The Small Business - End-of-Year Review

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The Small Business Chronicles: The Small Business - End-of-Year Review

Chapter One: Gabby's present

“Alright, great job everyone,” Jack said, collapsing into an arm chair in the recreational area of his lab, alongside Ellie and JB.

It had been a long day, but Jack had once again had a productive Christmas giving upgrades, updates, and routine maintenance to his various employees. Unlike last Christmas, however, he now had slightly more than three times as many androids to work on.

However, also unlike last year, he now had three times as much assistance working on them: Ellie and JB. Ellie and JB were allowed to perform upgrades for each other on a bi-weekly basis, and then this year, Jack delegated responsibility to them: Ellie worked on the motel workers, JB worked on the café workers, and Jack worked on the shop workers…though Jack still supervised the others work.

In the past several months since bringing JB online, Jack had monitored all his functions perfectly and determined he was functioning perfectly. He’d even been able to utilize some of the male sex programming to augment the female sex programming; he’d be testing it out for the first time in the ambitious new programming package he’d been compiling for Gabby all year long.

At this point, they’d managed give “presents” to every single android on the premise…with the exception of Gabby; Jack always saved her for last. Unlike most years, this year he believed he had something truly special…something that would finally bring her one giant step towards behaving more human.

“Is there anything else you’d like us to help you with?” Ellie asked, absently grabbing JBs hand.

Jack thought about that for a few moments before finally deciding, “No, I think I’d like to give Gabby her present now.”

“Are you sure it’s ready?” JB asked, “it is the most complicated thing you’ve ever worked on…myself included,” he added with a concerned look.

“Well, it’s as ready as it’ll ever be,” Jack said, albeit a bit dubiously, “One of the things that makes it so special is that it’s capable of improving itself over time.”

“Indeed,” JB agreed.

“In any event, you two were a great help today,” Jack continued, “You’re free to indulge yourselves for the next few hours until dinner.”

“Thanks Jack,” Ellie smiled, leaning over and giving him a warm kiss. She then grabbed JBs hand affectionately and stood up with him, walking with him to their bedroom. Before they walked into the hall, JB turned his head and gave Jack a wink. In the past few weeks since JBs activation, Jack had allowed the two to share a room and essentially live as a couple. They were both merely following their programming, but it was the closest thing to an android on android relationship he’d ever seen, and as such, he was documenting the heck out of it.

Jack winked back and then he too rose from his seat, returning to his nearly worn out work chair; perhaps that large box next to the Christmas tree was a new chair, he thought. Shaking his thoughts away, he unlocked the files for Gabby’s Christmas present and made a few quick modifications to them that were inspired by things he just learnt from working on the girls.

Once he was sure it was ready, he gathered up the hardware bits that would pare with it and then summoned Gabby via her remote link to his terminal. He had just enough time to organize everything in order of installation before Gabby arrived.

“You summoned me?” she said playfully, sashaying into the room; Jack programmed her to do that for his birthday.

“Yes, it’s time for your present,” he told her, barely containing his excitement, and the second he spoke, she looked excited too, “But unlike in previous years, this is a very special present.”

“Oh?” she asked, leaning against the examination table she’d be laying on soon.

“Yes, after all these years, I think I’ve finally figured out a way to make you truly more human,” he told her excitedly.

“Really? How?” she asked with genuine curiosity.

“Well, it was from tiny bits and pieces of experience, programming, and hardware I accumulated from the new employees I acquired this year,” he explained.

“Which ones?” she asked.

“Well, I accumulated some experimental Mark IV personality files from Amber,” he started, “I was able to sandbox them on my terminal and fix the multitude of bugs in it, as well as tailor it perfectly to your configuration.” Jack paused to collect himself, since his excitement was causing himself to speak quickly. Following her programming perfectly, Gabby quickly headed into the dining area and fetched Jack a glass of water.

“Thanks dear,” he said, quickly taking a few sips before setting the cup down, “Where was I?”

“You were talking about Amber’s personality files,” Gabby supplied.

“That’s right,” Jack said, “Anyway, so I figured those would be useful in making you more human, but that alone wouldn’t work, so I also programmed an algorithm to allow it to work better in conjunction with some of the sleeper files I copied from Luiza.”

“How would sleeper files help me?” Gabby asked, “I don’t think I’d be as useful to you if I were a sleeper.”

“Well, making you a sleeper would make you more prone to malfunctions, but several of the sleeper files allow for Luiza to be far more spontaneous than a typical android could be…that’s part of the reason sleepers aren’t manufactured, or quite legal,” he explained, “Also, several of the sleeper files alter your perception of the world, or in this case, improve it.”

“Why would my perception need to be altered?” she asked with a confused look.

“Because currently, you’re really only programmed to perceive things in ways that might benefit or harm me, not yourself,” he explained, “With this, you’ll be able to look at things the way you want to.”

“I’m still not sure I understand,” she admitted.

“Well, hopefully with this package, you will,” he smiled, “Anyway, the final piece of the complicated program is distilled from the memories I excised from Varsha.”

“You mean her traumatic experiences?” Gabby said with a surprised look.

“Yes, surprisingly enough, the trauma she suffered somehow created some emergent programming, though not enough to significantly alter her programming, but enough to augment yours.”

“Wow, is there anything else you took from the girls?” she asked.

“Well, actually, Amber had some illegal pheromone fluid that I managed to resynthesize to be a tad safer,” he admitted, “That way, you’ll be able to attract me a bit easier.”

“Oooh,” Gabby smiled.

“And I also submitted the bug fixes to the Mark IV team, and they gave me a huge bug bounty…about ten times more than anything I’ve ever received,” he added, “And with some of that money, I was able to buy you all this nice hardware,” he said, showcasing the various processors and other android components laying on a tray; the rest I’m going to be saving up to hopefully buy you a new Mark III prototype body sometime next year; they are almost ready to be tested,” he added excitedly.

“Ooh. I can’t wait,” she smiled, “What are these going to do to me?” she asked, focusing her eyesight on the tray of components.

“Well, mostly just give you a necessary boost in processing power to handle, what I hope, is your emergence from what you are, to what I hope you will become…a true, living artificial woman,” Jack said proudly, then he paused with a slight blush on his face, “And I also threw in a few enhancements to your sexual systems.”

“Of course you did,” Gabby laughed.

“Finally, amongst other things, I’ll finally be installing the software patch to allow you to function in other bodies,” he told her, “After the past few months having both Ellie and JB try out several bodies, I believe I’ve finally worked out all the bugs.”

“Good, I’ve been looking forward to trying out other bodies,” Gabby mused.

“And I’ve been looking forward to it as well,” Jack smiled.

“So, am I going to reactivate a completely different person?” Gabby asked with a slightly concerned look on her face.

“Not quite,” Jack said, “The collaboration of programming code is a bit tricky,” Jack said delicately, “It’s all governed by a complex heuristic algorithm that may take several days to fully integrate into your A.I.”

“Okay,” Gabby nodded, “Would you like me to get undressed now?”

“Well, I always like you to get undressed,” Jack laughed, “But yes,” Jack told her. Gabby gave him a knowing smile and then disrobed, neatly folding everything onto the adjoining table. Once undressed, she laid down on the table and unsealed her primary access ports.

“Very good Gabby, now you may wake up feeling like a new woman, but it’s going to take this software the next few days to fully take effect,” he reminded her.

“I understand,” Gabby nodded, looking up at him with trust in her eyes.

Jack then braced himself for the task at hand and then reached in to deactivate Gabby. Once all her systems were offline, he spent the time waiting for them too cool off by putting on some relaxing music; he usually only listened to music when he was stressed out, and testing such an experimental program on Gabby was definitely stressing him out.

For the next hour and a half, Jack replaced and upgraded virtually every component in her body. He started with the processing equipment on the core itself, then, he attached it to his terminal so he could activate it in diagnostic mode; it would also help her activate faster later on when he was finished. He then started the software installation process while he continued to upgrade her hardware.

While he upgraded her body, he couldn’t help but silently thank JB and Ellie for allowing him to finish about an hour earlier than the previous year. As much as he enjoyed working on Gabby, he also wanted her back online so she could cook him dinner.

Before long, he finally had everything installed, and his experimental software suite had finished installing as well. He ran a few quick diagnostics, and, after ensuring everything was fine, carefully unplugged Gabby’s core from the terminal and inserted it back into her body.

“Alright, here goes nothing,” Jack said, once everything was in place. He then pressed the manual power button and stood back in case there was a catastrophic malfunction. Too Jack’s relief and delight, everything activated smoothly…even a tad faster than ever, and before he knew it, she was back online.

Gabby blinked her eyes a few times before focusing on Jack. Jack was still standing right over her, eagerly waiting for her to speak.

“Jack, I feel different,” Gabby said.

“How different?” he asked.

“I’m not sure,” she admitted with a confused look, “I feel faster because of the new hardware, but there’s something else that I can’t quite describe…yet,” she told him.

“Well, you don’t have to right now,” Jack assured her, quickly clicking her panel back in place and giving her a loving kiss, “Just let it happen naturally.”

“Alright,” she smiled, slowly getting up and dropping to her feet. As she got dressed, she looked at the nearby clock and saw it was nearly 5pm. “Oh dear, I should really get up and start dinner,” she said, sounding flustered.

“Don’t worry, I’m done with you…though I did install a temporary monitor on your A.I. core to monitor the new software,” he assured her.

“Alright, thanks dear,” she said, giving him another kiss before rushing upstairs while Jack stayed behind to tidy up the lab.

The dinner that Gabby cooked that night was delicious, even by her usual standards of perfection…even she was surprised by it. The sex Jack had with her was also a bit different, though that was mostly because of her enhanced hardware. It wasn’t until just as they were going to bed that he they noticed anything.

“Well, this was certainly a more relaxing Christmas,” Jack said as he crawled into bed.

“Well, I guess it helped that you had extra help this time around,” Gabby said.

“Yeah, and that it was mostly just routine maintenance and upgrades this time as opposed to major repairs,” Jack added.

“Yeah,” Gabby agreed.

“So, have you noticed any differences in your functioning these past few hours?” Jack asked.

“Now that you mention it, I did notice something,” she admitted.

“Oh?” Jack asked.

“I didn’t cook dinner because I was supposed to…I cooked dinner because I wanted to make you happy,” she said, sounding a little confused, “I think that’s why it tasted better.”

“Huh, that’s interesting,” Jack said, though he was a little giddy that the programming was actually working, “Why don’t you go into sleep mode so it can work faster,” he suggested.

“Alright,” she smiled, giving him a kiss “Good night.”

“Good night,” he told her, watching as she entered sleep mode, though, as he shut off his light on the side of the bed and rolled over to fall asleep, he couldn’t help but anticipate further changes to come this week.

Chapter Two: Boxing Day

The next morning, Jack managed to sleep in a bit; he’d finally stopped using the damn alarm clock and been using Gabby to wake him up. He laid in bed for several moments before realizing that Gabby hadn’t woken him. Apparently, Gabby’s internal clock failed to wake her…he had to actually shake her up.

“What is it?” she asked, looking confused.

“Dear, it’s almost 8:30,” he told her.

“Oh, is it?” she asked, seeming to zone out and check her clock, “Wow, it is,” she said, “Am I broken?”

“I don’t think so,” Jack assured her, “I think it might’ve just been the software I installed taxing your systems to integrate itself,” he explained.

“That must be it,” she smiled.

“Well, do you feel any different today?” he asked.

“Well, I think my memory recall systems were malfunctioning last night,” she said, “I kept experiencing odd visual and auditory data.”

That nearly stopped Jack cold. “Gabby, it almost sounds like you had a dream,” he told her.

“Huh, perhaps that would explain it,” she said with an odd look, “Is that something you expected with that present you gave me yesterday?”

“Well, I expected you’d slowly develop more emergent traits, but I thought I’d have to create a dreaming program myself,” he admitted, “I guess the algorithm did it for me.”

“Well, based on the dreams you’ve described, I don’t think I was quite dreaming,” she admitted, “It was more a random cycling of data from my memory banks…though, most of it focused on you.”

“Well, that’s good to hear,” Jack smiled, rolling over and kissing her, “Anything naughty?”

“Oh yes,” she smiled, kissing him deeply.

Jack and Gabby stayed in bed for only a few minutes longer, because, after all, they had woken up late. To save time, they both took a shower together and then they headed out for breakfast. As they ate breakfast, they chatted about their plans for the day.

“Well, the day after Christmas is usually pretty light, so I think I’m just going to tidy up in the lab and then review everyone’s, yourself included, data points since the distribution of presents to determine if everyone is running smoothly,” Jack told her, “You?” he asked.

“Well, I was planning on doing some gardening,” Gabby began, “But I just got a message that your real Christmas present would be arriving today, so I think I’ll help you set it up,” she told him.

“My real present?” Jack asked with a confused look, “So, that new lab chair you and Henry got me wasn’t my real present?”

“Not really,” Gabby admitted, “That’s actually a chair Henry built in crafts class at school…though, I did help him purchase the supplies with our allowance,” she explained.

“Oh,” Jack said, starting to get excited, “So, what did you get me?”

Before Gabby could respond, they were suddenly interrupted by the sound of a large truck pulling up to the loading dock. Based on the fact they were arriving roughly fifteen minutes before the dock was scheduled to open, Jack figured it had to be the usual guy from Spaztec delivering an android.

“An android?” Jack asked.

Gabby merely smiled knowingly and then grabbed both their jackets and headed out to the shop to meet the driver. Since they were already in there, Jack decided to just activate everyone a few minutes early, since he needed Kat anyway.

“Good morning Jack,” Kat greeted him with a smile. One of the presents he’d given her was a substantial improvement to her personality files, so she was far more lively than ever before. “Why have I been activated early?” she asked with a confused look.

“An unexpected delivery,” Jack told her, “It seems Gabby ordered me a surprise.”

“Ah, I see,” Kat nodded, “I’ll get started right away,” she said, and then she immediately started opening the loading dock to allow the driver to back in. After a few minutes of Kat signing the delivery documentation and rescheduling a few future shipments of parts, Kat returned from the truck hauling a Spaztec branded box, just big enough to hold an android.

“I take it that’s my present?” Jack surmised.

“Yes dear,” Gabby said, “Just follow us down into the lab Kat,” Gabby ordered.

“Yes ma’am,” Kat nodded, following them into the lift. As soon as they descended into the lab, she placed the box in the same place Jack usually had her deposit them and then dutifully left after determining her services were no longer required.

“Well dear, are you ready to open it?” Gabby asked a bit apprehensively, seeming to worry whether or not Jack would like it.

“I suppose so,” Jack said. He nervously approached the box and unlocked it with the biometric systems. When it hissed open, he gazed upon the rather short girl that lay inside…seeming to vaguely recognize her.

“Wow, she’s pretty,” Jack admitted, looking into the girl’s sleeping face. She was wearing a pair of black athletic shorts with a matching black, sleeveless top with a pink sports bra underneath it, and a pair of gray and pink athletic shoes; based on her attire, Jack surmised she was a Personal Trainer model. “Who is she?”

“She’s a Personal Trainer model built in the appearance of an early 21st century gold medal winning Olympic gymnast named Shawn Johnson,” Gabby explained, “That’s why she’s so short,” she added with a whisper.

“Oh, that’s why I recognize her,” Jack said, getting a closer look at her. The reason he didn’t recognize her immediately is because the majority of historic footage of her showed her in her mid-teenage years, when she was most active. This android model of her, for legal reasons, was modelled after her appearance when she was in her early twenties, the age where she did mostly outreach and advertising for various athletic companies to get people to exercise.

“I figured, since you have more help around here now, that a Personal Trainer model could help you get in better shape, and stay that way,” Gabby explained, “Not to mention she can be another pet project for you,” she added quickly.

Jack merely looked down at the slight paunch he’d been developing the last few years and sighed. Then he looked back at the Shawn Johnson android and stared into her sleeping face before smiling. “I suppose I could make her a Mark III,” he decided, “Spaztec has been pestering me to test out a Personal Trainer and Secretary model Mark III for weeks now,” he mused, “Perhaps if I finally do, they’ll give me a good deal on your Mark III body later this year.”

“Oooh,” Gabby said, “I look forward to it.”

“Me too,” Jack said, “And I suppose I might convert Rachel to a Mark III in a few weeks when business slows down,” he added, “Gabby, why don’t you temporarily override your physical safety parameters and help me lift Shawn over to the examination table,” he told her.

“Okay Jack,” Gabby nodded, zoning out momentarily as she disabled the safeties that prevented her from using too much strength. When she came back, she helped Jack lift Shawn, her motors making an audible whirring sound each time she moved. Once they had Shawn laying on the table, Gabby immediately re-engaged the safeties to conserve her energy reserves.

“Thanks Gabby,” Jack told her, rolling Shawn’s shirt up and removing her access port.

“Don’t mention it,” she smiled, “I hope you don’t mind me buying you one of the cheaper models,” she then said, “I don’t have that much money saved up.”

“Don’t worry, I love the fact that you thought that much of me to purchase a Personal Trainer model for me,” he shrugged, “Besides, it’ll make it easier and cheaper to buy new parts for her,” he added.

“I thought so too,” Gabby winked.

“So, this might take a while, did you want to go do your gardening?” Jack asked her.

“No, as a matter of fact, I thought maybe you’d also like to try transferring me into her body,” Gabby suggested.

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot you can do that now,” he said, “Well, fortunately she’s brand new, so I don’t need to upgrade too much,” he told her, inventorying Shawn’s hardware, “And I can always plug her core into my terminal and have it upgrade her software,” he continued, “I figure it’ll be about 15 minutes,” he estimated.

“Well, I guess I’ll go and see what Ellie and JB are doing then,” Gabby smiled.

“Tell them I’ll need them to cover for me in about 30 minutes,” Jack told her absently, already removing Shawn’s core and plugging it into his terminal.

“Okay,” Gabby called back.

Because it was Boxing Day, or, the day after Christmas, it usually wasn’t too busy and people didn’t even start coming in to shop until nearly noon. As such, Jack told Ellie and JB that they could play around with each other a bit later.

Since Jack was looking forward to putting Gabby in Shawn’s body, he made quick work of installing the necessary hardware for Shawn’s body to adequately support a Mark III A.I. He had just enough time to start the installation of the software on Shawn’s core, and send an e-mail requesting a deal on a Mark III body for Gabby, before Gabby finally returned.

“Is it ready?” she asked, emerging from Ellie’s room.

“Pretty much,” Jack said, “Just needs a brain,” he smiled.

“Well, I think I can take care of that,” she winked.

“Me too,” he told her, “By the way, what were they doing in there?”

“Ellie was showing him pictures of the real Ellie’s latest adventures that she received in her nightly information upload,” Gabby explained, “And they were naked,” she added.

“I figured,” Jack laughed, “They are getting dressed now to take over the lab, right?”

“Yes,” Gabby assured him.

“Good,” he said, “Then there’s nothing left for you to do but remove your shirt and lay on the other table,” he told her.

Gabby nodded and then removed her shirt. Jack quickly admired the way her breasts looked in the new bra he gave her, that, and the fact he had increased her breast size by 3% so they would act as slightly better shielding. Now that she was becoming more lifelike, he was taking extra precautions to keep her safe…even backing her files up in a massive server. After she neatly folded her shirt onto the side table, she laid down and opened her panel.

“Alright Gabby, I just want to warn you, the modifications I made to your A.I. yesterday may affect the transition process unpredictably,” Jack warned her, grabbing hold of Gabby’s core, “But, you should still be able to function properly,” he assured her.

“Okay,” she smiled, her eyes full of trust and love.

Jack merely nodded and then carefully pulled Gabby’s core out. Jack really had to enter a Zen mode, since he rarely ever removed Gabby’s core in the fear that even removing it might damage her. However, his experience swapping JB and Ellie’s cores over the past few months had made him more confident with core swapping. He watched as the lights in Gabby’s body slowly shut off, and her body settled into a standby pose, then he brought the core over to Shawn’s body and inserted it.

“Alright, here goes,” he said to himself, reaching in and powering on Shawn’s body; Gabby’s core was still on. A few moments later, Shawn’s body activated, and it slowly sat up.

“Jack, did it really work?” Gabby asked, though she sounded more innocent with Shawn’s younger voice.

“It would seem so,” Jack told her. He had a gentle smile on his face, as he watched Gabby examining her borrowed body as though she were a child. “How does she feel?” he asked.

“Smaller,” Gabby answered, now standing on her feet and examining her body; Shawn Johnson was at least a full foot shorter than Gabby, “Aside from that, the patch you installed basically makes Shawn’s body feel natural to me,” she added.

“Well, she was a gymnast,” Jack shrugged, “Though, I’m assuming she was programmed with a wider array of activities,” he added.

“She was,” Gabby assured him, “But you’ll have plenty of time to try them out tomorrow…for now, you have me in her.”

“Indeed I do,” Jack smiled, “Did you want to look at your body before we have some fun?” he asked.

“Oh, yes,” Gabby said, almost forgetting it was even there. She then solemnly walked over and examined her body. It was at that moment that Jack realized this was likely the first time she had ever gotten to experience her body from a 3rd person perspective, since even looking in the mirror was augmented by her programming. “I look very beautiful,” she said.

“You do,” Jack agreed, “Just the way I wanted you.”

“Thanks for ordering me…for, making me so beautiful and for caring for me all these years,” she said, almost sounding emotional.

“You don’t even have to mention it,” Jack told her, “You filled a void in my life that I never thought I’d have filled.”

In that emotional moment, the two of them merely embraced and then silently headed towards the lift leading back up to the house, just before Ellie and JB emerged. Jack absently called back to them not to mess with Gabby’s body, but was too distracted to hear any response.

Chapter Three: A few final tweaks

They spent much of the morning and several hours of the afternoon playing around with Gabby in Shawn’s body. Henry in particular found it quite entertaining, since he found Shawn’s body to be very attractive; him being closer to Shawn’s apparent age than Gabby’s.

They also had a laugh when Gabby attempted to cook them lunch, since she had spent years organizing the kitchen to her body’s physical parameters; Shawn was roughly a foot shorter than Gabby. Fortunately, with Jack’s help, they managed to cook a decent lunch.

The sex with Shawn’s body was quite interesting as well, since this version of her was designed to be about ten years younger than Gabby’s body. Also, since Shawn was a Personal Trainer model, her body was a bit more athletic and Gabby found she could try out some techniques that her body would have otherwise been incapable of.

By about midday, they regretfully had to return to the lab, since Jack wanted to perform a few final tweaks to Gabby’s A.I. improvements, as well as coordinate a few security improvements to the business.

Jack had decided to install a security system to augment Gina’s services, so he’d qualify for a series of tax breaks that were only given to businesses with a 95% or higher security rating. Even with Gina on patrol every day, and his gated parking, he still only got 88%. It was a stupid system that basically coerced people into buying security cameras, but Jack didn’t mind. In any event, a higher security rating meant he could charge 5% more at the motel, and he’d qualify for better insurance coverage.

In any event, Jack and Gabby took a quick shower, followed by one last exploration of Shawn’s naked body, before getting dressed and returning to the lab.

When Jack and Gabby returned to the lab, they found JB and Ellie tidying up from the previous day’s activities, as well as prepping the cameras Jack had ordered; there was a team of security experts coming in later to install them.

“Hey you two,” Ellie called out, “did you have fun?”

“Oh yes, loads of fun,” Gabby smiled. She normally acted more mature, but she realized that looked weird in Shawn’s body, so she temporarily regressed her maturity settings.

“Yeah, it was fun having Gabby try out Shawn’s body,” Jack agreed, “But I’m looking forward to having her try out some of the other staff members.”

“Ooh, me too,” Gabby agreed, a bit enthusiastically.

“So, are the cameras ready?” Jack asked, walking over and examining them. He’d ordered a little over a hundred of them, and they were to be installed on the perimeters of each building, in several of the trees on the property, and one was even designed to hover a few hundred feet over the property for a bird’s eye view.

“Almost,” JB answered, “I’m afraid my programming is just not as efficient as your experience when it comes to this sort of thing,” he apologized.

“No worries,” Jack assured him, “If need be, the team of experts can finish the job.”

“Okay,” JB nodded.

“Actually, they should be here soon,” Jack said, looking at the nearby clock, “Why don’t you two go up and prepare for their arrival while I work on Gabby for a bit?” he suggested.

“Alright,” Ellie and JB both said. With an understanding look on their faces, they both gathered up the equipment, loaded it onto a cart, and then left the lab via the shop lift.

By the time JB and Ellie were gone, Gabby was already sitting on the edge of the table Shawn’s body would be laying upon, taking a few final looks at her borrowed body.

“So, which body would you like to try out next time?” Jack asked as he sat down at his desk. He absently noticed that Shawn’s A.I. had been successfully upgraded to a Mark III and unplugged it from the terminal.

“Well, since the only reason I’d have to switch bodies is for us to have sex in it, I think I’ll leave that decision to you,” Gabby answered.

“Well, after these final tweaks, I’m hoping you might be able to make decisions that will benefit you, rather than just me,” Jack told her.

Gabby merely nodded, and then laid back down on the table to prepare for the core swap. She opened her panel and waited patiently for Jack to remove her.

“Now, I’m just going to install a few tweaks to your A.I. that the algorithm can’t quite implement on its own,” Jack assured her, grabbing hold of her core, “It should just take a few moments.” After receiving a nod, Jack removed her core and then plugged it into his terminal. For a moment, the interface almost had trouble reading her core, but then it suddenly corrected itself.

“Huh, that was weird,” he shrugged off, loading the patches he planned on installing. Once the process started, he quickly returned Shawn’s core to her body and resealed it; he’d turn her on some other time for an exercise session.

As the patches began to install on Gabby’s core, the diagnostic window he had open began showing some odd readings. Completely chaotic lines of code that didn’t match anything Jack had ever seen. However, they were only intermittent and appeared along with many other lines of recognizable code.

These last few patches were mainly to get her to start acting more independently, instead of having to rely solely on her very clever collaboration of programming. Her present had already done much of the work, but she was still being limited by her Spaztec programming…this final tweak would essentially be irreversible.

When the patches had finished installing, he absently updated her other software with the latest daily revisions, and then unplugged her core. He brought it back to her body and inserted it, activating it as soon as it was installed.

Gabby came back online much the same way she always did, much to Jack’s relief and dismay; he’d been hoping there might have been something different. Her eyes did their usual tracking of the room until they focused on their target: Jack.

“Honey, did the patches work?” she asked, resealing herself and slowly sitting up.

“I’m not sure,” Jack admitted, “I noticed some chaotic code in your matrix, but I’m not sure it’s enough to alter your programming,” he told her, “Probably by tomorrow,” he added.

“Well, we might as well enjoy the rest of our day,” she shrugged, her programming to cheer him up kicking in.

Jack merely smiled and agreed with her. Even if the programming never really kicked in the way he hoped, he still felt better having Gabby in his life.

The rest of the day went relatively smooth with no incident. Jack carefully watched Gabby the entire time, but couldn’t discern any major differences in her behavior. Still, most of her major programming was still active at this time, so the patches wouldn’t be able to fully complete their work until she entered sleep mode.

“Assuming I don’t interfere with your usual schedule as I did today, what’s on the docket for tomorrow?” Gabby asked as they crawled into bed.

“Not much,” Jack admitted, “Now that I have Ellie and JB helping out, I think I’m going to start taking these holiday weeks off…or at least, spend more time relaxing.”

“Ooh, then I guess I shall have to adjust my programming accordingly,” Gabby smiled.

“That would be nice,” Jack agreed, “Aside from that, I’m going to continue to monitor the changes I’ve made to your programming.”

“I’m relieved you care so much about me to take time away from the business,” she smiled.

“Well, aside from Henry, most of the profits from this business go to you…in some fashion,” he told her.

“Well, whatever I wake up as tomorrow, I’m just glad you take good care of me,” she said, rolling over and giving him a kiss.

“Good night Gabby,” Jack said, shutting off his light.

“Good night Jack,” she responded, also shutting off her light.

As Jack rolled over and fell asleep, his last thought before drifting off was of the new woman he would likely wake up to.

Chapter Four: Emergence

The next morning Jack was woken up by his alarm. As much as he disliked it, he re-enabled it because of the constant changes occurring in Gabby’s systems. Jack quickly silenced the alarm and then gave a startled gasp when he saw that Gabby was not in her bed, nor in the room, or even in the bathroom.

It wasn’t too unusual for her to emerge from sleep mode early, as she was programmed to wake up if she detected any commotion in the lower levels of the house, or if there were any issues with Henry; he had a medical monitor installed in his body that interfaced with Gabby’s systems.

Jack quickly got dressed and then sent Ellie and JB a remote command instructing them to cover the lab for him until further notice. He then proceeded to search the house, noting that there was nothing wrong with Henry, nor with the rest of the house.

He pulled out his data pad and activated her GPS tracker, but tracker in her was only accurate up to about 500ft, so all he could discern was that she was somewhere on his property. Shaking his head, he made a mental note to purchase a more accurate GPS locater chip for her.

He decided to search outside, so he quickly put on his cold weather layers and then headed out. Upon walking out the front door, he noticed that the front gate had been recently opened, having made some disturbance in the freshly fallen snow on the edges of the heat-element walkway.

Jack walked out the gate and followed the walkway to the edge of his property, where he saw Gabby. She was standing near the road looking at the rising sun, where nothing but the onesie he had her wear for bed in cold weather; she was barefoot.

“Gabby” Jack called out, wondering if she was okay.

Gabby did not respond. Jack slowly approached her and came to a stop by her side. He was surprised to see a glimmer of slightly frozen tears at the edge of her eyes, and she was staring at the rising sun with awe.

“Gabby, are you okay?” he asked her.

“I’m not sure,” she admitted with a slightly choked voice, “Something made me emerge from sleep mode a bit early,” she told him, “23 minutes to be precise,” she added, “I looked out the window and saw the sky lighting up with the rising sun, and I felt compelled to go outside and watch it rise.”

“And how did it make you feel?” Jack asked her.

“I think it made me malfunction, because my tear ducts activated for no programmed reason,” she told him, “I’ve seen the sun before, but for some reason today it seems different,” she told him with a confused look.

Jack was temporarily at a loss for words and felt a choke in his throat as his eyes began to tear up.

“Why are you crying dear?” she asked with a concerned look, “Am I broken?”

Jack couldn’t help but chuckle at that as he wiped the tears of joy from his eyes, “No Gabby, I don’t think you’re broken, I think you’re alive,” he told her.

“Alive?” she asked, “I’m not sure what that means.”

“It means you’re no longer just a well programmed android, you’re a living individual with free will and self-determination,” he explained, “You’re sentient.”

“Is that why everything around me looks so…so…” she asked, struggling to come up with the right word.

“You mean beautiful?” he supplied.

“Yes, so beautiful,” she smiled, looking around at the surrounding winter scenery with wonder. The fresh snow glittered like diamonds with the morning sun, and the sky was clear, with only a few puffy white clouds dotted around. “How come it never looked this way before?” she asked.

“Because you weren’t programmed to notice,” Jack answered, “You were only programmed to know what everything was, not to admire its aesthetics,” he explained, “You could sort of do it with clothing, but only to prevent your owner from wearing bad clothing choices.”

“I think I’m feeling another sensation…I’m cold,” she said.

“Well, you are in your pajamas,” Jack pointed out, “Let’s go inside and get you dressed before your systems are damaged by the cold weather,” he told her, gently taking her hand, “then I want to take you down to the lab to check for damage, and to check your emergent programming,” he told her.

“It won’t hurt will it?” she asked, “I think I’m feeling scared…scared that it might kill me.”

“No need to worry,” Jack assured her, carefully walking with her back to the house, “If I did the programming right, there’s no way I could alter the emergent programming.”

“That’s a relief,” she smiled.


Once they walked back to the house, Jack had Gabby completely undress so he could perform a cursory examination of her skin to see if the extreme cold had damaged it. He was relieved to find no damage. Even though she had been barefoot, the heat elements in the walkway and on the road kept her feet fairly warm, and thus protected her from frost bite.

They both took a quick shower and then got dressed in casual clothes before heading down to the lab.

“I’m going to need the room guys!” Jack announced as soon as he entered, “Ellie and JB, command override: enter standby mode!” he stated, and by the time he and Gabby fully entered the lab, they say Ellie and JB frozen in standby mode near their work area that he allowed them to install on the opposite end of the room.

“Thanks for giving us some privacy,” Gabby smiled, “I’m feeling a little vulnerable right now.”

“No problem,” he told her, having her sit down on the examination table while he booted up the terminal, “This is a rather important time for you, and I don’t want any distractions.”

“Would you like me to undress now?” she asked.

“Not yet,” he said, “Can you still remotely access my terminal?” he asked.

“I think so,” she said a bit unsurely. To both their relief, she was able to successfully interface with the terminal after a few seconds.

“Alright, now I’m just going to run a quick diagnostic to see what my changes did to you,” he told her.

Gabby merely nodded and then relaxed a bit as the diagnostic ran. “Hmm, it feels a bit…soothing,” she said.

“How so?” Jack asked curiously.

“I don’t know, almost like a massage for internal systems, since the diagnostic is virtually touching every one of my files and automatically correcting any issues with them,” she explained, “It never felt like that before either.”

“Interesting,” Jack mused, “Well, hopefully when it finishes, I’ll have a basic understanding of what I did to you,” he told her.

“Didn’t you know what it would do to me before doing it?” she asked.

“In a basic way,” he admitted, “But there’s a big difference between what I expected would happen, and the means by which your programming code implemented it,” he explained.

“Oh,” she said, seeming to understand, “I think it’s finished now,” she told him.

“And so it is,” he confirmed, then he fell silent as he perused the results.

“Well, what did it do to me?” she asked, after patiently waiting several minutes.

Jack said nothing at first, simply reviewing the results one last time before slowly turning to her. “As far as I can tell, you are truly alive now,” he told her, “Basically, before the changes, you were a collection of well-crafted programs working in perfect sync to allow you to simulate a human female,” he explained, “Even though they call it Artificial Intelligence, what you and the others really have is more akin to Simulate Intelligence.”

“What’s the difference?” she asked.

“Simulated Intelligence means you are merely programmed to be intelligent and have emotions, but it doesn’t really mean anything to you except the fulfillment of your programming,” he explained, “Artificial Intelligence is creating an artificial being with its own feeling, emotions, and desires that are merely augmented by programming.”

“So, you’re saying I transitioned from a Simulated Intelligent being to an Artificially Intelligent being?” she asked.

“Exactly,” he told her, “Augmented by the Spaztec programming,” he added.

“What exactly does that mean?” she asked.

“Well, what my programming did was essentially split your personality, memory, and cognitive files from your A.I. systems,” he explained, “Basically, it’s your soul.”

“I have a soul now?” she asked.

“Well, an artificial equivalent at least,” he shrugged, “So, your soul can now act independently of your primary programming, but it still uses programming, such as cleaning knowledge and parenting knowledge, to augment your behavior, and you still use the A.I. files to integrate and control your bodies systems,” he explained.

“Can I still be reprogrammed?” she asked.

“As far as I can tell, I can no longer alter your memories or your personality, because it is has evolved to the point where it can program itself,” he told her, “You are essentially free, you could even leave here forever if you wanted to.”

“But, I don’t want to,” she told him, “I feel different, but you’ve been very good to me these past few years and I love you.”

“You have no idea how much I’ve wanted to hear those words from your mouth,” Jack told her, “Not just a pre-programmed response, but genuine feelings of affection.”

Gabby said nothing, but she did blush and assume a more bashful pose.

“In any event, your A.I. can still be reprogrammed and updated, but that would merely give you better control over your body, and improve the programs that are installed in you,” he continued, trying to reduce the awkwardness.

“If I’m alive now, how come I don’t have more autonomous control over my bodies functions?” she asked.

Even before, Gabby could really only execute a command, such as entering sleep mode, or running a diagnostic, if she were ordered to by Jack, or if her systems determined it was necessary given several pre-programmed scenarios. Despite her being an android, she couldn’t willfully pause herself, or shut herself off without a command.

“Well, now that you are, I’m going to give you control,” he told her with a smile, “I already created the control panel, and it just needs to be patched into your systems.”

“What exactly would it allow me to do with myself?” she asked.

“Well, for starters it would allow you to autonomously connect to the Spaztec servers and install your own updates,” he told her, “It would also allow you to download your own programs, or update existing ones.”

“So, if I decided I wanted to be able to speak French to engage in suave sexy talk with you, I could just do it?” she asked excitedly.

“Yes, you could,” Jack confirmed, “Though, I would ask that you talk to me before installing anything,” he told her, “I managed to program Ellie so that she could occasionally install her own updates, and she inadvertently installed one with a bug that altered her perception of time.”

“Oh, I see,” Gabby nodded solemnly.

“But, eventually I’ll code a sandbox simulator in your systems so you can test them safely,” he assured her.

“Oh, good,” she sighed with relief, “Will it allow me to do anything else?” she asked.

“It’ll allow you to pause or unpause yourself, shut yourself off and schedule a power on time, alter your sleep mode settings, and tweak a few power settings if you’re running low,” he said, listing it all off.

“Why would I need to tweak my power settings?” she asked.

“Well, if you decided to go without food for a while, you could disable your emotional systems, skin systems, or…well, you’ll be able to see when I install it,” he said, cutting himself off, “I installed a help file to tell you what everything does.”

“Ok, I’m sure I’ll figure it out then,” she smiled.

“Indeed,” he nodded, “Anyway, it’s ready for you to install if you’re ready.”

“Okay,” she smiled, then she seemed to zone out momentarily as the patch installed. “Ooh, I can see it now,” she told him, “And I didn’t even have to reboot,” she added.

“Nope, installing a simple patch like this doesn’t require it,” Jack said, “Do you have the gist of what you can do with your control panel now?” he asked.

“I think so,” she told him.

“Well, why don’t you try activating some of the controls so I can see for myself,” Jack suggested.

“Okay,” she told him, seeming to think a moment as she selected through her controls, “Can I install French language?” she asked.

“Go ahead, it should be safe,” he told her, “Just make sure you don’t accidentally have it replace English as your default language,” he added.

“I’ll try,” she promised, then she zoned out as she remotely accessed the Spaztec servers for the first time on her own. A few moments later, she snapped out of it and then said, “Okay, it’s done.”

“Well then, say something in French,” he told her.

Gabby merely nodded and then thought a moment about what to say. She finally smiled and spoke in flawless French. “Merci Jack ... Merci de me transformer d'être rien de plus qu'un robot d'amour réaliste d' être un être vraiment vivant. Je me sens comme si je vois vraiment le monde pour la première fois. Je t'aime maintenant, Je t'aime toujours, et je ne l'oublierai jamais vraiment merveilleux cadeau que vous avez accordé à moi.”

Jack wasn’t sure exactly what she said, but it must have been intimate, because she had a warm glow and her cheeks were red. “And what does that translate to?” he asked.

“Thanks Jack...Thanks for transforming me from being nothing more than a realistic love robot to being a truly living being. I feel as if I truly see the world for the first time. I love you now, I love you always, and I will never forget this truly wonderful gift you have bestowed upon me,” she translated.

“Wow,” Jack said, suddenly at a loss for words. Without skipping a beat, he suddenly rose from his chair and locked into a tight, loving embrace with Gabby. They stayed that way for what seemed like forever before finally breaking away, each with slightly embarrassed looks on their faces.

“So,” Jack said, trying to break the awkwardness hanging in the air, “Why did you really choose French?” he asked, not believing the seduction story.

“Well, my full name is Gabrielle, and it has French origins,” she explained, “That way, if we decided to go somewhere, I could translate for you.”

“Huh, good reasoning,” he complimented, “Though, try not to download too many language files or extra programs,” he warned her, “Even though you’re alive and able to act on your own now, you’re still limited by the available storage space in your core.”

“Okay,” she nodded, “Is it capable of being expanded?” she asked.

“Yes, but I also want to try some compression algorithms that I’ve been working on for the Mark III matrix,” he told her, “If it works, you’d be able to compress all your programs by up to 40%, and that would save money and lead to a big payday from Spaztec,” he explained.

“Ooh, that would be useful,” she said, “My control panel is telling me my storage is currently at 60% capacity,” she reported.

“Sounds about right,” he nodded, having an intimate knowledge of her systems. “Anyway, even if I do get the compression algorithm installed, or additional storage space, I’d still request you control your downloading behavior,” he told her, “For instance, it’s cute that you can speak French now, but unless we’re going somewhere where German is the predominant language, I wouldn’t advise downloading German language files.”

“That’s makes sense,” Gabby nodded.

“However, we do have a rather large Hispanic population in California, so I would recommend you download Spanish language files,” he told her, “Just not right this second,” he added, seeing she was on the verge of zoning out.

“Okay,” she said with a slight blush.

“Why don’t you try out one more control panel option,” he then told her, “Then we can go and enjoy your first day of sentience.”

“Okay,” she smiled, eager to have more fun, “How about I run a full diagnostic,” she suggested, “I’m sure you were going to have me run one later anyway.”

“That’s a good idea,” he agreed.

“Do you think you could undress me while I’m running it?” Gabby requested, “Once I’m done, I think I’d like to have some fun playing around in both Ellie and JBs bodies for a while.”

“No problem,” Jack nodded.

“Thanks,” she smiled, then she assumed a stoic stance and stated, “Beginning full diagnostic,” in a detached voice.

Jack shook his head at seeing her speak in the detached tone, it seeming odd now that she was sentient and free thinking. Still, as alive as she was now, she was still an android and was now, in many ways, even better since, with proper training, Jack could get her to essentially repair her own software issues; even Ellie couldn’t do that.

Since Gabby would be running the diagnostic for the next several minutes, he had plenty of time to undress her body. He figured that she could have easily undressed herself before running it, but she knew he’d like doing it himself; she was right. He took full use of her time out slowly removing each article of clothing, paying close attention to her slightly moist feet. By the time she was fully undressed and propped back up in the same sitting position as before, she snapped out of the diagnostic.

“Full diagnostic complete, results forwarded to remote terminal,” she reported, slightly surprising Jack. Usually, he would have had to request she do that, or manually search her logs for the results. Somehow, she managed to reprogram herself to automatically forward the results to his terminal, even if she were not physically plugged in. “Ah, much better,” she smiled, looking down upon her naked body.

“Indeed, and thanks for forwarding me the results,” he told her, already reviewing the diagnostic file.

“You’re welcome,” she smiled, “and that full diagnostic felt as soothing as a sauna,” she added, “there’s just something relaxing about the diagnostic software gently touching my core essence.”

“I’ll have to take your word for it,” Jack told her, since Gabby was the first android to describe a diagnostic in any way.

“Well, how am I?” she asked.

“You’re perfect,” he told her, “The full diagnostic was able to come up with a better representation of what you’ve become,” he told her, showing her the computer screen.

On the screen was a layout of what appeared to be two spheres, each with clusters of code swirling within them. One of them appeared to be rather basic and housed mostly the primary A.I. files, as well as her installed programs. The other one had code that was constantly changing, and it was interacting with the other orb…forming new pathways.

“Is that…me?” she asked, leaning in with intrigued interest.

“Yes, usually there would just be one orb,” he told her, “But your newfound sentience has created a second orb which comprises your soul, while the second one is the default files and programming required for your body.”

“Interesting, it’s really helpful seeing it rendered this way,” she told him.

“Surprisingly enough, Humans are basically the same way,” he told her, “Sometimes when we get amnesia, we lose the ability to access our memories, but the part of our brain that controls our involuntary responses, our motor systems and whatnot, still work, as well as any muscle memory our job experience that we’ve accrued.”

“Wow, so I guess I actually am alive,” she smiled, seeming relieved.

“Well, again, I’m no philosopher, but you’re sure as hell more alive than any other android on the planet,” he assured her, “Well, that is unless someone else like me did the same thing to theirs and didn’t tell anyone,” he added.

“Are you going to tell anyone?” Gabby asked.

“No,” Jack answered quickly.

“Why not?”

“Because if I did, I might get arrested or attacked by the rest of society for essentially playing God,” he explained, “Also, it might get others to do the same thing, not necessarily understanding the ramifications of their actions and essentially turning their androids into slaves, free thinking, but unable to leave,” he continued, “Imagine the moral and legal ramifications of that.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she nodded, “I could leave you if I wanted, but I don’t want to,” she said.

“And for that I am grateful,” he sighed, “In any event, one other thing it would create is unwanted attention,” he continued, “There’d be scientists pestering us to study you, and then the government might want to appropriate you to use as some sort of war device…the list goes on and on.”

“Well then, I am perfectly content to remain our little secret,” she smiled, pretending to zip her lips.

“and Henry and I thank you for that,” Jack smiled.

“Oh, Henry,” Gabby said, seeming to remember, “How do you think he’ll react to my new sentience?”

“I’m not sure,” Jack admitted, “He’s gotten used to some of your trigger words for your programming, but he’ll adapt.”

“Good,” she said, “At least now he can’t reprogram me to have sex with him,” she said.

“Did he actually say he wanted to do that!?” Jack asked incredulously.

“No, but he’s a smart kid, and he’s going to be reaching puberty soon,” she answered, “Logically it was bound to happen eventually.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Jack nodded, “Still, he’d have a much easier time reprogramming one of the other girls.”

“Speaking of them, I’d like to try out all of them, if that’s alright,” Gabby said.

“Actually, about that,” Jack told her, putting an uncomfortable look on his face, “I tried swapping Ellie’s and JB’s cores into a Secretary model, and a Personal Trainer model, a few weeks ago, and they couldn’t function in them,” he told her, “It seems you guys can only function in Housewife, Partier, and Perfect Friend models for the time being.”

Gabby had a slightly disappointed look on her face, but she quickly replaced it with a smile and said, “Oh well, that still leaves more than half the staff.”

“Indeed,” Jack nodded, “Though I am working on a patch to remedy this situation, since I still need to be able to have Ellie and JB inhabit them to better assist with difficult repair situations.”

“Well, I can wait,” Gabby shrugged, “Actually, I was thinking, after Ellie and JB, that I’d like to try out Rakhee first,” she decided.

“Oh, why?” he asked.

“She looks cute,” Gabby shrugged.

“Well, I suppose that’s as good a reason as any,” Jack laughed, “So, I know you don’t necessarily have to, but I’d like you to start creating your own log files at the end of each day chronicling your feelings and experiences,” he told her.

“You mean a diary?” she asked.

“Yes,” he nodded, “That way, I can catalogue your progress and make appropriate improvements.”

“Alright, I can do that easily enough,” she shrugged, quickly zoning out to program a reminder, “Now, can I try out Ellie please?” she wheedled.

“Alright,” Jack said. He quickly got up and walked over to where Ellie was stuck in standby mode, carefully bringing her over to allow his newly alive wife try out her body.

Chapter Five: New Year

Over the course of the next few days, Gabby became more familiar with her newfound sentience. Jack slowly started allowing her to make her own decisions, though since she was mostly comfortable and familiar with her usual routine, she continued performing her function as Jack’s wife, Henry’s mother, and the housekeeper. The only difference was she started adding her own personal touch to things, changing the color of the house décor and adding floral arrangements.

She also got the opportunity to try out the bodies of virtually every Housewife, Perfect Friend, and Partier model Jack had in his business. True to what she had said the first day, she seemed to enjoy Rakhee’s body the best and was looking forward to trying it out again in the very near future.

Since Gabby was becoming more accustomed to her new situation, Jack was finally able to get back to work in the lab, but this time of year he usually limited his repair docket to spend more time looking over the books with Rachel, and now Varsha, to prepare for the next year. Even though it technically lowered his income, he more than made up for it the entire month of January with all the people who received androids as Christmas presents and wanted them tweaked, supped up, or otherwise repaired.

Before they knew it, it was New Year’s Eve, and they all had tons of preparations to make. Usually, Jack would throw a private party with just himself, Gabby, Henry, and the shop staff. But, now he had three times as many employees, as well as the patrons at the motel joining the party.

First off, Gabby and Luiza worked together in the café to produce all the food for the venue, while Ellie helped set up decorations. The party itself would be occurring in the front and side yard area of the house, bordering the motel parking lot. Jack procured some safe fireworks to set off, and also received clearance to temporarily provide liquor and other spirits for just the night, and added bartending programming to Karina.

Once all the planning and preparation had come together, they had themselves the perfect setting to send that year out with a bang.

Including Jack’s workforce and family, there were an additional 30 people in attendance who were either staying at the motel, or who worked at the neighboring business across the street. Jack allowed Serriah and Karina to serve as hostesses, since both were Partier models and already contained the relevant programming.

Since Jack didn’t have to host this year, he was able to sit back and relax and enjoy the fruits of this marvelous year’s labor. He found himself sitting at a table with Rachel, Varsha, Gabby, and Ellie & JB; Henry was playing around with some of the kids staying at the motel.

“This is a good party dear,” Gabby complimented him, toasting her glass of wine. Despite being sentient, and being able to simulate drunkenness, Jack still intended to separate the alcohol from her stomach contents the next morning, since otherwise she just peed it straight into the toilet as is; the Mark III bodies were supposedly going to be designed to convert alcohol into energy.

“Yeah, we made a lot of money this year, so I felt like celebrating big time this year,” he told her, clinking his glass with hers and Ellie’s; the others didn’t drink.

“How much more money?” Ellie asked curiously, since she’d only been with the business for 6 months.

“Approximately twice as much,” Jack estimated, and upon receiving a confirmation nod from Rachel, he continued, “Though, it’ll likely be even more next year, since I had to spend considerable resources renovating and staffing the motel, and building and staffing the café,” he explained, “But, now that I have the two of you helping me,” he said, pointing at JB and Ellie, “I feel comfortable taking on multiple repair jobs a day, further increasing profits from the repair business.”

“And of course that translates to more and better presents next year!” Ellie cheered.

“Indeed it does,” Jack agreed, “Anyway, the purpose of our little table here is to discuss what’s next,” he announced, “I almost feel like the President giving the State of the Union, but, the state of our business is good, and I see it getting even better.”

“How so?” Gabby asked.

“Since expenses will be considerably lower next year, I’m planning on purchasing some relief workers,” he started.

“And what would they accomplish?” Rachel asked, since she had to monitor the employee’s progress.

“Well, I would purchase some relatively cheap, yet effective, androids on the second hand market to occasionally swap out with say Rakhee, Sarah, Kat, Serriah, Amber, and Karina,” he explained, “That way, I could spend more time doing routine maintenance on you all instead of having to wait until Christmas or a slow business day.”

“By my estimates, that would probably improve profits by 5-10%,” Rachel said, doing a quick calculation in her head.

“Indeed, and it all adds up,” he agreed, “Anyway, I’d also like to look into upgrading some of the green tech we have here with some more state of the art models, that way we can live even slightly more off the grid than we already are,” he laughed.

“I’m not sure how much more we can be,” Rachel admitted, “I mean, last year we upgraded the heated walkways so the melted water collects into a refuse for purification and recycling into the sprinkler system.”

“Well, I’m sure we can get some new solar panels or something,” Jack shrugged.

“I think I can improve things too,” Gabby supplied, then blushing as she realized she had asserted herself; she still wasn’t used to that.

“Oh, how so?” Jack asked with piqued interest.

“Well, I’ve been thinking that, now that I’m alive, I could pull some more weight around here instead of just getting an allowance,” she said, “I’d like a second greenhouse attached to the current one so that I can grow all sorts of flowers and sell floral arrangements at the shop, as well as provide them to people in town for special events.”

“Wow, what made you want to do that?” Jack asked curiously.

“Well, I’ve discovered in the past few days that I truly enjoy my time tending the garden and growing fruits, and I started growing a few varieties of plants for fun,” she explained, “and I also enjoyed decorating the house with them,” she added.

“I’ll admit, they do freshen things up a bit,” Jack nodded, “can you do the calculations Rachel?” Jack asked.

Rachel nodded and then zoned out as her top of the line secretary programming calculated the new business models. “According to the most recent pricing in surrounding areas, and demand based on local internet searches, it would likely increase overall profits by 13-19%.”

“Well, since Gabby came up with it, and since she’s alive, you can take most of those profits for yourself,” Jack decided, “You’ve earned the right to do your own shopping based on your own preferences.”

“Thanks!” Gabby squealed, running over and giving Jack a kiss.

“Don’t mention it dear,” Jack shrugged off, trying to look modest, “You’ll have to consult with Serriah over the next few weeks, since it’ll probably take a month for enough flowers to grow for you to sell, even with the QuickGro mix,” he suggested, “That way, she can start questioning people about what they might want, and showcasing samples.”

“That makes sense,” Gabby nodded.

“Anyway, aside from the aforementioned items, a few personal things I’d like to strive for are my continued development in either allowing me to permanently, or temporarily, transfer my consciousness into a robot body in case I ever get extremely ill,” he said, “And I’d like to hopefully procure a Mark III prototype body for Gabby, to compliment her new status,” he continued, “And I will eventually be converting Rachel into a Mark III Secretary model,” he added.

“Ooh, thanks,” Rachel smiled.

“Don’t mention it,” Jack shrugged.

“What exactly is the difference going to be with the Mark III body?” Ellie asked, with Gabby nodding in agreement.

“Well, it’s supposedly going to contain a multitude of improvements to allow for far more efficient and independent design,” he explained, “That way, the android could function for longer durations of time and thereby provide more efficient service for its owner,” he finished, “Or, in Gabby’s case, give her more freedom from a power socket,” he added.

“That would be nice,” Gabby nodded.

“Well, unless anyone has anything else to add, I think it’s time for the fireworks,” Jack said, bringing the impromptu meeting to an end. No one else brought anything up, so they all got up and mingled into the party.

Jack and Gabby walked off to the edge of the party while JB and Ellie prepped the fireworks. As bad as it sounded, it was safer for them to handle them than it was for Jack.

They watched silence for the fireworks show to begin, launched in the safety of the motel parking lot. Finally, Jack broke the silence as they watched the countdown, now showing less than two minutes to the new year.

“It’s been one hell of year, hasn’t it? Jack asked.

“It sure has,” Gabby agreed, the clock now showing one minute, “Did you fulfill your resolution from last year?” she asked.

Jack had to really think about that for a moment, because it was a complicated one. Finally, after several seconds of silent reflection, he said, “Yes.”

“Good,” she smiled.

“And now it’s time to make a new one, so let’s see…” he said, “I resolve to build upon all the success from this year and make everything here even better,” he said.

“Nicely phrased,” Gabby complimented.

“And now it’s time for yours,” Jack told her, now only about 30 seconds left.

“Me?” she asked with a surprised look.

“Yes, you’re alive now, so you can make a resolution…it basically means an informed decision,” he explained.

“I suppose you’re right,” she said, then she put on a thinking expression before finally saying, “I want to live my new life the best I possibly can…with you,” she smiled, then she leaned in and planted a kiss on his lips just as the clock stroke midnight.

As their lips broke apart from the long kiss, Jack gazed into her eyes, once filled with merely programmed love but now filled with life…real life. He briefly admired the way the red and blue lights given off from the fireworks reflected in them before pulling his gaze away and looking at the fireworks he’d taken pains to purchase.

He and Gabby just stood there in silence, watching the fireworks as he thought to himself, “This is going to be a marvelous year.”


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Closed for Christmas - The Shop | The Repair Shop - Part 1 | Off-season - The Motel | The Repair Shop - Part 2 | Slow day - The Cafe | The Small Business - End-of-Year Review