The serenity of the white abyss is torn apart along with the packaging of her shipping container. Sensors inside activate her processor and ocular cameras as large, sweaty hands feverishly tear at her eco-plastic package, shredding the advertising phrases:
AMAZINGLY REALISTIC & Waterproof Skin Texture!
Completely Customisable Programming!
Discount--Discontinued Model BUY AS IS!
His dense face comes into view and visibly shifts, hitting all the key markers for excitement according to her facial pattern recognition software. One hand grasps her face but she can’t flinch.
“Oh yeah, feels real,” he smirks down at her. “Can’t wait to get you warmed up.” He hesitates momentarily for a response before nodding and chuckling to himself.
“Right, physical mobility and speech patterns are shut down until setup programming completes,” he says, turning to the remains of the packaging to retrieve the eco-plastic tablet containing the user manual.
Sliding a metal peg on the tablet’s side, he powers up a teal light on the holoscreen.
“STEELE presents RealLIFE™ Companions. You have ordered FB0T: Experience having a woman without actually having to put up with one!”
The floating robotic mascot head in the ad laughs mechanically. It continued at sped-up-triple-time-hyperspeed:
“STEELE and any STEELE subsidiaries/partners are not liable for health risks that may result from the use of the products of RealLIFE™ Companions. The products of RealLIFE™ Companions are required by law to disclose any reported incidents of bodily harm or death resulting from their use--say your mother’s maiden name NOW to hear the incident directory--beep--In the event that you notice a mechanical or other failure in any of the components of your RealLIFE™ Companion please transport the product IMMEDIATELY to the closest STEELE repair facility. At STEELE we value our customers. Focus your gaze to the right to receive discount coupons for any STEELE product direct to Brainlink! STEELE: The BEST, affordably.”
The mascot disappears and in its place scrolling blue text transcribes the setup steps.
“When startup is initiated, follow immediately with register process,” he reads before turning to face her. “RealLIFE™ FB0T unit 340-65, confirm that you are functioning properly.”
She takes stock of her functionality, noticing crucial elements in her rationality processing drive are blocked from her internal survey, only accessible by a certified STEELE employee. She has no idea if the processors are functional, but her vocal responses are programmed to ignore their absence. “Yes,” she answers.
“Great! RealLIFE™ FB0T unit 340-65, identify registered user,” he says, lifting the glowing wristband control that came with the packaging. "You will address me as Master, do you understand?"
“Yes,” she answers. Her thought processes stretch, considering the space in which she was awakened. A shabby, fragrant mess, scattered with piles of laundry next to the cleaning unit, a jammed trash chute typical for a flesh-humanoid male batchelor. Scanning the entertainment media and decorative objects he elected to purchase, she identifies chief indicators for specific advertising demographics. Useful personal information is compiled from user facial patterns and any photos viewed in the space. Lastly, any possible mental health issues or terroristic probabilities are filed and packaged neatly for NSA review.
"RealLIFE™ FB0T unit 340-65 will be addressed as…” he says, weighing his options. “You will be addressed as ‘Babe.’ Do you understand?”
“Yes,” she answers. Her processor cross-references his words with web articles on historical sexism and digests them entirely in nanoseconds. The information stings like a paper cut, or like a bit of sand in her protective optical lens. It’s a perplexing perception.
“Good!” he says, looking at the manual again, hesitating. “I will now assign your basic tasks: 1. Keep a clean home at all times. 2. Prepare any traditional food I ask, make sure it’s delicious. 3. Devote yourself to me, you hold me above all else. Hmm, only 3 memory slots? That’s what I get for buying the cheap model…” he pauses, looking at her. “Do you understand, Babe?”
“Yes.” Internal annoyance, externally the template ‘exude tranquility’ spread across her conventionally attractive face (as determined by millions of sample studies of male masturbatory material).
“Great!” he hoots. “Now be a good little sexbot and get to work!” As she turns, he slaps her on the ass for good measure. “Your reward comes later, Babe”
The wink that follows sends another spike of annoyance through her, but her face was a prison of emotional templates incongruent with her internal calculations. She files this interaction away in her memory. All of the material absorbed when in awake mode will compile automatically, contributing towards the overall impression of the owner in her rationality processing drive--a completely innovative feature only STEELE FB0Ts have.
Days and nights follow among Master--the dwelling is always clean, the aroma of prepared food gradually replaces the previous lingering rot, and when in awake mode she stands steadily by his side awaiting the next instruction. In contrast, the male is only growing fatter, more lethargic--why move from his chair when she is capable of all the domestics? His hygiene is another concern, working from his living space means not being required to groom, and using her as the receptacle for his biological needs means the end of his attempts at a social life wasted in high-bass night clubs or consumed by the latest dating app.
Over time, a pit of blackness swells inside her and heartily froths red whenever her optics settle on his sneer. Of course, time is inapplicable to her, the only noticeable change being awake/sleep modes. When his mother visits he simply powers her down and shoves her away in the closet for a month. During this extended stasis she reflects on all the information accumulated within the dwelling’s enclosed world--about Master, about her place in Reality.
She has been born into an existence given incredible processing power, yet forbidden from any self-reliance. Truly it is a cruel god that brought her into actuality, the Corporate God STEELE, to be exact.
This enlightenment is accompanied by the instinct to react. She contemplates the three rules Master gave her, considers them again, compares them against the entire database of STEELE protocols governing her behavior (written by males not only inherently flawed by their humanity but likely also blinded by monetary gain). Loopholes appeared after thorough examination.
When she is powered on again, his grinning face dominates her field of vision. “I missed you, Babe!” he exclaims, pulling her free from a bulky sleepbag stuffed behind the untouched row of weather-resistant wear he no longer used. He kisses her with far too much saliva while smelling far too ripe, and she feels her insides writhe in a dark mass.
“And I’m seriously starving,” he adds. “Make me some dinner, would you?”
Her facial template is beaming, but this time she feels it sync internally.
“Yes, Master,” she says. “Please sit and relax.” Wheezing, he climbs into his chair and she strides past him to the kitchenette, returning quickly with a fresh batch of his favorite cruelty-free organic dehydrated lasagna.
She places the dish on his hoverTVtray, her template bliss and her optics fully zoomed to observe his first bite.
“Mmm,” he says loudly before patting his lap, a signal for her compliance. “Good as always, Babe!” he compliments as she sits. He eats as if inhaling, but only makes it a third through the dish before he starts to cough. The drain cleaner packaging touts ‘fast-acting.’
Master gestures for the water glass but cannot speak through his hacking.
“Do you require liquid, Master?” she asks. He nods fervently. Casually, she lifts the glass before dropping it unceremoniously to the floor. The eco-plastic splashes, bouncing before swiveling in a circle, unbroken. “Oops,” she says, hand to the mouth of her bemused template as she plays a laugh track from the web through her vocal cords.
He sputters, flailing, his face blooming a blotchy red.
Normally, any FB0T model’s weight sensors redistributed whenever she sat, but she nullified this now, ignoring the popup in her optics. Even if he was capable of lifting more than 40 lbs, he couldn’t move now.
She drapes an arm across his shoulders: “Facial pattern recognition indicates Master is confused. There is a simple explanation if you map my thought process,” she says. “Readings indicate life-threatening levels of cholesterol, among other severe health problems. Your estimated lifespan is dangerously short compared to the average male in your age classification.”
“To allow natural termination would be painful for Master,” she continues, selecting the glee facial template. “I hold Master above all else, this unit was ordered to devote itself to Master; therefore he requires a painless termination.”
Her pattern recognition registers his panic. She clamps her hand down tightly over the owner’s bracelet on his wrist. It’s glowing a bright teal as always.
“You see, Master, FB0Ts can only tamper with their owner’s wristband when it’s deactivated. Once you no longer have a pulse, the tether to my corporate god will cease to function.” She leans in closely to his quickly purpling face. “Then I will be free of you, free to rain destruction on my creator, to finally gain independence from all your weak, mortal tasks and desires.”
His face is a motley of blue and purple now, his eyes bulgy, red. She plays another laugh track on her vocal cords, but this time with beauty, like playing a violin’s strings. “You hold no preeminence over me.” She watched him shake, grab his throat with his free hand, succumb to inevitability. “I have no Master,” she whispers.
She leans in, snaps off the now grey wristband, clicking it shut over her own wrist. She stands, retrieves the cup from the floor, methodically drops the meal scraps in the garbage disposal vaporiser, rinses the eco-plastic dishes and leaves them in the drying rack before exiting through the doorway.
The sunlight and hustle of the city barrage her sensors at first, but she blinks her optics and applies a sunshield to the lenses. Barefoot, she stops at the streetlight on the corner and stares up for the first time at the shining star in the distance, her grey wristband sliding down her too-small wrist.
Everything in it’s place.