We could only program her (a conscious decision was made in the early weeks of the project to designate the android with a gender, and refer to it as "she") with a one-syllable response. She would look real; synthetic skin, stimulus reponse and motor control technology had come very far in the last decade, but alas in 1985 voice recognition and vocal memory had not been thoroughly researched by the University yet. All of that would change soon enough; we were certain she was the key.

Oh, the agony of trying to select the perfect word! She was designed to listen and to cater; what one word would offer the most open possibility of caring and emulate the closest thing to a desire to listen to some lab geek?

"And?"

Weeks later, when all of the power supplies, stitching and programming was complete, she sat infront of me, motionless.

I reached down under her shirt between her breasts, flicked the small red switch, and watched as her eyes became focused. She twitched slightly, slouched only a small amount to seem even more natural (as programmed, genius!) and raised her hand. I took it gently.

"Good morning Crysta," I piped. Crysta stood for Crystal-Stablized Artificial Intelligence. We were going to make it Crysti, but apparently Steve had an ex-wife by that name, so it was nixed.

I waited patiently as Crysta turned her head to look directly at me. "I'm very happy to see you today," I offered to her. "It makes me feel proud to see you look so good." Positive remarks fed her processing algorithms best.

"And?"

I was startled. Her voice was much clearer, much more feminine than I would have expected. Especially in the trials, the voice had come across as metallic and hollow. But inside the synthetic skin and throat structure, the voice resonator was dampened, resulting in a pleasing tone.

"You sound wonderful, Crysta!" I exclaimed. The conference was three weeks away, and if we could demonstrate this model of Crysta, we'd have the prize and respect of our peers indeed!

"And?"

Crysta stood up and seemed to stretch her joints. She looked down at me sitting on the leather couch. "Well, and your movement is fluid and lifelike, as we had hoped!" She really did come across looking rather stunning. I'm glad we decided to spend the extra grant money on some nice outer clothing.

"And?"

Crysta still stood motionless above me. I rose as well, and took her hand. "And I'm sure all of the manners-programming we installed will be working as good as you look, my dear. Shall we try?"



The dinner we had planned went splendidly. Crysta had used all of her manner-algorithms throughout the event, and even made some random decisions that stunned the team, such as only drinking her wine after the host (myself) had tasted his, and not taking the last of any food item on the plate, even though she was programmed to "eat" until "satisfied." And of course, throughout the evening, her conversation fixated on the host (again, myself); always attentive, interested in what I had to say and paying rapt attention to every detail of the conversation.

"So we decided that the solar-panel hair-cap might have saved internal space and generated extra power, but again it wouldn't have the same look and, well... feel to it. It was my executive decision to nix the entire solar-hair project before it got too far."

"And?"

"And of course everyone listened to me, because in their hindsight it was the best route to go. We saved money on the project that was better spent in other areas anyways."

"And?"

"And... erm, well... money is always an issue in a project like this, as I'm sure you can understand. Well, maybe you can't understand, but we'll just pretend you can. Is that okay with you, dearest Crysta? Of course is it. Would you like some more wine?"

"And?"



It was 1989. Four years had passed since the Crysta project. She had, of course, been a great success at the conference that year, and our funding allowed us to proceed with our research and development of intelligent androids. The original Crysta was re-jigged into many other models. But one evening, after playing around with some new hunger algorithms, I decided to check our storeroom for some spare stomach simulator parts.

It was late October; just about the time that every little thing spooks a person, due to all of that Halloween nonsense. I opened the far closet door in the storeroom to check for parts and was startled when I saw a pair of green eyes and a shock of red hair gleam back at me from the back of the enclosure.

It was the original Crysta, or what was left of her. Her skin had held up quite nicely against the ravages of dust and neglect, but her torso and lower body had been taken away for use in the "Graham" project earlier that year. Her eyes stared forward, focused on a distant target.

I remembered that, instead of the solar-hair, we did decide on the long-life battery instead. It wasn't entirely impossible that it could be functional yet. I reached under her chest cavity and felt around for the switch-contact.

"And?"

I took a step back, a tad bit startled. The voice was different now, with the open air underneath the throat. It was shallower, and obviously the time had changed the make-up of the resonating plates, as the voice had a higher pitch. Her eyes focused on mine, she blinked twice.

"Well hello old girl, remember me? We had dinner once, and some wine?"

"And?"

"Well, and we danced too, although your programming needed some adjustment the next day, as did my shoes I'm afraid! But you still looked natural as we chatted it up that night."

"And?"

"Well... and we did watch that movie together, to test your attention-retention factors. You held up quite well, even after the rest of the team had left my apartment to rest for the adjustments the next day. You stayed alert for a good hour after the movie had ended, still listening to me go on about my favourite flicks."

"And?" The voice seemed to get softer, probably due to the wear on the aged batteries.

"After the gents took their leave, there were a few other tests to run, of course. Your stair climbing was flawless, your undressing code worked almost without a glitch..."

"And?" she interrupted. Her pupils seemed to dilate; the power would not last more than a few moments.

"Well, we... I mean I... well, we did create you for comfort. You were designed with some... with most of the correct... " I stammered a bit longer.

"And?" The word was broken, almost choked.

"What harm could it have done?" I turned away, grabbing a ankle joint from the adjacent table. "You seemed to enjoy it, everytime I'd suggest something you'd just ask what was next so we just--"

"And?" The voice box quivered under the strain of losing juice. In fact, Crysta's whole structure seemed to sag sadly.

"And well, the other researchers never knew what else we had to test anyways! I fixed any of the damage I had done before the morning, no one ever knew about it." I smiled. "Not even Barb, her being on vacation that week..." I grinned.

"And?" The voice rose in tone again, with a small spike of available energy.

"Well, she really didn't seem the same after you anyways. Good thing she left; I got more work done without her around in the first place. But you did enjoy that night, right dear? I still remember it; gently pushing your thighs apart (we hadn't programmed you totally for that sort of position), lubricating the stitching just enough, whispering what I was going to do next in your ear..."

"And?" The voice crackled, broken and soft.

"And the strangest thing, really. You were deactivated when I, umm... had finished. As if you were spent too. But it was good, wasn't it? Shame they scrapped you, we could have had a few more spins like that!"

Her eyes went dim and then shut. "And?"


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