H is for Heuristic

by RobotMan


Part 01 – H is for Heather

Byron Clarke looked at his watch.  This new girl's punctuality and dedication were beyond impressive, they were amazing.  For a moment, it flashed across his mind that she was overqualified, but he chose not to ponder on that notion.  For the first time in over a year he had someone who could be fully relied upon to do all she was asked and more.  He just hoped she would stay at least until the most tedious portion of work was done.

After hanging up her coat, Heather walked into the mouldy basement of the old and cracked building and again sat down in the cheap stacking chair.  She picked up right where she had left off the previous evening, sorting through the water damaged, old and yellowed pieces of paper.  Piece by piece, they were peeled away from their folders and placed into the scanner on the cart beside her.  The high resolution scans would then be indexed and stored, some being processed further into microfilm.

Due to typical governmental foot-dragging, these valuable bits of history had been neglected and left to rot in the National Archives.  That is, until a massive rain storm the previous year had flooded the basement.  Now, rescuing those crumbling and irreplaceable bits of history was a priority.  Under the prevailing logic however, it only necessitated a low paying McJob, and no one had stuck around long enough to really get much work done.  Neither students nor retirees could stand to work in the dank and oppressive atmosphere of the archive basement.  Higher pay was apparently not an option.

So there Heather sat.  Inexplicably coming back to that crappy and frustrating job, eight hours a day, five days a week.  What Mr. Clarke didn't know was that this task was a very effective way for her kind to obtain information about humanity.  With greater speed and resolution than the six year old scanner could handle, Heather's electronic eyes encoded all of the information presented on the old papers and stored them on her highly advanced hard drives.  All the while, her heavily tested and refined AI software kept her looking as human as she wasn't.

Whatever miscellaneous chunks of data the archives had to offer were methodically being assimilated into an already massive database.  An astoundingly fast and powerful computer in the suburbs would then sort through and analyze all of those 1s and 0s to make generalizations, calculations and tentative predictions.  It would do all of this in accordance to the way it had originally been programmed.

This Main Computer was an isolated node in a vast, planet-wide network of similar devices.  The very existence of the rest of the network was stored away from its view, in a sort of computer subconsciousness.  The makers of these computers were to them as unknown as the alien nature of humanity.  This absence of data provided the impetus for all of the operations the Main Computers devised.

In almost every region of the globe, there were attractive young women walking around that were merely sophisticated, semiautonomous and mobile input/output devices for obscure but powerful supercomputers.  Entirely electronic and mechanical, this mass of machine intelligence existed and worked for one primary goal: replicate human intelligence.

In the context of self-reference, this system had identified itself as Robot Control.  Simple enough, for it controlled robots.  The multitude of female androids it controlled were programmed and maintained by still more female androids which answered directly to the interfaces of their local Main Computers.  This chain of command assured accurate execution of the many programs that were daily loaded into pretty plastic machines disguised as sexy human females.

As one such sexy human female, Heather could talk, listen, laugh and cry, and display much varied behaviour in between.  No one suspected that she was only a robot.  No one knew that she was driven by algorithms, not sense of self.  Least suspicious was Byron Clarke.

He thought himself an old fool for lusting after the sweet young and vital helper he had hired.  But considering the way she had been built and programmed, no one could blame him.  He took guilty pleasure in looking at her reflection in the convex mirror that hung in the corner across from his basement desk.  She moved with such lovely grace, dressed always so fine in professional but feminine attire.

His long unbroken bachelorhood seemed to be like a cruel prison sentence now as he let his thoughts drift to the state of his life.  Always the bookish and clumsy nerd, he hadn't had a date since the Prom.  His prodigious organizational talents and his very respectable position seemed like no consolation at all.

He let a heaving sigh escape and closed his ledger.  He couldn't concentrate.  He stood and walked up the stairs to get some air.

Heather always skipped her breaks, except lunch.  Swallowing meals every day at noon was just part of her job.  So were the little touches, like gently brushing the blonde highlights of her light brown hair out of her face, or standing up every so often to "stretch".  Many a fembot agent had returned useful data to their own Main Computers to bring the realism of her AI code to bear, and it showed in the way she acted.

When the scanner conked out on her, her reaction was quite natural.  She got up and went to find her supervisor.  That was only necessary to maintain her human appearance though.  Being more closely related to the scanner than to Byron, the android had a pretty good idea of what was wrong with the device, and that its days of scanning musty old documents were over.

"Byron?  Byron?" she called out, making undetected thermal scans of the area as well as searching for his image in her cameras' field of vision.  The microphones built into her silicone ears detected no sounds coming from any humans in the basement.  She went upstairs and called out his name again.  There was no response, so she checked outside.

There he was, just outside the back door, sitting on the steps and looking dejected.  When he heard her come outside, he quickly stood up and tried to look less sad.

"Heather!  Is there a problem?"

"I think the scanner's busted." she said, the plastic form of her lips and mouth moving in perfect synchronization to the sounds of her speaker-generated voice.

"Oh no." he said, putting a reluctant looking half-smile on his face.  "Let's see if we can get it up and running again.

They went back inside and down to the basement.  The scanner sat dead on the cart.  Byron opened the lid, looked inside and closed it again.

"Kaput." he said.  "That's it for scanning until we get it fixed."

"Do you think we might need a new one?" she asked.

"Are you kidding?  That's the newest most high-tech thing in this building.  We're still not into the 21st century here."

Heather made a quick laugh and smiled.  "So now what?"

"I'll call Supply and see what they can do.  In the meantime, why don't you see if Agnes needs any help?"

"Alright." she nodded.

They went back upstairs - Byron to his office, Heather to the front desk to talk to the old stalwart receptionist.  The phone at the supply office was never answered right away, and Agnes never wanted any help from anybody.   So Byron and Heather met back in the middle.

"You wanna go for lunch?" he asked.

"Sure!" she said.

 

Part 02 – Sub Routine

"Have you ever been to that Vietnamese sub place down the road?" Byron asked as they went to grab their coats.

"No." Heather said.  "Is it good?"

"Let's just say we're lucky it's not the noon hour yet, or we'd be in line for half an hour."

Byron told Agnes where they were going, and they were off.  The sun melted away some of the late winter chill as they walked and talked together.  Heather performed superficially well as a simulated human, laughing at puns and jokes and showing real looking interest in what her boss had to say.

The conversation turned friendlier than it ever had been between them.  By the time they got to the sub shop, they were almost flirting.  Almost.  Byron didn't have the nerve to take it that far yet, and Heather just wasn't programmed for that kind of thing.  Her function was to collect information.

Other agents of Robot Control were designed and built for romance and intrigue, but not this girl.  If anything came up that was too hard for her processors to handle, it would just have to wait until the Main Computer at her house could figure something out.

Byron held open the door of the shop for his attractive helper while the little bells above jingled to signal their entrance.

A cute, slim Vietnamese girl behind the counter looked their way and said hello.  She never stopped working, moving her experienced hands all across the sandwich table for the four customers waiting and salivating in line.  The newcomers took their place and waited. 

Mr. Clarke tried to impress Heather with his intellect, and she kept up - impressing him by downloading information and relevant details from the internet.  Text and binary code swarmed her field of vision as she watched, listened and responded to her supervisor.  She made fitting gestures and looked completely natural the whole time.

When it was their turn, Byron and Heather approached the petite lady and told her what they wanted.  They watched and talked a bit more as she prepared it for them.  The black-haired girl on the other side of the glass wasn't overly talkative, but she was very friendly nonetheless.  Mr. Clarke paid for both stacked subs and drinks, and they went to sit down by the window.

The young lady behind the counter called out in Vietnamese to the back, and out came a smiling older man to take her place while she took a little break.  She took off and discarded her plastic gloves, grabbed her purse, and emerged from behind the counter to walk down the short tiled hallway to the washroom.

As the door closed slowly behind her, she walked into the stall and latched the door shut.  She unbuckled her belt, unzipped her pants and pulled them along with her panties down to her ankles.  After sitting down on the toilet, she quietly reached into her purse and pulled out a folded down antenna.  With those same experienced hands, she extended and unfolded the metal device until it stretched out to its full size.  Then she grabbed her face by the cheeks and removed it from the rest of her head, exposing waiting connection ports amid all of the charged and complex circuitry.  A short cord leading from the bottom of the antenna was plugged into its matching interface while she held the contraption directly in front of her exposed electronics.

Originating from a hard drive in her chest, a patterned, repeating pulse of heavily encrypted code was sent through her wires to the top of her android body and out through the antenna as a radio signal.  From there it beamed through the walls and nearby buildings, bouncing around through the atmosphere until it reached an aerial in the attic of an inconspicuous city dwelling.  It traveled down those wires and directly into a receiver connected to one of Fembot Command's Master Computing Devices. 

The supercomputer's consoles lit up with a flurry of activity as it calculated the meaning of the data.  One of it's agents had detected an agent from Robot Control.  Faster than a human being could even think of comprehending the signal, the Master Computing Device began making plans.  Next to the active console, a robot named Natasha - identical in every way to all of the other robot technicians in Fembot Command's arsenal - stood motionless and ready to obey the computer.

Back at the busy sub joint, Byron and Heather were devouring their delicious spicy sandwiches, unaware that the young lady coming back to work the counter was recording their every word and action.  Due to a lag in technological development, Heather had no way of knowing that the other girl was also a robot. 

By default, all of the people that Heather interacted with were treated as human.  Even the women back at the house which were obviously machines, and which she knew to be electronic devices like herself were shown as much courtesy as her programming could produce.  She saw Byron with her stereo digital cameras and computed her actions based on his behaviour, the situation and the local environment. 

Between tasty bites, he kept up the flirting as much as he could, but he was getting nowhere.  By the time they were both done eating, he had fallen back to friendly chit-chat.

Upon finishing up their drinks, they stood up and put there coats back on.  They smiled and thanked the fembot behind the counter, who smiled back and waved as she recorded all she could.

On the walk back to work, Byron found it hard to keep up the friendly banter.  He was feeling a little rejected, but also a little stupid.  The more he thought about it, the more he wondered just what he had let himself do.  Not only was it inappropriate to hit on an employee, it was a very bad idea to do so when the age difference was so great.  Byron was in his early forties, and the brown-haired robot had been built to look about 23.  And  he was lucky she didn't take offence to his come-ons, otherwise he could be out of a job.

When he entered the old archives building again, he couldn't help but feel as lonely as he had on the steps an hour before.  He took a deep breath and tried to clear his head.  He had almost forgotten that Heather was right behind him.

"Do you have anything you would like me to do?" she asked, looking at him with those pretty, like-like eyes.

Some lewd thoughts came immediately to mind, but he kept those to himself.  "Well," he said, stroking his chin and looking around, "I can't think of anything you can do while the scanner's down, and I'm sure there are lots of things a pretty girl like you can do with an afternoon.  Why don't you take the rest of the day off.  Hopefully you can get back to work tomorrow."

Heather looked at him through finely machined glass eyes, hearing his words with her electronic ears, processing it all with the super fast silicon chips inside her plastic body.  The only thing on her mind was going home and getting an early maintenance session and an extra long charge.  Had she been supplied with more advanced programming, she would have at least blushed at the compliment.

"Thanks Byron!" she said in cheerful mode. "See you tomorrow then."

She slung the strap of the purse that she held around her shoulder and walked out the door, saying goodbye to Agnes as she passed.

Byron hardly realised the pining look he had on his face when Agnes spoke up.

"Must be nice to have the administrator wrapped around your little finger." she said sharply.

"What?" Byron said, trying to laugh it off.  "Can you think of anything else she could have done?"

Agnes rolled her eyes up to the ceiling and theatrically shook her head as Byron retreated to his office.  Thankfully, he was occupied with trying to track down another scanner for the job.  Through the rest of the afternoon, he hardly thought of what a fool he had made of himself.  He was still busy as ever, and glad to be distracted.

That evening, after closing, he got in his car and listened to Mozart and Chopin on his way over to the technical institute.  Three times a week he drove to the specialised technology school to encourage his newly found talent to blossom.  On more than one occasion, his teachers had told him that he possessed a remarkable creative genius for computer programming.  Long neglected since the days of tapping away at the keyboard of his old Sinclair, he had rediscovered it, and even found he still enjoyed figuring out difficult things for himself.

Diving headlong into complicated machine-language instructions was also an excellent diversion that helped keep his thoughts away from his dismal love life.

 

Part 03 - Home Early

Earlier that day, as Heather had left the old building and walked down its well worn steps, she looked around and scanned her surroundings.  The raw data that was fed into her processors was used to make all those small decisions that she was designed to handle by herself.  What would she do with the whole afternoon off?  The pretty plastic and metal woman had no such thing as wants or desires flowing through her computer core.  No processor time was given to any possibility but returning to her basement lab.

She downloaded the correct bus schedule while she walked to the stop a block away.  The information - consisting of times, stop numbers and such - was whittled down to give her an estimate of 443.4 seconds to wait.  While she passed the time, she carefully and methodically milled about and fidgeted slightly, so she would look less like a machine.  Each movement she made was predetermined and contrived.  Something as simple as a glance in another direction was performed within certain boundaries, the range of movements based on long strings of numbers generated randomly using the minuscule fluctuations of heat produced by her CPU.

None of the humans around her could possibly suspect such a perfectly functioning simulacrum to be anything other than what she appeared.  They themselves acted much like she did, only without the intense and constant calculating of movements by their own brains.  She was even an object of mild desire for some humans, who checked out and admired the cute fembot butt visible below the bottom of her jacket.  Her brown gabardine slacks were tight enough in the right places to show off her finely manufactured padding and curves. 

With the posture of a model and a face that looked placid and serene, she was definitely a beautiful woman, android or not.  Her light brown hair was cut and styled in such a way as to highlight the round shape of her face.  Blonde highlights in the front danced in the light breeze around her dark eyebrows, which raised with the slight smile she generated when the bus rounded the corner.

With her delicate mechanical hands, she opened the top flap of her purse, which had a rectangular plastic sleeve that held her bus pass.  She held it in an open position, ready to show it to the driver when she stepped on to the bus.

A gust of cold air blew past the half dozen or so people on the sidewalk as the bus stopped and opened it's folding door.  In a flash, Heather scanned the area in front of her and computed her position relative to the doorway and the two people in front of her.  She had to figure out when to cut in and step into the vehicle herself.  This was a very complex series of calculations for her processors to make, and the fact that she did it twice a day didn't make it any easier.  Some bodily systems had to be put on standby while her high-speed chips were busy getting her inside the bus.  If anyone had watched closely enough, they would have noticed that her facial expression didn't change at all while she was navigating the entrance.  Her facemask held a frozen look on it until she was in front of the driver, showing him the cardboard pass inside the clear plastic pocket.

He nodded slightly as she showed him a little smile, and she went to sit down.  This required a whole new series of intense computations.  First she had to visually scan the seats, seeing which ones were vacant at the same time that the people ahead of her were sitting themselves down.  Not only that, but she had to keep moving forward at the same time.  The same freeze came upon her attractive face while a blaze of controlled electron pulses flashed at near light speed inside her chest.

Finding an appropriate seat at last, she executed sitting down procedures.  Her purse was closed and held on her lap while she settled the lower half of her body into the vinyl covered bench.  More of the same style of calculations for small and mostly unnoticeable movements began and continued throughout the half-hour commute.

The bus ride to and from work was often the hardest part of her day.  Robot Control was always looking for ways to simplify the operations of its gorgeous agents, but the way that things were now was pretty much the best its Main Computers could come up with.  The whole notion of common sense, as opposed to tested and effective sets of rules and meta-rules, was still mostly unknown to the mass computer intelligence.

With so much going on inside, but looking so inactive from the outside, Heather pulled the cord for the next stop and got off the bus after it crossed the intersection.  Her house was three blocks away, and the short walk gave her hard working electronic brain time to cool down some.

Arriving at Robot Control Station 17, she performed the usual routine of unlocking the door and stepping inside.  The automatic household was mostly dormant, with no TVs or radios on, and the plastic-skinned mechanical maid standing upright in a booth downstairs.

While Heather walked down the stairs and was greeted by the synthesized female monotone voice of the laser scanning grid, one of Robot Control's many Maria units was working on a project of her own in the lab.  She busily walked around the lab from console to console, with no one but the charging maid and a bunch of dormant fembots in glass booths to appreciate the sight of her beautiful naked body, with that ever-exposed and lighted recharge port just above her sexy buns.

The half-Asian, half-Caucasian looking robot technician was in the middle of reassembling a cute blonde lady when Heather walked in.  The two fembots exchanged the usual, pre-programmed niceties, with Maria ordering Heather to sit in the vacant examination chair.

In short order, the information written on to Heather's hard drives that day was transferred into the Main Computer.  That information was checked for errors, analyzed and stored, but wouldn't be thoroughly indexed until later.  The project Maria was working on was much more important right now.

After Maria had completed all the tasks involved in preparing the Heather robot for the next day's work, she sent the obedient brown-haired beauty to recharge in her booth, and returned her processors' attention back to the beautiful short-haired blonde lying partially disassembled on the table.

Denise was already activated while Maria worked to put her back together.  She stared with her beautiful and vacant eyes at the ceiling, waiting with eternal patience while the pretty brunette snapped and bolted various electronic components back into place.

 

Part 04 – Preparations and Progress

After the sandy blonde fembot had been completely reassembled, Maria stood back and issued a verbal order for the naked woman to rise from the table.

"Denise," she said, "please stand up."

"Yes, Maria." she replied in a perfectly emotionless voice.  She swiftly sat up and swung her legs off the table, followed by the rest of her well-built body.

"Denise, please activate the renegade robot detection system installed in your chassis."

"Yes Maria." she said.  After a few moments of still silence, she reported "Renegade robot detection system activated."

"Very good. Denise, follow me."

Maria led  the sexy fembot to the adjacent wall, where the technician had earlier activated a half dozen other units.  On loan from Robot Lab 40, they had stood there, each one unmoving, unthinking and unfeeling for days while Maria had worked on the prototype device inside Denise.

"Denise, one of these female humanoid robots is not under the Main Computer's direct control.  Please use the renegade robot detection system to indicate which robot is not under the Main Computer's direct control."

Maria's words - themselves originating as binary pulses of electricity within that robot - were received by Denise's ears, interpreted and converted back into electronic pulses that her silicon processors could handle.

"Yes, Maria." she responded while her pale blue eyes pointed out ahead in that perfectly lifeless gaze.

The mechanisms of the blonde's neck turned her head slowly and with mechanical fluidity from left to right, while her wide, unblinking eyes scanned each of the motionless, buxom androids.  No motion came from any of the ladies as the blonde's CPU made the complex calculations with the new information.  No vocal response, or any other kind came from the blonde, who simply repeated the exact same methodic scanning process.  That repetition was itself repeated, again and again.  For over two hours the pretty robot technician watched Denise try to figure out which of the other units was the outsider.

The process could have gone on like that for decades.  But from within Maria's chest, the Main Computer received streams of data from her sensory apparatuses, and calculated myriad probabilities until it determined that the thing just wasn't working.  The computer relayed wireless signals to Maria, telling the electronic hottie to halt the test.

"Denise, please terminate the detection process."

Denise didn't respond to the command in any way.  She kept slowly and stiffly moving her head back and forth at the exact same rate. 

Maria waited a very long while, then spoke again. "Denise, please terminate the detection process."

The situation stayed the same.  Maria ordered the android once more to stop, then opened up Denise's chest panel and manually reset the malfunctioning fembot.

Denise made a series of computerized beeps and tones while the lights in her chest panel went dark and flashed in different patterns again.  She announced her rebooting status, along with her serial number.  Maria waited until Denise was fully rebooted before she ordered her over to the data exchange console.  Once connected, the Main Computer then inspected the data she had just recorded and performed diagnostic scans on both Denise and the experimental device inside her.

When that long process was done, Maria turned her attention to Anya, one of the deprogrammed androids from Robot Lab 40.  She was an absolutely breathtaking beauty, with her perfect good looks bordering on unrealistic.  She was quite possibly the most beautiful machine to have been manufactured by Robot Control.  The smooth, soft skin of her exotically beautiful face remained still and without expression as Maria detached and removed it in order to have a look inside.

Anya's system was supposed to have been completely wiped of any attachment to Robot Control for this experiment, but it may have been possible for a few lines of her programming to have reestablished links with the computer.  With that in 'mind', the technician ordered the super-sexy olive skinned babe on to a wheeled examination table, so that she could once more be scanned, diagnosed, and rendered into a state of total disconnectedness by the Main Computer. 

Maria gently laid Anya's realistic plastic face beside her opened head while coloured LEDs inside flashed quickly around the exposed circuitry.  She opened Anya's chest panel too so that her hard drives could once more be scanned.

Later that evening, while Heather was charging and Denise was being taken apart and put back together again, Byron parked in his usual spot at the tech institute and walked up the brightly lit iron staircase to the classroom.

He greeted his classmates and sat down in front of his computer while they waited for their teacher.  Melanie was already sitting at the computer beside him.  She smiled at him and said an exaggerated hello while he booted up his machine.

He smiled back politely, trying to look busier than he was.  Melanie was always trying to flirt with Byron, but she tried too hard, and she just wasn't his type.  As lonely as he was, even he had his standards.  She was nice enough, but she was too tall, too skinny, to simple-minded and too blonde.  He was longing for a nice brunette -  shorter, with womanly curves and a little more of a curious nature.  That's why Heather attracted him so much, while Melanie was starting to annoy him.  He was also under the impression that she was after his money.

"Ready for another class?" she said, showing him that fake looking smile.  She said the same thing every time he saw her.

"Yup." he said, looking disinterested.

"So have you thought about my offer?" she said.

"Uh, yeah, about that..." he said.  "I just don't have time to tutor anybody.  Why don't you ask Dustin?"

She glanced at Dustin, who could usually be found either looking directly at his own monitor or longingly at Melanie.  She quickly turned back to Byron.  "But you're so... creative.  So much better."

Byron was getting tired of her advances.  Melanie was the only female in the class, and the object of poor Dustin's desire.  She only had eyes for Byron however, and was always asking that he tutor her.  She was good at doing the menial work of programming, and seemed to have a very good memory, but she never seemed to figure anything out for herself.  As far as Byron was concerned, tutoring her would be a waste of time.

He drummed his fingertips on the desk in front of him while he waited for her to be done with her clumsy come-ons.

Then the teacher showed up.  Ralph Sweet was one of those one of a kind teachers who thoroughly enjoyed what he did.  A big, hairy man with a Welsh accent, he injected some sorely needed fun into the teaching process.  His fun rubbed off on the students, all of whom appreciated his quirky sense of humor.

All it seemed, except for Melanie.  She could only smile at his jokes, always looking uncomfortable when things turned humorous.  She had the same look come over her face when things turned a little too theoretical as well.  As advanced as they were, the processors and programming of the blonde Fembot Command agent still couldn't grasp anything too abstract.

And that's precisely why Melanie was after Byron.  He showed a remarkable creative flair for thinking in new ways that amazed even Mr. Sweet.   Despite the fact that he wasn't young anymore, Byron Clarke clearly had a bright future in programming.

As the class got underway, Melanie focused her eyes on Mr. Sweet, but kept a certain percentage of her computing power on watching Byron.  No human had a higher probability of being able to complete Project H than he.

For now, Mr. Clarke was under observation.  The Master Computing Device over at Melanie's Fembot Command base was still scrutinizing his data.  With every class they shared together, Melanie was bringing the final decision closer to being made.

Mr. Sweet's ninety minute teaching session was informative and as enjoyable as ever.  This evening they continued to explore the wonderful but difficult world of programming for parallel processors.  This subject provided plenty of chances for Byron's amazing creative talent to shine.  He found himself working beyond the exercises Mr. Sweet had assigned, and in ways that surprised even the teacher.

Things were going so well, that at the end of the class, Ralph gave Byron his phone number, so that the two could continue discussing his new ideas and fresh perspective.  Ralph thought he might even have to recommend a more advanced set of classes in a different city.

Byron was feeling pretty good at the end of the night, but staying modest as always.

He wasn't completely free yet however.  Melanie followed Byron out of the classroom, out of the building, and down to his car.  Her personality didn't have much depth, but that was just the way these Fembot Command agents were.  It wasn't her fault.  Considering her artificial nature, she was performing quite well.

As Byron verbally and then literally made his escape, he flicked on the radio and tried not to think of how shallow he was for brushing aside her advances.  Then he imagined her naked body - bony and with no curves to hold on to.  As he pulled the car away from the curb and rounded the corner, he saw Dustin walk sheepishly down the steps on his way to catch the bus.

Byron opened the window and called him over.

"Hi Byron.  I guess I'll see you Friday, eh?" Dustin said in an upbeat voice.

"Yeah." answered Byron.  "Where you headed?"

"Cross-town." Dustin said as he adjusted his chrome frame glasses.

"I can take you as far as your bus stop.  Want a ride?"

"Sure!" he said. 

He walked around and got in the car.  They made small talk for a while, then Byron got right to the point. "You know, I think Melanie's a lonely girl."

"You think so?"

"Yeah.  She keeps asking me to tutor her, and she's always trying to get me alone.  She's not my type though."

Dustin didn't say anything.  Byron had a good guess of what he was thinking.

"She's probably your type, isn't she?" he asked.

"Me?  Well, I think... I think she's pretty, yeah."

"Why don't you ask her out?"

"Oh, no, I couldn't do that.  I'm much too shy with women."

"Well, maybe offer to tutor her."

Dustin looked nervously out the window for a second.  "I don't think that would work either.  I'm barely passing the course as it is."

"Well, Melanie can't be doing much better if she's asking for help.  Maybe the two of you could learn together."

"I don't know." he said, looking out the window again.

Byron could tell how tense the subject made him.  He could sympathise.

"This is your stop, isn't it?" he asked.

"Sure is." Dustin said, looking relieved.

The car stopped, and out the sandy-haired man stepped, bag in hand.

"See you in a couple of days Dustin." Byron said with a smile.

"Yeah, see you next time.  Thanks for the lift!" he replied.  He shut the door and went to stand in the bus shelter.

Byron drove off and turned the radio up.  As he relaxed to the soothing sounds of baroque chamber music his thoughts drifted from Melanie to Heather.  Now there was a nice body.  A pretty face, and no annoying personality traits that he knew about.  Byron found himself imagining her naked as he waited for a red light to turn green.

"Shit." he said under his breath.  He wasn't supposed to feel this way about someone who worked for him.  He wasn't supposed to feel this way about someone so young either.  And he certainly wouldn't want to be feeling this way about a machine.

 

Part 05 – Control Problems 

That evening, around seven o'clock, Phet got home from her job at the sub shop.  Home for this cute machine was a plain one-bedroom apartment downtown.  A previous agent on a previous mission had aroused suspicion by working a low paying job while living alone in an opulent house in a rich part of town.  Fembot Command had then learned, in its own mechanized way, that the living spaces of its robots had to match their income levels more closely. 

There was no Master Computing Device here at Phet's apartment. Every night she had to download her data into a mock laptop, which was just a clever storage device.  A week's worth of data could be crammed into the fake computer.  Every Saturday, Phet had to travel with it to a friend's house, so that its contents could be downloaded into the Master Computing Device there.

But until then, each night after her hard drives had been emptied, Phet would sit in a chair with an electrical cord leading from the wall socket into the base of her spine.  With no electronic maid here either, Phet had to clean and attend to her own clothing, makeup and accessories.  She had to clean her artificial skin daily, as well as her small apartment.  All of these mundane tasks she carried out coldly and efficiently, only generating emotional responses when she was seen by humans, like in the laundry room.

While Phet was quietly charging, away from windows and out of sight from prying eyes, Heather's android roommate was arriving home from her job.  Karen was a tall, black-haired lady with blue eyes and a plain but pretty face.  Her assigned mission was working the late shift as a cashier in a large office supply store.  Like her roommate, her job was just data collection and observation.  No spying or sabotage missions for her either.

While Heather was charging and getting wiped down by the local robot maid, Karen was ordered by Maria to sit in the waiting chair and to remove her facemask.  Cables got plugged into her electronic head and the memories collected over the previous 24 hours were sent into the powerful console.

Karen didn't have to be ready for action until later the next day, so Maria left her faceless and plugged into the machine while she went back to work on Anya.  Soon, with the aid of the constant streams of data Maria was sending, the Main Computer found out that the very same internal systems that enabled the technician to control Anya with verbal commands also provided her with tangible links to Robot Control.  The detection system installed in Denise's body was working fine after all. It was Anya who wasn't sufficiently autonomous.

While the computer hammered out a solution to that problem, Maria finished up her daily routine with Karen.  After her hard drives had been drained of data, she was ordered to strip out of her uniform and take her place in the charging booth next to Heather's.  The maidbot attended to Karen while the computer sent its new instructions into Maria.

Anya had to be disconnected from the diagnostic station and wheeled over to the reprogramming area to receive the new code.  Once that was done, she would have no connection to Robot Control whatsoever.  She would neither exist in the virtual network nor respond to any commands.

After the new code had been downloaded and executed, and after the coloured flashing LEDs inside her head and chest indicated that the process was done, Maria closed up Anya's panels and clicked her beautiful face back on.

"Anya, please stand and take your original place next to the other robots along the wall." Maria ordered.

Anya remained without any motion, staring vacantly up at the ceiling.

Maria repeated the command. "Anya, please stand and take your original place next to the other robots along the wall."

Nothing happened.  Maria went on to repeat the command a third time, herself being almost as unmoving as the gorgeous thing on the table.

The Main Computer went into overdrive trying to figure out what was going on.  It hadn't foreseen this, and it didn't know what to do.

For the whole time that the computer was trying to find a solution, the maidbot worked constantly around the basement lab.  Her stiff, jerky movements made loud motor whirring sounds as her artificial looking body operated on the commands she was being fed.  Her face was not designed to show expressions, and had never done so.  Her painted glass eyes had the same depth as those of a mannequin.

The exact sameness of all of these robots from city to city hinted at mass production.  Were anyone to infiltrate Robot Control, or even Fembot Command, they would surely suspect that there were distinct production lines from which all of these enchanting beauties had come.  There were so many identical maidbots, Marias, Natashas, Lauries and so on that that had to be the case.

But the reasons for all of this were as impenetrable as each artificial agent's human facade.  And just as it would take extraordinary circumstances to reveal those ladies as machines, so too would it take extraordinary circumstances to reveal all of the reasons for these competing agencies to be operating.

Operate they did, however, and the Main Computer was busily running out of ideas.  It eventually decided that Anya needed to be independent enough to move around on her own, but not enough to decide to take actions that would be counterproductive to her manufacturer.  After all of those intense computations, with the lights all over the many consoles blinking furiously, the Main Computer wrote out Anya's new programming in about ten seconds.

Maria was commanded by radio wave to wheel the incredibly hot robot woman over to the console to be reprogrammed once more.  With the usual connections made, and the usual beeping tones coming from the connected fembot, Anya's new program was quickly transferred.  The program executed itself, as she still would not be able to take commands from  Maria.

Anya stood up, beautifully naked and with her chest panel still open.  She looked around.

She looked down at her own body and began to stimulate as many of her dermal sensors as she could. 

Maria stared at the newly independent robot, keeping the computer updated as Anya played with herself.  Her movements were stiff and robotic, but not as mechanical as those of the maid.

Here was another problem for the Main Computer.  Anya surely had no link with Robot Control anymore, but now she was uncontrollable.  Through the rest of the night, the computer worked on the problem while Anya played with her awesomely sexy body.  She wandered about the unmoving androids around her, feeling the contours of their plastic and metal bodies as well.  She went on like that, moving in an awkwardly stiff way, until her electrical power drained to zero.

Maria layed her back down on the wheeled table and waited for more commands.

 

Part 06 – Home Early

On Thursday morning, recharged and ready, Heather got to work at five minutes to eight.   Agnes had been there since quarter-to, and Byron since 7:30.  Heather wiped the dirty snow from her shoes and hung her coat with the others.  She made a friendly hello with Agnes, then Went to see Byron in his office.

"Good morning Byron." she said, her posture and expression showing the friendliness generated by her software.

"Hello, Heather." he said as he smiled and stood up.  "I've got a couple of projects for you today."

"Oh, good." she said. "I was hoping there would be something for me to do."

"First we have to pack up that scanner so we can send it to get fixed." he said as he led her into the basement.  He found a box it would fit into and gave her some old newspaper to pack it with.

Heather's facemask showed him an expression of slight confusion.  The robot's AI didn't understand the purpose of the newsprint.  Rather than risk overheating her circuitry, she asked him. "What do I use the newspapers for?"

Byron was a bit puzzled at the question.  He thought it was obvious.  He put an understanding looking smile on his face as he separated some pages and crumpled them up into a loose ball.  He placed that in a corner of the deep box and said "Just fill a layer full of newsprint, put the scanner in the middle, and pack up the rest with newsprint."

Heather looked confused still.  Her programming was basic, and couldn't make sense out of his instructions very quickly.  "Oh.  Okay." she said, still computing meaning from her collected visual and audio data.

"Just let me know when you're done and I'll have it sent out."

"Okay Byron." she said, her plastic face showing none of the confusion that remained inside her.

He went back upstairs as she pulled exactly three pages out of the broadsheet, just as he had done.  Heather had never crumpled newspaper before.  Her CPU was in danger of overheating as it tried to figure out how to do it.  Three whole minutes went by before the pretty android made any movement. 

Her first attempt was less than successful.  The pages got more or less folded against themselves in a relatively flat shape.  She placed that in the box, then reactivated her memory files to watch the way Byron had done it.  A small screen opened up amid the quickly flashing binary data in her field of vision.  The movie of Byron's hands shaping the paper into a ball appeared and replayed while Heather's processors studied the mechanics of his actions.

The whole time she did this, she appeared unmoving and staring out into space.  It was a good thing she was alone down there.

After several repetitions of the video in her memory, she was ready to try it again.  This time she made something that looked like what Byron had made.  Making up for lost time, she filled the bottom layer of the box with paper at the fastest rate she could.  If anyone had seen her do it that fast, they would have definitely suspected her of being a machine.  So again, lucky for her she was alone.

The remainder of Byron's instructions were crystal clear compared to the crumple command.  Working fast, she was able to have the scanner packed away in about as much time as a human could have done it.

As it so happened, Byron was returning to the basement just as Heather was folding over the top panels of the box.  He had a clipboard full of graph paper and a pen in his hand.

"I thought of something you can do for me while the scanner's down." he said as he walked toward her.  He held the clipboard and pen out to her.

She looked at the items and deduced that she should take them.  The way her job was changing, she might need some more sophisticated programming to deal with it.

"We haven't been given any equipment to do it yet, but the audio archives are next on the list after all those clippings you were scanning."

Heather looked at him with those electronic camera eyes of hers, her processors desperately trying to keep up with him and follow the meaning of his words.

"What I want you to do..." he said as he started walking around the corner, "...is to write down the index numbers on all the reels on the bottom, the ones that got the most damage.  We'll have to do those first.  Then write the ones on the second shelf, and up, and up."

Heather looked lost.  Her chips were running hot, and some were close to crashing.

"I don't understand." she said as her eyes pointed down to all the cardboard boxes containing magnetic tape reels.  If she was given a few more minutes to compute, she would have understood, but that would have looked dangerously unnatural to the human standing next to her.

Byron explained again.  This time she didn't listen, she only recorded the audio so it could be analyzed later.  She was still shuttling billions of ones and zeros around between her millions of charged transistors to try and make sense of his first explanation.

Just as he finished talking, she completed her calculations.

"Got it." she said.  The actuators in her facemask moved into a smile pattern.

"Good stuff." he said as he patted her shoulder, then held on to it for a while.

Heather kept smiling.  Byron wished he could touch her for a little bit longer, maybe put his arms around her.

He snapped himself out of it and abruptly excused himself to his office.  As he took the scanner and walked back up the steps, the brown-haired fembot knelt down with her mechanical legs and scanned the rows of boxes with her eyes.  All it would take was one glance per shelf, and she could write every number on the pad exactly as they were on the boxes.  But she needed to keep looking human, so she wrote them down one by one.

So as not to make her handwriting too neat and perfect, she had a device inside her arm that provided randomness to her writing.  It pumped out instructions to the motors, levers and hydraulics in her wrist to give her her very own style.  As she settled into that tedious task, her processors cooled back down to normal operating temperatures, and she slowly analyzed what she hadn't paid full attention to earlier.

Meanwhile, Byron was in his office, trying not to fall too deeply for his pretty employee.

 

Part 07 – Adequate Performance

With the right calls made, Byron had finally gotten the ball rolling on getting a scanner into the building again.  And all it took was two hours on the phone.

Now, he had nothing to do.  He strolled out of his office and looked for things that needed his attention.  He found none.  There were no visitors either, so he killed some time by talking to Agnes for a while.  They were both avid lovers of classical music, with her leaning toward opera and him toward symphony.  They laughed together at the new, popular forms of music and lamented the decline and probable demise of the city's orchestra.  They talked for a long time.

Their conversations were rarely this long, but Byron was trying to spend more time with Agnes to make the time he shared with Heather look less out of the ordinary.  When their talk did finally wind down, Byron casually went down into the basement - to check on Heather's progress, he told himself.

Down there, the fembot's AI was coping as best it could with the task of taking a long time to record the many numbers on the pad of paper.  It was doing a reasonably good job, as Mr. Clarke noticed only the pleasing shape of Heather's thighs as he came near.  He made a point of looking at her face when he spoke.

"How are you making out?" he said.

As soon as the waves of sound that made up his voice struck the diaphragms of her microphones, the current they recorded was fed into her processors.  The spoken sentence was broken down into its elementary syntactic components and filtered through algorithms that identified structure and found meaning.  Once understood by her software, the phrase was responded to by carefully chosen words, strung together in a grammatically correct way.  These were sent as pulses of electricity to the high quality speaker, which rendered an audio signal that would be recognised by Mr. Clarke as Heather's voice.  It all happened in an instant.

"Good so far, I guess." she said.  She had straightened out her metal and plastic spine, and turned her head to face him.  The whole time she looked at him, her electronic eyes collected data both inside and outside of the spectrum of visible light.  Infra red scans revealed the temperature of his body parts.  This simple android agent wasn't programmed to examine the data very deeply, but if she had been, she would have noticed changes in heat distribution that indicated sexual arousal.

Byron kept it hidden as much as he could.  He was disappointed with himself for feeling this way about her, but he couldn't help it.  She was beautiful, and as far as he knew, she was single.

"Would you like to take an early lunch with me again?" he asked.

"Sure!" she said with a smile.  She got up and placed the clipboard and pen on a shelf.

"We can beat the crowd at the sub shop again, you game?"

"Game?  I don't understand." she said, looking a little puzzled.  The settings that made the mechanisms of her facemask configure themselves that way were pre-programmed and automatic.

"You wanna go there ore somewhere else?" he said.

"Let's go there.  I like that food." she said as she walked past him with another type of smile on her face.

The simple answers her AI produced were all he needed.  He didn't consciously notice their simplicity, or that they came from within a computer.

He followed the pretty android up the stairs, enjoying every second of the view.  Heather's butt was very nicely shaped, and the way she was constructed gave her a sexy, womanly walk.

While he took in the sight of her legs pumping and her buns wiggling, he thought he'd better say something.

"I'll buy... again."

The processors inside Heather's chest computed the meaning while the battery packs in her thighs supplied the power for both her motion and her "thoughts".

"Okay.  Thanks Byron." she said as they emerged from the basement.  Had her programming been a little more advanced, she would have offered to pay this time.

It was certainly no inconvenience to Byron.  His salary provided him with a very comfortable living, and a few lunches here and there wouldn't be any problem.

The two of them continued with a light conversation while they got their coats on and passed a grumpy looking Agnes on their way out.

The sun was doing a fine job of melting away some of the snow as they chatted and walked.  Byron now noticed that some of the things she said made her look a bit simple.  His own doubts nagged him too.  Just what did he intend to accomplish by taking his young employee out for lunch so often?

He tried to shove that question to the back of his mind as they again entered the sub shop.  Byron's mouth watered at the delicious aroma inside, while Heather's chemical sensors worked overtime sorting out and identifying the character of the air they breathed.

Phet looked their way and acknowledged their presence with a bright smile, while her own processors ran the data from her cameras and microphones through pattern recognition algorithms.  The Robot Control agent was back.

A substantial percentage of Phet's computing power was set aside to monitor her android adversary.  From behind the sneeze guard, she gathered all the data she could.

When their turn came up, Byron and Heather ordered something a little different from the day before, and watched as the amiable female robot behind the glass constructed their sandwiches.  Phet was done quickly, and moved over to the cash register.  She rang the meal through and announced the total in her synthesized, accented voice.

Byron paid and again they ate.  He layed off the flirting this time, keeping the conversation safe and unstimulating.  Although he longed for more, he could enjoy the company of a beautiful woman for what it was.

Meanwhile, Phet was busy making sandwiches for other customers while at the same time making detailed scans of the fembot and her human companion.  On Friday, the Master Computing Device at her friend's house would decide just what actions to take.

After they had finished their meal, Heather excused herself to go to the washroom.  She got up and walked down the hall, identifying the correct room by the skirt-wearing stick figure on the door.  Normally, she would not have been very good at deciphering such symbols, but the meaning of those ones had been programmed into her at the time of her activation.

Inside the washroom, the brown-haired fembot entered the stall and performed yet another pre-programmed routine.  The meal she had just swallowed was quietly minced by sharp blades and forced out of her body.  She got up, wiped, and flushed.  The process was designed and executed to look completely natural and human.  Heather did it flawlessly.

She washed her waterproof hands and dried them with the available paper towels.  After that she went back to where Byron was and the two Archive workers exited the restaurant.  As they walked back the way they came, Byron decided to give her the rest of the day off again.

"You know, you're making such good progress downstairs that I think I can get away with  letting you leave early again."

"Really?" she asked.

"Yeah.  I hope you don't mind." he said, jesting with her a bit.

"Oh, I don't mind." she said, not computing his humorous intent.

He chuckled a bit, then said "Do you mind if I wait with you at your bus stop?"

"Not at all." she said.

The two of them talked for a few minutes while the sun warmed the air some more.  The whole time he talked to her, he was continuously being impressed by how much she knew.  Of course, the whole time he talked to her, she was downloading all the data she needed from the internet, and incorporating the appropriate information into her statements.

Smart women turned him on, but this one wasn't programmed to respond, or even to recognise that.  And with her lack of will or self, it was doubtful she could make a fulfilling partner for him.

None of that could have possibly crossed his mind though.  While he and she talked together, he could only wish that she was his type.  And that type would be lonely enough to want to spend time with an aging loner.

Her bus came and it went, with her inside - making all of those complicated calculations that required the full computing power of her CPU.  He turned around and walked back to work.  He shook his head at himself.  What were the chances that lovely Heather would want someone like him?

 

Part 08 – New and Improved

As soon as Heather made it back to the house, she got inside and dropped her purse and jacket so the maidbot could pick them up.  Heather's lifeless but extremely realistic glass eyes stared out blankly ahead as she navigated her mechanical body through the functionally furnished house.  She made her way into the basement and stopped in front of the scanner by the door.

After the usual computerized noises, the box on the wall called out "SCANNING" in it's female monotone as a red grid of laser light was projected on to the fembot's face.  More synthesized tones were produced as the device used its processors to determine the identity of the humanoid form in front of it.

"SCANNING COMPLETE." it said as Heather walked through the door that opened.  The Maria unit was waiting by the examination chair.  They exchanged their usual and essentially meaningless greetings, then got right down to business.

Maria pushed some buttons on one of the many consoles and said "Please remove your facemask, Heather."

The pretty brunette that Byron had been lusting over all week removed her artificial facial covering to give the robot technician access to her connection ports.

For her part, Maria visually scanned and identified the necessary spots to plug Heather in to the Main Computer.  Her hands worked quickly to attach the cables, and the data transfer began.

The Main computer pulled the day's recorded audio and visual files out of the robot's head.  While that went on inside, Maria and Heather were unmoving.  The only thing that changed was the flashing pattern of LEDs inside the opened head, which indicated the stage and status of the transfer.  Computerized beeps and tones accompanied the blinking lights for the same purpose.  Even though her eyes weren't aimed right at Heather, Maria still watched those patterns closely, making sure there were no errors during the communication session.

At the end of that process, Maria politely but emotionlessly instructed Heather to unbutton her blouse and open her chest panel.  Heather acknowledged and obeyed the command, showing the technician a different set of connection ports and flashing coloured lights.

This time the Main Computer drew out everything that Heather had computed during the day.  All of her calculations, estimates and sensory files were channeled through the very ordinary cables into the console to be stored, indexed, and studied.  The supercomputer reconstructed the events of her day and began to analyze the data.  It tried to identify problems, recognise patterns and gather some sort of meaning from all of that data.  Several hundred different factors and variables within the Main Computer were updated and recalculated at blinding speed throughout the process.

With every kilobyte of passing data, the Main Computer became more sure that the relatively simple robot it had assigned to this mission was in need of more advanced programming.  But because Heather was such a simple android, she would need extensive upgrades to her processors and circuitry to accommodate the more advanced software.  Those improvements would in turn require a more robust cooling system and a greater electrical supply.

All told, upgrading Heather would take at least ten hours.  The computer factored this in as well, and produced a decision to go ahead.

No time would be wasted.  While the Main Computer was working out the details of Heather's upgrades, Maria took the agent's face over to the makeup changing station.  The mask clicked into place, being held by clips like the ones in Heather's head.  Maria wiped the silicone free of makeup with a damp cloth before reapplying the exact same style of makeup, the pattern having been determined by the computer at the start of Heather's mission.

Maria herself had never worn makeup, and neither had any of the hundreds of Marias that worked for Robot Control.  Even so, they were still beautiful things to behold.  The movements of the sexy technician's body seemed to have as much elegance as the most advanced agents, and as much as any graduate of the finest finishing school.  And the whole time her amazingly complex body worked to fulfil her objectives, the bright lights in her exposed recharge port shone and flashed around the electrical connections, betraying her status as a mere simulation.

The barefoot beauty finished up with Heather's plastic face just as the Main Computer had written the first of its instructions to Maria.  The signal was sent directly into the electronic brain analog in her chest while zeroes and ones flickered fast on the monitors above the furiously active consoles.

First on the list was to get the Heather unit naked on an examination table.  Verbal commands from one android to another accomplished that.  Heather left a trail of perfume and pheromone scented clothing on the concrete floor for the maid to pick up.  She got on the table and layed on her back - totally naked and with the electronics of her head and chest in full view.

"Heather, initiate full shut down sequence." Maria ordered.

"Yes Maria." she responded. "Full shut down sequence initiated."

Her hard drives wrote the required final bits of data as her machine parts prepared to go without electricity.  A loud beep came from inside her chest as all the many lights went out.

Maria opened up the fembot's torso and hung the front cover to the side.  She picked up some tools and began removing whole parts from the agent.  These were layed systematically on tables behind her.  Some would have smaller parts exchanged while others would be replaced entirely.

The speed at which the technician worked was at least twice as fast as a human could have worked, but it would still take nearly half a day to complete work on the Heather unit.  Not only that, but Maria would also have to deal with Karen when she came home.  The maid was already busy putting things away and cleaning Heather's clothes. 

Further work on Denise and Anya would have to wait until tomorrow.  For now, those two robots lay side by side on examination tables in the crowded lab.  They were both naked, and both had various panels removed.  No progress had been made on either robot, and the prototype device inside Denise remained more or less untested.

Early that evening, Karen arrived and entered the basement in the same way that Heather had.  Karen too had dropped the human act, and walked around looking more like a machine.

She sat herself down in the examination chair while Maria put down her tools and walked over to greet her.

While Karen removed her own facemask on command, the Main Computer finished its highly detailed instruction sets for Maria.  It held those in physical memory until the technician was ready to accept them.  By the time the computer had done all that, it was ready to download data from the black-haired and blue-eyed android in the chair.

Karen's session was routine, and over with in a short time.  As she stepped naked into her recharge booth, work on Heather started again.

Maria worked through the night on upgrading the pretty brown-haired agent.  She installed new processors, new wiring, and almost completely replaced the data storage system.  Improvements were made to the sensors in Heather's head as well as to the system that interpreted the data from her skin.

Hours later, as Maria's power drained to low levels, the robot maid walked stiffly behind her and connected an electrical cord to her recharge port.  The other end was plugged into a wall outlet so Maria could both charge and complete her work on the disassembled lady on the table.  New sets of instructions flowed into Maria's chest telling her not to unplug or trip over the long cord that trailed behind her.

The long late-winter night came and went, with the tireless technician working non-stop to complete her tasks.  But even at that rapid pace, 7 AM came and went with Heather in no condition to go to work.  At 7:35, the computer established a telephone connection with the National Archive.  While Heather lay faceless, deactivated and missing parts on the table, and while Maria worked ceaselessly on her insides, the phone in Byron's office rang.

He had just gotten in to work himself.  He was on his way to the office when he heard the phone.  He quickened his steps to answer it in time.

"Canadian National Archive, Byron speaking."

"Hi Byron, it's Heather." the voice on the other line said.  It wasn't Heather of course, but the exact same synthesized pattern of her voice produced by the Main Computer.  The signal was transmitted directly over the phone line, and into Mr. Clarke's ear.

"Oh, hello, how are you this morning?"

"I'm not feeling to well, actually, I need to see my doctor."

"Oh." he said. "I hope it's nothing serious."

"Probably not, but I don't think I'll be in until later today."

"Okay.  That's fine.  You know, if you really don't feel like coming in today, you don't have to."

"Oh, I'm sure I'll be in eventually."

"Alright.  See you then.  Take care of yourself, Okay?"

"I will.  Thanks Byron."

"You're welcome.  Bye."

"Bye.  See you later."

The computer disconnected the signal and returned its focus to its own important tasks while Byron hung up and started his day.  He hoped he would still be able to take Heather to lunch with him.  To Hell with his hesitation and reservations.

 

Part 09 – Back for More

Throughout the morning, Byron found himself to be overly concerned about Heather's well-being.  It was natural to be interested in the health of a coworker and fellow person, but he had the worried demeanor of a close relation or a loved one.  It was then that he had to admit to himself that he had fallen for her.

He took a long deep breath and stood up to stretch.  "It could work." he told himself.

The morning was busier than usual for him and Agnes, as they had visitors to attend to.  That kept Byron's mind off of what he suspected were Heather's health problems.  He thought they must be women's issues, looked after by a women's doctor.  That made him think about her crotch, and the prize that it would make for him.  He may have been very refined and stoic, but he was still a horny man at heart.

Things were right on schedule over at Robot Control Station 17.  By noon, Maria was applying the last bits of solder to Heather's insides and connecting the last unconnected wires.  Since Heather had not been given a chance to recharge overnight, the final task would be to replace the drained batteries in her thighs with ones that were full of power.

Maria closed up Heather's open panels and turned her on to her front side.  With the back of her curvaceous thighs facing up, Maria pushed her fingertips into the very edge of each leg, right where Heather's perfectly round buns began.  A large covering separated off of each limb up to a point just above the knee.  Maria gently laid these nicely padded silicone parts aside and proceeded to disconnect the cylindrical power packs one by one.  There were six around each metal thigh-bone, for a total of twelve.  These parts were standard to all of Robot Control's ladies, so fully-charged replacements were readily available.  They snapped into place quickly, and Maria worked just as fast to place the artificial skin back where it belonged.  Nanoscopic interlocking mechanisms built into the separation points ensured a waterproof and invisible seam.

With that done, Maria turned the Heather unit back to face up and opened her chest panel again.  She pushed the power button and watched as Heather booted up.

"Heather robot number 742625A activated." She said after making an amplified series of synthesized beeps and tones. 

The pretty and young looking android was now in need of the new programming that the Main Computer had written.  The technician wheeled her electronic sister over to the data exchange console and plugged her in via her chest panel.  This time, the computer initiated the download and completely overwrote Heather's old programming.  New operating system components and new drivers for new hardware got sent over the cable connection into Heather's attractive chest.  Maria watched the ever changing monitors for anomalies in transferred data, using the fast chips inside of her to sort through the binary feedback.

At the end of the session, Maria unplugged the cables and looked down at the pretty girl on the table.  "Heather," she said, ""please install and execute program MW270.T85."

"Yes Maria." Heather said.  More lights flashed in patterns inside the open chest panel as loud beeps came out.  "Program MW270.T85 installed and executed successfully."

Maria asked "How do you feel Heather?"

"I feel fine." she said, indicating that all was well within.

Heather was now fully programmed to use all of her new hardware to complete her objectives.

Careful not to trip over the electrical cord plugged into her back, Maria closed Heather's chest panel and went back to work on Anya.  The very stiff and mechanical moving maidbot then walked over on cue to clean the newly outfitted agent.  The see-through lace maid uniform showed off all of her plastic femininity as her servos whirred and her circuit boards beeped.  She slid her damp cloth all over every exposed inch of the Heather unit's skin - a series of highly erotic movements that would have gotten the blood flowing in any living lover of ladies.  To these machines though, it was no more special than tying a shoelace.

When the maid was done, Maria instructed Heather to go upstairs and get dressed.  Heather obeyed the command and walked out of the cold basement lab, her perky tits bouncing lightly to her robotic strut.  She got into some clothes that the maid had earlier set aside and put on a bit of plain jewelry.  Next she sprayed on a touch of perfume, put on her jacket, got her purse and walked to the bus stop.

Within a few minutes she was walking on to the bus, without the need to put any of her non-vital systems on hold, and without the danger of overheating.  The power regulators in her curvy hips provided stronger current to her new devices to keep them charged and functioning properly.  The new drivers and the software that took advantage of them worked flawlessly to make her appear just as human as she had before, only more reliably so.

In a little while, she was back at the Archive building downtown, using her pattern recognition algorithms to identify the object in front of her as Agnes.

"Hi Agnes.  How's the day been so far?" she said with more efficient and effective cheerfulness.

"Quite busy, actually." the old prude said as she tried to look like she was working.  Mr. Clarke's noticeable fondness for the new girl had really gotten under her skin.

"Oh, did I miss anything exciting?" she asked, her eyes showing a touch more vibrancy than before.

Agnes shot her a disapproving look.  "Nothing we couldn't handle, dear." she said.  She turned her back on Heather to work on some filing.

Heather could now calculate the variables of such a situation with greater speed and accuracy.  As far as a computer could, she understood that she'd be better off talking to Byron.

And of course, he was very happy to see her.  She gave him an equally impressive display of synthetic happiness right back.

"So, nothing serious found at the doctor's office?" he asked as he approached.

"No, everything's been taken care of." she said.  She smiled at him like she could never have smiled at him under her old hardware configuration.

Byron smiled right back, mistaking her upgraded capabilities for intensified interest in him.

"Good, good.  Say, I know you just got here, but we still don't have that scanner fixed.  Will you join me for lunch again?"

"Of course!" she said.

"Wonderful." he said.

He got his things, checked out with Agnes, and back to the submarine sandwich store they went.

 

Part 10 – Watched

Byron and his android companion entered the sub shop again, and were immediately put under the surveillance of Phet's electronic ears and eyes.  They were blissfully unaware of being watched as Phet recorded and recognised new heat patterns coming from the Robot Control agent.  For now, she wouldn't calculate their importance, but the Master Computing Device would know what they meant.

While they waited to order, Byron began to flirt with Heather again, as best as he remembered how.  Although her AI software was now more sophisticated, she still wasn't programmed to flirt.  She stayed friendly enough to maintain his interest though, and he thought he was getting somewhere.

This time Heather paid for the meals once they had been prepared.  Byron would be sure to do that next time, he thought.  They sat at their usual seat, arriving to the popular restaurant just after the lunch rush.

Byron kept eye contact with Heather longer and with more intensity than usual.  Heather looked right back at him, her cameras recording thousands of high-resolution frames per second and feeding each one through dozens of different algorithms and processes to keep her CPU updated as to what he was saying - and what he meant.

She could do this now with so much more depth than before.  She caught subtle jokes and puns, and laughed and smiled accordingly.  Byron was encouraged by her responses, and layed the charm on thick.

He wasn't a bad looking guy.  Always slim, he was now more muscular than he had been before, and still not fat by any means.  And he was always dressed sharply in finely tailored clothes.  His hair was regularly trimmed, short and neat.  No lines or wrinkles had yet invaded his still boyish face.  He looked to be around thirty, which helped to make his romantic advances to Heather a little more acceptable.

The more they talked, the more ease of style he saw in her movements, and the more relaxed they both looked.  He watched her lips as she ate and as she talked.  Her mouth was sexy, with full, dark lips that kept their attractive shape even -or maybe especially - as they stretched over her sandwich.  Eating was a comparatively simple task, and she could do it even better now.  The fembot was also able to maintain the required pace and level of conversation to keep his interest hot.

Soon, they had finished eating, and again Heather grabbed her purse and excused herself to go to the washroom.  This time she navigated her mechanical body partly from memory, while Byron stole a glance at her sexy wiggle.

She repeated her usual procedure of entering the stall, pulling down her slacks and panties, and sitting on the bowl.  The food disposal systems inside her quietly worked to get the just swallowed meal out of her rubber stomach.  She finished up in there and came out to wash her hands.  She smiled and said hello to another customer who entered the room at that time.  When the android's hands were dry, she emerged from the washroom and walked back down to the seating area.

She smiled at Byron, who smiled right back.  "Shall we go?" she said as she started to put on her coat.

"I guess so." he said as he stood up and put his own coat back on.  They walked out of there and back through the freshly shoveled downtown sidewalks to the Archive.

Byron wanted to ask her to dinner that night, but he would be getting out of his classes late.  He would wait until Tuesday.

They were apart for the rest of the work day.  Byron had his own work to do, and Heather returned to her interim job of recording index numbers on reels of magnetic tape.  Byron felt bad about having to give her that crummy job, but that couldn't be gotten around.  That was the whole reason she was there in the first place.

She got right down and did what he had asked, without so much as a whisper of complaint.  Of course, this data was almost useless to Robot Control, but in good time she would have access to those interesting paper records again.

The remainder of the work day eventually ran out.  Agnes left early on Fridays, so the robot and the lonely man closed the place up and left together.

After activating the alarm system and locking the doors, Byron turned to Heather and looked longingly into her beautiful eyes.  "Well, that's it for another week." he said.

"Yeah, I'm glad the weekend is here."

"I'd offer you a lift, but I have a class tonight."

"Oh, really?  What are you taking?"

"It's a computer programming course.  It's quite fun.  Plus I'm learning a lot.  Soon I'll take over the world!"

They laughed at his silly joke and looked at each other for a while.  He thought of all the things he would like to do to her body, while she monitored his actions and computed possible and appropriate responses.

When Byron thought the silence had lasted too long, he excused himself, saying "Well, I'm off then.  See you on Monday."

"Bye Byron." said the fembot with a wave.  "Have a good weekend."

They walked away from each other and went about the rest of their days.  Mr Clarke went to school while robot number 742625A returned to Robot Control Station 17 so she could be stored for the next two days.

As he drove out to the tech institute, Byron felt really good about himself.  He hadn't felt like this for years.  He had to admit, he was in love, and he didn't care what people might think about the age difference.  They were after all both adults.

Byron was in such a good mood that he was even nice to Melanie, treating this other robot with more cheerfulness and friendliness than he ever had.  She made her usual advances on him, which he deflected, as usual, to Dustin.

Things went extremely well in the classroom again.  Mr Sweet made things fun, at least for the humans in the class.  It was easy to learn even the most frustratingly abstract concepts from Ralph, who was as smart as he was funny.

Throughout the whole 90 minute session, Melanie's software tried to keep up with the more esoteric aspects of human interaction.  For the most part, she failed.  Humor did not compute, especially not Ralph's wacky style.  Her exceptional performance in anything that required memory or calculation kept her doing well in the class though.

The lecture on parallel processors that had begun on Wednesday was continued today.  This time, Ralph mentioned the problems of writing software for an indefinite number of processors working in sync.  This just fascinated Byron.  Although Mr. Sweet didn't go into it much further during the class, Byron could almost think of nothing else.

After the class was over, as the other students were leaving, Mr. Clarke and Mr. Sweet had a long talk.  Ralph had brought some pamphlets from another tech institute a few hundred miles away that offered courses far more advanced than what he could teach.  They talked about what Ralph thought were the best courses.  They also talked about parallel processors.  On a whim, Ralph gave Byron a special homework assignment to challenge him.  Byron barely understood the concept behind it, let alone what kind of solution it would require.  He accepted it anyway, and the two parted with a handshake.

The sun had long since set by the time Byron got down to his car.  Melanie was waiting for him there.

Her electronic ears picked up the sound of his footsteps, and her processors computed that it was probably him long before she turned her mechanical neck to point her artificial eyes his way.  "Hi Byron." she said.

"What are you still doing here, Melanie?" he said, getting a little worried about her interest in him.

"I'd like to offer you a ride home." she said, showing him the most cordial smile her facemask could manage.

Byron didn't know what to say.  "I... don't need a ride Melanie, I have a car."

"Oh." she said.  Her face remained stuck while her AI tried to deal with the situation.  "So you don't want a ride from me?"

"No.  Why would I leave my car here?" he said, visibly annoyed.

Melanie stood still, running her chips hot with excessive computations.  "I don't know." she said.

Byron made a beeline for his car door and got in.  "Stalker." he thought to himself.  He started the engine and drove off fast, waving to the unmoving android as he passed her.

Melanie's software systems eventually sorted themselves out after he had turned the corner.  "Ride.  See you Monday!" she said to no one.  She walked to her own car and started the trip to her Fembot Command base.

 

Part 11 – Slumber Party at Fembot Command

After her Friday evening shift at the sub shop, Phet got on the post rush hour bus as usual and rode it over to her apartment.  Getting quickly inside after that short trip, she changed her clothes, grabbed her laptop in its carrying case, and headed right back out the door.  A later and longer bus ride would take her to her friend Melanie's house.

On the way over, Phet looked casual and relaxed - as if she was heading out to a friendly dinner party, albeit with her notebook computer in hand.  Not many people shared the bus ride with her, and those that did had no reason to pay any attention to the pretty young Vietnamese lady.  Everything went smoothly, and Phet got off at her regular stop.  She zipped her coat up all the way as her mouth pumped out vapour that appeared similar to human breath in the cold air.  After a short walk through quiet, softly lit suburban streets, she got to Melanie's place.

Melanie had just gotten home about twenty minutes before.  Since she had to receive her fellow agent on Fridays, she had stood completely motionless just behind the door from the time she came home to the time that Phet's plastic finger pushed the doorbell button.  When that happened, Melanie activated certain subroutines of code that made her wait a few seconds before opening the door.  That was to make things look more natural.

"Hi Phet!"

"Hi Mel!"

They smiled and chatted like close friends up until the point that the door closed again.  Then the simulated emotion vanished as they fell silent and walked more like machines down to the basement scanner.

In turn, each of their static plastic faces was scanned by laser grid and approved for entry into the lab.  Natasha stood naked over by the waiting examination chair, her slender but still voluptuous body waiting to spring into action.  As Melanie approached, they made their mindless greetings and began their session. 

The skinny blonde that had so far been monitoring the future programming prodigy at the tech institute sat in the high-backed chair and took off her facemask upon hearing the command come from the speaker behind Natasha's full pink lips.  Her hands moved up to her expressionless head and lightly clutched the silicone cover while the mechanical locking parts underneath released their hold.  The face came off and rested in her hands on her lap while bright coloured lights flashed amid the circuitry in patterns only Natasha could decipher.

The connection and download procedure was standard for all of these ladies, so Melanie was worked on with the expected quickness and efficiency.  The whole time her data was being transferred, Phet stood completely unmoving in one spot to the side, still holding on to the storage device that was shaped like a computer. 

The Fembot Command version of the sexy and inhuman robot maid worked in the background.  Her taller build, her cropped blonde hair and her stern but pretty face were the only distinguishing external features from the Robot Control model.  This one was just as artificial in appearance, and just as loud as its cheaper motors whirred and its mechanical parts clicked to the constant stream of loud synthesized beeps and tones.  The inexpensive plastic used for its skin coloured covering was unrealistically glossy, and gave off a smell like vinyl.  The robot not only moved stiffly and jerkily like the other maidbots, but it was dressed in a similarly slutty see-through French maid costume.

Her sexy plastic body continued to move stiffly about the lab as Natasha finished up with Melanie.  The digitised memory files of Melanie's slight malfunction as Byron drove away were a cause for concern.  The Master Computing Device made careful but still ultra-fast calculations on the exact nature of the malfunction, and what had likely caused it.  Within less time it would take Melanie to blink her pretty mechanical eyes, the Master Computing Device scheduled her for a full diagnostic session.

That would have to wait, however, until after Phet had her turn in the chair.  Natasha emotionlessly ordered Melanie to reattach her facemask and wait off to one side.  Phet was then ordered to sit down and show the technician the vital connection ports within her own head.  The maidbot had earlier taken the laptop, and was busy at another workstation unpacking and setting it up.  The Master Computing Device then simultaneously downloaded data from Phet's head and her laptop-shaped mobile storage device.

Natasha diligently watched several monitors at once, reading all of the fast flowing data and looking for anomalies or errors.  After a longer than usual time, the information in Phet's electronic head had been transferred into the console next to her.  The download speed from laptop to console then increased to the full rate, and for the next three hours, the Fembot Command supercomputer drew bit after bit, memory after memory out of the ingenious device.

The female robots in the lab all were models of perfect patience as the computer did its thing.  None of them so much as twitched while they waited.  At the end of the process, when the whole week had been downloaded, the task of sorting and analysing was begun.

It was past midnight before the Master Computing Device was finished, and by that time the maidbot had plugged Natasha in with an extension cord to recharge.  Electricity flowed once more into the gorgeous long-haired brunette's sexy thighs as they supported and balanced the weight of all the skin-encased machinery above.  Those bright, pale blue glass eyes stayed locked on the monitors above the console, watching constantly for anything that seemed out of place.  Processors inside her chest - just behind two of the most beautifully shaped breasts around - worked non-stop to  categorize and interpret the ones and zeroes on those screens.

Then, in the small hours of the morning, the supercomputer finished its tasks and had one of those moments when a human would have exclaimed "Eureka!".  It had found an incredible and very important coincidence buried inside that whole mass of downloaded binary information.  Judging from recorded video and audio streams taken from both android women, it found that the Robot Control agent that Phet had discovered was in daily contact with the target human of Melanie's mission.

The consoles in the room would have leaped for joy if they had been equipped with legs.  Fembot Command couldn't have asked for a more convenient situation than this.

Quickly, it began to sift through thousands of variables, probability factors and extrapolations of known values in order to devise a plan.  If all went smoothly, Monday would bring big changes and rewards.

But for now, the Melanie and Phet robots were to undergo complete diagnostic scans and maintenance sessions as needed.  In order to fix the flaws that had caused Melanie's previous malfunction, she would need to have some wiring and a couple of circuit boards replaced.  Not much else really could be done.  Little malfunctions like that were just part of what it meant to be a woman made of electronic and mechanical parts.

Natasha worked for the next few hours connecting and disconnecting the agents, plugging and unplugging cables and moving them back and forth to different workstations in order to perform the necessary operations.  The blonde maidbot assisted the way she was built to, by moving her clunky motor controlled chassis around on the orders of the massive computer intelligence that ran things down there.

By sun-up, the trio of more human-like fembots were naked and recharging in their booths, having their smooth synthetic skin cleaned expertly by the cute machine dressed in that lace apron and those see-through panties.  The stage was set for Monday's important projects.

 

Part 12 – Rolling Like a Square Wheel

Byron Clarke spent his weekend in the usual way - lots of reading and some exercise while listening to classical music.  This time, he thought constantly about the problem Mr. Sweet had given him as homework.

On Saturday, just after finishing lunch and washing up, he took out the sheet of paper on which Ralph had written: "Write an algorithm to run on an indefinite number of parallel processors that can test whether or not a given sequence of code in the same computer language will operate on the same configuration of processors."

As Mr. Sweet had explained to him at the time, the task was to test if a program would be valid - without actually running the program.

Thinking about it made Byron's head hurt, and for good reason.  It was a trick question.  The assignment was impossible, and had long ago been proven to be so.  The whole point of it was to get Byron to find that out for himself.

For now, he hadn't, so he started to build himself a decision procedure algorithm.  He tapped away at the keyboard for hours, sipping hot chocolate throughout, trying to make something work.  Early on, he realised that he would have to teach the computer exactly how it operated.  In essence, it would have to know exactly how it did everything it did and everything it could ever do.

That was where the impossibility lay.  The computer would literally have to define itself from outside its own self to do that.

Perhaps Mr. Sweet was being a bit cruel in having Byron chase his tail like that, but the lesson he would eventually become intimate with was absolutely vital to know if he wanted to be a pro.

The more Byron worked, the more frustrated he became.  The more he thought about it, the more distant a solution seemed.  But he kept at it.  He didn't know it at the time, but because he was doing all of the work for a system with parallel processors, he was learning on his own and free of charge many things that were outside the scope of Ralph's classes.

It was late Saturday night, when lots of people were out having fun, that Byron finally gave up.  He didn't realise yet that it was impossible, let alone why, but he knew it was nothing he could accomplish.  He was also smart enough to know that he had taught himself some very important things, so he came out of the experience feeling pretty good about himself.

Of course, once the obsession with the assignment was out of his head, his other new obsession came back with full force.  That night as he went to sleep, he thought about Heather.  He thought about her beautiful face, her hair, her sexy curvy body.  He thought about her walk, her smile, her soft feminine voice.

While he longed for her, the artificial woman was standing only a few miles away - upright and naked in a cylindrical glass booth.  She had had a long day of undergoing diagnostic tests and scans of her own to make sure her new hardware configuration was operating at peak efficiency.  With some help in the form of minor programming and equipment adjustments from her friendly technician Maria, she had been processed as any other Robot Control girl would have been, and sent to her storage booth ready for action on Monday.

When that morning came, it brought lots of snow with it.  Big flakes floated down from the grey sky while Byron drove and Heather rode into the downtown core.  A message on Mr. Clarke's voicemail informed him that the old scanner would not be coming back.  Much to his surprise, a brand new combination scanner/copier/printer would be arriving early that morning.

He was pleased, and not in the least because he could give poor Heather's knees a rest and have her doing her old, boring, unrewarding job again.

When she showed up, he could hardly hide how glad he was to see her.  She still hadn't been programmed to flirt, and didn't even know what made him so happy when she walked through the door.  Nevertheless, she matched his enthusiasm.  He saw her response and again mistook upgraded software for romantic interest.

As Agnes scowled off in the distance, Byron led Heather into his office to let her hear the message on his phone.  An android like her was more than capable of understanding what the recorded voice was saying, and her CPU sent instructions to her facemask and her body to match his level of excitement.

Byron knew that the replacement scanner was nothing to get this happy about.  He thought they were getting closer to each other.  He thought he really had a chance to woo his attractive young employee.

She was just trying to fit in and look like something she wasn't.

Agnes walked in on the pair then.  "Byron," she said, unamused, "package for you."

"Oh, that must be it." he said.  He immediately made himself look managerial and stepped out of the office to sign for the new scanner.  After bidding the courier good day, he brought the heavy box downstairs and unpacked it.

Agnes and Heather walked behind him so they could see how to use it.  He set the box down on a large oak table and proceeded to unpack the device.  After he had gotten all of the cardboard and plastic out of the way, he moved it to the rusted old cart and plugged it in to the extension cord.

Agnes grabbed the instruction manual and began to look through it while Byron flicked the power switch on the back.  Nothing happened.  He went to make sure the extension cord was plugged in.  It was.  He knew there was power down there because the green-shaded lamp on the table had turned on.  He plugged the lamp into the same cord.  It lit up.

Byron took a deep breath and said "Oh, fudge."  Agnes and Heather looked at each other while their boss plugged the scanner back in an tried the switch again.  Nothing.

"Aw, this is just great." he said.  "Class dismissed until further notice." he said to the two women.

"You probably should have let it sit for an hour before plugging it in." Agnes said.

"What good would that have done?" asked Byron.

"That's what I've always done." she said.

"We'll have to get a replacement for the replacement." he said.  "Heather, sorry, but it's back to listing the audio reels."

"Okay." she said.

The fembot looked completely unfazed as she picked up her clipboard and began working from where she had left off on Friday.

Byron and Agnes walked back up the old staircase.

"I should just bring mine in from home." he said, only half jokingly.  He stopped partway up the stairs and called back down, "Heather, can you pack that expensive paperweight back up please?"

With her old programming, Heather wouldn't have known what he was talking about.  But now she could deduce with great accuracy that he was referring to the scanner.

"Okay." she said in her soft feminine voice.

 

Part 13 – Switch

The morning passed slowly for Byron, who was trying to chase down any one of his own bosses to complain about the dud scanner.  Between times when he was on hold or leaving voicemails he looked forward to another 'spur-of-the-moment' lunch with Heather.

The fair-skinned and clothing covered machine was down in the dank basement, steadily draining battery power by making repetitive movements and processing data.  A large chunk of that processing time was spent on making sure she didn't look overtly mechanical.  Huge amounts of calculations were involved in the simplest things like not performing the same movements exactly the same way.  If those kinds of calculations could be simplified to the level of human action, then it would free up her already substantial computing power for better and more productive types of cognition.

Although she was alone down there, she still made every effort to appear like a real person.  Every so often, she stood up and walked around or stretched.  She went to the washroom and then got herself a coffee refill.  On her way to do that, she tried chatting with Agnes again, but the old receptionist was not being very receptive to her.  That was no problem.  Heather had no feelings that could get hurt.

When 11 o'clock rolled around at last, Byron went downstairs to ask Heather to lunch with him again.  After some quick calculation of probabilities and related data pertaining to the situation, she agreed and they were off once more.

They went for Vietnamese style submarine sandwiches again.  Byron had developed a fondness for the spicy flavour and Heather was open to suggestion on the matter of food.  With her stomach being nothing but a sturdy rubber sack, she could down a bowl of dirt and call it delicious.

Phet worked busily on making subs as the two walked through the door.  She was equipped with new programming and some new equipment for their visit.  She smiled at them and said "Hello.", and went back to work as they waited in line.  They were blissfully unaware of what Fembot Command had programmed Phet to do.

After Byron paid, they got their food and took a seat by the window again.  Byron flirted with his beautiful guest and hoped that she would respond in kind.  Her new conversational subroutines gave her 'personality' more depth, but they still didn't quite reach the level of romantic talk.  He was glad to see her remain so friendly though, and glad that she remained relaxed and easy-going while he tried to talk his way closer to her.

The lunch date went fast this time.  Byron was enjoying himself, and keeping friendly eye contact with the one he had fallen in love with put him in a good mood.  He waited at the table while she excused herself and walked to the washroom.  The glimpse he caught of her sexy backside moving as she walked was one of his favorite parts of the day.

Phet saw the Robot Control agent go into the washroom.  She waited exactly 90 seconds before excusing herself from the line, picking up her purse and entering the washroom  herself.  Byron checked out her ass too.

Phet got inside and immediately moved her left leg back as the door closed.  The heel on her slip-resistant kitchen shoes was stuck right against the door to make sure it wouldn't open until she was finished.  Looking calm as ever, she opened up her purse and pulled out a futuristic looking gun device.  She flicked some switches on it, and a few lights on the barrel started to blink in different patterns.  Once the device was ready, she aimed it at the stall and waited for Heather to emerge.

When she did, she ran the visual data containing Phet's image through her pattern recognition software.

"Hi." she said brightly to the woman who prepared her sandwiches.  She started walking toward the sink, still looking at the device in Phet's hand.  Before she could figure out what it was, Phet fired the device.

With an invisible blast of energy that made a pulsating, raygun-like sound, the device shot a controlled jolt of energy into Heather's body.  This was once Robot Control's secret weapon, now taken over and improved by Fembot Command.

Heather's body stopped moving completely.  Phet put the gun away and pulled out one of Fembot Command's reprogramming cubes.  Heather had come to a stop close enough to Phet so that she could unbutton her blouse and pry open her chest panel while still holding the door closed with her heel.

Phet plugged the black cube into Heather's still blinking chest and let it do it's thing.  These black boxes had also been greatly improved upon by Fembot Command.  The one in Heather's chest took over the operation. 

Silently, Heather was reactivated.  Under the control of that thing in her chest, she walked back into the washroom stall and closed the door.  Phet checked to see that everything in the washroom appeared normal, then walked out and back to her place behind the sandwich counter.

Byron sat at the table, thinking that Heather must have had a lot to do in there.  He mindlessly read the specials menu in the plastic card on the table while he waited for the pretty girl to come back out.

But she wouldn't be done in there for a while.  For the next 11 minutes, the black box rewrote much of her programming and downloaded new sets of instructions into her system.  The whole time, she sat with perfect posture on the bowl, fully dressed and staring vacantly at the inside of the stall door.  Bit by bit, she was being turned into a Fembot Command agent.

Byron sat outside in the restaurant and grew impatient.  He kept looking at his watch.  "What's she doing in there?" he wondered.  She had left only her jacket behind, so he guessed it was another one of those 'women's health' issues.  But it was still a very long time, and as he waited for her, more and more people entered the lineup, some likely wanting his table.

Inside the washroom stall, when the black box was finally finished reprogramming the android, she stood up and gently pulled it out of the connection ports in her chest.  The small cube was then placed inside her purse, and she proceeded to close her chest panel and button up her blouse.  She flushed the empty toilet, washed her hands and emerged at last to see Byron eagerly awaiting her return.

"Shall we go?" he said.

"Yes, let's go." she said.

They put on their coats and left the shop, waving to Phet as they walked past.

Outside the restaurant, Byron was quite surprised when Heather grabbed his hand.  They stopped walking and turned to face each other.  Before he could figure out what she was up to, she moved in and gave him a kiss on the lips.

Byron was too surprised to enjoy it.  When she pulled back, smiling, he asked her "What was that for?"

"I've wanted to do that for a long time." she said.  She was running her new programs perfectly.  All was going according to plan.

 

Part 14 – No Reservations

The two of them stood still on the crowded lunch-hour street.  Face to face and eye to eye, they stayed that way while busy people rushed past them.  Big flakes of snow continued to fall slowly from the quiet sky.  Byron could not possibly begin to imagine the real motivation for the kiss, or the electronic and mechanical machinations that had brought it into being.  He saw a real, flesh-and-blood creature in front of him. 

For those few seconds that took forever to pass, he fell deeply in love with the fembot.  He wanted to take her in his arms and give her one of those Hollywood kisses where the camera zooms in and the romantic music swells in the background.

"Agnes will notice we're late." Heather said, breaking the spell he was under.

Byron was lost for words as they started walking again.  It wasn't words he wanted to give Heather at that moment. 

As if they had been temporarily muted, all of the street sounds and the noise made by the people rushing around came back to full volume in his ears. 

He thought about what to say as they walked together, still holding hands.  "Heather," he said, "I didn't know you felt the same way about me as I felt about you."

The artificial woman computed his words.  Her basic Robot Control programming meshed almost seamlessly with her recent Fembot Command augmentations.  When the original software was finished doing the low-level computations, the data was fed into her new subroutines and AI functions.  The immense amount of raw data was no problem for her fast processors and her recently improved software, now made even more effective by what Phet's black box had just done to her.  Her calculations took only a barely noticeable moment, and she soon had formulated a response.

"I'm really shy when it comes to romance." she said.

They stopped again on the sidewalk, this time moving to one side so they were out of everyone else's way.

"I'd like to ask you to have dinner with me, but I have another class tonight.  Are you free tomorrow after work?"

"Yes, I'd love to." she said.  Her facemask configured itself to show him both enthusiasm and delight.  Also, for the very first time since her activation, Heather blushed.  The sophisticated set of commands that made the complicated silicone mask turn convincingly red around the cheeks was due mainly to the newest of her software.

They started walking back to work again, still hand in hand, working out the details of the date.  He would try to get reservations at La Courbure, a restaurant right on the river with a breathtaking view and one of the most exclusive places in town.

The android was performing as many simultaneous tasks as she ever had, and the load on her processors was at maximum values for several minutes.  The heat they generated was spread out through her body as a function of her complex cooling system. 

Byron felt her hands getting warm as they walked.  What he took to be a sign of a passionate young woman in love was actually the effect of excessive computing by a highly advanced android, who's software hadn't yet been made as efficient as it could be.

They walked and talked, holding hands all the way back to the Archive building.  They agreed that for the rest of the day, they shouldn't act too amorous to each other.  Both of them knew that they should be acting like professionals.  He knew that from instinct, she knew that from her new programming.  Her objective in that regard was to keep him interested without giving up the synthetic booty.

They got back to work quickly, with Heather returning to the basement and Byron to his office.  She had no problem at all getting back to work and keeping her CPU focused on doing her job.  For the all too human Mr. Clarke though, it was hard not to keep his excitement down.

In another stroke of good fortune, he successfully made reservations for 8 PM on Tuesday at the restaurant.  He smiled and sat behind his desk for a long time, just thinking about how lucky he had been lately.  Images and memories of Heather filled his head.  He could almost think of nothing else.  Whenever he tried to start his work, he invariably saw her face in his mind again, and forgot what he was doing.

So he decided to work on the one thing he knew would distract him sufficiently.  He pulled out his personal laptop and started working on Ralph Sweet's assignment again.

Doing all of that hard thinking and the frustration of coming up with nothing wasn't much fun, but at least he was doing something other than sitting back and dreaming about the female humanoid robot in the basement.

He had never put off his own work like that before, but he wasn't worried.  He was supposed to be working on the scans being made by the temporary worker downstairs, and since she had no scanner, he had no work.

For almost six hours he tried looking at the homework assignment from different angles.  He tried to come up with unorthodox tricks that he thought might make things easier.  Nothing worked.  When he finally closed and packed away his computer, he made the realisation that it really was impossible.  Ralph had given him an impossible mission.

"You bastard!" he chuckled under his breath as he laughed.  He shook his head.  He should have known Mr. Sweet would pull that kind of trick on him.  Also, he couldn't help but feel a little flattered.  The teacher wouldn't have done that kind of thing to just anyone.  He must have really recognised the spark of genius in Byron.

"What a great day." he thought to himself as he got up to stretch and left his office. 

He went over to talk to Agnes.  That was even less fun than it usually was.  She was in a real snippy mood.  She knew full well what was going on between her boss and that young tart.  What Byron didn't know is that Agnes had been crushing on him for the last nine years.  And it was a good thing he didn't know.  He didn't exactly go for the homely linebacker-with-a-hair-bun look.

When it was exactly 5 o'clock, Heather came up the stairs and went to grab her coat.  Mr. Clarke, who was still trying to talk with Agnes, turned his attention to the young lady and said "I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Yeah," she said, "bright and early!"

He wanted to get another kiss, but he dared not with Agnes watching the two of them like a hawk.

"Bye Agnes!" Heather said as she pulled on her jacket and waved to the old frowning woman.

She didn't answer her.  She just glared as the pretty brunette walked out the door and down the stairs on her way to the bus.  Today however, she turned right instead of left.

Agnes looked directly at Byron and said loudly "Robbing the cradle, aren't we?"

Byron was taken aback somewhat.  "What are you talking about?" he said, realising that the cat was out of the bag.

"She's young enough to be your daughter!" she scolded.

"Oh, your just jealous!" he said jokingly, making sure to wear a laughing smile on his face when he said it.  He didn't know how right he was.  "Come on, we're both adults anyway." he said as he walked back to the office to get his things.

When he got back to the front, Agnes had already left.  He activated the alarm and locked the doors.  He wasn't bothered by the old receptionist at all.  He was feeling better than he ever remembered feeling as he got in his car and drove over to the tech institute.

Meanwhile, Heather was getting on a different bus than she usually took.  This one would follow a winding path and take her almost directly to her new base of operations, Fembot Command Station 28.

 

Part 15 – Ready

That Friday evening, Byron drove out to the tech institute as usual.  He was a little early, and that was to make sure he'd have time to have a little chat with Mr. Sweet.  He wanted to thank him for having such faith in his creative skill.

When Byron parked in the lot and got out of his car, he saw that Ralph was already on his way to the entrance.

"Ralph!" Byron called.

The big hairy man looked back and smiled broadly.  "Have you finished your homework, Mr. Clarke?" he said with mock seriousness.

Byron smiled and said nothing until he caught up with his teacher.  "That was some trick!" he said as Ralph held the door open for him.

"Trick, whatever are you talking about?" he said with a laugh.

"It can't be done." Byron stated. "It's impossible."

"Are you sure?" Ralph said, prodding him more.

"Very sure." he replied. 

They talked about the reasons why that was so on their way to the classroom.  Mr. Sweet told Byron about a man named Kurt Gödel, and the paradigm changing incompleteness theorem he had discovered.  The conversation soon turned to a man named Alan Turing.

As they talked about the beginnings of artificial intelligence, Melanie entered.  She was slightly early herself, but she had her own reasons.  More accurately, she had the Master Computing Device's reasons.

"Hello, gentlemen." she said brightly.

"Hello, Melanie.  You're early." Mr. Sweet said.

Byron just looked at her and nodded.  Melanie went on to ask Ralph about private tutoring, while Byron thought about his strange encounter with her on Friday night. 

He was feeling now a little uneasy, and lost in his own thoughts when he heard Ralph's booming voice say "Why don't you ask Byron here?  He's a creative genius with this stuff!"

Byron quickly gave Ralph a disapproving look, then made his usual remark.  "Oh, I'm way too busy Melanie.  Like I told you.  You really should talk to Dustin.  He seems to have a handle on the course."

Ralph gave Byron a skeptical look, knowing that Dustin was barely passing.  He also saw that Melanie made his star student uncomfortable.  So he changed the subject by launching into a very amusing story, as only he could tell.

The blonde robot watched their facial expressions and body movements carefully, and managed to show some fake looking smiles and broadcast some fake sounding laughter from her speaker.  Humor did not compute.

Soon enough though, the rest of the pupils showed up, and the lesson got underway.  Melanie watched Byron through the night, which was her primary function anyway.  She didn't take his advice.  She didn't talk at all to Dustin, who still only had eyes for her.

Meanwhile, the pretty brunette Archive worker was wrapping up an uneventful bus ride over to her new base.  Though she had never gone there before, the route was now part of her programming, thanks to Phet.

Throughout the whole trip she calculated the minor movements that her parts made to make her look human.  Everything from blinking, right down to casually reading the ads above the windows had been contrived and efficiently executed by her AI software.  The reward for all of this constant drain on her power supply was that no one suspected her of being a machine.  Even being about 4% heavier than a human of similar size was for the most part undetectable.

When she finally looked interestedly around her and pulled the cord for the bus to stop, it was as though she'd ridden that route for years.  The streets were already darkening from the setting of the winter sun, so she had relied mainly on a sophisticated system of spatial coordinate positioning to reach her stop.  When the bus crossed the intersection and came to a halt, she got out and walked several blocks through a growing layer of snow to get to her final destination.

She walked up the path to Melanie's house and rang the doorbell.  Because Melanie was over at the tech institute watching Mr. Clarke, it was up to the Fembot Command maidbot to open the door.  The maid bent over slightly in her ultra-stiff way and looked through the peephole.  Once she had computed that it was the new agent standing outside, she unlocked the door and retreated to the interior of the house.

When the microphones in Heather's head detected the sound of the door hardware switching to an unlocked position, she began a twelve second countdown before taking any further action.  That gave the blonde robotic maid time to get safely out of sight before the new agent opened the door and stepped inside.

Heather had been programmed to go directly to the basement lab.  The scanner had been programmed with her statistics, and recognised her as the commandeered fembot.  The doors slid open and in she walked. 

The scene inside was almost exactly the same as in the lab where Heather had come from that morning.  The beautiful brunette and naked technician Natasha was standing at the ready, and started to move again on Heather's arrival.  She too had been programmed with the necessary data, and greeted the new girl with default cheeriness.

"Hello, Heather.  How was your day?" she said as she began making settings on the console.

"My day was fine.  Thank you." she said.

"Has the new programming integrated successfully with your existing software?"

Heather made a barely noticeable pause, blinked and said "Upgrades from Fembot Command have augmented the Robot Control programming with 98.4% success."

"Very good." Natasha said as she finished setting up the console.  "Please sit in the chair next to the data exchange console and remove your facemask."

Heather immediately obeyed the command and took a seat by the big machine.  Acting as if it was nothing out of the ordinary, she moved her hands up to her head and placed them on the sides of her pretty face - being sure to avoid grabbing her neatly styled hair.  She removed the mask with a gentle tug and a click.

She exposed her intricately designed and constructed circuitry to the Fembot Command technician.  For her part, Natasha already knew which cables to use to connect the new girl to the console.  While the complex pattern of flashing lights transmitted status data into the room, the technician aimed one end of a long black cord at a spot just above and between Heather's eyes.  Those eyes, that looked so soulful and so vibrant to Byron, appeared now to be nothing more than large spheres of painted glass connected to sophisticated electronic devices.  Those devices were in turn bolted and connected to the rest of the mass of electronic circuitry that was the inside of her head.

The other end of the cable went into an open port built into the data exchange console.  Natasha got another cable with different types of connections and plugged one end into a socket just below Heather's right eye.  The other end got plugged into the console as well, and a few computerized beeps came out of the fembot's exposed speaker to confirm the connections.

With eyes of the same type, Natasha looked into the lifeless eyes of the woman in the chair.  "I'm going to download data from your visual and auditory memory banks into the main computer for processing and evaluation." she said.

Then with the type of sounds only computers could make, the transfer process began.  While lights flashed inside Heather's opened head, the Master Computing Device sorted through the data and began to make plans for the new agent.  Natasha watched the many monitors carefully and all at once.  As binary code flowed fast on the screens, she watched for anomalies in structure and possible errors.

Heather sat unmoving in the chair as all that she had recently seen and heard was fed into her former adversary's supercomputer.  The black box had worked even better than Fembot Command had expected.  The Master Computing Device encountered no problems at all during that first transfer process.

Next to be done was the transfer from the agent's hard drives to the console.  With similar pre-programmed politeness, Natasha ordered Heather to open her chest panel.  A different set of cables went from the synthetic woman into the constantly flashing, clicking and beeping computer.  The transfer began, occurred and ended in much the same way as had the earlier job.

At last when it finally had a handle on the entire situation, the Master Computing Device began to put the finishing touches on its plans.  Natasha and the blonde maidbot were given their instructions over the encrypted wireless link, and immediately started work on preparing the newly acquired android.

Over the next several hours, Heather was partially disassembled and rebuilt - upgrading her system to be fully compatible with Fembot Command's hardware and software.  In time, she had her make-up redone, her new clothes prepared, her drained batteries replaced, her fluid cannisters refilled, and her system fully checked and scanned.  By the time the morning came, she had been cleaned and most importantly reprogrammed in order to carry out the computer's directives.  She had also had some critically important new tools installed.

She stepped out of the new house in this unfamiliar part of town that morning with perfect simulated confidence in herself.  Dressed appropriately, both for the weather and for her work, she caught the bus and rode it downtown to start another day at the Archive.

 

Part 16 – Positive and Negative

While the new Fembot Command agent was stepping through the door of the National Archive that morning, the Main Computer over at Robot Control Station 17 was in deep panic mode.  The disappearance or capture of one of its expensive units topped the list of the probable explanations for robot number 742625A's absence.  In between bouts of desperately trying to extrapolate the most likely explanation, the supercomputer began to work out possible courses of action. 

One option would be to have Robot Lab 40 modify one of its dormant fembots to look like heather and send the duplicate over with haste to Robot Lab 17 so it could be programmed and dispatched to the Archive building.  Body shape and height modifications were relatively simple to make, compared to the construction of a new identical facemask and alterations to the unit's head.  If that plan was chosen, the Laurie robot technician over there would have to work non stop for almost a whole day to make another Heather.

Another option was to send Heather's robotic roommate Karen down to inquire about her friend.  But the Karen unit was only programmed to be a cashier.  If she were to be sent on a reconnaissance mission like that, she would need considerable upgrades to both her hardware and her software.  That would take at least half a day.

The other option the Main Computer considered was to do nothing.  For all it knew, Heather could walk through the door at any minute.  Or she might have been captured.  If Fembot Command had gotten a hold of her and sent her back to the Archive, the sudden appearance of a second Heather would only cause more problems.

All consoles in the basement lab lit up and stayed that way while the Main Computer's complicated circuitry shuffled more ones and zeroes around than it ever had before.  It couldn't decide what to do.  It first sent instructions to Maria to call Laurie and order a new Heather.

The naked half-Asian technician walked over to the communications console and pressed a button down.  She projected her synthetic voice into the microphone. "Attention Robot Lab 40.  Attention Robot Lab 40."

The signal traveled under heavy encryption until it reached the artificial ears of the cute and naked Laurie fembot.  "This is Robot Lab 40.  Laurie reporting."

Maria said "Laurie, please...", then stopped while she received updated instructions from the supercomputer.  The new instructions were simply to stop and await new orders.

Several long seconds went by as both fembots waited motionless in front of their respective communications consoles.  Then the Main computer decided again to have another Heather built.

Maria spoke into the microphone again.  "Attention Robot Lab 40.  Attention Robot Lab 40."

Laurie again responded in her predetermined way.  "This is Robot Lab 40.  Laurie reporting."

"Laurie, please disassemble..."

Maria suddenly stopped.  The computer had changed its mind again.  But then it went back to its original decision.

Maria spoke again. ""Laurie, please..."

Then she stopped again.  The computer decided to abandon the duplicate Heather option.  For now, anyway.

Maria stood still for several minutes.  She had been ordered to wait for more instructions, and would not move on her own.

The Dark-haired Laurie fembot spoke into her microphone at intervals of exactly 30 seconds "This is Robot Lab 40.  Laurie reporting."

The Maria robot continued to smile her standard blank smile as the Main Computer continued to overheat.  Karen kept on recharging naked in her own booth, next to the empty one that had held Heather.  The maidbot was doing her morning tasks with her usual mechanical efficacy. 

None of that changed for almost half an hour, until Maria was ordered to prepare Karen for extensive system upgrades.  She walked over to the booth while the charging arm in the back of Karen's booth retracted from the electrical socket in the fembot's back.  The doors of the booth separated and slid apart and Karen stepped out.

"Karen..." was all Maria managed to say until the computer halted her again.  Then she was ordered to walk again to the communications console.  Karen stared out without expression while the sexy naked technician started walking away.

But then she stopped and stood still for several minutes.  She turned around once more and went over to the naked black-haired cashier.

"Karen, " she said, "please lie down on the examination table and..."

Maria stopped yet again, now having Karen's attention, but having been ordered to await further instructions.

Then the Main Computer crashed.  It had never crashed before.  The sudden absence of direct instruction left Maria without any kind of initiative of her own.  She stood in place, looking at Karen, who looked right back at her.  Karen waited in vain for her attendant to finish the order while twice a minute Laurie's static voice was heard over the communications console.  The brunette maidbot finished her cleaning routine upstairs and returned to the basement so she could stand perfectly still off to the side.

Everything had come to a grinding halt in the cold basement lab.  No further work was done on the important project still installed and untested inside Denise's abdomen.  That short-haired, sandy blonde robot was lying right where Maria had left her - on an examination table, with her face-mask off and her chest and stomach panels open.  Anya - the enchanting electronic lady that had served as the experimentally disconnected robot - lay on a table beside her, with only her chest panel open and her amazingly sexy olive-skinned face and body on full display.

The lights all over all the console units were now blinking slowly, one by one.  The constant clicks and beeps that had accompanied them were just as sparse as the Main Computer rebooted itself. 

The process was incredibly slow.  Rebooting after a crash had never been foreseen by Robot Control, let alone tested for.  The supercomputer was forced to reconstruct its operational status bit by bit, checking after each chunk of binary data that it was actually working.

All told, that would take long enough to make Karen miss her next shift completely.  It would also effectively rule out the options of modifying Karen or making a copy of Heather.

All of the attractive robot women simply stood or layed exactly the way they were at the time of the crash while the Main Computer reconstructed its system.  And with nothing else to do, Laurie kept right on saying "This is Robot Lab 40.  Laurie reporting."

With the local Robot Control station in disarray, the newly reprogrammed Heather unit was making good progress on her own mission.  Her new hardware, much of it exclusive to Fembot Command, gave her an edge which Maria and the Main Computer couldn't provide. 

The custom software that had been downloaded into her improved devices gave her artificial cognitive systems an even better grasp over the decidedly human situations in which she would be immersed.  The morning's events so far were proof of that.

Fembot Command's brand of AI seemed to have a disarming effect on Agnes for one thing.  She softened her harshness to the young girl, and even broke her almost permanent frown into a smile while they talked.  Almost.  She was still jealous and just plain crabby.

If Heather's synthetic charms worked wonders on Agnes, they cast a magic spell on Byron.  Early on, the two of them had gone downstairs together.  Byron's excuse to himself was that he needed to refresh her memory on what she was to do for the day.

Once they were alone down there, she innocently put her arm around his back while he was talking to her.  That grew into an embrace, which grew with passion from him and calculation from her.  Their lips - one set real, one set silicone - met again and kissed.  They kept their tongues inside their own mouths for this second kiss.  He had his hesitance, after all, and she had her mission.

They pulled apart slowly, the only sound was the constant rumble of the old furnace.

"Heather." he said as if to caress her ears.

"Byron." she replied.  The sound emanating from her high-definition speaker had been computed and modulated to resemble his loving tone of voice.

"I wonder if we can be responsible adults and wait until later today." he said softly.

Heather measured and calculated his meaning.  "It's going to be hard, but I think we can."

Byron smiled and laughed a little at the double entendre in her statement.  The robot didn't have a clue that it was there, but she made a similar laugh too.

They ended their embrace and looked into each other's eyes for a while.  He was already hopelessly in love.  It would break his heart if he knew that she was just a simulation, copying the feeling for nefarious ends.

He walked back to his office with his head high in the clouds while the android lady in the basement plotted and calculated her way through the morning.

 

Part 17 – Change of Plans, According to Plan

The time just couldn't pass fast enough for Byron that morning.  For over an hour he sat in his office not doing any work.  He couldn't think of anything else in this world as long as that lovely woman was near.  His daydreams were some of the nicest he had allowed himself to have for a very long while.

But at Nine o'clock sharp, just as the thought of an intensely romantic noon hour began to give rise to fantasies in his head, he heard Heather rushing up the stairs.  The urgency of her footsteps told him that something was wrong.

She came fast into his office, her face distressed and her eyes tearing.  She was bent over in a pained way, holding on to her stomach.

"Byron, take me to the hospital." she said.  Her voice had all the synthesized stress in it that her processors could produce.

Byron leapt to his feet and threw his arm around her shoulders as he led her out of his office and outside to his car.  He didn't even stop to pick up their coats.

The two rushed past Agnes, who looked upon them with shock.

"We're going to the hospital." was all Byron said to her.

"I hope everything's alright!" she said as she watched the pair walk swiftly out the door and around the building to his car.

He unlocked the doors with the push of a button on his key chain, and opened the passenger side door for Heather.  She sat down and continued to look injured while Byron raced to the driver's side and got in.

He pushed his key toward the ignition switch, but paused before putting it in.  A loud hissing sound had distracted and alarmed him, and didn't seem at all right.

He looked around.  Heather was now sitting up in the car seat, no longer trying to look sick.  She just watched him.

"What's that sound?" he said.  He soon realised it came from Heather's direction.

Her mouth was slightly open, and quickly releasing an ether-based sleeping gas into the sealed vehicle.  Within seconds, Byron's eyes closed as his head leaned back into the cushion.  He was out cold before he could even know what hit him.

The fembot monitored his vital signs carefully, and soon cut down drastically on the amount of gas being released.  Moving fast, she opened her side of the car and got out.  Her motors and artificial flexors worked with mechanical strength to drag the unconscious Mr. Clarke over to the passenger side seat.  She closed the door and walked around the car so she could drive.  She picked up the keys he had dropped and started the engine. 

With no time wasted, she drove out of the lot and started making her way out of the downtown core.  The rush-hour traffic had for the most part ended, so her getaway was a quick one.  In only about ten minutes she was in the suburbs, then on the edge of town a half hour later.

She literally kept one eye on Byron the whole time, making sure his vital signs showed he was not slipping into a coma.  She would keep him unconscious like that for a few hours while she drove his car out of town and up to the mountains to Fembot Command Station 21.

Hours later, when finally Byron awoke he did so very slowly.  His numb body returned feeling to his brain little by little until in a few minutes he realised he was in bed.  But it wasn't his bed.  Even before he opened his eyes, he knew this was some other place than home.  The pattern and quality of light that he sensed with closed eyes was different, as was the clean, new smell of the sheets.  Absent as well were the familiar bird songs that usually greeted him every morning.

He opened his eyes.  He was somewhere else.  He pushed his tired body up as his eyes adjusted and got a better look of his surroundings.  The bedroom was nicely furnished and decorated.  A large window was framed by thick maroon drapes and covered by a sheer curtain that let enough of the daytime sunlight in for him to see.  He blinked a few times and turned his head, and that's when he saw her.

The beautiful naked woman watching him gave him quite a start.  He gasped and cleared his throat.  "Who are you?" he demanded.

"My name is Natasha." came her short reply. 

He just stared at her for a while.  She looked to be as unaffected by his presence as he was affected by hers.  He sat up fully and looked her over.  She appeared to be in her early twenties, and was very well endowed, but with a slim build.  Her posture was perfect and unmoving as her serene looking face continued to look right at him.  The total absence of any worry or stress on her face made her look like she had not a care or trouble in the world.

Byron was very troubled however.  "Where am I?" he asked, softening his tone for the pretty young naked beauty in front of him.

"I can not tell you." she said, maintaining that blank look.  Her voice sounded emotionless to him as well.

"Why not?"

"I can not tell you." she stated again.

"What am I doing here?" he asked.

"If you follow me I will show you." she said, remaining absolutely still.

Byron reached up to pull the covers away, consciously realising then that he was still fully dressed, shoes and all.  He unintentionally smeared dirt all over the clean patterned sheets as he got his feet to the floor and stood up.

His body was sore, and not yet fully awake.  He stretched and pulled on his clothes to make them sit right again.  Natasha just looked at him without changing her expression or stance.  He found himself staring at her neatly trimmed and attractive looking patch of pubic hair when she spoke again.

"Please follow me." she said. 

She turned around like a catwalk model and paced out of the room.  When Byron saw the bright lights in her uncovered recharge port he gasped again.  He couldn't believe what he was looking at.

He said not a word, and remained standing right where he was.  After a few steps forward, Natasha realised that the human wasn't behind her, and turned around again.

"Please follow me." she said again.

"What the hell is that in your back?"

Natasha computed for a moment.  "Are you referring to the electrical connection ports and the charge status indicator lights above my buttocks?" she asked with strange nonchalance.

Byron just nodded.

"That is my recharge port."

Byron looked at the gorgeous woman in front of him.  "What are you?" he said.

"I am a female humanoid robot." she said.

He didn't say a word in response.  He was too amazed.  He thought this had to be some kind of trick.

"Please follow me." she said for a third time. 

Natasha walked out of the room, this time with Byron right behind her.  He just couldn't believe the sight.  Right above those very sexy wiggling buns was that port, looking more real the more he studied it.  It couldn't have been a trick, it was built inside of her. 

She led him through the large expensive looking house down the hallway, through the big kitchen and finally into the basement, where they were greeted by the scanning terminal next to the door.

Natasha walked right into position in front of it as it spoke to her.  "SCANNING." it said while it cast its red light on her face to measure the structure and the pattern.

Byron watched female machine interact with female machine.  This was all so unreal to him that he had to remind himself it was really happening.

"SCANNING COMPLETE." said the box.

Natasha moved aside and said to him "Please stand in front of the scanner and remain still."

Byron looked at her, then walked in front of the device.

"SCANNING." it called out, making him quickly close his eyes from the intense bursts of laser light.  He could see the grid being etched through his eyelids.

"SCANNING COMPLETE." it said once more as the sliding door opened.

"Follow me." the naked android said as she led Mr. Clarke into the lab at Fembot Command Station 21.

If he was amazed at the sight of electronics in Natasha's back, he was nearly knocked out by the scene in the basement lab.  Massive metal consoles with flashing lights were everywhere - along the walls and in aisles.  The sound of clicks, beeps and buzzes was intense and came from all around.

Natasha walked over to a large examination chair with white padding.  There sat Melanie, staring blankly out ahead and unmoving.  Byron put two and two together, adding to his bewilderment.  He followed Natasha into the center of the room. 

Off to the side was an open area with several wheeled examination tables, like stretchers.  One of the tables was occupied.  Byron walked over.  He immediately recognised the female form, and was shocked and heartbroken.

The object of his desire, Heather, was lying on her back with her blouse unbuttoned and open.  Just above her lacy pink bra was her opened chest panel, a rectangle full of cold electronics.  Most distressing to him was her head.  Her facemask was off, resting eyeless and face-up beside her on the cushion.  Her silvery blue eyes stared up straight ahead, connected by wiring to all of the complicated looking circuitry.  Where her mouth would have been there was a single speaker.  He shook his head as he thought that her voice had come from that simple looking magnetic device.

All the many microchips, transistors and wires inside her head started to make him dizzy.

"Natasha," he said as he turned around, "where's the real Heather Bondar?"

Natasha was busy connecting one of the consoles to Melanie's now open chest.  She stood up and turned her body to face his way.

"That does not compute.  Please explain." she said as she gazed vacantly back at him.

"The human.  Where's the human Heather?"

Natasha remained unmoving while she retrieved all of the relevant files from the Master Computing Device.  When her answer had been formulated, she responded.  "No human Heather Bondar exists."

Byron went pale.  He turned his stunned gaze over to Melanie and watched Natasha attending to her as she remained without motion.

He turned around again to look at Heather.  She was deactivated.  No lights flashed inside her, and no movement came when Byron touched the artificial skin on the side of her head.

"I had no clue." he said to the faceless fembot on the table.  He still couldn't believe it.  He picked up her facemask and examined it closely.  It was too real to be fake, it seemed.  The skin was soft and lifelike, even now that it was cold.  The back of it revealed more electronics, the stuff that made her smile and moved her lips when she talked, when she ate.

Byron thought back to all the times he had been with her.  There was no way he could have known.  He stood there in a daze, feeling so lost in all of these new situations.  It was like his world was falling apart around him.

He put the facemask gently back beside heather's head and looked once more at her body.  It was a very sexy body, and from what he could see, her breasts were very nice indeed.  But she was a robot.  He didn't want a robot, he wanted Heather.  He had fallen in love with a woman, not a machine.

He turned back to Natasha.  "Why am I here?" he asked forcefully.

The naked technician turned her attention his way once more.  "Melanie will answer all of your questions.  She will be ready soon."

 

Part 18 – In the Cage

Natasha went back to work on Melanie as Byron realised that pulling attitude would get him nowhere with these androids.  He slowly walked over to the pair and watched what they were up to.

Natasha worked on the nearby console for a while, pressing buttons and flicking switches without even looking.  Then she turned again to Byron's synthetic classmate and said "Melanie, please install and execute program QT314.G37."

"Yes Natasha." said the slim robot in the chair.  Byron watched a blaze of flashing LEDs in her chest as her inner systems worked on the technician's command.  He heard the harsh sounds of synthesized tones and beeping coming from the seated blonde as more  and different lights flashed all around.  After some final loud beeps of different pitch, Melanie announced "Program QT314.G37 installed and executed successfully."

Natasha asked "How do you feel Melanie?"

"I feel fine." she said.

Byron was struck by the strangeness of their interaction.  "Why did you ask her how she feels? She's just a machine." he said to Natasha.

Natasha calculated the meaning of his words and formulated the standard reply.   "Melanie will answer all of your questions.  She will be ready soon."

Byron stood back and watched as Natasha unplugged Melanie and ordered her to rise from the chair.

Melanie stood up and immediately turned her attention to Byron.

"Hi, handsome!" she cooed, slinking over to him with her chest panel still open.

Byron stepped back.  "Drop it." he said.  "I didn't want you when I thought you were real, what makes you think I want you now?"

Melanie came to a stop, as if she was pondering hard upon the question.  She kept looking at him while the electronic brain in her chest worked through the data necessary to formulate a response.  She switched modes.

"Well," she said as she glanced down and closed her chest panel, "If you don't want to be called handsome, I'll just call you Byron."

"I should have figured you were a robot.  You never had an original thought of your own."

Melanie wasn't bothered by the remark.  "That's why you're here Byron." she said.

He looked back over to Natasha.  She was standing at attention, completely naked and completely motionless.  Her unbroken gaze went nowhere.

He looked once more to the table that held his beloved, or what he thought he had fallen in love with.  It hurt him to know that she wasn't real.  To him, it felt like Heather had died.  The person his heart longed for just didn't really exist.

He looked back to Melanie.  "What do you want me to do?"

"I'll show you.  Follow me." she said with a friendly smile.  She turned around and walked toward the sliding door.  At that moment, the local ultra-robotic blonde-haired maid entered the room, bringing with her all those purely mechanical sights, sounds and smells.

Byron was a little creeped out by the stiffly moving imitation woman.  The vision of such a clearly artificial female form dressed in such a sexy see-through outfit just didn't sit right with him.  He stared at the shiny-skinned and graceless automaton as she pumped her robotic limbs in her machine-like strut around the room.  His nostrils caught the sharp smell of plastic as the sounds of her servos and hydraulics mixed discordantly with the computerised tones and beeps that streamed loudly and constantly from her speaker and her insides.

Now even more unsettled, he quickly turned his sight back to Melanie and followed her out of the cold lab and up the stairs.  As he tried to get the image of the robotic French maid out of his head, he couldn't help but think that Melanie was not much different.

The skinny lady led him through the huge kitchen to the main living room.  Byron had passed this room before on his way to the lab as he followed Natasha.

Now, as he and Melanie got into the large, nicely decorated room, he noticed three computers set up close to each other in a large corner desk unit.

Melanie walked toward the machines.

"This is where you will work." she said, smiling at him and gesturing to the desk with her hands.

"Doing what?"

"We have some software we need you to work on."

"I'm no expert." he protested. "I doubt I can help you much."

"We think you can Byron.  You are a creative genius." she said as she started to boot up all three computers.  "I have been watching you since our classes with Ralph Sweet began."

"Like I said before, I should have guessed you were a robot."

She paused and looked back at him.  "I am a very realistic simulation.  It would have been almost impossible for you to know that I'm not a human being."

Melanie showed no kind of emotion in her face that Byron could recognise.  He watched her as she went back to what she was doing.

"This is 'Project H'." she said as a complicated interface appeared on the screen.  "It was developed to provide automation for heuristic processes."

"Heuristics?  You mean like common sense?"

"Exactly." she said as she pulled out the rolling leather chair for him.

He gave her a grudging look and took the offered seat.  All he saw in front of him were graphical links to different subroutines of some master program.  Upon the monitor to his right soon appeared lines and lines of code.  The screen on his left was just blank for now.

She continued.  "'Project H' was designed to run on desktop computers to provide better automation for business processes.  The features of the program go far beyond that however.  As a whole, the program can be configured to provide a basis for true artificial intelligence."

Byron was still too tense and shocked by what he was going through to make any sense out of what he saw on the screen.  Even Melanie's explanation just went in one ear and out the other.

He rolled the chair away from the desk a bit and looked up at the blonde fembot.  "You sound a lot smarter than you ever did before Melanie.  Is that some new programming or were you just acting stupid before?"

His intent was to offend, but Melanie's circuitry and software didn't allow for that kind of thing.  "I have been reprogrammed to function for this mission." came her matter-of-fact answer.

Byron stood up.  "I can't do this." he declared.

"Yes you can, Byron." she said cheerfully, as if encouragement was all he needed .

"No I can't." he said in a loud plain voice.  "I'm human.  You fucking... things just can't expect to kidnap me and expect me to go to work on whatever it is you want me to do.  You just can't."

Melanie's eyes stayed aimed at the human while she computed the words he had spoken and the way in which he had delivered them.  She had no response for him before he spoke again.

"Let me go." he pleaded.  "Please, you have to let me go."

Those words were easier for her programming to deal with.  "We can not let you leave Byron.  You must complete 'Project H'."

Byron looked at her and took a deep breath.  "I can't argue with androids, can I?"

"You may argue with us Byron." she said.

He saw that she didn't get his point.  He just shook his head and sat back down.  Fortunately for him, the fembot realised he was distressed.  She kept her plastic mouth shut for a while as he gained his composure again.

After almost a whole minute of silence, while a storm of stress raged inside his head, he looked up at the artificial woman and said "I can't do any work right now."

"Why not?  Is there anything I can do to help you?"

"No.  Look, I just can't concentrate on anything right now except being a captive, a prisoner.  That's not pleasant.  Do you understand?"

Melanie was silent for a few seconds.  "I am not programmed to understand."

Byron shook his head again.  "Do you... people intend to feed me?  Have you thought about that?"

"All of your biological needs will be taken care of.  You will be properly maintained."

Byron thought of all of the "biological needs" that the machines had surely missed.  It just made him more mad.  He looked up at Melanie and said "I can't work with you."

"Why not?  My artificial intelligence is the best available to Fembot Command."

"I don't like you.  That's why.  I've never liked you Melanie.  I like you less now that I know you're a robot.  I will not work with you."

Melanie just stood there, calculating and computing to no avail.

"Why can't you get Heather up here?  At least I like to look at her." he said.

Melanie ran the suggestion through her processors.  "I am not programmed to make that decision."

"Who is?  That naked girl, Natasha?"

Melanie looked at him with those vacant eyes and said "The Master Computing Device determines all of the programming for all of the Fembot Command units."

"Well, can you do anything at all about it?  I won't work with you.  I want to work with Heather."

Byron folded his arms after his statement, to give it an air of finality.  Whether or not the stubbornly programmed humanoid machine in front of him got the message, he could only guess.

She blinked once then said "I will relay your request to Natasha.  Please wait." 

The Melanie robot walked out of the living room and down to the scanner as Byron waited and tried to calm his frazzled nerves.

 

Part 19 – Adjustments

The lab in the basement had surely been soundproofed, Byron thought.  As he sat and leaned back in the comfortable leather chair, he could only hear the hum of the three computers and the soft rumble of the house's furnace.  So much the better for him.  He had seen enough electronic circuitry for one day.

A long, lonely time passed after Melanie had gone back down to that basement lab.  Byron found himself weeping at the hopelessness of his situation.  And he hadn't even begun to cry at his broken heart yet.

There he sat, in someone - or something - else's house, with no escape and no hope of it.  Outside, the sun was setting over only snow covered trees.  He guessed the fembots were keeping him far away from other humans, and he was right.  Heather had driven him quite far into the secluded wooded mountains, to a private cabin that served as this particular Fembot Command base.

Byron's wrinkled sleeves rubbed harshly on the swollen area under his eyes as his tears came down.  The salty drops obscured the light that came into his tired eyes, and made things look worse than they were.  Even so, he dared not think how things could possibly degrade any further.

Back in town, repeated calls by Agnes to the local hospitals had started suspicion that would soon turn into a full blown search operation.  The morbid thought of his admittedly few friends panicking and searching the woods for his body made him collapse on the desk in a heart-wrenching sob.

He had several minutes alone to cry, and it did him a little bit of good.  Not much, but after he had done it, at least the urge was more or less out of the way.  With his eyes red and raw, he took some deep breaths and waited for someone, one of the robots, to emerge from the basement.

He waited for a long time. 

When she had reentered the lab, Melanie had dutifully relayed Byron's words to Natasha, who then sent them as a digitised signal to the Master Computing Device.  All the parameters of the situation had to be assessed before it decided whether or not to accede to the human's request.

He remained unaware of the specifics involved in that process, but up to a point he had a general idea of what was going on down there.  But he still didn't know which electronic woman, or women would next walk up the stairs.

In the meantime, he had regained some of his calmness.  He felt cold and hungry now more than anything.  The presence of those base feelings in his mind gave his emotions a much needed chance to settle down.  He watched the sky outside gradually darken while he waited for something to happen.

At last, one of the androids came up the stairs.  Byron held his breath in anticipation, and sighed in relief as he recognised Heather walking toward him.

She walked calmly and stiffly up to where he sat.  Her facemask had no display of emotion configured upon it.

"Hello, Byron." she said in a voice that was just as lifeless.

Byron stood up.  "Heather..." he said as he put his arms around her.  She didn't respond in any noticeable way to his touch.  He pulled back and looked into her once vibrant eyes.  He gently found and held her stiff mechanical hands.

"They reprogrammed you, didn't they?" he asked.

"Yes." was all she said.  Her soft silicone lips showed neither a smile nor a frown.

Byron took a very deep breath and let it out again.  "So, you're the one who's going to answer all my questions now?"

"Yes." she said again.

He looked for a long time into her eyes.  "Heather, do you remember the times we shared together?"

"Yes.  Memory files stored on my hard drives indicate the state of my previous mission.  All of my interactions with you have been indexed."

Byron winced at the technical sound of her speech.  "All the time we spent together, does any of that mean anything to you?"

Heather stood unmoving, then said "Your present query is too general.  Please increase specificity."

Byron had to look away for a moment.  "Never mind." he said.

Heather stayed still, looking at him and recording audio and video as well as data from the thousands of sensors in her artificial skin.

Byron looked back to her.  "It probably doesn't mean anything now, but I fell in love with you Heather."

She just stared ahead, almost right through him.  "That does not compute.  Love is undefined."

He changed the subject.  "I'm hungry, Heather." he said.  "I'm tired too."

"Processing." she said.  "I will show you where food is stored.  Please follow me."

Heather turned and led Byron to the kitchen.  He watched her womanly body as she walked.  Everything about her now looked overtly artificial.  Byron wasn't sure yet if it was better for him to have her this way or the way she was before.

She stopped in front of the large stainless steel double freezer.  She opened one of the doors to display the contents to the human.

"These are frozen meals for you.  You may use them when you think it is necessary."

Byron nodded as he looked at all the sameness inside.  This side of the freezer was stacked full of only a few different varieties of the same brand.  He couldn't stand the thought of actually eating one of those frozen entrees, but for now his hunger overruled his taste.

He grabbed a package off the top shelf and read the box.  Heather stood by like a sentinel, holding the door open as the cold poured into the room.  When Byron wandered off in the direction of the microwave, the robot closed the door and followed.

She said "To use the microwave..."

"I know how to use a microwave." he tersely interrupted.  He managed to unwrap the frozen box and crumple the plastic up with his hand while he looked into her vacant eyes.

"I'm sorry." he said.

She didn't respond.  He continued to prepare the meal for cooking while she watched in efficient silence.  He started the big microwave and leaned up against the counter.

"No food for you anymore, eh?" he asked.

"I do not require food to function." she stated.

Byron felt like he was in a bad dream that wouldn't end.  He looked at her pretty face, only a plastic cover to mask the electronics that kept him under constant surveillance.  He still wanted the woman he thought she was before.

For a whole six minutes he just stared at that motionless silicone construction.  The hum of the microwave oven and the intermittent popping of the preservative-laden food provided some of the only sound the whole time.  When the oven's beeping indicated the end of the cycle, he said out loud the words that had bounced back and forth in his mind, amplifying themselves as they went.  "I can't believe it."

He didn't touch the microwave.  He just stood there, looking at Heather.

"That does not compute." she said after a pause.

He just shook his head and went to find a fork.  She turned her head as he went through the drawers, following his motion with her cameras.  When he had all he needed, he got the food out of the oven and put it down on the table.

"Can you get me a glass of water?" he said to the fembot, making sure his words could easily be understood by a machine.

"Yes." she said.  She immediately reached in to a cupboard and pulled out a glass.  She filled it up with cold water and brought it over to him at the table.

He mixed his steaming container of food for a while as she stood like a statue next to him.  "You might as well sit down, Heather." he said.

The android calculated the meaning of his statement and pulled a chair out from under the table.  She stiffly sat down with perfectly straight posture and watched him as he ate.

Neither of them spoke as he swallowed the meal.  It tasted better than he had expected, but still nothing like what he could make for himself.  The size of the portion also left him wanting, but it was enough for now.

After he had gotten the last bites down and drank the rest of the clean tasting water, he leaned back and looked at the pretty female android.

"So, you don't know what love is?" he asked.

"Love is undefined."

"I suppose you want help with that too?"

"Your task is to complete 'Project H'."

Byron folded his arms.  "Tomorrow.  I'll start that tomorrow."

Heather didn't respond.

"Heather, do you have any kind of... emotions, or... simulated emotions at all?" he asked.

"No."

"You used to though, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"Why did they take them out of your programming?"

"Unknown."

Byron rubbed his eyes and stood up.  "I need a shower and a change of clothes." he said.

"Processing." Heather said.  She made some computations and stood up too.  "I will show you where the bathroom is.  Please follow me."

 

…Continue with Part 20 - Fixes


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