The Repair Shop - Part 4
The Small Business Chronicles: The Repair Shop - Part 4
Chapter One: No rest for the weary
It was a busy last few days for Jack, Ellie, and JB, but they finally finished working on their latest repair job: an entire staff of Partier models that a corporation had rented for a celebration they were holding. Fortunately for Jack and his staff, the corporate employees had gone relatively easy on them, so Jack just had to clean out their plumbing and perform a few minor repairs before getting them back to the rental agency. Still, the rental company he was assisting had requested a fairly quick turnaround, so he ended up pulling an all-nighter with his staff to get them done in time.
“Thanks for the help guys,” Jack said, plopping down in his desk chair, “you deserve a good rest.”
“Thanks Jack,” Ellie said, looking somewhat weak. She’d gone without recharging for almost a day, along with JB, and they were quite drained.
“You guys go get some rest,” Jack told them, “The rental agency should be coming around in a few hours to pick these ladies up.”
“Will do,” Ellie smiled, saluting playfully before heading to her room with JB.
Jack smiled knowingly in return, knowing Ellie and JB would be having a bit of fun before turning in. Once he heard the door to her room shut, he leaned back in his chair and quickly dozed off.
He was awoken nearly 20 minutes later by his intercom. Rachel’s voice sounded clearly, waking him up.
“Jack, are you there?” She asked, the tone of her voice indicating she had been trying to contact him for a few minutes.
Jack rubbed his temples and leaned in to the intercom. “Yes Rachel, I was taking a nap…. go ahead.”
“Sorry to disturb you Jack,” she said apologetically, “but there are a few official looking people waiting here for you….it seems urgent.”
“Tell them I’ll be right up,” he responded, a confused look on his face. He quickly activated the camera on his terminal, using it as a mirror, and fixed his hair. They’d have to do with his unshaven look, given they showed up without making an appointment. He took a quick gulp of water before rising from his chair and heading to the lift.
When he arrived in Rachel’s office a few moments later, he saw three important looking people sitting in her waiting area, one of whom looked very stressed.
“Sorry to keep you all waiting,” Jack said politely, joining Rachel at her desk, “I just pulled an all-nighter for another client and was taking a rest.”
The stressed-out man quickly cleared his throat and gave Jack a weak smile. “I’m so sorry to inconvenience you, Mr. Brown, but I’m here to present you a job of utmost importance…and delicacy.”
Jack was quite intrigued. “Oh?”
“I’m a representative of the U.S. State Department, and these two are representatives from the Scottish government.”
That instantly woke Jack up. “Oh, I’m honored to have representatives of the Scottish government here.”
After the events of World War 3, the Scottish government achieved a great status boost following the decimation of much of Europe and the British empire. They now controlled the entire British Isles, including Ireland, and much of Western Europe. While the U.S. was still dominant, the Scottish government commanded a great deal of respect, so dealings with them were always held with great seriousness.
One of the Scottish officials, a woman, cleared her throat and began speaking. “Mr. Brown, I’m truly sorry to disturb your rest…we are aware of your reputation, and a few other things, and are convinced that you are the best person to assist us with our quandary.”
“I’m honored,” Jack said, “how can I be of assistance?”
“Recently the son of one of our top ministers was killed in an unfortunate road incident,” she began, “based on the evidence found at the scene, it was most likely caused by another vehicle, but we’re unable to access the information to prove it.”
“I take it there was an android in the vehicle with him.” Jack surmised.
“That’s correct,” she confirmed, “he had a recent model Perfect Friend android in the passenger seat that was heavily damaged by both the fire in the vehicle, and the water from when the car was partially submerged.”
Jack winced. “I’m beginning to see why you came to me.”
“Indeed,” she nodded, “in any event, the Scottish government would be eternally grateful if you could do anything you can to recover the data from the crash so we can prosecute the driver of the other vehicle.”
“Is the family at all interested in having the android refurbished and returned?”
“No,” she answered bluntly, “I already spoke with them on that matter and they are interested only in recovering the data.”
“Is the Scottish government interested in the android then?”
“Again, no,” she replied, “we have come to the decision that, in addition to your usual fee, we will add the android as part of your payment. You may keep it for refurbishment, spare parts, or junk it…the decision will be yours.”
“I think I might be able to find a use for it,” Jack mused, “anything else?”
“Actually yes. The Scottish government would appreciate it if you could have the data recovered by the end of the week,” she replied; it was Tuesday. “We are aware that, due to the extensive damage, that this timetable might not be possible,” she continued, anticipating Jack’s response, “but, if you could manage it, the Scottish government will also include a free passage waiver as part of your payment.”
Jack’s breath caught in his throat as she announced the additional payment. After World War 3, most countries locked up their borders and it was much more difficult to travel around freely than it once was. Free passage waivers were essentially passports, diplomatic immunity, and a few other things all wrapped up into one neat package. To receive a free passage waiver was a huge deal, and a tremendous honor, but they almost always had conditions.
“Well, that certainly is worth the trouble then,” Jack nodded fervently; he’d always wanted to visit Scotland. “Umm, what sort of conditions will this waiver have?”
“The waiver will be offered in perpetuity, though you will have to make arrangements at least three months in advance.”
That sort of condition was second only to having no conditions whatsoever, so Jack was quite excited. “Well, you’ve provided me an offer I can’t possibly refuse,” he grinned, holding his hand out.
“We’re glad to hear you’ve accepted our offer,” she smiled, shaking his hand. The U.S. State Department official sighed with relief. “My assistant will assist you with unpacking the damaged android from our truck, parked near your loading dock.” She turned back to the U.S. State Department official and they left the room.
“Thank you,” Jack nodded, turning to the other Scottish official, “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” he replied, rising from his seat and walking with Jack out into the loading dock.
“Ah Jack, this man had me watching his truck outside,” Kat announced, approaching him from near the door, “he provided an official code.”
“Sorry about that, but our visit is quite important,” the man said, “My name’s Clyde, by the way.”
“No problem at all Clyde,” Jack smiled, “Let’s help Clyde get some stuff out of his truck Kat.”
“Yes Jack,” she nodded, walking over to the truck and opening the back. Kat pulled out a container that most likely contained the damaged android, as well as a few smaller boxes.
“What’s in the smaller boxes?” Jack asked curiously, as Kat strapped everything together on a rolling cart and rolled them to the lift; Jack and Clyde followed.
“Spare parts, all the stuff that came in the box, and all backup and update logs we could pull from her local server back in Scotland,” Clyde replied, “Even her clothes…I was primarily responsible for Helen’s maintenance and upkeep back in Scotland, since her owner wasn’t skilled in that area,” Clyde explained.
“I understand,” Jack nodded.
“I only wish I was half as skilled as you are,” Clyde smiled weakly, “I’m a close family friend and it kills me that I couldn’t fix Helen up enough to recover her data.”
“Was Helen based on anybody in particular?” Jack asked curiously.
“Not really,” Clyde shrugged, “I think Owen partially inspired her appearance on a handful of crushes he had, but overall, she’s an original design.”
“Good to know,” Jack nodded, “if I do get her fully functional again and have her work in my businesses, it helps if she’s not based on a real person who might be offended at an anatomically correct version of themselves being used without their permission.”
“I see,” Clyde chuckled, “well, you have nothing to worry about in that department.”
The lift arrived in Jack’s lab a moment later and they paused their conversation to follow Kat and her cart into Jack’s work area. Once she arrived in the work area, she neatly spread out the boxes of Helen’s spare parts and then paused over the container storing Helen’s damaged body.
“Would you like me to open it, Jack?” She asked politely.
“Yes, but place her body on the mobile cart.”
Kat nodded and opened the container, lifting the damaged android from inside and up onto the rolling table. Once she made sure that everything was out of the container, she resealed it and then wheeled the cart back to the lift.
Jack winced as he gazed down upon the damaged female android, Helen, laying on his table. The entire life half of her body was scorched, the skin completely burnt off and the underlying metal skeleton showing. The right half still had skin, but there was extensive water damage to the underlying musculature and the components. Her body was still somewhat damp, having been stored in an airtight container.
“Well, now you see what I was trying to deal with,” Clyde grimaced, “You think you can recover the data?”
Jack leaned in and examined the partially exposed A.I. Core, shaking his head. “I’m not certain,” he admitted, “there’s an awful lot of damage, but I have far more sophisticated equipment down here than most techs do.”
“Yeah, this place is quite impressive,” Clyde nodded approvingly, looking around, “you’ve certainly made a name for yourself, and now I understand why.”
“Thanks,” Jack smiled modestly, “so, how come you guys didn’t simply bring Helen directly to Spaztec? I’m sure they could’ve recovered the data for you.”
“Because we needed someone we could trust to be discreet,” Clyde replied, “given the modifications you’ve made to your wife, and a few other things I don’t need to mention, we feel you can be trusted.”
Jack’s face flushed. “Oh, you know about that?”
Clyde laughed. “It’s sort of an open secret in the intelligence communities,” he shrugged, “but rest assured, you and Gabby are quite safe…for obvious reasons, no one is going to want to mass produce sentient androids.”
“Yeah,” Jack laughed.
“Well, I won’t keep you any longer,” Clyde said, turning to the lift, “as I said before, all of Helen’s original hardware and pertinent items are in the storage boxes, as well as her recent backup files…. I just hope they come in handy.”
“Me too,” Jack nodded, “if not, I can always use the spare parts.”
“Good luck, Jack,” Clyde smiled, before heading to the lift.
Jack merely nodded and then turned back to Helen to begin an initial checkup.
Chapter Two: Picking up the pieces
The first thing Jack did was to peel away the damaged musculature and skin from the burnt half of Helen’s body; the water damaged side had already been stripped of clothing. With the burnt portions removed, he was able to peer inside Helen’s body and evaluate the damage and ascertain what parts were salvageable, which needed repairs, and which needed to be replaced/upgraded entirely.
He closely examined her body for nearly 15-minutes, vigorously taking notes. Once he finished cataloguing the damage to her body, he walked over to the boxes that contained her spare parts and did a quick inventory. As he inventoried the spare parts, he nodded approvingly as he cross-referenced the list of damage to her body with the available parts he had in his own stores, as well as the one’s Clyde had provided. By the time he finished the inventory, he was able to cross off nearly half the items from his list.
With the remaining 60% or so needing repairs or replacement, he quickly sat down at his computer and shopped on the Spaztec website. Fortunately, the parts he needed to order wouldn’t break the bank and would be covered by the fee the Scottish government was paying him. Jack knew just by eyeballing Helen’s core that it was not salvageable, though he hoped he could at least recover the recent data. As for her body, he had a few ideas with what he could do with it…at least, once he was able to fix it up.
After Jack placed the part orders, most of which would be arriving the next day, with a few more the following day, he got up from his desk and walked back over to Helen’s body. He stared sadly at it for a few moments, since she looked quite lovely on the half of her body that wasn’t incinerated. Finally, with a sigh, he began peeling off the skin and musculature from the water damaged side, placing it in a bin for recycling, until Helen’s body was just the metallic skeleton.
“Hmm, not too bad,” he muttered to himself, inspecting the whole skeleton for damage. There was still a small amount of moisture present, so he wheeled the cart over to the other side of his lab and opened up a small door in the wall. He then slid the top portion of the cart with Helen resting on it into the door and closed it, pressing a few buttons on a nearby panel that then illuminated with the words: ‘Dehumidifying in progress…full cycle selected…estimated time: 2 hours.’
“Well, that’ll give me a nice break at least,” Jack said to himself, once the device started. As quickly as they needed this job done, he didn’t dare get any work done until her body was dehumidified.
Confidant that the dehumidifier Jack had spent a considerable amount of money on would do its job, he decided to use this opportunity to check in on JB and Ellie, and then head up to the house to check in with Gabby. He knew he’d most likely be living down in the lab for the next several days, so he wanted to enjoy this chance at a break before sequestering himself.
Heading into the residential portion of the lab, Jack quietly opened the door to the room JB and Ellie shared and peeked inside. Just as he had suggested to them, they were both in standby mode with their chargers plugged in; they had also showered and redressed. Knowing they wouldn’t exit standby mode unless verbally commanded to, Jack confidently walked up to each of them and examined their charge ports.
“Good, two hours should be enough time,” he smiled, since they were both just over 50% charge at the moment. As he stared into their blank faces, and idea suddenly popped into his head that would likely make refurbishing Helen and recovering her data go much quicker. He ran a quick diagnostic on the brain implant, which was now safe to fully use, and smiled.
“Enjoy your rest,” he told them whimsically “We’re gonna need it,”, exiting their room and heading to the nearby lift.
When he arrived up in his house moments later, he was welcomed by the smell of Gabby’s cooking. Using his implant earlier, he had notified her that he was going to be heading up soon, though that was before the meeting with the Scottish officials. Hopefully she wasn’t too upset.
“Jack dear, you’re late,” she accosted him, once he entered the kitchen. She was sitting down at the table with a full spread of breakfast goodies. “I was beginning to worry about you.”
“Sorry dear,” he apologized, walking over and kissing her cheek before liberally scooping food onto as plate, “I was interrupted by some important visitors.”
“Yes, representatives from the Scottish government,” he elaborated, scarfing down a bunch of food, “they need me to fix up a badly damaged android that was inside of a vehicle that was driven off the road by a reckless driver.”
“Oh dear,” Gabby said, clutching her chest, “Was the Human occupant alright?”
“No,” Jack shook his head, “that’s why their visit was so urgent. They want me to recover enough data from the android’s core, which I already confirmed is damaged beyond repair, in order to use as evidence in that person’s trial.”
“I see,” Gabby nodded, “and I take it that it’s going to take a few days.”
“Yeah,” Jack nodded, “I have to be finished by the end of the week to receive full payment, so I’m going to live down there until I’m done.”
“Yeah, in addition to my usual fee, they’re also letting me keep the android,” Jack explained, “But, if I can finish by the end of the week, they’ve offered me a free passage waiver…with the only condition being a three-month warning ahead of a potential visit.”
“Wow, that’s a big deal!” Gabby shouted, “who was killed in the crash?”
“The son of one of their ministers,” Jack replied, “I’m going to restore the android, Helen’s, body at the same time I attempt to recover the data they need.”
“Well, you can spend as much time down there as you need,” she said fervently.
“Thanks, dear,” Jack smiled, leaning in and giving her another kiss, “and, if I get that waiver, we can maybe plan a trip to Scotland next year.”
“Oooh, I’ve been hoping for a nice vacation,” Gabby squealed.
“Yeah, now that you’re more comfortable with your sentience, it’s the perfect time.” Jack agreed.
“Do you need anything from me before you disappear for the next three days?”
Jack put on a thinking expression. “Well, now that you mention it, there is one thing,” he said with a naughty smile, gesturing up to the bedroom.
“Ah, I think I can help you with that,” she winked, getting up from the table and taking his hand.
After a few rounds of passionate lovemaking in the bedroom, they both took a shower, continuing some more lovemaking in there, before returning to the bedroom to dress in a fresh set of clothes.
“So, how are you going to manage with minimal sleep?” Gabby said in a concerned voice as she watched him get dressed in the closet.
“Actually, I think I’m ready to test out the full capabilities of this implant,” Jack told her, pointing at his head, “At night, I’m going to rest my body while I control JB and Ellie’s bodies…and, if I can refurbish Helen’s body, I’ll control hers on the last night.”
“Wow, sounds like you’ll get to have some of the same fun I get to have,” she grinned, since she’d gotten to try the bodies of many of his staff already.
“I know,” he grinned back, “I’m going to start off easy with JB tonight, so it won’t be as much of a shock to my system, and then I’ll try Ellie’s body tomorrow.”
“I look forward to hearing all about it,” she smiled.
“Well, I’m thinking of using Helen’s body as a sort of anonymous avatar when it’ s finished, since it doesn’t have a functional core,” he continued, “Perhaps we could have a little woman on woman action when I’m done.”
“That might be interesting,” Gabby nodded, “I’ll let you know how I’m feeling about that at the end of the week though.”
“Good to know,” he nodded, “Anyway, I should get back down now,” he said, looking at the time on the bedside clock, “Could you or Gemma whip up some provisions and have them brought down?”
“Sure, I’ll have Gemma do it, since I’m already late at the greenhouse.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Hey, for my loving husband, it’s worth it,” she smiled warmly, walking over and giving him a loving embrace, “Now go get to work so we can go to Scotland!”
“Yes ma’am,” Jack play saluted, putting on the rest of his clothes and heading back down to his lab.
Chapter Three: Tuesday