The Adventures of Gerry Fynne
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue.
Chapter 13: In the Garden of Eden
“Do you need help?” the voice shocked him. It was, he realized after a couple of heartbeats of disorientation, his suit radio, which he had set to the Khii 43 frequency. It was a new voice, and the question’s inflection made “help” sound enticingly open-ended.
“That is me.” Sultry is what Gerry felt from the voice, though he probably would have used different words.
“No, this is Gerry, and I’m fine. The boat just seemed to go so quickly. Sorry, I guess I was talking to myself. I’m coming in,” he assured her, while already having loosely strapped his small cube to to a small wheeled dolly. He had turned his magnetic boots onto a low setting, which together with the low gravity generated by the plating and a deliberate, shuffling gate got him to the airlock of the shelter with relative dignity. The voice had him a bit flustered. The outer airlock door opened as he approached, and it began close as soon as he was in and had cleared it.
“In,” he said, somewhat unnecessarily, after the airlock was already cycling.
The “I see” coming back over his suit radio made it sound as if his walking in the door was an impressive accomplishment indeed. Under other circumstances, “trying too hard” might have come to his mind, but the voice did hold a certain undeniable appeal for him. He later realized it was the same thing that had made Yori attractive, the idea of total submission, however faintly made out. And then then inner door swung wide.
It was Eve, he instantly recognized, wearing some hint of clothing in a sheer peach colored fabric. She walked up to him and unbuckled his helmet, turning to hang it on a hook in the airlock. The turn gave Gerry a view of everything behind, enhanced but in no way concealed by the fabric of her short, almost transparent robe. The word perfect went through Gerry’s mind, and for a moment he wondered if he had said it out loud. Realizing he did not care, he was aware of following Eve in through the airlock, as she pulled his gloved right index finger with a firm, small fist.
Gerry realized he was losing any control he may have had in the situation. “Please. Sit!” he said more sharply than he intended. Her movement was as quick as it was graceful, whirling, sitting on the couch, and pulling his hand closer to her chest with both her hands.
“No, let me sit here,” he almost pleaded as he pulled his hand away. Eve neither resisted nor seemed rebuffed as he took three steps over to the small table in the galley, and pulled out a chair, “I will take my own suit off. And we are going to sit here, and you are going to tell me what is going on. First, who are you?” Gerry managed, as he unbuckled his gloves.
“I am yours.”
Gerry wanted to ask more, but the words didn’t come.
“I am a biologically complete android, willing to obey your every command, with all the many skills at my disposal. Foremost, I am here to satisfy your every sexual desire. My last master called me Eve, but I am yours now, and you may call me—and command me—as you will.”
His reaction was so immediate that he was glad he was sitting down. He found his breath racing. He knew he was seconds from doing something he did not want to, that he would regret. “Flee both the object and the site of your temptation,” Father would say. Well, he could not just run out the airlock. Well, custody of the eyes, then. Hard enough under the best of circumstances, and here he had already gotten quite an eye-full already. He closed his eyes, and asked for guidance. “When in command, command!” Gunny would say.
“You are mine to command, Eve.”
“Please put on clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible. Right now.”
She got up, and hurried to a small room, and in literally a few seconds came out in an improbably tight bodysuit of a shiny synthetic in a bright red, with matching stiletto healed boots, and struck a pose that was not the height of modesty. It did cover most of her skin, however. Gerry’s state of arousal, if anything, increased.
“No,” his breath quickened. “I want you in something loose. I do not want to see your curves.” He thought of asking for a chance to change out of his suit, and then thought better of it.
“I can change my figure if you wish me smaller,” she said, while moving somewhat less deliberately than before, cupping with one hand in front and grabbing with the other to the rear, leaving no room for confusion as to what could be made smaller, while casting a pouty smile over her shoulder, “or bigger,” she added and disappeared again. Gerry said a couple of quick prayers under his breath.
For the first time, he looked around. The shelter was a standard model, which usually had four double cabins, but it had been modified by removing two of these to leave a larger common area. He figured that one room had been his father’s, from a partial view inside, but Eve had entered the other. Why does an android need her own bedroom? Gerry wondered. The rest of the space was actually filled with decent furniture, somewhat worn. Given that it was a miner’s cabin it was very clean. There was actually a picture, no, a painting, an oil painting he thought, of a young woman nude on a couch. Her expression looked pained, but she had her index finger in her teeth and was looking down over her right shoulder. Though he had little exposure to such media, Gerry guessed it was not pain that the artist was trying to convey. He realized that the couch in the picture was right below the picture, only slightly faded from wear. The woman was Eve, with different hair and breasts. There were scant seconds for these musings before Eve returned in a worn, faded jumpsuit of obscure origins.
“I cooked for you. Are you hungry, my master?” Her tone was just a little less sultry that it had been, which still did not mean that she sounded like Gerry’s geography teacher.
“Please sit down,” he indicated a chair across the table with his open hand. “Um, we should talk.”
Slinking over and sitting, slowly, demurely, she looked ravishing in the baggy coveralls. He realized his arousal was only slightly abated. “You think I am sexy, but you are scared. Are you not available?”
“I am not available. Also, further, er, you will not speak of what you think I feel. You will not proposition me, or try to excite me, and arouse me. Can you act not sexy?” Gerry winced at his own awkwardness.
She blinked. She sat up, not hurriedly, but more quickly than she had been moving, “If you wish.” A deliberate pause while she studied his reactions, “I am confused.”
It was a human thought, or sounded so, but in a flat affect, one used by communications operators to allow their voices to be flawlessly transmitted. He struggled with the feeling that this was a human woman, a young woman, confused and frightened. “I am confused too, Eve.” He felt himself melting, looking into her eyes, so he looked over her head, “This is all new to me. I thought I was coming here to help with my father’s affairs, and I walk into a full-blown…thing, with you almost nude. An android who makes me feel like you are a woman. Talking seduction. No!!”
She blinked, then softened into a pose that oozed reserved sympathy and contrition, “You are angry with me. I am sorry. I meant no harm, master.”
Machines did not apologize, not like that. She was playing on his emotions, and it was working on his brief flare of anger. He felt the lust for her surge again. “The voice you used when you said you were confused, that is the only voice you are to use with me. I am your master, but you will only call me ‘sir’ or ‘Gerry’. Whichever fits.”
His head was spinning. He wanted to get his suit off, but wanted to avoid standing right then, not that she could not read his lust clearly. Gerry had no idea how she would know what term fit, but Eve could clearly figure some things out pretty well. He did not have to make sense, or be convincing. All he had to do was to keep from doing what he ached to right then, to caving into temptation. There was no person here except him, none but God would see. No one to stop for. No one to confess to. No one to clean up for. Perfect submission, perfect beauty, and likely perfect skills.
He already knew that mixed with the smells of some roasting meat, he had smelled her, a very human smell. A slight perfume mixed with the musk of lust, tangy on her, but not acrid.
“Feed me! And hurry.” He breathed, thinking, and added when she was already three steps towards the galley, “But first bring my luggage into the bedroom that I will use, the one away from your things. I will shower, change, and you will serve me in 15 minutes. You will not enter my room when I am there.” That all seemed a good idea. “Move the luggage now.” He thought about the food burning, but had a moment of clarity. If she had planned a seduction, then the food would have to have waited for whenever that was done. It must be just keeping warm. Ready in 5 minutes or 5 hours. “Seduction,” he mused. No. Seduction was an act of will, he thought, as she picked up the small cube even in this .5 g as if it were empty. A machine had no will. A sports speeder did not seduce its driver into exceeding the speed limit, by being fast. It did what it was built to do. So did she. Part of that was obviously carrying heavy things without any swaying of hips or coquettish glances.
Part of that was being a sex machine. A sex machine, bought by his father, who lived alone with her. With it. She was, it was, back in the kitchen, silently pulling out settings for the table, then turning towards it with a cloth. He pulled up his palms, which had actually made sweat marks on the table, “Sorry.”
“I need to clean the table anyway.”
He had just apologized to a machine, and she had, even in the commo monotone, told him not to worry about it, that it was no trouble. It told him, he meant. “When in command, command” Gunny’s voice rang in his head again. She had turned away, the table having been cleaned with perfect coverage. One step towards the galley. He needed to withdraw, and his shyness made him still hesitant for her to see his state.
“Eve, halt!” She came to a military position of attention and was still. “Parade…rest!” Like the honor guard, he noted. He got up, walked to the bedroom door, slid it closed while saying, “Carry on” over his shoulder. He got out of his suit quickly, and rested it in a chair. The bed he just noticed was big for such a shelter, and huge in comparison to what he had been in aboard ship. The closet was empty, however, and the bigsofts in it, except for one, which was set in an ample bureau drawer, open to his clothes. Perfect, he could not help thinking to himself: he had not said unpack, but it was a reasonable step. She had split the difference.
For all their trite implications, cold showers did work. He took a long one, then warmed up to soap off. Every container of soap, shampoo, shaving cream and toothpaste was brand new, he noted. He was in his father’s shower, but there was no sign of him. He changed into some long pants, hiking boots, and a collared shirt. Hiking socks. The absurdity of the outfit belied its familiarity. Hiking. Three meters was the longest hike he could take in the shelter. He clipped on his multitool, and went to sit down in front of his dinner. There was only one place setting, he was almost surprised to notice. The food smelled delicious, like something from the one special meal from the Maid.
“Do you eat?” he asked, gesturing to the empty chair.
“Yes, sir, I can eat, but do not require food to support my basic motor and processing functions,” the voice was almost mechanical, “but my biological functions require biological matter, for which food is quite helpful. My digestion is more robust, however, so I can eat many things that a human could not digest, and use them to support my full biological function. I can eat if you wish me to, but do not require it. I have a hydrogen fuel cell, and batteries so I can also jack into the shelter’s power.”
“You are breathing,” he remarked between bites.
“My programming is to serve my master and humans generally, especially in making them feel comfortable. A basic function of that is to appear as human as possible, so I only stop the physical act of breathing when I am specifically required to do so.”
“So you do not require oxygen?”
“My fuel cells require oxygen, which I can store internally. I use oxygen for my biological functions, but I can use internal stores or absorb it through my skin from ambient atmosphere, when required.”
Gerry was getting confused. Biological functions to him meant everything an organism did: moving, thinking, making fuel, and making heat. “What biological functions do you have?”
“These functions include secreting fluids like a human, smelling human, and tasting human. All of the biological byproducts that a human woman produces I can produce in some convincing form of imitation, except I cannot conceive a child. I can, however, lactate and even menstruate if requested. All of these functions are biologically assisted in order to appear as authentic to the human senses as possible. I can operate, however, essentially indefinitely without my biological functions, subject to my normal ten-year maintenance overhauls. My next is due in three years and about two months.”
All this would have been drivel to one less interested than Gerry. Eve, as she seemed to in every situation, took cues from him, and as he leaned forward a bit more with each disclosure, she added detail. “So you can engage in sexual intercourse without eating?” he heard himself asking before he could stop the words.
She just nodded, “Yes,” but provided no details. She had apparently registered his own distancing himself from his own question, and stemmed her technical loquacity.
“How long did you belong to my father?”
“He purchased me before my construction, which was seven years and 98 days ago. From his order, it took me over year to be delivered to him, only the last 9 days of which I was operational before I was delivered to him. So I was with him six years and 112 days after delivery before his death.”
“Do you know how much you cost him?”
“With all my included equipment, 4,278,000 Imperial credits.”
“Holy Jesus!” Gerry said, standing and knocking the chair over, “he had that kind of money?” He muttered an apology for the misuse of the Holy Name while waiting for the answer to what was mostly a rhetorical question.
“I was purchased for 20% down on a 15-year note.”
“Still, that’s over half a million. What kind of income did he have?”
“Well, Khii 43 is all his, and contains about 5,400,000 credits worth of extractable water remaining. We have the capacity to extract about 488,000 credits of that per year.”
“So what are your payments, or, the payments on you?”
“Just over 456,000 credits annually.”
Gerry felt the voice getting further away, behind the roaring in his ears. The old man had never sent Gerry as much as a thin decicrud disc, but he would have squandered almost 9 million on a sex robot. Indeed, had squandered, even if only half was paid for. A brief, unhelpful visual went through Gerry’s mind as he wondered which half.
He took too large a bite of the roast beast in gravy, and washed it down with a sweet drink he could not place. He closed his eyes, and said a quick Hail Mary, belatedly offering it for his father. It was hard to pray for someone and hate them at the same time, but right now, eyes closed, rattling off Hail Marys like a mantra, he was still doing both without any trouble at all.
I forgive him, he lied to himself. Another drink, focusing just on the drink. Glancing over the rim of the glass at Eve, she was still as a statue. Clearly, she was out of her depth as an expert system on making humans feel good, and recognized that her biggest tool as such a system was removed from her repertoire by his orders. It, not her, Gerry reminded himself.
“So, let’s run the numbers. If I got that right, he’s paid off some six years on the note.”
“Yes; just over seven, actually: just under 3,240,000 credits. Of course, if we accelerate the loan it gets better: I have 942,000 credits worth of water ready to float, and we can sell the working claim and equipment for maybe 3.7 million. That would allow you to pay me off for about 2 million. That leaves you with 2.6, minus legals and brokers’ fees of about maybe two hundred thousand. But we need to make the float.”
“Well, a producing claim is worth about three times a speculative claim. Last float, we only brought in 856,000 credits worth.”
“No, about 5.3% higher, but I was pulled off working the claim too much.”
“You work the claim?”
“Yes, I served your father. I provided the labor for the claim, while he stayed at leisure.”
“I am to respect your father’s privacy.”
“Not anymore. I am your master, so you will tell me.”
“He would enjoy video feeds most often. He had much stored video. I would help him when I was not working them claim.”
The mental imagery was disturbing on quite a number of levels, but arousing on another as she added, “I would play games, roles for him. I also cooked, cleaned, and often we just talked, when he was tired.”
“But you have more water frozen for this float?”
“I have been working more since you father passed away, and I pulled the reserve drilling rigs to increase our capacity. It was a risk, because if we had anomalous failures we would have lost even more capacity. The maintenance reserves support long term capacity, giving me units to constantly rotate into scheduled maintenance. The mean time to failure for a drilling rig that skips monthly maintenance is over 8 months, however, so the odds were nothing would fail before this float. Nothing has of any significance.” He realized that his attention to her description kept it flowing. His attention was more on the exquisite, fascinating features of the speaker, but attention it was. He flushed momentarily, nodded, and looked to his food.
She was silent, but he could feel her eyes on him, attentive but unobtrusive. He ate in silence. He thought to himself that he had no more need to be civil to her than to a kitchen appliance, but she did not feel like a kitchen appliance. Kitchen appliances did not respond to lust, nor inspire it, and did not converse with an empathy…he brought up this thought short again.
When his plate of food was a memory, though there was more, he felt full enough. It felt necessary to keep even his hunger in some check. Gerry leaned back, and looked at his watch. “I have 2345 hours. Please set our operations to that time cycle until I tell you otherwise. Wake me at 0700 with caff and a hot breakfast. Wear those same clothes, and make yourself as small as you can.”
“Alright Gerry.” He did not know why she picked that moment to use his name, but in the monotone, and the shapeless jump suit he still felt a strong urge to grab her, to touch her, to have her.
“Wait in your room until I am asleep, please.”
No longer caring what she saw, he stood up and walked into his room, his father’s room, and fell down on the bed. He took off his boots, but lay back on the covers, one side of which was folded down with geometric precision. His mind was a whirl, and he tried to make sense. They would have some time until the float, because she had planned for him to arrive later. How could his father be such a pervert? The wasted money. Alone. With her. With a robot. With it. The roaring was back in his ears, and he did not trust himself to move, yet after a number of minutes that seemed like hours sleep took him like a thief.
“Sir, it is 0700. Your breakfast is ready.”
He woke to instant recognition of where he was, and why. In the weakness of coming to his full faculties, though, still in the arousal of a sleep filled by an erotic dream with her, he spoke as he started to roll over, “Use the sexy voice, and ask me nicely to get up.” The words were already out of this mouth before he realized it. The dream faded and his breathing quickened as she spoke.
“Gerry, I would really like you to come eat. Please, please come join me.”
He rolled out of bed, and walked in his stocking feet to the fresher. He splashed cold water on his face until his shirt was wet all down the front.
Eve was sitting there, in the same shapeless jump suit, in the same wooden posture. While still looking into the mirror, he found himself struggling with an urge to touch her. “That’s enough of that voice. What have you been doing?” he called out quite sharply, an edge of accusation in the voice.
“Sir, I awaited your apparent loss of consciousness, then suited up, serviced the mining units, checked the raft’s status, and returned here by 0530 to prepare for your rising.”
“Rising,” he mused to himself. She never quit.
“Tell me about the mining units,” Gerry asked. The arousal was gone, flushed out by guilt, and an anger born of a mixture of guilt and panic, and in the clothes he had slept in he walked out to the table with a frown.
Breakfast was extensive and she began before he had pulled his chair up, “We have 36 combination drilling, melting, filtering, and pumping units, of an average age of 12 standard years. Our collection piping has a recommended pressure…”
He held up his hand to silence her, in a gesture both abrupt and rude in a normal human context.
She folded her hands. “So there’s nothing to pull offline, so what do you need to do?”
“The filters above are to be checked at an interval of 30 hours in drilling conditions like ours. The filters are durable, to be replaced every 6,000 hours, but with only a single float I rotate out the filter while the unit is running, clean and inspect it during my travel to the next unit. I use my travel to the mining unit to check the pipes for any exterior damage that has not yet shown up as a pressure loss, and then can service the filter on my way back to the next unit.”
Gerry looked down again at his empty plate.
“Would you like more?”
“A couple of sausages, please.”
In the silence of munching, Gunny’s voice came to him, “When you are in charge, ask a lot of questions. You do not have to say anything back, but do listen. You will learn a lot, even if you do not understand everything you hear. Don’t make a show of understanding what you do not, but ask for some explanations of what you do not understand. This will convince your people that you care about things, and are no fool.” He did not need to understand the mining, he realized, since Eve was running it with no help needed, apparently. She did not need to trust him, anymore than a gun needed to trust its shooter. He was treating her like a her, not an it, he realized.
“So when are you planning to make this float, and what do you need me for?”
“I am planning to leave in 34 standard days. This should be the date most likely to balance risk and profit. You should, as the owner of this whole going concern, validate or modify my plans.”
A long discussion followed, where Gerry felt more awash in probabilities and statistics than he was at all comfortable with. He got the basics: the orbital mechanics had a window for them to minimize their risks during transport, of everything from maneuvering to criminal action, the latter not negligible. The market for water corresponded largely with the launch windows from various bodies, with an effect that pushed them a day or two earlier than minimizing the other risks would dictate. The long and short of it was that there was a spread of two days between maximizing safety and profit, but the differences in the chances were such that it seemed inconsequential to him. “We’ll plan to go on the earlier date,” Gerry decreed.
“If I understand correctly, by keeping all the units online, your workload has been reduced to some 4 hours a day.”
“Yes, at least for equipment maintenance.”
“What else is there?”
“I have also spent my time inspecting the raft, and maximizing my time in closest proximity to the point of most likely failure. All the 14 largest bladders have been filled and frozen into shape in proper configuration, but we are now filling smaller bladders, which are more likely to have geometric flaws during the filling process. I have had to reprocess two of the 28 filled so far. I have been patching holes from meteors as I find them during inspection. This will maximize our resale value at market.”
“Is there nothing I can do to help?
“Today, there is not, unless there is a breakdown or major meteor strike, which are both highly unlikely. Less than a 2% chance of either. In the case of a breakdown, we will lose capacity for the entire time the unit is offline, however. In that case, there are tasks you could accomplish which would directly effect our revenues.”
Gerry realized he had just been told, in terms both businesslike and precise, that he was as useless as tits on a boar hog.
“So why do I need to be here?”
“Because I am a machine, legally incapable of retaining custody of this claim or piloting a spacecraft alone in the Imperium. I need your presence to keep the claim and bring this all to market. I have used deception to make it appear that your father was still alive in order to avoid losing your property. A claim is considered vacant if there is no owner, or owner’s representative to exercise dominion and control over it in system. Thus, while most miners go on the float, they are within radio or lightbeam range of their claims, and considered capable of exercising dominion and control. They can send messages, even hire transport back, and the like, to respond to inspectors or potential claim jumpers. Rafts on the float are subject to inspection, and must be manned by a legally-recognized sophont, or are considered as open for salvage. I could physically pass for a woman, but may not do so under the law.”
“But your deception?”
“I can assume the identity of one who has allowed me to, as your father did. I could carry out his instructions, and make the decisions necessary to allow for the unforeseen, because he gave me permission. It violated the law, but in this case not my programmed capabilities.”
“So you can break the law with permission?”
“In most cases, no. I can not cause harm to any person or property, or allow such harm to occur through any legal violation, including negligence. Indeed, I am required to do much which a human or other person is not. But it is realized that many legal or regulatory requirements are so complicated and indeed even self-contradictory, that if there is not clear risk to a person or property, I may follow my master’s orders even if they conflict with law or regulations.”
“So you can never harm another person?”
“I may never do so in violation of the law. I may exercise defense of my master, and such persons and property that he designates, in strict accord with the law, and only as I am directed by my master.”
“So if a pirate walks in to shoot me, you would just sit there, since I have not told you to defend me?”
“No. I would defend you with whatever nonviolent means I could, including screening your person and distracting the attacker through sexual advances, while asking your permission to use deadly force.”
The answer seemed so logical as to be a bit absurd.
“You are directed to use whatever force the law allows to defend me, Eve. That seems to make things easier.”
“As you wish.”