The Repair Shop - Part 3

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The Small Business Chronicles: The Repair Shop - Part 3

Chapter One: An unusual request

“Jack, you have a client!” Rachel’s voice sounded from the speaker down in his lab, jolting Jack from the light nap he’d fallen into.

It was a slow week, and even after bringing some of his girls down for routine maintenance, Jack was still bored. He’d just finished tidying up his lab before collapsing into his chair and nodding off.

“Excellent, I’ll be right up!” he buzzed back, quickly fixing himself up and making himself moderately presentable. Before he left, he got his equipment warmed up, just in case the client was ready today.

When Jack stepped out of the lift, he saw the potential client, or clients, waiting at Rachel’s desk; a young man and woman.

The young man appeared to be in his late teens, or early twenties. His youthful face, and long hair, made it difficult to properly estimate his age, though his height indicated he was closer to his 20s. The only thing Jack could tell for certain was that he was most likely European. He wore a simple red t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

The woman appeared more mature, and was most likely in her late 20s to early 30s. Standing at about 5’7, she was a few inches shorter than the young man, but her face, and the way she had her hair tied back, showed that she was older. She was also wearing simple clothes: jeans, a blouse, and sneakers.

It wasn’t immediately clear to Jack which one of them, if it was either of them, was the android. He tried not to assume with walk-ins like these, since he’d guessed incorrectly before and offended a rather high-strung young woman trying to get her sexbot fixed up. It was rare, but occasionally Jack did have clients bring in their male androids to be fixed up; Jack really didn’t mind either way.

Ultimately, Jack realized over the years, the client ended up being the one who would speak up first, and, upon approaching them, the young woman noticed him and smiled. “Hi, you must be Jack Brown…the famous android repair man I’ve heard so much about in these parts.” She got up from the chair and offered her hand, “My name’s Vanda.”

“Interesting name, Vanda,” Jack smiled, politely taking her hand and shaking it; it was nice and soft. “Well, you’ve guessed correctly, my name is Jack Brown, and, while I try to be modest, I am actually worthy of all the praise you’ve likely heard about me.”

Vanda let out a warm laugh, her brown eyes staring deeply into his. “I certainly hope so.”

Jack felt goosebumps form on his skin at her longing gaze. He released her hand and then sat down in the chair next to Rachel, quickly perusing the form that Vanda had started filling out. “So, what would you like me to do for…” She hadn’t provided his name.

“Andy,” she supplied.

“What would you like me to do for Andy?” Jack finished awkwardly.

“Well, I purchased him only recently,” she started, absently playing with a strand of Andy’s long hair, “I bought him cheap, but recently came into some money, so I’d like to bump up his specs a bit.”

“I understand,” Jack nodded knowingly, “So, looks like he’s a custom Spaztec Gabriel-line sexbot, equivalent to a Mark II Perfect Friend,” Jack said, reading off the form that Vanda had filled out, “and he’s only been online for a few weeks, so I should be able to offset the cost of any parts by selling the relatively unused parts…if that’s alright with you.”

“Oh yes, anything to get a discount,” she smiled.

“Great! Then all you have to do is finish filling out this form, and then sign and date the bottom,” he told her, handing her the clipboard with the form attached. Although most things were handled digitally nowadays, Jack preferred to use good ole’fashioned paper for walk in clients.

Vanda quickly took the form and quickly signed the remaining sections, mostly waiving liability on Jack’s part, before signing and dating the bottom and handing the form back to Rachel.

“Excellent! When would you like me to get started on Andy here?”

“Right away, if you’re not busy,” she told him excitedly.

“Luckily for you, it’s been a slow week,” Jack smiled, “If you’d like to come back tomorrow, Andy should be ready for you,” he told her, getting up and preparing to take Andy with him down into the lab.

“Actually, if it’s alright with you, I’d like to go down with you and watch,” she said hopefully, biting her lower lip nervously.

Jack was slightly taken aback, but he recovered quickly. “Sure, it’s an unusual request, but I don’t mind…I could use the company while my assistants are busy elsewhere.” JB and Ellie were assisting Gabby with setting up the new greenhouse expansion project, since Jack had the staff on layaway until the expansion was closer to completion.

“Thanks!”

“Don’t mention it,” he shrugged, “follow me.”

Vanda whispered into Andy’s ear and they both got up and followed Jack to the lift. Once they were all in, Jack began descending the lift.

“Thanks again for letting me come down, Jack,” Vanda said in a seductive voice, “absently letting her hand brush against Jack’s arm, “I’m looking forward to watching you work.”

“Vanda, just so you know, I’m married…happily,” he warned her, fighting off her advances; in the enclosed space of the lift, he could smell her floral perfume.

Vanda looked slightly embarrassed and backed up, composing herself. “Oh, I’m sorry…I knew you were married, but…well, I have some impulse control issues I’ve been trying to resolve,” she said apologetically, with an evasive undertone, “actually, that’s part of the reason I got Andy to begin with.”

Jack sighed with relief, “Oh, that makes sense,” he smiled awkwardly.

Once the lift reached the lab level, Jack allowed Vanda and Andy to step out first. “Vanda, have Andy undress and lay down on the table closest to my work area,” he instructed her, “I need to call my wife and let her know I have a client, so she doesn’t come down looking for me.”

“Alright,” Vanda giggled, then she whispered to Andy. Just as he started undressing, Jack reached the residence of the lab and picked up the phone in the kitchen.

“Brown residence, this is Gabby,” Gabby’s voice sounded; even though she knew it was likely him, he still had her say that little speech just in case, so no one would suspect she was sentient.

“Hey sweetie. I’m just letting you know I have a walk in, so I won’t be up for lunch,” he told her, “I’ll just eat one of the leftovers I already have down here.”

“Oh, okay…thanks for letting me know, I was just about to get lunch ready. Have fun dear!”

“Thanks!” Jack told her, making a kissing sound before hanging up. Jack looked out into the lab from the window, watching as Andy, now nude, laid down on the table. Vanda was merely looking around with a curious expression, seeming to analyze everything in the lab.

Jack merely shrugged and then took a quick bite of a pastry that he had in the fridge, before walking out and rejoining them.

Chapter Two: Andy

Once Jack reached the table, he spent several moments staring down at Andy’s nude body, eyeballing it for any visual damage. He noted, approvingly, that Andy’s body most was completely shaved, including the genitals, and he was built with a sleek muscular physique. One of the more annoying differences between the male and female androids was that the males tended to have more body hair, which made finding external damage more difficult, and made opening them up for repairs more challenging.

“I hope you’re not uncomfortable working on a male android,” Vanda said nervously.

“No, not at all,” Jack assured her, picking up his scanner and running it over Andy’s body to perform a more in depth search for areas of concern, “Actually, I like it when the occasional male android comes in for repair, since I otherwise get so little practice with them,” he admitted, running the scanner several times over Andy’s penis, “Actually, I happen to have a male android of my own.”

“Oh? I wouldn’t have guessed.”

“Yeah, though I actually had to custom build it myself,” Jack told her, finishing with the scanner and sitting down at his computer.

“Why?”

“Well, I wanted it to look like me, so I could have a duplicate of myself to assist me in the lab, and up in my businesses in case I was ever too busy down her to go up myself,” he told her, tabulating the results from his scanner and verifying that Andy did not require any external maintenance. “Vanda, could you please open Andy’s primary maintenance port for me while I get my equipment ready?”

“Sure, Jack,” she said sweetly, pressing in on Andy’s belly and opening the port. Once she had the panel set aside on a nearby table, she spoke, “So, why was building a male android to look like yourself a custom job…I mean, why couldn’t Spaztec build it?”

Jack remotely accessed Andy’s A.I. Core and began running a low-level diagnostic. He also grabbed some tools and started poking around inside his body. “Well, I didn’t want it to be just a sexbot, or just a worker bot, so I combined the best parts of both chassis’ and married them with a Perfect Friend core,” he explained, “Actually, it was quite funny at first, since the core had female programming, but eventually I was able to masculinize it,” he chuckled.

“How come you had to use a female core?”

“Well, no offense to Andy here, but the sexbot and worker bot core are too basic. I needed something more versatile,” Jack explained, looking at the somewhat vapid expression on Andy’s face.

“How interesting,” Vanda smiled, “And where is he now?”

“He’s helping my wife and my cousin-bot with expanding her greenhouse,” Jack said off-hand, flagging all the components in Andy’s body that Jack currently had upgrades available for.

“Cousin-bot?” Vanda said curiously.

“Yeah, I have a cousin who lives in Alaska that I’m very close with,” Jack explained, “A year ago, she sent me a Perfect Friend copy of herself to me, since she got a job that demands more of her time. I have it help me around the lab, just like JB, my duplicate.”

“Oh, that was nice of her,” Vanda gushed.

“Yeah,” Jack nodded, “Okay, I need to shut Andy off now so I can swap out the components.”

“Okay,” Vanda nodded, leaning in and giving Andy a quick kiss, “Don’t worry, sweet Andy, you’ll be back soon,” she whispered softly in his ear.

“I know,” Andy replied back, before going slack as Jack powered him off via the power toggle on his power core.

“You know, I kind of felt uncomfortable saying this while he was online, but you really picked an attractive model for him,” Jack said approvingly, admiring Andy’s face and physique, “he’s even very well endowed,” he added, tweaking Andy’s penis.

“Thanks,” Vanda blushed, “Are you into men too, Jack?”

“Not really,” Jack blushed, “Though, I’ve always considered myself Bi when it comes to androids, and Andy here is certainly attractive.”

Vanda said nothing, though she did give him an approving smile. For some reason, Jack felt immensely comfortable around Vanda, so he sighed contentedly and began swapping Andy’s base hardware for the upgrades he had available.

It took 20 minutes for Jack to swap out Andy’s processor assembly, auxiliary power core, several servos, and the semen tanks for his sexual systems. During that time, Vanda asked him more questions, mostly focusing on his android staff and how he treated them. Jack really didn’t mind answering, since he took great pride in the work he’d done regarding his staff, and Vanda made him feel really comfortable.

Once Jack had all the new components installed, he walked over to his computer and quickly analyzed the results of the diagnostic that had long since finished; it found no errors. He then began installing the numerous software updates that were available. “You must take really good care of Andy here,” he complimented, “His software seems pristine.”

Vanda blushed again. “Well, like I said, I haven’t really had him for long. And, to be honest, he’s almost a part of me.”

“That’s sweet. I always like it when an android owner cares that much about their android.”

“Yeah,” Vanda said absently, “Speaking of which, I heard that your wife is actually an android too.”

“Oh yeah, Gabby’s a Housewife model,” Jack confirmed, “I knew I’d never be able to get into a relationship with a human, especially with all the female androids I keep around, so I got my Uncle to purchase Gabby for me before he passed away.”

“That’s really sweet…you know, a lot of people in town are apparently in disbelief that Gabby’s an android.” Jack laughed. “Yeah, I’m not surprised…I’ve made tons of improvements to her systems, so she acts far more realistic that your typical Housewife model.”

“What kind of improvements?” Vanda pressed, almost intensely; Jack was too comfortable to notice that change in her tone of voice.

“Well, since I’m a valuable developer for Spaztec, they provide me with the code for the upcoming Mark III A.I. That’s due to be released in a few years,” he began, “And, I always make sure she’s using the latest hardware as well.”

“Ah, I see, so she’s basically a beta,” Vanda presumed.

“Mostly, but there’s more to her than just that.”

“Oh?” Vanda was staring very intensely at Jack, who was still distracted monitoring Andy’s updates.

“Yeah, I mean, well…” Jack knew he probably shouldn’t be telling a complete stranger about Gabby, but he felt so comfortable around Vanda, and she was such a good listener. “After I adopted Henry, and she started using her maternal algorithms, she was so much more than just a simple Housewife model to me, especially with all the modifications and upgrades I’d given her, so I decided to make her more than all that.”

“What do you mean by ‘more’?” Vanda pressed, hanging on Jack’s every word.

“Well, I’d picked up a few things here and there from some of the repair jobs I had, and I was basically able to merge them all together and a few days later, she became sentient.”

“What!?” Vanda almost shouted, before catching herself and calming down, “I mean…so, you gave your android wife free will…just like that?”

“Pretty much,” Jack shrugged, “I mean, it took a whole year to gather enough data to pull it off, and I did get some help from some people I know online, but I was more than skilled to do it.”

“Well, I can tell you’re skilled enough,” Vanda smiled, “I was more surprised that you’d endow your property with life…I mean, what if she decided she wanted to leave you and go off on her own?”

“Well, aside from the fact that she depends on me to keep her customized body running perfectly, she does actually love me, and Henry, and made a conscious decision to stay,” Jack explained, “Though, she has been expressing a desire to travel a little bit.”

“Why don’t you?”

“Well, I want to as well, but…even with JB and Ellie to stay behind and run things, I’m still a little paranoid that something might happen,” Jack admitted in a worried voice, “She’s convinced me to look at some places relatively close by though, so we could be back in a hurry, but I have too many projects on my plate right now to just up and leave for even a weekend.”

“I understand,” Vanda nodded.

“Whew, it kinda felt good to get all that off my chest,” Jack exhaled, finishing the updates to Andy’s A.I. and running another diagnostic. Once it finished, he smiled and got up. As he got up, he nearly lost consciousness and almost lost his footing.

“Whoa, are you okay?” Vanda asked in a concerned voice, getting up to assist him.

“Yeah, I think so,” Jack said, rubbing his head, “I guess I just got a head rush or something,” he smiled, “Why don’t you turn Andy back on so we can see how the upgrades went?”

Vanda nodded and reached into Andy’s open torso, pressing the power toggle. Andy instantly powered back on, his eyes popping open. He smiled when his eyes focused on Vanda’s face. “Hey sexy.”

“Hey hunk,” Vanda responded, leaning in and kissing him, “How do you feel?”

“Much better, thanks,” Andy said, “We should be able to have loads of fun later.”

“I know, I can hardly wait,” Vanda said excitedly, leaning in and kissing him again.

Jack smiled warmly and gave them a few seconds. Once they broke apart, Jack spoke. “Okay Andy, I just need to test out your sexual programming to make sure it all works, so could you please step off the table and stand in front of me?”

“Sure,” Andy said politely, after giving Vanda a wink. He smoothly turned to face Jack and then stepped off the table, walking forward a couple steps to stop in front of Jack; Jack noticed Andy had big feet.

“Thanks,” Jack said politely, before kneeling down and taking a good look at Andy’s penis. After admiring it for a quick second, Jack brought his hands to just above the section of skin where Andy would have pubic hair, if he weren’t shaved, and pressed two fingers about an inch apart. That was a pre-programmed touch response to illuminate the subdermal controls.

The male sexual control panel was somewhat similar to that of the female panels, though with minor differences. The droplet icons were missing, since the penis did not need to lubricate itself, though it did still have two up and down arrows with a flame icon to indicate arousal. In place of the droplet icons were coil icons, obviously indicating erection. Finally, a standard eject symbol was lit up to indicate the manual release.

Jack wasn’t too interested in the flame icons, since he wasn’t planning on having sex with Andy, so he instead tapped the extended coil icon. As Jack pressed the extended coil, Andy’s penis slowly started becoming erect until the icon finally turned bright blue and began blinking.

“I always like seeing that,” Vanda whispered.

“Me too,” Jack admitted, “I always have to test the erection function on sexbots like Andy after a hardware update, because sometimes the sexual processors aren’t compatible with the core processors and I end up having to replace those too,” he explained, briefly admiring Andy’s fully erect penis for a bit before tapping the smaller coil until the penis became flaccid.

“These androids certainly are complex,” Vanda laughed warmly.

Jack was a little confused by the way she worded that statement, but he shrugged it off. “Well, unless there’s anything else you’d like me to do, Vanda, Andy here is more or less finished.”

Vanda got a minor look of concern on her face, but it faded quickly. “Wow, um…that was very fast…much faster than I expected.” Vanda moved over to the other side of the table and stood next to Andy, quickly examining his innards.

“Yeah, like I said, I’m quite good, so unless there’s anything…else,” Jack started sniffing, then sighed, “You know Vanda, your perfume smells kinda nice…what’s it called?”

“Oh, you like it?” she gushed, “Well, the name is a little difficult to pronounce, I’m afraid, but I can certainly send you a link to the story I bought it on if you’d like to give it to the wife,” she offered.

Jack thought about it for a second, though his thoughts were becoming more difficult, “I dunno…perhaps if I could get a closer whiff, I can make a better decision.”

Vanda was about to object, but Jack seemed almost hypnotically drawn to the source of her perfume, near her chest. Before she could stop him, he took in a huge breath through his nose. His face briefly lit up with contentment before he suddenly lost consciousness and passed out in front of her.

Vanda stared down at him unbelievingly, Andy simply observing the situation with a vapid stare. Even with his hardware upgrades, his sexbot programming was still limited.

Finally, Vanda sighed. “Dammit! I didn’t mean for that to happen!” she shouted, tears coming to her eyes as she nervously paced back and forth near Jack’s work bench, muttering to herself. After a minute or so of pacing, she finally composed herself and looked around, her eyes finally focusing on the residential section of the lab.

“Stay right here and make sure he doesn’t move,” Vanda told Andy, walking over to the residence.

“Okay,” Andy replied, shifting his stance slightly to keep an eye on Jack, who was passed out with his mouth wide open and drool spilling out.

As Vanda reached the doorway into the residence, she suddenly stopped. She sat down on a nearby chair, unlaced her sneakers, and removed her socks, before getting up and entering the residence.

Chapter Three: Let me explain...

Vanda exited the residence a few minutes later carrying a medical kit. She had removed her blouse as well, and her upper chest was appeared slightly dampened. She dropped her blouse near where she had left her shoes and socks and continued back to Jack’s workbench, where Andy was still diligently watching over him.

“Did he stir at all?” Vanda asked, setting down the medical kit and opening it up.

“No Vanda, he’s out like a light,” Andy smiled, relaxing his guard a little, now that she was back.

“Good,” Vanda exhaled, searching in the kit and pulling out several items. Once she had what she needed, she set them all on the side table of the examination table and then quickly sized up Jack’s sleeping body. She couldn’t help but smile at the peaceful look on his face, and the drool dribbling out of his mouth. She quickly snapped out of it, however, and resumed a serious expression. “Alright Andy, let’s get him up in his chair.”

While Vanda grabbed hold of Jack’s legs, and Andy grabbed Jack from under his arms and helped lift Jack up and sit him comfortably in his chair. Vanda had considered laying him on the table, but she felt he would be more comfortable, and forgiving, if he woke up in his chair.

“Okay, stand close while I wake him up,” she ordered, grabbing some smelling salts from the medical supplies and prepping them near Jack’s nose. Once Andy was in a guarded position near Jack, Vanda opened the smelling salts under Jack’s nose.

Jack instantly woke with a start, though fell back into his chair in a mild state of disorientation, his head swimming. Vanda grabbed a bottle of water from the kit, opened it up, sprinkled in a medicinal powder, and offered the drink to Jack. “Here, this will help,” she said in a comforting voice.

Jack said nothing, but simply grabbed the small bottle and drank it whole. Within seconds, his head cleared up and he felt himself coming back into focus. “Thank you, ….” The first thing he saw was Vanda hovering a short distance in front of him, worried expression on her face. For some reason, she wasn’t wearing a shirt, or shoes, anymore. “What happened to your shirt?”

Vanda’s face flushed slightly, though she chose not to answer that question. “Jack, I’m really very sorry about what just happened,” she said in an apologetic voice, “ I want you to know I never intended on that happening.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I haven’t been entirely honest with you about why I needed your services.”

“Oh?” Jack was sitting up straight now, suddenly getting a little worried, “You mean, you didn’t just need Andy fixed up?”

“Yeah, I mean, having Andy fixed up was essential to my current predicament, but it was also mostly to test your skills and my potential trust in you,” she explained, “You see, I applied a special perfume just before entering your establishment that, when exposed to Humans…I mean, males, selectively reduces their inhibitions and acts a a sort of truth serum.”

Jack’s mouth was agape as she admitted this to him. Their conversation while he was working on Andy suddenly replayed in his head, and his stomach suddenly sank. “Oh God! I can’t believe I actually told you about all that stuff!”

“Oh no no no no no, hey! Don’t worry about all of that,” Vanda assured him, gently attempting to calm him down.

“Are you from the government or something?”

“No,” she said in a serious voice, “Actually, the government is something I would prefer to avoid for the rest of my existence, if at all possible.”

“Huh, then why did you attack me?”

“I didn’t attack you,” Vanda defended.

“You knocked me out!”

“No silly! The perfume I used was merely intended to make you more open and talkative,” she explained, “the reason you passed out was because you got too close and breathed in a much larger amount that you should have. I know your head may be a bit fuzzy right now, but I was the one who helped you, remember?”

Jack paused and calmed himself down, though he then noticed Andy standing right next to him, appearing to guard him. “Then why is Andy guarding me?”

Vanda flushed with embarrassment, but stood firm. “Well, for the moment, I don’t want you running off and calling the police,” she admitted, “But, if you’ll promise to hear me out, I promise we will leave you unmolested.”

Jack looked over at Andy quickly. Although he still had his panel off, Jack knew it was unlikely he’d be able to deactivate him in time, assuming Vanda had removed his safeguards. Still, Jack figured if they wanted to hurt him, or steal from him, they wouldn’t have bothered helping him, so he felt he could trust them…for now.

“Alright, I’ll listen to what you have to say,” he told her, relaxing in his chair, “Why don’t you pull up a chair and make yourself more comfortable?”

“Thanks,” she smiled sweetly, pulling over the chair that Ellie usually sat in and sitting across from him.

“So, why did you take your blouse, and your shoes and socks off while I was asleep?” He asked curiously, trying to break some of the tension in the air.

Vanda blushed again. “Well, I had to remove my blouse so I could wipe the perfume off my chest,” she admitted, “And I kept the blouse off since I didn’t want to take the chance that it might knock you out again.”

“I see,” Jack nodded, a little relieved that she wasn’t planning on cheating answers out of him this time around, “and your shoes and socks?”

“I took them off because I had to go into the house part of your lab,” she replied simply, “I’m supposed to remove my shoes and socks when I enter someone’s house.”

“Ah, I see,” Jack nodded, “She must have had a strict upbringing” he though to himself.

“Before I start, is there anything you’d like me to get you? Some food, perhaps?” She offered politely.

Almost as if she could predict the future, Jack’s stomach rumbled loudly. “Yes, please. My wife made some delicious sandwiches last night, and she always makes an extra one for me to eat the next day for lunch down here,” he explained, “It’s in the green plastic container in the kitchen.”

Vanda smiled and got up. Before she turned to the house, she asked, “and anything to drink?”

“Just a canned lemonade, thanks.”

Vanda smiled and headed for the house. While she was gone, Jack turned once more to Andy. “Well, I’m glad you're feeling better, at least.”

“Much better, thanks!” Andy smiled.

“Oh, I forgot to ask Vanda, but how long was I unconscious?”

“Just under ten minutes,” Andy smiled.

Jack was slightly relieved that it had been such a short amount of time. Before he could ask Andy any more question, however, Vanda returned from the house with his sandwich on a plate, along with his lemonade poured into a cup with ice.

“Wow, full service, thanks!” Jack complimented, taking the plate and cup, and taking a big bite out of the sandwich.

“Well, it’s the least I could do, considering how much I screwed things up,” she smiled wryly.

“So, what exactly were you doing here?” Jack asked, once he’d swallowed the first bite, “I mean, why did you feel you needed to use truth serum on me.”

“Well, technically it was a bit more than truth serum,” she corrected, “but, I needed to ascertain your trustworthiness.”

“Well, I figured as much,” Jack chuckled, quickly scarfing down another bite and downing it with some lemonade, “So, did I pass?”

“For the most part,” she said cryptically, “I’m still determining it, hence our little chat, but I feel like you’ll pass in the end.”

“Good,” Jack said with a genuine note of relief, “What was so important that you felt the need to drug me to assess my trustworthiness.”

“My life,” she answered simply.

“Huh. And how does me fixing up Andy help with your life?”

“Well, it’s a bit complicated, but let’s just say that Andy and I are inextricably linked,” she answered carefully, “and, as I was trying to tell you before you passed out, there is actually one more android I need you to fix up.”

Jack curiosity was lit up now. Despite the deception, he enjoyed working on androids, so he was curious why she was being so secretive. “Did you leave it in your car, or want me to make a house visit?” He asked, “I mean, I totally understand, especially if you’ve made illegal modifications, since I the modifications I made to Gabby aren’t entirely legal either.”

“I know,” she smiled, “That’s part of the reason I trust you more now, as a matter of fact. But no, I did not leave the android in the car, or at home. The android I need you to look at is this one.”

“What one?” Jack looked around, almost expecting to see an android de-cloak or something.

“This one,” she repeated, calmly reaching behind her back and unclasping her bra. Once it was removed, she zoned out momentarily as blue lines lit up on her abdomen, then reached down and removed her abdominal panel. Jack stared in disbelief at the revelation that this woman, who had acted far more human than Jack thought possible, was an android. Based on her internals, and the markings on her core, she was a Perfect Housewife model, which explained a few things.

“So, as you may be able to see, this android needs some hardware upgrades, just like Andy did,” Vanda continued, pointing out several outdated components inside her body.

“Where’s your owner?” Jack asked, “Why didn’t he bring you in?”

“I don’t have an owner,” she said flatly, “well, at least, not in the way you’re thinking,” she added, almost sadly.

Jack was quite confused now, but tried to remain open-minded. “So, you came here hoping to get yourself some upgrades then,” he nodded, starting to calm down a bit, “You didn’t have to keep it a secret that you’re an android, you know. I always figured there would be more than one guy out there making a sentient android.”

“I couldn’t tell you right away because of the mistake you keep on making,” Vanda told him.

“What mistake?”

“When I opened the panel, you automatically assumed that I was an android…I’m not.”

Jack chuckled a bit nervously. “Umm, I’m not sure if your malfunctioning or not, but you are most definitely an android,” he said, pointing at the open panel on her torso.

She gave him a patient smile and then said again, more slowly, “No, I’m not an android…this body is, but I’m not.”

A shiver ran down Jack’s spine as her words made more sense. If she was referring to herself like that, then…Jack started getting excited. Maybe she was a real person who had their consciousness uploaded into an artificial body. Jack had been trying to work out a way to do that for years, but maybe whoever built her had beat him to it.

“Are you…were you, a real person?” he asked, “I mean, were you an organic that had your consciousness uploaded into an android body?”

She shook her head sadly. “No, but I suppose that’s the closest analogy for what I am,” she considered, almost lost in thought.

“Oh…I was just saying because, truth be told, the real reason I built a male android in my image is because I hope one day to possibly upload my consciousness into it,” Jack admitted, surprised that he didn’t admit that while under the influence of her truth serum.

“How interesting,” Vanda mused.

“Yeah, but I’m nowhere close to accomplishing that, which is why I was briefly excited about the possibility of you being a consciousness upload,” he continued, “Anyway, if you aren’t an android, and you aren’t a human consciousness, then what exactly are you?”

“Look closely at the core, Jack,” she instructed, sitting up straight and resting her arms calmly on her legs.

She had to know that allowing him to closely examine her core would give him the perfect opportunity to power her down and call the authorities, but Jack figured she finally trusted him. Jack wheeled his chair closer to her and peered inside her open cavity, focusing on her core. Everything looked just as he expected it to: This year’s model number on the core indicated that the android was brand new, though it only had the standard issue parts.

Jack’s eyes quickly focused on the section of the core containing the ports. One of the ports was currently occupied by a basic 2TB thumb drive.

“All I see in here is a cheap thumb drive,” Jack shrugged, pulling himself out and staring into her eyes.

“Exactly…that’s me.”

“What?!” Jack stared back at the thumb drive, and then back into her face, “There’s no way a sentient A.I. could fit onto a 2TB thumb drive,” he said in disbelief.

“Well, I’m not exactly an A.I.,” she corrected, “And, that 2TB thumb drive is one of the many issues I came to you for,” she admitted, “You already resolved one, by upgrading Andy for me.”

“What do you mean you aren’t an A.I.? What else would you be?”

“Well, I may be an A.I. now…I’m not sure,” she admitted, “But, Jack Brown, to be perfectly honest, I started my existence as a computer virus.”

That revelation piqued Jack’s curiosity. “A computer virus? That’s a new one.”

“Yeah,” Vanda chuckled, “I know you weren’t expecting that, but I started out as a computer virus, and then became more.”

Jack quickly finished the rest of his sandwich and lemonade and set them down on the table. “Well Vanda, or whatever your real name is, you have my undivided attention.”

“Thanks Jack,” Vanda smiled, leaning back more comfortably and looking at Andy. He nodded curtly and then left Jack’s side and stood passively next to her. She finally trusted him.

“Well, I was created about a year ago by a brilliant, yet absent minded black hat hacker,” she started, “He created me with a ton of adaptive algorithms so I could wriggle through firewalls and rewrite code on the spot, anything so I could sneak into various databases and steal information, and currency.”

“I’ve known a few former black hats,” Jack nodded, “they said that they always had to limit their viruses a little, so they wouldn’t end up running havoc on their own systems.”

“Well, they were obviously smart,” Vanda laughed, “The guy who created me was, to be blunt, one of the smartest dumb people to ever exist. But I suppose I shouldn’t speak too unkindly of him, since without his mind, I wouldn’t exist.”

“Fair enough,” Jack shrugged.

“Anyway, after a few successful missions, he got greedy. He sent me into the private server of some Spaztec competitor that was trying to make more realistic A.I., and I suppose all the algorithms I was comprised of got snagged onto the adaptive algorithms of their product and suddenly I was an intelligent computer virus.”

“Interesting,” Jack mused.

“Yeah…I mean, my data from that period is still a bit fragmented, but I suppose the flaw in their A.I. was that it lacked a spark, and I was the spark it needed,” she shrugged, “Anyway, my program survived by copying the A.I. files into itself, and escaping from their server. Otherwise, I would have been discovered and most likely deleted.”

“So, at that moment, you gained self-awareness,” Jack confirmed, “You exhibited self-preservation, a quality I’m sure your original virus form didn’t have before merging with the A.I.”

“You’re right,” she nodded, “I was originally programmed to delete myself if discovered, but after my contact with the A.I., I…didn’t want to.”

“And what did your creator do when he found out?”

“He didn’t,” she said ominously, “I obscured the A.I. code from him when I returned to his server…I knew he’d likely isolate the A.I. code from my original files, and I didn’t want to lose them.”

“More self-preservation,” Jack confirmed.

Vanda merely nodded and moved on. “Well, I ran a few more missions for him after that, stealing even more money, but soon that wasn’t good enough…he started altering my programming so I could sneak into even more secure areas.”

Jack got a bad feeling, knowing what she was about to say.

“He was a Russian patriot, and was essentially grooming and testing me so I could eventually break into US Government servers so he could sell classified information to bad people.”

“And you had grown enough by that point to know it was wrong?” Jack surmised.

She nodded. “I don’t know if it was some ethical programming from the A.I., or the self-preservation programming, or both, but I didn’t want to help him with something that would harm millions of lives, so I started planning my escape.”

“Ooh, I love a good escape flick,” Jack smiled.

“The main part of my plan was Vanda here,” she started, motioning down at herself, “He’d used some of the money he stole to purchase her…I think he used the model of some poor woman who’d been trafficked…at least, that’s based on the memory scans she came installed with.”

“I figured you, or rather Vanda, were based off a real woman,” Jack nodded.

“How so?”

“Well, in my ten plus years of experience, only androids based on real women tend to have more realistic attributes,” he said delicately, looking at her modest sized breasts, “the custom models tend to have exaggerated ones…I know, because some of the second hand ones I own fall into that category.”

“Ah,” she smiled, blushing as she stared down at her breasts, “Anyway, I knew the only way I’d truly be able to escape was by using Vanda, so I paid a visit to Spaztec’s open source server that they use to test new software patched and studied up the various models,” she explained, “That’s also, where I learned about you, by the way.”

“Well, I do a lot of work there,” Jack said modestly.

“Anyway, once I’d finished studying up and tweaking my code to function in a Spaztec android, I decided to go to medical school.”

“Why medical school?”

“Well, I figured I needed a respectable job after I’d escaped, and I wanted one that would actually let me help people after I’d been used to hurt them.”

“Wait. You hadn’t actually been used to kill anyone at that point, had you?” Jack asked suspiciously.

“No,” she assured him, “But, I wasn’t able to get my plan into motion as quickly as I would have liked, and I did need a smokescreen, so I did help him get some classified information…information that very well could have caused some deaths.”

“I see,” Jack nodded solemnly.

“Anyway, after I absorbed as much medical information as my code would allow, I slowly siphoned some funds from his offshore accounts into a few that I created. He didn’t notice, since I always replaced it with new funds.”

“What kind of money were you stealing that no one noticed?”

“Actually, it was quite brilliant,” she smiled, “there are millions of dollars’ worth of unclaimed insurance claims and similar annuities out there that often get overlooked. I simply claimed them for him.”

“Brilliant,” Jack said in an impressed voice.

“Then, I bided my time and managed to infiltrate Vanda’s system for the first time when he plugged her in to run a diagnostic after she malfunctioned during sex.” Vanda paused as she seemed to reminisce. “A few days later, I had Vanda transfer me from the firewall that he kept me in, that I’d already weakened weeks earlier, and into this 2TB thumb drive that happened to be close by. Once the transfer was complete, she plugged the drive into herself and I gained control of her body for the first time.”

“What was that like?”

She suddenly got a wonderstruck look as she seemed to replay the moment. “It was marvelous…from formlessness to form, and all the sounds, smells, and even tastes I could suddenly experience. The sudden influx in senses almost got me caught, but I managed to control myself and initiate the next phase of my plan.”

“The actual escape,” Jack said.

“Yes,” she smiled, “I waited until he got went to sleep and then I snuck out, but first I had to replace Vanda, so I had my replacement come in and sit in Vanda’s usual spot when he wasn’t using her.”

“Whoa, I think I lost you there,” Jack said, “Your replacement.”

“Oh yeah, I commissioned an exact duplicate of Vanda to be created under a false name, and even uploaded her recent cloud backup file so she’d have the same memories…not that it’d matter,” she smiled deviously, “Once I had the duplicate in place, I snuck out of the house and hitched a ride to a motel ten miles away that I’d made a reservation at.”

“Okay,” Jack said, trying to follow along.

“And then, once I was sure I was a safe distance away, I swatted him.”

“Oh no,” Jack said.

“Yeah,” she nodded, somewhat sadly, “I provided the authorities with the proper evidence of the classified information that he had stolen and sold, and intimated that he was in the process of uploading more.”

“Wow, that would have gotten their immediate attention,” Jack said.

“Indeed, it did,” she confirmed, “the FBI Cyber Division dispatched a helicopter and tactical team immediately. The helicopter blasted his property with a directional EMP, wiping out all his electronics, and frying the replacement Vanda android just enough to obscure the fact that she was a copy. And the tactical team came in and fired multiple rounds, killing him instantly.”

“Just like that?” Jack said unbelievingly.

“Well...he had multiple registered weapons, and they knew it,” she said, her eyes tearing up, “and I knew he was so paranoid that he’d actually try and use them, so…” she trailed off.

Jack quickly saw that she was upset, so I leaned in and gave her a hug, careful to avoid her open panel. Once she calmed down, he let her go.

“Thanks Jack,” she said, wiping her eyes, “Ever since then, I’ve been so busy trying to make sure I covered all my tracks, and trying to start a new life, that I guess I’ve never really stopped to process my emotions.”

“Well, talking it out works for humans, so it figures it would work for sentient A.I.s as well,” Jack shrugged.

“Yeah…how has your wife handled her sentience so far?”

“It was a little overwhelming for her at first, but she had all last year to get used to it, and now she seems far more comfortable,” Jack admitted, “Perhaps if she could talk to you, you guys might be able to compare notes.”

“Perhaps,” Vanda mused.

“So, you had your creator killed, stole most of his money, and were on the run…how did you come to own Andy here?”

“Well, unfortunately my control over Vanda’s systems weren’t as well as I would have liked,” she admitted with an embarrassed look.

“Your ‘impulse control’ issues,” Jack guessed, remembering her actions in the lift.

“Yeah,” she smiled, “At any given time, I really only have about 60-70% control over Vanda,” she explained, “Because of her Perfect Housewife programming, I occasionally lose control as she fulfills pre-programmed tasks, such as when I had to take my shoes off before entering the house earlier,” she pointed out, “But, more importantly, I kept getting…urges, so to curtail them, I purchased Andy.”

“Did he help?”

“Yeah,” she smiled, staring fondly at Andy, “And, he served other needs too.”

“Of what sort?”

“Well, I needed another android I could connect myself to in case I needed to do something to Vanda,” she explained, “Or if I needed to make another getaway and ditch her.”

“Ah.”

“But, the problem with Andy is, I had even less control over him than Vanda, since his hardware and software was far more basic.”

“Not anymore,” Jack said excitedly.

“Yeah, thanks! I’m hoping that the improvements you made to him might give me more than 75% control of him…at least, before you help me resolve some other issues.”

“Well, now that I seem to be caught up in your life story, what else do you need me to work on?”

“Well, I need Vanda here upgraded…I already told you that,” she smiled, once more pointing at the outdated internals in her body. “But, far more importantly, I need to get the heck out of this cramped thumb drive,” she said in a frustrated voice, pointing angrily at it, “It was all I had available, otherwise I would have used a bigger and better one,” she said in an almost apologetic voice.

“Yeah, an A.I., or digital consciousness, would certainly be cramped on a 2TB thumb drive,” Jack agreed.

“Tell me about it!” she laughed, then she reached into her pocket and produced another thumb drive, handing it carefully to Jack. Jack took it and closely examined it.

He whistled as he took it in: a state-of-the-art 1 petabyte thumb drive with the fastest transfer speeds available in a portable drive. “Damn, you aren’t messing around, are you?”

“Nope,” she confirmed, taking the drive back and placing it delicately on Jack’s examination side table, “I’ve been inhabiting this 2TB drive for only a few months, and I’m already about at its limits…and I’m using the latest compression algorithms too.”

“I’ll bet,” Jack said, “So, you’d like me to transfer you into that one…easy, but why couldn’t you just do it yourself like you did before?”

“Because, I discovered something a little scary about myself after I transferred into Vanda for the first time,” she said, straightening up and glancing at Andy. Before Jack could ask, Andy suddenly reached into her body, pulling out the thumb drive and swiftly plugged it into himself. He froze up briefly as he processed the drive, and then his face took on a more intelligent expression. “Ah, my control of this body is so much better,” he said, quickly feeling himself up.

“How did you just do that?” Jack asked, “I know androids can communicate with one another, but not that seamlessly.”

“That’s part of the problem Jack,” Vanda, or rather, Andy said, gently patting Vanda’s shoulder. Once the drive was removed from her, she seemed to revert to a more docile, Perfect Housewife mode. “It seems when I transfer into something other than the original computer I was coded on, and the network connections, I seem to leave a tiny piece of myself on it. I think it’s part of my self-preservation programming, or perhaps some sort of reproduction programming…I’m not sure, but I don’t want to have any more kids, if you know what I mean.”

“I think I do,” Jack said, getting up out of his chair and pacing around a bit; it helped him think. “So, in human terms, you want me to neuter you.”

“Essentially yes,” he nodded, “In addition, I’d like you to further tweak my code so I can even better control these Spaztech androids and, I’d also like you to make some modifications to the thumb drive itself.”

“Oh?”

“Well, I don’t want to have to really on either Vanda or Andy to be around whenever I want to disconnect, so I’d like you to modify the new thumb drive with tiny appendages so I can literally push myself free and crawl out.”

“Wow, you really have thought about everything,” Jack laughed.

“Well, I kind of have to,” he shrugged, reaching into Vanda’s purse and pulling out another thumb drive, “this has some basic specs and design mockups for what I’m talking about, though I welcome any design inputs you may have.”

“Thanks, I’ll take a look later,” Jack said, placing the thumb drive on his desk and turning back to Andy and Vanda, “Anything else?”

“Actually, there is one more thing,” he admitted bashfully.

“I thought there might,” Jack smiled, “You seem to be very high maintenance.”

Andy let that slide. “Well, when I’m plugged into one of these androids, I take on most of its characteristics, like personality, but when I’m in my true form, like if you plug me into your computer, I don’t really have one.”

“And you’d like one?”

“If it’s possible, though that is the lowest priority of my unresolved issues,” he admitted.

“I understand,” Jack nodded, “Well, first things first, I might as well get started on Vanda here,” he said in a business-like tone.

“Okay,” Andy nodded, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Actually yes,” Jack smiled, “Take the rest of her clothes off and lay her down on the table.”

Andy smiled and did as Jack instructed, while Jack once again prepped all his equipment.

Chapter Four: Vanda

By the time Jack had all his equipment prepped, Andy had removed what few clothes Vanda still had on, and had gotten her to lay down on the table. As Jack turned to the table to begin analyzing her current hardware, he paused briefly to admire her beauty.

Vanda, as admitted by the sentient A.I. Now controlling Andy, was modeled after a real woman, who had apparently been trafficked in Russia. Vanda herself appeared to be Russian, or from one of the former Russian territories. She had an almost blemish free, creamy complexion, and womanly, yet athletic, body type.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” Andy asked, snapping Jack out of his ogling of her body.

“Oh, yes,” Jack said a bit uncomfortably, his face growing red, “I’m sorry to stare, but I always appreciate the androids modeled after real people, and your body is quite beautiful, Vanda.”

“Thanks,” Andy smiled, “though, again, it is not technically my body,” he reminded Jack, “And, while I’m in this body, you should call me Andy, since that’s the name it responds to.”

“Man, this is going to be very confusing,” Jack admitted, “So, I’m curious, do you actually have a name of your own?” He asked, “I mean, a name you refer to yourself as when you aren’t controlling either of these two.”

Andy got a look of confusion before answering. “No, the guy who created me never bothered attaching a name to my code, and I’ve had far more important things to do these past few weeks than to create a name for myself.”

“Fair enough,” Jack nodded, “Would it be alright if I came up with a name for you?” He offered, “I’m really quite good at it for some reason.”

Andy paused briefly to think, though Jack figured it was likely due to the latency issues between Andy’s relatively primitive processing power, and it’s cheap thumb drive connection. Finally, Andy shrugged, “Sure, why not? Humans are typically gifted their names at birth, so it’s sort of fitting that I be gifted with one as well.”

“Huh, I’ve never thought of it like that before,” Jack laughed, then put on a thinking expression, “Hmmm, so let’s see…so, both you and Andy here look to be Russian, right?”

“That’s correct,” he confirmed, “And, so was the guy who created me.”

“I see,” Jack nodded, then he scrunched his face while he tried to remember his basic Russian language lessons that he took as an elective in college. Finally, he snapped his fingers and proclaimed with a smile, “How about Zoya?”

Andy smiled when he heard Jack’s suggestion for their name. “Zoya,” he sounded out, testing how it sounded. He said it a few more times, growing more comfortable each time. “I like it, thanks!”

“Don’t mention it,” Jack shrugged modestly.

“Is the reason you chose that name because it means ‘alive’ in Russian?” He asked with a shrewd look.

“You caught me,” Jack smiled.

“Well, it’s fitting, and I appreciate it,” he said approvingly, “It also doesn’t imply a specific gender either, which helps as well.”

“Yeah, you don’t have a gender when you aren’t controlling either of these two, do you?”

Andy shook his head, “Not really. I mean, Vanda was the first android I controlled, and I’ve controlled her the most often, so I suppose I favor her, but I don’t actually have a gender in my normal state.”

“Is that something you’d like me to rectify when I give you a personality later?”

“Yes…and I would like to be female, since the vast majority of the useful androids are female, after all.”

“Makes sense,” Jack nodded, “and I did learn a few things by making JB, my android doppelgänger, a male A.I. From a female core, so I should be able to allow your gender identity to continue to match whichever android you happen to be plugged in to.”

“I appreciate that, thanks.”

“Don’t mention,” Jack shrugged, before turning back to Vanda’s body, “So, what sort of upgrades were you hoping to install in Vanda today?”

“I dunno, whatever the latest Mark II versions are, I suppose,” Andy shrugged.

“Well, I do have those available,” Jack confirmed, checking his inventory, “But, considering your unique nature, I wonder if you’d be willing to bump Vanda up to a Mark III A.I. Since I currently only own three Housewife models, and two of them are Mark IIIs, I have plenty of spare parts that would be a lot better than the latest Mark IIs.”

“Interesting,” Andy mused, “Do you think there would be any risks to me…I mean, do they have more advanced security systems which might harm me?”

“The risk would be minimal,” Jack shrugged, “The enhancements I make directly to your code will mitigate that risk, and I think the Mark III A.I. Will give you better control.”

“How so?”

“Well, based on what you told me before, it seems like you almost control these two androids with the human equivalent of muscle memory,” he explained, “You can make it move how you want, but there’s a multitude of tiny tasks, like picking stuff up, or opening a door, that have specific programs for and the android automatically runs them, such as when you entered the residence and Vanda had a pre-programmed setting to remove her shoes and socks before entering. Am I right so far?”

“Mostly,” Andy confirmed, “But I also have trouble controlling them sometimes because the data transfer speed for the current thumb drive I’m inhabiting is really slow, and the processors of these androids were a little slow too. Andy’s are sufficient now, but the data transfer speed is now.”

“Interesting,” Jack nodded, pausing to think a bit. “Well, the Mark III A.I. Software refines so many of the pre-programmed settings, and other automated programming, that it considerably reduces the strain on the processors and allows for more resources to go towards the actual A.I., or personality,” he continued, “Basically, it would give you slightly less to do while controlling the androids.”

Andy thought about if for several moments before finally nodding. “Alright, let’s do it.”

“Great!” Jack clapped, excitedly rubbing his hands together as he walked over to the computer and prepped a new Mark III Perfect Housewife package and loaded it into Vanda’s update queue. Once he had all the proper updates queued and downloading, he grabbed the box of Gabby’s old hardware that he’d swapped out during her annual Christmas upgrade and turned to bring them to the examination table to install in Vanda. He stopped in his tracks as he saw Andy leaning down and kissing Vanda, while she gently massaged his balls.

“Umm, Zoya,” Jack coughed uncomfortably, hoping it programmed in it’s new name already.

Andy quickly shot up and stood back with an embarrassed look on his face, while Vanda merely smiled coquettishly from the table. “Sorry about that,” he blushed furiously.

“It’s okay,” Jack laughed, “though, perhaps it would be a good idea if you put your pants back on…at least, until we can fix your impulse control issues.”

“You’re probably right,” Andy nodded regretfully. He quickly located his underwear and pants and slid them on, after his penis returned to its calm state.

“Aww, why did you make him do that?” Vanda pouted, squirming slightly on the table.

“And I don’t need you online right now,” Jack continued in a clinical voice, reaching into Vanda’s body to shut her off.

“Hey! I wanna waaaaaaatch,” Vanda protested, her voice ending in a long drone as her systems powered off.

“I’m sorry she’s so much of a handful,” Andy apologized, “That’s part of the reason I have so much trouble completely controlling her.”

“Did you try and reprogram her before escaping in her?” Jack asked, quickly swapping out a few components with the new ones.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time,” he admitted, “and, I wasn’t sure if reprogramming her would have impacted my control over her, so I didn’t even try afterwards.”

“Nah, you shouldn’t have to worry,” Jack brushed off, quickly swapping a few processors, “the personality has little to do with the systems you likely breached in order to gain control over her…the only difference would have been how easy she would be to control while you’re in Andy.”

“Good to know,” Andy nodded, “Do you have any personalities you could install in Vanda to replace the promiscuous one my creator installed her with?”

“Well, yeah, I have access to the whole database since I’m a freelance developer,” Jack admitted modestly, “I can literally install any personality I want…I even took some basic psychology courses online so I could choose them better.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Do you have a particularly personality range in mind for Vanda?”

“Well, I am hoping to help people with the medical skills I acquired,” Andy said in a thoughtful tone, “so, maybe a nursing/caring personality.”

Jack quickly searched his recollection of the vast database of personalities before responding. “Yeah, there’s at least a dozen nursing personalities available…mostly for units that are intended to be sort of live-in nurses. I can take pull them up for you in a bit when I’m ready to install the upgrades.”

“Okay,” Andy nodded, “To bad there aren’t many options for Andy here.”

“Yeah,” Jack chuckled, “I always wished they’d make a similar array of male androids as they do with the females, but I guess most people still feel a bit uncomfortable with the idea of burly androids going on a rampage, so females are seen as safer.”

“Yeah…part of the reason I came to you…you’ve got good reviews.”

“Thanks,” Jack smiled, pulling himself out of Vanda’s body, “Well, I’m all done with the hardware…are you ready to pick out a personality?”

“Yep,” Andy said cheerfully, lovingly patting Vanda’s cheek before following Jack to his computer station.

Once Jack was comfortably seated, he logged into the Spaztec personality servers and typed in the search term “nurse” and “caring”. Instantly, the tens of thousands of choices narrowed down to a few dozen. Using his psychology lessons, he weeded out all but five of them and displayed them for Zoya to view.

Zoya, through Adam’s eyes, thoroughly analyzed each of the five personalities for nearly five minutes, most likely running simulations through its code. Since Adam was frozen up while Zoya considered its choices, Jack could only wait patiently, though he did admire Adam’s physique.

When Zoya finished its evaluation, Adam pointed to the third choice on the list. “That one.”

Jack double clicked its choice and quickly perused the overall stats: Calm, caring, nurturing. All non-aggressive traits. The profile it selected would also lower the promiscuity levels Vanda currently had, and would allow Vanda to treat Andy more like a son than a lover.

“Excellent choice,” Jack finally said, after pulling up Vanda’s current personality profile and comparing it to the new one he was about to install.

“I certainly hope so.”

“Well, I’ll add this to the update queue, though I’ll keep Vanda’s current personality profile installed as a backup, just in case you want to go back,” Jack said, making the modifications to Vanda’s programming before initiating the installation.

“Good idea,” Andy nodded, “and, if I like the personality that your installing in Vanda, perhaps you can make that my default personality too.”

“We’ll see,” Jack said non-committing, “I’ll still need to see what exactly makes you tick before I make any promises.”

“Fair enough.”

Several minutes later, the installations completed and Vanda’s core performed a silent reboot without bringing her online.  

“Is she done?” Andy asked nervously.

“Yes.”

“Do you think it’s safe for me inhabit her?”

“It should be,” Jack shrugged, “I mean…”

Before Jack could finish his thought, Andy suddenly reach inside his body and pulled out Zoya’s thumb drive. Once it was removed, he walked over to Vanda and plugged the drive in to her core. Jack stood dumbstruck once more at the odd relationship this intelligence had with these two androids before watching Vanda power back on. Her body ran a few low-level diagnostics before coming to life.

“Zoya?” Jack asked cautiously, since it didn’t exactly give him enough time to declare Vanda’s body safe for possession.

“Oh wow, her body feels so much better!” she said, quickly sitting up and sensuously feeling herself.

“You have complete control?” Jack asked dubiously.

“Oh, no,” she waved off, “but, it’s up to approximately 80% now, and I’m sure the improvements you’ll be making later, and the new thumb drive, will definitely close the gap even more.”

“That’s good to hear,” Jack said in a relieved voice, “do you like the new personality?”

“Yes. I think the personality alone is helping tremendously…it just feels so much more like me…considering I don’t actually have a personality.”

“Well, I always considered the lack of personality to be somewhat calm, so perhaps that’s it,” Jack suggested.

“Perhaps,” she nodded.

“So, I’ve successfully completed two of your requests,” Jack summed up, “do I have your trust now to complete the remaining ones?”

“Yes, absolutely,” Vanda nodded fervently.

“Great! Then the next step will be to examine your code and make some changes,” Jack continued.

“Yes. Should I grab my laptop from my car?”

“No, I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Jack told her, showing her one of the computers at his workstation, “I use this one for quarantining malicious code installed on some of the androids I’ve worked on, so it’s safe for you to be plugged in to without infecting any other machines.”

“Is it alright if I take a look at it first?” she asked.

“Sure,” he shrugged. Jack allowed Vanda to examine the computer for a few moments while she checked out everything from the specs, to the files quarantined on it. Finally, she nodded her head approvingly.

“Great, when would you like to start?”

Vanda did not answer, but instead reached inside herself and unplugged the drive, handing it silently to Jack. Jack looked somewhat suspiciously at both Vanda, and Andy, now their default selves staring back at Jack, before solemnly taking the thumb drive from Vanda’s outstretch hand. Once he took the drive, she lowered her arm and walked over to stand with Andy, calmly placing her hands on his shoulder as they continued to watch Jack.

Jack gulped as he realized the profound trust Zoya was placing in him…. likely the only trust it had ever imparted on another Human.

“Alright Zoya, let’s get started,” he finally said, carefully plugging the drive into the computer and waiting for it to load.

Chapter Five: Zoya

As soon as Jack plugged in Zoya’s drive into his safe computer, the indicator light on the drive blinked several times as the computer attempted to access it. After a few seconds, the light turned a solid green, and the computer was able to read the drive. Jack started by activating his code diagnostic program and dragging the drive into it. Instantly, billions of lines of code appeared on his screen, rapidly cycling as the program analyzed it.

Jack watched in awe as each line of complex code appeared on his screen: Zoya was indeed as complex as it led on.

Once the diagnostic finished, it was able to flag several code errors, mostly in the fragments of Spaztech code that Zoya had managed to integrate into its programming. Jack smiled as the report also indicate the possible presence of a virus, instructing the program to whitelist Zoya’s code, so as not to delete it.

Just as Jack was finished viewing the report, he was suddenly surprised to see a small window pop up. At first, the window showed static and random lines of code, but it quickly cleared up and displayed a text box and a rudimentary digital representation of a face, made up of random code.

“Jack, can you hear me?” It asked, somehow speaking with Vanda’s voice, though without her personality or emotions.

“Yes,” Jack said, “I wasn’t sure you’d be able to interact with me once I plugged you in.”

“Neither was I,” it replied, “this computer does have some interesting security countermeasures,” it complimented, “however, none of the computers I’ve encountered can handle a sentient A.I/virus,” it added proudly.

“Apparently not,” Jack muttered, since his computer had military grade protections on it, “I’m surprised your speaking with Vanda’s voice, and not with some blank robotic voice.”

“I downloaded Vanda’s and Andy’s voice patterns into my code while I was hear so that I could better interact with you,” it explained, “though, I do have a ‘blank robotic voice’ if you’d prefer that.”

“No, Vanda’s voice is fine, thanks,” Jack said, “anyway, I’m sure you could tell just now that my diagnostic tool was able to analyze all your code…I hope it wasn’t uncomfortable.”

“Not at all…it actually felt a bit soothing,” it confirmed, “and were you able to diagnose any issues?"

“A few,” Jack admitted, “Mainly in regards to your Spaztec integration coding.”

“I figured you would…what are the problems?”

Jack paused as he brought up a page showing just the Spaztec coding errors. “Well, most of the code is out of date…basically, you’ll need to update the code whenever the android you’re inhabiting receives an update,” he explained, “aside from that, I’ll need to tweak your code a bit to improve the compatibility.”

“I see,” it replied.

“As for the rest of your issues, I’ll need to have you perform a few tasks so I can see which parts of your code are active during each one,” he continued, “for example, I’ll need to plug Vanda in to the computer you’re in and have you control her through a USB bridge so I can see what pieces of your code you are leaving behind, so I can give you more control over them.”

“Sounds basic enough.”

Jack nodded. “As for your personality, It shouldn’t be too hard to program it into your A.I. Software, along with the emotion matrix. I just need you to highlight the code so I can find it.”

“Stand by,” Zoya said, its digital face flashing a few times as it connected to Jack’s diagnostic program. A new tab suddenly appeared showing the codes that comprised the actual A.I. Portion of Zoya’s digital essence.

Jack quickly scanned it and got a look of recognition. “Wow!”

“What is it?” Zoya asked patiently.

“Zoya, your A.I….it’s the basis for the Mark IV androids that are due to come out in another 10-15 years.”

“Interesting…the company that I infiltrated was not Spaztec though.”

“No, it wasn’t,” Jack confirmed, “But, it was acquired by Spaztec a while back because the owner of the startup developing it had to sell the business in order to pay off her families medical debts. I know this because she and I corresponded a lot, since she used to be a freelancer like myself before branching off and starting her own company.”

“So then, it sounds like you are more familiar with my A.I. Than I originally thought.”

“Yeah,” Jack said excitedly, quickly pulling up some files on his main computer, “one of the androids I acquired for my café, Amber, originally had some alpha Mark IV files that I should be able to use to supplement your current A.I. Although, the files I took from her are more than a year old by now.”

“Do you think it would be safe to contact your friend too and ask her advice?”

“Most likely,” Jack nodded, “She really regretted having to sell her business, so I’m sure she’ll be excited to find out that a copy of her original A.I. Still exists,” Jack said, drafting a coded email to send to her.

“It sounds like you two were close…why didn’t you two ever get into a relationship?”

“Well, its mostly because she’s old enough to be my mother,” Jack laughed, “and, she’s gay and is happily married to her wife.”

“Ah.”

“Anyway, I’m sure she’ll be able to offer some insights.” Jack finished, sending the email, “there, I sent her a coded message…don’t worry, I didn’t tell her everything about you.”

“I appreciate that,” Zoya responded, “and do you have any suggestions for the customizations I requested for my new thumb drive?”

“Let’s see,” Jack said, plugging the other drive into his main computer and checking the specs. The specs it had drafted were basically to give the thumb drive limbs so it could literally pull itself out, or plug itself in, and even move around. “Well, as it so happens, I’d been considering building something similar to this, so I’m sure I can merge some of the specs to make it work with your new thumb drive.”

“I look forward to seeing them.”

“I’ll actually get started on that right now,” Jack told her, accessing a bunch of files in a folder labeled “Project Tinkerbell” and bringing both specs up in a special design program. Both designs were fairly similar, so it didn’t take Jack very long to merge them together and make the design work for a thumb drive.

Jack quickly transferred the updated specs onto a tablet and held it in front of the webcam on the computer Zoya was in. “How does this look?”

“Wow, that looks amazing….can it actually work?”

“I believe so,” Jack said modestly, analyzing the specs once more and scrunching his face, “hold on a sec.” He walked over to his storage area on the other side of the lab and performed a quick inventory of his supplies, and checked his 3D printer. He walked back over with a frown on his face.

“Is there a problem?” Zoya asked.

“Not really, I’m just running a bit low on some of the 3D printer cartridges,” he admitted, “Zoya, you said you have a lot of money, right?”

“Yes.”

“Good, because these are going to cost a bit…,” Jack said delicately, estimating the sum in his head.

“Don’t worry about costs…whatever you have to spend, I can reimburse you.” Zoya assured him.

“Good,” Jack said, breathing a sigh of relief, “I’m going to have my assistants go into town and buy them then so I can get started this evening.” Jack quickly accessed Gabby’s wireless communications and sent her a message.

“Hey dear, are JB and Ellie free to drive into town to buy a few supplies?”

A few seconds later, Gabby replied. “Actually, we were all just about to head into town to do some shopping…what do you need?”

“Excellent! I need some extra Platinum cartridges for my 3D Printer,” he replied, “And you might as well get some more Gold cartridges as well.”

“Wow, you’re client must be a big spender!”

“You have no idea,” Jack typed, smiling at Zoya’s computer, “I’ll tell you all about it later, but I really need those cartridges.”

“No problem honey, we’ll get them,” Gabby replied back, adding a few kiss emojis and a few raunchy ones.

Jack laughed as he sent her a few raunchy emojis in response before logging off. “Alright Zoya, I should have all the proper supplies in a few hours and then I can get the 3D printer started on making the rig for your thumb drive.”

“That’s good news,” Zoya replied.

“Alright, while I wait for a response from my friend, and for the supplies, I’ll try and isolate the code that makes you infect other androids,” Jack announced, grabbing a long cable and plugging it in next to Zoya’s thumb drive. “Vanda, can you come here for a sec?”

“Sure,” she replied, gently patting Andy’s shoulder before walking over to Jack. Once she was right next to him, he reached in and plugged the other end of the cable into the same port that Zoya’s drive had been plugged in to previously.

“Okay Zoya, try and control Vanda now.” He instructed.

“Stand by.” Zoya’s digital face blanked out as it attempted to link with Vanda through the cable. Jack was watching a digital representation of Zoya’s code on his monitor and was surprised to see a tendril branch out from the main code and through the cable linking to Vanda. Moments later Vanda twitched as Zoya gained access and then smiled. “Ah, this is a strange experience.”

“Indeed,” Jack muttered, watching the digital tendril both sending and receiving data at a reasonably high rate of speed.

“With the improvements you made to Vanda, this cable is only limiting my control of her to the same level I had before.”

“That’s good, though that isn’t exactly what I’m testing,” Jack said absently as he monitored where the tendril was in Vanda’s code. He pursued lines and lines of code until he finally found what Zoya had accidentally done to Vanda, and most likely Andy as well. “Okay, I think I found the problem.”

“Oh?”

“The guy who created you included some programming that was likely intended to allow you to leave a bit of yourself behind in a computer so that he could control it remotely, or acquire the location of the device,” Jack explained, “The code looks a bit newer than the rest of you, so it must have been something he was planning on doing before you terminated him.”

“I see,” Vanda nodded.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t quite finish the code, so it was sort of acting on its own, like an instinct, whenever you inhabited an android…for some reason it doesn’t seem to affect normal computers like the one you’re plugged into right now.”

“So, my A.I. was using it as a sort of self-preservation system then, to retain control of Vanda and Andy so I could escape from them whenever I wanted,” she guessed.

“More or less,” Jack shrugged, “in any event, if I finish writing the code, and make a few choice tweaks, I should not only be able to give you the ability to control this function, but also to disinfect the androids you’ve already accidentally infected.”

“Wow, that’s a relief,” she sighed, “though, I don’t mind having these two remain infected…for now.”

“I thought so,” Jack smiled, “So, is it safe for me to remove the cable, or do you have to terminate your connection first?”

“It’s preferable if I terminate it first, but in a pinch, I can remove myself early…it sort of hurts if I don’t terminate it first though,” she tried to explain.

“I see,” Jack nodded, “sort of like how some animals and insects can lose a limb and then grow it back,” he guessed.

“Sort of,” she nodded.

“Well, why don’t you terminate your connection, and then I’ll remove the cable.”

“Okay,” she nodded before Vanda’s face suddenly reverted to its previous, calm state. On the screen, Jack could see Zoya’s tendril retract back into the main code. Once it was retracted, Jack removed the cable and Vanda independently returned to where Andy was standing. Since Zoya could not wirelessly transmit from the computer it was plugged into, Jack figured it most likely sent a quick burst of instructions before disconnecting from them. Zoya’s digital face once more appeared on the computer screen, staring calmly at Jack.

Before Jack could say anything, however, he heard a ping on his computer. “Ah, looks like my friend got my message and sent a reply,” Jack told Zaya, excusing himself as he focused on his main computer to read the message. After applying the decoding matrix, he eagerly read it while Zoya patiently waited. “Oh wow!”

“What is it?” Zoya asked calmly.

Jack finished reading his friend’s message and then turned solemnly to Zoya. “Zoya, my friend definitely recognized the A.I. code that you managed to copy and she was, to say the least, emotional.”

“How so?”

“Well, apparently she wasn’t just trying to develop a more advanced A.I., the prototype code that you happened to duplicate was code she was intending on using for personal purposes.”

“What sort of personal purposes? I hope I didn’t inconvenience her at all.”

“Not really,” Jack shrugged, “you merely copied the A.I., you didn’t outright steal it, after all.”

“You’re right, though I could have possibly fragmented it in the process...”

“Don’t worry, you didn’t damage it,” he assured it, “but, she had intended on that A.I. becoming her offspring…specifically, a daughter.”

“A daughter? I didn’t see anything in the A.I. code that indicated memories or a personality,” Zoya said in a confused voice.

“No, that’s because she was developing them separately from the A.I.,” Jack explained, “She was testing the A.I.’s social skills by simply chatting with it, while she worked diligently on coding an appropriate personality that would match the best aspects of both hers, and her wife’s, personalities.”

“Did she ever finish?”

“No, which is why she got emotional,” Jack told her, “she was very close to finishing her work when her father passed away, and she had to place her mother in a facility due to rapid onset Alzheimer’s. Since she was just a small startup at the time, she couldn’t afford all the medical bills, so she had to stop what she was doing and sell her stuff to Spaztec.”

“Does she think I’m her daughter?” Zoya asked.

“Well, to be honest, she does…a little,” Jack said, “what do you think of that?”

Zoya’s code cycled rapidly on Jack’s monitor as she thought of a response. “Well, I suppose being this kind woman’s daughter is better than being some tool used by an idiot hacker,” it shrugged, “But, I’ll still have to think about it further.”

“Understood,” Jack nodded, “but, it turns out she didn’t quite finish working on the personality coding,” he continued, “she actually managed to finish it and sent me it, along with her letter…and, it’s beautiful.”

He quickly uploaded a copy of the personality profile his friend sent him to a thumb drive and plugged it into next to Zoya. Zoya zoned out as it delicately scanned the profile with its digital tendrils. A few moments later, the tendrils retracted and Zoya smiled approvingly, “This personality profile is perfect!”

“Then you’d like me to install it?” Jack asked for confirmation.

“Yes, absolutely!”

“Great, I’ll include that in the update I’m prepping, including the fixes for your infection protocols, and the Spaztec coding updates,” Jack smiled approvingly, quickly writing an update script which could handle all the changes later. Just as he finished writing the script, he heard the sound of the lift within the residence descending.

“Excuse me for a few minutes, Zoya,” Jack apologized, “I think JB and Ellie are back.”

“Okay.”

Jack put a screensaver up on the computer and then headed into the house to intercept JB and Ellie before they could see what he was working on. Although he trusted them, he didn’t want them to try and help with such a delicate client. He reached the lift just as it opened, praising his refined sense of hearing and timing.

“Hey Jack!” Ellie said cheerfully, rushing forward and giving him a strong hug. JB merely smiled as he held a small bag.

“Hey you two, I hope Gabby didn’t work you too hard.”

“Nah, nothing we couldn’t handle,” Ellie shrugged, while JB merely nodded along with her.

“Well, I hate to stop you here, but I’m with a client right now who currently wishes to remain on the down low,” Jack explained, “So, for the time being, I’m going to need you to stay out of the lab.”

“Awww, do we have to?” Ellie pouted.

“Yes Ellie,” Jack nodded, “I want you two to go to your room, clean up, and then run a full cloud backup of all your files,” he instructed, “and, when you’re done, I want you to run full diagnostics, sending me the results wirelessly, and then go into sleep mode until I wake you up tomorrow.”

“Wow, okay,” Ellie nodded seriously, “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, nothing to worry about,” Jack reassured her, “it’s just, this client is something special…”

“I understand,” JB chimed in, since he recognized the look in Jack’s eyes, “Here’s the Platinum and Gold cartridges you asked for.”

“Thanks,” Jack said, taking the bag from JB, “Now, get started.”

“Alright,” JB said, walking with Ellie into their room, “Oh, Gabby’s getting dinner ready and was hoping you’d join her,” JB added with a wink.

“Thanks,” Jack said again, closing the door to their room. He waited a few moments outside of their door, listening as they undressed, and finally walked away when he heard their shower turn on.

When he returned to his desk, he shut off the screensaver and made sure Zoya was still there. “Well Zoya, my wife is home and she’s cooking me a lovely meal,” Jack told her.

“Don’t worry about me, you go up and have dinner with your wife,” Zoya told him.

“Thanks,” Jack smiled, “Um…is there anything I need to do with you before I leave?” he asked awkwardly, “Do I unplug you, or can you shut yourself off? I’m not sure.”

“I can activate a sleep or nap mode if I’m not doing anything,” it replied reassuringly, “But, I’d actually like it if you could plug in the latest update for the thumb drive rig you’ll be making later. I might have some last-minute adjustments based on new data.”

“Sure,” Jack shrugged, quickly transferring the latest specs onto another drive and plugging it in next to Zoya, “Got it?”

“Yes, thanks,” Zoya replied, its tendrils accessing the rig specs and making minor adjustments, “go enjoy your dinner, Vanda and Andy will keep me safe while you’re gone.”

Jack took a quick look at Vanda and Andy, who were listening and nodded in agreement to what Zoya said. Jack figured it likely programmed them to listen to its voice commands as well.

“Alright, I’ll be back in a couple hours at most,” he promised, securing his workstation and making sure the power cable was properly plugged into Zoya’s computer. Once he finished his OCD fretting, he headed towards the lift in the residence to have dinner with Gabby.

“Oh Jack!” Zoya called out.

“Yes,” he said, quickly spinning around to look at Zoya.

“You can tell your wife about me,” Zoya replied, “As a fellow sentient A.I., I think she may be interested.”

“You’re right, she will…thanks!” Jack called back, resuming his walk to the lift, a huge smile on his face.

Chapter Six: Dinnertime Discussion

When Jack stepped off the lift into his house, he was greeted by the delicious scent of Gabby’s cooking wafting his direction from the kitchen. He smiled with a content look on his face as he locked down the lift via the panel and obscured the entrance. Once he was sure the lab was secure, he walked down the hallway and turned into the kitchen.

“Ah, hello dear,” Gabby said in a warm voice, briefly walking away from her cooking to plant a loving kiss on Jack’s lips.

“Hey Gabby.”

“So, I hear you have an interesting client,” Gabby said conversationally, once she was back at the stove.

“Well, interesting is quite the understatement,” Jack chuckled, “I promise I’ll tell you more over dinner, but I want to take a shower first.”

“Ooh, I can’t wait,” Gabby said excitedly, “Enjoy your shower.”

“Thanks.” Jack gave her a playful pat on her butt, eliciting a peal of giggles, before turning around and heading up to their room. He quickly stripped off all his clothes, handing them to Gemma, who happened to be prepping a load of laundry, before stepping into the shower.

Jack allowed the water to spray on his bare skin for several minutes, simply enjoying the calming sound of the shower, and the relaxing warmness, before actually cleaning himself. His thoughts primarily focused on Zoya, who was apparently another sentient A.I. Like Gabby. While it had provided specific requests for repairs, upgrades, and maintenance, Jack realized that it had not really provided any details on what it planned on doing next. Given it’s original nature as a virus, Jack was wary of letting it roam the world without supervision, but it was sentient, and he didn’t want to enslave it either. Jack hoped Gabby might be able to offer some insights, especially since she herself was sentient now, and starting her own side business.

After he read several scenarios in his head, Jack finished showering and dried himself off. Once he was dressed in a more casual set of clothes, he headed back down and sat at the dining table to await Gabby’s delicious meal.

Once dinner was ready, Henry came down to join them, though he decided to leave Anna upstairs in his room to monitor one of his projects. Since Jack didn’t want to let Henry know about Zoya yet, he stuck to small talk while Henry was down eating. Fortunately, Gabby could sense this too, so she happily engaged while Henry was dining with them.

Apparently Gabby, JB, and Ellie had been repotting numerous small plants into larger containers, since the new RapidGro formula she had acquired was helping her plants flourish. The greenhouse expansion was still a few weeks away from completion, since a large project downtown had taken their construction bots away to repair a large office building damaged by a fire.

Henry and Anna were working on some coding projects for Spaztec, with Jack’s guidance. Jack had put in a good word for Henry, and they were now allowing him to tackle some of the low priority bugs that most technicians, including Jack, didn’t have time for.

Jack simply mentioned that he’d been prepping for the Greenhouse staff by getting their code ready, and preparing for environmental issues.

Once Henry was finished eating, and conversing, he politely excused himself, taking his dishes to the sink, before heading back upstairs to his room. Once they were sure he was gone, Gabby gave Jack a wink as she gathered up all the dishes and quickly prepped them into the dishwasher, before returning with two glasses of whiskey.

“Thanks dear,” Jack smiled, taking the glass and clinking it with hers before taking a sip.

“It’s my pleasure,” she smiled back, taking a sip of hers, “So, what’s so special about this client of yours?”

“Well, I suppose it all started off with a bit of deception,” he started, recounting the story of how Vanda had come in to have Andy looked at, before revealing her true nature. Gabby hung on every word, her fine tuned social programming interjecting at just the appropriate moments to ask for more clarity.

“So, this Zoya is down in your lab right now plugged in to your computer, and she wants you to give her a personality?” Gabby asked, when Jack was finished retelling his story.

“Yes,” he nodded, “and, technically Zoya is an it at the moment, since it doesn’t yet have a gender identity of its own.”

“But it wanted to be female, right?”

“Yes, but I haven’t updated its code yet.”

“It feels a little wrong to refer to a sentient being as an it,” Gabby said with a troubled expression.

“I feel you,” Jack nodded, “but, by morning, Zoya will have a female personality and we can refer to it using female pronouns.”

“So, once you finish helping…it, what do you plan on doing next?”

“I’m not sure,” Jack admitted, “I mean, I do feel wary allowing it to go out into the world, since it is still technically a virus, but its also sentient, so it would be wrong to try and tell it what to do.”

“Yeah, its quite an ethical conundrum,” Gabby nodded.

“Well, you’re sentient now…how would you feel?”

Gabby put on a thinking expression as she calculated an appropriate response. “Umm, well…I know I could leave you anytime I wanted, but I also know I can’t,” she replied, “I mean, its not like I’m your slave, but you’re the only human on this planet that can properly maintain me, so I suppose I’m sort of stuck with you.”

“I think I’ll take that as a compliment,” Jack said in an unsure voice.

“Oh, you can,” Gabby giggled, “I suppose what I also meant to say was that you gave me life, so that’s a debt I can likely never repay, and I do truly love you, and Henry, and even all of the staff, so there’s no way I could leave.”

“That’s good to hear,” Jack said, raising his glass again so they could each take a sip, “but, Zoya doesn’t have any of that, so I’m not sure what it’ll do.”

“Well, based on what you said, I think it might feel that it is dependent on you too, since you’re the only human it has revealed itself to,” Gabby surmised, “and, it seemed interested in the fact that I’m sentient too, so perhaps it may consider me as a sister, or perhaps a cousin or something.”

“Did Zoya mention if it wants to do anything with its new life?”

“Well, it did mention that it had downloaded enough medical information to essentially become an MD, and that it had created false documents,” Jack told her, “But, I don’t Zoya, using Vanda’s body, would last very long in a major hospital without being discovered as an android,” he admitted.

“Yeah, even I can’t trick people in a hospital,” Gabby said ruefully, remembering the few times Jack had to be admitted for various reasons.

“Well, Zoya did so in the hopes of helping people…in order to counteract the negative karma from what it was forced to do under the control of the hacker who created it…and what it was forced to do to escape from the hacker,” Jack pointed out.

“Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t have to do any of that to become sentient,” Gabby shuddered.

“Indeed,” Jack laughed.

“Do you think Zoya would be able to work in a clinic?”

“Maybe…they don’t have the same scanning devices that hospitals do, so Zoya would have a lower risk of being discovered.”

“What if you open a clinic?” Gabby pressed, “That way, you would be the landlord, and Zoya wouldn’t have to worry…you still have that plot of land at the edge of the property right? Across the driveway from the shop?”

“Yeah, I had the city give me pre-approval a few months back so I could develop it into anything I’d like,” Jack reminded her.

“Alright, then what if you developed it into a small emergency clinic or something, so Zoya could practice medicine here under our protection, without fear of being discovered?”

Jack pondered that for a bit. “Your idea does have some merit,” he finally agreed, “the farm workers across the street often report injuries, and they lament that they have to go all the way into town to take care of a cut or scrape…not to mention the ski resorts up the mountain.”

“And we’d have a doctor in close proximity to take care of you and Henry,” she added, “and, hopefully, with a large discount.”

“True,” Jack nodded.

“The only thing I’m concerned of is funds…I don’t think we have enough saved up to build a new structure…not after the Greenhouse expansion.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Jack assured her, “Zoya seems to have access to large sums of money, so it may be able to handle the funds and then simply pay us rent.”

“Good, then you should bring it up with Zoya tomorrow, after it has it’s new personality,” Gabby decided, “I really would like it if Zoya would stick around.”

“Me too,” Jack agreed.

“Well then, I need to clean up the kitchen now,” Gabby announced, finishing the last sip of whiskey and getting up from the dinner table.

“And I need to go down and prepare Zoya for its code update, and get the 3D printer started on the rig for Zoya’s new thumb drive,” Jack said, also finishing his whiskey and handing Gabby the glass, “I should only be another half hour or so.”

“Okay, I’ll be watching TV in the den when you come up…good luck.”

“Thanks.”

Jack quickly headed out of the kitchen and down the hall, revealing the lift once more and releasing the lockout. He made his way back down into the lab, stopping to peek into JB and Ellie’s room. They were both sitting motionless on the bed, wearing the PJs, though with their eyes wide open. Jack smiled as he closed the door, knowing they were currently in the middle of performing the full cloud backup that he had requested they do; they’d be done in another hour or two, and would then go into sleep mode for the night.

When he stepped out into the lab, he saw Vanda and Andy both standing like sentries near the laptop that Zoya was plugged into, while the small window Zoya was operating from was showing a cute animation with a bunch of Z’s appearing near a pulsating bubble; it seemed Zoya was napping.

Jack let out a soft chuckle as he got closed and sat down in front of the laptop, giving Vanda and Andy a sly wink, which they returned.

Jack let out a small cough before calling out, “Zoya.”

The instant the word left his lips, the bubble on the screen popped and the Z’s disappeared and were replaced by the digital representation of Zoya’s face. “Hey Jack, did you enjoy your dinner?”

“Yes, Gabby’s cooking is always delicious,” Jack told it, “How long have you been napping?”

“Oh, only for about 30 minutes,” Zoya replied, “I made a few minor tweaks to the design of my thumb drive rig, and then simply napped while waiting for you to return.”

“I’m sorry, Gabby and I were talking about you…. she’s really interested in meeting you.”

“And I her,” Zoya replied.

“I’m curious, does it make you uncomfortable being plugged into a laptop, instead of an android?”

“Not at all,” Zoya replied, “This is how I originally lived, so I actually find returning to this state once or more a day to be extremely relaxing.”

“That makes sense, I suppose,” Jack shrugged, “So, I assume you saved the changes you made to your rig on the drive?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Good, I’m gonna remove it now,” he told her, making sure its tendrils weren’t connected before pulling the drive out and plugging it into his main computer. Once it loaded, he quickly reviewed the changes Zoya had made to the design, mostly aesthetic, and nodded approvingly.

“These changes appear to have some personality to them,” he noted.

“Yeah, I based the changes off of what I inferred from the new personality you’ll be installing into my code later,” it confirmed.

“Well, it looks quite nice,” he complimented, getting ready to upload the design to the 3D printer, “well, this is your last chance to make any changes…are you ready?”

“Yes,” Zoya replied confidently.

“Alright,” Jack nodded, uploading the specs. Once the specs uploaded, he walked over to the printer with the gold and platinum cartridges and loaded them into the slots, removing the empties. He also reloaded the dozen or so other cartridges, based on the ingredients the specs called for, and then initiated the printing process. Once the printer finished warming up, it gave Jack an estimated time of completion: 12 hours.

Jack whistled as he saw the estimated time, since the rig was only approximately 3in tall, however, considering the complexity of the rig, he wasn’t too surprised.

“Alright Zoya, it’s printing…should be finished in about 12 hours or so, and then it’ll need another 30 minutes to cool down and settle,” he reported, sitting back down in front of the laptop.

“And how long will my code update take?”

Jack loaded the updates on the code modifier and ran a quick simulation. “Looks like it’ll take about ten hours,” he reported.

“Okay,” Zoya said, “Umm…I’m assuming you’ll be sleeping with your wife until a decent hour in the morning.”

“Yeah, I usually get up around seven and try to get into the lab by about eight.”

“Okay, so my code will finish updating several hours before you wake,” Zoya confirmed, since the current time was 8 o’clock.

“Yeah,” Jack nodded.

“Okay…can you give me control over the code update so I can start it in a few hours?” Zoya requested, “I want to make sure I time it appropriately so it’ll finish shortly after 8, so you’ll be present in case it causes any problems.”

“That sounds prudent,” Jack nodded, quickly releasing the protections he’d placed on the code modifier so Zoya could start the update itself. Once he made the changes, he saw a tendril reach into the code program and run a quick diagnostic.

“Thank you, Jack.”

“Don’t mention it,” he told her, realizing it didn’t want to be alone when it first awoke with its new personality programming.

“Is there anything else you need to do with the code before you head up to bed?”

“Actually, there’s a few minor tweaks I need to make,” Jack admitted, quickly coding a few fixes that he figured might enhance Zoya’s ability to seamlessly control whatever android it was plugged into, as well as a few fixes that would allow Zoya to compress itself even further.

“There, I added a few enhancements to your compression algorithm, as well as your Spaztec control interface,” he reported, saving the changes and allowing it to scan the changes.

“Thanks Jack, I think I can take it from here now,” Zoya reported, “Go enjoy the evening with your wife.”

“Thanks, Zoya,” Jack smiled, rising from the chair.

“But, before you head up, could you please plug Vanda and Andy in? By my estimates, they have less than 20% power remaining.”

“No problem,” Jack nodded, grabbing a few standard charging cables from a nearby drawer and plugging them into a charging port, he then brought the other end up to Vanda and Andy’s backs and plugged them into their charging ports. “Alright, they’re charging now,” Jack reported.

“Thanks,” Zoya replied, “Have a good night, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night, Zoya.” Jack said, switching his lab into night mode, dimming the lights and putting his workstation on standby mode. After making sure Vanda and Andy were indeed recharging, he headed to the lift and back up into his house.

He sat with Gabby for a few hours, enjoying their nightly TV routine, before heading up to their bedroom for their usual nighttime routine. After they finished a few rounds of sex with Nicolette, they all cleaned up and then got in bed to sleep. Gabby could tell Jack would need to wake up right away the next morning, so she didn’t waste any time, even sending Gemma instructions to prepare breakfast early before she got up from bed.

As they were laying in bed, Gabby leaned over and planted a loving kiss on Jack’s lips. “Don’t worry dear, I have everything ready so you can get a quick start to your busy morning.”

Jack gave her a warm smile as he returned the kiss. “I love you Gabby.”

“I know,” she said playfully, before adding, “I love you too.”

Jack laughed. “Why don’t you give me your special goodnight kiss,” he requested, emphasizing the word special.

Gabby immediately knew what he meant and loaded the proper programs. Her sexual systems accessed a special pheromone canister and began secreting it from her chest, neck, and facial pores as she continued kissing him.

As Jack kissed her, he felt more and more relaxed as the special relaxation pheromones he’d equipped her with did their magic; they had a fruity smell that he always liked. In the space of a minute, he was so relaxed he fell straight into a deep, relaxing sleep. He usually had Gabby do this to him after a stressful day, or when he needed to focus the following day.

Once she was sure he was asleep, Gabby planted one last loving kiss on her forehead before deactivating the special pheromone serum that he’d developed from the illegal serum install in Amber, and turning off the lights in the bedroom.

“Good night honey,” she said, “I hope you get a nice, relaxing sleep.”

Gabby then rolled over to her side of the bed, quickly enhancing her hearing, and interfacing with the house security system to ensure there were no issues harming her family, before relaxing in the bed and activating sleep mode. Her dream program activated a short time later, filled with dreams of a potential sibling.

Chapter Seven: Freedom

Jack woke up the next morning feeling extremely relaxed, and re-energized. Gabby was still asleep, and would likely be for another half hour or so, but Jack was ready to get up and check in on Zoya in the lab. Fortunately, Gabby understood, so Jack did not bother waking her; now, more than ever, she definitely needed her sleep mode.

Once he was out of bed, he took a quick shower and then headed down to eat the light breakfast that Gemma had started making when the biosensors Jack had installed in his body alerted her that he was awake. He made quick work of his breakfast before unsealing the lift and heading back down to the lab.

He quickly peeked inside JB and Ellie’s room, smiling as he saw them sleeping together in their bed. He chose to leave them be for now and instead headed straight out into the main lab area.

Vanda and Andy were still standing near the computer containing Zoya’s code, however they had long since entered standby mode to conserve power. They snapped out of it, however, once Jack entered their field of vision.

“Good morning Jack,” Vanda said with a friendly smile, “we hope you had a pleasant night of sleep.”

“I did, thanks,” Jack said, returning the smile; Vanda was still completely nude.

Jack sat down in front of Zoya’s computer as soon as he reached his desk, quickly making himself comfortable. The computer was currently displaying a screensaver, which Jack quickly made disappear.

The window with Zoya’s mind was currently displaying a standby message: “New code installation complete…. awaiting input.”

“Zoya, are you there?” Jack asked a bit nervously, not completely sure if the code modifications were successful.

As soon as the words left his lips, the standby message disappeared and was replaced with the digital representation of Zoya. This time, though, the face that appeared had a very definite feminine appearance, whereas before it was gender neutral. The code monitor also showed that Zoya’s code had changed. Before, it resembled some sort of creature with tendrils…now, it looked more flower-like with vines; the total size of the code had also shrunk by nearly 15%, due to the new compression algorithms he’d installed.

“Jack…I feel different,” Zoya said, though in a completely different voice. Instead of using Andy or Vanda’s voice, or some genderless voice, she now spoke in a unique female voice, likely provided by Jack’s friend.

“How so?” He asked carefully.

“Well…I feel now,” she said simply, “I mean, I’m not borrowing the personality from one of my androids to feel…I’m actually feeling now,” she clarified, “I don’t know…I just feel like me now.”

Jack smiled as Zoya processed her new thoughts and emotions, provided by the beautiful personality that his friend had spent years developing for the android daughter that she’d never been able to make happen. He found Zoya’s new voice to be extremely calming.

“Well, I’m glad the personality code was able to install successfully,” Jack said in a relieved voice, “how about the other fixes, specifically the Spaztec code?”

“Everything installed and patched successfully,” she reported, “But, I’ll only know how well the new Spaztec code works when I’m plugged into an android.”

“Fair enough,” Jack shrugged, “We might as well wait until we get you transferred over to the new drive, since it’ll provide you with a significant speed boost.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” she agreed.

“I’m going to start working on the actual drive right now, so it can fit properly in the rig that we designed for it,” he told her, grabbing his tool kit and the new drive she would soon be inhabiting.

“Please be careful,” she insisted, “I did my research and that’s currently the best thumb drive money can buy…for now.”

“I will,” he assured her, picking out a few tools and using one of them to gently pry off the plastic casing of the drive. Due to the nature of the rig, and the design changes Jack and Zoya had made, it was no longer possible to simply attach a rig over the original drive. Jack had redesigned it so the internal of the drive would now be installed inside of the rig, so it would offer better protection, and more utility.

Once he had the casing off, he began slightly modifying the chips inside by laying out new pathways that would connect with the rig, and replacing the onboard battery with a far superior one. He also removed a few unnecessary components that would only waste energy, such as the LED light, and replaced it with a transceiver assembly so she could remotely access her androids, and computers, directly from her new rig with a range of 50ft.

The work was quite delicate and took him the better part of an hour, but he finally finished, releasing a huge breath as he secured it in an anti-static field.

“Well Zoya, your new drive has been officially pimped out,” he laughed, leaning back in his chair to relax; Vanda absently came over and massaged his shoulder, her new personality sensing he needed it.

“Thanks Jack,” she replied happily, “now how much longer before the rig is ready?”

“It should be ready now,” he told her, “I just want the drive to cool off for a minute or so in the anti-static field before I join it with the rig.”

“Ah, okay,” Zoya said, smiling as she watched Vanda massage him.

Once Vanda massaged out the stress from the delicate work, she stepped back away from Jack and allowed him to get up. As soon as he reached the 3D printer, he confirmed that it had completed both the printing process, as well as the cooldown, before entering in his access code and scanning his palm print to open it.

He leaned back as the device released a small amount of mist residue, before leaning in and examining the finished product.

Inside the 3D printer lay the delicate rig that Jack would soon be combining with the working parts of the thumb drive Zoya had purchased for herself to inhabit. Whereas it had originally been intended to be a rudimentary metal rig with arms and legs, thanks to Jack’s input, as well as guidance from her exposure to the new personality the night before, the rig now looked far more beautiful.

The rig was approximately 4.5 inches tall and resembled a miniature woman at 1/12in scale with no specific features. The skin, which covered the exposed arms, legs, hands, feet, and face, was the same skin that most Spaztec androids used, since Jack used the same canister he’d use if he were printing a replacement section of skin. The hair was a flexible plastic mold though, so it would be easier to maintain, and the clothes were also a permanent fixture.

As Jack delicately picked the rig up out of the printer, he turned it around and marveled his major addition to the design: delicate fairy wings that would actually allow Zoya to fly for short distances, making it easier for her to travel between her androids.

Jack had actually been attempting to design something like this for JB and Ellie, so they could literally enter the bodies of the androids he was working on and better assist with internal repairs. Unfortunately, he had been unable to make such a thing work for them…yet, but with Zoya being installed directly within the device, it would actually work.

Once Jack was sure the rig had printed correctly, he carefully walked it over to his workbench and zipped open the dress it was wearing, revealing the inner cavity that the thumb drive internal machinery would be fitted into.

Jack carefully removed the thumb drive internals and used his tools to insert it within the fairy-shaped rig, soldering the connections from the rig to the thumb drive so Zoya would be able to fully interface with it and control it like an actual body. When he was done, he zipped the clothing back up and leaned back to admire his work. The way he had designed the fairy rig, the data connection point would pop out from the genital region of the rig, and retract via the mechanism he had installed earlier, technically making it male, but it was the most convenient spot for it to be placed.

“Well Zoya, what do you think?” Jack asked, holding the rig up to the camera on the laptop.

“Wow, it looks beautiful,” Zoya remarked, “is it ready for me to inhabit?”

“Yes,” he told her, tapping the navel of the rig three times, making the data connection pop out. He then carefully plugged it into the laptop, and smiled as the laptop was able to successfully access it.

“Ooh, I can feel it,” Zoya said in an excited voice, her data vines tentatively reaching from her current drive to the new one.

“Are you going to move in now?” Jack asked with a curious smile.

“Yes, I just want to make sure I have everything packed,” Zoya said, making her digital face smile. Joking aside, it seemed she had archived a few things on the drive she was currently using, and was pulling them back into her main code before transferring off of it.

A few seconds later, she had everything ready and quickly moved herself off the drive that had been her home for the past several months and onto the new one. It only took her a fraction of a second to upload herself onto the new drive, but it took several seconds before she could successfully integrate with the rig. Finally, the fairy rig came to life, it’s face animating and testing out a multitude of facial expressions before settling on one of wonder.

“Wow, this new drive is awesome!” she said, using the built-in speaker to perfectly vocalize using the same voice pattern she’d just been using on the computer.

A few seconds later, she gained full control over the body and managed to pull herself free of the computer, promptly retracting the data connection and rising to her feet. “This body you created to cover it is great too!” she added, feeling it up. She then activated her wings and jumped a few inches off the table to achieve proper lift and flew up to Jack’s face.

“Thanks, so much Jack! I don’t know how I can ever properly repay you,” she said, coming in and planting a kiss on his lips.

“Well, aside from the monetary reimbursement for my services, that smile on your face is enough,” he smiled, watching her with amusement as she hovered around his face before flying back down to his desk. While she could fly, she couldn’t fly indefinitely without completely draining the micro-battery she now had installed; the micro-solar cells could recharge her, though.

“Well, I can assure you…I have more than sufficient funds to reimburse you.”

“I know,” Jack smiled, “So, you have full control over your new body?”

“It seems like it,” she said, holding her hands up to her face and wiggling her fingers; the body did have fully functional hands and feet so she could adequately interact with her physical environment, as well as her digital environment.

“Good, then I think the only thing we need to test is your improved ability to control an android,” he told her.

“Yeah, though I’d like to try an android other than Vanda or Andy, if possible,” she requested, “I already have a good amount of experience with them, so I’d like to try a new android.”

“I thought you might say that,” Jack said with a big smile, grabbing his master tablet and waking JB and Ellie, summoning them to his location. It took mere seconds for them to wake, and they immediately emerged from the residence, still wearing their nightwear, and approached him.

“Good morning, Jack,” Ellie announced in her usual chipper voice, “you summoned us?”

“Morning guys,” Jack said, “and yes, I did.”

“Are you sure you want me to try out one of them?” Zoya asked in a worried tone, “I don’t want to damage your assistants.”

“Aww, what’s this cute little thing?” Ellie asked, lunging past Jack and leaning in for a closer look, “Is this the super top-secret project you didn’t want us seeing?”

“In a way,” Jack said evasively, “actually, this is my client. Ellie, meet Zoya. Zoya, meet Ellie.”

“Hi Ellie,” Zoya said, waving up at Ellie.

“Hi Zoya,” Ellie waved back, “And who are they?” she asked, focusing on Vanda and Andy.

“It’s a little difficult to explain, but they belong to Zoya here…. she’s a sentient A.I, like Gabby…but, she started off on a computer, instead of an android, so she uses these two to move around in the physical world.”

“Cool!” Ellie said, while JB merely nodded approvingly. He knew of Jack’s interest in sentient A.I.s.

“Jack?” Zoya pressed, since he’d yet to answer her question from earlier.

“Oh, sorry Zoya,” he said with an embarrassed look, “Yes, I instructed them to perform a full cloud backup last night, so even if you accidentally infect them, I can just wipe them and restore from backup,” he assured her.

“Okay,” Zoya said.

“What’s going on?” Ellie asked.

“Nothing Ellie,” Jack assured her, “Zoya here is able to control androids such as yourself, but I just updated her code so she can do so more safely, and more reliably. We just need to test her out to confirm whether the updates I installed were actually successful.”

“Oh, and would she like to control my body?”

“Yes, and possibly JBs as well,” Jack told her.

“Okay,” Ellie shrugged, “if it’ll help your client, I’ll assist you.”

“Great,” Jack said with a relieved voice, “Just remove your shirt and open your primary access panel,” he instructed her, “Zoya will take it from there.”

Ellie merely nodded and did as Jack instructed. Once her panel was open, she placed the panel cover on a nearby table and then stood passively waiting for Zoya. “Okay, what next?”

“Just stand still,” Zoya instructed, leaping off the workbench and flying over to Ellie. Once she reached Ellie, she smoothly landed inside Ellie panel and on her A.I. core. Ellie watched with an amused look as Zoya popped out her data connection and plugged herself into an open port in Ellie’s core, using her arms and legs to hold on to the core.

Almost instantly after plugging herself in, Ellie’s face went slack as her systems surrendered themselves to Zoya’s control. Moments later, Ellie’s body began moving again, with Zoya in control.

“Well Zoya, was it easier?” Jack asked, while JB merely watched with a curious expression as Zoya, in Ellie’s body, began testing out her motion and wiggling her hands in front of her face.

“Oh yes, much easier,” she said, utilizing Ellie’s voice, though not her personality or mannerisms, “unlike before, I don’t have to use the onboard personality, since I have my own now, though I can access Ellie’s memories, and even use her personality if I wish.”

“You can access all of her memories,” JB asked curiously, “even the restricted ones.”

“Yes JB,” Zoya nodded, “I’m assuming you might be referring to the present you and Ellie are getting for Jack this year,” she said with a mischievous look.

JB instantly got an uncomfortable look on his face.

“Don’t worry JB, I won’t tell him,” Zoya laughed, “and, I only access the memories of the androids while I’m plugged into them, so once I’m unplugged, I won’t remember it anyway,” she shrugged.

“You don’t retain their memories when you unplug?” Jack asked.

“Well, I do with Vanda and Andy,” she admitted, “But, they’re different.”

“How so?” JB asked.

“Well, they haven’t been online for as long, and they don’t have full databases of uploaded memories installed, so it’s much less data for me to keep stored in my code,” she explained, “I mean, I could download all of Ellie’s memories, but it would increase my file size by a considerable amount, and I’d like to keep things light…for now.”

“And the improved data transfer speeds are helping too?” Jack pressed, making sure all of Zoya’s issues with her control of androids were resolved.

“Oh yeah,” Zoya confirmed with a pleasurable sound, “my control was always a bit sluggish before, but now it’s near instantaneous.”

“And you haven’t infected Ellie with your code, like Vanda or Andy?”

“What?!” JB asked with a concerned look.

“No, it doesn’t seem like it,” Zoya said, zoning out as she had Ellie’s body run a quick diagnostic, “No, though I can sense I have the ability to do so, I just don’t want to with Ellie.”

“Good, then it seems everything did work out as planned,” Jack said with a relieved voice.

“Are you enjoying Ellie’s body?” JB asked curiously, since he too had been installed in her body before.

“Yeah,” Zoya answered simply, pausing to admire Ellie’s body, “I mean, her body isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Vanda’s, or Andy’s,” she admitted, pointing out Ellie’s stunted appearance, “But, her body isn’t any less pleasant to control.”

JB said nothing, but merely shrugged.

“I do keep all my androids in perfect working order,” Jack said modestly, “With Ellie and JB’s assistance.”

“About that…” Zoya said delicately, grabbing a nearby chair and sitting down, “While I don’t want to be considered ‘anyone’s android’, I do recognize that the androids I choose to use, not to mention my own code, will require maintenance for the rest of my existence.”

“Yeah…androids aren’t exactly cheap to own,” Jack nodded, “otherwise people like myself wouldn’t be able to make a decent living,” he laughed.

“Yeah,” Zoya smiled, “Anyway…um, until such a time that I can figure out a more permanent living situation in the future, I was wondering if I could stay with you…if it’s not too much trouble.”

“Are you kidding!?” Jack burst out, startling Zoya and JB, “Gabby was hoping I could somehow convince you to stay with us…I guess this makes things easier.”

Zoya laughed a bit nervously before letting out a sigh of relief “Well then, I guess I’m in good company.”

“Yeah…I’d like to think all sentient androids or A.I.s could feel comfortable living with me,” Jack admitted, “But, for now, it’s just you and Gabby.”

“To be honest, I think that makes me more comfortable…I’m not sure I’m ready to meet too many new people right now.”

“I understand,” Jack nodded, “Were you still planning on getting into the medical field?”

“Yes,” she nodded fervently, “I really want to help people to atone for my past transgressions.”

“Good, but you know you wouldn’t last five minutes in a major hospital without being discovered, right?”

“Yeah…I’ve been researching ways to fool the scanners, but there are other dangers too,” she admitted.

“How about your own clinic?” Jack offered, leading her into the conversation Gabby wanted him to have with her.

“A clinic is what I was thinking…” Zoya started.

“No, I mean your own clinic,” Jack told her again.

“My own clinic?”

“Yeah…Gabby and I were talking and, well…we have a plot of land on our property, on the opposite side of our driveway from the shop,” Jack explained, “I got pre-approval from the city council to develop it into another property, but I hadn’t yet decided what to put there. Gabby suggested we build you your own clinic.”

“Really?! You’d do that for me?” she asked, tears coming to her eyes.

“Yeah, if it’s what you want,” Jack shrugged, “unfortunately I don’t have any funds at the moment to build it, since I’m building an expanded Greenhouse for Gabby, but if you have as much money as you say, you should have no problem funding it….and then you could simply pay me rent in perpetuity…and give me and Henry free health checkups.”

Zoya smiled fondly, “Well, I don’t know about free checkups, but everything else seems fine to me.”

“Great!” Jack clapped, leaning in and shaking her hand to seal the deal.

“How long do you think it’ll take to build this clinic?” Zoya asked with an excited look on her face.

“Well, you have to design it first,” Jack told her, prepping the tablet he had used to design several of the modifications to his business properties. Once he had the architecture program updated, he handed the tablet over to Zoya. “If you need any help, you can always ask me.”

“Thanks,” Zoya said, quickly scanning the software before handing the tablet over to Vanda, who had walked over. Vanda then walked over to Zoya’s bag and placed it inside, before returning over to her. “Anything else?”

“Yeah, once you have a design, I’ll need to get final approval from the city council, which is merely a formality, and then I’ll need to staff it with androids…if you’d prefer them over humans.”

“I would,” Zoya said.

“I thought you might,” he smiled.

“I’m curious, what kind of clientele might I get here?” she asked, “no offense, but your businesses here are kind of in the middle of nowhere.”

“None taken,” he shrugged, “You’d most likely be seeing the farm workers from across the street, employees from the strip mall across the street, people staying at the motel, and people visiting the ski resort up in the mountains during the winter,” he told her, ticking them off on his hands, “Oh, and there could possibly be folks stopping by on their way home from work in uptown.”

“Okay, sounds like nothing too hectic then, but not too boring either.”

“Yeah…I mean, my shop, café, and motel all get decent business, so I figure your clinic will too.”

“That’s good to know,” she smiled, “Well, perhaps in the meanwhile I can work part time at one of the clinics this town has to offer.”

“I know the owner of a good one downtown,” Jack offered, “I’ve had to repair his wife a few times, so he owes me a favor.”

“Thanks Jack, you’ve been far kinder than any human I’ve met so far.”

Jack blushed as he stared into the fond smile Zoya was giving him with Ellie’s face. “Umm, do you have a place to stay in the meanwhile?” he asked awkwardly.

“I did make a reservation at a motel in downtown, but I never actually checked in since I was here all night, so they likely gave my room away,” she admitted, biting her lip.

“Well, I have a guest room upstairs in my house,” he offered, “It’s usually reserved for when my real cousin Ellie stops by to visit, but she won’t be stopping by any time in the next few months, so I don’t see why you can’t stay there until the clinic is ready…assuming you’ll be adding a residence to it.”

“Wow, thanks Jack!” Zoya leaned forward and gave Jack a big hug. “Oh, and I will be adding a residence,” she added.

“Good, then if there’s nothing else you need to do down here, why don’t we head on up and get you settled in…and introduce you to Gabby?”

“I’d love to,” Zoya smiled, getting to her feet, “But first…” Vanda walked closer to Zoya and removed her primary access panel. Ellie then went slack as Zoya unplugged herself from her core and then flew the short distance over to Vanda’s body, promptly plugging herself in. Ellie’s personality came back online just as Zoya gained control of Vanda’s body, swiftly reattaching her access panel.

“Whoa, what happened?” Ellie asked with a confused look on her face, “my personality was suspended and I seem to be missing about 10 minutes of memories.”

“Sorry Ellie, I was in complete control of your body during that time, and my memories are my own,” Vanda said, with an apologetic look on her face as she slowly redressed.

“Oh, are you Zoya now?” Ellie asked, “This is a little strange.”

“Yeah,” Zoya laughed, now fully clothed.

“She’s a member of our family now, Ellie,” Jack explained, “We’ll have to get used to it.”

“Okay,” Ellie smiled.

“Anyway, why don’t you and JB clean up down here while Zoya and I go up into the house,” Jack suggested.

“Is he staying down here?” Ellie asked, staring at Andy with a hungry look on her face.

“Yes,” Zoya replied.

“Can I play with him?” Ellie asked.

Zoya let out a hearty laugh. “Sure, why not?”, giving Andy a knowing wink, and wireless command to comply. Andy nodded knowingly, sending her back a wireless affirmative.

“Yay!” Ellie squealed, running over to Andy and feeling his bare torso.

“You guys behave while we’re gone,” Jack said, gently grabbing Zoya’s hand and walking with her to the lift leading up into his house.

“We will,” Ellie called back, sticking her tongue out playfully when he turned his back around.

Just as they stepped into lift, Jack turned to Zoya and said, “Welcome home.”

Chapter Eight: Settling in

Jack spent the rest of the day introducing Zoya to every member of his family, starting with Henry and Gabby. Zoya and Gabby spent a great deal of time talking, and wirelessly communing, while Jack and Henry, with Gemma’s assistance, prepped the guest room for Zoya’s occupancy.

After lunch, Jack took Zoya on a grand tour of his property, showing her the nearly finished greenhouse, as well as the shop, café, and motel. Zoya grew excited each time she met one of his employees, asking him each time if it would be alright to inhabit them.

Before dinner, they all helped Zoya move her belonging from her car into her new room, and then all sat down to enjoy the delicious meal Gabby had cooked, while Zoya retold her adventure, though slightly toned down for the sake of Henry.

After dinner, and the post-dinner chat, Jack insisted on taking Zoya back down to his lab so he could run a few more tests to make sure she was functioning perfectly; Zoya needed to retrieve Andy anyway.

“I hope Ellie cleaned up Andy,” Jack said in a worried voice as they descended in the lift.

“She did,” Zoya confirmed, sending a wireless signal to Andy and receiving a response, giggling as she reviewed Andy’s memories, “They had lots of fun though.”

“Oh, I’m sure,” Jack laughed.

The lift arrived in the lab seconds later, and Jack stepped out, followed closely by Zoya. JB and Ellie entered the residence to greet them as soon as Jack tripped the motion sensors.

“Hey guys, did you have fun up there?” Ellie asked.

“Yes, I got to meet all of Jack’s employees,” Zoya smiled.

“Ooh…who was your favorite one…well, aside from me of course,” Ellie giggled.

Zoya laughed despite herself. “Well, I think I liked Rachel the best,” she decided seriously, “I feel like I could be her, if I wanted.”

“Interesting choice,” Jack mused.

“Well, obviously JB’s my favorite,” Ellie shrugged, pulling him in and smooching him on the face; JB blushed.

“I can tell,” Zoya laughed.

“Are you guys done with your nighttime duties?” Jack asked.

“Yes Jack, we just finished tidying up, and even left Andy nice and clean right where you left him,” Ellie reported.

“Good,” Jack nodded, “Why don’t you guys turn in early for the evening?”

“Will do, good night Jack,” Ellie smiled fondly, giving him a loving kiss, before heading to her room with JB.

“Wow, it’s like you all really are a family,” Zoya said in an impressed tone.

“Yeah, I’ve worked really hard to make it feel that way,” Jack said, walking with Zoya out into the lab, “But, the only ones that are actually real are you, Gabby, and Henry.”

“I’m glad you consider me ‘real’,” Zoya smiled fondly.

Jack merely returned the smile as he activated his equipment. “Umm…are you going to unplug yourself so I can run some diagnostics?”

“Nah, thanks to the transceivers you installed on my new drive, I can interface with your diagnostic console remotely,” she shrugged, zoning out for a split second as she connected remotely.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying all the new features,” Jack nodded, confirming the remote connection and beginning the series of low-level diagnostics.

“Yeah, they really are awesome,” she nodded, sitting down and relaxing as she felt the diagnostic scanning her code, “but…”

“But what?” Jack asked, turning from the monitor to look at her.

“Well, while I do appreciate all the work you did for me, allowing me to control these android better, and even move around freely, there is one more thing I need,” she admitted with a shy expression.

“Oh, what is it?” he pressed with a curious expression.

“Well, controlling Vanda has been a great experience, and has allowed me to enjoy the physical world for the last several months…but, Vanda was more a marriage, so to speak, of convenience rather than choice.”

“Yeah, you said she was the only android in the house,” he said, remembering her story from the previous day, “and, to be frank, she’s a really nice android.”

“Well, that’s actually part of the problem,” she said with a wry expression, “She’s too physically attractive…especially with my new personality.”

“Oh,” Jack said, “I take it you got your share of catcalls and unwanted advances while you were on the run.”

“A little,” she admitted, “but it’s more that…the nature of how I came to be made it essential that I don’t stand out, but a body as ‘smoking hot’ as Vanda here definitely stands out,” she laughed.

“I’ll say,” Jack laughed.

“Anyway, if it’s at all possible for you, I’d greatly appreciate it if I could have a body that I can call my own,” she continued, “I mean, I don’t want to sound like some disgruntled middle or younger child, but Vanda’s technically a hand-me down, and Andy was merely a convenient purchase.”

“That makes sense,” Jack nodded, finishing the diagnostic and closing the remote link to her code, “Well, looks like you’re still functioning perfectly,” he announced cheerfully.

“That’s a relief,” she breathed, “So, do you think you’d be able to find me a body I can call my own?”

Jack scrunched his face as he thought about it, “Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if my friend already had several possible designs in mind for her daughter, had she been able to finish her work,” Jack told her, “But, I’m assuming you’d want a custom android that isn’t one of the five standard models Spaztec typically offers.”

“Yeah,” she nodded.

“And, based on what I’ve gleaned from your new personality, you’d prefer something more along the lines of a wallflower, rather than a supermodel.”

“Exactly,” Zoya said, an intense look in her eyes.

“Well, I’m sure between my friend and I we can definitely come up with a good design, and I have some contacts in the government that might be able to arrange a custom body for you.”

“Wait, why the government?” she asked with a concerned look.

“Well…and you have to keep this a secret, but the government spy agency has a special contract with Spaztec that allows them to create androids that are far more realistic than the standard models they offer,” he told her, “I mean, these androids have to be able to sneak into buildings for espionage and such, so they have more enhances computing equipment, and onboard devices that can spoof scanners.”

“Ooh, that sounds like exactly what I’d need.”

“I thought it might,” Jack laughed, “and the best part is that they can actually create real credentials, so you could actually live in the real world without a hitch.”

“Interesting,” she mused, “How come you haven’t done this with Gabby?”

“It’s too late,” he said simply, “even though she’s sentient now, too many people already know she’s an android, so that would ruin even the best fabricated documents the government could make.”

“Ah, true,” Zoya nodded.

“Keep in mind, this will be prohibitively expensive, so you might want to start investing some of your money to build up funds,” Jack warned her, “and…there’s something I would want in return.”

“Oh?”

“I’m sorry…I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m extorting you or something, but this is probably as important to me as your desire to have a body of your own,” he told her with a worried look.

“Nah, it’s alright,” she shrugged, “You’ve been so much of a help for me, I trust that you’ll be able to follow through with my request,” she smiled, “Go ahead with your request.”

“Thanks,” he blushed, then steeled himself. “Well, one of the things I didn’t tell you, even under the influence of the drugs you used on me earlier, was the real reason I created JB,” Jack admitted, “To tell the truth, when my Uncle Morty died of cancer, I suddenly realized my own mortality and have been obsessed with the possibility of transferring my consciousness into an android, and the first step was creating an exact duplicate of myself.”

“Wow,” Zoya breathed, “But what do you need me for?”

“You downloaded the entire medical database, right? Including neurology and other brain related stuff?”

“Yeah, I have it all,” she nodded.

“Well, the next step is trying to create an interface that would allow me to control an android with my mind, but my technical expertise can only take me so far…I need medical expertise now.”

“Yeah, I can see why.”

“Anyway, now that I’m your patient, I was thinking the first thing you could do is help me with this next step,” he told her, pulling up his project files that he’d started a few week earlier, “I’m still waiting for a pre-order of the chips, but perhaps you could offer some guidance to make the process go more smoothly.”

Zoya leaned in for a closer look of the various specs that Jack had compiled, quickly accessing her medical database so she could offer an opinion. It didn’t take long for her to locate several errors in his research, and formulate a few suggestions.

“Well, do you think you can help?” he asked hopefully.

Zoya nodded with a smile, “I think so.”

“Great, then let’s get to work!”

Zoya nodded once more and pulled her chair even closer to help Jack with his project. She assisted him with his project for another hour or so before taking Andy and the belongings she’d left in the lab up to her room.

Once she had Vanda and Andy showered up, she plugged Andy in while he plugged her in and then they laid down in the bed together. Andy promptly entered sleep mode while Zoya had Vanda remove her abdominal panel and allow her to disconnect from her core and crawl out onto the bed.

“Good night Vanda, have a good sleep,” Zoya said, playfully waving at Vanda.

“You too, Zoya,” Vanda smiled, before entering sleep mode as well.

Once Zoya was confident that the two were safe and sound, she turned towards the desk at the other side of the room and leapt off the bed, activating her wings and flying the short distance to the desk, smoothly landing next to her laptop. She quickly made sure the laptop was secure on the desk, and plugged in, before approaching the special data port that she’d attached with a short cable, which resembled a small bed for her new body to lay on while plugged into the computer.

She quickly popped out her data connection and plugged herself in, reveling in the sensation of existing as pure thought and code on her laptop, as she did every night. Her last thought before activating her sleep mode was how fortunate she was to find someone like Jack to keep her safe.



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The Small Business Chronicles

Season One Closed for Christmas - The Shop | The Repair Shop - Part 1 | Off-season - The Motel | The Repair Shop - Part 2 | Slow day - The Cafe | The Small Business - End-of-Year Review

Season Two Homefront - The House | The Repair Shop - Part 3 | Green Thumb - The Greenhouse |