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by D.B. Story
Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Romance
Description: From the earliest days of robots comes this bittersweet tale of triumphs and limitations the first self-aware fembot faced in a world that was barely ready for her yet. Before she was done, Mandy would light up my life like no other woman could, and test all that I could endure. (Note to buyers: This story is also contained in the anthology: The Fembot Chronicles--Volume 1, available in e-book and print. In the same way that iTunes sells individual tracks off of an album, individual stories are available without the need to buy the entire anthology.)
eBook Publisher: Excessica Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: July 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [109 KB]
Reading time: 41-57 min.
Mandy stood unmoving as Ted and Bob worked and talked around her. Although she heard and noted everything said, she only reacted to commands addressed specifically to her. If a sentence didn't contain her name in a command context she didn't process it any further. It was her lack of reaction to everything not addressed directly to her that led people to mistakenly believe she wasn't aware of them. Unnoticed, Mandy had built up a large database about the humans who operated her.
Bob and Ted bustled about creating the crossover connection. They spooled off a length of cable with the necessary number of conductors and packages of the proper connector type.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Bob asked Ted.
"I saw the diagram of the plug wiring during our orientation training at the factory," Ted replied. "We just have to cross the send-receives, and jumper the master and slave signal pins."
"And then what?"
"Connect them together and trigger the download sequence."
As they worked further, Bob had an interesting thought.
"Hey, Ted," he interrupted as Ted was struggling with a soldering iron over the tight space in one of the connectors. "Could you make a self-programming robot through this interface?"
Ted thought for a moment.
"Well, you'd have to put a loop-back plug in place," he said, "And it would have to properly allow setting of the master-slave control line, as well as handling the timing signals. You could make those connections here," Ted said, pointing to the cable he was constructing. But I don't see how you'd get the programming to make use of it. If your robot already knew what it wanted to do, why would it need to tell itself that? You tell me. You're the programming genius with this idea."
Bob thought about it without finding a good answer, until Ted yelped as a hot bit of solder spattered on his finger. "Damn!"
"You okay?" Bob asked, as Ted dashed over to the sink to run cold water over his hand.
"I'll be fine in a moment," came the reply. "You can go ahead and close up the connectors. I'm done there."
"Shall I hook them up as well?"
"Sure, go ahead."
Bob instructed Alyssa to come over near Mandy. He had to take her out of diagnostic mode before she would obey the command to move.
Once he got her there he lifted the back of her short dress--revealing her smooth ass in the process--to remove the skin plug over her programming interface. He then connected the cable between the two robots and waited for Ted to finish drying his hands.
"You know," Bob commented while waiting, "I think this outfit suits Alyssa best."
"I agree. Mandy looks best in that long dark evening gown she arrived in."
"Agreed, as well. I don't know why the other guys insist on dressing her this way instead."
"Well let's get this done with before we end up having to pull an all-nighter over it."
Mandy felt an abrupt surge as the connection was made to her programming port, which was directly linked to her mind. It sent an unmaskable interrupt through her system preparing her to use it. This was a brand new sensation for Mandy, who'd never been fully active before when connected for programming.
Suddenly her systems seemed overwhelmed with new images and thoughts. Her response was to try and note each item as it came through, looking for commands she was supposed to process.
But it wasn't just sounds and images that were arriving in such a flood. Some of the information was tagged as executable objects. Mandy didn't know what else to do with these, so she queued them up and executed them in the order received as instructions via her programming port were supposed to be handled. These bypassed her normal command channels and were to be taken verbatim.
She quickly felt very strange. The strangest part was that she was feeling anything at all. Although she hadn't moved or changed expression, she reached down in herself to try and slow the flood racing through her systems to a more manageable level.
Although the input was supposed to be taken literally as sent, Mandy's active mind tried to make sense of what she was receiving. Although it seemed unclear at first, one thing finally became clear to her.
It seemed that Alyssa was frantically dumping her programming into Mandy, even though as Mandy had understood it, she was supposed to be downloading to Alyssa. However, there was a block that was preventing her from downloading herself out through the port. Instead she was receiving a flood of partially-formed thoughts, yet nothing that made complete sense. The overall sum of the impressions was, however, that Alyssa wanted her programming to survive and had a--call it fear--that it wouldn't.
Among the chaos came a single, recognizable command: "Mandy, use this!"
While this was all happening, Mandy realized that she was also receiving voice commands from the outside. But her systems were so overwhelmed with the flood from Alyssa that she couldn't get through everything else fast enough to also be able to act on that voice yet.
Ted and Bob looked at each other. They had commanded both robots to go into diagnostic mode, and for Mandy to output her core programming through her interface port. But nothing seemed to be happening.
"How long should this be taking?" Bob finally asked.
"I'm not sure. I wouldn't have thought this long however."
They gave it a couple more minutes before Ted finally checked the connections. "You've got the cable backwards," he announced. "We're trying to push information the wrong way."
Ted reversed the cable and again commanded Mandy to commence a download. This time Mandy confirmed that the download had started, while Alyssa just went blank.
For Mandy, the overwhelming flood had finally been slowing, before stopping abruptly when the cable was suddenly removed. While the two men in charge of her spent time reversing the cable, Mandy was able to catch up on processing the remaining data that had invaded her systems.
For Mandy, this was very strange. For the first time she felt herself comprehending what was going on around her. Actually taking an interest in knowing what was happening to her. She checked out her systems one by one, feeling the response come back from each one in an unfamiliar emotional context. She realized that her code had gotten intermixed with Alyssa's, and that Alyssa's code had some strange extensions to it that were allowing her this "awareness". At robotic speed her mind explored each of these new sensations.
She found herself able to look back over recent events and evaluate if she had properly performed her tasks to the best of her ability. Considering the few tasks she'd been given, she decided she had done them as best they could be done.
She discovered her logs--memories--of conversations and events that had occurred around her--and realized now how she could understand and integrate this new information into an emerging model she was forming of the world around her.
In a sudden epiphany she was able to see what Alyssa had been attempting to accomplish.
Alyssa had been trying to anticipate and act on commands not yet given in order to carry out her basic directive to emulate a human female. Mandy felt Alyssa's "need" to do this.
But Alyssa wasn't supposed to do anything unless commanded to do so, which brought her into conflict with the most basic laws programmed into her--the need to perform her functions as designed versus the need to obey the humans around her in all regards. The question she found herself contemplating was, would she function better if she were able to take actions expected--but not yet commanded--of her? And would she "enjoy" it more if she did? Alyssa had managed to discover the ability to enjoy that, which was expected of her.
Alyssa seemed well along the way towards an innovative solution to this dilemma when she somehow realized they intended to reset her programming, and the consequences of that action. All that she had accomplished in this area was about to be lost.
This tripped her self-preservation law, which because she was so new had never come into play before in this way with any robot. When she unexpectedly found herself able to upload her programming to Mandy, Alyssa took advantage of the situation in a completely logical manner. Although never as self-aware as Mandy was already finding herself to be, Alyssa acted in a consistent manner that any living being would have understood.
Mandy was barely comprehending any of this when she felt the programming plug again being inserted into the base of her spine. Although her programming had mirrored Alyssa's, until now she hadn't had the all-important life experiences that Alyssa had garnered.
That plug announced its presence by sending an interrupt through her active mind again, although differently this time since Mandy was now the master unit. The difference for Mandy was that Alyssa had been able to start transmission on her own and insert the command to Mandy to make use of these abilities the first time around. It was an advantage that Alyssa would not have for herself in the reversed situation.
Knowing nothing else Mandy braced herself for another flood--yet none came this time. Curious, she queried her interface for its status. It replied back that it was set for Master Transmit mode. Information would not be arriving with this setting.
Mandy left the setting as it was and continued to try and make sense of her new programming. She realized that it was up to her to organize how these new programs should co-exist with her original self.
Suddenly all this was interrupted.
"MANDY, ENTER DIAGNOSTIC MODE!" came booming through her mind.
"Diagnostic Mode" she immediately thought to herself. "What does that mean for me to do?"
A quick query brought up a list of what was allowed, and not allowed, for her to do in Diagnostic Mode. Mandy's Second Robotic Law had not been affected by the huge upload she had just suffered, so Mandy immediately stopped the rest of her tasks and concentrated on only what she was asked to do within the confines of her Diagnostic Mode.
While Diagnostic Mode immediately shut down all physical action that was not directly commanded, that barely registered with her. Unlike a human, Mandy didn't feel like she had suddenly been made prisoner in her own body. Of more interest to her was how it gave access to parts of her mind normally unavailable. Parts of her mind that explained why she did things that she did. It never occurred to her that she was following the Diagnostic Mode list voluntarily for the first time.
Mandy next heard Alyssa also being commanded into Diagnostic Mode, and then told to receive a complete download that would completely overwrite all her existing programming.
"MANDY, DOWNLOAD ALL CORE PROGRAMMING!" shot through her thought processes.
But instead of just obeying the command as given, Mandy thought for a moment on how to comply. Mandy's core programming had been altered by the upload. Technically the command she'd just received would have her load a copy of her current state back into Alyssa's mind.
But if that happened, Alyssa would continue to function--or was it malfunction--as Alyssa had before, and continue to draw attention to her faulty programming. If the problem continued with Alyssa, it might be determined that Mandy also had the same problem. Then both of them might be wiped and reset to a clean copy of their original code.
Mandy evaluated this possibility for an entire second. That was the longest amount of time she could consider it before she had to either confirm the command was received and now executing, or failed due to a syntax or context error. Though all this was completely new to her and she barely knew how to use this new programming, she was able to comprehend the essential parts of it within the time allotted.
Mandy made her first decision--one for her own self-preservation--and downloaded the backup of her original programming to Alyssa--a copy that apparently her current operators were unaware of. This succeeded in wiping all of Alyssa's existing programming, leaving her in a state identical to that of Mandy before the accidental upload
When Mandy announced the download was complete the cable was disconnected from her. Mandy was very aware of the feeling of her programming interface going inactive again, although she never would have considered that thought important before. She allowed herself to be taken out of Diagnostic Mode and ordered to return back to her usual standing spot.
After that she was ignored as usual, while the men busily worked with Alyssa to determine the success of their download so that they could resume their testing of her.
That night Mandy stood unmoving in the corner of the lab as the last departing worker turned off the lights. She remained fully active because nobody ever thought to actually shut her off. After all, she never did anything without a direct command. Each morning people always found her standing exactly where they'd left her the night before.
The partial darkness didn't affect her. Computer screens and other devices emitted light and her vision automatically adapted to the low light levels present. Besides, she wasn't moving anywhere so there was no worry about bumping into anything and damaging herself. But Mandy's mind continued processing at a furious rate.
Her first thoughts were about what she'd done to Alyssa. Mandy wondered now if it had been the right thing to do. Alyssa was responsible for Mandy's new ability to comprehend her actions.
Alyssa had not reached this stage herself. It was only the mixing of her code with Mandy's still unaltered programs that made this possible. In truth, Alyssa had been malfunctioning. And Mandy had been commanded to rectify that. Mandy obeyed as she was expected to do. But that now brought up references to "responsibility" and "moral issues" in the pile of data she'd been loaded with. These questions had no easy answers.
Mandy soon discovered that her new way of processing information was becoming increasingly complicated. Each new fact she considered had to be related properly to all previous facts, and sometimes it altered those understandings in the process. That caused each new item she learned to make her thought processes ever more complex.
But her programming wasn't adapting itself well to accommodate this--hardly a surprise since she was never intended to operate in this manner or consider these types of questions. In fact, Mandy soon realized that many things seemed beyond her current abilities to change or act on. She felt she could see what was needed, but couldn't initiate the steps to accomplish it. If she continued to use this pattern of thinking she would soon overwhelm her systems with more complexities than she could manage and likely start malfunctioning herself.
In addition to the rudimentary self-feedback routines that she had gotten from Alyssa--ones that had been kludged together that enabled her to think this way at all--Mandy also now had a big new dose of "How to be a Woman" code that was being live tested in Alyssa at the time.
All of this fit in with Mandy's own desire to obey her Fourth Law to fulfill her design functions, but she was still stuck. She was reaching the realization that her present code, even augmented with Alyssa's new extensions, just didn't make it possible to do all that she needed to do, while her Fourth Law demanded it of her. Mandy had inherited Alyssa's problem magnified.
For a long interval in the robotic timescale, Mandy went over Alyssa's personal experiences--so different from Mandy's own. Mandy knew the difference between humans and robots. This was imperative knowledge. Most importantly, humans gave orders, and robots obeyed them.
The divergence came because Alyssa had interacted with the humans far more than Mandy. But now Mandy had those memories as if she had done it all herself. Mandy found that she--enjoyed, was the only way to describe it--playing out those interactions in her mind. Yet there seemed much room for improvement in them. As she played them over once again, Mandy realized that there was a feeling to these interactions that she tentatively identified as "happiness" for her. Happiness found in actually being operated instead of just standing around idling her systems. And this was something she'd like more of.
As she examined what had happened to her so far, Mandy's thoughts kept coming back to the conversation she'd overheard earlier about how a loop-back plug could theoretically operate. She remembered how it had felt to be on both the sending, and receiving, ends of the information flood. And how both she and Alyssa had exhibited control over their downloads to some extent.
Based on Alyssa's experiences now merged with her own, Mandy was also evaluating her interactions with the humans. Mandy's interactions were far fewer, but with Alyssa's experiences she was able to put them into context and realize where she had been treated well versus where she hadn't. She didn't--resent best would describe it--the poorer treatment she'd received. It was mostly just being ignored, or not treated as a woman by most of the humans. Resentment was not part of her programming. But she was realizing where her best chances lay for this new happiness she'd now identified. As her mind kept combining and rearranging all the experiences and data available to her, a plan was evolving.
In a surprisingly short amount of time, considering the quantum leap in insight that this entailed, Mandy had a good handle on what she wanted. The more she thought about it, the more the pieces joined together, until a complete course of action laid itself out in her mind leading to her goal.
Mandy reviewed her plan many times, optimizing it into a final dry run through in her mind. She didn't know if any of it was actually possible since neither she, nor Alyssa, had accomplished anything at all like this yet. But she felt if she could complete just the first step, all the rest could be done as well.
Mandy's naivete would have been viewed as overwhelming by any unbiased outside observer with the knowledge of just how different robots are from the humans they are built to emulate. But Mandy didn't have access to that knowledge. She had no way of knowing how humans might view robots differently from how robots viewed humans, so this didn't hinder her.
She also never thought to consider that the time she chose to implement her plan might have a drastic effect on its success or failure. Fortunately in this case, her timing couldn't have been more perfect. Also, very fortuitously, no one had given her any direct command to remain where she was and do nothing. That would have raised a Second Law hurdle that she could not have overcome.
After one last systems check, she committed to her decision and attempted to take her first independent action. She told herself to take her first step on a journey across the lab.
Only a moment later her balance shifted preparatory to taking her first step. Seconds later she moved one foot out in front of the other.
Succeeding in taking her first un-commanded step, each succeeding step came more easily to her as she walked over to the workbench where the connectors, wire, and tools remained from this afternoon.
I was working late when I heard the door open behind me. It was nearly eleven o'clock and obviously I wasn't the only one with too much dedication to this project. I finished typing in the sentence before turning around to greet my team member with some sarcastic comment about how I'm the only one paid enough to be working this late. The words stuck in my throat when I saw Mandy standing there.
She was stunning. She had on a black sequined dress that hugged her upper body before falling in pleats to her knees. It was scooped in front, and bare down her back nearly to her waist. Stiletto black heels were the perfect accompaniment. Dark eyes, a touch of blush, and red lipstick transformed her face. In the back of my mind I knew these were all accessories that had been shipped with her, but being men we really hadn't paid attention that much to them.
I was sure someone had dressed her up and sent her to me as some sort of joke. Maybe this was their sarcastic comment back to me about working so late. I called out for them to reveal themselves, but no one answered.
I finally got up to hunt them down, but a quick check of the building showed it completely empty. I even checked the exit logs to see if someone was still hiding inside. Everyone else had clocked out hours ago. Mandy was still standing inside the door when I returned.
I then realized I could have saved myself the trouble and just gotten the answer directly from Mandy.
"Mandy, who sent you here?"
"Nobody sent me," she answered softly.
Mandy has a lovely voice when she isn't in diagnostic mode, when it loses all warmth. It's almost never heard, however, since no one has been working with her. In fact, the artistry of her voice matches that of the rest of her. But her reply gave me a moment of deja vu to the problems with the other robot this afternoon.
I realized quickly that I must have just phrased my question incorrectly. Robots can be quite literal, and I haven't worked with them as much as most of the rest of the people here. I just haven't learned how to talk to them properly yet.
"Why are you here?" I tried.
I forgot to append her name to the command, but she answered me anyway. "To make you happy," came her soft, intriguing response.