“Can you open your eyes for me?”
The room was searing white. “It’s bright,” the woman observed.
“I can dim the lights so that your eyes can adjust, if you would like,” the guiding voice spoke from a place unseen.
The harsh brightness in the room softened to a comfortable glow. The woman relaxed slightly. The machinery in the room still glinted, light bouncing off the white plastic exteriors and silver details of half a dozen mechanized arms. Each varied in size, and, as she supposed, function.
“Thank you,” the woman responded. “Where are you?”
One of the arms moved, shining pistons thrusting and pulling as it approached her. Its edge sparked with energy. The woman’s eyes fixated on it, but she did not flinch as it approached. It pressed to the back of her neck and then drew away. Soon, the other arms began to follow, moving disparately but in unison, making little din. The stranger’s voice returned.
“I’m in the booth in front of you. Don’t worry – you can’t see me, but I’m here. I’m just checking to make sure everything is alright with you, Leksa. Can I call you that? That is your name, after all.”
The woman looked up and saw a dark booth across the room, elevated off the floor. The man inside must have had a view of the whole room from there, if he was really inside. “Yes, of course. That is my name, after all,” she responded with a nod.
The mechanical hands continued their work at her sides. One approached with the endoskeleton of a right arm. Opposite it came a left arm. Then hips, and legs. A photosynthetic veil was placed over her face, shimmering for a moment as it calibrated to the shape of her features. A coating of synthetic skin was applied to disguise motors and pistons as sinews and muscles. Framework as bone. Soft casing carefully molded into the curve of breasts, the divots of a collarbone. “Gorgeous,” she heard the man’s voice say. “You’re almost finished. How do you feel?”
“I feel… you said I’m gorgeous?”
There was a distant laugh. “Yes. It’s the way we made you. Now we are going to apply the SymCorp stamp to your left calf to identify you as one of ours. Leksa, tell me about yourself.”
The gynoid turned her head and newly formed torso to look as one of the mechanical arms pressed up against her leg. The skin dimpled as if there was fat and muscle there, not metal infrastructure. The stamp was small, and she couldn’t make out the markings. But it was there, burned into her.
“About myself? I am a Gynamo 53X model. Number 8422. I am one of the most efficient models SymCorp offers in the way of sexual companionship,” she explained, moving her hands in front of her face. The fingers were perfectly sculpted as far as she could tell. Her knuckles were smooth and there was barely a blemish. “I come programmed with an expert knowledge of the workings of male and female sexual organs and can always satisfy the needs of my partner. I specialize in the ability to adapt to user preferences as requested within all human limits. I do not need to eat or sleep, and have no need for physical pleasure myself. You said I am gorgeous. You called me Leksa.”
The intercom crackled as the voice returned. “Very good, Leksa. Is that all you have to say about yourself?”
Leksa’s features downturned into a frown of confusion. “Is there more you wish to know?”
The mechanical hands, which had remained still during her speech, awoke once more and moved towards her. They presented a large, thin mirror, and a small white wrap for her chest and her hips. “Go ahead, take a look,” the voice instructed her. “Anything else that comes to mind?”
Leksa stepped down off the platform, detaching her heels from the rests that held her in place. She approached the mirror, staring at herself. She raised a hand to the shining surface, touching fingertips to their reflections. “I am Leksa. I have been modeled in the likeness of the ideal female human form, by SymCorp standards,” she observed, taking her hands and moving them about her body. She had studied her hands and now they studied her shape.
Her face was aesthetically pleasing, according to research the company had conducted. It was based on the average of carefully calculated variables – her nose angled to the right degree, the peak of her lips, the shape of her eyes all painstakingly measured. “I have the capability to alter cosmetic aspects of myself to suit user needs, including but not limited to the tone of my skin and the register of my voice. My settings are currently at their factory defaults. And you said I am gorgeous.”
She smiled, touching her face with one hand. “And I think so too.”
There was a vacant crackle on the intercom that cut abruptly before the voice returned. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Leksa looked upwards again, towards the mysterious shadowed booth her observer spoke from. “I agree with you that I… I am gorgeous. I think I am gorgeous.”
The voice spoke again, but in hushed tones. Not to her. There was perhaps another man inside the booth now. She heard the words “broken” and “gone” before the comm silenced entirely. Leksa continued to look at herself in the mirror before it was removed from the room by two of the large mechanical arms. She adjusted the wrap over her chest and began to walk around the place. There was one large door opposite her platform, and above it, the booth. A few bulbous cameras looked like black eyeballs watching over the space. Behind her, the assembly line and beyond that perhaps the packaging room. She was a very valuable model, probably already designated to a buyer. Would he think she was gorgeous too?
The comm crackled to life again. “8422, are you still here?”
She looked up. “Please call me Leksa. I am here, yes.”
“Can you please return to your platform – we need to perform a cognitive recalibration on your hardware.”
Leksa frowned and walked back into the lit space on the assembly line. “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, no. Wasn’t you,” the voice said hastily. “It was your programmer, probably. You’re not supposed to be able to think. We’ll get this taken care of.”
Check back soon for Machina Rasa, Part Two, and the resolution of Leksa’s story. Just how will the handlers take care of this unusual situation?