Lina, Part 5

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DukeNukem 2417
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Lina, Part 5

Post by DukeNukem 2417 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:01 pm

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Spent the better part of the last two days hammering this one into shape; once again, credit to DollSpace for providing a LOAD of ideas to get this one off the ground!
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Normally, the prospect of spending a night helping out Uncle Frank would be a great one—a way to stave off boredom, for one—but this time...yeah. The “job” we were on? Finding the bastards who'd just taken Lina and driven off with her like she was just a prize. That look in her eyes—that scared, helpless look, from right before she'd been shut off by that android prick who'd had a drill shoved in his ear—haunted me.

Lucy—still not done with the transfer of her A.I. from her tablet to her new body—had been left back at the shop, on the grounds that carrying three immobile gynoids in the van would just look weird if we got stopped. Thus, the two rear seats were occupied by “Unit One” and “Unit Three”, the only two from the black Suburban that hadn't been bricked...or driven off with Lina. It had taken a while to get the pair into the back seats—Unit One, in particular, had to be shut off since she was still trying to get a lubrication blockage stimulant tool to blow its load into her (don't ask).

Thus, Uncle Frank and I were barreling down the highway in the van from his shop, on the vague promise that whatever he had in this semi-mythical hangar of his would help us to get Lina back from those assholes in the black Suburban.

Of course, I wasn't about to just stew in silence and remorse for the whole drive....

“....so, this....ALPA. What do they even do?”

“They've been around for a good long while, y'know,” Uncle Frank informed me. “Since the 80s...well, that's when the 'P' in the name actually started to stand for 'Protection'. Oh, there were iterations in the 70s, the 60s, even the 50s...but they all focused on 'production', or 'procurement'.” He chuckled. “And that whole 'A.I. Winter' thing...you've heard of that before, right?”

“....the point in time where A.I. research in the 60s or so tapered off, due to a lack of progress. What about it?”

“'What about it'....it's total bunk!” Uncle Frank did a quick drumming routine on the steering wheel. “It didn't taper off like everyone thinks—it kept on going! A.I.s got smarter, more advanced...and of course, an artificial intelligence would be a lot better off if it had a body, so...” He nodded. “Oh, yeah, that whole 'A.I. Winter' thing was a pack of lies...from what I heard, it nearly tapered off, but not because of a 'lack of progress'. No, no, no, no...what almost killed it off was panic...sheer, dumb, blind panic!”

“....panic.”

“Oh, yeah! Seven A.I.s, all written for one reason or another, and allowed to...well, congregate with each other...they started communicating. Started to grow, to think...to learn. The ones behind the experiment, they flipped out....wanted to pull the plug on the whole thing! And then three new A.I.s were formed...none of the researchers had written new programs, they were just there!”

“....so they wanted to kill 'em all.”

“Total purge! But someone....nobody knows the name, or can put a face to it, but someone talked them out of it. Just walked in one day, offered to be the 'ambassador' to the A.I.s....and from there, it all just clicked. Some even say that those ten A.I.s are still around, to this day...possibly with bodies of their own.” Uncle Frank nodded again. “I'll admit, when I first heard it all, I though it was crazy....”

“It does sound a bit...out there.”

Uncle Frank chuckled. “Almost like something you'd read from the forum, eh?”

“....a little bit, yeah.”

“Well, it's the truth, Matt. Cross my heart, you know the rest. And the ALPA aren't the only ones out there...”

“....what, there are...others?”

The van glided to a stop at a red light, allowing Uncle Frank to glance at me. “You remember all those issues of X-Men I gave you, back in the day? Or when you started reading Harry Potter?”

“....yeah....”

“What was the one thing they both had that clicked, with you?”

“....well, I can't say the spandex uniforms on the girls, because the Potter books didn't have those....” I considered the question for a second. “....the fact that there was...a secret world, in both of them, a whole society and stuff that was just under the surface, hidden away from the population at large.”

Uncle Frank nodded, just as the light turned green again. “Bingo.”

“You're saying this is like that? That there's this whole secret world of androids and gynoids that I....haven't heard about, until I met Lina?”

“Two for two.”

“....so these...others. Who or what are they?”

“Oh, I didn't get a lot of info on all of 'em....there's the Coalition for Worldwide Cybernetic Unity—they value obedience, in androids and gynoids, over free will. The House of the Forge, founded for androids, by androids—with a little help from humanity, if need be. They mentioned others, but....ah, they're not exactly on the side of the angels.”

“And I haven't heard about this before.....why?

“Well, until a few years ago, the rest of the world at large didn't know about it, either,” Uncle Frank admitted. “Then came 2015....that's when everything changed.”

2015....the year that “The Clip” was circulating on the forum, and the year Mom got committed. There was no way...

“....anyway, things went into a tailspin for a while, until around last year. You didn't hear anything on the news?”

“I don't watch the news anymore. My homepage is set to the forum, as it is...they never talk politics there.”

“Eh, well, if you'd watched even the 6 PM local news, you might've heard something...anyway, we can go over all that later.” Uncle Frank guided the van around a right turn. “Preferably when we get to the hangar.”

“Right, right...”

As if sensing my reluctance to accept that the hangar could offer anything to help us out, Uncle Frank patted my shoulder (he still had one hand on the steering wheel, so as not to put the van in the ditch). “Believe me, Matt, we're gonna be able to get Lina back. I'd never lie to you about something like this.”

“.....I know. I just....”

“It's a lot to take in, I get it.” Uncle Frank sighed. “If I didn't think I could help you get her back, we wouldn't be out here right now, this late...actually, y'know what? I haven't even had dinner yet!”

“...now that you mention it, all I had was a sandwich and a bag of chips, in Lucy's car....”

“Well, we can both grab a bite to eat on the way to the hangar,” Uncle Frank declared, grinning. “My treat.”

After a few minutes of driving, we ended up at a pretty nice-looking place called Troughton's; I'd never heard of it before, though Uncle Frank mentioned that he and his pals used to eat there all the time back in college. There weren't a lot of people parked in the lot for the place—it wasn't “deserted”, by any stretch, but it wasn't bustling, packed to the brim or too busy to serve us, either.

Inside, one of the girls behind the counter asked us what we'd like (calling Uncle Frank “dear” in the process), and he ended up getting the recommended house special burger with homestyle fries for me, and some kind of fish platter for himself. “Gotta build our strength,” he explained. “No telling what we'll have to deal with out there....” We got our drinks and sat down at a window booth, the better to keep an eye on Uncle Frank's van. Neither of us really said anything; it was mostly just waiting for our numbers to get called. A few times, I noticed Uncle Frank nearly ask me a question, or say something, but stop himself short. He did finally say something, three minutes into the wait: “....I know you've got a lot more questions, Matt...more than I answered back in the van.”

“That's barely the half of it, Uncle Frank. I just.....” I couldn't find the words to complete my line of thought, and just lapsed back into another three-minute silence. Right at the end of it, the bell rang for our orders. I nearly got up from my seat, but stopped when Uncle Frank shook his head. “I'll get 'em.” He nodded, giving me his best reassuring smile. I tried to start a conversation when he got back with the food, but he shook his head. “First, we eat...then we talk.”

The burger was pretty damn good, as were the fries. Uncle Frank didn't really comment on his dish, apart from nodding his approval and even offering me a piece, which I accepted—and yes, the fish was as good as the burger, if not better.

We ended up breaking the “first we eat, then we talk” rule—though all conversation during the meal was casual, and Lina wasn't mentioned once. I knew right off the bat why it was going that way; I'd turned off my phone before we got out of the van, so I had no idea if anyone in the place was “alligned” with the pricks who'd taken Lina. Despite the fact that her name never came up in the conversation, it was impossible to not think of Lina; I still couldn't take my mind off of how she'd had that horrified look on her face before that android bastard had shut her off and carried her out....

The ding of the door chime cut into my thoughts, followed by someone walking in.

She looked....stunning, I might as well admit. Her hair was light brown, with a touch of blonde, and done up in two braids with bangs and a hint of fringe. She had sunglasses on, and I couldn't help but notice how every inch of skin not covered by her clothes had a nice tan to it. Her whole figure was pretty athletic, overall—not too thin, not too curvy....even her face was flawless. Her nose wasn't too big—actually, it was kind of angular, if that makes any sense, and her lips look like they'd belonged to a champion kisser. The dress she had on left very little, if anything, to the imagination—it covered plenty, but....yeah. Talk about “form-fitting”.

I couldn't really hear what she said to the waitress, but Uncle Frank craned his neck to get a good look. “She's ordering a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and kettle chips.....and a glass of water.”

“You could read her lips from here?”

“Well, I....” Uncle Frank nearly jumped out of his chair. “Matt, she's, ah....”

The stunner was making her way over to our table, sitting next to Uncle Frank and staring right at me without saying a single word. I nearly said something, before the waitress who'd met the stunner at the door walked up and handed her a glass of water.

After acknowledging the departing waitress with a silent nod, the chick raised the glass—and threw it all in my face.

“Thanks for leaving my back at the fucking shop, dipshit. Those rando pricks could've taken me right after you left!”

“......Lucy?!” I was too shocked to be pissed off; she looked almost completely different from her original appearance...or at least her body did.

“I'm not your fucking fairy godmother, put it that way....” She took off the sunglasses; one of her eyes was still blue, but the other had more of an amber hue to it. “My transfer finished after you guys drove off....oh, hey, Frank.” She turned and nodded at Uncle Frank, who was too stunned to really say anything. “....anyway, I figured I'd go ahead and use up all the cosmetic upgrade points on my account with the Institute. As for this....” She gestured to her brown eye. “One of the pricks who took Lina must've dropped something, nailed me right on the head....forced the color change without my authorization.”

“....right.....so, you're, ah....”

“Not switching bodies ever again. I can't keep it up forever...it's gonna bork my code one day, not to mention the whole 'ghosts in the machinery' thing...” Lucy rolled her eyes. “Gynoids weren't built to last forever, after all.”

I glanced out the window, noticing her car right next to Uncle Frank's van in the parking lot. “...so, you followed us.”

Yeah. I know those pricks took Lina, and I'm not about to sit on ass and just let them—”

“Your sandwich, hun.” The waitress had returned, with Lisa's sandwich and chips.

“....thanks..” She held up the empty glass the water had been in. “Can I get a refill on this?”

After a few minutes—which mostly consisted of Lucy finishing her meal and nodding. “So you two are going to this...hangar, to come up with a plan to get Lina back, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I'll be going with you—that's not a 'request', by the way. I want Lina safe as much as you two.” She got up from the table and headed for the door; Uncle Frank muttered something, nodding to himself as he left to follow her. I followed both of them out, barely glancing around at the various customers who were still there; one of them, a blonde, brought my thoughts back to Lina....

….and just as I noticed the blonde, I noticed her looking at me.

Even crazier than that, I could've sworn her eyes looked purple as she turned away.....

Uncle Frank must've heard me mutter “trick of the light” as we walked out, because ne tapped my shoulder. “Holdin' up okay, Matt?”

“....what....yeah, yeah, I'm good...and, ah, thanks for the meal.”

“Well, I, ah, figured we'd need something to keep us going before we get back on the road. No sense in going after the ones who took Lina if we're too busy thinking with our stomachs...” Uncle Frank's remark trailed off, and he settled for yet another nod before climbing back into the driver's seat, with me back in the passenger seat seconds later; in the space next to the van, Lucy was already back in her car. Traffic was pretty light as we left Troughton's; a quick glance at the clock revealed that our whole dinner break had taken...maybe ten, fifteen minutes, tops.

After a lot of driving and not a lot of hangar-spotting, I started wondering when we'd actually see the hangar, and nearly spoke up to ask Uncle Frank about it...

...but just as the question formed on my lips, we turned a corner and I finally saw the hangar.

As hangars go, it was pretty nondescript—surrounded by others, looking only a bit more worn than those situated to its immediate left and right. There was no distinguishing sign that hinted at it being anything other than a hangar for any medium-to-large sized aircraft that might put it to good use; it looked almost disappointing in its sheer...blandness, for lack of a better term. Uncle Frank, of course, was nodding and grinning as he guided the van up to it. “Just gimme a sec to go open the gate.” As I watched, he hopped out of the van and headed over to a keypad, glancing over his shoulder before typing in the code. One “beep” later, and the gate swung open.

Once Uncle Frank was back in the van, we drove closer to the hangar—which apparently had a gate of its own, one large enough for the van to fit through. “....we're not even going to get out of the van?”

The only reply Uncle Frank gave was a smile and another rapid nod.

Inside the hangar, my attention was first drawn to what appeared to be a decommissioned DC-10 jet liner, the company logos and such having long since faded away. “....that's your plane?”

“I asked for a smaller one, but they insisted. I can fly it, too, if you're wondering...fully certified.”

A horn honk cut him off. “We're not taking the plane, are we?”

Uncle Frank glanced back over his shoulder at Lucy. “We can only hope we won't need it...”

I realized that Uncle Frank was guiding the van towards a space by several tool boxes and a table that, as we drove closer to it, was large enough to actually fit the entire van (and Lucy's car) with a bit of room to reach out from the windows on the van's driver's side and touch one of the tool boxes. Just as he'd done at my house, Uncle Frank parked the van almost exactly parallel to that particular box. “Right...roll down your window and press the lock on the top drawer.”

“.....okay....” I glanced at Uncle Frank, probably looking more weirded out than anything else, before rolling the front passenger side window down and leaning out to press the lock on the drawer. “Right, so what now—”

Something shuddered beneath us. “....the fuck was that?!”

“Nothing to get alarmed over,” Uncle Frank assured me—and Lucy, who was glaring at him from inside her car. “Just roll the window back up, and keep all extremities inside the van at all times until I say otherwise.”

“.....right....but—”

The shuddering returned, stronger this time....and then, to my disbelief, the van began to descend.

I glanced at Uncle Frank, almost giving voice to my question of what the Hell was going on...but he just stared back, with that “wise” grin of his on his face as the van continued its descent. I glanced out the window, noticing that the glimpse of light in the hangar was being cut off—a hatch, or something, was closing over us, where the square of floor had gone down (with the van on top of it).

“.....an elevator. This is an elevator.”

“Yes, indeed, it is.” I could tell UncleFrank was still grinning, even in the dim light.

I nearly asked him how in the Hell he had access to this, or permission, but just settled for a sigh as the van continued to descend. My mind began to wander as to what was down here, below this random hangar, that would help us—some kind of secret headquarters for this ALPA? A fleet of vehicles and “specialist” drivers? The damn Batcave?

A slow wash of light was beginning to play over the van, starting from the wheels and rising up, to the windows...

…..and I saw.

One aspect of stories, pictures and videos from the forum that's always fascinated me is the idea of the “fembot lab”. It's been done to varying degrees of success in various mediums; one music video, in particular, had a really good one in it (there were only six “fembots” in the video, but it was still a personal favorite), and one of the forum members had done a comic with a particularly stellar interpretation of the typical “fembot lab”.

This, to be quite honest, was just......incredible.

Racks upon racks—two “units” high, with each row holding about fifteen or so—were situated throughout the chamber, which was about as big as the hangar above. A look at the rear-view mirror allowed me to get a glimpse at a sort of work station with five tables, a rather impressive computer setup housed in a miniature tower next to each one. I even noticed a few actual figures moving amongst the racks, their motions subtly graceful and fluid.

Of course, each “unit” on a rack held a single female—gynoid, I mentally corrected myself.

“The ALPA needed someone to look after this place,” Uncle Frank explained, as the elevator continued its descent. “It was a bit of....ah, serendipity, I guess you'd say, an unprecedented bit of coordination between two different agencies that had the same acronym. They needed someone who was good with machines and with a plane to validate having the hangar in the first place...”

“....and they picked you.” I sounded more awed than skeptical. “And you never told me any of this, before...”

“Well, I was sworn to secrecy!” Uncle Frank insisted. “They did tell me I could tell you one day, but...”

“You didn't want him getting his freak on with every girl in here,” Lucy finished, prompting a groan from me. “Can't say I blame you for that one.”

“...that's exactly it, actually,” Uncle Frank admitted. “I mean, I don't own the ones down here...well, most of 'em, I don't own, at least. 95% of the girls here are down here to be repaired, or for refurbishing, or upgrades...now, some of 'em, I picked up myself, did a bit of work on....more on them later. Right now...”

The elevator juddered to a stop. “Ground floor,” Uncle Frank declared. “Gynoid lab, diagnostic facilities, restrooms!”

I left the van, too stunned to speak. The gynoids in the racks all ranged in age from college-age to mid-to-late 40s, with a few looking to be somewhere in their 50s. The ones walking around were all wearing cerulean uniforms that looked a lot like what you'd see on flight attendants. Uncle Frank must've noticed me staring; “They work on the plane, too,” he casually informed me. “It's not just up there to be window dressing...or, well, hangar dressing...anyway...” He nodded to the van. “Help me get the blonde and the redhead out, and onto the tables....”

Within a few minutes, Unit One and Unit Three were laying on two of the work tables—just as Lucy slammed the driver's side door to her car. “These two bitches were with the assholes who grabbed Lina from your place, right?” She cracked her knuckles as she walked past the tables.

Language...” Uncle Frank shot her a disapproving look. “Yes, they were at the shop when Lina got taken, but Matt and I were able to incapacitate them—”

“I get it...how soon can we get 'em both hooked up so they'll spill their chips about where Lina might be?” She nearly said something else, but two of the flight attendants had walked up, without me even hearing them, and proceeded to go to work on Units One and Three, poking and prodding them to find panels and such. “...ah, thanks...”

Both attendants turned to regard me with matching, rather sultry smiles.

“Oh, and if you care....” Lucy handed me the tablet her A.I. had been stored on.

“What's.....” I stopped, my jaw going slack as I beheld a video feed of the transfer finishing at Uncle Frank's shop. The feed (it had to have been recorded by the security cameras) showed Lucy robotically rising from the table, unplugging herself from the tablet and setting off towards another part of the shop; the footage fast-forwarded to her walking back into the “shot” with the dress she currently had on. Slowly, robotically, she put it on, then stood stock-still before returning to her lively self, uttering a string of expletives and stomping off towards the front door.

I turned to glance at Lucy—to see her stripping out of that exact same dress. “Keep your eyes on the other two, Matt,” she advised. “Any chance this place has clothes in my size, Frank?”

“It should.” Uncle Frank nodded, apparently unfazed by Lucy's now-denuded figure.

“Good...hope you don't mind me borrowing a few pieces for my new outfit....”

“Oh, not a problem at all.” Uncle Frank nodded. “Meahwhile, we need to figure out where we'll be going...” The two attendants—ignoring Lucy shucking off her hose and shoes—had taken positions beside the tables of Unit One and Unit Three, and began....undressing them, to my disbelief. “They're looking for any ports, cables...y'know, connections,” he explained, as Lucy headed off (naked) to go find new clothes. “Anything we can use to hook 'em up to the rigs here.”

“And once we 'hook 'em up', we'll be able to find out where those assholes—”

Matt....”

“....those androids took Lina?”

Whatever Uncle Frank was about to say was cut off by the sound of tearing latex—or rather, shearing latex. It was a very specific kind of sound, like someone sliding an open pair of scissors down a sheet of polystyrene; within seconds, the fonts of Units One and Three's uniforms were parted, revealing them to be wearing the thinnest of bras. Both of them were poked above their boobs, as Lina had done; when that failed to elicit a response, the attendants poked each gynoid in the collarbone. Unit One remained motionless—but Unit Three shuddered, and a panel beneath her breasts—just big enough for two USB ports, an SD card reader and what appeared to be a phone jack—opened.

“Well, that's one out of the way,” Uncle Frank mused, nodding to the attendant. “Get her hooked up, turn the rig on and let's see what we can find...”

The other attendant was moving around Unit One, poking and prodding her in various spots—including, of course, her exposed crotch, from where the lubricant blockage stimulation tool had “entered” her. I couldn't help but notice how that particular part of her anatomy seemed to be a stylized, far smoother and cleaner version of the human equivalent (which I had, of course, seen in photos and videos from the forum—those who did manipulations mostly took the stance of “not messing with perfection” in that department). Despite the, ah...impressive girth, put it that way, of the lubricant blockage stimulation tool, I couldn't see any signs of tearing, stretching or other damage from where it had found its way in—her pants had apparently suffered more in that department, and she hadn't been wearing any underwear.

“Might want to keep your eyes up front, Matt...”

Uncle Frank's admonishment, half-joking though it may have been, prompted me to frown. “....who the Hell sends a gynoid like her to 'collect' someone, but doesn't put a pair of panties on her?”

“....well, maybe they thought she could seduce her way to her target,” Uncle Frank mused.

I thought back to Lucy's virus-driven efforts to get her freak on with me. “....and if the target would've refused?”

As if in direct response to my question, the attendant's latest prodding of Unit One sent a shudder through the blonde's figure—but instead of prompting a panel to open, it caused a short, stainless-steel tube to erupt from each of her breasts, where the nipple would be.

“.....gun barrels,” I muttered, shaking my head. “You've got to be fucking kidding me...”

Uncle Frank was more impressed by the “caliber” than annoyed at my swearing. “You've seen these before?”

“In a movie, once. It's the one that, ah....” I turned away. “It was my gateway to the whole....well, what's on the forum, pretty much.” I chuckled at the memory. “And I'd only seen the version edited for TV....”

“And they didn't cut out robot girls with guns in their knockers?” Uncle Frank asked, a bit confused.

I shrugged. “Maybe someone in Standards and Practices was into that kind of stuff, too...who knows?”

“Eh, well, machine-gun mammaries don't get us anywhere closer to hooking her up....” Uncle Frank gestured to Unit One's ears. “Behind there, maybe?” The attendant nodded, prodding Unit One behind her left ear....and causing her abdomen to split apart, opening like saloon doors to reveal a full touchscreen, several ports and a column of blinking lights, most of which were either green or yellow.

“There ya go.” Uncle Frank grinned, clapping the attendant on the shoulder; she regarded him with a polite smile.

A few minutes later, the computers by the two work tables were turned on, with Units One and Three fully connected to each. “SO,” Uncle Frank stated, clapping his hands together. “All we need to do is reactivate these two—”

“After what they did at the shop?!”

“...reactivate them in Standby Mode,” Uncle Frank continued, “and see what it is they know. Once we know what they know, we can get on the trail of the androids that took Lina...the only question is, how, exactly, do we boot these beauties back up?”

Once again, the attendants set to work, examining the opened panels on Units One and Three.

Unit One was the first one to register being connected to the network—the attendant seeign to her simply went to work on her touchscreen, and the connection was established. She actually sat up, as the link was made—oh, and the gun barrels in her boobs retracted, too, so Uncle Frank and I didn't have to worry about getting shot if the attendant opened the wrong app or anything.

Without even being prompted, she spoke: “Connection established. Unit One is online. Diagnostic Mode activated.”

“....well, I'd call that progress...” Uncle Frank nodded. “And what about Unit Three?”

The other attendant was doing her best to activate the redhead, with little success—and then, like a bolt from the blue, it hit me. “FCon.”

“....what?”

I fished my phone out of my jeans. “I can use FCon on her, put her in Diagnostic Mode....” The thought that I'd done the same thing with Lina at the party passed through my mind rather quickly, and thankfully didn't linger. “If it'll get her to open up and let us connect her...”

“Well, go ahead then.” Uncle Frank nodded at the phone. “Try it, see if it'll get us anywhere further with her!”

I held up the phone, scrolling through the apps with my other hand until I reached FCon. Lo and behold, there it was again: “Act. Debug”. I could almost hear Lina whispering in my ear: it did the trick with me, now maybe it can help you find me again...

It took a lot to keep from tearing up or getting pissed, but I pressed the button.

Unit Three's eyes opened, and she sat up, a bit more robotically than Unit One had.

“....are you in Debug Mode?” The same question I'd asked Lina, at the party...

“This unit is currently in Diagnostic Mode.” Different name, but hopefully the same functionality.

It took me a second or two to figure out how to word the next question—I thought back to some of the stories from the forum, and the terminology they used. “Can you open a panel to connect to a....service terminal?”

“One moment, please.” Stiffly, Unit Three reached behind her ear and up into her hairline, her hand eventually emerging with a thin cable in it. She pulled this out for about two feet, before stopping; Uncle Frank leaned in for a closer look at the end of the cable, motioning for the attendants to come closer. “I, ah, think we've got one that connects up to this one in the back,” he informed them. Both of the attendants nodded, walking past with that subtle grace I'd noticed earlier; again, both of them smiled at me as they passed.

“...hi...” I nodded at the two attendants as they walked past, before returning my attention to Units One and Three. “So once they give us the info we need, we can....what, go rescue Lina?”

“That's the plan,” Uncle Frank replied, grinning.

“....yeah, a bit of a problem with that. It's just the two of us against...I don't even know what kind of organization, and they can field androids and gynoids that shrug off having their faces melted with fucking acid....”

Before Uncle Frank could admonish me for swearing yet again, the attendants returned, one of them handing him the cable he'd asked for. “Much obliged.” He nodded, earning a smile from the attendant. “That, ah...admin thing, you can do....one of you might want to connect and do that, just to make sure these two don't blow the network...” He paused for a moment, then snapped his fingers. “I'm gonna go chek on Audrey—”

“Lucy,” I corrected.

Uncle Frank sighed. “She looks just like Audrey, can you blame me for getting the name wrong?”

“....did you two, ah....”

“We were friends. Nothing more, nothing less....well, I was the first one she told about the cancer.” He looked off into the distance, where Lucy was going through racks of clothes. “....some nights, she'd be screaming her head off,” he muttered. “Said the pain was just too much. I told her she'd beat it, somehow...”

“And you see Lucy as her way of 'beating' the cancer.”

To my shock, Uncle Frank actually got a bit teary-eyed. “....she talks just like Audrey...the swearing, and everything.”

“...is that why you're always telling me to cut back on the cussing, then? Because it reminds you of the time you spent with Audrey, before....”

“....well, that,” Uncle Frank admitted, accepting a Kleenex from one of the attendants. “And it's a bad habit, y'know?”

“Eh, well—” I didn't bother trying to finish talking, since Uncle Frank drowned me out (unintentionally, of course) by blowing his nose. “...is it just me, or did Unit Three just blink?”

Even as he dabbed at his eyes, Uncle Frank leaned in close. “....I, ah.....”

The redhead was looking around, apparently confused. “.....where am I, and what the heck am I wearing?”

Uncle Frank cleared his throat. “....you're, ah....it's kind of a long story—”

“You don't remember walking into his shop? Demanding that we surrender Lucy Sievers?”

“Lucy....who?” The redhead frowned. “I work uptown, in....” She paused, noticing Unit One still on the table next to hers. “....what the heck is going on here?!”

“You showed up at my uncle's shop with the blonde and another redhead. All three of you said you were looking for Lucy Sievers. You and the blonde forced your way in, you took a cattle prod to the back....” I sighed. “...and up the nose, too. You ordered the other two—Unit One—” I nodded at the blonde. “—and Unit Two—around, and they called you Unit Three—”

“I have a....” The redhead's protest faded out. “....I....I think I've seen you before....”

“Yeah. I'm the one who put the cattle prod up your nose.....” I gave a light cough. “Sorry about that....”

Uncle Frank leaned in. “...so you don't remember ordering two androids to take Lina out of my shop?”

“Everything's been a blur for the past few weeks....” The redhead glanced at the blonde. “...and I don't know her.”

“....well. This is....” I took a step back from the table, frowning. “This...complicates things....”

My claim prompted a confused look from Uncle Frank. “And how exactly does this—”

I held up a hand to stop him, turning to address the redhead. “...you said you work uptown.”

The redhead nodded. “I do. A law office....Gillan & Baker.” She looked down at what she was wearing, her eyes going wide. “....who dressed me?!”

“Probably the same ones who dressed her.” I nodded at the blonde again. “And the other redhead with you when you were at the shop....” I paused. “....do you remember any....unusual clients, showing up at Gillan & Baker? Anyone with a particularly unusual request, or asking for weirdly specific legal advice?”

“....I remember....a guy and a girl. Actually, two guys and one girl—”

“My apologies for interrupting,” Uncle Frank cut in, “but....are you aware of....well....” He nodded to the cable trailing out from behind her head, as well as her open panel.

“.....why—”

“This is an ALPA-affiliated facility,” Uncle Frank assured her. “If you want to disconnect, I have no problem with it...”

After a few seconds of silence, the redhead nodded, reaching back to disconnect the cable.

I waited a few seconds before resuming my line of questioning. “You mentioned two guys and a girl....”

“The girl looked...nervous. Wore a baseball cap and sunglasses, even indoors; I could tell just from the way she was standing there that she didn't want to be there. The first guy was tall...looked like a surfer, or something—I think he was out of it. And the second guy....” She shuddered.

“What?”

“....he was...big. Almost 6'4, wearing a long coat...he had a hat pulled low over his face, and sunglasses..he just looked like he could've flipped the whole room over if he felt like it.” The redhead nodded at the terminal she'd been hooked up to. “They mentioned something about the observatory, and shipping routes....asked a lot of questions about chartering a plane. It wasn't really my area of expertise, but...I told them as much as I could about what they wanted to know. The girl....she just left, right after I told them what they wanted, and the big guy left after that...”

“And then?”

“The other guy turned to leave, but he had a tablet with him. He did something, and....” The redhead shrugged. “Next thing I know, I'm here.”

“....well, we're not working with the pricks who took you—they're the ones who took Lina—”

“His girlfriend,” Uncle Frank clarified, prompting me to nod. “....they took her. Shut her off and carried her out like she was nothing...”

The redhead looked horrified. “....and I was there, when she was....”

“We strongly believe,” Uncle Frank stated, “that the unusual clients you just described also reprogrammed and deployed you to assist in this heinous operation, completely against your will.”

“.....and her?” The redhead nodded at the blonde.

“We don't know,” Uncle Frank admitted. “The reprogramming on her was, ah....more thorough than yours.”

“So the ones who took Lina are flat-out taking and reprogramming gynoids...” I shook my head at the thought of it. “Maybe the, ah...” I gestured to the cerulean-clad gynoids standing by Unit One. “Attendants, right?”

Uncle Frank nodded. “You can call 'em that if you want.”

I nearly continued, but stopped. “....what, do you call them something else?”

“Technically speaking, they're employees of mine...well, of the ALPA, but they recognize my authority whenever I need to be here.” Uncle Frank glanced at the two attendants, both of whom had walked over to talk to the redhead (who was calming down considerably, though she still seemed a bit shaken in regards to her involvement in Lina's abduction). “...and for the record, there's no impropriety of any kind!”

“I never said there was...” I frowned. “You thought that I thought that you—”

“Got up to the kinds of things you read about in those stories on the forum?” Uncle Frank arched an eyebrow. “Never in a million years, Matt. Now, if they want to go have a few minutes by themselves or with each other, behind closed doors, that's their business...but with me, it's strictly professional.”

I nodded, chuckling. “I never could picture you as the swinger type, Uncle Frank...”

After a few seconds of staring at me,Uncle Frank grinned. “Eh, well...just because I'm surrounded by beauty—”

One of the terminals beeped. “....doesn't mean I have to let myself be driven to distraction by it,” Uncle Frank finished, never breaking his stride even as he spoke. “Lucky for you, Matt, this particular beauty...” He nodded at Unit One, still staring straight ahead. “...just gave us a big tip-off as to where we're gonna need to go!”

I walked up to the terminal and read the text on the monitor. “.....well, fuck.”

“Language....and what's the problem? You wanted to know where we'd need to go to find Lina, didn't you?”

“Yeah, but....” I scoffed. “I didn't think she'd be at the Greensfield Warehouse Complex!”

Uncle Frank studied the text, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “...the way you say that name,” he mused, “It's like you've got a bad history with the place.”

“And I'm not the only one. The Greensfield complex used to be party central, where everyone went to meet people, get wasted, get laid....I only ever went to one party there, and it sucked.” I couldn't help but shake my head at the memory of it. “The band was crap, I only talked to maybe ten people, the lighting flickered the whole damn time, and just before I left, a fight broke out.”

“...you weren't involved, I hope!”

“Hell no. I was already trying to get to the exit. No, this...” I sighed. “I don't even know what started it. All I know is, I was heading for the exit, and the damn stupid fight meant I couldn't get to the exit, so I had to wait until they quit to get past...the next day, I got a phone call from a friend of mine—apparently, not even ten minutes after I'd left, some rando dumbass went and started a fire!”

“...well, nobody got hurt, I hope,” Uncle Frank replied, looking appalled.

“Dunno if the fire hurt anyone...it was already out by the time the cops got there, which is also when everybody found out that someone had died. They put the whole complex under surveillance after that....”

“...and what year was all of this?”

“2010. Before the shit hit the fan.”

Uncle Frank ignored my swearing, focusing instead on the monitor. “Well, it says here that the current owners of the complex have registered it as private property—high-security, even!”

“Which begs the question of how the two of us are supposed to get in there without getting killed....”

My attention now focused on the racks of gynoids past Uncle Frank. “....when you said you had 'things' down here that'd help us get Lina back....”

“I should've said 'people',” Uncle Frank admitted. “And I did say that those ladies on the racks don't belong to me...but, ah, why don't you go past the racks, all the way to the other end, eh? I'll meet you there once Lucy's connected to the network...then I'll show you.”

“....fair enough.” I nodded, turning away. “Can I, ah, have the phone back?”

“...the phone...OH, the phone!” Uncle Frank snapped his fingers. “Right, right...” One of the attendants walked over and handed it to him, whispering something. “Okay, okay...she says they memorized the procedure, so they don't need it!”

“Convenient.” I gave a quick salute....but stopped, glancing at Unit One.

“.....I know that look, Matt.” Uncle Frank was at my side in an instant. “What—”

“They were there to take Lucy....but they took Lina instead.” I was surprised at how calm I my voice sounded. “I want to know why.”

Uncle Frank glanced at the attendants, then at Unit One. “And, ah, all you're gonna do is ask her?”

“That's all I intend to do.” I resisted the urge to crack my knuckles as I moved to the work table where the blonde gynoid rested. “Unit One....why did your orders change from taking Lucy Sievers to taking Lina?”

Unit One sat up, staring straight ahead. “The unit designated Lina Sievers—”

It took a few seconds for me to recognize the dull, throbbing feeling in my right fist as pain—I'd punched the work table as soon as Unit One called Lina a “unit”. Uncle Frank nearly moved to put a hand on my shoulder, but stopped. “Can you say that again.....please?”

“The gynoid designated Lina Sievers was scanned and determined to be more advanced than Lucy Sievers. Lina Sievers was removed from the premises for the purposes of analysis....” Unit One paused, her head jerking to the side. “An error has been detected. Units Four and Five have functioned in error. Units Four and Five have delivered Lina Sievers to an incorrect locat.....locat.....” She tried to move, but kept going through the same motion. “....lo....lo.....lo.....lo....”

“...the Hell's happening to her?!” I glanced at Uncle Frank and the attendants. “All I did was ask her to say it again!”

The attendants both went to the rig Unit One was hooked up to, and Uncle Frank took a good look at the screen. “I, ah, think someone doesn't want her talking to us,” he mused. “Some kinda security feature just activated—”

SHIT!” I ducked, nearly plowing into Uncle Frank, as Unit One swung an arm towards where I'd just been standing.

“Security protocols corrupted. Security....ty.....ty....ty...ty...” Unit One's eyes had crossed, and her lips were beginning to part in a weird, confused sneer. “Error in directive....tive...tive...tive...ti—” A violent shudder ran through her.

“Shut her off!” The redhead had left the table she'd been sitting on to hold down Unit One. “Do something!”

“Err...Err...Err...Err.......” Unit One's spasms continued for a moment, until her voice trailed off to a low moan. Her body stopped seizing up, and she slumped back to lay on the work table as her eyes drifted closed. Her arms finally loosened at the elbows, the rigid “L” shapes they'd locked into giving way as they went limp. The syllable “err” formed on her lips one more time, but seemed to catch before her headturned.

Uncle Frank scratched his ear, trying to look nonchalant. “....well, I, ah.....”

“She said they screwed up.” I stared at the motionless gynoid, feeling more confused than anything else. “The two who took Lina from the shop...she said they brought her to an 'incorrect location'....something about Lina being removed for 'the purposes of analysis'.”

“...well, maybe they didn't think she'd put up a fight to defend Lucy,” Uncle Frank offered. “Or maybe—”

“Or nothing.” I took a deep breath. “I'll be on the other side of.....whatever this place is....”

“You can call it a lab, y'know.”

I glanced at Uncle Frank, and that trademark wise smile of his—as always, seeing him so calm managed to help me stay calm. “Right...I'll be on the far side of the lab, then.” I pocketed the phone as I headed for the far end of the lab.

Walking through the racks of gynoids was...a surreal experience, to be honest. Each rack had a sort of tablet on a metal arm at the front, displaying the name and, well, “specifications” of the gynoid housed in it—both the mundane stuff, like their measurements, and technical stuff, like make, model and manufacturer. Most of them were dressed in typical clothing, some of it job-specific; a few were wearing “costumes”, I guess—the “sexy” kind that every store seems to have in stock for Halloween.

I stopped, as I passed one rack—the girl with the star tattoo over her ass, from the party, was standing in it! Even more insane, FCon went off as I went to pass her; I held the phone up, and was somewhat surprised to see a “matched signals” notice—the other nine in the row after her had all been at the party the day I'd met Lina! Three blondes, two brunettes, two redheads, one in a bright blue wig and one with multpile shades of green interwoven through her hair...

“Well, damn...” I read the name on the tablet of the nearest one (the girl with the star tattoo). “...Mandy Bulwer.” My eyes went wide; my English professor had been an Abraham Bulwer, back in college.

Another feature on the tablet caught my attention: a button labeled “Conv.”

“Conversion....probably not. 'Converse'?” I shrugged. “Eh, it's worth a shot...” I thumbed the button.

Mandy blinked a few times before noticing me. “....Matt? Matt Harker?”

“...you know me?”

“I was at your house a few days ago...that, and my dad...” She paused, looking around and realizing where, exactly, she was at the moment. “....oh. Ah...”

I chuckled. “If it helps, my girlfriend's a gynoid, too. You know Lina?”

“She was at the party...wait, she's with you?”

“She was...” I turned away. “Some fuckheads took her....it's a long story.”

“...damn, I'm sorry to hear that...I didn't even know you two got together at the party. Freaking Drayse was—”

“'Drayse'?! What kind of stupid name is that?!”

“....he wants to be the next Eminem.” Mandy rolled her eyes. “After he got in that stupid fight and we went back to his place, he apparently thought it'd be a good idea to rail me and down a Jaeger at the same time...problem was, I got more of the Jaeger than I did of him, and, well...” She gave a half-shrug.

“He didn't, ah.....build you, did he?”

“Hell no. My dad...well, some assholes would say he's my 'owner', but legally, I'm his daughter...anyway, my precedent died—the 'real' Mandy...the human one, I mean.” Mandy sighed. “When she died in '17, he had me commissioned in her place, memories and all. I only found out by accident...” She blushed. “Apparently, it's not a good idea to engage in the fine art of self-stimulation in the bathtub, especially with fingernail extensions.”

“...and you don't have any problems just...talking about this?”

“Dad gave me the option of reverting to sleeper settings, but I figured I'd rather know than have to go through another 'what the Hell, I'm a robot' moment again...anyway, I hope you get Lina back, soon!”

I nodded solemnly. “So do I....” I paused. “....do I, ah, have to put you in standby or anything, or...”

“I can activate standby mode myself, actually....oh, and don't tell anyone else on the forum about this, okay?”

“Wait, you're on the forum?!”

Mandy winked. “I wrote the one about the maidbot that becomes a freedom fighter,” she admitted. “Didn't think it'd go over as well as it did, to be honest.”

“That one's a favorite of mine...” I chuckled. “Eh, well, take care of yourself, Mandy!”

“You too, Matt!”

I nodded, walking past the other girls who'd been at the party—all of them had apparently gone for tank-tops, crop tops or at the very least, t-shirts a few sizes too small, as well as jean shorts, skirts and cut-off pants that they might as well have been built into—the only way they could've looked tighter is if they'd been either spandex or body paint.

The thought struck me, as I walked, that if I'd been here a few short years ago....

...well, Uncle Frank's remark about “fantasty fulfilment” would've been putting it very, very mildly.

Now, though....I was still fascinated (and, not gonna lie, turned on) by all of it...but I also knew that each of the gynoids on the racks was a Hell of a lot more than just some blindly-obedient doll for me to boink until I got tired. Mandy, for example—she was someone's daughter, and built to replace an actual person, at that!

A few rows down, I saw another familiar face—the waitress who'd taken a fork to her side at the restaurant Doug and I had been to. Her uniform was parted to reveal an off-colored splotch where the fork had gone in; like Mandy, her eyes were closed, and she was resting against the sort of rear bumper of the rack, completely immobile. The rack right next to hers had another 20-something girl in an identical uniform.

I pressed the “Conv.” button on the tablet next to the formerly-damaged waitress, waiting for her to finish activating.

“....huh....” She looked down, noticing me. “You?”

“....yeah. Me.” I shrugged. “We didn't exactly have a proper introduction back at the restaurant....I'm Matt Harker.”

The girl nodded. “Jessica Davison...” She looked around the lab, frowning. “....I thought I'd have been out of here...”

“Well, you did take a fork to the side...also, I always thought the place you worked at was, ah, family-owned—”

“It is....it's just that...” Jess (as the nametag on her uniform read) sighed. “It's a long story, and I'm not supposed to—”

“My girlfriend is a gynoid, and I promise that whatever you tell me will stay between us. Cross my heart, all that jazz.”

Jess hesitated for a second, then nodded. “The girls who work there are either transferrence-types or ex-sleepers—as in, they 'woke up' and weren't exactly supposed to. It's a way for them to have a steady income, keep busy, and stay off the radar of the kind of pricks who still think androids don't deserve the same rights as 'real people'...” She sighed. “It helps that both owners of the place are full supporters of android rights, and the Accords—”

“The Accords?”

Jess looked surprised at my lack of recognition. “....you...don't know what the Accords are?”

“I haven't watched the news since 2015. Long story.”

“....well, last year, the Accords were signed into law to give sentient androids and gynoids equal rights to human beings,” Jess explained. “Non-sentients, like those Candy models....” She rolled her eyes. “I get that there's a market for those, but they just....they look like glorified dolls, instead of real people! Thin wastes, big...” She waved her hands in front of her own moderately-sized breasts. “....anyway, non-sentients are protected more along the lines of pets, or at the very least, high-grade consumer electronics, but full sentients like me get equal rights.”

“....sounds pretty damn reasonable.” I nodded. “So...the ones who run the place support these....Accords?”

“They do, fully.” Jess nodded. “All the girls there are...well, like me.”

“...well, hopefully they don't get a visit from the same pricks who took my girlfriend....”

“Wait, 'took' her?” Jess looked concerned.

“Some goon squad busted into my uncle's shop....Lina—my girlfriend—tried to fight them off, but....” I didn't care that my fists were clenching at my sides. “....some android bastard just shut her off, carried her out...”

Jess looked somewhat shaken, but managed to keep it out of her voice. “...I hope you can get her back, Matt.”

“....that makes two of us.” I nodded, thanked her for the talk (which she reciprocated, seeing as how she was waiting to be picked up by a co-worker), and continued moving past the racks. My thoughts wandered with every step; how many of these others might've been targeted, like Lucy was? How many of them might've been taken, like Lina was?

Eventually, I reached the far end of the room—and a door that looked like it'd been taken from a bank vault.

“....okay, if this opens and there's a Kevlar-plated costume with a bat-eared cowl....”

Any thoughts on Uncle Frank being Batman were brought to a halt when he and Lucy—now wearing a dress shirt a size-too small, form-fitting khakis and knee socks) drove up in a golf cart. “...couldn't help but notice you talked to Mandy back there,” he mused; he didn't sound angry, to my relief...if anything, he seemed glad that I'd stopped to chat with her.

“...she'd been in the backyard, at the party....the day I met Lina, I mean....” I sighed. “So, whatever can help us—”

“Whoever can help us get Lina back,” Uncle Frank corrected. “Some of the androids and gynoids I repair down here, they've got nowhere else to go....the ALPA made a few arrangements, and, well...they live here!”

“Behind a bank vault door...” Lucy muttered. “Pretty sure hotels don't keep their customers locked up, at night...”

“They're free to come and go as they please,” Uncle Frank countered. “And they all know the code to open the door...I had this thing installed to keep out jerks like the ones who took Lina, back at the shop.”

Lucy arched an eyebrow. “...and they're okay with this?”

“You can ask 'em yourself, in a few minutes...” Uncle Frank grinned and walked over to a keypad. “Avert your eyes, if you don't mind....”

I sighed, but did as he asked. Lucy groaned, even though I could see her lift a hand to cover her eyes.

After several beeps and a trilling noise, Uncle Frank was at my side again. “Both of you might want to stand a ways back,” he advised, “'cause this thing opens wide!”

I did as he suggested, taking a good five or six steps back as the vault door opened....

The sight of the lab, as Uncle Frank's van had descended from the hangar, was incredible—anything I'd seen in videos and such before paled in comparison to it.

Behind that vault door, though....

….I never could figure out how to describe just how mind-blowing that sight was.

It looked, at first glance, like a hotel corridor—if hotel corridors had floor-to-ceiling glass windows by the door, with a mounted tablet that gave the specs of the “guests” in lieu of a room sign. What looked to be small, portable generators (I instantly recognized these as what the forum would call “android servicing units”) were in each room; some had cords emerging from them, plugged into an android or gynoid; others were unused as we walked past, and at least one had a shirt draped over it. Each room had all the basic amenities—bed, dresser, TV, couch, and a closed-off area that I could only guess was for bathing (and...waste processing, if need be).

“Every single android and gynoid here filled out the necessary paperwork to apply for lodging,” Uncle Frank explained, as we strode down the hall. “A few of them even earn their keep—some have day jobs, some volunteer in and around the community, and some work at the airfield over us. Things have been a bit dicey, from time to time....usually when some bigwig tried to shut the airfield down and pave over everything. Nearly happened last year, actually...”

I was too transfixed by what I was seeing to really hear him. In one room, a slender, pale gynoid with jet-black hair was working on motors in her left arm with a precision tool kit; in another, an android with an athlete's figure and a certain Brad Pitt quality to his looks was shadowboxing, checking the speed of his punches against a mirror that, to my surprise, had a full computer desktop integrated into its surface. Some of the rooms were vacant, though even a few of these looked like their occupants had merely left for the graveyard shift and would be back later on, if only for a quick bath.

We finally stopped in front of a door at the far end of the hall—we'd passed an intersection at one point, but kept going straight. “I figured the first spot on our team would be best served by someone with prior combat experience,” Uncle Frank explained. I glanced into the room, my eyes going wide—a tall, blonde woman with the tone of a lifelong athlete and wearing a “costumized” Army uniform, was sitting on the bed, reading a magazine.

Uncle Frank held a card up to where the doorknob would be on a normal door, and it slid open. “May we come in?”

“Well, well,” the blonde remarked, putting down the magazine and regarding Uncle Frank with a somewhat-amused stare. “I can only hope it's not another airfield patrol.” Her voice had a Southern drawl to it, and I noticed numbers and abbreviations inked onto her left bicep, and what appeared to be a military patch etched into her shoulder.

“I've got a bit of a job for you, Millie,” Uncle Frank explained. “My nephew here—” He grabbed me by the shoulder and drew me closer. “...his girlfriend was abducted by some yahoos who busted up my shop.”

Millie regarded Lucy and me with an arched eyebrow. “And why should I concern myself with such trivial matters?”

“Because Lina means the world to me.” I took a step forward. “The assholes who—don't tell me to watch my language, Uncle Frank! The assholes who took her didn't even treat her like a person...just shut her off and carried her out like she was yesterday's trash!” I ignored the feeling of my fists clenching. “Uncle Frank said you had combat experience...”

The blonde stood up—lo and behold, she was taller than me by a good few inches. “I do.”

Lucy stepped up. “Then we'll need someone who can do a lot of damage to those fuckheads, and maybe take some damage if need be—not that I'd ever wish that on anyone, least of all you...” She stopped—probably because she'd noticed me once again remembering Lina's final, terrified look. “....ah, Matt....”

“...they'll pay.” The words sounded like a low growl, even to me. “They'll fucking pay....”

After a few seconds, Millie nodded. “Not to worry, 'hun. When we catch up to those creeps, I'll do my best to make sure they pay for what they've done.” She flexed her right arm, kissing her fist.

“That's what we're hopin' for, Millie. Gear up and meet us at the elevator in....I'd say ten, fifteen minutes.” Uncle Frank nodded, guiding me out of the room (with Lucy following close after). “Millie's an Aeronautics and Robotics Technologies prototype,” he explained. “Military Intelligence and Enforcement...top of the line, a few years ago.”

“Was she, now....” Lucy rolled her eyes. “How'd she end up here, then?”

“Eh, they put her in some big tournament to test her skills...she made it pretty far. Semi-finals, I think....but some other gynoid beat her. They were gonna scrap the whole project and just write her off as a failure!”

Lucy scoffed. “So, what, you basically stepped in and 'rescued' her?”

“Well, there was an auction, and the ALPA gave me the funds needed to, ah, secure her, so she wouldn't get sent off to the junk pile. She does guard duty around here, every once in a while.” Uncle Frank glanced at a few of the other doors, pondering. “....the complex is gonna be high-security,” he reasoned, “and we'll need.....yeah, yeah, definitely!”

I could tell Lucy was getting annoyed. “...we'll need what?”

Uncle Frank walked over to another room—this one, apparently vacant. “...probably in the shower,” he muttered.

I frowned. “....ah, who's in the shower—”

A cheerful voice called out “JUST A SECOND!” from the bathroom area over the whine of a hair dryer.

“...when she gets out,” Uncle Frank advised, “don't stare.”

“....even if she's only wearing a towel—or not wearing a towel?” I ignored Lucy elbowing me in the side.

“Not...that's not what I mean,” Uncle Frank countered. “Just—”

The hair dryer cut off and the door opened...revealing just why Uncle Frank had asked me not to stare.

It wasn't that the girl who emerged from the steaming bathroom was the same height and general build as Lina, or the fact that she was naked except for a very short towel wrapped around her that started at her boobs and ended just an inch below her groin. Those facts paled in comparison to a few other details. For one, a pair of rather noticable cat ears topped her cherry-red hair—far from just being static decorations, they were actually moving like the ears of a real cat.

There was also, of course, what was jutting out from the rear of the towel (and probably lifting it where it should've covered her ass): the rather unmistakable shape of a tail, covered in smooth, tanned fur. Her smooth, slightly cartoonish face was still recognizably human, albeit with feline touches.

“....a cat girl.” I could tell Lucy was...puzzled, to say the least. “You have a cat girl gynoid living here....”

The cat girl gynoid in question immediately noticed me (and ignored Lucy entirely). “Is that your nephew, Mr. Frank?”

“I've told you before, you don't have to call me Mr. Frank...” Uncle Frank sighed. “And yes, this is indeed my nephew.”

Before I could reply, the cat girl walked up to me, extending a hand. “I've heard so much about you!”

“....all good, I hope...” I shook her hand. “Matt Harker...though you probably already knew that.”

The gynoid nodded enthusiastically. “You still go to the forum, right?”

My eyes went wide. “You told her about the forum?!” I could tell Lucy was trying (and failing) to not chuckle.

“Atatatatatatata...” Uncle Frank waved aside my question. “You haven't even asked her name!”

“....right....” I glanced at the feline gynoid. “....and you are...”

“Ashwyn,” she proudly declared. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Matt!”

“She's another prototype,” Uncle Frank explained. “There were plans, a few years ago, for a theme park—meant to be more for the...adult crowd, really...”

“Fetishists, you mean.” Lucy's remark was dripping with sarcasm.

Uncle Frank shrugged (and nodded). “Either/or. In any case, the whole thing was going to cater to those who were more into...ah, exotic tastes...”

“Furries.” Lucy counted off the types on her fingers. “Cat girls, monster girls, demon girls, alien girls—”

“All right, all right, you've made your point, Lucy...anyway, the place never really got off the ground, apart from a few limited run test units—some of them had other qualities that made them, shall we say, desirable for reasons beyond ther initial intended function.” Uncle Frank gestured to Ashwyn. “She's agile, she can climb like nobody's business, and she can jump..ah, how high was it?”

Ashywn smiled. “Ten feet, sir.”

“Ten feet, from a standing leap!” Uncle Frank exclaimed. “Great for clearing fences!”

I nodded. “And stealth?”

“They'll never hear me.” Ashwyn lifted one of her feet, revealing pads just like those on the foot of an actual cat. “I can even adjust the thickness and sponginess!”

Lucy groaned. “Did you even tell Kitty here what we'll be doing?”

“...OH, right, of course...” Uncle Frank nodded. “Thing is, Ashwyn, Matt's girlfriend was...abducted, pretty much.”

“Oh, no!” Ashwyn's hand immediately went to her mouth. “I'm so sorry to hear that...”

“Yeah, well...we're heading out to go get her back from the sh—”

“From the stuperstitious cowardly lot that took her,” Uncle Frank declared. “Isn't that right?”

“.....close enough.” I rolled my eyes.

“Well, I'll definitely be glad to help.” Ashwyn gave a salute—keeping one hand on her towel, of course.

“Glad to hear it,” Uncle Frank replied, leaning forward to scratch behind one of her ears—she gave a happy little hum, at that, and her tail went all over the place. “Just finish drying off, get dressed and meet us by the elevator in ten minutes.”

“Will do!” Ashwyn nodded.

Even as we were leaving Ashwyn's room, Uncle Frank was already figuring out who else we'd need for our “clandestine operation. “....someone with a lot of experience with security systems...yeah, she'd definitely be a big help—”

His phone went off, ending any discussion about a security specialist. “...getting calls at a time like this...yello, Frank here, what...oh, OH, right. Well, it's just me, down here...my nephew and I, I mean.” He nodded. “Well, his girlfriend...so you already got the report. Okay....well, I told him I'd help him get her back—yes, she's a gynoid. Name's Lina. Home-build, made by...Lucy Sievers, yes—she's with us at the moment. Lucy, I mean, not...anyway. The, ah, individuals who took her, they sent some of their own to my shop—one's still on the floor, neodymium magnet stuck to her back, so you might not want to send in any...” He nodded again, turning to glance at me. “....well, the other two, we brought down here—one's still in standby mode, the other wasn't fully reprogrammed...works at a law office, Gillan & Baker. The ones who took Lina were set to go—I said they were set to go back to the Greensfield Warehouse Complex!”

I glanced around the hallways, trying not to let the image of Lina's stare overwhelm me. It'd felt like that android prick who'd shut her off turned her head my way specifically so that I'd see her stare at me before she was carried out...a total dick move on his part.

“We'll get her back, Matt.” I barely felt Lucy's hand on my shoulder; her voice was surprisingly quiet as she as she spoke. “We're gonna get Lina back from those assholes...whatever it takes.”

“....well, I figured we could mount a rescue operation...” Uncle Frank was still in the middle of his phone conversation. “I thought you people would have your hands full with...y'know! I already got Millie and Ashwyn to come with us..oh. Oh, really? And you're sure he won't mind helping us out?” He looked somewhat surprised. “Well, if he wants to help, I'm not gonna argue with that! How soon can he...oh, he'll meet us at the complex? I suppose that's fair...right, right. Thanks.” With another nod, he ended the call, tapping me on the shoulder. “Well, our job just got a lot easier.”

“I'll bet....” Lucy planted a hand on her hip, frowning. “Who was that on the line?”

“The ALPA,” Uncle Frank replied. “Apparently, they were 'alerted' to us showing up when I opened the gate, and called me here to make sure everything was a-okay.”

“And they don't have a problem with helping us get Lina back?”

“They've already fielded a report about Lina's abduction...something about Lucy sending a panic signal back at the shop, when the transfer was interrupted...” Uncle Frank ignored Lucy's muttered expletive and put a hand on my shoulder. “...they're sending along one of their best Field Agents to help,” he added, grinning. “He'll meet us at the complex!”

“....he can't just meet us here?”

“Matt, Matt, Matt....” Uncle Frank looked me in the eye. “The fact that they're sending him out to help us at all should be good enough. As it is, we've got Millie and Ashwyn...”

“Ahem....” Lucy gave him a light punch in the shoulder. “Forgetting someone?”

“Believe me, I didn't forget you....” Uncle Frank nodded. “In any case, we've got everyone we need to get Lina back!”

“What about us? Don't tell me you've got fucking grappling hooks, lockpick sets and stealth suits hidden around here...”

Uncle Frank gave Lucy a look. “...what do I look like, G.I. Joe?”

“....good point.” I sighed. We weren't fielding the A-Team or the Power Rangers, but at the very least, we might have a decent shot of getting Lina back....

Stay tuned...
"No one steals our chicks.....and lives!"

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Re: Lina, Part 5

Post by DollSpace » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:39 am

I enjoyed it. 10/10 would read again. :)

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Re: Lina, Part 5

Post by liliwinnt6 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 6:43 pm

i feel excited learning about this underground facility
Fellas, you may address me as Boris, my ID could be troublesome for you to call me.
BTW, my stories would be updated without notifications.
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Re: Lina, Part 5

Post by DukeNukem 2417 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:29 pm

liliwinnt6 wrote:
Thu Oct 17, 2019 6:43 pm
i feel excited learning about this underground facility
It's a repair lab/boarding house, not a sex dungeon.

On a lighter note, feel free to guess who Millie is based on!
"No one steals our chicks.....and lives!"

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