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Chapter 1
Days of ARNS Past

Ransom! Where? [ARNS]

by FRED CHARUNDER-MACHARRUNDEIRA, Alternate Reality News Service Science Writer

Bonnie Krump had just started feeling the tingles and knew that a big fat Greek orgasm (which, depending upon your cultural background, could be described as a gushing waterfall, a swarm of angry bees or a glorious uprising of workers to wrest the means of production away from the unproductive elites who controlled them and build an earthly collective paradise) was a couple of minutes away. To help her along, Chumley 1247-C, her handsome young sexbot, said the three words that every woman longs to hear.

"Give me money."

Calling on a database of human female sensual response, Chumley 1247-C knew exactly the right words to heighten the mood on the way to giving - WHAT? WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?

"He said: 'Give me money,'" Krump, the mood broken, told me. "Didn't you hear?"

Why would he say that? That's not romantic at all!

"Oh, please!" Krump said, shoving Chumley 1247-C off the bed (being made of space age materials for maximum flexability, he was much lighter than his muscular frame would have suggested). He landed on the ground with a gentle thud. "It was -"

"Was it something I said?" Chumley 1247-C plaintively (he had been built in Utah) asked from the floor.

"I want you to lie there for a while and ponder your sins," Krump harshly told him.

"Okay," Chumley 1247-C, programmed to obey, agreed, although he didn't exactly sound happy about it.

So, about what happened...?

"My sexbot was obviously infected with ransomware," Krump explained as she reached over to the end table by the bed and pulled a cigarette out of a pack.

Ransomeware? What -

"Hunh! You don't know what ransomware is? And you call yourself a tech reporter?" Krump scoffed as she picked a purse up off the floor and started rummaging around in it.

Well, yes, of course, I know what ransomware is! But...umm...for my readers, I thought if you would just -

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Krump grumped, not finding what she was looking for. "Ransomware is a programme that stops all functions in a computer system unless you pay the person who created it. The ransom isn't usually - aha!" Krump took two sticks out of the purse and dropped it back to the floor. Then, she started rubbing the sticks together over the table. "The ransom isn't usually that much - 20 or 30 dollars. Paying it is less of an annoyance than - well, you saw what happened."

"Is that what happened to me?" Chumley 1247-C asked.

"More pondering. Less talking," Krump advised, not unkindly.

Why infect sexbots with ransomware? Wouldn't that, you know, kill the mood?

"Aha!" Krump exclaimed, as if she agreed with the flaw in the plan. Actually, the two sticks had sparked and caught fire, and she lit her cigarette. Quickly waving the sticks in the air to put the fire out, Krump took a long drag.

More relaxed, she explained, "Okay. Here's the thing. The C series male sexbots have sensors that monitor the vital signs of their partners. This allows them to adapt their behaviour to maximize their partners' pleasure. In theory, ransomware will detect when a woman is about to climax and threaten to shut down the sexbot a minute or so before she does. I have heard that robotics researchers and skunk whisperers call this the 'No, No, Don't Stop Now Moment.' The closer a woman is to the No, No, Don't Stop Now Moment, the more likely she will authorize the payment of the ransom."

But -

Chumley 1247-C moaned, "I don't feel so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ooooooooo..." As the sound died out, he stopped moving.

"That's what happens when you don't pay the ransom," Krump shook her head sadly.

When I pointed out that Krump wasn't sufficiently aroused to pay the ransom, she snorted a most unladylike (but very lady lawyerlike) snort.

"Human sexual response is not a simple algorithm," she explained, taking another long drag on her cigarette. "The No, No, Don't Stop Now Moment happens at different points for each woman, and can be affected by a lot of things. Like, how long she has been stimulated to that point. Or, maybe there are environmental factors like loud noises or farting dogs in the vicinity of the bed. Or, maybe she wasn't familiar with the work of the actor whose likeness was used for the sexbot, so he didn't turn her on as much as if she had been a fan. In my case, I just hadn't reached that point yet."

I asked Professor Hiram von Schmutz, head of The Intimate Machine-Human Interface Institute of The Frankfurt School if what Krump had told me was true. "Ja," he replied.

Having cleared that up, I asked Krump if she was going to pay the ransom to get her sexbot working again.

"We'll see," she replied. "Chumley 1247-C was supposed to come with antivirus software to prevent this sort of thing. I think I'll take him back to the dealer to run some diagnostic tests. Now, if you have no more questions, get the hell out of my bedroom. I know that reporters will do anything for a story, but this is getting creepy!"

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