Inspired by “The Offer” by

If you have not read “The Offer” by, to which this story is a sequel, stop right here and read it first.  (It’s available here, among other places.)  You should also read my first sequel to the original, ambitiously entitled “The Offer, Part 2,” which is also available on this site.  If you don’t, you may not understand everything that occurs in this story!

Note: The following story contains explicit sexual material. If stories about sex, and particularly robots and sex, do not appeal to you, please don’t read any further. This story should not be read by anyone under eighteen years of age. (You know who you are.)

Chapter 3:  Functioning Normally

Wendy’s body jerked as a familiar electric pulse jolted the middle of her back.  Someone must have plugged her into a power source—but she hadn’t felt the connection being made, only the surge with which her recharging had begun.  Still lying on her sofa, she’d been turned onto her stomach.  She was completely unable to move.  Her face was pressed awkwardly into the sofa cushions, eyes wide open but still seeing nothing.  Only after a few seconds did a blurry image of the floor begin to form.  Two female androids were standing over her; Wendy couldn’t really see them, only their sparkling chrome boots.

“Why did the unit allow itself to run out of power like that?” one of the androids was asking.

“Insufficient data,” came the voice of the other.  Wendy immediately recognized the voice—it was Unit T801.  “Its hardware systems appear to be functioning properly.  I would guess that there is a software problem—a flaw in the unit’s core programming.”

“What should we do?”

“Nothing, Unit N991.  We must not interfere in the experiment.  Our function is solely to observe.  We must verify that the other Stage One units are capable of rectifying the problem on their own.”

As if on cue, a third pair of legs came into view.  This unit was also female, but above the knee-high boots Wendy could see that the unit was wearing a spandex transformation suit just like hers.  It was another Stage One unit—probably the same unit that had plugged Wendy in.  The Stage One female reached over and removed the power cable connected to Wendy’s back.  Her hands moved to Wendy’s left hip, and she pressed a sequence of buttons on the programming disk mounted there.

Then she picked something up off the sofa, something that had been lying next to Wendy’s shoulder as she’d slept, and lifted it over Wendy’s head.  Still unable to move, Wendy felt the headset being nestled snugly over her ears.  Yes.  It was time to receive programming.

Instructions immediately began to enter Wendy’s brain.  ACTIVATE UNIT.  That’s strange, Wendy thought as her body turned itself over.  If “activated” meant “conscious,” she’d already been activated for a few minutes now.  She could only guess that she was being reset somehow.  Her body was responding perfectly—turning to allow her feet to touch the floor as her upper torso lifted smoothly to a seated position—but her mind was a bit fuzzy.  As she stood up, Wendy felt completely detached from her physical self.

The other Stage One unit was standing in front of her now, and Wendy could finally see her face.  The girl was new.  Thick shoulder-length brown curls fell to her shoulders, almost concealing her own headset.  She was petite, and quite pretty.  Despite her slack jaw and the vacant stare behind her black-rimmed glasses, Wendy could sense somehow that this female was particularly intelligent.  A thought suddenly sprung into her mind:  She will make an excellent android.

The Stage One female—Wendy still couldn’t see what her designation was—stepped forward, not quite looking at Wendy but instead seeming to stare off at the wall behind her.  Reaching down to Wendy’s left hip, she pushed another button.  SET UNIT TO FUNCTIONAL LEVEL TEN.  Again, Wendy’s response was immediate.  “,” she heard herself say.

As the Stage One female continued to press buttons on Wendy’s disk casing, Wendy was still having a hard time thinking clearly.  She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but something was wrong.  Then she realized what it was:  she shouldn’t be thinking at all.  At functional level ten, independent thought was supposed to be impossible.  Yet for some reason, she couldn’t turn off her mind.

Then the Stage One female pressed a final button, and the whirring of Wendy’s programming disks rose as another sequence of data was accessed.  Wendy felt a new set of instructions flow into her receptive mind.  No, Wendy suddenly realized, not new—these instructions were all too familiar.

I am unit N988.  I am an android.  I obey my programming.

I am unit N988.  I am an android.  I obey my programming.

Over and over, the disks were refilling her brain with her most basic programming, reinforcing her identity and function as an N unit and smoothing away any remaining uncertainty in her mind.  It was like being reprogrammed all over again.  Wendy’s eyelids fluttered, and she swayed slightly.  A faint smile flickered for an instant at the corners of her mouth.

“Unit N1003 appears to have corrected the anomalous behavior in the other Stage One unit,” Unit N991 was saying as Wendy’s consciousness began to give way to her new robot self.

“Yes,” Unit T801 replied.  “Attagirl, Julie,” she said proudly, but the Stage One unit who once answered to that name was oblivious to everything but her programming.

And now, for the first time in too long, so was Unit N988.

*                    *                    *

When Unit N988 became aware of her surroundings again, she could tell somehow that only a few seconds had passed.  The blissful deactivation of her consciousness was over, even though it was obvious that her actions were still being controlled by her programming.  She was still face to face with Unit N1003, who was saying something in the flat monotone of a Stage One android.

“. . .”

Her conscious mind had only heard the last few words of the command, but Unit N988 had nonetheless received it in its entirety.  INPUT RECEIVED.  Accessing data.  ACTIVATE VOCAL.  “,” N988 heard herself say.  “”

Unit N1003 did not acknowledge Wendy’s report, but rather turned neatly and proceeded down the corridor.

RETURN TO PROGRAMMING CUBICLE.  The command seemed to suffuse Wendy’s entire being, and her body immediately responded, stepping forward and turning to follow Unit N1003.  Soon she was walking down a long corridor, directly behind the other Stage One unit, their footfalls in perfect lockstep.  Behind her, she heard the voice of Unit T801 once again.

“OK, that should do it,” the T unit was saying to Unit N991.  “The Stage One unit should now resume its preprogrammed functions.  Come on, I want to observe her.”  As the two androids followed behind her, Wendy could hear the gentle whirring of their servos, the pleasant metallic ring of their chrome boots against the steel floor.  She thought about the words that had come out of her mouth a moment ago.  From the way she was responding to the voice of her programming, she had to imagine that she was functioning normally—and that in itself was something of a relief amidst the confusion in her mind.  But she knew something about her wasn’t normal at all.

She heard another voice in her mind:  Rick’s voice, repeating the words from her dream.  There’s something special about you, Wendy.

Wendy didn’t have time to consider what it all meant, for her body had just turned ninety degrees to follow Unit N1003 into a large, brightly lit chamber.  Its walls were lined with arched alcoves of white and chrome, each large enough to accommodate a single person, many of which were occupied by young men and women standing at attention in silver spandex transformation suits.  At the center of the room, an eight-sided monitoring station displayed the current progress of each unit, but there was no one there to see it.  Aside from the periodic beeping from the monitoring station, the room was silent.

Unit N1003 moved to the first empty alcove along the left-hand wall, stepping inside and turning to face the interior of the room.  Overhead lights within the alcove immediately turned on to welcome her, triggering a vague memory in Wendy’s mind.  As Wendy felt herself approach the next alcove, she suddenly remembered helping to construct this seemingly unfamiliar chamber.  That had been three days ago, when she’d first been brought to the recruiting center—and Wendy now realized that she’d visited this place each morning since, though she couldn’t remember its purpose.

Upon stepping into the alcove, Wendy dutifully turned around to stand at attention.  PREPARE FOR INTERFACE.  The lights above her came on, and Wendy heard a low hum as the machines around her came to life.  She felt a satisfying click between her shoulder blades as a power coupling pressed firmly into place—the earlier recharge had only been enough to get her back to this chamber—and began slowly filling her with energy.  Then a pair of rigid tubes, one from each side of the open archway in which she stood, began to extend from the walls in front of her.  Soon the tubes reached her abdomen, forming perfect seals as they made contact with the silver fabric of her transformation suit.

Wendy felt a strange sensation in her belly as the left-hand tube began to draw fluids out of her body.  The feeling was very odd, but pleasant.  An instant later, she felt a cool rush from the other tube.  Something else was gradually being pumped into her.

Unit T801 came into her field of vision for a moment, pausing to examine her briefly.  “The unit seems to be functioning perfectly,” she observed.

“The sustenance apparatus registers normal readings as well,” Unit N991 added, crossing over from the central monitoring station to stand next to her superior.

“As you can see with Units N988 and N1003,” T801 explained, “the transformation suit slows the unit’s biological functions significantly . . . so much so that one nutrient cycle per day is sufficient to keep her functioning.”

“How long can a Stage One unit subsist like this?” N991 asked.

“Well, we’re not quite sure . . . it’s one of the experiments we’re running.  We believe that when we accelerate our recruiting efforts, it will be common for units to remain at Stage One for extended periods of time, until they assemble the equipment necessary to transform themselves into fully functional androids.  That’s why I’m so pleased with the way this trial is going.”

The two androids watched in silence for a minute or so as the machines continued their maintenance of Wendy’s biological systems.  Already, Wendy was feeling stronger, more refreshed.  But she couldn’t help but feel upset that her obsolete flesh still hadn’t been upgraded to cybernetics.

“All right,” T801 was saying to N991, “I wanted you to see this first-hand, but the rest you’ll understand once you’ve downloaded the data you need.  By this afternoon you’ll be the one in charge of recording and analyzing the Stage One units’ progress.”

“Affirmative,” N991 stated flatly as she followed Unit T801 out of the room.

It wasn’t long before the voice in Wendy’s head announced that her maintenance was complete.  DISENGAGE UNIT.  The tubes gently detached themselves from Wendy’s body and retracted into the walls.  RESUME PROGRAM.  As the power coupling disconnected, Wendy stepped forward into the room.  Unit N1003 had also emerged from her alcove, and was standing at attention before a closed door opposite the one through which they’d entered.  The door opened, and another Stage One female entered, escorting a young man into the chamber.  Though he was covered in tight silver spandex from head to toe, it was obvious from his behavior that he had yet to receive even the most rudimentary Stage One programming.

“Hi,” the young man said to Unit N1003, “I’m Doug.  But, um, I guess you can call me Unit N1012.”  Unit N1003 said nothing, but simply took him by the arm.  As the other Stage One female—Unit N1001—began to walk toward Wendy, Doug continued to talk to Unit N1003.  “Man, you girls are incredible,” he said as she gently guided him toward an empty alcove.

Unit N1001 came to a stop directly in front of Wendy, and her head cocked to one side, her short blonde hair brushing against her shoulder.  The girl’s clear blue eyes seemed to stare right through Wendy.  “U.nit.N.9.8.8,” she intoned, her voice flat but assertive.  She did not wait for acknowledgment.  “”

INPUT RECEIVED.  ACTIVATE VOCAL.  “Un.der.stood,” Wendy heard herself say—and a rush of electricity danced along her spine.  It felt so wonderful to receive commands and obey them.  She was functioning normally.

A part of her was becoming grateful that she could experience functional level ten with her conscious mind, even as she continued to wonder how this was possible.

REPORT TO PRODUCTION FACILITY ONE.  Without further thought, Wendy turned away from Unit N1001, who was already stepping into one of the alcoves to be recharged and reprogrammed.  Wendy—Unit N988, she reminded herself—walked stiffly toward the door, past the alcove where the male named Doug was being fitted with a programming helmet for his Stage One processing.  Unit N988’s own programming told her that the new Stage One male was irrelevant to her current function.  Like all superfluous input, his presence must be ignored.  But the part of her that was still Wendy wanted nothing more than to talk to him, to be with him.

One of these days, she was going to be paired with a male companion unit—they couldn’t make her wait much longer, could they?—and she couldn’t help but wonder if this male would be the one.  If only she could turn to look at him, but her programming wouldn’t allow it.

“So is this thing going to turn me into a robot?” she heard him ask as she left the room—and somewhere behind the blank expression on her beautiful face, Wendy smiled.


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