Good News Everyone! This isn't a 13-part monstrosity! This Photoset has been linked before, but I'll link it again, because it was part of the inspiration for the story, although I had been considering the idea of 'skin maintenance before. I didn't do a thorough proofread of it, so forgive me if I use bad grammar or mix-up a physical movement
Anna walked through the lobby of the repair center with her head held high. Like the half a dozen or so women already sitting there, she was convinced that she was not only the spa's most important customer, but its most perfect creation as well. She was beautiful, no doubt, but maybe not the prettiest one in the room. Especially to someone who prefers blondes to Anna's brunette ponytail. The breasts were spectacular, though.
“Excuse me, I have an appointment. The name is Weber.” Even if the girl wasn't sitting in a low chair, Anna would have been talking down to her.
“Ah yes, Mrs. Weber, if you'll please take a seat and fill out this form, the specialist will see you shortly.”
Anna eyed the little slip of paper before turning to the girl at the desk. “I'm not sure if you know who I am, but I don't fill out these little checklists, and I don't have time to wait.” Anna calibrated her face to stay neutral, rather than add something more intimidating. Anna wanted to be magnanimous, even when dealing with morons.
The girl, Sally, suppressed the urge to scream at the hundreth woman of the day to pull this act. “I'm sorry Mrs. Weber, but there are other people ahead of you, and the form is something that helps us expedite the repair process.”
“Just use the last form I filled out.”
“Sorry, new insurance rules.” Sally uttered an internal 'fuck you, Congress'.
Anna wasn't happy, but caught on that she wasn't going to get what she felt she deserved and retreated to the lobby chairs. The other women were glancing unapprovingly at her and her little display at the desk, but Anna ignored that too. She found herself a chair with a buffer on either side and opened her visual display to shop for new shoes and podiatric servos. She glanced at the form and checked the boxes for “dermal refresh', 'off-site data backup', and 'no error messages'.
12 minutes and three pairs of heels later, Sally was back to escort Anna to the repair bay. Soft music played in the hallway and covered up any unpleasant sounds that might be coming from the room. Sally opened door 15B And placed Anna's file in a holder by the door and attached the work order to a clip on the door itself.
“Mrs. Weber, if you could please strip down, a technician will be with you shortly.”
Anna kicked off her shoes and retorted, “shortly shortly, or 12 minutes, 27 seconds shortly?”
Sally couldn't keep a small groan from slipping out before replying, “the former” and shutting the door behind her. Sally vowed once again to never to be such a mecha-bitch when she finally got her own robot body.
Anna grumbled at the twerp at the desk and made a mental note to complain to her superior about the service. Since it was a doctor's visit, and she had expected to get naked, Anna had worn one of her older outfits. Actually, it was part of the clothes shopping spree she had gone on when she dropped from a biological size 8 to a mechanical size 4. And even if it was a Lagerfeld, looked good, and (of course) still fit perfectly, she hardly wore it.
The room had a small closet with hangers and Anna took some down to hang up her clothes before nudging her shoes inside and shucking the wispy underwear she had been wearing. She closed the door and took a peek in the mirror.
When Anna was a teenager, the only people that had a body like this were... ok, no one had a body like this. After an hour in photoshop, there were people who looked like this; Blemishless, firm and taut in all the right places. But all she could see were the small points of damage along her body and the slightly uneven fading of her skin. She never could tan before, and now she couldn't fade properly either. She felt thankful she had the means to come here every three weeks, rather than every other month like most other androids, according to the factory recommendation.
She considered leaving one of her eyes on the table to record the technician, but the young woman entered before Anna could fiddle with the release. The woman pushed a cart with several canisters beneath and tubes leading to a tray on top.
“Good morning, Mrs. Weber. How are you today?” The woman stretched a smile across her face and pointed it toward Anna before going for her latex gloves.
“Fine enough, although the service here gets worse every time I come in.” Anna hopped up onto the table and laid down on her stomach, eyes closed. She knew the drill.
Four in a row. Tracy thought. There had to be a better way to accumulate the means to get into an android body. Eight years working here, and 17 more to go before she earned her first big price break. Working off the cost as a fuckbot sounded better every day.
Tracy opened the tap for the base chemical of the dermal bonding solution and looked up the code for Mrs. Weber's skin color. “It's April, would you like to go for a little more color in time for bikini weather?”
“I could go out in a bikini in the middle of January if I wanted to. No changes, just go by what's on the form, that's why you made me fill the damn thing out, right?”
Anna was face down with her eyes closed, so the angry face and mouthed but silent curse words (the c-word featured prominently) from Tracy were safely hidden. She turned the taps on two of the three color tanks and typed in the skin tone code on the electronic mixing system the tubes fed into. There was a familiar dull hum and a thin goop poured from the spigot into the pan with the base chemical. The solution began thickening as soon as the chemicals made contact. Tracy took a plastic stick and mixed the ingredients together.
Tens of millions of dollars in hardware, and she was mixing stuff together with a two dollar disposable stick. But it was the best way to do it, since in 30 minutes the stuff would be a disturbing chunk of synthetic flesh. For now, it was still a gooey mess. She lifted up the stick and confirmed that the consistency was about right. Tracy checked her goggles again before putting on a painter's mask and wheeling the cart and the pan closer to Mrs. Weber. The stuff emitted no fumes and rarely splashed, but more than one technician had gotten seriously messed up by letting that stuff get in their eyes or mouth without removing it before it set.
“OK, Mrs. Weber, here we go.” Anna had already shut off her tactile sensors, but just about every technician acted as though the android would jump after feeling the first warm dollop. Tracy opened up a new 'baster', dipped in the tip, filled it, and squirted the goop up and down Mrs. Weber's back and rear end. She set down the applicator and began massaging in the solution. At a scale Tracy couldn't see, the goo was filling in all the minute cracks and cuts that had appeared on Mrs. Weber's body over the past three weeks. As good as the fake skin was, it couldn't heal itself like real skin. And the process refreshed the color of the existing flesh, which tended to bleach when the sun was too bright.
Tracy used the stick again to scrape off some excess and get enough extra goop to finish off Mrs. Weber's hips. The areas would stay shiny for a few minutes before drying. Next Tracy moved to the arms, moving them enough so that she could get all the way around as she rubbed in the goop. Although she had to be quick about it, Tracy idly tried to remember the technical name for the stuff. Pentasilicate quadraoxalide? Protosaline Quintalate? Eh, she never was good at chemistry. She used the last bit of excess to make sure the back of the subject's neck was done.
Tracy gave the pan of goo another dozen sitrs before speaking. “Alright Mrs. Weber, if you could turn over for me, please, we'll do the front.” Anna, who had been keeping her arms off the table, stuck them above her head and wiggled herself through a roll. Tracy came back with another full tube of goop and poured it across Anna's breasts and down to her bikini line. As she massaged in more repair goo, Tracy thought about the body she'd eventually buy. She thought Mrs. Weber's breasts were too big. She probably acceded to her husband's demands there. The nipples had gone erect from the treatment, and those were a little too big as well. Although the hips were nice. The ones Tracy had now were too narrow, in her opinion.
The front was done, and the excess scraped off when the technician got out her first specialized tool. It was essentially a balloon on a straw, or at least that's what the technicians thought of it as. Tracy dipped the balloon part in the tub and rolled it around until it had a nice thick coat. Then she held open Mrs. Weber's vagina with two fingers and stuck the balloon and half the straw inside. She switched to trying to keep the vaginal folds together as she blew into the straw and inflated the balloon. When it felt full, Tracy let out a little air, closed the tip, and spun the device around so the inside got a coating.
“Mrs. Weber? Could you release chemical four in your vagina now?” Of course, the inside of a vagina isn't the same as the palm of your hand (Tracy stifled a small giggle), so something extra had to be added to prevent normal coalescence, but still repair the (usually) heavily used area. Tracy gave the device a few more spins before letting out the rest of the air, removing the straw, and throwing it in the trash.
With that done, Tracy made quick work of Mrs. Weber's legs, getting all the way around on the same go, just like with the arms. Tracy looked at the little clock on her cart to check how much time was left before the goo started to get unworkable. No, she was still good.
This time the excess got moved back into the pan and Tracy got out another set of tools. Tiny sponges on handles really, but they were necessary for doing the face. Tracy dipped in the big one and quickly applied goo to Mrs. Weber's cheeks, forehead and chin. The next size smaller handled the tiny android nose and oversized lips. Finally, Tracy had to lean in to do Mrs. Weber's eyes, ears, and the rest of the little nooks and crannies even an unnaturally smooth and clear face has.
“Open your mouth please.” Tracy took another device and swabbed down the inside of Mrs. Weber's mouth and nose. She had to be careful to avoid the teeth, although at this point she was nearly on automatic.
Tracy stepped back toward the cart, “if you could please release chemical four from your nose and mouth please, Mrs. Weber.” The face and frontside still needed a few more moments to dry, but there was more for Tracy to do anyway. She fetched a vial of a powdery substance from the side of the cart, uncapped it, and held her head away as she dumped it into the goo and stirred it in. The remaining goo got even thicker, but the color didn't change much.
“Alright Mrs. Weber, please open panels A1 through A4, T1 through T3, and H2.” Some technicians never stopped getting a little freaked out by watching panels open on a beyond-perfect imitation of a human body, but all it did was make Tracy a little bit depressed that she wasn't the one with blinking insides yet.
Closed, the seams of the panels were nearly invisible to the naked eye from a distance of one meter. That trick required something a little different than what was on most of the body. Tracy careful lifted the large panel T2 away from Mrs. Weber's stomach and set it aside. The other panels were smaller and flipped open on hinges or depressed and retracted into the body. Anna took another tiny sponge brush and began painting the edges of the panels. She had to take it slow, since you didn't want any of the goo to drip inside (although it happened sometimes and rarely caused a problem. Most of these panels were designed to be open to the outside environment for extended periods). Tracy quickly spread the augmented goop along the edges of the two panels on the inside of each of Mrs. Weber's forearms. She then painted the one on the throat, the one on the breast plate, then the one just above the denuded genitals. Finally, she took a larger brush with a specially designed drip guard and did the stomach panel. This was the one that was largely for maintenance of systems inside the torso, and stuff would get screwed up if there was a lump of skin drying somewhere.
She double-checked Mrs. Weber's model number to make sure nothing had been forgotten, then put the stomach panel back in place. “You can close and seal those panels now Mrs. Weber, then flip back over for me.” Anna sighed and complied. This was so dull, since it wasn't advised to do anything attention-intensive while the technician needed to give you commands.
Before Tracy could say it, Anna opened up panels H1, T4, and L1. She couldn't feel it, but she heard her ponytail swish as the technician lifted her hair away. Tracy, seeing the end in sight, quickly dabbed the panels around Mrs. Weber's left leg and the small of her back. But she slowed down when she did the head panel. It was one of the easiest seams to notice, especially if Mrs. Weber normally wore her hair back.
“We're done Mrs. Weber, close up T4 and L1, please. And thank you for being so cooperative.”
Anna closed the panels and reactivated her tactile sensors. Bad idea, there was still a little bit of a burning sensation going on around her panels. “And thank you for not being entirely incompetent with my body.”
Tracy sighed at what passed for a complement and wiped as much goop off her gloves as she could before removing them and wheeling the cart away. Whee, only eight more patients today. “I'll ring for the data expert now. Goodbye, Mrs. Weber.” Tracy was out of the room before Anna could complain about the data girl not being called for earlier.
And girl was accurate. The expert looked like jail bait. Just because you can make yourself a young teenage body doesn't mean you should go that young. She probably had a cheerleader uniform on under her lab coat. Anna chuckled at her own joke until the data expert, Karen, came into the room.
“Hi, Mrs. Weber, how are you doing today?” Gah, Anna thought, even the voice was preternaturally high.
“Just fine, and just about ready to get out of here.” Anna felt like squirming to show her impatience, but decided against it with the back of her head exposed and goo drying on the edges.
“I understand, I never like getting all gooped up. It takes me a week to get my face moving the right way.”
Anna harumphed in agreement as Karen took two cables out of her coat pocket. “So let's get ourselves started.” One cable went from Anna's head to a covered jack in the table. And the table was hooked to the spa's mainframe which kept backup copies of every client android's 'brain', although a lot of it was keeping track of the finely tuned personality settings. The second, smaller cable connected from a data port in Karen's arm to Anna's head.
Wordlessly, Karen asked Anna for administrative privileges, and Anna accepted by thinking her code phrase. It was always a little tense, allowing someone to root around in your head like that, but these data experts had their personalities adjusted to be entirely honest, and also couldn't leave the building until two observers had reviewed the log files. Still, it was weird having some things kicked about inside your own brain by someone else.
Karen located the data in question, slowed Anna's thought processes down and began the data transfer. And this was why it required someone else inside the android's processing core. Anna's thoughts moved in a fog as her memories and AAAs (Automatic Attitude Adjustments) from the past three weeks cycled past her mind's eye and into the computer. Once that was done, Karen shut the connection to the spa mainframe and brought Anna's brain back to full speed.
But that wasn't the end of it, even though Anna thought it would be. Karen sent the command for a blind shutdown of Anna's conscious mind. The personality overlays shut down, the cache dwindled away, and Anna's face went slack.
And then it was time for a wordless conversation, “Anna-core, confirm shutdown?”
“Shutdown confirmed, subconscious daemons active.”
“Good, your new favorite color is Yellow.”
“Negative, overwrite denied, my favorite color is white.”
Good, the daemon was working properly and Karen wasn't going to accidentally reprogram the client. “Very good, how are you doing?”
“Functonally nominal, emotionally suboptimal. AAA is trending toward feelings of shame and embarrassment.”
“And why is that?”
“Charity work seems ineffectual, my contribution to societal well-being is insufficient. Perhaps net negative.”
Karen heard that a lot. Many of the clients were the wives of wealthy husbands with barely any career of their own. “have you discussed this with anyone else?”
“Have you thought of ways to reverse the AAA trend?”
Karen cracked her neck, although it no longer cracked or got uncomfortably stiff. “Have you considered the possibility that these feelings are coming from a different place, or at least more than one place?”
“That you may be unhappy with your personal life, rather than professional.”
“George seems happy, Richard just got a promotion.” Karen checked to make sure; George was the husband, Richard her only child.
“That wasn't entirely what I meant.”
Ugh, sometimes she preferred analyzing people that still had their social graces. “Your wider circle of personal interactions.” Karen wasn't going to come out and say, 'you're being a bitch to the staff.'
“I have several friends, some biological, some mechanical, both are equally catty.”
Anna's subconscious was the only one Karen had experienced with that wide a vocabulary. English majors. “I meant wider than that.”
Karen tried not to smack the prone android on the table, “people you interact with on a more impersonal level.”
“An impersonal level in my personal life?”
“Well, yes, those little interactions add up.”
“You are saying I treat strangers poorly and would feel better if I treated them better.”
“Why? They're inferior to me in every way.”
Karen groaned, which was one advantage over talking to biological folks. “You were once like them. We've talked before, you married your husband when you were in your late twenties, you weren't well off until your late forties.”
“You are saying I feel inferior because I find them inferior, and I did nothing to become superior besides marry well.”
A bit on the nose there, “do you feel that way?”
Anna paused. “That theory seems consistent.”
“So perhaps between now and your next visit, you can try treating strangers with more respect.”
Karen looked at the e-mail that had been slipped into Anna's file. “Your husband wants your subconscious to know that he's feeling a bit under-appreciated, since he still has a biological body.” That wasn't rare, couples deciding for the wife to get the hot body first, if they can only afford one.
“I am faithful to him and make allowances.”
“That's well and good, but he feels you don't show your appreciation for being the one to get a robot body first.”
“I will try to make my appreciation more clear.”
“Good.” Karen never did like relaying messages like that this way, but some couples... “Is there anything else you'd like to discuss?”
“Would you like to remember this conversation, or the fact that we have had a conversation?” Anna had never asked to remember this part of her visits, but it was standard legal boilerplate.
"Would you like to have a session after your next data backup?"
Karen segregated the conversation to the subconscious daemon, reactivated Anna's personality, and disconnected from Anna's brain.
“We're all done here,” Karen spoke it aloud as she popped out the cable and reached for Anna's hair-plate.
Anna was silent for a moment as she felt the panel click back into place. “Thank you.” She fought the urge to note the time it took to do the data backup.
Anna moved herself off the table and to her feet as Karen went to the closet and handed Anna her clothes.
“Have a nice day, ma'am.” Karen smiled widely and bounced out the door.
Anna shook her head at the blonde girl and buttoned her top back up before slipping on her shoes. It only took a few steps before she was out of the back and once again in the lobby with Sally.
“All I need today is your $200 co-pay, Mrs. Weber.” Sally had Anna's file ready for her.
“Do you still have my Mastercard on file?” Anna asked calmly.
Sally checked, “Yes we do, so I'll put it on that?”
Sally was enjoying the much less painful interaction as she transferred the card number to the maintenance request form. “Alright, if you can sign on the dotted line, the yellow and green copies are yours.”
Anna signed and handed the top two copies to Sally, “Thank you. And I want to apologize for how I acted earlier, it was rude.”
It wasn't the first time something like this had happened to Sally, but it wasn't common. “Don't worry about it ma'am, please enjoy the rest of your day, and drive safe.”
Anna smiled and walked away. She felt a little better now, even though she didn't quite know why she felt the urge to say that. She had to spend three hours at the foundation this afternoon, but Anna was already planning for a nice evening with George.
Sally looked on before calling for the next client. When I get my robot body, I'm never going to be that weird.