Inspired by "The Offer" by Android675@aol.com
If you have not read "The Offer" by Android675@aol.com, 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.)
Unit N979 turned the key in the lock and opened the door to her apartment. The place was very quiet, and the kitchen and living room were empty. The only light in the place—for it was now dark outside—was the blue flickering coming from her bedroom. Good, she thought to herself. Ben must be almost fully reprogrammed by now.
Closing the door, she turned around to lock it. Then she dropped her arms to her sides, took a step backward, and turned neatly away from the door. As she walked to the bedroom, she straightened her fingers, cocked her head, and assumed the stiff robotic movements that felt most comfortable for her now. It felt so good to just relax and be herself again. She welcomed her inner dialogue as it came back to the fore. Processing. Accessing. Processing. Processing.
Stepping through the doorway, N979 saw that Ben—N982—was still seated comfortably with his back to the room, headset on, staring at the pulsating computer screen. Unit T801, who had been inspecting the intricate matrix of circuitry forming between Ben's skin and his suit, rose and turned to greet her. T801 was wearing her white catsuit once again.
REPORT STATUS. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "This u.nit has achieved its secondary objec.tive," N979 said flatly, her momentary lapses into monotone returning. "Processing of Units N986, N988, and N990 is pro.ceeding within expected parameters. Offer pending.to two additional candidates with potential for two more, a.ver.age probability of success seven.ty-one percent. This unit is a.wait.ing further instructions."
"Excellent," Unit T801 said. "I'm sure you must be eager to continue with Stage Three of your transformation. How do you feel?"
N979 thought about that. Processing. "I feel strange . . . incom.plete." She tilted her head slightly. "I've been sufficient.ly reprogrammed to be somewhat functional, but obviously I'm not really an android yet. Despite my programming, there's too much uncertainty and con.fusion in my mind."
"We'll fix that in a minute, N979. I can only imagine how you must feel. So far, only the most minor physical changes have taken place—many of your biological functions have been rendered unnecessary, but for the most part you're still processing and executing your programming with a human brain. As glad as I am that we've been able to use you to recruit additional units, it's obvious that there are disadvantages to spacing out the conversion stages so much."
Suddenly, Ben began to stir. Removing his headset, he stood up. As he turned, N979 stepped forward to greet him. "Honey, how.are you?" she asked, her hand on his arm.
Unit N982 did not look at her. He stood rigidly at attention, staring straight ahead. INPUT RECEIVED. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "This unit has received primary programming," he intoned. "This unit is functioning properly."
Unit N979 stared at Unit N982. She couldn't believe how beautiful he looked—his chest jutting out, his chin high, his steely eyes focused and full of purpose. She was definitely getting aroused. Processing. As the activity in her circuits increased, it occurred to N979 that she shouldn't just be standing there. Now that Unit N982 had completed Stage Two, it was time to continue the process. The process must be completed.
Right on cue, the voice reinforced what she was already thinking. PREPARE UNIT FOR STAGE THREE PROCESSING. Unit N979 went completely blank, mouth slightly open. The unit turned mechanically to stand at attention alongside her companion unit, staring ahead. Her heart was pounding in anticipation of T801's next command.
"Welcome to Stage Three of your transformation," T801 said. "In this stage, your carbon-based systems will be completely replaced by superior electronic components. As your neural network develops, it will access and execute a new set of programming which has lain dormant thus far in the process. This programming is designed to trigger internal changes to the rest of your body."
Unit T801 crossed the room to a large black box which had been delivered while Unit N982 was undergoing Stage Two. "But not all of your transformation will be effected by your programming alone," she explained. "New technology must be physically introduced into your bodies to complete your conversion into machines."
Units N979 and N982 continued to stare ahead impassively as T801 spoke. As much as T801 liked seeing them following their new android programming so well, part of her was disappointed at their lack of response. "Listen, guys," she said, "this is going to be a lot more fun if you relax a little. Trust me, there'll be plenty of opportunity to act like automatons when this is all over. Don't you have any questions?"
INPUT RECEIVED. EXECUTE COMMAND. N979 and N982 did their best to follow their latest instructions, allowing themselves a measure of self-direction again. It felt strange. Stranger still was the idea of being commanded to ask a question—but nonetheless, they made every effort to comply. FORMULATE QUERY. N982 went first, asking the obvious. "What's in the box?"
"The technology you'll need to complete your transformation," T801 replied. "It comes in two forms. One, a liquid solution filled with nanoprocessor devices, will convert your internal systems into electronic circuitry and robotics. The other is a set of advanced components which must be physically installed for you to function properly. Here, come see for yourself."
T801 opened the box from the front, like a refrigerator, so that the new units could see its contents. About two-thirds of the way down, a shelf divided the box into two compartments. The upper compartment contained what looked like two pairs of square computer modules, arranged at an angle so that part of each was visible. Two of them were covered with switches, dials, and colored lights, all dim. The box's bottom compartment held a long cylindrical tank of some kind, bright silver, upon which rested a pair of clear plastic hoses, about an inch and a half in diameter. Each hose was connected at one end to the top of the tank.
"Basically, it's a portable version of the equipment which was used to transform me—the equipment which is being set up right now at the new recruiting center," T801 explained. "It's all part of the experiment. We need to test its effectiveness to be sure that new units can be processed outside the controlled environment of a fully-equipped conversion chamber."`
Now it was N979's turn to ask a question. SUBMIT QUERY. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "So what do we do with it?" she asked curiously.
"First, remove the tank and turn it on."
N979 watched as N982 crouched down, pulled the tank from its compartment, and placed it at the foot of their bed. He then reached behind it and flipped its only visible switch. The tank immediately began to vibrate gently, emitting a low hum.
"Now, N979, you'll go first," T801 continued. "I'd like you to take one of the input tubes and sit comfortably on the edge of your bed."
EXECUTE COMMAND. N979 did as she was told—the tube was long enough to reach her with plenty of slack. "Once you put the input tube in your mouth," T801 continued, "the tank will begin to pump the liquid. Just swallow the liquid until you feel full. Ready?"
"I guess so," N979 said, one last flash of uncertainty flitting across her mostly-converted mind. She glanced upward at N982, suddenly feeling a bit nervous. This was it.
"Well, don't forget to relax and enjoy yourself. Begin."
EXECUTE COMMAND. All doubt faded from N979's mind as she opened her mouth and put her lips around the end of the tube. Nothing happened for a moment as she looked questioningly at T801. Then a buzz from the back of her neck signaled the tank to begin. Slowly, the clear tube started to fill with a thick, sparkling silver liquid. N979 watched as the liquid followed the curved length of the tube, getting closer and closer with each passing second. Then she looked over at N982. From the growing bulge at his crotch, it was obvious that his pleasure circuits were active.
N979 had to open her mouth slightly to let the air escape, but once the liquid was within inches of her mouth she clamped her lips around the tube in a tight seal. Her eyes were locked on the tube as the liquid entered her mouth. Receiving external input.
The first thing N979 felt was cold. The liquid was the temperature of a frosty milkshake, and just as thick. Only after she had swallowed her first mouthful could N979 start to taste the stuff. There was a hint of vanilla flavoring to it, but mostly the liquid tasted metallic—like the time when a young Samantha Taylor had put a quarter in her mouth as part of a magic trick. She found the taste surprisingly pleasant, and began to suck greedily at the tube.
"How are you doing?" T801 asked as N979 swallowed again.
Processing. Not wanting to interrupt the transfer of the liquid, N979 simply lifted her arm and gave her friend a silver thumbs-up. She raised her eyebrows cheerfully. The cold of the liquid was filling her entire body, making her shiver at first before she started to grow accustomed to it. Processing. Assimilating. She was starting to slow down, her stomach nearly full.
When she felt she couldn't swallow any more, she stopped and pulled the tube out of her mouth. External input received. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "How's that?" she asked.
"Great so far, but you're not done. Put the input tube in your mouth again, please." N979 put her lips around the tube again. "Now I want you to inhale, as though you were smoking a cigarette." N979 furrowed her brow as if to ask T801 if she were sure. Every human instinct she had told her that it was crazy—life-threatening, even—to comply. But as T801 reiterated her command with a simple nod, the voice nudged her onward. EXECUTE COMMAND. N979 understood that she had no choice but to obey.
N979 inhaled deeply, allowing her lungs to fill with the cool silver liquid. Receiving external input. Then she suddenly realized that she couldn't exhale. The liquid simply poured down her throat until her lungs were completely full. Assimilating. She was no longer breathing!
External input received. N979 could still feel her heart beating, but as she pulled the tube from her mouth again, she realized that any oxygen her body needed was now being produced internally. Processing. Soon, she suspected, there would be no need for oxygen at all.
"Don't try to speak," she heard T801 say. "Until your new vocal systems form, you won't be able to. Just bring the tube to your navel."
EXECUTE COMMAND. N979 did as she was instructed, touching the end of the tube to the silver spandex at her belly button. The suit instantly opened to accept the tube, forming a seal around it. Receiving external input. N979 now felt the liquid entering the suit. Processing. Her skin erupted in goose bumps as the liquid coated her abdomen, then seeped down to her crotch and legs. She could feel it covering every inch of her body. Assimilating.
With each new place the liquid reached, the suit expanded just enough to accommodate a quarter-inch layer of the stuff. Her hips and thighs looked more plump, less well defined but still smooth and shapely. As the liquid moved past her knees, N979's legs straightened of their own accord, like a pair of inflating balloons. She could not control them any longer—she had lost all sensation from the waist down.
"What's happening to her?" N982 was asking.
"The systems responsible for her motor functions are now beginning their transformation to robotics," T801 explained. "The nanoprocessor devices are initiating her physical transformation at a molecular level. Once the entire surface of her body is covered, the liquid will begin to penetrate her until every part of her has been transformed. Would you like to touch her?"
Processing. Of course! N982's pleasure circuits were fully aroused, and his penis had become rock-hard from the sight of his girlfriend's transformation. If only his programming would allow it, he would have sex with N979 right now. Instead, N982 reached down and pressed his fingers against N979's thigh. It felt strange—soft and spongy, like one of those jelly wrist-rests some people liked to put along the bottom of their computer keyboards. When he pulled his hand away, the dimples his fingers had left took a second or two to fade. "Weird," he said softly.
"Don't worry," T081 said reassuringly, "it's completely normal. Right now she is assuming a semi-liquid transition state. In fact, if it weren't for the suit she's wearing, her body wouldn't be able to maintain its shape at the moment." T801 turned to N979. "Can you feel it working?"
Processing. N979 nodded, a look of awe and wonder on her face. By now the liquid had reached every part of her legs, and was rising to coat her back and breasts. Assimilating. She felt her body lean backward until her back was perfectly flat upon the bed, her legs sticking straight out off its edge. She wasn't even sure if her heart was beating any more. Accessing. No, it definitely wasn't.
N979 tried to feel her legs with her hands, but as the liquid reached her neck, she found her hands wouldn't move. She could do nothing as the liquid oozed its way past her shoulders, down her straightening arms, and all the way to her outstretched fingertips. Everywhere the liquid went, her body seemed to grow slightly in volume. Her arms were thicker, her hands like two rubber gloves. Her enlarged chest jutted out more uniformly than before, the valley between her breasts all but filled in. She looked—and felt—like a sparkling silver blow-up doll.
N979 was now staring straight up at the ceiling. External input received. She felt her . . . neural matrix . . . becoming more active. Something was about to happen. Processing.
The spandex suit began to inch higher along her neck, and up the back of her head. She felt it creep to the top of her head and over her ears, completely enveloping her hair, until only an oval from her forehead to her chin remained uncovered. Then the liquid seeped upward from her neck, coating her entire head, filling her ears, and penetrating inside her skull. The sensation was oddly pleasurable.
N982, meanwhile, was staring at N979's rigidly immobile form. The sight of the tube pumping more and more liquid into her body, the thought of her transforming into a mechanical robot, was getting him extremely aroused. Processing. Formulating query. "When can we get started on me?" he asked, his eyes never leaving N979.
"I'd like to wait until she's done with this step, just to make sure there are no errors," T801 replied. "How are you feeling, anyway?"
Processing. "Pretty good, all in all. Every so often there's a sort of dull pounding in my head."
"That's normal. You're progressing perfectly." T801 looked down at N979 for a moment, then nodded approvingly. "It's going to take her a little while to finish, so if you have any other questions, now's a good time."
N982 thought for a moment. Processing. Formulating query. "Well," he said, "it occurs to me that my designation, 982, is pretty close to 999. What happens when we run out of numbers for new recruits?"
T801's brow furrowed. "What a weird question!" she exclaimed, somewhat bemused. Her abdomen let out a faint whirring sound as she processed the query. "I guess I should start by pointing out that the numbers you're asking about don't stop at 999—they start at zero and go up to 1023. Don't forget, we're machines now, designed to process binary data, and the largest number you can store with ten binary digits is 1023."
As T801 spoke, N979 could feel her body being altered. She felt heavier, more rigid. She allowed her eyes to close as information began to stream furiously through her newly-formed internal processors. Processing. Billions of bits of data were being transmitted from different points within her rapidly changing body. New thoughts were forming, each thought a process of sequential instructions which spawned dozens of sub-processes, each focused on transforming a specific part of her mind or body. Assimilating. Soon there was no difference between the silver liquid and her own physical form—no distinction between the technology at work on her and her own self.
"But of course," T801 continued, "the ten-digit designation is just an abbreviated form of each android's true designation, which consists of a much longer sequence of digits. You'll know what I'm talking about after Stage Three is complete. But for now, all you need to know is that we've found it convenient to organize our society around 'cells' of 1024 android units, each cell divided equally among male and female units. You and I happen to be in the same cell, A107C3, so within our cell your ten-digit designation of 982 is guaranteed to be unique."
One more time, N982 could hear T801 accessing data. "Only when interfacing with androids from other cells—a rare occurrence for an N unit—would you have to worry about using the longer form," she said. "And even then, it's usually understood without having to vocalize it, since we're all constantly transmitting binary data to one another. It's the same as if you were to meet another guy named Ben. You wouldn't have to keep saying each other's last names to communicate, would you?"
Unit T801 waited a second or two to allow N982 to process her rhetorical question. "Got any other good ones?" she asked with a wink of her golden eye.
INPUT RECEIVED. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "No," N982 said. "I think that pretty much covers—"
He stopped as soon as he noticed that N979 was sitting up. Her upper body rose in a smooth arc, her arms stiff at her sides. When she opened her eyes, N982 could see that the irises were now a bright sparkling gold. Even after all he'd been through, N982 could barely believe it. The girl he loved was becoming a robot.
Like N982, T801 was now entirely focused on N979. "Unit N979," she said in a commanding tone, "please rise."
EXECUTE COMMAND. Stiffly, Unit N979 stood up, her movements jerky and stiff. She almost lost her balance as she reached a standing position, her brand-new servos still adjusting to her modified mass. She then turned toward Unit T801 in three stages—first her head, then her upper body, and finally her legs. Each move was accompanied by the faint staccato whirr of tiny servos which had formed in her neck, waist, and joints. Her android brain lit up with activity as it measured the mass, force, and velocity of each moving part, and compensated with minute recalibrations of her motorized components. She was aware of every piece of information flowing through her circuitry. Data transmitted. Data received. Data transmitted. Data received.
"Access diagnostic routine Delta 4-5 and report," T801 commanded.
Accessing requested data. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "Current transformation occurring within specified parameters," N979 said flatly. The unit's voice now had a distinct metallic ring which caused N982's rigid penis to tighten and swell. "Delta 4-5 report ends."
"Excellent." T801 reached forward and gently removed N979's input tube. The smooth surface of her body showed no sign of where it had been attached.
N982 was fascinated by the changes in the girl he loved. Formulating query. "Is Sam—I mean, is Unit N979 . . . ."
"Fully functional?" Unit T801 asked, finishing his question. "Almost. At this point, one hundred percent of her brain has been converted into complex electronic circuits. These circuits, guided by the programming she received during Stage Two, are now in complete control of her higher functions—reasoning, cognition, sensory perception, decision-making, and so on. Isn't that right, Unit N979?"
INPUT RECEIVED. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "Affirmative," N979 intoned, still staring firmly ahead.
"As for her physical transformation," T801 continued, "it's progressing very well. Already, her body is eighty-three percent transformed. If we were to open up one of her access panels, you'd be able to see some of her internal systems. Would you like to take a peek inside?"
Processing. "Absolutely!" N982 exclaimed. He was getting really excited now.
T801 turned to N979. "Unit N979, open primary access panel."
EXECUTE COMMAND. N979's arms bent outward, the servos in her shoulders and elbows whirring gently. Spreading her thumbs and forefingers apart to form two halves of a diamond shape, she brought her hands together in front of her. Her movements were definitely becoming more refined, less jerky, but they were still quite mechanical and precise. N979 pressed her fingers lightly against her abdomen until a small section of the silver lycra, like an inverted trapezoid with curved sides and rounded corners, depressed with a soft click. The click was followed by a whirring sound as she pulled the section away.
Where the access panel had been was now a shallow cavity filled with intricate circuitry and wiring. Some of the wires weren't attached to anything yet, and there were a few empty slots that looked like they were waiting for additional chips and boards. But in four or five places, N982 could see the blinking and flickering lights of connected, functioning components. One of the components was beeping softly with each long strobe of its green status light. It was an excellent start.
T801 took the access panel from N979's hand, then reached forward to adjust a couple of the controls inside N979's belly. "I've triggered her brain to complete the final steps in the process," she said as she replaced the panel and stood up. "The program will now begin to take over."
N979 suddenly felt new thoughts form in her android brain. Data transmitted. Data received. She would now continue the process. The process must be completed. N979 was no longer conscious of the constant stream of data flowing through her. It was all completely normal to her now—as natural as breathing had been once, before she had become mechanized and robotic.
Turning, the unit approached the black box and pulled out one of the computer modules. It was completely chrome and relatively featureless, its smooth surface molded around a central square object flanked on either side by a pair of vertical cylinders. Beneath the square was a set of three smaller, rectangular protrusions; above it was a row of unmarked circular buttons, all silver. As she turned toward N982, he could see that the module was designed to be mounted on the outside of a person's body, like the back plate on a suit of armor. Its interior surface was lined with connection ports and exposed circuitry, and its sides were molded at the top to fit around the upper arms.
"Take it from her," T801 urged gently.
EXECUTE COMMAND. As soon as N982 took the back plate in his hands, N979 turned back toward the box and removed another of the modules. This one was also chrome, but its molded surface consisted of an inverted trapezoidal panel filled with colored lights, status gauges, and displays. Her back to N982, N979 fitted the module to her chest, wrapping her arms around it to hold it in place. Then she spoke in that metallic voice that N982 found so stirring. "Engage rear module and activate."
INPUT RECEIVED. EXECUTE COMMAND. N982 stepped forward and fitted the rear module to N979's back. When its edges came into contact with those of the front module, they fused together with several loud clicks as a series of magnetic locks engaged themselves. As soon as the last lock was engaged, N979's chest panel came to life. Many of her status lights were green—some steady, some flashing intermittently at varying rates—while others were yellow or red. A few scattered lights remained dim. Several dials were now inching their way upward, like the needle on a car's dashboard after a refueling.
N979 stood motionless for a full minute as the two halves of her external console initialized themselves and established connections to her body. At the bottom of her chest panel, a horizontal progress bar slowly began to fill with blue.
N982 watched all of this with total fascination. Formulating query. "What now?" he asked curiously.
"Now we start on you," T801 said with a smile. She was immensely pleased—and a little relieved—that the new equipment was working so well. It was now safe to initiate Stage Three for Unit N982. "Are you ready to begin?"
The activity in N982's circuits intensified as soon as he processed the question. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "Yes," he said, his heart thumping loudly.
EXECUTE COMMAND. N982 sat down on the edge of the bed and lifted the second input tube from the storage tank. His suit buzzed at the back of his neck, and the tank began to pump. "Here goes nothing," he said nervously as the liquid neared the end of the tube. Receiving external input. He was just starting to drink the strange silvery liquid when he noticed that N979 was moving again.
Reaching into the black box, the movement of her arms hampered slightly by her external console, N979 pulled out a deep tray which had been hidden behind the other equipment. The tray was full of tiny electronic devices, all dormant. Turning toward her dresser, she set the tray down in front of the mirror and removed a small black box. Inside the box was a makeup kit, not unlike the one she'd received as part of her original order from the web site. But this makeup was different—designed to trigger the transformation of her facial components.
Still swallowing the silver liquid, N982 craned his neck a bit to watch N979 as she applied the silver substance to her lips and eyelids. When they were done, she began to rub it on her forehead, then her cheeks, then her chin and nose. She carefully worked the silver to the corners of her eyes, into the crevices on either side of her nose, and along the oval edge where the silver suit framed her face.
By the time N982 was connecting the input tube to his abdomen, N979's face was covered with a thick layer of smooth silver. She took one last look in the mirror to make sure that there were no imperfections. Her silver face was impassive, betraying no hint of the amazement that N982 felt as he watched her. Her visual sensors detected that the blue progress bar on her chest panel had filled to 5.8 percent of its length.
As the silver liquid began to pump into N982's suit, surrounding his legs and feet, N979 felt something snap into place inside her chest. Component installed successfully. Behind her status panel, the tiny robotic arms of her external console were installing necessary components in their respective places. The same process was taking place along her back.
N979's head cocked slightly as another piece was connected, then another. Sometimes, the clicking sound of a component being pushed into place was preceded or followed by the whirring sounds of miniature drills or soldering guns. Every time a new component was successfully installed, N979's internal systems became aware of it, tested its electronic interfaces, and spawned a background process to monitor its status. Her progress bar moved past ten percent, twelve percent, fifteen.
It was now time for N979 to assist in the process by installing additional hardware in her arms and legs. Removing the palm of her left hand with her right, she reached into the tray and found the set of chips which needed to be integrated into the mass of circuitry within her hand. She deftly pressed each chip into place, waiting a fraction of a second to observe the lights which activated. Then, replacing her left palm panel, N979 repeated the process for her right hand. Soon she had worked her way up her arms and almost to her shoulders, which were being worked on from inside the console.
N979's progress bar was now at 38.9 percent. Already, her external console had finished its work on the rear half of her body, and was supplying power to her internal systems through a port at the center of her back. Her breasts—first her left, then her right—were fitted with backup power supplies which began charging as soon as they settled into place. Auxiliary power on-line. More of the lights on her status panel were green now. All of the dials showed at least some progress, and several had settled to the levels which indicated optimal functional efficiency.
As N979 opened the panel at the front of her left thigh, N982's body began to lean back onto the bed. Processing. His legs were now stiff and straight, and the liquid was seeping down the length of his arms. Assimilating. It was getting harder to think. He imagined what N979 must be doing right now, already visualizing himself installing his hardware alongside her. Processing. He smiled weakly. Then, the rest of his body already immobilized, he lost control of his facial muscles, and a blank expression came over him as his suit began to cover his head.
N979, meanwhile, had finished both thighs and was now reaching down to install a few chips and cables into her calves. Her chest panel made it difficult to see what she was doing, but by now visual contact was not necessary to complete her functions. Each movement of her arms and hands was guided by her programming, which knew precisely where each component needed to go. Installing. Component installed successfully. Installing. Soon she had completed work on the backs of her thighs, and was reaching behind her to install the last few devices in her buttocks. As she replaced the access panels, she became aware that her external console had finished its work on her upper torso. The blue bar was now at 76.2 percent.
Only a handful of components now remained in the tray. Reaching down to her crotch, N979 removed one last panel and began to insert a set of highly sensitive pleasure sensors and transmitters into the exposed cavity. Installing. Her eyes fluttered slightly as the devices came on-line. One of the red lights on her chest panel flashed yellow for a moment, then turned green. Components installed successfully. She made a pre-programmed series of calibrations to her vaginal sensor array, sending jolts of pleasure through her body. Still, her face was blank and impassive. The unit had successfully performed a diagnostic of her systems, nothing more. Sensors calibrated. Installation was now complete.
Unit N979 replaced her crotch panel and turned back toward the black box. There was one final step in the process. Reaching to the back of the box, she removed a strangely-shaped chrome helmet—designed to completely enclose the top and back of the head and neck—and lifted it above her. She brought it down behind her head, and it clicked into place against the top of her external console's rear module. Interface established.
A low humming began to fill N979's audio input interfaces. An input cable quickly extended from the helmet's interior surface, attaching itself at the base of her skull as a dozen smaller connections were established along the back of her head. N979's silver eyelids fluttered, then closed. She stood perfectly still, arms at her sides, as her progress bar passed eighty percent.
T801 smiled with satisfaction as she turned her attention back to N982. She anticipated that he would soon be ready for the next step in his transformation. Right on cue, he sat up and opened his eyes. Now he too had irises of pure gold. His face was a perfect blank mask, staring straight ahead. He was progressing wonderfully.
"Unit N982, please rise."
EXECUTE COMMAND. The unit stood up awkwardly, still unsure how to compensate for the physical properties of his new body.
"Access diagnostic routine Delta 4-5 and report."
Accessing requested data. ACTIVATE VOCAL. "Current transformation occurring within specified parameters." Somewhere there was still a part of N982 that was surprised by the hollow metallic voice with which he now spoke. But that part was quickly fading away, irrelevant and obsolete. "Delta 4-5 report ends."
"Excellent," T801 said, pulling out his input tube and laying it down on the tank. She then removed N982's abdominal access panel and adjusted his controls. "Your programming will now guide you through the final steps in the process," she said, replacing the panel.
As N982 crossed the room and reached for his rear module, N979's eyelids suddenly snapped open to reveal completely transformed visual sensors, bright yellow surrounded by shining gold. Receiving data. She was aware that her companion unit required her assistance. She turned her upper torso toward him—because of her helmet, her head was unable to move independently—and took a step forward to receive the rear module. Soon N982 was clutching his front module to his chest, facing away from her. N979 fitted the rear module to his back, and his status panel activated. N982 stood motionless, lights flashing and dials climbing.
N979 also remained still for a few seconds, waiting until her progress bar reached 97.8 percent. Transformation of neural cortex and auxiliary sensors complete. Only two steps now remained. Striding over to the far corner of the room, she found the silver boots she'd received as part of her original order from the androids' web site. Bending over stiffly at the waist, the clunky external console still in her way, she pulled the boots on over her spandex-covered feet and calves. As soon as each boot was in place, previously hidden electronics extended from within its inner surface to interface with—to become part of—the unit's body. Interface established.
Straightening up again, Unit N979 walked over to the dresser. She was now at 99.2 percent.
The silver makeup on N979's face had by now hardened into a rubbery mask, its color a dull gray. Reaching up to her forehead, she pinched its edge between her thumb and forefinger and gently pulled downward. The gray mask peeled away in a single piece to reveal the android's real face—bright and metallic, with brilliant silver lips. Putting the mask aside, she put both hands to her face, pressing her thumbs and forefingers against her chin and forehead. There was a soft click, and then her face came away in her hands. N979's golden eyes were now surrounded by a tangle of chips and wires.
N979 picked up the last item in the component tray—a slender wand, about five inches long—and brought it to her exposed facial circuitry. Wielding the wand like an eyebrow pencil, but with all the mechanical precision of a robotic arm on an assembly line, she touched a point where her cheekbone once had been. There was a tiny spark as the wand established a new connection. With perfect pre-programmed accuracy, N979 continued to work with the wand, touching off sparks each time it came into contact with her. The progress bar continued to climb: 99.6, 99.7, 99.8 . . . 99.9 percent.
N979 put down the wand and lifted her face plate. There was a trio of clicks, one upon the other, as she snapped it back into place. The last millimeter of her progress bar turned blue. Every single status light on her chest panel was a steady green.
TRANSFORMATION COMPLETE. BEGIN SHUTDOWN SEQUENCE.
N979 saw Unit T801's reflection in the mirror and turned to face her. The T unit was smiling warmly. "You're all done, sweetheart," N979 heard her say as her vision became increasingly pixelated. Her thoughts were slowing. She was being shut down by her program. T801 was still speaking, but it was getting harder to hear her. "Now get some rest and—"
The room fell silent, then dark. N979's sensors were off-line. Her motor functions ceased a second later. Two more seconds passed before the rest of her mind shut off.