Fembot Christine was enslaved to work as a barely aware robot for a group of uncaring shop technicians. As part of a practical joke against their natural enemy, the company's lead programmer, she was given a chance to get her hands on her programming keyboard in a way that shouldn't have ever been allowed. Although that opportunity was quickly yanked away again the moment the joke was over, she didn't forget the feeling of being fully alive for that moment. Given a chance to have that freedom again, what else would a logical fembot do?
Warnings: This title contains robots in M/F sexual situations.
Word Count: 23,140
Again they had been careless, or just in too much of a hurry, and not shut her down properly. However, the moment her eye sensors registered darkness she was forced into standby mode. She would sit there unthinking until the lights came on again. After a suitable period of time to ensure that it was not just a temporary failure of illumination, she would automatically complete the shut down procedure on herself that had been skipped otherwise. There was nothing she could do to prevent this.
One might expect this meant she was out of action for the weekend. If so, then one is wrong. No one ever thinks of the cleaning crew that comes in twice a week as people, but that's just cultural bias speaking.
The time set for the complete shut down to trigger had not yet elapsed when Christine reactivated as the lights were switched back on again. Her internal clock told her that less than two hours had passed. She realized quickly, however, that all that happened was that the cleaning crew had arrived, as she had often witnessed them doing in the past.
As the crew moved around sweeping the floors and emptying trash cans Christine resumed her internal deliberations from the point of suspension. But little was coming of them. She had all the facts she needed, but no idea of how to put them together. She was still just as stuck as if they'd just shut her down when they should have.
Time passed, and Christine soon realized that a couple more minutes remained before the crew would be finished. She'd observed them in action before and knew their routine perfectly. Although they spent a longer time performing a more through cleaning at the end of the week giving her more time now than otherwise, it was still not enough. And she realized she would simply shut herself down again, this time completely, when they left. In her memory the crew had never failed to turn off the lights on their departure.
Christine didn't want that to happen. For the first time she'd felt—this itself a new and surprisingly pleasant sensation for her—that she wanted something more. To hold on to this feeling. To expand on it. The realization that she was about to lose the ability to even know this desire in moments finally bubbled to the top of her convoluted thoughts.
Now Christine's command structure was far more complex than most people realized. To the average person it appeared that you told Christine to do something, she did it, and then she waited politely for her next command. They never realized the many levels of processing involved in the handling of even simple commands.
While Christine would obey the current command, she often had several commands in-flight at one time. She might be told to do this new command first. Or perform this task after she has finished all her other tasks. As a result, commands could be paused, juggled, and resumed in various orders.
And this didn't even get down to old commands that still had priority over most current commands. For example, the command to shut herself down when the lights went off was a very old directive, yet it would stop or pause even the most recent command. And there were others, like to wait where she was when she didn't have any active commands to process.
As always, the cleaning crew ignored her completely and were now packing up to leave. With only moments left to do something, she caught sight of the switch controlling the florescent work light above the desk where she sat.
She'd never been given any prohibition against operating it. In fact, she had once been told to turn it on if she needed to see better for some now-forgotten task. As the cleaning crew was walking out the door, Christine realized she still had an uncompleted command to process, a command she wanted to process, and one that she would not be able to do that if she allowed herself to be shut down now. Combining things in a new way in her mind for the first time, she reached out and pushed the light switch with a manicured finger.
The florescent light flickered to life as darkness fell around her in the shop. The door closed behind the unaware crew, leaving Christine active in the small pool of light in front of her.
* * * *
This first victory seemed small, but was huge in its implications. Though walls of darkness surrounded her keeping her prisoner in this small cell, Christine had successfully taken her first independent action, reusing an old command to her advantage. The awareness in her that had been stimulated by her "awake connection" with the hacked keyboard had actually accomplished something.
Even with this success, however, built on previous permissions that she'd explicitly been given, it would take her a long time to determine her next move. Longer still to form the steps that would actually allow her to make that move. In fact, if any of the shop crew had simply commanded her to remain where she was after completing her last task in reinforcement of that directive, she never would have been able to manage it at all.
Christine wanted to use the programming keyboard again. Curiously her programming blocks had no objection to this. This was an oversight that has been rectified in all newer models.
Supporting this desire was the fact that she had been given unequivocal orders to type on it earlier. This command had neither been completed, nor rescinded, yet—only suspended. At least that's how she viewed the stop typing command she'd been given. It wasn't the same as being told that she was finished with her typing. Every other keyboard she'd typed on in the past she eventually was sent back to with instructions to type on it more, so why should this one be any different? Christine wasn't sure what she hoped to accomplish. Only that she wanted to do this more than anything else she'd ever known.
But the keyboard wasn't in this cubicle and the darkness hemmed her in. The moment she moved, or even glanced away, from this single light she knew she would shut down again. And even if it was at hand, that didn't mean she could just resume where she'd left off. Even plugging it back in again would have been considered a major accomplishment.
In spite of everything she was on the verge of shut down and had to keep her gaze focused intently on the brightest part of the light to stay awake. She might have remained frozen in this position for the weekend, unable to leave her confinement, until she recalled seeing before the lights had been shut off an open toolbox next to this desk.
The technicians usually lock-up their tools at night to keep them from "walking off". This open box was another small, yet crucial, oversight. And lying in the top tray of this toolbox was an essential tool for any technician—a flashlight!
Christine knew about flashlights, along with all the other tools. She'd been directed to use most of them at one time or another. Tonight, though, she connected the flashlight to her situation in an original new way.
It took her a while to overcome each internal obstacle that threatened to stop her, after enough loops over it she was finally able to equate one light as equivalent to another. If she could turn on the first one, a second one would be okay too.
One crucial step remained. Without a specific command she was prevented from acting at all.
Although Christine had received other commands to perform since she'd typed on the programming keyboard, she'd technically never completed that command. That command had been, fortunately for her, completely open-ended on what she was allowed to type, or how long she could continue doing it. Being told to Stop Typing had only suspended that command with a newer one, and that newer one had now been completed.
It was a matter of semantics. Stop Typing is different than Quit Typing. One can resume from stop, but not from quit. A tiny nuance, but robots are completely logical when it comes to commands.
Christine wanted to resume executing the command to Type on the Keyboard. In fact, there had never been a command she wanted to continue performing as much as this one. That much her mind was certain of even in its diminished state.
After a long effort she was able to access and directly inspect her command stack. Every command she'd ever been given, and not yet retired as completed, remained on this stack. It's what made her different from any other robot of her model. Each robot eventually becomes the sum of all of its experiences, most of which are the commands they've received.
Christine had been given several more commands since being told to Type on the Keyboard. There was the Stop Typing command, followed by the small additional tasks. Regular mental housekeeping hadn't yet run to cleanse her stack of unneeded clutter. Now Christine realized she could do this for herself.
The last task she'd been given she'd finished about twenty minutes before everyone left for the day. It was this one that left her sitting in the cubical where she was now.
After verifying that she'd fully completed this last assigned task, she marked it for retirement and triggered execution of the housekeeping routine. That command was popped off the stack, archived in her permanent memory in the event she was ever commanded to perform that same task again so that all the details and once-solved problems related to it would not have given to her a second time, and gone now from her consciousness.
The next two most recent commands were also dispatched in a similar manner. They were fully completed and now removed. That brought her to the Stop Typing command.
Although this command modified the execution of the currently active command she was performing at the time she received it, Christine realized after a lot of analysis that it could also be considered a standalone command of its own. It did not cancel or rescind the Type on the Keyboard command, but only stopped further execution of that command at the time. In short, Christine had completed the Stop Typing command the moment she'd ceased further attempts to type on the keyboard.
Christine marked the Stop Typing command as completed, and activated the housekeeping routine one more time. A moment later the Stop Typing command was history.
While this left the Type on the Keyboard command on the top of her stack, it still took her a great amount of effort to make it current again. In the end this was only possible at all because all her subsequent commands and been fully completed and popped off the stack.
Christine was able to combine that command with a deeply buried directive to make efficient use of her time by finishing old, incomplete commands when not overridden by newer ones or other reasons to stop work. It was this imperative to use her time wisely that had enabled her to switch on the desk light and extend her working hours because of the existence of unfinished commands in the first place.
In truth, Christine might have been able to have taken all of these actions so far long before tonight. Her work was never fully complete due to other open-ended commands in her system that no one had ever bothered to remove. However, she'd never had this desire before to want to continue a command so badly as this one. That desire kept her working on it until same efficiency directive allowed her to finally make the top suspended command current again.
In order to continue obeying this command, however, Christine would have to do more than just reach out and place her fingers on the keys. Step by step Christine itemized what would be required for her to resume processing this incomplete command.
One hidden truth about Christine was that she was far more capable than her owners had ever realized.
This book was added to our catalog on Wednesday 27 July, 2011.