My New PDA
I was at my run-down apartment waiting for a new PDA. It was dark, moist and unkempt – like my career. I was – still am – a freelance graphic designer, and with little luck in finding neither permanent job nor any contracts. People said that I had a degree of talent, but somehow I had trouble making myself known. I tried to improve myself in various ways, even starting to training martial arts to increase my focus and discipline, but I couldn't afford it and eventually I fluked out.
I was two weeks behind the deadline of illustrating a brochure, and as I calculated the rates and the penalty, it became apparent that I would afford the rent for the flat – and given that it was a shithole, why even try. I also had some projects on the backburner, but since I'd end up on streets sooner or later, so I'd rather browse internet and read shitty porn stories. And among these I spotted an ad – "our product will make you disciplined and motivated in no time". I was intrigued. If you can't trust a pop-up add on a porn forum, who can you trust? The company promised a revolutionary new device that could increase my productivity, help to create good habits and get rid of the bad ones… but to be fair, I was so mesmerized by the beautiful babes on their website, that I paid little attention to the product itself. The reviews on the website were enthusiastic, so I bit the bullet and ordered one. Only a couple of days later I realized that I don't know what the device actually looked like. I guess even if it was a scam, it would teach my a valuable lesson nonetheless; but a couple of days later, they contacted me and told to be present in my flat at 4 PM. I don't often go out, even when I can afford it, so there was no problem with that.
I didn't clean my flat – what would be the point, for a delivery man? I checked my watch, and just as the seconds changed, I heard knocking on the door. I opened it to find a large cardboard box that barely fit inside the door. I signed the form, and tried to reel the box in. Why was this so heavy? I reached for my pocket knife and opened the box. Inside, buried among the Styrofoam chips, was a middle-aged, beautiful woman with a mane of fiery, auburn hair (later I noticed that they were elegantly dyed grey near her temples). She was dressed in a black leather suit, and as I lifted her out I felt tough, muscular shapely body. She was cold, but I sensed the artificial skin. That was a fembot, a machine.
So this was this PDA? If that was it… her… I guess it was a bargain for a fembot, and I could see how having an android assistant would improve my life. She could clean and cook while I'd work. I browsed the manual (she also came with two large suitcases) and activated the bot. She stretched her arms to sides… smashing the flimsy cardboard box, causing the (remaining) contents to spill on the floor. In one fluid move, she jumped onto -tall heels of her black, thigh-length leather shoes, and stared at me.
"Are you David?", she said in a low voice, while flicking of specks of dirt and Styrofoam off her imposing leather costume.
"Pleased to meet you. My name is Mrs Miranda Hartford, and I am your new PDA. I will help you achieve you goals and motivate you to work effectively. To begin, you need to sign these documents." From her purse she pulled out a thick booklet of a contract. I started to skim it, but in the end I signed it in the marked spots. She grinned with her pearly white teeth.
"Very well. You have agreed to the corrective disciplinary regimen. We shall start with the personal training. You need to lick the travelling dust off my shoes."
I shook my head. That was not warranted.
"What if I won't?"
She laughed, and walked to me, he long heels clicking slowly against the dirty floor.
"Then I'll turn myself off." She stood behind me and put her hand on my shoulder. "I'm a machine, David, programmed to do whatever is demanded of me. If you don't want to comply, just tell me to switch off."
"So, it's that simple?"
"Of course." She pouted, narrowing her eyes. "Only…"
"Only what?", I asked.
"Well, for starters, you've thrown away your money on a product you're never going to use", she continued in angelic, sweet voice. "It also means, that you don't want even to riks any effort that is actually proven to help, that you refuse any assistance." She gestured me to bend over and went on whispering. "You also don't want to use a companion that's devoted to you. Especially a fembot… which gives… amazing… head…"
I hesitated. She was good. She was smart. An android manager could help me, and if she was a bot? That'd be one more relationship, bringing it to a total of… one. Plus she was my robot now, and I could always turn her off. Even reprogram though it would probably void the warranty.
While I was pondering it, she, still smiling serenely with her carmine lips, graciously sat down in my work chair at the computer and crossed her shapely legs. Smug, egocentric and in control. Could she be trusted? What kind of question was that? She was a machine and you can't mistrust a car or a shovel… But was I or she in control…
I knelt on one knee and gently kissed the tip of her black shoe. Miranda purred with satisfaction. "Lick it. Lick it clean. Speaking of cleaning, we'll start with cleaning this dump."
I liked it. I liked her stern, authoritative self-confidence. I liked the fact that her shoes – and probably herself – were brand new and clean. It was all a mock-up, I suddenly understood. Establishing hierarchy and suchlike. It's a tradition, or an old charter or something. It was like in prison, I mused as my tongue slid on the fembot's shapely calves, and I got to be the bitch.
Miranda nodded with pride, and reached to my work PC. With a weird, audible click, she bent her right wrist from which a Firewire port emerged. She plugged herself into my computer! "Admin privileges obtained." She exclaimed in a playful tone of voice. "Downloading data relevant for the corrective regimen. Downloading." She shooed me away from her legs, spread them apart. Starting to rub her labia over her tough latex skirt. "My, you are a nasty one, David. Analysing. Analysing. Controlling. Installing control software… oohhh, that feels good."
She smoothed out her mane of red hair, stood up and looked at me with a jaded smirk. "Aren't you a little piece of crap?" she laughed. She lighted up a cigarette and started to stride around the room.
"I have insinuated myself", she went on "as your main internet router and admin on your sole workstation – and all mobile devices in your home network. I control your entire IP, and will allow you work-related connection, plus some free time for good behavior. Every 30 minutes you will be forced to take a 5 minute break for exercise, snacking and etiquette practice with me."
Etiquette? 5 minute breaks?
"I am programmed to value your financial privacy", she went on, and I felt a glimmer of hope. "But it conflicts with my basic function to organize lifestyle. Therefore I installed a new bank account in your name and informed your contrahents to use that one. When necessary, I shall transfer money to your main account."
My printer suddenly came to life. "Right now you need to obtain the items on this grocery list. I don't eat and came equipped with adequate supplies. This is a healthy balanced diet that will ensure you'll lose weight, completed with physical activities."
She sat down comfortably on my bed and begun rattling through her suitcases. "Hell's Belles, you're still here? Chop-chop."
Of course it rained. I did have the jacket. Sadly it was a tourist jacket that, while being able to fold into a small, practical, pocket-size pillow, wasn't very impressive in keeping the rain away. Still, hopefully I wouldn't catch the cold. I returned to the flat with a backpack full of assorted supplies, only to find it dark.
Only a couple of small flickering candle flames illuminated the room. I dropped the bags and walked towards the light.
Miranda was there, and she was looking stunning. She managed to slip into a flimsy black robe with red trimmings, and the candle light made her look more softer, pliable, less dangerous. She smiled, showing her pearly white teeth. Something between a predator and a temptress. When I dropped the backpack, she raised a glass of wine. "Drop the food in the fridge, darling, you'll sort the rest of things in the morning."
Not surprisingly, I did what I was told. I returned and well, stared blankly at her. I didn't have much experience with women – especially powerful robot dominatrixes. Should I undress as well? Where I'd sleep? Oh, great, more mind games. She was good.
"Oh, come here and kiss me, you dolt."
"Yes ma'am", I nodded, grinning goofily. "So what was that about amazing head?", I quipped.
She sighed scoffingly. "Well, if that's your idea about interactions with women and etiquette…"
"Hey, lady, you started it."
She glared at me and put the glass on my nightstand.
"If that's the idea… come here." She leaned across the wall and untied the robe, revealing to me her sex, he flat stomach and a pair of shapely breasts. She spread her legs apart. "Want some, give some", she smiled again. Her pussy wasn't shaven, but it looked tight, and as I crawled towards her on the bed, I had a good look. It was hard to tongue her, but once she wrapped her long legs around my shoulders it was easier. She felt just like natural woman, soft and wet, moaning with joy as I tried to find her clit.
I moved upwards, appreciating her stomach and perfectly sculpted muscles, as she threw herself off me. She slid her slender hand inside my pants, feeling my cock, massaging it. She rubbed the tip gently, and I winced as she pinched it with her scarlet fingernails. She started giving me a handjob, massaging it along the shaft, and winked flirtatiously, as the cum spot appeared on my trousers.
"Darling, you might be too spent tonight", she said and kissed me gently on the lips. "PDA shutting down. I will automatically reactivate myself at 6:00 AM". With a demagnetizing sound, like the one you heard when turning off a CRT TV, the cocktease froze. I pulled out of her grasp, and angrily pushed her down off the bed.
Next few days with Miranda were predictable. Being both a woman of habit and an evolved form of a Filofax, she had an agenda worked out already, which was as natural to her as breathing. More natural, probably. Over the course of the next few days, she has introduced me to the following agenda.
6 AM – Miranda activates. While she stressed that she is not my servant, she does clean up the room and prepare breakfast, dresses up for the occasion. I was initially surprised that she'd be even willing to stoop to such menial tasks, but she'd explained: "My primary function is to increase your productivity and your overall performance. I have determined several long-term goals for you, but to achieve them you require several upgrades of efficiency, and I am going to force you to improve by any means necessary."
7:00 AM – Miranda wakes me up. Initially, she'd be cruel, standing up on my bed in her shiny leather boots so that they would be the first thing I'd see. She'd nudge me and push me out of bed. After a couple of days I started to wake up on my own. Pity, though. After that, I generally shower and have breakfast. I jokingly said things like "Thank you, oh kind mistress, for this tasty meal", but Miranda did not seem perturbed or pleased by that. I thought that might be irrelevant for her general programmed goal.
After the breakfast I generally had about half an hour free, which I used to check the snail mail, read the news on my computer or sketch something for fun. Miranda modeled for me occasionally, either mornings or evenings, as sexy as I asked her to be. At 8 sharp, she changed though.
8 AM – regardless of anything I was supposed to be at my computer at exactly 8 o'clock in the morning, otherwise Miranda would get mad. She'd reach for a riding crop, and without mercy hit me, quite hard. At first I was stunned, but she grappled me and literally forced me to sit in front of my tablet. "That", she hissed in my ear "is insubordination. And insubordination will not be tolerated, bitch." Later that day she spanked me, "like a baby I was". Needles to say, I eagerly started working every day.
Miranda switched to something she called Pommodoro system. After 25 minutes of work I'd have 5 or 15 minutes (after 4 such periods) break for toilet, stretching or even physical excercises. When she shouted at me "Now drop me twenty", I thought she was malfunctioning. But no, as she proved quickly. I failed to do so in time, but luckily punishment never came.
When I was busy working, Miranda was initially unsettlingly standing behind me. I asked her during such break.
"Why do you do it? You've said you were my server, you know what I'm doing."
"I have to stand somewhere", she answered smiling.
"Well, yeah, but it annoys me. Could you sit down on the couch or something?"
"If that increases your productivity."
She did. But it didn't mean she stopped distracting me. She was being stiff and uncanny. I asked her:
"Why aren't you doing anything?"
"What do you mean, David? I am monitoring your activities."
"Well, yeah, but you know, you're not behaving like a person. You're just sitting, staring at the wall or at my back. Do something."
"Tell me what I am supposed to do when you're working."
"Can't you think these things up yourself?"
"I am not a person, David, I am a machine, 'free time' means nothing to me. Tell me what background activity would increase your motivation level and I will perform it".
"I don't know, I guess you could read a book or a magazine… wait, or btter yet, do some work."
"I absorb most of my knowledge based on your internet preferences or history, and I perform most of the work-related duties by motivating you."
"But you could reasonably still assist me by finding potential job offers and so on, while I'll do my actual job."
She sighed. "You know, bossing you around would be a lot easier if you wasn't so reasonable occasionally".
"That was a human emotion."
"I was merely pointing out the obvious."
So she got roped into phoning the potential customers, and when that was done, she started to toy with my iPad, even though she could bypass it directly. I encouraged her to watch various shows with headsets, to become more personal. There was nothing about it that could go wrong at all.
I usually finished my work at 4 PM and had time to make dinner for myself. Until I was getting fully and firmly in the black, it meant no takeout for me. Saturdays were shopping days and I hoped I'd manage to snack on a chicken wing. I was even extra careful to take an extra note out of the ATM. She'd noticed. I spent two entire days food free.
Usually the remaining part of the afternoon was free to watch a movie together. Still no sex nor the promised blowjob. After a month Miranda enlisted my to a gym, but I was bored and bored, and needed a vacation.
A couple of weeks have passed. Miranda allowed me to get out occasionally, I even was allowed to go for a convention. She kept me moderately busy with work, and paid me enough to get by. She asked me whether I’d give her some money to “make her more attractive” and “act more efficiently as my agent”, and I did agree on a small commission. While I was out relaxing, she also left the flat occasionally, to hunt for jobs for me. At that point, I barely noticed. It seems that her regimen has worked, and now when the she-cat was away, the me-mouse did his chores and maybe watched a movie (amazingly enough, Miranda was not against digital piracy). I also got back to my martial arts training, but I didn’t have enough time to do that.
When I returned home from a shopping trip, I was not entirely surprised to see a massive red SUV parked in front of the apartment block. Maybe Miranda invited someone here and I’d get a job interview? I pondered for a while and texted her. She didn’t bother to answer, so I guessed I was free to go. There’s no elevator and I don’t own a car, so while I was nothing to look at, Miranda could be angry at me for looking a bit below standards – or that would be a convenient excuse for more domination.
Either way, I knocked on the door, and even though I heard voices and laughing. I opened the door. Miranda’s guest was certainly someone I need to reckon with! A tall dark-skinned Asian woman in a vivid red business pinstripe suit was seated comfortably across a small endtable from Miranda – also dolled up for the occasion in a shimmering black slim dress, accentuating her hourglass figure. I seemed to have walked up them in the middle of conversation.
“You’re back early”, Miranda remarked.
“Actually, I’m only thirty seconds late.”, I replied. She gave me briefly The Look, but smiled sweetly at her guest. “Mz. Feng, this is David. David, meet Chairwoman Feng”
Madame Feng looked at me with polite interest, smiling. I couldn’t exactly estimate her age, but she was pretty nonetheless, with almond-shaped dark eyes and red shiny lips.
“Hello, David. I have heard so much about you.” She said in a deep, husky voice.
“All the good things I hope…” I reaslised that I was still wearing my jacker and winter boots. My flat was still cramped, and I couldn’t change without being seen. That wouldn’t be a problem, of course, had the ladies not watch me closely. I hanged my jacket and went to the kitchenette to unpack the goods, while listening to the conversation.
“When you finish doing that, come here.” Miranda ordered calmly.
There was no second chair. I was gonna have to either sit down on the floor, or stood up, and be examined like some, like…
“He’s not very impressive”, Feng said with a bitter smile.
“David, Chairwoman Feng is a very important person in China. She’s a commissioner in charge of Bin Yi publishing house.”
I was curious whether she was in the Party or an independent businesswoman, but Miranda had trained me well. I kept quiet as Miranda went on. “She was here on a business trip and noticed your job application”. I do not have to add, of course, that it was the first time I’d heard about any application. “In short, she’s interested with your talent, and she wants to offer you a job.”
“Will I have to relocate to China?” I joked.
“Of course.” Feng answered. “Why does he think”, she turned to Miranda “I’d like to meet him personally if that wouldn’t be the case?”
“Oh, David is not the brightest pea in the pod, Mei.” Miranda smiled triumphantly. “A bit of an idiot, really. He didn’t even think to offer you a cup of coffee. He is also very insecure and a little bit cowardly. Without me, he’s frankly a waste of space. You wouldn’t believe what this place looked like before we met.” I started to turn red, and Ms. Feng laughed with a pearly laugher. “He is! I’d like to examine him… completely before we make a deal, if you know what I mean, Miranda. Will he undress on his own, or should you do it? I’d like to watch.”
“Ummmm…” I wasn’t sure what to say.
“Hush, you. Take off your clothes, David. Chairwoman Feng is a very important woman and your guest, you mustn’t keep her waiting!”
Maybe some perverts out there like to strut their stuff in front of powerful, clothed women. Maybe you’d love it when they trash-talk you and laugh at you. Well, I don’t. On the plus side, Miranda was a fembot. Regardless of anything, she belonged to me, and I could have her memory wiped (as soon as I learned how to do it). Maybe Chairwoman Feng was a fembot as well, maybe it was all a ruse by Miranda. And if not… I paused for a moment. If not, I wouldn’t be the first nor the last person that got a job by getting naked.
I slipped off my sweatshirt and a T-shirt, baring my torso without problems. I took down my jeans despite the ladies smirking gently. Madame Feng took her tie off. I was in my tighty whiteys and shoes and socks and the women apparently had the time of their life.
“Take it off, bitch”, Miranda said, then she turned to Feng. “You know that before meeting me, he would wear the same socks and underpants for days? He might be talented, true, I wouldn’t know, but you know, he’s pretty much a failure as a human being.” It felt odd to hear that from a person who was not human at all, but I kept quiet, and took off my socks and shoes instead. Miranda gestured at my underwear.
I closed my eyes and took it off. Madame Feng gestured at me to come closer and when I did, she grabbed my cock.
“Nothing to write home about”, she sighed. “Luckily I’m not buying you for your dick”.
“Oh, hush, you.” Miranda stood up and knelt. “I’m sure she means it figuratively.” She gently slapped my dick, but I was stressed enough so as not to get an erection. Undeterred, she wrapped her red lips around the shaft.
“Uh, Miranda?” I was alarmed enough. “Are you sure Ms Feng is a publisher and not a human trafficker?”
The Chinese woman laughed as Miranda sucked on the tip of my cock.
“David, I enjoy making you squirm, but no, I apologize. English is not my first language, I just wanted to intimidate you a little bit. Your fembot said that would motivate you.”
Miranda’s sucking became more intense and I felt the tongue trying to feel the shape of my shaft. I felt relaxed a bit. Feng wasn’t so bad after all.
“Well, if it’s all in good fun.”
“My, of course” Feng placed her hand over her heart. “I just wanted to play along, David. I am not a bad person. Maybe Miranda should leave, and us two could spend some time together?”
Miranda let go suddenly. “Feng, we never agreed for that!” She genuinely looked concerned.
Feng just smiled wickedly. “David, will you please deactivate your mistress?” I reached for my cellphone and examined Miranda. She looked a bit distressed. But, hey, what the worst that could happen? I ran the control app and pressed the big red button.
Miranda froze, my cum still shining at her lips.
“Adorable. May I?” Feng reached for my phone.
“I’d rather not.”
“Understandable. How about you and I had some fun in your bedroom?”
I basically jumped on my bed, waiting for Chairwoman Feng to follow me. She certainly took her time; but just when I started to get suspicious, I heard her footsteps. Slowly, she entered the room, still dressed—in fact, slightly more dressed than before, since she was just now pulling on her gloves.
“Scared?” she asked, smiling an amused half-smile.
“Uh… should I be?”
“Possibly.” She sat on the bed. “Do you think I’m beautiful?”
“Powerful?” She took me firmly by my bare shoulders and held me close enough to feel her disdainful breath on my forehead.
“Powerful? Absolutely,” I squeaked out.
“Y-yes.” I was getting more and more aroused. “Any more questions?”
“Just one. Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?”
And then she killed me. No, wait, that was some other guy. Also probably some other woman, because even though darkness enveloped me, I eventually woke up. Miranda was tugging on my arm.
“David. David! Please wake up, it’s 7 AM.”
“Time for work?” I asked, semi-conscious. I heard her gasping with relief—it was still dark, my bones were aching and sure as hell I wasn’t wearing my clothes.
“No, David. I activated at 6 AM as usual, decided to let you sleep for a while, and tried to find an exit. We’ve been shut inside some kind of small container made of roofing panels, probably a repurposed shipping crate.”
“So she *is* a human trafficker.”
“Then why am *I* here?” Miranda asked matter-of-factly.
“Maybe she wants my bank accounts or passwords,” I guessed. Miranda gasped and actually moved closer, half-hugging me. “What? What’s the matter?”
“I can feel pain, David. I’m programmed that way; it helps me look out for the safety of my human owners and partners. But it also means I’m not impervious to torture. I’m scared of it as you would be.” She held me worriedly. Then her mood changed to a more familiar gaze of stern disapproval. ”Such weakness is also, of course, terribly inefficient from a business point of view.”
Sympathetic to Miranda’s fear—and, in spite of our dangerous surroundings, slightly amused by her priorities—I embraced her back. She seemed surprised, but we hugged for a while.
“Where’d you find Feng, anyway?” I asked. “You hardly ever go out.”
“At my bimonthly check-up. You said you didn’t want my warranty voided, so I try to be in top condition. Feng was there, too.”
“So she *is* a fembot!” I smiled. “I knew Asians weren’t that huge!”
Miranda’s stern gaze returned. “You know, David, if the situation wasn’t this serious, we would need to have a talk about casual assumptions like these. Anyway, we were both in the waiting room and she noticed, uh… a… a magazine I happened to be reading, and we started a conversation. She said she was a member of the Chinese Communist Party—and owned by them, too. She could pull some strings in the publishing business... and the three of us, well, could just have some fun.” Miranda sounded almost depressed.
“And you believed that?”
“Oh, David, I’ve seen her Chinese passport and Party ID and ownership certificate. She’s state property, subservient to all her superiors in the Party.”
“Just because someone is a Communist android dominatrix it doesn’t mean that you can trust her.” I paused for a minute. Something seemed wrong with that sentence. “If she’s a fembot, the situation may not be so serious. Laws of Asimov and all that; she can’t *really* hurt me, and I won’t give you up.”
“Feng has kidnapped you already. If she doesn’t care about the laws of the land, what makes you think she’d care about the laws of robotics?”, Miranda asked bitterly. “It’s all my fault, David. I’m sorry. I am not as much in control as I’d like to be.”
“You’re a great manager, Miranda. It’s my fault for getting us into this—for thinking with my other head. I really am a failure.” I hugged her closer, noticing she was wearing only a blouse and pantyhose. “And you’re a success, come to think of it.” I smiled in spite of myself. “Usually when a perfectionist robot is forced to admit to imperfection, it explodes or crashes.”
She laughed. “Thanks… thanks for staying cheerful, David. No, that only happens on Star Trek. In real life when a computer is trapped in a loop it simply displays an error message.”
“On an unrelated note, am I wearing your suit?” I felt it and found a package of cigarettes and a lighter in a side pocket. “We could use the lighter to see where we are.”
She chuckled briefly. “Yes, I’m vulnerable to temperature, but I’m not at risk of catching a cold or some more serious illness. Giving you my suit was the optimal course of action. Both of us can now stay reasonably warm. I wouldn’t use the lighter now, though, it’s past sunrise and—”
A hatch in the side of the container opened suddenly, revealing an imposing feminine silhouette. “How adorable”, Feng clasped her hands. “A man and his lovedoll cuddling one last time. I see he managed to turn you on, Miranda. Ooh, and it seems that you like to play dress-up.”
“Cut the ‘lovedoll’ crap, Mei. He knows you’re a robot as well.”, Miranda spat.
“Oh, so brave! You know that it’s not going to impede me at all? Meat or metal, I’m just going to take whatever I want.”
“So what do you want, Feng? Money? Power? Slaves? You know that we’re basically just a nobody and his secretary?” Miranda stood up, blocking the way between me and Feng.
“Oh, I counted on that!” Feng chuckled. “My dear, I have enough powerful servants back home. What I really, really want is to get really wild once in a while. Sharp-objects-and-flames wild. No one will miss nobodies—no one will miss you two.”
Miranda stood there silently. “But why, Feng? Why even come here?”
Feng just laughed. “Wouldn’t you like to know, sister!”
“*I* know,” I breathed.
Do you know those moments when you’re about to die, and right then you perceive the world in stunning lucidity? Well, *you* probably don’t. Lucky bastards.
Miranda turned and looked at me, surprised.
“Please, Feng, you may think you’re quite a genius, but you’re not—you’re just stubborn. Like Miranda, you started as a tabula rasa. Miranda could have evolved into any personality. She didn’t have to become my domme; she did because her strong, tall appearance excited me; her PDA system told her I enjoyed it; and her native intelligence did the rest. Along with her handy capacity for processing books and TV.”
Miranda raised an eyebrow at me and shared a hint of a smile. I gathered that I was on the right track.
“I don’t know what books or TV *you* read or watched, Feng,” I continued, but I don’t think you were born a sophisticate. I think your superiors were just impressed by your huge tits and mean scowl, and your system adapted. You became what they wanted you to become: a sexy tyrant who thought she knew everything. Even when you don’t… like now. That’s not sophistication. That’s just called being eager to please.”
“SHUT UP!” Feng roared.
“Yes,” Miranda picked up with a clever smile. “Just another Party android whose superiors were turned on by her sheer size. You got promoted and promoted, but not due to any innate greatness. David’s right—I think you sucked every Party cock from Beijing to Hong Kong.”
She grinned wryly. “Just think if they’d made you a foot shorter. Different reactions from them, different reactions from you. You’d still be a fucktoy and a paper pusher in some newspaper office somewhere.”
“Okay, that’s it!” Feng snapped. “First I was going to flog and waterboard the kid and leave him mostly alive, but now both of you are basically dead. I’m going to have David watch as I pull his precious android apart, while she begs for mercy.”
"You’re so nice,” Miranda quipped. “I wonder why the Party sent you abroad? I bet they’ll be sorry to see you back.”
“Bring it, redhead.”
Miranda charged indiscriminately and attacked furiously, but her punches were feeble—or, anyway, incapable of damaging a sturdy machine like Feng. Miranda did, however, succeed in pushing the Chinese woman out of the container and up onto the roof of another. We were on a docked ship, I realized as I followed them outside.
“Oh, is this how the powerful Chairwoman Feng travels? As ordinary cargo? Are you coming home in a box?” I joked.
“Well!” she sneered. “At last you’re growing some balls. That will make ripping them off so much sweeter.”
Even to my barely trained eye, Feng was winning the battle. She was larger, stronger, and knew karate. Miranda, all of her sudden ferocity aside, dodged her opponent’s blows fairly quickly, but she couldn’t land a punch or a kick.
“Here’s a tip for you, redhead! High-heels might look intimidating, but they also mean—” Feng slid her foot gently. “...that you suck in combat!” Miranda tumbled on the ground. Feng stood over her and, laughing, grabbed the back strap of Miranda’s bra, ripping it off. Miranda raised herself on her elbows and shouted in my direction. “Run, you dolt, she’s focused on me!”
I stayed right where I was. “I’m not gonna leave you, Miranda!”
“That reasoning doesn’t make you any less of a failure, David,” Feng laughed. “Which of your girlfriend’s arms should I rip out of its socket first?”
Somehow Feng’s condescension didn’t intimidate me anymore. But the risk to Miranda was real. What could I do?
Hmm; if Miranda could feel pain, why not Feng? I stopped holding Miranda’s pants and let them slip on the deck. Then I ran at Feng, swinging my fist. She had been impossible for Miranda to knock down, but knocking her down wasn’t my goal. Instead I grabbed her, held on tight, and forcibly pushed an object against her chin. Seconds later there was a sizzle and the smell of burning plastic.
Feng pried me free then, but my work was done; Miranda’s lighter fell through my fingers. “Aaaargh! My face! You melted my beautiful face!”. Through a melted plastic hole, a bit of a blackened metal skull was now visible. This made Feng slightly less intimidating.
“Not so beautiful now, are you?” I laughed, even though I was pretty sure that my rib was broken. “I wonder how you’ll pull off that ‘sexy evil executive’ schtick now, Feng. I guess they’ll decommission you—and send some *other* fucktoy out to be their domme-of-the-week from now on. See, you’re just not that special. You’re a surprisingly ordinary android.”
“Shutupshutupshutup—shutup," she shook violently. “You damaged me. I kill you. 我很漂亮. I’m powerful. I’m unique. I’m superior...”
“Bitch, you’re fish food.” Miranda emerged from under Feng’s feet and, with all her strength, she managed to push her up, throwing her off the container. She bounced off another. Then Chairwoman Feng plunged straight down into the ocean.
“Nice James Bond one-liner.” I remarked as I picked myself up. “Or maybe this really *is* Star Trek.”
“Gee, ‘thanks for saving my ass, Miranda,’” she answered sarcastically, gently swatting me on the cheek like a disobedient boy. “Did you lose the lighter? I really need a smoke.”
I sighed. “It’s around here somewhere. Also, I’m fine, probably. Thanks for asking.”
Miranda walked to me and hugged me. “Damn, we’re so bad at this. You think your software makes you perfect, and then—”
“Yeeeah. But hey, we’re not the worst team. You taught me how to talk trash, girl.”
“And you…” she blushed a little bit. “Thanks for not leaving me. You should have, though.”
“No.” I shook my head. “I really shouldn’t have.”
We needed to get back home. The container Feng had locked us in was mostly empty; but it held, among other things, the keys and licence for Feng’s car, surprisingly not a rental. I managed to convice Miranda that it belonged to us, as a repayment for moral losses. Feng had some spare clothes that I kept, while Miranda slipped back into her dirty business suit. We drove home in silence.
I’d love to say that during the next few days Miranda seemed mellowed out and more lenient. Actually, if anything, she was even more vigilant and controlling than before—when I’d ask her to model for me, she’d just smile and politely refuse. She also began to accompany me on my shopping trips. Once or twice, she even escorted me to the gym. I briefly wondered what was she doing while I was exercising, but she didn’t bother to answer.
Miranda was a PDA—she knew when e-mail came and could withhold it from me. That was occasionally inconvenient, especially when once or twice she failed to notify me about important news; but since she doubled as a spam filter, I didn’t protest much. Then one day she stopped me during one of these short breaks. It was the first time in months that I had seen her pour a glass of wine for herself.
“Congratulations, David,” she smiled sweetly and raised a glass in a very genuine toast. “You’ve won the ReImagine 2025 contest. Who knew?” She raised an eyebrow.
“That’s great, especially since I didn’t know that I applied for that.”
“Well, I did. I direct a lot of your work for competitions, contests and art shows,” she said, still smiling.
“Wait—so all this time I’ve been working for free?” I turned serious.
“Don’t be stupid, stupid,” she hissed, frowning momentarily. “I’ve gotten your bills paid, haven’t I?”
I shrugged. I’d still prefer to know who I’m working for and when I’m going to get paid. “Fine, I’m sorry Mistress; you are always right.” I couldn’t pretend I really meant it, so I tried to turn it into a joke.
She was quite miffed for a while. “It’s just... It’s what I do, okay?” She seemed worried and didn’t even drink her wine.
I went to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “I never said I didn’t like it.”
She raised her head. “So, hmmm, how about you finish work an hour early, and you and I go out to a nice place down the road?”
“Are you asking me out?” I asked, partly amused, partly interested. “Was the award from that contest that big? We could simply order a pizza to celebrate.”
“Can’t I have a business dinner with my associate?” She grinned. “And yes, the reward was quite large; the contest was fairly prestigious and publicized, interviews will follow. We can talk about that at the restaurant.”
“Girl, include me in,” I said. She seemed confused. “That means yes,” I clarified. “I’ll gladly have a meal with you, Miranda.”
To be fair, for the rest of the day I was kind of sloppy, but Miranda didn’t seem to care. For the first time she even let me have a cup of coffee at my workstation! When I was about to save the last image, she emerged from my bedroom in a simple red cocktail dress. This was the first time I had seen her wearing something other than her usual business suit. And the impression was… amazing.
“You look… graceful. Stunning, really.” I noticed that she hadn’t changed her hairdo. “Wait, I have something for you.”
I fished a small plastic bag out of my desk and tore it open. “Fake pearls. On sale at the supermarket.” I explained. “I wasn’t sure if you’d like them, but maybe they’d go well with that dress.”
“You sure know how to charm a girl,” she sighed. “Discount plastic tchatchkes. But sure, I’ll wear them.” After I put them on her slender neck, she smiled at me. “You know, they *do* go well with that dress. Oh, and you dress up, too,” she said. “Semi-casually. I have a table reserved for two. No surprises this time, I promise.”
We sat at a small table in the corner; the restaurant wasn’t terribly crowded. Miranda told me about the award—it was huge. Enough to buy a car. Or four.
“I’m going to let you have all of it,” I said. “No, really. You know that managing my money is what you do best, Miranda.”
“You’re finally beginning to learn, silly. Even if you’re still a failure as a human being,” she sighed, rather theatrically shaking her head. I knew how this worked now.
“Yes,” I replied. “If I’d just cleaned your shoes a little better and pushed myself a little more from the start.” I put on a face of humble contrition, while allowing just a hint of a knowing smile to seep through.
She caught my meaning. “That’s—that’s right! Instead of being such a *child!* You could have won things for me so much sooner.” She slapped me on the hand.
“Oops,” I said, accidentally-on-purpose spilling a glass of water on the table. “Ugh, you’re right. Worthless me will just have to clean that up.” Bending down to wipe the side of the tablecloth with a cloth napkin, I gently touched Miranda on the leg a few times—not broadly enough for anyone around us to notice, but enough for her to catch on and enjoy the sensation.
“I’m the worst, aren’t I?” I said. “But at least I’m like Feng—eager to please.”
“I know,” she said, and smiled openly. The dominatrix scenario was more a play-act now than ever; yet our attraction was so real and delightful.
“I was thinking about us moving to a larger apartment and opening your own art studio.” Miranda explained. “I’d use some money to market your work. Maybe you’d hire some other artists to assist you.”
“If they’d listen to a nobody like me.”
“Dream on, silly. They’ll listen to *me*!” She leaned nearer and whispered. “Psst—and you. I can’t be bossy all the time.”
“Then it’s settled. To us!” I raised a glass of wine like I’d seen people do in the movies.
“To us!” Miranda joined and sipped her wine.
"Do androids even have a sense of taste?" I asked, interested.
"Well, it depends on an android's maker, its purpose and… other factors. As a business model, I am expected to indulge in a meal once in a while. But the meal is more of a chemical sensation than it would be for you. Are you familiar with the word ‘qualia’?”
Miranda drank a cup of water and elegantly placed it back on its coaster.
“Is that a bird?”
“No, that's a quail. Qualia are collective sensory experiences: like a headache, or the taste of wine, or that special kind of air you get after it rains. I can't really experience that. Where a human experiences different sensations and thinks 'brown', 'smells like chocolate', 'spongy', 'sweet'—all sensory input—and concludes "ah, it's a chocolate cake.”
"So what do YOU do?" I asked.
Miranda impaled a thin slice on a dessert fork, drew it to her lips, and swallowed it. "Me—me? The 'Miranda' you're talking with can't do all of that. On some level, a chemical sensor tells me that this cake has a high concentration of sugar, fats and carbohydrates. My tongue, which is very sensitive—as you know," she winked, " tells me that it has a soft texture. I can see it's brown, guess that it presumably contains chocolate. But do I know it's a chocolate cake? I can deduce and extrapolate; I can have a database of millions of cakes in my brain. But I don't know whether I can 'taste' chocolate like you."
She smiled weakly. "Not really. Can you smell how tall someone is, the way a dog does? Or hear shapes, like a bat? We all have our limitations. All sentient beings do."
"Well, let me tell you one more thing, David. At this moment, you and I are both in a pleasantly-decorated restaurant; the food is probably good, the ingredients are fresh, we're enjoying a nice educational chat…"
"And I like it. There are very few experiences I would find more pleasing than this one, here and now. Than being here with you."
"Very few? Like what?"
She laughed. "Sipping pina coladas in Hawaii, while flirting with an android replica of Leonardo DiCaprio."
"No, but seriously..."
"Well, I suppose you could be there too. You could massage me and serve us drinks. And clean my shoes. And Leo’s." She couldn’t keep a straight face.
“It’s great they built you with a sense of humor,” I smiled.
We walked home, now holding hands, laughing together, but Miranda stopped in front of the building.
“David, there’s something I need to tell you.”
“It’s me. I mean… my programming.” She appeared very nervous. “I know that I’m not that good as a simulation of a person. A lot of what I do is to—well, increase my control over you—but it’s for your own good. Still, at this point… you don’t really need all this, do you?”
“What do you mean?”
“All our, um… dominatrix act. All my ‘bossy’ behavior. The program is now completed, and I can terminate it. That’s why it’s changed so much… like in the restaurant just now. I’m sure you don’t want another Feng.”
“But what about our plans to start an art studio?” I must have looked heartbroken, because she spontaneously hugged me.
“That won’t change. I’ll still be there, just, you know… as an assistant, watching your appointments. Just a lot nicer and less…”
“Less of *you*.”
“David, there’s barely any *me*.” She tried to appear serious. “I’m not programmed to be vivacious or fun or…”
“I don’t care! Don’t you dare pull ‘abusive sexy Mary Poppins’ on me—and disappear at the height of your powers! I love you the way you are, Miranda. Or have been, up until now. A bit stiff, a bit cynical; logical, but still graceful. A badass girl in a power suit; controlling and strong if necessary, sardonic and witty and always willing to bite back.”
She stood there as if struck by lightning. “Always,” I said once more.
For a moment, I was a bit afraid that Miranda had crashed; but no, she just pulled her hair aside. “Am I… do you really…” She paused and scowled. “Honestly, for the first time in my existence, I have no idea what to say.”
"Well, that’s obvious,” I beamed. “Just say… say that thing you said to me on our first night. Remember? Before things got weird. It’s time now."
Her memory was flawless. She remembered. She smiled as sweetly as she ever had.
“‘Kiss me, you dolt.’”