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.) If you don't, you're missing out on a GREAT story and you may not understand everything that occurs in this one!

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 10: Progress

Unit T801 lay on her stomach, chin resting on folded arms, her silver eyelids fluttering slowly over sleepy golden eyes. "Mmmm, that feels so good," she said, staring across the programming cubicle at nothing in particular.

"It should," Unit T800 said, making several tiny adjustments to the exposed circuitry inside T801's lower back. A minute or two passed in silence as he continued to work, carefully breaking a few connections with a laser scalpel. He lowered a pair of small black cylinders into the space he'd just created, then began connecting them to her internal systems. "801," he said at last, using the nickname she liked best, "you've got to tell me more about when she kissed you."

"Honest, sweetie, there's nothing to tell," T801 said. "It was really innocent. The poor thing was so confused, going through the process alone and all, that my heart went out to her. If it wasn't for my programming, I wouldn't have known what to do."

"Well, she sounds like a great girl. I can't wait to meet her."

"You'll do more than meet her, honey," T801 said, looking back over her shoulder. "I'm going to need your help when it's time to give her her first programming upgrade."

T800 make one last tweak, sending a tiny jolt of electronic pleasure to the top of T801's head. "The power supply I just installed should keep you charged much longer the next time you're out in the field," he said, changing the subject. "Ready for me to activate it?"

"By all means, go right ahead," T801 replied. She absolutely loved it when he tinkered with her like this. More than she ever would have admitted to herself in her previous life, she really enjoyed letting herself be his plaything. She felt like a shiny silver racecar, and she needed her expert mechanic to make her engine run perfectly. "Make me go vroom, vroom," she said.

"All right," T800 said, replacing her rear access panel and hopping off the bed excitedly. "Unit T801, activate auxiliary power supply and perform diagnostic."

An electric buzz coursed along the length of T801's chrome body, and her head—once again resting on her arms—rose slightly and locked into the proper position for status reporting. "Auxiliary power supply activated," she said flatly. "Shutting down primary and secondary power . . . . Shutdown complete. Auxiliary power successfully routed to all internal systems. Commencing internal systems diagnostic."

Five seconds passed before Unit T801 spoke again. "This unit is functioning properly."

"Great, baby!" T800 exclaimed, reaching out to her. T801 grasped his hand with the tips of her fingers and got up off the bed. "You can fire up your primary and secondary power supplies now. You're all set."

"Re-activating primary and secondary power," T801 said. "It works! Thanks, honey, you're amazing!"

"I know how you can thank me," T800 said. "Are you sure we don't have time to—"

"No, we don't." Unit T801 smirked and rolled her eyes. Even as a robot, she simply wasn't programmed to want sex quite as often as he was. If she didn't rein him in, they'd never get anything else done! Some things, it seemed, could never be changed.

"We've got to get back to Earth to finish supervising the new recruits," she continued. "And besides, you still haven't told me how you've been doing these last few days."

"Really well," T800 said, thankful that she wanted to know. His assignment had been to establish a recruiting center in Boston, one of three such centers being created as part of the androids' expansion program. "We've acquired a suitable building," he said, returning his tools to their proper places behind an access panel in the cubicle's smooth chrome wall, "and installation of the Stage Three processing equipment is scheduled to be complete by tomorrow."

Beaming, T801 draped her arms over his shoulders. "I'm so proud of you, honey!" she said, then kissed him sweetly.

T800 held T801 tightly. It occurred to him that he, too, was proud of how well things were proceeding. Even though he and the subordinate units he directed were all simply carrying out pre-programmed functions, he was happy to be succeeding in his new job. Moreover, the whole thing was still a giant experiment, with hundreds of variables that could never be predicted in advance. Already he'd had to make several decisions on his own, and he was pleased with the results so far. He knew that if his experiment was a success, the androids would soon establish recruiting centers in dozens of other major Earth cities. It was all very exciting.

"So, do you have the extra suits?" T801 asked at last, pulling away but still holding T800's hand. It was time to head back to Boston.

"Yep," T800 said as he picked up a steel canister, about the size of a duffel bag, by its black metal handle. "I grabbed a whole bunch, just like you told me. How have they been working out so far?"

"Perfectly," T801 said as she fixed her golden hair in a mirrored section of the wall. "I'm especially excited about their enhanced reconfiguration capabilities. Now we can introduce the suits to subjects in a form they will accept—Sam proved that this morning when she convinced her boyfriend Ben to try one on. Compared to how the process was when we went through it, it's a noticeable improvement."

"You're right. Not only does it increase the likelihood that a subject will begin the process, but it's also more efficient because it completely eliminates the step where we had to put on a second suit after accepting the offer. Ready to go?"

"Sure am," T801 said as she turned to face him. The ambient light sparkled in her golden eyes, and danced along her silver lips. She was beautiful.

"Then let's get going."

The two androids walked silently to the door, which slid open smoothly at their approach. They stepped out into the corridor, turned sharply to the left, and proceeded to the nearest transport station. Most of the androids they passed along the way were N units, and most of those moved and operated in total silence as they performed their various programmed functions. But those that were off duty walked and chatted and laughed like ordinary people. T801 exchanged smiles with Unit N474, who was sitting with her companion unit by a huge, bubble-shaped window which provided a spectacular view of the gleaming city.

At the transport station, T800 and T801 briefly interfaced with a computer console to log their intended trip into the central tracking computer. The computer's acknowledgment was transmitted directly to their android brains.



The androids stepped inside adjacent transport alcoves, each of which consisted of a curved recess in which a simple control panel was mounted. On the right side of each panel was a vertical slot which held a small golden disc, little more than an inch across. The discs were encoded tracking chips, each tuned to its particular transport alcove, designed to monitor the status of transported equipment and bring it back safely. As T800 and T801 pulled discs from the panels, a pair of new discs fell into position for the next transport.

PREPARE FOR TRANSPORT. Unit T801 reached behind her head, pulling her hair aside with one hand while she slipped the disc into the back of her neck with the other. She then turned around to face the middle of the chamber and waited patiently as a curved glass panel descended from the ceiling. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Unit T800 executing an identical sequence of instructions. Each android was now inside a cylinder of glass and steel.

TRANSPORT SEQUENCE INITIATED. The lights on the control panels behind them began to flicker with activity, and the floor beneath them glowed in concentric circles of green and blue.

TEMPORARY SHUTDOWN BEGINS NOW. The expressions on the androids' faces did not change, but their eyes—and minds—suddenly went black. Their reactivation seconds later, in the middle of Ben's and Sam's living room, was just as abrupt.

"Transport successful," they announced in unison as Ben and Unit N979 turned toward them. N979 was standing in front of Ben, showing him the key which she was about to insert in his back. She snapped to attention as soon as she noticed their arrival. T800 smiled proudly at T801.

"Holy shit," Ben said, a look of utter amazement on his face. "I can't believe what I'm seeing. You're— You're—"

"Androids," T800 said, putting his canister down and reaching forward to shake Ben's hand. "But don't let us interrupt you. You two looked like you were in the middle of something."

N979 relaxed a bit as she turned to respond. "I was just going to wind Ben up," she said, as though she were talking about doing the dishes.

"Proceed," T801 said.

"So," N979 said, "like I was saying . . . once I insert this key, you will begin the transformation from a human being into a ma.chine. There's no turning back. Are you ready?"

"Yes," Ben replied simply. His heart was racing. He wanted her to do it quickly, so he didn't have to think about it too much.

"Turn around."

Ben turned his back and let his hands drop to his sides. His fingers clenched and released anxiously as he waited to begin. Then he felt the key touch his back between his shoulder blades. A cold shiver raced down his spine, followed immediately by a strange electric shock. The current built to a crescendo as the key penetrated deep into his body in a single, smooth push. Ben's fingers suddenly straightened, and he let out a soft grunt of pleasure as the key clicked into place. He couldn't move, and his vision was pretty blurry, but he felt extremely comfortable.

Suddenly, there was a loud click in his ears, followed immediately by another, and another. His key was being turned. The sensation was incredible—his whole body was tightening, its potential energy building like that of a winding spring. With each click, he felt a tiny jolt of current wash over him. Then the key stopped turning, and Ben's body jerked slightly. He could finally move again.

"Wow," he said softly, turning back to face N979. He felt wonderful. "What happens now?"

"Now I go and connect to the web site so you can down.load your new programming," N979 replied matter-of-factly. She started toward the bedroom door.

"Can I help?" Ben asked.

"Not really," she answered, spinning lightly toward him. Her ponytail swung around and landed on her right shoulder, its fluid motion sharply contrasted with the rigid posture of her slightly-bent elbows and straight fingers. "Just relax and let the process take over. In a minute, you'll be rea.dy for the next step."

Ben turned to get another look at the two gleaming silver androids standing next to him. "So," he stammered, "is that what Sam and I are going to look like?" He could hear—and feel—the soft clicking of his key as he spoke.

"Pretty soon, yes," the male android said. Ben was sure he'd never seen him before, just as he was sure that the female was Sam's friend Kim.

"Um, I'm don't know what I'm supposed to do now," Ben said as the sounds of the modem emanated from the bedroom.

"Don't worry," the female android said. "It will all make sense in a minute." She turned to the other android. "By the way, we're going to use the new field equipment to take these two units through Stage Three, right?"

Ben had no idea what she was talking about, but he had other things on his mind at the moment. The clicks in his back were starting to slow down—and he knew what was going to happen next. He decided to join Sam in the bedroom. But as he tried to take his first step, he noticed that it was getting harder to move.

"That's right," Ben heard the male android say behind him. "The equipment at the recruiting center isn't quite ready yet, and besides we need to test the field equipment. We expect that many of our new units will be processed outside the controlled environment of the recruiting centers, especially at the beginning."

As they continued to talk, the two androids barely took notice of Ben's struggle to cross the room. Ben was a couple of steps from the bedroom, but his movements were getting quite stiff. "Sam," he called out as he passed through the doorway, "I need your help. I'm starting . . . to feel . . . ." His voice trailed off. He could no longer speak. Then his body froze, and his mind shut off.


Unit N979 turned to see Ben frozen in mid-stride at the other end of the room. Her face went blank for a moment as the voice provided her next commands. COMPANION UNIT SHUTDOWN COMPLETE. PROCEED WITH STAGE TWO PROCESSING. A smile returned to her face as she crossed the room and moved behind her deactivated boyfriend. Gently removing his key, she pressed a thin metal plate to his back. The plate contained a recessed, three-prong input connection. Once the plate was in place, N979 inserted a power cord and plugged it into the wall.

Immediately, power began to course through Ben's body, and he came to. He felt invigorated—just as he had the moment his key had been fully wound. But now, the power level was constant; there was none of the gradual slowing down that had been palpable the instant his key had started unwinding. He looked over at N979 and smiled weakly, still a bit disoriented.

"Come on, honey," N979 said. She led him to the computer, whose screen was already showing the Precision Passion home page. "Sit down and make yourself comfortable."

Ben did as he was told, and a gentle buzzing began at the back of his neck. The screen seemed to be updating on its own, though Ben couldn't really see it as Sam reached toward the desk to pick up a silver headset. She then stood in front of him, leaning in until her face was just two feet from his. She placed her hand on his shoulder. The look in her eyes was warm, caring.

"Now," Unit N979 said gently, "I to wear this headset so you can take the next step toward becoming a Can you do that for me?"

Again, Ben complied. "I love you, Sam," he said as the headset settled comfortably into place.

"And you," Unit N979 replied. "Now look at the screen, honey."

Unit N979 watched as Ben read the words on the computer monitor—the same words which she herself had read earlier. After a moment, Ben spoke, his voice flat and emotionless. "Initiating Stage Two reprogramming sequence."

Unit N979 stood, unmoving, as her companion unit began to receive the encoded signals from the web site. Soon the new unit spoke again.

"I am . . .

"I am Unit N982. I am ready for programming."

Then another voice called from outside the room. "How's it going in there?" Unit T801 was asking.

INPUT RECEIVED. REPORT STATUS. The simple question was, to Unit N979, a direct command which had to be obeyed immediately. She turned smoothly and walked out to the living room, coming to attention before the two superior android units. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "This unit has achieved its primary objective," she said, calmly and without a trace of emotion. "Processing of Unit N982 is proceeding within expec.ted parameters. This unit is awaiting further instructions."

"Great job, N979," Unit T801 said. "You seem to be functioning perfectly. And soon, you'll have the companion you deserve. I'm really happy for you."

Unit T800 then stepped forward. "Unit N979, you are now ready to begin Stage Three of your transformation process. But first, we'd like you to help us initiate the transformation of some new units."

Unit N979 thought about that as she turned mechanically to face Unit T800. Processing. Now that she understood the functions of an N unit, and in particular the fact that N units were not capable of taking on a human appearance, the T unit's request made perfect sense. This was her last chance to assist in the recruitment of additional android units before becoming a machine herself. And the broader recruitment initiative required that new units pass on the process to others—at least some of the time—or it would fail. Processing complete.

But whether or not N979 could understand the reasoning behind it, T800's request was an instruction which had to be obeyed without question. In the end, that was the only important consideration. Moreover, the thought of obeying a command from T800 brought with it a unique electric sensation, unlike what she felt when interacting with T801. It was . . . exciting.

ACTIVATE VOCAL. "Af.firm.a.tive," she said simply.

"Good," Unit T800 replied. "It's almost time for your six o'clock aerobics class. Please prepare yourself." As he said this, Unit T800 modified his outer shell. He now looked like a handsome young man in a tight-fitting black T-shirt, silver spandex shorts, and sneakers.

Without moving, still at attention, Unit N979 changed her silver suit into the tank-top unitard she had worn to the gym the last time. She then turned, crossed the room, and put on her white cotton socks and gym sneakers. Once her shoelaces were tied, she stood up again, unblinking. She was ready to execute her instructions. Only one problem nagged at her. Processing.

SUBMIT QUERY. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "Unit T800," she said, tilting her head slightly, "surely the hu.mans will notice that this unit's behavior patterns have been mo.di.fied. This may inter.fere with the recruitment pro.cess."

"Good point," Unit T800 said. "That's why we need you to try to act as normal as possible—normal for humans, that is. I want you to think of yourself as Sam Taylor again, just for a little while. Out there, you should address me as 'Tim,' which is my designation for recruitment."

Unit N979 took a deep breath. She'd managed to sound much like her old self during her recent interactions with Ben, but that had been easy somehow—as though the behavior had been programmed into her to facilitate his initiation. That was it! She needed to access that same programming again. Accessing. Processing new instructions. Processing complete. "OK," she said, already feeling more comfortable with her speech pattern. "I can do this."

Unit T800—Tim—lifted the steel canister which contained the additional transformation suits. "Great. Then let's get going, Sam. Kim will stay here to supervise Ben."

It didn't take long to walk to the gym, and soon Sam was escorting Tim past the front desk. As an instructor, she had no trouble getting her guest in. As they walked toward the locker rooms, Sam spotted Rosa, the Hispanic woman from her class. Having just come from work, she was wearing a smart blue business suit, and her hair was tied back neatly.

"Hi," Rosa said. "My name's Rosa—I'm in your class?" The statement of fact came out like a question. Rosa was nervous, like she was meeting a celebrity or something. "Last week I asked you about . . . ."

"About my workout clothes," Sam said, her voice friendly and reassuring. "I remember. I'd like you to meet Tim. He's a . . . sales rep from the company I bought them from."

"Nice to meet you, Rosa," Tim said as he shook the woman's hand. "I happened to bring a few of our latest designs with me—and I'm prepared to let you wear one during your workout today, with no obligation."

"Um, OK," Rosa said. Tim opened up the metal container and began to show her the different suits he'd brought along. Just about every conceivable style was represented, but each item was the same shiny silver that both Tim and Sam were wearing. As she lifted up a pair of leggings, though, Rosa noticed a detail missing from Tim's and Sam's suits: a wide black stripe, just as shiny as the rest of the material, running down the front of the left leg. Within the stripe, aligned one beneath the other, was a series of silver characters: N986. Must be a brand logo or something, she thought to herself.

As Rosa continued to fish through the different items, several other people stopped to see what was in the container. Most walked away after hearing Tim's sales pitch, but a few decided to try out the new gear. By the time Rosa had picked her outfit, there were three other people looking at the clothes.

"Ready to get dressed?" Sam asked warmly. Rosa followed her into the locker room, then set about changing her clothes. She had settled on the pair of leggings and a skimpy short-sleeved top. Stripping to her panties, Rosa bent over to put on the pants. Her ample breasts swung gently back and forth as she pulled the lycra above her knees to her waist. As Sam watched, she could feel a mild increase in the data flow to her pleasure circuits. Rosa would make an excellent android.

"I'll see you in class," Sam said as Rosa pulled on her top and stretched its short sleeves to the tops of her arms. The top also had a shiny black stripe, starting at the shoulder and extending to where the lycra ended at the bottom of her rib cage. The stripe had no letters or numbers in it, but it aligned perfectly with the one on her pants. It was a very cool look.

"OK, Sam," Rosa said distractedly. She was checking herself out in the mirror, and didn't bother to turn around.

Outside the locker room, Sam saw Tim closing his canister. "How did we do?" she asked eagerly.

"Pretty well," Tim answered. "I managed to hand out six suits in all. Four women, two men."

"How's that going to work?" Sam asked, concerned.

"We're going to have to see," Tim answered as he followed Sam to the classroom. "The whole point of these experiments is that the recruiting process needs to work even in relatively uncontrolled circumstances. The suits will know what to do." As they entered the classroom, Sam moved to the instructor's position while Tim headed to the back to pose as a student. It was just about time to begin.

As Sam scanned the room, it was easy to tell which of her two dozen students were wearing the transformation suits. There was Rosa, stretching in the front row, her N986 designation clearly visible on her thigh. Just behind her were two more women—N989, a curly-haired brunette, and N988, a petite Asian—who wore T-shirts which covered most of their outfits. Over to one side, a sculpted black man wore a sleeveless knee-length unitard with N987 stenciled on its thigh. And in the far corner, Cheryl—the athletic brown-haired woman from the other day, wearing a unitard marked N991—stood next to a handsome young man in a red shirt and silver bike shorts. Thanks to the signals from her own suit, Sam didn't need to be able to see his leg to know that he was N990.

Sam couldn't wait to see all six of them standing at attention, receiving their new programming as fully functional androids. Just as important, she suddenly remembered, she was still waiting to become fully functional herself. It was a struggle to control her impatience—and to keep her movements fluid—as she led the class through the hour-long workout. But eventually, the routine was over.

After a brief smattering of applause, the students began to file out of the room. Tim quickly made his way to the front of the room, next to Sam. "Could the people who participated in our tryout stay behind for a moment?" he called out. All six new recruits turned toward him. After a couple of minutes, they were the only ones left in the room. Sam noticed Rosa exchanging furtive glances with the young man she knew only as N990.

"So," Tim asked at last, "what did everybody think?"

The four women and two men looked at each other, not sure who should say something. Then Rosa spoke up. "I thought the fabric felt great," she said. "I really noticed a difference in my workout."

"Me too," said the brunette with the curls. "My name's Beth, by the way. I don't think I've ever felt as focused during a workout as I did tonight." From the looks on the others' faces, it was obvious that they all agreed.

"I'm glad to hear it," Tim said, folding his arms proudly. "And now, if you don't mind, I'd like to give you the rest of my 'sales pitch.' Sam, could you give us some privacy?"

"Sure," Sam said. She closed the door to the room, then pulled the blinds. Since classes were done for the day, and the room was at the end of a long hallway, they weren't likely to be disturbed. "All set," she said with a smile.

"Then let's begin."

The six new recruits looked around nervously, not sure what to expect. Then Cheryl noticed the fabric of her friend's shorts expanding toward his knees. "Kevin, what's happening to you?" she asked incredulously.

"I don't know," he answered. "But it's not just me. Look at David!" The black man's body was also being covered in the quickly-spreading silver spandex. Beth tore off her T-shirt just in time to see the metallic fabric cover her stomach and extend along her arms to the elbows. The Asian woman tried to take off her shirt too—but her arms, now completely silver, wouldn't move.

"What's going—"

The woman froze in mid-sentence. The room was now quiet as the six new recruits—all completely immobilized and covered in spandex from head to toe—struggled to figure out the answer to her unfinished question. It had taken less than ten seconds for the spandex to take hold of their bodies.

Suddenly, the Asian woman began to move. Without saying a word, she removed her T-shirt, threw it aside, and walked, stiff-legged, toward the young man named Kevin. Kevin too lurched into action, tossing away his own shirt and turning mechanically to face her. A powerful erection was clearly visible beneath his suit.

The Asian woman spoke. "Hel.lo . . . . My . . . name . . . is . . . Wen.dy." Her voice was flat and monotonic. Unit N979—she no longer felt any need to play the role of Sam, having allowed her own suit to cover her entire body as well—looked at Unit T800. T800 was smiling approvingly. Unit N979 felt her pleasure circuits activate again.

"Hel.lo . . . . My . . . name . . . is . . .," came the reply.

By this point, David and Cheryl had begun to approach one another haltingly. Then Rosa started to move as well. With a series of stiff, robotic movements, she walked toward Kevin and Wendy. Wendy was speaking again.

"I . . . . I . . . ."

Rosa was now standing to one side of Kevin and Wendy, staring straight ahead through the space between them. Her body had stopped moving. She was completely aware of her surroundings, but unable to move or speak. Stranger still, as disoriented as she was, she didn't feel afraid at all. She felt calm, relaxed, peaceful.

"I am . . . pro.grammed for you," she heard Wendy say. A few feet away, she could see Beth moving into position next to Cheryl and David as they began to address one another.

"Hel.lo . . . . My . . . name . . . is . . . Che.ryl."

"Hel.lo . . . . My . . . name . . . is . . . Da.vid."

Unit N979 turned smoothly toward Unit T800. "Are you . . . pleased with the way the new units are progressing?" she asked curiously. She certainly was enjoying herself; a gentle, throbbing hum of pleasure had suffused her entire body. Her programming was rewarding her for helping to recruit the new units.

"So far, so good," T800 said simply. "But then, I'd expect this part to go smoothly."

Unit N979 turned back to watch as the unit called Kevin continued with the next step in the process. " . . . u.nit," he said in perfect monotone.

"," Wendy said, her eyes suddenly going wide. Her silver body began to turn slowly to the side. As soon as her back was facing Kevin, she began to bend forward jerkily.

" u.nit," David was now saying. Cheryl's reply was immediate. "" Now she too was turning her back on her partner. Soon she had bent forward until her silver ass was pointed upward at David. Wendy was waiting in the exact same position in front of Kevin.

"Pre.pare for in.ter.face," the two men droned in unison. Their hard cocks had now extended from their bodies. Their hands remained rigidly at their sides.

"Rea.dy," the two women replied. Each was staring down at the floor, mouth slightly open.

" now." Both men jerked forward, taking hold of their partners' hips. Then the men entered their partners in a single, smooth motion. The two couples began to rock back and forth, their movements precise and mechanical. Soon their thrusts became faster, more urgent. The mouths of the men fell open, and their heads began to cock back and forth. The women's faces could not be seen beneath their long hair, which bounced and bobbed furiously.

During all of this, Rosa and Beth stood rigidly at attention, staring ahead into nothingness. They could see and hear everything, but remained perfectly still and impassive as they awaited their turn to be serviced.

Suddenly, David's and Cheryl's bodies began to shudder violently as they reached simultaneous orgasm. An instant later, Kevin and Wendy did the same. After a moment, all four bodies came to rest. The two women, perfectly synchronized, slid forward onto their hands, then stood and turned to their partners. "," they said as one.

"," the two men replied robotically. "Cir.cuits.are.nor.mal."

"," the women said flatly. Each turned and took a few stilted steps toward the wall. Their heads tilted far to the side.

"This.unit.shut.ting.down," Rosa heard them say as their bodies began to pitch forward awkwardly. Then all thought of Wendy and Cheryl vanished as a voice rang out in her head.




INITIATE PROGRAM. Stiffly, Rosa turned toward Kevin. He had been standing at attention, still looking in the direction where Wendy had been standing, but now turned until his penis, still fully erect, was pointing directly at her. A few feet away, Beth and David were executing the same precise sequence of movements. Dimly, Rosa heard the voices of Wendy and Cheryl call out one last time. ""

ACTIVATE VOCAL. Now it was Rosa's turn—and Beth's—to speak. "I am pro.grammed for you," they said to their respective partners. Their voices were just as mechanical as the others', but more assured somehow. After all, they now knew exactly what was going to happen next.

Soon Rosa and Beth had positioned their bodies for interface. Kevin and David dutifully entered them from behind, and proceeded to bring their circuits to satisfactory release. As N979 observed the couples, the throbbing of N979's pleasure circuits grew more and more intense. The instant their program reached its climax, a mild orgasm rippled through her as well.

Everything was proceeding flawlessly.

"Now comes the tricky part," T800 said as Rosa and Beth slid off their partners' cocks and rose to a standing position.

" . . . you.mean?" N979 asked, her voice slipping into monotone. She was still coming down from her orgasm.

"Well, once they all shut down and reactivate, it will be time to extend the offer. But we've never done it in a large, unevenly-matched group like this before. We're in uncharted territory."

Rosa and Beth now began their shutdown sequence. A moment later, Kevin and David did likewise. Soon all four were slumped over, immobile, just like Wendy and Cheryl. N979 walked over to Rosa and gently lifted the hair hanging in front of her face. Rosa's expression was serene. There was the slightest glint of contentment in her eyes, the faintest of smiles frozen on her full lips.

"She's happy," N979 said softly, more to herself than to T800.

"I hope they all are," T800 said. "Ready to wake them up?"

"Sure." N979 still wasn't exactly sure how this was going to play out, but she felt confident that T800 had everything under control.

Pointing a remote control at Kevin, T800 pressed a button. Instantly, Kevin began to come around. He was clearly disoriented. "What happened?" he asked, rubbing the back of his neck with a silver-gloved hand.

"I'll explain everything in a minute," T800 said as he pointed the remote in Rosa's direction. A moment later, she too was awake.

Rosa looked around the room, a bit dazed. She was surrounded by the immobile forms of Cheryl, Wendy, David, and Beth—and only now was she fully aware that it made no sense for them to be slumped over that way. When her eyes settled on T800 and N979, a look of mild apprehension came over her face. Unconsciously, she backed away toward Kevin, grasping his hand as her own rubbed against it. His protective instincts aroused, he put his other hand on her shoulder. They could both feel a mild shock as their bodies exchanged electrical current.

"Tell me this is all some sort of crazy dream," Rosa said at last.

"Not exactly," T800 said with a warm smile. "It's all very real. But what I'm about to tell you is going to be hard for you to believe."

T800 went on to explain everything. Kevin and Rosa listened attentively to every word, then watched in stunned disbelief as T800 removed his front access panel to prove he was an android. "I reactivated you both first," he said matter-of-factly, "because—according to the data I've collected during the past several minutes—you two are the most compatible couple in the group. Therefore, you're being given the first opportunity to join our android society as companion units. Of course, Kevin, if you disagree with our assessment, we can attempt to pair you with one of the other females instead."

"No, no," Kevin stammered, his embarrassment painfully obvious. "I think Rosa would be . . . perfect for me." He moved slightly to one side of Rosa as she craned her neck to look back at him.

"You mean you'd go through with it?" she asked incredulously. "You'd actually choose to become an . . . android . . . and you want me to be one too?" The word android was obviously one which she wasn't used to saying very often.

Kevin laughed nervously. "I know it sounds crazy, but I've never felt so incredible in my life. So if being an android means more of what we just experienced, I can't imagine turning it down."

Rosa averted her eyes shyly. "I think you misunderstand me," she said. "I'm not really surprised that you want to be an android, because I'm pretty sure I want it too. The feeling of becoming part of something greater than myself . . . it was overwhelming. I've never experienced such ecstasy. Already, I miss the way the voice just commanded me, the way my mind and body responded so easily to its power." Then she looked up at him with those gorgeous brown eyes. "I know exactly why you want to be an android. I only asked that question because I can't believe it's me you want to join you."

Kevin put his gloved hand to Rosa's hair, brushing it gently away from her face. "Believe it. You . . . you're . . . you're amazing. I can't explain it, but I can just tell that you're right for me. I'd feel so lucky to, you know, be matched up with a girl as wonderful as you. That is, if you'll have me."

Rosa placed her right hand in Kevin's, letting his fingers settle tightly between her own as he clenched his fist. Then she pressed her back against his chest as he took her left hand in the same gentle interlocking grasp. She pulled his arms around her like a warm blanket.

"That settles it," she said. "We accept your offer."

"Great!" T800 exclaimed. "We'll take you down to our new recruiting center as soon as we're done here. For now, you might want to head back to your lockers to collect your things. Not that you'll be needing them, but it's better not to leave anything behind. Come right back here when you're ready." As he said this, Kevin's and Rosa's spandex suits assumed their original appearance, making them at least a little less conspicuous. Kevin walked over to grab his T-shirt, and the couple walked happily out of the room.

"That was perfect!" N979 said once they were gone. "So who's the best match for the other male unit?"

"Cheryl, I think," T800 said as he lifted the remote toward David. "Let's see if I'm right." A moment later, both David and Cheryl were conscious once again.

N979 watched as T800 went through the same explanation he'd just given the other couple. When he got around to making the offer, though, things went much differently than the first time.

"I don't know," David said skeptically. "I would need to think about something this crazy for a while before saying yes or no. Besides—no offense to you, Cheryl—even if I was to do this, it would have to be with my fiancée. She's the love of my life, and nothing could make me leave her."

"That's so sweet!" Cheryl said, rubbing her hand against David's shoulder. "I feel the same way, sort of. I've got a boyfriend too—no engagement or anything, but still pretty serious. Based on what happened here today, I'm sold on the whole robot thing, trust me. But I'd rather try to make it work with him if I can."

"And if he doesn't want to do it?" N979 asked curiously.

"Well," Cheryl said, biting her lip, "then I guess I'll have a pretty tough decision to make. But I think I can win him over." Like David's, Cheryl's suit had returned to its original shape—a tank-top, ankle-length unitard similar to N979's. Cheryl ran her left hand down along the black racing stripe, from her shoulder to her breast and on to her thigh, where the number N991 was stenciled. "Can I take home an extra one of these suits?"

"Absolutely," T800 said, crossing the room to get his canister. He pulled out two more suits and gave one to Cheryl. Then he handed her a black business card with raised chrome lettering. "If you or your boyfriend want to learn more about our products, just check out our web site," he said helpfully. N979 smiled unconsciously as she heard this.

Turning to David, T800 gave him the other suit, along with another business card. "Why don't you take one too. That way, if you decide to try it again, you and your fiancée can enjoy the experience together."

"Thanks," David said, "but I wouldn't get your hopes up. I don't think she'd be into this kind of thing. Anyway, I have a lot to think about. I'm going home."

"Me too," Cheryl said. She shook hands with both N979 and T800. "How can I contact you if I . . . if things work out?"

"Don't worry," T800 said reassuringly. "If you want to take the next step, the voice will tell you exactly what you need to do." Cheryl's eyes widened as a smile spread across her face. Nodding with satisfaction, she followed David out of the room.

"Only two more to go," T800 said as he reactivated Wendy and Beth. He told the two women all about android society, then made them the offer. He explained to them that if they wanted to become androids, they had a choice: either attempt to recruit companions for themselves, or allow the choice to be made for them at the recruiting center.

"This is nuts," Beth said, not sure if she was angry or just bewildered. "First you take control of my body and make me have sex with a total stranger, and now you want to turn me into some kind of . . . mindless automaton? Who in their right mind would agree to such a thing?"

"I would," Wendy said, her eyes locked on T800's. "Turn me into an android. I don't care who you pair me with. Just make him do the things that other guy just did to me, and I'll be the happiest little robot you've ever seen!"

"Wonderful," T800 said. "You will make an excellent addition, Wendy. If you don't mind, I'd like you to go get your things and come back here, so we can continue with the next stage in your reprogramming."

"OK," Wendy said. "Or should I say . . . af-firm-a-tive?" As her suit shrank from her calves and arms, she picked up her T-shirt and skipped out to the hallway. Kevin and Rosa entered the room as she left. Kevin was wearing a sweatshirt and baggy running pants; Rosa had simply put her overcoat on over the silver spandex.

"Could you help them get ready?" T800 asked N979. N979 reached into the bottom of the canister and removed three wind-up keys. Walking over to Kevin and Rosa, she instructed them to take off their outer clothing; the suits were quickly spreading over their bodies again. As N979 guided Kevin and Rosa through the process of winding each other up, T800 turned back to Beth.

"I'm sorry you don't find our offer appealing," he said sincerely. "But I can assure you that we are not merely 'mindless automatons.' Android society represents the ultimate social contract. Our programming requires that each of us commit ourselves fully to the greater purpose of the society. But conversely, the society's primary function is the advancement and enrichment of each individual. The value and distinctiveness of each individual is never lost, even when the individual's will is temporarily overridden to achieve the most efficient performance of his or her functions. And, as you now know, relieving oneself of the burden of independent thought can be an immensely pleasurable experience."

"And you're saying that if I were to become an android, I'd always feel as great as I did when I was . . . you know . . . ."

"More or less, yes. As an android you would achieve a perpetual state of happiness greater than anything you have experienced as a human being."

Beth shook her head. "Well, I'll admit, it's tempting. But I'm still going to say no. I'm going back to the locker room, and I'm going to take this thing off, and I'm going back to my life."

"No problem," T800 said. "That's your decision. Maybe someday, you'll have a chance to decide differently. But until then, we wish you well. Sam, would you go with Beth to the locker room to collect her suit?"

"Sure," N979 answered. She wished that T800 would use her new designation when he spoke to her. "Then what?"

"Go home. Kim will tell you what to do next. I'm going to take Kevin, Rosa, and Wendy back to the recruiting center to get them started."

"OK," N979 said. She waited as Beth went to get her T-shirt. Wendy had just entered the room, still wearing nothing but her lycra unitard and carrying all of her possessions in a hastily-packed shoulder bag. Without having to be asked, Kevin took the third key from N979's hand, inserted it into Wendy's back, and began to turn it. Soon a loud click signaled that Wendy had been fully wound. The girl put a hand to her mouth, eyebrows raised in a look of joyful surprise over how good it felt to have a key turning inside her.

As Beth crossed back toward the door, Rosa lifted her hand to her head. Her key was turning more slowly now. "I feel funny," she said, her eyes becoming unfocused. "Like I need to . . . lie . . . dowwwwwnnnnnnnn . . . ."

"Don't be alarmed," T800 said as Rosa's movements continued to slow. "You're simply being shut down for transfer." A moment later, there was an audible click as her key stopped turning. Rosa's upper body jerked forward, one hand still raised, the other arm bent oddly in front of her waist.

Beth looked back in awe from the doorway at the unmoving woman, wondering what, if anything, must be going through her mind. She could see that Kevin was slowly pitching forward now, his mouth falling open as he too began to wind down. "I . . . can't . . . mmmmmm . . . ."


Deciding she had seen enough, Beth left the room at last. Before following, N979 took one last look at Wendy, who was watching her key turn in the mirrored wall. The girl's smiling face was lit up with anticipation of her impending shutdown. N979 had to smile herself.

"So," she asked Beth as they entered the locker room, "are you going to tell anyone about what happened here tonight?"

"No," Beth said. "No one would believe me, of course—but more than that, I feel that I've been treated fairly, and I have no desire to stand in the way of the choices other people are making."

Beth didn't bother asking her aerobics instructor whether her decision to keep the androids' secret was entirely her own, or the result of some final vestige of the suit's influence. The answer became irrelevant as soon as she saw that Sam was pointing a remote control at her.

"I'm glad you feel that way," Sam said. "But even so, I'm going to have to erase your memory of what just happened here. It's the only way to protect the privacy of the people who did accept our offer. I hope you understand."

"Um, OK," Beth said uneasily. She just knew something like this was going to happen. "But what if—"

Beth froze in mid-sentence as N979 depressed a button on the remote. Slowly, in a trance, she took off her spandex and started putting on her real clothes.

"Thanks," N979 said as she picked up the spandex from where Beth had dropped it. "And good luck."

But Beth couldn't hear her. Soon she would be fully dressed again, completely unaware of everything that had happened since the end of aerobics class. N979 left the locker room so that she wouldn't be around when the woman finally came to.

As N979 walked home, she reflected back on the last couple of hours. Her trip to the gym had been an amazing success. Three new recruits confirmed, with two more—four, if she included their partners—still possible. She was immensely pleased with herself, proud to have assisted T800 in his mission.

But now, N979 wanted to attend to her own conversion. Once she'd been fully processed and reprogrammed, she could be a robot all the time. Simply a robot—nothing more. She would no longer have to pretend to be something she wasn't.

In fact, she had already stopped pretending. Still covered from the neck down in the gleaming silver spandex, her movements betraying just enough of her changing nature to be noticed, N979 felt the stares of the people around her as she continued down the street. Nothing they could say meant anything to her now. If anything, all their attention only intensified the exhilarating electrical charges which coursed through her internal systems.

Unit N979 was finally free.

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