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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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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Willa sat in her station, half-heartedly trying to sort through Ava’s neural profile. A vain attempt to be prepared when the girl was returned. The “girl”. Even knowing what she was, Bryant still had trouble reconciling the difference between human and machine. Perhaps that was what bothered her so much about the situation.

Everything had spiralled so completely out of control. It was supposed to just stall him. Give him a panicked robot to deal with and ruin his timeline. She couldn’t have anticipated someone breaching the building’s defenses and stealing the top-secret, terrified android who didn’t need to play by the rules. But the reality was, Ava was out there with God knew who, enduring God knew what. What comfort or satisfaction she might have had with her part in all this went right out the window.

The hiss of the door sliding open behind her caught her attention. She didn’t have to see him to know who it was. Chase’s overly-applied cologne hit her nose before the sight of him ever could. When she first started, she enjoyed the scent. But after years working under the man, she’d grown to hate it. It felt like him. Part of a pleasant facade hiding a absolute horror of a human being.

He turned his head, looking at the metallic, skeletal frame from an Autons Inc. S-17, the latest release in their line of home robotics. An antique in comparison to Ava. He smirked bitterly and stepped further into the room.

Willa didn’t look up from her work. “Mr. Chase.”

“Doctor.” He said looking around her workspace. The woman was certainly better organized than her mentor. Everything was in its place, neatly arranged. Sometimes an new employee would go in there and move something out of place and catch holy hell for it from the roboticist.

He leveled those dark eyes upon her. “I want to know everything about your contact with Alvin Martin.”

“We’ve been through this Mr. Chase.” She muttered distractedly as she focused on her work.

Chase glanced to the screen and then to her. With an arrogant sigh, he leaned over her shoulder and turned off her screen. Willa just froze and clenched her jaw in annoyance.

“Now. I want you to tell me everything about your last contact with Alvin Martin.”

Willa;’s head turned slowly, her eyes narrowed. “I’ll tell you what I told the investigators.” She started in an icy tone. “I haven’t spoken to him in months. The last time we spoke, it was to drop off a status report on the S-17’s connection issues to the central hub. We barely spoke beyond the usual ‘hi, how are you?’”

“Nothing more?” His tone suggested accusation. Distrust.

“Nothing more.” She repeated.

Chase studied her a long moment. He was good at reading people. Especially when they were lying. “You expect me to believe that Alvin’s golden child was completely clueless about the revolutionary work he was doing behind the closed doors. That you, his brightest student, his disciple, had no clue that he had been working on something so far ahead of where this company is today that it makes our S-17s look like can openers?”

“Alvin became withdrawn in the past couple years,” She said. “Even from me, he kept so many secrets. Lunches, dinners, even the occasional phone calls stopped. It was heartbreaking, and I felt like I’d lost the only father I’d ever known and didn’t know why. And then he up and disappears without so much as a goodbye?”

Bryant’s nerves were raw and on display. Martin’s withdrawal from everyone and everything had left its scar. “So, no, Mr. Chase. Alvin hasn’t contacted me. Not in some time. You can send your goons to try and intimidate me, but they’re going to go home disappointed.”

The fire in her eyes told him she wasn’t lying. “Now. Is there anything *else*, Mr. Chase?” She spat at him, pouring acid all over his name.

Chase smiled and nodded, with that trademark arrogance that made her want to choke the life out of the man. “If he does. You let me know, doctor.”

Willa’s fists clenched tightly until the door slid shut behind him. She lashed out, grabbing a drinking glass from her desk and whipping it at the door behind him. The soundproof seal would conceal the sound of the shattering object, thankfully. Willa watched as the small sanitation bots immediately rolled out, quickly making short work of the clean-up.

Finally, she crumpled back into her chair, taking deep, steady, calming breaths. Where the hell was Alvin? Why had he frozen her out? Why would he not tell her about Ava? Why had he abandoned her?

The screen beside her flickered, drawing her attention. The display went to black and green, her work in the background turning opaque, blurry. She leaned forward, her brow furrowed.

“Hello, Doctor Bryant.” Said a heavily modulated voice.

Her eyes widened. Someone was in control of her system.

“We have much work to do.”
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gable stood in his kitchen, going through his fridge. After Lexa’s abrupt exit, he and Ava stayed up watching TV in silence. He lent her a t-shirt and a pair of pajama pants tied as tight as they would go. Ava was right where he’d left her on the couch...in fact he could swear she was even in the exact same position.

He looked into his fridge. “Hey, do you like eggs?” he called into the other room.

“Eggs?” her voice responded.

A smirk crossed his face. “Yeah, you know. Scrambled, sunny-side up, runny...ya eat ‘em?”

“Oh...I do not require anything at the moment.”

“You haven’t eaten anything since yesterday. You should eat.” he said, pulling out the eggs.

“Very well.” Ava’s gaze snapped toward the door. “There is someone outside.”

Gable panicked, too far from his weapon as the locks all disengaged. The nearest gun was in his bedroom. Quickly, he grabbed a knife and prepared himself for a fight.

And then the door opened. Lexa stepped in like it was no big deal, an arm full of clothes, a backpack slung over her shoulders. A mixture of relief and confusion hit him as he saw her. “Hey...how did you-”

She made a face and didn’t look up from her work. “Please.” she said as if he were being ridiculous.

Gable went to mulled that over and shrugged. “Eggs?”

“Yes, all of them.” she said off-handedly. “These should fit.” Lexa said as she kept working, tossing the bag and the clothes on the couch, not making eye contact with...whatever she was. Ava stared at them a moment before observing one of the shirts.

Gable glanced over his shoulder at his friend. “What are you doing?”

“Plau’ti’s off the grid. I’m trying to find him.” She was running his face through different recognition scanners on cameras all over the city, and so far, bupkis. Though that was to be expected. You didn’t last long in their line of work if you weren’t good at covering your tracks.

The sound of cooking reverberated from the kitchen as she turned her attention to Ava, wearing Gable’s clothes like a shroud. Those PJ pants had to be staying up on a wing and a prayer. Even now, knowing what she was, she didn’t believe it. She was just a scared kid. If she’d been sent in to infiltrate them, she was doing a damn convincing job in her role. The slim hacker made her way over, grabbing a tanktop from the bed and holding it up to Ava’s body.

“You know...you should probably grab a shower before you put this on.”

Those brown eyes turned up to her. “I do not require-”

“I know.” Lexa replied, shooting her a meaningful look. Ava took a moment to decipher the deeper meaning in that. Lexa glanced to make sure Gable wasn’t listening and lowered her voice.

“You need to blend in. With the world, and especially with him.” She said with a cant of her head his way.

Ava turned toward Gable. A certain stoicism in her expression while she eyeballed him, “He does not like me.”

“No.” Lexa corrected her. “He doesn’t know what to do with you. But if he finds out what you are…” She said, leaving the rest unsaid. She wanted to have enough faith in Gable to believe he’d look past his hang-ups and still protect the girl, but somehow, Lexa doubted it.

Ava stared at her a moment. “What am I?”

“You…” she began to say, but the sound of Gable entering the room with two plates, stopped her. Lexa put on a smile and happy voice “You are going to look awesome in this.” She held up the top again, pressing it against Ava. “Now, I got you some ‘delicates’, bra, panties. Keep ya decent. Some casual stuff, boots, jeans, a jacket…” she trailed off digging through the clothes. “And if you ever NEED to turn some heads...and with a figure like THAT, it would be crime if you didn’t…”

Lexa produced a black, very slinky, very sultry dress. A smirk on her face. “Eh? Right?” She said looking entirely pleased with herself.

Gable slid her plate over to her and took in a forkful of eggs. Snickering. “You’re enjoying this way too much.”

“Oh, piss off. I always wanted a little sister. Mom got me a dog instead.”

“Dog wasn’t into dress up?”

“No, SHE loved it. Bitch just looked cuter in most of the outfits I picked out, and I was just like…not having that.” Lexa joked with a roll of her eyes.

Gable snickered, around his food when a ping sounded from Lexa’s multitool. She brought up the display, the grin leaving her face.

“What is it?” Gable asked.

Lexa’s eyes flicked up at him. “It’s Plau’ti. He wants to meet.”

Gable turned to Ava. “Alright, get dressed, we’re heading out.”

Lexa waved him off. “Whoa, what? You’re bringing her WITH?”

“Well I’m not leaving her here!” He replied, throwing a leather jacket on. “Just do one of your weird geek tricks to make her invisible to the cameras.”

Lexa rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’s great, but I can’t make her invisible to the naked eye.” She said as he passed by her.

Gable turned, pulling on a ski-cap, looking her in the eye. “Then we’ll do it real careful-like, huh?”

Lexa knew bringing her out was a danger, but convincing James Gable of something once he’d decided against it was an exercise in futility.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The trio stood in a crowded train carrying them into the city, Gable’s hat pulled low over his brow as he gripped a pole. Lexa stood across the aisle, a knit cap upon her head and her eyes hidden behind large sunglasses. Ava was beside him, dressed in one of the outfits Lex had brought. Bundled up, she looked completely unremarkable. Just a cute girl on a train with her friends.

Those expressive brown eyes looked around at the packed the train and out the window at the sprawling, alive city. Pedestrians, skycars, ships coming and going in a steady pace in the atmosphere. And then there were the robots, their numbers competing with humans... and catching up. She saw one standing at a curb holding the hand of a young child no more than 6 years old.

“There are so many…” she said quietly.

Gable glanced over to her, considering her words. “9 billion life forms on this planet alone.” He informed her.

“How many…” she started, not finishing the thought.

“Machines?” He asked. “We're not sure. Last count was 6 billion on Boros. Galaxy wide...I don't even think Autons knows. They've crept into every corner. Most ships’ AI even run on a positronic brain from them.”

Ava began to realize the scale of what Gable was fighting so hard to escape. She didn't understand his hate, but she could see why he might feel threatened. She knew there was something...different about her. Her understanding of organic life and the way it functioned was enough to tell her she wasn't one of them. Yet, seeing the machines blindly, unquestioningly carrying out their tasks, little more than clockwork drones, told her she wasn't one of them, either.

No. She was special. While that might have made an organic feel emboldened and important, it made her feel simply alone.

The train jostled to a stop, the automated PA announcing the stop in a soothing female voice.

“This is us.” Gable said, gesturing to the door as it slid open.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexa led them on foot the rest of the way into a dilapidated part of the city. The scorched skeletal remains of failed businesses, crumbling apartments, abandoned construction, and burned out warehouses lining the streets. Plans to revitalize the area remained at a standstill after a massive fire overwhelmed the area a few years before. Now it was a foreboding, dark place for doing dark deeds for those who wished to go unobserved.

“Well, this is a great place to get stabbed by a hobo…” Gable muttered.

Lexa shot him a look. “Sorry my secret meet-ups aren’t in 4 star hotels, ya wimp.”

Ava stayed close to them, her brown eyes scanning everything cautiously. She might not have had much life experience, but something inside her told her this was not a safe place to wander.

“I’d take any place that doesn’t look like I’ll need a tetanus shot later…” he responded with a grin.

Lexa came to stop outside an abandoned warehouse. She looked up at the rusted out, structure, it’s metal panels still bearing the scorch-marks from the blaze. In truth, she wasn’t too thrilled about this one, herself. “Well, this is it…”

Gable, reached behind him and pulled out his sidearm. “I’ll take point.”

Lexa placed a hand on his shoulder, stepping in front of him. “Easy. This is a meeting, not a raid.” She said in a calm voice. “Besides. You go in there guns out, Plau’ti might run, and we don’t want that, do we?”

Gable sighed and nodded, tucking his weapon away. Lexa pushed through the creaky door and stepped inside. The melting snow dripped water through the holes in the ceiling of the warehouse, all the equipment inside, picked over and laying in wreckage all about the place. It would be a great place for an ambush, Gable thought, suppressing the urge to take out his pistol.

They looked around, seeing no sign of the Bissarian. Lexa stepped forward cautiously. “Plau?” She called out, her voice echoing throughout the cavernous space.

“You were not followed?” Replied a heavily modified voice. His natural Bistali language interpreted by a mask for the benefit of Basic speakers.

Lexa looked around, trying to source the location the voice. “Nnnnope. Nobody here but us chickens.”

“You.” Plau’ti said. “Human male.”

Lex leaned over to Gable and whispered. “I think he means you.”

Gable glanced over to catch her smirk before continuing his search. “Yeah?”

“Your weapon. Throw it aside.” Plau’ti ordered.

Gable’s brow furrowed. “How do you-”

“Now, or I walk!”

Gable did not like this. Going into a big, crowded room unarmed with no clue who was waiting for them sounded like a really bad plan. Lexa seemed to read that on his face and gave him a nudge. “Jim.” she said, raising her brows at him.

He grimaced and pulled the gun, tossing it aside and holding his hands up.

“Good.” came that digitized, gravelly voice. Plau’ti stepped out from behind the stripped wreckage of an old crane. Try as he might, Gable was never able to get used to the sight of a Bissarian. Their roughly triangularly shaped heads, their pure, blue eyes with no pupil, no whites...the small, gnarly tentacles that hung in front of their mouths, like a squid. Plau’ti’s eyes were replaced some time ago with metallic cybernetics, and his mouth hidden behind a tight translator mask. It gave him an even more discomforting appearance than usual for his species.

The eye-pieces darted around, taking in the humans before him, making sure there were no others before stepping out toward them. His tall, lanky body was covered in a ratty, tattered long coat, heavy leather gloves pulled over his long fingers.

Lexa stepped forward. “How ya doin’ Plau?” she greeted him.

“Lexa human.” That voice croaked out as he approached her. “You have been searching for me.”

It was a statement, not a question. Lexa nodded and stared up at him. “I need to know about who hired you.” She said.

The unnatural sound that came from him could be construed as a laugh. “You know better than this.” he said, those eyes continuing to shoot back and forth, scanning the entire area.

“Plau, you know I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important.” She pleaded. “What were you told.”

“All information comes at a price, Lexa Human.” he grumbled in response, that unreadable face staring impassively back at her.

“Whoever it was sent us to that lab to get this girl.” Gable said. “I don’t know what they were doing with her or what they wanted with her, but if you know something, you better tell us now.”

“Your thinly veiled threats are but bluster. If you wish to know about the people who hired me, you must give me something first.” Plau’ti responded, unintimidated.

Gable took one step forward before being halted by Lexa. She swiped her wrist and brought up her holographic display. “I have the access codes to the USM’s Merriwether port central computer. Every bit of information that comes and goes through there is your’s.” She leveled her gaze at the alien, waiting for him to respond.

“Transfer them.” He demanded.

“No. You tell us what you know first.” she countered.

The Bissarian considered this a moment. Gable preferred the blunt method of dealing with people like him. Just grab him and beat it out of him. It was so much simpler! But apparently SOME people liked to use diplomacy or whatever.

“Fine.” the modulated voice emitted. “I was hired by Ducheysne. I managed to do my own digging into his system.”

Ducheysne. Gable had heard the name before. When he was still a cop, Arthur Ducheysne was a wanted criminal and suspect in several system crashes throughout the Terric system. They were never able to locate the him. “He hired you?” Gable asked.

“Yes. And if you wish to know more, you will not interrupt, Human.” Plau’ti said turning his head in an almost threatening manner.

“Ducheysne was hired by someone else...I was unable to extrapolate who, but they went simply by the name The Athair.”

Lexa furrowed her brow, thinking. “Never heard of him.”

“Neither have I. I have delved deep within my contacts and found nothing.” Plau’ti replied. “This Athair seems to have appeared from nowhere.”

Neither Lexa nor the Bissarian had ever even heard of the man. That was a rarity, and did nothing to comfort Gable. He and Lexa turned to eachother, speaking quietly. “What now?” he asked.

She frowned, glancing to a very concerned looking Ava and replied, “I have no idea. We can do some digging, see if I can get into Ducheysne’s system...maybe backtrack and run a scan. I might be able to come up with something…”

Gable did not look convinced. “If he couldn’t what are the odds-”

“Well, what are our options? Just stay on the run with her? Hide from the company our entire lives?” She asked, frustrated.

“No, I-”

He was interrupted when Ava placed a hand on his shoulder. Gable, Lexa and Plau’ti all looked to her. The girl stared upward, a panicked look on her young face.

“What is it?” Gable asked.

She looked to him with those wide, fearful eyes. “We have to go. Somebody has found us.”
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava looked to them, wide-eyed. “We cannot linger! There are two ships outside lowering drop-lines!” she said, the panic in her voice.

“I told you to make sure you were not followed!” Plau’ti rumbled, walking to a crate that hid his rifle. Gable was already on his way to his pistol, when the Bissarian drew on him.

“Do not move, human!”

Gable froze, his hand hovering over the weapon upon the ground. Lexa stepped toward Plau’ti cautiously, her hands out. “Plau...what are you doing?”

“This was a set-up!” he accused her, keeping that weapon trained on Gable. One of those eye-pieces swiveled at her, operating independently of the other. “Make one more move and he dies.”

“Plau! Nobody set anybody up!” Lexa demanded. “But if we don’t leave now, we’re all going down, so put down the ****ing gun!”

Plau’ti wheeled the weapon on her. Gable clenched his jaw and dove for the gun. Lexa’s stomach turned as she prepared for the worst.

Suddenly, there was a sharp hissing sound and the Bissarian went rigid. A whisp of smoke rose from his chest before his body dropped like a marionette with its strings cut.

The glass skylights shattered, armed mercs dropping into the room as the trio scrambled for cover. The warehouse was alive with laserfire when Gable tackled Ava to the ground.

“Stay down!” He yelled, drawing his weapon up. He rose and picked his target. With the squeeze of a trigger, a red bolt burned through the chest of one of their attackers.

Lexa spied Plau’ti’s rifle. She wasn't much of a shot, but damned if she was going down without a fight. She swept it up and blind-fired over the top of her cover.

“Lex! Aim! THEN shoot!” Gable shouted at her.

“**** you! They've got guns!”

“So do you!” He yelled back, rising up and dropping another with a well-placed shot.

Lexa steeled herself and came up to fire, immediately forced to take cover as a barrage of gunfire rained on her position.

Finally, she was able to line up a target, blasting one of the mercs descending into the warehouse in the arm. The merc tumbled to the ground with a loud “thwack!”, laying there unconscious.

Ava's robotic eyes took in every last detail of the situation. An unseen attacker had Gable in his sights and was about to pull the trigger. The android leapt forward, forcing him to the ground a split second before the laser past overhead.

Gable stared up at her a moment, catching his breath. “Thanks.” He said with a relieved grin.

Lexa fired off a wide shot before ducking behind cover. In the back of her mind, she was trying to figure out exactly how they had found her. All of them had been so careful.

A blast against the crane behind her brought her out of her head. Lexa cursed to herself and looked around her. Plau’ti’s corpse lay nearby. Maybe he'd have something she could use. The slim hacker scrambled over to his lifeless body, shots burning through the air over her head so close she could feel the heat. Lexa, flattening herself upon the ground, began fishing through his pockets, those eye-stalks now motionless upon his alien face.

Her fist wrapped around a small cylinder and her brows perked. Quickly, she withdrew a small stun grenade, fully intact. Quickly, she pushed herself to her knees and started a mad, crawling dash toward Gable and Ava.

Gable saw her there, exposed, his eyes going wide. “LEX, GET DOWN!” He cried and held up a hand to halt her, but the second she looked up at him, a bolt caught her in the left shoulder blade. Her agonized cream rang out even over the sound of combat. Lexa dropped to the floor, pain like she had never experienced before radiating from her shoulder and burning through her entire body.

Gable returned fire and made his way to her, dragging her back in a hail of gunfire, and taking cover again. Lexa winced as she was laid back against the crane.

“Lexa! You alright?” he asked her, ignoring the panic-stricken girl behind him.

“Just ****ing dandy.” she growled back at him. Those hazel eyes opened then, the haze of pain over them as she lifted her good arm and opened her hand to reveal the grenade. She and Gable shared a grin.

“You are SUCH a bad-ass.” He said, snatching it from her, looking back at Ava. “Get ready. We’re gonna have to get her on her feet and run.”

He leaned back against the crane and popped the cap, his thumb pressing down the trigger. “Cover your eyes and ears.”

The grenade sailed over their scorched, battered cover and right into the din of Mercs. Gable grabbed Lexa and pressed her left ear to his chest and clamped his eyes shut. Instantly, the room was filled with blinding white light, a high pitched squeal filling the ears of the unprepared mercenaries. One by one, they dropped, unconscious upon the floor.

Gable’s ears were still ringing despite his best efforts. Slightly dazed, he peered behind them. All the men behind him were down for the moment, but he knew they didn’t have long. He pushed himself up and gently pulled Lexa to her feet, supporting her weight as they moved quickly to the door.

Ava seemed perfectly fine as she led the way. The instant she opened the door, there was an armored merc waiting. His arms wrapped around the thin android, attempting to drag her away, Gable, still dazed, fumbling for his weapon. Those big brown eyes widened in panic, but only for a moment. He arms shot outward, breaking his grip upon her. The merc stumbled backwards and drew a shock wand. With a snarl, he swung it right at Ava.

Gable began to raise his gun just as she caught it...barehanded...blue electrical arcs shooting up along her arm and having no effect. The girl’s head twitched slightly just before her fist jabbed forward like a piston, hammering her attacker square in the solar plexus. Gable watched the man sent flying back away from her as if he were weightless.

Still holding onto the shock wand, Ava stared at the unconscious merc, twitching as the weapon continued sending electricity through her mechanical body. Her fist clenched then in one quick motion, demolishing the wand in a quick burst of sparks and smoke. Slowly her head turned, taking in Gable, clutching his weapon in one hand and a wounded Lexa in the other, a mixture of fear and confusion upon his face.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shreve Takana was a simple, 2nd generation Typhan, a short, rotund race of beings, not counted among the most influential in politics nor proficient in military matters. Most of them held simple, working class jobs. So, there was no shortage of pride for himself and his family that Shreve managed and maintained his own apartment building. He didn't appreciate the attention brought down upon him when the authorities and Autons Inc came knocking. He stood at the doorway of what used to be the apartment of one Millicent Erstraud. The men sent were tearing the place apart, and being none too careful about it. The authorities had done their search just yesterday, and now these Autons people were here, wrecking the place.

Millicent was a quiet girl. Kept to herself. She paid her rent on time and was generally one of his favorite tenants. He watched as one of Devin Chase’s goons ripped into the wall, sending drywall dust flying around.

“Hey! You wanna search the place, you do it with respect!” the squat, little alien yelled.

Devin stood out on the fire-escape in a long black overcoat, overlooking the city, perfectly coiffed as always. Those sharp, shrewd eyes regarded the little Typhan with disdain. “For a man that was harboring a fugitive, you run your mouth quite a bit.” He said.

The fur at the back of Shreve’s neck stood on end at the accusation. “I’ve never done such a thing in my life!”

Devin stepped into the room. “Really?” He stopped at the remains of a computer system, its hard drives wiped beyond recovery. “Woman colludes with known criminals, assists, and possibly masterminds a theft from my company, all from your building, and you expect me to believe this is the first time?”

Shreve stared up at him gritting his crooked, pointy teeth. “Millicent was-”

“Millicent doesn’t exist, Mr. Takana.” Devin muttered with a bitter laugh. “Now, to me that means one of two things. One? You’re an incompetent moron who gets scammed by a pretty face and bull**** story. Or two...you’re covering for her.”

“I-I am not-” Shreve sputtered before being interrupted.

“Come here, Mr. Takana.” Chase said, walking back to the fire escape. For reasons even he wasn’t sure of, the Typhan complied stepping out into the cold, night air. He looked up at the tall, dark haired man, those dark brown eyes cold as ice.

“I’m a very protective man of what is mine, Takana.” he began. “If someone takes it from me...I get it back.” His hands gripped the frigid metal of the railing tightly as he slowly turned his head to the Typhan. “And...if someone were to help that person...hide them...lie for them? Well…” He smiled quietly.

“Are you threatening me?” the little creature’s brow furrowed, his fists clenched.

“I thought that was obvious. Was it not obvious?”

Shreve puffed out his barrel chest and stepped forward, glaring up at the man towering over him. “Nobody threatens me. Nobody accuses me! Especially not some...dirty, greased up gutter-rat like you! You take your little goons and you get the hell out of here, or else!”

Chase’s eyes narrowed. He had come up from nothing, the son of a hard-drinking, hard-fighting cold swindler and a whore who mysteriously disappeared one day when he was 8. His past was sore subject. The insult had him seeing red. “Or else what?”

Before Shreve could even speak, Chase grabbed him by the collar and slammed him against the railing of the fire escape, threatening to drop him to his death. Shreve grabbed wildly, in a panic for anything to keep him from falling.

Chase held onto him, his collar bunched in his fist, his other arm holding onto the Typhan by his legs. “Listen, you fat piece of ****. You’re going to tell me everything you know about the woman who calls herself Millicent Estraud. And I swear, I find you’re holding out on me, I’ll see to it not only do YOU burn, but your family and everything you love burns with you.”

The calm, collected demeanor was gone. Hidden and buried beneath all that he showed the public, a demon was dwelling. And these days, it was ready to be unleashed.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The door to Gable’s burst open, the trio returning. Gable assisted a pain-stricken Lexa to the kitchen. She winced as she straddled a chair, the burn at the wound at her back sending screaming agony through the entire left side of her body. As Ava stepped forward to help, Gable wheeled around on her, the look in his eyes, she decided, was not one of friendship.

“You!” he growled at her. “What in the HELL are you?!”

Ava was taken aback, her first instinct was to be polite, but something inside of her overrode that. She got quiet, she got angry. Her eyes narrowing, her voice lowering. “I don’t know.”

“Bull ***!” he said pointing in her face.

Ava spoke slowly and deliberately. “Remove your finger from my face. Now.”

“Or. What?” he replied, mimicking her tone.

Through grit teeth and pained breaths, Lexa looked back at them. “Hey, if you two are done flirting back there...I’m...I’m kinda in a lot of pain. So...maybe we can do this later?”

Ava’s eyes flicked to the woman. She was right. They could argue about this another time, Lexa needed help. She went to step around him, but found him stopping her.

“No. You stay away.” He said.

“I am capable of treating wounds this severe without risking infection. Are you?” She countered.

Ava could see the wheels turning in his head. He wanted to throw it back in her face. Lie, and say he could. But his concern for his friend made him swallow his pride and let her go to work. Ava put all her functions to treating Lexa’s wound as Gable leaned back against the wall.

“Lex...what the hell happened back there? How did they find us?”

Lexa winced as Ava worked. Even the most careful hands couldn’t keep her from feeling the pain. “I’ve been trying to suss that out. Best I can figure, they had to be tracking Plau’ti.”

“You don’t think they were tracking *us*?” he said, a pointed look at Ava.

“Not a chance in hell. When I don’t want to be found, I don’t get found.” She snapped.

“That right, Millicent?” He smirked with his arms crossed.

“Hey, I got sold out, and I’ll point out that I’m not in an interrogation room, am I?” Lexa spat back at him.

Gable grinned, for a moment forgetting the culmination of his fears sitting right in front of him. It all came rushing back the moment he set eye on her again. “We need to figure out what we’re doing with it.” he said.

Lexa sucked in air through her teeth as Ava brushed a tender spot on her wound. “It?”

Gable nodded to the girl. If looks could burn, Lexa would have reduced him to ash. “SHE isn’t going anywhere. She’s important, and we need to find out what the hell is going on .”

“Not here.” he insisted, arms crossed.

“So, what? You want to toss her out into the world?” Lexa glared at him, “She wouldn’t last a day out there!”

“She’s a timebomb, God damn it, and you want to sit here and wait for her to go off?” Gable looked to her incredulously as Ava finished patching Lexa up.

Lexa stood up, a little too quick, but damned if he’d let her see the pain it caused. “**** sake, James, she’s not a weapon! She’s a scared kid who has no idea who she is or why she’s here! You want to wash your hands of her because she isn’t what you expected, well **** that! I’m not letting you!”

“You’re not *letting* me?”

“Damn right.”

Ava felt like a child in the midst of a screaming argument between her parents. She calmly stepped between them, looking from one to the other. “Enough. If I am to be a point of contention or danger for either of you, I shall take my leave. I do not wish to cause any undue stress for anyone. I will leave.”

Gable said nothing, but Lexa immediately went to her. “No. He doesn’t understand. But you saw those men. You know what they’re willing to do to capture you.”

“Yes. I do.” Ava said. “And I will not allow them to do it to you.”

“You’re not leaving.” Lexa said, grabbing her arm.

“With all due respect...you cannot stop me.”

Ava looked hurt and apologetic, yet resolute. “I will find my own way.” She said, turning to Gable. “Thank you for all you have done for me. I wish you well.”
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The door shut, leaving Lexa and Gable alone. The tattooed hacker stared blankly at the spot where Ava stood. Gable didn’t dare make a sound at first. He had the feeling a storm was brewing in his friend. Silence hung between them until he just couldn’t help himself.

“Lex…” was all he was able to get out before she whipped around, her face registering disgust.

“What the hell is the matter with you?” she said, her voice dripping with disdain.

“I did-” he started to protest, but Lexa wasn’t done.

“Are you SO attached to your hatred that you can’t see her for what she is?”

Gable ran his hands through his hair and turned on her.

“What is she, Lex? Huh? She’s a goddamn albatross. A burden we don’t need.”

Lexa narrowed her eyes in disgust. “Oh, please.”

“‘Please’ *what*?!”

She got right up in his face, poking him in the chest. “Don’t you DARE act like you would do this if she was a human being.”

“She isn’t. She’s a glorified toaster.”

Lexa’s eyes went wide and she pointed at the door. “You saw her! She can think, can feel, can hurt! Did you see the look in her eyes when she left here?”

“It wasn’t real!”

“How the hell do YOU know?!”

“Because SHE isn’t!” He shouted back. “She’s all clockwork and programming. That little display wasn’t REAL. It’s a mimicry. A clever attempt to manipulate you. Lexa, she was created in a lab out of ****ing scrap metal! You want to feel something for that, you go right ahead, but don’t ask me to!”

“Jim, when have you EVER seen a robot who could do that? She’s special. She’s...she’s like nothing that has ever existed before. And right now, she’s alone and she is being hunted.”

Gable didn’t have anything to say to that. He just stared at her. Lexa let out an exasperated sound and grabbed her coat, wincing as she slid it on. “It’s good to see you’ll sell someone out the second things get tough. Good luck. Because now YOU’RE on your own.”

“Lex-” he protested, softening his tone.

“Don’t.” she threatened, glaring at him. “Don’t follow me. Don’t contact me again. Enjoy your sad, little life. You’re going to be very lonely.”

With that, she stepped out and slammed the door.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gable sat in that apartment, alone with this thoughts. Maybe Lex was right. Whatever she had been programmed for, the robot didn’t know what was happening. Even he had to admit, her fear was incredibly realistic. Whatever she was, she had no love for the company, and certainly no desire to return there.

What was the famous phrase? “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?” After everything that had happened to him, after...after the incident...he was actually considering knowingly helping a machine. The world no longer made sense.

He looked down at little Max, the pit pup wagging his tail and staring up at him with those big, dark eyes. “Yeah…” he said quietly to the dog. “I don’t get it either.”

Gable grabbed his jacket and a sidearm and started toward his door when Max started barking. Gable glanced back with a quirked brow. “What is it?”

The lights suddenly flickered and went dead. Something was wrong. The former cop, glanced upward, cautious. But not cautious enough. With a massive boom, the door flew open, torn in a shower of sparks and smoke from the lock, and knocking him to one side and onto his left shoulder. Through his daze, he could make out the red lights of their rifles as the began to enter. Max sprinted at the intruders, barking that high pitched little bark as if he were the fiercest creature on the planet.

“Silence the dog.” one of the voices ordered. And that was it. Gable grabbed the point man’s rifle and yanked upwards, the weapon discharging into the ceiling. In one fluid motion he brought the weapon up and put a round between the eyes of the second intruder. Using the weapon as bludgeon, he cracked the pointman in the neck and threw him aside.

One of the attackers slammed into him then, tackling him to the ground, trying to get leverage so he could point his gun. Max leapt through the air, biting the man’s gunhand, distracting him enough so Gable could grab the man by wrist with his prosthetic hand. Instantly his impoosibly strong fingers constricted around the wrist, drawing out a sickening crunch. The thug cried out in agony, his weapon dropped to the ground. With his left, Gable jackhammered his fist in to the man’s face while his right swept the weapon up and fired at the next man through the door, knocking him back into the man behind him.

Gable swept his dog up and bolted toward the kitchen. The intruder at the doorway threw aside his fallen partner and brought his rifle and opened fire just as Gable launched himself over the kitchen counter, the blasts missing him by a hair., splintering the wood cabinets and shattering the tiles along the wall.

Gable pressed back against the trash compactor. It would provide a little cover, but it wouldn’t last forever. He set the dog down and signaled for him to stay, the pit staring up at him with those big dog eyes, but remaining still.

The remaining three men moved into the apartment, weapons up. They moved closer and closer to the kitchen, closing in on their target. Closer and closer the left-most came, his adrenaline pumping. This was it. Time to end it.

He whipped around the corner, only finding a very angry puppy letting out on high-pitched bark.

Suddenly, he felt something grab him from behind. Gable slammed his face through the drywall and into the metal support beam, the man’s body crumpling limp to the ground. The second wheeled around on him, but Gable was on the move, grabbing the barrel and redirecting it at the wall, Quickly, he ducked underneath his target and planted his boot square in the third man’s chest, knocking him against the wall.

No time to waste, Gable reached back, grabbing the second attacker by the neck and flipping him onto the counter onto his back. He brought his elbow up and then slammed it down with his entire body weight behind it upon the man’s face, breaking his neck in one swift motion.

He turned to face the final intruder just in time to find a weapon pointed at him. He immediately went to dodge just before the trigger was pulled, the blast seering right past where his shoulder had been. Gable’s foot planted on an ottoman and sent it sailing into the attacker’s knees, sending him stumbling forth. He immediately set toward the man, kicking the weapon from his grasp before he could get his bearings.

Gable grabbed him by the shirt and whipped him around, throwing his back against the wall so hard it cracked the drywall. His body loose, the attacker managed to draw a knife, and start advancing toward Gable.

The former cop’s eyes locked on him, presenting his side and as small a target as possible to his attacker. When the attacks came, they were fast, aggressive, precise. He knew what he was doing, but Gable blocked every strike. An over-head slash was blocked and countered by a quick right jab to the face as Gable pivoted out of the way. The attacker shook off the daze and planned his next move. He came in low and fast, a stab at Gable’s belly. He barely dodged the strike, grabbing the man by the wrist with both hands. In one motion, he swept his leg at the man’s feet and jammed an elbow into his face,

Both men fell to the ground, and Gable reversed the knife. The man resisted, fighting as Gable worked to overpower him. He grunted, trying to force that blade into the man’s chest. It was amazing what someone could do when they didn’t want to die.

Enough was enough, Gable lifted his body up and brought his full weight down, pushing the knife far enough that the tip punctured the man’s chest. But he didn’t stop resisting, so Gable did it again. And again. And again.

And then...he stopped resisting. He stopped breathing.

Gable rolled off the man’s corpse, Max rushing up to him and licking his face excitedly. Gable gave the dog a stroke along his back and pushed himself up. If these men had gotten to him, then Lexa and Ava were in incredible danger.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava pulled her coat tighter to block out the cold. Technically, she couldn’t freeze to death, but the frigid winter temperatures did affect her. Her destination was unknown, but she needed to get out of this town. If she was what they said she was, this was not a good place for her to be.

The girl didn’t know why these people despised robots so vehemently. She could understand that fear of the unknown often trumped reason and compassion. She still was unsure of what she even was. What little she knew of robots was that they were subservient, completely unable to harm a human. Well, she had proven that she could do that. She realized that she was what would be considered an Android...and Androids were supposed to be illegal according to Galactic law. Moral and ethical concerns would resulted in a full-on, galactic ban on Android science.

Ava heard the footsteps coming up behind her, without thinking, she went into threat assessment mode. The figure must have been small. No more than 120 lbs. Suggesting feminine in build. The panting breaths confirmed this.

“Ava, wait!” the woman’s voice called out. Ava recognized her immediately turning around to face Lexa as she approached.

“Lexa, I told you-”

“Forget what you told me. Wherever you go, I go.” Lexa said, resolute.

Ava looked unsure. “It is not safe. You should return to Mr. Gable’s.”


Lexa’s eyebrows rose bemusedly. “Yeah, pretty sure I burned that bridge.” She said. “I’m with you, kid. So, let’s figure out our next step.”

A smile worked its way onto Ava’s face...and then quickly fell. “Two figures are approaching from the South East.”

Two men ambled toward them, looking disheveled, inebriated, dangerous. The whistle that came from one of them echoed in the chilly air before he called out. “Hellooooo, honey. Where the hell you been all my life?”

“Come on.” Lexa said under her breath, grabbing Ava by the arm and leading her away.

“Aww, where you goin’ baby?” He said, still following closely.

Lexa turned around, keeping her stride, but moving backwards. “Sorry, boys, we got a meeting with the United Sisterhood of It’s None of Your ****ing Business, and wouldn’t you know it? We’re late. So…” she flipped them both birds and smiled cordially. “Piss off. Have a lovely night.”

“Ooooh-hoo-hoo...she’s rude.” One of them said to the other.

“Right? I kinda like it.” The other responded with a sneer.
“Come on, me and Tuck here can show you and your friend a damn good time.” He said.

Lexa glanced back at him. “If it doesn’t involve hitting you in the nuts with a sledge hammer repeatedly, not interested.”

“Baby, Baby, you’re hurtin’ my feelings.” He said in a pitiful voice.

“Dude!” She stopped and whipped around. “**** OFF!”

Ava’s eyes flicked quickly between the two of them, analyzing them. They were working class joes in their late 20’s. Strong, slim. Brawlers, most likely. Their fists showed signs of recent fighting, nearly healed bruises on their bearded faces serving as a confirmation.

The facade dropped on the man. “You know, you don’t have to be a ****. We’re just trying to be polite and you try to cut my nuts off in front of my friend? Embarass me?” his voice took on a acidic tone, those grey eyes glaring a hole through her.

Lexa scoffed at him. “Shuffle your pathetic ass home, you lowlife.” Rolling her eyes, she turned away from him, starting away. “Let’s go.” She said to Ava, muttering “****ing creeps…”

The man grabbed her from behind, roughly. “You need to learn to watch your ****ing mouth, bitch!” He growled.

Ava’s threat analysis kicked into overtime. The second man seemed unprepared for his companion’s violent outburst. Should she moved to assist, there would be a few seconds before he reacted. It was enough.

“Grab the other one, you dickless moron!” The first man yelled just as he went to drag Lexa away. Ava’s hand grabbed tight on his forearm, clamping down hard. “HEY!” He called out, then feeling that impossibly strong hand prying his arms apart.

That was enough for Lexa. She threw an elbow into his stomach and slipped out from his grasp. Their attacker dropped the ground, groaning as his arm was being slowly crushed. The second man finally moved in.

“Hey! Let him go!” he hollered, trying to pull Ava off of his friend to no avail. “I said LET HIM GO!” He threw a punch, connecting hard with her face. Ava’s head jerked in the direction of his follow-through, but she remained in the same place.

Slowly her head turned toward the second man, her eyes registering him as a real threat now. She pushed away the groaning first man’s arm, letting him drop to the ground. The second looked afraid as he started backing away. Ava advanced on him slowly. “Back off!” he shouted. “Back off or you’ll get hurt!”
But Ava did not back off. He reached into his pocket and drew out a small knife, flicking that blade out. Her eyes didn’t even acknowledge it, she just kept slowly lumbering. “**** off, bitch!” He screamed, slashing aggressively in her direction. Reflexively, her arm shot up, catching the blade. The steel cut into her skin, contacting with her strong endoskeleton. A small amount of blood, leaking around it’s edge.

The man watched as the woman he’d just cut with a knife didn’t even wince at the wound. She just reached over, wrapped her hand around the blade and snapped it in half like a cracker. His eyes just went wide as he backed into a wall. “What the **** are you?” He said, trembling.

The blade was thrown away and her hand fired out, grabbing him by the neck and lifting him against the wall like he was weightless. “I am many things.” she said. Many things I don’t even remember.”


Ava lifted him a bit higher, getting closer to him. “But what I am not...is a victim.”

The man clawed at her hand, gasping for breath, his eyes bulging. “Ava!” Lexa called out, but the girl seemed unavailable. “AVA!” she screamed again.

Ava’s head snapped in her direction, the look making Lexa take a few steps back, her hands slowly rising defensively. “Easy...easy…”

Ava’s intense glare softened and she calmed. A quick dirty look to the man in her grasp, and she threw him to the ground, hurting, embarrassed, but still alive to crawl away.

The sound of speeding repulsor lifts directed their attention away from their fallen attackers and onto an approaching car. The vehicle’s motors whined as skidded to a halt not far. Ava readied herself for another attack, but when the window rolled down, she found Gable staring back at her!

“Get in! We need to go!”
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