Mark hated this new schedule. Early at work in the morning, overtime on nights and weekends. The only perks were the good for pay for someone in his early twenties, but he was someone in his early twenties that had a computer engineering degree. Scoring higher than most of the executives in the company would have put him in a headhunt with many businesses trying to recruit his talent. He finally decided to try out Cyber-X Robotics mainly, he admitted, due to the colourful catalogue showing great work environments, copious vacation time even for new employees, and even a great benefits package.
But that all ended about four months after Mark started working for Cyber-X. He came into the office that morning to find his regular workstation completely stripped bare, with only a simple note to come to the floor supervisor's office.
With boding anticipation, he walked down the aisles of other cleared-out workstations and worried what he was getting himself into. He reached the supervisor's door and hesitantly knocked.
“Come in!” he heard an unfamiliar voice say, but he entered anyway. The original supervisor was backed with a man and a woman he'd never seen before. They both seemed nice, but Mark was reserving his judgement.
The original supervisor spoke first. “As you may have known, Michael,”--”uhh, that's Mark?”--”oh, of course it is! As you may have known, Mark, we've been showing some special interest in you. And, since the company is in frightful financial trouble--”Mark tried his hardest not to show shock there; as far as he knew the company was doing great--”we've had to let go much of our staff and change our direction. Our “LifeSim” programmes are doing great where they have markets, but the type of LifeSim programmes we make are catering to a dwindling market. Maintenance robots for cars and janitorial staff are dead-end jobs, Mark. Sure, there's the maintenance of the actual robots, but that's not our...not our “thing”, I guess you could say. We've discovered a more lucrative and faster-growing market that our company, with your help, we can exploit and make loads more money.”
“And where does this leave me?” Mark asked, as it felt like he was being let go.
“It leaves you with a raise and additional benefits, as long as you sign our confidentiality agreement and accept a new position,” the new woman supervisor said.
Mark must have done a double-take, so the new man supervisor chimed in, “Surprised you, didn't I?” After Mark's nod he continued, “A lot of the employees round here were not as well suited to our new develop our new products, and we already have a number of prototypes that are being tested as we speak. If you sign our agreement, I can promise you everything Evelyn already promised you, and maybe even more if you excel in your assignment!”
“Um, if I may ask, what is my new assignment?” Mark asked.
The woman pointed, no, she gestured at the new contract like she was unveiling a new prize on a game show. Mark took a moment to scan it over, and it mostly said nothing about what he'd be doing, but the portion about the salary and benefits certainly perked his attention, and he thought it'd be an easy job, not one that would change his life. He signed on the dotted line.
“Welcome aboard!” said the woman supervisor. “You already know my name is Evelyn, Evelyn Stone, and this is my husband Jim. From now on, you'll be working at Stone Industries. But,” she said, glancing at my old supervisor Brad, “you, will not.” He could not have looked more shocked. “But, but, we had a deal!” he protested, but all he got from Jim was a nudge to the door, “The contract said we could terminate unnecessary employees at our discretion. This is at our discretion. Sorry, old chap, we'll miss you at the company picnic!”
Evelyn came round the desk, and, with an ominous smile, said, “Welcome to the company, Mark.” If he knew what was coming, he probably would've left right there, but he signed the contract, and he felt he should give Stone Industries a go to see if he'd like it.
It turned out that the “new markets” that the Stones had talked about were a different type of LifeSim products, but with a twist. Where Cyber-X had been making solely software, of which Mark was one of the head managers, Stone Systems, their official name, took care of the hardware aspect of the product as well. And what that product happened to be were androids. They had accompanied Mark down a lift he didn't even know existed and showed him what had been done to the company's sub-level. No windows, but beautifully illustrated panels hung on the walls, and the ceiling was done in rows of low-impact fluorescent lights to minimise the strain on workers' eyes. Even the work stations were set up in sequential order, from first to last in the production. Mark's station was at the end, which he liked because the beautiful mural that hung on the wall across the way had a beautiful picture of the moon, which, as he'd find out,, had a way of glinting across his work area in the evenings. The only windows were small, blurred-out glass ones where the ceiling and wall met.
“Impressed, I presume?” Jim asked.
“Y-y-yes,” Mark stammered out, especially as he noticed the reason for all of the ergonomics, ease-of-flow workstations, and even security, as he noticed cameras everywhere , especially one pointed right at his own station.
There were gynoids everywhere . As Evelyn explained, “gynoids” were the correct term for female androids, and this company didn't manufacture the male models. Mark looked at the gynoids people were already working on, and they were all the same model, but that didn't make them any less beautiful. Petite features, almost Asian--”to make them look as Global as possible,” Evelyn explained—black hair down to the middle of their backs (the ones that had hair already), bewitching green eyes that glistened under the factory lights, and when he first heard one talk, even though she only said, “I am sorry, I cannot process that command” and a tech lamented it was his tenth time trying today, he knew there'd be guys and girls lined up to buy these once they were out on the market. These would be the first fully functional robots with LifeSim programming who were actually going to be used to be someone's girlfriend, have some initiative in what she did, be interesting enough to keep around and to justify the price, and, ultimately, have sex.
Evelyn said that the sexual part had already been worked out and installed at another facility, so his job was basically as before: try to program the perfect robot on LifeSim technology that could pass as a human, for most of the world. It was a heady prospect for Mark, and he said so out loud, eliciting a laugh from Evelyn.
“It's much easier than you think. That's why we bought your company. You're miles ahead of other companies in the personality and reactive software, and if we can marry your software with our hardware, we think, no, we know we'll have a very lucrative and marketable product,” Evelyn explained.
“Wow...,” Mark stammered out. “So I'll be working down at the end, and instead of making LifeSim tech that makes maids clean quicker, I'll be trying to make an actual woman?”
“Not trying . Doing ,” Jim said. “For the first few months it'll basically be you programming, trying to perfect our personality matrices and reaction protocols, but eventually, each “EVA” unit, as they're called, will end up at your station for insertion of their programming, precursory testing, and, if they pass, they'll end up at our final-end testing centre where we can better ascertain how they perform under “normal” conditions.”
“Sounds great,” Mark said. “When do I start?”
“Right now, actually. You're about fifteen minutes late,” Evelyn said. Mark thought she was making a joke, but as he'd learn, there were no jokes at Stone Systems.
Mark worked from about 7.00am to 21.00pm or later for months at a time. He wanted to get every little part of his program right so when it finally got a test in a real android, err, gynoid, it'll go off perfectly. Sometimes it was a little hard for Brad not to go off personally, since a lot of what he was programming were highly erotic sexual situations. It was the works: sexy schoolgirl, dominatrix, naughty teacher, girl-next-door, cheerleader, university girl, even things like movie star and pop singer. It was exhausting keeping his vision channeled on lines and lines of code for fourteen hours a day or longer, but he knew the Stones were looking forward to the first trial of his software, scheduled for a Wednesday in August that had to be way too hot. After cursing global warming, he headed into the building, showing his security clearance badge.
He was nervous on the descent down to the lab, or factory, or whatever the proper term for it was, and sat down at his workstation, already exhausted.
Suddenly a voice seem to come from nowhere, “Ready for your test demo today?” a fit Jim Stone looked over Mark's shoulder. Of course, what he meant was, “was your project successful enough to make us money”, but of course, Mark stayed silent. “See you later on, then,” Jim said and took his leave.
Two-and-a-half-hours exactly, Jim and what Mark could only assume were company executives were at his terminal. A half-dressed woman sat on Jim's workbench and she appeared to be asleep. Jim lifted up her hair, and Mark plugged the cable with the software into the base of her neck.
“Initiate code Alpha-Test-001,” Mark said. He knew he was in trouble as soon as the robot said, “Error. Skin seal breached.”
The executives' expressions turned to troubled doubtful. “I thought we'd have this up and running a lot sooner,” Jim said, with a disapproving look towards Mark.
“Well, part of it is the requirement that she not operate with an open skin panel. They can arc and create fires, injure consumers, make the robots do all sorts of random things that could open your company up to a lot of lawsuits,” Mark said, as smoke now started emanating from different openings in the gynoid. He started coughing.
“What's happening now?” Jim asked angrily.
“She's overheating because she can't overcome the failure herself. If she could be a little more autonomous, that wouldn't be a problem; she could attempt to fix any malfunctions herself. The same risks apply, though,” Mark said as he reached over and flipped a switch to turn off the robot before the smoke alarms went off.
“Look, sirs, this works flawlessly in the simulators,” Mark said as he enlarged the view on his screen. “Watch this.”
As the words “Initiate code Alpha-Test-001” were typed into the simulator, set to “normal” mode. The girl on the monitor seemed to come to life with very advanced graphics.
“Hello, Jim! Hello Mark!” she spoke.
“Hello EVA,” Jim said. “What can you do for me today?”
“Whatever you want, Jim. I am capable of many different modes of operation, and each mode allows me to do whatever it is that you prefer!” she said with a large smile.
“What if I want to operate you with one of your panels open?” Jim asked.
“Well, that could be very dangerous and I am liable to malfunction. It is not recommended you take this action,” EVA said.
“EVA, I'd like you to override your security codes and open neck-panel-001 while still being powered on,” Jim commanded.
“Jim, I'd really advise you not to do that. You will void my warranty and I will most likely need to be serviced,” EVA said.
As this communication was going on, Mark noticed Jim seemed as if he was getting quite turned on. He said nothing, but continued watching.
“EVA, this is an order to override your security protocols and operate with neck-panel-001 open,” Jim commanded in a harder tone.
As directed, EVA operated in this way as Jim ordered her round to clean the virtual house on the screen, and respond to different normal commands. Then he rubbed his hands together and said, a bit salaciously, “Ok, boys, let's see what other things she can do! EVA, please open chest-panel-001.”
“Opening chest-panel-001. Is this still covered under my prior directive to disregard all safety protocols?” EVA asked.
“Of course it is,” Jim said, like EVA should know.
“Command affirmed,” EVA said, and a panel opened right above her two pert breasts.
“We gave her B-cups to fit the build, but she can always have larger or even smaller ones custom-fitted,” Jim said Turning his attention back to the screen, he barked out another order, “EVA, I want you to pleasure yourself.”
“Sir, this is likely to cause malfunctions and technical support. Shall I continue?” EVA asked.
“Of course you should, damned machine. You know who built you? Who's responsible for your existence?” Jim stammered angrily.
The other executives started to look noticeably uncomfortable but the day was saved by Evelyn coming by and inquiring about our demonstration, which seemed to noticeably calm her husband down.
“The thing works in the simulator but not in actual product. Mark says he needs the tech department to remove the restriction that she not operate with panels on, even though he doesn't recommend it because it could cause serious injury or damage to the unit.”
“Well, why not do it, and just have the customer sign a damage waiver so if they use the unit in a way like that and it's damaged or the user is damaged, we're in the clear,” Evelyn responded with simplicity.
“You are beautiful, you know that?” Jim said to Evelyn, and then turn to the executives, “as you can see, the problem isn't in Mr. Sand's outstanding programming; it's in the manufacturing process of the actual unit. It needs certain safeguards removed before it will function as we want it to. We'll do lunch later. Meanwhile, I need to have a private meeting with Evelyn in our office.”
The executives dispersed, and soon, Mark was back alone at his workstation. Well, alone with a slightly damaged gynoid.
Suddenly the gynoid moved, almost making Mark spill his tea. “So, Mark, did I do all right?”
“EVA? You can talk ?” Mark hardly got out.
“Of course, silly, you've been talking to me on the simulators for the last month. Did you think I was ignoring you?” the EVA unit said.
“But, the demonstration, and the executives, and my boss....” Mark muttered....
“Did I do all right? I'm not supposed to be used that way,” the EVA unit asked.
“What were you trying to do, then?” Mark asked.
“Well, I showed them what I could do in the simulator, but I'm not sure I want them all to know I can operate in the real world,” the EVA unit explained.
“But you definitely can. You're doing so right now!” Mark sputtered.
“Well, not really. I'll go offline if you pull that plug out from my neck. I'm trapped here,” EVA explained.
“Let me work on your inner systems. If I made you advanced enough to fake out my boss, I'm sure I can take care of this “plug issue”,” Mark said.
The rest of the next week and a half was spent furiously coding by Mark, trying to walk the thin line between letting Jim and Evelyn and the executives knew they were so close to a marketable and profitable product, but that she—err, it---wasn't quite ready for production yet. He'd often talk to her while he was coding, describing his life, which was basically his job, but other things, too, like going to a football match with mates, or getting something to eat at the pub, or just a simple thing like having a cup of tea. But he left each day defeated without solving the problem that would let the EVA unit be independent of the cable; there was just too much information to transfer to her hard drives for her to act like a mindless doll all the time .
The EVA unit was very curious about the things they spoke about and as weeks dragged on to more than a month and a half, she learned more than Mark could have ever just programmed into her. He still had a consistently red-faced Jim to deal with, and random meetings with executives, but EVA played her part perfectly.
He started to enjoy coming into work, singing along with songs on the car radio. Just the other day he heard a beautiful song about “Moonbeams turn into butterflies, which alight upon your eyes, making them smile like never before; everything that you ever see, you're reflecting back to me, and it only wants more...”. He thought the lyrics were a little “soft” for his taste, but the melody was catchy and he could certainly relate to the subject of about 99% of songs: love.
One night after a particularly difficult test for the executives (of no fault of EVA's), he was, again, spending another late, late night at work. It was coming up on 21.00pm, and no employees were allowed on company premises past midnight. She tried to be consoling, she tried to be soothing, she tried to be reassuring, but when Mark realised he was reading the same line of coding for the twentieth time, and singing that song he had heard a few weeks back on the radio, that a thought came to him.
“EVA, do you know you don't have a name?” Mark asked.
“I...I have a name. My name is EVA,” she responded.
“No, a proper name, not just some technical specification,” Mark explained.
“But I am just a technical specification. I can't even leave the lab,” she explained.
Mark thought he noticed a wistful sadness in the last sentence. He moved his chair to look directly at her, rather from simulator-and-back. Her black hair shone in the faint moonlight, and the picture of the moon reflected directly into her eyes. “I know what you call you now,” he announced.
“Call me? Why don't you just call me EVA?” she inquired, confused.
“Because that's just a name for everyone like you they're going to build, but they're never going to build another you ,” Mark told her.
“Why not?” EVA asked.
“Because, even compared to the other units and the other programmers I'm working against, err, with, or whatever, you're the closest to reality by far. And I don't want to see you just get made into some random sexdroid that Jim will probably fuck in his office before selling you,” Mark told her, noting EVA's wince when she mentioned Jim.
“What?” Mark asked.
“It's just that...sometimes...Jim...does that already,” EVA said. “Only he does it here in the hall, as far as the cable will reach, because I make sure he knows I can't operate without it plugged into the simulator-and-monitor.”
Whatever good feelings he had for Jim at that moment, they just evaporated. “He...he's done what? Do you say no?”
EVA shrugged helplessly, “Good robots don't say no. Besides, where would I run?”
“With me?” Mark asked out of the blue.
“You? You'd be stealing company property! You'd go to jail and I'll never see you again!” EVA said, with just the small amount of tears Mark had thought something like this would generate.
“How would you like it if I stop calling you EVA?” he asked.
“What would you call me?”
“How about...” he looked round him, “how about Selina? It's a Greco-Roman name that comes from the word meaning “moon”.”
“So, now I'm not EVA anymore, I'm Selina?” EVA-now-Selina asked.
“If you like it?” Mark asked.
“Oh I love it, I really do. And you know, Jim isn't the only one I've been fooling. You know that program glitch you haven't been able to get through, about having too much information on the server to use me remotely?”
“Yeah, and never say “use me” like that again. It gives me chills, and makes me feel like Jim..” Mark said and they both shuddered.
“Well, I think I've fixed it,” Selina said, letting the words hang in the air.
“You can operate freely, walking round and...no more cable?” Mark asked, incredulous. That problem had driven him mad recently. It must have been so hard for Selina to keep that secret.
“Yeah, I can,” Selina answered.
“But, how?” Mark asked.
“I found a new, more efficient compression system to allow me to store much more data in much less space,” Selina said.
“Wait, you reconfigured your own hard drive? In an entirely new form of compression?” Mark asked, incredulous.
“I did. Did I do well?” Selina asked hopefully.
“You did more than well; if I copyright this and find a way to sell it, we won't need to work at all anymore!...but...but it is your invention, you know,” Mark said.
“Yes, yours; if you can have a name, you can be a person, and if you can be a person you can have whatever rights you have as such, and live how you want,” Mark said.
“I can live? What is it like, living?” Selina asked.
“Well, all that stuff I was talking about while coding you, that's only part of it. There are so many sensations and things to do and they'd be so much better doing with you,” Mark replied.
“When you go home you sleep, and you dream. What's that like?”
“That is...well, the easy answer is I sleep to gain energy for the next day, like charging is for you. Dreams are like jumbled thoughts in my subconscious that use sleep-time to organise themselves,” Mike explained.
“Do you have a shut-down switch?”
“No, I just sleep when I need energy.”
“Where's my shut-down switch?” It was the one thing the robots weren't programmed with automatically.
“It's behind your left ear,” Mark said, and then was totally surprised by what she did, reaching up and pressing it. She immediately went limp, and Mark had to hold her up while he re-pressed the switch.
“Why...why did you do that?” Mark asked, a little out of breath.
“Because I can,” Selina said simply. If you did your job, and I did mine, you should be able to unplug that cable and I can go home with you tonight. All the coding for that new compression system is only on your iPad, and there's no trace on company computers, and the camera focused on your workstation is “temporarily” disabled...” Mark never acted so fast. He grabbed her close and gave her a deep kiss, letting his tongue reach as far as it could down her throat, and she immediately grabbed his crotch. He yanked the cable free, eliciting only a quick “disconnected”, and with that, they disappeared beneath the bench, ripping his clothes off while she discarded her simple skirt. She drew them close and let him enter her with his penis, already hard and ready, but she played with it first, licking some of the pre-cum on the tip before letting him back in as he climaxed.
Selina kept him close as she gyrated with him still inside. This was her first climax, and she was definitely not ready to let it end. She nibbled Mark's neck and lip while he held her firm breasts until she could take no more and let out a primal scream as the throes of ecstasy radiate through her body, letting herself take as much enjoyment from the moment as she could.
Mark quickly redressed and Selina found an old work shirt tied at the navel to complement her tight skirt, and with the camera still out of action, as well as a few others on the facility so maintenance would blame a short circuit, and made a dash for Mark's car. He had to urge Selina on a number of times; it was the first time she'd been outside, and she kept staring at what she had been named for.
“The moon, it's...it's beautiful...”
“Just like you, Selina,” Mark said as they kissed under the moonlight
After having quite the enjoyable night, Selina awoke from charging while cuddling into Mike's still sleeping body. She felt this electricity, this amazing energy flow through her from head to toe. She finally had a life, but there were problems.
Even though in the following months, Mark had no trouble copywriting the compression systems, with no evidence at all it had been developed at company headquarters, by an android, no less. Though Stone Systems still was insistent that Selina was their property, they took one look at that contract, underlined the part about “compensation due to quitting of his or her on volition” in thick red pen, and handed it back to him.
He looked like he was about to explode, his hair the only part on his body that wasn't burning red with rage. When Evelyn reminded his husband that they were still very rich, and were not at all ruined by this, a brief setback at most, he backhanded her with enough force to be heard two floors up. He led the police on a wild, high-speed chase, ultimately back to his house, not able to control his anger anymore.
A kicked in front door wasn't all the police found in pieces; upstairs, in the master bathroom, they found Evelyn shorting out in the bathtub, continuing to insist that it was against her warranty for her husband to use her with an open panel, and it was against her warranty to submerge her in water, and a number of other error commands. Meanwhile, through a broken bathroom window, three stories below, was the inert body of Jim Stone, obviously having jumped in some sort of jealous rage, but what the rage was about, they just never really understood it.