Subroutine

Chapter 4

by Kallie

Tags: #noncon #dom:female #f/f #pov:bottom #pov:top #scifi #sub:female #clothing #drones #f/nb #sub:nb

Drone Unit 7005 knelt on the bed, perfectly patient, perfectly calm, as Harper breathlessly kissed its latex-clad neck and ran her hands all over its body. Harper was moaning against the drone’s body, consumed by the ecstasy of the feeling and the power-trip of knowing she could do anything she wanted, without consequence. 7005 felt nothing. It was just a drone. It felt what it was programmed to feel. Nothing more. Still, it was aware of the way its body was responding to the touch. It could feel goosebumps on its skin, beneath the latex, it could feel a faint flushing in its cheeks, which were exposed as Harper had instructed it not to wear the mask, and it was even aware of faint flickers of pleasure in its body whenever Harper’s hands traveled over its breasts. But all of those things felt so distant. They were like a voice heard from the other end of a long tunnel. Only echoes reached it. The pleasure was especially distant. That was the way it should be. Pleasure meant nothing to a drone. No feeling, no response, no sensation was strong enough to interfere with its programming, with its overriding impulse to obey. At that moment, it had been instructed to kneel and wait, so that was exactly what it would do. No matter what.

“Fuck,” Harper moaned. 7005 felt her hands starting to explore further and further down its body, over its stomach, held flat and sleek by the tight latex bodysuit, and between its legs. When Harper touched it there, 7005 experienced a sudden, sharp surge of physical pleasure, but its programming mastered it before it could give a single outward sign of it. Pleasure didn’t matter. Only blankness. Emptiness. Obedience. Perfection. The only response that was totally beyond 7005’s control was that its penis was slowly growing to hardness in response to the way Harper was stroking it over the latex. As it got hard, Harper started to press insistently, needily against its dick, outlined under the skin-tight bodysuit, feeling every inch of it with her fingertips. It knew it didn’t need to anticipate or predict, only obey, but 7005 nonetheless prepared itself for what might happen. If ordered, it would service its current user as pleasurably as it could, as it had done the day before when Harper had first used it that way.

But instead, all of a sudden, Harper drew back. She shuffled back away from 7005, her hand hanging in the air uncertainly. She was still breathing hard, but she no longer seemed overwhelmed by desire as she had done before. Instead, her eyes were darting about, showing confusion and doubt. “I… I’m sorry,” Harper muttered. “I shouldn’t… I promised myself… fuck. Why do I keep fucking this up?”

7005 said nothing.

After a moment, Harper slumped backwards. The way she hung her head and shoulders made her look like a deflating balloon. “OK. Let’s just do what we’re supposed to be doing.”

7005 understood. It could remember everything. She - Lori - had come in to see Harper, asking to be activated as 7005 again. The previous day, they’d both become distracted when Lori had confessed her desire to serve as a drone. But now she’d had that release, Lori had remembered her original reason for asking in the first place: her desire to find out what why or how any of this had happened in the first place. So, she’d asked Harper to do it again, and after some weak protests, Harper had agreed. After activating 7005, though, Harper had started groping and touching it again, reveling in its compliant, unresponsive, latex-covered form.

That didn’t bother 7005. It had no feelings or desires regarding the way it was treated. Lori’s wishes were meaningless to it. 7005 was a drone. It didn’t want anything, and it was programmed to serve. That was all. That was its whole existence. One form of service was as good as any other. Whatever its user commanded.

“7005,” Harper said. The drone stiffened slightly as it was called to attention. “Forget about this. Ensure that when you wake up, you do not remember anything that happened before this point.”

“Command accepted,” 7005 replied blankly. It was perfectly simple for it to control which parts of its memory Lori was permitted to access, although 7005 itself would continued to remember everything. That was important.

“OK,” Harper said to herself, taking a few long, deep breaths to calm herself down. “Let’s get this started properly.”

“How… why…” Harper paused as she realized she didn’t exactly know what she was supposed to ask. “How did you become a drone?”

“User activated this unit a short time ago,” 7005 answered promptly, in a monotonous voice.

“No, I mean, how did you become a drone at first?”

“This unit has always been a drone.”

“What? No, but that’s…” Harper rubbed her forehead. “Oh, I see. OK. How did Lori become a drone?”

“Lori was thoroughly brainwashed and programmed in the creation of this unit.”

Harper bent forward. “How?”

Unit 7005 opened its mouth, but paused for a moment before speaking. Its immediate impulse was, as ever, to obey and to answer. But when it tried, it encountered a kind of mental wall, something ingrained by programming that was at the core of its being. When it spoke, its response was completely automatic: “Access denied.”

Harper blinked. “What does that mean?”

“Current user does not have access to that information,” 7005 explained.

“Why?” Harper demanded immediately.

“Current user does not have access to that information,” 7005 repeated.

“OK… how can I get access to that information?”

“User must be granted access privileges.”

“How?”

7005 paused for a moment, before saying: “Unknown.”

Harper sighed, obviously frustrated. 7005, by contrast, remained as calm as ever. Inwardly, it was filled with a constant, almost electronic hum of satisfaction. Obeying and answering, whether its answers were what Harper wanted or not, felt right. 7005 knew it was a good drone. It was serving its user. It was fulfilling its purpose.

“You can’t tell me how you… how Lori was brainwashed,” Harper began again, after a moment’s thought. “But who brainwashed you?”

“The Administrator,” 7005 answered. Even in its blank voice, the word ‘administrator’ was spoken with a kind of significance. Associations flitted through the drone’s otherwise empty, robotic mind. It had the impression of a dark, faceless, all-powerful figure.

“Who is the Administrator?” Harper pressed, picking up on the significance of the title.

“The Administrator,” 7005 answered simply. It seemed like all the explanation that was needed. It couldn’t think of the Administrator any other way.

Harper bent yet further forward. “Yes, but… what is the identity of the Administrator?”

7005 blinked. “Access denied.”

“Shit.” Harper let out a long sigh, and slumped backwards. “What else, what else? Um… how about this: why was Lori brainwashed into a drone?”

“Unknown,” was the only answer 7005 had.

“God damn it. OK, well, what are you used for?” Harper asked exasperatedly.

7005 blinked again. “Clarify.”

“Well, like, when you are activated, what are you used for?”

“When this unit is activated by the current user, this unit is used to perform household tasks and to provide sexual grat-”

“No, not me!” Harper blurted out, turning beetroot red. “I mean, other users.”

“This unit is not regularly activated by other users,” 7005 replied.

“What?” Harper’s brow furrowed in confusion. “That doesn’t make sense. But then why… when are you ever activated? Besides me, I mean. There must be something.”

“Aside from current user, this unit activates automatically once each week in order to perform scheduled maintenance. Besides that, there have been no other activations during the last-”

“Maintenance?” Harper bent forward again, her face suddenly bright. “What maintenance?

“This unit is required to perform regular maintenance in order to avoid degradation of essential programming,” Unit 7005 explained robotically.

“How?” Harper exclaimed. Over the previous few days she had been more concerned with her own desires than with finding out what had truly happened to Lori, but now, her curiosity had been sparked. “Show me!”

“Command accepted.” Harper started slightly when, abruptly, 7005 swung its legs off the bed stood upright. When it started marching towards the door, Harper followed it. 7005 led Harper through to its room - Lori’s room. 7005 sat down at the desk, in front of Lori’s computer. Harper stood over it, behind its shoulder, and watched as 7005 opened a web browser and typed a URL into the address bar. It took her to a Dropbox page containing just one thing: a video file entitled ‘Maintenance’. 7005 clicked to download the file, and made to open it immediately once the download was complete, but Harper stopped her.

“Wait!” she said, her mouth dry. “7005, wake up.”

7005 closed its eyes, and then Lori awoke. She stretched happily, a blissful smile on her face as memories of being a blank, blissfully empty drone washed over her. But then, as she became aware of her surroundings, she looked around in puzzlement. “Harper? W-what?”

“I - we - found something,” Harper said quickly, equal parts excited and apprehensive. “I asked you a bunch of questions and it led us… here.”

Lori nodded slowly, her memories returning with greater clarity after she’d had a moment to re-orient herself. “Oh. Yes. The maintenance.”

“Yeah,” Harper breathed. “It’s right there. I thought I should wake you up before we take a look at it.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” Lori said. “We don’t know what it might d-do to me.” She was shaking. Just moments ago, as 7005, she’d been so calm, but now her heart was pounding. Was she about to find out what had happened to her? What did maintenance mean? What kind of ‘programming’ was it meant to reinforce? She was desperate to know, but she feared what she might find. For a long moment, she just waited, held in place by anticipation.

“You ready?” Harper asked tentatively after a moment.

“Yeah,” Lori exhaled, and opened the maintenance file.

A video player filled the computer screen. For a moment it was black, blank, and both Lori and Harper’s eyes searched around the empty screen as they waited for something to happen. Then, all of a sudden, the screen flickered into life. Lori and Harper both blinked, their eyes adjusting as they found themselves staring at a huge, spinning, black and white spiral. Lori looked at it carefully, confused. Was this it? She’d seen little animated images like this all over the internet. There didn’t seem to be anything special about this one. But she had to be sure, so Lori looked as closely as she could, her eyes following the lines of the alternating black and white arms as they slowly rotated, forming a vortex, converging at a single point in the center that seemed infinitely far away and yet seemed to be getting further and further away with each passing moment. Lori frowned. She didn’t understand. This was just a normal, boring spiral.

At least, that was what she first thought. But after a moment or two of her eyes being fixed firmly on the absolute center of the spiral, she noticed something. Once she noticed it, she wasn’t sure how she’d ever missed it. There was this slight, irregular flickering happening all over the spiral, in Lori’s peripheral vision, at the edges of the black and white arms. Points where something was appearing, or disappearing, or where one part of the spiral was blurring into the next in an odd pattern. Each time, it flickered for just a moment, and then disappeared. Lori never had the time to really focus on it, but she had the impression of different numbers, letters and symbols, none of which made any sense. Lori decided there had to be some kind of meaning to them, though, and tried to pull her gaze away from the center of the spiral so she could look at them more directly.

She couldn’t. She couldn’t do it. Lori didn’t understand what she was feeling. She didn’t know how it was possible. She just… couldn’t look away. It was like her eyes were locked on to the spiral, like they were being drawn into it, deeper and deeper with each passing moment and with each turn of the spiral. She felt like she was getting closer to it, like she was starting to plunge into the infinite tunnel spinning before her eyes. She felt a kind of lightness in her stomach, bordering on vertigo, and alarm bells were screaming at her from the back of her mind, but she still couldn’t look away. When she tried, her eyes refused to obey her, and the futile attempt left her feeling drained and weak. That was when Lori noticed the other changes that were happening in her body. When had she started feeling so heavy and lethargic? Why was she suddenly having to fight so hard to keep her eyelids open? Was it sudden? How long had she been looking at the spiral? With her gaze spellbound to the center of the spiral, Lori couldn’t see the progress bar on the video. It felt like she’d been starting at it for hours, but she had the sense that her ‘maintenance’ was only just beginning. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep her eyes open. If she shut her eyes, would that be better? Would that save her? At least she wouldn’t be looking at the spiral anymore. But a sinister, creeping feeling was telling her that if she shut her eyes, she wouldn’t be the one opening them again. It would be 7005.

When Lori thought about it like that, it was almost a temptation. Being 7005 felt so good. She craved it. The way Harper had helped her the day before had taken the edge off, but she’d found her need for it growing again soon after. Wouldn’t it feel amazing, if she just gave in and shut her eyes? But no, Lori told herself, she couldn’t. Not like this. It wasn’t safe. She didn’t know what would happen to her, and she needed to find out. It was only OK if it was her trusted roommate, Harper… Harper! What was happening to Harper? Lori’s roommate was standing behind her, where she couldn’t see her. Was she OK? Why hadn’t she noticed that something was wrong with Lori? Had she been entrapped by the spiral too? How was that possible? Lori couldn’t think about those questions. Not now. All her attention, all her will, was bent towards keeping hey eyes open, no matter how easy it seemed to just let them fall shut. She had to fight it. But more and more, as the spiral turned, Lori started to feel as though she didn’t have a choice.

The spiral was changing. There was more and more flickering now, happening all over the spiral at once. It was hardly flickering at all, at that point. The symbols, the letters and numbers, were filling Lori’s peripheral vision, an ever-shifting pattern of variables and code. She didn’t know how she knew that was what it was, but she did. This was programming. Her programming. Worse, Lori could feel herself changing too. As the flickering lines of code disappeared into the infinite vortex at the heart of the spiral, she could feel them entering her. She could feel them at work inside her mind. They were cold, unfamiliar, alien slivers of silver, worming their way in, changing her, molding her. Lori wanted to fight that too, but she didn’t know how. More and more, she could feel her thoughts being overtaken by that metallic, robotic presence. As it started to take form, she recognized it for what it was: 7005. Her mind was being subsumed into the drone. She was losing herself to it. More and more of herself, of her real, human self, was being drained away and replaced, and she could sense how close she was to complete collapse. Her eyes were just so tired. It would just be a few more moments before she-

“No!” Lori cried out. With one last great exertion, she managed to whip her head around and tear her gaze away from the spiral. Once she had, she was left feeling dazed and heavy, but her mind was her own again. Her first thought was of Harper. She looked up, and the look she saw on her roommate’s face shocked her. Harper, normally so fierce and energetic, looked totally blank. Her face was expressionless and slack, her arms hung limply at her sides, a small trickle of drool had escaped the corner of her mouth, and her dull eyes were locked to the spiral. Lori was struck with immediate awe at the spiral’s power. How could it have done that to Harper so easily? Harper hadn’t even been exposed before, the way Lori must have been. Lori was terrified at the idea that the spiral was that irresistible, but she felt something else too. A strange, shameful heat started to burn through her as she looked at her deeply-hypnotized roommate.

After just a few moments, though, she shoved it aside. She needed to save Harper. Not knowing what else she could do, Lori delivered a sharp, firm slap across Harper’s cheeks. When she heard an indignant “Ow” from her, she knew she’d managed to snap her out of it. Next, she needed to stop the spiral. But she couldn’t look at it again. Lori knew she didn’t have the strength to resist for a second time. Without looking at the screen, she reached for the mouse and after a moment of fumbling, closed the video player. Once that was done, she could finally slump onto the ground, exhausted. Harper, who had managed to flop onto Lori’s bed, looked similarly drained and shocked. Lori couldn’t blame her. She had no idea what Harper must have been feeling.

Eventually, both of them managed to regain their breath and their composure. Lori hauled herself back on to the chair, and found that Harper had also managed to raise herself up on her elbows. They exchanged a look. “A-are you…?” Lori asked.

“I’m fine,” Harper answered briskly, followed by a more uncertain: “I think.”

Both of them turned to look warily at the computer screen. “That was…” Lori began, before realizing she had no idea what she was trying to say.

“Powerful,” Harper finished. They both nodded. Lori could tell that she and her roommate were both thinking the same thing: how could a simple spiral video have done that to them? How? It hardly seemed possible, but after what she’d just experienced, Lori couldn’t disbelieve it. She could still feel the lingering effects of the hypnosis in her mind. Was that how she’d been turned into a drone? A spiral like that, for a long time or repeatedly, or both… but who could make something like that? Why? There were still so many questions. And what about Harper? If it was supposed to be ‘maintenance’ for Lori, what had it been doing to Harper? Lori turned back to her.

“Harper, what… what happened to you? I had no idea it would affect you that way, I thought it was just for me. What did you feel?”

“I-I don’t know.” Harper turned her face away from Lori. “I was so confused… it’s all just a blur.”

Lori nodded and did her best to offer a sympathetic smile, even though inwardly she was just as alarmed as Harper looked. “So, what do we do now?”

After another few seconds, Harper seemed to collect herself a bit. “Why don’t have a look and see if you can find out anything about that file, or that Dropbox page.”

“Yes. Right.” Lori turned to her computer, and carefully inspected both the file and the page. Nothing. As far as she could tell, it was just an ordinary video file, and nothing attached to it indicated who might have made it. Equally, on the Dropbox page, she couldn’t see who owned the file or what other contents might be being stored alongside it. Lori relayed her dismal findings to Harper, who sighed.

“So in other words, this is just another dead end, right?”

“Maybe not,” Lori replied, thinking hard. “This clearly isn’t normal, right? I’ve never heard of anything like this before. So it has to be something secret. Something new. Maybe… someone’s research? From college?”

“You think we’re someone’s… lab rats?” Harper asked, slowly.

“Could be.” Lori kept thinking. “What about Professor Elbourne?”

“I thought you said her using the activation code was an accident. Just a random number, you said.” Harper frowned.

“Maybe it wasn’t so random.” Lori didn’t want to admit she wasn’t as sure of that as she’d been pretending. In truth, she’d said that just in the hopes of persuading Harper to fulfill her desire to be a drone for a time. But even aside from that, she couldn’t help feeling as though there was something important about that first day that she was failing to remember.

“Only in computer science! Not… whatever the hell you’d call this.”

“I guess,” Lori admitted. “But… when I’m 7005, it feels a bit like I’m being programmed. Like I’m barely more than a computer. I don’t know if there’s a connection there, but there could be. And besides, we don’t have anything more to go on, do we?”

“You’re right,” Harper said, and then started rubbing her temples. “I… I think I might have a headache or something. I’m gonna go lie down.”

“OK.” Lori looked at her roommate, concerned. “Let me know if you need anything, OK?”

“Yeah.” Harper stood up and made to leave, but she turned back to Lori for a moment. “And Lori?” Harper warned. “Don’t look at that spiral again. Maybe you can find a way to block the website, even. We need to make sure you’re not brainwashed to look at it and re-condition yourself, or something.”

“Right.” Lori remembered what she’d said as 7005: that she activated automatically every week to perform her ‘maintenance’. How long had that been going on for? Lori tried to look back to see if she had any blank spots in her memory, but there was nothing. “Yeah. I can do that.”

“Good,” said Harper, and left.

Once she was alone, Lori let out a long sigh. All of a sudden, she felt incredibly exhausted. She wanted to lie down and sleep. She somehow felt as though all of this, everything that had happened, was just a strange, bad dream, and maybe if she slept, she could wake herself up. At the very least, she could get away from it all for a moment. Lori stood up and started walking over to her bed, but the moment she did, she realized something: she was still wearing the latex bodysuit.

Instantly, she was filled with the urge to get out of it as quickly as possible. It unnerved her. She quickly unzipped it, slipped one arm out of it, and managed to free both her legs and her torso. She was left with it just hanging off of one arm, and she knew it would have been so easy for her to slip that off too, but something stopped her. She was struck by an impulse to run her latex-clad hand over her naked body, just to satisfy a stray sense of curiosity. She did so, and found herself exhaling sharply at the feeling. It was incredible. Touching herself with it felt different to wearing it. She’d never imagined it would feel so smooth. The feeling was strangely soothing. Lori perched on her bed and started tracing light, circular patterns up and down her torso, treating the arm part of the bodysuit like a glove while the rest of it rested limply beside her on the bed. It seemed easy and harmless for Lori to just close her eyes and drink in the sensation of the latex, letting it take the place of her anxiety. She couldn’t help wondering how the latex would feel on other, more intimate parts of her body, and she didn’t feel any need to resist that temptation. Lori found that she was already getting hard before she even touched herself, and once she started caressing her dick with her latex-covered fingers, it was no time at all until she was completely erect. She gasped when she finally wrapped her whole hand around her cock and started slowly stroking herself up and down. The smoothness of it felt so incredible.

Lori quickly realized, though, that she was finding her masturbation somewhat unsatisfying. It was missing something. She was craving something more. But what? It didn’t take her long to figure it out. So that she could truly relax and clear her mind, she wanted that special, perfect, unbreachable calm that only being a drone could give her. Her experience with the spiral had left her wanting more. Was that a bad thing? Lori’s first instinct was that it was, but she found that she couldn’t exactly figure out why. It was getting harder and harder to think clearly, the faster and faster she stroked herself. Why was it bad, that she was craving the feeling the spiral had given her? She just wanted to relax. No-one could blame her for that, right?

Her craving was growing stronger and stronger by the moment, and Lori wondered if she could go to Harper and ask her to turn her into 7005 again. But no, she couldn’t. Harper had said she wasn’t feeling well, and she’d clearly been disturbed by what the spiral had done to them. There was no way her roommate would be willing, not right now. A small whine escaped Lori’s lips. How was she going to be able to satisfy herself? As she opened her eyes and cast a needy eye around her room, the answer supplied itself. Her computer was right there. The spiral was right there. No. No way. She couldn’t. Could she? It was such a bad idea. That was obvious. But Lori was struggling to care. It could be just this once, she thought to herself. She just needed it now, to get the feeling out of her head. Then she could delete the spiral and block the website. Just once. What could be the harm? She’d obviously been hypnotized by the spiral before, judging by 7005’s comments. How could one more time be that bad?

Lori stood up, intending to pace about and think it out. Instead of pacing, she just drifting over to her computer. She sat down in front of it, and finally slipped off the latex completely. For a moment she considered putting it all the way back on, but she still felt too intimidated by that idea. She looked at her screen. She could see the spiral file. It was right there. Tempting her. Lori told herself she should calm down and take a moment to consider if this was really a good decision, but deep down she knew that her intense craving for that peaceful, blissful drone headspace had already made the decision for her. Lori spread her legs a little and started touching herself again. She was so hard and so sensitive, and she couldn’t tell if it was from the anticipation of how pleasurable it was going to be, or because secretly the shame of giving her mind to the spiral excited her. It didn’t matter. Once her hand was stroking her cock, all her willpower melted away. She opened the spiral video.

Blackness filled her screen again, and for a moment Lori stopped breathing as she waited for it to appear. The spiral. When it did, her whole reacted instantly, becoming loose and relaxed. It was such a catharsis. Ever since she’d managed to snap herself out of trance before, she’d been turning the memory over in her head, over and over again, trying to recapture what it had looked and felt like. The real thing was infinitely more vivid. A happy, blissed-out smile spread across Lori’s face as she let her eyes settle on the center of the spiral. It was like everything else was just fading away, including her own mind and her own body. She was still lazily touching herself, but her pleasure didn’t really matter. Nothing mattered except the spiral. The spiral was everything. It felt different, now that Lori was willingly giving herself to the spiral, instead of trying to resist. It was so much easier, and so much more pleasurable. Her mind was at complete peace. She realized that now, she could see the flickering numbers and words that made up the spiral right from the start. They had been there all along, just waiting for her to tune into them. Somehow that didn’t surprise her. She also wasn’t surprised when, just like before, she felt herself being pulled into the spiral, and at the same time, she felt the spiral’s programming entering her mind, assimilating her, making her robotic and obedient. The feeling was still cold and machine-like, but it didn’t feel alien anymore. It felt comforting. There was such purity to it. Such simplicity. A machine followed its programming. So easy. So purposeful. So simple. So right. So right, to just obey. That was the only thought left in Lori’s mind as she let the spiral drown her in hypnotic bliss.

But at the very last moment before she slipped out of consciousness and into a mindless drone state, something distracted her. Lori’s face twitched. She was almost annoyed by it. She’d been so close to that wonderful feeling. She found she could look away from the spiral, and saw that a small chat alert had appeared in the bottom right-hand corner of her screen. Someone was messaging her, using her college’s internal direct messaging service. She wasn’t sure how it had managed to cut through the spiral’s hypnotic power so effectively, but she immediately noticed there was something strange about it. The alert said “New message from #0001”. Unthinkingly, Lori clicked the alert, and a chat window appeared in the middle of her screen.

“Are you having fun with my spiral, #7005?” the message read.

Lori froze. What the fuck? Who was #0001? How did they know? What did they mean by ‘my spiral’? Were they the one who was responsible for all of this? Lori had a million questions all racing through her slow, disoriented mind, and she had no idea how she was meant to reply. But it didn’t matter, because a moment later, another message appeared:

“Would you like another?”

Lori’s fingertips hung in the air above her keyboard, suspended uncertainly. She wanted to yell. She wanted to scream. She wanted to demand answers. She wanted to say ‘no’. She wanted to say ‘yes’. Again, it didn’t matter. Before she could reply, another message appeared from #0001 in the chat window. This one didn’t say anything, but instead was a link to another dropbox page. Just Lori wrapped her head around the implications of that, one last message appeared:

“Enjoy.”

Lori didn’t know what to do, but it almost felt as though she didn’t have a choice. Slowly, almost as though she was underwater, Lori found herself clicking the link and downloading the video file it provided her with. As it downloaded, her alertness to danger was at war with her insatiable curiosity about what this new spiral might contain. She told herself she shouldn’t watch it, but when the download was complete she opened it up without even hesitating.

A few moments later, her screen was once again filled with a huge, spinning, black and white spiral. Superficially, it was the same as the previous one, but Lori sensed there was something different about it. She wasn’t sure how, but she could tell that the flickering lines of code that appeared all over it were different. That was enough, for Lori, to make it feel like a new experience. Her reaction to it was automatic. She slumped back into her chair again, and let her eyes settle into the center of the spiral. She didn’t really mean to, but it felt so natural. So right. Her vague, weak thoughts of resistance faded away into nothing. She was just too tired. Too overwhelmed. All she wanted was to give in and stop thinking. The spiral could offer her that. She knew it could. She could sense it. She was right on the edge of it, and all she had to do was let herself tumble down, deep into the spiral, until there was nothing but the spiral and the programming it was placing inside her head. Nothing but the spiral. Nothing…

                                           ***

Some time later, 7005 awoke. It sat straight in its chair and brought its legs together, folding its hands in its lap. Adopting that stiff, upright posture, the drone allowed itself to process everything that had happened. It understood perfectly, and its whole body was humming with pleasurable satisfaction. It had received new instructions. New programming from the Administrator. 7005 was incapable of feeling, but if it had been capable it would have been feeling something close to excitement as it carefully made sure that all traces of what had transpired were deleted and hidden. It knew how to be a good drone. It knew what it was supposed to do next.

It would convert Lori’s friends.

Once everything was as it should be, 7005 slumped back into the chair again and allowed Lori to take control. Lori awoke much slower than 7005 had done, stretching awkwardly and rubbing her bleary eyes. What had happened? She’d given in to temptation and watching the maintenance spiral again, and… that was it. Wasn’t it? Lori had the vague memory of receiving a chat message from someone, but when she checked, there were no new or unusual messages. It must have just been a dream. Once she dismissed that thought, she realized she was still naked. She got up from her chair and started putting some clothes on. Wait, had she left the latex suit out? No, when she checked it was right there, folded carefully under her bed. Weird. Lori couldn’t really be bothered to think about it, though. As unwise as she knew it was to watch the spiral like that, it had left her feeling energized to the point of restlessness. She needed to get out. She needed to do something. She needed to see people - people besides her roommate and her professors. It was an unusual urge for someone as introverted as her, but she was now feeling it very strongly. Yes. A visit to a friend was exactly what she’d needed. It had been far too long since she’d hung out with her friend Sally, for example.

And somehow, Lori couldn’t escape the feeling that if she did go and hang out with Sally, something important might happen.

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