"Now Janet, I think we both know you have some loyalty issues."
Weirdly, I didn't really remember starting this meeting with Roger. I did know I was in big trouble. I played it cool.
"What makes you say that?"
He shifted a monitor into view.
"Well, there's these e-mails you've been sending to Sony Robotics, to start with."
I glanced at the screen.
"There must be a mistake, Roger. I never sent those."
"Oh, but you did," he smiled, strangely. "You see, we don't just let any data out of the building. I bet you didn't know we've got our own cell tower. Even VPN traffic is spoofed."
I said nothing and just waited for him to continue.
"Janet," he said as he leaned back, "we pride ourselves on the loyalty of our employees. Nonetheless, we don't blindly trust them. And fortunately we intercepted your communiques and you've actually been chatting with our security team—none of these messages ever left our control."
Defensively, I said, "there's nothing preventing me from looking for another job—"
He looked at me disapprovingly and turned the monitor back to himself, "In your communication with who you called 'Mr. Yamagato', you wrote, 'naturally I'll be able to bring information about Androdyne's latest developments: things that are not even in the press yet.'"
He continued, "an interesting choice of words as you are an AI developer on our top secret projects. You do remember signing the NDA, no?"
I glared at him in lieu of an answer.
He picked up a stapled NDA and dropped it on the desk. "I have it right here, in case you'd like to review it. Naturally, we'll need to take action to prevent this from ever happening again."
"OK, fine. What's it going to be? Dismissal?"
"We've done something a bit more … satisfactory. Do you know where you are?"
I glanced around the room and immediately recognized it. "The conversion lab?" Putting things together, I added, "You're going to make me into a robot?"
He smiled mischievously, making me nervous. "Perhaps. Or, you can just get up and walk out of here."
I tried to get up but couldn't move a muscle. I looked down and realized I was on a test stand. I looked back at him horrified.
He just laughed. "You see, Janet, we already did. Yesterday when you came to work I personally brought you in for conversion. The scan ran overnight and we got you digitized as you are now." He looked at me expectantly—curiously.
"You'll never get away with this, Roger. I'll get out of here and tell."
He actually laughed at me. "Oh please, go ahead!"
I looked around me. It looked like my head was installed on the test rig torso I had designed. I could see the wires running out of, well, my body, I guess into the patch bay to the monitoring system. I had no arms or legs. I literally could not leave.
"Your replacement body is being assembled as we speak." He leaned back and scrolled through the monitor. "It looks like you were upset that your work was not appreciated by the company enough and wanted to sell it. Tuesday two weeks ago you sent the first e-mail. But it looks like you decided on the Friday before that. Then you stewed on it over the weekend."
He continued scrolling.
"At least you didn't talk with anyone about it. Oh, wait, you mentioned to your friend … Cindy about a month ago that, as you told her, 'I'm sick of working there, and unless things change, I'm going to quit'."
I was taken aback. "Wait, those are my thoughts—that's private!"
"Thoughts … data … no difference now, Janet." He continued, "You kept pretty busy putting on a front getting your work done and then covering up this side diversion. Heck, you didn't even chat with any of your friends at all for a whole week. That made things a bit easier, so thanks for that."
"OK, so what are you going to do with me?"
"Let's go back: two weeks ago you never sent any e-mails. Instead, I suggested you take some time off. A paid trip to a resort for a week."
"But you didn't—I didn't."
"No, really you did. Here's your reservation." He turned the monitor back. "You spent a relaxing week at Rustic Heights. Even got three massages, apparently."
"But I didn't. The people at the resort: surely they will know I never showed up."
"Oh, you were there all right. You even took a selfie, see?"
It looked like me, but I never went there. "No, that can't be!"
He glanced behind me. "Janet, could you come over here?"
The woman—obviously one of our robots—came over to Roger.
"Janet," he told the doppelganger, "were you at the Rustic Heights last week?"
"Yes," she said flatly.
He looked back to me, "sure she doesn't have your personality, and is just a basic drone body, but the staff saw you there."
"She's got my face—"
"A simple enough matter." He touches the robot's face. "It was built from the facial recognition scan we did when you started work. Quite a good likeness."
"Ah ha, but you forget about the entry logs here at work, and the people I interacted with."
"I didn't forget. I had you on a special project all last week. I made sure you weren't allowed to interact with anyone. And the logs are a simple enough matter. If you must know, the doors were configured to never log your attendance at all." He added, "heck, for your insubordination I even got an extra week out of you while you were on vacation!"
"But I know the truth. You and I both know that you can't just make me be silent. I can't just be reprogrammed without corrupting my memory."
"True, reconfiguring past memories is essentially impossible, but recent memories can be just deleted and replaced. Tomorrow you'll wake up at home. You'll have just returned from a nice visit to Rustic Heights, company paid. You'll have forgotten all about your plan to e-mail Sony. In fact, you'll not even remember this conversation."
"But I'll be a robot. I work on these things every day and I'll be able to tell."
"Sure, after three weeks, maybe a month, and you'll figure it out. But initially you'll think you're still human." He grinned, "To avoid any issues, I'll just plant some suggestions. With all the progress we've made, you'll find yourself seriously considering trying the conversion process on yourself. In a few week's time, you'll want to be converted to a robot and we'll just formalize what we started here today." He chuckled. "You'll become a robotic robotics engineer!" He added, "and of course you'll forget all about your grievances and stay loyal."
"No, this can't be. It can't work. You can't—"
He interrupted me, "we'll talk about this soon, Janet. I assure you."
He tapped on the screen.
"Wait, I—" My thoughts ceased as I was shut down. And just like the robots I worked on, I probably said as such. I just don't remember.
The alarm went off and I awoke. I haven't felt this rested in a long time. That spa worked wonders: nothing was sore at all … I felt great. Even my skin looked and felt smoother and softer … almost younger. This is probably what it's like to be converted into a robot. I hadn't considered the benefits before.
I felt a tingle of arousal at the thought. I laughed and said out loud, "I gotta watch that I don't get a fetish for this!"
I got ready and got to work.
On the way in, I stopped by Roger's office.
He waved me in. "Close the door."
"Anything wrong?," I asked.
"Oh, no … How was your trip?"
"Absolutely wonderful! I feel great!" I added jokingly, "my systems are operational and I'm fully charged!"
He looked puzzled and concerned, "uhh, are you okay?"
"Geez, Roger, just a little robotics joke."
He laughed a little in apparent relief, "Ah … well glad you had a nice time, then." He paused a moment then took on a slightly secretive tone, "Now, I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea around here. You'll be discrete about it, won't you? This was a special favor only for you."
"Ah, of course. I won't tell a soul."
"Good to hear."
I headed for the door.
"Is that all?"
"Can you stay a little late tonight? I'd like you to help out on something in the lab."
"Sure, no problem. Anything else, boss?"
"Nope, that's all. Now get back to work: there's a project with your name on it!"
I didn't know what to think of that, "well, yeah, a lot of them have my name on them…"
"Now who's taking the robotics jokes too seriously."
I guess he was right, so to save face, I just said, "oh, har har…" I didn't give it another thought.