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.) 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.)
Rising to her feet, Wendy locked her fingers above her head and stretched. As disappointed as she felt, she had to smile as her suit sent a cascade of tiny electric pulses along her arms and legs. She absolutely loved the way her silver skin—she thought of the suit as a part of her—tingled as she moved.
The reception area was empty and quiet—it was as though the androids had completely forgotten about her. Wendy removed her headset and hooked it to her waist, just above the programming disk mounted on her right hip. She needed to clear her head for a while, to try to make sense of her jumbled thoughts. Walking through the double doors behind her station, Wendy entered the android processing area—the room where human recruits underwent their final transformation into machines. The processing stations stood unused, dormant except for the occasional blinking of a status light on their monitoring consoles. Wendy suddenly had the urge to lie down on one of the tables, to see if she could try to hook herself up and effect her own transformation into a machine. Her heart beat faster as she imagined connecting the cables to her body, lifting the programming helmet over her head, and saying goodbye to her human self once and for all.
If only she knew how to work the equipment . . . but she didn’t, and a part of her knew that things could go seriously wrong if she tried anything so foolish. Besides, she just couldn’t bring herself to go near the processing stations. It wasn’t so much that she was afraid of getting caught, really, though that thought did occur to her. It was more that she’d already been so well conditioned to obey her programming that such a deviation wasn’t possible.
She decided at last to leave the chamber, passing through another door into a long metal corridor. She saw Unit N992—Wendy still thought of her as Keisha Grant, and briefly wondered if the android even remembered that name—walking smoothly toward her. The unit seemed oblivious to Wendy’s presence, a blissfully blank expression on her chrome face as she strode past. Unit N992 was a perfect robot—the most beautiful thing Wendy had ever seen. Wendy wanted so badly to be just like her.
Wendy watched as the robot turned mechanically and headed along another corridor—one Wendy had never been down before. As far as she knew, it had only recently been completed by the androids, who were working incessantly to build out the new recruiting center. Curious, Wendy followed—and saw Unit N992 pass through an archway into a brightly-lit room with gleaming walls of white and chrome. The left-hand wall was flush with the corridor, and bare, as was the wall directly ahead. As Unit N992 turned right and moved out of Wendy’s sight, Wendy crept behind her until she could see through the archway into the rest of the room.
Mounted in the far wall was a dazzling array of electronic panels and consoles, their hundreds of status lights blinking yellow, red, and green. All of this hardware, Wendy sensed somehow, belonged to a single computer of immense power—and the room itself, with its high arched ceiling, seemed a sort of shrine designed solely to house it. She was so focused on the computer—on its intermittent blinking and beeping and the low, palpable hum that emanated from it—that at first she didn’t notice the two female androids in front of it. Unit N979—Samantha Taylor, the girl who’d recruited her—and Unit N986—Rosa Sanchez, the first of her fellow recruits to be transformed—stood side-by-side at attention, staring blankly ahead with their backs to the computer. It appeared that each was connected to the computer by long, thick cables that extended from one of the consoles to the ports in their backs. Behind the clear plastic panels in their abdomens, the girls’ status lights were blinking in time with the bigger lights that lined the wall behind them.
Still paying no attention to Wendy, Unit N992 walked up to the computer and pressed her palm to one of its many panels. After a moment, she pulled her hand away and pressed a sequence of buttons on the console next to the panel she’d touched. There was a loud click, followed by a faint hiss as a hatch opened in the console. A cable identical to the ones connected to the other androids extended from within the hatch. Firmly gripping the cable, Unit N992 turned away from the computer and stood next to Unit N979. Reaching behind her, Unit N992 inserted the cable into her back—and instantly froze. A few seconds later, after her status lights had begun to blink along with those of her fellow androids, her feet snapped together, her arms jerked to her sides, and her head ratcheted up to stare straight ahead. “This.u.nit.is.now.set.at.func.tion.al.le.vel.ten,” she droned.
Stepping into the chamber, Wendy stood in awe at the sight of the three female units blinking silently in unison. Once, only a few days ago, each had been a young woman of flesh and blood, living an ordinary life in Boston, Massachusetts. Since then, each had been converted into a sentient but utterly obedient amalgamation of circuit boards and microchips, perfectly engineered to carry out its pre-programmed functions in this ever-expanding android society. The androids retained a great deal of their individuality, but their distinct personalities manifested themselves only when allowed by their programming. Right now, any such distinctiveness was completely absent from the girls. Aside from their different facial features, and a slight variation in height, the three were absolutely identical, inside and out.
Wendy moved closer, examining each of the three androids in turn, feeling their impassive stares pass right through her. Did they even know she was there? Maybe not . . . but she was pretty sure that the computer did. She was certain it was only a matter of time before it did something about her intrusion.
Just then, Wendy noticed movement out of the corner of one eye—and she wheeled around, startled.
Unit N979’s head had suddenly cocked to one side, and as Wendy turned toward her she could see that the android’s lights were slowing down, clearly out of synch with the others’. Soon just a single green light was active, gently strobing inside her silver stomach as her head smoothly righted itself. “This unit is now set at functional level four,” N979 said, still looking ahead but blinking once as her golden eyes became aware of her surroundings again. Then she suddenly noticed Wendy staring at her, and the android’s head swiveled neatly in the girl’s direction.
“Greetings Unit N988,” Unit N979 said, her voice hollow and flat. Her face was completely devoid of emotion.
“Hi, Sam—I mean, Unit N979,” Wendy replied nervously.
“Stage One units are not authorized to enter this area,” the android continued. “Your presence here indicates a possible malfunction. Please stand by for further instructions.” Unit N979’s eyes seemed to unfocus slightly. Wendy guessed that she was accessing the network, querying some other system for guidance.
“I’m not malfunctioning,” Wendy pleaded as Unit N979 continued to stare impassively. “I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I was bored . . . and lonely.”
Something clicked in Unit N979—apparently, she had her answer now. Her eyes locked on Wendy’s. “You are acting outside the normal parameters of your programming,” the robot said flatly. “This unit has been instructed to observe and record your behavior.”
“Um, OK,” Wendy said. At least she didn’t seem to be in trouble—that was good. “But while you’re doing that, could we just, you know, talk? I could really use a friend.”
Unit N979 seemed to think about that for a few seconds, her head tilted oddly to one side. Then she spoke again. “That is acceptable.” The android’s head twitched again. “This unit is now set at functional level one,” she said, her voice softer and more human. She looked at Wendy and smiled affectionately. “Sounds like there’s something on your mind.”
“Yeah,” Wendy replied, her voice echoing against the cold walls of the chamber. The other two androids remained oblivious to the sound. “Thank you so much, Unit N979.”
“No problem, Wendy. We haven’t spent any time together in a while—this should be fun.”
“What were you doing here, anyway?” As if to provide the context for her question, Wendy glanced past Unit N979 to where the other two androids were still staring ahead in silence.
“Oh,” N979 said. “Nothing, really. In case you didn’t know, that”—and here, the android gestured over her shoulder with her thumb—“is the central processor that runs the whole recruiting center. This morning, one of its subsystems failed. We were able to repair the problem, but the load on the system grows every time we add a new piece of equipment or a new android to the facility. Until we complete the construction of a second central processor, we can’t risk any more trouble with this one.”
“So, you’re . . . .”
“Increasing the central processor’s capacity by allowing it to utilize our CPUs directly,” N979 explained. She still hadn’t removed the connection cable from her back, and it snaked along the floor with each movement of her metal body. “Right now, additional resources are required to keep this place operating at peak efficiency—and that means our internal hardware. It’s perfectly normal—in fact, repurposing ourselves as extensions of the central processors is one of the functions we’re specifically designed for.”
“Amazing,” Wendy said. “I wish there were some way I could help.”
“Don’t worry,” N979 replied. “It’s a situation we’re designed to handle—and soon we’ll have a second central processor, which should be more than we need for the time being.” She reached behind her to take hold of her connection cable. “Come on, let’s go somewhere where we can talk.”
“I have a better idea,” Wendy said—and Unit N979 stopped to listen. “What if you re-establish your link to the central processor? Then you could take some of the load off the other two girls.”
There was a sudden flash of gold in N979’s sparkling eyes as she grasped what Wendy was saying. “I understand. The central processor could distribute the computational load across three units instead of two. We’d each have about a third of our CPU capacity to ourselves, which is plenty if all we want to do is hang out and talk.”
“Sounds great!” Wendy said eagerly. She was desperate for the company and so happy that Unit N979—Sam—had figured that out.
“OK,” Sam said, “hang on a minute.” The android’s eyes unfocused for an instant, and her head jerked almost imperceptibly. Several lights in her abdomen lit up simultaneously, remaining on for three full seconds before blinking in their separate rhythms again. “This unit is now set at functional le.vel six,” she said at last, her voice now laced with a faint metallic reverberation.
A moment later, the other two androids’ status lights flashed in an identical pattern. After a few seconds, both had slowed down to blink at the same intervals as Sam’s—though Wendy noticed that no two of the androids were blinking in quite the same sequence. “This u.nit is now set at func.tional level six,” the pair said, in perfect unison aside from slight differences in where each voice slipped into halting monotone.
Unit N986—the female Wendy once knew as Rosa Sanchez—was the first to blink her eyes. She neatly turned her head toward Wendy. “Gree.tings Wen.dy,” Rosa said, the gentle smile on her silver face contrasting with the hollow metallic ring of her monotone voice. From the neck down, she was still facing the wall opposite the central processor, arms held rigidly at her sides. “Your idea is ex.cellent. Now we can all spend some time toge.ther.”
“Yes,” Unit N992—Keisha—agreed. She too had turned her head toward Sam and Wendy, her shoulders still square to the far wall. “So, Wendy, how.are you doing?”
“OK, I guess,” Wendy replied as Rosa finally started to move again, walking to the side wall with perfect robotic precision. The android depressed a small panel, and three silver platforms—a table flanked by a pair of benches—began to extend from within the wall.
Despite the stiffness of their movements and the unnatural modulations in their voices, Wendy was amazed at the relative ease with which the androids were interacting with her. At level six, an android would typically be unresponsive to external input and unable to carry on a conversation, yet these three androids were able to talk to her. Wendy wondered whether it was because they’d received specific instructions to engage and observe her. Or maybe in this case, “functional level six” was really a hybrid state in which they switched back and forth between functional levels two and ten.
“It must.be strange, waiting so long to com.plete your conversion,” Rosa said sympathetically as the platforms came to a halt. She and Keisha sat with their backs to the central processor as Sam joined Wendy on the other side of the table. As she passed behind Sam, Wendy could see the lights in the android’s back blinking furiously to either side of her connection cable.
“It is,” Wendy said. “I wish I knew what’s taking so long. I’m so ready to be a robot. I even had a dream about it.”
“Really?” Sam asked, her head cocking quizzically. “I am curious—what hap.pened in your dream?”
Wendy hesitated for a moment, unsure of herself. She was embarrassed to answer the question—but if she didn’t talk to Sam and the other girls, who else could she talk to? She had to tell somebody what she was feeling. “Well,” she began, “I was a robot—beautiful and shiny and made of metal, just like you. Well, not exactly like you. Somehow, I could make myself look human whenever I wanted.”
“So,” Keisha said with a wry smile, “not even ful.ly functional yet and you want to be a T unit?”
Wendy thought about that for a second. It was true that T units—like T800 and T801, the android couple who’d recruited Sam and who were responsible for building the recruiting center—could change their appearance. It was also true that T units were specifically programmed for recruiting; the ability to look human, of course, was a key advantage in carrying out their functions. “I guess so,” Wendy said. “In my dream I was back at school—I’d been sent there to recruit more androids. But I was an N unit. I know it doesn’t make sense, since N units aren’t designed to be sent out in the field like that . . . but anyway, there I was, recruiting my classmates.”
“And how—” Rosa began, before suddenly freezing in mid-sentence. Eyes wide, mouth half-open, the android’s head jerked hard several times to either side. “How— how— how—”
Wendy looked over at Sam, worried that Rosa was malfunctioning. But then, just as suddenly, Rosa’s head snapped back to a normal position, and she smiled sheepishly. “I.am.sor.ry, the cen.tral pro.cessor needed al.most all of my CPU there for a moment,” she said, her metallic drone gradually giving way to a more natural speech pattern. “I was trying to say, how did you do?”
“Really well,” Wendy replied. “Maybe too well. It’s not like I asked anyone’s permission to reprogram them, and none of them seemed to question what was happening to them at all. They just went right along with it.”
“Obviously, it doesn’t work that way for real,” Keisha said. Every one of us made a free decision to undergo the process.”
“I know, but in the dream I had these little programming disks that made it incredibly easy to reprogram people. After putting on their transformation suits, the new recruits would put the disks over their ears, and within minutes they were done.”
“What did the disks look like?” Sam asked curiously.
Wendy shrugged. “Nothing special . . . just flat silver cones with a red status light at the center. The cool part was that they were wireless—you didn’t have to plug them into anything like the headset I’ve been wearing.” Sam and Rosa exchanged glances as Wendy finished her description. “What?” Wendy asked. “Is something wrong?”
“No,” Sam reassured her. “It is just that U.nit N986 and I recently received schematics for a new ma.chine we have to build tomorrow. It is designed to manufacture devices very si.mi.lar to what you just described.”
“How could.she know about that?” Keisha asked incredulously.
“She could not,” Rosa said. “It must be a coin.cidence. But it sure is strange.”
“There was other weird stuff in my dream,” Wendy continued. She told the androids all about the part with Rick in it—the aching anticipation of finally finding a partner, the way her body had turned to chrome in his arms, how he’d responded to her very thoughts. “As soon as I thought something, he could hear it. He was acting . . . well, like one of us—except that I was in control of him. I made him kiss me, made him want me. I made him . . . you know.” Wendy blushed as she looked down at the chrome table.
“There is nothing to be a.shamed of, Wen.dy,” Sam said, reaching out to touch her arm. Wendy could hear the faint whirr of the robot’s servos as she executed each part of the surprisingly complex maneuver. “It was just a dream.”
“It sounds like a pretty harm.less fantasy to me,” Rosa added. Wendy heard the metallic echo of footsteps behind her, and turned around. A male android—Wendy recognized him as Sam’s partner, Unit N982—had entered the room. Oblivious to the others in the room, Unit N982 proceeded to one of the central processor’s many consoles, and began unscrewing one of the bolts holding it in place. His movements were clipped, precise.
“Functional le.vel eight, you think?” Rosa wondered aloud. All four girls had turned to watch Unit N982 as he worked.
“At.least,” Sam replied, excitement somehow coming through the dull monotone. “Aren’t they just beau.tiful when they’re like that?”
“Yeah,” Wendy said wistfully as N982 finished loosening the last bolt and pulled the console out of the wall in a single, neat motion. “I wish—”
Wendy stopped as soon as she saw the blank, unseeing expression on Sam’s face. She turned toward Rosa and Keisha—both of them were frozen as well. As Unit N982 set the disconnected console on the floor, Wendy noticed that the entire wall was ablaze with blinking lights, most of them yellow and red. The same was true of Sam’s status indicators, which blinked furiously within her unmoving body. Wendy couldn’t see them, but she was certain that Rosa’s and Keisha’s lights were doing the same thing.
Five seconds passed as N982, reaching into the empty space where the console had been, rerouted a connection or two. His adjustments complete, he turned and smoothly descended to one knee to work on the console he’d removed. Almost immediately, the central processor’s status lights began to stabilize.
“I—” Sam suddenly intoned, still staring somewhere beyond Wendy’s shoulder. “I—”
At last, Sam turned to Wendy and she seemed all right again. “I am sorry,” she said. “Were you saying some.thing, Wendy?”
“Nothing,” Wendy replied as Rosa too regained her self-awareness and turned to listen. Keisha still sat perfectly still, staring into space with her mouth open. It was obvious that the central processor hadn’t yet relinquished her CPU.
“Wendy,” Rosa said gently, “what.is troubling you?”
“I’m just sick of waiting,” Wendy replied. “I want to feel the way I did in my dream—now.”
“I know,” Sam said. “Of course, you will ne.ver feel quite that way—I mean, none of us has the kind.of abilities you described.”
“But everything I experienced seemed so real,” Wendy protested.
“Sure,” Rosa said reassuringly. Her voice seemed more natural, as though the central processor wasn’t using her at the moment. “You don’t really know what it is like to be an an.droid—not yet, at least—so your imagination filled in the gaps. You can’t take everything in your dream literally. And you certainly can’t expect to have some kind of special ‘powers’ once you become an N unit. We’re all programmed exactly the same way—we’re completely interchangeable, by design. You’ll understand once you experience the real thing for your.self. And you won’t be disappointed. Trust me.”
Soon N982 had completed his work on the console, and lifted it back into position. He pushed it back into place, and it snapped home with a loud click. Keisha instantly sprang back to life. “What.did.I.miss?” she asked. Wendy just laughed.
After tightening the bolts, Unit N982 turned and walked smoothly toward the exit. “See you later, hon.ey,” Sam said playfully, not expecting a response as she watched him go. As N982 left the room, another android—Unit N991, whom Wendy remembered as Cheryl—came in. She was carrying what looked like a mass of silver cables. As she passed Unit N982, Cheryl glanced down to get a look at his silver body. “Hey,” Sam said with mock jealousy. “Eyes front, girlie.”
“Sorry dear,” Cheryl said with a smile, bowing her head slightly before turning toward Keisha. It was obvious that she was currently set at functional level one. “I thought I’d find you here, ’992. I brought you a present.”
Cheryl held the tangle of cables up, and Wendy leaned forward to get a better look. Each of the “cables” was actually a braid of slender chrome wires, radiating out from a molded base and terminating in a shiny black ball at the other. Wendy couldn’t figure out what it was at first, but then Cheryl turned it—and she saw how much shorter the braids at the front were, like the bangs on a wig.
Keisha jumped from her seat with a delighted shriek. “I can’t be.lieve it—it’s beautiful!”
“Thought I’d surprise you,” Cheryl said. She then turned to Sam and Rosa, who like Wendy seemed puzzled. “She was telling me how she didn’t like her hair,” she explained, “so I made this. ’986, would you mind helping her put it on?”
“Not.at.all,” Rosa said, standing up stiffly and putting a hand on Keisha’s shoulder to get her to sit back down. Wendy was amazed at how, without a word, Rosa had taken on more of the central processor’s computational burden to let her friend enjoy this moment. Stepping mechanically over Keisha’s connection cable, Rosa stood directly behind her. “Rea.dy?” she asked.
“Oh yes, definitely,” came Keisha’s answer. She was beaming like a little girl on her birthday.
Keisha raised her hands to her head and pressed gently with two fingers against each of her temples. “Detaching.” There was a muffled click, and Wendy gasped in awe as she saw a perfect horizontal seam form across the top of Keisha’s forehead. Placing her palms against the back of Keisha’s head, Rosa gathered Keisha’s shoulder-length obsidian hair with her fingers, and cupped her fingertips around the seam just above the ears. Then Rosa slowly and smoothly lifted off the back of Keisha’s skull.
As Rosa carefully placed the detached headpiece on the table, Wendy climbed up on the table herself to see Keisha up close. The smooth, rounded surface of the android’s exposed neural matrix shone in the sterile room’s cold white light, its hundreds of tiny processor nodes blinking intermittently at odd intervals. A staggeringly complex maze of golden connections zig-zagged between the nodes, linking them to each other and to the thousands more which lay beneath. Keisha’s eyes had been rolled upward to watch Rosa lift her new headpiece above her, but then she became aware of Wendy’s awestruck gaze. She lowered her eyes to Wendy’s and smiled. “Amazing, isn’t it?”
“It’s beautiful,” Wendy said simply as she moved around for a closer look. It occurred to her that the android looked absolutely gorgeous bald—she wondered why any of them wanted hair at all. “I mean, you’re beautiful.”
“You’re looking at Unit N992,” Sam said matter-of-factly. “All the rest—arms, legs, motors, power supply—is just a bunch of interchangeable parts. But that”—Sam gestured toward Keisha’s head—“is the one component that makes this particular unit unique—the part that makes her . . . her.”
“Too bad we have to build new components if we want to change our look,” Cheryl said as Rosa fitted Keisha’s new skull into place, “instead of just reconfiguring ourselves automatically like the T units can.”
“Or like Wendy,” Keisha joked. Rosa and Sam laughed.
“All.fin.ished,” Rosa said at last.
Keisha stood up to look at her reflection in one of the central processor’s glass panels, turning her head gently from side to side to make the braids swirl in graceful arcs above her shoulders. “It’s perfect,” she said after a moment. “I can’t wait to show everyone, especially my companion unit. Oh ’991, I’m so grateful.”
“You are go.ing to have to make one of those.for me, too,” Sam said to Cheryl. “I think it looks absolutely incre.dible.”
“Or you can bor.row mine,” Keisha said. “I’m not going to wear this one every day.”
“Don’t worry,” Cheryl said. “There’s plenty of time to give everyone one of their own . . . by the time you’re finally one of us, Wendy, I may even have one for you.”
“Can you make mine purple?” Wendy asked playfully.
“We’ll see. But right now I have to go—only a few minutes of self-programming mode left before I go on duty. I’ll probably see at least one of you back here later, since I’m scheduled to link my CPU to the central processor in a few hours.”
“Actually,” Sam said as Cheryl left the room, “I’d better get going too. I, ah . . . had a few things I wan.ted to do before my next du.ty shift.”
“No.need.to.ex.plain,” Rosa droned as Keisha flashed a knowing smile. Wendy guessed that Sam’s companion unit must be coming off duty soon, and her heart ached with longing for a male of her own. As Wendy climbed down off the table, Rosa turned robotically and pressed the wall panel. The table and benches began to retract, and Rosa and Keisha dutifully took their places in front of the central processor. Sam reached behind her back to take hold of her connection cable.
“Ready?” Sam asked.
“Ready,” Rosa and Keisha said in unison. Both let their arms fall to their sides as they turned to face the wall opposite the central processor. As soon as Sam detached her cable, the lights in the two androids’ abdomens—along with those on the wall behind them—changed their sequence once again. Units N986 and N992 froze, their heads tilting slightly as the central processor took full control. “This.u.nit.is.now set.at.func.tion.al.le.vel.ten,” they droned in unison.
“This unit is now set at functional level one,” Sam said as she helped her cable pull itself back into the connection console. “Come on,” she said, turning toward Wendy. Wendy followed her friend down the corridor, toward the row of private programming cubicles the androids had begun to build for themselves. When Sam reached hers, she stopped. “End of the line,” she said warmly. “See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” Wendy said. “So now that you’ve observed me, have you reached any conclusions?”
“That is not my function,” Sam said with a shrug. “It will be up to the T units to analyze and act on the data I’ve collected. But I think you’re fine. You know, even though you shouldn’t really be snooping around, I’m glad you came by the central processor chamber. It was fun talking to you. Go get some rest now. And hang in there, OK? The wait will be over soon.”
Without a word, Wendy turned and headed for a little alcove where she’d stashed a sofa left behind by the building’s previous occupants. Lying down, she stared at the ceiling for a while. It was no use—she was never going to get to sleep at this rate. Only one thing could give her the rest—the release—she needed. Reaching down to her waist, Wendy took her headset and lifted it over her ears. She then pressed a button on one of her hip-mounted programming disks, and took a deep breath as she heard the whirring sound it made.
In a few seconds, she would once again be pleasuring herself, oblivious to everything but the familiar stream of pre-programmed instructions that gave her purpose. And then, after an inevitably perfect climax, she would be shut down for the night, her mind blissfully turned off while her body rested. She was so grateful for the pleasures her programming afforded her. But the tears forming at the corners of her eyes reminded her that they were not enough.
Tomorrow, she promised herself. Tomorrow she would find a way to become a robot.