the trees that overhung the road, casting a dappled pattern across everything that shifted as branches twisted in the breeze.

“What do you think?” Jake said, gesturing loosely at the scenery.

Lily looked out the windshield in the general direction he’d waved his hand. The car rounded a bend, bringing a somewhat dilapidated red barn into view. Jake saw her eyes twitching back and forth, up and down as she took in the changing view. The barn fell behind them, and now a small creek glittering with reflected sunlight lay off to the side of the road.

“I’m not sure,” she said, looking back to Jake after a few seconds. “Was there something specific you wanted me to look at?”

“What do you think of the weather?” he asked, narrowing it down.

Lily looked back outside for a moment, then said, “it’s mostly sunny. The temperature is 73 degrees. It’s a very nice day.”

“What makes you call it nice?” Jake asked, his engineer’s curiosity pushing him on.

Lily’s eyes stared past his shoulder, as though she were thinking, and she said, “the temperature is moderate, there is little cloud-cover, and no precipitation or extreme weather conditions.”

“Hmm, I like thunderstorms, though, they’re dramatic and powerful and very interesting to watch. If there were a thunderstorm when we got home, would it still be a nice day?” Jake asked.

“But thunderstorms… have clouds and rain, and sometimes dangerous wind.” Lily said, looking puzzled, “It’s not a nice day if there’s a thunderstorm.”

Jake nodded, “de gustibus non est disputandum, I guess”

Lily stared blankly for a moment, then leaned towards him, hooded her eyes, and said, “You make me so hot, Jake.”

“No Latin translation module?” Jake said, amused by her non-sequitur response.

“Do you like my outfit?” she asked after another pause.

“Yes, I think it’s pretty nice for a starter. Eve came with a cheap little pair of jeans-shorts and a tank-top, so definitely a step up.”

“Will Eve be at home? I can’t wait to meet her!”

Jake’s jaw dropped open for a bit before he realized that it made perfect sense for her to have been programmed with knowledge of any other synthetics she’d be sharing a home with. The techs at the dealership must have loaded the information into Lily without bothering to ask.

“No, she’ll be back in a day or two.”

“Mm, I’ll have you all to myself, then” Lily said, “we’re going to have so much fun.”

“Yes, I think we will,” Jake said, pushing down a little upwelling of fear. Eve would be ready by Tuesday night. Wednesday would be his first day back at work.

The car parked itself neatly in front of Jake’s house, and Jake and Lily walked up the front steps hand-in-hand. Once inside, he gave her a quick tour that ended in the bedroom.

Lily walked into the relatively sparse room ahead of him, and turned to sit down on the edge of the bed. She ran her hand back and forth over the sheet beside her a few times, then flopped onto her back and stretched her arms out. “So, are you going to fuck me now?” she asked.

Jake let out a long sigh, closed his eyes, and smiled. When he opened them he said only, “yes.”

Lily made a pleased noise low in her throat. She kicked off her shoes and pulled her legs up onto the bed. Pushing herself back so that her bottom was even with the edge of the mattress she took hold of her ankles and spread her legs widely.

Jake walked up between Lily’s thighs and pushed the white fabric of the dress up, revealing her lack of underwear. He could see that she was already dewy with lubricant, and he ran his thumb up between her labia until it was pressed gently into the hard little bump at the top of her slit.

She moaned and a wave of contraction rolled down her body, dozens of actuators carefully coordinating to give the illusion of a human’s muscles and sinews. As Jake hurriedly undressed, she pushed down the top of her dress to expose her breasts, still full and round despite being pulled against her chest by the force of gravity. “Hurry, baby, I’m so wet for you,” she begged.

Lily didn’t have to wait long. Standing between her legs, Jake held his shaft by the base and guided it carefully into the slick opening. He stopped just inside her, gasping with pleasure at the tightness with which the velvet-soft orifice grabbed him. Eagerly, he pushed deeply into her with a single, long stroke that coaxed a little cry from the artificial woman.

Jake leaned forwards and stroked her face as he started fucking her, each firm thrust ending in dull thwack. Lily turned her head slightly and wrapped her full, soft lips around his thumb, sucking gently on it. She let go of her ankles then started playing with her breasts, rolling and squeezing the nipples between thumb and forefinger.

Lily’s heels pressed into the small of Jake’s back as she wrapped her legs around him. She added the strength of her legs to the end of each of his thrusts, and the sound of their bodies meeting grew sharper, louder.

Jake’s hands wandered across her body, squeezing a breast here, feeling the curve of her narrow waist there. They settled just above her hips, holding her tightly in place as he penetrated her with greater urgency. His movements were faster now, frantic more than deliberate, and his body went rigid as muscles clenched in preparation for orgasm.

Lily looked up at him with a lustful snarl. “That cock feels so fucking good inside me!”

Jake panted with his mouth open. His eyes clenched shut as the feeling of Lily’s sex enfolding him drowned out all other sensation. He barely heard himself groaning as he emptied himself into her. Just as his voice began to fade, Lily’s body tensed and she let out a high-pitched moan. She held him tightly against her with her legs as she writhed in simulated pleasure on the bed, one hand twisting a lock of her hair while the other pinched one of her nipples.

They stayed locked together in the same position for a little while before Jake slid his flagging erection out of Lily. She pulled her feet out from around his back and planted them on the edge of the bed, lifting herself up so that his semen, mixed with the lube she had emitted, would run up against the intake at the top of her vaginal canal. From there it was pumped quietly into an internal reservoir that she would empty during her daily maintenance cycle. She was left almost clean, other than a little bit of his fluid that remained smeared around her labia.

Jake turned and sat down on the bed beside her. He ran a hand through his hair then laid down, taking her hand into his. For the first time, he realized that there weren’t any visible seams in her skin. In his post-orgasmic haze, he vaguely pondered what means could have been used to conceal them so well.

Lily flipped herself over, straddling his waist, and leaned down to join her mouth with his. Her lips lived up to the expectations he’d formed in the showroom, warm, soft and yielding, and he liked the insistence with which she pushed her tongue into his mouth. He pushed back, and the two enjoyed a long, lazy, sensuous kiss while Lily massaged his arms and shoulders with surprisingly strong fingers.

Jake was amazed to feel the beginnings of another hard-on, and his mind turned to thoughts of what he might do with it when it was ready. Lily noticed as well, and moved to a sitting position alongside him. She reached down and stroked his still-glistening shaft as it bobbed in rhythm with his pulse. Jake sucked in his breath when she moved her other hand to squeeze his sensitive balls, firmly at first but then with greater tenderness as his erection approached its full height.

Smiling, and feeling a little bold, Jake rose and pushed Lily back down to the bed. He threw a leg over her so that he straddled her chest, and lowered himself onto her. The plastic structure of her body creaked slightly under the concentrated load, though, so he lifted himself until only a little of his weight was being borne by her. The position placed his fully-engorged cock right between her generous breasts.

Lily giggled, and surprised Jake by lifting her head to take the tip of his penis into her mouth. She gave it a few firm sucks before letting it pop out from between her lips. Her CPU had analyzed the relative position of her and her lover and derived an uncertainty as to whether he desired primarily oral or mammary stimulation. The tentative move towards oral stimulation had resulted from one of her programmed strategies for determining his intent; the action wouldn’t close off either route but would prompt a response allowing her to move forward with the correct set of behaviors. She finished by raising an eyebrow and giving her head an interrogative tilt.

Jake playfully tugged on both her nipples. He gave one of her breasts a slap that made her gasp; her body jerking a little under his.

“Mm, I like that. Harder?” she said.

“Okay,” he chuckled and gave one nipple a firm pinch. He took hold of her other breast and squeezed it hard, the heel of his hand pushing up from its base. Lily’s nipple popped up from between two of his fingers and he pressed them together, adding a little further stimulation. “How about that hard?”

Lily’s eyes rolled back and she smiled with her mouth open. “Oh baby, you really know how to treat a doll.”

Jake took both of Lily’s breasts in hand and pushed them together around his cock. They were cool compared with the heat of her mouth or pussy. He rocked his pelvis back and forth a few times, enjoying the sensation of friction, but when he tried to thrust more in earnest it became a little too much.

“Hm,” he said, then smiled. He let go of the breasts and leaned forward a little, using one hand to support himself while the other drew Lily’s head up.

She looked confused for a moment, then gladly took him into her mouth. Between his hand pulling her head forwards and his new position she was able to get her lips almost halfway down his shaft. Shifting into an oral-sex routine appropriate to the position, Lily began eagerly stimulating his head with her tongue.

“Whoa,” Jake said, “take it easy. You keep that up and I won’t last a minute.”

Lily slowed the gyrations of her tongue and blinked at him, not sure how to proceed.

“Could you give me a little extra lube?” he asked, “actually, why not a lot extra.”

Lily was silent for a moment, processing the precise nature of his request. She increased the flow of lubricant from her internal canister to her mouth several times over.

Jake felt the blonde sex-bot’s mouth suddenly gush full of fluid. “That’s good,” he said. “I think that’ll be fine.”

Lily slowed the pump back down to its normal speed and smiled. Clear, slightly viscous lube trickled down her cheek from the corner of her mouth.

Jake pulled himself from her mouth, his cock thoroughly wet with the slippery liquid, and reseated himself in his original position. This time he could thrust into the gap between Lily’s squeezed-together breasts without discomfort. He felt his partner’s hands grasping at his buttocks, her nails pressing into his skin, adding to the combination of sensations that was quickly pushing him to his second orgasm of the afternoon.

“Mm, Jake, I love having that big cock between my tits. Am I a good little fuck-toy?” Lily asked.

“You’re such a good fuck-toy,” Jake said through gritted teeth. It wasn’t exactly a creative reply, but his mind was hardly in the right place for snappy come-backs.

With an almost painful jerk of his scrotum, Jake came. His cum spurted onto Lily’s neck and the underside of her chin, then the hollow of her throat and, as he made one final thrust, some dribbled out onto her chest. He sighed, as content as he was exhausted. He found that he’d been gripping the supine sex-bot’s breasts so tightly that they took a few moments to return to their normal shape after he let go.

Lily let go of Jake’s bottom and used her elbows to prop herself up in a position where she could more easily clean Jake off with her mouth. He let her, sucking a breath in through his teeth at the stimulation of his still-tender head. When she’d finished, he let himself fall to his side on the bed with an exhausted, content sigh.

“Can I clean myself in the upstairs bathroom you showed me?” she asked, rising to a sitting position.

Jake nodded, and Lily rose to leave the bedroom. Her now very wrinkled dress fell back down around her thighs. She didn’t bother to pull the top back up from where it had bunched around her waist, giving Jake an unobstructed view of her shoulder-blades as they shifted under her synthskin with each sinuous step. It was an impressive display of engineering, considering the way most older or cheaper bots used simple ball-and-socket shoulders with static scapulae in back.

Lily turned and headed down the hallway, out of Jake’s view. He dropped his head back to the bed and muttered, “hell of a machine.” He could tell he’d be sore tomorrow and found he really didn’t care. In fact, he thought as he closed his eyes and began drifting towards sleep, he had every intention of making the problem worse.



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