Chi City, 2152

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Part 1

He awoke, as usual, just as his sleep ring started to vibrate. He slid the ring off his finger and set it quietly on the charging station on his bedside table, being careful not to wake her. Much as he might complain sometimes of his insurance carrier requiring the sleep ring to monitor his heart rate and other vital signs as he slept, it did keep his premiums lower and also had one other small advantage he took some delight in.

He glanced over at the clock to confirm the time, and yes, he had another three minutes before the alarm went off to signal the start of the day. He savored those few minutes, whether he chose to doze and see what pleasant way she would think of to awaken him, or like today when he just took a few moments to appreciate her beauty.

Her shoulder had come uncovered in the night and he ran a finger along it in a slow light caress, marveling for the thousandth time how her gleaming metal skin could flex and be warm to the touch, so much like human flesh. But no human skin had that soft silver sheen, that shimmered but was just short of being uncomfortably mirror bright in strong light. She sighed softly in her sleep, but he kept the touch light enough not to signal her to awaken just yet.

He knew she wasn't asleep in the humans sense. She was actually aware of his every movement and breath. But his preference was for her to simulate sleep. She would sleep until the alarm or a word or a more intimate touch from him signaled her to 'wake up'.

Some mornings he loved watching her sleep for a few minutes before getting up for the day.

He propped himself up quietly on his elbow, his eyes lingering over the curves of the back of her skull and her neck, her shoulder, the complex shapes of her ear.. “If I ever meet the artists who modeled you, my dear,” he thought to himself, “I will have to remember to tip them a substantial little bit of credits.”

At the moment the alarm began to ring, it's soft deep bass throb gradually increasing until he said, “Alarm off.”

She stirred and stretched, rolling to her back and turning towards him. Her face was a soft silvery sculpture of a human female face, except for the eyes. There were only soft unbroken curves where human eyes would normally be. He preferred holographic eyes to mechanicals. No mechanical could match the holos for reaction time or expression. Her closed eyes faded into view even as she opened them and regarded him. Her voice was soft, as usual. “Mmmmm.. Good morning, Aaron.”

"Good morning, Bethany."

Her azure tongue flicked over her silvery lips wetting them before she gently pulled him down into a soft deep kiss. She tasted slightly sweet with a hint of vanilla and something a bit more aromatic, today. Her tongue teased his for a long sweet moment before reluctantly breaking from the kiss. She licked her lips again and smiled, regarding him with a mildly mischievous look. “Any chance of you taking today off, lover?”

“You make that a very tempting thought,” he chuckled, as one hand cupped the soft metallic curve of one of her warm breasts, giving it an appreciative squeeze, “But we've wrapped the Aridyne design project, and you know I prefer to do the final presentation for the clients in person.” He patted her hip, that had started to turn more fully towards him during the kiss. “So, get going on making some coffee, Beth.”

“Oh pooh.” She pouted. “Spoilsport organic workaholic. Can I at least use the bathroom first? You didn't let me clean up last night after sex.” She was already getting out of bed and reaching for her robe.

“Hey, we primitive organic male humans are like dogs sometimes. We like to mark our turf and have it stay marked for a little while.” He threw back the covers and reached for his own robe.

She headed into the bathroom muttering something under her breath about ridiculous customs of organic beings and there not being an actual organic dog within probably 50 km.

A moment after the door closed, he heard the water run, followed a few seconds later by the sound of it being evacuated into the toilet with some force. It was one of the features of her design, to both sanitize sexual orifices and replenish the small store of water needed to simulate saliva and other lubricating fluids. He heard the soft whir of the oil pump for a few seconds as she refilled the reservoir in her body that kept her skin and other surfaces from feeling too dry to the touch. Finally he heard the other door to the bathroom open and close as she moved on to the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast.

He went into the bathroom and proceeded to enjoy a leisurely old-fashioned hot shower. Cool ultrasonic mist was much quicker, of course, but there was no hurry today.

He came to the table dressed and ready for work to find her already seated and waiting for him, his coffee mug in her hand. She smiled coyly, “The selection today is French vanilla or hazelnut..”

“Hazelnut sounds particularly nice this morning.” He watched as she pulled back her robe, revealing her left breast. Holding the coffee mug under her soft golden left nipple, she let out a small gasp as she squeezed it lightly, and a thin white stream of sweetened hazelnut creamer trickled into the coffee. He knew it was a sophomoric sort of parlor trick, but it never failed to help start his day with a smile.

As he ate a light breakfast of fresh fruit and enjoyed his first cup of coffee, he had Bethany check and list likely options for media shows available that evening.

“Don't cook supper tonight, Beth. Put on some Organi-skin and hair and pick an outfit, and we'll go and see a media. Maybe do a little shopping.” He finished his coffee and told the house-com to start his shuttle. “By the way, what flavor was your kiss this morning? I could tell there was some vanilla, but I couldn't identify the other flavors.”

“It is an antique combination called a cream-sicle.” She beamed. “Mostly it is made up of vanilla and orange. Did you like it?”

“Very much. It was very nice.”

She looked downward for a moment, which he knew was her equivalent of a blush. “I'm glad you enjoyed it, Aaron.”

“You are a good girl, Bethany.” He stood to go, picking up the small clear pad with his work notes and projects on it. “Have a pleasant day. I'll see you after work.”

“I could be more than just good if you changed your mind and stayed home today?” She suggested hopefully, pulling back her robe and licking her lips as she stood.

Aaron thought of her sweet flavored lips and tongue. Then he thought of the soft folds of her artificial vagina, and how it got warmer as you went deeper from the azure outer folds to the purple textures deeper in. Then he chuckled and shook his head. “Today is a workday. Tomorrow is a playday. I will let you decide how we spend tomorrow. I promise. But right now I need to get to work.”

She sighed, pouting for a moment before she nodded and smiled. “Ok, Aaron. I will see you tonight.”

After he had buckled in to the shuttle and it had pulled out into the laneway, he punched the console for a second mug of coffee with hazelnut creamer. He regarded it somewhat ruefully after taking a sip and thought to himself that it just never tasted as nice from the car's beverage synthesizer as it did at home.

Part 2

Aaron started to get the feeling that something was wrong when Bethany didn't open the door and greet him as usual when he got home from work. He dismissed the thought and thumbed his pad to call her. It was probably nothing. Maybe she was applying the more organic looking coating over her normally metallic skin, or getting dressed at the moment.

When his pad showed her as receiving and he still heard no answer, his worry grew into something undeniable. He used his pad to key the door and stepped inside. Everything seemed normal enough.

“Beth! Where are you, hon?”

He started cautiously making his way through the silent house. He found her in the kitchen.

She was sprawled into a corner, half sitting, with her legs straight out from under her and her arms rigidly out so her hands were braced on the floor of either side of her. As he rushed over to her, he noticed her head was bobbing slightly, and he could hear the thin reedy sound of her backup sound transducer instead of her usual warm contralto voice.

“Probleh.. Probleh.. Probleh.. “ over and over in time to the slight bobbing of her head, the voice so quiet and distant.

He resisted the temptation to touch her or try and get her to speak, since he knew this was a job for professionals. Aaron was very knowledgeable in many fields, but modern robotics was not one of them, and he knew it.

“House-com! Emergency! MetaDroid Tech Inc, repair station 732! Premium client requires emergency assistance, immediately!”

It only took a few minutes for the emergency repair team, but it seemed like forever to him. He spent the time going through the house and checking for any signs of forced entry. Doors and windows were intact and showed no signs of being forced. The security terminal was locked up, and he couldn't even get it to shut down. He kept repeatedly trying anyway, to avoid going back into the kitchen. Anything he could think of to try to help her would be all too likely to make problems worse.

When the emergency team arrived, he showed them to the kitchen. The team leader was a “natural” style gynoid identified by the subcutaneous glow badge on the back of her left hand as “G Anita” with a blonde ponytail, accompanied by two organic men. One of the men carried a large case and the other was towing a hover-stretcher.

Anita rushed immediately to Bethany's side, and placed a hand on top of her head. “Locked up and she's overheating! We have to risk trying for a controlled shutdown!” She took out a small gun-metal colored crescent shaped instrument and placed it's inner curve against the base of Beth's skull. Some sort of a display flickered across the surface of the instrument for several seconds, far too fast for Aaron's human eyes to follow.

“Probleh.. Probleh.. Problemmmm.” Beth finally fell silent as her head slumped forward.

Anita turned to Aaron, “Are you the owner?” Aaron nodded numbly. “Ok sir, we managed a controlled shutdown. But it was a full shutdown, so I can't risk a restart here. We just don't have the gear for it in the field kits. We're going to have to take her to the shop.” Aaron nodded again, and thumbed the release form on the pad she held out. “Any idea what has happened to her?”

The gynoid Anita nodded and studied the crescent instrument for a long moment, with the rapidly flickering display on the otherwise featureless surface. “It looks like a rapehack. Good news is that her hardware seems mostly intact from what I can tell. The bad news is that she's suffered at least some data corruption. She paused for a moment to tell the rest of the team to get her on the stretcher and out to the emergency shuttle.

“I know both words, but not their meaning as a compound word.” Aaron frowned. “What do you mean by a rapehack? Some sort of an attack on her sexual routines or hardware?”

Anita smiled gently. “No. It is a sort of attack that some hackers do that specifically targets gynoids. Or androids, but that is less common. The usual motive is robbery, to force them to turn over credits or valuable items, though sometimes it is to make them assault or attempt assassination of their owners or other humans. Sometimes to damage critical equipment. Did she have access to any of your cred accounts, or to any valuables, was she wearing any expensive jewelry or accessories that may be missing?”

Aaron nodded “She has one small cred account she uses for shopping, but it is not connected to my other accounts. No other valuables that seem to be missing.”

“Ok, then I would have to suggest that you contact your cred broker immediately, to make sure they didn't find some way to access other accounts. This is a punishable crime under the cyber-assault laws, so we have to contact the constabulary, your insurance carrier, your security company and your cred brokerage, in case your accounts have been hacked. Speed is essential for there to be any chance of the criminals being caught. I can summon them for you and provide them with all the information known at this time. Would you have any objections to that?” Aaron shook his head, and Anita blinked several times rapidly. “Done. The authorities and representatives will be here shortly.”

Aaron nodded. “Thank you, Anita. How soon will we know anything more about Bethany?”

“Well, I shouldn't say, really, “ Anita paused for a moment before going on. “But her hardware checked out as mostly intact. From what readings we can take in the field, her data didn't seem extensively damaged. There is at least a chance that she will be mostly functional with just a standard incremental reboot. But you'd really need to check with the shop after they've had a chance to check her over to know for sure. But in my professional opinion, I have seem lots worse. I'll be hoping that you have been lucky, both of you.”

Aaron nodded, feeling increasingly numb. He stood to show Anita out, since she was gathering up her gear. At the door, she put a hand on Aaron's shoulder and said “With the best case scenario, they'll have her functional and ready to come home some time this evening. If you haven't heard from the shop by 8 PM you can call and find out what's going on. If there's any problems, we'll contact you. But it will be at least a couple hours for the reboot process and diagnostics checks. These things take a little time. She's a gynoid, not a toaster. Call the shop and ask for me, if there's anything we can do for you.”

The next few hours were a haze for Aaron. The constabulary didn't need much from him for their reports, since he hadn't been present at the time of the attack and most of what they needed they got from the security company representative. The security company was able to determine that she had been hacked by someone gaining access to one of the entertainment media units and using it as a relay to bypass most of the house-com's firefortress. Aaron had the house firefortress upgraded to the max level available and was just finishing talking to the cred brokerage rep when the message came in via his pad from the shop..

He saw the line he had been dreading. “Owner presence required to discuss repair and/or salvage options.”

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