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Devin Chase
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:51 pm    Post subject: Alive Reply with quote

The lights of the city twinkled in the cool, grey Boros sky. Winter had come and snow blanketed the cityscape. Buildings of many shapes and sizes cutting a silhouette like teeth against the dreary murk of the clouds.


Devin Chase had worked hard to get where he was. Never one afraid to get his hands dirty, he left behind more than his fair share of stabbed backs and ruined competitors. And now, he was the CEO of Autons Inc. The largest and most successful of the few remaining robotics manufacturers in the galaxy. At 45, his hair had begun to grey and lines set in his face, but he was every bit as cunning, quick, and ruthless as he had been in his younger days.


The voice on the holoscreen echoed in the cluttered laboratory. “In a surprise move, noted roboticist Dr. Alvin Martin has stepped down as head engineer at Autons Incorporated. Here’s CEO of the company: Devin Chase.”


Devin watched as his own face appeared on-screen. He was meticulous about his appearance, and could not deny the signs of aging bothered him.


“Alvin is a brilliant man, and truly a legend in the field of robotics. Lately, his behavior had become erratic, and he was showing signs of forgetfulness. We spoke and he came to a mutual decision that it was time to make way for the next generation. Alvin’s left behind some big shoes to fill and we wish him all the best.”


The anchor reappeared on the screen and said, “Martin was unavailable for comment.”


“Screen off.” Chase said, the holographic display disappearing instantly.


He moved through the room looking at all the equipment left behind. Tools and parts he could scarcely identify and only guess at their proper application. Martin had been the expert there. The official story of Martin’s departure was, of course a lie. It had taken months of fabricating evidence against the old man to convince the board to oust him. Now, it was done. And, fortunately for Chase, the old man had completely gone completely off the grid.


Sharp, brown eyes scanned the room for the object that had spurred this entire chain of events. Landing on a large vault-like chamber. Lights blinked along its control panel, signalling that the contents within were at full power. Inside this vault, was the key to changing the galaxy. A weapon of unparalleled capabilities. Inside this vault was the future.


Chase peered through small window, into the vault. She had delicate, pretty features. Brown hair neatly cut in bangs across her forehead and pulled back in a ponytail. Those brown doe-eyes shut as if in a slumber.


Chase’s lips upturned in a self-satisfied smile.


“Hello, Ava. I look forward to meeting you.”
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The stockholders filed into the boardroom at the behest of Devin. Some of the richest men and women in the Universe sat in that room, waiting for the latest unveiling from Autons Inc. Chase’s pretty little assistant making sure each of them was comfortable with a smile upon her face.


“May I get anyone a coffee? Water? Anything?” She asked them.


Orders taken, she set to work as the doors opened and Chase walked in, dressed to the nines, an expensive wool overcoat on. “Ladies, Gentlemen!” He exclaimed with the air of a true showman.


His assistant stepped up to him helping him remove his coat and taking it to hang.

“Welcome back. Breyer. Melissa. Good to see you.” He acknowledged some of the more familiar faces, flashing those pearly whites. “My friends,” he said, clapping his hands together “I am sure you are all aware we regrettably had to lose Alvin Martin a month ago.”


There were quiet murmurs among them. The “retirement” of Alvin had been a larger blow to the company than anyone had anticipated. They saw a worrying drop in their stocks, and there were whispers that the company was in trouble without their greatest creative mind.


“We’ve all heard the rumors.” He said, looking around from person to person. “‘Autons Inc. is a sinking ship.’” He repeated the rumor. “‘They’ve got nothing left. Time to shut the doors!’” he said, slapping his hand on the table for dramatic effect.


That cocky smile returned to his face as he turned his gaze back to the stockholders. “Well, ladies and gentlemen. What if I told you that Autons Inc is already, well into development of something...SO revolutionary...SO amazing...that it will change the way we think of robotics forever?”


The room visibly perked right up as Devin stepped back toward a counter and opened a drawer. When he turned around, he held a blaster pistol in his hand. Immediately there were gasps, but Devin held up his hand to calm them. He looked to one of the men, Breyer Thomlins, and gestured with a nod. “Breyer. Mr. Thomlins. Please, if you would.” He gestured in front of him and held the gun out with the grip facing the man.


Thomlins stood hesitantly, but Chase waved him on jovially. “Now, I want you take this gun and point it at me.”


The old businessman stared at him as if he were out of his mind. But Chase simply grinned and nodded, shaking the weapon in his direction. “Please.”


Thomlins looked to the rest of the group and then, let out a nervous laugh and, with a shaky hand, took the pistol. Chase pointed his finger to his forehead. “Aim right here.”


Off Thomlin’s panicked look he just grinned. “Trust me.”


The older man slowly rose the gun, and the second it was leveled at Chase’s head, there was a blur. A small, feminine hand was around the barrel, jerked the pistol away from Chase and ripped it out of Thomlins hand. The pretty little secretary had an intense glare as she gripped the weapon and bent it in half as if it were made of wet clay, a burst sparks issuing forth from the power pack that she didn’t seem to even notice. She reached out and grabbed Thomlins by the shirt and lifted him off the ground as if he were weightless.


“Halt.” Chase said, and the girl froze. “Release.” Gently, Thomlins was set upon the ground.


The board members all stared in shock as Chase stepped up behind her. “Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Ava. She’s our first, fully realistic, android. Fast, strong, and completely indistinguishable from a human. One final gift from the man himself, Alvin Martin. She can fit into any situation with the right programming, and, unlike our other autonomous units, her programming is not based upon the 3 laws.”


Thomlins was shaking still as he took his seat, a mixture of embarrassment and fear on his puffy face.


Chase continued, “She is strong enough to bend steel,durable enough for even the most strenuous of combat situations, yet delicate and gentle enough put junior to bed at night. My friends, what we are looking at here...is the game changing.”


In that moment, she looked every bit the machine she was. Her pretty, brown eyes lifeless, her face expressionless, her body stock still.


One of the boardmembers, a woman in her 60’s leaned forward. “What is she made of? She looks so realistic.”


Chase looked on the droid with pride. “Fascinating isn’t it? She is a new, synthetic skin and musculature over a brand new, lightweight...yet incredibly strong metallic endoskeleton we’ve been working on. Virtually indestructible, even if a Neo gets ahold of her.” He smirked.


He put a hand on Ava’s shoulder. “Even *touch* won’t give her away.” He held up a finger. “But...if you cross the line…” with that he gestured to Thomlins.


“When do you plan on beginning production?”


“As soon as possible.” He responded.


Behind that prideful grin was the knowledge that what Alvin had created was beyond him, beyond any of their top scientists. It would take months of reverse engineering to crack the positronic brain Martin had created with Ava. But for now, they needed the money. And with this meeting...he was guaranteed to have the funding to do all the research and development he wanted.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Her eyes followed the man her memory banks registered as Devin Chase. Her personality mode disengaged for the moment. The others, important members of board of Stockholders, had dispersed.


Chase was talking to Autons Inc. Technician Willa Anne Bryant. Female, 35. Thin and approximately 5’3” tall. Pale, blue eyes beneath a pair of corrective glasses. Her straight blonde hair in a messy bun. Her heart rate and the tightness of her jaw muscles indicating high levels of stress.


“I don’t know. She wasn’t supposed to-” the woman began.


“*IT* wasn’t supposed to ATTACK him.” Devin Chase interrupted. “What the hell happened?”


“I don’t know,” Bryant responded. “There’s still so much we don’t understand about her. If I could just talk to Doctor Martin-”

“Doctor Martin’s not here.” Chase said harshly. Ava saw the rage in his eyes, the clenching of his fists. The red flush of his skin as the blood rose to his cheeks. He was very angry,


“Do your job, Doctor.” Chase said in a low voice. “Or I will find someone who will.”


He began to storm away, stopping at the doorway before turning to her. “Plug her in. Get to work.”


Bryant relaxed visibly as he left the room, taking a moment to compose herself before walking up to Ava. She put on a smile, an expression Ava decided was more out of habit than actual affection.


“Hello, Ava.” the tiny, mousy woman said.


“Hello, Doctor.”


“Ava, I’m going to run a diagnostic on you, okay?” Bryant asked as if speaking to a child about a booster shot.


“Affirmative.” Ava leaned her head forward for Bryant to attach the datapad to the access port at the back of her neck.


Bryant watched as the data compiled on her screen. It was a mess. Usually, a robotic brain was orderly. Perfect. Ava was different. There were countless processes running, sometimes at odds with others. Springing to life in chaotic, random bursts. It was...almost like a human mind.


Her eyes flicked up to Ava, the android staring straight ahead, patient, unmoving. “God. What a mess.” she muttered trying to decipher the billions and billions of lines of code before her.


The young doctor’s brow furrowed as she ran across something on the timescale of the meeting. It wasn’t any process she’d ever seen in any other unit. It was erratic and overrode all other programs. She ran a scan of the instance, bringing up it’s data in detail. She recognized this. Something about it reminded her of her training involving the human mind. This wasn’t a simple protect and detain order. This was panic.


Ava could experience panic. And Willa Bryant suddenly realized just how little she understood about the girl in front of her.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“You don’t understand, sir. She doesn’t function like the other units. I mean, her neural kinetics are-” Bryant began.


“I don’t care HOW you get her straight, sweetheart. Just get. Her. Straight.” Chase said, straightening his tie as he stared into the mirror.


“You’re asking me to solve a puzzle created by the smartest man in the galaxy and we can’t even find the first piece. We don’t know what we’re dealing with.” the mousy doctor replied.


Chase shut his eyes and sighed in annoyance, his hands gripping the counter in front of him. He collected himself and spoke quietly, but very precisely in a harsh tone. “The Ava Unit is going into production in two weeks. I don’t care if you don’t sleep again, you are going to make sure she is perfect. If she is anything less, then I will personally see to it that the only job you’ll be able to get once I fire you will involve the words ‘would you like fries with that?’ Do you understand me?”


“I-”


“DO you...understand me?” He interrupted her, staring intensely.


“Yes sir.”


“Good.” He said. Chase stepped around her and grabbed his suit jacket, pulling it on quickly. “Wipe today from her memory banks. I don’t need her little panic attack lingering around. You can do that much, can’t you?”


“Yes, sir.” Bryant said, trying to keep her voice even.


“Good. And until further notice, I want her personality matrix locked down. See to it.”


Willa Bryant watched him leave, letting out a deep breath as tears of frustration fell down her cheeks. God, she hated that man. She grit her teeth and glared after him as the door shut. The slight doctor pulled up a chair in front of Ava, accessing her memory banks. She selected everything from the last 24 hours and was about to hit delete when a thought occurred to her. Her wide eyes glanced back toward the door her boss had left through.


He was a bully. A coward. A dim bulb in charge of something he neither cared about nor understood. This wasn’t about the future of robotics and testing the creative limits of mankind for him. This was about one thing and one thing only. Securing the legacy of Devin Chase as anything more than a swindler. She knew why he hated her. She was Martin’s protege.


Bryant was a gifted young woman that the Doctor had seen through his Young Achievers program. She graduated a year early from high school and Martin himself saw to it that she was placed in the most prestigious institute of science in the universe on a full scholarship, sparing her single mother the worry of affording higher education for her child. When she’d graduated, the old man recommended her to several graduate programs. When she was finally done with school, she was brought on as Martin’s assistant. For the last 2 years, she watched as the Doctor had become more and more withdrawn and secretive, even to her.


The day he’d just gone, without so much as a goodbye was heartbreaking for her.


Chase believed she was hiding something from him. That Martin had told her something HE wanted to know. He was jealous that Martin had done everything to secure her future, but always stood in the way of Chase’s rise to power whenever possible.


Bryant dialed it back farther to the day Chase activated her for the first time. She may lose her job for it, but not before leaving that son of a bitch with a mountain of work neither he nor anyone else in that building were smart enough to figure out in the timeframe he wanted.


She reached out and touched the face of the slumbering Ava. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I hate to play with your mind like this. But if I can’t stop him...I can sure as hell slow him down.”
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Winter. It had to be winter.

James Gable stood upon the rooftop of the Autons Inc. headquarters, bundled as much as he could be while still being within in the drop-off drone’s weight capacity. The cold winds pushed against him, chilling him even through his wool cap and jacket.

Blue green eyes squinted beneath a pair of goggles as he peered over the edge. 200 floors of icy, soaring death if the slightest thing went wrong.

“Jim-Jams. You live?” came the feminine voice in his earpiece. Gable pressed the piece and responded. “Yeah...I think my balls froze off, but I’m here.”

“Ahhh, you didn’t need them anyhow.” responded the voice with a snicker.

“Hilarious.” He grimaced, immediately setting to work, drilling into the roof to secure the zip line. “Have I mentioned this is the dumbest thing we’ve ever done?”

“Oh, I’ve done WAY dumber things than this. Think of it this way. You could be trying to go through the front door.” she responded.

Gable took in a breathe going over the plan. 150th floor. Cut through the nearest window. Recover the package. Extraction will come meet them at point of entry. Assuming all went according to plan.

Yeah. Right.


He clipped the dropline to ring at the center of his harness with a gloved hand and stepped up onto the ledge of the roof. Quickly, he did a check to make sure he had everything he would need. This was it. Now or never.

“If it’s any consolation...if something goes wrong, you’ll probably be dead before you hit the ground.”

He shut his eyes and grit his teeth. “Lex?”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.”

His hands wrapped around the line as his legs kicked out sending him over the edge. The icy winds slapped at his body as he began his rapid descent, eyes on the counter ticking off the floors as he fell. Suddenly, he jerked to a stop, his whole body jostled by the halt. He dangle there a moment getting his bearings back. Once he was good he activated his comm again.

“I’m in-place. About step inside.” he announced.

“Tell ‘em I send my regards.”

Gable reached back, fishing around in one of his pouches and drawing a pen-like instrument. He studied the window in front of him a moment and flicked a button. The tip of the pen emiitted a laser beam against the shiny transparisteel window. He drew a circle big enough to fit through and tapped another small switch. In a puffy of smoke and small burst of light, the surface of the window disappeared, opening the room inside to him. He was in.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The corridors were mostly deserted as Gable stepped out, moving toward his target. Those eyes sweeping left to right. Time was of the essence and he would have to be quick about this, every second threatening the success of this mission.

“Make a right at the next hall.” came Lexa’s voice.

Gable turned the corner, and thought about the sterile aesthetic of this place, feeling like a filthy uninvited vermin within it’s gleaming, streamlined perfection. The nature of his work often left him the dark. They were being paid well by an unnamed third party. The mission: recover a piece of tech and deliver it to a previously agreed upon rendezvous point. He knew his place in the plan, and didn’t ask too many questions and the people who hired him didn’t give too many answers. Afterall, why would he need them? He was only breaking into and stealing from one of the wealthiest and powerful corporations in history. What could possibly go wrong.

“End of the hall. Go!” came the voice in his ear.

Gable leadfooted it over coming up to the keypad. Another quick look around to check for security and he set to work.

“I need you to pop the faceplate off and plug me in.” Lexa told him.

Gable nodded “On it.” He fished around in his tool pouch, and pried the plate off, producing a datapad and cord before plugging it into an access port.

Lexa was good. Damn good. He’d met her in his days as a cop. She had been part of a team of cyber criminals that had been compromising the systems of several major corporations and stood to walk away with an ungodly amount of credits. He’d been the arresting officer that day when the tattooed little minx finally got caught. If it had not been for one of her cowardly compatriots rolling over on her, she might have never been busted in the first place.

Over the next few years, she would help him take down several, less-skilled copycats, securing the girl a release from prison. They found they worked well together, and after his injury, it was she who’d helped him get back on his feet.

With a series of beeps, the door to Martin’s old office slid open.

He’d known Martin personally. The old man was kind and altruistic, but a little eccentric. He’d actually created the Protector Initiative that had saved Gable’s life. A move that Gable, himself, would call “A mixed bag.”

Much of the clutter of this room had been removed, making it look empty. Alvin was not a neat man, but he’d heard somewhere that most geniuses weren’t. For a moment, he considered that, without Alvin’s clutter, this room felt perverse. Wrong.

He remembered the time he’d spent in this room. Working with the doctor to acclimate himself to his new prosthesis. Gable’s fingertips brushed the cool metal of the very chair he’d sat in. He could almost hear the doctor’s voice.

“You’re fighting it. You have to embrace the system or it isn’t going to work.” Alvin had warned him.

“Maybe I don’t WANT it to work.” Gable had said, frustrated.

Doctor Martin had stared at him like a disapproving parent, looking down his nose over his glasses. “You’ve been given a gift, son. You *should* be dead.”

“Maybe I should be.” Gable snapped . “I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t want this.”

“No. I suppose not. But here we are, James. You have a second chance at life. At greatness. And I believe you are capable of great things. The only question is...are you going to capture it...or squander it?”


Gable snapped back to the moment. There would be time to reminisce later. “What am I looking for.”

“Loading the specs now.”

The occular implant in Gable’s eye flashed a holographic image of a metal box, like a cryogenic chamber. His eyes scanned the room landing on a tall object cloaked in cloth. That had to be it. Quickly, he moved over whipping off the sheet, and sure enough there was his target.

He checked his watch and ignored his curiosity. “Five minutes. Have them ready for evac.”

“Yessum.” Lex reported back through garbled static.

Welll, that seemed bad. No matter. If he moved quick, he’d be right within communications range in no time. Gable set right to it, laying the chamber flat, activating its hover lift and began rolling it out the door.

Lex’s voice garbled in burst of commuication. “..ble...ou...re!”

“I didn’t get that. Say again?”

“ABLE!...E...F….”

“HEY! Who are you!” a voice echoed down the hall. Gable snapped his attention toward the guard with his hand on the grip of his sidearm. The thief froze in place for a moment trying to come up with some sort of excuse for being there.

“Uh...uh…” He blanked. “Oh the hell with it.” Gable reached behind him and drew a hold-out stun pistol firing a blue energy burst that sent the Guard diving out of the way. Wasting no time, Gable pushed the chamber down the hall as fast as he could, desperate to get to the extract point.

The guard didn’t even get back up to his feet before opening fire. A red blast bolt sheared through the sleeve of his coat, grazing his flesh slightly before exploding against a ceiling panel, raining down sparks a tiny debris.

Gable let out a little yelp and turned, firing his stun weapon back at the guard as he ran. The guard was already on his feet, running and having to flatten up against a doorway to avoid the shots.

Gable burst into the exit room and hit the controls, the heavy metal door slid shut. He turned his weapon on the control panel, blasting it and frying the electronics. It would hold them, but not for long.

His fingers went to his comlink. “Lex! I’ve got company! Tell them we need to bump up our grand exit to...NOW!”

“That’s what I was trying to tell you! They ran into some trouble! They’re not going to make it! You need to find another way out of there!”

Gable’s heart sank. “Uh…” he looked around there was only one way out at this point. Armed guards were pounding on the door behind him...and a 150 floor fall waiting on the other. “I’m open to suggestions.”

The sound of a laser cutter came from the other side of the door. They would be through in no time.

“Okay...That chamber have hoverlifts?” Lex asked him.

“Why don’t I like the sound of that?”

“That’s a yes.” she said. “Plug me into its control panel.”

“THEN what.”

“Then you’re going skydiving.”

“WHAT?!” he exclaimed. Just then, the laser penetrated the surface of the door. He was out of options. Gable grit his teeth and pulled the panel plate off and plugged her into the workings of the containment unit.

“How do I let you talk me into this ****?” he grumbled.

“Just DO it!” she yelled back.

Gable gripped the handles of the container and braced himself. He broke into a full sprint and began cursing repeatedly before he kicked off the ground, launching himself and the Box into open air.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The air whipped up at him as they plummeted toward the streets below, the singed skin where the blaster had nicked him had gone from burning to freezing along with the every last bit of exposed flesh. The mere forces involved in his freefall were trying to rip him from the container, but his powerful robotic prosthesis held him tight.

He looked around in a panic for anything, absolutely ANYTHING he could do to help himself...but there was only air around him. Whatever Lex had planned she had better do it quick.

His head was swimming from the inertia, and he felt he might black out when the repulsors kicked in...more than they were programed to. The device slowed just a little and smacked hard against his chest. Gable felt the wind leave him for a second as he realized what was going on. As they came nearer and nearer to the ground, Lex fired the repulsors in intervals with more and more power each time until they had slowed enough to land without dying.

Finally, just as they were close enough to the ground, the lifters blew in a shower of sparks. Gable and the box slammed down with a loud, thunderous clang.

Gable just lay there, clinging for dear and panting like a dog in summer. The world slowly came back into focus, reality returning. The musclebound merc slid off the crate, his body feeling like jelly. The dirty pavement of an alley never felt so sweet as it did in that moment.

Gable stared up at the 150 floors he’d just fell from and suddenly felt the urge to retire.

“Jim-Jams? You dead?” Came his friend’s voice.

His tired human arm slowly reached up and touched his comms. “Maybe?”

There was a light chuckle on the other end, but the voice gave away her genuine relief. “Well, I hate to keep raining on the parade, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Everything ached, but Gable groaned his way up to his feet. “Well...this thing’s not going anywhere.”

“Then you’ll have to take whatever’s inside and hoof it.” Lex infromed him.

Gable sighed. “Next time I’M sitting in the cozy room with a bag of chips and YOU’RE riding the flying coffin to Hell.”

A little laugh emitted into his ear. “I’m opening the container.”

The light panel lit in a series of blinks before the cover split down the middle and to the sides, steam billowing out into the dirty alleyway, slowly revealing its contents.

When the mist cleared there lay a beautiful brunette, her eyes shut peacefully, slumbering away as if she were completely unaware of what had just happened.

Gable’s lips parted slightly. “Lex…” he said, concerned.

“What is it? You need to hurry, the cops are on their way!”

Gable blinked. “It’s a girl.”

“A WHAT?!”

“There was a girl in the container.” He said slowly and precisely.

Silence on the other end.

“Is...is she dead?”

Suddenly those brown eyes popped open and the girl’s brow furrowed. Panic seemed to set into her eyes, her chest rising along with her fear. She began to scream, quick panicked little yelps.

Gable stepped forward his hands out in a placating gesture. “Calm down. It’s okay, It’s okay.”

“Who are you?!” She shouted at him.

“I’m a friend! I’m a friend. We’re going to get you out of here.” He said quickly.

“What IS this? Where am I?!” She demanded.

“You’re on Boros.” He said calmly.

“Boros?”

“Yeah. Look you need to come with me. You're with me now, okay?” He said placing his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eye.

The girl seemed to calm. Almost go numb, staring straight ahead. Gable quirked an eyebrow and shrugged. “Well...that’s better.”

“Jim.” Lexa said into his earpiece.

“What’s up?”

“I’ve got a ride coming your way, get in, and get the hell out of there. I’ll contact you when I can. I need to go. My place has been burned.” she said, using the slang for when a safehouse was no longer safe.

“Gable...Good luck.”
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava stared out the window of their automated conveyance, watching the streetlights and people pass as she went in the night. All over she could see robots at work. Dealing with trash, sweeping streets. Walking dogs. Delivering packages. Carrying a wealthy-looking couple’s children.

They went about their tasks unaware of themselves, living only for what they were programmed to do. Something deep inside her felt...it might be described as pity to someone who knew better. Someone who understood emotions. Someone not her.

Her eyes flicked to the sweaty, dirty man beside her. The man who claimed to be her friend. He was looking at a wound on his arm and sucking in air through his teeth. Those big doe eyes turned up to him. “You are wounded.”

His blue eyes turned to her and he shrugged. “Just a scratch.” he said.

She looked uncertain. “Do you require medical attention?” she asked the man.

The stranger looked to her with furrowed brow befor letting out a little laugh. “No, I’m fine.”

“What is your name?”

He offered his hand to her. “James. James Gable.”

She looked down at his hand a moment too long.

“I don’t bite.” he said with a smirk.

She looked confused. “Is that something I should be concerned about?”

He laughed and took her hand, shaking it slowly, as if teaching her. “You’re an odd one, y’know that.”
“I am ‘odd’.” She said as if contemplating the word.

The man studied her curiously. “What’s your name.”

Ava turned to him and looked him in the eye. “Ava. My name is Ava.”
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chase stood at the hole that had been cut into his building, icy air blowing his long, wool coat as he stared down at the long drop before him. There were police and guards everywhere, looking over every last bit of the place.

Someone had stolen his key to the future. Someone had broken into his property, and taken the one thing in this building he could not replace. Someone had ****ed with the wrong man.

“Sir.” One of his guards announced from the scorched and burned doorway.

Chase whipped around and approached him. “What is it?”

“We’ve found the charging station.”

“And?”

“I’m afraid it’s empty.”

Chase narrowed his dark eyes. The man’s voice taking on an acidic tone. “Empty?”

“She’s gone, sir.” the guard said.

Chase’s fists clenched. “Is there anything else?”

“The detectives said there were reports of illegal activity on the network. A crew of mercs were busted not far from here in an stolen, unregistered ship. They’ve been taken in, but whoever was on the cortex is gone.”

Devin pursed his lips in anger and turned back to his employee. “Do you have any idea what that thing is? If we lose her and she gets in the wrong hands, we’re finished. I don’t care what you have to do. Torture it out of them. Find the hacker. Get Bryant in here. We need to find the machine, *now*.”

The little lackey nodded. “Yessir.”

Chase stared out across the skyline as the snow began to fall. This was far from over. He would find her, no matter the cost.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The conveyance took them to the outskirts of the city and came to sudden stop. Outside the windshield there was a gate, littered with signs. “No Tin Men!” “No Canners!” “ROBOTS NOT WELCOME!” “NO HEARTBEAT=NO ENTRY!” The ruined remains of a series 4 Enzel chained to the links.

Ava frowned in concern. “What is this?”

“Novus Vitae. An organic life-forms only community.” he said.

“You live here?” she asked him.

Gable nodded. “It’s a place for those of us who feel the things your friends back there have been cooking up are taking the world from the anything with a pulse.”

She turned to him. “What did they take from you?”

Gable looked over at her a moment, considering the question and rubbed his hand over his prosthesis. Finally, he turned his attention forward. “Come on. We should go.”

The pair of them stepped out of the car and Gable handed his jacket to her.

“Thank you.” she said, slipping it on.

They walked down the street toward his apartment. She looked around, seeing the streets lined with old, non-automated cars and speeders. Everything here was user-operated. She saw similar anti-robot signs posted in the windows as she walked beside him.

“Why do they dislike robots so much?” she asked.

“You’ve seen the world out there. They’re everywhere. Jobs people used to do were taken up by machines. They take your garbage, they clean your streets, they make your vehicles, they build your homes...they even cook your food. Did you know that even the Police are becoming automated?” He explained to her. “They took over and the rich got richer and poor got poorer. To survive these people HAD to create this place. A community by people for people. We’re self reliant here. We do the work that they took from us.”

She considered this for a moment. It made a sad sort of sense. “Do *you* hate robots?”

Gable glanced over. “Hate is a strong word. Not everyone here actively hates them...some people just had no place else to go. No jobs, no money and mouths to feed. So they came here. Here they could hold down a job and put food on their family’s table.”

“And what do you do?” she asked him.

“What I have to.”

They came to an old apartment building, it looked pre-industrialization and had clearly suffered a bit from the elements. Gable led her down the stairs to a basement flat. The inside was pretty sparsely decorated. A bedroom, a bathroom, and the kitchen/living room in one area. There were pictures on the wall that told his story. A young man in his late teens in the uniform of the USM beside his dogtags hung from a nail. Pictures on some backwater planet with his platoon. His first day back on Boros in civilian life. A picture of him graduating from the Academy followed by another of him in uniform. The only other was a picture of him, holding a dog with a big smile on his face.

Ava’s head canted to one side before she suddenly heard the scurrying of little feet. Around the corner came a little pitbull, now bigger than the puppy in the picture, barking with excitement to see its person.

“Heeeey, Maxxy.” Gable said with a little smile, leaning down and greeting the dog and playfully teasing it before the dog leaned into him. He looked up to her. “This is Max.”

The dog took one look at her and immediately froze. A low growl rumbled from deep inside the animal as it watched her. Ava took a few steps back, sensing danger.

“Maxxy…” he said reproachfully as the dog snapped at her. He stepped in front of the little guy. “She’s a friend. Go on. Go lay down.”

The dog looked up at him as if it was unsure., looking back at her with a poorly concealed growl. “Max!”

Hesitantly, Max went and lay down, but his eyes never left her.

“Sorry about that...I don’t know what got into him.” He said. “He’s usually pretty friendly.”

Ava simply nodded.

“Well..make yourself at home...I’m going to clean myself up and make a few calls.” With that, Gable left the room and Ava was alone.

She looked around this unfamiliar place, watched like a hawk by an animal who very clearly did not like her. What had come before, she could not remember. Only waking to this strange man. Something creeped into her consciousness. Something she wasn’t sure how to process.

She was afraid.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gable, fresh from his shower, pulled on a pair of pants and wandered over to his dresser, removing a black t-shirt when he got that gnawing feeling he was being watched. He looked over into the living room. There, Ava stood, looking his way.

He knew what she was looking at. The line of raised scar that outlined from his left shoulder to just below his ribcage. The cut-off tattoo that gave way to pristine, realistic skin, looking out of place on him. Most anyone who ever saw him sans a shirt, wondered, and he hated the line of questioning that followed.

Gable pulled the shirt on and stepped out into the living area, waiting for her to say something, but she never did. The burly mercenary hooked a thumb back. “You can use the shower if you want. Towels are in the cabinet by the sink.”

“No, thank you.”

Gable nodded and slipped into a swivel chair, going through the encryptions that allowed him to use the cortex without being tracked. Max trotted on over to his side, protectively laying down beside him with his eyes on Ava. Gable’s fingers moved over the keyboard pulling up his various satellite contacts for Lex, trying to see if any were up and running.

Nothing.

Ava stood behind him, her hands clasped in front of her. Gable glanced back at her with a reassuring smile.

A smile she did not return. “What is to be done with me?”

“I don’t know. I need to get into contact with a friend of mine. She’ll know what to do.”

“And if you cannot?”

That, he wasn’t sure of. He was recruited by Lex, who was recruited by a third party and so on. He could probably go through his contacts and trace the source, but it would take time. And with Autons Inc. surely on his ass, time was luxury he did not have.

“One step at a time. Just make yourself at home. We’ll figure it out.” He leaned back in his chair, giving up on Lex for the moment. He studied the girl who stood there, looking awkward in a simple hospital gown. Gable smirked to her and gestured to his couch. “Here. Sit. Relax.”

She did as he said, sitting demurely.

“Tell me. Where did you come from?” He asked her.

“From Autons Incorporated-” she began.

“No, no. I mean...how’d you get there? What happened to you?”

“I...I do not know.”

Gable’s brow creased and the smile faded. “You don’t remember?”

She shook her head.

“So...the first thing you remember is me waking you up?”

“Yes.” she said simply.

“What the hell did they do to you?” he muttered, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Ava lowered her eyes and did not answer.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

-2 hours Earlier-

Gable was alive. Well, that was a relief. But out of the frying pain into a hellish inferno of biblical proportions. Now there was a girl? What the hell was going on? The cops had been notified to the disturbance back at Autons Inc.

No time to dwell, only time to act. Lexa called up an autonomous cab, manipulating it’s programming so it would never record the journey it was about to take or the passengers who would occupy it. A little smirk crossed her lips as the tattooed hacker leaned back in her chair. The satisfaction of a job well done, and a police force outsmarted washed over her.

Annnnd then it was replaced by something else.

Blue and red lights cut through the shades of her apartment, the girl’s eyes widening. She rushed over and peered outside to see three squads.

Damn.

One of them must have talked. The cowards. They burned her!

Fortunately, she had options. Options and a fake name. Christine Lesanche did not exist...not in Century City, Boros anyway.

She rushed to her computer, leaning over it. “I’ve got a ride coming your way, get in, and get the hell out of there. I’ll contact you when I can. I need to go. My place has been burned.”

She could hear them enter the hallway on her floor and a frown turned the corners of her mouth downward. “Good luck.”

She cut the connection and shut off the holoscreen of her computer, and stuffed it into a bag. With the press of a button, every bit of her equipment and storage uploaded immediately to a heavily encrypted server and fried the hard drives. Time to bail.

Lexa grabbed a coat, slung the bag over her shoulder, and slid open her window, slipping through onto the fire escape. She slammed the window just as they started banging on the door. The slim computer genius climbed the stairs to the top of her building, the cool winter air biting her inked skin.

There were options open to her. A few back-up safe houses under pseudonyms she might retreat to. Curiosity, though ate at her. She wanted to know what the hell they had gotten themselves into. Nobody on this extraction team seemed to know the whole story. She was brought on by a third party, and she had hired the morons who’d given her up after they gotten themselves busted in a stolen ship.

It was so hard to find good help anymore…

As she vaulted over the edge of her building onto the next, the various apartments and warehouses cramped tightly together, she heard the crash of the window. Lexa’s blood began to pump quickly, fueled by adrenaline. She broke into a run, leaping over the short distance from building to building before hiding behind a large, steaming vent just as the security drone rose up from beneath the rooftop.

Lexa cursed under her breath. It wouldn’t be long before it tracked her, tagged her, and kept her down until she could be processed. A bit of steam and metal wouldn’t buy her much time.

She swiped a finger down her forearm, bringing to life the holographic multi-tool implanted beneath her skin. Her slim, nimble fingers expertly danced over the orange-lit keyboard as data flew across the screen.

The drone was moving toward her slowly, its scanners detecting a heartbeat in her direction. She knew there would be some desk jockey in the van downstairs watching on a monitor, waiting for his que to come and put her in binders.

Closer and closer it came to her as she worked her way into its system. Numbers and commands flew like a hurricane of activity as she tried to take it over.

She could HEAR its repulsorlift engines rumbling, it was so close, her breath burning at a mean rate as she desperately typed and swiped away. The hacker clenched her eyes shut and flattened against the wall as the drone appeared beside her and slowly turned to face her.

Within the surveillance van, the tech watched the screen. Where there should have been a thin, tatted up woman with short, choppy black hair...there was nothing but air.

Lexa waited for inevitable...but only heard the drone spin away from her and continue on away. Her hazel eyes popped open and she turned, watching the automaton drift on away from her, relief flooding her entire being.

MOVE!

She wasted no time, rushing to a fire escape and gripping both sides of the ladder. With the kick of a lever, she plummeted toward the ground, coming to a stop a few feet from the pavement. Lexa had to get to Gable’s. It was time to get their bearings.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“You’ve come a long way, son.” Alvin said, a smile on his face.

Gable stood over the torn remnants of a punching bag, panting after a particularly aggressive work out. He wiped the sweat from his brow with his right hand and stared down at the mechanical prosthetic that was his left. The metal knuckles flexed as naturally as a human’s as he clenched his fist. Despite his revulsion by it, part of him couldn’t deny being impressed by the technology at work here,. There was even a semblance of feeling in the limb.

He would grow accustomed to it out of necessity, but it still felt unnatural. Invasive.

Alvin pulled up his chair and took Gable’s robotic hand. “Let me see.”

The doctor studied his work and reached to a tray, grabbing an egg. Gable stared down at him. He didn’t dislike the man. In fact, he’d dare say he liked him. Whatever ill will he had toward his prosthesis, Alvin Martin had given him a second chance at life. He could understand anyone being frustrated if they had done as much as the Doctor had for him, only to have the recipient be so ungrateful for it.

“I want you to place your thumb and forefinger around the egg and lift it without cracking it.” Alvin said, leaning in his chair.

Gable looked doubtful. He understood the point of the exercise, of course. He couldn’t be going in for a handshake and turn someone’s hand into powder. The intervening weeks since the incident had been strenuous, finding control over his new limb, fighting infection, and making sure his body did not reject the implants. Now, he was gaining confidence. But not enough.

He was careful, but his nerves were on edge and his fingers pinched too tightly. With a loud crack, the shell burst, sending yolk everywhere. Gable grit his teeth and shook his head in frustration. “God DAMN it…”

“Hey! None of that, lad.” Alvin reproached him. “You can do this. You need to calm yourself. Breathe.” The old man put his hand on Gable’s shoulder and gave him a squeeze. “I believe in you.”


Gable’s eyes popped open as a ring came at the door, his slumber interrupted. Max’s growling rumbled from little pitbull curled up at his feet. When he sat up, Ava was in the doorway. Suddenly, everything from the past day came back to him.

“Shall I answer the door?” She asked.

That sounded like a bad plan for a girl on the run, he decided. Gable rubbed his eyes and held up a hand to halt her. “No. No..I’ve got it.”

Ever-cautious, he grabbed a pistol off his nightstand and tucked it into the back of his pants. Slowly, he approached the front door, leaning against its cool metallic surface, hand on the grip of his weapon. “Who is it?”

“Your fairy godmother, Cinderella. Quit leaving your damn clothes laying around. Open up.” Lexa’s voice flooded sent a surge of relief through him. Gable pulled the door open and Lexa threw her arms around him, holding him tight. The pair of them just clung to each other a moment.

When they parted, Gable held her at arm’s length. “What hell happened?”

“**** went south. I had to hoof it out of there.” Lex said, sliding her fingers through her short, dark hair. That was when she saw the girl. Tall-ish. Attractive. Eyes big, like deep, brown planetoids. She was a rare beauty.

Lexa pushed past her friend and into the living room. That was Lexa. She could be sweet and warm, but once she saw something that interested her, it became her sole purpose in life. A trait he considered equal parts endearing and frustrating.

“This our new friend?” Lex asked, walking around and eyeballing her up and down.

Gable locked the door behind him and followed her in. “This is Ava.”

Lexa came around to her front and extended her hand, offering a friendly smile. “Lexa. Pleased to meet you.”

Ava looked down at her hand a moment before taking it. “The pleasure is mine.”

The tattooed woman looked her over a moment,contemplatively chewing the inside of her cheek. Lexa might not have been the most...orthodox dresser, but she knew how to blend in, when necessary. Even if one were so, shall we say, visually pleasing as this girl. “Okay, well, first off, we need to get you some new clothes. People are going to think you’re an escaped mental patient in that getup.”

Ava brows knit in concern. Unsure of this newcomer as she was of Gable and uncomfortable with the way she was being appraised, yet unable to vocalize what that feeling was. “A mental patient…” Ava muttered, considering the term.

“Yeah, grade-a whack-a-mole. And with the fine folks at Autons Inc. looking for you, we might want to consider a different look.” Lexa smirked.

Gable leaned back against the wall, his arms crossed in front of his chest. “Yeah, because, looking like crazy woman’s ever stopped YOU.” He said with a smirk.

Lex flipped him off behind her back as she led the girl to the couch and sat beside her. “So, what were they doing with you, Ava?”

“I do not remember.” She responded, that look of concern once again upon the girl’s youthful face.

“She doesn’t remember anything.” Gable interjected. “We tried getting to the bottom of it earlier. No luck.”

Lexa’s hazel eyes flicked over to him, catching a glimpse of the dog, cowering in the bedroom with his tail between his legs and watching Ava like a hawk.

“Hey, Jam...what’s with Max?”

“I dunno.” he said. “Doesn’t like her.”

Max, despite his fearsome bark was a little teddy bear. As far as Lex was concerned he was a bundle of fur and cuddles and puppy kisses. That he would take a dislike to stranger seemed very out of character for the little guy.

“Have you heard from your guy?” Gable asked.

Lexa shook her head. “Got out, clear and over to you.”

“What was it?”

She didn’t like giving up her contacts, but considering they were currently occupying the same frying pan, she would make an exception. “Plau’ti.”

“The Bissarian?”

She nodded. “And he was contacted by someone else.”

Gable’s expression fell There were so many layers to this job it was becoming ridiculous. Lex stood up then, “Alright. I just wanted to check-in in person. Make sure you were both okay. I’m gonna hit up one of my other pads and grab her something a little less conspicuous. You gonna be okay here without me?” She asked.

Gable nodded. “Be careful.”

“Awww, you do care.” She said with a smirk. Lexa turned to Ava then. “Do me a favor, sweetie. Stand up, I wanna do a body scan, get your measurements.”

The girl obeyed, standing up with that perfect posture. Lex brought up her holographic multi-tool, her fingers manipulating its display quickly. A beam of red ran over the girl’s body, doing a complete scan.

As the results appeared before her, Lex’s face fell, her eyes snapping up to her, something behind them. Something fearful.

As Gable turned around, she quickly shut down the tool. He couldn’t help but notice the color had drained from her face as she grabbed her coat. “What’s up? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She said, too quickly. “It’s...nothing. I’ll drop you a line once I get my feet on the ground.” With that, she slipped out the door and off into the city.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The apartment in Siennica was registered to Millicent Erstraud. 45, single. A Corbeulan transplant who had moved to the planet to eke out a living as a waitress. A frightfully dull and non-descript woman. In fact, the most interesting thing about Millicent Erstraud... was that she did not exist.

It was amazing what you could do when you knew how to break into the city records office. Lexa had 4 such places to hide-out, under different names, now dwindled to 3. The door shut behind her as she stepped into the sparsely decorated, studio apartment. Little more than a couch (that doubled as a bed), fridge, and a table for her rig adorned the room.

Lexa leaned back against the door and let out a breath, her eyes sliding shut. What she had seen had to have been a fluke. Could not have been real. She swiped her finger along her wrist, the multi-tool implant activating and glowing to life.

“NON-ORGANIC MATERIALS DETECTED” it read. That in and of itself was not out of the ordinary. Hell, she and even Gable had synthetic enhancements here and there. But this was nothing of the sort. While the scanner would show her wrist, an implant behind her ear, and few odds an ends, Ava showed absolutely no organic matter whatsoever in her entire body. No eyes, no internal organs. Even her hair and skin was synthetic.

This technology did not exist.

Sure, they could make life-like skin, Gable had it over most of one side of his body. But even that felt...off. She’d touched the girl. This was not the same thing. It looked, felt, and reacted just like the real thing.

And those eyes…

Since when could synthetics feel and express fear? Even the most lifelike among them still had that disconcerting rigidness to them, looking like little more than animatronic wax figures. Like a poor imitation of life. Ava breathed. Her pupils dilated. Her skin had imperfections, got goosebumps. She could even shiver.

If they could program a machine to mimic human behavior so completely, where was the line between the two? Did it even exist anymore?

Suddenly, Lexa became very aware and very frightened of what exactly they had been sent to retrieve. This wasn’t just the next step. This was a leap. An unprecedented leap forward in the field of robotics. And if half the rumors about Devin Chase were true, he would kill to retrieve it.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Dr. Martin, what do you have to say about the feeling among some that your machines are forcing the living out of their jobs, and into poverty?”

The old doctor, once a young, handsome man had begun to look haggard over the years. But the light behind his bright blue eyes when he smiled still showed a youthful exuberance. “My creations are meant to assist mankind. Not supplant it.” He responded.

Devin clapped him on the back, and if one looked closely, they could see a touch of revulsion in the good doctor’s expression. “The Doctor’s absolutely correct. Now...there maybe some bumps in the road ahead, but rest assured, we will see to it that every living being on this and any of our core worlds has a chance at maintaining a happy and safe working environment. A machine will never be able to replace the living worker, but it will make certain jobs more efficient and far less dangerous. A robot cannot become angry. Cannot lie. Cannot get lost in a daydream and make a simple mistake that costs lives. Our robots are 100% safe.”

Alvin Martin seemed a bit distant at that, the plastered on smile faltering a little for just a moment, but it was enough for a reporter to notice. “Doctor, you don’t look so certain.”

Martin adjusted his glasses and straightened up. “I do believe that our robots can serve us to the betterment of society. This much is true. However, I would disagree about the predictability of their behavior.”

“Are you saying a robot can behave outside of its programming?” the reporter asked.

“The technology is advancing so rapidly these days, it’s impossible to say with certainty what we are entirely capable of. Have you ever heard of the concept of the ‘ghost in the machine’?” he asked the reporter.

There was a smattering of chuckles, signalling that he had not.

“There is the idea that there are random segments of code within a positronic brain. And when these segments group together, they form what we call ‘unexpected protocols’.” Martin explained with a small smile. Beside him Chase’s polite facade was beginning to crack, eyeballing someone off to the right.

“Are you suggesting that a robot might develop the capacity of free will?”

Devin tried to brush it aside “Hey, as long as nobody tempts ‘em with an apple, am I right?” He chuckled and tried to move onto the next question befor Martin interrupted him.

Martin took a lean forward in his chair. “When an active robot is left in the dark...why do they move toward the nearest light source? In our warehouses and storage facilities, decommissioned units will be found grouped together when they were placed, spread apart. This is not in their programming, so how do you explain this type of behavior? Is it just a glitch? Or is it more?” The light was back behind the old man’s eyes as he smiled.

There was silence among the crowd. “We aren’t there yet. But robots are evolving. One day, they’ll have secrets.” Martin said looking over all of them before turning to Devin. “One day they’ll have dreams.”

The image on the screen froze as a news anchor began speaking. “This interview from last year was the last Dr. Alvin Martin gave before his retirement just days ago. Doctor Martin remains unavailable for commen-”


The holoscreen shut off as Devin Chase flopped down into his office chair. The lights of Century City flickering outside his sprawling office window. The police had caught a band of shipjackers who were involved in the theft and traced them back to a dingy apartment that belonged to a woman who seemed to have just disappeared without a trace. Even the most thorough technicians couldn’t recover the burn job she’d done on her files and identity. She was gone, and with her, so was Ava.
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