Jeff and Sydney

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Chapter One

A small wisp of white smoke curled upwards from the circuit board held firmly in place between two articulated clamps. A Third articulated arm protruded from the heavy base as well, though it was capped with a magnifying glass and helped Jeff clearly see the finite soldering work in front of him. Once he could see the spot he had been working on, his eyes flicked over the work he had done. He had been soldering wires into this particular bread board for the last hour and his hands were starting to cramp from the meticulous work.

Now that everything was in place and the solder was setting he could relax, at least for a few minutes. He would have to double check, or was it triple check, he couldn’ quite recall how many times he had checked his work. He needed to make sure everything was in place and that he hadn’t crossed any wires, or let solder bleed over into another port, or that-

The knock on the door tore him from the mental checklist he had been running through.

“Yeah, come in!” He called.

The door opened just a bit and an older woman poked her head in. She was smiling broadly and looked from Jeff to the pile of circuits, wires, and parts on the desk in front of him.

“Dinner’s ready in ten minutes.” Her voice was soft, sweet, and caring.

“Yeah okay, I’m almost done here.”

“Are you all packed? Dad says we’re leaving tomorrow morning at four.”

There was a sigh, Jeff hadn’t packed. He didn’t want to drive across the state to his grandmother’s house. The small robot on his desk was an all consuming project, and losing a week to go to a family reunion was going to be nothing but a frustration to him. His eyes darted to some of the parts on his desk and he mentally calculated the probability of taking his project, or at least part of it, with him. Not likely. They were there to “see family and fun” and he could hear his father now, scolding him for bringing his “nerd stuff” with him.

“Yeah, I just need to throw in a few more things. I’ll be ready in the morning.”

Jeff sounded dejected, and his mother could tell. He tried to hide it, but had always failed. He did resist looking over at his mostly empty duffle bag. He really only needed a few sets of clothes, some toiletries, and something to keep him entertained while he was away. At very least he was able to be excused from classes and homework for the week he was away. College courses were tough enough, and the small break would normally be refreshing. A family reunion though?..He wasn’t looking forward to the myriad of questions that would generate.

Jeff’s mom was already retreating from the room, closing the door behind her. He could hear her knock on his two sister’s door. He could hear Melissa answer the door, though the muffled words were not so clear. Jeff guessed it was the same message. Mom was letting Her and Sydney know dinner was ready. Sydney had to make room in her space for her sister.

Sydney was the youngest of the trio. Melisa was nearly twenty five at this point and had already made her way into the world. She was working and taking a few college classes and living with her boyfriend in another state. She had come home specifically for this trip and had to bunk up with her seventeen year old sister. Sydney was the baby of the group and it showed. Jeff always felt like she was a little princess and got everything she ever wanted because Mom and Dad were “done with kids” and Sydney was their last chance to do everything they wanted to.

As a family though, they all loved one another. There were plenty of inside jokes and jabs that the kids would all joke about, and the road trip across the state would likely be filled with all of them. But for now, Jeff wanted nothing more than to try and wrap up a little bit more of his robotics project, eat dinner, and pack his bags.

Dinner was quick, mercifully. His mother wanted to leave a clean kitchen, so whatever it was she made required little clean up. Jeff returned to his room and glanced at the duffle bag then back to his project. It would be another three hours before Jeff eventually tossed some clothes and books into his luggage. It was a haphazard job and came only moments before he settled into bed for a few hours of sleep.

The morning came all too quickly and the blaring alarm on his phone pulled him from the sweet embrace of sleep. With a sigh he mentally kicked himself for staying up so late, but his eyes fell on the complicated articulated arm on his desk. There were still wires and controller boards hanging from it. There was still a lot of work to be done on the hardware, not to mention the programming, and then testing. All of it was nestled among the remnants of other hobbies. Books on aviation and model airplanes being the most prominent.

Jeff pulled himself from the warmth of his blankets before he nodded off again. He had a mental list of steps needed to complete the home made robotic arm, and from there? Who knows. Maybe he would continue on and eventually end up with a full, working android. Not one of those mass market made ones, but one that was truly his. All of those dreams would have to wait though, he heard Sydney and Melisa in the hallway, scuttling and giggling. A small smirk crossed his face, the road trip wouldn’t be so bad. With his sisters to keep him company he would surely enjoy it.

It was dark outside, the world illuminated only by passing street lights and the occasional glimpse of another early morning driver's headlights. Most of the occupants of the family van were yawning and dozing off in their seats. Melisa and Sydney occupied the pair of captains chairs in the middle of the van, mom and dad up front, and Jeff in the bench seat at the rear. He had spread out some research notes and papers on the seat next to him, and cradled a book in his lap.

It was a peaceful and quiet ride right up until the all too sleepy, slightly intoxicated, driver of a thirty-two thousand pound semi-truck ran a red light and slammed into the van.

The chaos that Jeff could recall was both instant, lasting only a second, maybe two. At the time, though, it seemed that his life was moving in slow motion. He could see the shards of glass pelting the occupants of the car, even as gravity itself seemed to move in all the wrong directions. He remembered thinking that the van must be tumbling end over end, that would explain why his book was rising from his lap and moving around the interior of the vehicle. Then there was the sound. Screeching metal and screaming glass mingled with the sound of crunching gravel and pavement.

Then it was done. The van kept rolling end over end, but Jeff had completely blacked out. He wouldn’t wake up for another several hours, and when he did, it was to the gently bleep of a vital sign monitor.

He was in the hospital. Groggy, and still in pain. Something on the back of his head felt like it was pulsating and after a moment he realized it was likely the swelling of bruises coursing with his own blood. After a moment of counting his heartbeat and matching it to the beeping and the pulsing, he confirmed that. The air being forced into his nose through a clear tube smelled sterile and heavily of chemicals. He was, however, alive.

It would be another full day before Jeff found out who hadn’t survived the crash.

Jeff was the least injured from the impact. The truck had barreled into the family van and sent it flying. Jeff had been in the rear and was simply spun around until the spine of the book slammed into him and robbed him of consciousness. His mother, father, and Sydney didn’t fare so well. Melisa was in critical condition and would remain in the hospital for another two weeks. While there, Jeff met with a legal advocate who was already discussing a lawsuit against the trucking company.

Melisa made a full recovery, and once she was released the pair arranged a small group funeral for their family. It was small, and sweet, but it did little to set either Melisa or Jeff at ease.

Weeks bled into months.

The lawsuit had been handily won and left Jeff and Melisa with an amount of money that would pay off Melisa’s student loans and set up both of them for the foreseeable future. It was cold comfort in the absence of their family. Jeff Learned to let his mother and father go. They had lived a long and fruitful life, and he could at least trick himself into thinking that they had only been robbed of a few dozen years of life.

Sydney though…she was young, and full of hope for her future. She had been the crushing blow that spun Melisa and Jeff’s life into a tailspin. Both grappled with her death for years to come, and in their own ways. In the end though, Melisa had schooling to attend to. She had the money to pay for any class she dreamed of and could throw herself into her studies without worrying about taking on a job to help keep her afloat.

With the educational world at her beck and call, she settled easily into her education. Beginning with some general studies and then falling head first into an unexpected passion for archeology. With the barrier of financers removed and the ability to continue living in the house that their parents had paid off, made for a smooth transition.

In time Melisa had graduated into an internship and had started writing grants for funding. She had offered to fund some of the digs with her own portion of the settlement money, but the school wouldn’t accept it. They cited some archaic ruling that implied that they wouldn’t allow it based solely on the idea that it felt like someone could buy their way into a historically significant dig site without proper authorization. So instead of cutting a check to the school Melisa found herself in her childhood room, writing grants, filling out paperwork and huffing angrily.

In the room one door up the hall, Jeff sat idly at his desk. The study guide for his pilot's license, a long forgotten hobby of his, lay open and cradled in two fully articulated robotic arms. He had finished the project he started nearly two years earlier, before the accident…before Sydney’s death.

“Next page.”

Jeff’s voice was lifeless. The robotic arms, bolted to the desk, moved fluidly and flipped to the next page for him before settling back into place. Jeff rested his elbows on the desk and yawned. Surprising no one at all, pages upon pages of wind speed calculations and laws regulating the various conditions you were allowed to fly was not exactly riveting. It was more than that though, his family had been ripped from him, and if things kept going the way they were, Melisa would soon be out of the house as well.

Jeff briefly contemplated what life, alone, in his family house would be like. Maybe he should get a cat or something. Just something else to help occupy the emptiness in the house. His eyes flicked, briefly, to the tips of the robotic fingers that were cradling his book. Blinking several times he found himself stupidly stunned that he hadn’t figured out the solution to his dread sooner.

Chapter Two

Two years had fully passed since the accident that robbed Jeff and Melisa of their family. In that time Melisa had earned her internship as a field archeologist. On top of that she had written enough grants and organized enough of her doctorate to begin the process of graduating early. It was amazing what money took care of in the education world.

Today was a good day for Melisa though. She was graduating from her preliminary classes and would be the last day she would spend in the states. Weeks and weeks of writing grants for dig sites around the world had paid off. She had managed to get funding for an expedition into the rainforests of Brazil. The base camp still needed to be established and even that was going to be a significant trek across the country. Jeeps and other all-terrain vehicles had been part of the grant she had written, but they weren’t new, and she was still anxious about the condition of the equipment.

Presently she was standing in front of her full length mirror, one of the many things she owned that was staying in her childhood home. Her vibrant red hair was pulled back into a ponytail, held firmly in place with a simple hair tie. She had put on make up this morning, if for nothing else because she knew it would likely be the last time she would be able to for a long time.

Her field studies were estimated as a two year dig, and in that time she guessed that there was going to be little opportunity to make her way into anything resembling modern civilization. It was well worth it though. Melisa had a burning desire to simply see what was out there, and if luck was on her side, see and experience something new. Something that would put her out of her comfort zone, and something that would thrill her.

Her hands slipped down to her hips. If she was lucky, maybe someone cute would be on her crew. Maybe she would dig up love in the most unlikely place. She shook her head and her slightly pink lips turned to a frown.

“Not likely.”

She huffed and her hands moved to her chest. She let out another small sigh. She hadn’t been blessed with the kind of chest her mother had, or that her sister had looked to be growing. Instead she was slender, petite, and her chest showed little sign of budding out on the plane ride to Brazil. She let go, letting what small amount of cleavage she had bounce gently.

Melisa’s eyes flicked to the reflection in the mirror. Just next to her legs she saw the two suitcases she was bringing. They were still large by the measure of any other vacation she had taken, but those suitcases were going to be her home for the next two years. Everything she needed or hoped to have as a creature comfort was in there. Clothes that would likely be spackled in muck and mud, toiletries that were nicer than anything she would get in the jungles of south america, and likely the most valuable of all her possessions, a framed picture of her sister and brother. Both younger than her. She loomed in the background, standing over her younger siblings. All of them were beaming with joy.

Melisa had forgotten long ago what was happening and why that particular picture had been taken. Jeff, though smiling, looked gloomy and distracted by something beyond the camera. Sydney, typically, was smiling with wild abandon. Her light brown hair seemed to absorb the sunlight and then immediately reflect it outward. It was wild and slightly tangled, but that wasn’t because she was nine years old in the picture either. Sydney had always had that voluminous, wild hair that seemed to have a mind of its own. It was always falling about her face in chunks and strands, seemling in new and interesting patterns with every new day.

There was a single tear rolling down Melisa’s cheek and she didn’t even notice it. She was lost in the memory. Memories of good times. She was seventeen when her little sister was nine, and the two were the best of friends. Melisa remembered that even as Sydney crested into her teenage years, the two always made time for one another. Sydney and Jeff though, they were closer in age, only three years apart, and as time crept forward Sydney and Jeff had grown closer than Melisa. She sighed once. She missed Sydney.

She let the breath out though, today wasn’t about losses, it was for new beginnings. She spun around, letting her long red hair sway from the movement and lugged her bags up. She had a plane to catch after all.

Jeff was happy to drive Melisa to the airport. He might as well after all, Melisa had driven him all over the place once she had gotten her license. Jeff had still been twelve when his older sister was sixteen and learning to drive. As time went on, she had driven him to friend’s houses, picked him up from sleep overs, rescued him from late night walks in the rain when a girlfriend had dumped him, and been willing to drive him to his first job at five in the morning. The least he could do was see her off.

He didn’t want to though.

With Melisa gone, he would be well and truly alone in his family house. The settlement from the accident had more than paid for the house and left a considerable amount of wealth from the wrongful death lawsuit. As they say though, money cannot buy happiness, and despite having his home, food, and comforts paid for well into the future, Jeff wasn’t looking forward to the solitude.

He had plans though. There were plenty of robotics projects, programming reviews and updates he could run, and there was no end to other things he could do while alone. He would miss the conversation though. Even with Melisa promising to try and check in every time her satellite phone and schedule allowed her to check in, there were still going to be time zone differences to overcome. Jeff knew it, just as well as Melisa did. It would be alright though. It was only a few years, and Melisa was supposed to get a “shore leave” break at some point.

Regardless, as the pair hugged one another in the terminal and said their goodbyes, Jeff immediately felt the weight of being alone. He watched Melisa, her hips swaying with that delighted excitement she always had, dragging her bags behind her and clumsily fumbling to get her boarding pass out. She turned and smiled awkwardly at Jeff which earned her the smirk of a man who knew this wouldn’t be the last time she almost spilled papers everywhere. Jeff idly wondered why she got into archeology when she was so prone to dropping things.

Then she turned, and Jeff watched his older sister leave his life. He was devastated to watch her go, he wanted to cry, but he had his pride. He was in public and he didn’t want to make a scene. So he sucked in a shallow breath, pressed his lips together and turned away from the gate and returned to his car.

Jeff managed to get the key into the ignition before he fell forward and sobbed, only once, but the tears rolled down his face until he pulled into the driveway of his now empty home. He cut the engine and took a few moments to collect himself, wipe away the wetness on his face with some leftover fast food napkins in the glove box, and take a deep, steadying breath.

The emptiness of the house wasn’t any better, but at least while he was here he had projects to work on. Dishes to wash from breakfast, and things to tidy. None of it was what he wanted to do though. With Melisa gone and Sydney a painful memory in his heart, all he managed to do for the rest of the day was wander listlessly around the house, wondering when he would get to see his family again. Occasionally he would wander down to his room and tinker on one of the many projects there, but in the end it was all just idle movement.

The next day wasn’t much better, but he did have a burst of motivation to at least try and keep his house tidy and invest some time in his hobbies. This sort of behavior carried into the next day, then the next, and eventually weeks. Then Months. He still thought of his sister, but it was becoming easier and easier to live life.

It had been eight, or perhaps nine, months since Melisa’s departure that Jeff received a letter, on paper, in the mail, from Melisa. There was a rich tapestry of stamps, smudged dirt, wrinkled paper, and marks from at least three different countries on the envelope. Jeff had to laugh when he saw it, this simple piece of paper was more of a world traveler than he was. Opening it he found a letter from Melisa, she had hand written a letter home almost three months earlier.


I hope you’re good there all alone. Things are pretty chaotic here. Looks like most of the other field study folks dropped out when they heard about the kind of conditions we would be working with down here, so, it’s me and one old codger. That’s okay though, we’re making progress, but it’s just hard.

That’s actually why I’m writing to you. Well, aside from the fact that I needed to let my little brother know I haven’t forgotten about him ;-) …you know how you were good with technology and computers and robots and stuff? I was thinking maybe you could put together something for me? Maybe something that can haul around all the tools and stuff from the Jeep to the dig site?

I’ll be in town every other Sunday for supplies and stuff, when I’m there the satellite phone actually works, so when you get this letter in a year or so gimme a call and we can talk details!

Anyway, hope to hear from ya!”

Jeff re-read the letter again. Melisa wanted him to build her a robot to haul stuff around. That was easy enough to do. Robotics had come a long way in the last few years. There were all manner of robots in the world now, automating a lot of jobs and even creeping into the consumer market. Everything from advanced roombas to lifelike, nearly sentient, androids. Jeff was certain he could put something together, but he needed to find out what Melisa needed first before he did anything. Not that waiting to talk to her would stop him from sketching and brainstorming ideas.

He spent the next three days throwing himself into work. He would wake up, forget to eat breakfast, and simply design and sketch ideas. There was programming to write and he would spend hours on end tapping away on the keyboard, researching internet forums of people who had done the same thing, and implementing chunks of code. There was some stitching together of programs that needed to be done, but he was reinvigorated to do exactly that. Even though he didn’t know what he needed to make, he was delighted to be busy again.

Then the weekend rolled around, and for the first time in a long time he heard his sister’s voice, crackled and slightly delayed as it was.

“Mel! Hi!”

A heartbeat later Melisa replied.

“Jeffy! You finally got my letter I see.”

“It had a ways to go, but yeah I got it a few days ago and I’ve been busy brainstorming for you.”

“Of course you have.” Melisa laughed, a light chiming sound that instantly brought memories of Jeff’s childhood to the surface. “You don’t even know what I need.”

“Yeah yeah, but I have ideas!”

“I’m not at all surprised, you dork.”

What followed was a slightly stilted conversation between the two siblings about what, exactly, Melisa needed. Something to obviously help her haul around equipment, some measure of dexterity as the forests and dig sites weren’t exactly stable ground, and it needed to be capable of adapting to all kinds of situations that were unforeseen.

“Sounds to me like what you need is another warm body to be your assistant.” Jeff commented.

“Yeah, but no one really wanted to sign up to come to the jungles of Brazil and live in a hut just to dig up some pottery fragments or something.”

“It can’t be that bad…can it?”

Melisa chuckled a little before replying, “No it’s not quite that bad. Base camp has soft walled yurts, it's warm and comfortable and dry, but it is very very far from civilization.”

“Ahhh, so something that doesn’t mind sharing a room with you either. This list is impossible to work with.”

The pair laughed before Jeff continued, “Well, whatever machine I manage to cobble together for you will likely just sit quietly in the corner of your little mud hut until you need it. Just make sure you keep it recharged…you do have electrical outlets over there..right?”

“Nope, I figured I would order a crate of double-A batteries and use those.” she sighed merrily, “Yes of course we have power here. The outlets are a little different looking though. I think they are called type-N or something.”

“Gotcha.” Jeff replied as he scrawled more notes down. “Okay, then I think I have some ideas. I’ll get this going and I’ll keep you updated on Sundays. Sounds good?”

“Sounds good, thanks Jeff. I gotta get going, but I’ll talk to you later! Love ya!”

There was an abrupt end to her call which left Jeff holding his cellphone and returning to the silence of his house.

Jeff set the phone down and reviewed the hastily and sloppily written notes he had made. It all sounded fairly easy and he spent a little time reviewing some of the designs and sketches he had already made. Any of them would be serviceable, but he wanted something special for Melisa.

The biggest hurdle would be the adaptability to the jungle she was in. Some of the more contemporary four legged robots would do the trick, but they were much slower, though they had more hauling capacity..but also far less efficient on battery power. The last thing Jeff needed was to hear about how Melisa had to haul his robot back to base camp because the battery ran out.

A bipedal robot would be better, more adaptable, more efficient, at the cost of carrying capacity. Jeff pursed his lips. Melisa had been expecting other people to be there to help with all this, so a bipedal android would actually work better. Particularly because all of her equipment was designed around a human being.

Jeff sprang forward in his chair and began sketching out new designs with several bells and whistles. In the end though, he settled into a much simpler approach. There were consumer grade home robots on the market, but they resided well outside of the normal households financial scope, but Jeff didn’t need to worry about that. He could easily purchase something that was top of the line and then simply modify it to suit what he had in mind.

And he did have something in mind. Something special that he thought Melisa would enjoy.

Chapter Three

Ordering the thing was a bit of an exercise in restraint. While he wanted to throw his considerable amount of disposable income at it, he found that doing so would cut into his spending significantly. He also, wisely, remembered that this was an experimental prototype. Whatever unit he ordered would arrive and be promptly dismantled and reconfigured to suit Melisa’s needs. There was going to be plenty of programming, trial and error, and the very real possibility that this might just fail. Investing a large chunk of money into it seemed like a poor choice.

As he soon found, there was a thriving market for “entertainment” androids. There was no doubt in his mind what they were commonly used for, the site he found them on implied as much from word one. They were, however, the right combination of acceptable operating specifications, usability, and price. So, while he wasn’t thrilled about the idea of having a sexbot in the house initially, it was the most efficient and cost effective way to get started.

With his order submitted and a confirmation email sent to his inbox mere moments later, all he had to do now was plan and wait. There was no shortage of preparations to make. Given what he knew about the unit he had just ordered there was a lot to do for the four to six business weeks it would take to manufacture and ship his unit. He didn’t plan on keeping several parts of the incoming android. Her face and hair for one would need to be replaced. The hair piece wasn’t so difficult, there were any number of aftermarket retailers that sold accessories for common models.

The face though, Jeff would need to work on that.

Finding the right means and methods of sculpting the perfect face plate ro replace the default one was more of a task than Jeff had expected. There were not only a plethora of services that would do it for you, but there was software he could purchase and learn to get everything right on his own. But that would require time, and learning, and he simply didn’t have enough time to invest into it. There were new hardware pieces that he needed to get together and more importantly he had a significant amount of programming work to do.

In the end Jeff settled on a small compromise. A construction service could mold a digital copy before handing the sculpt off to Jeff, from there he could tweak it to perfection without having to make the entire thing, then send the mold back for manufacturing. It was, in essence, what he was planning to do for the rest of the robot. Let someone else do ninety percent of the work, and then he could tweak it from there.

Spending the next four weeks hand coding modifications to the programming he had downloaded for his android assistant consumed Jeff’s time. He wanted this to be flawless for both Melisa and himself. It was an accomplishment that not many others would even think to do, let alone pull off. People bought things and expected them to be perfect right out of the box, but some things needed work. Some things evolved from what they started as to what they would become. Melisa had, Jeff had, and this new project would as well.

Late in the day, on a random Thursday afternoon, Jeff was notified that his package would be arriving shortly, and that triggered a whole flurry of activity. He prepared one of the spare bedrooms that he had laid out specifically for his endeavor. The sturdy oak dining room table had been moved into the room and dominated the center of the space. A mess of spare robot parts, computer equipment, and every data cable and converter that Jeff thought he might need were brought in and sitting at the ready.

The box itself was a chore to haul in as well. Jeff had expected something approximately coffin sized and shaped, but what he got was a large, square box. He found that it was easier to simply drag it into the garage and work on getting it further into the house from there. He had to shove some old boxes out of the way and ended up toppling a few of them over in the process. Books, and nick knacks spilled across the cold cement floor and Jeff let out an exasperated sigh. He was far too excited to be bothered with cleaning it up now.

Of course, there was a sea of padding and shipping material to wade through before he even got his first glimpse of the android inside. Resting on top of the final layer of gray packing foam was the instruction and assembly manual. Though, calling it a manual might have been an over statement. In reality it was a comically short description of how to assemble the robot inside the box, depicting a cartoonish genderless humanoid. The legs, arms, and head were floating in the white empty space of the paper with a brilliant red arrow pointing right to where they needed to connect. Jeff found it hard to believe that anyone would struggle to know where the legs or head connected, but people had proved him wrong in the past.

Tossing aside the layer of foam, he found himself confronted with a massive anti-static bag. Inside was the torso, wrapped in a simple one piece bathing suit, and sporting the logo of the manufacturer. Jeff had to stand in order to wedge his fingers into the space between the foam and the plastic and hoist the body out. Below the foam layer was another, more shallow layer of foam. This one sporting the arms, legs, head module, and a bag with some additional parts and tools.

Jeff pulled out the bag of tools and snorted at it. They would have done an adequate job, but he had already assembled plenty of higher quality tools. Jeff was suddenly aware that he was pulling body parts out of a crate, wrapped in dark gray plastic right there in plane view. Tapping the automated garage door button he waited for the rolling door to close before resuming his work.

It took three trips back and forth from the garage to the house to get all of the parts, pieces and modules inside. Jeff took particular care when bringing in the head module, dedicating just one trip to bring in that alone. The body and limbs were somewhat generic in appearance, but the head was special, and Jeff guessed, fragile.

Once inside, Jeff took a painstaking amount of time to unwrap the individual parts and lay them out on the table. Jeff was sure it looked like some kind of macabre scene from a slasher film, but to him, it was just another project.

Each limb had a small bundle of wires, each one capped with a small plastic piece that needed to be popped off and then inserted into the matching port on the torso. Once connected, there was a very sturdy looking set of central mounting posts that matched up with lock points inside of the torso joints as well. It truly was as simple as the instructions made it seem. Just plug in, snap together, and power on.

Of course, there were some other modifications that Jeff needed to make first.

What he had ordered, at the end of the day, was a sex doll. It had been the perfect merger of price and performance for what he had planned. Melisa needed something reliable, rugged, and adaptable, that was all software for the most part. In reality, the sexbot was as close to a human analogy that money could buy. The programming on the other hand, was all on Jeff.

He had spent the weeks since he placed the order meticulously going over every facet of the code base. Most of it could stay right where it was. There were whole sections that controlled social behavior, conversation trees, and all manner of little human like behaviors. All of those were controlled by a database that was specifically keyed to take inputs, add a “weight” to them and then pass them through the social filtering. All of this culminated in the ability to tweak and adjust the androids personality.

Speech patterns were a little more complicated. It wasn’t just a matter of writing lines of dialogue in a script that you fed into a machine to speak. It was inflection, and mannerisms, and all of it was, like the human-like responses, all in a database. The lion's portion of Jeff’s programming work had gone into tweaking that particular database. Once he thought he had gotten everything just right he would feed it to a synthesized voice module and manually type in questions and listen to the responses before once again tweaking the response database.

Now, though, it was time to put all his hard work into practice. The android laid out before him on the table, and assembled. He hadn’t yet powered it on though, he wanted first to ensure that he not only made a full backup of her current state, but also injected his changes before her first boot up. To do so, he needed to break the warranty on the machine, a fact that he had accepted the moment he set out to accomplish this particular process. It also meant he needed to get into her torso.

Jeff had done enough research on the model and line of robot he had ordered and knew what to look for in order to get inside of her. The first step was to peel back the one piece bathing suit like garment she was shipped with. It wasn’t terribly difficult, the arms were stiff and if he had been thinking ahead instead of charging forward he would have removed it before he had attached her arms and legs. As it was though, he was thrilled, and more than a little nervously excited.

Eventually the robotic woman was nude on his table and Jeff did his best to avert his eyes from her well rounded breasts, the curves of her hips, and the small womanly folds between her legs. He found his hands shaking slightly as he held a long, extremely thin, metal rod attached to a screwdriver handle. It had been one of the many additional tools he had ordered for this specific project. He found the small blemish on the skin on her chest, little more than a wayward freckle to anyone else. To Jeff, though, it was a waypoint for the tool. He aligned the sharp tip of it against the skin and pressed inward until the tip pierced inside of her and then felt the whole thing shudder as a magnetic clamp locked onto the tool.

As Jeff pulled back on the tool, a roughly triangular shaped panel of flesh pulled away from the chest, inside was a simple looking knob. The center of it was concave with a raised portion in the middle, clearly meant to be gripped and turned. After a few attempts to move it with his fingers Jeff gave up and settled for a pair of plies and easily turned the dial. As he did so, the manual locks that held the chest in place were gradually retracted and once done, her chest was no longer held in place by anything other than gravity.

It took some work and the aid of a screwdriver to wedge his fingers inside of the chest panel, but he managed it in the end. He pulled it off and was greeted by an incredibly complex array of multicolored wires all connecting to the underside of the chest panel. Jeff was filled with the sudden giddiness he always felt when he was getting to take a peek at something that people were not commonly meant to see. The intricate inner workings of a sophisticated android was not a common sight for your average early twenties male.

Jeff gingerly set aside the chest panel, making sure none of the cables or wiring came loose as he leaned it against the robot’s body. Once he was sure it wouldn’t tip over or fall off the table it was time to get to work. He set his laptop on the groin of the robot, handily covering her sexual module and connected a multi-port hub to his laptop and then began filling its many open ports. Once done, he tapped the small power button behind the ear on the robot and feverishly began tapping a key combination on his keyboard. The input worked and interrupted the android's boot sequence, letting him into its systems before anything fully started.

Once there it was only a matter of running a custom made tool to begin the backup process. Jeff never really trusted the estimated time on a copy job of this magnitude, but it claimed it would take somewhere around thirteen hours to copy from the robot to the connected mass storage drive. After watching it tick away for a few minutes to make sure there were no initial errors, Jeff found the power cable for the robot and plugged it in before making sure his laptop was also connected to a power source and then, he simply let it go.

He made himself some dinner, read a little leisurely literature for the evening, and made sure to check in on the transfer regularly. At first it was every fifteen minutes or so, but soon it grew to half an hour, then every hour, and eventually he yawned and slipped off to bed. When the morning came there was still about an hour left on the transfer, and Jeff knew that even when that was done it was only half the process.

After making a simple breakfast for himself and eating it quickly, washing up, and getting dressed the transfer was done. Having made a full backup of everything that came installed already, he was ready to overwrite a significant portion of that with his own code base. It would, theoretically work, but he hadn’t actually tested it on the actual unit yet.

The install process was going to take somewhere around twenty hours. As soon as he read the estimated time all he could do was sigh and settle into a chair and watch for a bit. Occupying himself with his phone for a little while and eventually moving out of the room to try and do whatever he could to not dwell on being so close to results, and yet so very far.

The next twenty two hours, the actual run time of the transfer, were agonizingly slow. Sunday was approaching and all Jeff could do was scroll through the same four social media feeds repeatedly. Check his email. Recheck social media for any updates. He considered a nap but knew that it would only mean he was awake later that night, and it wasn’t like he could take his mind off of the transfer. It was late on Saturday night when the transfer finally finished. Jeff didn’t care that it was nearly nine in the evening, he was going to see the fruits of his labor.

Taking all the time he needed to disconnect his laptop from the robot and set it aside before gently placing the chest panel back into place. He knew there was a need to push a little firmly to get the locking mechanisms in place, but he struggled to find the right place to put his hands. It felt uncomfortable to push on her breasts and so, he awkwardly pushed inward and down all along the edge of the panel until it clicked into place. Once there, he turned the manual locks in the smaller chest panel until it locked and then replaced the triangular flesh covering. After that he managed to slip it into one of his own hoodies that was far too big for it, but it worked. Sweatpants covered her legs, loosely, but comfortably tied at the waist.

It was ready, and Jeff wasted only a moment to take a step back and look it over. In that moment the robot he had been tinkering on became something more than just a collection of wires and circuitry. It was less machine and more person. She looked like she was just sleeping. He pressed his lips together into a thin line along his face and sucked in a deep breath and tapped the power button behind her ear.

For several long moments nothing happened. Each passing second made Jeff’s heart pound faster as he wondered if there was something that he had already ruined. Just a heartbeat before he was about to step forward and check her, the eyes flipped open. They stayed that way for a second and it startled Jeff. He could see the pupils grow larger and smaller as the mechanical iris calibrated to the light levels in the room. Her face was stiff and expressionless. She was still booting, and hadn’t yet brought any of the natural human programming layers online yet.

Then she blinked a few times and pushed herself up into a sitting position. The oversized hoodie slipped down her shoulder a little, combined with the voluminous wild hair that tumbled around those same shoulders, she looked like an early nineties pop icon. She scooted to the end of the table and smoothly lowered herself off of it, landing on one foot, then the other. She stood up fully.

The smile on her face was devastating enough, it looked exactly like the pictures around the house and exactly as Jeff remembered it on Sydney. Her eyes sparkled a little, and Jeff couldn’t tell if that was just the natural expression or if his own imagination had imparted a more human-like appearance onto her. But in that moment Jeff was once again looking into the face of his little sister. She was a little older looking now, somewhere around her early twenties, with signs of maturity while not lacking any of the joy she once had in her smile.

“Hi Jeffy!”

It was her voice too! The hours of painstaking tweaks to it on his computer didn’t do it justice to hearing it spoken from the lips of his sister. Her smile broadened as Jeff beamed at her and she held out her arms to him, begging for a hug. Jeff wasted no time and stepped into her waiting arms, holding his sister once again. Machine or not, he had her back, and with any luck, there would be no need for further work on her programming.

She stepped back and looked down at herself, splaying out her arms and hands while wiggling her toes. She twisted her body and looked over her shoulder, trying to take it all in.

“Not bad! You could have made my butt look a little better, but I won't fault you for that.”

It was the perfect response. It was what Sydney would have said if she saw her older brother crying in front of her and somehow knew that she was a robot and not a real person. Some kind of snappy, sarcastic quip always hit Jeff just right.

“If you want I can send you back and make it bigger.” Jeff snapped back and then there was once again laughter in the house.

Chapter Four

“Hey Melisa! Good news!”

Jeff wanted to say so much more, but he waited the half second as his voice bounced around the globe from one satellite to the next and eventually to the phone in Melisa’s hand.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

Half a second later when Jeff heard her response he simply couldn’t contain himself any more.

“I have your robotic assistant ready to go! I was just doing some testing on her and everything looks good to go. I’m going to take her on a few hikes around here to do some field testing and what not, but if it all goes well I think that I’m ready to get her out to you.”

There were a few brief squaks of excitement from Melisa that took a moment to reach Jeff, but he never stopped speaking until he had gotten everything out. Eventually though, he did stop.


It was a simple question, but Melisa’s voice sounded like the older sister that Jeff had always remembered. She had been suspicious of every girl Jeff had brought home, though they were few and far between. Melisa had a somewhat paternal streak that made her protective of Jeff.

“Yes her, I figured you might like someone to do your nails and chit chat about boys while you are on site.”

Jeff laughed, it wasn’t the reason he had picked a female companion unit, of course, and he hoped that the sarcastic response would be enough to satisfy Melisa.

“Just make sure she doesn’t cry all night on my bunk when she finds out how few boys there are out here.”

The pair shared a half second delayed laugh together before Jeff shifted the conversation.

“Okay, so, I think I’ll put that pilot’s license I got to good use. I was planning on packing up this week and flying my little single prop down there with your assistant and we can have a little family meet up.”

Plans were made, and times were set. Jeff and Melisa spent what precious little time they had that Sunday afternoon plotting out where and when and how they would meet. Melisa would take the CB radio with her when she made her way into town and would make arrangements to take the Jeep to the airstrip on the outskirts of town. Meanwhile, Jeff would make arrangements to check out his plane and plot a course for the small village where he would land. Melisa would be in town long before Jeff would cross the border, so she would pick up her supplies, pack them in the Jeep and then drive to the airfield. Once there, she would have her CB Radio tuned to his frequency and wait anxiously for him to let her know that he had crossed into Brazilian airspace.

It was a simple plan.

Once they met up, Jeff intended to reveal what he had made for her and likely do some explaining. Melisa’s assistant, the robot he had meticulously crafted and programmed, was crafted specifically to look, sound, and act like Sydney. There were flutters of doubt inside of him that he had made the right choice, that bringing back Sydney this way was unethical or insensitive. On the other hand, if Melisa didn’t want to keep the “SYDbot” he could always reconfigure her to look and act any way she wanted.

Or he could keep her at home to keep him company and remake something more fitting to Melisa’s requirements.

Either way, it would be a good field test and an opportunity to see his sister. It had been months, or had it eclipsed into a year, since she left and he started on this robotics project. It was hard to tell. With no daily job or schedule to help him track time, all the days and nights bled together into one long blur. The prospect of seeing Melisa made time both speed up and slow down all at once. There were days that were so filled with activity that they seemed to simply fly past. Other days were filled with nothing but waiting for approval for travel or a rubber stamp on some piece of paperwork he had submitted.

The presence of his lost sister, or at least her facsimile, made all of it better.He found himself patting his own proverbial back many times. He was amazed at how much it felt like the SYDbot was actually Sydney. Conversations with her felt like she had simply tumbled out of whatever time vortex she had been lost in. Jeff felt that same bond with his little sister once again, she just looked a little older.

It wasn’t until two days before the pair would leave to see Melisa that the SYDbot confronted Jeff about his own nervous energy. Sydney had always been able to seemingly see through any and all of Jeff’s attempts to hide emotions, and it seemed that somehow this android possessed that small part of Sydney as well.

Jeff’s living room was cluttered with a mess of baggage and camping equipment. He had just tossed a sleeping bag onto the pile and flopped into one of the well worn but incomprehensibly comfortable armchairs in the room. SYDbot had been doing her best to assist him any way she could. Hauling bags or totes out, sorting and organizing, or just cheering him on. Now, though, he had stopped and she settled into the loveseat at a right angle from him.

“Jeff, what’s on your mind?”

It was that same sincere, caring tone that Sydney used to have. It was the same tone that could slice clean through any wall that Jeff had erected around his emotions. He looked up at Sydney with a start. He had let his mind wander just enough that her voice sounded and felt like the old Sydney.

“Wh- no, nothing. Just tired is all.”

“You’re a terrible liar.” the SYDbot replied.

How in the hell does she know…

“Yeah, you got me there.” He let out a sigh and then sucked in a deep breath. He opened his mouth to talk but SYDbot interrupted him.

“You’re afraid that Melisa won't accept me?”

“ did you know that?” Jeff asked with genuine interest.

“The programming you installed didn’t overwrite what was already there, I still have a lot of artificial intelligence in here, and all of it was purpose designed to pick up on other people’s unspoken emotions and desires. Granted that was so I could, ah, you know, but the fact remains that I’m still pretty good at reading between the lines.”

“Oh, uh, yeah I guess that makes sense.” Jeff trailed off before looking up at the robotic representation of his sister. “And yeah, I’m worried about introducing you to Melisa.”


“Because you aren’t actually our sister. You’re just built to look, and act, and sound like her.”

“You know Melisa better than I do, obviously. And We all know I’m not actually Sydney. I’m just a robot who’s doing her best. After the initial shock wears off though, how do you think Melisa will act?”

Jeff thought about it for a moment, and SYDbot was right. Melisa might be freaked out at first, but she was open minded, and she would know that Jeff had the best intentions at heart when he had ordered the android. He was, after all, pouring money and time into helping out Melisa. He huffed, slightly, out his nostrils and smiled.

“She’ll just have to deal with it, won't she?” Jeff said at last.

“She sure will, and probably lecture the both of us.”

The two laughed again. Once it settled down again Jeff leaned forward, clasping his hands together in front of him and resting his elbows on his knees.

“Syd, I know what I programmed, and I know you are powered by an AI and all that. But, it just seems like you have a lot more information than you should. Like, you know things that the real Sydney would know.”

“Once I was activated and processing the parameters you set out for me, I found some boxes in the garage that looked like they had been knocked over. I started cleaning them up and found a bunch of journals and scrapbooks that looked like they belonged to Sydney. So, I read through them.” She looked down at the floor for a moment, it was a purely human response that her operating system executed. “I can delete all that data and recompile my personality core if you would rather.”

Jeff was stunned for a moment. He had expected her to learn and grow, but this was so far beyond that. She was taking some datapoint that hadn’t been intentionally introduced and seemingly integrated it into her personality with almost no effort. If nothing else this more than proved the viability of the hardware.

“No no, the intention in making you was to try and replicate Sydney in a robotic form. I just don’t know why I didn’t think of that before. Keep the data in there and use it to keep growing.”

Jeff plastered on a smile if only to cover the absolute shock and amazement he would have been displaying otherwise. He could only shake his head, happy and a little worried about Melisa, but significantly calmed by SYDbot’s insights.

Slapping his palms into his knees and pushing himself to his feet, Jeff let out a single “welp” and stretched. His mind was buzzing with all the possibilities and hidden meanings behind the recent development with SYDbot. He just knew that between excitement to fly out to Brazil and thinking of what else SYDbot’s AI might be capable of, that he was not going to sleep well tonight.

Chapter Five

The four seater, single prop airplane sat idling on the taxiway. The back seats were filled with bags, equipment, tools, a few spare parts for the SYDbot, and a small paper bag field with real chocolate, granola bars, and some other treats for Melisa.

Sitting in the co-pilot seat was SYDbot. Her hands were folded in her lap and her eyes were closed. The tight fitting headset caused her already wild light brown hair to stick up in odd places. The sun was bright and seemed to highlight the pink and red pigments in her lips and caused the very faintests of sheens to arise from her artificial skin. Her chest was still gently rising and falling, an automated process that caused fresh air to be run across her multiple processor cores and carry away the heat.

The low rumble of the engine was about the only audio company that Jeff had as he ran through his pre-flight checklist for the third time. He was more than ready, but this would be the longest single flight he had taken. There were more than a few stops that would need to be made along the way as well. Small detours to refuel and make sure that he was still awake for the nearly eighteen hours of flight time ahead of him. He had thought about taking some time to install some autopiloting functionality into SYDbot, but decided it wasn’t a brilliant idea to test out that programming on the maiden flight.

The radio squaked with noise and the voice from the control tower was slammed directly into Jeff’s ears. It startled him to the point that he dropped the small notebook he had been checking through. Fumbling to call back with the proper terminology and reach down to pick his notebook up from the cockpit floor he found himself mere inches from SYDbot’s face.

Her eyes were open and she was beaming at her creator. She held up a hand and gently patted the air, letting him know that she would get the notebook. She bent at odd angles and twisted around, patting her hand on the ground until she found it. Jeff ignored the cut of her button up blouse, and the cleavage it showed off. She might have been a sexbot at her core, but to Jeff, she was Sydney.

Once she found it she tucked it into the open pocket on her tan colored cargo pants and then leaned back again. That delighted smirk never leaving her lips. Then they were moving. Slowly at first, but picking up speed rapidly and approaching the runway proper.

“Clear for takeoff runway zero two, Charlie Uniform Seven Eight Two Niner.” Jeff replied to the clearance over his headset. He glanced over at SYDbot, she was once again closing her eyes, folding her hands into her lap but smiling broadly as if she were attempting to contain a boisterous laugh. The smirk remained there until they had cleared the runway and were in flight. Jeff had another string of cryptic words to repeat back to the control tower as he faded into the sky.

“What’s so funny?”

“You said niner.” SYDbot replied and filled the plane with the light lilting sound of her long lost laugh.

Fifteen hours into the flight Jeff and SYDbot had rekindled and reconnected like they were siblings. Somewhere in the back of Jeff’s mind he knew that she was only a machine and was only acting on what programming he had installed, but he kept reminding himself that her AI was working hard to add new procedures all the time. She was only that raw dump of programming for a few seconds as she powered on and then she took on her own unique character.

“Hey Syd, we’re close to the border. Could you snag the CB from the back?”

Sydney unbuckled her harness and half turned, half scrambled to the back of the plane. It took a moment to find the CB radio, despite packing it close to the top of one of the equipment bags. Still after only a moment or two she returned and had it in hand. Clicking it on she handed the push button handset to Jeff and began the process of finely tuning the radio to the frequency that Melisa had given to Jeff.

“Charlie Uniform Seven Eight Two Niner entering Brazilian airspace, destined for Pista Municipal airstrip. Message for Melisa, if you can hear me please respond.”

Jeff released the button on the side of the handheld and glanced at SYDbot who was chuckling to herself and muttered, only once, ‘niner’. Jeff smirked, happy to have even the ghost of his sister back for a bit. He waited another second or two and then brought the handpiece back to his mouth and clicked the button, repeating the message again and releasing the button, this time making sure his finger was far away from the button.

There was still no response, but that didn’t worry Jeff. He wasn’t sure where Melisa was on her journey into town and he would keep broadcasting the message every few minutes until he heard from her. He was just bringing the handset back to his mouth when the entire plane bucked once, then again, and soon his entire field of vision was obscured by acrid black smoke. He couldn’t see what it was, but the clearly metallic clang of some part of the plane tearing off and slapping against the fuselage let him know that they were in real trouble.

“Mayday mayday! Charlie Uniform Seven Eight Two Niner I think we’re hit. Something. Uh..engine failure!”

Jeff wailed into the headset, knowing full well that he was no longer using the right terminology, but his mind was spinning. More so because the black smoke stopped and as his front windshield cleared he could see that the propeller had stopped spinning and in fact was missing one of the blades.

The missing blade, or rather the lack of a blade where it should be, filled his vision and he wondered if there was any way to restart the engine and limp along with one less blade. Perhaps they could coast to a field or private air strip.


SYDbot was calling to Jeff over and over, but he only heard the most recent shout and snapped back to the moment. He looked at the robotic sister he had created and saw her pointing out the windshield, not at the propeller but rather what lay just beyond. Dense forest coating the mountain side in a thick layer of green trees and white mists. It was approaching them far too fast and at the entirely wrong angle. Jeff was sure that they were at a much more shallow angle just moments before, but now they were plummeting out of the sky.

Grabbing the controls he pulled back hard, adjusting the foot petals to try and squeeze every last bit of lift out of whatever remained of his aircraft and attempted to find the softest part of the forest canopy to land in.

He didn’t find it.

Instead the sound of tree limbs and wooden trunks slamming and slapping against the fuselage filled the cabin. Jeff’s own screams of terror were drowned out by the sounds of twisting and screaming metal. The wash of green leaves and fast moving tree limbs was replaced with a fresh billow of black smoke from the engine. Jeff was tossed hard against the side window to the little aircraft, not hard enough to fully knock him out, but it made his vision blurry and the plane seemed to be spinning more than it should have been. His hands had slipped from the controls and he was trying his very best to put them back, but all he could do was weakly flail in their direction.

He looked over at SYDbot, she was braced against the side of the plane and looking at Jeff. He could see her mouth moving too, but the words hit his ears like mush against a wall. Some of it stuck, some of it simply splashed away. Her hair was flying in strange directions, Jeff assumed from the momentum of the plane, but it was so hard to string two words together let alone a whole, coherent thought.

The plane must have impacted something big and heavy, because the general forward motion of the plane was halted and instead sent it spinning sideways. Then another hard impact and Jeff’s tunneling vision went black.

How long ago had that been? It felt like it was just a second ago, but Jeff felt so exhausted that it could have been hours. What he did know was that he wasn’t moving any more, he appeared to be in one piece, and that he was upside down. His arms dangled freely above him and as the world came quickly into focus he realized that he needed to act fast. Blood rushing to the brain wasn’t a great condition to have after a plane crash.

The harness was a challenge to unclip, but he somehow managed to get it undone only to be reminded of the primal force of gravity. He collapsed against the roof of the plane and lay still for a moment.

“Jeff. Are you o-okay-kay?”

Perhaps it was the trauma or the sudden shift in blood to and fro in his brain, but Jeff swore he heard the disjointed voice of his long dead sister.

“Jeff? Jeff, can you hear me?”

Jeff sat up, woozy and swaying slightly, but blinking and focusing on something helped him. It took some time, but he soon shook his head slightly, which was a mistake. His head was screaming at him in pain and the goose egg that had grown on the side of his head where it had hit the side of the plane was a reminder that he was still alive, painfully alive. At Least the pain helped to sharpen his vision.

SYDbot was still strapped into her seat, but there was something wrong about her too. Jeff remembered that he had built her, and that she looked like an up-aged version of his younger sister, something approximately like she would look like had she not been killed years before. There were small tears in her skin though, and below them Jeff could see exposed electronics. The skin tears wouldn’t be a problem to fix, he had brought along some sealing paste. Jeff glanced at the back of the plane, it was there, but it was a mess. He hoped the glass was from the shattered plane windows and not broken equipment.

The more pressing problem was the branch from a tree that had impaled her in the gut. Jeff could see that it pierced her on the lower abdomen and after scrambling to check her, found that it did, indeed, pierce all the way through her.

“Okay, SYDbot you’re going to be okay.”

Jeff’s voice was far too emotional to be talking to a machine like this. To him though, he was looking at his sister, his chance at having family back in his life. She wasn’t just a machine to him, she was his little sister returned to life, and here she was, on death's door again.

“Jeff!” SYDbot snapped at him, and it brought his attention back to her.

“All critical systems show green, se-secdonady systems are damaged. Help me get down from here and we can assess the damage to my bo-bo-boooooo-body.”

Jeff couldn't imagine what was causing the verbal malfunctions, but each one was punctuated by a sizzling pop inside of her torso. Jeff could see small flashes of light just below her artificial skin as well.

The branch was going to be the biggest problem. It wasn’t much more than perhaps an inch around, but without tools, he had no good way of getting it out of her. So in an effort to observe his surroundings, and see if he could look at the problem from a different angle, he literally looked at it from a different angle. Climbing out of the plane and looking at the wreckage he was astonished that he had survived at all. Everything was twisted and mangled, dented and destroyed.To his surprise though, the branch itself was snapped off some five feet from where it entered the plane’s front windshield.

“Okay SYDbot. I’m going to try removing the branch, just hang on, okay?”

“Sure thing, ready when you are.”

Jeff pulled hard, he heard the sputtering or electronics from inside of the plane and did his very best not to pay attention to it. SYDbot was a robot, he could fix her, eventually, but he would need the parts first. He sighed, hopefully whatever systems were ruined by the branch were ones he could either bypass or at very least patch up. He had brought a limited supply of spare parts to give to Melisa. He tugged hard again and felt the branch give way, moving easier now.

“There, it- it’s clear- clear. I’m coming out. Out. Out. Out.”

Jeff settled the branch onto the nose of the plane, before jumping off to meet SYDbot as she climbed out of the plane. Her movements were stilted, stiff, and nowhere near the smooth motions that Jeff had expected from her. In that moment, he didn’t bother looking at the damage done to her belly, or asking if she was okay. All he managed to do was step hard into her, throwing his arms around her and pulling her into a tight hug. It was a moment before he felt the stiff movements of SYDbot’s arms move up and embrace him as well.

“Sydney, I’m sorry, I tried keeping you safe but- but..” Jeff wailed, and the robotic woman let him sob for a moment or two then she pushed gently away from him and smiled. Her lips were unevenly curled, a product of her broken body, but it let Jeff know that things were going to be okay. He wiped the wetness from his eyes, closed them and took a deep breath to steady himself.

When he opened his eyes the SYDbot had taken a step back, and was pulling up her shirt. Her arms crossed over her chest and weakly gripping the hem of her shirt. She was trying to drag it up and over her head, but struggled to make her body obey the commands her operating system was formulating. She tried at least twice before her arms fell and she tried again.

“Here, let me.”

Jeff stepped up to the SYDbot and took her shirt in his hands and lifted it up and off of her. The deep canopy of the jungle tinted her light brown hair a shade darker, and she looked at Jeff with calm patience as her top was removed. She was left standing in a sports bra that held back her normally nicely shaped breasts, leaving them pressed hard against her chest. Jeff stepped back and looked the SYDbot up and down. Aside from the gaping hold that punctured its way clearly through her abdomen, she appeared to be fully functional and relatively undamaged. A few scuffs and a number of scrapes revealing her internal workings, but nothing major.

As he looked her over there was another short circuit inside of her, causing a blue streak of electricity to course across the opening in her belly. As it did Jeff could see the artificial muscles twitch and her leg spasmed once, toppling her forward. Jeff was there to catch her in his arms and managed to keep her upright, but realized he should reduce the load on her systems, so he gently guided her to the ground. He cradled her head in the crook of his arm as he did so.

“Okay, ooookay, this isn’t as bad as I thought it could be. But Sydney I’m going to need to fully power down everything from your neck down. That should get most of the systems I’ll need to work on. Uh, and I’ll need some tools are you smiling at?”

Jeff had been rambling and hadn't even noticed that the look on the SYDbot’s face had melded into another crooked smile, though he recognized this one. It was a quirk that the SYDbot must have picked up from viewing old photos of his sister. It was the same crooked smile she would give Jeff when she was younger when she knew something that he didn’t and wanted to dangle that information over his head.

“Oh, nothing.” She replied, earning her a suspicious squint from Jeff. “It’s just that twice now you’ve called me Sydney instead of SYDbot.”

Jeff hadn’t been paying attention and realized that she was right. As time went on he was beginning to see her less and less like a machine, and more like his little sister. Keeping in good spirit, Jeff just had to give it back to her.

“Yeah a machine would be too perfect, and Sydney is a big fat messy pig head.” He concluded by sticking out his tongue at her. Just like he had done when they were kids.

He didn’t wait for a response either. Sydney’s power core wouldn’t last forever and short circuits around her body would rob her of precious operating time. Jeff dashed back into the plane and began to rummage around for whatever he could salvage. Food, water, supplies, spare parts, tools, survival gear. Not all of it was intact, some of it looked fine but was just messy, like the small tent he had packed and eating utensils. All of it was strewn across the back of the plane. Despite the mess, he was able to find what he was looking for, mostly at least.

He returned to Sydney, who had lowered herself down to the soft forest floor and was reclining against a tree. Her arms hung limp at her sides and her legs stretched out in front of her. Her head was lolled to one side but her eyes were tracking Jeff as he emerged from the smoking wreckage of his little aircraft. He set down armfuls of stuff on the soft undergrowth before approaching her.

“Alright, all the tools look to be, well here, I don’t know how good they’ll be. Now, let’s take a look at you.”

Jeff crouched down and settled into a sitting position next to Sydney. He leaned low and peered into her exposed abdomen. The power was off, clearly. None of the status LED lights inside of her were blinking at all. The waning daylight was barely adequate to see what he was doing, but he had work to do. He slipped a hand into her exposed torso, wiggling his fingers into the small space between the artificial skin and the hard metal and plastic casing that Held Sydney’s electronics inside. He had to peel the skin back just a little, slicing a little bit of it away to allow it to hang freely and out of his way. Once done it was only a matter of reaching inside of her and pulling out the ruined components, assessing the damage, inserting new ones and then rewiring them into place. No problem. Easily done through a two to three inch hole. In a forest. After a plane crash.

Some of the framework around the hole left by the branch had caved inward, making it easy to slip fingers inside of her, but a challenge to pull them back out without gashing himself on the sharp, twisted metal. The first component was a sharp reminder to watch what he was doing, but he managed to get it free.

Holding it up he examined it, attempting to move it around to get the scant few beams of light through the canopy to show him serial numbers, manufacturers, or anything that might tell him what it was he was holding. It was tough to tell, it was shattered and broken. More components came out of Sydney, slower this time and with more care. Soon Jeff had three, or maybe four, depending on if any of the pieces fit together to make a whole component.

Sydney’s eyes were still watching Jeff, though she had shut down much of her physical control modules. She was practically a helpless rag doll at the moment, though the motors in her joints would put up some resistance. Still, she could watch Jeff and moreover, appreciate the work he was doing for her. He was currently on his hands and knees, staring into her torso, his phone flashlight illuminating her inner workings. Then he set it down and probed two fingers inside of her and began to fiddle with something.

Sydney saw the bundle of wires he had pulled out, but never really felt anything. Not because any of her internal sensory hardware was powered down, but simply because she was a machine, she didn’t have nerve endings to tell her when her internals were being jostled around. She could only see Jeff, and the level of concentration and devotion he was pouring into her. It was admirable, desirable, and it left her feeling-

“Alright I think that should do it.” Jeff announced.

Sydney’s eyes darted to him and a smirk slipped across her face.

“Re-establishing power and data connections.”

It was still Sydney’s voice, but Jeff could tell it was very artificial. It sounded almost as if it had been spoken through a tin can, and it left him smiling, she was still a robot. While she returned power to her body and took the time to reconnect her operating system to the myriad of sub systems and components inside of her, including the small work around he had included, he started some more superficial repairs.

Her skin was torn, cut, and punctured all over her body. There was a very good chance that this might lead to some more damage. So he unscrewed the lid to a jar of paste, the only one that had survived the crash. Dipping a finger into it he held together a section of shredded skin on Sydney’s arm and smeared the paste onto it. Gently blowing across it for a second and it set, quickly, and held tight. The tone of the paste was similar to Sydney’s current skin tone, and would take on a more normalized colouring as time went on.

Jeff spent a minute exploring her body, patching up the smaller rips and tears as he went along before making his way down to the larger hole punched through her belly. He smeared more of the paste onto the portion he had to cut away, then tried to pull together as much of the shredded remains of her skin as possible and slathered on a generous amount of paste. It wasn’t quite enough to fully seal it, but it was enough to keep errant dust and debris and bugs away.

Once Sydney was online, Jeff pushed himself up to stand over her and offered a hand to help her onto her feet. She looked down at the patchwork that Jeff had expertly done, and a sly smile quirked up at the side of her lips.

“I’ve seen worse.” She commented.

“Well it’s a good thing you won't see what I’m about to do to your back then. Turn around and bend over just a bit.”

Something, somewhere, deep inside of Sydney’s programming activated. It was something that had been made dormant with a very intentional set of components that Jeff himself had installed inside of her. She complied though, bending at the waist and placing her hands against the tree for support. It wasn’t a conscious choice to raise her rump just a bit more, but it happened. Jeff, preoccupied with the repairs, hadn't noticed. Instead, he was focused on pulling together as much of her skin as possible and pasting it in place.

Once done, the jar of paste was empty and discarded, but Sydney was once again whole. He hoped at least.

“Alright, good enough I guess.” Jeff said and stepped back.

“Thank you Jeff.” Sydney said as she crouched down to retrieve her shirt, but instead of putting it on, simply slung it over her shoulder, leaving her standing before Jeff in only her sports bra and hiking pants. “What did you have to do in there, if you don’t mind a girl asking.”

Jeff glanced down at the small pile of shattered silicone circuit boards.

“We actually got really lucky. There was only one subsystem that was damaged. It was a regulator board that I had installed. It was kind of like a traffic cop for data flow. Your AI comes up with some requests, those requests go to the regulator which picks and chooses what commands go where, and then sends it off for processing. You’ve got a couple of those in you, so losing one might mean some functionality is lost, but I doubt it. There's a lot of redundant systems inside of you.”

“Sounds..complicated.” Sydney said with a shrug.

“Yes you are. More complicated than any girl I've ever met..and I met you as a kid!”

Jeff chuckled and then returned to the ground, packing supplies, food, gear, and whatever else he could manage into a large, steel framed hiking pack. Sydney watched him as he moved, feeling..something. Some kind of burning that she hadn’t ever felt before. Not a physical burning, nothing was on fire, but there were new sensations in her body. She was tingling between her legs. The more she watched Jeff, the more her eyes trailed over him. The more she imagined him working on her body. The more she wanted him inside of her.

“Alright. Daylight’s burning. We can’t have gone down far from the airstrip, which is due-” He pulled out a map and compass and turned a little this way, then that way, then back the first way. “-That’a way.”

Jeff pointed into the jungle, looked at Sydney and gestured with his hand for her to follow. She nodded and seemed to come to her senses again. She slipped her shirt back on, and began marching after Jeff into the lush, green jungles.

Chapter Six

Traveling through the lush jungles was so much more than Jeff had prepared for. He knew that Melisa’s camp was a short hike from the drop off site where her jeep was parked, but those were well worn and plotted trailers. This was the wild and untamed jungle. The bug spray did little to ward off insects, though it kept most of the buzzing away from him. Sydney, moving along behind Jeff, had no troubles with insects. Occasionally they would land on her skin and plunge a proboscis into her artificial flesh, finding nothing of value and then leave.

There was a fair amount of foliage to make their way through, and Jeff hadn’t thought to pack a machete to knock most of it out of the way. They wasted a lot of time moving around obstacles that could have easily been cut through and before they knew it the waning light was slipping behind the lush canopy above.

Jeff knew better than to try and forge his way through the jungle in the dark. There were enough snake holes, sharp drop offs and entangling roots to avoid in full daylight. So, with the last radiant beams of light he found a relatively flat patch of undergrowth where he and Sydney cleared off as much of the plant life as they could and began setting up the small tent that Jeff had brought along.

It was small, clearly intended for a single person, but Jeff didn’t want to risk letting Sydney stay outside all night long. Despite the logical fact that he knew she was only a robot, he admitted that he cared about her. So after pitching the tent, and securing as much of their gear as they could from tree branches, the pair squirmed into the small tent.

“Mm, cozy.” Sydney commented as her body pressed against Jeff’s.

“Yeah, sorry. Once we get some place civilized we can have a little more.”

“It’s ok. I don’t mind at all.”

Her voice dipped a little towards the end of her statement. It reminded Jeff of some of the more adult oriented videos he had become accustomed to on the internet. It was a curious inflection that Jeff wasn’t fully sure he understood. Not why it was there, that much was well known. Sydney had started her life as a machine that was purpose built for sex, and the first threads to tug one to start those processes were flirting. The human mind picked up on small things, like tone of voice, inflections, what words were said and what those words actually meant. With humans there were pheromones and body language and so many more biological components.

Jeff tried to force the train of thought from his mind, there was no way that Sydney was coming onto him. They snuggled into the small tent and Jeff fished out the one piece of electronic equipment he brought into the tent. It was a tight squeeze, but he managed to hold up the small, roughly rectangular box, dangling from it was a single thick black cable with a plug on the end. He managed to slip it over to Sydney, who took it and looked from the small device to Jeff.

“It’s a mobile recharger. I was hoping to give it directly to Melisa, but I guess we need to break it out a little early. If you flip it over-” Jeff placed his hands on her, rotating the device. “-You’ll see there is a solar panel here. Tomorrow when we’re hiking I’ll just rig it up to my pack so that it recharges while we’re walking. It should still be fully charged for now though, you should probably plug in and power down for the night.”

“Oh sure, yeah. Let me just-”

Sydney squirmed a little, trying to get a good angle on things, but it was a challenge in such a small place. Had she been alone it would have been easy enough but after a moment or two of movement she gave up and looked to Jeff.

“What’s up?” He asked.

“My charging port is blocked and I can’t quite move to expose it.”

Jeff chuckled to himself, it was an odd sensation hearing her. She was, for all he cared, the embodiment of Sydney, but she was still a machine. Hearing his little sister talk about exposing power ports was a very humorous interaction.

“Alright, what can I do to help?” Jeff asked.

He had spent little time figuring out where her charging port actually was. She had been shipped to him fully charged, and once he had reprogrammed her and gotten her working, there was little need for him to plug her in, she could do that herself. Clearly she needed a little help though, which Jeff was more than happy to provide.

“I just need to get my shirt and bra off and I can’t quite move the right way. Gimme a hand.”

It sounded more suggestive than Jeff thought it would. He got the impression that she was intentionally not putting in enough effort to remove her clothes and plug in. He was, however, completely exhausted from the hike and didn’t have it in him to argue. He let out a small sigh through his nose and got to work.

Sydney scrunched herself up towards the foot of the tent and raised her arms above her head, Jeff meanwhile bent forward, placing his face almost directly in front of her chest. Had it not been for the sports bra, her breasts would have been mere centimeters from his face. He hands pawed at her body, trying to find the hem of her shirt, and once located dragged it up her body. Sydney tossed her head back and forth to help get her shirt off, and her short, choppy hair ended up a tangled and twisted mess once freed.

Jeff admitted to himself and no one else, that Sydney looked really cute like this. Her hair a wild mess, her top off and her chest just barely contained inside of her bra. He shook his head, clearing the thought away, she was his sister after all. Or, she looked like what Jeff imagined she would look like. She also wasn’t actually his sister, rather a robot built for sexual interactions and-

He shook his head again.

He set Sydney’s top aside and steeled himself for the next step. Her bra.

It was easier to spot the lower hem of the garment, even in the waning light. It was dark and stuck out against her pale skin. Jeff had to work a bit more to wiggle his fingers into the space between fabric and artificial skin. She was so warm, Jeff noted, likely from excess internal heat.

‘Stop thinking too much about it Jeff.’

He got a grip in and pulled upwards, Sydney shaking her head again to aid in the removal. Jeff set the garment aside and attempted to avert his eyes, but it was difficult not to get an eyeful when her breasts were right there. Free from the sports bra that had been compressing them all day long, they regained some of their perfectly rounded form. Her nipples already puckering just a bit, either from sudden exposure to the cooling air, or from something else.

Jeff swallowed back every thought his mind was forming and he felt a certain biological response in his pants as well. On some level he knew that this wasn’t Sydney, and it was, in fact, a sex robot. But he had poured enough of his sister into it to make him hesitate. He settled down by reminding himself that he was likely just stressed, lonely, excited, and terrified all at once. This wasn’t a normal or natural response, he was just over reacting to seeing a gorgeous pair of breasts.

Straightening up in the sleeping bag he had rolled out he flopped onto his back, his head knocking into the charging box he had pulled out. The impact was enough to snap him back into a fully aware state of mind. It hurt, but it brought him back. Reaching up he pulled the device onto his chest just as the topless Sydney slid into place next to him. He ventured a look in her direction and his eyes betrayed him, snapping immediately to her chest. Just above her left breast was a dark indentation, illuminated from underneath by blinking lights in a rainbow of colours. Her charging port.

Her delicate and slender hands were on his, guiding the charger out of his hands and into hers. He watched as those same fragile fingers guided the plug end of the charger into herself. Once plugged in a small ring of faintly glowing green light filled the tent. It encircled the charging plug and pulsated in a gentle, rhythmic pulse. Jeff started for a moment, tearing his eyes from Sydney's nipples and placing them on the right. It gave the subtle feeling like she was breathing softly.

Sydney was also looking down at her exposed chest. She sucked in one deep breath, allowing the cool jungle air to pull away heat from the processors inside of her torso and exhale it from her nostrils. Jeff was so close he felt the warm air roll over him. She looked up quicker than Jeff could look away.

“I hope you don’t mind.” Her voice was a barely audible whisper.

“M-mind what?”

“You know. This.”

She nodded down at her chest again and Jeff was wise enough to keep his eyes averted.

“It’s no bother. Why would it?”

“I was just worried the light might keep you awake.”

“N-nope, no, that- that should be fine. I’m not bothered.”

Sydney let out a sound somewhere between a sigh and a purr. She smiled and nodded once, then rolled over to face Jeff. Laying on her side she draped an arm over his midsection and closed her eyes.

Jeff wasn’t sure if she was in a lower power mode, or a sleep state, or whatever it might be called, but he hoped she was offline in some capacity. He certainly wouldn’t have any trouble staying warm that night. Though he did have to close his eyes and focus on lowering his heart rate. Once calmed he became keenly aware of just how aroused he had become, even to the point of his own body betraying him and granting him the kind of erection that a young stud in his prime might be proud of. That took a little longer to settle down.

He wanted to do something about it, but with Sydney curled up next to him, and her being in whatever kind of state she was in, he thought better of it. For now, he would just have to take deep, steadying breaths and concentrate on the pulsating green glow from Sydney’s exposed chest.

Chapter Seven

Jeff woke up long after Sydney had. Sucking in a deep breath of the absolutely freezing morning air was enough to shock him awake. He still felt the warmth on his body though. Sydney was there, her arms draped over him, her chest pressed into his back and one leg up and over his.

If the sharp intake of cold morning air hadn’t brought him immediately to wakefulness, the immediate pounding of his heart would.

“Oh good, you’re up.” Sydney muttered as her own systems rose from the low power mode they had been resting in.

“Y- yeah, I’m up.”

Jeff was groggy, but well aware of his own body at that point. He was, well and truly, up. He stretched as much as he was able to in the small survival tent and then curled back up, pulling the sleeping bag around him.

“Come on, time to get moving. We have a lot of walking to do.”

“Five more minutes mom.” Jeff muttered.

Sydney took the opportunity to access a slew of childhood memories that the real Sydney had written about in her journals, and knew how much Jeff hated to be tickled. It was far too perfect to let the chance slip by and the robotic girl twisted her hands into claws and jammed them into Jeff’s arms, across his belly and along his legs.

The immediate jolt of motion caused the tent to sway as violently as Jeff was. His legs immediately kicked out and he yelped, attempting not to laugh. His brain conflicted about what to do, tickling her back was an option, but she was a grown woman…or at least she was built to look like one. Was a robot even able to be tickled? Some part of Jeff’s brain logged the thought away for later. The other part of his brain was fully in fight or flight mode, struggling to gain some advantage over his attacker and neutralize it.

As he had done so many times as a child he seized the hands that were tickling him and then pulled Sydney on top of him, a feat that would have required a fair amount of work on any other occasion, but the adrenaline helped. Once she was on top of him, he rolled his whole body over, spinning the pair and landing on top of Sydney. Reflexively he straddled her, clamping his legs against hers, and holding both of her wrists down against the bottom of the tent.

Jeff was panting, and a hot coil of something had made a home in his belly. He felt flushed, and not just from the sudden activity early in the morning. He knew that there was a hard and painful bulge in his pants, and he was sure that Sydney could feel it as well. She was so well built with hundreds if not thousands of strands of sensors laced into her skin. Most of them concentrated in the very area of her body that Jeff was attempting to hide.

She hadn’t redressed herself either.

Her clothes had been in a pile somewhere inside of the tent, who knew where they were now. The wrestling had surely scattered them to a corner. Jeff’s breath was rapid at that moment and as he looked down at Sydney, his peripheral vision taking in a portion of her bare chest, he sucked in one last breath and let it out. Her smirk devastated him, it was Sydney’s that much was for certain, but it was more mature now, and it was somehow more than just the sly smirk Sydney used to use when she lost, but also won a contest with her brother.

Jeff let out the breath and sat upright, releasing Sydney’s wrists in the process. He was careful where he placed his hands when he dismounted her and settled onto the ground. Still panting, but normalizing his breathing as the seconds ticked away.

“Who needs an alarm clock when you have a robot here to get you going!” Sydney proclaimed as she sat up.

Jeff used her phrasing as an excuse to roll his eyes and look away from her nudity. Sydney, to her credit, noticed this and leaned forward, past Jeff, and pulled her bra and the top she had been wearing the day before to her. Jeff lowered his face to his hands, rubbing his eyes with his palms and creating a sparkling design in the darkness as a means to give Sydney the privacy to redress herself.

What he wasn’t able to see was the small pout Sydney made and a soft sigh before she slipped her arm into the bra straps and pulled it against her chest. Reaching around her torso she found the clips and fastened them. Even her own artificial mind appreciated the amount of control and precision that a machine could have, she had to imagine the real life Sydney would have hated randomly trying to hook one piece into the other over and over until it caught.

Jeff blinked a few times, coming up from his hands just in time to see Sydney pulling the lower hem of her shirt down over her belly. He thanked his lucky stars that she hadn’t seen fit to remove her cargo shorts as part of their night time routine. Though he was beginning to wonder why she had taken her top off to begin with. Obviously the power port there was a good enough reason, but was there really a need to go completely topless?

He mentally packaged the thought and stored it away next to the idea that robots might be ticklish and a dozen other inappropriate thoughts.

Breaking camp took less time than Jeff thought it might. Of course with Sydney’s help and her mechanical focus on getting tasks done and done efficiently, everything was tightly packed in no time. Of course, the supplies that were scavenged from the downed plane, food, necessities, and everything Jeff thought he might need to repair Sydney in the field fit into the two steel framed backpacks. They were, however, heavy. Jeff had intended to have a little hiking to do on the trip once they landed, but that was all of about five to six miles along a well trod roadway to a town that he knew existed. He was no expert woodsman, but he knew navigation well enough from his piloting courses. So once the camp was bundled up, he laid out a map on the closest thing to flat ground he could find and set a compass on top of it.

“Alright, this line here, the red one, was our intended heading.” Jeff tapped on a map as Sydney settled down, legs crossed on the opposite side of the map.

“And all the way over here, is Melisa’s dig site. Now, we were supposed to land over here, hike for a few hours, and meet Melisa in Juara. From what I can..well..guess we went down somewhere north of Juara.”

Jeff made a large circle in red marker to the north of the small blip on his map.

“So until we can find some big obvious landmark that tells us where we are, or aren’t, I say we head south.”

Sydney nodded along, the complex array of self aware machine learning, artificial intellect and computerized mathematics taking in everything Jeff had said. Her A.I. agreeing that, while in most situations staying put is a more sound strategy for rescue, there were few chances for someone to spot them since their flight path was aimed at a smaller airstrip in the heart of Brazil.

Sydney was also an android, and as such had perfect access to what her optics had picked up along their flight path. A fact she had spent the morning before Jeff woke up exploiting. She had replayed their entire trip so far and recalled that they had flown over a relatively large river cutting east to west.

“I agree with your plan, but I think I can at least help a little in where we are.”

Jeff looked up at Sydney, one eyebrow raised.

“We flew over this river here.” She tapped at a large body of water that cut the circle Jeff had drawn in half. “It wasn’t long after that we went down. So really-”

Sydney quickly and accurately reached across the map, a movement that allowed Jeff the quickest of glances down her low cut tank top. She sat back up, seeming to not notice Jeff’s eyes and drew a much smaller circle within the one Jeff had drawn.

“-we should be somewhere in here.”

It was reasonable, Jeff expected nothing less from Sydney. Her programming was sound, and he had suspected that she had downloaded some form of geographical data installed. Nothing complicated, but sufficient. He was kicking himself that he didn’t spring for a GPS locator in her when he had put in the order for her base model. Then again, they weren’t supposed to crash land in the jungles of Brazil either, so, hindsight seemed to be twenty twenty once again.

“Alright. Well. No time like the present to get going. Your power cells are all topped off?”

“Mostly, ninety nine point eight seven.”

It was the most boring and mechanical answer that Jeff had heard, and the kind of dry stupid thing that Sydney would have said if she had the ability.

“Good enough.”

“You all good? Systems green across the board?”

“Mostly. You did a good patch job doc.” She slugged him playfully on the arm. “Only a little rerouting and my OS is doing a good enough job at sustaining my programming. So, as green as we are going to get I’m afraid.”

It would have to do and Jeff nodded and the pair marched out of their makeshift camp, headed south. Sydney seemed like such a different person now and Jeff occupied his time trying to figure out why. He suspected that the sexual programming that her base model had come with had somehow resurfaced, but he was unsure how. All of that had been completely disabled, he had done it himself. He couldn’t fully remove it as it was interwoven with tens of thousands of lines of core programming. What he had done was block the processes from starting.

It was a puzzle he would have to continue to ponder. He did love puzzles afterall…

The plane was still smoking, though so much less than it had been. The battery inside of the plane had definitely been damaged. Jeff had attempted to use any of them to gain any kind of information, but there was never enough consistent power to get any of them to start fully.

Nearly half an hour after Jeff and Sydney had left the crash site, there was a sudden jolt inside the plane. Another system had fried itself into ruin. With the remaining electronics disabled, and one more off the list, there was finally enough power for some of the most basic systems to gain enough charge to work, even if for only a few minutes.

“-eff..come in- Jeff…this is- lisa..Jeff! Jeff are -ou there? Stay put I’m -oming -oo -you..Jeff..Jeff!”

Melisa’s voice crackled into nothingness as the last remnants of the battery finally gave out, and the jungle was silent once again.

Chapter Eight

-1 day earlier-

Melisa was giddy with excitement. There was so little modern technology out in her small Brazilian campsite, that having a robotic assistant would drastically change everything. In a place where she shared a single five year old laptop between herself and the only other inhabitant of the camp, a real robot would change how they worked day to day. It might even change how they worked minute to minute.

With the over abundance of nervous energy she had, she was moving around the camp, idly tidying this and that, then rearranging things minutes later. She had been hovering around the communication station for most of the morning, and had even foregone eating her morning serving of flavorless oatmeal to sit next to the radio.

“I’m not sure who I’m putting my money on for the first blown fuse, you or this thingy you’re bringing in.”

The gruff and phlegm filled voice came from in front of Melisa. She had been looking down at the map that had been nailed to a wooden table and then covered by a thick layer of plastic. The plastic was marked, erased, remarked, and worked over by dozens of dry erase markers. Every time the crew would set out into the jungle there was a meticulous amount of planning that went into it, and all of it was done from the map.

Presently it was covered in a recreation of Jeff’s flight path, times and dates interspersed with calculations of when her brother would enter Brazil’s airspace.

Looking up she saw Racoon. His name wasn’t actually Racoon, but it was something that he had insisted Melisa call him from the first day on site. She had never really bothered to ask what his real name was, and at this point Racoon might as well have been his real name.

He also clearly cared little for some of the creature comforts of society. Despite making a trip into town at least once a week he never bothered to buy razors for himself and preferred to take his long silvered beard and braid it into a single stock. What he lacked in charisma, he more than made up for in kindness as evidenced by the still warm bowl of oatmeal that he placed on the map.


Melisa had learned that Racoon wasn’t much for sentimental comments or long winded thanks. He grunted, nodded, and turned away. She scooped up the bowl and took Racoon’s words to heart, she was definitely in a tizzy. She took a bite of her oatmeal, bland as always, and walked across the camp to her tent. Parting the heavy canvas opening that served as a door, she settled down at her own desk. Another bite, another grimace. She was never sure how Racoon was able to make oatmeal of all things taste even more bland.

She had just glanced at the picture that sat prominently on her desk, Jeff, herself, and Sydney. Each one smiling in their own way, and remembering fondly the times they had. As always it upset her that there were so many more memories that she had been robbed of when the accident happened. It was a dull wound now, something she was slowly but surely getting over. Though she was never sure she would fully recover from it.

The crackle of a radio across camp and a familiar voice brought her back from her thoughts and she dashed to the opening and threw it open. For a second she thought that she had, perhaps, fabricated the sounds in her head, but then she heard it again. Jeff’s voice, layered with static and what she could only assume was the roar of the plane engine.

She had just settled into the chair, drawing a small circle on the map near the north eastern edge of Brazil. They had been hopping along the Central American coastline and were inbound from Venezuela. She had just lifted the handset to her mouth to reply when it crackled to life again.

“Mayday mayday! Charlie Uniform Seven Eight Two Niner I think we’re hit. Somethin. Uh..engine failure!”

Melisa’s eyes went wide. She stammered into the radio, not even holding down the button. SHe could hear the sounds of metal tearing and then static. She mashed her thumb into the button and screamed.

“Jeff! JEFF! Jeff are you there! Jeff!”

Racoon had heard her shouts and came darting out of his tent to see what the commotion was and only found Melisa, weeping, her head down on the desk. He looked at the radio, hearing only faint dull static and gingerly placed a hand on her shoulder. She didn’t move. She had just lost her only living family member. She was alone, deep in the Brazilian jungles.

“We know where they were coming from.” Racoon offered, “And where they were headed.”

Melisa looked up, her face already streaked with tears. She looked confused, even as Racoon pulled the jeep keys from his pocket.

“We been all over this jungle, I’m sure we can find a crashed plane. They put off a lot of smoke, or so I’m told.”

He was already marching to the jeep and coaxing the old beast to life. Melisa looked from him to the radio and back again. She snatched up the handset again.

“Jeff, stay put. We’re coming for you. Just- just stay there!”

She’d broadcast that same message over and over again from the jeep as they rumbled through the muddy and first spackled tracks of the jungle. It was a shot in the dark and it would take some work to get there, but they had a plan at very least.

“You think it’s safe down there?”

Jeff and Sydney had been hiking for a few hours. The jungles were a winding and unpleasant trek, but they had run into little problems. A liberal amount of insect repellant had kept the mosquitos at bay, and they had made an intentional decision to avoid the water. Leeches, venomous snakes, and other wildlife that congregated near water had been the primary factor.

Currently, though they were standing atop a small cliff edge, a few outcroppings dotted the cliff edge and they had made a relatively safe trip down to them, and the last one was just below them. The same tactic they had been using all along would have to do, Jeff would lower himself over the edge with Sydney holding onto his arms and then simply dropping. The only additional consideration here was that the ground looked a little squishier than expected and there were concerns that it might be a swamp. There was little else to be done though, they couldn’t easily climb back up, and down looked questionable at best.

With a heavy sigh, Jeff knelt down and looked up at Sydney, nodding once and she lowered herself to a lying position. Once ready she took hold of his arms and gently lowered him over the edge until her chest was resting on the edge of the outcropping and her arms were fully extended below her. Jeff dangled from them, looked at the ground and then up to her. With a nod, the two let go and Jeff plummeted.

He hit the ground hard, and almost wished it had been a soft and absorbent swamp. His teeth rattled and he knew, at some point in the future, that he would have to explain to a doctor why his knees hurt so bad. At least he could point to this very moment.

Looking up at Sydney’s head poking over the edge of the cliff side he gave her a thumbs up and she returned the gesture, then disappeared. A moment later her legs appeared, nudging themselves forward and then Sydney dropped over the ledge. Jeff’s hands were already raised and ready to catch her, more or less. She landed, her hiking boots slamming hard into the ground and her operating systems sending a perfectly formulated command to bend her knees just the right amount to compensate for the impact.

Jeff still managed to get his hands onto her hips as she came down, doing whatever he could to help balance her. The ground, however, had other ideas.

She landed but her balance was off, resulting in her operating systems screaming in panic as she tumbled forward. Jeff was there to catch her, and as she tumbled forward Jeff managed to stay upright, but his arms quickly snapped to her back, clutching her tightly against his chest.

Sydney was stable, and after only a moment managed to stand back upright, remaining in Jeff’s embrace for a moment. Her operating system calmed by the restoration of balance, and then shifting to load other programs that were once hidden away.

Her eyes drooped just a little, lending her that same sultry look as she had the night before. Jeff could have sworn her lips weren’t that red earlier either. Her body was pressed against his, her hands lightly resting on his chest. It took a moment for her eyes to meet his and their gaze held for a moment longer than it should have. Jeff’s lizard brain whirled into position, reminding him that she was beautiful, she wasn’t actually his sister, that she would be the perfect bit of comfort in this miserable jungle.

Sydney’s own operating system was fully executing many of the same routines. Her tongue flicked out over her lips, moistening them just enough to leave a sheen on them. Her artificial lungs pulled in a deep draw of fresh air, cooling her processors that were warming as more and more of her inherent sexual software loaded. As a happy coincidence the breath pushed her breasts into Jeff’s chest just a little more.

“My hero.” She muttered, then leaned forward, her lips leading the way.

Something in Jeff’s brain saw what Sydney was doing, filtered it through everything it had been telling him up until this point, and set it all to the beat of a drumming heart. He had a moment to swallow hard and then dip his head downward, in mock humility. It wasn’t his intention to make that the exact moment that Sydney’s lips reached him, but they did.

Jeff felt the soft warmth of her artificial lips press into his forehead. His eyes took in the sight of her cleavage. His own mind blinked once as if he were mentally taking a picture of them and storing it away for later.

He looked up and Sydney backed away from him, just a step. The two shared an awkward kind of laugh and Jeff looked up at the cliff face they had just scaled down. It was amazing that they hadn’t fallen, but here they were. Sydney’s own systems realized the moment had passed, there were enough social clues for her A.I. to piece together a response. It all ran through a central database first, but her lightning fast processors had more than enough resources to do the job.

Sydney’s OS terminated her sexual programming, replacing it instead with all the survival and camping knowledge she had stored in her drives. As Jeff looked up and away, Sydney took her cue to look around. They were in some kind of basin, and in the distance she could hear flowing water. If there was one thing they would need to keep trekking it was water to replenish their supplies and some rest.

“Come on Jeffy, quick looking at the sky.”

“Yeah, oh, uhm, good idea.”

His heart was still racing. He hadn’t yet decided if it had been a blessing or a curse that Sydney’s lips hadn’t landed on his. He wondered if he would ever get another chance with her like that. He watched her as she walked away, towards the sound of water, her hips swaying. The gentle crease of her hiking shorts riding up against her rump just enough to give him the perfect outline of what it would look like. He imagined what it felt like.

Pressing his eyes together hard he sucked in another breath and trotted off after the robot, trying his best to focus on survival.

Chapter Nine

Finding a suitable spot for a campsite was a little more of a challenge now that they were in the thick of the jungle. Large flat openings where a tent could be pitched with any kind of comfort were rare, let alone a place to stoke up a safe campfire for warmth.

The sun was dipping low on the horizon, causing the dense jungle to crowd in around Jeff and Sydney and forcing them to light their way with flashlights. It was dark by the time they had found a place to make an adequate camp, and it was a mad dash to get their tent set up. The last thing either one of them wanted was to be left in the open, focused on a task when some animal wandered across them.

Safely inside the small two person tent though, they felt safer, but only by a margin. There were still things creeping in the darkness that scared Jeff. The trail rations were out and Jeff chewed slowly on something salty, hard, and after the days he had had, delicious. Sydney sat cross legged a mere foot or so from where he was sitting. Her eyes were closed and her head dipped down just a little, though Jeff could see her chest rise and fall in shallow breaths. He knew she was still online, computing something and using the ever cooling night air to keep her processors cooled.

“So Sydney, what’s on your mind?” Jeff finally broke the silence.

Jeff almost immediately regretted it. She was a robot and little else. A.I. or not, she was still only driven by an internal database of responses that could only be triggered by external stimuli. He pinched his eyes shut for a brief moment and regretted it. She only looked human, he reminded himself, she was only a machine.

Sydney, meanwhile, opened her eyes and looked up at him, pursed her lips and let her actual A.I. handle the situation. It was true that she was mostly dependent on external information to inform her responses, but that wasn’t much different from how actual people worked as well. A human in a room with nothing to interact with, nothing to stir them into action would flounder a little. It was what sensory deprivation tanks led to wild hallucinations in many cases. Without some kind of input the human mind would make its own input.

Sydney wasn’t so different from that. Her mind was a computer and there was always some kind of new information to take in and process. Lacking anything immediate, there were bundles of data packets just waiting to be analyzed and converted into some kind of useful information for later use. Everything Her and Jeff had been through provided some form of data that could be used later.

“Just thinking about what things will be like once we get to Melisa.”

It was a true statement, and Sydney’s operating system was potent enough to pour in just the right amount of sorrow and lament to her voice. It was something that Jeff noticed and it caught him off guard.

“You don’t sound terribly excited.”

Jeff wasn’t sure why she would be upset about it, after all she had been specifically created to assist Melisa and spend most of her operating time with Jeff’s sister. Sydney, on the other hand, viewed things differently. She had spent months in Jeff’s care, starting as little more than a sex toy and budding into a replica of a person. More time spent learning about human interactions and how best to replicate a person who Jeff clearly cared about. It was in her very coding to take that information and use it to make a bond.

Those bonds were, at their core, a connection to Jeff. However, the damage she had sustained in the plane crash and the subsequent rerouting had bypassed some of the systems Jeff had put in place to lock away the more carnal desires she was made for. That connection had morphed into caring for Jeff as a person, and she was seeking him as her lover. There was no way around that, not for Sydney, she was obedient to the programming, and whatever course her artificial mind and her software took, she would follow.

“It’s fine, really. I just..” Sydney scooted a little closer to Jeff, settling into place next to him. “I’m just going to miss you and always be thinking about what we could have had.”

Jeff swallowed hard. He felt light headed as his heart pounded against his ribs. The warmth from Sydney’s body, the heat dispersed from her CPU through her skin. Her mere presence was like a charged static field around her, and Jeff was being drawn to it. Then Jeff felt Sydney’s head come to rest on his shoulder. Her short, choppy hair brushing lightly against his neck and the weight holding him down.

The two halves of Jeff’s mind whirled, tangling against one another. His own desires rose, causing all manner of mental and physical reactions. He wanted her, but she was his sister, or at least a close enough replica of her. His mind told him that she wasn’t though, she was a machine. Not just a machine, but a machine that was built with the express purpose of satisfying any man or woman’s desires with hand coded perfection.

If he had swapped her hair piece out, disconnected her face plate, and left everything else as it was then she would be a completely different thing. Now though, she was Sydney, and he couldn’t…could he?

He was brought out of his thoughts and back into reality when Sydney’s soft hand slipped across his face and up on his cheek. Suddenly his heart was pounding again, he felt heat all over his body and a squirming desire inside of himself. He felt his head being gently turned towards Sydney, and he didn’t resist.

Sydney had been processing a number of routines. She was programmed for everything and had an absolutely massive database at her disposal. Seduction, manipulation, out right aggressive sensual activities and soft, subtle and flirtatious encounters. Her artificial mind was doing what it was constructed to do. She was made to seduce, and Jeff was her target right now.

She turned his head and her operating system bid her eyes slip closed, shrouding her in darkness deeper than the dense jungle around the pair. Her lips parted slightly and she brought Jeff to them.

The pair met, in the darkness, in the deepest rainforest of Brazil. Alone and without judgment. Jeff let the kiss linger onward. Just two pairs of lips pressed into one another and nothing else. An endless moment of soft and subtle comfort.

Then the icy grip of what was happening coiled around Jeff and he pulled back. He realized he was panting, staring wide eyed at Sydney. Her eyes were just sliding open, staying half-lidded and her lips still pursed. She had placed most of her weight onto one arm, and the strap on her tank top had slipped off of her shoulder and dangled loosely around her upper arm.

Jeff admitted that under any other circumstance that this would be a number of dreams come true. But..she was his sister. It wasn’t right.

But…she also wasn’t his sister. She was a robot..nothing more…nothing less.

His brain argued the merits back and forth again and again. Sydney was still looking at him for what felt like an eternity, but he knew it was only a moment. Her head tilted to one side, strands of her hair falling around her face and somehow adding to her attractiveness and stoking his desires. Sydney was processing more and more inputs and feeding it into her processors, all of which were checked and rechecked against her database for new ways to engage Jeff in what she was made for.

“It, uh, it’s getting late. We should get some rest.” Jeff croaked, trying to buy himself more time to talk himself into bed and out of Sydney’s arms.

“Yeah. We should. Good point.”

Jeff swallowed again and crept into his sleeping bag. He pulled in a deep steadying breath and let it seem out between his teeth. A moment later the sounds of Sydney pulling out the charging unit and the sounds of her charging port opening filled the little tent. Then her top landed just behind Jeff’s head, and he knew the gorgeous android was once again topless. Soon she was curled up next to him, slow pulsing light from her charging port letting him know that she had slipped into low power mode, but not before she draped her arm and a leg over him.

He was warm, she was smooth, and Jeff couldn’t help but run a single hand up her thigh, only once, and only after a long internal debate. As expected, it was perfect. Absolutely flawless and it only stirred desire in him. He regretted the choice and forced himself to tuck his hands against his body to keep out of trouble. He sighed again though, Sydney was so warm, so soft, and so perfect. He could feel her chest pressing into his back, he could feel her hard nipples pressing into him, constantly reminding him that she was always there..always available.