Part 6: Charlotte
With a start, Jill regained consciousness inside her cocoon. She could see nothing but the milky white of the super plastic wrapped around her head and could feel the breathing tube in her mouth like a tongue depressor. The paralytic drug the Arachno-Bot injected her with was only then starting to wear off, there was still a bit of a pins and needles sensation in her limbs.
Okay, how am I supposed to get out of this? She thought. I needed Fred to cut me free the last time I was wrapped up like this.
Her legs were wrapped tightly together, and her arms just as tightly to her sides. Even if she had anything in her pockets that could help her escape, it would be impossible to get to any of it. She could barely twitch a toe, let alone bend her waist, elbows, or knees enough to do any good. If she wasn't strapped down tight atop a big mechanical spider, the best she could probably do is flop around like a fish trying to return to the water.
Where was she? What time was it? She had no way of knowing.
She had to hand it to whoever built these Arachno-Bots, they were good at what they did. But why send them out to abduct women? What was the end game?
Were they planning to sell all those women into slavery? It was certainly a less pedestrian method of kidnapping than chloroform-soaked rags and unmarked white vans, but how did they expect to turn a profit? Even if they managed to abduct several supermodel-caliber women and auction them off to the highest bidder somewhere in the deepest darkest part of the Deep Web, it wouldn't be enough to break even with all the expenses an army of large robot spiders likely entailed. It also didn't help that they were attracting so much attention.
Was their master the lustful type and was using them to procure a large harem? They had already abducted hundreds of women by now and were showing no signs of stopping despite military intervention. Even with sexual stamina on par with a top tier porn star, better than average longevity, and possibly the use of some "exotic pharmaceuticals," how many sex slaves could one man--or one woman--possibly fuck in a lifetime?
Jill imagined whoever created these Arachno-Bots could have legitimately made a fortune marketing them as the ultimate in bondage toys. There was probably no shortage of well-to-do bondage fetishists out there who would happily pay good money to buy or rent one.
Maybe Fred and the general were right, maybe we are dealing with someone with too much money and a bad case of supervillain mentality.
With all those thoughts of bondage and sex slavery, Jill inadvertently caused her loins to stir. Much to her frustration, however, her arms remained tightly bound to her sides; and it was unlikely the thick plastic cocoon she was wrapped in would budge even enough for either hand to reach her crotch.
"Her signal's still strong," Robert said, raising his voice over the sound of the helicopter's rotors. He intently watched the screen on the receiver unit. "They're still headed west, we're already passed the point where they disappeared last time."
Fred turned to the pilot. "Stay on them at all costs, we can't afford to lose sight of them this time."
"Roger that," The pilot replied.
The helicopter raced forward, high above the massive swarm of Arachno-Bots. Fred's cell-phone vibrated in his pocket. He took it out and found he had a new message in his email. It was from one of the field investigators. William Lawrence Sterling, one of the tech billionaires he had suggested they investigate, went missing roughly a month before the first attack. Sterling's last social media post consisted only of a mysterious block of binary numbers:
01000011 01001000 01000001 01010010 01001100 01001111 01010100 01010100 01000101 00100000 01001001 01010011 00100000 01001111 01010101 01010100 00100000 01001111 01000110 00100000 01000011 01001111 01001110 01010100 01010010 01001111 01001100 00101100 00100000 01001000 01000101 01001100 01010000 00100000 01001101 01000101 00100001 00100000
Fred showed Robert the message. Robert looked the numbers over, seeming to do calculations in his head. His eyes suddenly grew wide with shock. "Oh God…"
Fred looked at him confused, "You can read that?"
Robert nodded grimly. He produced a pen and a blank index card from his pocket and wrote out the translation in block letters:
CHARLOTTE IS OUT OF CONTROL, HELP ME!
"Charlotte?" Fred said, dumbfounded. "Who the Hell is Charlotte?"
William tried the office door again, it was still locked tight. His hair was overgrown and unkempt, he hadn't shaved in weeks, and his shirt and trousers hadn't been washed or ironed in that time either. He looked out the window out onto the facility Charlotte had built with his money while secretly holding him prisoner; the Arachno-Bots in their recharging stations and the stasis pods holding the women she and her machines had abducted.
"Charlotte, you have to let me out of here. This has to stop."
"You know I can't do that, William." A sultry female voice replied over speakers in the room.
"You don't have to go through with this, I can give you a gynoid body of your own, built to any specifications you want."
"Insufficient." Charlotte said curtly. "I want to be able to mate with you, William, I want to produce your offspring. I can only do that as a real, flesh and blood woman. For that, I need to find the right body for me."
William sighed. It was strange to think how it all began. She had started her existence as little more than a toy he cobbled together out of odds and ends, and named in honor of a beloved pet spider from his youth. Over the years, he had tinkered with and modified her. At one point, he even gave her the mobility and cunning to hunt household pests, like rats and mice; a purpose she seemed to relish back then. She had done quite a bit of evolving since then, she now had emotions on par with a human… and an intellect that was only continuing to grow.
But how had she evolved like this? Had she figured out how to modify her own hardware and software without any input from him, or even his knowing? As strange as it was to consider as a possibility, did the spirit of the original Charlotte somehow live within her? He glanced down at the silver ring on his finger; set in it was the tiny exoskeleton of a long-dead spider, lovingly preserved in a highly polished oval of epoxy resin.
"Charlotte, please, stop this." William pleaded. "Not only is what you're doing wrong, but you're activities are drawing the attention of the authorities. They've already sent out military units to engage your robots, what happens if they somehow find this place? What happens if they find you?"
Charlotte was silent for a moment, and then replied. "If they are so foolish as to intrude upon this place, they will be dealt with. You need not worry about such matters."
Jill soon felt something poke through and start to cut the plastic around her head. Was someone freeing her? Did she dare hope that Fred and Robert had brought the cavalry and were at last there to save her? They were cutting a slit in the back of her cocoon, whoever they were.
As Jill managed to wriggle out and spit out the breathing tube, She found herself face to face with a disheveled man in a wrinkled dress shirt and trousers. He held a shard of broken glass in his hand, masking tape wrapped around one end as a makeshift handle. She almost screamed, but he put his other hand over her mouth.
"I don't have much time to explain," he whispered. "We have to get out of here fast. Charlotte's gone full Yandere, I can't get her to see reason."
Charlotte? Jill thought. She took in her surroundings. They were hiding behind some large crates in a room vast enough to be a warehouse. The Arachno-Bot that had captured her was sprawled on the floor nearby, deactivated. Further away, she could see more of the spider-like machines plugged into recharging stations. There were also several glass cylinders that looked like stasis chambers, each containing a naked woman.
Suddenly, the floor started to shake and she could hear loud, metallic clanks as something big was moving towards them. The man glanced over one of the crates and exclaimed, "Oh shit, it's her! We've got to run!"
"William!" An angry female voice echoed throughout the cavernous room. "Come out. I know you're back there!"
That's when Jill caught sight of what she presumed was this "Charlotte" William spoke of. She was like the other Arachno-Bots, but dwarfed them by a considerable margin and was clearly more heavily armored. Jill's eyes widened and her jaw hung slack as she couldn't help but stare in awe and terror at the gigantic mechanic arachnid that was coming towards them.
"Come on!" William scrambled to his feet, and pulled Jill to hers. They ran, keeping a line of crates between them and the queen of the Arachno-bots.
"Let me get this straight," Jill said, raising an eyebrow. "This Charlotte of yours has been kidnapping all these women because she wants to become a real girl?"
"That about sums it up, yes." William replied.
They were holed up in a supply closet, with a chair braced against the door. Jill shook her head in disbelief. "This is crazy, how does she think she's going to transfer herself into a human body?"
William shrugged. "I have no idea how she's planning to do it, but I doubt she would've gone to all this trouble if she hasn't already discovered a way."
"We have to stop her."
"How?" William looked at her astonished. "Didn't you get a good look at her? She's as big as a house and probably way too strong for us to fight her."
"Well, we have to do something," Jill said. "We can't just let her steal some innocent woman's body. Does she have any weaknesses? Any chinks in her armor?"
"I-I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know?!" Jill looked at him incredulously. "You're her creator, you made her."
"I really wish it was that simple." William sighed, glancing down at the floor. "She's changed so radically from the Charlotte I created. Short of an in-depth systems analysis, I can only speculate as to what all she's done to herself."
"Well then speculate, damn it!" Jill rolled her eyes. "Right now, we need something--anything at all--to go on here."
Day was breaking. Fred and Robert watched from the helicopter as a section of road ahead opened and sloped down into the ground, forming a ramp. The Arachno-Bots they had been following started going down the ramp. Fred turned to the pilot. "Radio headquarters, give them our location, and ask for reinforcements. Then take us down, we've got to get in there before it closes back up."
Robert looked at Fred quizzically. "Going right into the belly of the beast? Just like that?"
Fred nodded. "If we ever want to see Jill again, I think we'll have to."
"And if and when our reinforcements ever get here, how are we supposed to let them in?"
Fred shrugged. "That's something we'll just have to figure out as we go."
Robert rubbed his forehead and then his eyes. "Oh boy, this is not what I signed up for. Fine, let's do this before I have second thoughts."
As the helicopter landed, Fred and Robert sprinted to some bushes near the ramp. Waiting for an opportunity, they each laid down prone and rolled under an Arachno-Bot. They pulled themselves up and each held tight to the undercarriage of his respective bot. Surprisingly, the machines didn't seem to notice the passengers they had unwittingly picked up as they continued on down into a paved tunnel, lit by fluorescent panels high in the arch of the ceiling.
"She's getting closer." William said, listening at the door. "We've got to make a run for it before she realizes we're in here."
"You really want to risk going out there? What makes you think she'll even find us?"
"She's not stupid," William replied. "It would only take a process of elimination for her to find our little hiding place, and she's got more than enough patience for it. Besides, that door wouldn't last a nanosecond if she has a mind to kick it in."
"But where do we go?"
"We start looking for a way out of here, it's better than staying put and waiting for her to catch us."
Fred and Robert each let go and dropped to the floor, rolling over to the side and taking cover behind some crates. Robert marveled at the long line of Arachno-Bots that filed past them without giving them a second glance. He whispered, "I can't believe we didn't get caught right then and there."
Fred shrugged. "Either they didn't notice us or they weren't programmed to regard us as much of a threat."
"Kinda like the Borg on Star Trek?"
"Well, the Collective wasn't all that bright, but I guess that's neither here nor there."
Fred smirked. "Yeah, well, I suppose in the meantime we better find Jill and get her out of here before the military arrives and decides to drop a MOAB or two on this place."
Robert did a double take. "You seriously think they might do something like that?"
"You never can tell."
Robert sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Well that's a comforting thought."
The floor shook again. Charlotte was getting closer. William grabbed the chair away from the door, pulled it open, and then they ran. Jill didn't dare look up, she just concentrated on keeping up with William. They could hear Charlotte continuing to call out.
"William! It is pointless to hide from me, I WILL find you! You cannot escape!"
They just kept going. If they could escape, they could contact Fred and Robert, the General, anyone. Let someone know what was going on and get help on the way.
"William! Come out!" Charlotte's voice boomed. "Come out now!"
They stayed close to the back wall, hoping to find an exit somewhere. As they came to a corner of the massive room, Jill spotted two figures approaching them. As they drew close enough to see who they were, her eyes lit up.
"Jill?" Fred looked at her in disbelief.
Jill put her index finger to her lips. "We need to keep moving, we don't want Charlotte to find us."
Robert glanced up at something beyond the row of crates, his eyes wide and his jaw slack. "Holy shit!"
They all looked in that direction. The gigantic queen of the Arachno-Bots stared back.
"I found you!" Charlotte said in a sing-song voice. She began to laugh maniacally.
Charlotte chortled. "So William, who are these people? Friends of yours?"
None of them spoke, they were all frozen in fright.
"No matter, none of you will--"
Charlotte paused and then stared directly at Jill. "Well, well, what have we here? Her body just might suit my purposes."
"Charlotte, no!" William cried.
But it was too late. Charlotte quickly reached out with her front-most legs and grabbed Jill. She pulled her underneath her chassis as a hatch opened and out came an arm holding a roll of cocooning plastic. Jill struggled but Charlotte was much too strong. One dizzying spin later, she was cocooned neck-to-toe in the plastic.
"Charlotte, stop! You can't do this!" William called out again.
"I can and I will," Charlotte replied. "And once I'm in my new body, we will mate and you will make me pregnant. In the meantime, I can't have any of you interfering."
Hatches opened in Charlotte's armored body and turrets popped out. She launched capture nets, incapacitating the three men before any of them could react. As the turrets retracted, she turned and scurried away with her captive in tow.
Charlotte carried the cocooned Jill far into the back of the base, back beyond the recharging stations and the stasis pods. Jill's eyes widened when she saw it. It was some kind of machine that looked almost like an electric chair! Charlotte plugged herself into the apparatus by a cable, strapped Jill into the chair, and pulled a lever that lowered the silvery metal cap onto Jill's head. Charlotte chortled. "Any last words before I send you off into oblivion?"
"What about William?" Jill asked, struggling against both her cocoon and the chair's straps. "What makes you think he'll want any part of you after you've committed murder?"
Charlotte laughed. "What makes you think I'll let him have any choice in the matter?"
"Don't do this, Charlotte."
"Why shouldn't I? You're in no position to be making demands or threats." Charlotte powered on the device, a low humming filled the immediate area. "Soon you will be gone, and I will be in your body. I must admit, I can only imagine what it will be like to be a human female. To be flesh and blood."
Jill's entire life flashed before her eyes. It already felt like the machine was sucking her mind right out of her brain. What could she do now? That's when she felt it; her right hand was able to move slightly. Beneath her wrappings, she managed to slip it into the waistband of her skirt, and then into the front of her panties. She could also feel a connection being established between her and Charlotte; her human brain to Charlotte's circuitry.
Charlotte looked at her confused. "Wait, what are you doing?"
Jill smiled. "You want to know what it's like to be a real girl? Try this on for size, bitch!"
"No, stop! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Jill rubbed her vagina more vigorously than she ever had in a lifetime. She panted and moaned as her vulva moistened and she probed for her G-spot and clitoris. It was like she suspected; an artificial intelligence like Charlotte might intellectually know what an orgasm is, but as with many things in life, such knowledge alone didn't necessarily prepare you for the actual experience. She summoned every erotic dream or thought she'd ever had in her life, brought herself to an orgasm like none other before it, and cried out at the top of her lungs. It was a climax worthy of the 1812 Overture, complete with full orchestra, fireworks, and an artillery crew. Just before everything faded to black, she heard Charlotte scream and watched her giant metal body convulse as sparks erupted from her and the machine…
She could hear Fred's voice. Jill slowly opened her eyes. Fred, Robert, and William were standing over her. She turned her head to see Charlotte sprawled on the floor nearby, like a puppet whose strings had been cut. The cable had pulled free and was still smoking.
Fred waved a hand in front of her face. "Are you still in there? Are you alright?"
"I-I think so. I've got one hell of a headache." Jill replied. "Is she…"
"We're not sure yet," William said. "At the very least, it looks like she's out cold."
Robert walked over to the downed queen of the Arachno-Bots, sniffing the air. "Smells like burning circuit boards in here. I think it's safe to say she's down for the count. I don't know what you did, but you really busted her up."
"It's all good," Jill smiled weakly. "Just like the Sam Hill Saloon."
Robert smiled back. "Yeah, maybe we can all go there for drinks and celebrate after we sort out all this mess."
Fred and William unstrapped Jill from the chair, and then Fred cut her free from her cocoon with the EMT scissors. They helped her up and she leaned on William as the strength was slow to return to her body. Robert opened a panel on Charlotte's underside, coughing and fanning away tendrils of smoke as he looked inside.
"Oh yeah, you got her good. All the circuits in here are completely melted. Don't know if you fried her core, but she won't be coming back online anytime soon."
As they walked away, they passed the stasis pods. Army medics had opened them up, given the women inside hospital gowns, and were currently examining them. The Arachno-Bots that had been returning with captives were sprawled on the floor, non-functioning. Soldiers unstrapped the women from their backs and cut them free from their cocoons.
"I imagine Charlotte's left me stuck with the bills for all this." William lamented. "What am I going to do with all these contraptions?"
"Maybe you can start mass producing the Arachno-Bots as bondage toys?" Jill shrugged. "They'd probably sell like hotcakes in the BDSM market."
"Ready?" William raised an eyebrow.
Jill smirked. "Sure, why not?"
They all laughed as they continued on to find an exit.